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ARGUMENT OF THE FIRST BOOK.

Historical deduction of seats, from the stool to the Sofa.-A

Schoolboy's ramble.--A walk in the country.-The scene described.-Rural sounds as well as sights delightful.- Another walk. – Mistake concerning the charms of solitude corrected. -Colonnades commended.--Alcove, and the view from itThe wilderness. The grove. The thresher.-The necessity and the benefits of exercise. The works of nature superior to, and in some instances inimitable by art.-The wearisomeness of what is commonly called a life of pleasure. -Change of scene sometimes expedient.-A common described, and the character of crazy Kate introduced.-Gipsies.The blessings of civilized life.-That state most favourable to virtue.-The South Sea islanders compassionated, but chiefly Omai.-His present state of mind supposed. --Civilized life friendly to virtue, but not great cities.-Great cities, and London in particular, allowed their due praises, buit censured.-Fete chainpêtre. - The book concludes with a reflection on the fatal effects of dissipation and effirminacy upon our public measures.

THE TASK.

BOOK I.

THE SOFA.

I sing the sofa. I, who lately sang
Truth, Hope, and Charity,* and touch'd with awe
The solemn chords, and with a trembling hand,
Escap'd with pain from that advent'rous flight,
Now seek repose upon an humbler theme ;
The theme though humble, yet august and proud
*Thę' occasion--for the Fair commands the song.

Time was, when clothing sumptuous or for use, Save their own painted skins, our sires had norie. As yet black breeches were not ; satin smooth, Or velvet soft, or plush with shaggy pile : The hardy chief upon the rugged rock Wash'd by the sea, or on the grav'lly bank Thrown up by wintry torrents roaring loud, Fearless of wrong, repos'd his weary strength: Those barb'rous ages past, succeeded next The birth-day of Invention ; weak at first, Dull in design, and clumsy to perform. Joint-stools were then created; on three legs Upborne they stood. Three legs upholding firm A massy slab, in fashion square or round.

• See Poems, vol. 1.

On such a stool immortal Alfred sat,
And sway'd the sceptre of his infant realms :
And such in ancient halls and mansions drear
May still be seen; but perforated sore,
And drill'd in holes, the solid oak is found,
By worms voracious eating through and through.

At length a generation more refin'd Improv'd the simple plan; made three legs four, Gave them a twisted form vermicular, And o'er the seat, with plenteous wadding stuff'd, Induc'd a splendid cover, green and blue, Yellow and red, of tapestry richly wrought And woven close, or needlework sublime. There might you see the piony spread wide, The full-blown rose, the shepherd and his lass, Lapdog and lambkin with black staring eyes, And parrots with twin cherries in their beak.

Now came the cane from India, smooth and bright With Nature's varnish ; sever'd into stripes, That interlac'd each other, these supplied Of texture firm a lattice-work, that brac'd The new machine, and it became a chair. But restless was the chair; the back erect Distress'd the weary loins, that felt no ease; The slipp’ry seat betray'd the sliding part, That press’d it, and the feet hung dangling down, Anxious in vain to find the distant floor. These for the rich ; the rest, whom Fate had plac'd In modest mediocrity, content With base materials, sat on well-tann'd hides, Obdurate and unyielding, glassy smooth, With here and there a tuft of crimson yarn, Or scarlet crewel, in the cushion’d fix'd,

If cushion might be call'd what harder seem'd
Than the firm oak, of which the frame was form’d.
No want of timber then was felt or fear'd
In Albion's happy isle. The lumber stood
Pond'rous and fix'd by it's own massy weight.
But elbows still were wanting ; these, some say,
An alderman of Cripplegate contriv'd;
And some ascribe the invention to a priest,
Burly, and big, and studious of his ease.
But rude at first, and not with easy slope
Receding wide, they press'd against the ribs,
And bruis'd the side; and, elevated high,
Taught the rais'd shoulders to invade the ears,
Long time elaps’d or e'er our rugged sires
Complain’d, though incommodiously pent in,
And ill at ease behind. The ladies first
'Gan murmur, as became the softer sex.
Ingenious fancy, never better pleas'd,
Than when employ'd to’ accommodate the fair,
Heard the sweet moan with pity, and devis'd
The soft settee; one elbow at each end,
And in the midst an elbow it receiv'd,
United yet divided, twain at once.
So sit two kings of Brentford on one throne ;
And so two citizens, who take the air,
Close pack'd, and smiling, in a chaise and one.
But relaxation of the languid frame,
By soft recumbency of outstretch'd limbs,
Was bliss reserv'd for happier days. So slow
The growth of what is excellent; so hard
To' attain perfection in this nether world.
Thus first necessity invented stools,
Convenience next suggested elbow-chairs,
And Luxury the accomplish'd sofa last.
VOL. XXXVI.

Еe

The nurse sleeps sweetly, hir'd to watch the sick, Whom snoring she disturbs. As sweetly he, Who quits the coach-box at the midnight hour, To sleep within the carriage more secure, His legs depending at the open door. Sweet sleep enjoys the curate in his desk, The tedious rector drawling o'er his head ; And sweet the clerk below. But neither sleep Of lazy nurse, who snores the sick man dead; Nor bis, who quits the box at midnight hour, To slumber in the carriage more secure ; Nor sleep enjoy'd by curate in his desk; Nor yet the dozings of the clerk, are sweet, Compar'd with the repose the soft yields,

O may I live exempted (while I live Guiltless of pamper'd appetite obscene) From pangs arthritic, that infest the toe Of libertine Excess. The sofa suits The gouty limb, 'tis true ; but gouty limb, Though on a sofa, may I never feel : For I have lov'd the rural walk through lanes Of grassy swarth, close cropp'd by nibbling sheep. And skirted thick with intertexture firm Of thorny boughs; have lov'd the rural walk O’er hills, through valleys, and by rivers' brink, F’er since a truant boy I pass’d my bounds, To' enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames ; And still remember, nor without regret Of hours, that sorrow since has much endear'd, How oft, my slice of pocket store consum'd, Still hung'ring, pennyless, and far from home. I fed on scarlet hips and stony haws, Or blushing crabs, or berries, that emboss

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