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with knowledge either of books or life, but fomewhat obftructed in its progrefs by deviation in queft of miftaken beauties.
"His morals were pure, and his opinions pious : in a long continuance of poverty, and long habits of diffipation, it cannot be expected that any character should be exactly uniform. There is a degree of want by which the freedom of agency is almoft deftroyed; and long affociation with fortuitous companions will at last relax the ftrictness of truth, and abate the fervour of fincerity. That this man, wife and virtuous as he was, paffed always unentangled through the fnares of life, it would be prejudice and temerity to affirm; but it may be faid that at least he preferved the fource of action unpolluted, that his principles were never fhaken, that his diftinctions of right and wrong were never confounded, and that his faults had nothing of malignity or defign, but proceeded from fome unexpected preffure, or cafual temptation.
"The latter part of his life cannot be remembered but with pity and fadnefs. He languished fome years under that depreffion of mind which enchains the faculties without deftroying them, and leaves reason the knowledge of right without the power of purfuing it. These clouds which he perceived gathering on his intellects, he endeavoured to difperfe by travel, and paffed into France: but found himself constrained to yield to his malady, and returned. He was for fome time confined in a house of lunaticks, and afterwards retired to the care of his fifter in Chichefter, where death in 1756 came to his relief.
"After his return from France, the writer of this character paid him a vifit at Iflington, where he was
waiting for his fifter, whom he had directed to meet him there was then nothing of diforder difcernible in his mind by any but himfelf; but he had withdrawn from ftudy, and travelled with no other book than an English Teftament, fuch as children carry to the fchool when his friend took it into his hand, out of curiofity to fee what companion a Man of Letters had chofen, I have but one book, faid Collins, but that is the beft."
Such was the fate of Collins, with whom I once delighted to converfe, and whom I yet remember with tenderness.
He was vifited at Chichester, in his laft illness, by his learned friends Dr. Warton and his brother; to whom he fpoke with difapprobation of his Oriental Eclogues, as not fufficiently expreffive of Afiatick manners, and called them his Irish Eclogues. He fhewed them, at the fame time, an ode inscribed to Mr. John Hume, on the fuperftitions of the Highlands; which they thought fuperior to his other works, but which no fearch has yet found.
His diforder 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 exhaufted him, fo that he was forced to reft upon the couch, till a fhort ceffation reftored his powers, and he was again able to talk with his former vigour.
The approaches of this dreadful malady he began to feel foon after his uncle's death; and, with the ufual weakness of men fo difeafed, eagerly fnatched that temporary relief with which the table and the bottle flatter and feduce. But his health continually de
clined, and he grew more and more burthenfome to himself.
To what I have formerly faid of his writings may be added, that his diction was often harsh, unskilfully laboured, and injudiciously felected. He affected the obfolete when it was not worthy of revival; and he puts his words out of the common order, feeming to think, with fome later candidates for fame, that not to write profe is certainly to write poetry. His lines commonly are of flow motion, clogged and impeded with clusters of confonants. As men are often efteemed who cannot be loved, fo the poetry of Collins may fometimes extort praise when it gives little pleafure.
Mr. Collins's first production is added here from the Poetical Calendar.
TO MISS AURELIA CR,
ON HER WEEPING AT HER SISTER'S WEDDING.
Ceafe, fair Aurelia, ceafe to mourn;
And foftly whifpers to your charms;
D Y Y E R.
OHN DYER, of whom I have no other account to give than his own Letters, published with Hughes's correfpondence, and the notes added by the editor, have afforded me, was born in 1700, the second fon of Robert Dyer of Aberglafney, in Caermarthenshire, a folicitor of great capacity and note.
He paffed through Westminster school under the care of Dr. Freind, and was then called home to be instructed in his father's profeffion. But his father died foon, and he took no delight in the ftudy of the law, but, having always amufed himself with drawing, refolved to turn painter, and became pupil to Mr. Richardfon, an artist then of high reputation, but now better known by his books than by his pic
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 Mifcellany.
Being, probably, unfatisfied 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 ufe of his acquifitions in painting, whatever they might be; for decline of health, and love of ftudy, determined him to the church. He therefore entered into orders; and, it feems, married about the fame time a lady of the name of Ensor ; "whofe grand-mother," fays he, "was a Shakspeare, "defcended from a brother of every body's Shak"speare ;" by her, in 1756, he had a fon and three daughters living.
His ecclefiaftical provifion was a long time but flender. His firft 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 feventy-five. His condition now began to mend. In 1751, Sir John Heathcote gave him Coningsby, 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 1757 he published the Fleece, his greateft poetical work; of which I will not fupprefs a ludicrous ftory. Dodfley the bookfeller was one day mentioning it to a critical vifiter, with more expectation of fuccefs than the other could eafily admit. In the converfation the author's age was afked; and being reprefented as advanced in life, He will, faid the critick, be buried in woollen.