1796
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Additional Lines for Collins's Superstitions Ode.]

Poems by William Collins.

Joseph Strutt


The anonymous editor, apparently the antiquary and engraver Joseph Strutt (1749-1802) substitutes his own for Henry Mackenzie's lines to fill the gap in stanzas five and six in the Superstitions Ode. The activities of a "griesly wizard" and his associates are described in rather stiff versification drawning upon the communal store of Miltonic imagery.

Monthly Mirror: "By accident this correct and elegantly printed edition of the poems of Collins has for a long time been mislaid. Mr. Strutt, of Ipswich, a gentleman of considerable taste, superintended the poems through the press, and to his uncommon accuracy they are indebted for their almost faultless appearance. The impression, which is printed in beautiful Italics, did not exceed two hundred copies" 13 (April 1802) 253.

William Collins was at the peak of his popularity in the 1790s, as witnessed by this unusual provincial edition published in Colchester. The editor fills the other lacunae with his own inventions.



And heartless, oft, like moody madness, stare
To see the phantom train their secret work prepare.

For oft, when Eve hath spread her dusky veil,
And hid each star that wont to cheer the night,
In some deep gleen remote from human sight,
The griesly wizard his associates hail.
There, at the thrilling verse, and charmed spell,
Fantastic shapes and direful shadows throng;
Night's sober ear piercing with hideous yell,
While in the goblin round they troop along.
Thence each betakes him to his several toil;
To dive, to fly, to ride the wintry blast,
To dig the mine, to cleave the church-yard soil,
Or rake the bottom of the watry wast.
Each powerful drug, with more than mortal skill,
Where e'er bestow'd, or hid from searching eye,
Selecting heedful of their tasker's will:
Nor cease their labours till the dawn descry,
Their hated impious work, and reddens all the sky.

Nor wilt thou leave for other bards to sing,
The ruthless spirit of the angry flood;
How, at grey Eve, in fell and crafty mood,
O'er fen and lake he shakes his foggy wing:
Or when the Curfew with his sullen note,
Unchains, to roam the earth, each Elfin sprite,
Like some drear lamp, from out the quaggy moat,
The fiend shines forth, to lure th' incautious wight.
What though, far off, from some dark dell espied
His glikmm'ring mazes cheer th' excursive sight,
Yet turn, ye wand'rer. . .

[pp. 38-40]