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a passive acquiescence in popular traditions. He loved fairies, genii, giants, and monsters; he delighted to rove through the meanders of enchantinent, to gaze on the magnificence of golden palaces, to repose by the waterfalls of Elysian gardens.
“ This was, however, the character rather of his inclination than his genius; the grandeur of wildness, and the novelty of extravagance, were always desired by him, but not always attained. Yet, as diligence is never wholly lost, if his efforts sometimes caused harshness and obscurity, they likewise produced, in happier moments, sublimity and splendour. This idea which he had formed of excellence led him to oriental fictions, and allegorical imagery; and, perhaps, while he was intent upon description, he did not sufficiently cultivate sentiment. His poems are the productions of a mind not deficient in fire, nor unfurnished with knowledge either of books or life, but somewhat obstructed in its progress by deviation in quest of mistaken beauties.
* Dr. Johnson, in his letters to Dr. Warton, expressed his opinion of Collins in more favourable and friendly terms.
How little can we venture to exult in any intellectual powers or literary attainments, when we consider the condition of poor Collins. I knew him a few years ago, full of hopes and full of projects, versed in many languages, high in fancy, and strong in retention. This busy and forcible mind is now under the government of those who lately could not have been able to comprehend the least and most narrow of all his designs. Is he to pass the
“ His morals were pure, and his opinions pious; in a long continuance of porerty, and long habits of dissipation, it cannot be expected that any character should be exactly uniform. There is a degree of want by which the frecdom of agency is almost destroyed; and long association with fortuitous companions will at last relax the strictness of truth, and abate the fervour of sincerity. That this man, wise and virtuous as he was, passed almost unentangled through the snares of life, it would be prejudice and temerity to affirm ; but it may be said, that, at least, he preserved the source of action unpolluted, that his principles were never shaken, that his distinctions of right and wrong were never confounded, and that his faults had nothing of malignity or design, but proceeded from some unexpected pressure, or casual temptation.
“The latter part of his life cannot be remembered but with pity and sadness. He languished some years under
remainder of his life in misery and degradation, perhaps with a complete consciousness of his calamity ? Letter, March 8, 1754. - Wool's Warton, p. 219.
What becomes of poor dear Collins ? I wrote him a letter, which he never answered. I suppose writing is very troublesome to him. That man is no common loss. The moralists all talk of the uncertainty of fortune and the transitoriness of beauty: but it is yet more dreadful to consider, that the powers of the mind are equally liable to change; that understanding may make its appearance and depart; that it may blaze and expire, April 15, 1756.-Ib. p. 239.
that depression of mind which enchains the faculties without destroying them, and leaves reason the knowledge of right without the power of pursuing it. These clouds, which he perceived gathering on his intellects, he endeavoured to disperse by trayel, and passed into France ; but found himself constrained to yield to his malady, and returned. He was for some time confined in a house of lunatics, and afterwards retired to the care of his sister in Chichester, where death, in 1756, came to his relief.*
“ After his return from France, the writer of this character paid bim a visit at Islington, where he was waiting for his sister, whom he had directed to meet him : there was then nothing of disorder discernible in his. mind by any but hinself, but he had withdrawn from study, and travelled with no other book than an English Testament, such as children carry to the school. When his friend took it into his hand, out of curiosity to see what companion a man of letters had chosen, "I have, but one book,' said Collins, but that is the best.'”
Such was the fate of Collins, with whom I once delighted to converse, and whom I yet remember with tenderness.
He was visited at Chichester, in his last illness, by his learned friends, Dr. Warton and his brother; to whom
* Mr. Collins was in stature somewhat above the middle size; of a brown complexion; keen, expressive eyes; and a fixed, sedate aspect: which, from intense thinking, had contracted an habitual frown.-L.
he spoke with disapprobation of his Oriental Eclogues, as not sufficiently expressive of Asiatic manners, and called them his Irish Eclogues. He showed them, at the same time, an Ode, inscribed to Mr. John Hume, on the Superstitions of the Highlands; which they thought superior to his other works, but which no search has yet found.*
His disorder was not alienation of mind, but general Jaxity and feebleness,-a deficiency rather of his vital than his intellectual powers. What he spoke wanted neither judgment nor spirit; but a few minutes exhausted him, so that he was forced to rest upon the couch, till a short cessation restored his powers, and he was again able to talk with his former vigour.
The approaches of this dreadful malady he began to feel soon after his uncle's death; and, with the usual weakness of men 80 diseased, eagerly snatched that temporary relief with which the table and the bottle flatter and seduce. But his health continually declined, and he grew more and more burthensome to himself.
To what I have formerly said of his writings, may be added, that his diction was often harsh, unskilfully laboured, and injudiciously selected. He affected the obsolete when it was not worthy of revival; and he puts his words out of common order, seeming to think, with some late candidates for fame, that not to write prose is certainly to write poetry. His lines commonly are of slow motion,
* It is inserted in the present and late editions.
clogged and impeded with clusters of consonants. As men are often esteemed who cannot be loved, so the poetry of Collins may sometimes extort praise when it gives little pleasure.
“ There is a curious anecdote of this singular and unfortunate man, which will shew what a quick feeling and sensibility he possessed from his earliest days. The boys on the foundation at Winchester College are lodged in seven chambers. Collins belonged to the same chamber with William Smith of Chichester, afterwards Treasurer of the Ordnance; by whom 'he was observed one morning to be particularly depressed and melancholy. Being pressed to disclose the cause, he at last said it was in consequence of a dream : for this "he was laughed at, but desired to tell what it was; he said, he dreamed that he was walking in the fields where there was a lofty tree; that he climbed it, and when he had nearly reached the top, a great branch, upon which he had got, failed with him, and let him fall to the ground. This account caused more ridicule; and he was asked how he could possibly be affected by this common consequence of a school-boy adventure, when he did not pretend, even in imagination and sleep, to have received any hurt, he replied, that the Tree was the Tree of Poetry,
The first time that Mr. Smith saw him, after they load left the College, was at an interval of twelve or fourteen