Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

THE TASK.

BOOK II.

ARGUMENT OF THE SECOND BOOK.

Reflections fuggefted by the conclufion of the former book. Peace among the nations recommended, on the ground of their common fellowship in forrow.-Prodigies enume rated.-Sicilian earthquakes.-Man rendered obnoxious to thefe calamities by fin.-God the agent in them.The philofophy that flops at fecondary causes reproved.— Our own late mifcarriages accounted for.—Satirical notice taken of our trips to Fountainbleau.-But the pulpit, not fatire, the proper engine of reformation.—The Reverend Advertifer of engraved fermons.-Petit-maitre parfon.-The good preacher.-Pictures of a theatriedl clerical coxcomb.-Story-tellers and jeflers in the pulpit reproved.-Apoftrophe to popular applause.Retailers of ancient philofophy expoftulated with.—Sum of the whole matter.-Effects of facerdotal mifmanage ment on the laity.-Their folly and extravagance. The mischiefs of profufion.-Profufion itself, with all its confequent evils, afcribed, as to its principal caufe, to the want of difcipline in the univerfities.

THE TASK.

BOOK II.

THE TIME-PIECE.

On for a lodge in fome vaft wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of fhade,
Where rumour of oppreffion and deceit,
Of unfuccefsful or fuccessful war,

Might never reach me more. My car is pain'd,
My foul is fick, with ev'ry day's report

Of

wrong and outrage with which earth is fill'd There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart, t does not feel for man; the natʼral bond Of brotherhood is fever'd as the flax That falls afunder at the touch of fire. He finds his fellow guilty of a skin Not colour'd like his own; and, having pow'r

prey.

T'enforce the wrong, for fuch a worthy cause
Dooms and devotes him as his lawful
Lands interfected by a narrow frith
Abhor each other. Mountains interpos'd
Make enemies of nations, who had elfe,
Like kindred drops, been mingled into one.
Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys;
And, worfe than all, and moft to be deplor'd,
As human nature's broadeft, foulest blot,
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his fweat
With ftripes, that mercy, with a bleeding heart,
Weeps when the fees inflicted on a beast.
Then what is man? And what man, feeing this,
And having human feelings, does not blush,
And hang his head, to think himself a man?
I would not have a flave to till my ground,
To carry me, to fan me while I fleep,
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
That finews bought and fold have ever earn'd.
No: dear as freedom is, and in my heart's
Juft eftimation priz'd above all price,
I had much rather be myself the flave,

And wear the bonds, than faften them on him.
We have no flaves at home-Then why abroad?
And they themselves, once ferried o'er the wave
That parts us, are emancipate and loos'd.

Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free;
They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
That's noble, and befpeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the bleffing. Spread it then,
And let it circulate through ev'ry vein
Of all your empire; that where Britain's pow'r
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.

Sure there is need of social intercourse, Benevolence, and peace, and mutual aid, Between the nations, in a world that seems To toll the death-bell of its own decease, And by the voice of all its elements

To preach the gen'ral doom*. When were the winds
Let flip with fuch a warrant to destroy?
When did the waves fo haughtily o'erleap
Their ancient barriers, deluging the dry?
Fires from beneath, and meteors † from above,
Portentous, unexampled, unexplain'd

Have kindled beacons in the fkies; and th' old
And
crazy earth has had her shaking fits
More frequent, and forgone her usual rest.

VOL. II.

* Alluding to the calamities at Jamaica.
† August 18, 1783.

E

« ForrigeFortsett »