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THE TASK.

BOOK II.

ARGUMENT OF THE SECOND BOOK.

Reflections suggested by the conclusion of the former book. -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 Fontaine-Bleau.—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 it's consequent evils, ascribed, as to it's principal cause, to the wape of discipline in the universities

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THE TASK.

BOOK II.

THE TIME-PIECE.

O 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's,
My soul is sick, with ev'ry day's report
Of wrong and outrage, with which Earth is fill'd.
There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart,
It does not feel for man ; the nat'ral bond
Of brotherhood is sever'd as the flax,
That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not colour'd like his own; and having pow'r
T' enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause
Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey.

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. Lands intersected by a narrow frith

n! Abhor each other. Mountains interpos'd ...2 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 deplor'd 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,' 1:1 And hang his head, to think himself a man?!'. I would not have a slave to till my ground, il l' To carry me, to fan me while I sleep, 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 priz'd above all price, I had much rather be myself the slave, 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 loos'd. 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 ev'ry vein
Of all your empire; that, where Britain's pow'r
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.

.

Sure there is need of social intercourse, Benevolence, and peace, and mutual aid, Between the nations in a world, that seems To toll the deathbell of it's own decease, And by the voice of all it's elements To preach the gen'ral doom *. When were the winds Let slip with such a warrant to destroy ? When did the waves so hanghtily o'erleap Their ancient barriers, deluging the dry? Fires from beneath, and meteors f from above, Portentous, unexampled, unexplain'd, Have kindled beacons in the skies ; and th' old And crazy Earth has had her shaking fits More frequent, and foregone her usual rest. Is it a time to wrangle, when the props And pillars of our planet seem to fail, And Nature with a dim and sickly eye To wait the close of all ? But grant her end More distant, and that prophecy demands

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• Alluding to the calamities in Jamaica. 1 August 18, 1783.

* Allading to the fog, that covered both Europe and Asia during the whole summer of 1783.

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