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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

3113 Matthew Prior 1664-1721 John Bartlett

AUTHOR:Matthew Prior (1664–1721)
QUOTATION:Now fitted the halter, now traversed the cart,
And often took leave, but was loth to depart. 1
ATTRIBUTION:The Thief and the Cordelier.
Note 1.
As men that be lothe to departe do often take their leff. [John Clerk to Wolsey.]—Ellis: Letters, third series, vol. i. p. 262.

”A loth to depart” was the common term for a song, or a tune played, on taking leave of friends. Tarlton: News out of Purgatory (about 1689). George Chapman: Widow’s Tears. Thomas Middleton: The Old Law, act iv. sc. 1. Beaumont and Fletcher: Wit at Several Weapons, act ii. sc. 2. [back]