1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Collins

Isaac Reed, in Dodsley, A Collection of Poems (1782) 1:352-53n.



William Collins was born at Chichester on the 25th day of December, about 1720. His father was a hatter. In 1733 he was admitted a scholar of Winchester college, and in 1740 stood first in the list of the scholars in succession at New College; but there being no vacancy at that time, he became a commoner of Queen's College, and in about half a year after was elected a Demy of Magadalen College, where he continued until he had taken a Batchelor's degree, and then suddenly left the university. This event happened about the year 1744. He immediately came to London, and commenced a literary adventurer; in which capacity he was not diligent enough to keep himself from want. In a short time he was relieved from his distresses by the death of his uncle, Mr. Martin, a lieutenant colonel, who left him about 2,000. From this period his health began to decline, and he gradually fell into that state of depression of mind which enchains the faculties without destroying them, and leaves reason the knowledge of right without the power of pursuing it. These clouds which he perceived gathering on his intellects, he endeavoured to disperse by travel, and passed into France; but found himself constrained to yield to his malady, and returned. He was for some time confined in a house of lunatics, and afterwards retired to the care of his sister at Chichester, where death, in 1756, came to his relief.