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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he had directed to meet him: there was then nothing of disorder discernible in his mind by any but himself, but he had withdrawn from study, and travelled with no other book than an English Testament, such as children carry to the school; when his friend took it into his hand, out of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, iv. 181. Richardson generally uses the plural form, as 'the man who did not give himself his intellects.' Sir Charles Grandison, 1754, i. 52. 'Goodness of heart shining through intellects so disturbed.' Ib. iii. 145.
' Mulso wrote to White on Aug. 1, 1746:-'I have just received a letter from Collins, dated Antwerp.... He is in high spirits, though near the French. Holt-White's Gilbert White, i. 46.
2 In the summer or autumn of 1754 he visited T. Warton, at Oxford, who described him as 'labouring under the most deplorable languor of body and dejection of mind.' Boswell's Johnson, i. 276 n.
Gilbert White saw him 'under Merton wall, struggling and conveyed by force, in the arms of two or three men, towards the parish of St. Clement, in which was a house that took in such unhappy objects.' Thomas's Collins, Preface, p. 32.
Early in 1759 Goldsmith, in The Present State of Polite Learning, ch. ix, after speaking of two neglected authors, continues:-'But they are dead and their sorrows are over. The neglected author of the Persian Eclogues, which, however inaccurate, excel any in our language, is still alive. Happy if insensible of our neglect, not raging at our ingratitude.'
Collins died on June 12, 1759. It is
strange that Johnson places his death in 1756.
3 For an anecdote of Collins stopping his raving and moanings to listen to the reading of the Bible, see Thomas's Collins, Preface, p. 43.
Cowper wrote in 1784:-'I have lately finished'eight volumes of Johnson's Lives of the Poets. In all that number I observe but one man-a poet of no great fame-of whom I did not know that he existed till I found him there, whose mind seems to have had the slightest tincture of religion. His name was Collins.... Of him there are some hopes. But from the lives of all the rest there is but one inference to be drawn-that poets are a very worthless wicked set of people. Southey's Cowper, v. II.
Collins's Life is in vol. ix; West's, who was 'poet and saint' (ante, WEST, 5), in vol. x. Probably Cowper had passed over vol. ii; for it is not likely that he, untouched as he was by Tory prejudices, placed Milton in the very worthless wicked set.' For Southey's censure of this harsh judgement see Southey's Cowper, ii. 151.
Johnson writes, in a note to his edition of Shakespeare [vii. 358], on Cymbeline, iv. 2: For the obsequies of Fidele a song was written by my unhappy friend, Mr. William Collins, a man of uncommon learning and abilities. I shall give it a place at the end in honour of his memory.'
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 3.
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.
The approaches of this dreadful malady he began to feel soon after his uncle's death, and, with the usual weakness of men so
The song was printed in Gent. Mag.
I 'Mr. Collins,' writes his schoolfellow, Dr. Warton, 'wrote his Eclogues when he was about seventeen, at Winchester School, and, as I well remember, had been just reading that volume of Salmon's Modern History which described Persia. In his maturer years he was accustomed to speak very contemptuously of them, calling them his Irish Eclogues, and saying they had not in them one spark of Orientalism. . . . He was greatly mortified that they found more admirers than his Odes.' Warton's Pope's Works, i. 115; ante, COLlins, 4 n. 6.
Goldsmith, after praising them as ' very pretty,' continues : The images, it must be owned, are not very local, for the pastoral subject could not well admit of it.' Works, iii. 437.
Mr. Moy Thomas (Preface, p. 56) points out some of the blunders in the first edition which led Collins to call the Eclogues Irish.
Horace Walpole wrote of the Scotch reviewers of Mason's Gray :-'Every Hume, however spelt, will I don't know what do.' Letters, vi. 196.
Home came to London about the end of 1749. Home's Works, 1822, i. 35:
J. H. Burton says in the Auto. of Dr. A. Carlyle, p. 562 :-' Carlyle remembered having read it in 1749 with Home. After a search he found the actual MS. in an imperfect state. He and Henry Mackenzie filled up the lacunae, and presented it in a complete shape to the Royal Society of Edinburgh [in 1783]. Soon after the Ode was published anonymously from what was said to be an original and complete copy.' The Royal Society published Carlyle's copy in their Transactions, 1788, vol. i. part 2, p. 63. Dict. Nat. Biog. xi. 379.
As for the anonymous copy, Francis Horner records on the authority of Mackintosh that' a very low northern littérateur published it at Cadell's shop, with all the vacancies supplied. The additions were a forgery of his own, of which he boasted to Mackintosh.' Memoirs of F. Horner, 1843, ii. 276.
For a curious anecdote of the cordial youth' of this Ode see Home's Works, 1822, i. 6.
diseased, eagerly snatched that temporary relief with which the table and the bottle flatter and seduce1. 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 3, 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 5. As men are often esteemed who cannot be loved, so the poetry of Collins may sometimes extort praise when it gives little pleasure 6.
Collins,' wrote Gilbert White, 'as long as I knew him, was very temperate in his eating and drinking.' Thomas's Collins, Preface, p. 33. 2 Ante, PRIOR, 59.
36 'JOHNSON. No, Sir, Warton] has taken to an odd mode. For example, he'd write thus"Hermit hoar, in solemn cell,
Wearing out life's evening gray." Gray evening is common enough; but evening gray he'd think fine.' Boswell's Johnson, iii. 158.
'These misguided innovators have not been content with restoring antiquated words and phrases, but have indulged themselves in the most licentious transpositions and the harshest constructions, vainly imagining that the more their writings are unlike prose, the more they resemble poetry. GOLDSMITH, Works, iv. 141. 5 Such as
'To old Ilissus' distant side,
Deserted stream and mute.'
'With youth's soft notes unspoil'd by
Where wilt thou rest, mad nymph,
'O thou, whose spirit most possest
['Collins's Ode to Evening shows equal genius in the images and versification. The sounds steal slowly over the ear like the gradual coming on of evening itself.' HAZLITT, Lectures on Eng. Poets, 1819, p. 232.]
There must have been some demand for Collins's Poems. They were reprinted in 1765, and in Brit. Poets in 1773; also at Glasgow in 1771, 1777.
Wordsworth wrote in 1829 (Memoirs, 1851, ii. 215):-' Thomson, Collins and Dyer had more poetic imagination than any of their contemporaries, unless we reckon Chatterton as of that age. I do not name Pope, for he stands alone as a man most highly gifted; but unluckily he took the plain when the heights were within his reach.'
Mr. Collins's first production is added here from The Poetical Calendar:
'TO MISS AURELIA C—R,
ON HER WEeping at hER SISTER'S WEDDING.
'Cease, fair Aurelia, cease to mourn;
And softly whispers to your charms;
Vol. xii. p. 108. It is not by Collins, but by Dr. Swan, as I have shown in Johnson's Letters, ii. 130.
For his 'first production' see ante,
OHN DYER, of whom I have no other account to give than 1 his own letters, published with Hughes's Correspondence", and the notes added by the editor, have afforded me, was born in 1700, the second son of Robert Dyer of Aberglasney, in Caermarthenshire, a solicitor of great capacity and note3.
He passed through Westminster-school under the care of 2 Dr. Freind, and was then called home to be instructed in his father's profession. But his father died soon, and he took no delight in the study of the law, but, having always amused himself with drawing, resolved to turn painter, and became pupil to Mr. Richardson, an artist then of high reputation, but now better known by his books than by his pictures.
Having studied awhile under his master he became, as he tells 3 his friend, an itinerant painter, and wandered about South Wales and the parts adjacent; but he mingled poetry with painting, and about 1727 printed Grongar Hill' in Lewis's Miscellany3. Being, probably, unsatisfied with his own proficiency he, like 4
'A mezzotinto from Reynolds's portrait of Samuel Dyer [ante, WATTS, 25] has been copied for the Lives of the Poets, as if it were the portrait of John Dyer.' Prior's Malone, p. 423.
2 Correspondence of John Hughes, edited by John Duncombe, 3 vols. 2nd ed. 1773. See ante, HUGHES, 17.
3 Ib. iii. 61. He was born 'rather in 1698 or 1699.' Cunningham's Lives of the Poets, iii. 289.
Freind was Head Master from 1711 to 1733. Sargeaunt's Westminster School, p. 268.
'Let Freind affect to speak as Terence
spoke.' The Dunciad, iv. 223. Swift wrote to Atterbury, Dean of Westminster, on Aug. 3, 1713:-'I envy Dr. Freind that he has you for his inspector; and I envy you for having such a person in your district, and whom you love so well. Shall not I have liberty to be sometimes a
5 Ante, COWLEY, 3; POPE, 239. Hughes Corr. iii. 60. Savage wrote some lines To Mr. John Dyer, A Painter. Eng. Poets, xli. 244. 7 Ib. lviii. 109.
Johnson said of some fine lines to Pope, quoted in Boswell's Johnson, iv. 307-'They were written by one Lewis, who was either under-master or an usher of Westminster School, and published a Miscellany in which Grongar Hill first came out.' Malone adds in a note that Lewis's Miscellany was printed in 1726. Grongar Hill was first printed in Savage's Miscellanies [ante, SAVAGE, 60] as an Ode, and was reprinted in the same year in Lewis's Miscellany, in the form it now bears.' See Appendix S.