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SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
I CAN have no expectations in an address of this kind,
CAN either to add to your reputation, or to establish my own. You can gain nothing from my admiration, as I am ignofant of that art in which you are said to excel; and I may lose much by the severity of your judgment, as few have a juster taste in poetry than you. Setting intereft therefore aside, to which I never paid much attention, I must be indulged at present in following my affections. 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 inscribe this poem to you.
How far you may be pleased with the versification and mere mechanical parts of this attempt, I don't 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 feen, 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 have taken all possible pains, in my country excurlions, 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 beft, an indifferent politician, to tire the reader with a long preface, when I want his un fatigued 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 confider luxury as one of the greatest national advantages ; and all the wisdom of antiquity in that particular, as erroneous. Still, however, I must remain a professed ancient on that head, and continue to think those luxuries prejudicial to ftates, by which so many vices are introduced, and fo many kingdoms have been undone. Indeed so much has been poured out of late on the other fide of the question, that, merely for the fake of novelty and variety, one would sometimes wish to be in the right. I am,
YOUR SINCERE FRIEND,
AND ARDENT ADMIRER,
OLIVER GOLDSMITH. THE
WEET AUBURN ! loveliest village of the plain,
The dancing pair that fimply fought renown, 25
Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn, 35
40 No more thy glaffy brook reflects the day, But, choak'd with fedges, works its weedy way; Along thy glades, a solitary guest, The hollow founding bittern guards its neft; Amidst thy desart walks the lapwing flies,
45 And tires their echoes with unvary'd cries. Sunk are thy bow'rs in shapeless ruin all, And the long grass o'ertops the mould'ring wall, And trembling, fhrinking from the spoiler's hand, Far, far away thy children leave the land.
50 Ill fares the land, to haft'ning ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay ; Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade ; A breath can make them, as a breath has made : But a bold peasantry, their country's pride, 55 When once destroy'd, can never be supply'd.