Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 11.djvu/370

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Collins
Collins
364

sex. In 1718 he was chosen treasurer for the county of Essex, and is said to have greatly improved the administration of the funds. In 1715 he published a ' Philosophical Enquiry concerning Human Liberty ' (reprinted with corrections in 1717), an able argument for determinism. This again produced an answer from S. Clarke, subjoined to Clarke's correspondence with Leibnitz. In 1724 Collins published a 'Discourse on the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion,' called by-Warburton one of the most plausible attacks ever made against Christianity. Collins takes advantage of Whiston's allegorical interpretations to argue that the Old Testament prophecies, which, according to him, are the essential proofs of Christianity, can only be reconciled to the facts by such straining as is implied in ' allegorical ' treatment, that is, by making nonsense of them. The book excited a vehement controversy. To one of his antagonists, E. Chandler [q. v.], bishop of Lichfield, and afterwards of Durham, Collins replied in the 'Literal Scheme of Prophecy considered' (Hague, 1726; London, 1727). In the preface he enumerates thirty-five publications produced by the controversy. The book shows considerable reading, and anticipates more modern criticism in assigning the book of Daniel to the date of Antiochus Epiphanes. The book suggested Sherlock's 'Six Discourses,' besides many less conspicuous books.

Collins's health was now weakened by attacks of the stone, and he died on 13 Dec. 1729. By his first wife, Martha Child, he had two sons and two daughters. In 1724 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Walter Wrottesley, by whom he had no children. He was buried in Oxford chapel, where a monument with an epitaph (given in the 'Biog. Brit.') was erected by his widow. By his will he left his manuscripts to Des Maizeaux, who gave them to the widow for fifty guineas, and afterwards repented of the transaction, and sent back the money. Some letters between Des Maizeaux and Mrs. Collins, on his spreading a report that the manuscripts had been ' betrayed ' to the bishop of London, are given in D'Israeli's ' Curiosities of Literature.'

Collins was so bitterly attacked for his writings that the absence of attacks upon his character may be favourably interpreted. He appears to have been an amiable and upright man, and to have made all readers welcome to the use of a free library. A story is told that Collins once said to Lord Barrington, whom he frequently visited at Tofts in Essex, ' I think so well of St. Paul, who was both a man of sense and a gentleman, that if he had asserted that he had worked miracles himself, I would have believed him.' Collins, it is added, was disconcerted by the production of some passage from St. Paul (Biog. Brit. s. v. 'Barrington, John Shute'). Collins is the most conspicuous of the deist writers who took the line of historical criticism, and was the object of innumerable attacks. Hisworks, though not of high merit, literary or philosophical, are of interest in the history of contemporary speculation, and show one application, not intended by its author, of Locke's principles.

[The authority for the life of Collins is the life contributed by Birch to the General Dictionary, and afterwards reprinted in the Biog. Brit, from materials supplied by Collins's friend Des Maizeaux; see Nichols's Illustrations, ii. 148-9. Many letters from Collins are in the Des Maizeaux Papers in the British Museum.]

L. S.

COLLINS, ARTHUR (1690?–1760), author of the 'Peerage,' was born probably in 1690. His father had been in 1669 gentleman-usher to Queen Catherine of Braganza, consort of Charles II, and while dissipating a large fortune is said to have given him a liberal education. Collins is first noticed as a bookseller at 'the Black Boy, opposite St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street,' in partnership with Abel Roper, a name which appears among those of the publishers of Dugdale's ' Baronage ' issued in 1675-6. In 1709 was published the first edition of Collins's ' Peerage of England, or an Historical and Genealogical Account of the Present Nobility. . . . collected as well from our best historians, publick records, and other sufficient authorities, as from the personal information of most of the Nobility,' without the compiler's name, but described on the title-page as ' printed . . . for Abel Roper and Arthur Collins.' It is an octavo volume of only 470 pages, and its accounts of noble families are naturally meagre. But it supplied a want by its accounts of those families in which peerages had been conferred subsequently to the publication of Dugdale's 'Baronage,' and in the preface to the second edition the compiler speaks of ' the extraordinary success ' of the first. This second edition, with large additions and corrections, appeared in 1710 (some copies are dated 1712), a second volume being added in 1711 (some copies are dated 1714), ' printed for A. Collins ' alone. A third edition in two parts, ' sold by Arthur Collins,' was issued in 1714 (some copies are dated 1715), followed by a supplementary volume in 1716. The so-called fourth edition of 1717 is said to be merely a reissue of the third with new titles and an appendix (Lowndes, i. 498). In 1716,