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low the salt. Always? No. Here and there occur instances in which the light that shone from his pages dissolve the social distinction. A month or two after the publication of his volume, he was invited to Holywell Park, the seat of General Reynardson; he was only permitted to sit down with the servants in the hall, but there was a young governess who did not hesitate to pour upon him simple, unaffected admiration, waited for him, met him in the park, procured him an invitation to tea in"the housekeeper's room, and probably gave to him, for the first time, that which is dearer than all the homages of criticism, not to say the invitations of the parvenue or the nobleman, a gentle, loving woman's earnest admiration and unselfish praise. Love verses are not much in our way, but some the young governess admired very heartily, seem to us very poetically and sweetly turned. They also found their way to the pianos of so many drawing-rooms, that they should have saved their author from a dinner in the kitchen.
My love, thou art a nosegay sweet,
And pleas'd I pin thee to my breast,
And when, my nosegay, thou shall fade,
And as thou witherest on my breast,
And when, my nosegay, thou shalt die,
My hopes shall follow to the sky,
Clare never saw his governess again. She met him by the park gates; "I could not hear of your going," she said, " without saying good-bye." There were a wife and little one with his father and mother in the poor cottage at home. Perhaps the reader will forgive the peasant if he turned sometimes a glance back upon the young enthusiast of Holywell Park, though, indeed, much as he felt it at the moment, it never again appears.
Now came the ovations of the press; but with some of them the ungrateful Clare was not well pleased. The London Magazine, the property of the publisher of his poems, made a most undignified appeal to public charity, and invoked the aid of the nobility and gentry on behalf of the poor young man. Nobody seemed to suppose for a moment that the poor young man might be a most sensitive young man; when, there
fore, he wrote and put in his own strong protest against the account of himself in the London Magazine, containing also the announcement of his dissolution of friendship with Mr. Holland, the only satisfaction he received was the announcement that he was a most ungrateful young man. Meantime there was a rush upon the publisher for the poems: from their publication, or from any of his subsequent publications, we do not see that much benefit resulted to him. The noblemen, however, in his neighbourhood— Viscount Milton, the son of Earl Fitzwilliam, and the Marquis of Exeter — sent for him. Earl Fitzwilliam and Lord Milton gave him an earnest warning to mind what ho was about with the bookselllers. Lord Milton frightened him by taking out of his pocket a handful of seventeen golden sovereigns. Poor Clare never had a distinct comprehension that there was that amount of money in the world before. When he got outside the park gates he took off his necktie, perhaps to breathe a little more freely, certainly to tie up the sovereigns in it; and he ran as fast as he could the miles intervening between him and Helpston. We may be sure there was some merry-making in the poor little cottage that night; not unadulterated, we fancy, by certain lumps in the throat of the poor, oversensitive, nervous man. We have a fancy that true poets cannot take sovereigns exactly like beggars; but peers have shown themselves very wise about these matters. Great was the amazement in Helpston when the poor neighbour, John Clare, was invited to Milton Park; but greater still was their amazement when a messenger in all the gorgeousness of scarlet and gold came over from Burleigh; the Marquis of Exeter would also see the poet — for the great Tory organ, The Quarterly, had given m its verdict in very marked words to the genuineness of genius in his lowly neighbour. He was to make his appearance in Burleigh Hall " to-morrow morning at eleven." It is many a long generation since any person within twenty miles of Stamford would dare to resist the will of a Marquis of Exeter; but at this moment, when the invitation came, poor John was only possessed of one pair of shoes in the world, and they were at the cobbler's. It was a matter of grave discussion that night in Helpston cottage, but it was ultimately decided that he could not go without shoes before the marquis; the cobbler was away threshing; the visit must be postponed until the next day. When he presented himseff, inwardly trembling at the idea of the interview with the great marquis, whose very valet was looked upon as a man of high estate, he gave his name to the porter, and was told that he ought to have come the day before. Poor Clare made some apologies founded on the state of the weather. "The weather!" exclaimed the porter, in a high state of excitement, "do you mean to say that you have not obeyed his lordship's commands simply because it was a wet day? I tell you, you ought to have come if it had rained knives and forks." Frightened and alarmed, Clare was about to turn his back and run away when he was stopped by a footman; his name had somehow been conveyed to the marquis, and there was an order to admit him instantly; so he was hurried up the marble staircase, through the maze of halls and corridors, in his cloddish shoes and mud-besprinkled garments, among all the splendid upholstery and pictured halls — and at last he stood before the great man; but the great man was a kind and amiable young man, not at all the terrible ogre that either footman or porter had been. He did his best to put the poor poet at his ease; he had seen the review in The Quarterly, knew something of his humble neighbour's verses and difficulties, and told the astounded and astonished lime-burner that he intended to give him fifteen guineas a-year. Clare was perfectly bewildered, and, unablo to say much, stumbled out of his presence, but lost his way among the rooms; the kind marquis found him, and himself, without calling for the footman, led him to the outskirts, and then handed him over to the servant to be entertained in the kitchen. The admirers of Clare differed in their ideas of his peculiar genius, and in their sense of his worth; but his noble patrons all seem to have agreed in one particular — the conducting him to the kitchen. We quite suppose that Clare was no fitting companion tor the stately parties and drawingrooms of Milton or Burleigh; assuredly he had no taste for such society, and in after years the bare possibility of such a penance set him upon devising means of escape; but we — who are not noble, and who do not know what the usage is when a nobleman discovers a rare poetic creature in lowly lanes, and desires to pet him — should have supposed that if he were worthy to be called from his cottage in his own right to an interview in the palace, entertainment and refreshment should be provided for him certainly not in the kitchen. We are that ignorant and uncivilized, that a poet seems to us something nobler and higher in rank than a scullion, or a cook, a house
maid, or a footman. It is to the honour of the Scotch nobility that they did not treat Burns thus; in days when his hands were holding the plough, duchesses permitted him to conduct them to their carriage, and were proud of the ploughman's escort. The reader will say, perhaps, character made all the difference; one was a bold, daring, and graceful, and the other a shrinking, retiring creature ; but it was scarcely for noblemen and gentlemen to read the difference; both were peers in their own kingdom. We are not presenting these feeble outlines with any idea that they will satisfy the curiosity of our readers; we trust they will for themselves obtain and read the biography by Mr. Martin. It is a romancelife; it is characterized by a quiet persistent individuality which, long before its fatal climax of sorrow and calamity, looks like hallucination; wild flashes come and go along the incidents of the life, innocent, but unnatural, like sheet-lightning; no taischief, no wild outbreaking; scarcely even what one likes to designate disease; but the manifestations are surely those all along of a sensibility which, in such circumstances, could only be synonymous with sorrow. He went to London in 1820, and saw the sights and lions, expressing, on the whole, his disappointment with it altogether — boldly declared that in " Poet's Corner" he could see no poetry, while the great enchantment of all London in that day, Vauxhall, stirred only his supreme and utter contempt. The wooden bowers, and oil-lamps, and paper flowers stirred him to astonishment, that people could go and stare at such childish things when they were not far from green fields. The guides of John Clare revenged themselves by declaring their opinion that he was a very foolish fellow. In London he met several eminent persons, and was invited to many distinguished parties, of which the best result was the kind, sympathetic friendship of Lord Radstock; this nobleman was not of Clare's county, but was induced to befriend him by simple feelings of admiration and generosity; and a volume richly bound with the inscription on the title-page — "The gift of Admiral Lord Radstock to his dear and excellent friend, John Clare, August 1st, 1822" — speaks of the terms of friendship on which he stood with that kind nobleman. Returning home, his cottage was visited by several distinguished persons.
The poet, at his humble home, was visited, first by Lady Fane, eldest daughter of the Karl of Westmoreland; secondly, by Viscount Milton, coming high on horseback, in the midst of red-coated huntsmen; and, finally, greatest of honours, by the Marquis of Exeter. The villagers were awe-struck when the mighty lord, in his emblazoned coach, with a crowd of glittering lackeys around, enme up to the cottage of Parker Clare, the pauper. Mrs. Clare was utterly terrified, for she was standing at the washing-tub, and the baby was crying. Her greatest pride consisted in keeping the little cottage neat and tidy; but, as ill-luck would have it, she was always washing whenever visitors dropped in. The marquiB, with aristocratic taet, saved poor Patty from a fresh humiliation. Hearing the loud voice of the baby from afar, his lordship despatched one of his footmen to inquire whether Clare was at home. The man in plush carefully advanced to the cottage door, and holding a silk handkerchief before his fine Roman Dose, summoned John before him. Old Parker Clare thereupon hobbled forward, trembling all over, and, in a faint voice, told the great man that his son was mowing corn, in a field close to Helpston Heath. Thither the glittering cavalcade proceeded, and John was soon discovered, in the midst of the other labourers, busy with his sickle. Though somewhat startled on being addressed by bis lordship, he was Becrctly pleased that the interview was taking place in the field instead of in his narrow little hut. It seemed to him that here, among the sheaves of corn, he himself was somewhat taller and the noble marquis somewhat smaller than within the four walls of any cottage or palace; and this feeling encouraged him to speak with less embarrassment to his illustrious visitor. His [lordship said he had heard rumors that a new volume of poetry was forthcoming, and wanted to know whether it was true. Clare replied that he was busy writing verses in his spare hours, and that he intended writing still more after the harvest, and during the nest winter, which would, probably, result in another book with his name on the title-page. The marquis expressed his satisfaction in hearing this news, and, after a few kind words, and a hint that he wonld be glad to see some specimens, in manuscript, of the new publication, took his farewell. John Clare was not courtier enough to understand the hint about the manuscripts in all its bearings. For a moment, the thought flashed through his mind of asking his lordship to allow the new volume to be dedicated to him; but the idea was as instantaneously crushed by a remembrance of the fatal article in the London Magazine, in which it was said, "We really do not see what noblemen have to do with the support of poets more than other people." The remark had left a deep impression upon his mind, and he felt its truth more than ever while standing face to face with a great lord, sickle in hand, among the yellow corn.
However, earnest efforts were made to procure an annuity for him to save him irom want, and the Dnkes of Bedford, and
Devonshire, and Northumberland, and Prince Leopold —now King Leopold of Belgium —and the Earl Fitzwilliam, were among the promoters of the design. Sir Walter Scott treated the poor peasant, we think, with a very ungracious contempt; but he probably thought that it was a dangerous experiment to withdraw so humble and helpless a being from the paths and pursuits of toil: and successful in life he was not; it could hardly be expected that he could continue, through these years, lime-burning, or merely hedging or ditching. It is true that he had acquired tastes and ideas which had placed him above that lowest rung of the ladder, and, with his friends and patrons, the truth slowly dawned upon his mind that he must remain a farmer's drudge and a ,poetical pauper, to plough and thresh — something better than a clown, something less than a lackey in uniform. He too often had quite insufficient food; he got into a habit of absenting himself from his family, at meal-times going into the fields and munching a dry crust; breaking down at last with hunger and fatigue, although he did his best to provide meals for his fimily, and usually, somehow, succeeded. Fantastic visions crowded more constantly and hurriedly through his brain, his health failed altogether, and his mind began to fail. From his sick-bed he fled to the fields, and was found sitting as in a trance, in a favourite hollow oak, his face illumined by the setting sun. But again he visited London, and was an involuntary spectator of the funeral procession of Lord Byron. Returning home, he attempted to obtain a situation as assistant-gardener' the Marquis of Exter; and then he tried the Earl Fitzwilliam; with him he had an interview; he was very kind to him in manner, but he supposed that he received a good income from the sale of his books, and did not find till long afterwards, what was the truth, that he received very little from them; that, in fact, they had been of little use to him but to remove him from his station in life, and to harrow his feelings. At home he sighed over the absence of all con
fenial society. "I live here," he wrote to is publisher, Mr. Taylor, " among the ignorant like a lost man;" and he was literally — through months and years — starving. The truth came out once when on an excursion with Mr. Artis, the intelligent and even learned butler of Earl Fitzwilliam: he fainted and fell from sheer starvation and exhaustion; yet his cottage seemed neat and tidy, and on his shelves there were many beautifully bound books, but they were mostly presentation copies; and there were many appearances which seemed to indicate tolerable prosperity to those who did not know how bitterly poverty consumed within. Lord Racistoek urged him to obtain a distinct statement and settlement from his publishers. At this his publishers were offended; they wished to regard Clare as an orphan and protege', to whom they were not responsible, and for whom they had already done sufficiently. Lord Radstock was not sattf ed, and insisted that even if Clare had received more than was due to him, yet it would be better to furnish regular accounts, and so to foster his self-reliance; the publishers yielded his point to the peer, but at this juncture Lord Radstock died, and Clare's only really true friend, able to help, was removed. His publishers then advised him to hawk his own volumes over the county; this step failed, of course; it was an utter failure, and ought never to have been counselled; yet some people no doubt meant kindly to him, but they took injudicious methods to show that kindness.
Mr. Martin, we think, writes too bitterly, in the warmth and earnestness of his affection. Mrs. Marsh, the wife of the eminent Dr. Marsh, Bishop of Peterborough, sought to befriend him, would have him visit at the episcopal palace, and made arrangements for a large party, to introduce him. The nervous poet, when the party arrived, was found missing. His whole nature and frame were unfitted to bear such excitements. We pity Cowper. Have we no pity for Clare? When he spoke to, or was introduced to a beautiful woman, he trembled with nervous excitement. He had, the reader will say, an unbalanced being. Yes, all kinds of beauty, all the relations of this mystical world, became to him the magical affinities which disturbed him. Is not this the very sensation and faculty of the poet V But what was his life in itself? a drudgery and a wretchedness, a hunger and a want; a sense of patronage and of benefit, a persistent remembrance on all hands that he was no better than a child. Officious friends did him harm; of course he was proud and sensitive, the more so from the feeling of his weakness in the hands of circumstances. Some man, an editor, called upon him, extracting from him his trials and life, and hastened from his cottage to publish and to profit
The poet was immensely astonished when, at the Beginning of October, he received a paper containing an account of himself and his troubles. It was stated that bis publishers had
robbed him of the profits of his works; that some noble patrons, alluded to in no complimentary terms, kept feeding him with "compliments, but left him to starve; and much more to the same effect. The whole account deeply hurt his feelings, and he at once sent a letter to a friend at Stamford, contributor to Mr. Clark's magazine. The letter ran: "My dear friend, — I am obliged .to write to You to contradict the misrepresentations in vonr paper of October 5th, which I received on Saturday. As long as my own affairs are misrepresented, I care nothing about it: but each falsehoods as are bandied about in this article not only hurt my feelings but injure me. Mr Clark in making these statements must hare known that he was giving circulation to lies; and had I been aware of his intentions to meddle in my affairs, I should most assuredly have treated him as a foe in disguise. For enemies I care nothing; from friauds I have much to fear, it seems. There never was a more scandalous insult to my feelings than this officious misstatement.
. . . I am no beggar; for my income is £36, and though I have had no final settlement with Taylor, I expect to have one directly." The letter, after going into the de;ails of his commercial transactions both with Mr. Drury and Mr. Taylor, not altogether complimentary to the former, ended with a positive demand that the statements made in the magazine should be retracted.
But no attention was paid to this demand. The result was that Clare got more gloomy and melancholy than ever, hiding himself for whole days in the neighbouring woods, and refusing to see even the most intimate of his friends. The publication of the unfortunate magazine article and "officious misstatement," of which there appeared no public contradiction, was likewise not without effect upon the demeanour of Clare's patrons. Earl Fitzwilliam, after providing him with a suitable dwelling in an unixpectedly generous manner, subsequently left him to his fate. Thus the poet sank deeper and deeper into poverty and wretchedness, unti Ib could sink no farther.
At last, after weary years, insanity came, and in 183The became an inmate of Dr. Allen's private lunatic asylum in the centre of Epping Forest; thence, after several fears' confinement, he escaped. He was able afterwards to give some account of his wanderings. There is no reason to doubt its perfect accuracy; among all the stories of the sad race of poets and their sufierngs, never was there a more sad story told. Here are some singular and pathetic touches in the writing of Mr. Martin: —
He rested for the night in an old barn, on some trusses of clover, taking the singular jrecaution, before lying down, of placing his lead towards the north, so as to know in which direction to start the next morning. This day, the 21st of July, he rose early, pursuing his way northward, and crawling more thnn walking aloag the road. A man threw him a penny which he used to get a glass of ale; but beyond this he had again no refreshment. After a second night, spent in the open air, he rose once more to crawl onward, slowly but steadily. To stifle the torments of hunger, he now took to the frightful expedient of eating grass with the beasts in the field. The grass served to appease the dreadful pains of his stomach, yet left him in the same drowsy condition in which he was before. His feet were bleeding, the dry gravel of the road havingpenetrated his old wornout shoes; but he heeded it not, and steadfastly pursued his way northward. Alternately sleeping and walking, sometimes wandering about in a circle, lying down in ditches at the roadside, and continuing to eat grass, together with a few bits of tobacco winch he found in his pocket, he at length reached the neighbourhood of Peterborough and scenes familiar to his eye. But he was now fast breaking down under hunger and fatigue, having had no food for more than ninety hours. Nearing the wellknown place, he could get no further, but sank down on the road, more dead than alive. A great many people passed — people rich and poor, on foot and in carriages, in clerical habit and in broadcloth; but not one gave alms, or even noticed, or had a kind word for the dying man at the roadside. There was not one good Samaritan among all the warfarers from the rich episcopal city.
At last there passed a cart, containing some persons from Helpston. They recognized their old neighbour, although he wa» terribly altered, with the livid signs of starvation impressed upon his face. The wanderer, in a faint voice, told those friends his tale of woe; but even they were not Christians enough to lift him into their vehicle and take him home. All that they did was to give him a few pence; not even placing the money in his hand, with, perhaps, a kindly greeting, but throwing it at him from their cart. The wretched poet crept along the road to gather the coppers, and then crawled a litllo farther on to a public-house, where he procured some refreshment. The food — the first he had taken for nigh four days — enabled him to pursue his journey slowly, and he hobbled on through Peterborough, the blood still trickling from his wounded feet. At every stone-heap at the roadside he rested himself, until he came to the hamlet of Werrington, where a cart ran up against him, out of which sprang a woman who took him in her arms. It was Patty, who had heard from the charitable Helpston people that her husband was lying on the road, and had come in search of him. But Clare did not know her. He refused even to take a scat at her side, until he was told that she was his " second wife." Then he allowed himself to be taken to Northborough, where he arrived in the evening of the 23d of
July, utterly exhausted, and in a state bordering upon delirium.
Here are some touches in his own language. — *
"I went on mile after after mile, almost convinced I was going the same wny I had come. These thoughts were so strong upon me, and doubts and hopelessness made me turn so feeble, that I was scarcely able to walk. Yet I could not sit down or give up, but shuffled along till I saw a lamp shining as bright as the moon, which, on nearing, I found was suspended over a toll-gate. Before I got through, the man came out with a candle, and eyed me narrowly; but having no fear I stopped to ask him whether I was going northward. He said, 'When you get through the gate you are.' I thanked him, and went through to the other side, and gathered my old strength as my doubts vanished. I soon cheered np, and hummed the air of ' Highland Mary ' as I went on. I at length came to an odd house, all alone, near a wood; but I could not see what the sign was, though it seemed to stand, oddly enough, in a sort of trough, or spout. There was a large porch over the door, and being weary I crept in, and was glad enough to find I could lie with my legs straight. The inmates were all gone to rest for I could hear them turn over iu bed, while I lay at full length on the stones iu the porch. I slept here till daylight, and felt very much refreshed. I blest my two wives and both their families when I laid down and when I got np in the morning.
"I have but a slight recollection of my journey between here and Stilton, for I was knocked up, and noticed little or nothing. One night I laid in a dyke-bottom, sheltered from the wind, and went asleep for half-an-hour. When I awoke, I found one side wet through from the water; so I got out and went on. I remember going down a very dark road, hung over on both sides with thick trees; it seemed to extend a mile or two. I then entered a town, where some of the chamber windows had lights • shining in them. I felt so weak here that I was forced to sit on the ground to rest myself, and while I sat here a coach that seemed heavily laden came rattling up, and splashing the mud in my face, wakened me from a doze. When I had knocked the gravel out of my shoes I started again. There was little to notice, for the road very often looked as stupid as myself. I was often half asleep as I went on.
"The third day I satisfied my hunger by eating the grass on the roadside, which seemed to taiite something like bread. I was hungry, and eat heartily till I was satisfied; in fact, the meal seemed to do me good. The next and last day I remembered that I had some tobacco, and my box of lucifers being exhausted, I could not light my pipe. So I took to chewing tobacco all day, and eat it when I had done. I