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SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
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 juster taste in poetry than you. Setting interest therefore afide, 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 fince dead. Permit me to inscribe this Poem to you.
How far you may be pleased with the verfification and mere mechanical parts of this attempt, I don't pretend to enquire; 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 own imagination. To this I can scarce make any other answer than that I fincerely believe what I have written ; that I have taken all poffible pains, in my country excurfions, for these four or five years paft, to be certain of what I alledge, and that all my views and enquiries have led me to believe those miseries real, which I here attempt to display. But this is not the place to enter into an enquiry, whether the country be depopulating, or not; the difcuffion would take much room, up 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 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 professed ancient on that head, and continue to think those luxuries prejudicial to states, by which so 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 question, that, merely for the fake of novelty and variety, one would sometimes wish to be in the right.
Your fincere friend,
and ardent admirer,
WEET AUBURN, lovelieft village of the plain, Where health and plenty cheared the labouring fwain, Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,