THOUGHTS in PRISON:
SUNDAY Evening, Eight O’Clock, 
Feb. 23, 1777.
WEEK THE FIRST.
My Friends are gone! Harsh on its sullen hinge
Grates the dread door: the massy bolts respond
Tremendous to the surly Keeper’s touch.
The dire keys clang with movement dull and slow
While their behest the ponderous locks perform:
And, fastened firm, the object of their care
Is left to Solitude,--to Sorrow left!
But wherefore fastened? Oh still stronger bonds
Than bolts, or locks, or doors of molten brass,
To Solitude and Sorrow would consign
His anguish’d Soul, and prison him, tho' free!
For, whither should he fly, or where produce
In open day, and to the golden Sun,
His hapless head! whence every laurel torn,
On his bald brow sits grinning Infamy;
And all in sportive triumph twines around
The keen, the stinging Adders of Disgrace!
Yet what’s Disgrace with Man? or all the stings
Of pointed Scorn? What the tumultuous voice
Of erring Multitudes? Or what the shafts
Of keenest Malice, levell’d from the bow
Of human Inquisition?—if the God,
Who knows the heart, looks with complacence down
Upon the struggling victim; and beholds
Repentance bursting from the earth-bent eye,
And Faith’s red cross held closely to the breast!
Oh Author of my being! of my bliss
Beneficent Dispenser! wond’rous Power,
Whose eye, all-searching, thro’ this dreary gloom
Discerns the deepest secrets of the Soul;
Assist me!--With thy ray of light divine
Illumine my dark thoughts; upraise my low;
And give me Wisdom’s guidance, while I strive
Impartially to state the dread account,
And call Myself to Trial! Trial far
Than That more fearful—tho' how fearful That
Which trembling late I proved! Oh aid my hand
To hold the balance equal, and allow
The few sad moments of remaining life
To Retrospection useful! Make my End,
As my first wish (thou know’st the heart) has been,
To make my whole of Being to my Friends,
My fellow-pilgrims thro' this world of woe,
Instructive!—Oh could I conduct but one,
One only with me, to our Canaan’s rest,
How could I meet my fate, nor think it hard!
Not think it hard?—Burst into tears, my Soul;
Gush every pore of my distracted frame,
Gush into drops of blood!—But one; save one,
Or guide to Canaan’s rest?—when all thy Views
In better days were dedicate alone
To guide, persuade to that celestial rest
Souls, which have listened with Devotion’s ear
To Sion’s songs enchanting from thy lips,
And tidings sweet of Jesu’s pardoning Love!
But one, save one?—Oh, what a Rest is this!
Oh what a Sabbath in this dungeon’s gloom,
This prison-house, meet emblem of the realm
Reserv’d for the ungodly! Hark, methinks
I hear the cheerful melody of Praise
And penitential Sweetness! 
‘Tis the sound,
The well-known sound, to which my Soul, attun’d
For year succeeding year, hath hearken’d glad,
And still with fresh delight: while all my powers
In blest employ, have prest the saving truths
Of Grace Divine, and Faith’s all-conquering might,
On the sure Rock of Ages grounded firm.
Those hours are gone! and here, from Heaven shut out,
And heavenly works like these, on this lov’d day,
Reft of my God,--I only hear around
The dismal clang of chains; the hoarse rough shout
Of dissonant Imprecation; and the cry
Of Misery and Vice, in fearful din
Impetuous mingled; while my frighted mind
Shrinks back in horror! while the scalding tears,
Involuntary starting, furrow down
My sickly cheeks; and whirling thought confus’d
For giddy moments, scarce allows to know
Or where, or who, or what a Wretch I am!
Not know?—Alas! too well it strikes my heart,
Emphatical it speaks; while dungeons, chains,
And bars and bolts proclaim the mournful truth,
“Ah what a Wretch thou art! how sunk, how fallen,
From what high state of bliss, into what woe!”
Fallen from the topmost bough that plays in air
E’en of the tallest cedar; where aloft
Proud Happiness her tow’ring eyrie built;
Built, as I dreamt, for ages. Idle dream!
And yet, amongst the millions of mankind,
Who sleep like me, how few like me deceiv’d,
Do not indulge the same fantastic dream!
Give me the Angel’s Clarion!—Let me sound,
Loud as the blast which shall awake the dead;
Oh let me sound, and call the slumberers forth
To view the vision, which delusive charms;
To shake the potent incantation off;
Or ere it burst in ruin on their Souls,
As it has burst on mine.—Not on my Soul!
Retract the dread idea: Righteous God!
Not on my Soul! Oh Thou art gracious all;
And with an eye of pity from thy Throne
Of Majesty Supernal, Thou behold’st
The creatures of thy hand, thy feeble sons,
Struggling with Sin, with Satan, and the World,
Their sworn and deadly foes; and, having felt
In human flesh the trials of our kind,
Know’st sympathetic how to aid the Tried!
Rock of my hope! the rash, rash phrase forgive;
Safe is my Soul; nor can it know one fear,
Grounded on Thee Unchangeable! Thee first,
Thee last, great Cleanser of all human sin!
But tho' secure the vessel rides in port,
Held firm by Faith’s strong anchor,--well it suits
The mariner to think, by what strange means
Thro' perils unconceivable he pass’d;
Thro' rocks, sands, pirates, storms, and boisterous waves,
And happily obtain’d that port at last.
On these my thoughts are bent: nor deem it wrong,
Ministring Angels! whose benignant talk
Assign’d by Heav’n, is to console Distress,
And hold up human hearts amidst the toil
Of human woe! 
--Blest Spirits, who delight
In sweet, submissive Resignation’s smile,
To that high Will you know for ever right;--
Deem it not wrong, that with a weeping eye,
Deem it not wrong, that with a bleeding heart,
I dwell awhile,--unworthiest of my race,--
On those black rocks, those quick-sands, waves and storms,
Which in a sea of trouble have engulf’d
All, all my earthly comforts; and have left
Me, a poor naked, shipwreck’d, suffering wretch
On this bleak shore, in this confinement drear;
At sight of which, in better days, my Soul
Hath started back with horror! while my Friend,
My bosom-partner in each hour of pain,
With antidotes preventive kindly arm’d,
Trembling for my lov’d health; when christian calls
And zeal for others welfare, haply brought
My steps attendant on this Den of Death!
Oh dismal change! Now, not in friendly sort
A christian Visitor, to pour the balm
Of christian comfort in some wretch’s ear,--
I am that Wretch myself! and want, much want,
The christian consolation I bestow'd;
So cheerfully bestow'd! want, want, my God,
From Thee the mercy, from my fellow-man
The lenient mercy, which,--great Judge of Hearts,
To Thee I make the solemn, sad appeal--
That mercy which Thou know'st my gladsome soul
Ever sprang forth with transport to impart!
Why then, mysterious Providence! pursued
With such unfeeling ardour? why pursued
To death's dread bourn, by men to me unknown!
Why--Stop the deep question; it o'erwhelms my soul;
It reels, it staggers!--Earth turns round!--my brain
Whirls in confusion! my impetuous heart
Throbs with pulsations not to be restrain'd:
Why?--where?--Oh Chesterfield! my son, my son!
Nay, talk not of composure! I had thought
In olden time, that my weak heart was soft,
And Pity's self might break it.--I had thought
That marble-eyed Severity would crack
The slender nerves which guide my reins of sense,
And give me up to madness. 'Tis not so:
My heart is callous, and my nerves are tough:
It will not break; they will not crack; or else
What more, just Heaven! was wanting to the deed,
Than to behold--Oh that eternal Night
Had in that moment screen'd me from myself!--
My Stanhope to behold, whose filial ear
Drank pleas'd the lore of wisdom from my tongue.
My Stanhope to behold!--Ah piercing sight!
Forget it; --'its distraction:--Speak who can!
But, I am lost! a criminal adjudg'd!
A guilty miscreant!--Canst thou think, my Friend,
Oh Butler,--midst a million faithful found!--
Oh canst thou think, who know'st, who long hast known
My inmost soul; oh canst thou think that life,
From such rude outrage for a moment sav'd,
And sav'd almost by miracle, 
The languid wish, or e'er can be sustain'd?
It can--it must! That miracle alone
To life gives consequence. Oh deem it not
Presumptuous, that my grateful soul thus rates
The present high deliverance it hath found;--
Sole effort of thy wisdom, Sovereign Power,
Without whose knowledge not a sparrow falls!
Oh may I cease to live, ere cease to bless
That interposing Hand, which turn'd aside,--
Nay, to my life and preservation turn'd
The fatal blow precipitate, ordain'd
To level all my little hopes in dust,
And give me to the grave! Rather, my hand,
Forget thy cunning! Rather shall my tongue
In gloomy silence bury every note
To my glad heart respondent, than I cease
To dedicate to Him who spar'd my life,
Each breath, each power, while He vouchsafes to lend
The precious boon!--To Him be all its praise!
To Him be all its service! Long or short,
The gift's the same: to live or die to him,
Is gain sufficient, everlasting gain:
And may that gain be mine!--I live, I live!
Ye hours, ye minutes, bounty of his grace,
Fleet not away without improvement due:
Rich on your wings bear Penitence and Prayer
To Heaven's all-clement Ruler; and to Man
Bear all the Retribution Man can make!
Ye precious hours, ye moments snatch'd from death,
Replete with incense rise,--that my cheer'd soul,
When comes the solemn call, may spring away
Delighted, to the bosom of its God!
Who shall condemn the trust?--Proud Rationals
(That deep in Speculation's wildering maze
Be-muse themselves with error, and confound
The Laws of Men, of Nature, and of Heaven)
Presumptuous in their wisdom, dare dethrone
Even from his works the Maker; and contend,
That he who form'd it governs not the World:
While, steep'd in Sense's Lethe, Sons of Earth
From the World's partial picture gaily draw
Their mad conclusions. Bold broad-staring Vice,
Lull'd on the lap of every mundane bliss,
At meek-eyed Virtue's patient suffering scoffs,
And dares with dauntless insolence the God
Regardless of his votaries!--Vain and blind!
Alike thro' Wisdom or thro' Folly blind--
Whose dim contracted view the petty round,
The mere horizon of the present hour
In darkness terminates! Oh could I ope
The golden portals of eternal day;
Pour on your sight the congregated blaze
Of light, of wisdom, bursting from the throne
Of Universal Glory; on the round,
The boundless cycle of His moral plan,
Who, hid in clouds, terrific Master sits
Of subject Men and Worlds; and sees at once
The ample scene of Present, Future, Past,
All naked to his eye of Flame:--all rang'd,
In harmony complete, to work His will,
And finish with the plaudit of the Skies!
But,--while this 'whelming blazon may not burst
On the weak eyes of mortals; while confin'd
Thro' dark dim glass, with dark dim sight to look
All trembling to the Future, and collect
The scatter'd rays of Wisdom; while referr'd
Our infant Reason to the guiding hand
Of Faith strong-eyed, which never quits the view
Of Jesus, her great Pole-star; from whose Word,
Irradiate with the lustre of his love,
She learns the mighty Master to explore
In all his works; and from the meanest taught
Beholds the God, the Father;--Scorn ye not,
My fellow-pilgrims, fellow-heirs of Death,
And, oh triumphant thought!--my fellow-heirs
Of life immortal;--if not sold to Sense
And Infidelity's black cause, you cast
Ungracious from yourselves the proffer'd boon:
--Then scorn not, oh my friends, when Heaven vouchsafes
To teach by meanest objects, reptiles, birds,
--To take one lesson from a Worm like me!
Proof of a gracious Providence I live;--
To Him be all the glory! Of his care
Paternal, his supporting signal love,
I live each hour an argument. Away,
The systematic dulness of dispute!
Away, each doating reasoner!--I feel,
Feel in my inmost heart the conscious sense,
The grateful pressure of distinguish'd Grace,
And live, and only wish for life to praise it!
For say, my soul,--nor 'midst this silence sad,
This midnight, aweful, melancholy gloom,
Nor in this solemn moment of account
'Twixt thee and Heaven,--when on his altar lies
A sacrifice thy naked, bleeding heart!
Say, nor, self-flattering, to thy conscience hold
The mirror of Deceit;--could'st thou have thought
Thy nerves, thy head, thy heart, thy frame, thy sense,
Sufficient to sustain the sudden shock,
Rude as a bursting earthquake, which at once
Toppled the happy edifice adown,
Whelm'd thee and thine beneath its ruinous crash,
And buried all in sorrow?--Torn away
Impetuous from thy Home, thy much-lov'd Home,
Without one moment to reflection giv'n!
By soothing, solemn promise led to place
Ingenuous all thy confidence of life
In Men, assuming gentle Pity's guise!
Vain confidence, in ought beneath the Sun!
Behold the Hour, the dreadful Hour arriv'd:
The Prison opes its ruthless gates upon thee!
Oh Horror! But what's this, this fresh attack?
'Tis she, 'tis she! my weeping, fainting Wife!
"And hast Thou, faithful, found me? Has thy love
"Thus burst thro' ev'ry barrier?--Hast thou trac'd
"--Deprest in health, and timid as thou art--
"At midnight trac'd the desolate wild streets;
"Thus in a Prison's gloom to throw thy arms
"Of conjugal endearment round the neck
"Of thy lost husband?--Fate, exact thy worst;
"The bitterness is past."--Idea vain!
To tenfold bitterness drench'd in my deep cup
Of gall the morning rises! Statue like,
Inanimate, half dead, and fainting half,
To stand a spectacle!--the Praetor stern
Denying to my pleading tears one pang
Of human sympathy! Conducted forth,
Amidst th' unfeeling populace; pursued
Like some poor deer, which from the hunter's aim
Hath ta'en its deadly hurt; and glad to find--
Panting with woe,--my refuge in a Gaol!
Can Misery stretch more tight the torturing cord?
But hence this softness! Wherefore thus lament
These petty, poor escutcheons of thy fate,
When lies--all worthy of thyself and Life,
Cold in the hearse of Ruin?--Rather turn
Grateful thine eyes, and raise, tho' red with tears,
To His high throne, who looks on thy distress
With fatherly compassion; kindly throws
Sweet Comfort's mixture in thy cup; and sooths
With Gilead's balm thy death-wound. He it is
Who, 'midst the shock disrupting, holds in health
Thy shatter'd frame, and keeps thy Reason clear;
He, He it is, whose pitying power supports
Thy humbled soul, deep humbled in the dust,
Beneath the sense of guilt; the mournful sense
Of deep transgression 'gainst thy fellow-men,
Of sad offence 'gainst Him, thy Father-God;
Who, lavish in his bounties, woo'd thy heart
With each paternal blessing;--ah ingrate,
And worthless! Yet--(His mercies who can count,
Or truly speak his praise?)--Yet thro' this gloom
Of self-conviction lowly He vouchsafes
To dart a ray of comfort, like the Sun's
All-cheering thro' a summer's-evening shower!
Arch'd in his gorgeous sky, I view the Bow,
Of Grace fix'd emblem! 'Tis that Grace alone
Which gives my soul its firmness;--builds my hope
Beyond the grave; and bids me spurn the earth!
First of all blessings, hail! Yet Thou, from whom
Both first and last, both great and small proceed;
Exhaustless Source of every good to Man,
Accept for all, the tribute of my praise;
For all are thine!--Thine the ingenuous Friends,
Who solace with compassion sweet my woe;
Mingle with mine their sympathetic tears;
Incessant and disinterested toil
To work my weal; and, delicately kind,
Watch every keener sensibility
That lives about my soul. Oh, more than Friends,
In tenderness my Children!--Thine are too
The very Keepers of the rugged Jail,
--Ill school to learn Humanity's soft lore!--
Yet here Humanity their duty pays,
Respectably affecting! Whist they tend
My little wants, officious in their zeal,
They turn away, and fain would hide the tear
That gushes all unbidden to their eye,
And sanctifies their service.--On their heads
Thy blessing, Lord of Bounty!----
----But, of all,
All thy choice comforts in this drear distress,
God of our first young love! Thine is the Wife,
Who with assiduous care, from night to morn,
From morn to night, watches my every need;
And, as in brightest days of peace and joy,
Smiles on my anguish, while her own poor breast
Is full almost to bursting! Prostrate, Lord,
Before thy footstool----Thou, whose highest style
On Earth, in Heaven, is Love!--Thou, who hast breath'd
Thro' human hearts the tender charities,
The social fond affections which unite
In bonds of sweetest amity those hearts,
And guide to every good!--Thou, whose kind eye
Complacent must behold the rich, ripe fruit,
Mature and mellow'd on the generous stock
Of thy own careful planting!--Low on earth,
And mingled with my native dust, I cry;
With all the Husband's anxious fondness cry;
With all the Friend's solicitude and truth;
With all the Teacher's fervour;--"God of Love,
"Vouchsafe thy choicest comforts on her head!
"Be thine my fate's decision: To thy Will
"With Angel-resignation, lo! we bend!"
But hark! what sound, wounding the Night's dull ear,
Bursts sudden on my sense, and makes more horrible
These midnight horrors?--'Tis the solemn Bell,
Alarum to the Prisoners of Death 
Hark! what a groan, responsive from the Cells
Of Condemnation, calls upon my heart,
My thrilling heart, for intercession strong,
And pleadings in the Sufferer's behalf--
My Fellow-Sufferers, and my Fellow-Men!
Cease then awhile the strain, my plaintive Soul,
And veil thy face of sorrow! Lonely hours
Soon will return thee to thy midnight task,
For much remains to sing; sad themes, unsung,
As deem'd perchance too mournful;--yet, what else
Than themes like these can suit a Muse like mine!
--And might it be, that while ingenuous woe
Bleeds thro' my verse; while the succeeding page
Weaving with my sad story the detail
Of Crimes, of Punishments, of Prisons drear,
Of present Life and future,--sad discourse
And serious shall contain; Oh might it be,
That human hearts may listen and improve!
Oh might it be, that benefit to Souls
Flow from the weeping tablet: tho' the Man
In torture die,--the Painter shall rejoice!
Sunday, March 2, 1777.
2. END of the FIRST WEEK.
 The hour when they lock up in this dismal place. BACK
 Referring more immediately to the duty of the
 Milton. Par. L. B. 5. 540. BACK
 See Psalm xxxiv. 7. Heb. i. 14. BACK
 Referring to the case reserved for the solemn decision of the
twelve Judges; and which gave the prisoner a much longer space than his most sanguine friends could have expected, from
the complexion of the Process. See the Sessions Paper for Feb. 1777. BACK
 This alludes to a very striking and awful circumstance.
The Bellman of St. Sepuchre's, near the Prison, is by long and pious custom appointed to announce at Midnight to the
condemned Criminals in their Cells, That the Hour of their Departure is at Hand! BACK