Слике страница
PDF
ePub

he has a little ftrayed from Pindar's meaning, who fays, if thou, my foul, wifheft to Speak of games, look not in the defert sky for a planet hotter than the fun, nor Shall we tell of nobler games than thofe of Olympia. He is fometimes too paraphraftical. Pindar beftows upon Hiero an epithet, which, in one word, fignifies delighting in horfes; a word which, in the translation, generates these lines:

Hiero's royal brows, whofe care

Tends the courfer's noble breed,
Pleas'd to nurse the pregnant mare,

Pleas'd to train the youthful fteed.

Pindar fays of Pelops, that he came alone in the dark to the White Sea; and West,

Near the billow-beaten fide

Of the foam-befilver'd main,
Darkling, and alone, he ftood:

which however is less exuberant than the former paffage.

A work of this kind muft, in a minute examination, discover many imperfections; but Weft's version, so far as I have confidered it, appears to be the product of great labour and great abilities.

His Inftitution of the Garter (1742) is written with fufficient 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 procefs of events, neither knowledge nor elegance preferve the reader from wearinefs.

[ocr errors]

His Imitations of Spenfer are very fuccefsfully performed, both with refpect to the metre, the language, and the fiction; and being engaged at once by the excellence of the fentiments, and the artifice of the copy,

[ocr errors]

copy, the mind has two amusements together. But fuch compofitions are not to be reckoned among the great atchievements of intellect, because their effect is local and temporary; they appeal not to reafon or paffion, but to memory, and pre-fuppofe an accidental or artificial state of mind. An Imitation of Spenfer is nothing to a reader, however acute, by whom Spenfer has never been perufed. Works of this kind may deserve praise, as proofs of great industry, and great nicety of obfervation; but the highest praise, the praise of genius, they cannot claim. The nobleft beauties of art are those of which the effect is co-extended with rational nature, or at leaft with the whole circle of polifhed life; what is lefs than this can be only pretty, the plaything of fashion, and the amufement of a day.

THERE is in the Adventurer a paper of verfes 15 given to one of the authors as Mr. Weft's, and fupposed to have been written by him. It should not be concealed, however, that it is printed with Mr. Jago's name in Dodfley's Collection, and is mentioned as his in a Letter of Shenftone's. Perhaps Weft gave it without naming the author, and Hawkefworth, receiving it from him, thought it his; for his he thought it, as he told me, and as he tells the publick.

COLLINS.

COLLINS.

W!

ILLIAM COLLLINS was born at Chichefter on the twenty-fifth of December, about 1720. His father was a hatter of good reputation. He was in 1733, as Dr. Warton has kindly informed me, admitted fcholar of Winchefter College, where he was educated by Dr. Burton. His English exercifes were better than his Latin.

He first courted the notice of the publick by fome verfes to a Lady weeping, published in The Gentleman's Magazine.

In 1740, he ftood firft in the lift of the fcholars to be received in fucceffion 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 feanty maintenance; but was in about half a year elected a Demy of Magdalen College, where he continued till he had taken a Bachelor's degree, and then fuddenly left the Univerfity; for what reafon I know not that he told.

He

He now (about 1744) came to London a literary adventurer, with many projects in his head, and very little money in his pocket. He defigned many works; but his great fault was irrefolution, or the frequent calls of immediate neceffity broke his fchemes, and fuffered him to purfue no fettled purpofe. A man, doubtful of his dinner, or trembling at a creditor, is not much difpofed to abftracted meditation, or remote enquiries. He published propofals for a Hiftory of the Revival of Learning; and I have heard him speak with great kindness of Leo the Tenth, and with keen refentment of his tafteless fucceffor. But probably not a page of the History was ever written. He planned feveral tragedies, but he only planned them. He wrote now-and-then odes and other poems, and did fomething, however little.

About this time I fell into his company. His appearance was decent and manly; his knowledge confiderable, his views extenfive, his converfation elegant, and his difpofition chearful. 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 ftreet. On this occafion recourfe was had to the bookfellers, who, on the credit of a translation of Ariftotle's Poeticks, which he engaged to write with a large commentary, advanced as much money as enabled him to efcape into the country. He fhewed me the guineas fafe in his hand. Soon afterwards his uncle, Mr. Martin, a lieutenant-colonel, left him about two thoufand pounds; a fum which Collins could fcarcely think exhauftible, and which he did not live to exhauft. The guineas were then repaid, and the tranflation neglected.

But

But man is not born for happiness. Collins, who, while he studied to live, felt no evil but poverty, no fooner lived to fudy than his life was affailed by more dreadful calamities, difeafe and infanity.

Having formerly written his character, while perhaps it was yet more diftinctly impreffed upon my memory, I fhall infert it here.

"Mr. Collins was a man of extenfive 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 upon works of fiction, and subjects of fancy; and, by indulging fome peculiar habits of thought, was eminently delighted with thofe flights of imagination which pass the bounds of nature, and to which the mind is reconciled only by a paffive acquiefcence in popular traditions. He loved fairies, genii, giants, and monfters; he delighted to rove through the meanders of inchantment, to gaze on the magnificence of golden palaces, to repofe by the water-falls of Elyfian gardens.

"This was however the character rather of his inclination than his genius; the grandeur of wildness, and the novelty of extravagance, were always defired by him, but were not always attained. Yet as diligence is never wholly loft; if his efforts fometimes caused harshness and obfcurity, they likewife produced in happier moments fublimity 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 defcription, he did not fufficiently cultivate fentiment. His poems are the productions of a mind not deficient in fire, nor unfurnished

« ПретходнаНастави »