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JOHN CLARE was born at Helpstone, near Peterborough. Northamptonshire, in 1793. His father was a day labourer; and the Poet was acquainted with Poverty long before he associated with the Muse. His manhood has been doomed to a lot as severe, and it would seem that want is his only prospect in old age ; for modern legislation has deprived him even of the "hope" on which he reckons, in one of his early poems, as a " last resource,"

“ To claim the humble pittance once a-werk,

Which justice forces from disdainful pride." The story of his life presents, perhaps, one of the most striking and affecting examples that the history of unhappy genius has ever recorded ; illustrating in a sad and grievous manner the misery produced by the gift of mind in a humble station,-by great thoughts nourished in unfitting places. If ever the adage which tells us that a Poet is born a Poet, has been practically realized, it is in the case of the peasant of Northamptonshire. If ever the pursuit of knowledge under difficulties has been made clear beyond a doubt, it is in his case. It is our melancholy task to add--if ever the oft-denied assertion, that genius is but the heritage of woe, may be placed beyond controversy, it is in this instance also. By working “over-hours," he contrived to earn enough to pay for learning to read; the savings of eight weeks suficed to obtain a month's “schooling;” and his first object having been achieved, his next was to procure books. A shilling made him the master of Thomson's “Seasons;" and he immediately began to compose poetry : but for some time afterwards, being unable to master funds to procure paper, he was compelled to entrust to his memory the preservation of his verses. He lived in the presence of Nature, and worshipped her with a genuine and natural passion : “the common air, the sun, the skies;" the "old familiar faces" of the green fields, with their treasures of blade and wild flower, were the sources of his inspiration; and the people--their customs, their loves, their griess, and their amusements--were the themes of his verse. Thus he went on, making and writing poetry, for thirteen years, " without having received a single word of encouragement, and without the most distant prospect of reward.” Perhaps his destiny would have been happier had he never encountered either. Accident, however, led to the publication of a volume of his Poems : it passed through several editions, and brought money to the writer; a few " noble” patrons doled out some guineas; and we believe that something like an annuity was purchased for the Poet;-several other volumes followed ; but the public no longer sympathized when they ceased to be astonished, -and latterly we imagine, not only has the writer received nothing for his productions, but the sale of them has not sufficed to pay the expenses of their publication.

Clare has, we understand, made an unsuccessful, indeed a ruinous, attempt to improve his condition, by farming the ground he tilled ; and has for some years existed in a state of poverty, as utter and hopeless as that in which he passed his youth. He has a wife and a very large family; and it is stated to us, that at times his mind gives way under the sickness of hope deferred. His appearance, when some years ago it was our lot to know him, was that of a simple rustic; and his manners were remarkably gentle and unassuming. He was short and thick, yet not ungraceful, in person. His coun. tenance was plain but agreeable ; he had a look and manner so dreamy, as to have appeared sullen--but for a peculiarly winning smile; and his forehead was so broad and high, as to have bordered on deformity. Further, we believe that in his unknown and uncherished youth, and in his after-days when some portion of fame and honour fell to his share, he maintained a fair character, and has subjected himself to no charge more unanswerable than that of indiscretion in applying the very limited funds with which he was furnished after the world heard of his name, and was loud in applause of his genius. It is not yet too late for a hand to reach him; a very envied celebrity may be obtained by some wealthy and good “Samaritan;"—Strawberry Hill might be gladly sacriticed for the fame of having saved Chatterton.

We do not place him too high when we rank John Clare at the head of the Poets who were, and continued to be, “ uneducated,” according to the stricter meaning of the term. The most accomplished of British Poets will not complain at finding him introduced into their society :-setting aside all consideration of the peculiar circumstances under which he wrote, he is worthy to take his place among them.

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There with the scraps of songs, and laugh, and tale,
He lightens annual toil, while merry ale
Goes round, and glads some old man's heart to praise
The threadbare customs of his early days :
How the high bowl was in the middle set
At breakfast-time, when clippers yearly met,
Fill’d full of furmety, where dainty swum
The streaking sugar and the spotting plum.
The maids could never to the table bring
The bowl, without one rising from the ring
To lend a hand; who, if 'twere ta'en amiss,
Would sell his kindness for a stolen kiss.
The large stone pitcher in its homely trim,
And clouded pint-horn with its copper rim,

Were there; from which were drunk, with spirits high,
Healths of the best the cellar could supply;
While sung the ancient swains, in uncouth rhymes,
Songs that were pictures of the good old times.

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Thus ale, and song, and healths, and merry ways,
Keep up a shadow still of former days ;
But the old beechen bowl, that once supplied
The feast of furmety, is thrown aside ;
And the old freedom that was living then,
When masters made them merry with their men;
When all their coats alike were russet brown,
And his rude speech was vulgar as their own-
All this is past, and soon will pass away,
The time-torn remnant of the holiday.


Though low my lot, my wish is won,

My hopes are few and staid;
All I thought life would do is done,

The last request is made.
If I have foes, no foes I fear,

To fate I live resigned ;
I have a friend I value here,

And that's a quiet mind.
I wish not it was mine to wear

Flushed honour's sunny crown ;
I wish not I were Fortune's heir,-

She frowns, and let her frown.
I have no taste for pomp and strife,

Which others love to find :
I only wish the bliss of life--

A poor and quiet mind.
The trumpet's taunt in battle-field,

The great man's pedigree,-
What peace can all their honours yield ?

And what are they to me?
Though praise and pomp, to eke the strife,

Rave like a mighty wind;
What are they to the calm of life-

A still and quiet mind ?

I mourn not that my lot is low,

I wish no higher state ;
I sigh not that Fate made me so,

Nor tease her to be great.
J am content--for well I see

What all at last shall find,-
That life's worst lot the best may be,

If that's a quiet mind.
I see the world pass heedless by,

And pride above me tower ;
It costs me not a single sigh

For either wealth or power :
They are but men, and I'm a man

Of quite as great a kind,-
Proud, too, that life gives all she can,

A calm and quiet mind.
I never mocked at beauty's shrine,

To stain her lips with lies ;
No knighthood's fame or luck was mine,

To win love's richest prize :
And yet I've found in russet weed,

What all will wish to find,
True love—and comfort's prize indeed,

A glad and quiet mind.
And come what will of care or woe,

As some must come to all ;
I'll wish not that they were not so,

Nor mourn that they befal :
If tears for sorrows start at will,

They're comforts in their kind ;
And I am blest, if with me still

Remains a quiet mind.
When friends depart, as part they must,

And love's true joys decay,
That leave us like the summer dust,

Which whirlwinds puff away :
While life's allotted time I brave,

Though left the last behind;
A prop and friend I still shall have,

if I've a quiet mind.


I HAVE traced the valleys fair
In May morning's dewy air,

My bonny Mary Lee !
Wilt thou deign the wreath to wear,

Gather'd all for thee?
They are not flowers of pride,
For they graced the dingle-side ;
Yet they grew in heaven's smile,

My gentle Mary Lee !
Can they fear thy frowns the while,

Though offered by me?

Here's the lily of the vale,
That perfumed the morning gale,

My fairy Mary Lee !
All so spotless and so pale,

Like thine own purity.
And, might I make it known,
'Tis an emblem of my own
Love-if I dare so name

My esteem for thee.
Surely flowers can bear no blame,

My bonny Mary Lee !

Here's the violet's modest blue,
That 'neath hawthorns hides from view,

My gentle Mary Lee,
Would show whose heart is true,

While it thinks of thee.
While they choose each lowly spot,
The sun disdains them not ;
I'm as lowly, too, indeed,

My charming Mary Lee;
So I've brought the flowers to plead,

And win a smile from thee.

Here's a wild rose just in bud ;
Spring's beauty in its hood,

My bonny Mary Lee !
'Tis the first in all the wood

I could find for thee.

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