« PreviousContinue »
Earl of Dorset, who sent him to Cambridge. He obtained a fellowship at St John's College, and became so well known as a man of talent, that, in 1691, he was appointed secretary to the ambassador at the Hague, and in the same capacity was engaged in the negotiations previous to the peace of Ryswick in 1697, and afterwards at the court of Versailles. On returning from France, he was first made under-secretary of state, and soon afterwards commissioner of trade. Prior was employed in the memorable treaty of Utrecht, at the instigation of
Queen Anne's Tory ministry. The writings of Prior are remarkable for ease, fluency, and
correctness, Of the cold French school he is one of the most successful disciples. His works are embodied in the best editions of the British Poets, and his remains repose in Westminster Abbey. A complete elucidation of his character as a poet may be found in his cold, artificial version of the beautiful old ballad of “ The Nutbrown Maid."
AN EPITAPH. INTERR'd beneath this marble stone Lie sauntering Jack and idle Joan. While rolling threescore years and one Did round this globe their courses run, If human things went ill or well, If changing empires rose or fell, The morning past, the evening came, And found this couple still the same. They walk’d, and eat, good folks : what then ? Why then they walk'd and eat again : They soundly slept the night away ; They did just nothing all the day : And, having buried children four, Would not take pains to try for more.
Nor sister either had nor brother ;
Their moral and economy
They paid the church and parish rate,
No man's defects sought they to know :
They neither added nor confounded ;
Nor tear nor smile did they employ
Nor good, nor bad, nor fools, nor wise ;
THE FEMALE PHAETON.
And wild as colt untamed,
With little rage inflamed :
Inflamed with rage at sad restraint,
Which wise mamma ordain'd ; And sorely vex'd to play the saint,
Whilst wit and beauty reign’d :
“ Shall I thumb holy books, confined
With Abigails forsaken ? Kitty's for other things design'd,
Or I am much mistaken.
(a) “ Prior's Kitty" afterwards became the Dutchess of Queensberry, the eccentric patroness of the poet Gay.
“ Must Lady Jenny frisk aboutz
And visit with her cousins ?
And bring home hearts by dozens ?
“ What has she better, pray, than I,
What hidden charms to boast, That all mankind for her should die,
Whilst I am scarce a toast ?
66 Dearest mamma! for once let me,
Unchain'd, my fortune try ; I'll have my Earl as well as she,
Or know the reason why.
“ I'll soon with Jenny's pride quit score,
Make all her lovers fall :
She, I was loosed at all.”
Fondness prevail'd, mamma gave way ;
Kitty, at heart's desire, Obtain'd the chariot for a day,
And set the world on fire.
BORN DEC. 1630-DIED 1687.
COTTON is best known as the disciple and enthusiastic ad
mirer of Isaac Walton. In his burlesque verses, a light and happy vein is occasionally displayed. Cotton, who must not be confounded with his excellent namesake, Dr Cotton, was a Derbyshire cavalier, and having, like too many of his contemporaries, embarrassed his estate by imprudence and extravagance, ended his days in the Sanctuary of Westminster.
THE WELSH GUIDE.
FROM THE VOYAGE TO IRELAND,
up I soon start, and was dress'd in a trice, And call'd for a draught of ale, sugar, and spice; Which having turn'd off, I then call to pay, And packing my nawls, whipp'd to horse, and
away. A guide I had got, who demanded great vails, For conducting me over the mountains of Wales : Twenty good shillings, which sure very large is ; Yet that would not serve, but I must bear his
charges ; And yet for all that, rode astride on a beast, The worst that e'er went on three legs, I protest : It certainly was the most ugly of jades, His hips and his rump made a right ace of spades; His sides were two ladders, well spur-gall’d
His neck was a helve, and his head was a mall ; For his colour, my pains and your trouble I'll
spare, For the creature was wholly denuded of hair And, except for two things, as bare as my nail, A tuft of a mane, and a sprig of a tail ; And by these the true colour one can no more
know, Than by mouse-skins above stairs, the merkin