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WILLIAM COLLINS, R.A. 185 some pages back, the petty tribulations and small worldly crosses attaching even to the most success- ful study of Art, to turn to the contemplation of the abstract and intellectual charms, as well as of the real, practical advantages of this noble pursuit. Viewed in his relation to the other branches of Art, to literature and music alonethe painter enjoys many higher privileges, and suffers fewer anxieties, than either the poet or the composer. He is enabled, with comparatively little delay, to view his composi- tion, at its earliest stages, displayed before him at once, in all its bearings, as one coherent though yet uncompleted whole. When dismissed as finished, it passes fresh from the care of his hand and the con- tact of his mind to a position where its merits can be easily judged, without taxing the time or risking the impatience of the public. It is then confided to the possession of but onethe individual who prizes it the mostnot to be flung aside by the superficial, like a book, or to be marred by the ignorant, like a melody, but to be viewed by the most careless and uncultivated as a relic which they dare not molest, and as a treasure which cannot become common by direct propagation. Then, turning from the work to the workman, we find Nature presenting herself to his attention at every turn, self-moulded to all his pur- poses. His library is exposed freely before him, under the bright sky and on the open ground. His college is not pent within walls and streets, but spreads, ever …
194 MEMOIRS OF THE LIFE OF A more amusing instance of the simplicity of his character is thus described in my fathers MS.: Chantrey and Wilkie were dining alone with me, when the former, in his great kindness for Wilkie, ventured, as he said, to take him to task for his con- stant use of the word c telly? (really, ) when listening to any conversation in which he was much interested. s Now, for instance/ said Chantrey, suppose I was giving you an account of any interesting matter, you would constantly say, Relly! * * Relly! exclaimed Wilkie immediately, with a look of the most perfect astonishment. Another dinner scene of a different description, at Wilkies house, is worthy of insertion. Mr. Collinss brother Francis possessed a remarkably retentive memory, which he was accustomed to use for the amusement of himself and others in the following way. He learnt by heart a whole number of one of Dr. Johnsons Ramblers, and used to cause con- siderable diversion to those in the secret, by repeat- ing it all through to a new company, in a conversa- tional tone, as if it was the accidental product of his own fancy, now addressing his flow of moral elo- quence to one astonished auditor, and now to another. One day, when the two brothers were dining at Wilkies, it was determined to try the experiment upon their host. After dinner, accordingly, Mr. Collins paved the way for the coming speech, by leading the conversation imperceptibly to the subject of the paper in the Rambler. …
320 MEMOIRS OF THE LIFE OF Trusting that an acquaintance begun so oddly, may not finish abruptly, I am, my dear Sir, Your obliged and faithful servant, William Collins. The reply of Mr. Bernard Barton to the above letter, expresses with so much frankness and clear- ness his motives for making his request to Mr. Collins, and contains so many just observations on the characteristics of men of intellect, as to render its publication as much a matter of interest to the reader, as of justice to the writer. It runs as follows: To William Collins, Esq., R.A. Woodbridge, Suffolk. 7th Month, 9th, 1829. My dear FriendWhen I sent the letter and sonnet, which thy favour of the 7th instant has acknowledged, in a manner equally honourable to thy courtesy and kindness, I trusted for its indulgent reception to that liberal feeling which I believe to be the invariable accompaniment of true genius, in either a painter or poet. I never had been either deceived or disappointed in my reliance on this principle; for I never risked such an intrusion, without first having good grounds for believing that the party addressed would understand and appreciate my motives and feelings. There is a sort of esprit de corps, an union as mysterious almost as that of free-
Daughter Collins is a member of the Collins Family.