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The Grandmothers Tale [Eclogue]
by [?]

Oh dear! oh dear!

I hope they hung the man!

They took him up;
There was no proof, no one had seen the deed,
And he was set at liberty. But God
Whoss eye beholdeth all things, he had seen
The murder, and the murderer knew that God
Was witness to his crime. He fled the place,
But nowhere could he fly the avenging hand
Of heaven, but nowhere could the murderer rest,
A guilty conscience haunted him, by day,
By night, in company, in solitude,
Restless and wretched, did he bear upon him
The weight of blood; her cries were in his ears,
Her stifled groans as when he knelt upon her
Always he heard; always he saw her stand
Before his eyes; even in the dead of night
Distinctly seen as tho’ in the broad sun,
She stood beside the murderer’s bed and yawn’d
Her ghastly wound; till life itself became
A punishment at last he could not bear,
And he confess’d [2] it all, and gave himself
To death, so terrible, he said, it was
To have a guilty conscience!

Was he hung then?

Hung and anatomized. Poor wretched man,
Your uncles went to see him on his trial,
He was so pale, so thin, so hollow-eyed,
And such a horror in his meagre face,
They said he look’d like one who never slept.
He begg’d the prayers of all who saw his end
And met his death with fears that well might warn
From guilt, tho’ not without a hope in Christ.

[Footnote 1: I know not whether this cruel and stupid custom is common in other parts of England. It is supposed to prevent the dogs from doing any mischief should they afterwards become mad.]

[Footnote 2: There must be many persons living who remember these circumstances. They happened two or three and twenty years ago, in the neighbourhood of Bristol. The woman’s name was Bees. The stratagem by which she preserved her husband from the press-gang, is also true.]