Whatever may be the intrinsic merits of the publications of this writer, and the present [Penitent Publican] is perhaps scarcely deserving of any very high degree of praise, of their extreme rarity there can be no question. Collins is known to be the author of two poems, The Penitent Publican, first printed in 1610, and The Teares of Love: or Cupids Progresse, &c. 4to, 1615, of both of which it is believed that not more than two or three copies are known to exit.... In a poetical address to his readers, prefixed to his other work, The Teares of Love: or Cupids Progresse, &c, Collins thus alludes in the first couplet to the present religious poem:
My Muse (of late) divinely did indite,
But (Poet-like) I now a Pastorall write.
There is another allusion also to this work in some commendatory verses prefixed to that poem, signed Jo. B.; and it would appear also, from these verses, that Collins had written another poem, now supposed to be lost:
From Newports bloudy battell (sung by thee)
With Yaxley's death (the flow'r of Chivalry)
And from thy well-penn'd Publican, to bee
Transported thus to fields of Arcady,
Shews that thy Muse is apt for all assayes, &c.
See Caldecot's Cat. for an account of another poem by this Thomas Collins, not noticed in Lowndes.
Nothing appears to be known of Collins beyond his being the writer of these two rare poems. Samuel Rowlands, who prefixed some stanzas to The Teares of Love, calls him "his affected friend." See Dibdin's Literary Reminisc., p. 927, and Collier's Bridgwater Catal., p. 68. The present copy is from Sir Francis Freeling's library, who says, "I do not remember having either seen or heard of another copy."
If a "Mr. Collins" mentioned in the MS. Lansd., No. 51., be the same person who wrote this poem, it would appear that in his early life he had served some office under government.