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She once, perhaps, in village-plenty blest,
Has wept at tales of innocence distrest;
Her modest looks the cottage might adorn,
Sweet as the primrose peeps beneath the thorn.
Now lost to all; her friends, her virtue fled,
Near her betrayer's door she lays her head';
And, pinch'd'with cold, and shrinking from the show'r,
With heavy heart deplores that luckless hour,
When idly, first, ambitious of the town,

She left her wheel, and robes of country-brown."

The Deserted Village ends with an address to Poetry, not only affecting for the solemnity of its personal allusion, and pleasing to the reader for the smooth current of its versification, but remarkable as displaying the virtuous enthusiasm of Goldsmith, and a gene

rous declaration of what was his notion

concerning a poet's duty, and the influence of his art on mankind:

"And thou, sweet Poetry, thou loveliest maid,
Still first to fly where sensual joys invade;
Unfit, in these degen'rate times of shame,

To catch the heart, or strike for honest fame:
Dear, charming nymph! neglected and decry'd,
My shame in crowds, my solitary pride;
Thou source of all my bliss and all my woe,
That found'st me poor at first, and keep'st me so;
Thou guide, by which the nobler arts excel,
Thou nurse of every virtue, fare thee well!

Cowper has pursued a different course from that of Goldsmith, but has successfully attained the same great and

desirable end; that of persuading men to a love of virtue, and delighting those whom he professes to instruct.

The excellencies of his Task, which is written in blank verse, are so various, as to leave the reader in doubt whether most to admire it as an evidence of the author's poetical talents, his goodness of heart, his sublimity of conception and expression, the integrity of his judgment, or the felicity of his wit.

The morality and good sense of Cowper are, throughout all his writings, but particularly in the serious parts of

N

the Task, as conspicuous as those of Young, without being overshadowed by the gloom of sadness which generally characterises the author of the Night Thoughts: while Cowper's more lively and familiar passages are illuminated by rays of cheerfulness and flashes of pleasantry that would elicit a smile from Melancholy herself.

To the admirers of the Task, some short extracts from it will not prove unacceptable; and still less so to such as

are ignorant of a poem which is justly esteemed one of the boasts of British literature, and with which it is indeed

difficult to suppose any English reader

not acquainted.

Cowper's love of a country-life, and all its enchantments, is constantly discernible; nor is he ever happier than in the introduction of the most ordinary objects of a rural nature; which, on every suitable occasion, he applies to his purpose with great dexterity. Thus, early in the Task, when decrying the pursuit of frivolous and vicious pleasures, he brings forward an image employed by almost every other poet, which yet comes from his pen embellished with new graces:

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