PART III. SECTION I.
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If the understanding be like unto bodily sight, not of equal sharpness in all, what can be more convenient, than that, even as the dark-sighted man is directed by the clear, about things visible, so likewise in matters of deeper discourse, the wise in heart doth show the simple where his way lieth," -- Hooker.
Though it be most easy and safe for a man with the Psalmist to commune with his own heart, in silence, yet it is more behoveful for the common good, that those thoughts which our experience hath found comfortable and fruitful to ourselves, should, with neglect of all censures, be communicated to others."
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The decision of the Conference, that Mr. Clarke should be stationed in the Metropolis [London], was in every way agreeable to him, and he forthwith repaired to this new scene of labor. The reader must not imagine, that London, in reference to the exertions required of the Methodist ministers, was, at the period of which we now have to speak, at all in point of convenient regulation what it is at present. The field of operation extended itself many miles in all directions, unrelieved by those divisions which variety in circumstances has rendered necessary and convenient; the places of preaching widely scattered, and as Mr. Clarke made it an invariable rule to return home after services, much physical exertion was included in the appointment given to him; but this was in his estimation a trifling matter, when weighed against the nature and importance of the work, -- embracing as it did, the spiritual interests of thousands for whose benefit he labored. It is presumed, that a mind whose capacities and constitution rendered it peculiarly capable of far-reaching thought, and the embracing of important designs, and following out their consequences, would look upon the scene before him with the deepest interest.
Former stations had engaged his whole energies; and now, with a mind enriched by continually accumulating stores of intellectual wealth, and a spirit whose varied and deep experiences had made it eminently conversant with the mysteries of godliness, because the intercourse with heaven was constant and the result rich, he came thoroughly furnished to this scene of labor, surveyed it with intelligent apprehension, and addressed himself to the work with every faculty in healthful exercise. He felt he was acting for God -- with man, in relation to eternity: truth, he deemed, demanded all the powers of the minister; and as each occasion of its public proclamation might be the last to some of his audience, he put himself in possession of every part of the great subject, and poured forth the streams of his intellect, like a life-ebullient-spring, thus fitly proclaiming "the burden of the word of the Lord," in all its solemn majesty and sanctity!
In the dispensing of religious truth, no man felt more strongly than the subject of this memoir, the importance of recommending the sacred scriptures in their obvious meaning, as the word of God, from which there is no appeal, upon any pretense, however plausible, to human reasoning. He felt that all attempt to make them speak in any way at variance with their plain sense, was dangerous as a principle, and ultimately ruinous as a practice; that the search after truth is not only commendable, but absolutely imperative upon every intelligent and responsible being: the very fact of man being endowed with power to investigate, and ability to apprehend, being sufficient argument that God who thus intellectually constituted him, demands from his rational creature, the exercise of those powers upon their most effective scale of operation. He knew, that to possess enlarged views of the truth as it is in Jesus, and to preach his transforming efficacy, was his high vocation, and therefore he repudiated the spirit of bigotry which would confine them within a narrow and enchanted circle; and while upon the great doctrines of our common Christianity, he had settled opinions, and in them an immovable faith, he was ever open to that increasing light, which was inevitable upon a constant and diligent pursuit of intellectual progression.
He had witnessed, in many unhappy instances, how a circumscribed view of the great Christian verities, had been productive of the most lamentable results; how creeds molded upon the wrestings of scripture, had been to truth a sort of Procrustes bed, where it had been shorn of its beautiful and ample proportions, and instead of appearing in its native dignity and loveliness, had been reduced to a stunted and diminutive thing, exciting no other feeling than amazement at its pretensions: he had known and read of mighty minds, which had been cramped and oppressed and driven to the most miserable expedients, for the unworthy purpose of making scripture quadrate with their circumscribed views; and with the history of the church lying open before him, over whose pages he had pored with philosophic investigation, he could not avoid mourning over the unwise bigotry and acrimony which had disgraced it, and separated the best of men; -- all those evils having their origin in a blind attachment to dogmas, which have been represented as necessary to salvation.
The tenor of Mr. Clarke's ministry was wide of all this:-- its manliness and simplicity, combined with the rarity of its matter, and the evident unction attendant upon it, were sure to meet attention. There was that to be learned from him, which made his ministry stand out from that of others with the distinctive boldness of original character. The hearer was certain to be led into some new region of thought, especially when he was dwelling on the mercy of God: here he was indeed pre-eminently great. "The love of God," he was wont to say, "will convert more souls, than all the fire of hell;" and in reference to his esteemed friend, Mr. Benson, who occasionally entered the pulpit clothed with "the terrors of the Lord," as though determined to drive the sinner to the shelter of the mercy-seat, by the raging of the elements, -- the sweep of the whirlwind, the flash of the lightning, and the roar of the thunder, -- he would say, -- "My brother Benson makes the promises of the gospel so hot, now and then, that a man can scarcely hold them in his hand."
On one occasion he labored to show, with much plausibility of argument and force of expression, that there was greater difficulty in going to hell than to heaven: expatiating on the miseries which sin invariably brought in its train; the remonstrances of conscience, -- the strivings of the Spirit of God, -- the counter-dictates of reason, -- the abiding rebuke of exemplary piety in others; together with the poverty, sickness, and wretchedness, entailed on evil habits; -- all these things going to establish the great truth, that "the way of transgressors is hard," that the path to ruin is painful and difficult: then dwelling on the helps afforded in the way to heaven; the Spirit, -- the word, -- the ministry, -- Christian Sabbaths, -- the atonement procuring pardon, peace, and holiness, -- and a special providence, as "a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night;" -all working together for the righteous, -- exhibiting wisdom's ways to be ways of pleasantness; and these secured on the easy terms, -- repent -- believe -- obey; -- thus bringing all his divinity and logic to bear upon the position taken up; and exclaiming at the close, in holy triumph on the part of the mercy of God, and as though the Evil-one himself could scarcely furnish a suggestion against such a process of reasoning -- with arm out-stretched, and hand clenched -- "There Devil, beat that if you can!" On another occasion, when recommending the mercy of the Lord Jesus to sinners, he gave utterance to the following sublime thought: "Suppose Christ attended by all the hosts of heaven, and about to create a new system -- all the sons of God anxiously waiting the omnific word, which was to call the whole into being, order, and beauty, -- a voice from earth should reach his ear, -- 'Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me;' I tell you, brethren, if it were necessary for him to leave undone one thing, to do another, he would leave worlds uncreated, to answer the cry of a poor perishing sinner."
No one could enter more promptly or fully into the spirit of a genuine revival of the work of God than Mr. Clarke, nor could any man be more ready to make allowance for any little exception to the general rule of silent and unostentatious progress. He was thoroughly versed in, and satisfied with, the real aim, spirit, and tendency, of Methodism. His own preaching was characterized for its fervor, and the Divine unction by which it was attended. We have been impressed with the frequent recurrence of his name in the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine, in connection with "Memoirs," "Obituaries," and "Recent Deaths," &c., as having been the spiritual father of persons who had departed in the faith of the Lord Jesus; so far back as the first year in which he began his ministry, until the present time. Among them, occurs the name of Mrs. Hawkey, who was herself the instrument of introducing the gospel ministry into St. Wenn; yet these are a few only of the stars of that brighter hemisphere which steal into notice, while multitudes are visible only to the eye of God. The following extract from a letter written at the close of 1795, will go to illustrate an observation already made, touching exceptional cases in revivals of religion; nor will it be devoid of instruction to that class of Christians who, as an apology for their own lack of fervor, and as a veil to their cold-heartedness, gravely deliver over all revivals of religion to the weak and to the enthusiastic; as though emotion and earnestness, and occasionally irrepressible fervor, -- allowed and commended in the pursuit of wealth, learning, and fame, were to be entirely excluded when the immortal spirit is the object of interest! "You no doubt wish to know how we go on. Such an out-pouring of the Spirit of God, I never saw before; every part of the city seemed to partake of it; the preachings were all well attended, and a gracious influence rests on the people; after the regular service, we have a prayer-meeting, in which much good is done. The first movement took place in our Sunday School, and in Spital-Fields, New Chapel, and West-Street, and Snows-Fields, simultaneously: several sheets of paper would not sufficed to give you even a general idea of what is going on. Last night, we had our love-feast; for about half an hour the people spoke; when all was ended in that way, we then exhorted and prayed with many who were in great mental distress: we remained four hours in these exercises. You might have seen small parties praying in separate parts of the chapel at the same time; the mourning was like that of Hadadrimmon, and every family seemed to mourn apart. We who prayed, circulated through the whole chapel, above and below, adapting our prayers and exhortations to the circumstances of the mourners: many were pardoned; to others strong hope was vouchsafed, and then was the advice given by each to his neighbor, to believe in Jesus: 'He has pardoned me,' a justified sinner would exclaim; 'Oh, do not doubt, seeing he has had mercy on me, the vilest of sinners!'
"One scene particularly affected me. A young man recently married to an unconverted young woman, persuaded her to kneel down with two others who were in deep distress: presently she was cut to the heart; I visited them backward and forward, at least a score of times. After they had been about three hours in this state, the young woman found peace; and in a short time, the other two entered into the liberty of the people of God. When the young fellow found his wife praising God for his mercy, he was almost transported with joy; he sung, prayed, and praised, and great indeed was their mutual glorying; and so was ours on their behalf. Well, thus we continued, until, at a late hour, I prevailed on the people, with some difficulty to go home; we are trying to get these meetings shortened. If friends Russell and Robinson, &c., were here, they would be in their element. Give my love to them, and all my kind and much respected friends in Liverpool."
Now, in the above case, it is not, as in most recitals of the marvelous, a question with the reader, as to how much he will admit, and how much reject of the account before him; whether the effects related, might not be imaginary, on the part of the narrator, or produced by some collusion, sublime and mysterious enough to transport him beyond the regions of common sense and discernment. The above account will readily be admitted as a correct statement of what took place on that occasion; and as the circumstances were subject of deep interest to the mind of Mr. Clarke, and moreover referred by him to a Divine agency, which it must be admitted, men are ever full slow to recognize, -- it is the duty of a faithful biographer to introduce the facts as they occurred, without feeling it incumbent upon him, either to trace the causes of these mental perturbations, or to draw the line between such as would bear the test of sober inquiry, and such as time and trial would prove to be transitory and superficial. It may, however, be remarked, that, in opposition to the natural antipathy many feel to any extraordinary religious excitement at all, we cannot but yield to the evidence which the symptoms afford concerning the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of man. It never was, and never will be, paralleled by any other influence to which the heart is subject; and this, at any rate, ought to prepare us to expect something of its own peculiar and striking character in the results it is allowed to produce. Confusion never can be a medium for the bestowment of God's gifts to his children; yet granting the operation which has called forth these remarks to be that of the Divine Spirit, and to bear some analogy to that which was so extraordinary, universal, and exciting, in the apostolic age; we shall have reason, as well as modesty on our side, while we abstain from thoughtless invective, flippant remark, and senseless opposition. "If this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."
The close of the preceding letter furnishes us with a passing glance into the study. "What little time I have to spare from my ministerial labor," he says, "I employ at my Testament. I am very ill off for a transcriber."
As he found the means, Mr. Clarke added to his philosophical apparatus, and had not what he playfully denominated "the common disease of Methodist preachers," cleaved so closely to him, he would have completed this department of the study much earlier than he really did. During his residence in the Channel Islands, he had paid considerable attention to the department of electricity, making many experiments, and bringing his acquisitions to bear, with considerable success, upon several cases of indisposition among his people. Anything that promised to extend his sphere of usefulness, -- whether to the souls or bodies of his fellow-men, or that furnished a deeper insight into the ways and works of God, was, by him, deemed a legitimate object of pursuit; and yet science was in no instance permitted to infringe upon the higher duties of his sacred calling; he never forgot that he was a minister of Christ, and that the proclamation of salvation to a lost world, was the principal object and aim of all his labors and thinkings. In accordance with this persuasion, he hailed good in whatever form it presented itself to his acceptance; albeit there were of course points of preference in his own mind, in reference to the description of instrumentality at work for the attainment of the grand object.
Adverting once to his own preaching, he said, "I made up my mind at one time to preach doctrinally and practically, and to show the connection between doctrine and practice. This I tried about twelve months; but very little good seemed to be done by it; I therefore returned to experimental preaching, which is always the most effectual." Having profited by the experiment, he said to a preacher one day, who traveled with him, "John, can you not endeavor to put a bit more gospel into your sermons?" "Oh," returned John, "I leave that to you and others; I instruct the people in that of which they have the least." John was unmoved, and, like the plants which grow upon the rocks, adhering to them with tenacity, though without rooting, maintained his position, resolved to understand no man's reason but his own. Other opportunities will offer for further remark on the preaching of Mr. Clarke.
The Methodists have ever been noted for their loyalty; and any disposition to anarchy, either in church or state, is not only discouraged by them as a body, so far as their influence extends, but is, in its very principle, repulsive to their feelings. The society in the Metropolis [London] was at this time in a state of peace and general prosperity; but in several of the interior counties, the demon of disaffection was busily at work. A tract had been put forth, entitled, -- "The Progress of Liberty," against which the London preachers, (including Mr. Clarke of course,) entered their solemn protest. They were quite aware that liberty had been variously defined; -- that few terms had been more abused; -- and that those who are the loudest in their clamor for it, are generally the very persons who, understanding nothing at all of its principles, are the last who ought to be entrusted with it for although liberty, individually considered, is, that a man may do as he pleases, it has been very wisely argued, that it ought to be seen what he will please to do before we risk congratulations which may be soon changed into complaint. An eminent statesman, speaking of the spirit of the times, observed; "When I see the spirit of liberty in action, I see a strong principle at work, and this for a while is all I can possibly know of it; the wild gas, the fixed air, is plainly broke loose; but we ought to suspend our judgment till the first effervescence is a little subsided, till the liquor is cleared, and till we see something deeper than the agitation of a frothy and troubled surface; I must be tolerably sure, before I venture publicly to congratulate men upon a blessing, that they have really received one."
There are times, when party spirit may become factious, and, under particular emergencies, prove fatal to freedom itself; that which injures the body politic, can rarely be of advantage to the individual; that species of liberty, the very right to which is questionable, because unreasonable in many of its demands, cannot be very productive of good in its results. The preachers had watched, with a vigilant sagacity, the spirit now at work; and Mr. Clarke, especially, had felt it his duty to oppose its encroachments with his utmost ability. Speaking one day upon the subject of republicanism, he observed; "I was at a district meeting, in company with Mr. Pawson, at which my friend Mr. John Mason presided, when a preacher was arraigned on the charge of having given utterance to republican sentiments, by praying that our fleets might be defeated, &c., and for which he professed to have grounded his authority on passages of perverted Scripture, in the Psalms and the Prophets, as, 'Rebuke the company of spearmen:' 'Scatter the people who delight in war;' &c., directing his prayer especially against our naval and military establishments.
Even his accusers smiled at the ingenuity with which he defended himself: turning to them, he said, 'You all pray, that the time may speedily come in which you shall beat your swords into plow-shares, and spears into pruning-hooks. Now as these plow-shares and pruning-hooks could not be used without handles, I was merely wishing to have the splinters of the vessels to make hafts of." This mode of defense was not calculated to satisfy grave men; when the momentary flicker of laughter had passed away, the sober reasoning which succeeded, taught the flippant offender, that the most inviolable attachment to the laws of his country, was accounted a capital virtue, and that the strictest loyalty was the truest patriotism.
It would be wise and well, if the men who are blindly led by designing knaves to clamor for liberty and independence, knowing no more of them than the bare name, and who are therefore urging claims of the very principles of which they are in utter ignorance, would adopt the sentiment of the following stanza, for it embodies a fine feeling of loyalty:-
"Though I cannot see my king, Neither in his person nor his coin; Yet contemplation is a thing That renders what I have not, -- mine, My king from me, what adamant can part? Whom I do wear engraven on my heart."
Among a circle of kind, intelligent friends, with whom Mr. Clarke was on more than usual terms of intimacy in the metropolis, Mr. and Mrs. Bulmer may be noticed as included in those of an early date, not omitting Mr. Buttress and Mr. Butterworth, the latter of whom received his saving religious impressions under his ministry. Mr. Butterworth, of whom more will be said as the narrative proceeds, was a man of great native benevolence, -- that benevolence, which, as a virtuous principle, not only secures to others their natural rights, but liberally superadds more than they are entitled to claim. Mr. Buttress was as true to Mr. Clarke as his shadow, and accompanied him to every appointment, during the whole of his three years residence in London. Mr. Benson hearing of this afterwards, asked, "'Were you not tired, Mr. Buttress, with hearing the same sermons so often?" "I never heard the same sermon twice," he replied, "except on one occasion, and that was by request."
"Well," returned Mr. Benson, "but if you did not hear the same text, did he not take the same subjects?" "No," said Mr. Buttress, "not anything beyond the broad gospel of Jesus Christ." Mr. Bulmer was a pleasant, cheerful companion; and his good lady was a woman of taste and reading.  The latter had cultivated an acquaintance with the Muse at an early period, and, in later life, published a large poem, and a number of lyric pieces. 
On the deeply interesting subject of Mr. and Mrs. Butterworth's union to the Methodist Society, we shall content ourselves for the passing moment, by introducing a letter dictated by the full heart of him whom God had honored as the instrument of this important event.
"My very dear brother, -- If you think of favoring me with your good company tomorrow, to Greenwich, you had better come and breakfast with us. It is a mile and a half nearer you, and three miles nearer for me. We will either ride or walk, as shall be most agreeable to you. My Mary wishes Mrs. B. to meet us here, and desires me to say, 'that Mr. Reece will not preach at Lambeth, and therefore she must come and spend her forenoon at this chapel, and edify under good Mr. Rankin.'
"Had thousands of gold and silver been given me yesterday, it could not have afforded me the joy which the account did, you gave me of the interposition of our blessed God in your soul's behalf. Hold fast this beginning of your confidence. Satan will endeavor to shake you; but keep looking to Jesus: he will strengthen your faith, and establish you more and more therein. It is your privilege to have the clearest view of your acceptance in the beloved. Plead for this; and God will shine upon his own work, and the glory of the Lord will ever accompany you. Remember, -nothing can be too great a favor to ask from God, which Jesus Christ has purchased by his blood. And what has he purchased? Why, all that man can require, or heaven dispense! May God abide with you for ever! Yours, most affectionately in the Lord, -- A. & M. CLARKE."
Previously to this time, Mr. Clarke had not published anything, except short papers for the Armiman Magazine, as, An Illustration of Matt. v. 7, -- The Miraculous Growth of an Old Woman's hair, becoming brown, and growing from eight to ten inches in one night; -- Thoughts on Dancing; -- Judicial Astrology, &c., most of which are collected and published in his "Miscellaneous Works," and the whole of them invested with an air of novelty, showing that no common-place mind was at work. The piece on Astrology embodies, as he informs us, the chief arguments found in the second book of Barclay's Argensis; but we have his own opinion of "this impudent science," as he terms it, and "the absurdity of its principles;" declaring, that there are arguments in Barclay, "which the whole somber conclave of stargazers, astrologers, and wizards, from Jannes and Jambres, down to Merlin, Nostrodamus, Partridge, and Moore, have never satisfactorily answered, nor ever will be able to refute;" and stating the science, falsely so called, to be "worthy the execration of every person who believes there is a God, and that that God governs the heavens and the earth." He considered "the whole system to be an artful revival of part of the old pagan theology."
But he now, (1797), ventured out with a separate publication, entitled, -- "A Dissertation on the Use and Abuse of Tobacco," and assailed its consumers with some heavy arguments, though its praise had been previously sung both in prose and verse. Mr. Story, on its publication, took out his snuff-box one morning, while the preachers were met together, and looking at Mr. Clarke, facetiously observed, while priming one nostril, "It is a poisonous weed;" then taking out a second pinch for the other nostril, dryly added, "It is medicinal too." We have seen Mr. Clarke's early prejudice against its use in his own family, when a boy; and it strengthened with age. While supping with a friend in the metropolis, he remarked, -- combining with it the bacon question, to show his antipathy to both of them, -- "If the devil were to become humanized, and I were obliged to prescribe for him, I could not wish him a worse supper than a roasted pig stuffed with tobacco." Raillery, however, apart on the one hand, and prepossessions on the other, the publication was needed, and has also been useful.
Dr. Hamilton told him, that immediately on its issuing from the press, Lady Erskine, sister of Lord Erskine, who was extravagant in the use of snuff, ordered a copy, and read it. She next sent for Dr. Hamilton, to consult him as her medical advisor. He told her to take less. After this, she took up a theological objection, and stated that she felt its use and extravagance bore on Christian principle. This at once decided the question, and she abandoned the indulgence.
Mr. Clarke stated his belief to the writer, that his father shortened his life by it; that when his mother became dependent upon him, she continued to take snuff; that he spoke to her affectionately, though afraid of wounding her feelings, lest she should consider it an unwillingness on his part to grant her the indulgence; that he made an appeal in reference to health and religion; that she listened to him, -- saw the propriety of his remarks, -- reasoned with herself, -- and abridged its use; that this abridgment only aggravated the case, as it whet the desire, --anxiously looking forward to the moment of enjoyment; that she at length gave it up, and though an ailing woman, lived five years afterwards, during which period, she had the best health she ever enjoyed in her life, -- "preaching gloriously against it," he added, "wherever she went."
The narcotic influence of the weed was too soothing in many instances for argument to reach. Dr. Olinthus Gregory states, in his Memoir of Robert Hall, that he put Mr. Clarke's Dissertation into his hand, with a request that he would read it. In a few days, Mr. Hall returned it, and at once, as if to preclude discussion, said, "Thank you, Sir, for Adam Clarke's pamphlet. I cannot refute his arguments; and I cannot give up smoking." 
It was too soon to complain of the chafings and burdens connected with the press; but when he once began to feel them, he observed, though playfully, -- "Were we not better informed, we might be led to conclude, that Job had got into the secret of authorship, when he said, "Behold, my desire is, that mine adversary had written a book;" recollecting, probably, the use which Pope had made of the passage, when, to give a substantial proof of his scorn, he collected the pamphlets of his enemies, bound them in volumes, and labeled them with it as a general motto. Mr. Clarke wrote this year also an excellent Letter to Mr. Woolmer, who had been proposed to travel by Mr. Pawson, which letter was afterwards enlarged, and entitled, -- "A Letter to a Preacher."
Though his health was seriously affected, his studies were continued. The Hebrew Bible which he commenced reading daily, January, 1797, (noting down on the different books, chapters, and verses, such things as appeared to him of the most importance, with a view to form an outline of a work on a more extensive scale,) he finished in March, 1798, -- having translated every sentence, Hebrew and Chaldee, in the Old Testament. "In such a work," he remarked, "it would be absurd to pretend that I had no difficulties. I was attempting to illustrate the most ancient and most learned book in the universe, replete with allusions to arts that are lost, -- to nations that are extinct, -- to customs that are no longer observed, -- and abounding in modes of speech, and turns of phraseology, which can only be traced out through the medium of the cognate Asiatic languages. On these accounts, I was often much perplexed; but I could not proceed till I had done the utmost in my power to make everything plain. The frequent recurrence of such difficulties, led me closely to examine and compare all the original texts and versions, and from these, especially the Samaritan, Chaldee, Targums, Septuagint, and Vulgate, I derived the most assistance; though all the rest contributed their quota in cases of difficulty."
He further observed, -- "On May 1, 1798, almost as soon as this work was finished, I began my Commentary on the Four Gospels; and notwithstanding the preparations already made, and my indefatigable application, early and late, to the work, I did not reach the end of the fourth evangelist till November in the following year."
In consequence of Mr. Clarke having had the foundation of his learning laid at school, under the rigid discipline of his father, he was saved from those evils frequently besetting the path of a man educating himself; some of which are stated by Dr. Croly, in his Memoir of Pope, to "consist in despising experience, and trusting to the wisdom of accident; erecting him into a master, who has shown himself unfit to be a pupil; and taking it for granted, that instinct will do the work of design, -- indolence gather the fruits of labor, -- and the languid indulgence of every caprice of a fickle and surfeited taste, add sudden strength to the mind."
The foundation laid at school, by Mr. Clarke, was now beginning to exhibit a goodly superstructure. Yet close as was his application to study while in the London circuit, his pastoral and ministerial duties were no less severe. More than once he has stated to the writer, that, during his three years station in that city, he walked, independently of social and other visits, seven thousand miles; that he had to go frequently a distance of ten miles after evening preaching, which, though he had to rise early the next morning, kept him out of bed till twelve o'clock. Then, in a tone of innocent triumph, he added, on one occasion, "I never met but with two men who went before me in walking. The seven thousand miles were walked with only two pair of shoes, one of which was made at Altrincham, in Cheshire, and was only a fortnight old when I entered the city: they were often mended, but served the purpose."
While in London, he enriched his library with many choice works, both printed and in MS., from the separate collections of booksellers, but especially that of Mr. W. Baynes, who, on going over to the continent, and making large purchases, availed himself of Mr. Clarke's knowledge of rare and correct editions of valuable works, for purposes of sale, while he gave him the privilege of the first selection; and pleasurable were the feelings of the biographer, in after life, when accompanying him on these occasions; -- a pleasure only exceeded by that experienced by Mr. Clarke himself in the perusal of the volumes when transferred to his own shelves.
A beautiful picture accidentally turned up one day, sufficient to tempt the pencil of the artist; John Ward, Esq., of Durham, observed to the writer, that he called on Mr. Clarke, when in the metropolis; and, on being ushered into the room, he found him seated on a chair, with one child on his knee, encircled in an arm, -- another child in the cradle, which he was rocking to repose with his foot, -- a book in one hand, whose pages he was attentively reading, -- and a potato in the other, (his favorite root,) which seemed to yield greater satisfaction than viands [viand n. formal 1 an article of food. 2 (in pl.) provisions, victuals. -- Oxford Dict.] more costly at the banquet of a nobleman or a prince. Than in this single scene, we can scarcely have a finer example of simplicity of character, domestic care, moderation in diet, an economical use of time, and paternal feeling.
At the Conference of 1798, Mr. Clarke was appointed to Bristol, among his old friends; but a painful change had passed over the scene since he last traveled that circuit; serious disputes had arisen, and a hot pamphleteering war had been waged, which for years distracted the society. Among the means employed to restore tranquillity, Messrs. Pawson and Mather were deputed between the Conferences of 1796 and 1797, "to use," in Mr. Pawson's language, "their best endeavors to unite the society:" but after all they could say or do, they could not prevail with the contending parties to allow mutual toleration. Of all disputes, religious ones are the worst; and they are always worst, when their subjects are least understood. It has been pleasantly computed, that if all books on such subjects, -- and containing controversies the writers themselves had no clear conception of, were destroyed, it would occasion the destruction of at least a tithe more than the works destroyed by the burning of the library at Alexandria, by which 500,000 volumes were consumed. There is an excellent rule noticed by Wilkins, which, if observed, would bring disputes within a very small compass; -- "To give soft words, and hard arguments not so much to strive to vex, as to convince an opponent." The only difficulty, as to the application of this rule, consists in the scanty proportion of those who are capable of arguing, as compared with those who have resolutely purposed not to yield.
Mr. Clarke was the second preacher on the circuit, Mr. W. Griffith being superintendent; a man of discriminating mind, fine temper, deep feeling, and solid piety. During one of the years of his first station in Bristol, Mr. Clarke was superintendent; and Mr. Valton, who was, at the same time, supernumerary there, afterwards wrote to him, observing, that it was on his conscience, to have stated to the Conference, which had appointed Mr. Clarke to Dublin, that the Bristol circuit had never been better superintended than during the year he held the office and that his labors had been rendered a special blessing to the people, --regretting that he had not done the justice due to his character. While perusing this penitent confession, Mr. Clarke said in haste, -- "Why did you not then?" and threw the letter into the fire.
This year the Conference was held at Bristol, and Mr. Clarke having attended it, had the high gratification of being one of the principal instruments in the formation of what is denominated, -- The Itinerant Methodist Preachers' Annuitant Society, or Legalized Fund. This institution not having been placed on a legal form, the annual subscriptions of the preachers and their friends had been applied to various contingencies of the Connection. However laudable this might be in promoting so good a work, it left the aged preachers and their widows in painful doubt as to the permanence of their future support. After several conversations, it was at length agreed to establish the fund on a legal basis.
Resolutions were accordingly entered into, -- rules were made; and Mr. Clarke and Mr. Roberts were appointed treasurers. These rules were registered as the law required, on application to the quarter sessions, held for the city and county of Bristol, July 15, 1799. The Society which was "begun in Bristol, Aug. 7, 1798," had printed "Rules," signed by "Henry Moore, Chairman," and "Adam Clarke, Secretary;" so that the latter, in the first instance, was in the twofold capacity of treasurer and secretary.
Towards the close of this year, Mr. Clarke's father, who had for some time resided in Manchester, died in that town. He was buried at Ardwick; and on his tombstone is inscribed, in pure and simple taste, just the name of the departed, -- the day of his death, -- and his age. It may be remarked, by way of a forceful illustration of that portion of the fifth commandment, -- "Honor thy father," that his son Adam never passed the place of sepulture [burial], without raising his hat in a token of filial veneration. To this exquisitely tender tribute of respect for the remains of a parent, the writer has been witness. Being asked one day, -- where his father was buried? Mr. Clarke fulminated forth one of his prejudices, on a subject upon which he has animadverted in strong terms in his writings:-- "My father was buried in the yard, to be sure; neither in crossways, as those are who have put an end to their existence, nor yet in the sacred edifice, to be a nuisance to the living."
He was always much opposed to the general usage of burying within the church, considering it highly injurious to health, and not to be sanctioned even by the most scrupulous precautions that might be employed in reference to those who were thus interred. The question has recently assumed some importance, and it has been deemed expedient by many, -- that interments of the dead, should be excluded alike from the yard and the church, and be confined to ground set especially apart for that purpose: but like every other question, this has involved more than one set of interests; and while expediency, on the score of health, has been urged, expediency also on the plea of customary dues and fees, has had its share in the deliberations of those whose vote and opinion have been solicited.
Sacred history carries us far back in the annals of time to the custom itself of burying; but we have to come comparatively close upon our own times, for the practice of general interment within the confines of cities and towns, and the precincts of home. It would seem but a reasonable provision, that ground should be especially set apart, and consecrated to receive the remains of the departed; but surely, no necessity exists for its propinquity [propinquity n. 1 nearness in space -Oxford Dict.] to the temple of God; -- a place so peculiarly associated with all that is apart from the gloom of death, and the terrors of the grave. So far as regards all that is merely visible to us, in the condition of the departed, there is no cause of triumph, hope, or consolation; or of ought than unmingled and complete distress:-- reason and revelation, it is true, can engage the mind with pleasure upon reminiscences of the pious dead, and command such an interesting token of reverence and respect, as was observed in the conduct of Mr. Clarke, but our contemplations at such a moment, are not of the lifeless degraded body, but of what the man was when living, -- of the immortality with which he shall soon be so gloriously clothed.
As to the argument on the unhealthiness of the present practice, that must be decided against by those who have the ability to prove, that noxious effluvia are not plentifully generated by the corruption of animal substances; or else, that the coffin and the earth possess a sufficiently retentive and purifying power, to counteract effects which otherwise, it must be freely admitted, act in a most injurious manner. But to resume.
The writings of [Thomas] Paine had, by this time, made considerable noise, and some impression on the public mind; especially upon that portion of it, which was the least cultivated. Fatal as was the tendency of his works, Mr. Clarke was never disposed to deal in wholesale, and indiscriminate censure. A person with a view the more effectually to condemn his writings, spoke disparagingly of his mental endowments, when Mr. Clarke remarked, -- "I never approve of the plan which some men adopt, of undervaluing a man's real intellect, because he may have happened to take up a wrong subject, and treat it improperly. Voltaire was a great man, but underrated; even Paine had a fine imagination; but he got a twist on politics, and was a fool to meddle with religion."
Being asked, whether there was any reliance to be placed on the statement, that the latter, in early life, was connected with the Methodists; he said, he doubted the truth of it though some traces were found of his attempting to preach among some dissenters at Sheerness. He thought, that his reputed connection with the Wesleyan body might possibly have originated in a preacher of the name of Thomas Payne, -- the one being confounded with the other [Thomas "Paine" mistaken for Thomas "Payne"]. With the latter, he was personally acquainted; he was a sensible man, and wrote an excellent piece against swearing, which the people nailed against the walls of their houses in Cornwall, when he traveled there; and it was by fly-sheets of this kind, and small tracts, that much good was done; and, in all probability, these small beginnings led the way to the establishment of the Religious Tract Society in 1799, which, since its commencement, has circulated three hundred and fifty-seven millions of tracts; thus working an amount of moral and spiritual benefit, only to be calculated by those who know the tempers and habits of the poor; their aversion to long attention, or much mental exercise; yet their comparative readiness to receive instruction, when conveyed to them in a pleasing and intelligible form; and such is the usual manner of the Tract.
A passing glance has been occasionally taken of Mr. Clarkes progress in biblical literature; and here it may be proper again to advert to it, including, for the sake of connection, a brief reminiscence of what has gone before. In addressing a scientific friend, -- a lover of learning and learned men, he remarks, in a letter:
"I have now the pleasure of informing you, that I am making good speed with my commentary on the New Testament. I know not whether I told you, I took a review of the whole of the Old Testament: I weighed every word in the original, and set down short notes on every chapter in the Bible. This Herculean labor I accomplished in one year, two months, and seven days. By this work, I had fully prepared my way to the New Testament, which I began in the course of the present year; and have now, through God's mercy, completed to a certain extent. You know I had finished the translation of the text when in Liverpool. "Having spoken of this translation to a bookseller in London, he wished to see it. I lent it to him, and he read it every word! What was the result? Why, he offered me two hundred guineas for the copy; the money to be paid the hour he got possession of the MS. As I wished rather to have the work printed at our own book-press, I laid the bookseller's proposals before our book-committee; and, I may say, generously offered the whole work as a present to the Connection. This they refused; and thought I should take the cash offered me. While considering this, some friends came to me, and begged me to add a commentary to the translation, (for, on my original plan, there were only to be short notes,) and four persons of fortune, made me this generous offer, -- 'When you have finished this work, we will take and print it in the most respectable manner; we will advance all the cash, and run all the risk; whatever is lost, shall be lost to us, and every sixpence of gain shall be yours.'
"To this generous proposal, I immediately agreed. When I had finished four chapters, I called them together, and read them to them. They perfectly approved of my plan; and thus, with the help of the Most High, I go on, and hope to live long enough to finish it. You may naturally suppose, that if I did not believe my plan, &c., to be better than any other, I would not engage in it; nor, indeed, could any prospect of gain induce me to bear a labor that few, humanly speaking, could support. If God has given me a talent for anything, it is for explaining the Scriptures. One thing appears to me to be a token for good, -- Wherever I have expounded the Lessons, I have met with the warmest entreaties to produce such a work as that which I am now about; which was a proof to me, that my plan not only met with general acceptance, but was also peculiarly useful.
"Some proposed to me to receive subscriptions; but that is a method of publication which I ever detested; all the catchpenny stuff in the nation is published in this way. Now, blessed be God, my way is clear. I think I shall soon publish some notice of it on the back of the Magazine."
That Mr. Clarke should be a believer in the superior excellence of his own plan over those adopted by others, is not remarkable, as it originated in a feeling common to authors, and is very often their inspiration in the prosecution of their task. But whatever may be the plan of an author, yet, if it be not executed with ability, "critics will discount nothing with us for our bare good-will " in proposing it. Goldsmith felt the force of his own remarks, (as they were, in some instances, the language of experience,) when he stated, that "projectors in a state, are generally rewarded above their deserts; projectors in the republic of letters, never; if wrong, every dunce thinks himself entitled to laugh at their disappointments; if right, men of superior talents think their honor engaged to oppose them, since every new discovery is a tacit diminution of their own pre-eminence."
The plan adopted by Mr. Clarke, as well as the manner of its execution, will form subject matter for future consideration: it may be remarked however, in the interim, that he was not ignorant of his own peculiar talent, as an EXPOUNDER OF THE WORD OF GOD.
The following letters to a relative, will show that his literary pursuits never, for one moment, occasioned him to relax in his ministerial duties, or at all diminished the freshness of feeling with which he at first entered upon the itinerant work; and will at the same time prove, that both his literary labors and attainments in knowledge were constantly on the advance. Bristol, Oct. 10th, 1798.
My very dear Brother, -- Through mercy, we are all at present tolerably well, and getting on comfortably. Last Sunday was my turn at Kingswood and Wick. I had a large congregation in the morning; and such a solemn sense of the presence of God rested upon us all, as some of the oldest members said they had never felt before. I took that glorious subject, Psalm xxxvi. 7, 8, 9, -" How excellent is thy loving-kindness, O God, &c.;" my own soul was greatly watered, and God sent "a plentiful rain upon his inheritance." Though the place was thronged beyond what you can imagine, there was not a sound in it, save that of my own voice, till describing how God gave those who turned unto him, "to drink of the river of his pleasures;" -- to be filled with that very thing which made God himself happy. I raised my voice, and inquired in the name of the living God, -- 'Who was miserable? Who was willing to be saved, -- to be made happy? Who was athirst?' A wretched being, who had long hardened his heart by a course of uncommon wickedness, roared out, -- "I am, Lord! I am; I am! "
For a moment, there was a general commotion. I seized the instant, and told them to compose themselves, and listen; for I had something more to tell them; something for every soul; a great, an eternal good. I am just going to open to you another stream of the river of his pleasures! They were immediately composed; and, in a very few moments, such a flood of tears streamed down all cheeks, as you have, perhaps, never seen, and all was silence, save the sighings which escaped, and the noise made by the poor fellow who was still crying to God for mercy. In about half an hour we ended one of the most solemn and blessed meetings I ever ministered in. I was then obliged to set off for Wick, a place several miles further. Here I had a good congregation.
You will wish to know what became of the poor man; and I am glad I can tell you. The following account I had yesterday from one of the leaders at Kingswood. When he left the chapel, he set off for the first prayer-meeting he could find, thinking God would never forgive his sins unless he made confession unreservedly of all his iniquities. He began in the simplicity of his soul; and with an agonized heart, and streaming eyes, made known the evils of his life, keeping nothing back. They prayed with him, and exhorted him; and God gradually brought him into the liberty of his children. I can say no more. Yours, affectionately, -- A. C.
Bristol, Nov. 19th, 1798.
My very dear Brother, -- We received your kind letter, and assure you it came in an accepted time; for your sympathy tended much to relieve my mind, pressed down then more deeply than it had ever been before. I need not attempt to tell you what I feel, on account of the death of my dear father. The work in this circuit is laborious; but I thank God, he makes my word useful, wherever he sends me. Last Sunday, at Chewstoke, we had a time of heavenly blessing. I read and expounded the lesson, according to my custom, and prayed twice; this was rather more of a service than the people had been accustomed to in that place. When I had concluded the second prayer, the congregation began to move off. I told them I had much more to say to them. They sat down again, with hearts full of joy, and I preached on -- "We are the circumcision." An uncommon influence from God rested upon us; and very many were greatly blessed. The clergyman came to hear me, and afterwards accompanied me home to supper, and remained all night, and lengthened his visit until the middle of the next day. He is walking in the light, and preaching the kingdom of God. I have read over the Ayeen Akbery, and have marked a number of curious things. I never met with a better spirit than that of the author, Abu'l Fazel, the emperor Akber's vizier. It is a work of great labor, judgment, and importance; and has more matter in it than a score of folio volumes. Will you be so kind as to inquire, whether Mr. Wilkins, who translated the Baghvat geeta, under the patronage of Mr. hastings, has finished the remainder of that work of which the above is a part. If this has been published, get it for me at any price. I have made large gleanings from the Baghvat geeta, and I think the rest would afford me a copious harvest.
Yours, most affectionately, -- A. C.
Bristol, Dec. 12th, 1798.
My very dear Brother, -- A few moments before your letter came, I was on my knees returning thanks to God for supporting and assisting me in my work, and enabling me to bring one part of it to completion. What think you? I have finished Matthew:-- I have done more, I have finished Mark! I will give you a short view of this business. I began the commentary May 1st, 1798. I wrought less or more at it till July 22nd, when I set off for Bristol. I could not get my things to bear to recommence the labor till September 22nd, when I received the account of my blessed father's death; nor could I touch it again for eight days. Yesterday, December 11th, I finished Mark; having spent, in the whole, about five months and a few days. While I was in London, though I labored hard, I could make little way; so that nearly three months were employed on the first twelve chapters of St. Matthew, occasioned by the miserable place where I was obliged to study. Any that had less of the mule's disposition than I have, would have abandoned it in settled dislike.
Since I came here, my labor has been great indeed, -- constant and severe preaching, and early and late writing. For nearly a month past, I wrote nine or ten hours each day, -- some days more. Mark was easy work after Matthew was ended. In general, I had to do little more than refer back to where the subject was treated in the other evangelist. Yet even on Mark, I have written upwards of an hundred close quarto pages. Two of the green volumes are filled up with this work; the whole containing 740 pages, -- 482 of which I have written since I came to Bristol, that is, since September 11th.
You will be able to form some estimate of the quantum of letter-press this will make, when I inform you, that each page contains about twenty-eight lines, total 20,720 lines, each line 34 letters, total 704,480 letters You will at once see, that I must not go on at this rate, otherwise the book will be unbuyable. I assure you I do not intend it. My aim, from the beginning, was to make the commentary on Matthew perfect. I think I have done so; not by saying all that might be said, but by saying all that should be said. To the best of my knowledge, I have not inserted one useless sentence. I met with all the doctrines of the book of God in that gospel, -- and explained them all. I have no doubt but that gospel is the grand source from which all the apostolic doctrines have been drawn. I have written 600 pages upon it, and I humbly trust, no godly mind will ever feel wearied in reading them. I have done everything in my own way; and if I had not thought it the best, you may be assured I would not have followed it. I have no more of my translation revised for the commentary; and it will take me nearly a month to prepare Luke and John to go on with. I bought Geddes' Bible, expecting much: I got nothing; and sold it. Do not lose a moment about it: when I come to John's gospel and epistles, I shall need to consult all the oriental writings I can possibly procure. It is from them alone that his peculiar phrases can be interpreted. Keep your eye about you. May be, God may throw in our way an Ayeen Akbery, &c. I have, at a considerable expense, purchased the Zend Avesta, attributed to Zoroaster, published by M. A. du Perron; but I am informed, Sir William Jones has proved it to be a forgery of late years. I should much wish to see Sir William's piece against it.
I had a sore day last Sabbath sennight [sennight = seven days ago, a week ago -- DVM -sennight n. archaic a week. Etymology OE seofon nihta seven nights -- Oxford Dict.]. Rode twenty-four miles. Gave tickets in three places; -- preached three times; and had not a morsel either of fish, flesh, fowl, or good red-herring, all day; --neither wine nor strong drink; only about half-past twelve, I got a few potatoes, and as much as I pleased of [a] bad small-beer. There was nothing to be had but s-s-s-swine.  -- Yours, in Christ, -- A. C.
Bristol, -- 1799.
My very dear Friend, -- I thank you heartily for yours; before I knew anything of your design, I purposed to write to you concerning the Hedaiyah; but I almost despaired of getting it; because I thought (like the Ayeen Akbery,) it was one of those phoenix books which is rarely to be seen. While purposing to write upon the subject, I was agreeably surprised by the receipt of it.
In the customs and manners alluded to in the Scriptures, all these books will be uncommonly useful but especially in illustrating the Old Testament. In this respect, the Ayeen Akbery, -- Baghvat geeta, -- Institutes of Menu, --and the Hedaiyah, are an invaluable treasure: I have read the three former and have marked every place that suits my purpose; the Hedaiyah I am now beginning.
For some time past, I have sunk a good deal under my severe labors. Since I wrote last, I have not had time to do much at my work; however, I have put the chapters and verses to my translation of Luke; and have written a sketch of his life to begin the work with.
The work of God goes on nobly at Kingswood. There is a new place taken in -- the worst in all the wood. It is called Cock-Road. As the inhabitants were all sons of Belial, no person scarcely dared to go into the place, for fear of being knocked on the head. There are thirty of these miserable sinners now joined in class; and several of them have found peace with God. The devil has certainly sustained a very heavy loss in that quarter. May God be your defense, -- your portion, and your eternal inheritance, through Christ Jesus.
Yours, for ever, -- A. C.
Bristol, -- 1799.
My very dear Brother, -- I have thought proper to send this parcel to you now, as I did not know when another opportunity might offer. You see I have a couple of pages of the work set up, merely to see how it will look, and to get your opinion concerning the size, and mode of printing. I have made up my mind to send the old text, alongside of the new. I have no doubt but the book will be the better received on this account, and be more useful. I am satisfied my translation will suffer no loss by the comparison. It will add a little to the expense; but you know the expense of printing is nothing, if there be a proper sale: and this mode, if I mistake not, will secure it; -- at any rate, it will be only the expense of one common Testament  and three or four shillings more upon such a work, will hardly be noticed, and yet will amply pay for the extra expense. I have had this specimen taken off on royal 4to. Perhaps you will think this too large, and too expensive. You must not let this specimen go out of your hand.
My plan of interpreting the transfiguration is new, so far as I know; and I do not wish that everybody should have it before the work sees the sun. At first view, there will appear a little difference in the two translations. I do not wish this, except where it is essentially necessary; but the fifth and eleventh verses will show the importance of making the Holy Spirit speak English as he speaks Greek. However, I did not choose this portion, because of any difference between the texts; but merely because the subject was complete in it.
I cannot judge properly concerning the Asiatic Researches, as I have not had time to look sufficiently into them: and if I find they will not afford me any help, I am pretty certain I can dispose of them. One fear I entertain concerning them is -- that they are not correct. Those languages in them which I understand I find erroneously printed, -- in the most inexcusable sense; I can, therefore, place little dependence upon those which I do not understand: the originals, printed at Calcutta, must be invaluable; could you not get Mr. Martin, or his brother, to procure them for us there? I find also, that the first three volumes are only extracts from the original work. This is a mortal pity; -- the best may be left out.
I have already obtained three or four invaluable morsels from the Hedaiyah, which I have inserted in my work. I could almost weep when I think, that the translator has left a whole book out, which is expressly upon the religious ordinances, ceremonies, sacrifices, prayers, fastings, &c. This, to me, would have been like the philosopher's stone.
I have been extracting also from the Ayeen Akbery; in this work, I have spent several of the last days. All these books will afford great light and help in the Old Testament, much more than in the New, -- though in the latter, I consider them invaluable helps: truly glad I am I ever saw them, and think I shall, in the progress of my work, have still much more reason to rejoice. -- Yours, ever, -- A. C.
My very dear Brother, -- Last Sabbath I was at Kingswood. The thronging together of the people was truly astonishing. I have seldom seen such a sight as that of last Sunday. The chapel was thronged; and the grave is not more silent than was that crowd of listening people. While preaching, I felt a strong persuasion that God would visit his people. I told them so; and it had a good effect on all: they heard for eternity; and I could not help joining heartily in the prayer of one of them, -- "O God, save all; save all!" The work still goes on gloriously at Cock-Road: one man, the vilest of the vile, hearing that several of his old companions were converted, and that they prayed publicly, said, -- "So, Tom prays, and Jack prays: what can they say? I'll go and hear;" and away he went, and got to a prayer-meeting, where every soul seemed engaged with God, but himself. At last, the power of God seized upon this wretch's heart, and he exclaimed; -- "One prays, and another prays; and I'll pray;" and down he fell on his knees, and began, in his way, to cry to God for the salvation of his soul. This human fiend, who could scarcely utter a word without an oath, is now transformed into a saint; and is walking in all meekness, and gentleness, and uprightness before God What could effect this change, but the Almighty power of the grace of Christ? This is indeed glorious work!
The stone is come safe. I have taken off a beautiful copy for you on vellum. If the gentleman has given you the translation, send it to me by return of post. I have made out the essence of it; but I should be glad to see what he makes of it. I doubt he knows little about it. One thing I can assure you, there is no such expression as, "The light of the moon," which he says is in the last line. I much need Richardson's Persic Dictionary; nor can I well get on without it. The inscription upon the stone, is all Persic, but the last line, which is Arabic; there are besides a few Arabic persified words interspersed, which are hard to be made out. If you wish it, I will write the inscription in English letters, beside the original and the translation. If you frame it, it will be one of the prettiest pictures in your dining-room.
We had a genuine love-feast yesterday at Kingswood. How little, -- how unutterably little, did all the partisans of infidelity, and their opinions appear, in the business of that day! We had some very affecting testimonies, and some very uncommon ones; I began at first to take notes of them; but soon found, if I continued them, I should lose the spirit and good of them to my own soul.
A young man delivered a speech of at least twenty minutes in length, concerning his conversion to God; one of the most interesting I ever heard in my life. He was a collier [coal-miner]; it was impressive beyond description; and so great was the whole, that to me the parts are uncollectible [indiscernible], -- being absorbed in the great whole, which, in its wholeness, so continually impresses me, that I cannot dwell on any of its parts.
Some very great ideas were produced by those plain, unlettered men. One of them, who was recently brought to God, endeavored at first, to get rid of his convictions; however, such was the agony of his soul, and such its continuance, that nature was exhausted. "Upon awaking one morning," he observed, "I felt ashamed to look at the day-light, much more so, to look at God. I roared for the disquietude of my soul; I called mightily for mercy. -- No answer. At last, I tumbled me out of bed, and prayed with all my soul: I then drew out my three little children told them to go clown on their knees, and say their prayers for their father." It is needless to add, -- that his own prayers, and those of his three little innocents, to God, brought down a speedy answer of peace to his spirit, in which salvation he continues to walk in the most exemplary way; but he told all this in so descriptive a manner, that the whole business was realized and re-transacted before us all.
Yours, in the bonds of the gospel, -- A. C. Now for the STONE. But observe, there are a few words that I am not absolutely sure of, as they exist not in my Persic Lexicon, which is a very bad one indeed; but I think I may venture to say, that the following, if not a strict translation, is the complete sense:-
"In the days of his prosperity (or dominion) the Nabob Hyder, by his power and authority, brought affliction on the hearts of his enemies: and by renovating the fortress of Ambor, established the mountain of his dominion and strength; and, by a wide channel of water, rendered the fort of Ambor a most formidable barrier against, and annoyance to, the enemy; and an impregnable refuge for the two worshippers:" (i. e., the Moslimans and Gentoos.) This was inscribed on the conclusion of the year of the Hijera, 1196." (A.D. 1782.)
Now please to observe, I never understood Psalm xxx. 7, till I understood this inscription, -- read the seventh and foregoing verse; -- "And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by thy favor, thou hast made my mountain to stand strong." From Hyder's phrase it is plain, that mountain in the text, means his kingdom well established; and the time of prosperity in the text answers exactly to Zaman doulat in the inscription, the time when both David and Hyder had gained the complete ascendancy over their enemies; and you may observe, that the confidence of the one and the other was exactly the same. David said, his mountain and himself should never be moved. Hyder said, he had established the mountain of his dominion, and made an impregnable fortress. The issue of this vain confidence was exactly alike in both cases. God hid his face, and David was troubled; and his son Absalom, for a time, took possession of this immovable mountain, the kingdom. In Hyder's case, an English army came and took the impregnable fortress, and shook the mountain of his dominion to the center; and as a proof of this, the inscription itself is now in the possession of A. C.
Now is not this illustration of the above important text, and consequently of the whole psalm, and of every similar phrase, wherever it may occur in the Sacred Writings, worth all the money that was paid for the stone? I do assure you, that in comparison of such light, even on a single Scripture phrase, six pounds are no more in my estimation than six straws. I will send you the vellum inscription [at] the first opportunity. I have done one, in my best manner, for Mr. Cooke. -- I am, my dear brother,
Yours, affectionately, -- A. Clarke.
The stone mentioned in the foregoing letter, was the occasion of introducing Mr. Clarke to the acquaintance, and subsequent friendship of Mr. Charles Fox, of Bristol; a man of great simplicity of manners, -- high order of intellect, -- considerable reading, -- and reputed to be a good oriental scholar. The history of the stone itself is this:-- An officer in the East India Company's service, had sent, as a present to a friend in England, a stone, with a Persic inscription upon it, which had been taken from a fortress captured by the English. When it arrived in London, it was found that the gentleman to whom it had been sent, was dead. It lay at the Custom-House for some time; and then was sold to pay the duty. A friend of Mr. Clarke was the purchaser, but who feeling no particular interest in the thing, and knowing the greater taste of his friend in such curiosities, forthwith presented it to him. Mr. Clarke was, at this time stationed in Bristol. Not having as yet any acquaintance with the Persic, he was anxious to meet with some person who could furnish him with a translation of the inscription upon the stone. He had heard of Mr. Fox, who had already published a volume of poems, said to be a translation from a Persian MS. Mr. Clarke was introduced, and the inscription became immediately the topic of conversation. They repaired together to the house of Mr. Clarke; but upon examining the inscription, (which was beautifully cut in four compartments, in high relief,) Mr. Fox, although he pronounced it to be Persic, was unable to translate it: however, after repeated trials, and some good puzzling, he read a line or two, and it proved that the stone was inscribed under the direction of Hyder Ali and, after a few days of further study, he was enabled to afford a tolerably fair translation of this puzzling stone.
Mr. Clarke felt naturally desirous of taking copies of the inscription, and with the tact and ingenuity which had awaited him on various other occasions, resorted to a very simple, but effectual method of procuring correct ones. He recollected, that when a boy, he used to copy the king's head on a halfpenny, by covering the coin with paper, and then rubbing it with a piece of lead until the head was clearly defined upon it; by the very same process, namely, -- by covering the stone with a sheet of vellum, and rubbing the surface equally over with a piece of lead, he was able to furnish a perfect fac-simile of the inscription. After the characters were correctly secured, he proceeded to cover them with Indian ink, and by this simple, but ingenious method, and without at that time knowing a letter of the language, he was enabled to multiply copies with the greatest possible correctness. One of these is now, we believe, in the Baptist Museum, at Bristol. It was given to the late Dr. Ryland, in a frame, to be preserved among other oriental curiosities.
From this comparatively unimportant beginning, resulted a vast amount of good to both gentlemen. Mr. Clarke, ever on the alert, found one day upon the shelves of a Bristol bookseller, an imperfect volume of the Polyglott Bible, which fortunately contained the Gospel of St. John in Persic. This determined him to the study of that language; and, with the help of Richardson's Grammar, he commenced the task, and, in company with Mr. Fox, mastered the initiatory labor so far, as to be capable of reading this Gospel with tolerable ease. Mr. F. also, stimulated to improvement by the energetic example of his friend, -- resumed and pursued the study of the oriental tongues; and though at the time, this might not appear to be of much importance, either to himself or others, it led finally to the happiest and most important results.
The increasing intimacy between the two scholars, gave Mr. Clarke such an amount of influence over the mind of his friend, as to dispose him to the unreserved communication of his sentiments and opinions. Mr. Fox, at the time we now speak of, was, in politics, a whig; in religious creed, a Quaker; and in heart, an infidel. It will be assumed, that his friend viewed this state of mind with deep anxiety, and, upon all fitting occasions, introduced the truth, so that it should not lose its effect by any repulsiveness in the manner; thus hoping to gain, if possible, a hold, both upon the judgment and the conscience. With this great object in view, he brought before him truths which he could not dispute; but which were, at the same time, corrective of his own erroneous mode of thinking. But all seemed vain, as Mr. Fox insisted, that no man with Mr. Clarke's intellect, could possibly be a believer in Christianity; and further hinted, that his preaching it was merely the result of having been educated to the pulpit as a profession by which he was to live. Entrenched behind this stronghold, he resisted all argument of a religious character, feeling that any attempt made by his anxious friend, was but in keeping with the profession chosen, as a mean of respectable support.
Some time subsequently to the period of which we now speak, an aunt of Mr. Fox died, and left him considerable property, enough to place him beyond the necessity of longer following his profession, (which was that of a dentist,) and thus he was enabled to devote himself entirely to studies, which were more in accordance with his intellectual taste. He removed to Bath, and Mr. Clarke, in compliance with Methodist regulations, left Bristol, and was located in the Metropolis [London]. But the shadow of his friend and fellow student followed him. The moral gloom in which his spirit was enwrapt, -- the hasty step with which he was passing on, into a world of which he doubted even the very existence, filled the heart of his friend with anxious solicitude on his account. He resolved to write to him upon his removal to Bath, and to try once more to shake the foundation of his infidelity. The subject itself, -- the forcefulness and pathos with which it was put, -- the affectionate tone of the letter, -- all told on the better nature of the man. His heart was touched by this proof of untiring love: the pride of the spirit dissolved before the force, and beauty, and energy of truth. A wondrous transformation from the regions of doubt and darkness, to the land of light and certainty, succeeded; and the once confident unbeliever became a sincere and humble Christian! and such he continued to the end of his life; his fine intellect becoming imbued with knowledge from the Fountain-head, he drank in divine wisdom as the thirsty earth does the teeming shower; and when the darkness of evening gathered around him, he lay down in peace, and "in the full assurance of hope;" and is now, we doubt not, a glorified spirit in the presence of his Redeemer. How fully and beautifully does this instance illustrate the wisdom of that exhortation; "In the morning, sow thy seed, and in the evening, withhold not thine hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, this, or that."
Mr. Fox's MSS. came into the hands of Mr. Clarke. Among them was a long poem entitled; -- "The loves of Leila and Mejnoon," said to be translated from the Persian poet, Hafiz, but which bore every evidence of having been spun from the imaginative brain of Mr. Fox. However, Mr. Clarke submitted it for inspection to a learned and ingenious friend, for the purpose of ascertaining whether it was worth publishing: he pronounced it as his opinion, that the work would not sell. It is, we believe, a dull, verbose, and tedious production; bearing but slight indication of being the creation of the Persian muse.
The next letter enters still further into the literary department of Mr. Clarke's History.
Bristol, Sep., -- 1799.
My very dear Brother, -- The duties of this circuit I find to be arduous; and yet I might have a much worse one than this. I was once a young man both without and within; but the outward young man is gone, though the inward still continues. I have only to say, that if my natural force be abated, my eye grown dim, and my hair gray,  -- long, long, before the ordinary time of life, Satan cannot boast that those preternatural failures have taken place in his service, or were ever, either directly or indirectly occasioned by it. Blessed be God! If I were to plead to be put in easy circuits, perhaps I might be heard: but I think I see several others who need indulgence as much as myself, who cannot all be accommodated. As this is the case among us, (and I hope the system, that almost necessarily brings these about, I will never be changed, because of its general, and supereminent utility,) is it any wonder, that many of those who are about half worn out in the Lord's work, should endeavor to seek out a place, where they might rest a little before they die? If this be a sin, it is, in my opinion, one of the most venial in the catalogue of transgressions. Don't mistake me. I do not wish to give up the Lord's work. All I wish is, that I might not be obliged to do more than I am able. Now, God knows that I can neither ride much, nor preach three times a day without a measure of self-murder. Here the matter at present must rest.
In my answer to Mr. Philips, Paul's churchyard, I told him that I had projected the translation of a work of the greatest consequence to that literature which is likely to supersede in the end, most others; -- that I had not mentioned the thing to any person except a literary friend in Bristol; but that I had no objection to consult with him through you. Of course he will expect to hear something further on this business. When I purpose anything of this kind, I do not like to mention it hastily; because there are so many standing by, ready to snatch away your idea, and act on your invention, and so deprive you of the first profit of your own genius. Our extensive conquests in the East Indies, and the commercial connections of European powers with that great world, (especially our own connections,) render everything relative to the history of those countries, the manners, and customs, political, and ecclesiastical, of the ancient and modern inhabitants, their arts and sciences, mythology, eminent men, &c., not only highly interesting to men of letters, but also to men of business.
It is strange, that a work, which contains a vast deal of information on all these and other subjects connected with them, should have been upwards of a hundred years in a modern language, published abroad in folio, quarto, and octavo, and yet never translated into English. You will at once perceive, that I refer to the Bibliotheque Orientale of D' Herbelot, with the supplement of Visoclon and Galand. This book cannot be translated by any man who has not some knowledge of the Arabic tongues, and a general acquaintance with the different inhabitants of that vast continent, so far as that acquaintance can be acquired with or without personal residence. I could add a thousand things to this work; and a thousand things must be added to it, in order to make it what it should be. He that would do the work properly, must correct all the orthography, and reduce it to the present received standard. He that can, and will do what is necessary, and render it into English, will deserve well of the British nation. Do you think it would be advisable for me to undertake it? You know I have perseverance, capable of running even a four-years' heat on one course; and I could scarcely hope to do this in less. Will you think of this, and speak of it to Mr. P____, or anyone else, who would not be likely to give some needy adventurer the idea, who would, probably, spoil the work, and rob me. As to commentaries, Dr. C's. is a fearful proof, that little can be done in that line at present. I have heard, that he is £150 out of pocket by it already.
Last week, a bookseller came to me from Bath, with a lot of MSS. One is a large thick octavo, a Hindu and Persic dictionary; another, a small octavo, is a compilation from the Mahabarut, containing about 600 pages; another is a very thick folio, containing about 1500 or 1600 pages, and is either the whole, or a very large part of the Mahabarut, translated from the Sanskrit into Persian. The Mahabarut contains 160,000 couplets in the original; and is the most invaluable work in the East. From it, the Geta was translated, by Mr. Wilkins; a work next in dignity and importance to the Bible. He left them with me, that I might look at them, and marked the three at £9. 9s.; but he has since sent me word, that he must have £4. 4s. more. Mr. Stock, who saw the MSS. the evening they came, begged to purchase the great folio for his friend, A. C.
Now, do you think I should give the £4. 4s. more than he asked at first, and with his own hand, marked on the MSS.? Mr. Fox will be glad to have the other two. If I send them back again, I shall lose the Mahabarut; and this I should not like to do, as it comes to me in so providential a way. What is your opinion of this business?
I am yours, affectionately, -- A. C.
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