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ation, discover many imperfections, but West's version, so far as I have considered it, appears to be the product of great labour and great abilities.
His “Institution of the Garter” (1742) is written with sufficient knowledge of the manners that prevailed in the age to which it is referred, and with great elegance of diction ; but, for want of a process of events, neither knowledge nor elegance preserve the reader from weariness.
His “Imitations of Spenser” are very successfully performed, both with respect to the metre, the language, and the fiction ; and being engaged at once by the excellence of the sentiments, and the artifice of the copy, the mind has two amusements together. But such compositions are not to be reckoned among the great atchievements of intellect, because their effect is local and temporary ; they appeal not to reason or passion, but to memory, and pre-suppose an accidental and artificial state of mind. An imitation of Spencer is nothing to a reader, however: acute, by whom Spencer has never been perused. Works of this kind may deserve praise, as proofs of: great industry, and great nicety of observation : but the highest praise, the praise of genius, they cannot claim. The noblest beauties of art are those of which the effect is co-extended with rational nature, or at least with the whole circle of polished life; what is less than this can be only pretty, the plaything of fashion, and the amusement of a day.
THERE is in the “ Adventurer” a paper of verses given to one of the authors as Mr. West's and supposed to have been written by him. It should not be concealed, however that it is printed with Mr. Jago's name in Dodsley's Collection, and is mentioned as his in a Letter of Shenstone's. Perhaps West gave it without naming the author; and Hawksworth, receiving it from him, thought it his; for this he thought it, as he told me, and as he tells the public.
WILLIAM COLLINS was born at Chichester, on the 25th of December, about 1720. His father was a hatter of good reputation. He was in 1733, as Dr. Warton has kindly informed me, admitted scholar of Winchester College, where he was educated by Dr. Burton. His English exercises were better than his Latin.
He first courted the notice of the public by some verses to a “ Lady weeping,” published in “ The “ Gentleman's Magazine."
In 1740, he stood first in the list of the scholars to be received in succession at New College, but unhappily there was no vacancy. This was the original misfortune of his life. He became a Commoner of Queen's College, probably with a scanty maintenance; but was, in about half a year, élected a Demy of Magdalen College, where he continued till he had taken a Batchelor's degree, and then suddenly left the University; for what reason I know not that he told.
He now (about 1744) came to London a literary adventurer, with many projects in his head, and very little money in his pocket. He designed many works; but his great fault was irresolution; or the frequent calls of immediate necessity broke bis scheme, and suffered him to pursue no settled purpose. A man doubtful of his dinner, or trembling at a creditor, is not much disposed to abstract meditation, or remote enquiries. He published proposals for a History of the Revival of Learning; and I have heard him speak with great kindness of Leo the Tenth, and with keen resentment of his tasteless successor. But probably not a page of his history was ever written. He planned several tragedies, but he only planned them. He wrote now and then odes and other poems, and did something, however little.
About this time I fell into his company. His appearance was decent and manly; his knowledge considerable, his views extensive, his conversation elegant, and his disposition cheerful. By degrees I gained his confidence; and one day was admitted to him when he was immured by a bailiff, that was prowling in the street. On this occasion recourse was had to the booksellers, who, on the credit of a translation of Aristotle's Poetics, which he engaged to write with a large commentary, advanced as much money as enabled him to escape into the country. He shewed me the guineas safe in his hand. Soon afterwards his uncle, Mr. Martin, a lieutenant-colonel, left him about two thousand pounds; a sum which Collins could scarcely think exhaustible, and which he did not live to exhaust. The guineas were then repaid, and the translation neglected,
But man is not born for happiness. Collins, who, while he studied to live, felt no evil but poverty, no'. sooner lived to study than his life was assailed by more dreadful calamities, disease, and insanity.
Having formerly written his character, while perhaps it was yet more distinctly impressed upon my memory, I shall insert it here.
“ Mr. Collins was a man of extensive literature, and of vigorous faculties. He was acquainted not only with the learned tongues, but with the Italian, French, and Spanish languages. He had employed his mind chiefly on the works of fiction, and subjects of fancy; and, by indulging some peculiar habits of thought, was eminently delighted with those flights of imagination which pass the bounds of nature, and to which the mind is reconciled only by a passive acquiescence in popular traditions. He loved faries, genii, giants, and monsters; he delighted to rove through the meanders of inchantment, to gaze on the magnificence of golden palaces, to repose by the water-falls of Elysian gardens..
“ This was however the character rather of his inclination than his genius ; the grandeur of wild- ** ness, and the novelty of extravagance, were always desired by him, but not always attained. Yet, as : diligence is never wholly lost, if his efforts sometimes caused harshness and obscurity, they like- *** wise produced in happier moments sublimity and splendour. This idea which he had formed of excellence led him to oriental fictions and allegorical imagery, and perhaps, while he was intent upon description, he did not sufficiently cultivate senti- *,