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THE TASK.

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BOOK III.

THE GARDEN.

one, who long in thickets and in brakes Entangled winds now this way and now that His devious courfe uncertain, seeking home: Or, having long in miry ways been foiled And sore discomfited, from slough to slough Plunging and half despairing of escape;

If chance at length he find a greensward smooth And faithful to the foot, his spirits rise,

He chirrups brisk his ear-erecting fteed,

And winds his way with pleasure and with ease;
So I, defigning other themes, and called
To adorn the Sofa with eulogium due,

To tell its flumbers, and to paint its dreams,

Have rambled wide. In country, city, feat
Of academic fame (howe'er deserved),
Long held, and scarcely disengaged at last.
But now with pleasant pace a cleanlier road
I mean to tread. I feel myself at large,
Courageous, and refreshed for future toil,
If toil await me, or if dangers new.

Since pulpits fail, and founding boards reflect Moft part an empty ineffectual found, What chance that I to fame fo little known, Nor converfant with men or manners much, Should speak to purpofe, or with better hope Crack the fatiric thong? "Twere wiser far For me enamoured of fequeftered scenes, And charmed with rural beauty, to repose, Where chance may throw me, beneath elm or vine, My languid limbs, when fummer fears the plains; Or, when rough winter rages, on the soft

And sheltered Sofa, while the nitrous air

Feeds a blue flame, and makes a cheerful hearth;
There, undisturbed by folly, and apprized
How great the danger of disturbing her,
To mufe in filence, or at least confine
Remarks, that gall fo many, to the few
My partners in retreat. Difguft concealed

Is oft-times proof of wifdom, when the fault
Is obftinate, and cure beyond our reach.

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Domeftic happiness, thou only blifs

Of Paradise, that haft furvived the fall!
Though few now tafte thee unimpi ed and pure,
Or tafting,long enjoy thee! too infirm,

Or too incautious, to preserve thy fweets
Unmixt with drops of bitter, which neglect
Or temper sheds into thy cryftal cup;
Thou art the nurfe of virtue, in thine arms
She fmiles, appearing, as in truth she is,
Heaven-born, and deftined to the skies again.
Thou art not known where pleasure is adered,
That reeling goddess with the zoneless waift
And wandering eyes, ftill leaning on the arm
Of novelty, her fickle frail support;

For thou art meek and conftant, hating change,
And finding in the calm of truth-tried love
Joys, that her ftormy raptures never yield.
Forfaking thee what fhipwreck have we made
Of honour, dignity, and fair renown!

Till prostitution elbows us afide

In all our crowded streets; and fenates feen
Convened for purposes of empire less,

Than to release the adultrefs from her bond.

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The adultrefs! what a theme for angry verfe!
What provocation to the indignant heart,
That feels for injured love! but I difdain
The naufeous task to paint her as she is,
Cruel, abandoned, glorying in her shame!
No:-let her pass, and chariotted along
In guilty fplendour shake the public ways;
The frequency of crimes has washed them white,
And verfe of mine shall never brand the wretch,
Whom matrons now of character unfmirched,
And chafte themselves, are not ashamed to own.
Virtue and vice had boundaries in old time
Not to be paffed: and she, that had renounced
Her fex's honour, was renounced herself
By all that prized it; not for prudery's fake,
But dignity's, refentful of the wrong.
'Twas hard perhaps on here and there a waif,
Defirous to return, and not received:

But was an wholesome rigour in the main,
And taught the unblemished to preferve with care
That purity, whofe lofs was lofs of all.

Men too were nice in honour in those days,

And judged offenders well. Then he that sharped, And pocketted a prize by fraud obtained,

Was marked and fhunned as odious. He that fold

His country, or was flack when the required

His every nerve in action and at ftretch,

Paid with the blood, that he had bafely spared,
The price of his default. But now—yes, now
We are become so candid and so fair,

So liberal in conftruction, and fo rich
In chriftian charity, (good-natured age!)
That they are fafe, finners of either fex,
Tranfgrefs what laws they may. Well dreffed, well bred,
Well equipaged, is ticket good enough
To país us readily through every door.
Hypocrify, deteft her as we may,

(And no man's hatred ever wronged her yet)
May claim this merit ftill—that she admits
The worth of what she mimics with fuch care,
And thus gives virtue indirect applause;
But she has burnt her mask not needed here,
Where vice has fuch allowance, that her shifts
And specious semblances have loft their use.

I was a ftricken deer, that left the herd
Long fince, with many an arrow deep infixt
My panting fide was charged, when I withdrew
To feek a tranquil death in diftant shades.
There was I found by one, who had himself
Been hurt by the archers. In his fide he bore,
And in his hands and feet, the cruel fears.

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