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The following words of Quintilian might not be an improper motto for these Dialogues :
“ Ingenii plurimum est in eo, et acerbitas mira, et urbanitas, et vis summa; sed plus stomacho, quam consilio dedit. Præterea ut amari sales, ita frequenter amaritudo ipsa ridicula est.”
EPILOGUE TO THE SATIRES.
WRITTEN IN MDCCXXXVIII.
DIALOGUE I. Fr. Not twice a twelvemonth you appear in Print, And when it comes, the Court see nothing in't.
You don't, I hope, pretend to quit the trade,
Or, like St. Paul, you'll lie a-bed too long.
Besides, you grow too moral for a Wit.
NOTES. Ver. 1. Not twice a twelvemonth, &c.] These two lines are from Horace; and the only lines that are so in the whole Poem; being meant to give a handle to that which follows in the character of an impertinent Censurer, “ 'Tis all from Horace," &c.
P. By long habit of writing, and almost constantly in one sort of measure, he had now arrived at a happy and elegant familiarity of style, without flatness. The satire in these pieces is of the strongest kind; sometimes, direct and declamatory, at others, ironical and oblique. It must be owned to be carried to excess. Our country is represented as totally ruined, and overwhelmed
You grow correct that once with Rapture writ,
with dissipation, depravity, and corruption. Yet this very country, so emasculated and debased by every species of folly and wickedness, in about twenty years afterward, carried its triumphs over all its enemies, through all the quarters of the world, and astonished the most distant nations with a display of uncommon efforts, abilities, and virtue. So vain and groundless are the prognostications of poets, as well as politicians. It is to be wished, that a genius could be found to write an One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-one, as a counter-part to these two Dialogues, which were more diligently laboured, and more frequently corrected than any of our Author's compositions. I have often heard Mr. Dodsley say, that he was employed by the Author to copy them fairly. Every line was then written twice over; a clean transcript was then delivered to Mr. Pope, and when he afterward sent it to Mr. Dodsley to be printed, he found every line had been written twice over a second time. Swift tells our Author, these Dialogues are equal, if not superior, to any part of his works. They are, in truth, more Horatian than the professed Imitations of Horace. They at first were entitled, from the year in which they were published, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty-eight. They were afterward called, fantastically enough, Epilogue to the Satires, as the Epistle to Arbuthnot was intitled Prologue to the Satires. It is remarkable that the first was published the very same morning with Johnson's admirable London; which Pope much approved, and searched diligently for the Author, who lived then in obscurity. London had a second edition in a week. Pope has himself given more notes and illustrations on these Dialogues than on any other of his poems.
Ver. 2. see nothing in't.] He used the colloquial (I will not say barbarism, but) abbreviation, to imitate familiar conversa