Prior, Matthew

In Latin: [on sarcophagus] Matthew Prior Esq. A fever, gradually creeping up on him, as he meditated upon the history of his times, broke together the thread of his life and of his labours on Sept. 18th A.D. 1721 in the 57th year of his age. [On stone] Here lies buried Matthew Prior Esq. an excellent man, who, under our most gracious Majesties King William and Queen Mary acted as Secretary to the Embassy at The Hague in 1690, and then as Secretary to the parties who in 1697 concluded the Peace of Ryswick, then in the following years to the French Legation, and also in that same year 1697 in Ireland. He was also Commissioner at the trade congress of 1700 and the taxation congress of 1711. Lastly, he was despatched by Queen Anne of blessed memory to Louis XIV of France in 1711 as Legate and Plenipotentiary in the peace negotiations, (peace being now well established and likely to endure, according to the hopes of all good men and true). But all these titles with which he was adorned were as nothing to the praise accorded him for his humanity, genius and learning. The kindly Muses smiled on him at birth, this royal school embellished him in boyhood, in youth St John's College, Cambridge, provided the most excellent education; and finally in manhood, he was matured and perfected by the society of the leading men of his time. By circumstance of birth and upbringing, therefore, he could never be torn away from the company of poets, but was frequently used to season the burden of civil affairs with pleasanter literary studies, and as he essayed all manner of poetic works with great felicity, so did this admirable craftsman have no peer in the art of elegant and charming belles-lettres. These amusements of a liberal mind, which cost him no toil, were readily perused by his circle of friends. In their company, and full of urbanity and charm, he would discourse in jests appropriately, diversely and eloquently, upon whatever circumstance might have arisen, but to no far-fetched or forced effect; every word seemed to flow naturally and luxuriantly as though from a perennial spring. He leaves his acquaintance, therefore, uncertain as to whether he were more elegant as a writer of poetry, or more pleasant as a companion in conversation. [Translation courtesy of Westminster Abbey website, amended.]
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Year of death: 1721.
Age at death: 57 (classed as: ).