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How small, of all that human hearts endure,
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure !
* First published in May, 1770; and now printed from the fourth edition, also dated in 1770. Its emendations have hitherto escaped notice.- Dedication. Sir Joshua Reynolds, who had been appointed president of the Royal Academy in 1768, was not insensible to this fine
dedication. He soon afterward painted his picture of Resignation ; which was engraved by Thomas Watson, and thus inscribed: “This attempt to express a character in The deserted village [lines 109-112] is dedicated to Dr. Goldsmith by his sincere friend and admirer, Joshua REYNOLDS.” 1772. — Line 1. Sweet Auburn! Auburn-a poetical name. The site of the village is in the southern part of England. Line 44. The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest. The author elsewhere observes that there is no note “so dismally hollow as the booming of the bittern.” Line 124. And filld each pause the nightingale had made. He also observes that the proper epithet for the music of the nightingale is the pausing song. Line 344. Where wild Altama murmurs to their woe. The river Alatamaha, pronounced Oltamawhaw, in North America. It is noticed by Burke as one of the boundaries of Georgia. The first attempt to colonize that province, which proved very unfortunate, was made under Oglethorpe, in 1732. Line 355. Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey. The American tiger, says Noah Webster, is the felis onça or jaguar. Line 418. On Tornca's cliffs or Pambamarca's side. The river Tornea, which falls into the gulf of Bothnia. Pambamarca, a mountain near Quito. The anthor bears in memory the operations of the French philosophers in the arctic and equatorial regions, as described in the celebrated narratives of M. Maupertuis and Don Antonio de Ulloa. Lines 427–30. That trade's proud empire, etc. These four lines were contributed by Johnson.
SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
I can have no expectations, in an address of this kind, either to add to your reputation or to establish my
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
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 opinion — that the depopulation it deplores is nowhere 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 alledge; 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.