1764 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Collins

John Langhorne, Review of Collins in Poetical Calendar; The Monthly Review 30 (January 1764) 20-21.



The powers of his imagination were unfortunately so great, that he lost his reason, at a time of life when common minds possess it in its greatest perfection. What a melancholy reflection must it afford to men of genius, to behold, in so many instances, the faculties of the mind ruined by their own exquisite fineness! And with what caution ought they, in particular, to avoid all intemperance, which is equally an enemy to reason, whether its object be the bottle, or the book! ... If a luxuriance of imagination, a wild sublimity of fancy, and a felicity of expression so extraordinary, that it might be supposed to be suggested by some superior power, rather than to be the effect of human judgment, or capacity — if these are allowed to constitute the excellence of lyric poetry, the Author of the Odes descriptive and allegorical, will indisputably bear away the palm from all his Competitors in that province of the Muse.