The Female Convict to Her Infant.

Oh, sleep not, my babe, for the morn of to-morrow1
Shall soothe me to slumber more tranquil than thine ;2
The dark grave shall shield me from shame and from sorrow,3
Though the deeds and the gloom of the guilty are mine.4
Not long shall the arm of affection enfold thee ;5
Not long shalt thou hang on thy mother’s fond breast :6
And who with the eye of delight shall behold thee,7
And watch thee, and guard thee, when I am at rest ?8
And yet it doth grieve me to wake thee, my dearest,9
The pangs of thy desolate mother to see ;10
Thou wilt weep when the clank of my cold chain thou hearest,11
And none but the guilty should mourn over me.12
And yet I must wake thee—for while thou art weeping,13
To calm thee, I stifle my tears for a while ;14
But thou smilest in thy dreams, while thus placidly sleeping,15
And oh ! how it wounds me to gaze on thy smile !16
Alas ! my sweet babe, with what pride had I press’d thee17
To the bosom that now throbs with terror and shame,18
If the pure tie of virtuous affection had bless’d thee,19
And hail’d thee the heir of thy father’s high name !20
But now—with remorse that avails not—I mourn thee,21
Forsaken and friendless, as soon thou wilt be,22
In a world, if it cannot betray, that will scorn thee23
Avenging the guilt of thy mother on thee !24
And when the dark thought of my fate shall awaken25
The deep blush of shame on thy innocent cheek ;26
When by all, but the God of the Orphan, forsaken,27
A home and a father in vain thou shalt seek ;28
I know that the base world will seek to deceive thee,29
With falsehood like that which thy mother beguiled ;30
Yet lost and degraded—to whom can I leave thee ?31
O, God of the Fatherless ! pity my child !32