Man may be considered as having a twofold origin — natural, which is common and the same to all — patronymic, which belongs to the various families of which the whole human race is composed. This is no arbitrary distinction; it has existed from the commencement of the world; for although God has made of one blood all the nations of men to dwell on the face of the whole earth, so that all the in habitants of the world have sprung from one original pair; yet, this family became speedily divided into branches, less or more famous or infamous, as the progenitor was good or bad: or, in other words, pious, wise, and useful; or, profligate, oppressive, and cruel.
This distinction existed even in the family of Adam, as we may see in the lives of Cain and Seth: the posterity of the former being uniformly marked as wicked and cruel, and even apostates from the true God; while the posterity of the latter were equally remarkable for all the social and moral virtues, and were the preservers, as well as the patterns, of pure and undefiled religion.
This patronymic distinction is not less evident in the great Abrahamic family, — in the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac; from the former of whom sprang the various tribes of Idumeans and Arabs, whose history occupies so large a part of the annals of the human race; and from the latter, all the Jewish tribes and that singular family continued, by at chain of the most remarkable and miraculous providences, from which came Jesus the Messiah, the Almighty Saviour of the human race.
To trace this any farther would be foreign to my design; as it has only been introduced as an apology for the slight notice that shall be taken of the family from which the subject of the present Memoir has derived is origin.
Whether the family of the Clarkes were of Norman extraction cannot be easily ascertained. If it even were so, it is pretty evident that it did not come in with William the Conqueror; as no such name exists in any copy of the Roll of Battle Abbey, (several of which have been searched for this purpose) on which roll was entered all the names of the nobility and distinguished families that accompanied William in his first expedition; or who afterwards came over and settled in England.
It is well known that clericus was originally the name of an office, and signaled the clerk or learned man, who in primitive times, was the only person in his district who could write and read, or had taken pains to cultivate his mind in such literature as the times afforded, and, from his knowledge and skill, could be useful to his fellow citizens; and who, in consequence, did not fail to accumulate respectable property, which was maintained and increased in the family; one of the descendants, generally the eldest son, being brought up to literature, and thus succeeding to the office of his father, and the emolument of that office. This title, in process of time, became the surname of the person who bore the office; and clericus, le clerc, the clerk, and afterwards Clarke, became the cognomen, or surname, by which all the descendants of the family were distinguished.
As those persons who were designed for ecclesiastical functions generally got an education superior to the rest of the community, hence they were termed clerici, clerks; and this is the legal term by which every clergyman is distinguished to the present day.
It has been intimated that the term clericus, the clerk, was originally given to the person who was the only one in his district that could write and read. This may seem a strange insinuation in the nineteenth century, when every child among the millions in England can read; and almost every grown up person can write. But it was not so in ancient times: can the reader believe that there was a period when some of our own British kings could not write their own name! It is nevertheless a fact. About A. D. 700, Withred was king of Kent. He issued an ordnance, or Charter of Liberties, freeing all the churches under his dominion from tribute and taxation. This charter is found in the Archives of the Cathedral of Canterbury, and is published by Wilkins in his Concilia, vol. i. p. 63, and concludes in this remarkable manner: — “Actum die sexto Aprilis, anuo regni nostri octavo: Indictione duodecima, in loco qu appellatur Cilling. “Ego Wythredus, rex Cantiae, haec omnia supra scripta et confirmavi, atque a me dictata; propria manu signum sanctae crucis, pro ignorantia literarum express “ “Done the sixth day of April, [A. D. 700] in the eighth year of our reign: Indiction xii. , in the place called Killing. “I Withred, king of Kent, have confirmed the above liberties, dictated by myself; and because I am unlearned, [i. e. cannot write] I have, with my own hand, signed this with the sign of the holy cross.
This was not only a common case in those times, but in times later by some centuries. Many of the ancient charters are signed with crosses, and this was often because those who subscribed could not write. It is doubtful whether William the Conqueror, or any of his sons, except Henry, could write. The foundation charter of Battle Abbey has thirteen signatures to it: they are all crosses, each different, and all the names are written by the same scribe, but each cross is made by the person to whose name it is affixed: through a kind of complaisance, those who could write signed with a cross, to keep the king and nobles in countenance. Of this ignorance it would be easy to multiply instances.
In an ancient record, called the Boldon Book, which contains a census and survey of the whole bishoprick and palatinate of Durham, after the manner of Domesday Book, made by Bishop Hugh de Pateaco, or Pudsey, A. D. 1183, we find many proofs of men being distinguished their offices, trades, &c. , and the following instance is remarkable: among many other persons who held lands in the township of Wolsyngam in that county, and who performed certain services to the lord for the lands they held, according to the ancient feudal system; we find the following entry: — Adamus Clericus, tenet triginta acras, et reddit unam marcam. “Adam the Clerk, (or Adam Clarke) holds thirty acres of land, for which he pays annually one mark.”
Others plough and harrow, that is, employ so many days in plowing and harrowing the bishop’s lands, in the way of boon or annual rent.
That the term is used as the name of an office here, is sufficiently evident from the names of office frequently occurring joined to the Christian names, to distinguish the persons who held those offices: e. g.: — Alanus Fullo , tenet unum toftum et croftum pro duobus solidis, et facit quatuor porcationes autumpno. “Allen the FULLER, holds one toft and one croft, for two shillings, and makes four porcations in autumn.”
Aldredus Faber , xii. acr. et red. iii sol. “Aldred the SMITH, holds twelve acres, for which he pays three shillings.”
Arnaldus Piston , habet Cornesheved in excamb. de Frillesden, et red. xxiiii sol. “Arnold the Baker has Cornsheved in exchange for Frillesden, and renders twenty-four shillings.”
Walterus Molendinarius , tenet ii. bov. et red. x. sol. de firm. et ii. sol. pro operat. suis. “Walter the MILLER, holds two bovates of and, for which he pays ten shillings, and gives two shillings as a compensation for services Hugo Punder , reddit pro unam acram xii. d. et unam toft. de vasto. “Hugh the Pinder, (the man who keeps the pound or pinfold) holds one acre, for which he gives one shilling: he has also one toft of common.”
Ferrarius the Smith ; Carpentarius the Carpenter; Piscarius the Fisher; Firmarius the FARMER; Gardinarius the GARDNER, &c. &c. ; which were all names of office, became at last the surnames of whole families, throughout all their generations. See Domesday and Boldon Books, passim. The name of the father’s office might easily be transferred to all his children, though not employed in the same business; as Johannes filius Adami Clerici, “John the son of Adam the Clerk “ would in a very few generations be, “John Clarke the son of Adam Clarke “ &c. Thus it may be conceived all surnames originally rose which express office, trade, &c. as Butler, Baker, Chamberlain, Carpenter, Carter, Cook, Smith, Merchant, Draper, Roper, Soaper, Fisher, Fowler, Foster, Slater, Farmer, Miller, Fuller, Taylor, Poynder, &c.: while others derived theirs from the places where they were born, or the estate which they held; as, Appleton, Abingdon, Aubigny, Castleton, Cheshire, Cornish, &c.
Family distinctions were probably, at first, fortuitously acquired: so, the first Clarke might have been a self-taught genius; his love of literature and the profit he had acquired by it, would naturally excite him to bring up a child in the same way; and emulation would induce others of the same name to continue a distinction, by which the family had acquired both honor and profit. Hence we find that this ancient family has been distinguished for many learned men; and by several who have acquired no ordinary fame in all the walks of the republic of literature. While on this subject the reader’s indulgence is requested a little longer.
The ancient history of the Romans, will cast some light on this subject of surnames. The Roman names are divided into four kinds.
1. Those of the Ingenui, or free-born.
2. Those of the Liberti, or freed-men; and those of the Servi, or slaves.
3. The names of women. And,
4. the names of adopted persons.
The Ingenui had three names.
1. The PRAENOMEN, which they assumed when they put on the toga virilis, or manly gown: this answers to our Christian name. These praenomina were usually signified by initial letters, its is frequently the case among us: thus A. signified Aulus: C. Caius; D. Decius: K. Caeso: L. Lucius: M. Marcius, and Marcus: N. Numerius: P. Publius: Q. Quintus: T. Titus: &c. Sometimes this was signified by double and treble letters. thus: AP. Appius: CN. Cneius: SP. Spurius: TI. Tiberius: MAM. Maniercits: SER. Servius: SEX. Sextus: &c.
2. The NOMEN, which immediately followed the praenomen, answering to the Grecian patronymic, or family name, ending mostly in ius: as Julius, Tullius, i. e. of Julius, of Tallius. Such a person of the Julian family, of the Tullian family, &c.
3. The COGNOMEN, which was added for the distinction of families; and was usually derived from some country, accident, or particular occurrence, and this divided the family into branches: as Agrippa, Caesar, Cicero, &c. A fourth name was sometimes added, called agnomen, which was given as a title of honor: as Cato was termed Sapiens, the wise; Crassus, Dives, the rich; and hence came the Africani, Asiatici, Macedonici, &c. But these by some of the best writers are termed cognomina, and therefore the distinction is not necessary; agnomen and cognomen may be considered as implying the same, for they are indifferently used.
The ingenu were the same among the Romans as gentlemen among us; and they define them thus: — Qui inter se eodem sunt nomine, ab ingenuis oriundi, quorum majorum nemo scrvitutem servivit et qui Capite diminuti non sunt. “Those who have a certain family name, were born of freemen, whose ancestors were never in servitude, and who have never been degraded from their kindred or ancient stock.”
Though it has not been found that any branch of the family of the Clarkes claimed nobility, yet it has always appeared that the character of gentility, — generosity, or ingenui, — has been conceded to them, and to them the Roman definition of ingentui, is in every respect applicable. They came from a pure and ancient stock, they had never been in bondage to any man, had never been legally disgraced, and never forfeited their character. In this family I have often heard the innocent boast, None of our family has ever served the stranger.
The family was originally English, but from what branch of the family, or from what county in England the subject of this Memoir descended, has not been satisfactorily deduced. The family tradition is, that they went over to Ireland in the 17th century, and had part of what were called the Debenture Lands, and settled in the county of Antrim, about Larne, Glenarm, and Grange, where they had considerable estates. They became matrimonially connected with the Higgisons, Strawbridges, Courtenays, and Boyds; the latter of whom deduce their origin in uninterrupted descent from the celebrated Boyds of Kilmarnock in Scotland: some of the Boyds, in virtue of the above alliance, still possess a considerable landed property in the above country. Some of the MacAuleys married into this family, but changed their names to Boyd, in order to inherit the paternal estates.
One of these, the late Hugh MacAuley Boyd, Esq., sent in 1784, ambassador to the Court of Candy, by Lord Macartney, Governor General of India, (reputed b y some as the author of that still celebrated political work called the Letters of Junius) has left a son, Hugh Stuart Boyd, who is equal in elegant accomplishments to his father, and his superior in classic attainments; and especially in his profound knowledge of the Greek language, and the most illustrious writers of antiquity. He possesses a part of these estates, extending to, and comprehending Red Bay near Glenarm.
The following two letters from Dr. Clarke, dated Dublin, June 15, and 26, 1823, will throw some more light upon the subject of the Clarke family I came in here last night, after a hard journey of several days: from Glasgow to Belfast we were twenty-three hours and a half, in which we encountered a violent storm, and had the wind right ahead the whole passage. I went to see my aunt M’Ready, which took me one hundred miles out of my way, and at very considerable expense. However, I knew it must be the last opportunity I could ever have of seeing her, and making the inquiries you wish. I found her in comparatively good health, and all her faculties as sound as a bell. I set about the inquiries; and the following is the result My father JOHN CLARKE, was son to WILLIAM Clarke, who was son to JOHN Clarke, who was son to WILLIAM Clarke. She can go no higher; and this is to my great-great-grandfather. Now for particulars.
1. My great-great-grandfather William Clarke, was an estated gentleman of Grange, in the county of Antrim, and was appointed in 1690 to receive the Prince of Orange, when he came to Carrickfergus. He had received the principles of George Fox, and, as he could not uncover his head to any man, before he came near to the prince, he took off his hat and put it on a stone by the wayside, and walked forward. When he met the prince, he accosted him thus: “William, thou art welcome to this kingdom.” — “ I thank you, sir” replied the prince; and the interview was so satisfactory to the prince that he said, “You are, sir, the best bred gentleman I have ever met”
2. JOHN, my great-grandfather, the son of William the Quaker, married Miss Anne Horseman, daughter to — Horseman, mayor of Carrickfergus, whose son succeeded to the mayoralty thirty years afterwards. Of the year in which Mr. Horseman, the father, who married Miss Anne Clarke, was mayor, she cannot tell; but this may be easily ascertained by searching the records of that city and fortress. To JOHN, my great-grandfather, and Miss Horseman, were born eighteen sons and ONE daughter. The daughter, Sarah, was married to a Mr. Wiliamson, of the county Antrim; — I suppose an educated gentlemen but she does not recollect to have heard any particulars of him or his family.
Of the eighteen sons of John, and Anne Horseman, she remembers only nine. They are the following:
1. Samuel Clarke, of Gulladuff, (his own estate) who married Miss M’Peake, who had issue John and Thomas, of the same place, and several daughters.
2. Anthony Clarke, of Ballyruff, (his own estate) who had issue Anthony, who had issue.
3. Joseph Clarke, who chose a military life, and was killed with General Wolf, at the battle of Quebec; he had an issue John; farther unknown.
4. ROBERT Clarke, of Ballyruff, (his own estate) who had married Miss Burnet, and had issue Alexander, &c. &c.
5. WALTER Clarke, of Ballyruff, who had several daughters, of whom I have no particulars.
6. JOHN Clarke, a farmer, of whom I find nothing.
7. Richard Clarke, captain of a ship, and died in the Bloody Islands.
Query — which were they?
8. HORSEMAN Clarke. He and several others having pursued a mad dog, and killed him, one of the company, in sport, took the dog by the legs and hit some of the others with him, among the rest Horseman, against whose neck some of the foam was spattered, and he died of hydrophobia in three days; as he was a young lad, he was not usually counted in the number of the sons, who were called the “seventeen sons” because so many grew up to man’s estate.
9. William Clarke, my grand father, who married Miss Boyd, and who had issue John, my father Archibald, William and Adam after whom I was named, and who, as I found now on his stone in Kilchronaghan church, “died in August, 1756.” There were two daughters, Anne, who married Mr. Wollock M’Kracken; and Mary, who married Mr. Alexander M’Ready.
Archibald Boyd, my great great maternal grandfather, was a Presbyterian clergyman, and the first who preached as Protestant, in Maghera, after the Revolution in 1688. He married Miss Catharine Strawbridge, a Scotch lady. Mr. Boyd’s sister, married the Rev. Mr. Higgison, rector of Larne, in whose family that rectory still continues. of the rest of this family I think you have Adam Boyd’s own account.
The above are all the particulars I could gain from this interview, and I think all the leading ones that can be obtained; and we were all surprised at the amazing accuracy and precision of my aunt’s memory, she did not falter in the least; and still gave the same account in the same words. Dublin, June 26,1813.
Since I wrote the enclosed letter, which was early this morning, I have received yours of the 19th. From the state of the country you will see that I can make no more excursions; and therefore, I suppose all farther communications from my aunt must be given up. It is well that we have saved so much; I can tell you that “Gabriel, or, as he is called in the family, Geby Clarke, was one of our ancestors, and lost the Grange Estates, by the absence of one witness, who was the only one who could attest a certain marriage.” This information I had accidentally from a woman in Belfast, who saw me standing at the coach-office door, waiting for the clerk, in order to take my place for Dublin. She came up to me and told me she was one of my relatives, mentioned Samson Clarke of Belfast, who I believe was her father or uncle; and mentioned Geby, as being famous in the family. I might have had much from this woman, but not knowing her, and it being in the street, I did not encourage her to talk; I know not who she is: but I knew Samson Clarke of Belfast, he has been dead only about 10 years. I send you the minutes which Mary took while Aunt and I were conversing: there I find Samuel marked as the eldest of my granduncles, but whether older than William his brother, and my grandfather, I do not know — I always thought my grandfather Clarke the oldest. I believe all the others come in, in the order mentioned by Mary and myself; but I know my aunt expressed herself uncertain concerning the priority of some of them.
So far as I can find, the estates at Grange, were lost to our family, In consequence of the failure of a proof of marriage, in Geby’s case; from which I am led to think, that those estates came by marriage, and that they were not inheritances of the Clarke family: but there were several other estates, besides those, and there are some now, in the hands of some of my granduncles’ sons.
If one had about a fortnight or a month to ride about the countries I have been in, he might make more out; but every branch of the family, knowing that they are wrongfully kept out of their estates, are full of jealousy, when you make any of those inquiries, thinking that you are about to possess yourself of their property! On this very round, I have been very cautious in all my inquiries. I think I have heard of a Christopher, I am sure of a Barlemy in the family, and Gabriel. I do not recollect to have heard of a Francis or Silvester, but doubtless my aunt could tell. I will send the questions to cousin Allic, and let him get me what information he can, but little can be had but on the spot, and I scarcely know how to get a letter direct to him, it is such an out of the way place. I asked my aunt particularly, if she knew any one before William the Quaker; she said she did not, so he is the utmost a priori, and she herself is the hindmost a posteriort, except our own family. About coming originally from England, and receiving some of the Debenture Lands, I have heard my father often speak, but I know no circumstances. Tomorrow I begin the Conference, and shall have no moment till it be concluded; and then I must march back.
William, the grandfather of Adam Clarke, married into the Boyd family; he was an intelligent religious man, a builder by trade and the eldest of six brothers, who chiefly settled in the vicinity of Maghera, Magherafelt, and near the borders of the beautiful lake of Lough Neagh. The youngest of these brothers chose a military life, and was slain with his general, the celebrated Wolf, at the battle of Quebec, Oct. 18, A. D. 1759.
John, the eldest son of William, and father of Adam, was intended by his father for the Church, and in consequence got a good classical education, which having finished, he studied successively at Edinburgh and Glasgow, where he proceeded M. A. , and afterwards entered as a Sizer in Trinity College, Dublin; at a time when classical merit alone could gain such an admission. His stay here was but short; a severe fever, and afterwards a premature marriage, terminated his studies, and blasted his prospects in the Church: and, although the latter step put him in possession of a woman, who made him one of the best and most affectionate of wives, yet an increase of family, and the uncertainty of any adequate ecclesiastical provision, caused him to adopt the creditable though gainless profession of a public parish schoolmaster; to which he was regularly licensed, according to the custom that then prevailed, in order to ensure a Protestant education to the youth of the country, and prevent the spread of Popish principles.
By virtue of such license, all teachers in the parish had their nomination from the master; and without such could not legally perform the function of public teachers.
Before I proceed in this narrative, it may be necessary to state that Mrs.
Clarke, was a descendant of the Mac Leans, of Mull; one of the Hebrides, or western isles of Scotland: and her great grandfather Laughlin More Mac Lean, called by others Neil, who was chief of his Clan and Laird of Dowart, lost his life, as did twenty of his nearest relatives and his own son, in a battle with the clan Mac Donald, in September 1598. But their deaths were shortly after revenged by Eachin, or Hector Oig his son and successor; who in a pitched battle defeated the MacDonalds, and thus terminated all feuds between these two clans.  Shortly after Mr. John Clarke’s marriage, a circumstance occurred which had an embarrassing effect upon himself and family during his life. About the year 1758 or 1759, the rage of emigration to America was very prevalent in Ireland. Heavy taxation, oppressive landlords, and the small encouragement held out either to genius or industry, rendered Ireland, though perhaps on the whole one of the finest islands in the universe, no eligible place for men of talents of any kind, howsoever directed and applied, to hope for an adequate provision or decent independence for a rising family.
America, thin in her population and extensive in her territory, held out promises of easily acquired property, immense gains by commerce, and lures of every description, to induce the ill provided for, and dissatisfied inhabitants of the mother country to carry their persons and property thither, that by their activity and industry they might enrich this rising and even then ambitious state. Mr. Clarke was persuaded among many others to indulge these golden hopes. with the expectation, if not the promise, of a Professorship in one of the nascent, or about to be erected universities in the new world. In an evil hour he broke up his establishment, sold his property, and with his wife and an infant son, went to the port and city of Londonderry, and took their passage in one of these merchant transport vessels then so numerous, bound for the United States.
At that time, and for many years after, this rage for emigration, was so great, that many young men, women, and whole families, artificers and husbandmen, who were not able to defray the expenses of their own passage, were encouraged by the ship-owners to embark, the owners providing them with the most miserable necessaries of life for their passage, and throwing them together like slaves in a Guinea ship, on the middle passage; they went bound, as it was called, — the captain having the privilege of selling them for five or seven years, to the trans-Atlantic planters, to repay the expenses of their passage and maintenance! A supine and culpable government, which never sufficiently interpreted itself for the welfare of this excellent Island, and its hardy and vigorous inhabitants, suffered this counterpart to the execrable West India Slave Trade, to exert its most baneful and degrading influence, among its own children, without reprehension or control; and thus, many of its best and most useful subjects w ere carried away to people states, which, in consequence, became their rivals, and since that time, their most formidable enemies.
Among these, as we have already seen, Mr. J. Clarke, his wife, and infant son, had embarked, and were on the eve of sailing, when Mr. Clarke’s father arrived from the country, went on board, expostulated with his son, and by the influence of tears and entreaties, enforced by no small degree of parental tenderness, and duly tempered with authority, prevailed on him to change his purpose, to forfeit his passage, and to return with him to the county.
Whether this, on the whole, was the best thing that could be done in such circumstances, is hard to say. What would have been the result had he gone to America, we cannot tell: what was the result of his return, the following pages will in some measure show. The immediate effects were however, nearly ruinous to the family and its prospects.
There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune: Omitted; all the Voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”
The “Shallows and Miseries in which Mr. Clarke was bound, almost through life, proved that he omitted to take the tide at flood.
We have already observed that, in order to go to the continent of America, he had broken up his establishment, and converted his property into cash.
Much time, and not a little of this property, had been spent in preparations for their voyage, and expected settlement in a strange country: but he found, to his cost, on his return, that it was much easier to unsettle than to establish. He was undetermined for a considerable time what mode of life was most eligible, for many projects appeared fair at a distance, which, on a nearer approach, eluded the grasp of his expectation; and others, if well-digested and cautiously and perseveringly pursued, promising honor and wealth, resembled the horizon which ever appears at the same distance to the traveler, though they have already passed over some thousands of miles in order to reach it. Thus, “Disappointment laughed at hopes career” till his remaining property was expended, and alternately elated and depressed with promises and disappointments, he was obliged to begin the world anew, equally destitute of advantages and means. In this state of things, nothing presented itself to him but a choice of difficulties: friends and internal resources, had equally failed; and he went and settled in an obscure village called Moybeg, township of Cootinaglugg, in the parish of Kilchronaghan, in the barony of Loughinshallin, in the county of Londonderry. In this obscure district, the names of which almost bid defiance to enunciation, his second son Adam, the subject of this Memoir, was born, either in the year 1760 or 1762, most probably the former, but neither the year nor the month can be ascertained. He was baptized in the parish church by his uncle, the Rev. John Tracy, the Rector, who had married his mother’s sister. On application to the late worthy incumbent, the Rev. Mr. Bryan, to obtain a copy of the baptismal register, the following answer h as been obtained: — “The archives of the church have been carefully searched, but no register during Mr. Tracy’s incumbency has been found; none having been kept during that period; or if kept, since irrecoverably lost.”
As Mr. Tracy died sometime between 1760 and 1762, and Adam Clarke was baptized by him, he must have been born within that period. The day and month are as uncertain as the year, only I have understood it was sometime in the spring.
At the request of his grandfather and grandmother Clarke. he was named Adam, in memory of a beloved son, who had died of the small pox, when only six years of age; and they engaged that, as soon as he could walk alone, they would take him as their own, and be at the whole charge of his education.
It may not be improper to say a few words here of his brother, who was born about three years before him. He was called Tracy, at the insistence of an uncle the Rev. J. Tracy, already mentioned; who, having no child, promised to be at the expense of his education, &c. Such promises are rarely fulfilled; but this pledge would probably have been redeemed, had Tracy lived, for he had already taken the child to his own house, but dying shortly after, the young lad, already spoiled by indulgence, was restored to his parents.
His father gave him a classical education, and when but a young man, he was appointed and licensed by the Consistorial Court of Derry, a schoolmaster, in a parish contiguous to that in which his father had a similar appointment. Getting weary of this mode of life, which held out but faint promises of comfort or emolument, he expressed a strong desire to study medicine to which he had in some measure already directed his attention. His parents consented, and he was bound apprentice to Mr. Pollock, a surgeon and apothecary in the town of Magherafelt, — a gentleman equaled by few in his profession, for various and sound learning, much skill and deserved eminence in the practice of medicine; and a mind highly cultivated by his classical attainments, and by every solid principle of politeness or good breeding. Having terminated his apprenticeship with credit to himself and his master, he went to Dublin, and studied anatomy under the celebrated Dr. Cleghorne, who was professor of that science in Trinity College.
Having received letters of recommendation to some merchants in Liverpool. whose interest he hoped would obtain him an appointment in the Navy, he sailed by England.
This expectation however failed, and he went out surgeon in a Guinea ship, made their voyage, laid in 813 Negroes, who were exchanged to them for guns, gunpowder, knives, and trinkets of different kinds, and sold in Tortola to the highest bidder, as sheep or oxen in the open market. He went a second voyage, kept a journal of the way, in which he made entries of all particulars relative to the mode of procuring, treating, and disposing of the slaves; with several other matters of high importance, relative to this inhuman and infernal traffic. The captain noticing this, pretended one day to have lost some plate, all the vessel must be searched the seamen first, then all the officers were requested to give up their keys, with an apology that no suspicion attached to them, but merely for form’s sake, lest there might be any ground left for the charge of partiality, &c. Surgeon Clarke immediately yielded his key, which was restored after some time; but when he next visited his chest he found that his Journal had been rifled, and every leaf and page that contained anything relative to the traffic, torn out, or mutilated, so that from this document, not one entry was left, nor could be reduced in evidence against this infamous traffic, and the diabolical manner in which it was carried on. This mutilated Journal I have seen and examined; and was informed of several curious particulars by the Writer, some of which I shall take the liberty to relate.
When at Bonny in Africa, Surgeon Clarke had gone a good deal on shore, and traveled some way into the country, and as he was a man of pleasing manners, and amiable carriage, he gained the confidence of the natives, accommodated himself to their mode of living, and thus had the opportunity of making several valuable remarks on their civil and religious customs. From observing the males to be universally circumcised, he was led to think that this people might be descendants of the ten lost Jewish Tribes. He observed farther, that each of their huts was divided into three apartments; one served to dress their food in, one as a place of repose, and the third was for the Juju, the serpent god, which was the object of their worship. Thus every hut had its Temple, and every Temple had its Altar and worshippers.
He has informed me that, from the bodies of many of the slaves that were brought from the interior to the coast, he was obliged to extract balls, as they had been wounded in the attempts to deprive them of their liberty; their kidnappers hunting them down like wild beasts, firing upon all they could not suddenly seize, no doubt killing many, and bringing those down to the coast, whose wounds were of such a nature as to promise an easy cure. In his excursions into the country, he has seen the wives of the chiefs, king Peppel, and king Norfolk, as they were called, going out to the plantations to labor, their young children, (princes and princesses) on their naked backs, holding themselves on by their hands, grasping the shoulders of their mothers, and when arrived in the field, laid down on the bare ground naked, and when weary of lying on one side, turn on the other, without ever uttering a cry; their mothers giving them the breast at such intervals as they deemed proper. The following instances of inhumanity, from among many others, I shall select for the Reader’s reflections. A stout young Negress, with an infant at her breast, was brought on board, and presented to the captain by one of the black dealers, who by long trafficking in flesh and blood with the inhuman European slave — dealers, had acquired all their unfeeling brutality. The captain refused to purchase her, saying “He could no be troubled with children aboard. “ The dealer answered, “Why massa is she no good slave? is she no able work?” “Yes” answered the captain, “she would do well enough, but I cannot receive children.” “Well massa, would massa buy slave if she no had child?” “Yes said the captain, “I should have no objection to her.” On this the black dealer stepped up to the woman, snatched the child out of her arms, and threw it overboard; on which the captain without expressing the least concern, purchased the mother. I should add, what will perhaps relieve the Reader’s feelings, though it will not remove his honest indignation, that a Negro seeing the child thrown overboard, paddled to the place with his canoe, jumped in after it, and brought it up apparently alive, and immediately made towards the shore.
This captain carried brutality and ferocity as far as they could go; even his own interest yielded to his cruelty. During this passage several of the Negroes got into what is technically called the sulks; i. e. they refused to eat; and foreseeing their misery, chose to starve themselves to death rather than encounter it: one in particular, could not be induced by any threats or inflicted punishments, to take his food. The captain beat him in the most inhuman manner with a small cutting whip; but without a sigh or a groan he obstinately persisted. Boiled beans were one day brought and they endeavored to induce him to eat: he closed his teeth in determinate opposition. The captain got a piece of iron, prized open his jaws, and broke several of his teeth in the operation, he then stuffed his mouth full of the aliment, and with the butt end of his whip endeavored to thrust it down his throat, he was instantly suffocated: and the fiend his murderer, said on perceiving it, “See, them, they can die whenever they please.”
He drove the second mate overboard, broke the arm of the cabin boy, with the stroke of an iron ladle, and committed all kinds of barbarous excesses.
One day when companies of the slaves were brought upon deck for the sake of fresh air, and an iron chain was passed through their fetters, and then bolted to the deck; it happened that a Negro got his feet out of his fetters, and stealing softly till he got to the bowsprit then, in order to attract the attention of his tormentors, he set up a wild loud laugh; as soon as he found he was observed, he leaped into the deep, and sunk to rise no more. The captain instantly seized his musket loaded with ball, and fired down in the place in which he sunk, that he might have the pleasure of killing him before he could be drowned. These were but parts of his ways, but I shall forbear to harrow up the blood of the Reader any longer: such cruelties are almost necessarily connected with a traffic cursed of God, and abhorred by man; and although the trade is abolished by our legislature, yet let them not suppose that the blood of it is purged away. As a nation, our reckoning is not yet settled for the wrongs of Africa.
It will not surprise the reader to hear that this captain lost his vessel in returning from the West Indies, and afterwards died in the workhouse in Liverpool.
Filled with horror at this inhuman traffic, Surgeon Clarke abandoned it after this second voyage: he married and established himself at a place called Maghull, about eight miles from Liverpool, where for many years he had an extensive practice, and was remarkably successful. He died there in 1802, universally respected and regretted, leaving four sons and one daughter behind him. These young men were brought up principally under the direction of their uncle Adam; two embraced the medical profession, one of whom has been surgeon in his Majesty’s navy for about twelve years, and has seen the most dangerous service. The oldest, a young man of singular habits, much learning and a comprehensive mind, is author of a work of deep research, entitled An Exposition of the False Prophet , and the Number of the Apocalyptic Beast. They are all worthy of their amiable father and repay the pains taken in their education by their uncle.
But it is now time to return to the principal subject of these Memoirs, whom we have yet seen only on the threshold of life.
In the life of an infant there can be little of an interesting nature; yet there were a few things to singular as to be worthy of remark. His brother we have seen, by the manner of his education, was through the indulgence of a fond uncle nearly spoiled: and indeed he was so softened by this injudicious treatment, that it produced an unfavorable effect throughout life; being the first-born and a fine child he was the favorite, especially of his mother. Adam, on the other hand, met with little indulgence, was comparatively neglected, nursed with little care, and often left to make the best of his own course. He was no spoiled child, was always corrected when he deserved it; and sometimes when but a small degree of blame attached to his undirected conduct. Through this mode of bringing up, he became uncommonly hardy, was unusually patient of cold, took to his feet at eight months; and before he was nine months old, was accustomed to walk without guide or attendant in a field before his father’s door! He was remarkably fond of snow; when he could little more than lisp he called it his brother, saw it fall with rapturous delight; and when he knew that much of it lay upon the ground, would steal out of his bed early in the morning, with nothing on but his shirt, get a little board, go out, and with it dig holes in the snow, call them rooms, and when he had finished his frozen apartments, sit down naked as he was, and thus most contentedly enjoy the fruit of his own labor!
Though by no means a lusty child, he had uncommon strength for his age, and his father often took pleasure in setting him to roll large stones, when neighbors or visitants came to the house.
Many of the relatives of A. C. on both sides the house, were remarkable for vast muscular powers. One of his maternal uncles, the Rev. I. M’Lean, a Clergyman, possessed incredible strength, which he often used, not in the best of cause He could bend iron bars with a stroke of his arm; roll up large pewter dishes like a scroll with his fingers; and when traveling through Bovagh wood, a place through which his walks frequently lay, he has been known to pull down the top of an of the sapling twist it into a withe by the mere strength of his arms and fingers, and thus working it down in a spiral form to the earth, leave it with its root in the ground, for the astonishment of all that might pass by.
One day dining at an inn with two officers, who, perhaps, unluckily for themselves, wished to be witty at the parson’s expense; he said something which had a tendency to lessen their self-confidence. One of them considering his honor touched, said, “Sir, were it not for your cloth, I would oblige you to eat the words you have spoken.” Mr. M’Lean rose up in a moment, took off his coat, rolled it up in a bundle and threw it under the table, with these fearful words; “Divinity be thou there, and M’Lean do for thyself!” So saying, he seized the foremost of the heroes by the cuff of the neck and by the waistband of the breeches, and dashed him through the strong sash — window of the apartment, a considerable way on the opposite pavement of the street! Such was the projectile violence, that the poor officer passed through the sash as if it had been a cobweb.
Both extremes met in this family; a sister of this same gentleman, one of A. C. ‘s maternal aunts, was only three feet high, and died about her thirtieth year. Thus Nature was as parsimonious in the one case as she was profuse in the other: yet there was another aunt in the family, who had more muscular power than most common men.
That district might be said to be the land of strong and gigantic men. There was born and bred Bob Dunbar, famous or his lawless and brutal strength.
In the same baron if not in the same township, were born of ordinary parents, of the name of Knight, two brothers, each of whom stood seven and a half feet high. It was a curious sight to see these two young men (who generally went in plain scarlet coats) walking through a fair, in Magherafelt, as they generally stood head and shoulders above the thousands there assembled.
In the same township, Moneymore, was the celebrated Charles Burns born. He was a young man, and so were the Knights, when A. C. was a lad at school. Charles Burns was well proportioned, and measured eight feet six inches! In short, all the people in that country are among either the tallest, the hardiest, or the strongest in Europe.
Adam Clarke has been frequently known to thank God for the hardy manner in which he was brought up; and to say, “My heavenly Father saw that I was likely to meet with many rude blasts in journeying through life, and he prepared me in infancy for the lot is providence destined or me; so that through his mercy I have been enabled to carry a profitable childhood up to hoary hairs.” He would add, “He knew that I must walk alone through life, and therefore set me on my feet right early, that I might be prepared by long practice for the work I was appointed to perform. “ It has already been observed that his grand parents promised to take him to themselves when he could be safely, taken from under a mother’s care.
This they accordingly did; but little Adam could ill brook confinement in the house by the side of his grandmother. He was accustomed to roam about the walls and hedges; and there being a draw-well into which he was particularly fond of looking, when it was left uncovered; his grandmother, fearing that he might some day fall in and be drowned, sent him home to his parents.
He took the small-pox, when he was about five years old, in the natural way; inoculation was then scarcely known, and the usual treatment was as follows: — the patient was covered up with a load of clothes in a warm bed, the curtains drawn close to keep off every breath of air, and some spirituous liquors carefully given, in order to strike the pock out, as it was termed! It is no wonder that such treatment of an inflammatory disorder carried thousands to an untimely grave. Adam was covered from head to foot with this disease, but no authority or power of parents, or attendants, could confine him to his bed. Whenever he found an opportunity he left his bed, and ran out naked into the open air. This he did frequently, in defiance of all custom and authority, he was led to adopt the cool regimen, had a merciful termination of the disorder, and escaped without a single mark! He has often been heard to say, “He perfectly remembered this time, and still retained a lively impression of the relief he found in th is burning disease, by exposure to the open air, though he suffered much in walking, for even the soles of his feet were covered with pustules.
This early recollection need not be wondered at; his memory seems to have been in exercise from his tenderest infancy; for he has been known to relate circumstances to his mother, which he had in recollection, though she knew that they had taken place when probably he was only three years of age!
When he was about six years old, an occurrence took place which deserves to be circumstantially related. At this time his father lived at Maghera, where he kept a public school, both English and classical. and where he was tutor to the son of the Rev. Dr. Barnard, then Dean of Derry, and rector of Maghera, and afterwards successively Bishop of Kilaloe and Limerick. Near to where Mr. Clarke lived was a very decent orderly family, of the name of Brooks, who lived on a small farm. They had eleven children, some of whom went regularly to Mr. Clarke’s school: one, called James, was the tenth child, a lovely lad, between whom and little Adam there subsisted a most intimate friendship, and strong attachment. One day when walking hand in hand in a field near the house, they sat down on a bank and began to enter into very serious conversation: — they both became much affected, and this was deepened to exquisite distress by the following observations made by little Brooks. “O, Addy, Addy” said he, “what a dreadful thing is eternity, and, O, how dreadful to be put into hell fire and to be burnt there for ever and ever!” They both wept bitterly, and, as they could, begged God to forgive their sins; and they made to each other strong promises of amendment. They wept till they were really sick, and departed from each other with full and pensive hearts!
In reviewing this circumstance, Adam has been heard to say: — “I was then truly and deeply convinced that I was a sinner, and that I was liable to eternal punishment; and that nothing but the mercy of God could save me from it: though I was not so conscious of any other sin as that of disobedience to my parents, which at that time affected me most forcibly.
When I left my little companion, I went home, told the whole to my mother with a full heart, expressing the hope that I should never more say any bad words, or refuse to do what she or my father might command. She was both surprised and affected, and gave me much encouragement, and prayed heartily for me. With a glad heart she communicated the information to my father, on whom I could see it did not make the same him impression; for he had little opinion of pious resolutions in childish minds, though he feared God, and was a serious conscientious churchman.
I must own that the way in which he treated it was very discouraging to my mind, and served to m ingle impressions with my serious feelings, that were not friendly to their permanence: yet the impression, though it grew faint, did not wear away. It was laid deep in the consideration of eternity; and my accountableness to God for my conduct; and the absolute necessity of enjoying his favor, that I might never taste the bitter pains of eternal death. Had I had any person to point out the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world, I believe I should then have been found as capable of repentance and faith, (my youth and circumstances considered as I ever was afterwards. But I had no helper, no messenger, one among a thousand, who could show man his righteousness.”
Though the place was divided between the Church and the Presbyterians, yet there was little even of the form of godliness, and still less of the other.
Nor indeed, were the people excited to examine the principles of their own creed, till many years after, when the Methodists came into that country, “preaching repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus” As to his little companion, James Brooks, there was something singular in his history. It has already been noted that he was the tenth child of his parents, and that the Rector of the parish was the famous Dr. Barnard, deservedly celebrated among the literary friends of Dr. Samuel Johnson.
Mrs. Brooks having gone to the dean’s one month, to pay her tithe, took little James in her hand: when she had laid down her money, she observed: — “Sir, you have annually the tenth of all I possess, except my children; it is but justice you should have the tenth of them also. I have eleven, and this is my tenth son, whom I have brought to you as the tenth of my children, as I have brought the tenth of my grain. I hope, Sir, you will take and provide for him.” To this singular address, the dean found it difficult to reply. He could not, at first, suppose the woman to be in earnest: but on her urging her application, and almost insisting on his receiving this tenth of her intellectual live stock, both his benevolence and humanity were affected; — he immediately accepted the child, had him clothed, &c., let him lodge with the parents for a time, and sent him to school to Mr. John Clarke. In a short time Mr. C. removed from that part of the country; and what became of the interesting young man is not known . He was always called Tithe by the school-boys.
In some children, as well as grown-up persons, certain unaccountable sympathies and antipathies have been observed. Adam had a singular antipathy to large fat men, or men with big bellies, as he phrased it.
A gentleman of the name of Pearce Quinlin, was his father’s nearest neighbor: this man was remarkably corpulent; his eyes stood out with fatness, and his belly was enormously protuberant. With this gentleman Adam was a favorite, yet he ever beheld him with abhorrence; and could hardly be persuaded to receive the little gifts which Mr. Q. brought to obtain his friendship. The following circumstance rendered the dislike more intense. — A dumb man, who pretended to tell fortunes, called there a spae-man, came one day to his father’s house. Mrs. Clarke looked upon such persons with a favorable eye, as it was her opinion, that if God in the course of his providence, deprived a man of one of his senses, he compensated this by either rendering the others more intense and accurate, or by some particular gift: and she thought, to most that were born dumb, a certain degree of foreknowledge was imparted. She was therefore, ready to entertain persons of this caste: and the man in question was much noted in that country, as having been remarkably fortunate in some of his guesses. Adam, who was conning the wizard’s face with an eye of remarkable curiosity, was presented to him, to learn what was to be his lot in life. The artist, after beholding him for some time gave signs that he would be very fond of the bottle, grow fat and have an enormous belly!
They were precisely two of the things that he held in most abhorrence. He had often seen persons drunk, and he considered them as dangerous madmen, or the most brutish of beasts: and his dislike to the big belly has already been stated. He had even then a high opinion of the power and influence of prayer. He thought, that the spae-man might possibly be correct: but he believed there was no evil awaiting him in futurity which God could not avert. He therefore went immediately out into a field, got into a thicket of furze-bushes, and kneeling down he most fervently uttered the following petition: — “O, Lord God, have mercy upon me, and never suffer me to be like Pearce Quinlin !” This he urged, with little variety of language, till he seemed to have a persuasion that the evil would be averted! Strange as it may appear, this prediction left a deep impression upon his mind: and he has hitherto passed through life’s pilgrimage, equally dreading the character of the brutal drunkard, and the appearance of the human porpoise. Had it not been for this foolish prediction, he had possibly been less careful; and what the effects might have been we cannot calculate, for no man is impeccable.
There was little remarkable in other parts of his childhood but that he was a very inapt scholar, and found it very difficult to acquire the knowledge of the Alphabet. For this dullness he was unmercifully censured and unseasonably chastised: and this, so far from eliciting genius, rather produced an increase of hebitude, so that himself began to despair of ever being able to acquire any knowledge by means of letters. When he was about eight years of age, he was led to entertain hopes of future improvement from the following circumstance. A neighboring schoolmaster calling at the school where he was then endeavoring to put vowels and consonants together; was desired by the teacher to assist in hearing a few of the lads their lessons: Adam was the last that went up, not a little ashamed of his own deficiency: he however hobbled through his lesson, though in a very indifferent manner: and the teacher apologized to the stranger, and remarked that, that lad was a grievous dunce. The assistant, clapping young Clarke of the head, said, Never fear, Sir, this lad will make a good scholar yet. This was the first thing that checked his own despair of learning; and gave him hope. How injudicious is the general mode of dealing with those who are called dull boys. To every child learning must be a task; and as no young person is able to comprehend the maxim that the acquisition of learning will compensate the toil, encouragement and kind words from the teacher, are indispensably necessary to induce the learner to undergo the toil of these gymnastic exercises. Willful idleness and neglect should be reprehended and punished; but where genius has not yet been developed, nor reason acquired its proper seat, the mildest methods are the most likely to be efficient: and the smallest progress be watched, and commended that it may excite to farther attention and diligence. With those who are called dull boys, this method rarely fails.
But there are very few teachers who possess the happy art of developing genius. They have not a sufficiency of penetration to find out the bent or characteristic propensity of the minds of their pupils, in order to give them the requisite excitement and direction. In consequence, there have been innumerable native diamonds which have never shone because they have fallen into such hands as could not distinguish them from common pebbles; and to them neither the hand nor the art of the lapidary, has ever been applied. Many children, not naturally dull, have become so under the influence of the schoolmaster.
As soon as Adam got through the Reading made easy, had learnt to spell pretty correctly and could read with tolerable ease in the New Testament; His father, who wished if possible to make him a scholar, put him into Lilly’s Latin Grammar. This was new and painful work to little Clarke, and he was stumbled by almost the first sentence which he was ordered to get by heart; not because he could not commit it to memory, but because be could not comprehend — “In speech be these eight parts following; Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Participle, declined; Adverb, Conjunction, Preposition, Interjection, undeclined.”
He, however, committed this to memory, and repeated it and many of its fellows, without understanding one tittle of the matter; for no pains were taken to enable him to see the reason of those things which he was commanded to get by rote; and as the understanding was not instructed, the memory was uselessly burdened.
The declensions of notate were painful, but he overcame them: the conjugations of the verbs he got more easily through, because there he perceived a species of harmony or music, and they were no burden to his memory; though each verb was required to be conjugated after the manner of Hoole yet he could pretty readily run through them all, and took delight to puzzle his school-fellows with difficult verbs especially those which admitted great variety of inflection e. g. Lavo, lavas, lavi, atque lavavi; lavare, lavandi, lavando, lavandum; lautum, lautu, lautum, lautu, lotum, lotu, atque lavatum, lavatu; lavans, lauturus, loturus, atque lavaturus.
Propria quae maribus, he got through with difficulty at two lines each lesson; which he was to repeat, afterwards construe, and lastly parse.
With the ‘As in praesenti, of the same ponderous grammar, he was puzzled beyond measure: he could not well understand the bo fit bi, do fit di, mo fit ui, no fit vi, quo fit qiu, to fit ti, &c. &c. , and could by no means proceed: of the reason or probable utility of such things, he could form no adequate judgment: and at last this became so intolerable that he employed two whole days and a part of the third, in fruitless endeavors to commit to memory two lines, with their construction, of what appeared to him, useless and incomprehensible jargon. His distress was indescribable, and he watered his book with his tears: at last he laid it by, with a broken heart, and in utter despair of ever being able to make any progress. He took up an English Testament, sneaked into an English class, and rose with them to say a lesson. The master perceiving it, said in a terrific to ne, “Sir, what brought you here? where is your Latin grammar!” He burst into tears, and said, with a piteous tone, I cannot learn it. He had now reason to expect all the severity of the rod: but the master, getting a little moderate, perhaps moved by his tears, contented himself with saying “Go, Sirrah, and take up your grammar: if you do not speedily get that lesson, I shall pull your ears as long as Jowler’s, (a great dog belonging to the premises.) and you shall be a beggar to the day of your death.” These were terrible words, and seemed to express the sentence of a ruthless and unavoidable destiny. He retired and sat down by the side of a young gentleman with whom he had been in class, but who, unable to lag behind with his dullness, requested to be separated, that he might advance by himself.
Here he was received with the most bitter taunts, and poignant insults. “What! have you not learned that lesson yet? O what a stupid ass! You and I began together: you are now only in As in praesenti, and I am in Syntax!” and then with cruel mockings, began to repeat the last lesson he had learned. The effect of this was astonishing — young Clarke was roused as from a lethargy; he felt, as he expressed himself, as if something had broken within him: his mind in a moment was all light. Though he felt indescribably mortified, he did not feel indignant: what, said he to himself, shall I ever be a dunce, and the butt of those fellows insults! He snatched up his book, in a few moments committed the lesson to memory, got the construction speedily; went up and said it, without missing a word! — took up another lesson, acquired it almost immediately, said this also without a blemish, and in the course of that day wearied the master with his so often repeated returns to say lessons; and committed to memory all the Latin verses with their English construction, in which heavy and tedious Lilly has described the four conjugations, with their rules exceptions &c. &c. Nothing like this had ever appeared in the school before — the boys were astonished — admiration took the place of mockings and insult, and from that hour, it may be said from that moment, he found his memory at least capable of embracing every subject that was brought before it, and his own long sorrow was turned into instant joy!
For such a revolution in the mind of a child, it will not be easy to account.
He was not idle, and though playful never wished to indulge this disposition at the expense of instruction — his own felt incapacity was a most oppressive burden; and the anguish of his heart was evidenced by the tears which often flowed from his eyes. Reproof and punishment produced neither change nor good, for there was nothing to be corrected to which they could apply. Threatenings were equally unavailing, because there was no willful indisposition to study and application; and the fruitless desire to learn, showed at least the regret of the want of that ability for the acquisition of which, he would have been willing to have made any kind of sacrifices.
At last this ability was strangely acquired, but not by slow degrees; there was no conquest over inaptitude and dullness by persevering and gradual conflict; power seemed generated in a moment and in a moment there was a transition from darkness to light, from mental imbecility to intellectual vigor, and no means nor excitements were brought into operation but those mentioned above. The reproaches of his school-fellow were the spark which fell on the gunpowder and inflamed it instantly. The inflammable matter was there before, but the spark was wanting. This would be a proper subject for the discussion of those who write on the philosophy of the human mind.
This detail has been made the more particular, because he ever considered it as one of the most important circumstances in his life; and he has often mentioned it as a singular Providence which gave a strong characteristic coloring to his subsequent life. This account may not be unuseful to those who have the care of youth; and it may teach the masters of the rod and ferula, that these are not the instruments of instruction, though extremely proper for the correction of the obstinate and indolent; — that motives exciting to emulation and to the prevention of disgrace may be, at least in some cases, more powerful and efficient than any punishment that can be inflicted on the flesh. A thorough study of the philosophy of the human mind and what constitutes individual character, seem essentially necessary qualifications for all those to whom the instruction of the rising generation is confided; and if this be so, there are few persons properly qualified to be competent Schoolmasters.
Let not the reader imagine from this detail, that from the time mentioned above, A. C. found no difficulty to cultivate his mind in the acquisition of knowledge; it was not so: he ever found an initial difficulty to comprehend any thing; and till he could comprehend in some measure the reason of the thing, he could not acquire the principle itself. In this respect there was a great difference between him and his brother; the latter apprehended a subject at first sight, and knew as much of it in a short time as ever he knew after: the former was slow in apprehension and proceeded with great caution till he understood and was sure of his principles; he then proceeded with vigor, endeavoring to push those principles to the utmost of their legitimate consequences.
There was one branch of knowledge in which Adam could never make any progress; viz. Arithmetic. He was put to this when he was very young, before he was capable of comprehending its leading principles; and the elementary books then in common use were not happily conceived for the advantage of learners. Fisher’s Arithmetic, was that out of which he learned the five common rules, and in it the examples in many cases are far from being distinct and are often not well constructed to show the principles of the rule which they are intended to illustrate. What can a child make of the following question in Multiplication: — “ In ninetyeight casks of capers, each 3cwt. 3qrs. l4lbs., how many hundreds?” This was a question with which he was grievously puzzled, and which when he had mastered, he thought he had performed a work of no small magnitude.
The depressed state of this Family has already been referred to, and in such a way as not to leave the Reader any great hope of its emerging and rising to affluence: this was never the case. Still, however, the best provision was made for the education of the two only sons, which the disadvantageous circumstances of the family could afford.
But how true is the saying of an eminent poet… Haud facile emergunt quorum virtutibus obstat Res angusta domi.
Slowly they rise whose virtues are oppressed By hard distress at home.
Mr. Clarke had always a small farm, this was necessary for the support of a large family; his professional labors being inadequate remunerated at best, and often ill repaid by the parents of is pupils. It has no doubt been already perceived that Mr. C.’s school was of a mixed nature. He taught by himself alone, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, comprising Bookkeeping, Trigonometry, and Navigation; together with the Greek and Latin classics. The price at which each was taught may be reputed a curiosity Reading, 11/2 d. per week; Writing, 2d. ; Writing and Accounts, 4d.; and Greek and Latin 7s. per quarter. These were the highest terms in that country in the latter end of the eighteenth century.
Should it be supposed that the work was proportioned to the wages, it may safely be asserted, it was not. Mr. C. was a good penman, few, if any classical scholars superior: he was thoroughly acquainted with arithmetic, and taught it well; and of his classical knowledge, his son Adam, no mean judge in a matter of this nature, has been heard to say, “I have known many of more splendid literary talents than my father, many who could shine more pro re nata in Greek and Latin learning; but a more correct scholar I never knew. Many persons of considerable eminence in all departments of science and literature were educated by Mr. Clarke, — Clergymen, Presbyterian Ministers and Popish Priests; Lawyers, Surgeons, Physicians, and Schoolmasters. From this statement it will appear, that he required something to help out the deficiencies of his school, for the support of a numerous family: Agriculture, as has already been observed, of which he was particularly fond, was that to which he had recourse. On a peculiarly ungrateful soil which he held for many years, he bestowed much of his own labor both early and late, this was the only time he had; for both in summer and winter he entered his school precisely at eight in the morning, which he continued till eight in the evening in summer, and till near four in the depth of winter. From May till September, he allowed one hour for dinner: during the rest of the year the school was continued without any intermission. He had only two vacations in the year, amounting to three weeks in the whole; eight days at Easter and a fortnight at Christmas. Before and after school hours was the only time in which he could do any thing in his little farm; the rest of the labor, except in those times when several hands must be employed to plant and sow, or gather in the friendly fruits of the earth, was performed, with very little foreign assistance, by his two sons. This cramped their education; but, Omnia vincit improbus labor; the two brothers went day about to school, and he who had the advantage of the day’s instruction gained and remembered all he could, and imparted on his return to him who continued in the farm all the knowledge that he had acquired in the day.
Thus they were alternately instructors and scholars, and each taught and learned for the other. This was making the best of their circumstances, and such a plan is much more judicious and humane than that which studies to make one son a scholar, while the others, equally worthy of attention, are made the drudges of the family, whereby jealousies and family feuds are often generated.
Their Father, who was a great admirer of the Georgics of Virgil — the finest production of the finest Poet that ever lived — without particularly calculating that the agricultural rules into that elegant work, were in many respects applicable only to the soil and climate of Italy, Lat. 45, applied them in a widely different climate, to a soil extremely. dissimilar, in Lat. 55, N This, in course, was not likely to bring about the most beneficial results. However this was the general plan on which Mr. Clarke carried on his agricultural operations; and it must be confessed, howsoever injudicious this must have been in several respects, his crops were, at least, as good as those of his neighbors.
The School in which A. Clarke had his Classical Education, was situated in the skirt of a wood, on a gently rising eminence, behind which a hill thickly covered with bushes of different kinds and growth, rose to a considerable height. In front of this little building there was a great variety of prospect, both of hill and dole, where, in their seasons, all the operations of husbandry might be distinctly seen. The boys who could be trusted, were permitted in the fine weather, to go into the wood, to study their lessons.
In this most advantageous situation, Adam read the Ectogites and Georgics of Virgil, where he had almost every scene described in these poems, exhibited in real life, before his eyes. He has often said, if ever he enjoyed real intellectual happiness, it was in that place, and in that line of study.
These living scenes were often finer and more impressive comments on the Roman poet, than all the labored notes and illustrations of the Delphin Editors, and the Variorum Critics. It was in this place, but at an earlier period than that noted above, that he composed a Satire on one of his school fellows with whom he had fallen out, on no very sufficient grounds, The poem consisted of 175 verses; and was all composed one Saturday afternoon, after the breaking up of school, at a time in which he had not learned to write small hand, so as to be sufficiently intelligible; his brother therefore wrote them down from his mouth; some Fragments only remain, and they may be introduced here as a proof of what Dr. Johnson calls a precocity of genius in this way: and although they should not be deemed promissory of any poetic abilities, yet they are at least for a lad of eight or nine years of age, as good as the verses on Master Duck, attributed to the almost infancy of the above celebrated writer.