William Collins, an English poet, born at Chichester, Dec. 25,1720, died there, June 12, 1756. He was destined for the church, and in 1733 was admitted a scholar at Winchester. In 1740 he stood first in the list of scholars to be entered at New college, Oxford, but no vacancy occurred, and this circumstance Dr. Johnson calls the original misfortune of his life. He became a commoner of Queen's college, whence he was transferred to Magdalen. While at Winchester school he had written his "Eclogues," which he printed in 1742. They appeared without his name, and attracted little notice. He took his bachelor's degree at Oxford in 1744, and soon left the university abruptly, repairing to London as a literary adventurer. Having no fixed purpose, little perseverance, and withal great impatience for distinction, he was for several years engaged in drawing up proposals for works which were never written, and destroying what little he wrote. He was much annoyed also by duns, and was at one time in the hands of bailiffs. He borrowed some money from a bookseller as an advance on a projected translation of Aristotle's Poetics; but having inherited about £2,000 from his uncle, Col. Martin, he repaid the publisher and thought no more of the translation. In 1746 he published his odes.
He was much disappointed in the reception of his productions, and died probably with little idea of the celebrity they were to attain. The latter part of his life was passed in a state of insanity, with only occasional lucid periods, and for some time he was confined in a lunatic asylum.
William Collins, an English painter, born in ' London, Sept. 18, 1787, died Feb. 17, 1847. His earliest ideas in painting were derived from watching the process by which Morland executed his animal pieces. In 1807 he studied at the royal academy, and from that time until his death, with the exception of two years spent in Italy, never omitted to send pictures to the annual exhibitions. In 1820 he was elected an academician. In 1836 he went to Italy, and on his return made an unsuccessful appearance at the academy exhibitions as a historical painter. Many of his pictures have been engraved, as "Psawn Fishers at Hastings," "Happy as a King," the "Shrimpers - Evening," the "Fisherman's Widow," etc.