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ARGUMENT.

The post comes in. The newspaper is read. The world contemplated at a distance. Address to Winter. The amusements of a rural winter evening compared with the fashionable ones. Address to Evening. A brown ftudy. Fall of snow in the evening. The waggoner. A poor family-piece. The rural thief. Public houses. The multitude of them censured. The farmer's daughter : what jhe waswhat she is. The fimplicity of country manners almost loft. Causes of the change. Desertion of the country by the rich. Neglect of magistrates. The militia principally in fault. The new recruit and his transformation. Reflection on bodies corporate. The love of rural objects natural to all, and never to be totally extinguished.

THE TASK.

BOOK IV. THE WINTER EVENING.

ARK! 'tis the twanging horn o'er yon

der bridge, That with its wearisome but needful

length Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright;He comes, the herald of a noisy world, With spatter'd boots, strapp'd waist, and frozen

locks; News from all nations lumbering at his back. True to his charge, the close-pack'd load behind, Yet careless what he brings, his one concern Is to conduct it to the destined inn

; And, having dropp'd the expected bag, pass on. He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch, Cold and yet cheerful: messenger of grief Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some; To him indifferent 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 amorous sighs of absent swains,
Or nymphs responsive, equally affect
His horse and him, unconscious of them all.
But O the important budget! usher'd in
With such heart-shaking music, who can say
What are its tidings ? Have our troops awaked ?
Or do they still, as if with opium drugg’d,
Snore to the murmurs of the Atlantic wave?
Is India free? and does she wear her plumed
And jeweld turban with 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 burn to set the imprison'd 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 Throws up a steamy column, and the cups, That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each, So let us welcome peaceful evening in. Not such his evening, who with shining face Sweats in the crowded theatre, and squeezed And bored with elbow-points through both his

sides, Outscolds the ranting actor on the stage : Nor his, who patient stands till his feet throb, And his 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 e'en critics criticise; that holds
Inquisitive attention, while I 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 the 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 dexterous jerk soon twists him down,
And wins them, but to lose them in his turn.
Here rills of oily eloquence in soft
Mæanders lubricate the course they take;
The modest speaker is ashamed and grieved
To engross a moment's notice; and yet begs,
Begs a propitious ear for his

poor thoughts,
However trivial all that he conceives.
Sweet bashfulness! it claims at least this praise ;
The dearth of information and good sense,
That it foretells us, always comes to pass.
Cataracts 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, plunder'd of their sweets,

Nectareous essences, Olympian dews,
Sermons, and city feasts, and favourite airs,
Ethereal journeys, submarine exploits,
And Katterfelto, with his hair on end
At his own wonders, wondering 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 the 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 With all its generations; I behold The tumult, and am still. The sound of war Has lost its terrors ere it reaches me; Grieves, but alarms me not. I mourn the pride And avarice that make man a wolf to man;

2 Hear the faint echo of those brazen throats, By which he speaks the language of his heart, And ligh, but never tremble at the sound. He travels and expatiates, as the bee From flower to flower, so he from land to land; The manners, customs, policy of all Pay contribution to the store he gleans; He sucks intelligence in every clime, And spreads the honey of his deep research At his return—a rich repast for me. He travels, and I too. I tread his deck,

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