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too strongly marked by the fervour of inspiration to be generally appreciated, his chance of being so, by the public generally, is at this moment less; and the only hope of his obtaining that popularity to which he is unquestionably entitled, is by placing his works within the reach of all, and, more especially, by acquainting the multitude with the opinion entertained of him, by those whose judgments they have the sense to venerate, since they are sometimes willing to receive, on the credit of another, that which they have not themselves the discrimination or feeling to perceive.

An anecdote is related of Collins which, if true, proves that he felt the neglect with which his Odes were treated with the indignation natural to an enthusiastic temper. Having purchased the unsold copies of the first edition from the booksellers, he set fire to them with his own hand, as if to revenge himself on the apathy and ignorance of the public.

It is unnecessary to append to the Memoir of Collins


observations on the character of his poetry, because its peculiar beauties, and the qualities by which it is distinguished, are described with considerable force and eloquence by Sir Egerton Brydges, in the Essay prefixed to this edition. Campbell's remarks on the same subject cannot be forgotten; and other critics of the highest reputation have concurred in ascribing to Collins a conception and genius scarcely ex


ceeded by any English poet. To say that Sir Egerton Brydges's Essay exaggerates the merit of some of his productions may produce the retort which has been made to Johnson's criticism, that he was too deficient in feeling to be capable of appreciating the excellence of the pieces which he censures. It is not, however, inconsistent with a high respect for Collins, to ascribe every possible praise to that unrivaled production, the Ode to the Passions, to feel deeply the beauty, the pathos, and the sublime conceptions of the Odes to Evening, to Pity, to Simplicity, and a few others, and yet to be sensible of the occasional obscurity and imperfections of his imagery in other pieces, to find it difficult to discover the meaning of some passages, to think the opening of four of his odes which commence with the common-place invocation of “ O thou,” and the alliteration by which so many lines are disfigured, blemishes too serious to be forgotten, unless the judgment be drowned in the full tide of generous and enthusiastic admiration of the great and extraordinary beauties by which these faults are more than redeemed.

That these defects are to be ascribed to haste it would be uncandid to deny; but haste is no apology for such faults in productions which scarcely fill a hundred pages, and which their author had ample opportunities to remove.

It may also be thought heterodoxy by the band, which, if small in numbers, is distinguished by taste, feeling, and genius, to concur in Collins's opinion, when he expressed himself dissatisfied with his Eclogues; for, though they are not without merit, it is very doubtful if they would have lived, even till this time, but for the Odes with which they are published, notwithstanding the zeal of Dr. Langhorne, who is in raptures over passages the excellence of which is not very conspicuous. To give a preference to the Verses to Sir Thomas Hanmer, of which all that Langhorne could find to say is, “ that the versification is easy and genteel, and the allusions always poetical,” and especially to the Ode addressed to Mr. Home, on the superstition of the Highlands, over the Eclogues, may possibly be deemed to betray a corrupt taste, since it is an admission which is, it is believed, made for the first time. In that Ode, among a hundred other beautiful verses, the following address to Tasso has seldom been surpassed :

Prevailing Poet! whose undoubting mind Believed the magic wonders which he sung! Hence, at each sound, imagination glows ! Hence, at each picture, vivid life starts here ! Hence, his warm lay with softost sweetness flows ! Melting it flows, pure, murmuring, strong, and clear, And fills the impassion'd heart, and wins the harmonious ear!

The picture of the swain drowned in a fen, and the grief of his widow, possessing every charm which simplicity and tenderness can bestow, and give to that Ode claims to admiration which, if admitted, have been hitherto conceded in silence.

From the coincidence between Collins's love of, and addresses to, Music, his residence at Oxford, and from internal evidence, Some Verses on Our Late Taste in Music, which appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1740, and there said to be“ by a Gentleman of Oxford," are printed in this edition of Collins's works, not, however, as positively his, but as being so likely to be written by him, as to justify their being brought to the notice of his readers.

A poet, and not to have felt the tender passion, would be a creature which the world has never yet seen. It is said that Collins was extremely fond of a young lady who was born the day before him, and who did not return his affection; and that, punning upon his misfortune, he observed, “ he came into the world a day after the fair.” The lady is supposed to have been Miss Elizabeth Goddard, the intended bride of Colonel Ross, to whom he addressed his beautiful Ode on the death of that officer at the battle of Fontenoy, at which time she was on a visit to the family of the Earl of Tankerville, who then resided at UpPark, near Chichester, a place that overlooks the little village of Harting, mentioned in the Ode.

Collins's person was of the middle size and well formed; of a light complexion, with gray, weak eyes. His mind was deeply imbued with classical literature, and he understood the Italian, French, and Spanish languages. He was well read, and was particularly conversant with early English writers, and, to an ardent love of literature he united, as is manifest from many of his pieces, a passionate devotion to Music, that

Sphere-descended maid, Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid." His family, which were very respectable, were established at Chichester in the sixteenth century as tradesmen of the higher order, and his immediate ancestor was mayor of that city in 1619:*


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Dallaway's Sussex, vol. i. p. 185—The arms of the family of Collins are there said to have been, “ Azure a griffin segreant or ;' but in Sir William Burrell's MS. Collections for a History of Sussex, in the British Museum, the field is described as being vert. From those manuscripts which are marked " Additional MSS.” Nos. 5697 to 5699, the following notices of the Poet's family have been extracted.



Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. George Collins, 8th October, 1763.


Mrs. Elizabeth Collins (the poet's mother], 6th July, 1744. William Collins, Gent. [the Poet], 15th June, 1759.




Charles, son of Roger Collins, 8th February, 1645.
George, son of Mr. George Collins, 28th December, 1647.
Humphrey, son of Mr. Richard Collins, 20th Dec. 1648.

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