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Prior, Matthew

Matthew Prior, 1664–1721, English poet and diplomat, b. Wimborne, Dorset. With his appointment as secretary to the embassy at The Hague during the negotiations leading to the Treaty of Ryswick (1697), Prior began a long diplomatic career. During Anne's reign he joined the Tories (1711) and helped, as special envoy, to conclude the Peace of Utrecht. With the accession of George I, Prior was ruined politically and was imprisoned by the Whigs for two years (1715–16). As a poet he is best remembered for his light verse and raillery. With Charles Montagu, he wrote a burlesque of Dryden's The Hind and the Panther called The Country Mouse and the City Mouse (1687). He is also known for two long satiric poems, Alma and Solomon (both 1718). He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

See his complete works (ed. by H. B. Wright and M. K. Spears, 1959); biography by C. K. Eves (1939, repr. 1972).

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