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