Page images
PDF
EPUB

his mother's relations appear to have been of a superior condition in life.* Collins lost his father in 1734, and on the 5th of July, 1744, his mother

George, son of Mr. George Collins, 7th September, 165). Christian, daughter of Mr. Richard Collins, 1st Sept. 1652. John, son of Mr. Richard Collins, senior, 13th Dec. 1652. Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. Richard Collins, sen. 16th May,

1656. Joan, daughter of Mr. Richard Collins, jun. 12th Dec. 1656. Judith, daughter of Mr. Collins, Vicar Choral, 17th April,

1667. Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. William Collins, 6 March, 1704. died. He was an only son : of his two sisters, Elizabeth, the eldest, died unmarried, and Anne, the youngest, who took care of him when he was bereft of reason, married first Mr. Hugh Sempill, who died in 1762, and secondly the Rev. Dr. Thomas Durnford, and died at Chichester in November, 1789. Her character is thus described on the authority of Mr. Park: “ The Reverend Mr. Durnford, who resided at Chichester, and was the son of Dr. Durnford, informed me, in August 1795, that the sister of Collins loved money to excess, and evinced so outrageous an aversion to her brother, because he squandered or gave away to the boys in the cloisters whatever money he had, that she destroyed, in a paroxysm of resentment, all his papers, and whatever remained of his enthusiasm for poetry, as far as she could. Mr. Hayley told me, when I visited him at Eartham, that he had obtained from her a small drawing by Collins, but it possessed no other value than as a memorial that the bard had attempted to handle the pencil as well as the pen.

MARRIAGES.

Mr. Charles Collins and Mrs. Elizabeth Cardiff, 14th April,

*1696.

BURIALS,

-wife of Mr. William Collins, 10th December, 1650. Susan, wife of Mr. Richard Collins, 3rd December, 1657. Mr. George Collins, 10th January, 1669. Mrs. Collins of St. Olave's Parish, 19th July, 1696.

There are monumental inscriptions in St. Andrew's Church, Chichester, to the Poet's father, mother, maternal uncle, Colonel Martin, and sister, Mrs. Durnford.

* So much of the will of Colonel Edmund Martin as relates to the Poet and his sister has been already cited, but the testator's situation in life and the respectability of his family are best shown by other parts of that document. He describes himself as a lieutenant-colonel in his Majesty's service, lying sick in the city of Chichester. To his niece Elizabeth, the wife of Thomas Napper, of Itchenor in Sussex, he bequeathed 1001. His copyhold estates of the manors of Selsey and Somerly, in that county, to his nephew, Abraham Martin, the youngest son of his late only brother, Henry Martin, and to his servant, John Hipp, he gave his wearing apparel and ten pounds.

That Mrs. Durnford was indifferent to her brother's fame, is stated by others, and Sir Egerton Brydges, in his Essay, has made some just observations on the circumstance.

This Memoir must not be closed without an

[ocr errors]

* Dyce's edition of Collins, 1827, p. 39.

expression of acknowledgment to the Bishop of Hereford, to the President of Magdalen College, to H. Gabell, Esq., and to I. Sanden, Esq., of Chichester, for the desire which they were so good as to manifest that this account of Collins might be more satisfactory than it is; and if his admirers consider that his present biographer has not done sufficient justice to his memory, an antidote to the injury will be found in the fervent and unqualified admiration which Sir Egerton Brydges has evinced for his genius.

AN ESSAY ON THE GENIUS AND POEMS

OF COLLINS.

BY SIR EGERTON BRYDGES,

BART.

Collins is the founder of a new school of poetry, of a high class. It is true that, unless Buckhurst and Spenser had gone before him, he could not have written as he has done; yet he is an inventor very distinct from both. He calls his Odes descriptive and allegorical; and this characterises them truly, but too generally. The personification of abstract qualities had never been so happily executed before; the pure spirituality of the conception, the elegance and force of the language, the harmony and variety of the numbers, were all executed with a felicity which none before or since have reached. That these poems did not at once captivate the public attention cannot be accounted for by any cause hitherto assigned. We may not wonder that the multitude did not at once perceive their full beauties; but that, among readers of taste and learning, there should not have been found a sufficient number to set the example of admiration, is very extraordinary.

e

In addition to all their other high merits, the mere novelty of thought and manner were sufficient to excite immediate notice.

Nor was there any thing in Collins's station or character to create prejudices against the probability that beautiful effusions of genius might be struck out by his hand. His education at the college of Winchester, his fame at Oxford, his associates in London, all were fair preludes to the production of beautiful poetry. Indeed, he had already produced beautiful poetry in his Oriental Eelogues, four years before his Odes appeared. These were, it is admitted, of a different cast from his Odes, and of a gentleness and chastity of thought and diction, which he himself was conscious, some years afterwards, did not very well represent the gorgeousness of eastern composition.

It was a crisis when there was a fair opening for new candidates for the laurel. The uniformity of Pope's style began already to fall upon the public ear.

Thomson was indolent, and Young eccentric; Gray had not yet appeared on the stage ; and Akenside's metaphysical subject and diffuse style were not calculated to engross the general taste. Johnson had taken possession of the field of satire, but there are too many readers of enthusiastic mind to be satisfied with satire. The pedantry and uncouthness of Walter Harte had precluded him from ever being a fa

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »