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first notice, with some degree of discontent, as it seems, in Prior, who probably knew that his own part of the performance was the best. He had not, however, much reason to complain; for he came to London, and obtained such notice, that (in 1691) he was sent to the congress at the Hague as · secretary to the embaffy. In this assembly of princes and nobles, to which Europe has perhaps scarcely seen any thing equal, was formed the grand alliance against Lewis; which at last did not produce effects proportionate to the magnificence of the tranfaction.
The conduct of Prior, in this splendid initiation into publick business, was so pleasing to king William, that he made
him one of the gentlemen of his bedchamber; and he is supposed to have paffed some of the next years in the cultivation of literature and poetry.
The death of queen Mary (in 1695) produced a subject for all the writers : perhaps no funeral was ever so poetically attended. Dryden, indeed, as a man difcountenanced and deprived, was filent; but scarcely any other maker of verses omitted to bring his tribute of tuneful forrow. An emulation of elegy was universal. Maria’s praise was not confined to the English language, but fills a great part of the Musce Anglicana... . Prior, who was both a poet and a courtier, was not likely to miss this op porturity of respect. He wrote a long
ode, which was presented to the king, by whom it was not likely to be ever read.
In two years he was secretary to another embassy at the treaty of Ryswick (in 1697); and next year had the same office at the court of France, where he is said to have been considered with. great distinction.
As he was one day surveying the apartments at Versailles, being shewn the Victories of Lewis, painted by Le Brun, and asked whether the king of England's palace had any such decorations; The monuments of my Master's actions, said he, are to be seen every-where but in his own house. The pictures of Le Brun are not only in themselves suf
ficiently oftentatious, but were explained by inscriptions so arrogant, that Boileau and Racine thought it necessary to make. them more simple.
He was in the following year at Loo with the king; from whom, after a long audience, he carried orders to England, and upon his arrival became undersecretary of state in the earl of Jersey's office;. a post which he did not retain long, because Jersey was removed; but he was foon made commiflioner of Trade.
This year. (1700) produced one of his longest and most splendid compofi-tions, the Carmen Seculare, in which he: exhausts all his powers of celebration.. I mean not to accuse him of flattery;
he probably thought all that he writ, and retained as inuch veracity as can be properly exacted from a poet professedly encomiaftick. King William supplied copious materials for either verse or prose. His whole life had been action, and no man ever denied him the resplendent qualities of steady resolution and personal courage. He was really in Prior's mind what he represents him in his verses; he considered him as a hero, and was accustomed to say, that he praised others in compliance with the fashion, but that in celebrating king William he followed his inclination. To Prior gratitude would dictate praise, which reason would not refuse.