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Divine communion, carefully enjoy'd,
To study culture, and with artful toil
To close life wisely, may not waste my own. ,
THE history of the following production is briefly this: A lady, fond of blank verse, demanded a poem of that kind from the author, and gave him the SoFA for a subject. He obeyed; and, having much leisure, connected another subject with it; and pursuing the train of thought to which his situation and turn of mind led him, brought forth at length, instead of the trisle which he at first intended, a serious affair—a volume.
In the poem on the subject of Education, he would be very sorry to stand suspected of having aimed his censure at any particular school. His objections are such, as naturally apply themselves to schools in general. If there were not, as for the most part there is, wilful neglect in those who manage them, and an omission even of such discipline as they are susceptible of, the objects are yet too numerous for minute attention; and the aching hearts of ten thousand parents, mourning under the bitterest of all disappointments, attest the truth of the allegation. His quarrel, therefore, is with the mischief at large, and not with any particular instance of it.
Historical deduction of seats, from the stool to the Sosa.--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.--Colonades commended.--Alcove, and the view from it.---The 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 a civilized life.---The 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, but censured.---Fete champetre.--The book concludes with a reflection on the fatal effects of dissipation and effeminacy upon our public measures.
I SING the Sofa. I, who lately sang
* See Poems, pages 39, 75, 96.
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 grav’lly bank Thrown up by wintry torrents roaring loud, Fearless of wrong, repos'd his wearied 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. 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 eaten 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 . richly wrought And woven close, or needlework sublime. There might ye see the piony spread wide The full-blown rose, the shepherd and his iass, Lap-dog and lambkin with black, staring *. 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;