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Cassandra Southwick
by [?]

In 1658 two young persons, son and daughter of Lawrence Smithwick of Salem, who had himself been imprisoned and deprived of nearly all his property for having entertained Quakers at his house, were fined for non-attendance at church. They being unable to pay the fine, the General Court issued an order empowering “the Treasurer of the County to sell the said persons to any of the English nation of Virginia or Barbadoes, to answer said fines.” An attempt was made to carry this order into execution, but no shipmaster was found willing to convey them to the West Indies.

To the God of all sure mercies let my blessing rise
From the scoffer and the cruel He hath plucked
the spoil away;
Yea, He who cooled the furnace around the faithful
And tamed the Chaldean lions, hath set His hand-
maid free!
Last night I saw the sunset melt through my prison
Last night across my damp earth-floor fell the pale
gleam of stars;
In the coldness and the darkness all through the
long night-time,
My grated casement whitened with autumn’s early
Alone, in that dark sorrow, hour after hour crept
Star after star looked palely in and sank adown
the sky;
No sound amid night’s stillness, save that which
seemed to be
The dull and heavy beating of the pulses of the sea;

All night I sat unsleeping, for I knew that on the
The ruler and the cruel priest would mock me in
my sorrow,
Dragged to their place of market, and bargained
for and sold,
Like a lamb before the shambles, like a heifer
from the fold!

Oh, the weakness of the flesh was there, the
shrinking and the shame;
And the low voice of the Tempter like whispers to
me came:
“Why sit’st thou thus forlornly,” the wicked
murmur said,
“Damp walls thy bower of beauty, cold earth thy
maiden bed?

“Where be the smiling faces, and voices soft and
Seen in thy father’s dwelling, heard in the pleasant
Where be the youths whose glances, the summer
Sabbath through,
Turned tenderly and timidly unto thy father’s pew?

“Why sit’st thou here, Cassandra?-Bethink
thee with what mirth
Thy happy schoolmates gather around the warm
bright hearth;
How the crimson shadows tremble on foreheads
white and fair,
On eyes of merry girlhood, half hid in golden hair.

“Not for thee the hearth-fire brightens, not for
thee kind words are spoken,
Not for thee the nuts of Wenham woods by laughing
boys are broken;
No first-fruits of the orchard within thy lap are
For thee no flowers of autumn the youthful hunters

“O weak, deluded maiden!–by crazy fancies
With wild and raving railers an evil path to tread;
To leave a wholesome worship, and teaching pure
and sound,
And mate with maniac women, loose-haired and
sackcloth bound,–

“Mad scoffers of the priesthood; who mock at
things divine,
Who rail against the pulpit, and holy bread and
Sore from their cart-tail scourgings, and from the
pillory lame,
Rejoicing in their wretchedness, and glorying in
their shame.

“And what a fate awaits thee!–a sadly toiling
Dragging the slowly lengthening chain of bondage
to the grave!
Think of thy woman’s nature, subdued in hopeless
The easy prey of any, the scoff and scorn of all!”

Oh, ever as the Tempter spoke, and feeble Nature’s
Wrung drop by drop the scalding flow of unavailing
I wrestled down the evil thoughts, and strove in
silent prayer,
To feel, O Helper of the weak! that Thou indeed
wert there!