1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Pattison

George Dyer, in History of the University and Colleges of Cambridge (1814) 2:435-36.



The next was a poetical writer, very young, and never matured, an unfortunate undergraduate; who, after banishing himself from college, died in London, oppressed with poverty and misfortunes, (like another Chatterton) though not by his own hands. He was preparing for the press a poetical version of Ovid's Epistles. His poetical works were published in 1728, 8vo. His Abelard to Eloisa, and his Henry to Rosamond, display a considerable talent for poetry.

Never was tale more lamentable told than in this volume: I cannot forbear copying a letter to a person, of whom he was soliciting charity, from the Memoirs of his Life, prefixed to his poetical works, printed in London 1728.

"Sir,

If you was ever touched with a sense of humanity, consider my condition; what I am, my proposals will inform you; what I have been, Sidney College can witness; but what I shall be, some few hours hence, I tremble to think. Spare my blushes. I have not enjoyed the common necessities of life for these two days, and can hardly hold my pen, to subscribe myself

Your most humble servant,

W. Pattison."

In the Memoirs is a most admirable letter from Mr. W. Harte, a young gentleman of St. Mary's Hall, Oxford, giving Pattison some rules for his intended translation of Ovid's Epistles.

Pattison having fallen into some improvidences, took his name out of the college books, to prevent expulsion. He was solicited to return, but was too proud to submit, and had grown too fond of the town.

What Pattison's imprudences were, I know not, and if I did, I would not publish them; for, to borrow the words of Mr. Harte, "May my own ill poetry never find favour, if I take any pleasure in disturbing the ashes of the dead."

Poor Pattison died of the small-pox, a little while after writing the above letter, aged 21. He was buried in the church-yard of St. Clement Danes, in the Strand.