Imágenes de páginas

pounds; a sum which Collins could scarcely think exhaustible, and which he did not live to exhaust. The guineas were then repaid, and the translation neglected.

But man is not born for happiness. Collins, who, while he 6 studied to live", felt no evil but poverty, no sooner 'lived to study' than his life was assailed by more dreadful calamities, disease and insanity.

Having formerly written his character, while perhaps it was 7 yet more distinctly impressed upon my memory, I shall insert it here.

‘Mr. Collins was a man of extensive literature, and of vigorous 8 faculties. He was acquainted not only with the learned tongues, but with the Italian, French, and Spanish languages 3. He had employed his mind chiefly upon works of fiction and subjects of fancy, and by indulging some peculiar habits of thought was eminently delighted with those flights of imagination which pass the bounds of nature, and to which the mind is reconciled only by a passive acquiescence in popular traditions. He loved fairies, genii, giants, and monsters; he delighted to rove through the meanders of inchantment, to gaze on the magnificence of golden palaces, to repose by the water-falls of Elysian gardens

This was, however, the character rather of his inclination 9 than his genius; the grandeur of wildness and the novelty of extravagance were always desired by him, but were not always

fine paper.

Bladen, the translator of Caesar's eminent in the republic of letters, Commentaries, with whom he had who knew him intimately well.' no connexion whatever.]

Fawkes wrote The Brown Jug, Curiously enough on the page of quoted in Campbell's Brit. Poets, Gent. Mag. quoted

above is the death P. 544. In 1761 he published Origion April 6 of 'Martin Bladen of nal Poems and Translations ; JohnWigan, Esq. Cunningham (iii. 282) son subscribed for a copy on superis mistaken when he says that his uncle was Colonel Martin Bladen who 3 Warton, in his Hist. of Eng. died Feb. 15, 1745-6.

Poetry, 1840, iii. 80, 244, twice men''I would live to study, and not tions black-letter books in Collins's study to live.' BACON, Works, 1803, library now dispersed.'

4 'Dark power, with shuddering meek "You only paint to live, not live to submitted thought,

paint. DRYDEN, Works, xi. 89. Be mine to read the visions old 'For we that live to please must please Which thy awakening bards have to live.'

told. JOHNSON, Drury Lane Prologue. And, lest thou meet my blasted

? In 1763 in The Poetical Character view, by Fawkes and Woty, vol. xii. p. 108, Hold each strange tale devoutly quoted in Gent. Mag. 1764, p. 24. It true.' is introduced as 'an account of Mr. COLLINS, Ode to Fear, Eng. Poets, Collins by a gentleman deservedly


vi. 332.

lviii. 19.


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. 10 ‘His morals were pure, and his opinions pious; in a long

continuance of poverty 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 freedom 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 always 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 3. 11 'The latter part of his life cannot be remembered but with

pity and sadness. He languished some years under that depression of mind which enchains the faculties without destroying them, and leaves reason the knowledge of right without the power of pursuing itThese clouds which he perceived gathering on his intellects 5 he endeavoured to disperse by travel,



I'Oft as he travers'd the cerulean Ante, PRIOR, 52 ; SAVAGE, 341. field,

Johnson wrote of Collins on And markt the clouds that drove March 8, 1754 :— I knew him a few before the wind,

years ago full of hopes, and full of Ten thousand glorious systems projects, versed in many languages, would he build,

high in fancy, and strong in retention. Ten thousand great ideas fill'd his This busy and forcible mind is now mind;

under the government of those who But with the clouds they fled, and lately would not have been able to left no trace behind.'

comprehend the least and most narTHOMSON, Castle of Indolence, i. 59. row of its designs. Boswell's John

Johnson defines dissipation as son, i. 276 n. 'a scattered habit of attention.' The See also ib. for Johnson's letters of first instance of its use in the sense Dec. 24, 1754; April 15, 1756. of dissolute mode of living' in the 5 Johnson, in his Dictionary, gives New Eng. Dict. is in 1784, in Cow- no example of this use of intellect in per's Task, ii. 770.

the plural. In Rasselas, ch. iii, he Collins himself says in his Epistle describes a man as 'one whose intelto Hanmer, l. 138:

lects were exhausted.' In The Idler, 'For poets ever were a careless kind.' No. 78, he has a superiority of intel


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 lunaticks, 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 12 him 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 himself, 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 3.".

Such was the fate of Collins, with whom I once delighted to 13 converse, and whom I yet remember with tenderness *.

lects. See also Boswell's Johnson, strange that Johnson places his death iv. 181. Richardson generally uses in 1756. the plural form, as the man who did 3 For an anecdote of Collins stopnot give himself his intellects.' Sir ping his raving and moanings to Charles Grandison, 1754, i. 52. listen to the reading of the Bible, see •Goodness of heart shining through Thomas's Collins, Preface, p. 43. intellects so disturbed. Ib. iii. 145. Cowper wrote in 1784:- I have

* Mulso wrote to White on Aug. 1, lately finished'eight volumes of John1746 :-'I have just received a letter son's Lives of the Poets. In all that from Collins, dated Antwerp. ... He number I observe but one man-a is in high spirits, though near the poet of no great fame-of whom I French. Holt-White's Gilbert White, did not know that he existed till I i. 46.

found him there, whose mind seems * In the summer or autumn of to have had the slightest tincture of 1754 he visited T. Warton, at Oxford, religion. His name was Collins. who described him as 'labouring Of him there are some hopes. But under the most deplorable languor of from the lives of all the rest there is body and dejection of mind. Bos- but one inference to be drawn—that well's Johnson, i. 276 n.

poets are a very worthless wicked set Gilbert White saw him 'under of people.' Southey's Cowper, v. 11. Merton wall, struggling and con- Collins's Life is in vol. ix ; West's, veyed by force, in the arms of two or who was 'poet and saint' (ante, three men, towards the parish of WEST, 5), in vol. x. Probably CowSt. Clement, in which was a house per had passed over vol. ii; for it is that took in such unhappy objects.' not likely that he, untouched as he Thomas's Collins, Preface, p. 32. was by Tory prejudices, placed Mil

Early in 1759 Goldsmith, in The ton in the very worthless wicked Present State of Polite Learning, For Southey's censure of this ch. ix, after speaking of two neglected harsh judgement see Southey's Cowauthors, continues :

-But they are per, ii. 151. dead and their sorrows are over. Johnson writes, in a note to his The neglected author of the Persian edition of Shakespeare (vii. 358), on Eclogues, which, however inaccurate, Cymbeline, iv. 2: For the obseexcel any in our language, is still quies of Fidele a song was written alive. Happy if insensible of our by my unhappy friend, Mr. William neglect, not raging at our ingrati- Collins, a man of uncommon learning tude.'

and abilities. I shall give it a place Collins died on June 12, 1759. It is at the end in honour of his memory.'



14 He was visited at Chichester in his last illness by his learned

friends Dr. Warton and his brother, to whom he spoke with disapprobation of his Oriental Eclogues, as not sufficiently expressive of Asiatick manners, and called them his Irish Eclogues?' He shewed 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? 15 His disorder was not alienation of mind, but general laxity and

feebleness, a deficiency rather of his vital than intellectual powers. What he spoke wanted neither judgement 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. 16 The approaches of this dreadful malady he began to feel soon

after his uncle's death, and, with the usual weakness of men so

[ocr errors]

The song was printed in Gent. Mag. Horace Walpole wrote of the Scotch 1749, p. 466, Fidele being changed by reviewers of Mason's Gray :- 'Every Cave, the editor, into Pastora. John. Hume, however spelt, will I don't Letters, ii. 131 n.

know what do.' Letters, vi. 196. Mr. Collins,' writes his school- Home came to London about the fellow, Dr. Warton, wrote his Ec- end of 1749. Home's Works, 1822, logues when he was about seventeen, i. 35. at Winchester School, and, as I well J. H. Burton says in the Auto. remember, had been just reading of Dr. A. Carlyle, p. 562 :- Carlyle that volume of Salmon's Modern remembered having read it in 1749 History which described Persia. In with Home. After a search he found his maturer years he was accustomed the actual MS. in an imperfect state. to speak very contemptuously of He and Henry Mackenzie filled up them, calling them his Irish Eclogues, the lacunae, and presented it in a and saying they had not in them one complete shape to the Royal Society spark of Orientalism. . . . He was of Edinburgh [in 1783). Soon after greatly mortified thatthey found more the Ode was published anonymously admirers than his Odes.' Warton's from what was said to be an original Pope's Works, i. 115; ante, COLLINS, and complete copy' The Royal

Society published Carlyle's copy in Goldsmith, after praising them as their Transactions, 1788, vol. i. part very pretty,' continues : -" The im- 2, p. 63. Dict. Nat. Biog. xi. 379. ages, it must be owned, are not very Asfor the anonymous copy,Francis local, for the pastoral subject could Horner records on the authority of not well admit of it. Works, iii. 437. Mackintosh that'a very low northern

Mr. Moy Thomas (Preface, p. 56) littérateur published it at Cadell's points out some of the blunders in the shop, with all the vacancies supplied. first edition which led Collins to call The additions were a forgery of his the Eclogues Irish,

own, of which he boasted to Mackin· John Home, the author of Doug- toshi Memoirs of F. Horner, 1843, las. He and Hume the historian

ii. 276. pronounced their names in the same For a curious anecdote of the way. Boswell's Johnson, ii. 320 n.; cordial youth' of this Ode see Home's Hume's Letters to Strahan, p. 10. Works, 1822, i. 6.

4 n. 6.

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 17 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 the common order), seeming to think, with some later candidates for fame, that not to write prose is certainly to write poetry". His lines commonly are of slow motion, 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 6.

[ocr errors]

* Johnson wrote of Collins to T. With youth's soft notes unspoil'd by Warton on Dec. 21, 1754:- I have


Ode to Pity. a notion that by very great temper- • Thou who such weary lengths hast ance, or more properly abstinence, past, he may yet recover.' Boswell's John- Where wilt thou rest, mad nymph, son, i. 277.

at last ?' JOHNSON. Madmen are all sen- "O thou, whose spirit most possest sual in the lower stages of the dis- The sacred seat of Shakespeare's temper. They are eager for gratifica- breast!'

Ode to Fear. tions to soothe their minds, and divert For the collisions of consonants, their attention from the misery which and the detruncation of our syllables, they suffer. Ib. iii. 176.

by which 'our language is overCollins,' wrote Gilbert White, as stocked with consonants, see The long as I knew him, was very tem- Rambler, No. 88. perate in his eating and drinking.' ['Collins's Ode to Evening shows Thomas's Collins, Preface, p. 33. equal genius in the images and versi» Ante, PRIOR, 59.

fication. The sounds steal slowly 3 JOHNSON. No, Sir, [T. over the ear like the gradual comWarton] has taken to an odd mode. ing on of evening itself.' HAZLITT, For example, he'd write thus

Lectures on Eng. Poets, 1819, p. “Hermit hoar, in solemn cell, 232.]

Wearing out life's evening gray.' 6 There must have been some deGray evening is common enough; mand for Collins's Poems. They but evening gray he'd think fine.' were reprinted in 1765, and in Brit. Boswell's Johnson, iii. 158.

Poets in 1773; also at Glasgow in • "These misguided innovators 1771, 1777. have not been content with restoring Wordsworth wrote in 1829 (Meantiquated words and phrases, but moirs, 1851, ii. 215):- Thomson, have indulged themselves in the most Collins and Dyer had more poetic licentious transpositions and the imagination than any of their conharshest constructions, vainly imagin- temporaries, unless we reckon Chating that the more their writings are terton as of that age. I do not name unlike prose, the more they resemble Pope, for he stands alone as a man poetry.' GOLDSMITH, Works, iv. 141. most highly gifted; but unluckily he 5 Such as

took the plain when the heights were "To old Ilissus' distant side,

within his reach.' Deserted stream and mute.'

« AnteriorContinuar »