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680

Hence chartered boroughs are such public plagues;
And burghers, men immaculate perhaps
In all their private functions, once combined,
Become a loathsome body, only fit
For dissolution, hurtful to the main.

675
Hence merchants, unimpeachable of sino
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 robe
Of innocent commercial justice red.
Hence, too, the field of glory, as the world
Misdeems it, dazzled by its bright array,

685 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 every vice.

690 But slighted as it is, and by the great Abandoned, 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 formed a plan,

695 That flattered me with hopes of earthly bliss, But there I laid the scene. There early strayed My fancy, ere yet liberty of choice Had found me, or the hope of being free.

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710

My very dreams were rural; rural too

700 The first-born efforts of my youthful muse, Sportive and jingling her poetic bells Ere yet her ear was mistress of their powers. No bard could please me but whose lyre was tuned To Nature's praises. Heroes and their feats 705 Fatigued me, never weary of the pipe Of Tityrus,o assembling, as he sang, The rustic throng beneath his favorite beech. Then Milton had indeed a poet's charms: New to my taste, his Paradise surpassed The struggling efforts of my boyish tongue To speak its excellence. I danced for joy. I marvelled much that, at so ripe an age As twice seven years, his beauties had en first Engaged my wonder, and admiring still, And still admiring, with regret supposed The joy half lost, because not sooner found. There, too, enamored of the life I loved, Pathetic in its praise, in its pursuit Determined and possessing it at last,

720 With transports such as favored lovers feel, I studied, prized, and wished that I had known, Ingenious Cowleyo! and, though now reclaimed By modern lights from an erroneous taste, I cannot but lament thy splendid wit Entangled in the cobwebs of the schools; I still revere thee, courtly though retired, Though stretched at ease in Chertsey's silent bowers,o

715

725

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Not unemployed, and finding rich amends
For a lost world in solitude and verse.

730 '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 the Almighty Maker has throughout Discriminated each from each, by strokes

735 And touches of His hand, with so much art Diversified, that 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 formed

740 And tutored with a relish more exact, But none without some relish, none unmoved. It is a flame that dies not even there Where nothing feeds it: neither business, crowds, Nor habits of luxurious city life,

745 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 unadulterate air,

750 The glimpse of a green pasture, how they cheer The citizen, and brace his languid frame ! E’en in the stifling bosom of the town; A garden, in which nothing thrives, has charms That soothe the rich possessor; much consoled 755 That here and there some sprigs of mournful mint,

760

Of nightshade, or valerian, grace the wello
He cultivates. These serve him with a hint
That Nature lives; that sight-refreshing green
Is still the livery she delights to wear,
Though sickly samples of the exuberant whole.
What are the casements lined with creeping herbs,
The prouder sashes fronted with a range
Of orange, myrtle, or the fragrant weed,
The Frenchman's darlingo? are they not all proofs
That man, immured in cities, still retains

766
His inborn inextinguishable thirst
Of rural scenes, compensating his loss
By supplemental shifts, the best he may ?
The most unfurnished with the means of life, 770
And they, that never pass their brick-wall bounds,
To range the fields, and treat their lungs with air,
Yet feel the burning instinct; overhead
Suspend their crazy boxes, planted thick,
And watered duly. There the pitcher stands 775
A fragment, and the spoutless teapot there;
Sad witnesses how close-pent man regrets
The country, with what ardor he contrives
A peep at nature, when he can no more.

Hail, therefore, patroness of health and ease
“And contemplation, heart-consoling joys
And harmless pleasures, in the thronged abode
Of multitudes unknown ! hail, rural life!
Address himself who will to the pursuit
Of honors, or emolument, or fame,

785

780 790

I shall not add myself to such a chase,
Thwart his attempts, or envy his success.
Some must be great. Great offices will have
Great talents: and God gives to every man
The virtue, temper, understanding, taste,
That lifts him into life, and lets him fall
Just in the niche he was ordained to fill.
To the deliverer of an injured land
He gives a tongue to enlarge upon, a heart
To feel, and courage to redress her wrongs;
To monarchs, dignity, to judges, sense;
To artists, ingenuity and skill;
To me, an unambitious mind, content
In the low vale of life, that early felt
A wish for ease and leisure, and ere long
Found here that leisure and that ease I wished.

795

800

THE TASK

BOOK V

THE WINTER MORNING WALK

ARGUMENT OF THE FIFTH BOOK

A frosty morning — The foddering of cattle The wood

man and his dog — The poultry — Whimsical effects of a frost at a waterfall — The Empress of Russia's palace of ice — Amusements of monarchs · War, one of them Wars, whence And whence monarchy – The evils of it - English and French loyalty contrasted- The Bastile, and a prisoner there —Liberty the chief recommendation of this country Modern patriotism questionable, and

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