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“ 'concerned in the damned peace at Utrecht! “ the man that makes up half the volume of “ terse prose, that makes up

the “ the committee, speaking verses! Sic eft, « bomo sum."

report of

He died at Wimpole, a seat of the earl of Oxford, on the eighteenth of September 1721, and was buried in Westminster; where on a monument, for which, as the last piece of buman vanity, he left five hundred pounds, is engraven this epitaph:

Sui Temporis Hiftoriain meditanti,

Paulatim obrepens Febris
Operi fimul & Vitæ filum abrupit,
Sept. 18. An. Dom. 1721. Ætat. 57,

H. S. E.
Vir Eximius

Sereniffimis
Regi GULIELMO Reginæque MARIÆ

In Congressione Federatorum

Hagæ anno 1690 celebrata,
Deinde Magnæ Britanniæ Legatis

Tum iis,
Qui anno 1697 Pacem Ryswicki confecerunt,

Tum iis, Qui apud Gallos annis proximis Legationem obierunt; Eodem etiam anno 1697 in Hiberniæ

SECRE

SECRETARIUS;
Nec non in utroque Honorabili consellu

Eorum,
Qui anno 1700 ordinandis Commercii negotiis
Quique anno 1711 dirigendis Portorii rebus

Præfidebant,
COMMISSIONARIUS;

Poftremo

Ab ANNA
Feliciflimæ memoriæ Regina
Ad LUDOVICUM XIV. Galliæ Regem

Miffus anno 1711

De Pace stabilienda,

(Pace etiamnum durante Diuque ut boni jam omnes fperant duratura)

Cum fumma poteftate Legatus.
MATTHÆUS PRIOR Armiger;

Hos omnes, quibus cumulatus est, Titulos Humanitatis, Ingenii Eruditionis Laude

Superavit;
Cui enim nascenti faciles arriserant Mufæ.
Hunc Puerum Schola hic Regia perpolivit ;

Juvenem in Collegio Sti. Johannis
Cantabrigia optimis Scientiis inftruxit;

Virum denique auxit & perfecit
Multa cum viris Principibus confuetudo ;

Ita natus, ita institutus, A Vatum Choro avelli nunquam potuit, Sed folebat fæpe rerum Civilium gravitatem Amæniorum Literarum Studiis condire:

Et cum omne adeo Poetices genus

Haud infeliciter tentaret,
Tum in Fabellis concinne lepideque texendis

Mirus Artifex
Neminem habuit parem,
Hæc liberalis animi oblectamenta;

Quam nullo Illi labore conftiterint,
Facile ii perspexere, quibus usus eft Amici ;
Apud quos Urbanitatum & Leporum plenus
Cum ad rem, quæcunque forte inciderat,

Aptè variè copiofeque alluderet,
Interea nihil quæsitum, nihil vi expressum

Videbatur,
Sed omnia ultro effluere,
Et quasi jugi è fonte affatim exuberare

Ita Suos tandem dubios reliquit,
Effetne in Scriptis, Poeta Elegantior,

An in Convictu, Comes Jucundior.

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Of Prior, eminent as he was, both by his abilities and station, very few memorials have been left by his contemporaries; the account therefore must now be destitute of his private character and familiar practices. He lived at a time when the rage of party detected all which it was any man's interest to hide; and as little ill is heard of Prior, it is certain that not much was known. He was not afraid of provoking cenfure; for when he forsook the

Whigs *, under whose patronage he first entered the world, he became a Tory so ardent and determinate, that he did not willingly confort with men of different opinions. He was one of the sixteen Tories who met weekly, and agreed to address each other by the title of Brother; and seems to have adhered, not only by concurrence of political designs, but by peculiar affection, to the earl of Oxford and his family. With how much confidence he was trusted, has been already told.

This was

He was however, in Pope's * opinion, fit only to make verses, and less qualified for business than Addison himself. surely said without consideration. Addison, exalted to a high place, was forced into degradation by the sense of his own incapacity ; Prior, who was employed by men yery capable of estimating his value, having been fecretary to one embassy, had, when great abilities were again wanted, the fame office another time; and was, after fo much experience of his knowledge and dexterity, at last fent to tranfact a negotiation in the highest degree arduous and important; for which he was quali

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fied, among other requisites, in the opinion of Bolingbroke, by his influence upon the French minister, and by skill in questions of commerce above other men.

Of his behaviour in the lighter parts of life, it is too late to get much intelligence. . One of his answers to a boastful Frenchman has been related, and to an impertinent he made another equally proper. During his embassy, he fat at the opera by a man, who, in his rapture, accompanied with his own voice the principal finger. Prior fell to railing at the performer with all the terms of reproach that he could collect, till the Frenchman, ceasing from his song, began to expostulate with him for his harsh censure of a man who was confessedly the ornament of the stage. " I know all " that,” says the ambassador, “ mais il chante fi " baut, que je ne fcaurois vous entendre,

In a gay

French
company,

where

every one fung a little song or stanza, of which the burden was, Bannissons la Melancholie; when it came to his turn to sing, after the performance of a young lady that fat next him, he produced these extemporary lines;

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