1765 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Additional Stanza to Collins' Ode on the Passions.

Port Folio S3 2 (September 1809) 278.

Rev. Thomas Pentycross


A proposed addition to William Collins's ode, first published in 1809. The curious anecdote later attached to the poem supplies additional evidence that Spenserian poetry was being taught in school — in this case Christ's Hospital, where Thomas Pentycross was an exhibitioner before entering Cambridge in 1766. (Three decades later Leigh Hunt would likewise imitate Collins as a blue-coat boy.) At Cambridge Pentycross was acquainted with Thomas Gray and Horace Walpole, who printed one of his poems at his press at Strawberry Hill. Pentycross later became a Methodist divine. The Port Folio was an upscale literary journal published in Philadelphia.

Headnote: "It having been remarked and regretted by the admirers of the justly-celebrated poet Collins, that in his highly finished Ode on the Passions, he had omitted to personify LOVE, the following supplementary stanza was offered by the Rev. Mr. Pentecross, Rector of Walingford. As it has never yet appeared in print, I present it to you for The Port Folio" p. 278.

Headnote in Christian Journal and Literary Register: "Sir, Anecdotes of literary men are always interesting to the scholar. The following one I send you for insertion in the 'Journal,' provided you deem it worthy of preservation. It was related to me by a clergyman of our church, who was an intimate friend of the late Mr. Pentycross, while they were together at the University of Cambridge, in England. When Mr. Pentycross was a boy at school, he was strongly attached to a young lady in the vicinity. His teacher, being acquainted with the circumstance, and knowing him to possess poetical talents, remarked to him one day — 'Pentycross, Collins has written an Ode on the Passions, and, what is strange, has left out a description of the master passion: can you not supply the defect?' From this request originated the additional stanza which is subjoined. It will be remembered, that in the original ode, Collins only mentions the presence of Love: — 'And Love with Mirth danced a gay fantastic round.' [Prints stanza.] It cannot but be noticed that the author has very beautifully represented Love as a female, and not like the Cupid of the ancients. Whether these lines have ever before been published I do not know: I have never seen them in print: nor do I know whether the anecdote respecting their origin has ever before been made public. I remain, &c. L. J." 7 (February 1823) 62.

John Langhorne had written in his memoir of Collins: "It is observable that none of his poems bear the marks of an amorous disposition, and that he is one of those few poets, who have sailed to Delphi, without touching at Cythera. The allusions of this kind that appear in his Oriental Eclogues were indispensable in that species of poetry; and it is very remarkable that in his Passions, an ode for music, love is omitted, though it should have made a principle figure there" Poetical Works of Mr. William Collins (1765) xv.

Compare three other attempts to fill the supposed gap in Collins's allegory: untitled stanza in Lloyd's Evening Post (24 October 1768) 394, three stanzas in the Public Advertiser (25 March 1785), and John Taylor's Love, to be introduced in Collins's Ode on the Passions, in his Poems (1827).



Another sweetly palid maid was there;
Of downcast, melting eye;
Her head alternate o'er each shoulder laid,
Her bosom orb'd by many a deep-drawn sigh;
Love was her name.
She touch'd the strings,
But thought the while on other things;
And, desultory as she play'd,
"Dear sweetest swain!" full oft she said,
"Dear sweetest swain for whom I pine,
Would mine thou wert, and I were thine!"
She started, sigh'd, and talk'd alone;
And ever as she said
"Dear sweetest swain!"
Her looks were motionless as stone.

[p. 278]