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SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
Dear Sir, I
CAN have no expectations in an address of this
kind, either to add to your reputation, or to establish my own. You can gain nothing from my admiration, as I am ignorant of that art in which you are said to excel ; and I may lose mach by the severity of your judgment, as few have a juster taste in poetry than you. Setting interest therefore aside, to which I never paid much attention, I must be indulged at present in following my af. fections. The only dedication I ever made was to my brother, because I loved him better than most other men. He is since dead. Permit me to in. scribe this poem to you.
How far you may be pleased with the versifica. tion and mere mechanical parts of this attempt, I do not pretend to inquire: but I know you will object (and indeed several of our best and wisest friends concur in the opinion) that the depopulation it deplores is no where to be seen, and the disorders it laments are only to be found in the poet's own imagination. To this I can scarce make any other answer, than that I sincerely believe what I have written; that I bave taken all possible pains, in my country excursions, for these four or five years past, to be certain of what I allege; and that all my views and inquiries have led me to believe those miseries real, which I here attempt to display. But this is not the place to enter into an inquiry, whether the country be depopulating, or not; the discussion would take up much room; and I should prove myself, at best, an indifferent politician, to tire the reader with a long preface, when I want his unfatigued attention to a long poem.
In regretting the depopulation of the country, I inveigh against the increase of our luxuries; and here also I expect the shout of modern politicians against me. For twenty or thirty years past, it has been the fashion to consider luxury as one of the greatest national advantages; and all the wisdom of antiqnity, in that particular, as erroneous. Still, however, I must remain a professed ancient on that head; and continue to think those luxuries preju. dicial to states by which so many vices are intro. duced, and so many kingdoms have been undone. Indeed so much has been poured out of late on the other side of the question, that, merely for the sake of novelty and variety, one would sometimes wish to be in the right. I am,
SWEET Auburn! loveliest village of the plain, Where health and plenty cheer'd the labouring
swain, Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid, And parting summer's lingʻring blooms delay'd; Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease, Seats of my youth, when every sport could please; How often have I loiter'd o'er thy green, Where humble happiness endear'd each scene ! How often have I paus'd on every charm, The shelter'd cot, the cultivated farm, The never-failing brook, the busy mill, The decent church that topt the neighb'ring hill; The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade, For talking age and whispåring lovers made ! How often have I bless'd the coming day, When toil remitting lent its turn to play, And all the village train, from labour free, Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree ! While many a pastime circled in the shade, The young contending as the old survey'd; And many a gamhol frolick'd o'er the ground, And slights of art and feats of strength went round; And still, as each repeated pleasure tir'd, Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspir'd. The dancing pair that simply sought renowa, By holding out to tire each other down; The swain mistrustless of his sinutted face,