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REV. HENRY GOLDSMITH.
I AM Sensible that the friendship between us can acquire no new force from the ceremonies of a Dedication; and, perhaps, it demands an excuse thus to prefix your name to my attempts, which you
decline giving with your own: But as a part of this poem was formerly written to you from Switzerland, the whole can now, with propriety, be only in fcribed to you. It will also throw a light upon many parts of it, when the Reader understands, that it is addressed to a man, who, despising fame and fortune, has retired early to happiness and obscurity, with an income of forty pounds a-year.
I now perceive, my dear brother, the wisdom of your humble choice. You have entered upon a sacred office, where the harvest is great, and the labourers are but few; while you have left the field of ambition, where the labourers are many, and the harvest not worth carrying away. But of all kinds of ambition, as things are now circumstanced, per. haps that which pursues Poetical fame is the wildest. What from the increased refinement of the times, from the diversity of judgments, produced by opposing Systems of criticism, and
from the more prevalent divisions of opinion influenced by party, the strongest and happiest efforts can expect to please but in a very narrow circle.
Poetry makes a principal amusement among unpolished nations ; but in a country verging to the extremes of refinement, Painting and Music come in for a share: And as these offer the feeble mind a less laborious entertainment, they at first rival Poetry, and at length fupplant her--they engross all that favour once frewn to her, and, though but younger sisters, seize upon the elder's birth-right.
Yet, however this Art may be neglected by the powerful, it is fill in greater danger from the mistaken efforts of the learned to improve ů. What criticisms have we not heard of late in favour of blank verse, and Pindaric odes-choruffes, anapests, and iambics-allite
rative care and happy negligence! Every absurdity has now a champion to defend it, and, as he is generally much in the wrong, fo he has always much to say-for error is ever talkative.
But there is an enemy to this Art still more dangerous--I mean Party. Party entirely diftorts the judgment, and destroys the taste. When the mind is once infected with this disease, it can only find pleasure in what contributes to increase the distemper. Like the tyger that seldom defifts from pursuing man after having once preyed upon human flesh, the Reader who has once gratified his appetite with calumny, makes, cuer after, the most agreeable feast upon mur. dered reputation. Such Readers generally admire fome half-witted thing, who wants to be thought a bold man, having lost the character of a wise one : Him they dignify with the name of Poethis tawdry lampoons are called fatires, his turbulence is said to be force, and his phrenzy fire.
What reception a Poem may find, which has neither abuse, party, nor blank ver se to support it, I cannot tell, nor am I solicitous to knou. My aims are right. Without espousing the cause of any party, I have attempted to moderate the rage of all. I have endeavoured to shew, that there may be equal happiness in states that are differently governed from our own—that every state has a par. ticular principle of happiness—and that this principle in each may be carried to a mischievous excess. There are few can judge better than your self how far these positions are illustrated in this Poem. I am, dear Sir, Your most affectionate Brother,
A PROSPECT OF SOCIETY.
Remote, unfriended, melancholy, flow,
Eternal blessings crown my earliest friend,
Laugh at the jests or pranks that never fail,
But me, not destin'd such delights to share,
Ev'n now, where Alpine folitudes ascend,
When thus creation's charms around combine,