The Photo Request has been fulfilled.

 
 Matthew Prior

Matthew Prior

Birth
Greater London, England
Death 18 Sep 1721 (aged 57)
Cambridgeshire, England
Burial Westminster, City of Westminster, Greater London, England
Plot Poets Corner, name is on Abraham Cowley's grave marker, actual grave is unmarked
Memorial ID 7060 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Poet. He is best remembered for such quotes as "They talk most who have the least to say," and "The ends must justify the means." His poems show considerable variety and great skill. His best is considered "Alma," an imitation of Samuel Butler, but is considered a delightful piece with easy humor, witty turns of phrase, and numerous allusions. He is considered an epigrammatist of unrivaled ability. Born at Wimborne Minster, East Dorset, England, his father moved the family to London, where he studied at the Westminster School. Upon his father's death, Matthew left school and was cared for by his uncle, Lord Dorset. When Lord Dorset discovered that Matthew had an interest in reading, he decided to send young Matthew to continue his education at Westminster. From there, Matthew accepted a scholarship at St. John's College, in Cambridge, where he graduated with a BA in 1686, and two years later, became a fellow. He quickly became a writer, writing satires, and in 1690, he became secretary to the British embassy at the Hague, Netherlands. Four years later, he became a secretary to King William, and in 1697, helped to write the treaty of the Peace of Ryswick. Fluent in French, Prior soon became an aide to the British Ambassador to France. During this period, he wrote occasional poems, including an elegy on Queen Mary (1695), and some lines on King William's escape from assassination in 1696. Returning from France, Prior became under-secretary of state, and succeeded John Locke as commissioner of trade. In 1701, he became a Member of Parliament, representing the district of East Grinstead, and voted mostly for the Tory position. In 1710, the Tories came into power, with them, Prior was given important duties dealing with British relations with the French. He helped to negotiate the Treaty of Utrecht. In 1715, the Whigs regained power in Parliament, and Prior was kept in close custody. During this period, he wrote numerous poems, including some of his best work, "Alma, or The Progress of the Mind," and "Solomon," and other poems on several occasions. These works earned him sufficient money that he lived in comfort for the remainder of his days, despite being out of public life. He died at Wimpole, Cambridgeshire, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where his monument is located in Poet's Corner. His possible epitaph should be well recognized by his quotation "Be to their virtue very kind; be to their faults a little blind."

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

How famous was Matthew Prior?

Current rating:

19 votes

Sign-in to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 23 Nov 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7060
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Matthew Prior (21 Jul 1664–18 Sep 1721), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7060, citing Westminster Abbey, Westminster, City of Westminster, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .