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THE hiftory of the following production is briefly this: A lady, fond of blank verfe, demanded a poem of that kind from the author, and gave him the SOFA for a fubject. He obeyed; and, having much leifure, connected another fubject with it; and purfuing the train of thought to which his fituation and turn of mind led him, brought forth at length, inftead of the trifle which he at first intended, a ferious affair— a Volume.
In the Poem on the fubject of Education, he would be very forry to ftand fufpected of having aimed his cenfure at any particular fchool. His objections are fuch as naturally apply themselves to schools in general. If there were not, as for the moft part there is, wilful neglect in thofe who manage them, and an omiffion even of fuch difcipline as they are fufceptible of, the objects are yet too numerous for minute attention; and the aching hearts of ten thoufand parents, mourning under the bittereft of all difappointments, atteft the truth of the allegation. His quarrel, therefore, is with the mischief at large, and not with any particular inftance of it.
ARGUMENT of the FIRST BOOK.
Hiftorical deduction of feats, from the ftool to the Sofa. A School-boy's ramble.-A walk in the country.—Thė fcene defcribed.-Rural founds as well as fights délightful.-Another walk. Miftake, concerning the charms of folitude, corrected.-Colonades commended. -Alcove, and the view from it.-The Wilderness. -The Grove.-The Thresher.-The neceffity and the benefits of exercife.-The works of nature fuperior to and in fome inftances inimitable by art.-The weariJomeness of what is commonly called a life of pleasure.
·Change of fcene fometimes expedient.-A common defcribed, and the character of crazy Kate introduced.-Gipfics. The bleffings of civilized life.That state most favourable to virtue.-The South Sea Iflanders compaffionated, but chiefly Omai.-His prefent ftate of mind fuppofed.-Civilized life friendly to virtue, but not great cities.-Great cities, and London in particular, allowed their due praife, but cenfured.Fete Champetre.-The book concludes with a reflection on the fatal effects of diffipation and effeminacy upon our public measures.
I SING the SOFA. I who lately fang Truth, Hope, and Charity *, and touch'd with awe
The folemn chords, and with a trembling hand,
Escap'd with pain from that advent'rous flight,
Time was, when cloathing fumptuous or for use, Save their own painted skins, our fires had none. As yet black breeches were not; fattin fmooth,
* VOL. II.
See vol. i.
Or velvet foft, or plush with fhaggy pile:
Joint-stools were then created; on three legs Upborne they stood. Three legs upholding firm A maffy flab, in fashion fquare or round.
On fuch a stool immortal Alfred fat,
And fway'd the fceptre of his infant realms;
And fuch in ancient halls and manfions drear
May still be seen, but perforated fore
And drill'd in holes the folid oak is found,
By worms voracious eating through and through,
Improv'd the simple plan, made three legs four,