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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 trifle 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.
ARGUMENT OF THE FIRST BOOK.
Historical deduction of seats, from the stoo! 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 it.—The wilderness — The grove.The thresher.—The necessity and the benefits of exercise.--The works of nature superiour 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.—flis present state of mind supposed.-Civilised 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 publick measures.
I SING the Sofa. I, who lately sang
Time was, when clothing sumptuous or for use,
* See Poems, Vol. I. pages 83, 91, 116.