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J. .' 




. /fn/tr.i ^^///f.r. 



THE 

TASK. 



WILL.1AM COWPER 

or THK INNER TEMPLE. 




y 



> V 



• *. 






I 

I 






THE 



T A S K. 



BY 



WILLIAM COWPER, 

OF THE INNER TEMPLE, ESQ. 



Fit giirculiis arbor. 

J/um. 



LONDON : 
PRINTED FOR JOHN SHARPE, 

PICCADILLY; 
BY C. WHITTINGHAM, CHISWICK. 



M DCCC XVII. 

v.r) 



• •» 




• _ • 




• • 



• . • • 



• « 



» * • 



. ' 



• ( 



• •• • «• 
J * » m 



m * 



ADVERTISEMENT. 



The history of the following prodaction is briefly 
this : A lady, fond of blank verse, demanded a poem 
of that kind from the author, and gave him the Sofa 
for a subject. He obeyed; and, having much lei- 
sure, connected another subject with it ; and, pursu- 
ing the train of thought to which his situation and 
turn of mind led him, brought forth at length, instead 
of the trifle which he at first intended, a serious affair 
— a Volume ! 

In the Poem on the subject of Education, he would 
be very sorry to stand suspected of having aimed his 
censure at any particular school. His objections are 
such, as naturally apply themselves to schools in 
general. If there were not, as for the most part 
there is, wilful neglect in those who manage them, 
and an omission even of such discipline as they are 
susceptible of, the objects are yet too numerous for 
minute attention ; and the aching hearts of ten thou- 
sand parents, mourning under the bitterest of all 
disappointments, attest the truth of the allegation. 
His quarrel, therefore, is with the mischief at large, 
and not with any particular instance of it. 

B 



TK3S TASSC. 
BOOK I. 




I 



■I*.* 



f03U 



(.-■» 



» ■-» 



^.y . •-•-A". 



V- > •■ 






;»;MS 



THE TASK 

BOOK I. 



THE SOFA. 



Historical deduction of seats from the stool to the Sofa.— A School- 
boy's ramble— A walk in the coantry.— The scene described. — Ruil 
sounds as well as sights delightful. — Another walk. — Mistake oon- 
ceroing the charms of solitude corrected. — Colonnades commended. 
— Alcove, and the view from it. — ^The wilderness. — The grove. — 
The thresher. — The necessity and the benefits of exercise.*— Th« 
works of nature superior to, and in some instances inimitable by, 
art. — The wearisomeness of what is commonly called a life of 
pleasure.— Change of scene sometimes expedient. — A common de- 
scribed, and the character of crazy Kate introduced. — Gipsies.-^ 
The blessings of civilized life.— That state most favourable to vir- 
tue.— Tbe South Sea islanders compassionated, but chiefly Omai. — 
His present state of mind supposed. — Civiliaed life IHemlly to vir- 
tue, but not great cities. — Great cities, and Londim in particolar, 
allowed their due praise, but censured.— F^te champkre.— The 
book concludes with a reflection on the fatal effects of dissipatiou 
uad effeminacy upon our public measures. 



I SING the Sofa. I, who lately sang 
Truth, Hope, and Charity, and touched with awe 
The solemn chords, and with a trembling hand, 
Escaped with pain from that advent'rous flight, 

b2 



4 THE TASK. BOOK 

Now seek repose upon an humbler theme ; 

The theme though humble, yet august and proud 

The occasion — for the Fair commands the song. 

Time was, when clothing sumptuous or for ustv 
Saye their own painted skins, our sires had none. 
As yet black breeches were not ; satin smooth, 
Or velvet soft, or plush with shaggy pile : 
The hardy chief upon the rugged rock 
Washed by the sea, or on the gravelly bank 
Thrown up by wintry torrents roaring loud, 
Fearless of wrong, reposM his weary strength. 
Those barbarous ages past, succeeded next 
The birth-day of invention ; weak at first, 
Doll in design, and clumsy to perform. 
Joint-stools were then created ; on three legs 
Upborne they stood. Three legs upholding firm 
A massy slab, in fashion square or round. 
On such a stool immortal Alfred sat^ 
And sWay'd the sceptre of his infant realms : 
And such in ancient halls and mansions drear 
May still be seen ; but perforated sore. 
And drill'd in holes, the solid oak is found, 
By worms voracious eating through and through. 

At length a generation more refinM 
ImprovM the simple plan ; made three legs four. 
Gave them a twisted form vermicular. 
And o'er the seat, with plenteous wadding stufi'^d, 
Induc*d a splendid cover, green and blue. 
Yellow and red, of tapestry richly wrought 
And woven close, or needle-work sublime. 



THE SOFA. 5 

There might you see the piooy spread wide. 
The full-blown rose, the shepherd and his lass, 
Lapdog and lambkin with black staring eyes, 
And parrots with twin cherries in their beak. 

Now came the cane from India smooth and bright 
With Nature's yarnish ; severed into stripes, 
That interlaced each other, these supplied 
Of texture firm a lattice-work, that braced 
The new machine, and it became a chair. 
But restless was the chair; the back erect 
Distressed the weary loins, that felt no ease ; 
The slipp'ry seat betray'd the sliding part, 
That pressed it, and the feet hung dangling down. 
Anxious in vain to find the distant floor. 
These for the rich : the rest, whom Fate had ^c*d 
In modest mediocrity, content 
With base materials, sat on well-taiin'd hides. 
Obdurate and unyielding, glassy smooth, 
With here and there a tuft of crimson yam. 
Or scarlet crewel, in the cushion fix'd. 
If cushion might be called, what harder seem'd 
Than the firm oak, of which ihe firame was ftrraHl. 
No want of timber then was felt or fear*d 
In Albion's happy isle. The lumber stood 
Ponderous and fix'd by its own massy wdght 
But elbows still were wanting ; these, some say, 
An alderman of Cripplegate contrived ; 
And some asoibe th' invention to a priest, 
Buriy, and big, and studious of his ease. 
But, rude at first, and not with easy slope 



0' THE TASK. BO 

RecediDg wide, they press'd against the ribs^ 
And bniisM the side ; and, elevated high, 
Taught the raisM shoaiders to invade the ears. 
Long time elaps'd or e'er our rugged sires 
Complained, though incommodiously pent in. 
And ill at ease behind. The ladies first 
'Gan murmur, as became the softer sex. 
Ingenious Fancy, never better pleas'd 
Than when employed t* accommodate the fair, 
Heard the sweet moan with pity, and devis'd 
The soft settee ; one elbow at each end, 
And in the midst an elbow it received, 
United yet divided, twain at once. 
So sit two kings of Brentford on one throne ; 
And so two citi2sens who, take the air. 
Close pack'd, and smiling, in a chaise and one. 
But relaxation of the languid frame, 
The soft recumbency of outstretched limbs, 
Was bliss reserved for happier days. So slow 
The growth of what is excellent ; so hard 
To attain perfection in this nether world. 
Thus first Necessity invented stools. 
Convenience next suggested elbow-chairs, 
And Luxury th' accomplished sofa last. 

The nurse sleeps sweetly, hiT'd to watch the sic 
Whom snoring she disturbs. As sweetly he, 
Who quits the coach-box at the midnight hour. 
To sleep within the carriage more secure. 
His legs depending at the open door. 
Sweet sleep enjoys the curate in his desk^ 



THE SOFA. 

The tedious rector drawling o*er his head ; 
And sweet the clerk below. But neither sleep 
Of lazy nurse, who snores the sick man dead; 
Nor his, who quits the box at midnight hour, 
To slumber in the carriage more secure; 
Nor sleep enjoy'd by curate in his desk ; 
Nor yet the dozings of the clerk, are sweet. 
Compared with the repose the sofa yields. 

O may I live exempted (while I live 
Guiltless of pampered appetite obscene) 
F/om pangs arthritic, that infest the toe 
Of hbertine Excess. The sofa suits 
The gouty limb, 'tis true ; but gouty limb, 
Though on a sofa, may I never feel: 
For I have lov'd the rural walk through lanes 
Of grassy swarth, close cropp'd by nibbling sheep, 
And skirted thick with intertexture firm 
Of thorny boughs ; have lov*d the rural walk 
O'er hills, through valleys, and by rivers' brink. 
E'er since a truant boy I pass'd my bounds, 
T' enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames ; 
And still remember, nor without regret 
Of hours, that sorrow since has much endear'd, 
How oft, my slice of pocket store consumed. 
Still hungering, pennyless, and far from home, 
I fed on scarlet hips and stony haws, 
Or blushing crabs, or berries, that emboss 
The bramble, black as jet, or sloes austere. 
Hard fare ! but such as boyish appetite 
Disdains not; nor the palate, undeprav'd 



8 TH£ TASK. BOOK I. 

By calinary arts, unsavVy deems. 

No SOFA then awaited my return ; 

Nor SOFA then I needed. Youth repairs 

His wasted spirits quickly, by long toil 

Incurring short fatigue ; and, though our years. 

As life declines, speed rapidly away, 

And not a year but pilfers as he goes 

Some youthfiil grace, that age would gladly keep ; 

A tooth, or auburn lock, and by degrees 

Their length and colour from the locks they spare ; 

Th' elastic spring of an unwearied foot. 

That mounts the stile with ease, or leaps the fence. 

That play of lungs, inhaling and again 

Respiring freely the fresh air, that makes 

Swift pace or steep ascent no toil to me, 

IVIine have not pilfer'd yet ; nor yet impaired 

My relish of fair prospect ; scenes that sooth'd 

Or charm'd me young, no longer young, I find 

Still soothing, and of pow'r to charm me still. 

And witness, dear companion of my walks, 

Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive 

Fast lock'd in mine, with pleasure such as love. 

Confirm^ by long experience of thy worth 

And well-tried virtues, could alone inspire — 

Witness a joy that thou hast doubled long. 

Thou know'st my praise of nature most sincere. 

And that my raptures are not coi^ur'd up 

To serve occasions of poetic pomp. 

But genuine, and art partner of them all. 

How oft upon yoD eminence our pace 



THE SOFA. O 

Has slackened to a pause^ and we have borne ■ 
The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it bleWy 
While Admiration feeding at the eye, 
And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene. 
Thence with what pleasure have we just discem'd 
The distant plough slow moving, and beside 
His laboring team, that swervM not from the track, 
The sturdy swain diminished to a boy ! 
Here Ouse, slow winding through a level plain 
Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled o'er, 
Conducts the eye along his sinuous course 
Delighted. There, fast rooted in their bank. 
Stand, never overlooked, our favorite elms. 
That screen the herdsman's solitary hut ; 
While far beyond, and overthwart the stream, 
That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale. 
The sloping land recedes into the clouds ; 
Displaying on its varied side the grace ■■' 

Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tow'r, 
Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerM bells 
Just undulates upon the listening ear. 
Groves, heaths, and smoking villages, remote* 
Scenes must be beautiful, which, daily view'd, 
Please daily, and whose novelty survives 
Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years. 
Praise justly due to those that I describe. 
Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds, 
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore 
The tone of languid Nature. Mighty winds. 
That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood 

v3 



10 THE TASK. BOOK I. 

Of ancient growth, make masio not unlike 

The dash of Ocean on his winding shore, 

And lull the spirit while they fill the mind ; 

Unnumber'd branches waving in the blast, 

And all their leaves fast flutt'ring, all at once. 

Nor less composure waits upon the roar 

Of distant floods, or on the softer voice 

Of neighboring fountain, or of rills that slip 

Through the cleft rock, and, chiming as they fall 

Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length 

In matted grass, that with a livelier green • 

Betrays the secret of their silent course. 

Nature inanimate employs sweet sounds, 

But animated nature sweeter still. 

To sooth and satisfy the human ear. 

Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one 

The livelong night : nor these alone, whose notes 

Nice fingered Art must emulate in vain. 

But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime 

In still repeated circles, screaming loud. 

The jay, the pie, and ev'n the boding owl. 

That hails the rising moon, have charms for me. 

Sounds inharmonious in themselves and harsh. 

Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns. 

And only there, please highly for their sake. 

Peace to the artist, whose ingenious thought 
DevisM the weatherhous^, that useful toy ! 
Fearless of humid air and gathering rains. 
Forth steps the man— an emblem of myself! 
More delicate, his tim'rous mate retires. 



THE SOFA. 11 

WhcD winter soaks the fields, and female feet^ 

Too weak to struggle with teDacious clay. 

Or ford the rivulets, are best at home, 

The task of new discoveries falls on me, 

At such a season, and with such a charge. 

Once went I forth ; and found, till then unknown, 

A cottage, whither oft we since repair: 

'Tis perch'd upon the green hill top, but close 

Environed with a ring of branching elms, 

That overhang the thatch, itself unseen 

Peeps at the vale below ; so thick beset 

With foliage of such dark redundant growth, 

I caird the low-roof 'd lodge the peasant^s nest; 

And, hidden as it is, and far remote 

From such unpleasing sounds, as haunt the ear 

In village or in town, the bay of curs 

Incessant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels. 

And infants clam'rous whether pleased or pain'd. 

Oft have I wish'd the peaceful covert mine. 

Here, I have said, at least I should possess 

The poet's treasure, silence, and indulge 

The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure. 

Vain thought ! the dweller in that still retreat 

Dearly obtains the refuge it affords. 

Its elevated site forbids the wretch 

To drink sweet waters of the crystal well ; 

He dips his bowl into the weedy ditch» 

And, heavy laden, brings his bev'rage home, 

Far-fetch'd and little worth ; nor seldom waits 

Dependant on the baker's punctual call. 



12 THE TASK. BOOK T. 

To bear his cceaking^ panniers at the door, 
Angry, and sad, and his last crast consumed. 
So farewell envy of the peasant » nest! 
If solitnde make scant the means of life, 
Society for mel— thoa seeming sweet, 
Be.^i a pleasing object in my view; 
My visit still, but never mine abode. 

Not distant for, a length of colonnade 
Invites us. Monument of ancient taste, 
Now scorn'd, but worthy of a better fate. 
Our fathers knew the value of a screen 
From sultry suns : and, in their shaded walks 
And long protracted bow'rs, enjoyed at noon 
The gloom and coolness of declining day. 
We bear our shades about us ; self-depriv'd 
Of other screen, the thin umbrella spread. 
And range an Indian waste without a tree. 
Thanks to Benevolus— he spares me yet 
These chesnuts rang'd in corresponding lines ; 
And, though himself so polished, still reprieves 
The obsolete prolixity of shade. 

Descending now (but cautious, lest too fast) 
A sudden steep, upon a rustic bridge 
We pass a gulf, in which the willows dip 
Their pendent boughs, stooping as if to drink. 
Hence, ancle deep in moss and flowVy thyme. 
We mount again, and feel at ev'ry step 
Our foot half sunk in hillocks green and sofY, 
Rais'd by the mole, the miner of the soil. 
He, not unlike the great ones of mankind, 



THE SOFA. 13 

Disfigures Earth : and, plotting in the dark, ' 
Toils much id earn a monumental pile, 
That may record the mischiefs he has done. 

The summit gain'd, behold the proud alcove, 
That crowns it ! yet not all its pride secures 
The grand retreat from injuries impress'd 
By rural carvers, who with knives defiEuse 
The pannels, leaving an obscure, rude name, 
In characters uncouth, and spelt amiss. 
So strong the zeal t' immortalize himself 
Beats in the breast of man, that ev'n a few. 
Few transient years, won from th' abyss abhorred 
Of blank oblivion, seem a glorious priae, 
And even to a clown. Now roves the eye; 
And posted on this speculative height, 
Exults in its command. The sheepfold here 
Pours out its fleecy tenants o'er the glebe. 
At first, progressive as a stream, they seek 
The middle field ; but scattered by deg^es. 
Each to his choice, soon whiten all the land. 
There from the sunburnt hayfield homeward creeps 
The loaded wain ; while, lightenM of its charge, 
The wain that meets it passes swiftly by; 
The boorish driver leaning o'er his team 
YociProus, and impatient of delay. 
Nor less attractive is the woodland scene. 
Diversified with trees of ev'ry growth, 
Alike, yet various. Here the grey smooth trunks 
Of ash, or lime, or beech, distinctly shine. 
Within the twilight of their distant shades ; 



14 THE TASK. BOOK I. 

There, lost behind a rising ground, wood 

Seems sank, and shortened to its topmost booghs. 

No tree in all the grove but has its charms. 

Though each Its hue peculiar; paler some, 

And of a wannish grey ; the willow such. 

And poplar, that with silver lines his leaf. 

And ash far-stretching his umbrageous arm ; 

Of deeper green the elm ; and deeper still, 

Xiord of the woods, the long-surviving oak. 

Some glossy-leav'd, and shining in the sun, 

The maple, and the beech of oily nuts 

Prolific, and the lime at dewy eve 

Diffusing odours: nor unnoted pass 

The sycamore, capricious in attire, 

Now green, now tawny, and, ere autumn yet 

Have changed the woods, in scarlet honours bright. 

O'er these, but far beyond (a spacious map 

Of hill and valley interposed between), 

The Ouse, dividing the well-water'd land. 

Now glitters in the sun, and now retires, 

As bashful, yet impatient to be seen. 

Hence the declivity is sharp and short, 
And such the reascent : between them weeps 
A little naiad her impoverished urn 
All summer long, which winter fills again. 
The folded gates would bar my progress now. 
But that the lord of this enclosed demesne, 
Communicative of the good he owns, 
Admits me to a share ; the guiltless eye 
Commits no wrong, nor wastes what it enjoys. 



\ 

THE SOFA. 15 

Kcfreshiug chauge! where now the biaadog sun? 
By short transition we have lost his glare^ 
And stepped at once into a cooler clime. 
Ye fallen avenues! once more I mourn 
Your fate unmerited, once more rejoice. 
That yet a remnant of your race survives. 
How airy and how light the graceful arch. 
Yet awful as the consecrated roof 
Re-echoing pious anthems ! while beneath 
The checkered earth seems restless as a flood 
Brush M by the wind. So sportive is the light 
Shot through the boughs, it dances as they dance. 
Shadow and sunshine intermingling quick. 
And darkening and enlightening, as the leaves 
Play wanton, ev'ry moment, ev*ry spot 

And now,with nerves new-brac'd and spirits cheer'd, 
We tread the wilderness, whose well-rolFd walks, 
With curvature of slow and easy sweep- 
Deception innocent — give ample space 
To narrow bounds. The grove receives us next ; 
Between the upright shafts of whose tall elms 
We may discern the thresher at his task. 
Thump after thump resounds the constant flail, 
That seems to swing uncertain, and yet falls 
Full on the destined ear. Wide flies the chaff, 
I'he rustling straw sends up a frequent mist 
Of atoms, sparkling in the noonday beam. 
Come hither, ye that press your beds of down. 
And sleep not ; see him sweating o'er his bread, 
Before he eats it.— Tis the primal curse, 



16 THE TASK. BOOK 

But softened iiito mercy ; made the pledge 
Of cheerftil days, and ikights without a g^an. 

By ceaseless action all that is subsists. 
Constant rotation of th' unwearied wheel, 
That Nature rides upon, maintains her health. 
Her beauty, her fertility. She dreads 
An instant's pause, and lives but while she move 
Its own revolvency upholds the World. 
Winds from all quarters agitate the air. 
And fit the limpid element for use, 
Else noxious : oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams, 
AU feel the fiiesh'ning impulse, and are cleansed 
By restless undulation : e'en the oak 
Thrives by the rude concussion of the storm : 
He seems indeed indignant, and to feel 
Th' impression of the blast with proud disdain, 
Frowning, as if in his unconscious arm 
He held the thunder: but the monarch owes 
His firm stabiUty to what he scorns. 
More fix'd below, the more disturb^ above. 
The law, by which all creatures else are bound, 
Binds man, the lord of all. Himself derives 
No mean advantage from a kindred cause, 
From strenuous toil his hours of sweetest ease. 
The sedentary stretch their lasy length 
When Custom bids, but no refreshment find. 
For none they need : the languid eye, the cheek 
Deserted of its bloom, the flaccid, shrunk. 
And withered muscle, and the vapid soul. 
Reproach their owner with that love of rest. 



THE SOFA. 17 

To which he forfeits e'en the rest be loves. 
Not such the alert and active. Measare life 
By its true worth,' the comforts it affords, 
And theirs alone seems worthy of the name. 
Good health, and, its associate in the most. 
Good temper ; spirits prompt to undertake, 
And not soon spent, though in an arduous task ; 
The powers of fancy and strong thought are theirs ; 
Ev'n age itself seems privileged in them 
With clear exemption from its own defects. 
A sparkling eye beneath a wrinkled front 
The vet'ran shows, and, gracing a grey beard 
With youthful smiles, descends toward the grave 
Sprightly, and old almost without decay. 

Like a coy maiden. Ease, when courted most. 
Furthest retires — an idol, at whose shrine 
Who oft'nest sacrifice are favoured least. 
The love of Nature, and the scenes she draws, 
Is Nature's dictate. Strange ! there should be found, 
Who, self-imprison'd in their proud saloons, 
Renounce the odours of the open field 
For the unscented fictions of the loom ; 
Who, satisfied with only penciled scenes. 
Prefer to the performance of a God 
Tb' inferior wonders of an artist's hand! 
Lovely indeed the mimic works of Art; 
But Nature's works far lovelier. I admire. 
None more admires, the painter's magic skill. 
Who shows me that, which I shall never see, 
Conveys a distant country into mine, 



18 THE TASK. BOOK 

And throws Italian light on English walls ; 
But imitatiye strokes can do no more 
Than please the eye— Sweet Nature's ev'ry sens( 
The air salabrious of her lofty hills, 
The cheering fragrance of her dewy vales. 
And music of her woods— no works of man 
May rival these ; these all bespeak a pow*r 
Peculiar, and exclusively her own. 
Beneath the open sky she spreads the feast ; 
Tis free to all— 'tis ev'ry day renew'd ; 
Who scorns it starves deservedly at home. 
He does not scorn it, who, imprisoned long 
In some unwholesome dungeon, and a prey 
To sallow sickness, which the vapours, dank 
And clammy, of his dark abode have bred, 
Escapes at last to liberty and light: 
His cheek recovers soon its healthful hue ; 
His eye relumines its extinguished fires ; 
He walks, he leaps, he runs— is wing'd with joj. 
And riots in the sweets of ev'ry breeze. 
He does not scorn it, who has long endur'd 
A fever's agonies, and fed on drugs. 
Nor yet the mariner, his blood inflam'd 
With acrid salts ; his very heart athirst, 
To gaze at Nature in her green array, 
Upon the ship's tall side he stands, possess'd 
With visions prompted by intense desire : 
Fair fields appear below, such as he left 
Far distant, such as he would die to find- 
He seeks them headlong, and is seen no more. 



THE SOFA. 19 

The spleen is seldom felt where Flora reig^ns ; 
The lowering eye, the petulance, the frown, 
And sullen sadness, that o'ershade, distort. 
And mar the face of Beauty, when 190 cause 
For such immeasurable woe appears, 
These Flora banishes, and gives the fair 
8weet smiles, and bloom less transient than her own. 
It is the constant revolution, stale 
And tasteless, of the same repeated joys. 
That palls, and satiates, and makes languid life 
A pedlar's pack, that bows the bearer down* 
Health suffers, and the spirits ebb ; the heart 
Recoils from its own choice— at the full feast 
Is famished — finds no music in the song. 
No smartness in the jest ; and wonders why. 
Yet thousands still desire to joiimey on, 
Though halt, and weary of the path they tread. 
The paralytic, who can hold her cards. 
But cannot play them, borrows a friend's hand. 
To deal and shuffle, to divide and sort 
Her mingled suits and sequences; and sits, 
Spectatress both and spectacle, a sad 
And silent cipher, while her proxy plays. 
Others are dragged into the crowded room 
Between supporters ; and, once seated, sit, 
Through downright inability to rise. 
Till the stout bearers lift the corpse again. , 
These speak a loud memento. Yet e'en these 
Themselves love life, and cling to it, as he, 
That overhangs a torrent, to a twig. 



26 THE TASK. BOO 

They loye it, and yet loath it; fear to die, 
Yet scorn the pnrposes, for which they liTe. 
Then wherefore not renounce them ? No— the < 
The slavish dread of solitude, that breeds 
Reflection and remorse, the fear of shame. 
And their invef rate habits, all forbid. 

Whom call we gay? That honour has been ] 
The boast of mere pretenders to the name. 
The innocent are gay— the lark is gay, 
That dries his feathers, saturate with dew. 
Beneath the rosy cloud, while yet the beams 
Of dayspring OTershoot his humble nest ' 
The peasant too, a witness of his song, 
Himself a songster, is as gay as he. 
But save me from the gaiety of those, 
Whose headachs nail them to a nik)nday bed ; 
And save me too from theirs, whose haggard < 
iFlash desperation, and betray their pangs 
for property stripped off by cruel chance ; 
From gaiety, that fills the bones with pain, 
The mouth with blasphemy, the heart with wo 

The Earth was made so various, that the mi 
Of desultory man, studious of change, 
And pleased with novelty, might be indulged. 
Prospects, however lovely, may be seen 
Till half their beauties fade ; the weary sight. 
Too well acquainted with their smiles, slides c 
Fastidious, seeking less familiar scenes. 
Then snug enclosures in the sheltered vale, 
Where frequent hedges intercept the eye, 




THE SOFA. 21 

Delight us ; happy to renounce awhile, 
Not senseless of its charms, what still we lave. 
That such short absence may endear it more. 
Then forests, or the savage rock, may please. 
That hides the seamew in his hollow clefts 
Above the reach of man. His hoary bead, 
Conspicuous many a league, the mariner 
Bound homeward, and in hope already there, , 
Greets with three cheers exulting. At his waist 
A girdle of half-wither*d shrubs he shows. 
And at his feet the bafQed billows die. 
The common, overgrown with fern, and rough 
With prickly gorse, that, shapeless and deform'd, 
And dang*rous to the touch, has yet its bloom, 
And decks itself with ornaments of gold. 
Yields no unpleasing ramble ; there the turf 
Smells fresh, and, rich in odorifrous herbs 
And fungous finits of earth, regales the sense 
With luxury of unexpected sweets. 

There often wanders one, whom better days 
Saw better clad, in cloak of satin trimmed 
With lace, and hat with splendid rib&nd bound. 
A serving-maid was she, and fell in love 
With one who left her, went to sea, and died. 
Her fancy followed him through foaming waves 
To distant shores ; and she would sit and weep 
At what a sailor suffers ; fancy too, 
Delusive most where warmest wishes are, 
Would oft anticipate his glad return. 
And dream of transports she was not to know 



22 THE TASK. BOOK I. 

She heard the doleful tidings of his death — 
And never smii'd again ! and now she roams 
The dreary waste ; there spends the livelong day. 
And there, unless when* charity forbids, 
The livelong night A tattered apron hides. 
Worn as a cloak, and hardly hides, a gown 
More tatter'd still; and both but ill conceal 
A bosom heav'd with never-ceasing sighs. 
She begs an idle pin of all she meets, 
And hoards them in her sleeve ; but needful food. 
Though press'd with hunger oft, or comelier clothes, 
Though pinch'd with cold, asks never.— Kate is craz'd. 

I see a column of slow rising smoke 
Overtop the lofty wood, that skirts the wild. 
A vagabond and useless tribe there eat 
Their miserable meal. A kettle, slung 
Between two poles upon a stick transverse, 
Receives the morsel — flesh obscene of dog. 
Or vermin, or at best of cock purloined 
From his accustomed perch. Hard faring race ! 
They pick their fuel out of ev'ry hedge. 
Which, kindled with dry leaves, just saves unquencird 
The spark of life. The sportive wind blows wide 
Their flutt*ring rags, and shows a tawny skin, 
The vellum of the pedigree they claim. 
Great skill have they in palmistry, and more 
To conjure clean away the gold they touch. 
Conveying worthless dross into its place; 
Loud when they beg, dumb only when they steal. 
Strange ! that a creature rational, and cast 



THE SOFA. 23 

In human mould, should brutalize by choice 

His nature ; and, though capable of arts, 

By which the world might profit, and himself, 

Self-banish'd from society, prefer 

Such squalid sloth to honourable toil ! 

Yet even these, though feigning sickness oft 

They swathe the forehead, drag the limping limb. 

And vex their flesh with artificial sores. 

Can change their whine into a mirthful note. 

When safe occasion ofiers ; and with dance, 

And music of the bladder and the bag, 

Beguile their woes, and make the woods resound. 

Such health and gaiety of heart enjoy 

The houseless rovers of the sylvan world ; 

And, breathing wholesome air, and wand'ring much, 

Need other physic none to heal th* efiects 

Of loathsome diet, penury, and cold. 

Blest he, though uudistinguish'd from the crowd 
By wealth or dignity, who dwells secure, 
Where man, by nature fierce, has laid aside 
His fierceness, having learnt, though slow to learn, 
The manners and the arts of civil life. 
His wants indeed are many ; but supply 
Is obvious, placed within the easy reach 
Of temperate wishes and industrious hands. 
Here virtue thrives as in her proper soil ; 
Not rude and surly, and beset with thorns, 
And terrible to sight, as when she springs 
(If e'er she spring spontaneous) in remote 
And barbVous climes, where violence prevails,. 



24 THE TASK. B 

And stren^h is lord of all ; but gentle, kin* 
By cnlture tam'd, by liberty refresb'd. 
And all her fruits by radiant truth matured. 
War and the chase engross the savage who 
War followed for reyenge, or to supplant 
The envied tenants of some hi4>pier spot : 
The chase for sustenance, precarious trust ! 
His hard condition with seyere constraint 
Binds all his Acuities, forbids all growth 
Of wisdom, proves a school, in which he le 
Sly circumyention, unrelenting hate. 
Mean self-attachment, and scarce aught bei 
Thus fare the shiVring natives of tiie north. 
And thus the rangers of the western world. 
Where it advances far into the deep. 
Towards the antarctic, Ev'n the favoured is 
So lately found, although the constant sun 
Cheer all their seasons with a grateful smile 
Can boast but little virtue ; and, inert 
Through plenty, lose in morals what they gi 
In manners— victims of luxurious ease. 
These therefore I can pity, placed remote 
From all, that science traces, art invents, 
Or inspiration teaches ; and enclosed 
In boundless oceans, never to be passed 
By navigators uninformM as they, 
Or ploughed perhaps by British bark again. 
But far beyond the rest, and with most cau: 
Thee, gentle savage* ! whom no love of the 
Or thine, but curiosity perhaps, 

• On«i. 




THE SOFA. 25 

else vainglory, prompted ns to draw 
th from thy natiye bow'rs, to show thee here 
h what superior skill we can abuse 
! gifts of Providence, and sqoander life. > 
! dream is past ; and thou hast found again 
' cocofui and bananas, palms and yams, [(band 
1 homestaU thatch'd with leaves. Bot hast thou 
!ir former charms? And, having seen our state, 
' palaceSy our ladies, and our pomp 
equipage, our gardens^ and our sports, 
1 heard our music ; are thy simple friends, 
' simple &rey and all thy plain delights^ 
dear to thee as once ? And have thy joys 
;t nothing by comparison with, ours ? 
le as thou art (for we returned thee rudo 
i ignotanty except of outward show), 
innot think thee yet so dull of heart 
i spiritless, as never to regret 
sets tasted here, and left as soon as knowm 
thinks I see thee straying on the beach, 
1 asking of the surge, that bathes thy foot, 
iver^ it bas^ wash'd our distant shore. 
)e thee weep* and thine are honest tears, 
atriot's for his country: thou art sad 
thought of her forlorn and abject state, 
m which no powV of thine can raise h^ up. 
IS Fa«cy. paints thee^ and, though apt to err, . 
haps ens little, when she paints thee thus, 
tells me tqo, that duly ev'ry mom 
m.ctimb'st the mountain top, with eager eye 

c 



M THE TASK. BOO) 

Exploring far and wide the watery waste, 
For sight of ship from England. Ev'ry speck 
Seen in the dim horiason turns thee pale 
With conflict of contending hopes and fears. 
But comes at last the dull and dusky eve, 
And sends thee to thy cabin, well-prepar'd, 
To dream all night of what the day denied. 
Alas! expect it not We found no bait 
To tempt us in thy country. Doing good, 
Disinterested good, is not our trade. 
We travel far 'tis true, but not for nought ; 
And must be brib*d to compass Earth again 
By other hopes and richer fruits than yours. 

But though true worth and virtue in the mild 
And genial soil of cultivated life 
Thrive most, and may perhaps thrive only there 
Yet not in cities oft: in prood, and gay, 
And gain-devoted cities. Hiither flow, 
As to a common and most noisome sewer, 
The dregs and feculence of ev'ry land. 
In cities foul example on most minds 
Begets its likeness. Rank abundance breeds, 
In gross and pamper'd cities, sloth, and lust, 
And wantonness, and gluttonous excess. 
In cities vice is hidden with most ease. 
Or seen with least reproach ; and virtue, taught 
By frequent lapse, can hope no triumph there 
Beyond th' adneHrement of successful flight. 
I do confess them nuFs'ries of the arts, 
*ln which they flomish most; wliere, in the beai 






THE SOFA. 27 

or warm enoouragpementy and in the eye 
Of public note^ tliey reach their perfect sine. 
Such London is, by taste and wealth proclaim*d 
The fairest capital of all the world, 
By riot and incontinence the worst 
There, toach'd by Reynolds, a dull blank becomes 
A lucid mirror, in which Nature sees 
All her reflected features. Bacon there 
Gives more than female beauty to a stone. 
And Chatham's eloquence to marble lips. 
Nor does the chisel occupy alone 
The powers of Sculpture, but the style as much ; 
Each province of her art her equal care. 
With nice incision of her g^uided steel 
She ploughs a brazen field, and clothes a soil 
So steril with what charms soe'er she will, 
The richest scen'ry and the loveliest forms. 
Where finds Philosophy her eagle eye, 
With which she gazes at yon burning disk 
Undazzled, and detects and counts his spots ? 
In London : where her implements exact. 
With which she calculates, computes, and scans. 
All distance, motion, magnitude, and now 
Measures an atom, and now girds a world ? 
In London. Where has commerce such a mart. 
So rich,. so thrcmg'd, so drained, and so supplied. 
As London^ opulent, enlarged, and still 
Increasing, London? Babylon of old 
Not more the glory of the £arth than she, 
A more accomplished worldV chief glory now. 

c2 



28 THE TASK. BOOK 1. 

She has her praise. Now mark a spot or two. 
That so much beauty would do well to purge ; 
And show this queen of cities, that so fair 
May yet be foul; so witty, yet not wise. 
It is not seemly, nor of good report, 
That she is slack in discipline; more prompt 
T^ avenge than to prevent the breach of law : 
That she is rigid in denouncing death 
On petty robbers, and indulges life> 
And liberty, and ofttimes honour too, 
To peculators of the public gold : 
That thieves at home must hang ; but he that puts 
Into his overgorg'd and bloated purse 
The wealth of Indian provinces, escapes. 
Nor is it well, nor can it come to good, 
That, through profane and infidel contempt 
Of holy writ, she has presumed to annul 
And abrogate, as roundly as she may, 
The total ordinance and will of God ; 
Advancing Fashion to the post of Truth, 
And cent'ring all authority in modes 
And customs of her own, till sabbath rites 
Have dwindled into unrespected forms. 
And knees and hassocks are well-nigh divorc'd. 

God made the country, and man made the town. 
WhM wonder then that health and virtue, gifts. 
That can alone make sweet the bitter draught. 
That life holds out to all, should most abound 
And least be threaten^ in the fields and groves? 
Possess ye therefore, ye who, borne about 



f 



THE SOFA. 21) 

In chariots and sedans, know no fati^e 
But that of idleness, and taste no scenes 
But such as art contrives, possess ye still 
Your element ; there only can ye shine ; 
There only minds like yours can do no harm. 
Our groves virere planted to console at noon 
The pensive wandVer in their shades. At eve 
The moon-beam, sliding softly in between 
The sleeping leaves, is all the light they wish, 
Birds warbling all the music. We can spare 
The splendour of your lamps ; they but eclipse 
Our softer satellite. Your songs confound 
Our more harmonious notes : the thrush departs 
Scar'd, and th' offended nightingale is mute. 
There is a public mischief in your mirth ; 
It plagues your country. Folly such as yours, 
Graced with a sword, and worthier of a fan. 
Has made, what enemies could ne'er have done, 
Our arch of empire, stedfast but for you, 
A mutilated structure, soon to fall. 



i 



THE TASK. 

BOOK II. 



THE TIME-PIECE. 



ReflectioB* somested by the conclotioa of the former book.*-Peaec 
among the nations recommended, on the gronnd of their common 
fellowship in sorrow. — Prodigies ennmerated.— Sicilian earthquakes. 
— Man rendered obnoxious to these calamities by sin. — God the 
agent in them.— The philosophy that stops at secondary causes re- 
proved.— Our own late miscarriages accomited for.— Satirical notice 
taken of our trips to Fontainblean. — But the pulpit, not satire, the 
proper oigine of reformation. — ^The Reverend Advertiser of engraved 
Sermons. — Petit-maitre parson.— The good preacher.— Pictures of a 
theatrical clerical coxcomb.— Story-tellers and Jesters in the pulpit 
reproved.— Apostrophe to popuhir applause.- Retailers of ancient 
philosophy expoetnlated ;irith. — Sum of the whole matter.— Effects 
of sacerdotal mismanagement on the laity.— Their folly and extra- 
vagance. — ^The mischiefs of profusion.— Proftasion itself, with all 
its conseqaent evils, ascribed, as to its principal cause, to the want 
of discipUne in the universities. 



O FOR a fodge in some vast wilderness, 
Some boundless contiguity of shade, 
Where rumour of oppression and deceit, 
Of unsuccessful or successful war. 



32 THE TASK. BOOK [I. 

Might never reach me more. My ear is pain'd. 
My soul is sick, with evVy day^s report 
Of wrong aqd outrage, with which Earth is fiU'd. 
There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart, 
It does not feel for man ; the natVal bond 
Of brotherhood is severed as the flax, 
That fails asunder at the touch of fire. 
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin 
Not coloured like his own; and having powV 
T' enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause 
Dooms and devotes him as a lawful prey. 
Lands intersected by a narrow frith 
Abhor each other. Mountains interposed 
Make enemies of nations, who had else 
Like kindred drops been mingled into one. 
Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys ; 
And, worse than all, and most to be deplored 
Afli hitman nature's broadest, foulest blot, 
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat 
With stripes, that Mercy with a bleeding heart 
Weeps, when she sees inflicted on a beast. 
Then what is man? And what man, seeing this. 
And having human feelings, does not blush, 
And hang his head, to think himself a man^ 
I would not haye a slave to till my ground, 
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep. 
And tremble when I wake, for all the Wealth, 
That sinews bought and sold have ever eam'd, 
No : dear as freedom is, and in my heart's 
Jost estimation pris'd above all price, 



THE TIME-PIECE. 33 

I had mnch rather be myself the slave, 
And wear the boDds,. than fasten them on him.. 
We have no slaves at home — ^Then why abroad ? 
And they themselves onoe ferried o'er the wave, 
That parts ns, are emancipate and loosed. 
Slaves cannot breathe in England ; if their Inngs 
Receive our air, that moment they are free ; 
They touch onr country, and their shackles falL 
That^s noble, and bespeaks a nation proud 
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it then. 
And let it circulate through ev*ry vein 
Of all your empire ; that, where Britain's pow'r 
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too. 

Sure there is need of social intercourse, 
Benevolence, and peace, and mutual aid. 
Between the nations in a world, that seems 
To toll the death-bell of its own decease. 
And by the voice of all its elements 
To preach the gen'ral doom *. When were the winds 
Let slip with such a warrant to destroy? 
When did the waves so haughtily o'erleap 
Their ancient barriers, deluging the dry? 
Fires from beneath, and meteors f from above, 
Portentous, unexampled, unexplained. 
Have kindled beacons in the skies ; and th' old 
And crazy Earth has had her shaking fits 
More frequent, and foregone her usual rest 
Is it a time to wrangle when the props 

* Alladiiif to the calamities in Jamaica. t Aacut IB, 1783. * 

c3 



34 THE TASK. BOOK II. 

And pillars of onr planet seem to fail, 
And Nature with a dim and sickly eye * 
To wait the close of all ? But grant her end 
More distant, and that prophecy demands 
A longer respite, unaccomplished yet ; 
Still they are fl-owning signals, and bespeak 
Displeasure in His breast, who smites the Earth 
Or heals it, makes it languish or rejoice. 
And 'tis but seemly, that, where all deserve 
And stand exposed by common peccancy 
To what no few have felt, there should be peace, 
And brethren in calamity should love. 
Alas for Sicily ! rude fragments now 
Lie scattered, where the shapely column stood. 
Her palaces are dust. In all her streets 
The voice of singing and the sprightly chord 
Are silent. Revelry, and dance, and show 
Suffer a syncope and solemn pause ; 
While God performs upon the trembling stage 
Of his own works his dreadful part alone. 
How does the Earth receive him?— with what signs 
Of gratulation and delight her king? 
Pours she not all her choicest fruits abroad, 
Her sweetest flow'rs, her aromatic gums. 
Disclosing Paradise where'er he treads ? 
She quakes at his approach. Her hollow womb, 
Conceiving thunders, through a thousand deeps 
And fiery caverns, roars beneath his foot. 

* AUading to the fog that covered Ix^ Europe and Asia duriDg 
Che whole niBmer of 1783. 



i 



THE TIME-PIECE. 36 

le hills moTe lightiy, and the mountains smoke, 

>r he has tooch'd them. From th' extremest point 

' elevation down into the ahyss 

is wrath is basy, and his frown is felt. 

le rocks fidi headlong, and the valleys rise, 

le rivers die into offensive pools, 

id, charg['d with putrid verdure, breathe a gross 

id mortal nuisance into all the air. 

hat solid was, by transformation strange, 

*ows fluid; and the fixM and rooted earth, 

>rmented into billows, heaves and swells, 

r vrith vertiginous and hideous whirl 

icks down its prey insatiable. Immense 

le tumult and the overthrow, the pangs 

3d agonies of human and of brute 

altitudes, fugitive on ev'ry side, 

id fugitive in vain. The sylvan scene 

igrates uplifted; and, with all its soil 

ighting in hx distant fields, finds out 

new possessor, and survives the change. 

>ean has caught the fi^enzy, and upwrought 

» an enormous and overbearing height, 

it by a mighty wind, but by that voice, 

liich winds and waves obey, invades the shore 

ssistiess. Never such a sudden flood, 

pridg'd so high, and sent on such a charge, 

>ssess'd an inland scene. Where now the throng, 

tiat pressed the beach, and, hasty to depart, 

ookM to the sea for.salety? They are gone, 

one with the refluent wave into the deep — 



S6 ' THB TASK. BOOK IT. 

A prinee witii half his people! Ancient tow 'ns^ 
And roofs embattled high, the gloomy scenes. 
Where beauty oft and lettered worth consume 
Life in the unproductive shades of death, ' 
Fall prone : the pale inhabitants come forth. 
And, happy in their unforeseen release 
From all the' rigeucs of restraint, enjoy 
The terrors of the day, that sets them free. 
' Who then, that has thee,^ would not hold thee fast^ 
Freedom ! whom they that lose thee so regret. 
That e'en a judgment, making way for thee,. 
Seems in their eyes a mercy for thy sake.. 

Such evil Sin hath wrought ; and such a fl&me 
Kindled in Ueav'n, that it burns down to Earth, 
And in the furious inquest, that it makes 
On God's behalf, lays waste his fairest works* 
The very elements, though each be meant 
The minister of man, to serve his wants, 
Conspire against him. With his breath hie draws 
A plague into his blood ; and cannot use 
Life's riecessary means, but he must die* 
Storms rise f overwhelm him ^ or, if stormy winds. 
Rise not, the waters of the deep shall rise^ 
And, needing none assistance of the storm,. 
Shall roll themselves ashore, and reach him there^. 
The earth shall shake him out of all his holds, 
.Or make his house his grave: nor so content. 
Shall counterfeit the motions of the flood. 
And drown him in her dry and dusty gulfs. 
What then S-- Were they the wicked above all,. 



\ 



THB TIME-PIBCE. 8T 

* 

re the righieoas, whose fast anchorM isle 

. not^ while theirs was rocked, like a li{^ht skifl^ 

[>ort of ev'ry wave? No: none are clear, 

one than we more gailty. Bot, where all 

chargeable with guilt, and to the shafts 

«th obDOxious, God may choose his mark : 

>iiiii8h, if he please, the less, to warn 

lore malignant If he spar'd not them^ 

)le and be amaz'd at thine escape, 

liltier England, lest he spare not thee ! 

jpy the man, who sees a God employed 

the good and ill, that checker life ! 

ling ail events, with their effects 

aaaifold results, into the will 

rbitration wise of the Supreme. 

ot his eye rule all things, and intend 

)ast of our concerns (since from the least 

reatest oft originate); could chance 

>lace in his dominion, or dispose 

ftwless particle to thwart his plan ; 

God might he surprised, and unforeseen 

igence might alarm him, and disturb 

mooth and equal course of his affairs. 

juth Philosophy, though eagle-ey'd 

ture's tendencies, oft overlooks ; 

baying found his instrument, forgets, 

(regards, or, more presumptuous still, 

s the powV that wields it €rod proclaims 

ot displeasure against foolish men, 

live an atheist life : involves the Heav'ns 



i 



88 THE TASK. BOOK 11. 

In tempests ; quits his g^asp upoo the winds. 
And gives them all their fury : bids a plagae 
Kindle a fiery boil upon the skin. 
And putrify the breath of blooming Health. 
He calls for famine, and the meagre fiend 
Blows mildew from between his shriveird bps. 
And taints the golden ear. He springs his mines 
And desolates a nation at a blast, 
forth steps the spruce philosopher, and tells 
Of homogeneal and discordant springs 
And principles ; of causes how they work 
By necessary laws their sure effects ; 
Of action and re-action : he has found 
The source of the disease, that nature feels. 
And bids the world take heart and banish fear. 
Thou fool ! will thy discovery of the cause 
Suspend th' effect, or heal it? Has not God 
Still wrought by means since first he made the worid? 
And did he not of old employ his means 
To drown it ? What is his creation less 
Than a capacious reservoir of means 
Formed for his use, and ready at his will? 
Go, dress thine eyes with eye>salve ; ask of him, 
Or ask of whomsoever he has taught; 
And learn, though late, the genuine cause of aU. 
England, with all thy faults, I love thee still'— 
My country ! and, while yet a nook is lefl. 
Where English minds and manners may be found, 
Shall be constrained to love thee. Though thy cliiii 
Be fickle, and thy year most part deformed 



THE TIME-PIECE. 39 

^ith drippiDg rains, or withered by a finost, 

wonld not yet exchange thy sullen skies, 

nd fields without a flowV, for wanner France 

^ith all her vines ; nor for Ausonia's groves 

f golden fruitage, and her myrtle bow'rs. 

o shake thy senate, and from heights sublime 

f patriot eloquence to flash down fire 

pon thy foes, was never meant my task : 

ut I can feel thy fortunes, and partake 

hy joys and sorrows, with as true a heart 

lS any thondVer there. And I can feel 

liy follies too ; and vrith a just disdain 

'rown at effeminates, whose very looks 

leflect dishonour on the land I love. 

3ow, in the name of soldiership and sense, 

ihooid Engiand prosper, when such things, as smooth 

\nd tender as a giri, all essenc'd o'er 

WiHh odours, and as profligate as sweet ; 

Who sell their laurel for a myrtle wreath, 

\nd love when they should fight; when such as these 

Presume to lay their hand upon the ark 

Of her magnificent and awful cause? 

Fime was when it was praise and boast enough 

hi ev'ry clime, and travel where we might, 

Ihat we were born her children. Praise enough 

To fill th' ambition of a private man, 

Vhkt Chatham's language was his mother tongue, 

And Wolfe's great name compatriot with his own. 

Piiewell those honours, and farewell with them 

Ae hope of such hereafter! Hiey have fali'n 



40 THE TASK. BOOK II. 

Each in hid field of glory ; one in arms, 

And one in cooncH. — Wolfe upon the lap 

Of smiling Victory that moment won. 

And Chatham heart-sick of his country's shame ! 

They made us many soldiers. Chatham, still 

Consulting Englanff's happiness at home, 

Secur*d it by an unforgiving frown. 

If any wrong'd her. Wolfe, where'er he fought. 

Put so much of his heart into his act. 

That his example had a magnet's force. 

And all were swift to follow whom all lov'd. 

Those suns are set. O rise some other such ! 

Or all that we have left is empty talk 

Of old achievements, and despair of new. 

Now hoist the sail, and let the streamers float 
Upon the wanton breezes. Strew the deck 
With lavender, and sprinkle liquid sweets, 
That no rude savour maritime invade 
The nose of nice nobility ! Breathe soft 
Ye clarionets; and softer still ye flutes; 
That winds and waters, lull'd by magic sounds. 
May bear us smoothly to the Gallic shore ! 
True, we have lost an empire— let it pass. 
True ; we may thank the perfidy of France, 
That pick'd the jewel out of England's crown. 
With all the cunning of an envious shrew. 
And let that pass — 'twas but a trick of state — 
A brave man knows.no malice, but at once 
Forgets, in peace the injuries of war, 
And gives his direst foe a fiiend's embrace^ 



THE TIM£*PI£CE. 41 

And, shamed as we ha^e been, to the very beard 
Bra^'d and defied, and in onr own sea prov'd 
Too weak for those decisiYe blows, that onca 
finslur'd as madt'ry there, we yet retain 
Some small pre-eminence ; we justly boast 
At least superior jockeyship, and claim 
The honours of the turf as all our own ! 
Go then, well worthy of the praise ye seek, 
And show the shame, ye might conceal at home. 
In for^n eyes ! be grooms and win the plate. 
Where once your nobler fathers won a crown !— 
'TIS gen'rous to communicate your skill 
To those that need it. Folly is soon learned : 
And under such preceptors who can fail ! 

There is a pleasure in poetic pains, 
Which only poets know. The shifts and turns, 
Th' expedients and inventions multiform. 
To which the mind resorts, in chase of terms 
Though apt, yet coy, and difficult to win — 
To arrest the fleeting images, that fill 
The mirror of the mind, and hold them fast, 
And force them sit, till he has pencii'd off 
A faithibl Ukeness of the forms he views; 
Then to dispose his copies with such art. 
That each may find its most propitious light, 
And shine by situation, hardly less 
Than by the labour and the skill it cost ; 
Are occupations of the poet's mind 
So pleasing, and that steal away the thought 
With such address firom themes of sad import^ 



42 THE TASK. BOOK II. 

That, lost in his own musings, happy man ! 

He feels th' anxieties of life, denied 

Their wonted entertainment, all retire. 

Such joys has he that sings. Bat ah ! not such, 

Or seldom such, the hearers of his song. 

Fastidious, or else listless, or perhaps 

Aware of nothing arduous in a task 

They never undertook, they little note 

His dangers or escapes, and haply find 

Their least amusement where he found the most 

But is amusement all ? studious of song, 

And yet ambitious not to siog in vain, 

I would not trifle merely, though the world 

Be loudest in their praise; who do no more. 

Yet what can satire, whether grave or gay? 

It may correct a foible, may chastise 

The freaks of fashion, regulate the dress. 

Retrench a swordblade, or displace a patch ; 

But where are its sublimer trophies found ? 

What vice has it subdu'd ? whose heart reclaimed 

By rigouf*, or whom laughed into reform? 

Alas ! Leviathan is not so tam'd : 

Laugh'd at, he laughs ag^n ; and, stricken hard, 

Turns to the stroke his adamantine scales, 

That fear no discipline of human hands. 

The pulpit, therefore (and I name it filFd 
With solemn awe, that bids me well beware 
With what intent I touch that holy thing) — 
The pulpit (when the saf rist has at last, 
Strutting and vap'xing in an empty school^ 



THE TIMB-PIKCE. 43 

Spent all his force, and made do proselyte)-— 

I say the paipit (in the sober ase 

Of its legitihiate, peculiar powers) 

Most stand acknowledged, while the world shall stand, 

The most important and effectual guard. 

Support, and ornament of Virtue's cause. 

There stands the messenger of truth: there stands 

The legate of the skies ! — His theme diyine, 

His oflSce sacred, his credentials clear. 

By him the Tiolated law speaks out 

Its thunders ; and by him, in strains as sweet 

As angels use, the Gospel whispers peace. 

He stablishes the strong, restores the weak. 

Reclaims the wand'rer, binds the broken heart, 

And, arm'd himself in panoply complete 

Of hea^'nly temper, furnishes with arms 

Bright as his own, and trains, by ev'ry rule 

Of holy discipline, to glorious war 

The sacramental host of God's elect ! 

Are all such teachers?— would to Heaven all weref 

But hark — ^the doctor's Yoice ! — fast wedg'd between 

Two empirics he stands, and with swoln cheeks 

Inspires the news, his trumpet Keener far 

Than all invective is his bold harangue, 

While through that public organ of report 

He hails the clergy ; and, defying shame, 

Announces to the "woiid his own and theirs ! 

He teaches those to read, whom schools dismissed, 

And colleges, untaught; sells accent, tone, 

And emphasis in scorej and gives to pray'r 



I 



44 THE TASK. BOOK 11. 

Th' adagio and andante it demands. 
He grinds divinity of other days 
Down into modern use ; transforms old print 
To zigzag manuscript, and cheats the eyes 
Of gall'ry critics by a thousand arts. 
Are there who purchase of the doctor's ware? 
O, name it not in Gath !— it cannot be, 
That grave and learned clerks should need such aid. 
He doubtless is in sport, and does but droll. 
Assuming thus a rank unknown before^ — 
Grand caterer and dry-nurse of the church ! 
I venerate the man, whose heart is warm. 
Whose hands are pure, whose doctrine and whose life, 
Coincident, exhibit lucid proof, 
That he is honest in the sacred cause. 
To such I render more than mere respect, 
Whose actions say, that they respect themselves. 
But loose in morals, and in manners vain^ 
In conversation frivolous, in dress 
Extreme, at once rapacious and profuse ; 
Frequent in park with lady at his side. 
Ambling and prattling scandal as he goes ^ 
But rare at home, and never at his books^ 
Or with his pen, save when he scrawls a card ; 
Constant at routs, familiar with a round 
Of ladyships, a stranger to the poor; 
Ambitious of preferment for its gold, 
And well prepared, by ignorance and sloth, - ' 

By infidelity and love of world, t ' j 

To make God's work a sinecure ; a slave f 



THE TIME-PIECB. 4^ 

To his own pleasares aod his patron's pride : 
From snch apostles, O ye mitred heads, ' 

Preserve the church ! and lay not careless hands 
On sculls, that cannot teach, and will not learn. 

Would I describe a preacher such as Paul, 
Were he on Earth, would hear, approve, and own» 
Paul should himself direct me. I would trace 
His master-strokes, and draw from his design. 
I would express him simple^ gT^ve, sincere ; 
In doctrine unoorrupt ; in lang^uage plain, 
And plain in manner ; decent, solemn, chaste. 
And natural in gesture ; much impressed 
Himself as conscious of his awful charge, 
And anxious mainly that the flock he feeds 
May feel it too; affectionate in look, 
And tender in address, as well becomes 
A messenger of g^race to guilty men. 
Behold the picture !;^Is it like?— Like whom? 
The things that mount the rostrum with a skip. 
And then skip down again ; pronouuce a text ; 
Cry — hem ; and reading what they never wrote, 
Just fifteen minutes, huddle up their work, 
And with a well-bred whisper close the scene ! 

In man or woman, but far most in man, 
And most of all in man, that ministers 
And serves the altar, in my soul I loath 
All affectation. Tis my perfect scorn; 
Object of my implacable disgust. 
What!— will a man play tricks, will he indulge 
A. silly^ fond conceit of his fair form, 



46 THE TASK. BOOK II. 

And just proportion, fashionable mien. 

And pretty face, in presence of bis God? 

Or will lie seek to dazzle me with tropes. 

As with the diamond on his lily hand, 

And play his brilliant parts before my eyes. 

When I am hungry for the bread of life ? 

He mocks his Maker, prostitutes and shames 

His noble office, and instead of truth, 

Displaying his own beauty, starves his flock ! 

Therefore avaunt all attitude, and stare. 

And start theatric, practised at the glass ! 

I seek divine simplicity in him. 

Who handles things divine ; and all besides, 

Though learned with labour, and though much admir'd 

By curious eyes and judgments ill-inform'd. 

To me is odious as the nasal twang 

Heard at conventicle, where worthy men, 

Misled by custom, strain celestial themes 

Through the pressed nostril, spectacle-bestrid. 

Some decent in demeanour while they preach. 

That task performed, relapse into themselves; 

And, having spoken wisely, at the close 

Grow wanton, and give proof to ev'ry eye^ 

Whoe'er was edified, themselves were not ! 

Forth conies the pocket mirror. — ^First we stroke 

An eyebrow ; next compose a straggling lock ; 

Then with an air most gracefully performed 

Fall back into bur seat, ej^tend an arm 

And lay it at its ease with gentle care. 

With handkerchief in band depending lowj 



THB TIMl-PIBCE. 47 

itter hand more busy gives the nose 

gamoty or aids th' indebted eye 

>perarglas8, to watch the moving scene, 

icognize the slow*retiring fair. — 

tiis is fulsome ; and offends me more 

n a chorcfaman slovenly neglect 

tstic coarseness would. A heavenly mind 

e indifferent to her house of clay, 

ig^t the hovel as beneath her care; 

>w a body so fantastic, trim, 

laint in its deportment. and attire, 

dge a heav'nly mind— demands a doubt. 

that negociates between God and man 

d's ambassador, the grand concerns 

gment and of mercy, should beware 

itness in his speech, ^is pitiful 

irt a grin, when you should woo a soul ; 

ak a jest, when pity would inspire 

ic exlMHrtation ; and t' address 

ittish &ncy with facetious tales, 

sent with God's commission to the heart ! 

not Paul. Direct me to a quip 

rry tumJn all he ever wrote, 

consult you take it for your text, 

>niy one, till sides and bendies fail. 

3 was serious in a serious ^ause, 

dderstood too well the weighty terms 

e had tak'n in charge. He would not stoop 

iquer those by jocular exploits, 

: truth and soberness assail'd in vain* 



46 THB TASK. BOOK H. 

O Popular Applause ! what heart of man 
Is proof against thy sweet seducing charms ? 
The wisest and the best feel urgent need 
Of all their caution in thy gentlest gales; 
But swell'd into a gust — ^who then alas I 
With all his canvass set, and inexpert, 
And therefore heedless,. can withstand thy pow'r? 
Praise from the riveird lips of toothless bald 
Decrepitude, and in the looks of lean 
And craving Poverty, and in the bow 
Respectful of the smutched artificer^ 
Is oft too welcome, and may much distuib 
The bias of the purpose. How much more, 
Pour'd forth by beauty splendid and polite, 
In language soft as adoration breathes ! 
Ah spare your idol ! think him human stilL 
Chaims he may have, but he has frailties too ! 
Dote not too much, nor spoil what ye admire. 

All truth is from the sempiternal source 
Of light divine. But Egypt, Greece, ai|d Rome, 
Drew from the stream below. Mor^ favoured we 
Drink, when we choose it, at the fountain head. • 
To them it flowed much mingled and defil'd 
With faurtfril error, prejudice, and dreams 
Illusive of philosophy, so caird, 
But falsely. Sages after sages strove 
In vain to filter ojflf a crystal draught 
Pure from the lees, which often more enhanc*d 
The thirst that slaked it, and not seldom bred 
Intoxication and delirium wild. 



THE TIME-PIECE. 49 

In vain they puah'd inquiry to the birth 

And springtime of the world ! askM, Whence is man ? 

Why formed at all? and wherefore as he is? 

Where must he find his Maker? with what rites 

Adore him ? Will he hear, accept, and bless ? ' 

Or does he sit regardless of his works? 

Has man within him an immortal seed ? 

Or does the tomb take all ? If he survive 

His ashes, where ? and in what weal or woe ? 

Knots worthy of solution, which alone 

A Deity could solve. . Their answers, vague 

And all at random, fabulous and dark. 

Left them as dark themselves. Their rules of life 

Defective and unsanctioned, proved too weak 

To bind tiie roving appetite, and lead 

Blind mature to a God not yet reveal'd. 

Tis Revelation satisfies all doubts, 

Explains ail mysteries, except her own, 

And so illuminates the path of life. 

That fools discover it, and stray no more. 

Now tell me, dignified and sapient sir. 

My man of morals, nurtured in the shades 

Of Academus^is this false or true ? 

Is Christ the abler teacher, or the schools ? 

If Christ, then why resort at ev'ry turn 

To Athens or to Rome, for wisdom short 

Of man's occasions, when in him reside 

Grace, knowledge, comfort^ an uniathom'd store ? 

How oft, when Paul has served us with a text, 

Has Epictetusy Plato, Tully, preach'd I 

D 



\ 



56 THE TASK. BOOK II. 

Men that, if now alive, would sit content 
And humble learners of a Saviour's worth. 
Preach it who might. ^ Such was their love of truth, 
Their thirst of knowledge, and their candour too! 

And thus it is. — The pastor, either vain 
By nature, or by flatt'ry made so, taught 
To gaze at his own splendour, and V exalt 
Absurdly, not his office, but himself; 
Or unenlightened, and too proujd to learn ; 
Or vicious, and not therefore apt to teach ; 
Perverting often, by the stress of lewd 
And loose example, whom he should instruct ; 
Exposes, and holds up to broad disgrace. 
The noblest function, and discredits much 
The brightest truths, that man has ever seen. 
For ghostly counsel ; if it either fall 
Below the exigence, or be not backed 
With show of love, at least with hopeful proof 
Of some sincerity on the giver^s part; 
Or be dishonoured in th' exterior form 
And mode of its conveyance by such tricks, 
As move derision, or by foppish airs 
And histrionic mumm'ry, that let down 
The pulpit to^the level of the stage ; 
Drops from the lips a disregarded thing. 
The weak perhaps are mov'd, but are not taught, 
While prejudice in men of stronger minds 
Takes deeper root, confirmed by what they see. 
A relaxation of religion's hold 
Upon the roving and untutored heart 



f 



THB TIME-PIBCB. 61 

S0611 follows, and, the curb of conscience snapp'd^ 
The laity mn wild.— But do they now ? 
Note their extrayagance, and be conyinc'd. 

As nations, ignorant of God, contrive 
A wpoden one; so we, no longer taaght 
By monitors, that mother church supplies. 
Now make our own. Posterity will ask 
(If e'er posterity see verse of mine) 
Some fifty or a hundred lustrums hence, 
' What was a monitor in George's days ? 
My very gentle reader, yet unborn, 
Of whom I needs must augur better things, 
Since Heav'n would sure grow weary of a worid 
Productive only of a race like ours, 
A monitor is wood— plank shaven thin. 
We wear it at our backs. There, closely brac'd 
And neatly fitted, it compresses hard 
The prominent and most unsightly bones. 
And binds the shoulder flat We prove its use 
Sovereign and most effectual to secure 
A form, not now gymnastic as of yore, 
From rickets and distortion, else our lot 
But, thus admonish'd, we can walk erect — 
Ooe proof at least of manhood ! while the friend 
Sticks close, a Mentor worthy of his charge. 
Oar habits, costlier than LucuUus wore, 
And by ciqnrioe as multiplied as his, 
Just please ui while the fashion is at full. 
But change with ev'ry moon. The sycophant. 
Who waits to dreis ns^ artutjrates tbak date; 

d2 



52 THE TASK. BOOK 11. 

Surreys bis fair reversion with keen eye ; 

Finds one ill made, another obsolete, 

This fits not nicely, that is ill conceived ; 

And, making prize of all that he coDdemnS| 

With our expenditure defi'ays his own. 

Variety's the very spice of life. 

That gives it all its flavour. We have ran 

Through evVy change, that Fancy, at the loon 

Exhausted, has had genius to supply ; 

And, studious of mutation still, discard 

A real elegance, a little us'd, 

For monstrous novelty and strange disguise. 

We sacrifice to dress, till household joys 

And comforts cease. Dress drains our cellar dry, 

And keeps our larder lean ; puts out our fires ; 

And introduces hunger, frost, and woe. 

Where peace and hospitality might reign. 

What man that lives, and that knows how to live« 

Would fkil f exhibit at the public shows 

A form as splendid as the proudest there. 

Though appetite raise outcries at the cost? 

A man o'th* town dines late, but soon enough. 

With reasonable forecast and dispatch, 

T' ensure a sidebox statioit at half price. 

You think perhaps, so delicate his dress. 

His daily fare as delicate. Alas ! 

He picks clean teeth, and, busy as he seems 

With an old tavern quill, is hungry yet! 

The rout is Folly's circle, which she draws 

With magic wand. So potent is the spell^ 



-^ THB TIME-PIECE. S3 

That none, decoy'd into that fatal ring, ' 

Unless by Heav'n's pecuUar grace, escape. 

There we grow early grey, but never wise ; 

There form connexions, but acquire no friend ; 

Solicit pleasure hopeless of success ; 

Waste youth in occupations only fit 

For second childhood, and devote old age 

To sports, which only childhood could excuse. 

There they are happiest, who dissemble best 

Their weariness ; and they the most polite. 

Who squander time and treasure with a smile. 

Though at their own destruction. She, that asks 

Her dear five hundred friends, contemns them all. 

And hates their coming. They (what can they less?) 

Make just reprisals ; and with cringe, and shrug. 

And bow obsequious, hide their hate of her. . 

All catch the frenzy, downward from* her grace. 

Whose flambeaux flash against the morning skies, 

And gild our chamber ceilings as they pass, 

To her, who, frugal only that her thrift 

May feed excesses she can ill afibrd, 

Is backney'd home unlackey'd ; who, in haste 

Alighting, turns the key in her own door. 

And, at the watchman's lantern borrowing light, 

Finds a cold bed her only comfort left. 

Wives beggar husbands, husbands starve their wives, 

On Fortune's velvet altar off^'ring up 

Their last poor pittance — Fortune, most severe 

Of goddesses, yet known, and costlier far 

Than ail, thM held their routs in Juno's Heav'n,— 



54 THE TASK. BOOK II. 

So fare we in this prison-house the World ; 
And 'tis a fearful spectacle to see 
So many maniacs dancing in their chains. 
They gaze upon the links, that bold them fast. 
With eyes of anguish, execrate their lot, 
Then shake them in despair, and dance again ! 

Now basket up the family of plagues, 
That waste our Titals ; peculation, sale 
Of honour, perjury, corruption, frauds 
By forgery, by subterfuge of law, 
By tricks and lies as numVous and as keen 
As the necessities their authors feel ; 
Then cast them, closely bundled, evVy brat 
At the right door. Profusion is the sire. 
Profusion unrestrained with ail that's base 
In character has littered all the land, 
And bred, within the memory of no few, 
A priesthood, such as Baal's was of old, 
A people, such as never was till now. 
It is a hungry vice : — it eats up all. 
That gives society its beauty, strength, 
Convenience, and security, and use : 
Makes men mere yermin, worthy to be trapped 
And gibbeted, as fast as catchpole claws 
Can seize the slippery prey : unties the knot 
Of union, and converts the sacred band, 
That holds mankind together, to a scourge. 
Profusion deluging a state with lusts 
Of grossest nature and of worst effects, 
Prepares it for its ruin : hardens, blinds, 




THE TIME-PIECE. 65 

And warps, the consciences of public men. 
Till they can laugh at virtue ; mock the fools 
That tmst thenr; and in th' end disclose a face, 
That would have shock'd Credulity herself, 
Unmask'd, vouchsafing this their sole excuse- 
Since all alike are selfish, why not they ? 
This does Profusion, and th' accursed cause 
Of such deep mischief has itself a cause. 

In colleges and hails in ancient days, 
When learning, virtue, piety, and truth. 
Were precious, and inculcated with care. 
There dwelt a sage calFd Discipline. His head, 
Not yet by time completely silver'd o'er. 
Bespoke him past the bounds of freakish youth, 
But strong for service still, and unimpaired. 
His eye was meek and gentle, and a smile 
Played on his lips ; and in his speech was heard 
Paternal sweetness, dignity, and love. 
The occupation dearest to bis heart 
Was to encourage goodness. He would stroke 
The- head of modest and ingenuous worth. 
That blu^'d at its own praiie ; and press the youth 
Close to his side, that pleas'd him. Learning grew 
Beneath his ci^e.a.thrivipg vigorous plant; 
The mind was we)l inform'4, the passic^is held 
Subordinate, and diligence was choice. 
If e'er it chanc'd, as sometimes chance it must. 
That one among so many overleaped 
The limits of control, his gentle eye 
Grew stern, and darted a severe rebuke : 



^G THE TASK. BOOK 11. 

His frown was full of terror, and his voice 

Shook the delinquent with such fits of awe. 

As left him not, till penitence had won 

Lost favour back again, and clos*d the breach. 

But Discipline, a faithful servant long, 

Declined at length into the vale of years : 

A palsy struck his arm ; his sparkling eye 

Was quenched in rheums of age: his voice, unstrung 

Grew tremulous, and mov'd derision more 

Than rev'rence in perverse rebellious youth. 

So colleges and halls neglected much 

Their good old friend ; and Discipline at length, 

0'erlook*d and unemployed, fell sick and died. 

Then Study languish'd. Emulation slept, 

And Virtue fled. The schools became a scene 

Of solemn farce, where Ignorance in stilts, 

His cap well lined with logic not his own. 

With parrot tongue perform *d4he scholar's part, 

Proceeding soon a graduated dunce. 

Then eompromise had place, and scrutiny 

Became stone blind ; precedence went in truck, 

And he was competent whose purse was so, 

A dissolution of all bonds ensued ; 

The curbs invented for the mulish mouth 

Of headstrong youth were broken ; bars and belts 

Grew rusty by disuse ; and massy gates 

Forget their office, op'ning with a touch ; 

Till gowns at length are found mere masquerade, 

The tasseird cap and the spruce band a jest, 

A mockVj of the world \ What need of these 



THE TIME-PIECE. 57 

r gamesters, jockeys, brotbellers'iniptrre, 
mdtbrifts, and booted sportsmen, oft'ner seen 
ith belted waist and pointers at their heels, 
an in the bounds of duty? What was ]cam*d^ 
aught was leam*d in childhood, is forgot : 
d such expense, as pinches parents blue, 
d mortifies the libVal hand of love, 
squander'd in pursuit of idle sports 
d vicious pleasures ; buys the boy a name 
at sits a stigma on his father's house, 
d cleaves through life inseparably close 
him, that wears it What can aftergames 
riper joys, and commerce with the world, 
3 lewd vain world, that must receive him soon, 
i to such erudition, thus acquired, 
lere science and where virtue are professed ? 
ij may confirm his habits, rivet fast 
folly, but to spoil him is a task, 
it bids defiance to th' united pow'rs 
fashion, dissipation, taverns, stews. 
V blame we most the nurselings or the nurse ? 
•■ children crook'd, and twisted, and deform'd, 
ough want of care ; or her, whose winking eye 

I slumb*ring oscitancy mars the brood? 
nurse no doubt. Regardless of her charge, 
needs herself correction ; needs to learn, 

t it is dangf'rous sporting with the world, 
h things so sacred as a nation's trust, 
nurture of her youth, her dearest pledge. 

II are not such. I had a brother once — 

d3 



58 THE TASK. BOOK II. 

Peace to the mern'ry of a man of worth, 

A man of letters^ and of manners too ! 

Of manners sweet as Virtue always wears, 

When pkj Good-nature dresses her in smiles. 

He grac'd a college, in which order yet 

Was sacred ; and was honoured, lov'd, and wept, 

By more than one, themselves conspicuous there. 

Some minds are tempered happily, and mix'd 

With such ingredients of good sense, and taste 

Of what is excellent in man, they thirst 

With such a zeal to he what they approve, 

That no restraints can circumscribe them more 

Than they themselves by choice, for wisdom's sake. 

Nor can example hurt them : what they see 

Of vice in others but enhancing more 

The charms of virtue in their just esteem. 

If such escape contagion, and emerge 

Pure from so foul a pool to shine abroad. 

And give the world their talents and themselves, 

Small thanks to those, whose negligence or sloth 

Exposed their inexperience to the snare, 

And left them to an undirected choice. 

See then the quiver broken and decay*d, 
In which are kept our arrows ! Rusting there 
In wild disorder, and unfit for use. 
What wonder, if, discharged into the world. 
They shame their shooters with a random flight, 
Their points obtuse, and feathers drunk with wine! 
Well may the church wage unsuccessful war 
With such artillery armM. Vice parries wide 



THE TIME-PIECE. r>9 

* nndreaded volley with a sword of straw, 
d stands an impudent and fearless mark. 
ilave we not tracked the felon home, and found 
3 birthplace and his dam? The country mourns, 
>arns because ev'ry plague, that can infest 
;iety, and that saps and worms the base 

th' edifice, that policy has rais'd, 
arms in all quarters : meets the eye, the ear, 
d suffocates the breath at ev'ry turn. 
)fasion breeds them ; and the cause itself 

that calamitous mischief has been found : 
nnd too where most offensive, in the skirts 

the rob'd pedagogue ! Else let th' arraigned 
md up unconscious, and refute the charge. 

when the Jewish leader stretchM his arm, 
d wav'd his rod divine, a race obscene, 
iwn'd in the muddy beds of Nile, came forth, 
(luting Egypt : gardens, fields, and plains, 
5re cover'd with the pest; the streets were fill'd ; 
e croaking nuisance lurk'd in ev'ry nook ; 
r palaces, nor even chambers, ^scap'd : 
d the land stank— so numerous was the fry. 



i 



THS TASK. 

BOOEXII. 




< 









i 



tt^3 




THE TASK 

BOOK in. 



THE GARDEN. 



elf-recoUectioB, and reproof.— AddreM to domestic happioets.— 
Some accoont of myself.— The vanity of many of tlieir porsoits, 
who are reputed wise.— JastillcatioD of my censnres — Divine illn- 
minatloa necessary to the most expert philosopher.— The question. 
What iB truth? answered by other questions.— Domestic happiness 
addressed again.— Few lovers of the country — My tame hare.— 
Occapafciofls of a retired gentleman in his garden.— Praning.— 
Fiamiug Greenhouse.— Sowing of flower seeds.— The country pre- 
ferable to the town even in the winter.— Reasons why it is deserted 
at that season.— Rainous effects of gaming and of expensive improve- 
ment.— Book concludes with an apostrophe to the metropolis. 



Vs one, who long in thickets and in brakes 
Sntani^led winds now this way and now that 
lis devious course uncertain, seeking home ; 
h, having long in miry ways been foil'd 
ind sore discomfited, from slough to slough 
Mnnging and half-despairing of escape ; 
f chance at length he find a greensward smooth 
in^ faithfuf to the foot, his spirits rise, 



I 



G2 THE TASK. BOOK III. 

He cherups brisk his ear-erecting steed, 

And winds hi^ way with pleasure and with ease ; 

So I, designing other themes, and calFd 

T' adorn the Sofa with eulogium due, 

To tell its slumbers, and to paint its dreams. 

Have rambled wide. In country, city, seat 

Of academic fame (however deserved), 

Long held, and scarcely disengaged at last. 

But now with pleasant pace a cleanlier road 

I mean to tread. I feel myself at large, 

Courageous and refreshed for future toil. 

If toil await me, or if dangers new. 

Since pulpits fail, and sounding boards reflect 
Most part an empty ineffectual sound, 
What chance that I, to fame so little known. 
Nor conversant with men or manners much. 
Should speak to purpose, or with better hope 
Crack the satiric thong! Twere wiser far 
For me, enamour'd of sequestered scenes. 
And charmed with rural beauty, to repose, 
Where chance may throw me beneath elm or vine, 
My languid limbs, when summer sears the plains ; 
Or, when rough winter rages, on the soft 
And sheiter*d Sofa, while the nitrous air 
Feeds a blue flame, and makes a cheerful hearth; 
There, undisturbed by Folly, and apprised 
How great the danger of disturbing her, 
To muse in silence, or at least confine 
Remarks, that gall so many, to the few. 
My partners in retreat. Disgust concealed 




THB GARDEN. 63 

Is ofttimes proof of wisdom, when the fanlt 
Is obstinate, and care beyond onr reach. 

Domestie happiness, tbon only bliss 
Of Paradise, tiiat has sarriv'd the fall ! 
Though few now t&ste thee nnimpair'd and pare, 
Or tasting kmg enjoy thee ! too infirm, 
Or too incantidas, to preserve thy sweets 
Unmixed With drops of bitter, which neglect 
Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup ; 
Thoo art the nurse of Yirtae, in thine arms 
She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is, 
Heav'n-bom, and destined to the skies again. 
ThoQ art not known where Pleasure is adored, 
That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist 
And wand'ring eyes, still leaning on the arm 
Of Novelty, her fickle, frail support ; 
Por thou art meek and constant, hating change, 
And inding in the calm of truth-tried love 
%s, that her stormy raptures never yield. 
Porsdusg thee what shipwreck have we made 
3f honour, dignity, and fair renown ! 
nu prostitution elbows us aside 
11 all our crowded streets ; and senates seem 
^nven'd for purposes of empire less, 
rhan to release th' adultress fit>m her bond, 
rh' adultress! what a theme for angry verse ! 
^at provocation to th' indignant heart, 
nut feels for injur'd love ! but I disdain 
Hie nauseous task, to paint her as she is, 
^niel, abandon'd, glorying in her shame! 



i 



04 THE TASK. BOOK III. 

No:— let her pass, and cbariotted along 
In gailty splendour shake the public ways ; 
The frequency of crimes has wash'd them white, 
And yerse of mine shall never brand the wretch, 
Whom matrons now of character unsmirchM, 
And chaste themselves, are not ashamM to own. 
Virtue and vice had boundaries in old time 
Not to be pass'd : and she, that had renoutic*d 
Her sex's honour, was renounc'd herself 
By all that priz'd it ; not for prud'ry*s sake, 
But dignity's, resentful of the wrong. 
'Twas hard perhaps on here and there a waii^ 
Desirous to return, and not received : 
But was a wholesome rigour in the main, 
And taught th' unblemished to preserve with care 
That purity, whose loss was loss of all. 
Men too were nice in honour in those daySy 
And judged offenders well. Then he that sharped. 
And pocketted a prize by fraud obtained, 
Was markM and shunned as odious. He that sold 
His country, or was slack when she required 
His ev'ry nerve in action and at stretch. 
Paid with the blood, that he had basely spar*d. 
The price of his default But now — yes,, now, 
We are become so candid and so fair. 
So liberal in construction, and so rich 
In christian charity, (good-natur'd age !) 
That they are safe, sinners of either sex. 
Transgress what laws they may. Well dressed, well 
Well equipag'd, is ticket good enough, [brcd» 



I 



THE GARDEN. 65 

» pass US readily through ev'ry door. 

jrpocrisy, detest her as we may 

nd uo mao's hatred ever wroog'd her yet), 

ay claim this merit still — that she admits 

lie worth of what she mimics with such care, 

ad thus gives virtue indirect applause ; 

at she has burnt her mask, not needed here, 

^here vice has such allowance, that her shifts 

ad specious semblances have lost their use. 

I was a stricken deer, that left the herd 

3i]g since. With many an arrow deep infixed 

y panting side was charg'd, when I withdrew 

) seek a tranquil death in distant shades. 

lere was I found by one, who had hknself 

sen hart by th' archers. In his side he. bore, 

Dd in his hands and feet, the cruel scars. 

1th gentle force soliciting the darts, 

e drew them forth, and heaFd, and bade me live. 

Dce then, with few associates, in remote 

ad silent woods I wander, far from those 

y former partners of the peopled scene : 

1th few associates, and not wishing more. 

ere much I ruminate, as much I may, 

^ith other views of men and manners now 

ban once, and others of a life to come. 

see that all are wand'rers, gone astray 

ach in his own delusions ; they are lost 

1 cha^e of fancied happiness, still woo'd 

^nd never won. Dream after dream ensues ; 

M still they dream^ that they shall still succeed, 



{ 



GO THE TASK. BOOK III. 

And still are disappointed. Rings the world 

With the vain stir. I sum up half mankind, 

A.nd add two-thirds of the remaining half. 

And find the total of .their hopes and fears 

Dreams, empty dreams. The million flit as gay 

As if created only like the fly, 

That spreads his motley wings in th* eye of noon, 

To sport th^ir season, and be seen no more. 

The rest are sober dreamers, grave and wise. 

And pregnant with discoveries new and rare. 

Some write a narrative of wars, and feats 

Of heroes little known ; and call the rant 

A history : describe the man, of whom 

His own coevals took but little note. 

And paint his person, character, and views, 

As they had known him from his mother's womb. 

They disentangle from the puzzled skein. 

In which obscurity has wrapped them up, 

The threads of politic and shrewd design. 

That ran through all his purposes, and charge 

His mind with meanings that he never had. 

Or, having, kept conceaFd. Some drill and bore 

The solid earth, and from the strata there 

Extract a register, by which we learn. 

That he who made it, and revealed its date 

To Moses, was mistaken in its age. 

Some, more acute, and more industrious still. 

Contrive creation ; travel nature up 

To the sharp peak of her sublimest height. 

And tell us whence the stars; why some are fix'd, 



I 



TBB QARDEN. 07 

And planetuj Mwe; ^bfttfawe them first 
natation, ttom wkat ftnutain flow'd tbeit iight 
Creat ocotMtf foUosa, and much learned dost 
IdtoI* es the GC|Bb*tants ; each claiming truth, 
And liiitlj ilii(iliiiiiiiii|i; both. And thus they spend 
The little wick of life's peer shallow lamp 
In plajiog tdcfca with nature, giving laws 
To distant worlds, and trifluig in their own. 
Is't not a pity now, that tickling rheums 
Should ever tease the longs, and blear the sight 
Of oracles like these? Great pity too, 
llat having wielded Ih' eiementa, and built 
A thousand systems, each in his own way, 
Thej should go out in fume, and be forgot! 
Ah! what is life thus spent? and what are they 
Bat frantic, who thus spend it! all for smoke — 
Eternity for bubbles proves al last 
A senseleas buf;ain. When I see such games 
Play'd by the creatures of a Pow'r, who swears 
That be will judge the Earth, and caU the fool 
To a sharp reck'ning, that has liv'd in ?ain; 
And when I weigh this seeming wisdom well. 
And prove it in th* in&llible result. 
So boUow and so false — 1 feel my heart 
ftsBolve in pity, and.accoont the lesrn'd. 
If this be learning, most of ^1 deceiv'd. 
Great crimes. alarm tite conscience, but it sleepg, 
While thoughtful man is plausibly amua'd. 
Defead me therefore common sense, say I, 
¥nun reveries so airjr, from the toil 



i 



Gd THE TASK. BOOK III. 

Of dropping buckets into empty wells, 
And growing old in drawing nothing up ! 

Twere well, says one sage erudite, profound, 
Terribly arch'd and aquiline his nose, 
And overbuilt with most impending brows, 
Twere well, could you permit the World to live 
As the World pleases. What's the World to yon! 
Much. I was born of woman, and drew milk 
As sweet as charity. from human breasts. 
I think, articulate, I laugh and weep. 
And exercise all functions of a man. 
How then should I and any man that lives 
Be strangers to each other? Pierce my vein. 
Take of the crimson stream meandering there, 
And catechise it well ; apply thy glass, 
Search it, and prove now if it be not blood 
Congenial with thine own : and, if it be, 
What edge of subtlety canst thou suppose 
Keen enough, wise and skilful as thou art. 
To cut the link of brotherhood, by which 
One common Maker bound me to the kind? 
True ; I am no proficient, I confess. 
In arts like yours. 1 cannot call the swift 
And perilous lightnings from the angry clouds. 
And bid them hide themselves in earth beneath ; 
I cannot analyse the air, nor catch 
The parallax of yonder lum'nous point, 
That seems half quenched in the immense abyss: 
Such powers 1 boast not — neither can I rest 
A silent witness of the headlong rage, 



f 



THB GARDEN. 69 

beedlees fall;r> by which thonsuids die, 

te of my bone, and Lindred souls to mine, 

rod never meant, tl»l nuui shoald scale the'Heav'na 

strides of homan wisdom. In liis trorks, 

lagh woadrous, he commuidB us in bis word 

seek Inm rather, where bia mercy shines, 

> mind indeed, enligfaten'd from above, 

ws him in all ; ascribes to the grand canse 

I grand effect; ackoowledgee with joy 

I manner, and witb rapture tastes his style, 

: never yet did philosophic tube, 

it brings the planets home into (he eye 

Observation, and discovers, else 

L visible, fais family of worlds, 

cover faim, that roles them ; such a veil 

■^ over mortal eyes, blind from the birtb, 

i dark in things divine. Full oiten too 

r wayward intellect, tbe more we leant 

nature, overlooks her author morej 

im instrmnental causes proud to draw 

icinsions retrograde, and mad mistake. 

t if his word once teach iw, shoot a ray 

■ongh all the heart's dark chambers, and revenl 

Lths DndisGem'd bnt by that holy light ; 

m all is plain. Philosophy, haptiz'd 

tbe pore fountain of eternal love, 

s eyes indeed ; and viewing all she sees 

meant to indicate a God to man, 

« Am his praise, and forfeits not her own. 

uniDg has bonw mcb fruit in odier days 






70 THE TASK. BOOK III. 

On all ber braii6hes; piety has fonod 
Friends in the friends of bdebce, and true prayer 
Has flowed from lips wet with Castalian dews. 
Such was thy wisdom, Newton, childlike sage ! / 
Sagacious reader of the works of God, 
And in his word sagacious. Such too thine, 
Milton, whose genius had angelic wing^, ' 
And fed on manna! And such thine, in whom 
Our British Themis gloried with just cause, 
Immortal Hale! for deep discernment prais'd, 
AAd sound integrity, not more than fam'd 
For sanctity of manners undefil'd. 

All flesh is grass, and all its glory fodes 
Like the fair flower dishe^eird in the wind; 
Riches have^wiugs, and grandeur is a dream; 
The man we celebrate must find a tomb. 
And we that worship him ignoble graves. 
Nothing is proof against the general curse 
Of vanity, that seizes all below. 
The only amaranthine flow'r on Earth 
Is virtue ; th' only lasting treasure, truth. 
But what is truth? 'twas Pilate^s question put 
To Truth itself, that deign'd him no reply. 
And wherefore t will not God impart his light 
To them that ask it?--Freely— 'tis his joy. 
His glory, and his nature, to impart. 
But to tbe proud, uncandid, insincere, 
Or negligent inquirer, not a spark. 
What's that, which brings contempt upon a book 
And him who writes it, though the style be neat, 




TUB GARDEN. tl 

i method clear, and argumeat exact? 
it makes a minister in iioly tiling 
s joy of many, and the dread of more, 
i name a theme for praise and for reproach ? — 
it, while it ^ves us worth in Grod's account^ 
[>reciates and undoes us in our own? 
lat pearl is it, that rich men cannot buy, 
%t learning is too proud to gather up ; 
t which the poor, and the despisM of all, 
k and obtain, and often find unsought? 
1 me — and I will teil thee what is truth. 
) friendly to the best pursuits of man, 
endiy to thought, to virtue, and to peace, 
mestic life in rural leisure pass'd ! 
w know thy value, and few taste thy sweets ; 
ough many boast thy favours, and affect 
understand and choose thee for their own. 
t foolish man foregoes his proper bliss, 
'n as his first progenitor, and quits, 
ough plac'd in Paradise (for earth has still 
ne traces of her youthful beauty left), 
tistantial happiness for transient joy. 
mes formed for contemplation, and to nurse, 
e growing seeds of wisdom ; that suggest, 
ev'ry pleasing image they present, 
flections such as meliorate tlie heart, 
mpose the passion^, and exalt thp mind ; 
enes such as these ^is his supreme delight 
• fill with riot, and defile i^rith blood, 
ould some contagion, kind to thej.oor brutes 



i 



73 THE TASK; BOOK III. 

We persecute, annihilate the tribes. 

That draw the sportsman o^er hill and dale 

Fearless and rapt away from all his cares ; 

Should never game-fowl hatch her eggs again, 

Nor baited hook deceive the fish's eye ; 

Could pageantry and dance, and feast and song, 

Be queir^ in all our summer-months' retreats; 

How many self-deluded nymphs and swains. 

Who dream they have a taste for fields and groves, 

Would find them hideous nurs'ries of the spleen, 

And crowd the roads, impatient for the town ! 

They love the country, and none else, who seek 

For their own sake its silence and its shade. 

Delights which who would leave, that has a heart 

Susceptible of pity, or a mind 

Cultured and capable of sober thought. 

For all the savage din of the swift pack. 

And clamours of the field ?— Detested sport, 

That owes its pleasures to another's pain ; 

That feeds upon the sobs and dying shrieks 

Of harmless nature, dumb, but yet endu'd 

With eloquence, that agonies inspire. 

Of silent tears and heart-distending sighs ! 

Yain tears, alas, and sighs, that never find 

A corresponding tone in jovial souls ! 

Well— one at least is safe. Oi^e sheltered har« 

Has never heard the sanguinary yell 

Of cruel man, exulting in her woes. 

Innocent partner of my peaceful home. 

Whom teo long years' experience of my care 



I 



THE GARDEN. 73 

Has made at last familiar; she has lost 

Much of her Tigilant instinctive dread, 

Not Deedfiil here, beneath a roof like mine. 

Yes— thou may'st eat thy bread, and lick the hand 

That feeds thee ; thou may'st frolic on the floor 

At ey'ning, and at night retire secure 

To thy straw couch, and slumber unalarmM ; 

For I have gain'd thy confidence, have pledged 

All that is human in me, to protect 

rhine unsuspecting gratitude and love. 

If I survive thee, I will dig thy grave ; 

ind, when I place thee in it, sighing say, 

• knew at least one hare that had a friend. 

How various his employments, whom the world 
/alls idle ; and who justly in return ^ 

Ssteems that busy world an idler too ! 
Viends, books, a garden, and perhaps his pen, 
^Ughtful industry enjoyM at home, 
nd Nature in her cultivated trim 
^ress'd to his taste, inviting him abroad — 
an he want occupation, who has these ? 
I^ill he be idle, who has much f enjoy ? 
[e therefore studious of laborious ease, 
ot slothful, happy to deceive the time, 
ot waste it, and aware that human life 
I but a loan to be repaid with use, 
Hien he shall call his debtors to account, 
^m whom are all our blessings, business finds 
iT*n here : while sedulous I seek t' improve, 
it least neglect not, or leave unemployed, 

F. 



i 



74 THE TASK. BOOK III. 

The mind he g^ye me ; driving it, though slack 
Too oft, and much impeded in its work 
By causes not to be divulged in vain, 
To its jast point — the service of mankind. 
He, that attends to his interior self, 
That has a heart, and keeps it ; has a mind 
That hungers, and supplies it;? and who seeks 
A social, not a dissipated life, 
Has business ; feels himself engag'd t' achieve 
s No unimportant, though a silent, task. 
A life ail turbulence and noise may seem 
To him that leads it wise, and to be prais'd; 
But wisdom is a peari with most success 
Sought in still water, and beneath clear skies. 
He that is ever occupied in storms. 
Or dives not for it, or brings up instead. 
Vainly industrious, a disgraceful priee. 

The morning finds the self-sequester'd mas 
Fresh for his task, intend what task he may. 
Whether inclement seasons recommend 
His warm but simple home, where he enjoys 
With her, who shares his pleasures and his heart, 
Sweet converse, sipping calm the firagrant lympb, 
Which neatly she prepares; then to his book 
Well chosen, and not sullenly perus'd 
In selfish silence, but imparted oft, 
As aught occurs, that she may smile to hear, 
Or turn to nourishment, digested well. 
Or if the garden with its many cares, 
All well repaid, demand him, he attends 



i 



TUB GARDEN. 75 

ikxHiie call, conscioas how mach the hand 
bard Laboar needs his watchftil eye, 
'rin^ lazily, if not overseen, 
applying his anskiiftil strength, 
es he gOTern only or direct, 
ich performs himself. No works indeed, 
ik robust, tongh sinews, bred to toil, 
employ ; but snch as may amuse, 
B, demanding rather skill than force, 
of his well-spread walls, he views his trees, 
leet, no barren interval between, 
leasure ftiore than ev*n tUeir fruits afford, 
, save himself who trains them, none can feci, 
therefore are his own peculiar charge ; 
iner hand may discipline the shoots, 
lUt his steel approach them. What is weak, 
perM, or has lost prolific pow'rs, 
d by age, his unrelenting hand 
to the knife : nor does he spare the soft 
cculent, that feeds its giant growth, 
rren, at th' expense of neighboring twigs 
»tentatious, and yet studded thick 
opefhl gems. The rest, no portion left 
lay disgrace his art, or disappoint 
expectation, he disposes neat 
isnr'd distances, that air and sun, 
ed fireely, may afibrd their aid, 
ntilate and warm the swelling buds. 
Summer has her riches. Autumn hence, 
nee ev'n Winter fills his withered hand 

e2 



I 



7(i THE TASK. BOOK III. 

With blushing fruits, aud plenty not his own*. 
Fair recompense of labour well bei|tow'd, 
^d wise precaution; which a clime so mde 
Makes needful still, whose Spring is but the child 
Of churlish Winter, in her froward moods- 
Discovering much the temper of her sire. 
For oft, as if in her the stream of mild 
Maternal nature had reversed its course. 
She brings her infants forth with many smiles; 
But once delivered kills them with a frown. 
He therefore timely warn'd himself supplies 
Her want of care, screening and keeping warm 
The plenteous bloom, that no rough blast may sweep 
His garlands from the boughs. Again, as oft 
As the sun peeps and vernal airs breathe mild. 
The fence withdrawn, he gives them ey'ry beam, 
And spreads his hopes t^tbre the blaze of day. 
To raise the piickly and green-coated gourd. 
So grateful to the palate, and when rare 
So covetted, else base and disesteem'd — 
Food for the vulgar merely — is an art. 
That toiling ages have but just matur'd, i 

And at this moment unassay'd in song. 
Yet gnats have had, and frogs and mice, long since, 
Their eulogy ; those sang the Mantuan bard, 
And these the Grecian, in ennobling strains ; 
And in thy numbers, Philhps, shines for aye 
The solitary shilling. Pardon then. 
Ye sage dispensers of poetic fame, 
Th' ambition of one meaner far, whose powers, . 
* lliratorqne novos ftnctiii'et non saa poma. ^' 



THE GARDEN. 77 

h^suming an attempt not less sublime, 
Pant for the praise of dressing to the taste 
}f critic appetite, no sordid fare, 
L cacomber, while costly yet and scarce. 
The stable yields a stercoraceous heap, 
mpregnated with quick fermenting salts, 
nd potent to resist the freezing blast : 
'or, ere the beech and elm have cast their Icnf 
lecidnons, when now November dark 
hecks yegetation in the torpid plant 
jLpos'd to his cold breath, the task begins. 
S^arily therefore, and with prudient heed, 
[e seeks a favoured spot ; that where he builds 
h^ agglomerated pile his frame may front 
be sun's meridian disk, and at the back 
njoy close shelter, wall, or reeds, or hedge 
npervious to the wind. First he bids spread 
•ry fern or litter'd hay, that may imbibe 
h' ascending damps; then leisurely impose, 
jid lightly, shaking it with agile hand 
rom the full fork, the saturated straw, 
(^hat longest binds the closest forms secure 
'he shapely side, that as it rises takes, 
ly jnst degreesi, an overhanging breadth, 
helfring the base with its projected eaves ; 
?h' uplifted firame, compact at ev'ry joint, 
Lnd overlaid with clear translucent glass, 
ie settles next upon the sloping mount, 
^hose sharp declivity shoots off secure 
^rom the dash'd pane the deluge as it falls. 



78 *TUE TASK. BOOK III. 

He shuts it close, and the first labour ends. 

Thrice must the volnble and restless £arth 

Spin round upon her axle, ere the warmth, 

Slow gathYing in the midst, through the square mass 

Diffused, attain the surface : when, behold ! 

A pestilent and most corrosive steam, 

Like a gross fog Boeotian, rising fast. 

And fast condens'd upon the dewy sash. 

Asks egress; which obtained, the overchargM 

And drenched conservatory breathes abroad. 

In volumes wheeling slow, the vapour dank; 

And, purified, rejoices to have lost 

Its foul inhabitant. But to assuage 

Th' impatient fervour, which it first conceives 

Within its reeking bosom, threatening death 

To his young hopes, requires discreet delay. 

Experience, slow preceptress, teaching oft 

The way to glory by miscarriage foul. 

Must prompt him, and admonish how to catch 

Th' auspicious moment, when the tempered heat, 

Friendly to vital motion, may afibrd 

Soft fomentation, and invite the seed. 

The seed, selected wisely, plump, and smooth, 

And glossy, he commits to pots of size 

Diminutive, well filled with well prepared 

And fruitful soil, that has been treasured long. 

And drank no moisture from the dripping clouds. 

These on the warm and genial earth, that hides 

The smoking maAure, and o'erspreads it all, 

lie places Ughtly, and, as time subdues 



» 



THS gardeK. 71) 

The rage of ftnoentatioD, plants deep 

Id the soft medinm, till they stand imnen'd. 

Then rise the teader germes, npsUrtiiig quick. 

And spreadini; wide their apaagj lobes ; »t first 

Pale, wan, and lirid; but assuming soon, 

If bnn'd by balmj and nntritious air, 

Strain'd tfarongh the tncadly mats, a tivid green. 

Two leaves produc'd, two roagh indented leaves, 

CautiooH he pinches from the second fitalL 

A pimple, that portends a future sprout. 

And interdicts its growth. Thence atnught Succeed 

The branches, stnrd; to his utmost wish; 

Prolific all, and harbingers of more. 

Ilie crowded roots demand enlaigcment now. 

And transplantation in an ampler space. 

Indnlg'd in what they wish, they soon supply 

Large foliage, overshad'wing golden flow'rs, 

Blown on the summit of th' apparent fruit 

Tlies-:: have their sesea I and, when summer shines, 

The bee transports the fertilizing meal 

fh)!^ flow'r to flow'r, and ev'n the breathing air 

Wafts the rich prize to its anointed use. 

Not so when winter scowls. Assistant art 

Then acts in nature's office, brings to pass 

The glad espousals, and ensures the crop. 

Grudge not ye rich (since Luxury must have 
His dainties, and the World's more num'rous half 
Uves by contriving delicates for you), 
Giudge not the cost. Ye little know the ca 
IIk TigiUoce, the labour, and the skill, 



< 



80 THE TASK. BOOIC IIL 

That day and Dight are exercised, and bang 
Upon the ticklish balance of suspense, 
That ye may garnish your profuse regales 
With summer fruits brought forth by wintry suns. 
Ten thousand dangers lie in wait to thwart 
The process. Heat and cold, and wind and steam, 
Moisture and drought, mice, worms, and swarmiDg 
Minute as dust, and numberless, oft work [flies, 
Dire disappointment, that admits no cure, 
And which no care can obviate. It were long, 
Too long, to tell th' expedients and the shifts^ 
Which he that fights a season so severe 
Devises, while he guards his tender trust ; 
And oft at last in vain. The learned and wise 
Sarcastic would exclaim, and judge the song 
Cold as its theme, and like its theme the fruit 
Of too much labour, worthless when produced. 
Who loves a garden loves a greenhouse too. 
Unconscious of a less propitious clime, 
There blooms exotic beauty, warm and snug, 
While the winds whistle, and the snows descend. 
The spiry myrtle with unwith'ring leaf 
Shines there, and flourishes. The golden boast 
Of Portugal and western India there. 
The ruddier orange, and the paler lime. 
Peep through their polished foliage at the storm, 
And seem to smile at what they need not fear. 
Th' amomum there with intermingling flow'rs 
And cherries hangs her twigs. Geranium boasts 
Her crimson honours, and the spangled beaux> 



t 



THE GARDEN. 81 

Ficoictes, g^litters bright the winter loDg. 
All plants, of e^Vy leaf, that can endure 
The winter's frown, if screened from his shrew'd bite, 
lAye there, and prosper. Those Ausonia claims, 
Leyantine regions these ; th' Azores send 
Their jessamine, her jessamine remote 
Caffiraia: foreigners from many lands, 
They form one social shade, as if convened 
By magic summons of the Orphean lyre. 
Yet just arrangement, rarely brought te pass 
But by -a master's hand, disposing well 
'the g^y diversities of leaf and flowV, 
Must lend its aid t' illustrate all their charms. 
And dress the regular yet various scene. 
Plant behind plant aspiring, in the van 
The dwarfish, in the rear retir'd, but still 
Sublime above the rest, the statelier stand. 
So once were rang'd the sons of ancient Rome, 
A noble show! while Roscius trod the stage; 
And so, while Garrick, as renown'd as he. 
The sons of Albion ; fearing each to lose 
Some note of Nature's music from his lips. 
And covetous of Shakspeare's beauty, seen 
In ev'iy flash of his far-beaming eye. 
Nor taste alone and w«ll-contriv'd display 
Suffice to give the marshall'd ranks the grace 
Of their complete efifect. Much yet remains 
Unsung, and many cares are yet behind. 
And more laborious; cares on which depend 
Their vigour, injur'd soon, not soon restored. 

e3 



i 



82 THE TASK. BOOK HI. 

The soil must be reDewM, which often wash'd 
Loses its treasure of salubrious salts, 
And disappoints the roots; the slender roots 
Close interwoven, where they meet the vase, 
Must smooth be shorn away ; the Sapless branch 
Must fly before the knife ; the withered leaf 
Must be detached, and where it strews the floor 
Swept with a woman's neatness, breeding else 
Contagion, and disseminating death. 
Discharge but these kind offices, (and who 
Would spare, that loves them, offices like these?) 
Well they reward the toil. The sight is pleas'd, 
The scent regal'd, each odoriProus leaf, 
Each opening blossom, freely breathes abroad 
Its gratitude, and thanks him with its sweets. 

So manifold, all pleasing in their kind, 
All healthful, are th' employs of rural life> 
Reiterated as the wheel of time 
Runs round ; still ending, and beginning still. 
Nor are these all. To deck the shapely knoll, 
That softly swelPd and gaily dressed appears 
A flow'ry island, from the dark green lawn 
Emerging, must be deemM a labour due 
To no mean hand, and asks the touch of taste. 
Here also gratefu,l mixture of well-match'd 
And sorted hues (each giving each relief. 
And by contrasted beauty shining more) 
Is needful. Strength may wield the pond'rous spade, 
May turn the clod, and wheel the compost home ; 
But elegance, chief grace the garden shows, 



t . 



THE GARDEN. , 83 

And most attractive, is the fair result 

Of thought, the creature of a polished mind. 

Without it all is Gothic as the scene, 

To which th* insipid citizen resorts 

Near yonder heath ; where Industry mispent. 

But proud of his uncouth iil-chosen task, 

Had made a Heaven ou Earth ; with suns and moons 

Of close-rammM stones has charged th' encumbered 

And fairly laid the zodiac in the dust. [soil^ 

He therefore, who would see his flowers disposed 

Sightly and in just order, ere he gives 

The beds the trusted treasure of their seeds. 

Forecasts the future whole ; that when the scene 

Shall break into its preconceived display, 

£ach for itself, and all as w ith one voice 

Ck>nspiring, may attest his bright design. 

Nor even then, dismissing as performed 

His pleasant work, may he suppose it done ; 

Few self-supported flow'rs endure the wind 

Uninjur'd, but expect th' upholding aid 

Of the smooth-shaven prop, and, neatly tied, 

Are wedded thus, like beauty to old age 

For int'rest sake, the living to the dead. 

Some clothe the soil that feeds them, far diffused 

And lowly creeping, modest and yet fair, 

Like virtue, thriving most where little seen : 

Some more aspiring catch the neighbour shrub 

With clasping tendrils, and invest his branch. 

Else unadorned, with many a gay festoon 

And fragrant chaplet, recompensing well 



84 . THE TASK. BOOK III. 

The strength they borrow with the grace they lend. 

All hate the rank'society of weeds, 

Noisome, and ever greedy to exhaust 

Th* impoverished earth ; an overbearing race, 

That, like the multitude made faction-mad. 

Disturb good order, and degrade true worth. 

O blest seclusion from a jarring world, 
Which he, thus occupied, enjoys ! Retreat 
Cannot indeed to guilty man restore 
Lost innocence, or cancel follies past ; 
But it has peace, and much secures the mind 
From all assaults of evil ; proving still 
A faithful barrier, not overleaped vnth ease 
By vicious custom, raging uncontrolled 
Abroad, and desolating public life. 
When fierce temptation, seconded within 
By traitor appetite, and arm'd with dakrts 
Tempered in Hell, invades the throbbing breast. 
To combat may be glorious, and success 
Perhaps may crown us ; but to fly is safe. 
Had I the choice of sublunary good, 
What codld I wish, that I possess not here? 
Health, leisure, means te improve it, friendship, peace, 
No loose or wanton, though a wandering, muse, 
And constant occupation without care. 
Thus blest I draw a picture of that bliss ; 
Hopeless indeed, that dissipated minds, 
And profligate abusers of a world 
Created fair so much in vain for them, 
^Sliould «eek the guiltless joys, that I describe, 



I 



TH& GAltl^fiN. 85 

Allar*d by my report: but sure no lessf, 

That self-condemii*d they must neglect the prize, 

And what they will not taste must yet approve. 

What we admire we praise ; and when we praise, 

Advance it into notice, that, its worth 

Acknowledged, others may admire it too. 

I therefore recommend, though at the risk 

Of popular disgust, yet boldly still, 

The cause of piety, and sacred truth. 

And virtue, and those scenes, which God ordainM 

Should best secure them and promote them most ; 

^enes that I love, and with regret perceive 

Forsaken, or through folly not enjoy 'd. 

Pure is the nymph, though liberal of her smiles, 

And chaste, though unconfin'd, whom I extol. 

Not as the prince in Shushan, when he call'd, 

Yain-glorious of her charms, his Vashti forth 

To g^race the full pavilion. His design 

Was but to boast his own peculiar good. 

Which all might view with envy, none partake. 

My charmer is not mine alone ; my sweets. 

And she that sweetens all my bitters too, 

Kature, enchanting Nature, in whose form 

And lineaments divine I trace a hand. 

That errs not, and find raptures still renew'd, 

Is free to all men^universal prize. 

Strange that so fair a creature should yet want 

Admirers, and be destined to divide 

With meaner objects ev'n the few she finds ! 

Stripped of her ornaments, her leaves and flow'rs, 



86 THE TASK. BOOK III. 

She loses all her influence. Cities then 
Attract ns, and neglected Nature pines 
Abandoned, as unworthy of our love. 
But are not wholesome airs, though unperfum'd 
By roses; and clear suns, though scarcely felt; 
And groves, if unharmonious, yet secure 
' From clamour, and whose very silence charms; 
To be preferred to smoke, to the eclipse, 
That Metropolitan volcanoes make. 
Whose Stygian throats breathe darkness all day loDg; 
And to the stir of Commerce, driving slow, 
And thundering loud, with his ten thousand wheels? 
They would be, were not madness in the head, 
And folly in the heart; were £ngland now. 
What England was, plain, hospitable, kind. 
And undebauch*d. But we have bid farewell 
To all the virtues of those better days, 
And all their honest pleasures. Mansions once 
Knew their own masters ; and laborious hinds, 
Who had surviv'd the father, serv'd the son. 
Now the legitimate and rightful lord 
Is but a transient guest, newly arrivM, 
And soon to be supplanted. He, that saw 
His patrimonial timber cast its leaf. 
Sells the last scantling, and transfers the price 
To some shrewd sharper, ere it buds again. 
Estates are landscapes, gaz'd upon awhile, 
Then advertised, and auctioneered away. 
The country starves, and they, that feed th' o'ercharg'd 
And surfeited lewd town with her fair dues, 



THE GARDEN. 87 

By a jast jadgment strip and starve themselves. 

The wings, that waft our riches out of sight, 

Grow on the gamester's elbows ; and th' alert 

And nimble motion of those restless joints. 

That never tire, soon fans them all away. 

Improvement too, the idol of the age. 

Is fed wiih many a victim. Lo, he comes ! 

Th' omnipotent magician, Brown, appears ! 

Down falls the venerable pile, th' abode 

Of our forefathers— a grave whiskered race. 

Bat tasteless. Springs a palace in its stead. 

But in a distant spot ; where more exposed 

It may enjoy th^ advantage of the north. 

And aguish east, till time shall have transform'd 

Those naked acres to a sheltering grove. 

He speaks. The lake in front becomes a lawn ; 

Woods vanish, hills subside, and valleys rise ; 

And streams, as if created for his use. 

Pursue the track of his directing wand. 

Sinuous or straight, now rapid and now slow. 

Now munn'ring soft, now roaring in cascades — 

l&v'n as he bids ! Th' enraptured owner smiles. 

Tis finish'd, and yet, finished as it seems, 

SKill wants a grace, the loveliest it could show, 

A mine to satisfy th' enormous cost 

Drained to the last poor item of his wealth, 

He sighs, departs, and leaves th' accomplished plan, 

That he has touched, retouch'd, many a long day 

Xiabour'd, and many a night pursued in dreams, 

Just' when it meets his hopes, and proves the Heav'n 



88 THE TASK. BOOK III. 

He wanted, for a wealthier to enjoy ! 
And now perhaps the glorious hour is come, 
When, having no stake left, no pledge t' endear 
Her interests, or that gives her sacred cause 
A moment's operation on his love. 
He burns with most intense and flagrant zeal 
To serve bis -country. Ministerial grace 
Deals him out money from the public chest; 
Or, if that mine be shut, some private purse 
Supplies his need with an usurious loan, 
To be refunded duly, when his vote 
Well-manag'd shall have eam*d its worthy price. 
O innocent, compar'4 with arts like these, 
Crape, and cock'd pistol, and the whistling ball 
Sent through the traveller's temples ! He, that finds 
One drop of Heav'n's sweet mercy in his cup, 
Can dig, beg, rot, and perish, well content, 
So he may wtup himself in honest rags 
At his last gasp ; but could not for a world 
Fish up his dirty and dependent bread 
From pools and ditches of the commonwealth, 
Sordid and sick'ning at his own success. 

Ambition, av'rice, penury incurred 
By endless riot, vanity, the lust 
Of pleasure and variety, dispatch. 
As duly as the swallows disappear, 
The world of wand'ring knights and squires to town. 
London ingulfs them all ! The shark is there. 
And the shark's prey; the spendthrift, and the leech 
That sucks him. There the sycophant, and be 



THE GARDEN. B9 

10, with bareheaded and obsequious bows, 
^ a warm office, doom'd to a cold jail 
d groat per diem, if his patron frown. 
e levee swarms, as if in golden pomp 
ere character'd on ev'ry stateman^s door, 

ATTER^D AND BANKRUPT FORTUNES MENDED HERE.'' 

ese are the charms, that sully and eclipse 
e charms of nature. Tis the cruel gripe, 
at lean, hard-handed Poverty inflicts, 
e hope of better things, the chance to win, 
e wish to shine, the thirst to be amus'd, 
at at the sound of winter's hoary wing 
people all our counties of such herds 
flatt'ring, loif ring, cringing, begging, loose 
d wanton vagrants, as make London, vast 
d boundless as it is, a crowded coop. 
) thou, resort and mart of all the Earth, 
Bcker'd with all complexions of mankind, 
d spotted with all crimes ; in whom I see 
ich that I love, and more that I admire, 
d all that I abhor ; thou freckled fair, 
at pleasest and yet shock'st me, I can laugh, 
d I can weep, can hope, and can despond, 
i\ wrath and pity, when I think on thee ! 
Q righteous would have sav'd a city once, 
d thou hast many righteous.— -Well for thee — 
at salt preserves thee ; more corrupted else, 
id therefore more obnoxious, at this hour, 
lan Sodom in her day had pow'r to be, 
>r whom God heard his Abr'ham plead in vain. 



, I 



-\ 



BOeK IV. 




fe 








THE TASK, 

BOOK IV. 



THE WINTER EVENING. 



pott comes in. — ^The newspaper is read. — The World conteni* 
ted at a distance. — Address to Winter. — The rural amusements 
K winter evening compared with the fashionable ones. — Address 
evening.-— A brown study.— Fall of snow in the evening.— The 
{goner.— A poor ftunily piece.— The rural thief.— Public houses, 
lie mnltitude of them censured.— The former's daughter: what 
was— what she is.— The simplicity of country manners almost 
.— Causes of the change.- Desertion of the country by the rich, 
eglect of magistrates.— The militia principally in foult— The 
r recruit and his transformation.— Reflection on bodies corpo- 
(.- The love of rural objects natural to all, and never to be 
lUy extinguished. 



IK ! 'tis the twanging horn o'er yonder bridge, 
t with its wearisome but needful length 
trides the wintry flood, in which the moon 
I her unwrinkled face reflected bright;— 
comes, the herald of a noisy world, 
h spatter'd boots, strapped waist, and frozen locks ; 
rs from all nfttions lumb'ring at his back, 
e to his charge, the close pack'd load behind, 



02 THE TASK. BOOK IV. 

Yet careless what he brings, his one concern 
Is to conduct it to the destined inn ; 
And, having di)opp*d tb' expected bag, pass on. 
He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch, 
Cold and yet cbeeriul ; messenger of grief 
Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some; 
To him indiff'rent whether grief or joy. 
Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks. 
Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet 
"With tears, that trickled down the writer's cheeks 
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill, 
Or charged with am'rous sighs of absent swains. 
Or nymphs responsive, equally affect 
His horse aud him, uuconscious of them all. 
But O th' important budget ! usher'd in 
With such heart-shaking music, who can say 
What are its tidings? have our troops awak'd? 
Or do they still, as if with opium drugged, 
Snore to the murmurs of th* Atlantic wave ? 
Is India free? and does she wear her plum'd 
And jeweird turban vrith a smile of peace. 
Or do we grind her still ? The grand debate, 
The popular harangue, the tart reply. 
The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit, 
And the loud laugh — I long to know them all ; 
I bum to set th* imprisoned wranglers free. 
And give them voice and utterance once again. 
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast, 
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round. 
And; while the bubbling and loud hissing urn 



WINT£R EVENING. 93 

Throws up a steamy colamo, and the cups, 

That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each, 

So let us welcome peaceful evening in. 

Not sach his evening, who with shining face 

Sweats in the crowded theatre, and, squeezed 

And bor'd with elbow points through both his sides^ 

Oatscolds the ranting actor on the stage : 

Nor his, who patient stands till his feet throb. 

And bis head thumps, to feed upon the breath 

Of patriots, bursting with heroic rage, 

Or placemen, all tranquillity and smiles. 

This folio of four pages, happy work ! 

Which not ev*n critics criticise ; that holds 

Inquisitive Attention, while 1 read, 

Fast bound in chains of silence, which the fair, 

Though eloquent themselves, yet fear to break ; 

What is it, but a map of busy life. 

Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns ? 

Here runs tlie mountainous and craggy ridge. 

That tempts Ambition. On the summit see 

The seals of office glitter in his eyes ; 

He climbs, he pants, he grasps them ! At his heels. 

Close at his heels, a demagogue ascends. 

And with a dexfrous jerk soon twists him down, 

And wins them, but to lose them in his turn. 

Here rills of oily eloquence in soft 

Meanders lubricate the course they take ; 

The modest speaker is ashamed and grieved, 

T' engross a moment's notice, and yet beg^. 

Begs a propitious ear for his poor thoughts* 



94 THE TASK. BOOK IV. 

Howeyer trivial all that he conceives. 

Sweet bashfulness ! it claims at least this praise; 

The dearth of information and good sense. 

That it foretels ns, always comes to pass. 

Cat'racts of declamation thunder here ; 

There forests of no meaning spread the page« 

In which all comprehension wanders lost ; 

While fields of pleasantry amuse us there 

With merry descants on a nation's woes. 

The rest appears a wilderness of strange 

But gay confusion ; roses for the cheeks, 

And lilies for the brows of faded age, 

Teeth for the toothless, ringlets for the bald, 

Heaven, earth, and ocean, plundered of their sweets 

Nectareous essences, Olympian dews. 

Sermons, and city feasts, and favorite airs, 

iEthereal joumies, submarine exploits. 

And Katterfelto, with his hair on end 

At his own wonders, wond'ring for his bread. 

Tis pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat, 
To peep at such a world ; to see the stir 
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd ; 
To hear the roar she sends through all her gates 
At a safe distance, where the dying sound 
Falls a soft murmur on th* uninjured ear. 
Thus sitting, and surveying thus at ease 
The globe and its concerns, I seem advanced 
To some secure and more than mortal height. 
That liberates and exempts me from them all. 
It turns submitted to my view, turns round 



WINTBR EVBNING. 95 

ill its generations ; I behold 
inralt, and am still. The sound of war 
)St its terrors ere it reaches me ; 
s, but alarms me not. I mourn the pride 
v'rice that make man a wolf to man ; 
he foint echo of those brazen throats, 
ich he speaks the language of his hearty 
igh, but neyer tremble at the sound, 
.vels and expatiates, as the bee 
9ow'r to flow'r, so he from land to land ; 
anners, customs, policy, of all 
mtribution to the store he gleans ; 
cks intelligence in ev'ry clime, 
preads the honey of bis deep research 
return— a rich repast for me. 
.yels, and I too. I tread his deck, 
d his topmast, through his peering eyes 
^er countries, with a kindred heart 
his woes, and share in his escapes ; 
fkncy, like the finger of a clock, 
the great circuit, and is still at home. 
(Winter, ruler of th* inverted year, 
latter'd hair with sleet like ashes fill'd, 
reath congealed upon thy lips, thy cheeks 
1 with a beard made white with other snows 
those of age, thy forehead wrapp'd in clouds, 
less branch thy sceptre, and thy throne 
ing car, indebted to no wheels, 
'g'd by storms along its slippery way, 
thee, all unlovely as thoa seem'st. 



96 TUB TASK. BOOK IV. 

And dreaded as thoa art I Thou hold'st the suu 

A prisoner in the yet undawning east, 

Shortening his journey between morn and noon, 

And hurrying him, impatient of his stay, 

Down to the rosy west ; but kindly still 

Compensating his loss with added hours 

Of social converse and instructive ease. 

And gathering, at short notice, in one group 

The family disperse, and fixing thought. 

Not less dispersed by daylight and its cares. 

I crown thee king of intimate delights, 

Fireside enjoyments, homeborn happiness, 

And all the comforts, that the lowly roof 

Of undisturbed Retirement, and the hours 

Of long uninterrupted evening, know. 

No ratthng wheels stop short before these gates; 

No powder'd pert proficient in the art 

Of sounding an alarm assaults these doors 

Till the street rings ; no stationary steeds 

Cough their own knell, while, heedless of the soand 

The silent circle fan themselves, and quake : 

But here the needle plies its busy task. 

The pattern grows, the well-depicted flowV, 

Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn. 

Unfolds its bosom ; buds, and leaves, and sprigs. 

And curling tendrils gracefully dispos'd. 

Follow the nimble finger of the fair; 

A wreath, that cannot fade, or flowers, that blow 

With most success when all besides decay. 

The poet's or historian's page by one 



WINTER EVENING. 91 

▼ocal for th' amusement of the rest ; 

[>rightly lyre, whos^ treasure of sweet sounds 

rach from many a trembling chord shakes out; 

he clear voice symphonious, yet distinct, 

a the charming strife triumphant still ; 

ie the night, and set a keener edge 

male industry : the threaded steel 

swiftly, and nnfelt the task proceeds. 

olume cios'd, the customary rites 

e last meal commence. A Roman meal ; 

as the mistress of the world once found 

ons, when her patriots of high note, 

ps by moonlight, at their humble doors, 

inder an old oak's domestic shade, 

'd, spare feast I a radish and an egg, 

urse ensues, not trivial, yet not dull, 

uch as with a frown forbids the play 

9cy, or proscribes the sound of mirth ; 

o we madly, like an impious World, 

deem religion frenzy, and the God, 

made them, an intruder on their joys, 

at his awful name, or deem his praise 

ring note. Themes of a graver tone, 

ing oft our gratitude and love, 

i we retrace with Memory's pointing wand, 

calls the past to our exact review, 

angers we have scaped, the broken snare, 

iisappointed foe, delivVance found 

»k'd for, life preserved and peace restored, 

} of omnipotent eternal love. 



08 THE TASK. BOOK IV 

O evenings worthy of the gods ! exclaim'd 
The Sfibine bard. O ev'niog^, I reply^ 
More to be prized and coveted than yours. 
As more iUumin'd, and with nobler truths, 
That I, and mine, and those we love, eiyoy. 

Is Winter hideous in a garb like this ? 
Needs he the tragic fur, the smoke of lamps, 
The pent up breath of an unsav'ry throng, 
To thaw him into feeling ; or the smart 
And snappish dialogue, that flippant wits 
Call comedy, to prompt him with a smile ? 
The self-complacent actor, when he views 
(Stealing a sidelong glance at a full house) 
The slope of faces, from the floor to th' roof 
(As if one master-spring controlled them all), 
Relax'd into a universal grin, 
Sees not a countenance there, that speaks of joy 
Half so refined or so sincere as ours. 
Cards were superfluous here, with all the tricks, 
That idleness has ever yet contrived, 
To fill the void of an unfurnished brain. 
To palliate dulness, and give time a shove. 
Time, as he passes us, has a dove's wing, 
Unsoil'd, and swift, and of a silken sound ; 
But the World's Time is Time in masquerade ! 
Theirs, should I paint him, has his pinions fledg'd 
With motley plumes ; and, where the peacock shoi 
His azure eyes, is tinctur'd black and red 
With spots quadrangular of diamond form, 
Ensanguined hearts, clubs typical of strife, 



WINTER EVENING. 99 

And spades, the emblem of untimely graves. 
What should be, and what was an hour-glass once, 
Becomes a dice-box, and a billiard mace 
Well does the work of his destructive sithe. 
Thus deckM, he charms a World whom Fashion blinds 
To his true worth, most pleas'd when idle most ; 
Whose only happy are their wasted hours. 
£y*n misses, at whose age their mothers wore 
The backstring and the bib, assume the dress 
Of womanhood, sit pupils in the school 
Of card-devoted Time, and night by night 
Plac'd at some vacant comer of the board. 
Learn ev'ry trick, and soon play all the game. 
But truce with censure. Roving as I rove, 
Mliere shall I find an end, or how proceed ? 
As he that travels far oft turns aside. 
To view some rugged rock or mould'ring towV, 
Which seen delights him not; then coming home 
Describes and prints it, that the world may know 
How far he went for what was nothing worth ; 
So I, with brush in hand and pallet spread, 
With colours mixM for a far different use. 
Paint cards, and dolls, and evVy idle thing, 
That Fancy finds in her excursive flights. 

Come £v*ning, once again, season of peace ; 
Ketnni sweet Evening, and continue long ! 
Methinks I see thee in the streaky west, 
^ith matron step slow moving, while the night 
Treads on thy sweeping train ; one hand employ M 
In letting fall the curtain of repose 

f2 



100 THE TASK. BOOK IV 

On bird and beast, the other charged for man 
With sweet oblivion of ihe cares of day : 
Not sumptuously adorn 'd, nor needing aid. 
Like bomely-featur'd Night, of clustering gems; 
A star or two, just twinkling on thy brow. 
Suffices thee ; save that the moon is thine 
No less than hers, not worn indeed on high 
With ostentatious pageelntry, but set , 
With modest grandeur in thy piurple zone, 
Resplendent less, but of an ampler round. 
Come then, and thou shalt find thy vot'ry calm, 
Or make me so. Composure is thy gift ; 
And, whether I devote thy gentle hours 
To books, to music, or the poet's toil ; 
To weaving nets for bird-alluring fruit; 
Or twining silken threads round ivVy reels, 
When they command whom man was bom to pleas< 
I slight thee not, but make thee welcome still. 
Just when our drawing-rooms begin to blaze 
With lights, by clear reflection multiplied 
From many a mirror, in which he of Gath, 
Goliah, might have seen his giant bulk 
Whole without stooping, tow'ring crest and all, 
My pleasures too begin. But me perhaps 
The glowing hearth may satisfy awhile 
With faint illumination, that uplifts 
The shadows to the ceiling, there by fits 
Dancing uncouthly to the quivVing flame. 
Not undelightful is an hour to me 
So spent in parlour twilight : such a gloom 



WINTER EVENING. 101 

Snits well the thonghtfai or unthinkiDg mind, 

The mind contemplative, with some new theme 

Pregnant, or indisposed alike to all. 

Laugh ye, who boast your more mercurial pow'rs, 

That never feel a stupor, know no pause, 

Nor need one ; I am conscious, and confess 

Fearless a soul, that does not always think. 

Me oft has Fancy ludicrous and wild 

Sooth'd with a waking dream of houses, towVs, 

Trees, churches, and strange visages, expressed 

Iq the red cinders, while with poring eye 

I gaz'd, myself creating what I saw. 

Nor less amused have I quiescent watch'd 

The sooty films, that play upon the bars 

Pendulous, and foreboding in the view 

Of superstition, prophes)'ing still. 

Though still deceived, some stranger's near approach. 

lis thus the understanding takes repose 

In indolent vacuity of thought, 

And sleeps and is refreshed. Meanwhile the face 

Conceals the mood lethargic with a mask 

Of deep deliberation, as the man 

Were task'd to his full strength, absorbed and lost. 

Thus oft, recliuM at ease, I lose an hour 

At evening, till at length the freezing blast. 

That sweeps the bolted shutter, summons home 

The recollected pow'rs ; and snapping short 

The glassy threads, with which the Fancy weaves 

Her brittle toils, restores me to myself. 

How calm is my recess ; and how the frost, 



i 



102 THE TASK. BOOK TV. 

Raging abroad, and the roogh wind endear 
The silence and the warmth enjoyM within ! 
I saw the woods and fields at close of day 
A variegated show ; the meadows green, 
Though faded ; and the lands, where lately wav'd 
The golden harvest, of a mellow brown, 
Upturned so lately by the forceful share. 
I saw far off the weedy fallows smile 
With verdure not unprofitable, graz'd 
By flocks, fast feeding, and selecting each 
His fav'rite herb ; while all the leafless groves. 
That skirt th' horizon, wore a sable hue. 
Scarce noticM in the kindred dusk of eve. 
To-morrow brings a change, a total change ! 
Which even now, though silently performed, 
And slowly, and by most unfelt, the face 
Of universal nature undergoes. 
Fast falls a fleecy showY : the downy flakes 
Descending, and with never-ceasing lapse, 
Softly alighting upon all below. 
Assimilate all objects. Earth receives 
Gladly the thickening mantle ; and the g^reen 
And tender blade, that feared the chilling blast, 
Escapes unhurt beneath so warm a veil. 

In such a world, so thorny, and where none 
Finds happiness unblighted, or, if found, 
Without some thistly sorrow at its side ; 
It seems the part of wisdom, and no sin 
Against the law of love, to measure lots 
With less distinguished than ourselves ; that thus 




WINTER EVENING. 103 

We may with patience bear onr moderate ills, 

And sympathize with others saff'ring more. 

HI fares the traveler now, and he that stalks 

Id ponderous boots beside his reeking team. 

The wain goes heavily, impeded sore 

By congregated loads adhering close 

To the clogg'd wheels ; and in its sluggish pace 

Noiseless appears a moving hill of snow. 

The toiling steeds expand the nostril wide, 

While ev*ry breath, by respiration strong 

Forced downward, is consolidated soon 

Upon their jotting chests. He, formed to bear 

The pelting brunt of the tempestuous night. 

With half-shut eyes, and puckered cheeks, and teellj 

Presented bare against the storm, plods on. 

One hand secures his hat, save when with both 

He brandishes his pliant lehgtli of whip. 

Resounding oft, and never heard in vain. 

happy; and in my account, denied 

That sensibility of pain, with whicb 

Refinement is endu*d, thrice happy thou ! 

Thy frame, robost and hardy, feels indeed 

The piercing cold, but feels it unimpaired. 

The learned finger never need explore 

Thy vigorous pulse ; and the nnhealthfiil east. 

That breathes the spleen, and searches ev'ry bone 

Of the infirm^ is wholesome air to thee. 

Thy days roll on exempt from household care ; 

l^y waggon is thy wife ; and the poor beasts. 

That drag the doll companion to and fro, 



104 THE TASK. BOOK IV. 

Thine helpless charge, dependent on thy care. 
Ah treat them kindly ! rude as thoa appear'st, 
Yet show that thou hast mercy ! which the great, 
With needless hurry whirled from place to place. 
Humane as they would seem, not always show. 

Poor, yet industrious, modest, quiet, neat. 
Such claim compassion in a night like this, 
And have a friend in evVy feeling heart. 
Warm*d, while it lasts, by labour, all day long 
They brave the season, and yet find at eve, 
III clad and fed but sparely, time to cool. 
The frugal housewife trembles when she lights 
Her scanty stock of brushwood, blasting clear, 
But dying soon, like all terrestrial joys. 
The few small embers lett she nurses well ; 
And, while her infant race, with outspread hands 
And crowded knees, sit cowering o'er the sparks, 
Retires, content to quake, so they be warm'd. 
I'he man feels least, as more inur'd than sho . 
To winter, and the current in his veins 
More briskly mo^M by his severer toil ; 
Yet he too finds his own distress in theirs. 
The taper soon extinguished, which I saw 
Dangled along at the cold finger's end 
Just when the day declined ; and the brown loaf 
Lodg'd on the shelf, half eaten without sauce 
Of savory cheese, or butter, costlier still ; 
Sleep seems their only refuge : for alas, 
Where penury is felt the thought is chain'd. 
And sweet colloquial pleasures are but few I 



WINTER EVENING. 106 

V'ith all this thrift they thrive not. All the care, 
agenioas Parsimony takes, bat just 
aves the small inTentory, bed, and stool, 
killet, and old cary'd chest, from public sale. 
hey live, and live without extorted alm^ 
rom grudging hands ; but other boast have none, 
o sooth their honest pride, that scorns to beg, 
or comfort else, but in their mutual love. 
praise you much, ye meek and patient pair, 
or ye are worthy ; choosing rather far 
dry but independent crust, hard earn'd, 
nd eaten with a sigh, than to endure 
he rugged frowns and insolent rebuffs 
f knaves in office, partial in the work 
f distribution ; libVal of their aid 
o clamVous Importunity in rags, 
at ofttimes deaf to suppliants, who would blush 

wear a tatter'd garb however coarse, 
iThom famine cannot reconcile to filth : 
hese ask with painful shyness, and, refused 
«cause deserving, silently retire ! 

lut be ye of good courage ! Time itself 

hall much befriend you. Time shall give increase ; 

iikd all your num'rous progeny, well-trainM 

ht helpless, in few years shall find their hands, 

Ind labour too. Meanwhile ye shall not want 

VVhat, conscious of your virtues, we can spare,. 

^or what a wealthier than ourselves may send. 

1 mean the man, who, when the distant poor 
Need help, denies them nothing but his name. 

f3 



106 THE TASK. BOOK IV. 

But poverty with most, who whimper foiih 
Their long complaints, is self-inflicted woe ; 
The effect of laziness or sottish waste. • 
Now goes the nightly thief prowling abroad 
For plunder ; much solicitous how best 
He may compensate for a day of sloth 
By works of darkness and nocturnal wrong. 
Woe to the gardener's pale, the farmer*s hedge, 
Plash'd neatly, and secured with driven stakes 
Deep in the loamy bank. Uptom by strength, 
Resistless in so bad a eause, but lame 
To better deeds, he bundles up to the spoil, 
An ass's burden, and, when laden most 
And heaviest, light of foot steals fast away. 
Nor does the boarded hovel better guard 
The well-stack'd pile of riven logs and roots 
From his pernicious force. Nor will he leave 
Unwrench*d the door, however well secnr'd. 
Where Chanticleer amidst his haram sleeps 
In unsuspecting pomp. Twitch*d from the percfa, 
He gives the princely bird, with all his wives, 
To his voracious bag, struggling in vain^ 
And loudly wond'ring at the sudden change. 
Nor this to feed his own. ^were some excuse, 
Did pity of their sufferings warp aside 
His principle, and tempt him into sin 
For their support, so destitute. But they 
Neglected pine at home ; themselTCS, as more 
Exposed than others, with less scruple made 
His victims, robb'd of their defenceless all. 



WIKTER EVENING. 107 

Cruel is all he does. Tis quenchless thirst 

Of minoos ebriety, that prompts 

His ey'ry aetion, and imbrutes the man. 

D for a law to noose the villain's neck, 

Who starves his own; who persecutes the blood 

Ele g9.ye them in his chiidrens' Teins, and hates 

\nid wrongs the woman, he has sworn to love ! 

Pass where we may, through city or through town, 
(tillage or hamlet, of this merry land, 
rhough lean and beggared, ev'ry twentieth pace 
Ik>nducts th' unguarded nose to such a whiff 
!)f stale debauch, forth-issuing from the styes, 
fhat Law has licens'd, as makes Temp Vance reel. 
Phere sit, involy'd and lost in curling clouds 
Df Indian fume, and guzzling deep, the boor, 
rhe lackey, and the groom : the craftsman there 
Takes a Lethean leave of all his toil ; 
tmith, cobbler, joiner, he that plies tlie shears, 
ind he that kneads the dough; all loud alike, 
ill learned, and all drunk I The fiddle screams 
MaiDtive and piteous, as it wept and wail'd 
ts wasted tones and harmony unheard : 
^eree the dispute whatever the theme ; while she, 
^ell Discord, arbitress of such debate, 
'erch'd on the signpost, holds with even hand 
ler undecisive scales. In this she lays 
i. weight of ignorance ; in that, of pride; 
bid' smiles delighted with the eternal poise, 
^ire is the frequent corse, and its twin sound 
rhe cheek-distending oath^ not to be praised 



^ lOa THE TASK. BOOK IV. 

As ornamental, masical, polite. 

Like those, which modem senators employ. 

Whose oath is rhet'ric, and who swear for feme ! 

Behold the schools, in which plebeian minds 

Once simple are initiated in arts. 

Which some may practise with politer grace, 

But none with readier skill ! — 'tis here they leara ' 

The road, that leads from competence and peace 

To indigence and rapine; till at last 

Society, grown weary of the load, 

Shakes her encumbered lap, and casts them out 

But censure profits little: yain th' attempt 

To advertise in verse a public pest, 

That like the filth, with which the peasant feeds 

His hungry acres, stinks, and is of use« 

Th^ excise is fattened with the rich result 

Of all this riot ; and ten thousand casks^^ 

For ever dribbling out their base contents^ 

Touch'd by the Midas finger of the state^ 

Bleed gold for ministers to sport away. 

Drink, and be mad then ; 'tis your country bids! 

Gloriously drunk obey th' important call ! 

Her cause demands th' assistance of your throats;-^ 

Ye all can swallow, and she asks no more. 

Would I had fall'n upon those happier days. 
That poets celebrate ; those golden times. 
And those Arcadian scenes, that Maro sings. 
And Sidney, warbler of poetic prose. 
Nymphs were Dianas then, and swains had hearts, 
That felt their virtues ; Innocence, it seems, 



WINTER EVENING. 109 

From courts dismissM, foand shelter in the groves t 

The footsteps of Simplicity, impressed 

Upon the yielding herbage (so they sing), 

Then were not all effaced: then speech profane. 

And manners profligate, were rarely found, 

Observed as prodigies, and soon reclaimed. 

Vain wish! those days were never: airy dreams 

Sat for the picture : and the poet*s hand. 

Imparting substance to an empty shade, 

ImposM a gay delirium for a truth. 

Grant it : I still must envy them an age, 

That favoured such a dream ; in days like these 

Impossible, when Virtue is so scarce, 

That to suppose a scene where she presides, 

Is tramontane, and stimibles all belief. 

No : we are polish'd now. The rural lass, 

Whom once her virgin modesty and grace. 

Her artless manners, and her neat attire. 

So dignified, that she was hardly less 

Than the fair shepherdess of old romance. 

Is seen no more. The character is lost ! 

Her head, adorn'd with lappets pinnM aloft. 

And ribbands streaming gay, superbly rais'd. 

And magnified beyond all human size, 

Indebted to some smart wig-weaver*s hand 

For more than half the tresses it sustains ; 

Her elbows ruffled, and her tott'ring form 

III propp'd upon French heels ; she might be deem'd 

(But that the basket dangling on her arm 

Interprets her more truly) of a rank 



{ 



110 THE TASK. BOOK IV. 

Too prond for dairy work^ or sale of «gg8« 
Expect her soon with footboy at her heels. 
No longer blnshing for her awkward load. 
Her train and her nmbrella all her care ! 

The town has tin^d the country ; and the stain 
Appears a spot apon a yestal's robe, 
The worse for what it soils. The fashion mns 
Down into scenes still rural ; but alas, 
Scenes rarely grac'd with rural manners now ! 
Time was when in the pastoral retreat 
Th' un^arded door was safe; men did not watch 
T' invade another's right, or guard their own. 
Then sleep was undisturb'd by fear, unscar'd 
By drunken bowlings ; and the chilling tale 
Of midnight murder was a wonder heard 
With doubtful credit, told to frighten babes. 
But farewell now to unsuspicious nights. 
And slumbers unalarm'd 1 Now, ere yon sleep, 
See that your polished arms be prim'd with care, 
And drop the nightbolt ;— ruffians are abroad; 
And the first larum of the cock*s shrill throat 
May pro^e a trumpet, summoning your ear 
To horrid sounds of hostile feet within. 
£v'n daylight has its dangers ; and the walk 
Through pathless wastes and woods, unconsdoascmcf 
Of other tenants than melodious birds. 
Or harmless flocks, is hazardous and bold. 
Lamented change I to which fiill many a cause 
Inyet*rate, hopeless of a cure, conspires. 
The course of human things from good to ill. 



t. 



WINTER EVENING. Ill 

tin ill to worse, is fatal, never foils, 
rease of power begets increase of wealth ; 
)idth liuniry, and luxury excess ; 
cess, the scrotblons and itchy plague, 
it seiaees first the opulent, descends 
the next rank contagious, and in time 
nts downward all the graduated scale 
order, firom the chariot to the plough. 
i rich, and they that have an arm to check 
) license of the lowest in degree, 
lert their oflfice ; and themselves, intent 
pleasure, haunt the capital, and thus 
all the violence of lawless hands 
ugn the scenes, their presence might protect, 
thority itself not seldom sleeps, 
>ugh resident, and witness of the wrong. 
i plump convivial parson often bears 
3 magisterial sword in vain, and lays 
( rev'rence and his worship both to rest 
the same cushion of habitual sloth. 
liaps timidity restrains his arm ; 
len he should strike he trembles, and sets free, 
nself enslaved by terror of the band, 
audacious convict, whom he dares not bind, 
haps though by profession ghostly pure, 
too may have his vice, and sometimes prove 
}s dainty than becomes his grave outside 
lucrative concerns. Examine well 
\ milk-white hand ; the palm is hardly clean — 
t here and there an ugly smutch appears. 



112 THE TASK. BOOK IV. 

Fob ! 'twas a bribe tbat left it : he has 4oQch'd 
Comiption. Wboso seeks an audit here 
Propitious, pays his tribute, game or fish. 
Wildfowl or ven'son; and his errand speeds. 
But faster far, and more than all the rest, 
A noble cause, which none who bears a spark 
Of public virtue, ever wished remov'd. 
Works the deplored and mischievous effect, 
^is universal soldiership has stabb'd 
The heart of merit in the meaner class. 
Arms, through the vanity and brainless rage 
Of those that bear them, in whatever cause. 
Seem most at variance with all moral good. 
And incompatible with serious thought. 
The clown, the child of nature, without gpuile, 
Blest with an infant's ignorance of all 
But his own simple pleasures ; now and then 
A wrestling match, a foot race, or a fair ; 
Is ballotted, and trembles at the news : 
Sheepish he doffs his hat, and mumbling swears 
A bible-oath to be whatever they please, 
To do he knows not what The task performed. 
That instant he becomes the sergeant's care. 
His pupil, and his torment, and his jest. 
His awkward gait, his introverted toes, 
Bent knees, round shoulders, and dejected looks. 
Procure him many a curse. By slow degrees, 
Unapt to learn, and form'd of stubborn stuff. 
He yet by slow degrees puts off himself. 
Grows conscious of a change, and likes it well: 



WINTER EVENING. 113 

Is erect; bis slouch becomes a walk; 

right onward, martial in his air, 
, and movement; is as smart above 
and larded locks can make him ; wears 
or his plum'd helmet, with a grace; 
three years of heroship expirM, 
indignant to the slighted plough. 
. the field in which no fife or drum 
bim ; drives his cattle to a march ; 
s for the smart comrades he has left, 
'ell if his exterior change were all-^ 

his clumsy port the wretch has lost 
ranee and harmless manners too. 
r, to game, to drink ; to show at home 
less, idleness, and sabbath-breach, 
t proficiency he made abroad : 
sh and to grieve his gazing friends ; 
: some maiden^s and his mother*s heart; 
pest where be was useful once ; 
ole aim, and all his glory, now. 
1 society is like a flow'r 
t its native bed : 'tis there alone 
Ities, expanded in full bloom, 
t ; there only reach their proper use. 
, associated and leagu'd with man 

warrant, or self-joined by bond 
3st sake, or swarming into dans 

one head for purposes of war, 

v'rs selected from the rest, and bound 

died close to fill some crowded vase, 



114 THE TASK. BOOK IV. 

Fades rigidly, and, by compression manr'd, 

Contracts defilement not to be endor'd. 

Hence chartered boroughs are such public plagpies; 

And burghers, men immaculate perhaps 

In all their private functions, once combin'd, , 

Become a loathsome body, only fit 

For dissolution, hurtful to the main. 

Hence merchants, unimpeachable of sin 

Against the charities of domestic life. 

Incorporated seem at once to lose 

Their nature ; and disclaiming all regard 

For mercy and the common rights of man. 

Build factories with blood, conducting trade 

At the sword's point, and dyeing the white robo 

Of innocent commercial Justice red. 

Hence too the field of glory, as the world 

Misdeems it, dazzled by its bright array. 

With all its majesty of thundering pomp. 

Enchanting music, and immortal wreaths. 

Is but a school where thoughtlessness is taught 

On principle, where foppery atones 

For folly, gallantry for ev'ry vice. 

But slighted as it is, and by the great 
AbandonM, and, which still I more regret, 
Infected with the manners and the modes. 
It knew not once, the country wins me stilL 
I never framed a wish, or form'd a plan. 
That flattered me with hopes of earthly bliss, 
But there I laid the scene. There early stray'd 
My fancy, ere yet liberty of choice 



WINTER EVENING. 116 

nd me, or the hope of being free. 
' dreams were rural; rural too 
t-bom efforts of my youthful muse, 

and jingling her poetic bells, 
her ear was mistress of their powers. 

could please me, but whose lyre was tun'd 
ire's praises. Heroes and their feats 
I me, never weary of the pipe 
rus, assembling, as he sang, 
tic throng beneath his favorite beech, 
ilton had indeed a poef s charms : 
my taste his Paradise surpassed 
iggling efforts of my boyish tongue 
k its excellence. I danc'd for joy. 
Wd much, that, at so ripe an age 
e seven years, his beauties had then first 
. my wonder; and admiring still, 
1 admiring, with regret supposed 

half lost because not sooner found. 
K> enamoured of the life I lovM, 

in its praise, in its pursuit 
n'd, and possessing it at last 
insports, such as favoured lovers feel, 
J, priz'd, and wish'd that I had known, 
IS Cowley ! and, though now reclaimed 
srn lights from an erroneous taste, 
t but lament thy splendid wit 
ed in the cobwebs of the schools, 
vere thee, courtly though retired ; 
stretched at ease in Chertsey's silent bow'rs. 



116 THE TASK. BOOK IV. 

Not unemployed ; and finding rich amends 

For a lost world in solitude and yer^e.' 

Tis born with all : the love of Nature's works 

Is an ingredient in the compound man, 

Infused at the creation of the kind. 

And, though th' Almighty Maker has throughoiit 

Discriminated each from each, by strokes 

And touches of his hand, with so much art 

Diversified, tliat two were never found 

Twins at all points— yet this obtains in all, 

That all discern a beauty in his works. 

And all can taste them : minds, that have been fonn'd 

And tutor'd, with a relish more exact, 

But none without some relish, none nnmov'd. 

It is a flame, that dies not even there. 

Where nothing feeds it : neither business, crowds, 

Nor habits of luxurious city life, 

Whatever else they smother of true worth 

In human bosoms ; quench it or abate. 

The villas, with which London stands begirt, 

Like a swarth Indian with his belt of beads. 

Prove it. A breath of unadult*rate air. 

The glimpse of a green pasture, how they cheer 

The citizen, and brace his languid frame ! 

Ev^n in the stifling bosom of the town 

A garden, in which nothing thrives, has charms. 

That sooth the rich possessor ; much consoPd 

That here and there some sprigs of mournful minii 

Of nightshade, or valerian, grace the well 

He cultivates. These serve him with a hint, 



P 

h 

If* 

r 

r 



WINTER EVENING. 117 

at Nature lives ; that sight-refreshing green 
still the liv'ry she delights to wear, 
ough sickly samples of th' exuberant whole, 
bat are the casements lin'd with creeping herbs, 
e prouder sashes fronted with a range 

orange, myrtle, or the fragrant weed, 
e Frenchman's darling*? are they not all proofs, 
at man, immur*d in cities, still retains 
9 inborn inextinguishable thirst 

rural scenes, compensating his loss 

supplemental shifts, the best he may? 
e most unfurnished with the means of life, 
d they, that never pass their brick-wall bounds, 

range the fields, and treat their lungs with air, 
it feel the burning instinct : over head 
spend their crazy boxes, planted thick, 
id watered duly. There the pitcher stands 
fragment, and the spoutless tea-pot there ; 
d witnesses how close-pent man regrets 
le country, with what ardour he contrives 
peep at Nature, when he can no more. 
Hail; therefore, patroness of health, and ease, 
id contemplation, heart-consohng joys 
id harmless pleasures, in the tlirong*d abode 
f multitudes unknown ; hail, rural life ! 
idress himself who will to the pursuit 
f honours, or emolument, or fame ; 
shall noi add myself to such a chase, 
hwart his attempts, or envy his success. 

* Mignouoette. 



118 THE TASK. BOOK I\ 

Some must be great. Great offices will haye 

Great talents. And God gives to ev'ry man 

The virtue, temper, understanding, taste, 

That lifts him into life, and lets him fall 

Just in the niche, be was ordain'd to filL 

To the deliverer of an Injnr'd land 

He gives a tongue t' enlaii^e iipoii» a. heart 

To feel, iind courage t6 redress her wrongft; j '. 

To monarchs dignity ; to judges sense; ■ . 

To artists ingenuity and skill; 

To me an unambitious mind, contmft ' j^<^ 

In the low vale of life, that early Mt 

A wish for ease and leisure, and eite I0A9 ; .^ 

Found here that leisure and that ease I 




THE TASK 

BOOK V. 




^•^* 










THE TASK. 

BOOK V. 



J WINTER MORNING WALK. 



oorning.^Tbe foddering of cattle.— The woodman and hit 
lie poultry.— Whimsical effects of a frost at a waierfk<l.— The 
• of Russia's palace of ice.— Amusements of monarchs.— 
le of them. — Wars, whence— And whence monarchy.— The 

it.— Engtish and French loyalty contrasted.— The Bastile, 

>risoner there Liberty the chief recommendation of this 

.—Modern patriotism questionable, and why.— The perish- 
tare of the best hnman institntions.- Spiritual liberty not 
>le.— The slavish state of man by nature.— Deliver him, 
if you can. — Grace must do it.— The respective merits of 

and martyrs stated.— Their different treatment.— Happy 
I of the man whom grace makes free.— His relish of the 
f God— Address to the Creator. 



^niing ; and the san, with raddy orb 

ing, fires th^ horizon ; while the clouds, 

owd away before the driving wind, 

rdent as the disk emerges more, 

>le most some city in a blaze, 

rough the leafless wood. His slanting ray 



120 THE TASK. BOOK V. 

Slides inefiectaal down the snowy Yale, 
And, tinging all with his' own rosy hae, 
From ev'ry herb and ev'ry spiry blade 
Stretches a length of shadow o*er the field. 
Mine, spindling into longitude immense, 
In spite of gravity, and sage remark 
That I myself am but a fleeting shade. 
Provokes me to a smile. With eye askance 
I view the muscular proportion^ limb 
Transformed to a lean shank. The shapeless pair, 
As they designed to mock me, at my side 
Take step for step ; and, as I near approach 
The cottage, walk along the plaster*d wall. 
Preposterous sight ! the legs without the man. 
The verdure of the plain lies buried deep 
Beneath th 3 dazzling deluge ; and the bents, 
And coarser grass, upspearing o'er the rest. 
Of late unsightly and unseen, now shine 
Conspicuous, and in bright apparel clad. 
And, fledg'd with icy feathers, nod superb. 
The cattle mourn in comers, where the fence 
Screens them, and seem half petrified to sleep 
In unrecumbent sadness. There they wait 
Their wonted fodder ; not like hungering roan, 
Fretful if unsupplied ; but silent, meek. 
And patient of the slow-pac'd swain's delay. 
He from the stack carves out th' accustomed load, 
Deep-plunging, and again deep-plunging oft. 
His broad keen knife into the solid mass: 
Smooth as a wall the upright remnant stands, 



WINTER MORNING WALK. 1^1 

ich nndeyiating and eTen force 
its it away: no needles care, 
)mis should overset the leaning pile 
)ns, or its own nnbalanc'd weight, 
oes the woodman, leaving unconcerned 
ierfut,haunts of man ; to wield the axe, • 
ve the wedge, in yonder forest drear, 
lom to eve his solitary task. 
, and lean, and shrewd, with pointed ears 
1 cropped short, half lurcher and half cur^ 
; attends him. Close behind his heel 
eeps he slow ; and now, with many a frisk 
Bamp'ring, snatches up the drifted snow 
'ry teeth, or ploughs it with his snout ; 
lakes his powdered coat, and barks for joy. 
»s of all his pranks, the sturdy churl 
right toward the mark ; nor stops for aught, 
^ and then vrith pressure of his thumb 
st the fragrant charge of a short tube, 
mes beneath his nose : the trailing cloud 
i far behind him, scenting all the air. 
>m the roost, or from the neighboring pale, 
diligent to catch the first faint gleam 
ing day, they gossip'd side by side, 
rooping at the housewife's well-known call 
ther'd tribes domestic. Half on wing. 
If on foot, they brush the fleecy flood, 
lus and fearful of too deep a plunge. 
UTOWS peep, and quit the shelt'ring eaves, 
e the fair occasion ; well they eye 



1:22 THE TASK. BOOK V. 

The scattered grain, and thieviahly resoWd 

T' escape th^ impending famine, often scared 

As oft return, a pert Yoracioas kind. 

Clean riddance qaickiy made^ one only care 

Remains to each, the searqh of snnny nook. 

Or shed impervious to the blast Resigned 

To sad necessity, the cock foregoes 

His wonted strut ; and, wading at their head 

With well-consider'd steps, seems to resent 

His alter'd gait and stateliness retrenched* 

How find the myriads, that in summer che«r 

The hills and valleys with their ceaseless songs, 

Due sustenance, or where subsist they now? 

Earth yields them nought; th' imprisoned worm is safe 

Beneath the frozen clod ; all seeds of herbs 

Lie covered close ; and berry-bearing thorns, 

That feed the thrush (whatever some suj^pose). 

Afford the smaller minstrels no supply. 

The long protracted rigour of the year 

Thins all their numerous flocks. In chinks and holes 

Ten thousand seek an unmolested end. 

As instinct prompts ; self-buried ere they die. 

The very rooks and daws forsake the fields. 

Where neither grub, nor root, nor earth-nut, now 

Repays their labour more ; and perch'd aloft 

By the way side, or stalking^ in the path. 

Lean pensioners upon the traveller's track, 

Pick up their nauseous dole, though sweet to then, 

Of voided pulse or half-digested grain. 

The streams are lost amid the splendid blanki 



ft 



WINTER MORNING WALK. 123 

frhelming all distinction* On the flood, 
rated and fix'd, the snowy weight 
undissolved ; while silently beneath, 
nnperceiv'd, the current steals away. 
K> where, scornful of ^ check, it leaps 
milldam, dashes on the restless wheel, 
wantons in the pebbly gulf below : 
t>st can bind it there; its utmost force 
but arrest the light and smoky mist. 

in its &11 the liquid sheet throws wide, 
see where it has hung th^ embroidered banks 
I forms so various, that no powers of art, 
pencil or the pen, may trace the scene ! 

glitfring turrets rise, upbearing high 
tastic misarrangement !) on the roof 
e growth of what may seem the sparkling trees 
shrubs of fairy land. The crystal drops, 

trickle down the branches, fast congeal'd, 
t into pillars of pellucid length, 
prop the pile they but adom*d before. 

grotto within grotto safe defies 
sunbeam; there, embossed and fretted wild, • 
grovring wonder takes a thousand shapes 
icious, in which fancy seeks in vain 
likeness of some object seen before. 
. Nature works as if to mock at Art, 
in defiance of her rival powers ; 
lese fortuitous and random strokes 
»nning such inimitable feats, 
be with all her rules can never reach. 

o2 



124 THE TASK. BOC 

Less worthy of applause, though more admir' 
Because a novelty, the work of man. 
Imperial mistress of the fur-clad Russ, 
Thy most magnificent and mighty freak. 
The wonder of the North.. No forest fell. 
When thou wouldst build ; no quarry sent its 
T* enrich thy walls ; but thou didst hew the fl 
And make thy marble of the glassy wave. 
In such a palace Aristaeus found 
Cyrene, when he bore the plaintive tale 
Of his lost bees to her maternal ear : 
In such a palace Poetry might place 
The armory of Winter; where his troops, 
The gloomy clouds, find weapons, arrowy slec 
Skin-piercing volley, blossom-bruising hail, 
And snow, that often blinds the traveller's con 
And wraps him in an unexpected tomb. 
Silently as a dream the fabric rose ; 
No sound of hammer or of saw was there : 
Ice upon ice, the well-adjusted parts 
Were soon conjoined, nor other cement ask'd 
Than water interfused to make them one. 
Lamps gracefully disposed, and of all hues, 
Illumined eVry side: a watVy light 
Gleam'd through the elear transparency, that i 
Another moon new ris'n, or meteor faH'n 
From Heav'n to Earth, of lambent flame serei 
So stood the brittle prodigy ; though smooth 
And slipp'ry the materials, yet frost-bound 
Firm 9» a rock. Nor wanted aught within, 



WINTER MORNING WALK. 12d 

Tha^ royal residence might well befit, 

For grandear or for use. Long wavy wreaths 

Of flow'rs, that fear'd no enemy but warmth, 

Slush'd on the pannels. Mirror needed none 

Where all was vitreous ; but in order due 

CoDTivial table and commodious seat 

(What seem'd at least commodious seat) were there ; 

Sofo, and couch, and high-built throne august 

The same lubricity was found in all, 

And all was moist to the warm touch ; a scene 

Of evanescent glory, once a stream. 

And soon to slide into a stream again. 

Alas ! 'twas but a mortifying stroke 

Of undesign'd severity, that glanced 

(Made by a monarch) on her own estate, 

On human grandeur and the courts of kings. 

Twas transient in its nature, as in show 

Twas durable ; as worthless, as it seemed 

Intrinsically precious ; to the foot 

Treacherous and false; it smil'd, and it was cold. 

Great princes have great playthings. Some have 
At hewing mountains into men, and some [played 
At building human wonders mountain-high. 
Some have amus'd the dull sad years of life 
(Life spent in indolence, and therefore sad). 
With schemes of monumental fame ; and sought 
By pyramids and mansolean pomp, 
Shortlit'd themselves, t' immortalize their bones. 
Some seek diversion in the tented field. 
And make the sorrows of mankind their sport. 



i 



l^G TH£ TASK. BOOK V. 

fiut war's a game, which, were their subjects wise, 
Kings Would not play at. Nations would do well, 
T' extort their truncheons from the puny hands 
Of heroes, whose infirm and baby minds 
Are gratified with mischief; and who spoil. 
Because men suffer it, their toy the woild. 

When Babel was confounded, and the great 
Confed*racy of projectors wild and vain 
Was split into diversity of tongues,. 
Then, as a shepherd separates his flock, 
These to the upland, to the valley those, 
God drove asunder, and assign'd their lot 
To all the nations. Ample was the boon 
He gave tbero, in its distribution fair 
And equal : and he bade them dwell in peace. 
Peace was awhile their care : they ploughed, and sow'd, 
And reaped their plenty without grudge or strife. 
But violence can never longer sleep 
Than human passions please. In ev*ry heart 
Are sown the sparks that kindle fiery war; 
Occasion needs but fim them, and they blaze. 
Cain had already shed a brother's blood : 
The deluge washed it out ; but left anqueneh'd 
The seeds of murder in the breast of man. 
Soon by a righteous judgment in the line 
Of his descending progeny was found 
The first artificer of death; the shrewd 
Contriver, who first sweated at the forge. 
And forced the blunt and yet unbloodied steel 
To a keen edge, and made it bright fox waE. 



WINTER MORNING WALK. 127 

Tubal nam'dy ttie Yalcan of old times, 
(word and falchion their inventor claim ; 
the first smith was the first murd'rer's son. 
\xt suryiv'd the waters ; and ere long, 
a man was multiplied and spread abroad 
bes and clans, and had begun to call 
e meadows and that range of hills his own, 
tasted sweets of property begat 
« of more ; and industry in some, 
prove and cultivate their just demesne, 
i others covet what they saw so fair. 
war began on Earth: these fought for spoil, 
those in self-defence. Savage at first 
mset, and irregular. At length 
eminent above the rest for strength, 
tratagem, for courage, or for all; 
chosen leader; him they serv*d in wac^ 
him in peace, for sake of warlike deeds, 
enc'd no less. Who could with him compare ? 
ho so worthy to control themselves, 
3, whose prowess had subdued their foes? 
war, afibrding field for the display 
irtue, made one chief, whom times of peace, 
;h have their exigencies too, and call 
ikill in government, at length made king, 
was a name too proud for man to wear 
modesty and meekness ; and the crown, 
kzzling in their eyes, who set it on, 
sure f intoxicate the brows it bound, 
the abject property of most, 



1 



i!28 THE TASK. BOOK V 

That, being parcel of the comtnon mass, 
And destitote of means to raise themselves, 
They sink, and settle lower than they need. 
They know not what it is to feel within 
A comprehensive faculty, that g^rasps 
Great purposes with ease, that turns and wields. 
Almost without an effort, plans too vast 
For their conception, which they cannot move. 
Conscious of impotence they soon grow drunk 
With gazing, when they see an able man 
Step forth to notice : and besotted thus 
Build him a pedestal, and say, '' Stand there, 
And be our admiration and our praise.'' 
They roll themselves before him in the dust. 
Then most deserving in their own account. 
When most extravagant in his applause. 
As if exalting him they raised themselves. 
Thus by degrees, self-cheated of their sound 
And sober judgment, that he is but man, 
They demi-deify and fume him so. 
That in due season he forgets it too. 
Inflated and astrnt with self-conceit. 
He gulps the windy diet ; and ere long, 
Adopting their mistake, profoundly thinks 
The World was made in vain, if not for him. 
Thenceforth they are his cattle : drudges, bom 
To bear his burdens, drawing in his gears. 
And sweating in his service, his caprice 
Becomes the soul that animates them all. 
He deems a thousand, or ten tliousand lives. 



WINTER MORNING WALK. 129 

»eiit in the pdrchase of renown for him, 
1 easy reckoning; and they think the same, 
ms kings were first invented, and thus kings 
ere burnished into heroes, and became 
le arbiters of this terraqueous swamp ; 
orks among frogs, that have but croak'd and died, 
range, that such folly, as lifts bloated man 
> eminence fit only for a god, 
ould ever drivel out of human lips, 
^en in the cradled weakness of the world ! 
iU stranger much, that when at length mankind 
id reached the sinewy firmness of their youth, 
id could discriminate and argue well 
1 subjects more mysterious, they were yet 
ibes in the cause of freedom, and should fear 
id quake before the gods themselves had made : 
it above measure strange, that neither proof 
' sad experience, nor examples set 
r some whose patriot virtue has prevailed, 
in even now, when they are grown mature 
wisdom, and with philosophic deeds 
^miliar, serve t' emancipate the rest ! 
ich dupes are men to custom, and so prone 
>. revVence what is ancient, and can plead 
course of long observance for its use, 
lat even servitude, the worst of ills, 
3canse deliver'd down from sire to son, 
kept and guarded as a sacred thing, 
at is it fit, or can it bear the shock 
f rational discussion, that a man, 

g3 



\ 



130 TU£ TASK. BOOK V. 

Compoanded and made up like other men 

Of elements tumultaons, in whom last 

And foUy in as ample measure meet, 

As in the bosoms of the slaves he rules, 

Should be a despot absolute, and boast 

Himself the only freeman of his land? 

Should, when he pleases, and on whom he will, 

Wage war, with any or with no pretence 

Of provocation giv'n, or wrong sustained. 

And force the beggarly last doit by means, 

That his own humour dictates, from the clutch 

Of Poverty, that thus he may procure 

His thousands, weary of penurious life, 

A splendid opportunity to die? 

Say ye, who (with less prudence than of old 

Jotham ascrib'd to his assembled trees 

In politic convention) put your trust 

I'th' shadow of a bramble, and reclined 

In fancied peace beneath his dang'rous branch. 

Rejoice in him, and celebrate his sway, 

Where find ye passive fortitude ? Whence sprii^ 

Your self-denying zeal, that holds it good 

To stroke the prickly grievance, and to hang 

His thorns with streamers of continual praise? 

We too are friends to loyalty. We love 

The king, who loves the law, respects his bounds, 

And reigns content within them : him we serve 

Freely and with delight, who leaves us free : 

But, recollecting still, that he is man. 

We trust him not too far. King though he be, 



r 



WINTER MORNING WALK. 131 

And king in £ng^and too, he may be weak. 
And Tain enough to be ambitions still ; 
May exercise amiss his proper powers, 
Or covet more than freemen choose to grant ! 
Beyond that mark is treason. He is ours, 
T' administer, to guard, f adorn, the state, 
Bnt not to warp or change it We are his, 
To serve him nobly in the common cause, 
True to the death, but not to be his slaves. 
Mark now the diffVence, ye that boast your love 
Of kings, between your loyalty and ours. 
We love the man, the paltry pageant you : 
We the chief patron of the commonwealth, 
Yoa the regardless author of its woes : 
We for the sake of liberty a king, 
Yoa chains and bondage for a tyrant's sake. 
Our love is principle, and has its root 
[n reason, is judicious, manly, free ; 
Yours, a blind instinct, crouches to the rod, 
^d licks the foot, that treads it in the dust. 
Were kingship as true treasure as it seems, 
Sterling, and worthy of a wise man's wish, 
[ would not be a king to be belovM 
Zlanseless, and daub'd with undisceming praise, 
(¥bere love is mere attachment to the throne, 
Vot to the man, who fills it as he ought. 

Whose freedom is by suff'rance, and at will 
I>f a superior, he is never free. 
Who lives, and is not weary of a life 
Bxpoe'd to manacles, deserves them well. 



i 



ld'2 THE TASK. BOOK V. 

The state that strives for liberty, though foiled, 

And forc'd to abandon what she bravely sought. 

Deserves at least applause for her attempt, 

And pity for her loss. But that's a cause 

Not often unsuccessful ; pow'r usurped 

Is weakness when opposed : conscious of wrong, 

ms pusillanimous and prone to flight * 

But slaves, that once conceive the glowing thought 

Of freedom, in that hope itself possess 

All that the contest calls for; spirit, strength. 

The scorn of danger, and united hearts; 

The surest presage of the good they seek*. 

Then shame to manhood, and opprobrious more 
To France than all her losses and defeats, 
Old or of later date, by sea or land. 
Her house of bondage, worse than that of old 
Which God aveng'd on Pharaoh — the Bastile. 
Ye horrid tow'rs, the abode of broken hearts; 
Ye dungeons, and ye cages of despair. 
That monarchs have supplied from age to age 
With music, such as suits their sovereign ears, 
The sighs and groans of miserable men ! 
There's not an English heart, that would not leap 
To hear that ye were falFn at last ; to know, 
That ev'n our enemies, so oft employed 

* The author hopes, that he shall not be censored for nnneeesttnr 
warmth upon so interesting a subject He is Hiwe, that it Is beeone 
almost fashionable, to stigmatize such sentiments as na.better tm 
empty dechimation ; but it is an iU symptom, and pecoUtr to modem 
times. 



WINTER MORNING WALK. 133 

In forging chains for ns, themselves were free. 

For he, who valaes Uberty, confines 

His zeal for her predominance within 

No narrow bounds ; her cause engages him 

Wherever pleaded. Tis the cause of man. 

There dwell the most forlorn of humankind, 

Immur'd though unaccused, condemned untried, 

Cruelly spar'd, and hopeless of escape. 

There, like the visionary emblem seen 

By him of Babylon, life stands a stump, 

And, filletted about with hoops of brass. 

Still lives, though all his pleasant boughs are gone. 

To count the hour-bell and expect no change; 

And ever, as the sullen sound is heard, 

Still to reflect, that, though a joyless note 

To him, whose moments all have one dull pace,. 

Ten thousand rovers in the World at large 

Account it music ; that it summons some 

To theatre, or jocund feast, or ball : 

The wearied hireling finds it a release 

From labour; and the lover, who has chid 

Its long delay, feels ev'ry welcome stroke 

Upon his heart-strings, trembling with delight— 

To fly for reiiige from distracting thought 

To such amusements, as ingenious woe 

Contrives, hard-shifting, and without her tools — 

To read engraven on the mouldy walls, 

In stagg'ring types, his predecessor's tale, . 

A sad memorial, and subjoin his own — 

To turn purveyor to an overgorg'd 



134 THE TASK. BOOK V. 

And bloated spider, till the pampered pest 
Is made familiar, watcbes bis approacb, 
Comes at his call, and serres bim for a friend- 
To wear oat time in nnmb^ring to and fro 
The studs, that thick emboss bis iron door; 
Then downward and then upward, then aslant 
And then alternate ; with a sickly hope 
By dint of change to gi^e bis tasteless task 
Some relish ; till, the sum exactly found 
In all directions, he begins again — 
Ob comfortless existence ! hemm'd around 
With woes, which who that suffers would not kneel 
And beg for exile, or the pangs of death? 
That man should thus encroach on fellow man, 
Abridge bim of bis just and native rights, 
JBradicate him, tear him from bis hold 
Upon th* endearments of domestic life 
And social, nip his firuitfiilness and use, 
And doom him for perhaps a heedless word 
To barrenness, and solitude, and tears, 
Moves indignation ; makes the name of king 
(Of king whom such prerogative can please) 
As dreadful as the Manichean god, 
Ador'd through fear, strong only to destroy. 

Tis liberty alone, that gives the flowV 
Of fleeting life its lustre and perfilme ; 
And we are weeds without it All constraint. 
Except what wisdom lays on evil men. 
Is evil : hurts the faculties, impedes 
Their progress in the road of science ; blinds 



I 



WINTER MORNING WALK. 135 

The eyesight of Discovery ; and begets 

lo those that suffer it a sordid mind 

Bestial, a meagre intellect, unfit 

To he the tenant of man's noble form. 

Thee therefore still, blameworthy as thou art, 

With all thy loss of empire, and though sqQee2'd 

By public exigence, till annual food 

Fails for the craying hunger of the state. 

Thee I account still happy, and the chief 

Among the nations, seeing thou art free ; 

My native nook of earth ! Thy clime is rude, 

Replete with vapours, and disposes much 

All hearts to sadness, and none more than mine : 

Thine unadult'rate maimers are less soft 

And plausible than social life requires, 

And thou hast need of discipline and art. 

To give thee what politer France receives 

From Nature's bounty — that humane address 

And sweetness, without which no pleasure is 

In converse, either starv'd by cold reserve. 

Or ilush'd with fierce dispute, a senseless brawl : 

Yet being free I love thee: for the sake 

Of that one feature can be well content, 

Disgraced as thou hast been, poor as thou art. 

To seek no sublunary rest beside. 

But onc^ enslav'd farewell ! I could endure 

Chains no where patiently ; and chains at home, 

Where I am fi^e by birthright, not at all. 

Then what were left of roughness in the grain 

Of British natures, wanting its excuse 



136 THE TASK. BOOK V. 

That it belong to freemen, would disgust 

And shock me. I should then with double pain 

Feel all the rigour of thy fickle clime; 

And, if I must bewail the blessing lost. 

For which our Hampdens and our Sidneys bled, 

1 would at least bewail it under skies 

Milder, among a people less austere; 

In scenes, which, having never known me free, 

Would not reproach me with the loss I felt. 

Do I forebode impossible events. 

And tremble at vain dreams! Heaven grant 1 may! 

But th' age of virtuous politics is past, 

And we are deep in that of cold pretence. 

Patriots are grown too shrewd to be sincere^ 

And we too wise to trust them. He that takes 

Deep in his soft credulity the stamp 

Designed by loud declaimers on the part 

Of liberty, themselves the slaves of lust, 

Incurs derision for his easy faith 

And lack of knowledge, and with cause enough: 

For when was public virtue to be found, 

Where private was not? Can he love the whole, 

Who loves no part? He be a nation's friend. 

Who is in truth the friend of no man there ? 

Can he be strenuous in his country's cause. 

Who slights the charities, for whose dear sake 

That country, if at all, must be belov'd? 

Tis therefore sober and good men are sad 
For England's glory, seeing it wax pale 
And sickly, while her champions wear their hearts 



I 



IIVINTER MORNING WALK. 137 

So loose to private duty, that do brain, 

Healthftil and undisturb'd by factioas fumes, 

Can dream them trusty to the general weal. 

Sach were not they of old, whose tempered blades 

Dispers'd the shackles of usurp'd control. 

And hew'd them link from link : then Albion's sons 

Were sons indeed ; they felt a filial heart 

Beat high within them at a mother's wrongs ; 

And, shining each in his domestic sphere. 

Shone brighter still, once called to public view. 

Tis therefore many, whose sequestered lot 

Forbids their interference, looking on, 

Anticipate perforce some dire event; 

And seeing the old castle of the state, 

That promised once more firmness, so assaiFd, 

That all its tempest-beaten turrets shake. 

Stand motionless expectants of its fall. 

Ail has its date below : the fatal hour 

Was registered in Heav'n ere time began. 

We turn to dust, and all our mightiest works 

Die too : the deep foundations that we lay, 

Hme ploughs them up, and not a trace remains. 

We build with what we deem eternal rock : 

A distant age asks where the fabric stood; 

And in the dust, sifted and searched in vain, 

The undiscoverable secret sleeps. 

But there is yet a hberty, unsung 
By poets, and by senators unprais'd, 
Which monarchs cannot grant, nor all the pow'rs 
Of Earth and Hell confedVate take away: 



138 THE TASK. BOOK V. 

A liberty, which persecution, fraud. 
Oppression, prisons, have no pow*r to bind; 
Which whoso tastes can be enslaved no more. 
Tis liberty of heart derived from Heay'n, 
Bought with HIS blood, who gave it to mankind, 
And sealed with the same token. It is held 
By charter, and that charter sanctioned sure 
By th' unimpeachable and awful oath 
And promise of a God. His other gifts 
All bear the royal stamp, that speaks them his. 
And are august ; but this transcends them alL 
His other works, the visible display 
Of all-creating energy and might, 
Are grand no doubt, and worthy of the word. 
That, finding an interminable sp^ce 
Unoccupied, has fill'd the void so well. 
And made so sparkling what was dark before. 
But these are not his glory. Man, 'tis true, 
Smit with the beauty of so fair a scene. 
Might well suppose th' artificer divine 
Meant it eternal, had he not himself 
Pronounced it transient, glorious as it is. 
And, still designing a more glorious far, 
Doom'd it as insufficient for his praise. 
These therefore are occasional, and pass; 
Form'd for the confutation of the fool. 
Whose lying heart disputes against a God; 
That office serv'd, they must be swept away. 
Not so the labours of his love : they shine 
In other heaVns than these that we behold. 



WINTER MOBNIN6 WALK. 139 

And &de not There is Paradise that fears 
Ko forfeitiire, and of its fruits he sends 
^jurge prelibalion oA to saints betow. 
Of these the first in order, and the pledge 
And confident assurance of the rest. 
Is liberty; a flight into his arms, 
JBre yet mortality's fine threads give way, 
A clear esci4[)e fitim tyrannizing Inst, 
And fall immunity from penal woe. 

Chains are the portion of revolted man. 
Stripes, and a dungeon ; and his body serves 
The triple purpose. In that sickly, foul. 
Opprobrious residence he finds them all. 
Propense his heart to idols, he is held 
In silly dotage on created things. 
Careless of their Creator. And that low 
And sordid gravitation of his pow'rs 
To a vile clod so draws him, with such force 
Hesistless from the centre he should seek. 
That he at last forgets it. All his hopes 
Tend downward ; his ambition is to sink, 
To reach a depth profounder still, and still 
Profonnder, in the fathomless abyss 
Of folly, plunging in pursuit of death. 
But ere he gain the comfortless repose 
He seeks, and acquiescence of his socrl 
In Heav'n-renouncing exile, he endures — 
l¥hat does he not, from lusts opposed in vain. 
And self-reproaching conscience? He foresees 
The fatal issue to his health, fame, peace. 



140 THE TASK. BOOK V. 

Fortune, and dignity ; the loss of all, 

That can ennoble man, and make frail life, 

Short as it is, supportable. Still worse. 

Far worse than all the plagues, with which his sins 

Infect his happiest moments, he forebodes 

Ages of hopeless mis'iy. Future death. 

And death still future. Not a hasty stn^e, 

Like that which sends him to the dusty grave; 

But unrepealable enduring death. 

Scripture is still a trumpet to his fears : 

What none can prove a fprg'ry may be true; 

What none but bad men wish exploded must 

That scruple checks him. Riot is not loud. 

Nor drunk enough, to drown it. In the midst 

Of laughter his compunctions are sincere; 

And he abhors the jest by which he shines. 

Remorse begets reform. His master-lust 

Falls first before his resolute rebuke, 

And seems dethroned and vanquished. Peace eDSaes 

But spurious and short liv'd; the puny child 

Of self-congratulating Pride, begot 

On fancied Innocence. Again he falls,* 

And fights again ; but finds his best essay 

A presage ominous, portending still 

Its own dishonour by a worse relapse. 

Till Nature, unavailing Nature, foil'd 

So oft, and wearied in the vain attempt, 

Scofifs at her own performance. Reason now 

Takes part with appetite, and pleads the caus« 

Perversely, which of late she so condemned; 



WINTER MORNING WALK. 141 

ballow shifts and old devices, worn 

tter'd in the service of debauch, 

g his shame from his offended sight 

th God indeed giv'n appetites to man, 

or'd the Earth so plenteously with means, 

tify the hunger of his wish ; 

>th he reprobate, and will he damn, 

e of his own bounty? making first 

. a kind, and then enacting laws 

3t, that less than perfect must despair? 

ood ! which whoso but suspects of truth 

tours God, and makes a slave of man. 

y themselves, who undertake for hire 

EMsher's oflSce, and dispense at large 

iveekly dole of edifying strains, 

; to their own music? have they faith 

it with such solemnity of tone 

3sture they propound to our belief? 

conduct hath the loudest tongue. The voice 

an instrument, on which the priest 

lay what tune he pleases. In the deed, 

lequivocal, authentic deed, 

id sound argument, we read the hearf 

1 reasonings (if that name must needs belong 

uses in which reason has no part) 

to compose a spirit well inclined 

3 on terms of amity with vice, 

in without disturbance. Often urg*d 

ten as, libidinous discourse 

isted, he resorts to solemn themes 



142 THE TASK. BOOK V. 

Of theological and graye import), 

They gain at last his anreserv'd assent ; 

Till hardened his heart's temper in the forge 

Of lusty and on the anvil of despair, 

He slights the strokes of conscience. Nothing moves, 

Or nothing much, his constancy in ill ; 

Vain tampering has but foster'd his disease ; 

Tis desp'rate, and he sleeps the sleep of death. 

Haste now, philosopher, and set him free. 

Charm the deaf serpent wisely. Make him hear 

Of rectitude and fitness, moral tfuth 

How lovely, and the moral sense how sure. 

Consulted and obeyed, to guide his steps 

Directly to the first and only fair. 

Spare not in such a cause. Spend all the powers 

Of rant and rhapsody in virtue's praise : 

Be most sublimely good, verbosely grand. 

And with poetic trappings grace thy prose, 

Till it outmantle all the pride of verse. — 

Ah, tinkling cymbal, and high sonndiitg brass, 

Smitten in vaia! such music cannot charm 

The eclipse, that intercepts tmth'a beav'nly beam, 

And chills and darkens a wide-wandering soul. 

The STILL SMALL VOICE is Wanted. He must speak, 

Whose word leaps forth at once to its effect; 

Who calls for things that are not, and they come. 

Grace makes the slave a freeman, ms a change, 
That turns to ridicule the turgid speech 
And stately tone of moralists, who boast, 
As if^ like him of fabulous renown. 



WINTER MORNING WALK. 143 

They had indeed ability to smooth 
The shag of savage nature, and were each 
An Orpheos, and omnipotent in song : 
But transformation of apostate man 
From fool to wise, from earthly to divine, 
Is work for Him that made him. He alone, 
And he by means in philosophic eyes 
Trivial and worthy of disdain, achieves 
The wonder; hamanizing what is brate 
In the lost kind, extracting from the lips 
Of asps their venom, overpowering strength 
By weakness, and hostility by love. 

Patriots have toii'd, and in their country's cause 
Bled nobly; and their deeds, as they deserve. 
Receive proud recompense. We give in charge 
Their names to the sweet lyre. Th' historic muse^ 
Proud of the treasure, marches vnth it down 
To latest times ; and Sculpture, in her turn, 
Gives bond in stone and ever-during brass 
To guard them, and immortalize her trust ; 
Bat fairer wreaths are due, though never paid, 
To those, who, posted at the shrine of Truth, 
Have fairn in her defence. A patriot's blood. 
Well spent in such a strife, may earn indeed, 
And for a time ensure, to his lov*d land 
The sweets of liberty, and equal laws ; 
Bnt martyrs struggle for a brighter prize, 
And win it with more pain. Their blood is shc4 
In confirmation of the noblest claim, 
Ow daim to feed upon immortal truth, 



144 THE TASK. BOOK V. 

To walk with God, to be divinely free, 

To soar, and to anticipate the skies. 

Yet few remember them. They liv'd anknown, 

Till persecution dragg*d them into fame, 

And chas*d them np to Heaven. Their ashes flew 

— No marble tells us whither. With their names 

No bard embalms and sanctifies his song: 

And history, so warm on meaner themes. 

Is cold on this. She execrates indeed 

The tyranny that doom*d them to the ^e^ 

But gives the glorious suff'rers little praise. 

He is the freeman, whom the truth makes fi«e, 
And all are slaves beside. There's not a chain, 
That hellish foes, confederate for his harm. 
Can wind around him, but he casts it ofi^ 
With as much ease as Samson his green withes. 
He looks abroad into the varied field 
Of nature^ and though poor perhaps, compared 
With those whose mansions glitter in his sight, 
Calls the delightful scen'iy all his own. 
His are the mountains, and the valleys his. 
And the resplendent rivers. His t' enjoy 
With a propriety that none can feel, 
But who with filial confidence inspired. 
Can lift to Heav'n an unpresumptnous eye, 
And smiling say— **My Father made them allT' 
Are they not his by a peculiar right, 
And by an emphasis of interest his, 
Whose eye they fill with tears of holy joy, 
Whose heart with praise, and whose exalted mind 



WINTER MORNINO WALK. 145 

I worthy thoughts of that uawearied love, 
plaim'd, and built, and still upholds, a world 
oth'd with beauty for rebellious man? 
-ye may fill your gamers, ye that reap 
oaded soil, and ye may waste much good 
useless riot; but ye will not find 
isty or in the chase, in song or dance, 
srty like his> who unimpeach'd 
rarpation, and to no man*s wrong, 
>priates nature as his Father's work, 
las a richer use of yours than you, 
indeed a freeman. Free by birth 
> mean city; plann'd or ere the hills, 
built, the fountains opened, or the sea 
all his roaring multitude of waves, 
"eedom is the same in evVy state; 
lo condition of this changeful life, 
inifold in cares, whose evVy day 
9 its own evil with it, makes it less : 
D has wings, that neither sickness, pain, 
enury, can cripple or confine, 
ok so narrow but he spreads them there 
ease, and is at large. Th' oppressor holds 
)dy bound ; but knows not what a range 
>irit takes, unconscious of a chain ; 
bat to bind him is a vain attempt 
1 God delights in, and in whom he dwells, 
uaint thyself with God, if thou wouldst taste 
orks. Admitted once to his embrace, 
shalt perceive that thou wast blind before : 

H 



146 THE TASK. BOOK V. 

Thine eye shall be instnicted ; and thine heart 

Made pure shall relish, with diirine delight 

Till then unfelt, what hands divine have wrought 

Brutes graze the mountain-top, with laces prone 

And eyes intent upon the scanty herb 

It yields them ; or, recumbent on its brow. 

Ruminate heedless of Ihe scene outspread 

Beneath, beyond, and stretching far away 

From inland regions to the distant main. 

Man views it, and admires ; but rests content 

With what he views. The landscape has his praise 

But not its author. Unconcerned who formed 

The Paradise he sees, he finds it such, 

And, such well pleasM to find it, asks no more. 

Not so the mind, that has been touched fi^m Heav'o 

And in the school of sacred wisdom taught, 

To read his wonders, in whose thought the world. 

Fair as it is, existed ere it was. 

Nor for its own sake merely, but for his 

Much more, who fashioned it, he gives it praise; 

Praise that from Earth resulting, as it ought, 

To Earth's acknowledged sovereign, finds at once, 

Its only just proprietor in Him. 

The soul that sees him or receives sublimed 

New faculties, or learns at least t- employ 

More worthily the pow'rs she own'd before, 

Discerns in all things what, with stupid gaze 

Of ignorance, till then she overlooked, 

A ray of heavenly light, gilding all forms 

Terrestrial in the vast and the minute; 



WINTER MORNING WALK. 147 

'he unambignoas footsteps of the God^ 
Vbo gives its lustre to an insect's wing, 
ind wheels his throne upon the rolling worlds. 
Inch conversant with Heaven, she often holds, 
\^ith those fair ministers of light to man, 
liat fill the skies nightly with silent pomp, 
veet conference. Inquires what strains were they, 
Viih which Heav'n rang, when ev'ry star, in haste 
'o gratulate the new-created Earth, 
ent forth a voice, and all the sons of God 
hooted for joy. — *'Tell me, ye shining hosts, 
'hat navigate a sea that knows no storms, 
leneath a vault unsullied with a cloud, 
r from your elevation, whence ye view 
Hstinctly scenes invisible to man, 
ind systems, of whose birth no tidings yet 
lave reach'd this nether world, ye spy a race 
'avoor'd as ours ; transgressors from the womb, 
Lnd hasting to a grave, yet doom'd to rise, 
Lnd to possess a brighter Heaven than yours ? 
is one, who, long detained on foreign shores, 
*ants to return, add when he sees afar 
lis country's weather-bleach'd and battered rocks, 
Vom the green wave emerging, darts an eye 
Udiant with joy towards the happy land ; 
o I with animated hopes behold, 
Lod many an aching wish, your beamy fires, 
*bat show like beacons in the blue abyss, 
^rdaii^'d to guide th' embodied spirit home 
tOBk toilsome life to never-ending rest 

h2 



148 THE TASK, t BOOI 

Love kindles as I g^aze. I feel desires, 
That give assurance of tbeir own success. 
And that, infus'd from Heav'n, must tbither tei 
So reads be nature, whom the lamp of truth 
Illuminates. Thy lamp, mysterious Word I 
Which whoso sees no longer wanders lost. 
With intellects bemaz'd in endless doubt. 
But runs the road of wisdom. Thou hast buili 
With mean, that were not till by thee employed 
Worlds, that had never been hadst thou in stre 
Been less, or less benevolent than strong. 
They are thy witnesses, who speak thy powV 
And goodness infinite, but speak in ears 
That hear not, or receive not their report. 
In vain thy creatures testify of thee, 
Till thou proclaim thyself. Theirs is indeed 
A teaching voice ; but 'tis the praise of thine, 
That whom it teaches it makes prompt to leani 
And with the boon gives talents for its use. 
Till thou art heard, imaginations vain 
Possess the heart, and fables false as Hell; 
Yet, deemed oracular, lure down to death 
The'uninform'd and heedless souls of men. 
We give to chance, blind chance, ourselves as b 
The glory of thy work ; which yet appears 
Perfect and unimpeachable of blame, 
Challenging human scrutiny, and proved 
Then skiliiil most when most severely judged. 
But chance is not ; or is not where thou reign'sl 
Thy providence forbids that fickle pow'r 



WINTER MORNING WALK. 149 

(If powV she foe, that works but to confoimd) 

To mix her wild vagaries with thy laws. 

Yet thus we dote, refasing while we can 

lostniction, and inventing to ourselves 

Gods such as guilt makes welcome; gods that sleep, 

Or disregard our follies, or that sit 

Amus'd spectators of this bustliug stage. 

Thee we reject, unable to abide 

Thy purity, till pure as thou art pnre, 

Made such by thee, we love thee for that cause^ 

For which we shunned and hated thee before. 

Then we are free. Then liberty, like day, 

Breaks on the soul, and by a flash from Heav*n 

Fires all the faculties with glorious joy. 

A voice is heard, that mortal ears hear not, 

Till thou hast touch'd them ; 'tis the voice of song — 

A loud Hosanna sent from all thy works ; 

Which he that hears it with a shout repeats^ 

And adds his rapture to the genVal praise. 

In that blest moment Nature, throwing wide 

Her veil opaque, discloses with a smile 

The author of her beauties, who, retired 

Behind his own creation, works unseen 

Bjf the impure, and hears his pow'r denied. 

Thou art the source and centre of all minds, 

Their only point of rest, eternal Word ! 

From thee departing, they are lost, and rove 

At random, without honour, hope, or peace. 

From thee is all, that sooths the life of man. 

His high endeavour, and his glad success. 



160 TH£ TASK. BOOK ^ 

His strength to suffer, and his will to serve. 
But O thou bounteous giver of all good, 
Thou art of ail thy gifts thyself the crown ! 
Give what thou canst, without thee we are poor; 
And with thee rich^ take what thou wilt away. 



THS TASK, 



BOOK. VI. 




ro g«lhtr loDB-cupa i 



I 







THE TASK. 

BOOK VI. 



E WINTER WALK AT NOON. 



distance— Their effect.— A fine noon io winter.— A sheltered 
•Meditation l>etter than boolis. — Our familiarity with the 
of nature malies it appear lees wonderful than it is.— The 
miation that spring effiects in a shrubbery described.— A 
i concerning the course of nature corrected.— God maintalBi 

unremitted act— The amusements fashionable at this hour 
day reproved. — Animals happy, a delightful sight.— Origin 
iity to animals.— That it is a great crUne proved ttom Scrlp- 
Tbat proof illustrated by a tale.— A line drawn between the 
and unlawful destruction of them.— Their good jand useful 
.ies insisted on.— Apology for the encominms bestowed by 
hor on animals.- Instances of man's extravagant praise of 
The groans of the creation shall have an end.— A view taken 
restoration of all things.— An invocation and an invitation 

1 wlio shall bring it to pass.- The retired man vindicated 
le charge of nselessness. — Conclusion. 



: is in souls a sytnpalhy with sounds, 
k the mind is pitched the ear is pleas'd 
nelting airs or martial, brisk or grave ; 
:hord in unison with what we hear 



( 



152 -THE TASK. BOOK V!. 

Is touched Within us, and the heart replies. , 

How soft the music of those village belJs, 

Falling at intervals upon the ear 

In cadence sweet, now dying all awaj. 

Now pealing loud again, and louder still, 

Clear atid sonorous, as the gale comes on ! 

With easy force it opens all the cells 

Where Meui'ry slept Wherever I have heard 

A kindred melody, the scene recurs, 

And with it all its pleasures and its pains. 

Such comprehensive views the spirit takes, 

That in a few short moments I retrace 

(As in a map the voyager his course) 

The windings of my way through many years. 

Short as in retrospect the journey seems. 

It seem'd not always short ; the rugged path, 

And prospect oft so dreary and forlorn, 

Mov'd many a sigh at its disheartening leng^. 

Yet feeling present evils, while the past 

Faintly impress the mind, or not at all. 

How readily we wish time spent revok'd^ 

That we might try the ground again, where once 

(Through inexperience, as we now perceive) 

We miss*d that happiness we might have found I 

Some friend is gone, perhaps, his son*s best fiiend, 

A father, whose authority, in show 

When most severe, and musfring all its force. 

Was but the graver countenance of love ; 

Whose favour, like the clouds of spring, might low'Ty 

And utter now and then an awful voice. 



WINTER WALK AT NOON. 153 

Sat had a Messing io its daiicest frown, 
Threatening at once and nourishing the plant 
'We lov'd, but not enough, the gentle hand, 
Tliat rear'd us. At a thoughtless age, aliar'd 
By ev'ry gilded folly, we renounced 
His sheltering side, and wilfully forewent 
That converse, which we now in vain regret 
How gladly would the man recall to life 
The boy's neglected sire ! a mother too. 
That softer friend, perhaps more gladly still. 
Might he demand them at the gates of death. 
Sorrow has, since they went, subdu'd and tam'd 
The playful humour ; he could now endure 
(Himself grown sober in the vale of tears), 
And feci a parent's presence no restraint. 
But not to understand a treasure's worth. 
Till time has stol'n away the slighted good,. 
Is cause of half the poverty we feel> 
And makes the World the wilderness it is. 
The few that pray at all pray oft amiss. 
And seeking grace t* improve the pri2se they hold,. 
Would urge a wiser suit than asking more. 

The night was winter in his roughest mood ; 
The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon 
Upon the southern side of the slant hills. 
And where the woods fence off the northern blasts 
The season smiles, resigning all its rage, . 
And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue 
Without a cloud, and white without a speck 
The dazzling splendour of the scene below. 

H 3 



154 THE TASK. BOOK VI. 

Again the hannony comes o*er the vale ; 

And through the trees I view th' embattled toVr, 

Whence all the music. I ag^n perceive 

The soothing influence of the wafted strains^ 

^nd settle in soft musings as I tread 

The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms, 

Whose outspread branches overarch the glade. 

The roo( though moveable through all its length 

As the wind sways it, has yet well sufficed, 

And, intercepting in their silent fall 

The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me. 

No noise is here, or notie that hinders thought 

The redbreast warbles still, but is content 

With slender notes, and more than'half suppressed; 

Pleas'd with his solitude, and flitting light 

From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes 

From many a twig the pendent drops of ice, 

That tinkle in the virither'd leaves below. 

Stillness, accompanied virith sounds so soft, 

Charms more than silence. Meditation here 

May think down hours to moments. Here the heart 

May give a useftil lesson to the head, 

And Learning wiser grow without his books. 

Knowledge and Wisdom, far from being one. 

Have ofttimes no connexion. Knowledge dwells 

In heads replete with thoughts of other men ; 

Wisdom in minds attentive to their own. 

Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass, 

The mere materials with which wisdom builds. 

Till smooth'd, and squar'd, and fitted to its place, 



WINTER WALK AT NOON. 156 

Does bat encomber whom it seems t' enrich. 

Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much ; 

Wisdom is humble that he knows no more. 

Books are not seldom talismans and spells. 

By which the magic art of shrewder wits 

Hold an unthinking muliitude enthraird. 

Some to the fascination of a name 

Surrender judgment hoodwinked. Some the style 

Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds 

Of error leads them, by a tune entranced. 

While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear 

The insupportable fatigue of thought, 

And swallowing therefore without pause or choice 

The total grist unsifted, husks and all. 

But trees and rivulets^ whose rapid course 

Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer, 

And sheep-walks populous with bleating lambs, 

And lanes, in which the primrose ere her time 

Peeps through the moss, that clothes the hawthorn root, 

Deceive no student Wisdom there, and truths 

Not shy, as in the world, and to be won 

By slow solicitation, seize at once 

The roving thought, and fix it on themselves. 

What prodigies can powV divine perform 
More grand than it produces year by year,. 
And all in sight of inattentive man ? 
Familiar with the efiect we slight the cause. 
And in the constancy of nature's course, 
The regular return of genial months, 
And renovation of a faded world, 



156 THE TASK. BOOK VI. 

See nought to wonder at Should €rod again, 

As once in Gibeon, interrnpt the race 

Of the ondeviating and punctual sun. 

How would the World admire ! But speaks it less 

An agency divine, to make him know 

His moment when to sink and when to rise, 

Age after age, than to arrest his course ? 

All we behold is miracle ; but, seen 

So duly, all is miracle in Tain. 

Where now the vital energy, that moirM, 

While summer was, the pure and subtle lymph 

Through th* imperceptible meandering veins 

Of leaf and flow'r ? It sleeps ; and th' icy touch 

Of uriprolific winter has impress*d 

A cold stagnation on th* intestine tide. 

But let the months fro round, a few short months^ 

And all shall be restor'd. These naked shoots, 

Barren as lances, among which the wind 

Makes wintry music, sighing as it goes, 

Shall put their graceful foliage on again. 

And more aspiring, and with ampler spread. 

Shall boast new charms, and more than they have lost 

Then each, in its peculiar honours clad. 

Shall publish even to the distant eye 

Its family and tribe. Laburnum, rich 

In streaming gold ; syringa, iv'ry pure; 

The scentless and the scented rose ; this red, 

And of an humbler growth, the other* tall, 

And throwing up into the darkest gloom 

Of neighb'riug cypress, or more sable yew, 

• The Gaelder-rose. 



fe 



WINTEB WALK AT NOON. 157 

lilver globes, light as the foamy snrH 
the wind severs from the broken wave; 
ilac, various in array, now white, 
sanguine, and her beanteous head now set 

purple spikes pyramidal, as if 
ous of ornament, yet nnresolv'd 
}h hue she most approved, she chose them all ; 
>us of flow'rs the woodbine, pale and wan^ 
weW compensating her sickly looks 

never-clo)ing odonrs, early and late^ 
^ricum all bloom, so thick a swarm 
iw'rs, like flies clothing her slender rods^ 
scarce a leaf appears; mezereon too, 
gh leafless, well attir*d, and thick beset 

blushing wreaths, investing ev*ry spray ; 
ea with the purple eye ; the broom, 
>w and bright, as bullion unalloy'd, 
blossoms ; and luxuriant above all 
jasmine, throwing wide her elegant sweets, 
leep dark green of whose nnvamish'd leaf 
es more conspicuous, and illumines more 
bright profusion of her scattered stars.<*- 
e have been, and these shall be in their day : 
all this uniform uncolour'd scene 

be dismantled of its fleecy load, 
flush into variety again. 
I dearth to plenty, and from death to life^ 
iture^s progress, when she lectures man 
(av'nly truth : evincing, as she makes 
prand transition, that there Uv^s and WQcka 



158 THE TASK. BOOK VI. 

A sonl in all things, and that soul is God. 

The beaaties of the wilderaess are his» 

That makes so gay the solitary place. 

Where no eye sees them. And the fairer forms. 

That cnltiVation glories in, are his. 

He sets the bright procession on its way, 

And marshals all the order of the year; 

He marks the bounds, which Winter may not pass, 

And blunts his pointed fury ; in its case, 

Russet and rude, folds up the tender germe. 

Uninjured, with inimitable art; 

And, ere one flowery season fades and dies. 

Designs the blooming wonders of the next. 

Some say that in the origin of things^ 
When all creation started into birth, 
The infant elements receiv'd a law. 
From which they swerve not since. . That under force 
Of that controlling ordinance they move, 
And need not his immediate hand, who first 
Prescribed their course, to regulate it now. 
Thus dream they, and contrive to save a God 
Th' encumbrance of his own concerns, and spare 
The great artificer of all that moves 
The stress of a continual act, the pain 
Of unremitted vigilance and care, 
As too laborious and severe a task. 
So man, the moth, is not afraid, it seems. 
To span omnipotence, and measure might. 
That knows no measure, by the scanty rule 
And standard of his own^ that is to-day, 



WINTEB WALK AT NOOK. 159 

And is not, ere to-inorrow*s sun go down. 

Bat how should matter occupy a charge, 

Dull as it is, aod satisfy a law 

So vast in its demand^, unless impeird 

To ceaseless service by a ceaseless force, 

And under pressure of some conscious cause? 

The Lord of all, himself through all diffused, 

Sustains, and is the life of all that lives. 

Nature is but a name for an effect, 

Whose cause is God. He feeds the secret fire. 

By which the mighty process is maintained. 

Who sleeps not, is not weary ; in whose sight 

Slow circling ages are as transient days; 

Whose work is without labour ; whose designs 

No flaw deforms, no difficulty thwarts ; 

And whose beneficence no charge exhausts. 

Him blind antiquity profan'd, not serv'd. 

With self-taught rites, and under various names. 

Female and male, Pomona, Pales, Pan, 

And Flora, and Vertumnus ; peopling Earth 

With tutelary goddesses and gods. 

That were not ; and commending as they would 

To each some province, garden, field, or grove. 

But all are under one. One spirit — His, 

Who wore the platted thorns with bleeding brows. 

Rules universal nature. Not a flow'r 

But shows some touch, in freckle, streak, or stain. 

Of his unrivaird pencil He inspires 

Their balmy odours, and imparts their hues, 

And bathes their eyes with nectar, and includes. 



160 THE TASK. BOOK Vl. 

In grains as countless as the sea-side sands, 
The forms, with which he sprinkles all the Earth. 
Happy who walks with him ! whom what he finds 
or flavour or of scent in fruit or flow'r. 
Of what he views of beautiful or grand 
In nature, from the broad majestic oak 
To the green blade, that twinkles in the snn« 
Prompts with remembrance of a present God. 
His presence, who made all so fair, perceived 
Makes all stiti fairer. As with htm no scene 
Is dreary, so with him all seasons pleasQ. 
Though winter had been none, had man been true, 
And Earth be punish *d for its tenant's sake, 
Yet not in yengeance, as this smiling sky, 
So soon succeeding such an angry night. 
And these dissolving snows, and this clear stream 
Recoy'ring fast its liquid music, prove. 

Who then, that has a mind well strung and tun*d 
To contemplation, and within his reach 
A scene so friendly to his fav'rite task. 
Would waste attention at the checkered board, 
His host of wooden warriors to and fro 
Marching and countermarching, with an eye 
As fix'd as marble, with a forehead ridg'd 
And furrow'd into storms, and with a hand 
Trembling, as if eternity were hung 
In balance on his conduct of a pin ? 
>Jor envies he aught more their idle sport. 
Who pant with application misapplied 
To trivial toys, and, pushing iv'ry balls 



I 



WINTER WALK AT NOON^ XU 

Across a yelyet level, feel a joy 
4kin to rapture, when the bauble finds 
Its destin'd goal, of difficult access. 
Kor deems he vfiser him, who gives his noon 
To miss, the niercer*s plague, from shop to shop 
Wand'ring, and iitt'ring with unfolded silks 
The polished counter, and approving none» 
Or promising with smiles to call again. 
Nor him, who by his vanity seduced, 
And sooth'd into a dream that he discerns 
The difTrence of a Guido irom a daub, 
Frequents the crowded auction : stationed there 
As duly as the Langfurd of the show, 
With glass at eye, and catalogue in hand, 
And tongue accomplished in the fulsome cant 
And pedantry, that coxcombs learn with ease ; 
Oft as the price-deciding hammer falls. 
He notes it in his book, then raps his box. 
Swears 'tis a bargain, rails at his hard fate, 
That he has let it pass— but never bids ! 

Here unmolested, through whatever sig^ 
The sun proceeds, I wander. Neither mist, 
Nor freesdhg sky nor sultry, checking me. 
Nor stranger intermeddling with my joy. 
Ev'n in the spring and playtime of the year, 
That calls th' unwonted villager abroad 
With all her little ones, a sportive train» 
To gather kingcups in the yellow mead, 
And prink their hair with daisies, or to pick 
A cheap but wholesome salad irom the brook* 



102 THE TASK. BOOK VI. 

These shades are all my own. The timVoas hare 
Grown so familiar with her frequent guest. 
Scarce shans me; and the stockdove ooalarm'd 
Sits cooing in the piuetree, nor suspends 
His long love-ditty for my near approach. 
Drawn from his refuge in some lonely elm. 
That age or injury has hollow'd deep. 
Where, on his bed of wool and matted leaves, 
He has oatslept the winter, ventures forth 
To frisk awhile, and bask in the warm sun. 
The squirrel, flippant, pert, and full of play: 
He sees me, and at once, switt as a bird, 
Ascends the neighboring beech ; there whisks his bmsb, 
And perks his ears, and stamps, and cries aloud, 
With all the prettiness of feign'd alarm, 
And anger insignificantly fierce. 

The heart is hard in nature, and unfit 
For human fellowship, as being void 
Of sympathy, and therefore dead alike 
To love and friendship both, that is not pleas'd 
With sight of animals enjoying life. 
Nor feels their happiness augment his own. 
The bounding fawn, that darts across the glade 
When none pursues, through mere delight of heart, 
And spirits buoyant with excess of glee; 
The horse as wanton and almost as fleet, 
That skims the spacious meadow at full speed. 
Then stops and snorts, and throwing high his heels, 
Starts to the voluntary race again ; 
The very kine, that gamble at high noon, 



k 



WINTER WALK AT NOON. 163 

The total herd receiving first from one. 
That leads the dance, a summons to be gay, 
ThoQgh wild their strange vagaries, and uncoath 
Their efforts, yet resolv'd with one consent, 
To give such act and utterance as they may 
To .ecstasy too big to be suppressed — 
These, and a thousand images of bliss. 
With which kind Nature graces ev^ry scene. 
Where cruel man defeats not her design, 
Impart to the benevolent, who wish 
All that are capable of pleasure pleased, 
A far superior happiness to theirs. 
The comfort of a reasonable joy. 

Man scarce had ris'n, obedient to his call, 
Who form'd him from the dust, his future grave. 
When he was crowned as never king was since. 
God set the diadem upon his head, 
And angel choirs attended. Wondering stood 
The new-made monarch, while before him pass'd. 
All happy, and all perfect in their kind. 
The creatures, summoned from their various haunts. 
To see their sovereign, and confess his sway. 
Vast was his empire, absolute bis powV, 
Or bounded only by a law, whose force 
'Twas his sublimest privilege to feel 
And own, the law of universal love. 
He rurd with meekness, they obey'd with joy ; 
No cruel purpose lurk'd within his heart, 
And no distrust of his intent in theirs. 
So Eden was a scene of harmless sport, 



164 THE TASK. BOOK VI. 

Where kindness on his part, who mrd the wholes 
begat a trauqail confidence in all, 
And fear as yet was not, nor canse for fear. 
Bat sin marr'd all ; and the revolt of maOy 
That source of evils not exhausted yet. 
Was punish'd with revolt of his from him. 
Garden of God, how terrible the change 
Thy groves and lawns then witnessed ! £v*ry heart, 
Each animal, of ev'ry name, conceiy'd 
A jealousy and an instinctive fear, 
And, conscious of some danger, either fled 
Precipitate the loath'd abode of man, 
Or growl'd defiance in such angry sort. 
As taught him too to tremble in his turn. 
Thus harmony and family accord 
Were driv'n from Paradise ; and in that hour 
The seeds of cruelty, that since have swelFd 
To such gigantic and enormous growth. 
Were sown in human nature*s fruitful soil. 
Hence date the persecution and the pain. 
That man inflicts on all inferior kinds. 
Regardless of their plaints. To make him sport, 
To gratily the frenzy of his wrath, 
.^r his base gluttony, are causes good 
And just in his account, why bird and beast 
Should siifier torture, and the streams be dyed 
\^'ith blood of their inhabitants impal'd. 
Barth groans beneath the burden of a war 
Wag'd with defenceless innocence, while he» 
Nut satisfied to prey on 93\ around,, 



WINTER WALK AT NOON* 165 

Vdds tenfold bitterness to death by p^n^ 
heedless, and first torments ere he devour^ 
^ow happiest they, that occapy t|ie scenes 
The most remote from his abhorr'd resort, 
^hom once, as delegate of God on Earth, 
rhey fear'd, and as his perfect image lov'd. 
rhe wilderness is theirs, with all its caves, 
is hollow glens, its thickets, and its plains 
Jnvisited by man. There they are free, 
Lnd hewi and roar as likes them, nncontrolFd; 
(for ask his leave to slumber or to play. 
IVoe to the tyrant, if he dare intrude 
Within the confines of their wild domain: 
rhe lion tells him — I am monarch here — 
knd, if he spare him, spares him on the terms 
3f royal mercy, and through genVons scorn, 
fo rend a victim trembling at his foot. 
[n measure, as by force of instinct drawn> 
3r by necessity constrained, they live 
Dependent upon man ; those in his fields, 
rhese at his crib, and some beneath his roof, 
rhey prove too often at how dear a rate 
Ele sells protection. — Witness at his foot 
rhe spaniel dying for some venial fault 
Under dissection of the knotted scourge ; 
Witness the patient ox, with stripes and yells 
Driv'n to the slaughter, goaded, as he runs. 
To madness ; while the savage at his heels 
Laughs at the frantic snfiT'rer's fury, spent 
Upon the guiltless passenger o'erthrown. 



166 TH£ TASK. . BOOK VI. 

He too is witness, noblest of tlie train 

That wait on man, the flight-))erfonning hone: 

With unsnspccting readiness be takes 

His mard'rer on his back, and, posh'd all day 

With bleeding sides and tianks, that heave for life, 

To the far distant goal, arrives and dies. 

So little mercy shows who needs so much ! 

Does law, so jealous in the cause of nmn, 

Denounce no doom on the delinquent? None. 

He lives, and o'er his brimming beaker boasts 

(As if barbarity were high desert) 

Th' inglorious feat, and, clamorous in praise 

Of the poor brute, seems wisely to suppose 

The honours of his matchless horse his own. 

But many a crime, deemed innocent on Earth, 

Is registered in Heaven ; and these no doubt 

Have each their record, with a curse annex'd. 

Man may dismiss compassion from his heart, 

But God will never. When he charged the Jew^ 

T' assist his foe's down-fallen beast to rise ; 

And when the bush-exploring boy, that seisM 

The young, to let the parent bird go free ; 

Prov'd he not plainly, that his meaner works 

Are yet his care, and have an interest all, 

All, in the universal Father's love? 

On Noah, and in him on all mankind. 

The charter was conferr*d, by which we hold 

The flesh of animals in fee, and claim 

O'er all we feed on pow'r of life and death. 

But read the instnunent, and mark it well: 



I 



WINTER WALK AT NOON- 167 

ppressioQ of a tyrannous control 
ind no warrant there. Feed then, and yield 
ks for thy food. Carnivoroas, throa^h sin^ 
on the slain, but spare the livinijf brute 1 
e Governor of all, himself to all 
untiful, in whose attentive ear 
iufledf^*d raven and the lion's whelp 
not in vain for pity on the pangs 
inger unassuag*d has interposed, 
eldoni, bis avenging arm, to smite 
ijurious trampler upon Nature's law, 
claims forbearance even for a brute, 
ites the hardness of a Balaam's heart; 
prophet as he was, he might not strike 
laroeless animal, without rebuke, 
bich he rode. Her opportune olfence 
him, or th' unrelenting seer had died, 
es that human equity is slack 
terfere, though in so just a cause ; 
nakes the task his own. Inspiring dumb 
lelpless victims with a sense so keen 
i'ry, with such knowledge of their strength, 
uch sagacity to take revenge, 
oft the beast has seem'd to judge the man. 
icient, not a legendary tale, 
e of sound intelligence rehears'd 
ch who plead for Providence may seem 
dern eyes), shall make the doctrine clear* 
lere England, stretchM towards the setting siid, 
w and long, overlooks the western wave. 



168 THB TASK. BOOK V 

'Dwelt youngs Misaf^thns ; a scorner he 
Of God and goodness, atheist in ostenty 
Yiciotis in act, in temper savage-fierce. 
He jonrae^'d ; and his chance was as he went, 
To join a traveller of far different note^ 
Evander, fam'd for piety, for years 
Deserving honour, but for wisdom more. 
Fame had not left the venerable man 
A stranger to the manners of the yooth^ 
V/hose face too was familiar to his view. 
Their way Was on the margin of the land» 
0*er the green summit of the rocks, whose base 
Beats back the roaring surge, scarce heard so hig 
The chai1t>', that Warm*d his heart, was mov'd 
At sight of the man monster. With a smile 
Gentle, and affable, and fbll of grace. 
As fearful of offending whom he wish'd 
Much to persuade, he plied his ear with truths 
Not harshly thunder'd forth, or rudely press'd, 
But, like his purpose, gracious, kind, and sweet. 
** And dost thou dream,'' th' impenetrable man 
Exclaim'd, *' that me the lullabies of age, 
And fantasies of dotards such as thou, 
Can cheat, or move a %nomenf s fear in me? 
Alark now the proof I ^ve thee, that the brave 
Need no such aids, as superstition lends. 
To steel their hearts against the dread of death.'' 
He spoke, and to the precipice at hand 
Push*d with a madman*s fiiry. Fancy shrinks. 
And the blood thrills and ^curdleSi at the thought 



WINTER WALK AT NOON. 109 

Of such a gnlf as he design'd his grave. 
Bat, though the felon on his baciL -could dare 
The dreadful leap, more rational, his steed 
BeclinM the death, and wheeling swiftly round, 
Or e'er his hoof had press'd the crumbling verge. 
Baffled his rider, sav'd against his wilk 
The fren^ of the brain may be redress'd 
By med'cine well applied, but without grace 
The heart*s insamty admits no cure. 
Enrag'd the more, by what might have reform*d 
His horrible intent, again he sought 
Destruction, with a zeal to be destroyed. 
With sounding whip, and rowels died in blood. 
But still in vain. The Providence, that meant 
A. longer date to the far nobler beast, 
Spar'd yet again th' ignobler for his sako. 
A.nd now, his prowess proved, and his sincere 
Incurable obduracy evinc*d, 

His rage grew cod ; and, pleas'd perhaps to have earned 
So cheaply the renown of that attempt. 
With looks of some complacence be resum*d 
His road, deriding much the blank amaze 
Of good Evander, still where he was left 
Fix*d motionless, and petrified with dreads 
So on they falr*d. Discourse on other themes 
Ensuing seem'd t' obliterate the past ; 
And tamer far for so much fury shown 
(As is the course of rash and fiery men). 
The rude companion smil'd, as if transform Vk 
Bat 'twas a transient calm. A storm was near, 

1 



I 



170 THB TASK. BOOK VI 

An unsuspected storm. His hour was come. 
The impious challenger of Pow'r divine 
Was now to learn, that Heav'n, though slow to wral 
Is never vnth impunity defied. 
His horse, as he had caught his master's mood, 
Snorting, and starting into sudden rage, 
Unbidden, and not now to be controH'd, 
Rush'd to the cliff, and, having reach'd it, stood. 
At once the shock unseated him : he flew 
Sheer o*er the craggy barrier; and immers'd 
Deep in the flood, found, when he sought it not. 
The death he had deserv'd, and died alone. 
So God wrought double justice ; made the fool 
The victim of his own tremendous choice, 
And taught a brute the way to safe revenge. 

I would not enter on my list of fliends 
(Though grac'd with polish'd manners and fine sens 
Yet wanting sensibility) the man. 
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm. 
An inadvertent step may crush the snail. 
That crawls at evening in the public path ; 
But he that has humanity, forewarned. 
Will tread aside, and let the reptile live. 
The creeping vermin, loathsome to the sight, 
And charged perhaps with venom, that intrudes, 
A visitor unwelcome, into scenes 
Sacred to neatness and repose, th' alcore^ 
The chamber, or refectory, may die : 
A necessary act incurs no blame. 
Not so when, held within their proper bounds, 



WINTER WALK AT NOON. 171 

And gutless of offence, they range the air. 
Or take their pastime in the spacions field : 
There they are privileged ; and he that hunts 
Or harms them there is guilty of a wrong, 
Disturbs the economy of Nature's realm, 
Who, when she form'd, designed them an abode. 
The sum is this. If man*s conyenience, healthy 
Or safety, interfere, his rights and claims 
Are paramount, and must extinguish theirs. 
£186 they are all — the meanest things that are, 
As free to live, and to enjoy that life, 
As God was free to form them at the first, 
Who in his sovereign vnsdom made them all. 
Ye therefore, who love mercy, teach your sons, 
To love it too. The spring-time of our years 
Is soon dishonoured and defiFd in most 
By budding ills, that ask a prudent hand. 
To check them. But alas I none sooner shoots, 
If unrestrained, into luxuriant growth. 
Than cruelty, most devMish of them all. 
Mercy to him, that shows it, is the rule 
And righteous limitation of its act. 
By which Heaven moves in pard'ning guilty man; 
And he that shows none, being ripe in years, 
And conscious of the outrage he commits, 
Shall seek it, and not find it, in his turn. 

Disting^h'd much by reason, and still more 
By our capacity of grace divine. 
From creatures, that exist but for our sake. 
Which, having served as, perish, we are held 

i2 



172 TU£ TASK. BOOK VI. 

Accoantable ; and God some future day 

Will reckon with us roundly for th' abuse 

Of what he deems no mean or irivial trust 

Superior as we are, they yet depend 

Not more on human help than we on theirs. 

Their strength, or speed, or vigilance, were.giv*a 

In aid of bur defects. In some are found 

Such teachable and apprehensive parts, 

That man's attainments in his own concerns, 

Matched with th' expertness of the brutes in theirs, 

Are ofttimes vanquished and thrown far behind. 

Some show that nice sagacity of smell. 

And read with such discernment, in the port 

And figure of the man, his secret aim^ 

That oft we owe our safety to a skill 

We could not teach, and must despair to learn. 

But learn we might, if not too proud to stoop 

To quadruped instructors, many a good 

And useful quality, and virtue too. 

Rarely exemplified among ourselves. 

Attachment never to be wean'd, or chang*d 

By any change of fortune ; proof alike 

Against unkindness, absence, and neglect; 

Fidelity, that neither bribe nor threat 

Can move or warp ; and gratitude for small 

And trivial favours, lasting as the life> 

And glistening even in the dying eye. 

Man praises man. Desert in arts or arms 
Wins public honour; and ten thousand sit 
Patiently present at a sacred song, 



WINTER WALK AT NOON. 173 

Commemoration-mad ; content to hear 

(O wonderfiil effect of music's power !) 

Messiah's eulogy for Handel's sake. 

Bat less, methinks, than sacrilege might serve — 

(For was it less? What heathen would have dar'd 

To strip Jove's statue of his oaken wreath, 

And hang it up in honour of a man ?) 

Much less might serve, when all that we design 

Is but to gratify an itching ear, 

And give the day to a musician's praise. 

Remember Handel? Who, that was not bom 

Deaf as the dead to harmony, forgets. 

Or can, the more than Homer of his age? 

Yes — we remember him ; and while we praise 

A talent so divine, remember too, 

That His most holy book, irom whom it came, 

Was never meant, was never us'd before, 

To buckram out the mem'ry of a man. 

But hush !— the muse perhaps is too severe; 

And with a gravity beyond the size 

And measure of th* offence, rebukes a deed' 

Less impious than absurd, and owing more 

To want of judgment than to wrong design. 

So in the chapel of old Ely House, , 

When wand'ring Charles, who meant to be the third. 

Had fled .from William, and the news was fresh, 

The simple clerk, but loyal, did announce. 

And eke did rear right merrily, two staves, 

Sung to the praise and glory of King George ! 

Man praises man ; and Ganick's mem*ry next^ 




174 THE TASK. BOOK VI. 

When time hath somewhat mellow'd it, and made 

The idol of our worship while he liv'd 

The god of our idolatry once more, 

Shall have its altar; and the World shall go 

In pilgrimage to bow before his shrine. 

The theatre too small shall saflfocate 

Its squeezed contents, and more than it admits 

Shall sigh at their exclusion, and return 

Ungratified : for there some noble lord 

Shall stuff his shoulders with king Richard's bnndi 

Or wrap himself in Hamlet's inky cloak, 

And strut, and storm, and straddle, stamp and stare 

To show the world how Garrick did not act. 

For Garrick was a worshipper himself; 

He drew the liturgy, and iram'd the rites 

And solemn ceremonial of the day. 

And caird the World to worship on the banks 

Of Avon, fam'd in song. Ah, pleasant proof. 

That piety has still in human hearts 

Some place, a spark or two not yet extinct. 

The mulb'rry-tree was hung with blooming wreaths; 

The roulbVry-tree stood centre of the dance; 

The mulb'rry-tree was hymn'd with dulcet airs; 

And from his touchwood trunk the mulb'rry-tree 

Supplied such relics as devotion holds 

Still sacred, and preserves with pious care. 

So 'twas a hallow'd time : decorum reign'd, 

And mirth without offence. No few retnm'd. 

Doubtless, muph edified, and all refreshed. 

—Man praises man. The rabble all alive 



WINTER WALK AT NOON. 17^ 

tippliDg beDches, cellars, stalls, and styes, 
n in the streets. The statesmen of the day^ 
npous and sIow-mo\'ing pageant, comes. 

shout him, and some hang upon his car, 
ize in's eyes, and bless him. Maidens wa?e 

kerchiefs, an4 old women weep for joy: 
B others, not so satisfied, unhorse 
^Ided equipage, and turning loose 
teeds, usurp a place they well deserve. 
? what has charmed them? Hath he sav'd the state? 

Doth he purpose its salvation? No. 
anting novelty, that moon at full, 
finds out ev'ry crevice of the head^ 
is not sound and perfect, hath in theirs 
ight this disturbance. But the wane is near, 
his own cattle must suffice him soon. 

idly do we waste the breath of praise, 
dedicate a tribute, in its use 
just direction sacred, to a thing 
i*d to the dust, or lodg'd already there, 
mium in old time was poet's work : 
)oets, having lavishly long since 
usted all materials of the art, 
task now falls into the public hand ; 
I, contented with an humbler theme, 
t pour'd my stream of panegyric down 
irale of nature, where it creeps, and winds 
Qg her lovely works with a secure 
unambitious course, reflecting clear, 
t the virtues, yet the worth, of brutes. 



K 



176 THE TASK. BOOK VI. 

And I am reeompens'd, and deem tbe toils 
Of poetry not lost, if verse of mine 
May stand between an animal and woe, 
And teach one tyrant pity for bis drudge. 

Tbe g^roans of nature in tbis netber world, 
Wbieb Heav'n bas beard for ages, bave an end. 
Foretold by propbets, and by poets SBng, 
Wbose fire was kindled at tbe propbets* lamp, 
Tbe time of rest, tlie promised sabbatb, comes. 
Six thousand years of sorrow have well nigh 
Fulfiird their tardy and disastrous course 
Over a sinful world ; and what remains 
Of tbis tempestuous state of human things 
Is merely as tbe working of a sea 
Before a calm, that rocks itself to rest : 
For He, wbose car tbe winds are, and the clouds 
Tbe dust, that waits upon his sultry march, 
Whoa sin hath mov'd him, and his wrath is hot. 
Shall visit Earth in mercy ; shall descend 
Propitious in his chariot pav'd with love ; 
And what his storms have blasted and defaced 
For man's revolt shall with a smile repair. 

Sweet is tbe harp of prophecy ; too sweet 
Not to be wrong'd by a mere mortal touch : 
Nor can the wonders it records be sung 
To meaner music, and not suffer loss. 
But when a poet, or when one tike me, 
Happy to rove among poetic fiow'rs. 
Though poor in skill to rear them, lights at last 
On some fair theme, some theme divinely faic, 



WINTER WALK AT NOON. 177 

Such is the impnlse and the spur be feels, 
To give it praise proportioned to its worth, 
That not t' attempt it, arduous as he deems 
The labour, were a task more arduous stilL 
O scenes surpassing fable, and yet true, 
Scenes of accomplish^ bliss; which who can see, 
Though but in distant prospect, and not feel 
His soul refreshed with foretaste of the joy? 
Rivers of gladness water all the Earth, 
And clothe all climes with beauty; the reproach 
Of barrenness is past The fruitful field 
Laughs with abundance ; and the land, once lean. 
Or fertile only in its own disgraee^ 
Exults to see its thistly curse repealed. 
The various seasons woven into one. 
And that one season an eternal spring. 
The garden fears no blight, and needs no fence. 
For there is none to covet, all are full. 
The lion, and the libbard, and the bear 
Graze with the fearless flocks ; all bask at noon. 
Together, or all gambol in the shade 
Of the same grove, and drink one common stream.. 
Antipathies are none. No foe to man 
Lurks in the serpent now : the mother sees. 
And smiles to see, her infant's playful hand 
Stretched forth to dally with the crested worm^ 
To stroke his azure neck, or to receWe 
The lambent homage of his arrowy tongue. 
All creatures worship man, and all mankind 
One Lord, one Father. Error has no place : 

13 



178 THE TASK. BOOK VI. 

That creeping pestilence is diiv'n away ; 
The breath of Heav'n has chas'd it In the heart 
No passion touches a discordant string, 
But all is harmony and love. Disease 
Is not: the pure and uncontaminate blood 
Holds its doe course, nor fears the frost of age. 
One song employs all nations ; and all cry, 
" Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain for us l** 
ITie dwellers in the vales and on the rocks 
Shout to each other, and the mountain tops 
From distant mountains catch the flying joy ; 
Till, nation after nation taught the strain, 
Earth rolls the rapturous Hosanna round. 
Behold the measure of the promise fill'd; 
See Salem built, the labour of a God ! 
Bright as a sun the sacred city shines ; 
All kingdoms and all princes of the Earth 
Flock to that light ; the glory of all lands 
Flows into her; unbounded is her joy, 
And endless her increase. Thy rams are there, 
Nebaioth, and the flocks of Kedar there * ; 
The looms of Ormus, and the mines of Ind, 
And Saba's spicy groves, pay tribute there. 
Praise is in all her gates ; upon her walls, 
And in her streets, and in her spacious courts, 
Is heard salvation. Eastern Java there 
Kneels with the native of the furthest west; 

* Nebaioth aod Kedar, the sons of Ishmael, and progenitors of tiir 
Anbs, in the lu'ophetic Scripture here allnded to, may be reasonabh 
considered as repreeentiitiTes of the Gentiles at laif e. 



WINTEB WALK AT NOON. 179 

And iEthiopia spreads abroad the hand. 
And worships. Her report has traveU'd forth 
Into all lands. From ev'ry clime they come. 
To see thy beauty, and to share thy joy, 
O Sion ! an assembly such as Earth 
Saw noYer, sach as Heaven stoops down to see. 

Thas Heavenward all things tend. For all were once 
Perfect, and all must be at len^ restored. 
So God has greatly pnrposM ; who would else 
In his dishonoured works himself endure 
Dishonour, and be wronged without redress. 
Haste then, and wheel away a shattered world. 
Ye slow revoWing seasons ! we would see 
(A sight to which our eyes are strangers yet) 
A world, that does not dread and hate his laws. 
And suffer for its crime; would learn how fair 
The creature is, that God pronounces good, 
How pleasant in itself what pleases him. 
Here ev'ry drop of honey hides a sting; 
Worms wind themselves into pur sweetest flow*rs^ 
And ev*n the joy, that haply some poor heart 
Derives from Heav'n, pure as the fountain is, 
Is sullied in the stream, taking a taint 
From touch of human lips, at best impure. 
for a world in principle as chaste 
As this is g^oss and selfish ! over which 
Custom and Prejudice shall bear no sway, 
That govern all things here, should'hng aside 
The meek and modest Truth, and forcing her 
To seek a refuge from the tongue of strife 



180 THE TASK. BOOK VI. 

In nooks obscare, far from the ways of men ; 
Where violence shall never lift the sword. 
Nor cunning justify the proud man's wrong, 
Liea\'ing the poor no remedy but tears: 
Where he, that fills an office, shall esteem 
Th' occasion it presents of doing good 
More than the perquisite: where Law shall speak 
Seldom, and never but as Wisdom prompts 
And Equity; not jealous more to guard 
A worthless form, than to decide aright r 
Where Fashion shall not sanctify abuse. 
Nor smooth Good-breeding (supplemental' grace) 
With lean performance ape the work of liove ! 
Come theny and added to thy many crowns, 
Receive yet one, the crown of all the Earth, 
Thou who alone art worthy! It was thine 
By ancient covenant, ere nature's birth ; 
And thou hast made ^t thine by purchase since ,* 
And overpaid its value with thy blood. 
Thy saints proclaim thee king; and in their hearts 
Thy title is engraven with a pen 
Dipped in the fountain of eternal love. 
Thy saints proclaim thee king; and thy delay 
Gives courage to their foes, who, could they see 
The dawn of thy last advent, long desir*d. 
Would creep into the bowels of the hills. 
And flee for safety to the falling rocks. 
The very spirit of the world is tir^d 
Of its own taunting question, ask'd so long, 
" Where is the promise of your Lord's approach ?'' 



WINTER WALK AT NOON. 181 

The infidel has shot his bolts away, 

Till, his exhausted quirer yielding none, 

He gleams the blunted shafts, that haye recoiFd, 

And aims them at the shield of Trnth again. 

The veil is rent, rent too by priestly hands, 

That hides divinity from mortal eyes ; 

And all the mysteries to faith proposM, 

Insulted and traduced, are cast aside, 

As useless, to the moles and to the bats. 

They now are deem*d the faithful, and are-prats'd, 

Who, constant only in rejecting thee. 

Deny thy Godhead with a martyr's zeal. 

And quit their office for their error's sake. 

Blind, and in love with darkness ! yet ev'n these 

Worthy, compared with sycophants, who knee 

Thy name adoring, and then preach thee man! 

So fkres thy church. But how thy church may fare, 

Theworld takes little thought. Who will may preach. 

And what they will. All pastors are alike 

To wandering sheep, resolved to foHow none. 

Two gods divide them all — Pleasure and Gain: 

For these they live, they sacrifice to these. 

And in their service wage perpetual war 

With Conscience and with thee. Lust in their hearts, 

And mischief in their hands, they roam the Earth 

To prey upon each other; stubborn, fierce. 

High-minded, foaming out their own disgrace. 

Thy prophets speak of such ; and, noting down 

The features of the last degenVate times, 

Exhibit ev'cy lineament of these^ 



i 



182 THE TASK. BOOK V 

Come then, and, added to thy many crowns, 
Receive yet one, as radiant as the rest, 
Due to thy last and roost effectaal work, 
Thy word fnlfill'd, the conquest of a world ! 
He is the happy man, whose life e'en now 
Shows somewhat of that happier life to come ; 
Who, doomed to an obscure but tranquil state. 
Is pleas'd with it, and, were he free to choose. 
Would make his fate his choice; whom peace, tbef) 
Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith, 
Prepare for happiness ; bespeak him one 
Content indeed to sojourn while he must 
Below the skies, but ha\'ing there his home. 
The World overlooks him in her busy search 
Of objects, more illustrious in her view; 
And, occupied as earnestly as she; 
Though more sublimely, he overlooks the World. 
She scorns his pleasures, for she knows them not 
He seeks not hers, for he has proved them vain. 
He cannot skin) the ground like summer birds 
Pursuing gilded flies ; and such he deems 
Her honours, her emoluments, her joys. 
Therefore in Contemplation is his bliss. 
Whose pow'r is such, that whom she lifts from £a 
She makes familiar with a Heav'n unseen. 
And shows him glories yet to be reveal'd. 
Not slothful he, though seeming unemployed. 
And censured oft as useless. Stillest streams 
Oft water fairest meadows, and the bird. 
That flutters least, is longest on the wing. 



WINTEB WALK AT NOON. 183 

Ask him, indeed, what trophies he has raised, 

Or what achieyemetits of immortal fame 

He purposes, and he shall imswer — None. 

Eiis warfare is within. There anfiitign*d 

His fervent spirit labours. There he fights, 

A.nd there obtains fresh triumphs o'er bimselfy 

find never withering wreaths, compar*d with which 

rhe laurels that a Caesar reaps are weeds. 

Perhaps the self-approving haughty World, 

rhat as she sweeps him with her whistling silks 

Scarce deigns to notice him, or, if she see. 

Deems him a cipher in the works of Grod, 

Receives advantage from his noiseless hours, 

Of which she little dreams. Perhaps she owes 

Eier sunshine and her rain, her blooming spring 

A.nd plenteous harvest, to the pray'r he makes, 

When, Isaac like, the solitary saint 

Walks forth to meditate at eventide, 

And think on her, who thinks not for herself. 

Forgive him then, thou bustler in concerns 

Of little worth, an idler in the best, 

Ify author of no mischief and some good, 

He seek his proper happiness by means, 

That may advance, but cannot hinder, thine. 

Nor, though he tread the secret path of life, 

Engage no notice, and enjoy much ease, 

Account him an encumbrance on the state, 

Receiving benefits, and rend*ring none. 

His sphere though humble, if that humble sphere 

Shine with his fair example, and though small 



184 THE TASK. BOOK VF. 

His influence, if that influence all be spent 
In soothing sorrow, and in quenching strife, 
In aiding helpless indigence,, in works, 
From which at least a grateful few derive 
Some taste of comfort in a world of woe ; 
Then let the supercilious great confess 
He serves his country, recompenses well 
The state, beneath the shadow of whose vine 
He sits secure, and in the scale of life 
Holds no ignoble, though a slighted, place. 
The man, whose virtues are more feit than seen, 
Must drop indeed the hope of public praise ; 
But he may boast, what few that win it can. 
That, if his country stand not by his skill, 
At least his follies have not wrought her fall* 
Polite Refinement offers him in vain 
Her golden tube, through which a sensual World 
Draws gross impurity, and likes it weU,. 
The neat conveyance hiding all the offence. 
Not that he peevishly rejects a mode, 
Because that World adopts it If it bear 
The stamp and clear impression of good sense, 
And be not costly more than of true worth. 
He puts it on, and for decorum sake 
Can wear it e'en as gracefully as she. 
She judges of refinement by the eye. 
He by the test of conscience, and a heart 
Not soon deceiv'd ; aware, that what is base 
No polish can make sterling; and that vice, 
Though well perfum'd and elegantly dress'd. 



>VINTER WALK AT NOON. 185 

Q unburied carcass trick'd with flowers, 
a gamishM nuisance, fitter far 
tanly riddance, than for fair attire, 
glides smoothly and by stealth away. 
;olden than that age of fabled gold 
nM in ancient song; not yex^d with care 
nM with guilt, beneficent, approvM 
1 and man, and peaceful in its end. 
e my life away ! and so at last, 
ire of duties decently fulfilled, 
>me disease, not tardy to perform 
tinM office, yet with gentle stroke, 
s me weary to a safe retreat, 
h the turf, that I have often trod. 
. not grieve me then, that once, when caird 
3S a Sofa with the flowYs of verse, 
1 awhile, obedient to the fair, 
bat light task ; but soon, to please her more, 
flow*rs alone I knew would little please, 
1 th* unfinished wreath, and rov*d for frtiit ; 
!ar, and gather'd much : some harsh, 'tis true, 
from the thorns and brifu^ of reproof 
olesome, well-digested ; grateful some 
ites, that can taste immortal truth ; 
else, and sure to be despis'd. 
is in his hand, whose praise I seek, 
the poet sings, and the World hears, 
igard not, though divine the theme. 
t in artful measures, in the chljaie. 



t 



186 THE TASK. BOOK 

And idle tinkling of a minstrers l3Te, 
To charm bis ear, whose eye is on the heart ; 
Whose frown can disappoint the proudest strait 
Whose approbation — ^prosper even mine. 



I 



TIROCINIUM : 



OK, 



A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 



Plato. 
DioG. Laert. 



i 



TO THE 

REV. WILLIAM CAWTHORNE UNWIN, 

RECTOR OF STOCK IN ESSEX, 

* 

THE TUTOR OF HIS TWO S6NS, 

THE FOLLOWING 



^oem^ 



RECOMMENDING PRIVATE TUITION 

IN PREFERENCE TO 

AN EDUCATION AT SCHOOL, 

18 INSCRIBED, 
BY HIS AFFECTIONATE FRIEND, ' 

WILLIAM COWPER. 

Olney, Nov. 6, 1784. 



TIROCINIUM. 



not from his form, in which We trace 
gth joiu'd with beauty, dignity with grace» 
man, the master of this globe, derives 
ight of empire over all that lives, 
form indeed, th' associate of a mind 
in its pow'rs, ethereal in its kind, 
form, the labour of almighty skill, 
*d for the service of a freebom will, 
rts precedence, and bespeaks control, 
>orrows all its grandeur from the soul, 
is the state, the splendour, and the throne, 
itellectual kingdom, all her own. 
ler the Memory fills her ample page 
truths pour*d down from ev'ry distant age ; 
ler amasses an unbounded store, 
^sdom of great nations, now no more; 
gh laden, not encumbered with her spoil ; 
nous, yet unconscious of her toil ; 
Q copiously supplied, then most enlarged ; 
to be fed, and not to be surcharg'd. 
ler the Fancy, roving unconfin'd, 
present muse of ev'ry pensive mind, 



190 tirocinium: or. 

Works magic wonders, adds a brighter hue 
To Nature's scenes than Nature ever knew. 
At her command winds rise, and waters roar, 
Again she lays them slumb'ring on the shore; 
With flower and fruit the wilderness supplies, 
Or bids the rocks in ruder pomp arise. 
For her the Judgment, umpire in the strife, 
That Grace and Nature have to wage through life, 
Quick-sighted arbiter of good and ill, 
Appointed sage preceptor to the Will, 
Condemns, approves, and with a faithful Toice 
Guides the decision of a doubtful choice. 

Why did the fiat of a God give birth 
To yon fair Sun, and his attendant Earth? 
And, when descending he resigns the skies, • 
Why takes the gentler Moon her turn to rise. 
Whom Ocean feels through all his countless waves, 
And owns her pow'r on ev'ry shore he laves? 
Why do the seasons still enrich the year, 
Fruitful and young, as in their first career? • 
Spring hangs her infant blossoms on the trees, 
Rocked in the cradle of the western breeze ; 
Summer in haste the thriving charge receives 
Beneath the shade of her expanded leaves. 
Till autumn's fiercer heats and plenteous dews 
Dye them at last in all their glowing hues. — 
Twere wild profusion all, and bootless waste, 
PowV misemploy^, munificence misplac'd. 
Had not its author dignified the plan, 
And crown'd it with the migesty of man. 



A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 191 

form'd, thas plac'd, intelligent, and taag^ht, 
. where he will, the wonders God has wrought^ 
ivildest scorner of his Maker's laws 
s in a sober moment time to pause, 
ress th' important question on his heart, 
ly form'd at all, and wherefore as thou art?^ 
an be what he seems, this hoar a slave, 
aext mere dust and ashes in the grave ; 
I'd with reason only to descry 
mmes and follies with an aching eye ; 
I passions, just that he may prove, with pain, 
force he spends against their fury vain ; 
if, soon after having burnt, by turns, 
i evVy lust, with which frail Nature bums, 
[>eing end, where death dissolves the bond, 
tomb take all, and all be blank beyond ; 
i he, of all that Nature has brought forth, 
is self-impeach'd the creature of least worth, 
useless while he lives, and when he dies, ' 
gs into doubt the wisdom of the skies, 
utbs that the learned pursue with eager thought^ 
Dot important always as dear bought, 
ing at last, though told in pompous strains, 
lildish waste of philosophic pains; 
truths on which depends our mun concern 
; 'tis our shame and misery not to learn, 
e by the side of ev'ry path we tread 
i such a lustre, he that runs may read, 
true that, if to trifle life away 
'n to the sunset of their latest day, 




W2 TIROCINIUM: bR)- 

Then perish tm faturity's wide shore 

like fleeting exhalations, found no mor^. 

Were all that Heav'n requir*d of humankuid, 

And all the plan their destiny design'd^ 

What none could reverence ail might justly bfame^ 

And man would breathe but for his Maker's sbamek 

But reason heard, and nature well perus'tS, 

At once the dreaming mind is disabtis'tk • 

If all we find possessing earth, sea, air, 

Reflect his attributes^ who plac'd them there, 

Fulfil the purpose, and appear designed 

Proofs of the wisdom of th' all-seeing mind, 

Tis plain the creature, whom he chose t' invesjit 

With kingship and dominion o'er the rest, 

Received his nobler nature, and was made 

Fit for the pow*r, in which he stands array'd. 

That first, or last, hereafter, if not here. 

He too might make his author's wisdom clear, 

Praise him on Earth, or, obstinately dumb^ 

Sufifer his justice in a world to come. 

This once beliey'd, Hwere logic misiq>ptied. 

To prove a consequence by none denied. 

That we are bound to cast the minds of youth 

Betimes into the mould of heay'nly truth. 

That taught of God they may indeed be wise, 

Nor ignorantly wand'ring miss the skies. 

In early days the conscience has in most 
A quickness, which in later life is lost : 
Preserved from guilt by salutary fears, 
Or guilty soon relenting into tears. 



A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 193 

'oo careless ofteD, as our years proceed, 

(^hat friends we sort with, or what books we read, 

>ur parents yet exert a prudent care, 

o feed our infant minds with proper fare ; 

nd wisely store the nursery by degrees 

(^ith wholesome learning, yet acquir'd with ease, 

eatly secnr'd from being soiFd or torn 

eneath a pane of thin translucent horn, 

book (to please us at a tender age 
\s caird a book, though but a single page) 
resents the pray'r the Saviour deigned to teach, 
/liich children use, and parsons — when they preach, 
isping our syllables, we scramble next 
hrough moral narrative, or sacred text ; 
nd learn with wonder how this world began, 
/ho made, who marr'd, and who has ransom'd man. 
oints, which, unless the Scripture made them plain, 
he wisest heads might agitate in vain. 

thou, whom, 'borne on fancy's eager wipg 
ack to the season of life's happy spring, 
pleas'd remember, and, while memory yet 
olds fast her office here, can ne'er forget; 
igenious dreamer, in whose well^told tale 
veet fiction and sweet truth alike prevail; 
^hose hum'rous vein, strong sense, and simple style, 
!ay teach the gayest, make the gravest smile; 
"^itty, and well employ'd, and, like thy Lprd, 
>eaking in parables his slighted word ; 
name thee not, lest so despis'd a name 
lonld move a sneer at thy deserved fame; 

K 



i 



194 tirocinium: or. 

Yet ev'n in transitory life's late day, 

That mingles all my brown with sober grey. 

Revere the man, whose pilgrim marks the road, 

And g^des the progress of the soul to God. 

Twere well with most, if books, that could engage 

Their childhood, pleas'd them at a riper age ; 

The man, approving what had charm'd the boy, 

Would die at last in comfort, peace, and joy ; 

And not with curses on his heart, who stole 

The gem of truth from Jiis unguarded soul. 

The stamp of artless piety impressed 

By kind tuition on his yielding breast. 

The youth now bearded, and yet pert and raw, 

Regards with scorn, though once received with awe; 

And, warp'd into the labyrinth of lies, 

That babblers, calFd philosophers, devise. 

Blasphemes his creed, as founded on a plan 

Replete with dreams, unworthy of a man. 

Touch but his nature in its ailing part. 

Assert the native evil of his heart. 

His pride resents the charge, although the proof 

Rise in his forehead *, and seem rank enough : 

Point to the cure, describe a Saviour's cross 

As God's expedient to retrieve his loss. 

The young apostate sickens at the view. 

And hates it with the malice of a Jew. 

How weak the barrier of mere Nature proves, 
Oppos'd against the pleasures Nature loves ! 
While self-betray'd, and wilfully undone. 
She longs to yield, no sooner woo'd than won. 

* See 2 Chron. xxtL ver. 19. 



A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 195 

Trj now the merits of this blest exchange 

Of modest truth for wit's eccentric range. 

Time was, he closed as he began the day 

With decent dnty, not asham'd to pray: 

The practice was a bond upon his heart, 

A pledge be gave for a consistent part ; 

Nor could he dare presumptuously displease 

A pow'r, confessed so lately on bis knees. 

But now farewell all legendary tales, 

The shadows fly, philosophy prevails; 

Pray V to the winds, and caution to the waves ; 

Religion makes the free by nature slaves. 

Priests have invented, and the World admir'd 

What knavish priests promulgate as inspir'd ; 

Till Reason, now no longer overaw'd, 

Resumes her pow'rs, and spurns the clumsy fraud ; 

And common-sense diffusing real day, 

The meteor of the Gospel dies away. 

Such rhapsodies our shrewd discerning youth 

Learn from expert inquirers after truth ; 

liVhose only care, might truth presume to speak, 

[s not to find what they profess to seek. 

\nd thus, welMutor'd only while we share 

1 mother's lectures and a nurse's care ; 

Ind taught at schools much mythologic stuff*, 

But sound religion sparingly enough ; 

* The author begs leave to explain.— Sensible that, witbont rack 
knowledge, neither the ancient poets nor historians can be tasted, or In- 
leed understood, he does not mean to censure the pains that are taken 
o instmct a schooll^y in the religion of the Heathen, but merely that 

k2 



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106 tirocinium: or. 

Our early notices of truth, disgraced, 
Soon lose their credit, and are all effaced. 

Would you your son should be a sot or dunce, 
Lascivious, headstrong, or all these at once ; 
That in good time the stripling's finish*d taste 
For loose expense, and fashionable waste, 
Should prove your ruin, and his own at last; 
Train him in public with a mob of boys, 
Childish in mischief only and in noise, 
Else of a mannish growth, and five in ten 
In infidelity and lewdness men. 
There shall he learn, ere sixteen winters old, 
That authors are most useful pawn'd or sold ; 
That pedantry is all that schools impart. 
But taverns teach the knowledge of the heart ; 
There waiter Dick, with Bacchanalian lays. 
Shall win his heart, and have his drunken praise. 
His counsellor and bosom-friend shall prove. 
And some street-pacing harlot his first love. 
Schools, unless discipline were doubly strong. 
Detain their adolescent charge too long ; 
The management of tiroes of eighteen 
Is tlifiicult, their punishment obscene. 
The stout tall captain, whose superior size 
The minor heroes view with envious eyes, 
Becomes their pattern, upon whom they fix 
Their whole attention, and ape all his tricks. 



neglect of Christian culture, which leavei him shamefully ignonut «f 
his own. 




A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 197 

His pride, that scorns t' obey or to submit, 

With them is courage ; his efironfry wit 

His wild excursions, window-breaking feats, 

Robbery of gardens, quarrels in the streets, 

His hair-breadth 'scapes, and all his daring schemes, 

Transport them, and are made their favorite themes. 

In little bosoms such achievements strike 

A kindred spark ; they bum to do the like. 

Thus, half-accomplish*d ere he yet begin 

To show the peeping down upon his chin; 

And, as maturity of years comes on. 

Made just th' adept that you designed your son ; 

T* ensure the perseverance of his course, 

And give your monstrous project all its force. 

Send him to college. If he there be tam'd, 

Or in one article of vice reclaimed. 

Where no regard of ord*nances is shown 

Or look'd for now, the fault must be his own. 

Some sneaking virtue lurks in him, no doubt, 1 

Where neither strumpets* charms, nor drinking- > 

Nor gambling practices, can find it out. [bout, j 

Such youths of spirit, and that spirit too. 

Ye nurs'ries of our boys, we owe to you : 

Though from ourselves the mischief more proceeds, 

For public schools 'tis public folly feeds. 

The slaves of custom and establish'd mode. 

With packhorse constancy we keep the road, 

Crooked or straight, through quags or thorny dells. 

True to the jingling of our leader's bells. 

To follow foolish precedents, and wink 

With both our eyes, is easier than to think : 



198 tirocinium: or^ 

And such an age as oars baulks no expense, 

Except of caution, and of common-sense; 

Else sure notorious fact, and proof so plain. 

Would turn our steps into a wiser train. 

I blame not those, who with what care they cau 

O'erwatch the numerous and unruly clan; 

Or, if I blame, 'tis only that they dare 

Promise a work, of which they must despair. 

Have ye, ye sage intendants of the whole, 

A ubiquarian presence and control, 

Elisha's eye, that, when Gehaad strayed, 

Went with him, and saw all the game he play'd? 

Yes — ye are conscious ; and on all the sheWes 

Your pupils strike upon, have struck yourselves. 

Or if, by nature sober, ye had then. 

Boys as ye were, the gravity of men ; 

Ye knew at least, by constant proofs addressed 

To ears and eyes, the vices of the rest. 

But ye connive at what ye cannot cure, 

And evils, not to be endur'd, endure. 

Lest pow'r exerted, but without success, 

Should make the little ye retain still less. 

Ye once were justly fam'd for bringing forth 

Undoubted scholarship and genuine worth ; 

And in the firmament of fame still shines 

A glory, bright as that of all the signs. 

Of poets raised by you, and statesmen, and divines 

Peace to them all ! those brilliant times are fled, 

And no such lights are kindling in their stead. 

Our striplings ^ine indeed, but with such rays, 

As set the midnight riot in a blaze; 



.1 



A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 190 

And seem, if judg'd by their expressive looks, 
Dee|>er in none than in their surgeons' books. 

Say muse (for, education made the song. 
No muse can hesitate, or linger long), 
What causes move us, knowing as we must, 
That these mhiageries all fail their trust. 
To send our sons to scout and scamper there. 
While colts and puppies cost us so much care ? 

Be it a weakness, it deserves some praise. 
We love the play-place of our early days ; 
The scene is touching, and the heart is stone. 
That feels not at that sight, and feels at none. 
The wall on which we tried our graving skill. 
The very name we carv'd subsisting still ; 
The bench on which we sat while deep eniploy'd, 
Though mangled, hack'd, and hew'd, not yet destroy'd : 
The little ones, unbuttoned, glowing hot. 
Playing our games, and on the very spot ; 
As happy as we once, to kneel and draw 
The chalky ring, and knuckle down at taw ; 
To pitch the ball into the grounded hat. 
Or drive it devious with a dextVous pat; 
The pleasing spectacle at once excites 
Such recollection of our own delights. 
That, viewing it, we seem almost t* obtain 
Our innocent sweet simple years again. 
This fond attachment to the well-known place, 
Whence first we started into life's long race, 
Maintains its hold with such unfailing sway. 
We feel it e'en in age, and at our latest day« 



• ^ 



200 TIROCINIUM: OR, 

Hark ! how the sire of chits, whose future shar« 
Of classic food begins to be his care. 
With his own likeness placed on either knee, 
Indulges all a father's heart-felt glee ; 
And tells them, as he strokes their silver locks. 
That they must soon learn Latin, and to box ; 
Then turning he regales his listening wife 
With all th' adventures of his early life ; 
His skill in coachmanship, or driving chaise. 
In bilking tavern bills, and spouting plays ; 
What shifts he us'd, detected in a scrape. 
How he was flogg'd, or had the luck t' escape ; 
What sums he lost at play, and how he sold 
Watch, seals, and all — till all his pranks are told. 
Retracing thus his frolics ('tis a name 
That palliates deeds of folly and of shame), 
He gives the local bias all its sway ; 
Resolves that where he played his sons shall play, 
And destines their bright genius to be shown 
Just in the scene where he displayed his own. 
The meek and bashful boy will soon be taught,. 
To be as bold and forward as he ought ; 
The rude will scuffle through with ease enough. 
Great schools suit best the sturdy and the rough. 
Ah happy designation, prudent choice, 
Th' event is sure ; expect it ; and rejoice ! 
Soon see your wish fulfilled in either child. 
The pert made perter, and the tame made wild. 

The great indeed, by titles, riches, birth, 
Excused th' encumbrance of more solid worth. 



A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 201 

Are best dispos'd of where with most success 
They may acquire that confident address. 
Those habits of profuse and lewd expense. 
That scorn of all delights but those of sense, 
Which, though in plain plebeians wc condemn, 
With so much reason ail expect from them. 
But families of less illustrious fame. 
Whose chief distinction is their spotless name. 
Whose heirs, their honoursiione, their income small, 
Must shine by true desert, or not at all, 
What dream they of, that with so little care 
They risk their hopes, their dearest treasure, there ? 
They dream of little Charles or William grac'd 
With wig prolix, down flowing to his waist; 
They see th' attentive crowds his talents draw. 
They hear him speak — the oracle of law. 
The father, who designs his babe a priest. 
Dreams him episcopally such at least ; 
And, while the playful jockey scours the room 
Briskly, astride upon the parlour broom. 
In fancy sees him more superbly ride 
In coach with purple lin'd, and mitres on its side. 
Events improbable and strange as these. 
Which only a parental eye foresees, 
A public school shall bring to pass with ease. 
But how ? resides such virtue in that air. 
As must create an appetite for pray'r ? 
And will it breathe into him all the zeal, 
That candidates for such a prize should feel, 

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202 tirocinium: or, 

To take the lead and be the foremost still 
In all trae worth and literary skill ? 
'' Ahi blind to brig^ht fatority, nntanght 
The knowledge of the World, and doll of thought! 
Church-ladders are not always mounted best 
By learned clerks, and Latinists profess'd. 
Th' exalted prize demands an upward look. 
Not t9 be found by poring on a book. 
Small skill in Latin, and still less in Greek, 
Is more than adequate to all I seek. 
Let erudition grace him, or not grace, 
I giye the bauble but the second place ; 
His wealth, fame, honours, all that I intend. 
Subsist and centre in one point— a Mend. 
A friend, whatever he studies or neglects. 
Shall give him consequence, heal all defects. 
His intercourse with peers and sons of peers- 
There dawns the splendour of his future years ; 
In that bright quarter his propitious skies 
Shall blush betimes, and there his glory rise. 
Your Lordship, and Your Grace! what school can 
A rhetoric equal to those parts of speech ? [teach 
What need of Homer's verse, or Tully's prose, 
Sweet interjections! if he learn but those? 
Let reverend churls his ignorance rebuke. 
Who starve upon a dog's-ear'd Pentateuch, 
The parson knows enough who knows 
Egregious purpose ! worthily begun 
In barbVous prostitution of your son $ 



te, 

such, V 

a duke." ) 



A REVIEW OF- SCHOOLS. 203 

PressM on his p^rt by means, that wonld disgrace 

A scriv'ner's clerk, or footman out of place, 

And ending, if at last its end be gain'd, 

In sacrilege, in God^s own bouse profan'd. 

It may succeed ; and, if his sins should call 

For more than common punishment, it shall; 

The wretch shall rise, and be the thing on Earth 

Least qualified in honour, learning, worth, 

To occupy a sacred, awful post. 

In which the best and worthiest tremble most. 

The royal letters are a thing of course, 

A king, that would, might recommend his horse ; 

And deans, no doubt, and chapters, with one yoice, 

As bound in duty, would confirm the choice. 

Behold your bishop ! well he plays his part, 

Christian in name, and infidel in heart. 

Ghostly in office, earthly in his plan, 

A slave at court, elsewhere a lady's man. 

Dumb as a senator, and as a priest 

A piece of mere church-furniture at best; 

To live estranged from God his total scope, 

And his end sure, without one glimpse of h<^e. 

But fair although and feasible it seem. 

Depend not much upon your golden dream ; 

For Providence, that seems concerned t' exempt 

The hallow'd bench from absolute contempt. 

In spite of all the wrigglers into place. 

Still keeps a seat or two for worth and grace ; 

And therefore 'tis, that, though the sight be rare. 

We sometimes see a Lowth or Bagot there. 



t04 tirocinium: or. 

Besides, school-friendships are not always fonnd, 

Thoagh fair in promise, permanent and soand ; 

The most disinterested and \irtuoas minds, 

In early years connected, time unbinds ; 

New situations give a different cast 

Of habit, inclination, temper, taste ; 

And he, that seemed our counterpart at first, 

Soon shows the strong similitude reversed. 

Young heads are giddy, and young hearts are warm, 

And make mistakes for manhood to reform. 

Boys are at best but pretty buds unblown, 

Whose scent and hues are rather gness'd than known; 

Each dreams that each is just what he appears, 

But learns his error in maturer years. 

When disposition, like a sail unfurFd 

Shows all its rents and patches to the World. 

If, therefore, ev'n when honest in design, 

A boyish friendship may so soon decline, 

Twere wiser sure t' inspire a little heart 

With just abhorrence of so mean a part, 

Than set your son to work at a yile trade 

For wages so unlikely to be paid. 

Our public hives of puerile j-esort, 
That are of chief and most approvM report. 
To such base hopes, in many a sordid soul, 
Owe their repute in part, but not the whole. 
A principle, whose proud pretensions pass 
Unquestioned, though the jewel be but glass— 
That with a world, not often over-nice, 
Ranks as a virtue, and is yet a vice; • 



A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 205 

Or rather a gross compound, justly tried, 

Of envy, hatred, jealousy, and pride — 

Contributes most perhaps V enhance their fame ; 

And emulation is its specious name. 

Boys, once on fire with that contentions zeal, 

Feel all the rage that female rivals feel ; 

The prize of beauty in a woman's eyes 

Not brighter than in theirs the scholar's prize. 

The spirit of that competition burns 

With all varieties of ill by turns ; 

Each vainly magnifies his own success, . 

Resents his fellow's, wishes it were less. 

Exults in his miscarriage, if he fail. 

Deems his reward too great, if he prevail. 

And labours to surpass him day and night, 

Less for improvement than to tickle spite. 

The spur is powerful, and I grant its force ; 

It pricks the genius forward in its course, 

Allows short time for play and none for sloth ; 

And, felt alike by each, advances both : 

But judge, where so much evil intervenes, 

The end, though plausible, not worth the means. 

Weigh, for a moment, classical desert 

Against a heart depraved and temper hurt ; 

Hurt too perhaps for life ; for early wrong 

Done to the nobler part, affects it long ; 

And yon are staunch indeed in learning's cause. 

If yon can crown a discipline, that draws 

Such mischiefs after it, with much applause. 



I 



206 tirocinium: or, 

Connexion form'd for inf rest, and endear'd 
By selfish views, thus censar'd and cashier'd ; 
And emulation, as engendering^ hate, 
Doom'd to a no less ignominious fate; 
The props of such proud seminaries fall. 
The Jachin and the Boaz of them all. 
Great schools rejected then, as those that swell 
Beyond a size that can be manag'd well, 
Shall royal institutions miss the bays. 
And small academies win all the praise ? 
Force not my drift beyond its just intent, 
I praise a school as Pope a government ; 
So take my judgment in his language dress'd, 
" Whatever is best administered is best'' 
Few boys are bom with talents that excel. 
But all are capable of living well ; 
Then ask not, Whether limited or large ? 
But, Watch they strictly, or neglect their charge? 
If anxious only that their boys may tearny 
While morals languish, a despis'd concern. 
The great and small deserve one common blame, 
DifiTrent in size, but in efiect the same. 
Much zeal in virtue's cause all teachers boast, 
Though motives of mere lucre sway the most ; 
Therefore in towns and cities they abound, 
For there the game they seek is easiest found ; 
Though there, in spite of all that care can do, 
Traps to catch youth are most abundant too. 
If shrewd, and of a well constructed brain. 
Keen in pursuit, and vigorous to retain, 



A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 207 

Your son come forth a prodigy of skill ; 
As, wheresoever taught, so formed, he will ; 
The pedagogue, with self-complacent air, 
Claims more than half the praise as his due share. 
But if, with all his genius, he betray. 
Not more intelligent than loose and gaj, 
Such vicious habits, as disgrace his name, 
Threaten his health, his fortune, and his fame ; 
Though want of due restraint alone have bred 
The symptoms, that you see with so much dread ; 
Unenvied there, he may sustain alone 
The whole reproach, the fault was all his own. 

O 'tis a sight to be with joy perused. 
By all whom sentiment has not abus*d ; 
New-fangled sentiment, the boasted grace 
Of those who never feel in the right place ; 
A sight surpassed by none that we can show, 
Though Vestris on one leg still shine below ; 
A father blest with an ingenuous son, 
Father, and friend, and tutor, all in one. 
How !— turn again to tales long since forgot, 
^Esop, and Pheedrus, and the rest? Why not? 
He will not blush that has a father's heart, 
To take in childish plays a childish part ; 
But bends his sturdy back to any toy, 
That youth takes pleasure in, to please his boy: 
Then why resign into a stranger's hand 
A task as much within your own command, 
That God, and nature, and your int'rest too, 
Seem with one voice to delegate to you ? 



( 



m 

208 tirocinium: or, 

Why hire a lodging in a house unknown 

For one, whose tend 'rest thoughts all hover round your 

This second weaning, needless as it is, [owii? 

How does it lac'rate both your heart and his ! 

Th' indented stick, that loses day by day 

Notch after notch, till all are smoothed away, 

Bears witness, long ere his dismission come. 

With what intense desire he wants his home. 

But though the joys he hopes beneath your roof 

Bid fair enough to answer in the proof. 

Harmless, and safe, and natVal, as they are, 

A disappointmei|t waits him even there : 

Arrived, he feels an unexpected change,, 

He blushes, hangs his head, is shy and strange, 

No longer takes, as once, his fearless ease. 

His fav'rite stand between his father's knees, 

But seeks the corner of some distant seat. 

And eyes the door, and watches a retreat ; 

And, least familiar where he should be most. 

Feels all his happiest privileges lost* 

Alas, poor boy !— the natural effect 

Of love by absence chili'd into respect. 

Say, what accomplishments, at school acquir'd. 

Brings he, to sweeten fruits so unde^ir'd ? 

Thou well deserr'st an alienated son. 

Unless thy conscious heart acknowledge — ^none r 

None that, in thy domestic snug recess. 

He had not made his own with more address. 

Though some perhaps that shock thy feeling mind. 

And better never learn'd, or left behind. 




A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 209 

Add too, that, thus estranged, thoa canst obtain 
By no kind arts his confidence again ; 
That here begins with most that long complaint 
Of filial frankness lost, and love grown fieunf, 
Which, oft neglected, in life's waning years 
A parent pours into regardless ears. 

Like caterpillars, dangling under trees 
By slender threads, and swinging in the breeze, 
Which filthily bewray and sore disgrace 
The boughs in which are bred th' unseemly race ; 
While ev'ry worm industriously weaves 
And winds his web about the rivelFd leaves ; 
So numVous are the follies, that annoy 
The mind and heart of ev'ry sprightly boy; 
Imaginations noxious and perverse, 
Which admonition can alone disperse. 
Th' encroaching nuisance asks a faithful hand. 
Patient, affectionate, of high command, 
To check the procreation of a breed 
Sure to exhaust the plant on which they feed. 
Tis not enough, that Greek or Roman page, - 
At stated hours, his freakish thoughts engage ; 
£v'n in his pastimes he requires a friend, 
To warn, and teach him safely to unbend ; 
O'er all his pleasures gently to preside, 
Watch his emotions, and control their tide ; 
And levying thus, and with an easy sway, 
A tax of profit from his very play, 
T' impress a value, not to be eras'd, 
On moments squandered else, and running all to waste. 



210 tirocinium: or. 

And seems it nothing in a father's eye, 

That unimproved those many moments fly? 

And is he well content his son should find 

No nourishment to feed his growing mind, 

But conjugated verbs, and nouns declined ? 

For such is all the mental food purveyed 

By public hacknies in the schooling trade ; 

Who feed a pupil's intellect with store 

Of syntax, truly, but with little more; 

Dismiss their cares, when they dismiss their flock, 

Machines themselves, and governed by a dock. 

Perhaps a father, blest with any brains. 

Would deem it no abuse, or waste of pains, 

T' improve this diet, at no great expense, 

With sav'ry truth and wholesome common sense; 

To lead his son, for prospects of delight. 

To some not steep, though philosophic, height, 

Thence to exhibit to his wood'riog eyes 

Yon circling worlds, their distance, and their size ; 

The moons of Jove, and Saturn's belted ball. 

And the harmonious order of them all ; 

To show him in an insect or a flow'r 

Such microscopic proof of skill and pow'r, 

As, hid from ages past, God now displays 

To combat atheists with in modem days ; 

To spread the Earth before him, and commend. 

With designation of the finger's end, 

Its various parts to his attentive note, 

Thus bringing home to him the most remote ; 



I 



k 



A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 211 

To teach his heart to glow with gen'roas flame 

Caught from the deeds of men of ancient fame: 

And, more than all, with commendation dae, 

To set some living worthy in his view. 

Whose fair example may at once inspire 

A wish to copy what he must admire. 

Such knowledge gained betimes, and which appears, 

Though solid, not too weighty for his years. 

Sweet in itself, and not forbidding sporty 

When health demands it, of athletic sort, 

Would make him— what some lovely boys have been, 

And more than one perhaps that I have seen — 

An evidence and reprehension both 

Of the mere schoolboy's lean and tardy growth. 

Art thou a man professedly tied, 
With all thy faculties elsewhere applied. 
Too busy to intend a meaner care. 

Than how f enrich thysdf, and next thine heir ; 
Or art thou (as, though rich, perhaps thou art) 

But poor in knowledge, having none t' impart:— 

Behold that figure, neat, though plainly clad ; 

His sprightly mingled with a shade of sad; 

Not of a nimble tongue, though now and then 

Heard to articulate like other men ; 

No jester, and yet lively in discourse, 

His phrase well chosen, clear, and full of force ; 

And his address, if not quite French in ease, 

Not English stiff, but frank, and form'd to please ; 

Low in the World, because he scorns its arts ; 

A man of letters, manners, morals, parts; 




212 tirocinium: or, 

Unpatroniz'd, and therefore little known ; 
Wise for himself and his few friends alone — 
In him thy well-appointed proxy see, 
Arm'd for a work too di£Scult for thee ; 
Prepared by taste, by learning, and trne worth, 
To form thy son, to strike his genius forth ; 
Beneath thy roof, beneath thine eye, to prove 
The force of discipline, when backed by love ; 
To double all thy pleasure in thy child, 
His mind informed, his morals undefil'd. 
Safe under such a wing, the boy shall show 
No spots contracted among grooms below. 
Nor taint his speech with meannesses designed 
By footman Tom for witty and rejBn'd. 
There, in his commerce with the liv'ried herd. 
Lurks the contagion chiefly to be fear*d ; 
For since (so fashion dictates) all, who claim 
A hi^er than a mere plebeian ikme. 
Find it expedient, come what mischief may. 
To entertain a thief or two in pay 
(And they that can afibrd th' expense of more. 
Some half a dozen, and some half a score), 
Great cause occurs to save him from i, band 
So sure to spoil him, and so near at hand ; 
A point secur'd, if once he be supplied 
With some such Mentor always at his side. 
Are such men rare? perhaps they would abound, 
Were occupation easier to be found. 
Were education, else so sure to fail, 
Conducted on a manageable scale. 




A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 213 

And schools, that have outliv'd all jast esteem, 

Exchanged for the secure domestic scheme. — 

But, having found him, be thou duke or earl, 

Show thou hast sense enough to prize the pearl, 

And, as thou wouldst th^ advancement of thine heir 

In all good faculties beneath his care, 

Respect, as is but rational and just, 

A man deem'd worthy of so dear a trust. 

Despised by thee, what more can he expect 

From youthful folly than the same neglect? 

A flat and fatal negative obtains 

That instant upon all his future pains ; * 

His lessons tire, his mild rebukes offend, 

And all th' instructions of thy son's best friend 

Are a stream choked, or trickling to no end. 

Doom him not then to solitary meals; 

But recollect, that he has sense, and feels; 

And that, possessor of a soul refinM, 

An upright heart, and cultivated mind, 

His post not mean, his talents not unknown. 

He deems it hard to vegetate alone. 

And, if admitted at thy board he sit. 

Account him no just mark for idle wit ; 

Offend not him, whom modesty restrains 

From repartee, with jokes that he disdains; 

Much less transfix his feelings with an oath ; 

Nor frown, unless he vanish with the cloth. — 

And, trust me, his utility may reach 

To more than he is hir'd or bound to teach ; 

Much trash nnutter'd, and some ills undone, 

llirough rev'rence of the censor of thy son. 



} 



214 tirocinium: or, 

But, if thy table be indeed uncleaD, 
Foul with excess, and with discoorse obscene, 
And thou a wretch, whom, follVing her old i^lan, 
The World accounts an honourable man, 
Because forsooth thy courag^e has been tried 
And stood the test, perhaps on the wrong side ; 
Though thou hadst never grace enough to prove, 
That any thing but vice could win thy love ; — 
Or hast thou a polite card-playing wife, 
Chain'd to the routs that she frequents for life ; 
Who, just when industry begins to snore. 
Flies, winged with joy, to some coach-crowded door; 
And thrice in ev*ry winter throngs thine own 
With half the chariots and sedans in town^ 
Thyself meanwhile e'en shifting as thou may'st ; 
Not very sober though, nor very chaste; — 
Or is thine house^ though less superb thy rank. 
If not a scene of pleasure, a mere blank, 
And thou at best, and in thy sob'rest mood, 
A trifler vain, and empty of all good; 
Though mercy for thyself thou canst have none> 
Hear Nature plead, show mercy to thy son* 
Sav'd from his home, where ev'ry day brings forth 
Some mischief fatal to his future worthy 
Find him a better in a distant spot, 
Within some pious pastor's humble cot, 
Where vile example (yours I chiefly mean, 
The most seducing, and the oft'nest seen) 
May never more be stamp'd upon his breast. 
Not yet perhaps incurably impressed. 




A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 215 

re early rest makes early rising sure, 
ase or comes not, or finds easy cmre, 
ented much by diet neat and plain ; 
f it enter, soon starv'd oat again : 
ire all th' attention of his fkitbfnl host, 
reetly limited to two at most, 
raise sach fruits as shall reward his care, 
not at last evaporate in air: 
Te, stillness aiding study, and his mind 
DC, and to his duties much inclined, 
occupied in day-dreams, as at home, 
Measures past, or follies yet to come, 
virtuous toil may terminate at last 
3ttled habit and decided taste. — 
whom do I advise ? the fashion-led, 
incorrigibly wrong, the deaf, the dead, 
)m care and cool deliberation suit 
better much than spectacles a brute ; 
), if their sons some slight tuition share, 
01 it of no great moment whose, or where ; 
proud t' adopt the thoughts of one unknown, 
much too gay t' have any of their own. 
courage, man ! methought the muse replied, 
ikind are various, and the World is wide : 
ostrich, silliest of the feathered kind, 
form'd of God without a parent's mind, 
imits her eggs, incautious, to the dust, 
^etful that the foot may crush the trust* 
, while on public nurseries they rely, 
knowing, and too oft not caring, why. 



^ 



216 tirocinium: or. 

Irrational in what they thus prefer, 
No few, that would seem wise, resemble her. 
Bat all are not alike. Thy warning voice 
May here and there prevent erroneous choice ; 
And some perhaps, who, basy as they are. 
Yet make their progeny their dearest care 
(Whose hearts wiil ache, once told what ills may reach 
llieir offspring, left upon so wild a beach), 
Wiil need no stress of argument t' enforce 
Th' expedience of a less adventurous coarse : 
The rest will slight thy counsel, or condemn ; 
But they have human feelings— turn to them. 
To you then, tenants of life*s middle state. 
Securely plac'd between the small and great, 
Whose character, yet undebauch'd, retains 
Two-thirds of all the virtue that remains, 
Who, wise yourselves, desire your son should learu 
Your wisdom and your ways — to you I turn. 
Look round you on a World perversely blind; 
See what contempt is fall'n on humankind ; 
See wealth abused, and dignities misplaced, 
Great titles, offices, and trusts disgrac'd, 
Long lines of ancestry, renowned of old. 
Their noble quahlies all quench'd and cold ; 
See Bedlam's closetted and hand-cuffM charge 
Surpassed in frenzy by the mad at large ; 
See great commanders making war a trade, 
Great lawyers, lawyers without study made ; 
Churchmen, in whose esteem their best employ 
Is odious, and their wages all their joy, 



A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 217 

Who, far enough from furnishing their shelveii 
AVith Gospel lore, turn infidels themselves ; 
See woibanhood despis'd, and manhood sham'd 
With infamy too nauseous to be nam*d, 
Fops at all corners, ladylike in mien, 
Civetted fellows, smelt ere they are seen, 
Else coarse and rude in manners, and their tongue 
On fire with curses, and with nonsense hung. 
Now flush'd with drunkenness, now with whoredom 
Their breath a sample of last night's regale ; [pale, 
See volunteers in all the vilest arts. 
Men well endow'd, of honourable parts, 
Designed by Nature wise, but self-made fools ; 
411 these, and more like these, were bred at schools. 
And if it chance, as sometimes chance it will, 
That though school-bred the boy be virtuous still ; 
Such rare exceptions, shining in the dark, 
Prove, rather than impeach, the just remark : 
As here and-there a twinkling star descried 
Serves but to show how black is all beside. 
Now look on him, whose very voice in tone 
Just echoes thine, whose features are thine own, 
And stroke his polish'd cheek of purest red, 
And lay thine hand upon his flaxen head. 
And say. My boy, th' unwelcome hour is come. 
When thou, transplanted from thy genial home, 
Must find a colder soil and bleaker air. 
And trust for safety to a stranger's care ; 
What character, what turn thou wilt assume 
From constant converse with I know not whom ; 



4 



218 tirocinium: or. 

Who there will court thy friendship, with what views, 

And, artless as thou art, whom thou wilt clioose ; 

Thongh much depends on what thy choice sfaaU be, 

Is all chance-medley, and unknown to me. 

Canst thou, the tear just trembling on thy lids, 

And while the dreadful risk foreseen forbids; 

Free too, and under no constraining force, 

Unless the sway of custom warp thy course ; 

Lay such a stake upon the losing side, 

Merely to gratify so blind a guide? 

Thou canst not ! Nature, pulling at thine heart, 

Condemns th' unfatherly, th' imprudent part. 

Thou wouldst not, deaf to Nature's tend'rest plea, 

Turn him adrift upon a rolling sea, 

Nor say. Go thither, conscious that there lay 

A brood of asps, or quicksands in his way ; 

Then, only governed by the selfsame rule 

Of natural pity, send him not to school. 

No— guard him better. Is he not thine own. 

Thyself in miniature, thy flesh, thy bone ? 

And hop'st thou not ('tis ev'ry father's hope) 

That, since thy strength must with thy years elopo, 

And thou wilt need some comfort, to assuage 

Health's last farewell, a staff in thine old age. 

That then, in recompense of all thy cares. 

Thy child shall show respect to thy grey hairs. 

Befriend thee, of all other friends bereft, 

And give thy life its only cordial left ? 

Aware then how much danger intervenes. 

To compass that good end, forecast the mean««. 



A REVIEW OF SCHOOLS. 219 

His heart, now passive, yields to thy command ; 
Secure it thine, its key is in thine hand. 
If thou desert thy charge, and throw it wide, 
No heed what guests there enter and abide. 
Complain not if attachments lewd and base 
Supplant thee in it, and usurp thy place. 
But, if thou gaard its sacjed chambers sure 
From vicious inmates and delights impure, 
Either bis gratitude shall hold him fast, 
And keep him warm and filial to the last; 
Or, if he prove unkind (as who can say 
But being man, and therefore frail, he may?) 
One comfort yet shall cheer thine aged heart, 
Howe'er he slight thee, thou hast done thy part. 

Oh barbarous ! wouldst thou with a gothic hand 
Pull down the schools— what! — all the schools i'th' 
Or throw them up to liv'ry-nags and grooms, [land; 
Or turn them into shops and auction rooms? 
A captious question, sir (and yours is one), 
Deserves an answer similar, or none. 
Wouldst thou, possessor of a flock, employ 
(Apprised that he is such) a careless boy, 
And feed him well, and give him handsome pay. 
Merely to sleep, and let them run astray? 
Survey our schools and colleges, and see 
A sight not much unlike my simile. 
From education, as the leading cause, 
The public character its colour draws ; 
Thence the prevailing manners take their cast. 
Extravagant or sober, loose or chaste. 



220 TIROCINIUM, ETC. 

And, thoug^h I would not advertise them yet. 
Nor write on each — This building to be let. 
Unless the World were all prepared t' embrace 
A plan well worthy to supply their place ; 
Yet, backward as they are, and long haye been, 
To cultivate and keep the morals clean 
(Forgive the crime), I wish them, I confess, 
Or better managed, or encouraged less. 



FJNIS. 



"^f^J^ V 



C. Whittingbam, Printer, Cbiswick.