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WRITTEN IN MDCCXXXVIII.
Fr. Nor twice a twelvemonth you appear in print, And when it comes, the Court see nothing in't.
Ver. 1. Not twice a tweldemonth, &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.
Pope. By long habit of writing, and almost constantly in one sort of measure, he had now arrived at a happy and elegant familiarity of
After Ver 2. in the MS.
You don't, I hope, pretend to quit the trade,
You grow correct that once with rapture writ,
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 with dissipation, depravity, and corruption. Yet this very country, so emasculated and debased by every species of folly and wickedness, in about twenty years afterwards, 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 Thousund 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 afterwards 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 intitled, from the year in which they were published, One Thousund Seden. Hundred and Thirty-eight. They were afterwards 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
Warton. Ver. 2. see nothing in't.] He used this colloquial (I will not say barbarism, but) abbreviation, to imitate familiar conversation.
Decay of parts, alas! we all must feel
5 Why now, this moment, don't I see you steal ? 'Tis all from Horace; Horace long before ye Said, “Tories call'd him Whig, and Whigs a Tory;" And taught his Romans, in much better metre, “ To laugh at fools who put their trust in Peter."
But Horace, Sir, was delicate, was nice; Bubo observes, he lash'd no sort of vice : Horace would say, Sir Billy served the Crown, Blunt could do business, H-ggins knew the town; In Sáppho touch the failings of the sex, 15 In reverend bishops note some small neglects,
Ver. 9, 10. And taught his Romans, in much better metre,
“ To laugh at fools who put their trust in Peter ?"] The general turn of the thought is from Boileau :
6 Avant lui, Juvénal avoit dit en Latin,
Qu'on est assis à l'aise aux sermons de Cotin.” Warton. Ver. 12. Bubo obserdes,] Some guilty person, very fond of making such an observation.
Pope. Bubo is said to mean Mr. Doddington, afterward Lord Melcombe.
Warton. Ver. 13. Horace would say,] The business of the friend here, introduced is to dissuade our Poet from personal invectives. But he dexterously turns the very advice he is giving into the bitterest satire. Sir Billy was Sir William Young, who, from a great fluency, was often employed to make long speeches till the minister's friends were collected in the House.
Warton. Ver. 14. H-ggins] Formerly gaoler of the Fleet prison, enriched himself by many exactions, for which he was tried and expelled.
Pope. He was the father of the author of the absurd and prosaic Translation of Ariosto; an account of him is given in the Anecdotes of Hogarth.
And own, the Spaniard did a waggish thing,
Ver. 18. Who cropped our ears,] Said to be executed by the Captain of a Spanish ship on one Jenkins, a Captain of an English one. He cut off his ears, and bid him carry them to the king his master.
Pope. Ver. 18. Who cropped our ears,] This circumstance has been ludicrously called by Burke, “The Fable of Captain Jenkins's ears !” See Coxe's Memoirs.
Bowles. Ver. 22. screen.] « Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
Tangit, et admissus circum præcordia ludit.” Pers. A metaphor peculiarly appropriated to a certain person in power.
Pope. Ver. 24. Patriots there are, ģc.] This appellation was generally given to those in opposition to the Court. Though some of them (which our author hints at) had views too mean and interested to deserve that name.
Ver. 15. In former editions :
Sir George of some slight gallantries suspect.
In Reverend S -n note a small neglect.
There's honest Tacitus* once talk'd as big,
* Mr. Thomas Gordon, who was bought off by a place at Court.
And where's the glory ? 'twill be only thought 25
P. See Sir RoBERT!-hum
Ver. 26. The great man] A phrase, by common use, appropriated to the first Minister.
Ver. 27. Go see Sir ROBERT- -] We must not judge of this minister's character from the Dissertation on Partics, nor from the eloquent Philippics, for eloquent they were, uttered against him in both Houses of Parliament. Hume has drawn his portrait with candour and impartiality. And some of his most vehement antagonists, particularly the great Lord Chatham, lived to allow the merits of that long and pacific ministry, which so much extended the commerce, and consequently enlarged the riches of this country.
Warton. The noblest monument that has been raised to the memory of Sir Robert Walpole, has been by Mr. Coxe, who, from sources of authentic information, has most ably illustrated the eventful period of our history, during the administration of Sir Robert. There is not a circumstance or character connected with the history of the time, but what has received new light from that accurate and elegant historian.
Bowles. Ver. 29. Seen him I hade, &c.] The pleasant, amiable character of Sir Robert in private life, is here most admirably touched. Lady M. W. Montagu's portrait of this eminent statesman, in his character as a private man, gives also a most pleasing idea of him:
On seeing a Portrait of Sir Robert Walpole.