Matthew Prior, Poet and Diplomatist

Matthew Prior, Poet and Diplomatist

Matthew Prior, Poet and Diplomatist

Matthew Prior, Poet and Diplomatist

Excerpt

The writing of a new, biography of Matthew Prior requires no justification. Son of a joiner and nephew of a vintner, he became a specialist in diplomatic affairs, a master of light verse, a celebrated wit, living a varied and eventful life. Yet he has been patronized by his biographers, who have admitted his accomplishments but have been repelled by aspects of his character which they have been prone to attribute to his humble origin and his upbringing in a tavern. His origin, however, was not so humble as they have assumed.

The present volume owes its existence to Professor William P. Trent, who once suggested that a biography of Prior could be written without disparaging either. Prior's character or achievements, and I wish to acknowledge my gratitude to Professor Trent for his kindly advice and wise guidance. I am further indebted to all who. have written about Prior and the period in which: he lived, particularly to Mr. Francis. Bickley and to Mr. L. G. Wickham Legg, but I have drawn from manuscript material unutilized by previous biographers.

Thanks are due to many persons who have generously aided me in my research: to His Grace, the Duke of Portland, who placed at my disposal the Prior papers at Welbeck Abbey; to Sir Thomas Hare, who kindly lent me the Bolingbroke Letter Books, a possession of his family since the time of Thomas Hare, Lord Bolingbroke's secretary; to Mr. R. B. Adam, who gave me photostat copies of four of. Prior's letters from his collection of rare eighteenth century manuscripts; to Miss Belle da Costa Greene, Director of the Pierpont Morgan Library, who allows me to print an hitherto unpublished letter of Prior's; to an . . .

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