Pack, Richardson (DNB00)

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PACK, RICHARDSON (1682–1728), miscellaneous writer, born on 29 Nov. 1682, was son of John Pack of London, gentleman, who settled at Stoke Ash in Suffolk, and served as high sheriff of that county in 1697. His mother was daughter and coheiress of Robert Richardson of Tudhoe, Durham. After spending a year or two at a country school, where his time was wasted, he was admitted in 1693 to the Merchant Taylors' School, London. On 18 June 1697 he matriculated as a fellow-commoner from St. John's College, Oxford, and stayed there for two years, when he left without taking his degree. As his father intended him for the law, he became in 1698 a student of the Middle Temple, and, after eight terms standing, was called to the bar; but he preferred a more active life, and joined the army. His first command was obtained in March 1705, when he was promoted to the head of a company of foot. His regiment served with Marshal Staremberg in November 1710 at the battle of Villa Viciosa, where his bravery attracted the notice of the Duke of Argyll, who advanced him to the post of major, and remained his friend ever after. His subsequent movements are ascertained from his poems, for at every place of abode he indited epistles to his friends on the hardships in the life of a half-pay officer. He was at Mombris in Catalonia in October 1709, when he addressed some lines to John Creed of Oundle in Northamptonshire, and during the winter of 1712–13 he was writing to the Campbells from Minorca. In June 1714 he was at Ipswich, and in the following August was dwelling at Stoke Ash. He had returned to town in 1719, and was living in Jermyn Street, St. James's, but by 1722 he was at Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. There he remained for some years, and in the spring of 1724 was seized with a dangerous illness, from which he recovered by the care of Dr. Mead. Early in 1725 he moved to Exeter, but he followed Colonel Montagu's regiment, in which he was then a major, when it was ordered to Aberdeen. He died at Aberdeen in September 1728.

Curll printed for Pack in 1719 ‘The Life of T. P. Atticus, with remarks,’ translated from the Latin of Cornelius Nepos; and in 1735 there appeared ‘The Lives of T. P. Atticus, Miltiades, and Cimon, with remarks. By Richardson Pack. The second edition.’ He had intended translating most, if not all, of the lives, but laziness, love of pleasure, and want of health diverted his purpose. When Curll issued in 1725 a volume called ‘Miscellanies in Verse and Prose, written by the Right Honourable Joseph Addison,’ he added to it ‘an essay upon the Roman Elegiac Poets, by Major Pack,’ which seems to have originally appeared in 1721. The English essay was by him, but the translation into Latin was by another hand. It was included, both in English and Latin, in Bohn's edition of ‘Addison's Works,’ vi. 599–604. Many versions from the Latin poets were included in the ‘Miscellanies’ of Pack.

The first volume in the British Museum of these ‘Miscellanies in Verse and Prose,’ which was printed by Curll, bears on the title-page the date of 1719, but the dedication by Pack to ‘Colonel William Stanhope, envoy-extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Madrid,’ is dated from London in June 1718. In it are translations from Tibullus and Propertius, and imitations of Horace and Virgil, with many poetic epistles to his friends. It also contains prose ‘essays on study and conversation’ in two letters to his friend, Captain David Campbell. The second edition of the ‘Miscellanies’ is dated in 1719, and there were added to it more translations, with the essay upon the Roman elegiac poets, the life of Atticus, the prologue to Sewell's ‘Tragedy of Sir Walter Raleigh,’ and the life of Wycherley. This memoir, a very meagre and unsatisfactory production, was prefixed in 1728 to an edition of the ‘Posthumous Works of Wm. Wycherley.’

Curll was faithful to Pack throughout his life, and in 1725 issued his ‘New Collection of Miscellanies in Prose and Verse,’ to which are prefixed ‘An Elegiac Epistle to Major Pack, signed W. Bond, Bury St. Edmunds, 1725,’ and several shorter pieces by various hands. It included a letter from Dennis ‘on some remarkable passages in the life of Mr. Wycherley,’ which was inserted in the first volume of the ‘Letters of John Dennis,’ 1721. Both sets of ‘Miscellanies’ were printed at Dublin in 1726, and there appeared in London in 1729 a posthumous volume of ‘The whole Works of Major R. Pack, in Prose and Verse, now collected into one volume,’ a copy of which is in the Dyce collection at the South Kensington Museum.

In March 1718–9 Curll advertised a poem by Pack, entitled ‘Morning,’ and priced at fourpence; and he printed in 1720 a tale called ‘Religion and Philosophy, with five other pieces. By Major Pack.’ Pack's prologue to Sewell's ‘Tragedy of Sir Walter Raleigh’ was deemed ‘excellent,’ and his epilogue to Southerne's ‘Spartan Dame’ was ‘very much admir'd’ (cf. Pope, Works, 1872 ed. viii. 109). Lines to Pack by Sewell are in Sewell's ‘New Collection’ (1720), in his ‘Poems’ (1719), and his ‘Posthumous Works’ (1728). Some of them, including a second set, written to him ‘at St. Edmonds-Bury, at the decline of the South-Sea’ (1722), are printed in Nichols's ‘Collection of Poems’ (vii. 145–9); and two of Pack's poems are inserted in Southey's ‘Specimens of the Later English Poets’ (i. 266–70).

The ‘Letter from a supposed Nun in Portugal to a Gentleman in France, by Colonel Pack,’ which was added to a volume of ‘Letters written by Mrs. Manley, 1696,’ and reissued in 1725 as ‘A Stage-coach Journey to Exeter, by Mrs. Manley, with the Force of Love, or the Nun's Complaint, by the Hon. Colonel Pack,’ has been attributed to him, but the date on the first volume and the description of the author render the ascription improbable.

[Jacob's Poets, ii. 128–31; Cibber's Poets, iv. 77–80; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Robinson's Merchant Taylors, i. 331; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. v. 118, ix. 311–12; Curll's Miscellanea, 1729; Pack's Works.]

W. P. C.