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“My Lord Treafurer moved, and all “ my Lords were of the same opinion, " that Mr. Prior should be added to “ those who are impowered to sign; the “ reason for which is, because he, having “ personally treated with Monfieur de “ Torcy, is the best witness we can prou duce of the fenfe in which the general « preliminary engagements are entered W into: besides which, as he is the best “ versed in matters of trade of all your « Majefty's servants who have been “ trufted in this secret, if you shall think “ fit to employ him in the future treaty “ of commerce, it will be of confe“ quence that he has been a party con“ cerned in concluding that conven« tion, which must be the rule of this “ treaty."
The assembly of this important night was in some degree clandestine, the defign 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 potcntates conferred and conferred; but the peace advanced so slowly, that speedier meB2
thods 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 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 ambalsadørs : 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. · On the 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 detained by the debts which he had found it necessary 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 house, under the custody of the messenger, till he was examined before a committee of the Privy Council, of which Mr. Walpole thods were found necessary, and Bolingbroke 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 publick character.
By some mistake of the Queen's orders, the court of France had been difgused; and Bolingbroke 'says in his Letter, “ Dear Mat, hide the nakedness 66 of thy country, and give the best turn " thy fertile brain will furnish thee with “ to the blunders of thy countrymen, " who are not much better politicians " than the French are poets.”
Soon after the duke of Shrewsbury went on a formal embafly to Paris. It is