PRIOR, Sir James (c.1790–1869), miscellaneous writer. Autograph letter signed to W.H.Harrison, 3 sides of a bifolium, 8vo, 20 Norfolk Crescent, January 5th 1864, regarding the composing of various pieces of verse: “In the midst of a Rhyming fit of my own, your amusing practical “Cold Water Cure” came upon me – and in half an hour after, another sketch from Sir Chas. Marshall, who having quitted Law for verse, couches his [--?---] in Latin. Like your own it is humorous – with a translation by an “Old Westminster” – that personage being himself – the title of it “Epilogues And Adelphas” following which he quotes four lines, and continues “Your ‘Legend’ I have had time to read only once, but mean to treat Lady P. to a laugh after dinner – or two or three as it may happen ……….. My own versicles were Epitaph-ical”. Paper rather creased along the bifolium fold.
James Prior entered the navy as a surgeon, and later moved into administration, becoming assistant to the director-general of the medical department of the navy, and in 1843 was created deputy inspector of hospitals. Outside of his medical career he immersed himself in literature, politics and history. His chief published works were biographies, notably a Memoir of the Life and Character of Edmund Burke (1824); a Life of Oliver Goldsmith (2 vols., 1837); and his Miscellaneous Works of Goldsmith (4 vols., 1837). He was knighted in 1858.
His correspondent William Henry Harrison (1795-1878) was a journalist and writer and was a close friend of John Ruskin. As editor of Friendship's Offering from 1837 to 1841 he published poems by Ruskin, and he worked extensively on Ruskin's literary manuscripts the extent that Ruskin described him as his 'first editor'. Harrison’s Cold Water Cure and Legend referred to in the letter by Prior was The Cold Water Cure: a legend of long ago published by Smith & Elder in 1864.