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Behind his own creation, works unseen
By the impure, and hears his power denied.
Thou art the source and centre of all minds,
Their only point of rest, eternal World!
From thee departing they are lost, and rove
At random, without honour, hope, or peace.
From thee is all that soothes the life of man,
His high endeavour, and his glad success,
His strength to suffer, and his will to serve.
But O thou bounteous Giver of all good,
Thou art of all thy gifts thyself the crown!
Give what thou canst, without thee we are poor;
And with thee rich, take what thou wilt away.

THE TASK.

BOOK VI.

THE ARGUMENT.

Bells at a distance.-Their effect.-A fine noon in winter.-A sheltered walk.-Meditation better than hooks.-Our familiarity with the course of nature makes it appear less wonder. ful 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 unremitted act.-The amusements fashionable at this hour of the day reproved.Animals happy, a delightful 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 restoration of all things.-An invocation and an invitation of Him, who shall bring it to pass.-The retired man vindicated from the charge of uselessness.-Conclusion.

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 Mem'ry 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 in a map the voyager his course)

The windings of my way through many years.
Short as in retrospect the journey seems,

It seem'd not always short; the rugged path,
And prospect oft, so dreary and forlorn,
Moved many a sigh at its disheart'ning length.
Yet feeling present evils, while the past
Faintly impress the mind, or not at all,
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,
Threat'ning 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, resigning 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 th' 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 branches 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 flitting light
From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes
From many a twig the pendant 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 mere materials with which Wisdom builds,
Till smooth'd, and squared, and fitted to its place,
Does but encumber whom it seems t' 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

[root,

Peeps through the moss, that clothes the hawthorn 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 Gibeon, 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 impress'd

A cold stagnation on the intestine tide.

But let the months go round, a few short months,
And all shall be restored. These naked shoots,
Barren as lances, among which the wind
Makes wintry music, sighing as it goes,

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