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Or, Weekly Literary and Scientific Intelligencer.
“ Imitatio vitæ speculum consuetudinis, imago veritatis.”—CICERO
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31.
[ No. 1. Vol. I.
“ Mon vie est devaut nous :- le passe avec ses regrets, le present avec ses lariues, Pavenir avec ses esperaucès.
In making my debut on the literary stage may be thought that I should follow the example of my predecessors, Mr. Spectator, The Mirror, and other literati, and give, as an exordium, a succinct sketch of myself, my birth, fortunés, and parentage — with a description of my person - my various employments and avocations – the talents and capabilities of which I presame to be possessed with a few other desultory particulars -- all of which would be considered uninteresting and verbose, if it were not that such partial traits may prove the best delineations of my true and undisguised character. I am no painter- no phisi. ognomist ; nor have I the ability to pourtray men's beauties or deformities in a skilfal and well written draught upon paper; but notwithstanding all my incapacities, I will proceed to deliver a laconic history of myself, and will occapý the whole of the department of this my first number in gratification of my egotism.
I am not a college pedant, full of flippant airs, just emerged from the scholastic prison of his Alma Mater ; I am not a young hero, returned from wars and campaigns, and loaded with honours that dazzle and captivate; I have not accomplished a series of peregrinations over the classic soil of those enchanting countries, which description and imagination have almost rendered fairy, and come home to astonish my friendy by the tomes of wonder I shall relate; I am not of noble birth, por can I claim the pri. vileges of title and estate; and on the other hand, I was not conceived and bronght forth in the attic of a parish
poor house. My career opened in a sphere between these two extremes; and without much fluctuation for better or for worse, it still continues in the same middling orbit. My parents could boast of reputable origin; and my father made no inconsiderable figure in the town in which he lived, while my mother had her fame for the punctilio and exactness with which she managed her domestic establishment. A large family was the fruit of this connection, but, notwithstanding, fortune enabled my father to extend to all his offspring a liberal edacation. I was early sept from home and placed under sufficient tntors; if I did not take the advantage of 'the opportunity I had to improve, the fault is my own. My father was a shrewd man, and a close observer of human nature. He knew that our successes in this world are continually exposed to the alloy of numerous vicissitudes, which may come upon us unforeseen, and sweep us, in a moment, from the pinnacle of prosperity to the lowest fathom of misfortune.
“ Nihil tam firinum est." He was sensible, that to supply the head with nothing but the gems of erudition was, as it were, to sow so many seeds, from which poverty might spring: to provide against being thrown upon the world with helpless fingers, he wisely instructed me in the profession which he himself pursued. Igrew, and prospered as I increased in years. 1 was rather passionate when young, but time and reflection have taught me to endure crosses in a becoming man
I was ever ready to forgive; and never quarrelled but with regret. I have now arrived at' a happy period
of existence. Old age has not chiseled on my brow the stern furrows of decay; nor am I so young as to be a perfect novice, and insensible to all the arts and tricks played upon life's platform. I have lived long enough to feel warranted in making my own observations; and not to trust implicitly to the opinions of others; and I am conceited enough to suppose, that I can discriminate, at tiipes, in an orthodox manner, apon subjects of right or wrong. In matters of ratiocination, I like to broach my opinions, and have often so exercised my logical faculties as to argue and dispute with credit to myself. I may have a little wit- -a little gaiety - a little satire--a little learning and a little true wisdom;-I may be handsome in person, and engaging in manner and address ---but of these it becomes me not to boast lest I be eventually found wanting in these essentials, and thus, by my falsehood, subject myself to be contenined of the world as a liar and a boaster. After this rodomontade concerning myself and my various attributes, my friends may be inclined to remind me of the terse and apposite adage:
- A man of words, and not of deeds,
Is like a garden full of weeds ;" And, at the same time, caution me against blasting their expectations (I here speak as though I were assured all my readers have formed alike a good opinion of me) under penalty of receiving their severe censure.
I am unmarried, whieh may perhaps be thought a fault; however, I mention this in order that my female encouragers may know where to find a Cælebs when Cupid moves them to marry. Having therefore neither wife nor children to engage my affections, to command my attention, or to assuage by their carresses the chequerings and vicissitudes our nature engenders, I feel as though I were alone in the world. Every wish I have to gratify must be effected by my own ingenuity; every grievance that oppresses me can only be alleviated by my own struggles against despondence. I love reading; it has its gratifications when everything beside wears an insipid mien. One particular failing I admit: I pursue in ny musings with too great “
eagerness the phantoms of hope" and is listen with credulity to the whispers of fancy."
What little evil, however, accrues from these unprofitable thoughts, falls to my own sufferance; and while I condemn myself in the encouragement of them, I cannot but be gratified in the thought, that these shadowy risings injure not my neighbour. llike a companion whose thoughts and conversation assimilate to my own; but I am not forward in cultivating acquaintances. Such is my disposition, that I feel little desire to stir abroad; yet I am not an anchorite, nor am I morose in my seclusions. Many an hour I pass in my study-poring over an author who has become dry in his antiquity;or feeding on the light and facetious affection of a child of the muses; or, at times, wearing an evening away in tasting of the rich banquet set down by the exotic and classic few. The wind that moves as it brushes by the lattice of my room sometimes awakes me from my cogitations, and drives me (I know not why it should) into one of those atrabilarious fits which depress the mind to such a degree as to bereave it of all relish for worldly enjoyment and comfort. It is strange why so common a sound as that of the wind, should thus create despondence when there is no seeming and palpable cause for it. When this is the case I become absorbed in a melancholy reverie; descanting upon earthly frailty and earthly insignificance, &c. &c., and work myself up sometimes, to such a pitch as to feel as if I could relinquish life with a smile. Whether this is a proof of my mental weakness or not, I shall leave my readers to determine.
My whole life is, as near as possible, a monotonous repetition of employments through each succeeding day. I have long been wearied of this, but, knew not how to diversify this systematic existence. I found that I increased in years without reputation or honoar. I thought what an unprofitable creature I shall have been if I am thus born, and receive a good quantum of days to expend as my life, and yet descend again to the earth without having secured one honourable bay that will adoro my bier when death has despoiled my form. Musing one night over an old tract, I indulged for a moment the thought that I might discover another Georgian Sidus — but it was the image of a moment, I found that
the optics nature had supplied could all his pursuits, more or less, has this pot accomplish this without such as- in view. It is as natural as it is a paltry sistance as was beyond my reach; I foible. When we think how flimsy the therefore sorrendered to the impossi- prize is that is so eagerly pursued, and bility. My next thought was to invent that it seldom reaches its votary but as a balloon with such appendages, as a posthumous honour, we are constrainwould enable the excursor to guide his ed to wonder at the infatuation of men, vehicle through the regions of ether, in thus striving to obtain a chaplet with as much ease as a gentleman can that may adorn the front of a bust, but manage his curricle with tractable can never repay their many anxieties horses, over terra firma. Alas! as by our substantial benefit, while life is might be supposed, I failed here also. spared them to enjoy it. Yet it is neI then nnsuccessfully dived into plans for cessary that this thirst for glory should improving the growth of cucumbers - stimulate us to exertion; or, I fear, beitering the condition of society- that few individuals would be found altering the poor laws- additional ex- sufficiently philanthropic and virtuous periments in agriculture - discovering as to be induced to spend their lives the perpetual motion --- new tactics in and fortunes over the accomplishment the art of war and fortification — with of some object which had no other half-a-score et ceteras. I found a hiatus characteristic than that of being a mere in each of my speculations; so not a duty. They hope to gain à name; little piqued, I abandoned my schemes, they look to the satisfaction of being and proceeded to the perusal of iny praised by their fellow-men. But I do pamphlet.
not mean to say, that in consequence, I was soon again arrested: whether they have no good object in view; and, it was my own secured brain or some I trust, that my readers will not imagine fanciful elf, I know not, but one or the that the Babbler is only excited to this other urged me to turn Author. I work by the kope he may possess of wonder why I never thought of this be- deriving therefrom a moiety of fame. fore, I was then at a loss what to write I hope something more will accrue about; but after much vexation and from it, and that I shall have the fereasoning, I determined to begin a pe- licity of knowing that my abilities are riodical paper and insert therein my not exercised in vain, and that my thoughts and sentiments on “Men and readers will not go “ empty away.” Manners," &c. &c. in like manner to Thus much of myself, by way of pro. Addison, Steele, Johnson, Mackenzie, logue. I may not again have an opporand others. I must own that it was not tunity of monopolizing attention upon very modést in me thus threatening to my own person. It is a difficult task despoil these worthies of a part of their for a man to give a faithful picture of glories; but I had the diffidence (and himself; I have felt it so; and am be it understood that I yet feel it) to sensible of having overlooked the enusuppose that I should fail in the attempt. meration of many particulars. My I marvel much whether my paper will name may perhaps create a little surdeserve any better fare than that of be- prise. Some young Miss may imagine ing sold to a snuff seller: to prevent that I have come forth for the purpose of this, however, it shall be my endeavour to babbling out a host of love intrigues annex unto my observations, upon the and adventures; and may grasp at my same sheet, such other articles as may paper with a hope of being amused by amuse, when my composition has failed its detail on chivalrous knights and to please. I have determined that this broken-hearted maidens: the wary polittle Intelligencer shall not be entirely litician may extend his ear to catch a occupied by my own babbling, but shall babble of state secrets; the gossip may ever give place to matter that I am as- look forward with pleasure to my besured will gratify and instruct.
coming a pleasant winter's evening I cannot but acknowledge, that in companion, there to introduce to her a announcing this publication, I am moved full account of each varied occurrence with uanity enough to suppose that I which has occupied her neighbour du. shall derive alittle fame from my labours. ring the week. I wish not to offend Surely this weakness may be pardoned ; any party when I say, that my paper is since, it is well known that every one, in
not offered for any of these express
purposes; but merely a brief chronicle or repository of such articles as are humble in their natures-instructive in their precepts-and free from rancour and defamation. Adieu! my dear readers, until my next,
JOHN CLARE, The Northamptonshire Peasant.
When we behold genius and virtue struggling with misfortune, we feel an anxiety about the contest, and humanity prompts us to stretch forth an helping hand in aid of the distressed. The life of John Clare, is but a narrative of one whom Nature has favoured with many extraordinary abilities; but, alas! whom poverty holds in thraldom: he is rich in fancy; but stricken by the cold and cheerless hand of want. If talent were only raised when matured by prosperity; if the pure flame of poesy only were ignited when supplied with riches for fuel; may we not say, how few poets, philosophers, and good men would have graced the world by this time. Genius does not only grow under the pampering sunshine of wealth ; but is frequently brought into being in the puny haunts of the peasant and the ploughman. When this is the case, how much more interesting dues each germ of rising ability appear in our observation; it has to grapple against cramping indigence, and when it rises triumphant through every obstacle, and shines-out an illustrious star, how prized it becomes, and how cherished by fame. It is astonishing how the humble poet will sing, though depressed in circumstances, and of so low a situation as, to screen him from notice, apparently for ever. He can have nó expectation of reaping a portion of those laurels which are bestowed on the learned and erudite. In his bosom is only felt the throbbing of Nature's impulse ; and art and cultivation have done little or nothing to give them a classic language, whereby to be divulged. But what of that ? the heart is swelled with admiration of things which surround; and it breaks out in expression of its feelings, in the plain and simple language of which it is possessed. The gowin,' the kingcup, and the primrose,' are the themes of unrefined poesy.
Thc'spinney,' the waterfall,' and the
66 And poor, and vain, and press'd beneath
John Clare was born at Helpstone, near Peterborough, Northamptonshire, on the 13th of July, 1793. The ancestors of his father and mother. Parker and Ann Clare, it is supposed, were poor, and they have been the sufferers of extreme poverty them