« הקודםהמשך »
friends began to ' hope that they might, by driving the Whigs from court and from power, gratify at once the queen and the people. There was now a call for writers, who might convey intelligence of paft abuses, and shew. the waste of public money, the unreasonable Conduct of the Allies, the avarice of generals, the tyranny of minions, and the general danger of approaching ruin.
For this purpose a paper called the Examiner' was periodically published; written, as it happened, by any wit of the party, and fometimes as is faid by Mrs. Manley. Some are owned by Swift; and one, in ridicule of Garth's verses to Godolphin upon the lofs of his place, was written by Prior, and anfwer, ed by Addison, who appears to have known the author either by conjecture or intelligence.
The Tories, who were now in power, were in haste to end the war; and Prior, being recaled (1710) to his former employment of making treaties, was sent (July 1711) privately to Paris with propositions of peace, He was remembered at the French court;
and, returning in about a month, brought with him M. Mesnager, a minister from France, invested with full powers, and the Abbé Gaultier.
This transaction not being avowed, Mackay, the master of the Dover packet-boat, either zealously or officiously, seized Prior and his associates at Canterbury. It is easily supposed that they were soon released.
The negotiation was begun at Prior's house, where the Queen's ministers met Mefnager (September 20, 1711), and entered privately
great business. The importance of Prior appears
from the mention made of him by St. John in his Letter to the Queen.
« My Lord Treasurer moved, and all my " Lords were of the same opinion, that Mr. * Prior ihould be added to those who are « impowered to sign; the reason for which
is, because he, having personally treated * with Monsieur de Torcy, is the best wit" nefs we can produce of the sense in which " the general preliminary engagements are * entered into: besides which, as he is the
66 best versed in matters of trade of all your “ Majesty's servants who have been trusted “.in this secret, if you shall think fit to em .. ploy him in the future treaty
of commerce; “ it will be of consequence that he has been
a party concerned in concluding that convention, which must be the rule of this treaty."
The assembly of this important night was in some degree clandestine, the design of treating not being yet openly declared, and, when the Whigs returned to power, was aggravated to a charge of high treason; though, as Prior remarks in his imperfect answer to the Report of the Committee of Secrecy, no treaty ever was made without private interviews and preliminary discussions.
My business is not the history of the peace, but the life of Prior. The conferences began at Utrecht on the first of January (1711-12), and the English plenipotentiaries arrived on the fifteenth. The ministers of the different potentates conferred and conferred; but the peace advanced so flowly, that speedier methods were found necessary, and Boling
broke, was sent to Paris to adjust differences with less formality; Prior either accompanied him or followed him; and after his departure had the appointments and authority of an ambassador, though no public character.
By some mistake of the Queen's orders, the court of France had been disgusted; and Bolingbroke says in his Letter, “Dear Mat, 6 hide the nakedness of thy country, and
give the best turn thy fertile brain will fur" nifh thee with to the blunders of thy coun
trymen, who are not much better politi« cians than the French are poets."
Soon after the duke of Shrewsbury went on a formal embassy to Paris. It is 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 style 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 expect," says he, “ with " impatience, the return of Mr. Prior, whofe “ conduct 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 confidence in you;
make use of it, once for all, upon “ this occasion, and convince him thoroughly, " that we must give a different turn to our
parliament and our people, according to w their resolution at this crisis."
Prior's public dignity and splendour commenced in August 1713, and continued till the August following; but I am 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 ambassadors: he hints to the queen, in an imperfect poem, that he had no service of plate; and it appeared, by the debts which he contracted, that his remittances were not punctually made.