A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Collins, William
Collins, William (1721-1759).—Poet, s. of a respectable hatter at Chichester, where he was b. He was ed. at Chichester, Winchester, and Oxf. His is a melancholy career. Disappointed with the reception of his poems, especially his Odes, he sank into despondency, fell into habits of intemperance, and after fits of melancholy, deepening into insanity, d. a physical and mental wreck. Posterity has signally reversed the judgment of his contemporaries, and has placed him at the head of the lyrists of his age. He did not write much, but all that he wrote is precious. His first publication was a small vol. of poems, including the Persian (afterwards called Oriental) Eclogues (1742); but his principal work was his Odes (1747), including those to Evening and The Passions, which will live as long as the language. When Thomson died in 1748 C., who had been his friend, commemorated him in a beautiful ode. Another—left unfinished—that on the Superstitions of the Scottish Highlands, was for many years lost sight of, but was discovered by Dr. Alex. Carlyle (q.v.). C.'s poetry is distinguished by its high imaginative quality, and by exquisitely felicitous descriptive phrases.
Memoirs prefixed to Dyce's ed. of Poems (1827), Aldine ed., Moy Thomas, 1892.