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SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
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 faid to excel; and I may lofe much by the severity of your judgment, as few have a jufter tafte in poetry than you. Setting intereft therefore afide, to which I never paid much attention, I must be indulged at prefent in following my affections. The only dedication I ever made was to my brother, because I loved him better than most other men. dead. Permit me to infcribe this poem to you. He is fince you may be pleased with the verfification and mere mechanical parts of this attempt, I don't pretend to inquire; but I know you will object (and indeed several of Our beft and wifeft friends concur in the opinion) that the depopulation it deplores is no where to be feen, and the diforders it laments are only to be found in the poet's n imagination. To this I can fcarce make a anfwer than that I fincerely believe what I have written; any other that I have taken all poffible pains, in my country excurfons, for thefe four or five years paft, 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 difplay. But this is not the place to enter into an inquiry, whether the country be depopulating, or not; the difcuffion 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 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 fhout of modern politicians againft me. For twenty or thirty years paft, 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 profeffed ancient on that head, and continue to think those luxuries prejudicial to flates, by which fo many vices are introduced, and fo many kingdoms have been undone. Indeed fo much has been poured out of late on the other fide of the queftion, 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,
SWEET AUBURN! loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty chear'd the lab'ring fwain,
Seats of my youth, when ev'ry sport could please,
The dancing pair that fimply fought renown,
The hollow founding bittern guards its neft;
Ill fares the land, to haft'ning ills a prey,