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George Prior had left his native Dorset to practice his carpenter’s trade in London, where two of his brothers had already opened taverns.

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Dorset asked him first to construe a passage or two, then asked him to turn an ode into English verse.

Prior performed these tasks so well that, on later visits to the tavern, Dorset and his aristocratic friends often asked him to turn Horace or Ovid into English verse.

His poems written during the period are chiefly occasional, directed to William III, to members of the family of the earl of Exeter, to Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII and foundress of St.

John’s College, and (the most interesting of the lot) four times to Fleet wood Shepherd, the poet and wit who acted as intermediary between the earl of Dorset and the young men he sponsored.

These poems to Shepherd are particularly important both in their content—sometimes asking Dorset to award Prior a political post—and in their evidence that Prior was becoming increasingly sure in his command of light verse.

On 1 November 1690 Prior’s political hopes were realized when he was appointed secretary to Lord Dursley at The Hague, a city where Prior was to stay, with growing political power, for the next seven years.

The Hague was an important outpost in the War of the Grand Alliance (The War of the League of Augsburg), which was already two years underway when Prior was appointed, and was to go on for almost another seven.

The struggle for power between the Bourbons and the Hapsburgs pitted France against England, Spain, Savoy, the Netherlands, and the Holy Roman Empire.

John’s and was assigned to one of the two medical fellowships.

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