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THE TASK.

BOOK IV.

ARGUMENT OF THE FOURTH BOOK.

The post comes in.The newspaper is read.The

World contemplated 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 evening.-The waggoner.- A poor family piece.The rural thief.- Public houses. -The multitude of them censured.The farmer's daughter: what she waswhat she is.The simplicity of country manners almost lost. - Causes of the change.-Desertion of the country by the rich.-Neglect of magistrates.- The militia principally in fault.--The new recruit and his transformation.-Reflection on bodies corporate.-The love of rural objects natural to all, and never to be totally extinguished.

THE TASK.

BOOK IV.

THE WINTER EVENING.

HARK! 'tis the twanging horn o'er yonder bridge,
That with it's 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,
Witin 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;
And, having dropp'd th' expected bag, pass on.
He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch,

Cold and yet cheerful: messenger of grief
Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some;
To him indiff'rent whether grief or joy.
Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks,
Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet
With tears, that trickled down the writer's cheeks
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill,
Or charg'd with am'rous sighs of absent swains,
Or nymphs responsive, equally affect
His horse and bim, unconscious of them all.
But 0 th’important budget! usher’d in
With such heart-shaking music, who can say
What are it's tidings? have our troops awak'd ?
Or do they still, as if with opium drugg'd,
Snore to the murmurs of th’ Atlantic wave?
Is India free? and does she wear her plum'd
And jewelld turban with a smile of peace,
Or do we grind her still? The grand debate,
The popular barangue, the tart reply,
The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit,
And the loud laugh-I long to know them all;
I burn to set th' imprison'd wranglers free,
And give them voice and utt'rance once again.

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