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Langhorne's edition of Collins first appeared in 1765, accompanied by observations which have been generally appended to subsequent editions. These observations have commonly borne the character of feebleness and affectation; they have a sort of pedantic prettiness, which is somewhat repulsive, but they do not want ingenuity, or justness of criticism. Part of them, at least, had previously appeared in the Monthly Review, probably written by Langhorne. Langhorne was not deficient himself in poetical genius, but is principally remembered by a single beautiful stanza, “ Cold on Canadian hills," &c. From the time of Langhorne's first edition Collins became a popular poet: a miniature edition, appeared soon after that of Langhorne; and long as I can remember books, which

goes back at least to the year 1770, Collins's poems were almost universally on the lips of readers of English poetry. That Cowper, in 1784, should speak of him as a poet of no great fame” proves nothing, since Cowper's long seclusion from the world had made him utterly ignorant of contemporary literature. The negative inference, from the omission of Beattie, is not of much weight. I cannot recollect the date of the article in the Monthly Review ; but, as it appears

that Collins survived till 1759, I suspect it was before Collins's death. It was in September, 1754, that the Wartons visited him


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at Chichester : in that year he paid a visit to Oxford, when it appears that he was suffering under exhausture, not alienation, of mind.

The critics, and, among the rest, Mrs. Barbauld and Campbell, have ascribed to him “frequent obscurity;" this is unjust,-his general characteristic is lucidness and transparency : he is never obscure, unless in the Ode to Liberty, and, perhaps, in a few passages of the Ode on the Manners. Campbell's criticism is, otherwise, worthy of this beautiful poet, whom he praises with congenial spirit. When Hazlitt speaks of the “tinsel and splendid patchwork” of Collins, “mixed with the solid, sterling ore of his genius,” he speaks of a base material not to be found there. In Collins there is no tinsel or patchwork, one of his excellencies is, that the whole of every piece is of one web; there are no joinings or meaner threads. There is no height to which Collins might not have risen, had he lived long, had his mind continued sound, and had he persevered in exercising his genius. Campbell remarks that, at the same age, Milton had written nothing which could eclipse his productions.

Of the two communications regarding Collins, to which I have already alluded, one anonymous, the other by a Mr. John Ragsdale, I must say something more. The first, signed V., appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine, with the date of

the 20th Jan. 1781. I well remember its publication, and, with what eagerness I read it. I suspect it was at the very crisis of the appearance of the last portion of Johnson's Lives, but, possibly a year earlier. I perused it with a mixture of delight, melancholy, and disgust; the first passage which struck me was this:

“ As he brought with him (to Oxford), for so the whole tone of his conversation discovered, too high an opinion of his school acquisitions and a sovereign contempt for all academic studies and discipline, he never looked with any complacency on his situation in the University, but was always complaining of the dullness of a college life. In short, he threw up his demyship, and going to London, commenced a man of the town, spending his time in all the dissipation of Ranelagh, Vauxhall, and the playhouses; and was romantic enough to suppose that his superior abilities would draw the attention of the great world, by means of whom he was to make his fortune.” &c., &c.—" Thus was lost to the world this unfortunate person, in the prime of life, without availing himself of fine abilities, which, if properly improved, must have raised him to the top

any profession, and have rendered him a blessing to his friends, and an ornament to his country.”

The vulgarity and narrow-mindedness of this last paragraph filled me with indignation and


contempt. In a selfish point of view Collins might, unquestionably, have done better by binding himself to the trammels of a profession; but would he have been more an honour to his friends and an ornament to his country? Are the fruits of genius he has left behind no ornament or use to his country? Professional men, for the most part, live for themselves, and not for the world. Who now remembers Lord Camden, Lord Thurlow, Lord Rosslyn, Lord Kenyon, Lord Ellenborough, or a hundred episcopal or medical characters, all rich and famous in their day?

The character of his person and habits we read with deep interest. “ He was passionately fond of music, goodnatured, and affable, warm in his friendships, and visionary in his pursuits ; and, as long as I knew him, very temperate in his eating and drinking. He was of a moderate stature, of a light and clear complexion, with gray eyes, so very weak at times as hardly to bear a candle in the room, and often raising within him apprehensions of blindness."

The letter from Mr. John Ragsdale is addressed to Mr. William Hyams, Queen's College, Oxford, dated “ Hill Street, Richmond, in Surrey, July, 1783.” He appears to have been a tradesman in Bond Street; and he surveyed the character of Collins (with whom he was familiar) with a tradesman's eye. He reproached the poet with idleness, not because he was lingering and losing his time on the road to fame, but because he omitted to get money by his pen.

« To raise a present subsistence,” says Ragsdale," he set about writing his Odes; and having a general invitation to my house, he frequently passed whole days there, which he passed in writing them, and as frequently burning what he had written after he had read them to me: many of them, which pleased me, I struggled to preserve, but without effect; for, pretending he would alter them, he got them from me, and thrust them into the fire.” That he wrote the Odes to gain a present subsistence is but the tradesman's mistaken comment.

Gray was about four years older than Collins, and he survived him twelve

he appears

to have spent these years in gloominess and spleen; but we know not what intense pleasures he received from his solitary studies, from the improvement of his mind, from that exquisite taste and increasing erudition of which every day added to the stores. The enthusiasm of Collins was more active and adventurous, and his erudition probably more acute. Timidity and fastidiousness were great defects in Gray; they kept down his invention, and made him resort to the wealth of others, when he could better have relied upon himself. But as to borrowing expressions and simple materials, no genius ever did otherwise; it is the new and happy combination in which


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