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    1808, Business & Corruption


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    In the beginning of the year 1808, a new field of labor was opened to the research and ingenuity of Dr. Clarke. A committee of the House of Commons had been appointed to examine the public records of the kingdom, and to devise some plan for reducing to order and method those various papers which were at present scattered in confusion through the public offices and repositories, and collecting the most ancient and authentic among them, for the purpose of printing. This was a task judged to be peculiarly befitting the unwearied diligence and varied knowledge of the Doctor, and accordingly the design was submitted to him by His Majesty's Commissioners, and he was requested to undertake the proposed arrangement. At first he decidedly refused, on the ground, as he said, not of unwillingness, but of inability to undertake the responsible task, -- that description of study not having engaged a sufficient degree of his attention to warrant the efficient discharge of the onerous duty involved; and indeed it was not a course of study into which a scholar would be tempted by any expectation of increasing his stock of useful and practical knowledge, or of gratifying a refined taste: the work was dry and uninteresting in the extreme, and the difficulties attending its prosecution, -- owing to the variety of manuscripts to be collected, and from the fact of a great deal of the writing having suffered partial effacement from the lapse of time, and other circumstances, -- were very great, and probably not effectually to have been overcome in other hands than those of Dr. Clarke. In addition, however, to his numerous engagements, he undertook this one also, and proceeded to make a collection of papers of the same character as those in Rymer's Foedera, for a supplement and continuation of that work. The records so arranged, had commenced from the reign of the first Henry, and extended down to the Commonwealth; and the specific nature of the work entrusted to Dr. C. was supplying the deficiencies of Rymer, by producing materials which would bear upon history previously to the reign of Henry the first, and also that would take up the work to the time of Charles the second, and continue it on to the accession of George the third. This is a passing sketch of the undertaking proposed to the diligence of Dr. C., and which he undertook in the hope that after preparing the way, his place would be supplied. Twice he tendered his resignation on the plea of ill health, but it was only after the lapse of ten years unwearied attention to the work, and after having carried nearly four folio volumes through the press, that a third resignation was accepted by the Commissioners.

    His views and feelings, as expressed to a friend, a short time after he had been in office, may here be introduced, preliminary to the other associate incidents and circumstances. "The business," he remarks, "to which you refer, is, perhaps the strangest, take it in its commencement, progress, and probable issue, that you ever heard of, -- but I am weary of stating and explaining, and shall not trouble you with it. I will just observe, I never sought those things, I never desired them; and when they came to me, they filled me with distress. I do not love money. As to honor and power, I never sought them; the former is a bubble on an agitated wave, and the latter is to its owner an almost invariable curse. My brethren know well, I have never sought these things; -- they know more, -- they know I have studiously avoided them. In the course of Divine Providence, I have been, in some measure, fitted for certain services to the Church of God and to Literature, which were either too difficult, or too mean for most others. I was ever willing to work, and my work was thought worthy of reward; and as I refused money, I had honors forced upon me. These have done me neither good nor ill. For a considerable time to be addressed as Doctor, put me to excessive pain; now, I can hear it as I used to hear Adam in my father's house. It may seem strange to you, but a consciousness of my unfitness for, and unworthiness of the work, has ever made preaching a load to me. The mental martyrdom I have suffered on this account, is indescribable. I often asked of God to let this cup pass from me, -- but I was not heard; and I dared not dash it to the ground. I have traveled nearly as long as I can. Though no longer able to bear the burden and heat of the day, I am as willing to work, according to my strength, as I ever was, -- and if the throne of England had been offered to me on condition that I should not preach, or not preach among the Methodists, I would have spurned it. Thus far all is clear, and I am a simple unadorned Methodist; desiring no higher calling on this side eternity."

    Throwing his mind back upon his toils in after life, he observed to the writer, "I would not undergo again what I passed through during those ten years of government servitude for any calculable sum." Adverting, on another occasion, to the common objection of enormous salaries, which some persons urge as a source of oppression and public misery, he remarked, "I am one of the last in the empire who would lift up a voice, or use a pen knowingly, for the support of corruption of any kind; -- but I will also show my opinion. I have had occasion and opportunity to look into most of the offices of the state; to see the hands employed, and the work done; and, though inured to labor from my youth, and rarely shrinking from any work, merely because it was difficult; yet I freely declare, that had I the most rational conviction of my suitableness and ability to fill any of them, I would not accept the highest salary of the best paid public functionary, to perform his labor, submit to his privations, and endure his anxieties. And yet, strange to tell, multitudes of the common people have been persuaded to believe, that those enormous salaries, as they have been called, are paid for scarcely any public service! -- Let this fact speak -- we have scarcely an aged statesman in the land I and why? Incessant labor, public responsibility, and corroding anxious care, have brought them to an untimely grave. To the few that do remain, what a poor compensation is a pension, or their continued salary, for the loss of health, and the abridgment of life! Envy itself is never more mistaken than when she makes a condition of this kind, an object of her malevolent regards."

    The Doctor's principal work, as we have already stated, was, to collect from the archives of the United Kingdom, all authentic State Papers; to decipher, arrange, and illustrate them in various reports to the Right Hon. his Majesty's Commissioners. These papers were scattered in different directions, some in private hands, -- especially in Ireland, and others in public offices, -as in the State Paper offices, -- the Chapel of the Rolls, -- the Chapter House, Westminster, -- the Tower of London, -- the Red Book of the Exchequer, Westminster, -- the Herald's College, London, -- the Archives of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, -- the Cottonian, Harleian, Lansdowne, Sloanian, and other collections in the British Museum, -- the Public Library of the University of Cambridge, -- the Bodleian Library, Oxford, -- the Library of the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral of Durham, and the Library of the Bishop's Auditor Office, -- the Library of Trinity College, Dublin,-- the Library of the Dublin Society, -- the Library of the Bishop of Armagh, -- the Library of Maynooth College, -- together with the Archives of various Cathedrals. To these, and any other that might be suggested, the secretary, Mr. J. Caley, was requested to obtain access for the Doctor. His labor was increased from the circumstance, that he had not only to prepare materials for the Foedera, but to arrange the persons employed in different departments, and to classify the transcripts, which were not infrequently on bad paper, and as often written by careless hands. When the Commissioners were puzzled with them, they were almost invariably sent to him to decipher and explain. In many of the offices, in the language of the address of the House of Commons, the records were "unarranged, undescribed, and unascertained; in others they were exposed to erasure, alteration, and embezzlement; and in others, lodged in places where they were daily perishing by damp, or incurring a continual risk of destruction by fire. Among these were found Leagues, Conventions, Treaties, Alliances, Capitulations, Confederacies, &c., intermixed with other curious instruments and papers, illustrative of English History."

    At the commencement of his labor, one of the noblemen on the commission said to a Bishop, "we shall have important business before us; we shall have a report drawn up by a Methodist Preacher." His Grace, who was not just at the moment to be classed with the meek of the earth, answered this with a "hem." The Report, however, when read, found his Lordship in another mood: and the Bishop of London remarked on a subsequent occasion, with as much candor as truth, "every report from Dr. Clarke throws light on the subject, and his arguments are always conclusive." [39] In support of this testimony, his Reports were invariably adopted by the Commissioners; nor was he less successful when anything like opposition appeared. One of the Sub-Commissioners inserted in the Preface to one of the volumes of the Foedera, that the Doctor was in error in one of his statements. This was seen by Lord Colchester, who, knowing the Doctor's general character for correctness, would not suffer it to be published, but cut it out, and sent it to him. The Doctor sat down, and immediately wrote a reply; which, when read, drew forth the following exclamation from his Lordship, -- "The objections are totally annihilated; I never saw a more complete triumph!"

    The objection, it may be stated, was inserted in the volume in which Magna Charta is published. Referring one day to the circumstances which gave rise to that palladium of English liberty, and to the further circumstance of his having walked over the ground where it was secured, in a meadow between Windsor and Staines, he observed, "John came out unarmed, with twenty-three followers, who were also unarmed; and gave his Barons the meeting, expressing his willingness to acquiesce in their demands, and signing the Charter. From this, seventeen copies were taken, each of which the king also signed."

    J. Everett. -- "What reason is to be assigned for the king affixing his signature to each?" Dr. Clarke. -- "They were copied and signed with a view to deposit in the Cathedrals of the kingdom for the use of the Ecclesiastics, and were deemed of equal authority with the original." J. E. -- "Are any of these in existence now?" Dr. C. -- "On examination, only one was found in its place, -- that belonging to Lincoln Cathedral; from which I took a facsimile, and had it engraved. [40] This is the only one considered in all respects legal: that in the Cottonian Library, though an original, is not accounted anything in law, because of its being private property, and not in its proper place. There is one passage in Magna Charta with which I was struck, when examining it in detail: "to none will we sell, to none will we deny, to none will we delay right or justice."

    J. E. -- "It involves only an act of justice, to which the people were entitled." Dr. C. -- "To perceive its full force, we must advert to the labor and expense of obtaining justice prior to Magna Charta, when the king sat on the Bench in person; hence the name, Bancus Regius -- King's Bench. Take a case: a person of the name of Richard Anstey instituted a suit to regain an estate, which had belonged to his ancestors, and which he could not obtain without making immense presents to the king, the queen, the royal family, and the law authorities. After having gone through the expectants once, he found he had not been sufficiently generous, and had to recommence his acts of liberality. The delay continued for some months; and he at length presented the queen with a beautiful palfrey [palfrey n. (pl. -eys) archaic, a horse for ordinary riding, esp. for women. -- Oxford Dict.], when he finally obtained his suit. The whole of this lingering, difficult case, I wrote, which comprised a thick quarto volume. One of the Commissioners wished to know what was intended by it; and though nothing further was said on the subject at the time, it was not difficult to perceive, from all the sums which Anstey had paid, and the other gifts he had presented, in order to obtain justice, that the volume was to be a standing monument of the state of things, and of the necessity of Magna Charta, which says, -- 'We will not defer justice.'"

    Though John was compelled to sign the Charter, it is well known, that he soon endeavored to set its provisions aside, and his three remaining years were passed in war against his Barons. It was the reign of Henry III., that gave effect to the whole; an interesting view of which is given in -The Barons' War, including the Battles of Lewes and Evesham, by W. H. Blaauw. [41] Dr. Clarke's views of different parts of English History, differed from several who have written on the subject: and owing to the advantages he had while engaged on the Records of the Kingdom, he was frequently urged by his brother-in-law, Mr. Butterworth, to undertake a faithful History of England. But he was deterred from entering upon it in consequence of other engagements.

    Speaking, in connection with English History, of Mary, Queen of Scotts, and Elizabeth, he said, "I have read the whole of the letters that passed between them, -- a thing that Hume never did, and never could have done, if he had had the kingdom of heaven to give for it; and the impression on my mind from these is, that Mary was a weak, foolish woman, -- at the same time, excessively injured; -- was driven on by the merciless Scotts, -- and goaded to her destruction; and that Elizabeth was a proud and crafty woman."

    Although his engagements prevented him from entering upon a History of England, he never lost sight of his Commentary on the Sacred Writings; and when anything turned up available for that purpose, he generally found an appropriate place for it. His remarks on "Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, it is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me," are of this character; observing, "It is an offering of approach; something consecrated to the service of God in the temple, by which a man had the privilege of approaching his Maker. This conduct was similar to the custom of certain persons who bequeath the inheritance of their children to churches or religious uses; either through the terror of conscience, thus striving to purchase the kingdom of glory, or through the persuasions of interested hireling priests. It was in this way, that, in the days of popish influence, the principal lands in the nation had fallen into the hands of the church. In these charters, multitudes of which have passed through my hands, a common form was, pro salute mea, et pro salute antecessorum meorum, et pro salute successorum meorum, et pro salute uxoris mea, &c., &c., do, et concedo Deo et Ecclesæ, &c. 'For my salvation, and for the salvation of my predecessors, and for the salvation of my successors, and for the salvation of my wife, &c., &c. I give and bequeath, &c.' Though a world of literature was destroyed, and many fine buildings ruined by the suppression of the monasteries in England, yet this step, with the stat. 23, Henry VIII.,

    c. 10, together with the stat. 9, George II., c. 36, were the means of checking an evil that had arrived at a pitch of unparalleled effrontery, -- supplanting the atonement made by the blood of the covenant, putting death-bed grants of land, &c., in the place of Jesus Christ, and throwing the whole secular power of the kingdom into the hands of the pope and the priests. No wonder they cried out, when the monasteries were suppressed! It is sacrilege to dedicate that to God, which is taken away from the necessities of our parents and children; and the good that this pretends to, will doubtless be found in the catalogue of that unnatural man's crimes, in the judgment of the great day, who has thus deprived his own family of its due. To assist our poor relatives, is our first duty; and this is a work infinitely preferable to all pious legacies and endowments." His researches, too, among the national records, relative to the Licentia Regis, necessary for the currency of papal bulls, especially such as affected the king's prerogative, or the privileges or safety of a nation, gave him an insight into ecclesiastical matters of which few could boast. The results of some of these researches were published a short time ago (1813) in the columns of one of the London newspapers, and furnish a mass of evidence respecting the continual exertions of the Papal See to appropriate to itself all the power, secular as well as ecclesiastical, of the British empire, and to make the parliament its tool, and the king its deputy. Dr. Clarke's feeling against the Church of Rome was very strong before he entered upon the Record Commission; but it was much increased at the close of his researches; and his reason for this will be found in his Collections from the State Documents, just referred to, showing the unhallowed claims of the Romish Church. Speaking of some of these documents, he observed, among other things, -- "While we append our seals of gold, and the Dutch fasten a large wooden box, filled with wax, to theirs, the Pope sends lead, stamped with his own infernal image on one side, and on the other with the pontificate, &c."

    While he abhorred Popery as a system, he had a high regard for the talents, moral character, and general benevolence of many who embrace it, but who seem to live above it; he spoke in high terms of the manner in which he was received and treated at Maynooth College, while engaged in the commission. "The official characters," said he, "treated me like the son of a king; they brought out a number of bulls, and expressed their readiness to show me anything I might require to further the object of my mission in every possible way."

    Though anticipatory as respects the chronology of events, in the Doctor's personal history, yet by way of grouping certain incidents and circumstances either in immediate connection with the records, or his travels to and fro, while employed as commissioner, a somewhat singular circumstance may be here noticed.

    On the occasion of his visit to Maynooth, he was standing at the door of an inn, awaiting his conveyance. While there, he saw some soldiers and a crowd of persons round a chaise. On inquiring the cause of the concourse, he was informed, that it was General Gibbon who had been taken prisoner, after having been concealed among the mountains for a period of thirteen years. He had been the leader of the rebel forces, and a reward had been set upon his head. The Doctor perceiving that they were directing their course toward the inn, stepped up to the landlady and asked permission to go into the room appropriated to the general. To this she replied, she had no power to grant such a request, and expressed a doubt whether the military would allow it; pointing him, however, to a room, which she said they would probably enter, and stating further, that if they found him in it, they might possibly allow him to remain: he accordingly went, and saw from the window, the soldiers take the general out of the carriage. The Doctor observed, "He was literally loaded with iron, -- shackles round his ankles, his knees, and his body! and these not admitting a sufficient inclination of the back, the soldiers had to take him out feet first." When he entered the inn, he turned into the room which was occupied by the Doctor, and looking upon him with a mixture of scorn and bravado, said, "Sir, you are a heretic -- a believer in heresy!" Calling for a pipe, which one of the soldiers handed him with great respect, he immediately filled it, and broke out into a kind of rhapsody. Taking a whiff, he said, "They say, I am a rebel; -- I love my country, if that is rebellion." He whiffed again, and with great sang-froid [sang-froid n. composure, coolness, etc., in danger or under agitating circumstances. -- Oxford Dict.] proceeded, They say, I am an enemy to King George; -- if I had a glass, I would drink his health." Whiffing again, -- "If he were here, I would smoke his health;" adding, after another whiff, -- "and if his life were in my pipe, I would smoke it out." The Doctor, who imitated his action by a piece of twisted paper, conveyed to the mind -- (which was indeed his object) -- the perfect image of a man apparently cool and recollected, and who, from a perfect knowledge of what awaited him, had made up his mind to suffer. He subjoined, on closing the relation, -- "He was hanged very soon afterwards."

    Dr. Clarke's reception at Armagh was no less distinguished for kindness, than that at Maynooth. The steeple of the old gothic cathedral, he playfully compared to an "extinguisher," being somewhat like one on the building. The gentlemen who had the care of the "Observatory," built by Dr. Robinson, had written some remarks on one of the Doctor's publications, not altogether in the spirit of fair criticism; but on conversing with him, he was toned down into mildness, and manifested the utmost respect for his character and opinions.

    While here, on one of his visits, he met the bishop of Kildare, who showed him a Popish bull, in which the pontiff requested Charles I. to employ his endeavors to bring about the English nation to the Romish religion, provided he could do it without violence. On examining it, Dr. Clarke said, "We must have this." The bishop replied, "It must not be published; were this the case, what will become of the martyrdom of Charles?" His Lordship, with the utmost condescension, not infrequently addressed the Wesleyan sub-commissioner under the cognomen of brother, -- a title much more Christian than modernly episcopal.

    His first admission into the State Paper Office, though under the seal of the secretary of state, was somewhat cautious and frigid: the gentlemen presiding over that department hesitated; the Doctor saw the drift of it; told them that it was of no importance to him whether he were admitted or not; but on showing them his authority, they became more free and courteous, -- stated that he was at liberty to go into any department he deemed proper, and would be furnished with a room, pens, ink, and paper. He had free access, also, to every part of the British Museum and other offices, to the former of which his note was a sufficient introduction for anyone who might apply for admission. Among others, the Spanish ambassador requested a note of recommendation from him, and was much gratified with the interview.

    His reception at Cambridge, was rather more than cautious; Mr. _____, to whom he was introduced, saying somewhat crustily, "I cannot think of showing the library to anyone who may come to see it, without previous notice, -- a day at least." The Doctor replied, "I come commissioned by government; it is not my place to force an entrance anywhere, but to step in wherever a door may be opened, and to search for national records; if, in this case, it be not agreeable, I shall not press it:" so saying, he turned away, and left the gentleman before he had time for consideration, and set off for London, where he reported his reception. On his next visit, he carried with him recommendatory letters from the lords commissioners, to other officials than Mr._____, who received him courteously, and afforded him every facility for the accomplishment of his object; begging him to apply to them, and he should have free access to the different repositories of learning. A room in the public library, being appropriated to him, he remained in Cambridge some weeks. Both in the public library, and in the manuscript library of Corpus Christi College, formerly belonging to Archbishop Parker, he was very successful in his researches, and had the most marked attention paid him by the Professors, and other literary characters. -- He spoke also with grateful feeling of the attention received, when visiting the Bodleian library, Oxford, where he found some valuable treasures bearing upon the great work of the Foedera.

    On noticing the Cottonian collection in the British Museum, he observed, that its original proprietor had preserved a number of public MSS., such as statutes, &c. He met with one record, in which William the Conqueror, and several others, signed with a + instead of their name. William's brother being the only one among the latter, who signed his name, he was deemed learned, because he could write. -- Withrod, king of Kent, signed with a +, also, the same document, stating that he was unable to write. It is proper to remark here, as Dr. Clarke well knew, but the opposite of which Robertson has been too forward to assert, that there were exceptions to this; for as Maitland shows in his "Essays" on "The Dark Ages," this form of signature was a religious ceremony, and was regarded as a kind of manual oath.

    His familiarity with all state affairs, rendered him an interesting companion to anyone inquisitive on these matters; and hence his friends esteemed it no ordinary privilege to walk through the Chapter House, Westminister, with him, and to have his hand to direct them to the great Domes-Day Book, the letters of Cardinal Wolsey, the ancient bulls, the large register books, the royal wills, and various other authentic transcripts and instruments, accompanied with remarks upon them: a privilege with which the writer was happily favored.

    On resigning his office, in consequence of ill health, and other hindrances, the Commissioners asked him, with great politeness and delicacy, whether he had a son to whom they could be of any service? He intimated that he had one -- referring to his eldest son, J. W. Clarke, to whom they might be of service, provided they had work for him, but no son of his should ever receive a salary with his consent for which he did not labor. Mr. Clarke was immediately put into the Record Office. Had Dr. Clarke loved this world's wealth, he might now have made his fortune; but, said he, "I looked for nothing;" and he came out of office unenriched; giving up his salary with his work, stating that he would hold no sinecure.

    Notwithstanding the Doctor's other literary engagements, during which he regularly preached in the several chapels belonging to the circuit, and visited the sick, he found time to prepare for the press an edition of Harmer's "Observations on various Passages of Scripture," in 4 vols., 8vo. Just at the time the whole had been printed off, with the exception of one sheet and the index, the fire already referred to in the case of "Shuckford's Connections," consumed every copy, and he had to commence the work anew; the result of which second literary toil was now given to the world.

    Though the proofs in favor of Divine revelation were sufficiently conclusive, and adequate to the conviction of any candid examiner, centuries before Mr. Harmer undertook to compile his "Observations," yet the secondary kind of evidence which his work affords, is of considerable value; and however little may be established, much is explained, -- an object of prime importance with Dr. Clarke as an expounder of the word of God, being to refute the sneers, silence the objections, and lessen, if not remove, the apparent difficulties, of which infidels in various periods, (especially Voltaire,) have availed themselves, in the attempt to impeach the authenticity of the sacred scriptures. With such a work in general circulation, the scoffer at revelation would have to descend in society, before he could find persons ignorant enough of eastern customs, to be the dupes of sophisms, which at one time would have perplexed the learned; while the student of the sacred books would discern confirmations of their genuineness and truth, in those very obscurities which would formerly have foiled his sagacity and shaken his faith.

    The work, long out of print, had become so scarce and costly as to be inaccessible to the rising race of biblical students; a new edition, therefore, was hailed by the public; a proof of which was perceptible in the fact of several editions being called for in the course of a few years -- the fifth being in circulation in 1816. Whatever the original claims of the work might be, it was allowed by the periodicals of the day, that they were greatly augmented by the diligence, learning, and skill of Dr. Clarke. The nature and value of his improvements belong, of course, more immediately to a critique than a personal narrative, and may therefore be dismissed by a reference to the work itself, together with the editor's preface.

    It may be satisfactory, however, to remark in passing, that not only was the style improved, but the Hebrew and Greek words cited by Mr. Harmer, were inserted in their proper character by Dr. Clarke, with the Masoretic pronunciation in italic. Many curious and appropriate questions were introduced in the notes from Arabic and Persian authors. He also added a series of "Observations," entitled, "A Specimen of the advantages which may be derived from the Greek and Roman Classics for the explanation of various passages in the Sacred Writings;" these extended over several pages. A table of the contents of each "observation" was now prefixed to each volume, and a running title inserted at the head of each page, specifying the subjects. He also introduced a plate, containing "a correct outline of the famous Prenestine Pavement, with its description taken partly from Father Montfaucon, and partly from Dr. Shaw." Though Dr. Clarke treats Mr. Harmer with very proper respect, he makes no scruple to correct many of his statements, and dispute many of his inferences and illustrations.

    "A Discourse on the Nature, Design, and Institution of the Holy Eucharist, commonly called the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper," also engaged his attention in the course of 1808. The circumstances involved in the discussion, and satisfactorily treated in this comprehensive discourse, are objects of the most rational and legitimate curiosity, independently of that higher and more solemn kind of feeling which is due to a consideration of the divine religion with which they are connected; and if, on some dubious and controverted points, persons may be found to differ with the author, they will in all probability cheerfully approve the genuine candor and manly simplicity with which his opinions are stated. The style of the work is plain, perspicuous, and free from affectation; while the matter is distinctly characterized by strong sense, sound learning, unaffected piety, and a devout reverence for the authority of the scriptures. To many readers, the statements contained in the discourse will appear as novel as they are interesting; whilst to others, whose habits and studies have previously led them to an accurate examination of the subject, they will recall many pleasing and important views of this distinguishing ordinance of the New Testament.

    Many quotations from the languages, and illustrations from the history, of other places and times, are casually interspersed. To a mind accustomed to philological pursuits these would readily present themselves, on the respective subjects with which they are connected; it was natural, therefore, to accept their assistance. The unlettered reader will find the sense of each carefully given; and the scholar will not be displeased to have the originals exhibited to his view, which it would always be troublesome, and must often be impossible for him to consult. But the great charm of the discourse, consists in placing the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, instituted by the Divine author of Christianity, in its proper light, -- as being remarkable for its simplicity and purity, and having an evident tendency to promote the religious improvement of its subjects, by assisting them in the devout remembrance of his death.

    To whatever object of pursuit Dr. Clarke directed his attention, there was ever a deep under-current at work, pouring its full tide of thought on his Commentary. Some Hebrew Grammars being noticed, he took occasion to recommend, as an early and successful attempt to communicate a knowledge of the original language of the sacred text, the work of Alexander Rowley, called "The Scholar's Companion," in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English, containing short rules for reading the former two languages, with a Lexicon of the Hebrew and Greek words occurring in the Old and New Testaments. [42] He considered the cultivation of a knowledge of the Hebrew tongue in more modern times, as one of the consequences of the Reformation; a spirit of inquiry having been excited, which led to the multiplication of grammars, lexicons, and other elementary works, secluded at first from vulgar research, by being written in Latin, but afterwards translated into English.

    To young persons of promise and talent, Dr. Clarke was a warm friend, ever ready with his advice and arguments to urge them on in the path of useful knowledge, with a view to their improvement. "Study yourself half to death," said he to his young friend, the Rev. D. McNicoll, "and pray yourself wholly to life. Do something you can look at, something that will be worth having when you are not worth a rush. You have tenfold greater advantages than I ever had from reading. Were I you, I would dig, water, lop off, tie up, and lead along, till the garden blossom and bloom as the rose, and the whole ground be like Carmel!"

    The private papers of Sir Andrew Mitchell passing through his hands, embracing his diplomatic services at the Court of Prussia, during the "seven years war of Frederick the Great," he observed, "I should have been glad to have kept these, but there was a duty I owed to the government under which I acted, which led me to advise their purchase for the sake of state purposes." This is noticed for the sake of the principle involved, and by which he was always actuated; for while the self-love of some men is wholly employed in pleasing themselves, the self-love of Dr. Clarke inclined him to please others; and this, in the esteem of Swift, "makes the great distinction between virtue and vice."

    After noticing several particulars connected with his personal history as a Christian, and the accessions which had been made to his literary stores, he said, "If I had the offer of millions of money, on the condition, that the knowledge of these things, their associations, and the feelings excited by them, should, in their recollection, be as though they were not, I would at once say, take your millions and give me my mumpsimus [43] -- preserve to me this knowledge: if I had it in my power to change any of the scenes and associations through which I have passed, I would not alter one iota that has come in this way."

    Alluding to some details into which he had entered, and prefacing an anecdote which he was further requested to give, he observed, -- (thus exemplifying his rigid adherence to truth,) -- "I know not whether I can fully satisfy my conscience in telling it; for unless I can give the precise words, the only way in which I can possibly satisfy myself is, to give a pledge as to the fact."

    Mr. John Broadbent being noticed, who was for some time a traveling companion of Mr. Wesley, the Doctor said, "He was low in stature, and exceedingly delicate. He was the son of a miller, and had only a common education. But he had, by close application, acquired a great deal of general knowledge -- was the very essence of politeness, without being finical -- and told a tale with admirable effect; always observing time, place, persons, and emphasis: he was strictly an accomplished man." Not having constitution sufficient to support the fatigue attendant on the steps of Mr. Wesley, he had to give place to others. Few indeed, could be found to keep pace with the founder of Methodism, or to relish his fare, even in the evening of his days. He was in the Norman Isles after he had passed his 80th year; "And there," said Dr. Clarke, "the venerable man and myself, had to sleep in a room covered with straw, where we had some old sails thrown over us during the night." He continued, somewhat playfully, "After we had reposed ourselves, Mr. Wesley asked, 'Adam, are there any crabs on these shores?' On replying in the affirmative, he said, 'Let us go down to the sands, and get some.' Off we set, and I soon caught what was wanted;" adding pleasantly, "You see, I have been crab-catcher to Mr. Wesley."

    Controversy, it will have been seen, the Doctor avoided as far as possible, especially deprecating its introduction into the social circle. "It is a shame," said he to Mr. L., in a half jocose [joking] mood, "to bring such a book as that into an honest man's residence;" Mr. L. having cited a passage from a work in which man was represented as "willing to do, and doing not," &c. "It reminds me," proceeded the Doctor, "of a couplet of Old Erskine,-

    'If both to good and evil equal bent, Then, neither sinner, nor a saint:'

    that is, half sinner and half saint; neither fit for heaven nor hell -- God nor devil. But the fact is, a man cannot be equally inclined in will to two things. Take the following illustration: a man going to a certain place, comes to a part where two roads meet; he cannot pursue both; he makes his selection; and the moment he wills, he chooses, and so enters upon the path, and goes on his way."

    Being a short time after this, at the house of a gentleman who was in the habit of attending a Calvinistic ministry, he was pressed on some theological subjects, in which the doctrine of election was involved. He at first dexterously parried off the subject, from a fear of it leading to unprofitable discussion, by relating an anecdote respecting a Jewish Rabbi, who was visited by one of his brethren, who told him point blank, that he waited upon him for the purpose of debate; but was thus mildly accosted by the former -- "We are at peace with each other, and I shall do nothing to break it." On finding that the parties were instituting their inquiries more with a view to confirmation, than from any disposition to indulge in controversy, the Doctor observed, that when he was young, he laid too much stress on minor points; but that, as age advanced, he kept to the two great commandments, on which "hang the law and the prophets," -- love to God, and love to man; and then gave the substance of what he has published on the subject: stating the two principle grounds to be, -- lst, That Christ took upon him our common nature, in which common nature he represented every human being; -- dying, rising again from the dead, and ascending to heaven in that nature; and 2ndly, That it was impossible that Christ should contract or diminish the magnitude and merit of his own sacrifice -- every act being infinite, and of infinite value. These positions he supported by various arguments, at the close of which, the lady of the house looked towards her brother-in-law, saying, "This, brother, confirms all;" so said the others, who, unknown to the Doctor, had been attempting to confirm each other in the doctrine of general redemption; and thus, undesignedly, the nail which they had been laboring to fasten, was driven to the head. He expressed a belief that Calvinism, so called, originated with the Jews, who considered themselves the favorites of heaven, -- having the seal of the covenant; while the Gentiles were beheld as out of the pale: an opinion held by many of the Jews of the present day. Augustine introduced it into the Christian system; Calvin followed -- who wrote still more strongly on the subject. The Methodists at length arose, and since then, several of the controverted points have undergone different modifications, and the general subject has been softened. Yielding for a moment to his strong feelings on the doctrine of general redemption, after having elucidated and confirmed the several positions taken up, he closed with one of his strong sayings, -- "If this heart of mine could indulge the doctrine of reprobation, as held by some men in their writings, I should be ready to pluck it out, and dash it from me, as unworthy to dwell in the breast of Adam Clarke."

    The religion and character of Oliver Cromwell being subject of remark, he noticed the perversion of scripture in the motto on some of his cannon, -- "Open thou our mouths, O Lord, and we will show forth thy praise." Much more appropriate was one seen by him on a mortar of Lewis XIV, on which these words were cast in relief, -- "Non radios solis, sed Jovis fulmina mitto;" [44] and on others of his ordnance, -- "Ultima Ratio Regium." [45] He subjoined, "king-craft requires king-logic to maintain it." [46] He was somewhat amused with the quaint unsophisticated prayer of General Fairfax, on the day of one of his engagements with the king's troops, part of which was quoted;-

    "O Lord, thou knowest that I am going to be very busy today; if I should forget thee, do thou not forget me, but make up my defects."

    Occasion having been given for noticing some of the old preachers, he observed, as at a former time, "There were several extraordinary men among them, -- men of strong mind, and some of them cultivated: Mr. Mather was an instance; let him only have his own time to say anything, and he would -- singular as it may seem, come to a conclusion which no man could resist. He fought at Culloden-heath, for the Pretender; and such was the loyalty of his father, that, on his return from the field, he turned him out of door to be butchered by the enemy. He became, however, one of the most loyal of men; and was extensively useful as a minister of Christ. John Nelson, too, was a clever man, and specially raised up of God for a particular work. I have read his Journal several times -- once lately, with great pleasure, and deep feeling. Mr. Wesley knew how to value such men; and looking at the great work which God had effected through their instrumentality, in connection with himself, he would quote the hymn-

    'Saw ye not the cloud arise,' &c.

    when his eye glistened as though the electric fluid shot through it." Recurring to Mr. Wesley, he said, "I would rather have given one hundred pounds than met the rebuke of his eye, which was remarkably fine, and its glance intensely penetrating, when directed toward its object of displeasure; but it soon resumed its calm, in combination with general placidity of feature, as though the act itself had been necessary to relieve his mind of some agonizing feeling occasioned by the object of his ire."

    The under-secretary of state having heard of the Doctor's intention to write the life of Mr. Wesley, inquired as to the truth of the fact, when he was met with,-

    "O mihi tam longæ maneat pars ultima vitæ, Spiritus et quantum sat erit tua dicere facta." [47]

    But while he thus expressed a wish to prosecute the work, he intimated his fears that he should not be able to complete his purpose.

    The Doctor once, in connection with other anecdotes, related an instance of simplicity, rarely paralleled. A young man paid him a visit, and declared his intention of going to college, with a view to the ministry. The Doctor told him he could preach among the Methodists without going to college, if he were so disposed. The young man intimated his intention of going into the Established Church. He was informed that an acquaintance with the Greek and Latin languages would be necessary, of which he appeared to be totally ignorant. This objection was met by the statement, that a clergyman in the neighborhood had offered to assist him in their acquirement. He was then asked what time he had to spare for the work, when he replied with great ingenuousness -- "A few weeks." On this it was remarked, "You must have great facility for acquiring languages, if you can devote no more time to the work than you state." Every obstacle seemed to be removed, in the esteem of the youth, by observing, that his parents had made considerable noise in the world, and that as they were well known, he had no doubt he should be able to make his way in the church. On commencing his studies, he sent a note to the officiating minister, requesting "an interest in the prayers of the congregation, on behalf of a young man, who was about to learn the languages, that he might be aided in their acquirement."

    He went in due time to college, and was unheard of by the Doctor for a period of three years, when he again unexpectedly appeared, by putting up a note to the pulpit, purporting to "request the prayers of the congregation on behalf of a young man about to be examined by the bishop, that he might be safely delivered out of his hands." Dr. Clarke, on seeing the name, recollected the person; but did not, of course, read the note; praying, nevertheless, for all who had good designs and desires, that they might have them fulfilled, so far as they were consistent with their own safety and the glory of God. Singular as this may appear, and simple withal, the young man cannot but be honored for his sincerity. He did pass under "the hands" of the bishop, was ordained, and again lost sight of by the Doctor for a number of years.

    The skill employed by birds, beavers, and bees, in the construction of their places of abode, was noticed. After several remarks had been made, the Doctor gave the fable of the birds that came to the magpie, to learn how to construct a nest; the latter, after much labor, and listening to many objections, flying away -- telling them they were too wise to be instructed; and so leaving them as they were found. The point to be established on the occasion was, -- That man was the only creature that had the power of invention; the birds, &c., having made no improvement since God taught the first how to build.

    "The nearest approach to reason," said the Doctor, "I was ever witness to, was at Ratcliffe Close, near Bury, in Lancashire. Looking up to the eaves of a house, I saw a number of swallows' nests in a row, and perceiving no place of ingress, I inquired of Mr. Bealie, the proprietor of the building, how it happened that they assumed such an appearance, when he told me, that, in that neighborhood, they were designated 'blind nests.' Before the return of the swallows in spring, some sparrows had taken possession of them. On the arrival of the original proprietors, attempts were made to eject the occupants; but the sparrows sat, and maintained possession. Other swallows came to the aid of the lawful owners; but no power which they possessed would serve the purpose of ejecting the villainous sparrows -- for the sparrow is a villainous bird! What was the result? The swallows, after various and fruitless attempts, assembled on the roof of the building, and sat for some time as though in grave deliberation; -- they then flew away, each returning, in a few seconds, with mud in its bill, with which they closed up the holes, -- thus burying the sparrows alive; where, in those nests, they remain entombed to this day."

    "That," said a friend, smiling, who heard the relation, "was returning evil for evil with a vengeance." The Doctor, who was one of the last men to act on the lex talionis system himself, commenced advocate, (with no unapt illustration,) for the poor harmless swallows:

    "What," said he jocosely, "if a man were to enter my house, take possession of it, and turn my wife and children out of doors, should I not, on finding that I could not eject him, be justified in nailing him in?"

    Though a summary has been given of the Record Commission, and a few notices have been appended to the account, an occasional glance may be taken of the Doctor in that department, that the reader may preserve in his recollection the toil and conduct of the workman as he passes along. Familiar and condescending as he was among his friends, yet among the learned, the great, and the noble, he was modest almost to a fault. After writing his first Essay, he was called before the Right Honorable the Commissioners. "They took my Essay," said he; "went through it part by part, confirmed every sentiment, and adopted every proposal. I felt myself rather awkward in their presence; but I got through well. Some of them discoursed with me very familiarly, as did also the Speaker. I was with them about an hour and a half. My next interview will be less embarrassing." Though he had opportunities in abundance of making the acquaintance of persons of distinction, his intimate friends were chosen from among the quiet, the simple, and the unpretending. It seemed to give repose to his mind, to escape from ancient manuscripts and black-letter books, into the bosom of an intelligent and pious family, where he might throw off the encumbering costume of the scholar, and luxuriate in the equality of a common man, among common men.

    About this time, (1809) he delivered an "Essay on Essays," at Raven-Row School-House, which displayed no small ingenuity," [48] and gave great satisfaction to his auditory.

    Among those who loved to frequent the society of Dr. Clarke at this period, was Daniel Parken, Esq., of Lincoln's Inn, barrister-at-law, who, as has been intimated, succeeded Mr. Greatheed in the editorship of the "Eclectic Review." He was a man of genius, possessing considerable literary attainments, and was distinguished at the same time for fidelity, persevering ardor, and a hallowed regard for the interests of public morals and true religion. He was of opposite sentiments to Dr. Clarke; and, though in perfect good temper, there was sometimes smart firing between them: reminding the hearer of the quaint remark of Sir T. Overbury; -- "Wit is brush-wood, judgment timber; the one gives the greatest flame, the other yields the durablest heat; and both meeting make the best fire."

    The Doctor held Parken in high esteem, and loved to unbend in his society; but, alas, at the moment when his acquirements in general science and literature, as well as in the particular profession to which he devoted himself, qualified him to enter upon a course of honor and usefulness, the sanguine hopes of his friends, and his own equally bright prospects, were suddenly blighted. He was killed by the overturning of his carriage, while on the Norfolk circuit. He has found a place in Dr. Styles' "Early Blossoms," and Montgomery has embalmed his memory in song, in his introductory stanzas to "The World Before the Flood," entitled, an address "To the Spirit of a Departed Friend."

    Though reference has been made in this allusion to something in the shape of controversy, it was merely casual; Dr. Clarke's general conversation was distinguished, alternately, by anecdote and close and practical observation, without the least parade of learning. When literary subjects were introduced, he was never left in the rear; and on any appearance of the affectation of learning, he would leave the mere pretender to feel his distance and disparity. It was impossible to be in company with him without being instructed: if he spoke, there was always something worth hearing; and in cases of silence, his manner was a lesson.

    The Doctor's old friend, Mr. Samuel Drew, was on the eve of publishing his treatise on the Resurrection of the body; previously to which he submitted the MS., as he had done that on the Immortality of the soul, to his inspection. The Doctor associated with himself some of the members of the Philological Society, and they read it in company with each other.

    "I could not spare time to write down my thoughts," said he, "though I delivered several half-hour speeches on the subject, which all agreed in wishing to be preserved, and transmitted to the author: but to me this was absolutely impossible. -- After all the very ingenious and excellent things said on the subject -- things of great moment in themselves, and of great importance even insulated from the grand argument -- I am afraid I shall still feel, that the doctrine of the resurrection is a mere doctrine of revelation, and that reason and natural analogies will afford but feeble lights to direct us through the palpable obscure. However, the work is entitled to great respect, as no common mind could have dared to explore a path that the vulture's eye hath not seen, and to have met so manfully a host of the most formidable and confounding difficulties."

    An attack being made on the British and Foreign Bible Society, in the attempts of its members to spread the sacred writings through our eastern possessions, in the native languages, the Doctor was called forth in a variety of ways, to help to stem a torrent that threatened to sweep away, not only the holy scriptures from India, but also everything sacred in our national character. He was not occupied in this case, by writing and publishing any formal defense, but by attending committees, imparting counsel, and giving an impetus to the more general plans and operations of the society and its agents.

    Notwithstanding his multifarious engagements, and especially the Record Commission, which, to others than himself, would have been not, a little secularizing in its tendency, his ministry was as effective as heretofore. It was at this time, Miss Hanson, afterwards Mrs. Cooper, (whose "Memoirs" were published by him) began to attend the Wesleyan ministry; and it was under his enlightening and persuasive pulpit exercises, that she was induced to make religion the business of her life. By him she was taught the connection of reason and religion, -- how far they are in union with each other, -- where the one leaves us, and the other takes us up; and had her views so enlarged and invigorated, that her prior knowledge -- even in her Christian state, seemed, in the comparison, to be more speculative than experimental, more notional than practical.

    Anxious for the improvement of his family, as well as the church and the world, he thus addressed one of his children: "Youth is the time, and the time alone, in which learning can be attained. I have, it is true, acquired many things since, but it has been with great labor and difficulty; and I find I cannot retain them as I can those things which I learned in my youth. Had I not got rudiments and principles in the beginning, I certainly should have made little out in life; and it is often now a source of regret to me, that I did not employ that time as I might have done; at least, to the extent my circumstances admitted. But, for my comparative non-improvement, I can make this apology, my opportunities were not of the most favorable kind: being left to explore the way nearly alone, and never informed how I might make the best use of the understanding God had given. I have felt this defect in my own education so distressingly, that I was determined my children should not have cause to complain on the same ground, and therefore we have endeavored to give you and your brothers and sisters all the advantages in our power. If you improve them so as to grow wise and pious, we shall praise God for you; and rejoice that by means of suffering certain privations ourselves, we have been enabled to afford you the means of useful knowledge; and of the fear and love of God; without the latter, all the rest is not worth a rush."

    If, as is stated, it is in the domestic sphere of life, we act wholly from ourselves, and assume only that character which nature and education -- and, we may add, religion has given us, Dr. Clarke will lose none of his interest when thus contemplated. He had an admirable help-meet, it ought to be remarked too, in Mrs. Clarke, as is implied indeed in the above extract, in the work of education. In her, as a Christian he found all -- even more, than Plutarch ascribed to Timoxena; of her, he could say, "She opened her mouth with wisdom -- many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all."

    Baxter, whose "Christian Directory" he abridged, and published in 2 vols. 8vo., in 1802, was, in his opinion, one of the brightest suns among the nonconformist divines. "He stands distinguished," said he, "for a pious and exemplary life, moderate and pacific principles, and for his numerous theological writings. His doctrine was too pure, and his life and ethic system too strict, for him to be long a court-favorite in times of irreligion and dissipation: but he glorified God in every fire which he permitted his enemies to kindle around him. He appears to have acquainted himself thoroughly both with geometry and logic: and those who are acquainted with these sciences can easily perceive this in all his reasonings. Though he may very safely be abridged, yet it requires not only much labor, but some skill to do it well; his logical method of writing constituting the principal difficulty; all his arguments being produced in a sort of geometrical order, -- one almost constantly dependent upon another, as an effect upon its cause: his thread, therefore, can seldom be broken, without injury to the sense. His works have done more to improve the understanding and mend the hearts of his countrymen than those of any other writer of his age; and while the English language remains, and scriptural Christianity and piety to God are regarded, his works will not cease to be read and prized by the wise and pious of every denomination. His 'Call to the Unconverted,' his 'Saint's Everlasting Rest,' and his 'Reformed Pastor,' are his most popular works, not perhaps because the best, but because the first is small, and easily read; and the others, by being faithfully abridged by different pious men, are made portable, and have been brought down to a moderate price."

    Towards the close of the year, the Dr., in connection with Mr. Moore, opened Southwark Chapel, when a special influence of God attended the services.

    * * * * * * *


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