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THE TASK.

BOOK II.

ARGUMENT OF THE SECOND BOOK.

Which opens with reflections suggested by the conclusion of the former. 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 Fontainbleau. But the pulpit, not satire, the proper engine 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 expostulated with. Sum of the whole matter. Effects of sacerdotal mismanagement 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.

THE TASK.

BOOK II.

THE TIME-PIECE.

OH 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 every day's report

Of wrong and outrage with which earth is fill'd.
There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart,

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It does not feel for man. The natural bond

Of brotherhood is sever'd as the flax

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That falls asunder at the touch of fire.

He finds his fellow guilty of a skin

Not colour'd like his own2, and having power
To inforce 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 interposed,

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Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place, that I might leave my people and go from them.-Jeremiah, ix. 2.

2 Not remembering that he is (as old Fuller says) image of God cut in ebony."

S. C.-9.

H

"the

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 deplored
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,

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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 prized above all price,

I had much rather be myself the slave

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And wear the bonds, than 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 loosed.
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 every vein
Of all your empire! that where Britain's power
Is felt, mankind may feel her
mercy too.

Sure there is need of social intercourse,
Benevolence and peace and mutual aid

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