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with knowledge either of books or life, but somewhat obstructed in its progress by deviation in quest of miltaken beauties.
“ 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 fome 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 intel. lects, 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.
return from France, the writer of this character paid him a visit at Islington, where he was
waiting waiting for his sister, whom he had directed to meet him : there was then nothing of disorder discernible in his mind by any but himself; but he had withdrawn from study, and travelled with no other book than an English Testament, such as children carry to the fchool : when his friend took it into his hand, out of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 dilapprobation 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 fpirit; 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 foriner vigour.
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 de
clined, clined, 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 obsolete 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 pleafure.
Mr. Collins's first production is added here from the Poetical Calendar.
TO MISS AURELIA C-R,
ON HER WEEPING AT HER SISTER'S WEDDING.
Ceafe, fair Aurelia, cease to mourn;
Lament not Hannah's happy ftate ;
And seize the treasure you regret.
And softly whispers to your charms ;
“ You'll find your fifter in his arms."
DY E R.
TOHN DYER, of whom I have no other account
to give than his own Letters, published with Hughes's correspondence, and the notes added by the editor, have afforded me, was born in 1700, the second son of Robert Dyer of Aberglasney, in Caermarthenshire, a solicitor of great capacity and note.
He passed through Westminster school under the care of Dr. Freind, and was then called home to be instructed in his father's profession. But his father died soon, and he took no delight in the study of the law, but, having always amused himself with drawing, resolved to turn painter, and became pupil to Mr. Richardson, an artist then of high reputation, but now better known by his books than by his pictures.
Having studied awhile under his master, he became, as he tells his friend, an itinerant painter, and wandered about South Wales and the parts adjacent ; but he mingled poetry with painting, and about 1727 printed Grongar Hill in Lewis's Miscellany.
Being, Being, probably, unsatisfied with his own proficiency, he, like other painters, travelled to Italy; and coming back in 1740, published the Ruins of Rome.
If his poem was written foon after his return, he did not make much use of his acquisitions in painting, whatever they might be; for decline of health, and love of study, determined him to the church. He therefore entered into orders; and, it seems, married about the same time a lady of the name of Enfor ; “ whose grand-mother,” says he, “ was a Shakspeare, “descended from a brother of every body's Shak“ speare ;” by her, in 1756, he had a son and three daughters living.
His ecclesiastical provision was a long time but flender. His first patron, Mr. Harper, gave him, in 1741, Calthorp in Leicestershire, of eighty pounds a year, on which he lived ten years, and then exchanged it for Belchford in Lincolnshire, of seventy-five. His condition now began to iend. In 1751, Sir John Heathcote gave him Coningiby, of one hundred and forty pounds a year; and in 1755 the Chancellor added Kirkby, of one hundred and ten. He complains that the repair of the house at Coningsby, and other expences, took away the profit.
In 1767 he published the Fleece, his greatest poetical work; of which I will not suppress a ludicrous story. Dodsley the bookseller was one day mentioning it to a critical visiter, with more expectation of success than the other could easily admit. In the conversation the author's age was asked ; and being represented as advanced in life, He will, said the critick, be buried in woollen. P 2