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William Collins, a distinguished modern poet, of disorder in his mind, perceptible to any but him. was born at Chichester, in 1720 or 1721, where his self. He was reading the New Testament “I father exercised the trade of a hatter. He received have but one book," said he, “but it is the best." his education at Winchester College, whence he en- He was finally consigned to the care of his sister, in tered as a commoner of Queen's College, Oxford. whose arms he finished his short and melancholy In 1741, he procured his election into Magdalen course, in the year 1756. college as a demy; and it was here that he wrote It is from his Odes, that Collins derives his chief his poetical “ Epistle to Sir Thomas Hanmer," poetical fame; and in compensation for the neglect and his “Oriental Eclogues;" of both which with which they were treated at their first appearpieces the success was but moderate. In 1744, he ance, they are now almost universally regarded as came to London as a literary adventurer, and va- the first productions of the kind in our language, rious were the projects which he formed in this with respect to vigor of conception, boldness and capacity. In 1746, however, he ventured to lay variety of personification, and genuine warmth of before the public a volume of “Odes, Descriptive feeling. They are well characterized in an essay and Allegorical ;" but so callous was the national prefixed to his works, in an ornamented edition pubtaste at this time, that their sale did not pay for the lished by Cadell and Davies, with which we shall printing. Collins, whose spirit was high, returned conclude this article. “He will be acknowledged to the bookseller his copy-money, burnt all the un- (says the author) to possess imagination, sweetness, sold copies, and as soon as it lay in his power, in- bold and figurative language. His numbers dwell demnified him for his small loss; yet among these on the ear, and easily fix themselves in the memory. odes, were many pieces which now rank among the His vein of sentiment is by lurns tender and lofty, finest lyric compositions in the language. After always tinged with a degree of melancholy, but not this mortification, he obtained from the booksellers possessing any claim to originality. His originality a small sum for an intended translation of Aristotle's consists in his manner, in the highly figurative garb Poetics, and paid a visit to an uncle, Lieutenant- in which he clothes abstract ideas, in the felicity of Colonel Martin, then with the army in Germany. This expressions, and his skill in embodying ideal The Colonel dying soon after, lest Collins a legacy creations. He had much of the mysticism of poetry. of 20001., a sum which raised him to temporary and sometimes became obscure by aiming at imopulence; but he now soon became incapable of pressions stronger than he had clear and well-defin'd every mental exertion. Dreadful depression of ideas to support. Had his life been prolonged, and spirits was an occasional attendant on his malady, with life had he enjoyed that ease which is necessary for which he had no remedy but the bottle. It was for the undisturbed exercise of the faculties, he about this time, that it was thought proper to con. would probably have risen far above most of his fine him in a receptacle of lunatics. Dr. Johnson contemporaries." paid him a visit at Islington, when there was nothing
Come, Pity, come, by Fancy's aid,
Thy temple's pride design;
In all who view the shrine.
But who is he, whom later garlands grace,
Who left awhile o'er Hybla's dews to rove, With trenibling eyes thy dreary steps to trace,
Where thou and furies shard the baleful grove ?
Wrapt in thy cloudy veil th' incestuous queen,t
Sigh'd the sad call her son and husband heard, When once alone it broke the silent scene,
And he the wretch of Thebes no more appear'd
There Picture's toil shall well relate,
O'er mortal bliss prevail :
With each disastrous tale.
O Fear! I know thee by my throbbing heart,
Thy withering power inspir'd each mournful line, Though gentle Pity claim her mingled part,
Yet all the thunders of the scene are thine.
There let me oft, retir'd by day,
Allow'd with thee to dwell :
To hear a British shell!
ODE TO FEAR."
Thou, to whom the world unknown
Ah, Fear! ah, frantic Fear!
I see, I see thee near. I know thy hurried step, thy haggard eye! Like thee I start, like thee disorder'd fly. For, lo, what monsters in thy train appear' Danger, whose limbs of giant mould What mortal eye can fixt behold? Who stalks his round, a hideous form, Howling amidst the midnight storm, Or throws him on the ridgy steep Of some loose hanging rock to sleep: And with him thousand phantoms join'd, Who prompt to deeds accurs'd the mind : And those, the fiends, who, near allied, O'er Nature's wounds and wrecks preside; While Vengeance, in the lurid air, Lifts her red arm, expos'd and bare; On whom that ravening brood of Fate, Who lap the blood of Sorrow, wait; Who, Fear, this ghastly train can see, And look not madly wild, like thee?
ANTISTROPHE. Thou who such weary lengths hast past, Where wilt thou rest, mad nymph, at last ? Say, wilt thou shroud in haunted cell, Where gloomy Rape and Murder dwell ? Or in some hollow'd seat, 'Gainst which the big waves beat, Hear drowning seamen's cries in tempests brought: Dark power, with shuddering meek submitted
And, lest thou meet my blasted view,
And goblins haunt from fire, or fen,
O thou, whose spirit most possest
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1746.
How sleep the brave, who sink 10 rest, By all their country's wishes blest! When Spring, with dewy fingers cold, Returns to deck their hallow'd mould, She there shall dress a sweeter sod, Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.
In earliest Greece, to thee, with partial choice
The grief-full Muse address'd her infant tongue; 'The maids and matrons, on her awful voice,
Silent and pale, in wild amazement hung.
Yet he, the bard * who first invok'd thy name,
Disdain'd in Maraihon its power to feel : For not alone he nurs'd the poet's flame,
But reach'd from Virtue's hand the patriot's steel.
By Fairy hands their knell is rung,
ODE, TO A LADY,
Where'er from time thou court'st relief,
Her gentlest promise keep:
And bid her shepherds weep.
ON THE DEATH OF COL. CHARLES ROSS, IN THE
ACTION AT FONTENOY.
Written May, 1745. While, lost to all his former mirth, Britannia's genius bends to earth,
And mourns the fatal day : While stain'd with blood he strives to tear Unseemly from his sea-green hair
The wreaths of cheerful May.
ODE TO EVENING.
The thoughts which musing Pity pays,
Your faithful hours attend :
And points the bleeding friend.
If aught of oaten stop, or pastoral song,
Like thy own solemn springs,
Thy springs, and dying gales ; O nymph reserv'd, while now the bright-hair'd Sun Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,
With brede ethereal wove,
O'erhang his wavy bed :
Or where the beetle winds
By rapid Scheld's descending wave
Where'er the youth is laid :
And Peace protect the shade.
As oft he rises 'midst the twilight path,
Now teach me, maid compos'd,
O'er him, whose doom thy virtues grieve, Aërial forms shall sit at eve,
And bend the pensive head ; And, fall'n to save his injur'd land, Imperial Honor's awful hand
Shall point his lonely bed!
Whose numbers, stealing through thy darkening vale.
As, musing slow, I hail
So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Thy gentlest influence own,
Or dwell in willow'd meads more near,
With those to whom the stork* is dear:
Whose crown a British queen refus'd!
ODE TO LIBEPTY.
Beyond the measure vast of thought,
The Gaul, 'tis held of antique story,
Saw Britain link'd to his now adverse strand,t Applauding F ecdom lov'd of old to view ? No sea between, nor cliff sublime and huary What new Alrers, fancy-blest,
He pass'd with unwet feet through all our land Shall sing the sword, in myrtles drest,
To the blown Baltic then, they say, At Wisden's shrine awhile its fame concealing,
The wild waves found another way, (What place so fit to seal a deed renown'd ?) Where Orcas howls, his wolfish mountains rounding; Till she her brightest lightnings round revealing,
Till all the banded west at once 'gan rise, It 'eap'd in glory forth, and dealt her prompted A wide wild storm e'en Nature's self confounding, wound !
Withering her giant sons with strange uncouth O goddess, in that feeling hour,
surprise. When most its sounds would court thy ears,
This pillar'd earth so firm and wide, Let not my shell's misguided power
By winds and inward labors torn, E'er draw thy sad, thy mindful tears.
In thunders dread was push'd aside, No, Freedom, no, I will not tell,
And down the shouldering billows borne How Rome, before thy face,
And see, like gems, her laughing train, With heaviest sound, a giant-statue, fell,
The little isles on every side, Push'd by a wild and artless race,
Mona, once hid from those who search the main, From off its wide ambitious base,
Where thousand elfin shapes abide,
And all the blended work of strength and grace For thee consenting Heaven has each bestow'd,
A fair attendant on her sovereign pride : And many a barbarous yell, to thousand fragments To thee this blest divorce she ow'd, broke.
For thou hast made her vales thy lov'd, thy last abode!
Then too, 'tis said, an hoary pile,
Yet, e'en where'er the least appear'd,
* The Dutch, amongst whom there are very severe pen. alties for those who are convicted of killing this bird. They are kept tame in almost all their towns, and par. ticularly at the Hague, of the arms of which they make a part. The common people of Holland are said to en. tertain a superstitious sentiment, that if the whole species of them should become extinct, they should lose their liberties.
f This tradition is mentioned by several of our old his. torians. Some naturalists, too, have endeavored to support the probability of the fact, by arguments drawn from the correspondent disposition of the two opposite coasts. I do not remember that any poetical use has been hitherto made of it.
There is a tradition in the Isle of Man, that a mer. maid, becoming enamoured of a young man of extraordi. nary beauty, took an opportunity of meeting him one day as he walked on the shore, and opened her passion to him, but was received with a coldness, occasioned by his horror and surprise at her appearance. This, how. ever, was so misconstrued by the sea-lady, that, in re.
venge for his treatment of her, she punished the whole island, by covering it with a mist, so that all who al. tempted to carry on any commerce with it, either never arrived at it, but wandered up and down the sea, or were on a sudden wrecked upon its cliffs.
Thy shrine in some religious wood,
How may the poet now unfold,
Ye forms divine, ye laureate band, That near her inmost altar stand! Now soothe her, to her blissful train Blithe Concord's social form to gain : Concord, whose myrtle wand can steep E'en Anger's blood-shot eyes in sleep: Before whose breathing bosom's balm, Rage drops his steel, and storms grow calm; Her let our sires and matrons hoar Welcome to Britain's ravag'd shore, Our youths, enamour'd of the fair, Play with the tangles of her hair, Till, in one loud applauding sound, The nations shout to her around, “0, how supremely art thou blest, Thou, lady, thou shalt rule the West !"
From the supporting myrtles round
Amid the chords bewilder'd laid,
E'en at the sound himself had made.
In lightnings own'd his secret stings,
And swept with hurried hand the strings
Low sullen sounds his grief beguil'd,
'Twas sad by fits, by starts 'twas wild. But thou, O Hope, with eyes so fair,
What was thy delighted measure ? Still it whisper'd promis'd pleasure,
And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail ! Still would her touch the strain prolong,
And from the rocks, the woods, the vale, She callid on Echo still through all the song ;
And where her sweetest theme she chose,
A soft responsive voice was heard at every close, And Hope enchanted smild, and wav'd her golden
hair. And longer had she sung—but, with a frown,
Revenge impatient rose,
And, with a withering look,
And ever and anon he beat
The doubling drum with furious heat;
Dejected Pity at his side
Her soul-subduing voice applied, Yet still he kept his wild unalter'd mien, While each strain'd ball of sight seem'd bursting
from his head. Thy numbers, Jealousy, 10 nought were fix'd,
Sad proof of thy distressful state, of differing themes the veering song was mix'd, And now it courted Love, now raving callid on
Hate. With eyes up-rais'd, as one inspir'd, Pale Melancholy sat retir'd, And from her wild sequester'd seat, In notes by distance made more sweet, Pour'd through the mellow horn her pensive soul:
And dashing soft from rocks around,
Bubbling runnels join'd the sound; Through glades and glooms the mingled measurestole Or o'er some haunted streams with fond delay,
Round an holy calm diffusing,
Love of peace, and lonely musing,
Her bow across her shoulder
Her buskins gemm'd with morning dew, Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung.
AX ODE FOR MUSIC.
When Music, heavenly maid, was young,