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Where wild Oswego spreads her swamps around,
E'en now, perhaps, as there some pilgrim strays
Vain, very vain, my weary search to find
1 In the Respublica Hungarica, there is an account of a desperate rebellion in the year 1514, headed by two brothers, George and Luke Zeck. When it was quelled, George, not Luke, was punished by his head being encircled with a red-hot iron crown. Mr. Boswell pointed out Goldsmith's mistake.
FIRST PRINTED IN 1769.
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 much 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 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 do not pretend to inquire: but I know you will object—and indeed several of our best and wisest friends concur in the opinionthat 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 have 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 antiquity, in that particular,
Still, however, I must remain a professed ancient, on that head; and continue to think those luxuries prejudicial to states, by which so many vices are introduced, 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.
Your sincere friend,
And ardent admirer,
SWEET Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
up their sports beneath the spreading tree;
The dancing pair, that simply sought renown
Sweet smiling village! loveliest of the lawn,
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,