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SONNETS

UPON THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH

IN SERIES, 1839

IV

          IS 'Death', when evil against good has fought
          With such fell mastery that a man may dare
          By deeds the blackest purpose to lay bare?
          Is Death, for one to that condition brought,
          For him, or any one, the thing that ought
          To be 'most' dreaded? Lawgivers, beware,
          Lest, capital pains remitting till ye spare
          The murderer, ye, by sanction to that thought
          Seemingly given, debase the general mind;
          Tempt the vague will tried standards to disown,             10
          Nor only palpable restraints unbind,
          But upon Honour's head disturb the crown,
          Whose absolute rule permits not to withstand
          In the weak love of life his least command.


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