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“ His morals were pure, and his opinions pious: in a long continuance of poverty, and long habits of dissipation, it cannot be expected that any character should be exactly uniform. There is a degree of want by which the freedom of agency is almost destroyed; and long association with fortuitous companions will at last relax the strictness of truth, and abate the fervour of sincerity. That this man, wise and virtuous as he was, passed always unentangled through the snares of life, it would be prejudice and temerity to affirm; but it may be said that at least he preserved the source of action unpolluted, that his principles were never shaken, that his distinctions of right and wrong were never confounded, and that his faults had nothing of malignity or design, but proceeded from some unexpected pressure, or casual temptation.
“ The latter part of his life cannot be remembered but with pity and sadness. He languished some years under that depression of mind which enchains the faculties without destroying them, and leaves reason the knowledge of right without the power of pursuing it. These clouds which he perceived gathering on his intellects, he endeavoured to disperse by travel, 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 him a visit at Islington, where he was waiting for his sister, whom he had directed to meet him : there was
1 Afterwards married to the Rev. Dr. Durnford. She died at Chichester, Nov. 1789.—P. CUNNINGHAM.
'Collins died on the 12th June, 1759, and on the 15th was buried in the church of St. Andrew's, Chichester. There is a mural monument to his memory in Chichester Cathedral, with a fine bas-relief by Flaxman.P. CUNNINGHAM.
then nothing of disorder discernible in his mind by any but himself; but he had withdrawn from study, and travelled with no other book than an English Testament, such as children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."
Such was the fate of Collins, with whom I once delighted to converse, and whom I yet remember with tenderness.
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.”
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.
1 See an interesting letter, describing Collins, from Gilbert White (the celebrated author of the Natural History of Selborne) to the Gentleman's Magazine. Ald. Collins, p. xxxi. ; see also Boswell's Johnson, vol. i.
2 Mr. John Home, author of the Tragedy of Douglas, who visited Winchester during the year 1749, and there made the acquaintance of Collins.
3 Home seems to have carried away with him an unfinished sketch of this poem, which many years after the death of Collins was found and published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. This publication was quickly followed by a complete edition, the authenticity of which has, however, been disputed.
The approaches of this dreadful malady he began to feel soon after his uncle's death ; and, with the usual weakness of men so diseased, eagerly snatched that temporary relief with which the table and the bottle flatter and seduce. 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, that his diction was often harsh, unskilfully laboured, and injudiciously selected. He affected the obso. lete when it was not worthy of revival; and he puts his words out of the common order, 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. As men are often esteemed who cannot be loved, so the poetry of Collins may sometimes extort praise when it gives little pleasure.'
Mr. Collins's first production is added here from the “ Poetical Calendar":
TO MISS AURELIA C-R,
Cease, fair Aurelia, cease to mourn;
Lament not Hannah's happy state ;
And seize the treasure you regret.
And softly whispers to your charms ; • Meet but your lover in my bands,
'You'll find your sister in his arms.'” 1 A monument by Flaxman was erected by subscription in 1789 in Chichester Cathedral.
2 Ald. Collins, p. 100. Mr. Cunningham points out that Collins's Odes, the volume which endears his name to every reader of true poetry, is a small octavo of fifty-two pages, dated 1747, and published by Andrew Millar, and that the Oriental Eclogues were published in 1742.