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M E MO I R S

OF THE

A U T H O R.

THE

HE enthusiasm of poetry, like that

of religion, has frequently a pow. erful influence on the conductoflife, and either throws it into the retreat of uniform obscurity, or marks it with irregularities that lead to misery and disquiet. The gifts of imagination bring the heaviest talk upon the vigilance of reafon; and to bear those faculties with unerring rectitude, or invariable propriety, requires a degree of firmness and A

of

of coolattention, which doth not always attend the higher gifts of the mind. Yet, difficult as nature herself seems to have rendered the task of regularity to genius, it is the supreme consolation of dulness and of folly, to point with gothic triumph to those exceffes, which are the overflowings of faculties they never enjoyed. Perfectly unconscious that they are indebted to their stupidity for the consistency of their conduct, they plume themselves on an imaginary virtue, which has its origin in what is really their disgrace.- Let such, if such dare approach the shrine of COLLINS, withdraw to a respectful distance, and, should they behold the ruins of genius, or the weakness of an exalted mind, let them be taught to lament that nature

has

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has left the noblest of her works im

perfect.

Of such men of genius as have borne no public character, it seldom happens that any memoirs can be collected, of consequence enough to be recorded by the biographer. If their lives pass in obscurity, they are generally too uniform to engage our attention ; if they cultivate and obtain popularity, envy, and malignity will mingle their poison with the draughts of praise; and through the industry of those unwearied fiends, their reputation will be so chequered, and their characters so much disguised, that it shall become difficult for the historian to separate truth from falsehood.

Of our exalted poet, whose life, though far from being popular, did not altogether pass in privacy, we meet with few other accounts than such as the life of every man will afford, viz. when he was born, where he was educated, and where he died. Yet even these simple memoirs of the man, will not be unacceptable to those who admire the poet: for we never receive pleasure without a desire to be acquainted with the source from whence it springs; a species of curiosity, which, as it seems to be instinctive, was, probabiy, given us for the noble end of gratitude; and, finally, to elevate the enquiries of the mind to that fountain of perfection from which all human excellence is derived.

CHI

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