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-CH A R A C T E R
Mr. WILLIAM COLLINS.
M R . Collins was a Man of extenfive Literature,
IV and of vigorous Faculties. He was aca quainted not only with the learned Tongues, but with the Italian, French, and Spanish Languages. He had employed his Mind chiefly upon Works of Fiction, and Subjects of Fancy; and by indulging fome 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 Fairies, Genii, Giants, and Monsters ; he delighted to rove through the Meanders of Inchantment, to gaze on the Magnificence of gol en Palaces, to repose by the Waterfalls of Elysian Gardens.
This was however the Character rather of his Inclination than his Genius ; the Grandeur of Wildness, and the Novelty of Extravagance, were always desired by him, but were not always attained. But Diligence is never wholly lost; if his Efforts sometimes caused Harshness and Obscurity, they likewise produced in happier Moments Sublimity and Splendour. This Idea which he had formed of Excel. lence, led him to oriental Fictions and allegorical Imagery; and perhaps, while he was intent upon
Description, he did not sufficiently cultivate Sentiment. His Poems are the Productions of a Mind not deficient in Fire, nor unfurnished with Knowledge either of Books or Life, but somewhat obitructed in its Progress, by Deviation in Quest of mistaken 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 l'ervour 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 affirna ; but it may be said that at least he preserved the Source of Adiion unpolluted, that his Principles were never fhaken, that his Distinctions of Right and Wrong were never confounded, and that his Faults had nothing of malignity or Design, but proceeded from fome 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 found gathering on in his Intellects, he endeavour, ed 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 Lunatics, and afterwards retired to the Care of his Sister in Colchester, where Death at last came to his Relief.
After his Return from France, the Writer of this Character paid him a Visit at Ifington, where he
was writing 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 then withdrawn from Study, and travelled with no other Book than an English Teflament, 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 6 but one Book,' says Collins, but that is the 6 best.
LECTURE SHIP S.
I Would not thus have address’d your Lordship
in public, but that in these our Days the Press is the only Method by which I could gain Admission to you, or have the Opportunity, to use our old College Phrase, of a little ConfAB: Bishops and Curates are, I believe, at present seldom seen together, except in the Prayer for the Clergy. Fortune, my Lord, who brought us so close together at the University, where, you may remember, we were Chums, has at Length
Sævo læta negotio, , as the old Bard sings, in one of her strange Freaks, somewhere read, that in the Roman Triumphs a Person was always appointed to attend the Conqueror, and as he passed along to repeat to him i Thou art a Man, The following Pages may be considered as a falutary Hint of the same Nature, and were only meant to lay on your Lordship’s Table, and as you slip on your Lawn, to whisper to you---Thou art a Clergyman.'
thrown us from the most intimate Connection into Stations of Life at the utmost Distance from each other, by making your Lordihip a Bishop, and me an--- Afliftant. Curate. I think, my Lord, I have
Though I do not (to use the Phrase of a certain Right Reverend) balk in the Sunshine of the Gospel, you will perceive, notwithstanding, in the Course of this Letter, I am not so much hurt by Disappointments, but that I can laugh at a proper Opportunity; at present, however, I am perfectly ferious, and do from my Heart think and declare, that the least grateful Acknowledgement which our dignified Clergy can make, for the Honours and Rewards conferred on them, is to aslift cheir distressed Brethren ; to make use of their best Endeavours to support the Dignity of the ministerial Office; and to gain them fome Deference and Respect, if they can, or will, procure them nothing else : and yer this, my Lord, I will not say wherefore, or by whom, is of late Years, most shamefully neglect.
ed Breths conferred on make, for deement whiclare,
Your Lord thip, I am convinced by Experience, is not without Humanity ; I have known fome Bi-. Thops, (formerly I mean) who had not a Grain of it in their whole Composition ; but that is not your Café ; I have therefore taken the Liberty to appeal to you, in Behalf of the inferior Clergy of these Kingdoms, who, I believe, are the most distressed, deserted, and despised Body of Men, at present, on the Face of the Earth: into the Causes of this, I propose cooly and candidly to examine, and to consult with your Lordship concerning the most probable Method of removing them. Vol. II.