1795 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Collins

William Hayley, Collins's Epitaph; The Courier (1 September 1795).



Chichester, Aug. 29.
A monument of most exquisite workmanship has been erected by public subscription to the memory of the Poet COLLINS, who was a native of Chichester, and died in a house adjoining to the Cloisters. He is finely represented as just recovered from a wild fit of phrensy to which he was unhappily subject, and in a calm and reclining posture seeking refuge from his misfortunes in the divine consolations of the Gospel, while his lyre and one of the first of his poems lie neglected on the ground. Above are two beautiful figures of Love and Pity entwined in each other's arms. The whole was executed by the ingenious FLAXMAN, lately returned from Rome; and if any thing can equal the expressive sweetness of the sculpture, it is the following most elegant epitaph, written by Mr. HAYLEY.


Ye who the merits of the Dead revere,
Who hold Misfortune sacred, Genius dear,
Regard this tomb, where COLLINS' hapless name
Solicits kindness with a double claim.
Tho' Nature gave him, and tho' Science taught
The Fire of Fancy, and the reach of Thought,
Severely, doom'd to Penury's extreme,
He pass'd, in madd'ning pain, Life's fev'rish dream;
While rays of Genius only serv'd to shew
The thick'ning horror, and exalt his woe—
Ye walls that echo'd to his frantic moan,
Guard the due records of this grateful stone;
Strangers to him, enamour'd of his lays,
This fond memorial to his talents raise:
For this the ashes of a Bard require,
Who touch'd the tenderest notes of Pity's lyre;
Who join'd pure Faith to strong Poetic powers,
Who, in reviewing Reason's lucid hours,
Sought on one book his troubled mind to rest,
And rightly deem'd the Book of God the best.