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THE TASK.

BOOK III.

ARGUMENT OF THE THIRD BOOK.

Self-recollection and reproof. Address to domestic happiness.

Some account of myself. The vanity of many of their pursuits who are reputed wise. Justification of my censures. Divine illumination necessary to the most expert philosopher. The question, What is truth ? answered by other questions, Domestic happiness addressed again. Few lovers of the country. My tame hare. Occupations of a retired gentleman in his garden. Pruning. Framing. Greenhouse. Sowing of flower-seeds. The country preferable to the town even in the winter. Reasons why it is deserted at that season. Ruinous effects of gaming and of expensive improvement. Book concludes with an apostrophe to the metropolis.

THE TASK.

BOOK III.

THE GARDEN.
As one who long in thickets and in brakes 1
Entangled, winds now this way and now that
His devious course 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 green-sward smooth
And faithful to the foot, his spirits rise,
He chirrups brisk his ear-erecting steed,
And winds his way with pleasure and with ease;
So I, designing other themes, and call’d

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| As one who long in populous city pent,

Where houses thick, and sewers annoy the air,
Forth issuing on a summer's morn to breathe
Among the pleasant villages and farms
Adjoin'd, from each thing met conceives delight.

Par. Lost, ix. 445,
? If chance with nymph-like step fair virgin pass,
What pleasing seem'd, for her now pleases more,
She most, and in her look sums all delight;
Such pleasure took the serpent to behold
This flowery plat, the sweet recess of Eve
Thus early, thus alone.

Par. Lost, ix. 452.
S. C.-9.

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To adorn the Sofa with eulogium due,
To tell its slumbers and to paint its dreams,
Have rambled wide. In country, city, seat
Of academic fame, (howe'er deserved)

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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 refresh'd for future toil,
If toil await me, or if dangers new 3.

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Since pulpits fail, and sounding-boards reflect
Most part an empty ineffectual sound,
What chance that I, to fame so little known,
Nor conversant with men or manners much,
Should speak to purpose, or with better hope
Crack the satiric thong? 'Twere wiser far
For me enamour'd of sequester'd scenes,
And charm'd with rural beauty, to repose
Where chance may throw me, beneath elm or vine,
My languid limbs when summer sears the plains, 30
Or when rough winter rages, on the soft
And shelter'd Sofa, while the nitrous air
Feeds a blue flame and makes a cheerful hearth;
There undisturb’d by Folly, and apprized
How great the danger of disturbing her,
To muse in silence, or at least confine
Remarks that gall so many, to the few
My partners in retreat. Disgust conceal'd
Is oft-times proof of wisdom, when the fault
Is obstinate, and cure beyond our reach.

Domestic happiness, thou only bliss
3 To-morrow to fresh woods and pasture new.

Lycidas, 198.

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Of Paradise that has survived the fall !
Though few now taste thee unimpair'd and pure,
Or tasting, long enjoy thee, too infirm
Or too incautious to preserve thy sweets
Unmixt with drops of bitter, which neglect
Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup;
Thou art the nurse of virtue. In thine arms
She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is,
Heaven-born and destined to the skies again.
Thou art not known where Pleasure is adored,
That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist
And wandering eyes, still leaning on the arm
Of Novelty, her fickle frail support; -
For thou art meek and constant, hating change, 55
And finding in the calm of truth-tied love
Joys that her stormy raptures never yield.
Forsaking thee, what shipwreck have we made
Of honour, dignity, and fair renown,
Till prostitution elbows us aside
In all our crowded streets, and senates seem
Convened for purposes of empire less,
Than to release the adulteress from her bond.
The adulteress! what a theme for angry verse,
What provocation to the indignant heart

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That feels for injured love! but I disdain
The nauseous task to paint her as she is,
Cruel, abandon'd, glorying in her shame.
No. Let her pass, and charioted along
In guilty splendour, shake the public ways ! 70
The frequency of crimes has wash'd them white;
And verse of mine shall never brand the wretch,
Whom matrons now of character unsmirched

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