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ARGUMENT OF THE SIXTH BOOK.

Bells at a distance.-Their effect.-A fine noon in

winter.-A sheltered walk.-Meditation better than books.-Our familiarity with the course of nature makes it appear less wonderful than it is. -The transformation that spring effects in a shrubbery described.-A mistake concerning the course of nature corrected. God maintains it by an upremitted act.--The amusements fashionable at this hour of the day reproved.—Animals happy, a deliglıtful sight.- Origin of cruelty to animals. -That it is a great crime proved from Scripture. -That proof illustrated by a tale.- A line drawn between the lawful and unlawful destruction of them. Their good and useful properties insisted on.-Apology for the'encomiums bestowed by the author on animals.- Instances of man's extravagant praise of man.The groans of the creation shall have an end.--A view taken of the restora. tion of all things.-An invocation and an invitation Him, who shall bring it to pass.-The retired man vindicated from the charge of uselessness.Conclusion.

THE TASK.

BOOK VI.

THE

WINTER WALK AT NOON.

THERE is in souls a sympathy with sounds, And as the mind is pitch'd the ear is pleased With melting airs or martial, brisk or grave; Some chord in unison with what we hear Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies. How soft the music of those village bells, Falling at intervals upon the ear In cadence sweet, now dying all away, Now pealing loud again, and louder still, Clear and sonorous, as the gale comes on! With easy force it opens all the cells Where Memory slept. Wherever I have heard A kindred melody, the scene recurs, And with it all its pleasures and its pains. Such comprehensive views the spirit takes, That in a few short moments I retrace (As iu • map the voyager his course) The windings of my way through many years. Short as in retrospect the journey seems, It scem'd not always short; the rugged path, And prospect oft, so dreary and forlorn, Moveď many a sigh at its disheartening length, Yet feeling present evils, while the past Faiatly impress the mind, or not at all,

R?

How readily we wish time spent revoked,
That we might try the ground again where once
(Through inexperience, as we now perceive)
We miss'd that happiness we might have found!
Some friend is gone, perhaps his son's best friend,
A father, whose authority, in show
When most severe, and mustering all its force,
Was but the graver countenance of love;
Whose favour, like the clouds of spring, might lower,
And utter now and then an awful voice,
But had a blessing in its darkest frown,
Threatening at once and nourishing the plant.
We loved, but not enough, the gentle hand
That rear'd us. At a thoughtless age, allured
By every gilded folly, we renounced
His sheltering side, and wilfully forewent
That converse, which we now in vain regret.
How gladly would the man recall to life
The boy's neglected sire! a mother too,
That softer friend, perhaps more gladly still,
Might he demand them at the gates of death.
Sorrow has, since they went, subdued and tamed
The playful humour; he could now endure,
(Himself grown sober in the vale of tears)
And feel a parent's presence no restraint.
But not to understand a treasure's worth,
Till time has stolen away the slighted good,
Is cause of half the poverty we feel,
And makes the world the wilderness it is.
The few that pray at all pray oft amiss,
And, seeking grace to improve the prize they hold,
Would urge a wiser suit than asking more.

The night was winter in his roughest mood;
The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon,
Upon the southern side of the slant hills,
And where the woods fence off the northern blast,
The season smiles, resigoing all its rage,
And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue
Without a cloud, and white without a speck
The dazzling splendour of the scene below.

Again the harmony comes o'er the vale;
And through the trees I view the embattled tower,
Whence all the music. I again perceive
The soothing influence of the wafted strains,
And settle in soft musings as I tread
The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms,
Whose outspread brauches overarch the glade.
The roof, though moveable through all its length
As the wind sways it, has yet well sufficed,
And, intercepting in their silent fall
The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me.
No noise is here, or none that hinders thought.
The redbreast warbles still, but is content
With slender notes, and more than half suppress'd;
Pleased with his solitude, and fitting light
From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes
From many a twig the pendent drops of ice,
That tinkle in the wither'd leaves below.
Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft,
Charms more than silence. Meditation here
May think down hours to moments. Here the heart
May give a useful lesson to the head,
And Learning wiser grow without his books.
Knowledge and Wisdom, far from being one,
Have oft-times no connexion. Knowledge dwells
In heads replete with thoughts of other men ;
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass,
The niere materials with which Wisdom builds,
Till smooth'd, and squared, and fitted to its place,
Does but encumber whom it seems to enrich.
Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
Books are not seldom talismans and spells,
By which the magic art of shrewder wits
Holds an unthinking multitude enthrall'd,
Some to the fascination of a name
Surrender judgment, hoodwink'd. Some the style
Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds
Of error leads them, by a tune entranced.

While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear
The insupportable fatigue of thought,
And swallowing therefore, without pause or choice,
The total grist unsifted, husks and all.
But trees and rivulets, whose rapid course
Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer,
And sheep-walks populous with bleating lambs,
And lanes in which the primrose ere her time
Peeps through the moss, that clothes the hawthorn

root,
Deceive no student. Wisdom there, and Truth,
Not shy, as in the world, and to be won
By slow solicitation, seize at once
The roving thought, and fix it on themselves.

What prodigies can power divine perform
More grand than it produces year by year,
And all in sight of inattentive man?
Familiar with the effect we slight the cause,
And in the constancy of nature's course,
The regular return of genial months,
And renovation of a faded world,
See nought to wonder at. Should God again,
As once in Gibeou, interrupt the race
Of the undeviating and punctual sun,
How would the world admire! but speaks it less
An agency divine, to make him know
His moment when to sink and when to rise,
Age after age, than to arrest his course?
All we behold is miracle; but seen
So duly, all is miracle in vain.
Where now the vital energy, that moved,
While summer was, the pure and subtle lymph
Through the imperceptible meandering veins
Of leaf and flower? It sleeps; and the icy touch
Of unprolific winter has impressid
A cold stagnation on the intestine tide.
But let the months go round, a few short months,
And all shall be restored. These paked shoots,
Barreu as lances, among which the wind
Makes wintry music, sighing as it goes,

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