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related by Boyer, that the intention was to have joined Prior in the same commission, but that Shrewsbury refused to be associated with a man so meanly born. Prior therefore continued to act without a title till the duke returned next year to England, and then he assumed the stile and dignity of embassador.
But, while he continued in appearance a private man, he was treated with confidence by Lewis, who sent him with a letter to the Queen, written in favour of the elector of Bavaria. “ I shall ex« pect,” says he, “ with impatience, “ the return of Mr. Prior, whose con“ duct is very agreeable to me.” And while the duke of Shrewsbury was still at Paris, Bolingbroke wrote to Prior
thus : “ Monsieur de Torcy has a con“ fidence in you; make use of it, once “ for all, upon this occafion, and con“ vince him thoroughly, that we must “ give a different turn to our parliament “ and our people, according to their re“ folution at this crisis.”
Prior's publick dignity and splendour conimenced in August 1713, and continued till the August following; but Iam afraid that, according to the usual fate of greatness, it was attended with some perplexities and mortifications. He had not all that is customarily given to ambalfadors : he hints to the queen, in an inperfect poem, that he had no service of plate; and it appeared, by the debes
which he contracted, that his remittances were not punctually made..
On ithe first of August 1714, ensued the downfal of the Tories and the des gradation of Prior. He was recalled ;, but was not able to return, being de tained by the debts which he had found it neceffary to contract, and which were not discharged before March, though his old friend Montague was now at the head of the treasury.
He returned then as soon as he could, and was welcomed on the 25th of March by a warrant, but was, however, suffered to live in his own houfe, under the custody of the messenger, till he was examined before a committee of the Privy Council, of which Mr. Walpole B 4
was chairman, and lord Coningsby, Mr. Stanhope, and Mr. Lechmere, were the principal interrogators; who, in this examination, of which there is printed an account not unentertaining, behaved with the boisterousness of men elated by recent authority. They are represented as asking questions sometimes vague, sometimes infidious, and writing answers different from those which they received. Prior, however, seems to have been overpowered by their turbulence ; for he confesses that he figned what, if he had ever come before a legal judicature, he should have contradicted, or explained away. The oath was administered by Boscawen, a Middlesex justice, who, at last was going to write his attestation on the wrong fide of the paper.
They were very induftrious to find fome charge against Oxford, and afked Prior, with great earnestness, who was present when the preliminary articles were talked of or signed at his house. He told them, that either the earl of Oxford or the duke of Shrewsbury was absent, but he could not remember which; an answer which perplexed them, because it supplied no accusation againft either. « Could any thing be more ab“ furd,” says he, “ or inore inhuman, « than to propose to me a queftion, by “ the answering of which I might, ac“cording to them, prove myself a tray« tor? And notwithstanding their fo