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THE TA S K.

BOOK IV.

ARGUMENT OF THE FOURTH BOOK.

The post comes in.--The newspaper is read.The

world contemplated at a distance.- Address to Winter.The rural amusements of a winter evening compared with the fashionable ones. --Address to evening.A brown study.Fall of snow in the evening.The waggoner.- poor family-piece. The rural thief.Public houses.The multitude of them censured.The farmer's daughter: what Me waswhat Me is.Tke fimplicity of country manners almost loft.-Causes of the change.-Defertion of the country by the rich.-Neglex of magiftrates. 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.

Hark! 'tis the twanging horn o'er yonder bridge,
That with its wearisome but needful length
Bestrides the wintry food, in which the moon
Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright;~
He comes, the herald of a noisy world,
With spattered boots, strapped waist, and frozen

locks;
News from all nations lumbering at his back.
True to his charge, the close.packed load behind,
Yet careless what he brings, his one concern
Is to conduct it to the destined iun;
And having dropped 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 alhes, 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 oh the important budgetl ushered 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 drugged;
Snore to the murmurs of the Atlantic wave ?
Is India free? and does she wear her plumed
And jewelled 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 imprisoned wranglers free,
And give them voice and utterance once again.

Now ftir the fire, and close the fhutters faft, Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round, And while the bubbling and loud hiffing 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 fhining face Sweats in the crowded theatre, and, squeezed And bored with elbow-points through both his fides, Out-scolds 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’vn critics criticise; that holds Inquisitive attention, while I read, Faft 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 flu&uations, 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;

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