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THE TASK.

BOOK VI.

242 - THE TASK.
More golden than that age of fabled gold
Renowned in ancient song; not vexed with care
Or stained with guilt, beneficent, approved
Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.
So glide my life away! and fo at last,
My Ihare of duties decently fulfilled,
May some disease, not tardy to perform
Its destined office, yet with gentle stroke,
Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat,
Beneath the turf, that I have often trod.
It shall not grieve me then, that once, when called
To dress a Sofa with the flowers of verse,
I played awhile, obedient to the fair,
With that light talk; but foon, to please her more,
Whom flowers alone I knew would little pleafe,
Let fall the unfinished wreath, and roved for fruit;
Roved far, and gathered much: fome harfh,'tis true,
Picked from the thorns and briars of reproof,
But wholesome, well-digested; grateful fome
To palates, that can taste immortal truth;
Infipid else, and sure to be despised.
But all is in his hand, whose praise I seek.

In vain the poet fings, and the world hears, · If he regard not, though divine the theme.

'Tis not in artful measures, in the chime
And idle tinkling of a minstrel's lyre,
To charm his ear, whose eye is on the heart;
Whose frown can disappoint the proudest strain,
Whose approbation--prosper even mine.

AN

EPISTLE

TO

JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.

DEAR Joseph-five and twenty years ago.com Alas how time escapes ! 'tis even so— With frequent intercourse, and always sweet, And always friendly, we were wont to cheat A tedious hour—and now we never meet! As some grave gentleman in Terence says, ('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days) Good lack, we know not what to-morrow bringsStrange fluctuation of all human things! True. Changes will befall, and friends may part, But distance only cannot change the heart: And, were I called to prove the assertion true, One proof should serve—a reference to you.

Whence comes it then, that in the wane of life, Though nothing have occurred to kindle ftrife, We find the friends we fancied we had won, Though numerous once, reduced to few or none? Can gold grow worthless that has stood the touch? No; gold they seemed, but they were never such.

Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe, Swinging the parlour door upon its hinge, Dreading a negative, and overawed Left he should trespass, begged to go abroad. Go, fellow!- whither?-turning short about Nay. Stay at home-you are always going out. 'Tis but a step, fir, just at the street's end. For what?- An please you, fir, to see a friend.A friend! Horatio cried, and seemed to startYea marry shalt thou, and with all my heart.And fetch my cloak; for though the night be raw I'll see him too the first I ever saw.

I knew the man, and knew his nature mild, And was his plaything often when a child; But somewhat at that moment pinched him close, Else he was seldom bitter or morose.

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