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THE TASK,

A POEM.

BOOK I.

ARGUMENT OF THE FIRST BOOK.

Hiftorical deduction of seats, from the stool to the Sofa.

-A School-boy's ramble.- A walk in the country.

-The Scene described.--Rural founds as well as fights delightful.- Another walk.-Miftake concerning the charms of solitude corrected.- Colon. nades commended.- Alcove, and the view from it."

-The wilderness.The grove.The thresher.The necessity and the benefits of exercise.The 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 described, and the character of crazy Kate introduced.-Gipses.The blefings of civilized life. That ftate most favourable to virtue.- The South Sea isanders compassionated, but chiefly Omai.His present state of mind supposed.--Civilized life friendly to virtue, but not great cities.-Great cities, and London in particular, allowed their due praise, but censured.

- Fete champetre.-The book concludes with a reflection on the fatal effects of disipation and effeminacy upon our public measures.

THE TASK.

BOOK I.

THE SOFA.

I sing the Sofa. I who lately fang
Truth, Hope, and Charity*, and touched with awe
The solemn chords, and with a trembling hand,
Escaped with pain from that adventurous flight,
Now seek repose upon an humbler theme;
The theme though humble, yet auguft and proud
The occasion--for the Fair commands the song.

Time was, when clothing sumptuous or for use, Save their own painted skins, our fires had none. As yet black breeches were not; satin smooth,

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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,
l'earless of wrong, reposed his weary strength.
Those barbarous ages past, fucceeded next
The birth-day of invention; weak at first,
Dull in design, and clumsy to perform.
Joint-stools were then created; on three legs
Upborne they stood. Three legs upholding firm
A maffy Nab, in fashion square or round.
On such a stool immortal Alfred sat,
And swayed the sceptre of his infant realms:
And such in ancient halls and manfions drear
May still be seen; but perforated fore,
And drilled in holes, the solid oak is found,
By worms voracious eating through and through.

• At length a generation more refined

Improved the simple plan; made three legs four,
Gave them a twisted form vermicular,
And over the seat, with plenteous wadding stuffed,
Induced a splendid cover, green and blue,
Yellow and red, of tapestry richly wrought

And woven close, or needle-work sublime.
There might ye see the piony spread wide,
The full-blown rose, the shepherd and his lats,
Lap-dog 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 varnish; 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 flippery seat betrayed 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 placed In model mediocrity, content With base materials, sat on well-tanned hides, Obdurate and unyielding, glaffy smooth, With here and there a tuft of crimson yarn, Or scarlet crewel, in the cushion fixt, If cushion might be called, what harder seemed Than the firm oak, of which the frame was formed,

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