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September 9, 1918.
]vever were the alternate feelings of delight and gloom, which almost always attend a mind of high poetical temperament, more beautifully and faithfully described, than in the simple, the harmonious, and affecting stanzas of " Childe Alarique" a poem published at Edinburgh, by my young, and most accomplished friend, Mr. Gillies, in June last: a poem which rivals the most exquisite charms of The Minstrel, without ever falling into its occasional flatness. For me, who am afflicted with all the evils of such a temperament, without being blessed with the gifts of its countervailing powers; how frequent is that sinking of the heart, that comfortless aspect of existence,
"Which wraps the hour of woe in tenfold night."
It must have been in one of these humours, that I wrote the following fragment, which I find among my papers:
Lines written on a stormy Day, at the Fall of the Leaf,
Shr1ll shrieks the blast; the falling leaves
For me, each shifting passion's sport,
I shall be reproached with whim and affectation in the description of such feelings: I shall be called querulous, and full of melancholy fancies. Ill-merited aspersions, and unjust sarcasms, have long nerved my mind to endure these censures. There are those who think that I have nothing beyond the common fate to complain of! Let them, who know the corruptness of office, and the success of base and venal intrigue, think otherwise! Let them, who are aware how hateful a cultivated mind is to a sensual and ignoble Being, jndge more candidly of the usage to which he, who loves and follows the Muse, is subjected among provincial squires and rural thanes; among those who think it unbecoming their importance to exercise their intellects; who look upon
"That wicked imp they call a poet," as an evil spirit, sent to conjure them out of their fair fame, and fair enjoyments!
Sometimes, losing among my books, and sometimes, in literary productions, the sense of the many poisoned arrows which are always festering in my heart, I continually endeavour to counteract the gloom which in such various shapes attacks me! I cultivate the disposition to behold the charms of Nature in their most cheerful and attractive colours. But it is impossible to be always successful in these efforts. Even the energy of ardent exertion will be followed by langour, which throws a mistiness over the joyous aspect of the heavens, and the earth; and brings on that depression which breeds giants and monsters of Fear and Melancholy.
Gentle mornings of solitary study; dear days of virtuous retirement; on you, at least, I shall look back in my old age with regret! To have done good to mankind, or to have taught or amused the world, is higher praise; but even a passive innocence, even freedom from the stain of debasing vice, is no mean ground of tranquillity and hope!
"God doth not need
Either man's work, or his own gifts;' who hest
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him hest: his state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait." Milton.
September 10, 1813.
The materials for the Life Of Collins are more than usually scanty. This induces me to bring into one point of view, two curious communications regarding him.
The following Memoir appeared in "The Gentleman's Magazine, for 17 81." It contains some affecting passages; and exhibits a familiarity with the Author which is very interesting.
Jansary 20, 1781.
"william Collins, the Poet, I was intimately acquainted with, from the time that he came to reside at Oxford. He was the son of a tradesman in the city of Chichester, I think an hatter; and, being sent very young to Winchester School, was soon distinguished for his early proficiency, and his turn for elegant composition. About the year 1740, he came off from that seminary Jirst upon roll," and was entered a commoner of Queen's College. There, no vacancy offering for New College,
• Dr. Joseph Warton, late head-master of Winton School, was at the same time tecond upon roll; and Mr. Mulso, late prehendary of the church of Winton, third upon roll.