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physician who was called to attend him, asking him “how he felt ?” “Feel!” said Cowper, “I feel unutterable despair !” To the consolations of religion he refused to listen; and when, on one occasion, Mr. Johnson spoke to him of a " merciful Redeemer, who had prepared unspeakable happiness for all his children,--and therefore for him," Cowper, with passionate entreaties, begged him to desist from any further observations of a similar kind. A few days after this sad scene, the attendant offering him a cordial, he rejected it, saying, “What can it signify;" and these were the last words he was heard to utter. He died on the following morning, the 25th of April, 1800.

No one, it would seem, can read Southey's Biography of this blameless and suffering man of genius, without strong feelings of regret that he did not, earlier in life, resort to literature as a serious employment. Full and congenial occupation was absolutely indispensible, not merely, as in ordinary cases, to his enjoyment of life, but to his exemption from the most cruel disease ; and to any other pursuits than those of literature, his wretched nervous system rendered him utterly inconpetent. What Göethe says of Hamlet, may, with some modification, apply to Cowper. Any of the common avocations, and any of the onerous and vexatious duties of life, were to him as “ an oak tree planted in a costly jar, which should have borne only pleasant flowers in its bosom ; the roots expand, the jar is shivered.” It is scarcely probable that any combination of circumstances could have availed, wholly to avert the malady which poisoned his existence. His whole system, both of mind and body was so peculiar in its organization,-so admirable in some of its parts, and 80 feeble and defective in others,—that too much, or too little, or any uncongenial action was sure to disturb or destroy its balance. But literature, though tried ! proved to be infinitely the best remedy to soothe and

late this diseased action; and had Cowper found at Hun ingdon, the employment and the society, which he at last, after the departure of Mr. Newton, found at Olney and Weston, he might, perchance, have eacaped many years of

woe.

THE TASK.

BOOK I.

THE SOFA.

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 cominended--Alcove, and the view from it-The wilderness-The grove The thresher-The necessity and benefit 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 virtueThe South Sea Islanders compassionate, 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 praise, but censured-Fête champêtre- The book concludes witha reflection on the fatal effects of dissipation and effeminacy upon our public measures.

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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 Th' occasion-for the fair commands the song.

Time was, when clothing, sumptuous or for use, Save their own painted skins, our sires had none. 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 gravelly bank Thrown up by wintry torrents roaring loud, Fearless of wrong, repos’d his weary strength. Those barb'rous ages past, succeeded next The birthday 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. 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 scen; 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,

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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, of needlework sublime.
There might ye see the piony spread wide,
The full-blown rose, the shepherd and his lass,
Lapdog and lanıbkin 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 betrayed 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 fix'd, If cushion might be call'd, what harder seem'd Than the firm oak, of which the frame was

form'd.

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