1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Edward Clarke

John Nichols, in Literary Anecdotes of the XVIII Century (1812-15) 4:382-86.



The Rev. Edward Clarke was born at Buxted, March 16, 1730; B.A. of St. John's college, Cambridge, 1752: and, after being elected a fellow of that society, proceeded M.A. 1755; and was presented by George Viscount Middleton to the rectory of Pepperharrow, Surrey, in 1758. He was, like his father, a man of genius, and an excellent scholar. His taste, and wit, gave peculiar charms to his conversation; in which he particularly excelled.

His first publication, I believe, was in the Luctus Academiae Cantabrigiensis, in 1751, on the death of Frederick Prince of Wales; where he has a copy of Greek Hexameters.

He published in 1755, A Letter to a Friend in Italy; and Verses on reading Montfaucon.

In concert with Mr. Bowyer, he projected the improvement of a Latin Dictionary, by reducing that of Faber from its present radical to a regular form. One single sheet of this work was completed; when the design dropped for want of due encouragement.

In 1759 he published A Sermon, preached at the Rolls chapel, Dec. 9; being the Day appointed to return Thanks to Almighty God, for the Victory over the French Fleet, on the 20th of November last.

In 1760 he had the honour to attend his Excellency George William Earl of Bristol, his Britannic Majesty's Embassador Extraordinary, and Minister Plenipotentiary to Madrid, in the quality of chaplain: and, during his residence there of nearly two years, made it his business to collect such information, hints, and materials, relative to the present state of Spain, as might either gratify the curiosity of his friends, or prove of some utility to the publick in general.

These observations were printed, in 1763, under the title of Letters concerning the Spanish Nation written at Madrid during the years 1760 and 1761. By the Rev. Edward Clarke, M.A. fellow of St. John's college, Cambridge, and rector of Pepperharrow in the county of Surrey.

This volume, which contains much curious and useful intelligence, is inscribed to the Dowager Lady Middleton, the patroness of his rectory of Pepperharrow. On his return from Spain, Mr. Clarke married Anne, the amiable daughter of Thomas Grenfield, esq. &c. May 23, 1763; and soon afterwards attended General James Johnstone to Minorca; of which island that officer had been appointed Lieutenant-Governor, in the capacity of secretary and chaplain. In 1767, Mr. Clarke published A Defence of the Conduct of the Lieutenant Governor, in reply to a printed Libel. This short, but well-written pamphlet, was dedicated to the Right Hon. Lord Northington, Lord President of the Privy Council.

Mr. Clark returned from Minorca about the year 1768, and was soon afterwards inducted to the vicarages of Willingdon and Arlington, in Sussex, through the interest of his father; and succeeded to the rectory of Buxted, which Abp. Cornwallis, at the request of the late Marquis, permitted Mr. W. Clarke to resign. From that time he resided principally at Buxted, devoting his whole life to literature. He also, at the request of his friend the late Thomas Steele, esq. recorder of Chichester, undertook to finish the education of his son, the Right Hon. Thomas Steele, and his brother Robert.

In 1769, he gave up Pepperharrow, which he had held with his other livings, from an high principle of honour, not often seen, which would not allow him to be a Pluralist; and was succeeded by the late Rev. Owen Manning, the celebrated Saxonist, and respectable Historian of Surrey.

In 1777 he drew up three Latin epitaphs, on his Father, Mr. Markland, and Dr. Taylor, which are all printed in the present collection of Anecdotes; and on this occasion he tells Mr. Nichols, "As to my father, his name being already inserted in the Biographia Britannica, in the article Dr. Wotton, I should be very much obliged to Mr. Bowyer and yourself, if you would insert a note there, just mentioning his publications, and giving a short character of him: and I shall esteem it a great favour if Dr. Kippis will insert it. I once indeed had some thoughts of drawing up something of this kind as a parentibus to his memory."

Mr. Bowyer dying a few days after this letter was written, Mr. Clarke also wrote a Latin epitaph to his memory, which will be found in its proper place.

In 1778 he printed Proposals for printing by subscription, price two guineas, an edition in folio, of the New Testament in Greek; with select Notes from Scaliger, Casaubon, Beza [etc.] Collected by the late Rev. W. Clarke, the Rev. W. Sherwin, D. Whitby, &c. and the Editor.

His intention was, not only to have printed the text after the impression of Dr. Mill; but to represent also all the alterations which Dr. Mill proposed, either in Prolegomena or notes. This project was not, however, carried into effect; and we do not find that he published any thing afterward, though he had very ample and entertaining stores, accumulated by his Father and himself.

He died in November 1786; leaving, by Anne his wife, three surviving sons; and one daughter, Anne, who possesses the talents of her family, and is married to Capt. Parkinson of the Royal Navy, one of Lord Nelson's school, who was with him in the battle of the Nile, and was an officer he particularly regarded.

Mr. Clarke was buried in the chancel of his church at Buxted; where an epitaph has lately been placed over his grave, written by that very elegant and classical scholar George Caldwell, esq. the friend and fellow of Dr. Clarke.