"Half a word fixed upon, at, or near the spot, is worth a cart-load of recollection." -- Gray in a Letter to Pelgrave
London: Published By Hamilton, Adams, and Co., Paternoster Row. 1843
Coultas, Printer, York
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A BIOGRAPHICAL sketch of the subject of this Memoir was contemplated by the writer, nearly twenty years antecedently to his death; during the greater part of which period, uninterrupted friendship was enjoyed, and entries were made of such, dates, facts, anecdotes, incidents, and observations, as were at all calculated to illustrate character, and throw light on the moral, religious, and literary history of the man. These memoranda imperceptibly accumulating, the original design of a brief sketch, accompanied with a short history, was abandoned; and even then, in the contemplation of something more complete and voluminous, the pleasure that had been experienced in collecting, had to give place to the difficult work of selecting, pruning, and throwing aside, what had been hoarded with a miser's care.
That nearly twelve years should be permitted to elapse after the death of the subject with such materials in hand, (and after much has been said and ,written respecting him,) without giving publicity to them, may appear somewhat strange. The writer would here remark, if the Memoir be destitute of interest, it is yet too soon; but if at all calculated to improve our species, by showing the point of elevation to which a man may rise by his own unfettered exertions, then it is not too late: in the first instance, no apology would aid it; in the second, none is required: at all events, it will be allowed, that a sufficient portion of time has passed away to enable the writer to take a dispassionate view of the subject, -- exclusive of everything like party feeling on the one hand, and overweening fondness on the other.
Aware that rigid criticism demands in this species of writing, a clear and philosophic estimate of character, a bold and vigorous sketch of the moral and intellectual man, drawn with such freedom and spirit as, in the morning of life, to enable youth to live and breathe again; and, in its evening, to make "the old man eloquent," the biographer feels the full weight of the responsibility under which he lays himself in undertaking the work: but if he should have failed in the fullest sense to meet such demands, it has not been owing to a want of becoming deference to them, any more than to indifference in the execution of his task: neither has he been inattentive to the examples placed before him in this department of literature, in which biographers are found (in the language of a sagacious observer) to press the various infirmities of an imperfect being into a narrative; thrusting prominently, and therefore unnaturally forward, those littlenesses which the superior powers of the living man would contrive to throw into natural and subordinate shade; leaving the reader, in the phraseology of criticism, to build up if possible, his intellectual being out of the fragmentary materials of a few loose recollections. Though playful sallies, eccentricities, and infirmities -- "nature's livery," may have occasionally met his eye, yet the subject portrayed had as few littlenesses -- in the strictest sense of that term, as any man within the range of his acquaintance; and not having them to record, he entertains no fear of any misapprehensions and undervaluings, as the result of his narrative, in which under other circumstances, the subordinate would have become the prominent -- the great would have been overshadowed by the little -- and the permanent would have been compelled to give place to the temporary and accidental: and yet the writer can safely state with another biographer, that it has been no part of his design to present a faultless model to the reader, -- a work of art, rather than a record of truth; but to make the best and fairest use of his materials for purposes of biography.
However the task proposed may have been executed, some credit will be awarded to the writer as to the selection of his subject, -- the subject himself being admitted by high literary authority, to have been one of the most extraordinary men of his age: for though in one sense, his mind is allowed to have been divided amidst the multiplicity and variety of his pursuits, still his thoughts and studies had generally the advantage of concentration, -- their grand focus was the BIBLE; his knowledge being formed in a circle round the oracles of God, pointing to them as its center, united to them by an insuperable centripetal force, pervaded by their influence, and that circle daily enlarging as time and opportunity afforded, and through which, he attained a reputation commensurate with his intellectual eminence. While it is acknowledged, he was more free from shadow than some of his literary rivals during life; yet it cannot be denied that he shone in some respects less conspicuously, as a writer. It was not in mere hypothetical reasoning that he indulged, (which, combined with quickness of perception, and an unusually tenacious memory, aids a man so effectually in prosecuting studies carried out by comparative texts, but which when accompanied with a lively imagination renders a man, in consequence of the rapidity with which one conjecture is succeeded by another in the mind, very often unsteady and fallacious as a guide;) his was acknowledged to be a strong, sound, revolving mind; and while his memory essentially aided him in the way of reference, his conclusions owing to the clearness and strength of intellect brought to bear upon any given subject, were generally correct. So he stood, -- and so he will continue to stand, as a Commentator, and a Christian minister; and other views of his pursuits and character, will contribute to heighten the interest with which such a man will be contemplated.
Sensible while prosecuting the work, that attention may be awakened and feelings excited in vain, unless some great moral or philosophical development of character be followed out, the writer has not altogether lost sight of unity of purpose and effect; to produce which he has not been a little assisted by the choice of his subject: and it is in this, rather than in the mere table-talk and gossip of the moment that the critic is furnished with a theme for "high discourse." Still, conversation is not to be lightly esteemed when the sage and the man of experience and observation is to be listened to; as it is in the freshness, transparency, and volume of the stream that we see the value of the fountain; -- so conversation, either rolling its tide, or "rippling like a rivulet," shows the man himself -- one and the same as to identity of person, but always on the advance in wisdom, learning, and piety, and in his onward course, becoming a study for persons of inferior attainments.
Not a little opposition has been made to conversational biography; and yet, notwithstanding the severe criticisms that have appeared on the subject, such works will continue to be, what they ever have been, -- favorites with the public, and even with the critic himself in his more temperate moods. Much depends on the subject: the conversation of some men is insusceptible of it from its very nature and character; this, in the language of a critic may be illustrated by a reference to Coleridge, in companionship with Dr. Johnson. "Coleridge did not talk, he discoursed; he never delivered himself in hard, brief, crushing sentences like Johnson, which a man might carry away whole and compact as a piece of marble; he was not a man merely eloquent with the stores of treasured wisdom, and to whom the same question would always suggest the same train of thought; his conversation, if it is to be so called, was a self-evolved speculation of the moment, a thinking aloud: it required almost as comprehensive a mind as his own, to follow out his chain of reasoning -- his linked subtleties: and no man that ever lived, not Coleridge himself, could have recorded it fully and faithfully two hours after; the necessary consequence was, that his companion, however anxious and scrupulous, could only note down some brief and disjointed sentences; and the result, where indeed memory does not enable us to piece out the imperfections of the record by reference to his published works, is a sort of pamican -- a compressed essence, wholesome, and under circumstances serviceable, but wanting all the fine and delicate flavor of the meat on which this Cæsar fed us."
Dr. Clarke's conversational remarks were dissimilar to both; he was as remote from the elegance and roundings of the one, as he was from the long and majestic roll of the other; the latter of whom loved "to see the palm-trees wave, and the pyramids tower in the long perspective of his style, and to catch the prophetic notes of universal harmony trembling in the voice." The subject of this Memoir was plain, natural, and generally brief -- never delivering a sentence as if it had been written beforehand: it was as easy to follow him as to tread in the steps of a little child; he never outstepped his attendants, but spake with a view -- not to shine, but to be instructive, impressive, and agreeable. The great difficulty has lain, (as others have felt in a similar position, in pursuing the narrative,) in giving the conversations in a detached form, independently of the observations and circumstances out of which they naturally arose, and which thus deprive them of "their setting to give them relief:" and yet to have detailed these in every instance, would -- whatever might be the effect in the social circle, have been not only a serious incumbrance to the work, but a heavy expense to the purchaser: the diamond therefore, rather than the ring has been preferred, -- the jewel rather than the casket: and collectively, his remarks will show "the natural play of his mind in its familiar moods, and its fecundity [fecund adj. 1 prolific, fertile. 2 fertilizing. fecundability
n. fecundity n. -- Oxford Dict.] in graphic and characteristic detail." One of the members of his family has placed these sentiments on record, in reference to his conversational powers:-- "He was at all times remarkably social in his habits and dispositions, and his conversations abounded in instructive and humorous anecdote; "and again, "this kind of reading and conversation led to interesting anecdote or instructive details; and deeply is it to be lamented that such anecdotes were not oftener committed to paper; but that which is of every-day occurrence is often neglected, even while its utility is felt, and its interest acknowledged." One occasion of deep lamentation will not only be found by those members of the family who felt it most strongly, and expressed it most forcibly, here to be removed, but the sincerest joy of heart must be experienced; seeing that the writer, having felt its utility, and acknowledged his interest in what was said, committed to paper, not only that which was "of every day occurrence," but delivered on special occasions, and frequently when abroad, and therefore the more rare in its appearance: for universal consent will give it in favor of the sentiment expressed by the motto employed in the title-page, -- That "half a word fixed upon, at, or near the spot, is worth a cart-load of recollection."
A somewhat favorable example of the importance of conversational notes is furnished by the subject of the Memoir himself in his Narrative of Professor Porson, in which he vouches for the correctness of the whole by stating, -- "I may say that it is literally correct, as I wrote it down carefully a short time after it took place;" assigning as a reason in favor of his conduct on the occasion, that "it is of no mean consequence to have seen the last scintillations of so eminent a genius:" and here it may be added, if the "last," why not the first and intermediate "scintillations," in whomsoever they may be found when accompanied with learning, and sanctified by religion? Indeed, an argument may be drawn from the character of his own conversations in favor of occasional memoranda, and after a prudent selection, of ultimate publicity. "In conversation, or correspondence," he remarked, "I never either spoke or wrote for the public; friendly intercourse was my sole object in the one case, and in the other relaxation from severe thought; after I have been writing and studying from five in the morning till half-past seven at night, it is hardly likely that I should come into the parlor with a disposition or preparation to shine. I write because it is necessary: I talk because I am cheerful and happy." As the subject of the Memoir was not in the habit of talking foolishly, or unadvisedly -- though he was not without his sallies of wit and humor, no great harm can result from the publication of specimens of his conversational powers: and as to the notion of his not talking with a view to "shine," or, in other words, with a view to publication, where is the man possessed of vanity sufficient, to talk for print in the social circle? Though he could pleasantly in conversation, style Boswell, "The embalmer of Dr. Johnson's weaknesses," of what a treasure would the world have been deprived if Boswell had been influenced by the same sentiment, even in the less elevated portions of his work? Besides, if the subject in hand spoke "because" he was "cheerful and happy," then, it may be safely contended, was the time for registering the fine overflowings of his richly stored and original mind. When are persons to look for moments of inspiration, if not under "happy" feeling? when for daylight, but under a "cheerful" sky? Nor is this all; if a man be sketched, it must be in company -- at least in the presence of the artist; he cannot be taken alone, immured within the walls of his study, absorbed in hard thought, when the least obtrusion is an affliction, and calculated to rouse unpleasant and impatient feeling. In his study, he resembles the bird seated on its perch: the moment of interest with the artist is, when the bright-plumaged creature is all life, -- in its finest, easiest, and most natural attitudes, -pouring forth its song from its native trees, under the warm sun of its own heaven, where all is animate, -- full of melody, grace, and beauty! A man is much more himself in his easy arm-chair, in social converse with a friend, than in court-dress, in the presence of his monarch. The most felicitous moments for "hitting a man off to the life," are those in which he is the least suspicious of the artist being at work.
It may be remarked, that few letters have been introduced into the Memoir: even a selection from those in possession, would go far to form two or three 8vo. Volumes: they are reserved for the present. When the subject of the Memoir wrote to persons in high life, traces of habitual and constrained deference were discoverable: in letters to his brethren, there was more of cordiality; but to his intimate friends, he spoke out like himself, in a way perfectly free, unadorned, and Clarkian: letters of the latter class are valued the more, because of their approach to conversation: this is well expressed by a member of the family, who evidently in the observation, cedes the palm to conversation, and would have apparently been happy to have been a partaker of the one rather than the other. His letters are illustrative of his life, "and bring him forward, speaking his own feelings in his own person: they declare and describe various situations of his mind and circumstances; entering into that sort of conversational detail, which causes events to rise up living before us, and we thus become companions in his thoughts, and spectators of his actions." How much more so in actual conversation!
It will be proper before these prefatory remarks are closed, to advert to another subject. The writer records here his grateful acknowledgments to Thomas Marriott, Esq., to the Rev. Alexander Strachan, and others, for several interesting communications; but to one, above all others, he stands more deeply indebted. In an announcement of the Memoir to the public it was stated, "the writer has to acknowledge the valuable aid he has received from a member of Dr. Clarke's family while engaged in the work, not only in the way of judicious criticism, but in greatly enriching his stock of biographical incident." Though it is unnecessary to state the circumstances that led to such aid, it is but justice to observe, that but for the taste, intelligence, and information thus brought to it, the Memoir would have had fewer claims on the attention and courtesy of the reader. The unbounded confidence Dr. Clarke had in the fidelity, affection, and ability of that member of his family, is no small encouragement to the writer in presenting his pages to the public. Of the quality and measure of that confidence an estimate may be formed, from a letter written by him in the fullness of its exercise, towards one who was both daughter and friend, and from which letter, the writer of this Memoir has been permitted to make the following extract:-
"Il y a quelque temps depuis que je vous ai ècrit, en vous proposant cette question: S' il me faudrait vous confier le plus grand secret de mon âme, le garderiez-vous d vous, sans le commettre a qui que ce soit? C'est à dire pourriez-vous le garder inviolablement jusqu' ala mort? Vous m' avez répondu, ah que oui! Eh bien, je vous dirai que vous êtes la seule personne au monde à qui je puis me fier. Vous m' aiderez de vos conseils, et de votre adresse, et vous ne me tromperez pas. C'est assez de termes généraux, quand j'aurai une affaire particuliére, je vous la confierai. "From all accounts, I fear you are far from being in a state of confirmed convalescence: you should always have some affectionate careful person about you in whom you could confide; such an one I think is -- and you shall have her, if you will only say so.
I am, my dear A.,
Your ever affectionate father,
A. Clarke." And now that the extract is given, it only remains for the writer as a debt of gratitude, as well as of justice to the lady, to name Mrs. Rowley, one of the beloved daughters of Dr. Adam Clarke, as the person to whom he is so deeply indebted for examining, criticizing, and enriching his pages.
James Everett. York, Oct. 21st, 1843.
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PART I. 1760. -- 1782.
"That I have made THIS LIFE  public, needs no other reason, but, that though the world is furnished with writings, even to satiety and surfeit, yet of those which reduce Christianity to practice, there is, at least, scarce enough." -- Bishop Hall.
"Our friends conversations are in my hands, and I will take care to suppress anything unworthy of him." -- Pope to Swift.
IT is a question of some importance in what way, the most properly and acceptably, to introduce a great man to public notice? -- whether massive and solemn, or light and tasteful scenery should decorate the stage upon which he is to act? whether his history -- well able to assert and vindicate its own claim to attention, should at all depend upon the effect which might be produced on the public mind at its first appearance? or, whether it would not prove most becoming and advantageous, to bring the subject of the biographer's page unattended into notice; hoping for the gradual increase of interest, rather than provoking the sudden expression of approbation. Indirectly sanctioning the latter mode, by the opinion of the Grecian philosopher,  as expressed in an early part of his treatise on poetry, and relying upon an abundance of important and interesting fact, and the intimacy of its connection with the social, religious, and intellectual character of the subject of these pages, we venture to address ourselves to the somewhat difficult task of portraying ADAM CLARKE.
It has been well observed by an eminent writer, that "the great end of biography is to fix the attention and to interest the feelings of men, upon those qualities and actions, which have made a particular life worthy of being recorded;" and this object is initially obtained, by becoming acquainted with the predisposing causes beneath whose influence such a man began to think and act, and which eventually formed his character. One grand intent of history, it is stated, is to do justice to the dead; not to paint portraits, or model busts to please the living. Truth, indeed, admits of no emblazonment for the purpose of exciting popular admiration: if the right method of recording an important historical fact be not steadily adhered to, so much of evidence will be wanting towards forming a just estimate of its character; and thus far, what is applicable to the history of a nation, may be affirmed as affecting that of an individual. In a general classification of the subjects of biography, we find, -- the sovereign, -- public characters, -- and private persons: the memoirs of the first, can no more be separated from the history of the nation over which he has ruled, than a tree can be removed from its native soil, without bearing with it a portion of adhering earth: those of the second, exert an influence upon society in proportion to the extent of range, over, and through which, their names and works are known: while those of the third, like a species of family portraits, possess little interest, beyond a wider or narrower circle of private friends.
The subject of the ensuing pages belongs to the second class; and the extensive influence he possessed over the public mind, constitutes him a study not only of considerable interest, but also of manifold instruction: we must, however, beg it of our readers, that they will address themselves to the perusal of this work, under the influence of a similar feeling with that of a learned and pious churchman, who, when himself becoming an auditor, observed, "My only intention shall be, to feed my mind with solid matter: if my ear can get ought by the way, I will not grudge it; -- but I will not intend it: those who can find nothing to do but note elegant words, or rhetorical colors, or perhaps an ill grace in a pithy and material speech, argue themselves full ere they come to the feast; and are therefore like a man, who, when his stomach is satisfied, begins to play with the dish, or to read sentences on the trencher." [trencher n. 1 hist. a wooden or earthenware platter for serving food. -Oxford Dict.]
The village of Moybeg, situated in the parish of Kilchronaghan, in the county of Londonderry, Ireland, has emerged from obscurity as the birth-place of Adam Clarke; like one of the coral islands of the South Seas, till then unknown, and henceforward only to be named in connection with the voyager who discovered it; so Moybeg, in name at any rate, will continue to live in connection with the fame of him who was cast a helpless infant upon its lap, though destined to live for ages in the productions of his pen. A considerable degree of doubt has been entertained respecting the precise period of his birth; there is one circumstance, however, to which sufficient attention has not been paid, but which, duly considered, produces a closer proximity to it than can be gained by a merely cursory view of the subject. Sailing with him upon one occasion up Belfast Sound, he pointed to Carrickfergus, (whose church, castle, and houses, lay to the right and left, with a good deal of varied landscape around,) and said, "some of my ancestors resided in that town: it was taken by Thurot  in 1760, which was the year in which my mother contended I was born, although my father, in after life, maintained a later date;" but continued he emphatically, "I always inclined to my mother's side of the question, for in such things mothers are rarely mistaken." If we examine the subject a little more minutely, we shall find a variety of considerations coming in aid of our confidence in the opinion of the mother; she was a woman of tenacious memory, and adhered as invariably to the time, as she did to the circumstances of her son's birth. Spring was the season assigned by the general consent of the family, in the early part of which Thurot made his appearance, having effected a landing on Thursday, February 1st, 1760. The event also to which appeal was made, must be remembered; the siege of Carrickfergus, which was a place in the land in which she lived, not a great way from her own residence, and dear to her as the home of some of her own relatives: Thurot himself was an extraordinary man, and made a great noise at the time; he fell in an early part of the engagement. The localities and striking character of the event, must have powerfully impressed her mind; and had it not been for the respect due from a child to the separate and conflicting testimonies of his parents, Adam Clarke need not have hovered [hover v. & n. -- v. intr. 3 remain undecided. Oxford Dict.] for the period of his birth, between 1760 and 1762. It is upon the above co-incidence, that a preference is given to the former, rather than to the latter of these dates, throughout the following pages; and the same conclusion will probably be adopted by most readers, as an excellent substitute for the parish register, which, during the whole period of his Uncle Tracy's ministry, who was the regularly officiating clergyman, was either not kept at all, or if attended to, was never seen after his demise. The following remarks made in a letter to a friend, comprise a condensed view of one part of the history, and although embracing points over which these pages will have to travel, yet it may be proper to introduce them here.
"Now for a word about other things. You have seen the last dwelling-place of my parents: it was a neat country cottage when we lived in it, and we built a room to it where many a time the preachers lodged. When I was last down there, it had fallen into decay, and another in which we had previously lived, was totally destroyed, though it was once a good stone house, and well sashed; yet there were only two yards square left in the front. Well, all these are low things, and many privations I endured in my youth, for my family was then poor among the thousands of Israel. But it had not been always so, and even in its wreck was respectable, for we could boast of that which the ancient Romans made essential to the patrician estate: "Generosus, est liber Romæ; qui in servitutem nunquam redactus est." In all the poverty of the family, not one of us ever served the stranger. My forefathers possessed a good deal of land about Lame and Glenarme; the Grange also belonged to them, with extensive lands on the shores of Lough Neagh. In the latter place, some of the immediate descendants of our own family are still resident, and were in my time rich; but from that inscrutable providence by which many ancient families have been brought almost imperceptibly to ruin, my own immediate branch was, in my father's time, stripped of every acre. I well remember the time when the last farm went out of the family, and our ancient boast was lost for ever! The universal weeping and wailing, the morning upon which we were made acquainted with the fact, still live in my remembrance, though I was then scarcely seven years of age.
"My father, who was born in 1736, being the eldest son, had a liberal education, and was designed for the church. He spent a considerable time both in Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities, and gained a prize in the former as the best Irish scholar. He returned thence, having proceeded M. A., and entered Trinity College, Dublin. While there, he married my mother before he had graduated, -- lost his prospects in the church, -- sold all he had, -- and, under the influence of the mania which was then rife in Ireland, took his passage for America, where he expected to become Professor in one of their Colleges. They were actually on board in the port of Londonderry, when my grandfather Clarke hearing of it, went after them, and only by the most earnest entreaties prevailed upon my father to return. While waiting the fulfillment of promises relative to church preferment, the money into which he had converted his property was spent; and he was finally under the necessity of establishing a school, which was his lot to the end of his days. There were few priests, clergymen, doctors, or lawyers, of those resident in the north of Ireland, who were not educated by my father. There were of us, two sons, and five daughters; and you may naturally suppose, as the rate of payment was low, and not always sure either, that we did not "fare sumptuously every day," and that our clothing was not "purple and fine linen." My father and mother both died happy in God, and here ends the history of his life. He appeared often to miss his providential way, and his errors seemed to fix the fortunes of the family for ever!
'There is a tide in the affairs of men Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Neglected, -- all the voyage of our life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.'
Never was a truer saying in reference to my poor father and his family; the "shallows and miseries," were ineffable; yet still the family pride, innocent and perhaps useful in such a case, caused us to keep our bearing in society, and the inscrutable providence of God kept us alive. Now, my dear friend, had you known all this when you saw my poor cottage at Flowerfield, you would have wept. My own life, indeed, is a maze of providence, and I dare not now touch it; the past is a confused cloud, and in the present, I scarcely know whether I do not dream."
Adam's father who, as we have seen, was originally intended for the church, but who, in consequence of untoward circumstances, was disappointed, was described by him in a somewhat artist-like manner: "He was a good scholar," said he, "studied both at Edinburgh and Glasgow; and among his testimonials, I well remember the name of the famous Hutchinson. He was not tall, standing only about five feet seven, -- but he had good shoulders, -- an excellent leg, -- a fine hand, -- was every way well-proportioned, and extremely active." He delineated his mother, upon whose excellencies he expatiated with filial delight, with the same precision: "She was not a beauty," he observed, "but she was a sensible woman; she was rather above the average height; -had an air of peculiar gracefulness in her movements -- appearing rather to glide along than to walk; -- yes, she could-
'Smooth-sliding without steps'-
have moved along with a vessel of water on her head, without spilling a drop of it:" and, closing his remarks in a tone of exultation, added, -- "she was as straight in her old age as in her prime."
Through the traditional lore of his mother, who was a descendant of the McLeans, of Mull, he was inspired with an early and lasting attachment to the Hebrides. In the course of conversation with a friend, he observed, "you know the Scottish ladies never have their rights or titles absorbed by matrimony: I am the only representative of my mother, who always taught my brother and myself to consider the island of Mull as the inheritance of the family. However, I love it as the land of my ancestors, and for these forty years have earnestly wished to be the means of sending to it the blessings of Methodism." This partiality for the Hebrides was not, however, an all-absorbing one; as it will appear evident from the remarks which immediately follow, that he united in himself the nationality both of father and mother. While upon one occasion, speaking in the presence of a friend who had formerly accompanied him to his birth-place, and referring to the scenery around it, which broke in upon his recollection with all the freshness and beauty of another paradise, -- "you recollect," said he, turning to that friend, while his heart was overflowing with home emotions, "the fine open plain, -- the mountains on each side in the distance, and the river winding its way between them, affording one of the most interesting landscapes to be met with anywhere." A person being in company with him one day, and expressing surprise on hearing his relationship to one of the Lords of the Isles -- that of Mull, said, "Why I thought you were born in Ireland, and therefore, took you for an Irishman!" Unwilling to relinquish his mother's half of him, which, as has been seen, was Scotch, and so honorable withal, he replied rather spiritedly, and in plain as well as antiquated phraseology, "It would not necessarily follow, that because a man might be born in a stable, he was therefore a horse!" The gentleman felt for the moment, as if he had been detected in a slight trespass upon his neighbor's enclosure; but he soon rallied again, and could not but be pleased with the feeling of nationality, so quaintly expressed. Adam's partiality was not like a trench, which communicates with a stream, and which, in proportion as it enriches itself takes from the source by which it is fed: the current of his affections ran with unabating force in both directions. But to return to his infancy.-
When Adam was taken to the parish church to be baptized, by the uncle already referred to, Mr. Boyd  and Mrs. Hutchinson stood at the font as sponsors; but it does not appear that the duties, to the performance of which they pledged themselves, were regarded by them as matters of conscience, for he remarked when speaking of them many years afterwards; "neither of them ever came to see whether I had any knowledge of religion. My godmother was a gentlewoman, but she was a merely nominal Christian: two or three presents made up the amount of her attentions; and my godfather" he continued, less emphatically, but with a very apparent mixture of feeling, "gave me a whelp [puppy] for his share, which a beggar stole from me in a week;" conveying by the last expression, the ludicrous notion, that if a blessing could ever be supposed to be in the gift, it was but transitory; and that consequently, he was as little indebted to the one as to the other, for any moral, intellectual, or religious advantage. His mother, however, was deeply sensible of the obligations under which she lay to instruct her children. She taught them, with the earliest dawning of reason, certain forms of prayer, both in prose and verse, and obliged them to commit to memory parts of the church catechism, and portions of the shorter catechisms of the assembly of divines. Her reason for initiating them into a knowledge of the contents of the two, and in several respects, distinct creeds contained in these catechisms, will be seen from the following observation of the son: "My father was a churchman, and my mother was a puritan, both of them staunch in their way, yet never against going occasionally to each other's place of worship. When I was very young, I had the persuasion, that the daughters ought to go to the place of worship frequented by the mother, and the sons ought to adopt the religions creed of the father; and thus having settled the matter, I became a churchman." His mother was, properly speaking, a Presbyterian, though, in conversing about her, he generally employed the term puritan, to characterize more definitely the rigid views she entertained of the doctrines and requirements of religion: hence, upon one occasion, he styled her his "godly puritanic mother:" and with all his predilections for the church of England, which prevailed over dissenterism through the whole course of his life, he was constrained to say, "For my mother's religious teachings, I shall have endless reason to bless my Maker." Her superior claim, however, seems to be established more on the ground of opinion, than of practice and experience; for though there was much general strictness, and for a week preceding the reception of the sacrament of the Lord's supper, great self-denial, yet until she became acquainted with the Wesleyan Methodists, whatever her advances towards "pure and undefiled religion" might have been, she had not entered so far into the sacred enclosure, as to interdict some of those amusements which, though not criminal in the abstract, yet lead to improper associations.
Adages, of which Mrs. Clarke was very fond, and which formed, in many cases, admirable auxiliaries to her early instructions, help to exemplify her character, especially when taken in connection with the occasions which gave rise to their use: some of these proverbial expressions lived in the recollection of her son to hoary age. Sitting at the table of a friend, and looking at the ample provision set before the guests, he observed, smiling, "This is not as it used to be; we children generally had the plainest fare; but to prevent internal murmurings, while casting a wishful glance at father's portion, and to check any cravings, my mother would say, 'this is your father's, my dear; and it is proper that it should be his, for he is the bee, that gathers all the honey.' She had a great many of these adages; it seemed to be more the custom of people," continued he, "to employ them in those days, than now: we, as children, had the adage for our instruction, whatever of father's portion was dealt out beside: but," said he, looking his host in the face, -- "here we have something more than the moral, though we have had none of the labor. Mr. S. is the bee here."
Conversing with him, on another occasion, on smuggling, some instances of which had recently passed under his own observation, he remarked, "my mother had a proverb which she impressed on the minds of her children, much better than the common one -- 'honesty is the best policy,' and which I never met with in any book in the whole course of my reading: it was, 'honesty, without policy, is too simple to be safe; and policy, without honesty, is too subtle to be good.'" But while many of these proverbs were thrown like a fence around his morals, and preserved him from evil, meeting also with the approval of his maturer judgment, there was one in which he could not fully acquiesce, when religion arose like the daystar in his heart, and shed her light over his spirit! "Come weal or woe, it will not be always so." On this he remarked; "We meet with many perplexities in passing through the wilderness, but we very often make the world worse, by the way we take in it: with the former part of this proverb, I cannot close in, as it is not a matter of indifference to me, whether it be 'weal or woe'; and as it regards troubles, I am thankful I can see an end of them."
Some of the expositions, given by Mrs. Clarke to her children, of passing events and particular incidents, were ingenious, devotional, and occasionally distinguished for originality; and although their correctness might sometimes be disputed in riper years by the son, yet their very recollection shows, they were not lost in their better effects; and it proves also, the readiness of the youthful mind for the admission of moral and religious impressions. Nor can it be told how much influence this description of instruction had in the formation of his character: a mere chip from a block of wood, drifted by a current on the bosom of the ocean -- much less promising as to its results, led, when perceived by Columbus, to the discovery of a new world, with all its wonders!
The family continued to reside at Maghera, till Adam was about eight years of age; and here it was, that with hard drilling, he learned the letters of the alphabet, beyond which initial instruction he often felt he should not be able to proceed far.  Had this fact been recorded by any other hand than his own, it would have given birth to a considerable degree of skepticism; and even upon his own testimony, the difference between his anxiety to receive, and his inaptitude to imbibe instruction, might, to a certain extent, unfit him for forming a correct estimate of his capabilities, and compel him, in consequence of his entire dissatisfaction with his own attainments, to over-rate the dullness professed to be experienced.
From Maghera they removed to Grove, a place about ten English miles distant. Here, little Adam pursued the duties of the school with a heavy heart. His father was a severe disciplinarian; his voice, said the pupil "was a terror to me;" and as he manifested an aptitude for anything but learning, he suffered much. But severity was not the remedy applicable to his case; for gentleness, as the sequel will show, effected what the other failed to produce.
The very highest authority appears in support of an opinion we cherish, that the character of master, is the last one in which a parent should be exhibited to the apprehension of a child. There is little between the terms father and master, which can harmonize in their operations. The tenderness and sympathy of the one, becomes merged in the sterner and stranger aspect of the other. Filial confidence and paternal love, cannot indulge their own native mutual promptings, where the very dissimilar character of master and scholar have also to be maintained and regarded, because the demands of the heart are not met. The overflowings of childish grief, or child-like confidence, are held in check by the very name of master, and the pulsations of the heart, which ought to be invited to travel forth in those holy affections, at once the charm, the beauty, and the solace of existence, are chilled by the stern glance of the eye and the gathering frown occasionally overhanging the brow of the preceptor -- casting their ominous shadow upon the heart of the pupil, as the dew-damps of the unwholesome night fall upon the tender and delicate plant, or as the malign influence of an eastern moon-beam smites the head of the weary, worn-out traveler! It is worthy of remark, that He, who is emphatically designated "the Father of the spirits of all flesh," is never introduced to our view under the figure of a teacher. "When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all truth:" and again, the Spirit is said to "take of the things of God, and to show, or teach them to us." Parents are to their children, what the universal Father is to the great human family. "I am the Father of the families of the whole earth," says God; not the master, nor, in our sense of the word, the teacher: for this is an office especially ascribed to the third person in the Holy Trinity. And, finally, -- the first cry of the new-born spirit, is not Rabboni, but Abba Father!
The reader will pardon this momentary digression from the immediate narrative -- it may have its use. In its application to the subject of this memoir, we have only further to observe, that, had not the supreme Father, over-ruled the severity of the earthly one, poor Adam might have lamented for ever, the unhappy influence of the "voice which was a terror" to him; for his sensibilities were remarkably acute. "Young as I was," he remarked, "it nearly broke my heart to perceive that my efforts to learn were fruitless: I wandered in the fields -- and sighed, and wept, and still kept dogging at it, but could not get on. I saw a son of Mr. Church -- a sharp. boy, in advance of me; he continued to run before me in the path of learning, very often playing himself, while I was toiling in the rear, and could not, for the world, commit two lines of Virgil to memory."
The first word of kindness which fell upon his ear, in reference to his learning, proceeded from the lips of a stranger, the mildness of whose tone was like the voice of spring, when inviting vegetation to come forth and appear in beauty to the eye, and the patting of whose hand upon the head which was destined to be the storehouse from which thousands of intellects should be fed and refreshed, acted as the wand of the magician, at whose touch bolts and bars give way, and the tenant of the dungeon goes free, inspired with a new life, and in the possession of unexpected liberty.
Upon this part of his history, his conversational information rarely extended to the minutiæ of the case; varying, nevertheless, the coloring and form of expression, agreeably with the vividness of his remembrance of past sufferings. The simple relation of this interesting moment of his history runs thus:-
"A stranger, who was itinerating as a teacher, called upon my father, and requested permission to examine some of the boys: I was among the number. My father, by way of relieving the feelings of the man, said, 'That boy is very slow at learning; I fear you will not be able to do much with him.' My heart sank: I would have given the world, to have been as some of the boys around me. The man spoke with kindness; gave me some directions, and, laying his hand upon my head, observed, -- 'this lad will make a good scholar yet.' I felt his kindness: it raised my spirit; the possibility of being able to learn, was, in this moment, and for the first time, impressed upon my mind: a ray of hope sprang up within me: in that hope, I lived and labored: it seemed to create power: my lessons were all committed to memory with ease, and I could have doubled the effort had it been required." From this period, Adam never looked back, and never paused. The same quickness of perception, and tenacity of memory, discoverable from the first dawning of intelligence as applied to other things, now accompanied his pursuit of learning: he was no longer like the animal tramping round the same spot, in consequence of the chain by which it is bound; he became like the racer; there was progress in every movement; he sped over the course with prodigious swiftness, and he felt the pleasure of it himself! A short time after the visit of this teacher, he observes, "I was playing in the church-yard, when, at a short distance, I perceived some gentlemen who were attentively engaged in endeavoring to translate a Latin line upon the tombstone of a person who had gone out to India, where he had amassed a large fortune; and who subsequently returned home and died almost immediately. Different translations were offered; each man, of course, preferring his own. My father, who was standing by, wondering at the difficulty experienced said, 'you are all wrong; I have a little fellow here who will translate it for you directly; Addy,' he continued, pointing to the stone, 'translate that line.' I looked at it a moment in hesitation, well knowing the consequence of a mistake; and after conning [studying] it over a time or two, said, 'Fortune favors the courageous.' 'There, I told you that the child would do it,' exclaimed my father. This at once dispelled all fear, and I went off to my play in triumph."
Speaking of his father's method of instruction, as a classical teacher, he remarked; "my father set his pupils to work with Phoedrus, the Colloquies of Erasmus, Latin authors which he deemed the easiest. He then led them on to others, both Latin and Greek, considered more difficult, -- such as Horace, Sallust, Virgil, Juvenal, Persius, Homer, &c., and in the rear, Caesar's Commentaries. He had a high regard for Erasmus, and stated him to be one of the first Latin authors, if not the very first, since the Augustan age."
Cæsar being referred to, in the same conversation, he observed; "I read him at school; but he is hard for young people to understand. Mr. B. F., when a youth, came to me one day when he was with Mr. J. C., who was from home a short time, with the commentaries in his hand, pointing to 'Impedimentis relictis,' remarking, that he could not comprehend what it meant. I looked at its connection, and although I had not read Caesar for sometime -- indeed very little from the time of my leaving school, I said, it must mean that the baggage wagons were left behind -- a mere military phrase; the word denoting the labor requisite to get them on, and thus proving impediments to the progress of the troops while traveling." By way of illustrating the subject, he adverted to Virgil, the favorite author of his juvenile days, who, after enumerating various implements of husbandry, adds, -
"Tardaque Eleusinæ matris volventia plaustra;" 
every word being expressive of difficulty and labor, and equivalent to the slow moving wagon. A pupil in the same school, standing by at the time, said; "we were taught to attend to three rules in construing Cæsar, and by observing these, the master was certain we should rarely misunderstand him. 1. We should find the nominative case a considerable way from the verb. 2. The accusative case before the infinitive mood. 3. The ablative absolute." This is not noticed with a view to exalt the learning of the character here portrayed, as such an act would only merit contempt; since every school-boy must know what "impedimentis" means, who has made any progress in the language; and as these rules, with the exception of one, -- which more immediately applies to Cæsar, will hold good to a certain extent with regard to Latin authors in general; but merely for the sake of showing what books engaged his attention in youth, and the effect of a momentary lapse of memory, in occasioning a hesitancy in a person well skilled in the language. Nor is it deemed of sufficient importance to separate, in every instance, the references to the past from the present, in the same conversation.
There were few incidents in early life, which escaped the recollection of Adam in its maturity; and fewer still, of an impressive character, from which he did not himself reap instruction, as well as casually employ for the benefit of others. A friend, with a view to heighten the pleasure of a meditated excursion, remarked to him; "I thought in my arrangements, that a Camera Lucida would be useful, as well as afford gratification, and therefore determined to bring one." The subject of this memoir, a little suspicious that, after all, it had been forgotten, inquired, with some eagerness, "have you brought it with you?" "I have not Sir," was the reply; -- "then do not tell us of our disappointment," was subjoined; tempering, however, the apparent hastiness of the answer with a practical improvement. "When I was at school, I lost a knife, and deplored it to a friend of mine, who appeared to sympathize with me; 'I wish I had known that yesterday, Addy,' said he, 'for I had a nice one, with two blades, and an ivory handle, studded with silver, which I would have given to you.' After working upon my feelings for some time, and thus heightening the disappointment, he at length dashed all my hopes by telling me he had no such thing. I felt so much on the occasion, that I resolved from that moment never to tell any person what he had lost, by what he might have possessed, supposing the provision had been forthcoming." By a thousand boys, this circumstance would have been soon buried in the oblivion of the past; and even by ninety-nine out of every hundred, who might have recorded the fact, no such improvement would have been made. But Adam Clarke had the power of making the uses of disappointment sweet, and of distilling good from everything; and although the friend for whose benefit the incident was related, had no cause for self-upbraidings, as the omission was purely accidental, he had too much candor not to reap instruction from the remarks to which it had given rise. Another little incident occurred, which shows more than ordinary sensibility from the impression it made, in carrying down the same feeling to the later period of his life, in reference to other things, and also his deep regard for truth, in consequence of his mother's instructions. Some observations having been made on fruitlessly seeking an article which had been lost, the following subject was revived in his recollection: "I was but a little fellow," said he; "a boy had some new farthings given to him; he called me to him, and looking downward at the time, said, 'Addy, Addy, I have lost my farthings; help me to seek for them.' I sought, and sought anxiously, almost every spire of grass, for several yards around. But neither of us could find them. On giving up all for lost, I accidentally looked at his hand as he was raising himself from the ground, and found the coins had been locked in it the whole of the time by the three fingers, while he was pointing the fore-finger and thumb of the same hand, and scraping the grass and the soil with them." Having had no personal interest in the search, disappointed feeling was of course less in operation in this instance, than the pain he experienced in consequence of the deception practiced upon him by his companion, through the falsehood employed to effect it; -- a substantial proof of the efficacy of a mother's lessons, -- and those are the best lessons which a mother teaches, as they are the kindest chastisements which a mother is known to inflict.
The good sense and native delicacy which uniformly dictated to Adam a becoming diffidence of manners, was yet exercised in such a way, as to discover uncommon quickness of apprehension in moments of danger. While traveling with him, on one occasion, to the scenes of his youth, in company with two lathes as coach passengers, (both strangers,) various subjects of interest engaged attention, and among them an opinion was asked respecting supernatural appearances. Branching off a little from this, one of the ladies, apparently anxious on the subject, and confident from the intelligence already displayed, of the ability to afford a satisfactory reply to her question, demanded, -- "pray sir, what is your opinion of false lights?" "Why madam," he replied, with some sprightliness, "I have had a little experience in those things, and I will tell you a tale about one of them." The countenance of his auditress brightened up, -- assuming the attitude of an attentive hearer, and he proceeded; "When I was a boy about ten years of age, my mother sent me one evening to the house of a friend. A bog had to be crossed, a full mile in length; a dense mist spread itself around, and enclosed me in its depths, long before I had reached the end of the journey. Unable to see a step of the way, and in the midst of great perplexity, one of the lights to which you have alluded, (an Ignis Fatuus,) suddenly sprung up before me. It was the first I had ever seen, though I had often heard of them; and the frightful stories connected with them, were brought to my recollection with tenfold force, by the reality then presented to view. When I drew backward, it followed:-- moving to the right or left, it moved also in the same direction; on stepping forward, it likewise advanced. All around was a mere bog, without any regular track, and consequently every step was threatened with danger, and any one, might have proved fatal to life. I stood and trembled; and yet to have remained without further effort, was to fix myself there till morning. I resolved at length to grope my way cautiously out, though utterly at a loss in what direction to move, having changed my position so often already, in consequence of the ignis fatuus. After hazarding a few steps, I heard a rustling noise: the sound of my foot had alarmed some wild ducks which frequented the place; and knowing some of their haunts, it instantly occurred to me to listen in what direction they flew, and to follow the sound, as I concluded they would take the direction of the water which adjoined the place to which I was going. Accordingly, lending an anxiously attentive ear, and following on, I was brought, in consequence of this attention to their flight, within a few yards of the friend's door to whom I was sent."
His fair companion, apparently apprehensive that the escape was regarded by him as supernatural, without waiting for his explanation of the phenomenon, immediately proposed another question, to which, when he had replied, he resumed the former subject by saying, "I had not, at that time, philosophy enough to account for this appearance; but it is not difficult to explain such things. The ignis fatuus is occasioned by a certain portion of hydrogen gas, which is generally found in bogs, in church-yards, and in soils of a fatty or oleaginous nature: the motion of the body naturally disturbs the air, and the flame presses in, so that when you move backward, you draw it after you, and when forward, you propel it onward." Exclusive of the acuteness and presence of mind here manifested in the use Adam made of his winged deliverers, it is impossible for any person duly impressed with the doctrine of an over-ruling providence, not to recognize the hand of God in his escape from danger, by means the most simple, and, to all human appearance, the most unpromising! The lady was greatly pleased with the explanation offered of the "false lights," and doubtless found her mind relieved by this fragmentary piece of information. Upon this interesting subject, however, while before us, we shall add a remark or two, by way of further explanation. It is well known to the intelligent reader, that several singular notions have been entertained on the causes of this phenomenon. Dr. Darwin once suggested, as the probable explanation, that "it arose from the reflection of a star in a swamp, or puddle of water;" which hypothesis has its refutation in the constantly flitting appearance exhibited by the meteor. A clergyman, (in a weekly periodical, ) puts forward the fanciful proposition, that, "it is an animal, and subsists upon flies, attracted to it by the luminous appearance it exhibits. Others have considered it "to proceed from swarms of insects, which emit a glowing light on warm evenings, in bogs, marshes, &c., -- a kindred hypothesis with the above, only under the influence of the organ of number. Some persons again, who have brought a glimmering ray of philosophy to their aid, suppose it to be occasioned by the presence of electricity, but without proof, further than as electricity is concerned more or less, in all chemical phenomena. Newton, in his "Treatise on Optics," gives it, as being, "a vapor arising from putrefied waters." This meteor, as above stated, generally makes its appearance in burying-grounds, marshes, bogs, fens, and is even noticed playing about the stems of vegetables, especially in warm damp weather in the autumn. But it is worthy of remark, that if the places in which it is seen become flooded, the ignis fatuus ceases to be visible there for some time. It seems to be created by the pressure of phosphuretted hydrogen gas, or some other combination of hydrogen, with the presence of phosphorus, in some of its compounds. The places in which it is seen, favor this view. A slow combustion goes on; and as the gas rises in different parts of the marsh, or fen, the light flits from place to place. The approach of a person disturbs the rising gas, and the meteor appears to fly before him; and if curiosity impel him onward for the purpose of viewing it more closely, he pays the forfeit of his innocence of the cause of the phenomenon, by finding himself, in a few seconds, in the midst of a bog, as the terminus of his chase.
The opinion which the subject of this memoir formed in mature years of his "natural timidity," and the acquired courage he gained by reading romances,  is perhaps a little over-rated; for if he had not possessed a considerable degree of native daring, upon which acquired courage was grafted, he would have manifested less presence of mind in the midst of danger, and still less would he have volunteered his services, in cases where manhood, with higher claims to bravery, has often stood in fear. A report being in circulation, that the mansion house, called "The Grove," was haunted, curiosity was instantly on the tip-toe, and little Adam could not be satisfied except with the permission to sit up to hear the "strange noises," which had alarmed the house, and to watch "the ghost" which had frightened the family. Accordingly, he set off, and,
"In the dead waist and middle of the night:-Wherein the spirit's held their wont to walk,"
"we were all sitting," he observed, "before the kitchen fire; there was a large tapering chimney in the building, and the first noise we heard was, as if a heavy foot stalked up the sides of it; we next heard a tremendous noise over our heads. There was no possibility of any person entering the house without forcing the doors, and so subjecting themselves to detection, and there was no one in the house save the servants and myself, and they were all around me. I returned home much afraid, and had no desire to repeat the visit. Looking towards the house, two or three days after this, I saw one of the children of the family -- a school companion, coming towards me weeping: it was impressed upon my mind, -- the head of the family is dead; and in the full confidence of what I believed to be the fact, I mentioned it to my father. He was incredulous; but the tidings soon reached us, that he had been just killed by a fall from his horse; and in him we lost an excellent landlord. Only a few weeks before this, the brother of the deceased, Lieutenant Stephen Church, who was a gay man, and very fond of equestrian exercises, received an accidental shot in his leg, by the discharge of a fowling-piece, which tore it to pieces, and rendered amputation necessary: the operation being unskillfully performed, mortification took place, and he died shortly afterwards. On the death of these two gentlemen, the noises ceased to be heard. The same shot that had occasioned the death of Lieutenant Church, wounded a school-fellow of mine, and tore away a part of the shoe of my brother, both of whom, with a number of other persons, together with the Lieutenant, were looking at an equestrian, while guns and pistols were discharged by the side of the animal. I never liked to take things upon trust," it was added, "nor was I in the habit of believing every tale I heard: but accustomed myself to examine the subject, and not permit it to go bowling over the mind without arresting it in its course, and making a selection." Notwithstanding this declaration, and his general caution in after life, it is difficult to resist the impression, that there was in the mind of Adam a tendency towards the marvelous.
On the removal of the family from the neighborhood of Garva, which occurred sometime between the tenth and twelfth years of Adam's age, they fixed their residence at Ballyaherton, in the parish of Agherton, a short distance from Coleraine. Their house stood about three hundred yards from the family mansion of Counsellor O'Neill, between whose children and the young Clarkes, juvenile friendships were formed; but the one especially intimate was that subsisting between the counsellor's second son Mark, and Adam. Though naturally of a cheerful and even buoyant spirit, Adam had some little interruptions to his happiness; one of these may be noticed, as it contributed to form the prejudices of riper years. The use of tobacco being named, he remarked, "my father both chewed tobacco, and smoked it; my mother took the pipe and snuff, so that between them, they used the weed in every form. I dreaded the approach, and still more the existence of distress in the family, for on these occasions they always flew to the pipe for relief: though a mere boy, I was grieved at this useless expense; it was resorted to by them to soothe care, instead of their repairing to God, and taking refuge in him by prayer. My father, in the course of time, left off the use of it in one way, though he continued the pipe to the end of his days, and I have no doubt shortened his life by it." This is expressive of great sensibility; for it is evident, from his total indifference to money all through life, that the profusion lamented, could only be viewed as improper, because needless, and because of its trenching upon the unsupplied necessities of the family: and with this early prejudice operating upon the stronger feeling, it is no wonder that when reason and observation were brought to bear on the subject, and the whole became matured as a matter of conscience, in reference to himself, that he should manifest so decided a hostility to the practice of smoking, and that a pamphlet should ultimately appear from his pen, upon "The Use and Abuse of Tobacco."
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