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graceful 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 being kept in confinement during two tedious years, the poet was at length released without even the form of a trial. He had, in the interval, written his poem of Alma; and being now left without any other support than that which he derived from his fellowship of St. John's College, he continued his studies, and produced his Solomon, the most elaborate of his works. He had also recourse to the publication of a collected edition of his poems, from which he realized the handsome sum of four thousand pounds. An equal amount was presented to him by the Earl of Oxford, and his old age was thus amply provided for. He was now ambitious only of comfort and private enjoyment. These, however, he did not long possess; as his death, which occurred on the eighteenth of September, 1721, soon followed his retire


The works of Prior embrace odes, songs, epistles, epigrams, and tales, and exhibit a great variety of style and subject. His largest poem, 'Solomon,' is of a serious character, and was regarded by the author as his best production. It is certainly the most moral, and perhaps the most correctly written; but the tales and lighter pieces of Prior, are, in our judgment, his happiest efforts. In these he displays that 'charming ease' with which he embellishes all his poems, added to the lively illustration and colloquial humor of his great model, Horace. No poet, perhaps, ever possessed, in greater perfection, the art of graceful and fluent versification, than Prior. His narratives flow on like a clear stream, without a single fall, and interest us by their perpetual good-humor and vivacity, even when they wander into metaphysics, as in 'Alma,' or into licentiousness, as in his Tales. His expression is choice and studied, abounding in classical allusions and images, but without any air of pedantry or constraint. Like Swift, he loved to versify the common occurrences of life, and relate his personal feelings and adventures; but he had none of the dean's bitterness or misanthropy, and employed no stronger weapons of satire than raillery and arch allusion. He sported on the surface of existence, noting its foibles, its pleasures, and its eccentricities, but without the power of penetrating into its recesses, or evoking the higher passions of our nature. He was the most natural of artificial poets a seeming paradox, yet as true as the old maxim, that 'the perfection of art is the concealment of art.' The following specimens sufficiently exemplify all the peculiar characteristics of this author to which we have alluded:


The pride of every grove I chose,
The violet sweet and lily fair,
The dappled pink and blushing rose,
To deck my charming Chloe's hair.

At morn the nymph vouchsaf'd to place
Upon her brow the various wreath;
The flowers less blooming than her face,
The scent less fragrant than her breath.

The flowers she wore along the day,
And every nymph and shepherd said,
That in her head they look'd more gay
Than glowing in their native bed.

Undress'd at evening, when she found
Their odours lost, their colours past,
She chang'd her look, and on the ground
Her garland and her eyes she cast.

That eye dropp'd sense distinct and clear,
As any muse's tongue could speak,
When from its lid a pearly tear

Ran trickling down her beauteous cheek.

Dissembling what I knew too well,
My love, my life, said I, explain
This change of humour; prithee tell-
That falling tear-what does it mean?

She sigh'd, she smil'd; and to the flowers
Pointing, the lovely mor'list said,
See, friend, in some few fleeting hours,
See yonder, what a change is made.

Ah me! the blooming pride of May
And that of beauty are but one;
At morn both flourish bright and gay,
Both fade at evening, pale, and gone.


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 just the same.

They walk'd and ate, good folks: What then?

Why, then they walk'd and ate again;

They soundly slept the night away;

They did just nothing all the day.

Nor sister either had nor brother;

They seem'd just tallied for each other.
Their Moral and Economy

Most perfectly they made agree;
Each virtue kept its proper bound,
Nor trespass'd on the other's ground.
Nor fame nor censure they regarded;
They neither punish'd nor rewarded.

He cared not what the footman did;
Her maids she neither prais'd nor chid:
So every servant took his course,

And, bad at first, they all grew worse.
Slothful disorder fill'd his stable,

And sluttish plenty deck'd her table.
Their beer was strong, their wine was port;
Their meal was large, their grace was short.
They gave the poor the remnant meat,
Just when it grew not fit to eat.
They paid the church and parish rate,
And took, but read not, the receipt;

For which they claim'd their Sunday's due,
Of slumbering in an upper pew.

No man's defects sought they to know,

So never made themselves a foe,

No man's good deeds did they commend,
So never rais'd themselves a friend.
Nor cherish'd they relations poor,

That might decrease their present store;
Nor barn nor house did they repair,

That might oblige their future heir.
They neither added nor confounded;
They neither wanted nor abounded.
Nor tear nor smile did they employ
At news of public grief or joy,

When bells were rung and bonfires made,
If ask'd, they ne'er denied their aid;
Their jug was to the ringers carried,
Whoever either died or married.
Their billet at the fire was found,
Whoever was depos'd or crown'd.

Nor good, nor bad, nor fools, nor wise,

They would not learn, nor could advise ;

Without love, hatred, joy, or fear,

They led-a kind of-as it were;

Nor wish'd, nor car'd, nor laugh'd, nor cried;

And so they liv'd, and so they died.


As doctors give physic by way of prevention,

Matt, alive and in health, of his tombstone took care: For delays are unsafe, and his pious intention

May haply be never fulfilled by his heir.

Then take Matt's word for it, the sculptor is paid;
That the figure is fine, pray believe your own eye;
Yet credit but lightly what more may be said,
For we flatter ourselves, and teach marble to lie.

Yet counting as far as to fifty his years,

His virtues and vices were as other men's are;

High hopes he conceiv'd, and he smother'd great fears,

In a life party-colour'd, half pleasure, half care.

Nor to business a drudge, nor to faction a slave,
He strove to make int'rest and freedom agree;
In public employments industrious and grave,
And alone with his friends, Lord! how merry was he.

Now in equipage stately, now humbly on foot,
Both fortunes he tried, but to neither would trust;
And whirl'd in the round as the wheel turn'd about,

He found riches had wings, and knew man was but dust.

This verse, little polish'd, though mighty sincere,
Sets neither his titles nor merit to view;

It says that his relics collected lie here,
And no mortal yet knows if this may be true.

Fierce robbers there are that infest the highway,
So Matt may be kill'd and his bones never found;
False witness at court, and fierce tempests at sea,
So Matt may yet chance to be hang'd or be drown'd.

If his bones lie in earth, roll in sea, fly in air,
To Fate we must yield, and the thing is the same;
And if passing thou giv'st him a smile or a tear,
He cares not-yet prithee, be kind to his fame.


Nobles and heralds, by your leave,

Here lies what once was Matthew Prior,
The son of Adam and of Eve;

Can Stuart or Nassau claim higher.

JOHN POMFRET, of whom very little is known, was the son of a clergyman, and was born at Luton, Bedfordshire, in 1667. He was educated at Queen's College, Cambridge, where he took his bachelor's degree in 1684, but did not proceed to the degree of master of arts, until 1698. On leaving the university he entered into orders, and became rector of Malden, in Bedfordshire, with an immediate prospect of preferment; but Compton, bishop of London, had conceived unjustly the idea that Pomfret's poem, The Choice, conveyed an immoral sentiment, and refused, therefore, to institute him into a living of considerable value to which he had been presented. Detained for a long time in London by the circumstances connected with this unfortunate affair, Pomfret, in 1703, took the small-pox, and soon after died.

The works of this amiable ill-fated author consist of occasional poems, and some Pindaric Essays; but his only production now popular is 'The Choice.' This has always been a favourite with that class of readers whose literary pursuits have no higher object than their own amusement. It exhibits a system of life adapted to common notions and equal to common expectations; and 'The Choice' has, therefore, been perhaps, as frequently read as any other poem in the language. To these brief remarks we add the following extract :—


If Heaven the grateful liberty would give

That I might choose my method how to live;
And all those hours propitious fate should lend,
In blissful ease and satisfaction spend;

Near some fair town I'd have a private seat,
Built uniform, not little, nor too great;
Better if on a rising ground it stood;

On this side fields, on that a neighbouring wood.
It should within no other things contain

But what are useful, necessary, plain.
Methinks 'tis nauseous; and I'd ne'er endure
The needless pomp of gaudy furniture.
A little garden grateful to the eye,
And a cool rivulet run murmuring by;
On whose delicious banks a stately row
Of shady limes or sycamores should grow.
At th' end of which a silent study plac'd
Should be with all the noblest authors grac'd:
Horace and Virgil, in whose mighty lines
Immortal wit and solid learning shines;
Sharp Juvenal, and amorous Ovid too,
Who all the turns of love's soft passion knew:
He that with judgment reads his charming lines,
In which strong art with stronger nature joins,
Must grant his fancy does the best excel;
His thoughts so tender, and express'd so well:
With all those moderns, men of steady sense,
Esteem'd for learning and for eloquence.
In some of these as fancy should advise,
I'd always take my morning exercise;
For sure no minutes bring us more content
Than those in pleasing useful studies spent.
I'd have a clear and competent estate,
That I might live genteelly, but not great;
As much as I could moderately spend;
A little more, sometimes t' oblige a friend.
Nor should the sons of poverty repine

Too much at fortune; they should taste of mine;

And all that objects of true pity were,

Should be reliev'd with what my wants could spare;
For that our Maker has too largely given
Should be return'd in gratitude to Heaven.
A frugal plenty should my table spread;
With healthy, not luxurious, dishes spread;
Enough to satisfy, and something more,

To feed the stranger, and the neighbouring poor.
Strong meat indulges vice, and pampering food
Creates diseases, and inflames the blood.
But what 's sufficient to make nature strong,
And the bright lamp of life continue long,
I'd freely take, and, as I did possess,
The bounteous Author of my plenty bless.

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