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Paris, as secretary to the embassy to France, and continued there performing valuable service, and receiving high distinctions, both under the Earl of Portland and Lord Jersey, and for some time after the arrival of the Earl of Manchester. August 1699 he went to Loo in Holland, and had a private In interview with King William, and thence returned to England, to be Under Secretary in the room of Earl Jersey. He was soon, however, ordered back to Paris to assist the ambassador. It is recorded, that one day, surveying at Versailles the victories of Louis, painted by Lebrun, and accompanied by boastful inscriptions, and being asked whether the King of England's palace had any such decorations, he replied, "The monuments of my master's actions are to be seen everywhere but in his own house." This is, perhaps, the best rebuke, in the shape of a bon-mot, that biography recounts. The details of Prior's diplomatic career are not traced fully in any of his biographies which we have seen; but, as connected with the general politics of the period, will be found in the common histories, and are likely to be given in Macaulay's next volumes.

In the close of 1699 he produced his "Carmen Seculare," a long and glowing panegyric on the king-ranking in power and in truth with Waller's "Panegyric to my Lord Protector." Even Dr Johnson, greatly as he was prejudiced against William, calling him once to Boswell, "One of the most worthless rascals that ever existed," admits Prior's sincerity in this poem, and concedes to the king "the resplendent qualities of steady resolution and personal courage." It is not now, especially after Macaulay's recent full-length portraiture, necessary to enlarge on the calm yet daring courage, the decisive insight and inexorable purpose, the "silent magnanimity," the sublime fate-like coolness, the sense of duty, the solemn Calvinism of spirit and purpose, which dwelt in the poor, prematurely-old, and cough-shattered frame of the Orange-King; who never knew when he was beat, and in whom defeat always developed new resources and new greatness, and who, with all his faults of temper and outward phlegm, of firmness bordering on obstinacy, and severity

approaching at times the cruel, ranks with Alfred and Cromwell as one of the three best and noblest kings of Englandbest and noblest, because to courage, talent, and patriotism, they all added the fear of God, and a regard for His public cause in the world. Such a man as William might have been a "hero to his valet-de-chambre," and much more to a man so penetrating as Prior, and who, as gentleman of the bed-chamber and secretary, had occasion to know him so thoroughly, and see him so nearly, and found him to be as great even in his undress as in public, since, unlike Napoleon and some other monarchs, the Prince of Orange was superior to all artifices and tricks of state.

In 1700 his university conferred the degree of M.A. on Prior. In the same year he succeeded Locke at the Board of Trade, and in 1701 was elected M.P. of East Grimstead, in Sussex. One inconsistency in his capacity of member was specially noticed. He voted for impeaching the lords who advised the Partition Treaty-a treaty in which he had himself been actively employed. His excuse was, that he had been a mere passive agent in the matter, and no more blameable than the pen which indites a deed of conspiracy. Shortly after commenced the brilliant series of Marlborough's victories; and when Blenheim (Aug. 13, 1704) was fought, Prior, in common with Addison and others, celebrated it in verse, praising it both in his letter to Boileau, and in an ode to the queen. Two years after, when the battle of Ramilies took place, he again wrote a poetical panegyric. The custom of finding subjects of rhyme in victories, had existed at least from Dryden's time, and had now come to its climax. Johnson complains, that in the wars of his day the fame of our counsellors and heroes was entrusted to the gazetteer, while the muses were silent. Since then war-poetry has flourished and faded alternately. Our first wars against the French Republicans were not popular with our poets, who were then all Jacobinically inclined, and hence Wordsworth, Southey, and Coleridge, left their celebration to Pye. The mighty contests of Napoleon scared and stunned the birds of song over the world, and Lodi, Marengo, and Austerlitz have never

all

gathered their poetic fame. The glorious uprise of Spain and Portugal against their oppressors, and afterwards the field of Waterloo, aroused the genius of Scott and Southey, while Byron lowered askance, and found in these fights rather a subject for burning invective, and bitter satire, than for poetic enthusiasm. From Waterloo to the Crimean contest, no war, unless we except the struggle in Greece, furnished much material for our poets; and although some genuine bards have sung well of Alma and Inkermann, their strains did not awaken any lively response from the public. In reference to our present war in India, the obscurity of its causes, the various opinions as to its policy, and the horrors of its details, all combine in rendering it unfit for imaginative treatment. Yet Havelock's march to Lucknow was in itself a magnificent episode, although occurring in an epic hitherto as barren as it has been bloody.

The nation soon sickened of the war, and became weary even of its pet and pride-Marlborough. A systematic attempt began to eject the ministry, and to terminate the contest; and while Harley and his coadjutors were busy plotting in the cabinet, and declaiming in parliament, a literary cabal was formed against the Whigs, of which the dark-souled Swift was the master-demon; while Gay, Pope, and Prior, ranked among the subordinate agents. Hence came the Examiner a paper in which the bitterness is still more remarkable than the talent, and the death of which was reserved for the killing smile and glancing rapier of Addison. Prior had, ere this, from a strong Whig become a flaming Tory, avoided by, and avoiding all his old political friends.

In 1711 we find him again in Paris, sent there privately, as minister-plenipotentiary to the court, to negotiate a peace. He remained there for a few weeks, and found that he was not altogether forgotten by his ancient friends. On his return, Monsieur Mesnager and the Abbe Gualtier accompanied our poet, who, however, as his commission from the new ministry had been private, was seized at Canterbury, but speedily released by the queen's orders. The negotiations for peace commenced at Prior's house, and from this time

forward his affairs became complicated with those of the Peace of Utrecht, of which he could say, "Magna pars fui." Appointed our public minister in France-veering between London and Paris as a residence, surrounded by innumerable intrigues, and fascinated by the "fell genius" of Bolingbroke his situation was, for some years, most uneasy and unhappy. He saw a tempest approaching, and had not the resolution or energy to prepare for it. His motives, nevertheless, were disinterested. His salary was ill-paid, his private fortune was insecure, and he knew that his party was tottering; yet he continued true to their interests, and was soon called to suffer in their cause. Returning home on the 25th of March 1715, he found an order of Council, which committed him to custody, waiting as his salutation. An examination before the Privy Council, an impeachment at the instance of Walpole, close imprisonment, and, in 1717, an exception from the Act of Grace, all followed in succession; and some probably expected that the author of the "Thief and the Cordelier" was to share the fate of his famous hero. Suddenly, however, and unaccountably, he was discharged. It is significant, that one of the principal accusations brought against him and Bolingbroke was, that they had been unseasonably witty during the most important and solemn negotiations. We believe the ruling passion would have been as strong at death with them as during negotiation; and that if tried for their lives and condemned, even as Danton and Camille Desmoulins, in similar circumstances, amused themselves with throwing paper pellets at their judges, Prior and Bolingbroke would have covered their everlasting retreat amidst a shower of word and wit missiles.

He was now at large, but it was for some time the liberty of a beggar. During his immersion in public life he had never altogether neglected literature. A good many years before this, he had published a collection of his "Poems," beginning with his "College Exercises," and ending with the "Nut-brown Maid." When reduced to his own resources, he sought to aid himself by collecting all his poems, and publishing them by subscription. The volume included

"Solomon," which was newly written, and was issued at two guineas. It produced for him, in all, the large amount of £4000. Lord Harley, at the same time, expended an equal sum in purchasing Down Hall, a villa in Essex, and munificently bestowed it on the Poet. He had, besides, the proceeds of his fellowship. And now, arrived at a mature but not very advanced age, possessed of a moderate competence, and with all his faculties in complete preservation, he was preparing to write a history of his own times, which would have been an exceedingly interesting as well as instructive work, when he was cut off by a slow fever, September 18, 1721. He was a month or two beyond fifty-seven years. He died at Wimple, near Cambridge, then the seat of the Earl of Oxford. He desired to be buried in Westminster Abbey, and left £500 to defray the expenses of a monument to his memory; and there, accordingly, he lies, beneath a bust by Coriveaux, and a long bad Latin inscription by an anonymous friend.

He was

Not very much is known of the private life and manners of this Poet, and what is known is not very favourable. He excelled, indeed, in conversation, and especially in repartee; but his tastes, in certain directions, were coarse. never married; and except Mrs Rowe, the only objects-so far as we know-of his tenderness were quite unworthy of him. The one whom he called his Chloe was the widow of a little alehouse-keeper, and, after Prior's death, she married a cobbler. Her sobriquet was Flanders Jane. AnotherElizabeth Cox-whom, when he died, he had been about to marry, and who thought herself his Emma, is characterised by Dr Arbuthnot, in terms too coarse to be quoted, as a very worthless character. Pope says, "Prior was not a right good man;" and Richardson states that he would leave the company of Pope and Swift, and smoke a pipe with a common soldier and his wife in Longacre; yet by Harley and Bolingbroke he was loved, trusted, and esteemed. Of his personal habits little else is recorded, except, incidentally by Swift, "that he walked to make himself fat, and was generally troubled with a cough, which he called only a cold."

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