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In gross and pamper'd cities, sloth and lust,
And wantonness, and gluttonous excess.
In cities vice is hidden with most ease,
Or seen with least reproach; and virtue, taught
By frequent lapse, can hope no triumph there
Beyond th' achievement of successful flight.
I do confess them nurs’ries of the arts,
In which they flourish most; where, in the beams
Of warm encouragement, and in the eye
Of public note, they reach their perfect size.
Such London is, by taste and wealth proclaim'd
The fairest capital of all the world,
By riot and incontinence the worst.
There, touch'd by Reynolds, a dull blank becomes
A lucid mirror, in which Nature sees
All her reflected features. Bacon there
Gives more than female beauty to a stone,
And Chatham's eloquence to marble lips.
Nor does the chisel occupy alone
The pow'rs of sculpture, but the style as much;
Each province of her art her equal care.
With nice incision of her guided steel
She ploughs a brazen field, and clothes a soil
So sterile with what charms soe'er she will,
The richest scen’ry and the loveliest forms.
Where finds Philosophy her eagle eye,
With which she gazes at yon burning disc
Undazzled, and detects and counts his spots ?
In London. Where her implements exact,
With which she calculates, computes, and scans,
All distance, motion, magnitude, and now
Measures an atom, and now girds a world?
In London. Where has commerce such a mart,
So rich, so throng'd, so drain’d, and so supplied,
As London--opulent, enlarg'd, and still
Increasing, London ? Babylon

of old
Not more the glory of the earth than she,
A more accomplish'd world's chief glory now.

She has her praise. Now mark a spot or two, That so much beauty would do well to purge; And show this queen of cities, that so fair May yet be foul; so witty, yet not wise. It is not seemly, nor of good report, That she is slack in discipline; more prompt T'avenge than to prevent the breach of law: That she is rigid in denouncing death On petty robbers, and indulges life And liberty, and oft-times honour too, To peculators of the public gold: That thieves at home must hang; but he, that puts Into his overgorg'd and bloated purse The wealth of Indian provinces, escapes. Nor is it well, nor can it come to good, That, through profane and infidel contempt Of holy writ, she has presum'd tannul And abrogate, as roundly as she may, The total ordinance and will of God; Advancing Fashion to the post of Truth, And cent’ring all authority in modes And customs of her own, till Sabbath rites Have dwindled into unrespected forms, And knees and hassocks are well-nigh divorc'd.

God made the country, and man made the town. What wonder then that health and virtue, gifts That can alone make sweet the bitter draught That life holds out to all, should most abound And least be threaten'd in the fields and groves ; -Possess ye therefore, ye who, borne about In chariots and sedans, know no fatigue But that of idleness, and taste no scenes But such as art contrives, possess ye still Your element; there only can ye shine; There only minds like yours can do no harm. Our groves were planted to console at noon The pensive wand'rer in their shades. At eve The moon-beam, sliding softly in between

The sleeping leaves, is all the light they wish,
Birds warbling all the music. We can spare
The splendour of your lamps ; they but eclipse
Our softer satellite. Your songs confound
Our more harmonious notes: the thrush departs
Scar'd, and th' offended nightingale is mute.
There is a public mischief in your mirth;
It plagues your country. Folly such as yours,
Grac'd with a sword, and worthier of a fan,
Has made, what enemies could ne'er have done,
Our arch of empire stedfast but for you,
A mutilated structure, soon to fall.

THE TASK.

BOOK II.

THE TIME-PIECE.

ARGUMENT OF THE SECOND BOOK.

Reflections suggested by the conclusion of the former book.--Peace

among the nations recommended, on the ground of their common fellowship in sorrow.---Prodigies enumerated.---Sicilian earthquakes. ---Man rendered obnoxious to these calamities by sin..God the agent in them.--The philosophy that stops at secondary causes reproved.... Our own late miscarriages accounted for.---Satirical notice taken of our trips to Fontaine-Bieau.---But the pulpit, not satire, the proper en. gine of reformation.---The Reverend Advertiser of engraved sermons. --Petit-maitre parson.---The good preacher.---Picture of a theatrical, clerical coxcomb.--Story-tellers and jesters in the pulpit reproved.--Apostrophe to popular applause.---Retailers of ancient philosophy ex; postulated with. --Sum of the whole matter.---Effects of sacerdotal inismanagement on the laity.--Their folly and extravagance.---The mischiefs of profusion.---Profusion itself, with all its consequent evils, ascribed, as to its principal cause, to the want of discipline in the universities,

O, FOR a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade
Where rumour of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful or successful war,
Might never reach me more. My ear is pain’d,
My soul is sick 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,
It does not feel for man; the nat'ral bond
Of brotherhood is sever'd as the flax,

That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not colour'd like his own; and having pow'r
Tenforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause
Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey.
Lands intersected by a narrow frith
Abhor each other. Mountains interpos'd
Make enemies of nations, who had else
Like kindred drops been mingled into one.
Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys;
And, worse than all, and most to be deplor'd
As human nature's broadest, foulest blot,
Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat
With stripes, that Mercy with a bleeding heart
Weeps, when she sees inflicted on a beast.
Then what is man? and what man seeing this,
And having human feelings, does not blush,
And hang his head, to think himself a man?
I would not have a slave to till my ground,
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep,
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
That sinews bought and sold have ever earn’d.
No: dear as freedom is, and in

my

heart's Just estimation priz'd above all price, I had much rather be myself the slave, And wear the bonds, then fasten them on him. We have no slaves 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 bespeaks a nation proud And jealous of the blessing. 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,

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