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THE

TA S K.

B 0. OK IV.

The WINTER EVENING.

HARK! 'tis the twanging horn! o'er yonder

bridge
That with its wearisome but needful length
Beltrides the wintry flood, in which the moon
Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright ;
He comes, the herald of a noisy world,
With spatter'd boots, strapp'd waist, and frozen

locks,
News from all nations lumb'ring at his back.
True to his charge, the close-pack'd load behind,..
Yet careless what he brings, his one concern
Is to conduct it to the deftin’d inn,
And having dropp'd th' expected bag-pass on.

He

F 5.

He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch,
Cold and yet chearful : messenger of grief
Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some,
To him indiff'rent whether grief or joy.
Houses in alhes, and the fall of stocks,
Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet
With tears, that trickled down the writers' cheeks,
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill,
Or charg'd with am'rous fighs of abfent fwains,
Or nymphs responsive, equally affect
His horse and him, unconscious of them all.
But oh th' important budget ! usher'd in
With such heart-shaking music, who can say
What are its tidings ? have our troops awak'd ?
Or do they still, as if with opium drugg’d,
Snore to the murmurs of th’ Atlantic wave ?
Is India free? and does she wear her plum'd
And jewell'd turban with a smile of peace,
Or do we grind her stilll? The grand debate,
The popular harangue, the tart reply,
The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit,
And the loud laugh-I long to know them all;
I burn to set th’ imprifon'd wranglers free,
And give them voice and utt'rance once again.

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast, Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round, And, while the bubbling and loud hissing urn Throws up a steamy column, and the cups,

That

That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
Not such his evening, who with shining face
Sweats in the crowded theatre, and squeez'd
And bor'd with elbow-points through both his

fides,
Out-scolds the ranting actor on the stage.
Nor his, who patient stands till his feet throb,
And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath
Of patriots, bursting with heroic rage,
Or placemen, all tranquility and smiles.
This folio of four pages, happy work!
Which not ev'n critics criticise ; that holds
Inquisitive attention, while I read,
Fast bound in chains of silence, which the fair;
Though eloquent themselves, yet fear to break;
What is it but a map of busy life,
Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns ?
Here runs the mountainous and craggy ridge
That tempts ambition. On the summit, see,
The seals of office glitter in his eyes ;
He climbs, he pants, he grasps them. At his

heels, Close at his heels, a demagogue ascends, And with a dextrous jerk foon twists him down, And wins them, but to lose them in his turn. Here rills of oily eloquence, in foft Meanders lubricate the course they take;

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The modest speaker is afham'd and griev'd
T'engross a moment's notice, and yet begs,
Begs a' propitious ear for his poor thoughts,
However trivial all that he conceives.
Sweet bashfulness ! it claims, at least, this praise ;
The dearth of information and good sense
That it foretells us, always comes to pass.
Cataracts of declamation thunder here,
There forests of no meaning spread the page,
In which all comprehension wanders lost;
While fields of pleasantry amuse us there,
With merry descants on a nation's woes.
The rest appears a wilderness of strange
But gay confusion ; roses for the cheeks,
And lilies for the brows of faded age,
Teeth for the toothless, ringlets for the bald,
Heav'n, earth, and ocean plunderd of their

sweets,
Nectareous essences, Olympian dews,
Sermons and city feasts, and fav'rite airs,
Æthereal journies, submarine exploits,
And Katterfelto, with his hair on end
At his own wonders, wond'ring for his bread.

Tis pleasant through the loop-holes of retreat
To peep at such a world ; to see the stir
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd ;
To hear the roar lhe sends through all her gates,
At a safe distance, where the dying sound
Falls a soft murmur on th' uninjur'd ear.
Thus fitting, and surveying thus at ease
The globe and its concerns, I seem advanc'd
To some secure and more than mortal height,
That lib'rates and exempts me from them all.
It turns submitted to my view, turns round
With all its generations ; I behold
The tumult, and am still. The sound of war
Has lost its terrors ere it reaches me ;
Grieves, but alarms me not. I niourn the pride
And av'rice that make man a wolf to man,
Hear the faint echo of those brazen throats
By which he speaks the language of his heart,
And figh, but never tremble at the found.
He travels and expatiates, as the bee
From flow'r to flow'r, fo he from land to land;
The manners, customs, policy of all,
Pay contribution to the store he gleans ;
He fucks intelligence in ev'ry clime,
And spreads the honey of his deep research
At his return, a rich repast for me :
He travels, and I too. I tread his deck,
Ascend his top-maft, through his peering eyes
Discover countries, with a kindred heart
Suffer his woes, and share in his escapes ;
While fancy, like the finger of a clock,
Runs the great circuit, and is still at home.

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