Edward Daniel Clarke

THIS distinguished traveler and antiquarian, son of the Rev. Edward Clarke, was born at Willingdon, in the county of Sussex, on the 5th of June 1769. Whilst very young, he gave proofs of a roving disposition, and of a fondness for natural history and chemistry, and many amusing anecdotes are related of his conduct under the influence of these predilections. He received the rudiments of education at an academy in the village of Uckfield; and, in 1779, was sent to the grammar school at Tunbridge, then under the superintendence of the celebrated Vicessimus Knox. Here he made but little classical progress, but his fondness for books was evinced by his habit of reading late at night, when all his schoolfellows were asleep, for which purpose he spent great part of his pocket-money in purchasing candles. In 1786, shortly after which his father died, he entered Jesus College, Cambridge, where he obtained the situation of chapel clerk, to the duties of which office he was scrupulously attentive, but distinguished himself in no branch of university learning, excepting that of English declamation. He devoted himself, however, with great assiduity to his self-selected studies, which consisted of history, antiquity, and every variety of learning comprehended under the term of belles lettres. Natural history, and particularly mineralogy, also occupied great part of his time and he evinced a capacity for scientific pursuits, by the construction of a large balloon at Oxford, and of an orrery at home, for the purpose of delivering lectures to his sister, his only auditor. His sole means of support at this time were derived from an income of about L96 per annum, the source of which was a Rustat scholarship, and his exhibition from Tunbridge. Thus situated, and having made a vow to accept no pecuniary assistance from his mother, whose income was extremely small, he determined to exert himself, and accordingly, as the time approached for his examination, he, for 'the first time, entered upon a regular course of study, and on proceeding to his degree, in January 1790, he obtained the mathematical honor of a junior optime, which, though it did not confer a high distinction, enabled the college, with some show of justice, to elect him afterwards to a fellowship. In the following April, on the recommendation of the Bishop of Gloucester, he became tutor to the Honorable Henry Tufton, nephew of the Duke of Dorset, with whom he made the tour of Great Britain; and, on his return, published an account of it, but the work is by no means on a level with his subsequent performances.

In 1791, he went with his pupil to Calais and, in the following year, he obtained an engagement to accompany Lord Berwick on a tour to Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. 'He was now,' says Mr. St. John, one of his biographers, in the position for which nature had originally designed him.' An unbounded love of travel,' are the words of Clarke himself, ' influenced me at a very early period of my life. It was conceived in infancy, and I shall carry it with me to the grave. When I reflect upon the speculations of my youth, I am at a loss to account for a passion, which, predominating over every motive of interest, and every tie of affection, urges me to press forward, and to pursue inquiry, even in the bosom of the ocean and the desert. Sometimes, in the dreams of fancy, I am weak enough to imagine that the map of the world was painted in the awning of my cradle., and that my nurse chaunted the wanderings of pilgrims in her legendary lullabies.' He remained abroad about two years, and on his return, became tutor, successively, to Sir Thomas Mostyn, and to two sons of the present Marquis of Anglesey. In 1798, having previously taken his degree of M. A., he resumed his residence at Cambridge; and, in the following year, set out with his pupil and friend, Mr. Cripps, on a tour through Denmark, Sweden, Lapland, Finland, Russia, Tartary, Cir cassia, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Greece, and Turkey. Having arrived at the gulf of Bothnia, Clarke declared he would not return until he should have snuffed the polar air,' and he accordingly proceeded as far as Enontakis, in latitude 68 deg. 30 min. 30 sec. north: beyond which, illness prevented him from venturing.

On the 26th of January 1800, he arrived at Petersburg, whence he continued his course to Moscow, and Taganrog on the sea of Azoff; and, on his reaching Achmedshid, in the Crimea, he passed some time with his pupil in the house of Professor Pallas. He next visited Constantinople, where he was employed in searching for, and examining, Greek medals; and, among other curiosities of the Turkish capital, he contrived to enter the seraglio, where,' he says, Frank had before set his foot.' Hence he made an excursion to the Troad, at the prospect of beholding which, he had previously said in a letter to a friend, Tears of joy stream from my eyes while I write.' Egypt and Syria next claimed his attention and whilst near the lake of Genesareth, he took particular observation Of the Druzes, whom he describes as the most extraordinary people on earth,' and whose custom of prostrating themselves weekly before the molten calf, he observes, is exactly that worship at which Moses was so incensed in descending from Mount Sinai.'

In 1801, he returned to Egypt, and whilst in that country, a dispute arising between the French and English generals respecting the literary treasures collected by the former, he was deputed by General Hutchinson to point out those most worthy of being conveyed to England, which country is indebted to him, amongst other things, for the acquisition of the famous sarcophagus of Alexander the Great. From Europe he proceeded to Greece, where his enthusiasm seems to have reached its highest stretch. 'It is necessary,' he exclaims, to forget all that has preceded - all the travels of my life - all I ever imagined - all I ever saw I Asia, Egypt, the Isles, Italy, the Alps - Whatever you will! Greece surpasses all! Stupendous in its ruins! - awful in its mountains, - captivating in its vales, - bewitching in its climate. Nothing ever equaled it - no pen can describe it - no pencil can portray it!'

Our traveler returned to Cambridge in 1802, when, in consequence of his presents to the university, of which the principal was a Grecian statue of Ceres, he was presented with the degree of LL. D. It does not appear at what time he took orders, but in 1806, in which year he married Angelica, daughter of Sir William Beaumaris Rush, he succeeded to the college living of Harlton in Cambridgeshire; and shortly afterwards to the vicarage of All Saints, Cambridge, where he officiated with great popularity, and upon which he bestowed an altar-piece, after the Grecian model. In the year last-mentioned, he commenced a course of lectures on mineralogy, the excellence of which induced the university, in 1808, to found a professorship for the encouragement of that branch of learning, when he was unanimously elected to the chair. About the same time he received L1,000 from the curators of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, for the manuscripts he had collected during his travels, including the famous one known as the Patmos Plato,to which Professor Porson assigned a very high antiquity. In 1810, the first volume of his travels appeared; and was succeeded, at subsequent periods, by five others. The publication of them produced him a sum of L6595; and by no means a more than adequate one, when it is considered that the work occupied five thousand pages of quarto letter-press; a task, under which, he says, I should have sunk, had I not been blessed with double the share of spirits which commonly belong to sedentary men.' Yet amidst all this toil and multifarious employment, he pursued the study of chemistry both with zeal and success, as appears in one of his letters to a friend, in September, 1816, in which he says, I sacrificed the whole month of August to chemistry. Oh, how I did work I It was delightful play to me; and I stuck to it, day and night. At last, having blown off both my eye-brows and eye-lashes, and nearly blown out both my eyes, I ended with a bang that shook all the houses round my lecture-room. The Cambridge paper has told you the result of all this alchemy, for I have actually decomposed the earths, and attained them in a metallic form.' The death of this accomplished traveler took place at the residence of his father-in-law, on the 9th of March, 1822, and he was buried on the 18th, in the chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge, with academic solemnities.

For ardent enterprise, energy of purpose, industry of research, and extent and variety of observation, few travelers are to be compared with Dr. Clarke. His works have, on this account, become more popular than any other of a similar nature, though containing an account of countries both before and since visited and described. They would certainly bear abridgement; but it would require a most skillful hand to select from pages where few paragraphs appear worthy of rejection, if of curtailment. Al though he expresses himself with enthusiasm, and many of his reflections are hastily and inconsiderately formed, his style is chaste and clear, and he details the most curious facts with a simplicity incompatible with exaggeration. In speaking of the second volume, Lord Byron says, 'in a letter to the author, in tracing some of my old paths, adorned by you so beautifully, I receive double delight. How much you have traversed! I must resume my seven-leagued boots, and journey to Palestine, which your description mortifies me not to have seen, more than ever.'

A peculiar feature in the character of Dr. Clarke, is the rapidity with which he passed from one pursuit to another. I have lived to know,' he says in a letter to Dr. D'Oyley, that the great secret of human happiness is this: - never suffer your energies to stagnate. The old adage,' he adds, of " too many irons in the fire," conveys an abominable lie. You cannot have too many; poker, tongs, and all - keep them all going.' His ardor for knowledge,' says his biographer, the Rev. Mr. Otter, not unaptly called by his old tutor, literary heroism, was one of the most zealous, most sustained, and most enduring principles of action that ever animated a human breast.' As a preacher, his biographer speaks of the sublimity and excellence of his discourses,' and says that his ardor in the pursuit of science was softened by moral and social views.' In private life he was amiable and benevolent; and, to conversation equally interesting and intelligent, joined the most kind and captivating manners. He was survived by five sons and two daughters.

In addition to his Travels, Dr. Clarke was the author of Testimony of different Authors respecting the Colossal Statue of Ceres; The Tomb of Alexander; Description of the Greek Marbles brought from the Shores of the Euxine, Archipelago, and Mediterranean; besides some letters and pamphlets, on subjects relating to science and antiquity.