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Stripp'd of her ornaments, her leaves and flow'rs,
She loses all her influence. Cities then
Attract us, and neglected Nature pines

730
Abandon'd as unworthy of our love.
But are not wholesome airs, though unperfum'd
By roses ; and clear suns, though scarcely felt;
And groves, if unharmonious, yet secure
From clamour, and whose very silence charms; 735
To be preferr'd to smoke, to the eclipse,
That metropolitan volcanoes make,
Whose Stygian throats breathe darkness all day long;
And to the stir of Commerce, driving slow,
And thund'ring loud, with his ten thousand wheels ?
They would be, were not madness in the head, 741
And folly in the heart; were England now,
What England was, plain, hospitable, kind,
And undebauch'd. But we have bid farewell
To all the virtues of those better days,

745 And all their honest pleasures. Mansions once Knew their own masters; and laborious hinds, Who had surviv'd the father, serv'd the son. Now, the legitimate and rightful lord Is but a transient guest, newly arriv'd, And soon to be supplanted. He that saw His patrimonial timber cast its leaf, Sells the last scantling, and transfers the price To some shrewd sharper, ere it buds again. Estates are landscapes, gaz'd upon a while, 755 Then advertis’d, and auctioneer'd away. The country starves, and they that feed th' o'ercharg'd And surfeited lewd town with her fair dues, By a just judgment strip and starve themselves. The wings that waft our riches out of sight, 760 Grow on the gamester's elbows, and the alert And nimble motion of those restless joints, That never tire, soon fans them all away. Improvement, too, the idol of the age, Is fed with many a victim. Lo, he comes !

765

750

Th' omnipotent magician, Brown, appears!
Down falls the venerable pile, th' abode.
Of our forefathers-a grave whisker'd race,
But tasteless. Springs a palace in its stead,
But in a distant spot; where more expos’d
It may enjoy th' advantage of the north,
And aguish east, till time shall have transform'd
Those naked acres to a shelt'ring grove.
He speaks. The lake in front becomes a lawn ;
Woods vanish, hills subside, and valleys rise : 775
And streams, as if created for his use,
Pursue the track of his directing wand,
Sinuous or straight, now rapid and now slow,
Now murm'ring soft, now roaring in cascades.
E'en as he bids! Th' enraptur'd owner smiles. 780
'Tis finish'd, and yet, finish'd as it seems,
Still wants a grace, the loveliest it could show,
A mine to satisfy th' enormous cost.
Drain'd to the last poor item of his wealth,
He sighs, departs, and leaves th’accomplish'd plan 785
'That he has touch'd, retouch'd, many a long day
Labour'd, and many a night pursu'd in dreams,
Just when it meets his hopes, and proves the Heav'n
He wanted, for a wealthier to enjoy!
And now perhaps the glorious hour is come, 790
When, having no stake left, no pledge t'endear,
Her int’rests, or that gives her sacred cause
A moment's operation on his love,
He burns with most intense and flagrant zeal
To serve bis country. Ministerial grace 795
Deals him out money from the publick chest;
Or, if that mine be shut, some privato purse
Supplies his need with a usurious loan,
To be refunded duly, when his vote
Well-manag'd shall have earn'd its worthy price. 8Õ0
O innocent, compar'd with arts like these,
Crape, and cock'd pistol, and the whistling ball
Sent through the trav'ller's temples ! He that finds
a Vol. II.

One drop of Heav'n's sweet mercy in his cup,
Can dig, beg, rot, and perish, well content, 805
So he may wrap himself in honest rags
At his last gasp ; but could not for a world
Fish up his dirty and dependent bread
From pools and ditches of the commonwealth,
Sordid and sick’ning at his own success. •810

Ambition, avarice, penury, incurr'd
By endless riot, vanity, the lust
Of pleasure and variety, despatch
As duly as the swallows disappear,
The world of wand'ring knights and squires to town.
London ingulfs them all! The shark is there, 816
And the shark's prey; the spendthrift, and the leech
That sucks him · there the sycophant, and he
Who, with bareheaded and obsequious bows,
Begs a 'warm office, doom'd to a cold jail 820
And groat per diem, if his patron frown.
The levee swarms, as if in golden pomp
Were character'd on ev'ry statesman's door,
" Batter'd and bankrupt fortunes mended here."
These are the charms that sully and eclipse
The charms of nature. 'Tis the cruel gripe,
That lean, hard-handed Poverty inflicts,
The hope of better things, the chance to win,
The wish to shine, the thirst to be amus'd,
That at the sound of Winter's hoary wing 830
Unpeople all our countries of such herds
Of flutt'ring, loit'ring, cringing, begging, loose,
And wanton vagrants, as make London, vast
And boundless as it is, a crowded coop.
O thou resort and mart of all the earth,

835 Checker'd with all complexions of mankind, And spotted with all crimes; in whom I see Much that I love, and more that I admire, And all that I abhor ; thou freckled fair, That pleasest and yet shock’st me! I can laugh. 8.10 And I can ween, can hope and can desnond

825

Feel wrath and pity, when I think on thee !
Ten righteous would have sav'd a city once,
And thou hast many righteous.—Well for thee-
That salt preserves thee; more corrupted else,
And therefore more obnoxious, at this hour,
Than Sodom in her day had pow'r to be,
For whom God heard his Abr’ham plead in vain.

845

THE TASK.

BOOK IV.

THE WINTER EVENING

ARGUMENT OF THE FOURTH BOOK. The post comes in-The newspaper is read--The World contern

plated at a distance--Address to Winter-The rural amusements of a winter evening compared with the fashionable ones--Address to evening-A brown study-Fall of snow in the eveningThe wagoner--A poor family pieceThe rural thief-Publick houses--The multitude of them censured-The farmer's daughter: what she was-what she is—The simplicity of country manners almost lost-Causes of the change-Desertion of the country by the rich-Neglect of the magistrates--- The militia principally in fault-The new recruit and his transformation --Re. flection on bodies corporate-The love of rural objects natural to. 'all, and never to be totally extinguished.

HARK! 'tis the twanging horn o'er yonder bridge,
That with its wearisome but needful length
Bestrides 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 destin'd inn;

10 And having dropp'd th' expected bag, pass on. He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch.

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