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SWEET Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
1 The locality of this poem is supposed to be Lissoy, near Ballymahon, where the poet's brother Henry had his living. As usual in such cases, the place afterwards became the fashionable resort of poetical pilgrims, and paid the customary penalty of furnishing relics for the curious. The hawthorn bush has been converted into snuff-boxes, and now adorns the cabinets of poetical virtuosi.-B. [See also p. 18, and Appendix to our · Life of Goldsmith,' v. i. Notwithstanding the abundance of evidence in favour of Lissoy, many think the original of Auburn is in England ; among these are Mr. Bolton Corney, Mr. Forster, and Pro. fessor Másson. -Ed.]
And still as each repeated pleasure tired,
Sweet, smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
A time there was, ere England's griefs began,
His best companions, innocence and health,
But times are alter'd: trade's unfeeling train Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain ; Along the lawn, where scatter'd hamlets rose,
65 Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose, And every want to opulence allied, And every pang that folly pays to pride. These gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom, Those calm desires that ask'd but little room, Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful scene, Lived in each look, and brighten'd all the green,These, far departing, seek a kinder shore, And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Sweet Auburn! parent of the blissful hour,
In all my wand'rings round this world of care,
1 Editions one and two have “luxury.”—ED. ? At Lissoy it was believed that Goldsmith visited Ireland shortly after his return from his wanderings on the Continent, as he said he would in his letter to his brother-in-law Hodson (Dec. 27, 1757), and that part of this poem was actually written in the village. See Newell's account of his visit to Lissoy, 1811, p. 74.—ED.
3 Var.–After this was the following couplet, in the first three editions :
Here as with doubtful, pensive steps I range,
Trace every scene, and wonder at the change. 4 Var.— My anxious day to husband near the close,
And keep life’s flame, &c.-Editions one to three.
And keep the flame from wasting, by repose :
O, blest retirement, friend to life's decline, Retreats from care that never must be mine! How happy' he who crowns, in shades like these, A youth of labour with an age
Sweet was the sound, when oft, at evening's close,
115 till morn;
1 “ How blest is,” in first and second editions.-ED.
2 Sir Joshua Reynolds drew the idea of his ' Resignation' from these lines. When the picture was engraved by T. Watson, the painter inscribed it to Goldsmith, saying “ This attempt to describe a character in • The Deserted Village is dedicated to Dr. Goldsmith by his sincere friend and admirer Joshua Reynolds.” The painting was in Lord Inchiquin's collection.-Ed.
The playful children just let loose from school; 120
130 She, wretched matron, forced in age, for bread, To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread, To pick her wintry fagot from the thorn, To seek her nightly shed, and weep She only left, of all the harmless train,
135 The sad historian of the pensive plain.
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled, And still where many a garden flower grows wild, There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose, The village preacher's modest mansion rose.
140 A man he was to all the country dear, And passing rich with forty pounds a-year : Remote from towns he ran his godly race, Nor e’er had changed, nor wish'd to change, his place; Unpractis'd he to fawn, or seek for power,
145 By doctrines fashion'd to the varying hour; Far other aims his heart had learn'd to prize, More skill'd to raise the wretched than to rise. His house was known to all the vagrant train, He chid their wand'rings, but relieved their pain: 150 The long remember'd beggar was his guest, Whose beard descending swept his aged breast; The ruin'd spendthrift, now no longer proud, Claim'd kindred there, and had his claims allow'd; The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,
155 Sat by his fire, and talk'd the night away, Wept o'er his wounds, or, tales of sorrow done,
1 Var.-More bent to raise, &c.—The editions prior to the fourth.