Harrison, William

, a young gentleman high in esteem, and (as Swift expresses it) “a little pretty fellow, With a great deal of wit, good sense, and good nature,” was educated at Winchester, and was afterwards of New college, Oxford, of which he became a fellow. He appears to have been employed in private tuition, which was not a very profitable employment. He had no other income than 40l. a year as tutor to one of the duke of Queensbury’s sons. In this employment he fortunately attracted the favour of Dr. Swift, whose generous solicitations with Mr. St. John obtained for him the reputable employment of secretary to lord Raby, ambassador at the Hague, and afterwards earl of Stafford. A letter of his, whilst at Utrecht, dated December 16, 1712, printed inthedean’s works, informs us that his office was attended with much vexation and little advantage. Even in Jan. 13, 1713, when he brought over the barrier treaty, and, as Swift says, was the queen’s minister, entrusted in affairs of the greatest importance, he had not a shilling in his pocket to pay his hackney coach. He died soon after this, Feb. 14,1712-13. See the “Journal to Stella” of that and the following day, where Dr. Swift laments his loss with the most unaffected sincerity. Mr. Tickell has mentioned him with respect, in his “Prospect of Peace;” and Dr. Young, in the beautiful close of an “Epistle to lord Lansdown,” most pathetically bewails his loss. Dr. Birch, who has given a curious note on Mr. Harrison’s “Letter to Swift,” has confounded him with Thomas Harrison, M. A. of Queen’s college. In the “Select Collection,” by Nichols, are some pleasing specimens of his poetry; which, with “Woodstock-Park” in Dodsley’s “Collection,” and an “Ode to the duke of Marlborough, 1707,” in Duncombe’s “Horace,” are all the poetical writings that are known of this excellent young man, who figured both as an humourist and a politician in the fifth volume of the “Tatler,” of which (under the patronage of Bolingbroke, Henley, and Swift) he was professedly the editor. There was another William Harrison, author of “The Pilgrim, or the happy Convert, a pastoral tragedy,1709. 2


Nichols’s Poems, vol. IV. and VII. British Essayists, vol. I. Pref. Swift’s Works, see Index