תמונות בעמוד
PDF

(Pace etiamnum durante IDiuque ut boni jam omnes sperant duratura) Cum summa potestate Legatus Matthæus Prior Armiger Qui Hos omnes, quibus cumulatus est, titulos Humanitatis, ingemii, eruditionis laude Superavit Cui enim nascenti faciles arriserunt musæ Hunc Puerum Schola hic regia perpolivit. Juvenem in collegio S'ti Johannis Cantabrigia Optimis scientiis instruxit Virum denique auxit, et perfecit Multa cum viris Principibus consuetudo Ita natus, ita institutus, A vatum choro, avelli nunquam potuit Sed solebat sæpe rerum Civilium gravitatem, Amæniorum literarum studiis condire Et cum omne adeo Poetices genus Haud infeliciter tentaret Tum in fabellis concinne lepideque texendis Mirus Artifex Neminem habuit parem Hæc liberalis animi oblectamenta Quam nullo illi labore constiterint Facile ii perspexere, quibus usus est Amici Apud quos Urbanitatem et leporum plenus Cum ad rem quæcunque forte inciderat Aptè, variè copiosèque alluderet Interea nihil quæsitum, nihil vi expressum Videbatur Sed omnia ultro effluere Et quasi jugi e fonte affatim exuberare Ita suos tamdem dubios reliquit Essetne in Scriptis Poeta eleqantior An in Convictu, Comes jucundior.

[graphic]

II. Extra t from Warton's Pope on the MSS. of Prior.

‘Our friend Dan Prior told, you know,
A tale extremely a propos.’

I HAVE frequently wondered how sparing Pope has been in general in his praises of Prior, especially as the latter was the intimate friend of Swift and Lord Oxford. I imagine this reserve is owing principally to some satirical epigrams that Prior wrote on Atterbury. The Alma is not the only composition of Prior, in which he has displayed a knowledge of the world, and of human nature: for I was once permitted to read a curious manuscript, late in the hands of her Grace the Duchess Dowager of Portland, containing essays and dialogues of the dead, on the following subjects by Prior: 1. Heads for a Treatise on Learning. 2. Essay on Opinion. 3. A Dialogue between Charles the Fifth and Herard the Grammarian. 4. Betwixt Locke and Montayne. 5. The Vicar of Bray and Sir Thomas More. 6. Oliver Cromwell and his Porter.1

1 See Spence's Anecdotes, p. 48. Prior kept every thing by him, even to all his school exercises. There is a manuscript collection of this kind, in his servant, Drift's hands which contains at least half as much as all his publishe works. And there are nine or ten copies of verses among them, which I thought much better than several things he himself published. #. particular, I remember there was a dialogue of about two hundred verses, between Apollo and Daphne, which pleased me as much as any thing of his I ever read. There are also four dialogues in prose, between persons of characters very strongly opposed to one another,

[ocr errors][graphic]

If these pieces were published, Prior would appear to be as good a prose writer, as a poet. It seems to be growing a little fashionable to decry his great merits as a poet. They who do this, seem not sufficiently to have attended to his admirable ode to Mr. Charles Montagu, Earl of Halifax. His ode to the queen, 1706, and his epistle and ode to Boileau: most of his tales, the Alma here mentioned; the Henry and Emma, (in which surely are many strokes of tenderness and pathos) and his Solomon, a poem which, however faulty in its plan, has yet very many noble and finished passages, and which has been so elegantly and classically translated by Dobson, as to reflect honour on the College of Winchester, where he was educated, and where he translated the first book as a school exercise. I once heard him lament, that he had not at that time read Lucretius, which would have given a richness, and variety, and force to his verses, the only fault of which seems to be a monotony, and want of different pauses, occasioned by translating a poem in rhyme, which he avoided in his Milton. It is one mark of a poem intrinsically good that it is capable of being well translated. The political conduct of Prior was blamed on account of the part he took in the famous partition treaty; but in some valuable memoirs of his life, written by the honourable Mr. Montagu, his friend, which were also in the possession of the Duchess Dowager of Portland, this conduct is clearly accounted for, and amply defended. In those memoirs are many curious and interesting particulars of the history of that time,

which I thought very good. One of them was between Charles the Fifth and his tutor Adrian. The sixth, to show the different turns of a person who had studied human nature, only in his closet, and of one who had rambled all Over Europe. Another, between Montayne and Locke, on a most regular and a very loose way of thinking. A third, between 0. Cromwell and his mad Porter, and the fourth, between Sir Thomas More and the Vicar of Bray, (Pope.) In a curious and original letter which I have read. by the favour of the late Duchess Dowager of Portland, Prior speaks thus slightingly of the veracity of the celebrated Earl of Peterborough to Lord Oxford, Feb. 10, 1714— Lord Peterborough, says he, is gone from Genoa in an open boat—that's one; 300 miles by sea—that's two; that he was forced ashore twenty times by tempests and majorkeens, to lie among the rocks—that's—how many, my lord treasurer 3"

[graphic]

III. From Bolingbroke's Correspondence. 4 vols. 8vo.

Sept. 1712. * * * What I trouble you with is, you see, a parcel of letters, which have been brought hither, and where left during my writing from Fontainbleau. They are, I believe, of no great worth, and might have staid on this side for ever. Indeed, they had like to have done so, for your friend Matt has for fifty hours past had a trousse-galante dans toutes les formes, and I was of opinion that I was going ad Palamedem, ad Ulyssem, et Heroas. I have changed this opinion these twelve hours past, and I hope to live with Lord Treasurer and Lord Bolingbroke, who are e'en as good company; why do I not hear from you all

Jan. 1713—Matt to Henry.—I have heard no more from the Congress at Utrecht, than if it were the council of Jerusalem. What last I had from you thence, I faithfully transferred to you, expecting your orders thereupon. If you agree with the proposal of Newfoundland, which is the same you and I (N.B. this is Matt and Harry) laid down: and if we can take 1664 (or our plan, in order to reduce the traffic to that era, the peace is made. Other. wise I see no shore. Not but that I am ready to swim as long as you please in alto mari or super altum mare, for that you will remember was a point of grammar long discussed: as are some other points, arrogat, or assumpsit, and—parlons d'autres choses. * * * * I have made your compliments to my Lady Duchess, and thank you for the hint as to the morbré in truffles.” “Non sunt contemmenda quasi parva, sine quibus magna constare mon possunt.”

April 8, 1713. * * * TO HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF SIIREWSBURY. (With Montaign's Essays inclosed in the above Letter.)

DICTATE, oh, mighty judge, what thou hast seen
Of cities and of courts, of books and men,
And deign to let thy servant hold thy pen.

Through ages thus I might presume to live,
And from the transcript of thy prose receive
What my own short-liv'd verse can never give.

Thus should fair Britain, with a gracious smile,
Receive the work ; the venerable isle,
For more than treaties made, should bless my toil.

Nor longer hence the Gallic style preferr'd,
Wisdom in English idiom should be heard,
While Shrewsbury told the world when Montagne err'd.

—Are they good What think you of an oak, which is Britain; a trophy of arms at the bottom of it, a wreath of palm hung on the tree; over the trophy, innumeris potior.

1 This passage alludes to some trifles which he had sent to Q. Anne.

[graphic]
« הקודםהמשך »