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Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
And read their his'try in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone
The struggling pangs of conscious Truth to hide,
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
* Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
Yet even these bones from insult to protect
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
* Between this and the preceding stanza, in Mr. Gray's first MS. of the Poem, were the four following:
The thoughtless world to Majesty may bow,
And thou who, mindful of th' unhonor'd Dead,
To wander in the gloomy walks of fate :
Hark! how the sacred calm that breathes around,
No more, with reason and thyself a strife,
Give anxious cares and endless wishes room;
And here the Poem was originally intended to conclude, before the happy idea of the hoary-headed swain, &c. suggested itself to him.
their years, spelt by th' unletter'd Muse
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonor'd dead,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
"There at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
"One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
"The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne,
HERE rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A Youth to Fortune, and to Fame unknown:
* Before the Epitaph, Mr. Gray originally inserted a very beautiful stanza, which was printed in some of the first editions, but afterwards omitted because he thought that it was too long a parenthesis in this
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
He gain'd from Heav'n ('t was all he wish'd) a friend
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they alike in trembling hope repose,) The bosom of his Father and his God.
Born 1721-Died 1756.
COLLINS was educated at Oxford University; and while at college he published a poetical epistle to Sir Thomas Han mer, and his Oriental Eclogues-both of them far superior to any poetry, which had appeared for many years. În 1744, he went to London as a literary adventurer, and formed various literary projects, which irresolution or immediate want hindered him from accomplishing. In 1746, he published a volumes of odes, now esteemed the finest lyrical productions in the English language, but which, at that time, found so few admirers, that their sale was not sufficient to pay for the printing. Collins, in the indignation with which he viewed their cold reception, burned all the remaining copies, and restored to the publisher the money he had received for the manuscript. Not long afterwards a legacy of two thousand pounds was left him by an uncle, which kept him in opulence during the remainder of his life.
This period was not long, and was clouded by a fearful depression of spirits, which at times amounted to actual madness. Collins," says Johnson, "who, while he studied to live, felt no evil but poverty, no sooner lived to study, than his life was assailed by more dreadful calamities, disease and insanity." Dr. Johnson visited him but a short time before his death, at an interval when the melancholy disorder of his mind was visible to no one but himself; found him "withdrawn from
place. The lines, however are, in themselves, exquisitely fine, and demand preservation.
There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
By hands unseen are showers of violets found;
study, and with no other book than an English Testament, such as children carry to the school; when his friend took it into his hand, out of curiosity to see what companion a man of letters had chosen, 'I have but one book,' said Collins, 'but that is the best."" He died at the age of thirtyfive.
All that Collins ever wrote, exhibits a poetical genius of the highest and purest order. Campbell's remarks upon this exquisite poet, are written in a strain of refined and discriminating criticism, equally rare and delightful.
"Collins published his Oriental Eclogues while at college, and his lyrical poetry at the age of twenty-six. These works will abide comparison with whatever Milton wrote under the age of thirty. If they have rather less exuberant wealth of genius, they exhibit more exquisite touches of pathos. Like Milton, he leads us into the haunted ground of imagination; like him he has the rich economy of expression halved with thought, which, by single or few words, often hints entire pictures to the imagination. In what short and simple terms, for instance, does he open a wide and majestic landscape to the mind, such as we might view from Benlomond or Snowden, when he speaks of the hut,
'That from some mountain's side
Views wilds and swelling floods.'
And in the line, 'Where faint and sickly winds forever howl around,' he does not merely seem to describe the sultry desert, but brings it home to the senses.
"A cloud of obscurity sometimes rests on his highest conceptions, arising from the fineness of his associations, and the daring sweep of his allusions; but the shadow is transitory, and interferes very little with the light of his imagery, or the warmth of his feelings. The absence of even this speck of mysticism from his Öde on the Passions, is perhaps the happy circumstance that secured its unbounded popularity. Nothing is commonplace in Collins. The Pastoral Eclogue, which is insipid in all other English hands, assumes in his, a touching interest and a picturesque air of novelty.
"Had he lived to enjoy and adorn existence, it is not easy to conceive his sensitive spirit and harmonious ear descending to mediocrity in any path of poetry; yet it may be doubted if his mind had not a passion for the visionary and remote forms of imagination, too strong and exclusive for the general purposes of the drama. His genius loved to breathe, rather in the preternatural and ideal element of poetry, than in the atmosphere of imitation, which lies closest to real life; and his notions of poetical excellence, whatever vows he might address to the manners, were still attending to the vast, the undefinable, and the abstract. Certainly, however, he carried sensibility and tenderness into the highest regions of abstracted thought: his enthusiasm spreads a glow even amongst 'the shadowy tribes of mind,' and his allegory is as sensible to the heart, as it is visible to the fancy."
The moral character of Collins's poetry is as pure as his fancy is elevated. It could hardly have been farther removed from every thing like earthliness or sensuality, if the subjects, which exercised his genius, had been even exclusively devotional.
SELIM, OR THE SHEPHERD'S MORAL; AN ORIENTAL ECLOGUE.
YE Persian maids, attend your poet's lays,
And hear how shepherds pass their golden days.
Thus Selim sung, by sacred Truth inspir'd:
Or taught the swains that surest bliss to find,
When sweet and blushing, like a virgin bride,
“Ye Persian dames,' he said, 'to you belong-
Such are the maids, and such the charms they boast,
Self-flattering sex! your hearts believe in vain
As spots on ermine beautify the skin: