« הקודםהמשך »
“ 'concerned in the damned peace at Utrecht! “ the man that makes up half the volume of “ terse prose, that makes up
the “ the committee, speaking verses! Sic eft, « bomo sum."
He died at Wimpole, a seat of the earl of Oxford, on the eighteenth of September 1721, and was buried in Westminster; where on a monument, for which, as the last piece of buman vanity, he left five hundred pounds, is engraven this epitaph:
Sui Temporis Hiftoriain meditanti,
Paulatim obrepens Febris
H. S. E.
In Congressione Federatorum
Hagæ anno 1690 celebrata,
Tum iis, Qui apud Gallos annis proximis Legationem obierunt; Eodem etiam anno 1697 in Hiberniæ
Miffus anno 1711
De Pace stabilienda,
(Pace etiamnum durante Diuque ut boni jam omnes fperant duratura)
Cum fumma poteftate Legatus.
Hos omnes, quibus cumulatus est, Titulos Humanitatis, Ingenii Eruditionis Laude
Juvenem in Collegio Sti. Johannis
Virum denique auxit & perfecit
Ita natus, ita institutus, A Vatum Choro avelli nunquam potuit, Sed folebat fæpe rerum Civilium gravitatem Amæniorum Literarum Studiis condire:
Et cum omne adeo Poetices genus
Haud infeliciter tentaret,
Quam nullo Illi labore conftiterint,
Aptè variè copiofeque alluderet,
Ita Suos tandem dubios reliquit,
An in Convictu, Comes Jucundior.
Of Prior, eminent as he was, both by his abilities and station, very few memorials have been left by his contemporaries; the account therefore must now be destitute of his private character and familiar practices. He lived at a time when the rage of party detected all which it was any man's interest to hide; and as little ill is heard of Prior, it is certain that not much was known. He was not afraid of provoking cenfure; for when he forsook the
Whigs *, under whose patronage he first entered the world, he became a Tory so ardent and determinate, that he did not willingly confort with men of different opinions. He was one of the sixteen Tories who met weekly, and agreed to address each other by the title of Brother; and seems to have adhered, not only by concurrence of political designs, but by peculiar affection, to the earl of Oxford and his family. With how much confidence he was trusted, has been already told.
He was however, in Pope's * opinion, fit only to make verses, and less qualified for business than Addison himself. surely said without consideration. Addison, exalted to a high place, was forced into degradation by the sense of his own incapacity ; Prior, who was employed by men yery capable of estimating his value, having been fecretary to one embassy, had, when great abilities were again wanted, the fame office another time; and was, after fo much experience of his knowledge and dexterity, at last fent to tranfact a negotiation in the highest degree arduous and important; for which he was quali
fied, among other requisites, in the opinion of Bolingbroke, by his influence upon the French minister, and by skill in questions of commerce above other men.
Of his behaviour in the lighter parts of life, it is too late to get much intelligence. . One of his answers to a boastful Frenchman has been related, and to an impertinent he made another equally proper. During his embassy, he fat at the opera by a man, who, in his rapture, accompanied with his own voice the principal finger. Prior fell to railing at the performer with all the terms of reproach that he could collect, till the Frenchman, ceasing from his song, began to expostulate with him for his harsh censure of a man who was confessedly the ornament of the stage. " I know all " that,” says the ambassador, “ mais il chante fi " baut, que je ne fcaurois vous entendre,
In a gay
every one fung a little song or stanza, of which the burden was, Bannissons la Melancholie; when it came to his turn to sing, after the performance of a young lady that fat next him, he produced these extemporary lines;