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O'erlook the foe, advantaged by his post,
But O, my muse, what numbers wilt thou find
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm. The concluding simile of the angel has been much celebrated, and was so admired by the lord treasurer, that on seeing it, without waiting for tlie completion of the poem, he rewarded the poet by ap pointing him, in the place of Locke-who had been promoted—a commissioner of appeals.
From the Tragedy of Cato.
Act IV.-Scene 4.-Re-enter PORTIUS.
CATO. Ha! what has he done?
PORTIUS. Scarce had I left my father, but I met him,
Cato. l'm satisfied.
PORTIUS. Nor did he fall before
Caro. Thanks to the gods ! my boy has done his duty.
Portius. Long may they keep asunder.
Lucius. O Cato! arm thy soul with all its patience;
[4 side. )
The citizens and senators, alarmed,
Caro. (meeting the corpse ]
JUBA. Was ever man like this!
Cato. Alas! my friends,
JUBA. Behold that upright inani Rome fills his eyes
CATO. Whate'er the Roman virtue has subdued.
JUBA. While Cato lives, Cæsar will blush to see
Cato. Cæsar ashamed I has not he seen Pharsalia ? :
LUCIUS. Cæsar has mercy, if we ask it of him.
JUBA. If I forsake thee
Caro. Thy virtues, prince, if I foresee aright,
Let me advise thee to retreat betimes
PORTIUS. I hope my father does not recommend
Cato. Farewell, my friends ! if there be any of you
(Pointing to his dead son.
Act V.-Scene 1. (Cato, alone, sitting in a thoughtful posture: in his hand Plato's book on the Im mortality of the Soul. A drawn sword on the table by him.]
It must be so-Plato, thou reason'st weil !
[Laying his hand on his sword!
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
What means this heaviness that hangs upon me?
MATTHEW Prior was born at a place called Abbot Street, one mile from Wimborne-Minster, Dorsetshire, on the 21st of July 1664. He was, as Swift told Stella, of mean birth ; but fortunately a superior education was within his rench. His uncle, Samuel Prior, who kept the Rummer Tavern at Charing Cross, took the charge of bringing up his nephew, and he placed him at Westminster School. It is said he was afterwards taken home to assist in the business of the inn, and whilst there, was one day seen by the Earl of Dorset reading Horace. The earl generously undertook the care of his education; and in his eighteenth year, Prior was entered of St. John's College, Cambridge. Ile distinguished himself during his academical career, and amongst other copies of verses, produced (1687), in conjunction with the Honourable Cliarles Montagu, the City Mouse and Country Mouse,' in ridicule of Dryden's 'Hind and Panther.' The Earl of Dorset did not forget the poet he had snatched from obscurity. He invited him to London, and obtained for bim an appointment as secretary to the Earl of Berkeley, ambassador to the Hague. In this capacity, Prior obtained the approbation of King William, who made him one of the gentlemen of his bed-chamber. In 1697, he was appointed secretary to the embassy on the treaty of Ryswick, at the conclusion of which he was presented with a considerable sum of money by the lorris-justices. Next year he was ambassador at the court of Versailles. Jolinson relates that as the poet was one day surveying the apartments at Versailles, being shewn the victories of Louis painted by Le Brun, and asked whether the King of England's palace had any such decorations: “The monuments of my master's actions,' said he,' are to be seen everywhere but in his own house.' On his return to England the poet was appointed a Commissioner of Trade. In 1701, he entered the House of Commons as representative for the borough of East Grinstead, and abandoning his former friends, the Whigs, joined the Tories in impeaching Lord Somers. This came with a peculiarly bad grace from Prior, for the charge against Somers was, that he had advised the partition treaty, in which treaty the poet himself bad acted as agent. He evinced his patriotism, however, by afterwards celebrating in verse the battles of Blenheim and Ramilies (1706).
When the Whig government was at length overturned, Prior be. came attached to Harley's administration, and went with Bolingbroke to France in 1711, to negotiate a treaty of peace. He lived in splendour in Paris, was a favourite of the French monarch, and enjoyed all the honours of ambassador. He returned to London in 1715. Queen Anne was then dead (August 1, 1714); and the Whigs being again in office, Prior was committed to custody on a charge of high treason. The accusation against him was, that he had held claudestine conferences with the French plenipotentiary, though, as he justly replied, no treaty was ever made without private interviews and preliminaries. The Whigs were indignant at the disgraceful treaty of Utrecht; but Prior only shared in the culpability of the government. The able but profligate Bolingbroke was the master-spirit that prompted the humiliating concession to France. After two years' confinement, the poet was released without a trial. He had in the interval written his poem of 'Alma;' and being now left without any other support than his fellowship of St. John's College, he continued his studies, and produced his Solomon,' the most elaborate of his works. He bad also recourse to the publication of a collected edition of his poems (1718), which was sold to subscribers for two guineas each copy, and which realised four thousand guineas. An equal sum was presented to Prior by the Earl of Oxford, and thus he had laid up a provision for old age. He was ambitious only of comfort and private enjoyment. Thiese, however, he did not long possess ; for lie died on the 18th of September 1721, at Lord Oxford's seat at Wim. pole, being at the time in the fifty-seventh year of his age. The Duchess of Portland, Lord Oxford's daughter, said Prior made himself beloved by every living thing in the house-master, child, and servant, human creature or animal. He is, however, described as having been fond of low company, and at the time of his death, was, according to Arbuthnot, on the point of marrying a certain Bessy Cox, who kept an alelouse in Long Acre. To this worthless female and to his man-servant, Prior left his estate. Arbuthnot, writing to a friend the month after Prior's death, says: 'We are to have a bowl of punch at Bessy Cox's. _She would fain have put it upon Lewis that she was his (Prior's) Emma : she owned Flanders Jane was his Chloc.' To this doubtful Chloe some of his happiest effusions were devoted. The fairest and most high-born lady in the land might have envicd such complimentary strains as the following:
What I speak, my fair Chloe, and what I write, shews
The difference there is betwixt nature and art;
And they have my whimsies, but thou hast my heart.
How after his journey he sets up his rest;