1795 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Langhorne

Anonymous, "Collins, the Poet" European Magazine 28 (October 1795) 236.



Collins, the Poet, though a man of melancholy cast of mind, was by no means averse to a "jeu de mot," or quibble. Upon coming into a town the day after a young lady of whom he was fond had left it, he said, how unlucky he was that he had come "a day after the Fair."

The following ridiculous incident respecting this very great Poet happened some years ago to that elegant writer Dr. Langhorne, according to the ingenious author of The Juvenilia. Dr. Langhorne, hearing that Collins the Poet was buried at Chichester, travelled thither on purpose to enjoy all the luxury of poetic sorrow, and to weep over his grave. On enquiry, he found that Mr. Collins was interred in a sort of garden, surrounded by the cloyster of the Cathedral, which is called "The Paradise." He was let into this place by the Sexton, and after an hour's seclusion in it, came forth with all the solemn dignity of woe. On supping with an inhabitant of the town in the evening, and describing to him the spot sacred to his sorrows, he was told, that he had by no means been misapplying his tears, that he had been lamenting a very honest man, and a very useful member of society, Mr. Collins "the taylor"! — The close of the life of Collins can never be adverted to without commiseration; when he could have enjoyed his fortune he had it not; when it came to him he was in too melacholy a state to enjoy it. It reminds one of the celebrated Greek Epigram—

What cruel disappointment wait
On wretched mortals ev'ry state!
When young, chill penury represt
Each ardour of my glowing breast;
But now, indifferent grown and old,
My coffers teem with useless gold.