Burton; and at the age of nineteen, in the year , he had merit sufficient to procure a distinguished place in the list of those scholars, who are elected, upon the foundation of Winchester, to New College in Oxford. But as there were then no vacancies in that society, he was admitted a commoner of Queen's College in the same university; where he continued till July , when he was elected a demy of Magdalen College.
The Poetical Works of William Collins by William Collins
During his residence at Queen's, he was at once distinguished for genius and indolence; his exercises, when he could be prevailed upon to write, bearing the visible characteristics of both. This remiss and inattentive habit might probably arise, in some measure, from disappointment: he had, no doubt, indulged very high ideas of the academical mode of education, and when he found science within the fetters of logic and of Aristotle, it was no wonder if he abated of his diligence, to seek her where the search was attended with artificial perplexities, and where, at last, the pursuer would grasp the shadow for the substance.
While he was at Magdalen College, he applied himself chiefly to the cultivation of poetry, and wrote the epistle to Sir Thomas Hanmer, and the Oriental Eclogues, which, in the year , were first published under the title of Persian Eclogues. With prospects such as these, probably Mr. Collins indulged his fancy, when, in the year , after having taken the degree of a batchelor of arts, he left the university, and removed to London.
To a man of small fortune, a liberal spirit, and uncertain dependencies, the metropolis is a very dangerous place.
The Poetical Works Of William Collins; With A Memoir Novel
Collins had not been long in town before he became an instance of the truth of this observation. His necessities, indeed, sometimes carried him as far as a scheme, or a title page for a book; but, whether it were the power of dissipation, or the genius of repose that interfered, he could proceed no farther. At one time he determined to write an history of the revival of Letters; at another to translate and comment upon Aristotle's Poetics; then he turned his thoughts to the Drama, and proceeded so far towards a tragedy — as to become acquainted with the manager.
Under this unaccountable dissipation, he suffered the greatest inconveniences.
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Day succeeded day, for the support of which he had made no provision, and in which he was to subsist either by the long-repeated contributions of a friend, or the generosity of a casual acquaintance. As there a degree of depravity into which if a man falls, he becomes incapable of attending to any of the ordinary means that recall men to virtue, so there are some circumstances of indigence so extremely degrading, that they destroy the influences of shame itself; and most spirits are apt to sink, under their oppression, into a sullen and unambitious despondence.
However this might be with regard to Mr.
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Collins, we find that, in the year , he had spirit and resolution enough to publish his Odes descriptive and allegorical. Allegorical and abstracted poetry was above the taste of those times, as much, or more than it is of the present. It is in the lower walks, the plain and practical paths of the muses only that the generality of men can be entertained.
The higher offices of imagination are above their capacity; and it is no wonder therefore, if the Odes descriptive and allegorical met with few admirers. Under these circumstances, so mortifying to every just expectation, when neither his wants were relieved, nor his reputation extended, he found some consolation in changing the scene, and visiting his uncle, colonel MARTIN, who was, at that time, with our army in Flanders.
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William Collins (poet)
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