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THE TASK. BOOK VI.

THE WINTER WALK AT NOON.

VOL. VII.

THE ARGUMENT.

Bells at a distance-Their effect- A fine noon in winterA sheltered walk-Meditation better than books-Our famili· arity with the course of nature makes it appear less wonderful

than it is—The transformation that spring effects in a shrubbery described A mistake concerning the course of nature corrected - God maintains it by an unremitted act - The amusements fashionable at this hour of the day reproved—Animals happy, a delightful sight-Origin of cruelty to animals That it is a great crime proved from scripture-That proof illustrated by a tale- A line drawn between the lawful and unlawful destruction of them- Their good and useful properties insisted on-Apology for the encomiums bestowed by the author on animals-Instances of man's extravagant praise of man—The groans of the creation shall have an end-A view aken of the restoration of all things-An invocation and an invitation of Him who shall bring it to pass—The retired man vindicated from the charge of uselessness-Conclusion.

THE TASK. BOOK VI.

THE WINTER WALK AT NOON.

THERE is in souls a sympathy with sounds ; And as the mind is pitch'd the ear is pleased With melting airs, or martial, brisk, or grave: Some chord in unison with what we hear Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies. How soft the music of those village bells, Falling at intervals upon the ear In cadence sweet, now dying all away, Now pealing loud again, and louder still, Clear and sonorous, as the gale comes on! With easy force it opens all the cells Where Memory slept. Wherever I have heard A kindred melody, the scene recurs, And with it all its pleasures and its pains. Such comprehensive views the spirit takes, That in a few short moments I retrace (As in a map the voyager his course) The windings of my way through many years. Short as in retrospect the journey seems, It seem'd not always short; the rugged path, And prospect oft so dreary and forlorn,

Moved many a sigh at its disheartening length. : !
Yet, feeling present evils, while the past ..
Faintly impress the mind, or not at all,
How readily we wish time spent revoked, ,n
That we might try the ground again, where once
(Through inexperience, as we now perceive) vi
We miss'd that happiness we might have found !
Some friend is gone, perhaps his son's best friend,
A father, whose authority, in show is 11:41
When most severe, and mustering all its force,
Was but the graver countenance of love: !
Whose favour, like the clouds of spring, might

lower,
And utter now and then an awful voice, .,' }
But had a blessing in its darkest frown,
Threatening at once and nourishing the plant. . !
We loved, but not enough, the gentle hand
That rear'd us. At a thoughtless age, allured ;
By every gilded folly, we renounced
· His sheltering side, and wilfully forewent

That converse, which we now in vain regret.
How gladly would the man recall to life
The boy's neglected sire! a mother too,
That softer friend, perhaps more gladly still,
Might he demand them at the gates of death.
Sorrow has, since they went, subdued and tamed
The playful humour ; he could now endure
(Himself grown sober in the vale of tears)
And feel a parent's presence no restraint.
But not to understand a treasure's worth

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