« AnteriorContinua »
OF THE MOST EMINENT
BY SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.
A NEW EDITION, CORRECTED.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
PRINTED FOR F. C. AND J. RIVINGTON; W. NICOL AND SON; J. NUNN; C. DAVIS ; T. EGERTON; J. CUTHELL; SCATCHERD AND LETTERMAN; LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN; CADELL AND DAVIES; W. AND T. CLARKE; LACKINGTON AND CO.; J. BOOKER; W. CARPENTER; E. JEFFERY; J. AND A. ARCH; BLACK AND CO.; J. BOOTH; J. RICHARDSON; J. M. RICHARDSON; J. MURRAY; J. HARDING; HATCHARD AND SON; R. H. EVANS; J. MAWMAN; R. SCHOLEY; BALDWIN, CRADOCK, AND JOY; J. ASPERNE; SHERWOOD, NEELY, AND JONES; RODWELL AND MARTIN; R. SAUNDERS; E. EDWARDS; SIMPKIN AND MARSHALL; W. MASON; W. MACKIE; J. DEIGHTON AND SONS, CAMBRIDGE; WILSON AND SON, YORK; AND FAIRBAIRN AND ANDERSON, AND STIRLING AND SLADE, EDINBURGH.
MATTHEW PRIOR is one of those that have burst out from an obscure original to great eminence. He was born July 21, 1664, according to some, at Winburn in Dorsetshire, of I know not what parents; others say, that he was the son of a joiner of London; he was perhaps willing enough to leave his birth unsettled,* in hope, like Don Quixote, that the historian of his actions might find him some illustrious alliance.
He is supposed to have fallen, by his father's death, into the hands of his uncle, a vintner + near Charing-cross, who sent him for some time to Dr. Busby, at Westminster; but, not intending to give him any education beyond that of the school, took him, when he was well advanced in literature, to his own house, where the Earl of Dorset, celebrated for patronage of genius, found him by chance, as Burnet relates, reading Horace, and was so well pleased with his proficiency, that he undertook the care and cost of his academical education.
He entered his name in St. John's College at Cambridge in 1682, in his eighteenth year; and it may be reasonably
The difficulty of settling Prior's birth-place is great. In the register of his College he is called, at his admission by the President, Matthew Prior of Winburn in Middlesex; by himself, next day, Matthew Prior of Dorsetshire, in which county, not in Middlesex, Winborn, or Winborne, as it stands in the Villare, is found. When he stood candidate for his fellowship, five years afterwards, he was registered again by himself as of Middlesex. The last record ought to be preferred, because it was made upon oath. It is observable, that, as a native of Winborne, he is styled Filius Georgii Prior, generosi; not consistently with the common account of the meanness of his birth. Dr. J.
+ Samuel Prior kept the Rummer Tavern near Charing-cross in 1685. The annual feast of the nobility and gentry living in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields was held at his house, October 14, that year. N.