31st May 1825

My dear child Eliza was taken ill of a fever on Sunday night & is as yet no better. Sent a letter & parcel to Mrs Emmerson with 'The Parish' & my new will for Mr Clutterbuck to draw up. Mrs Bellairs of Woodcroft Castle came to see my garden—Artis told me he fancied that the place in Harrisons close was a Roman pottery. I have since reccolected that there used to be a large hole about 2 stones throw from it called 'Potters Hole' when I was a boy & filled up since the Enclosure this may go far for his opinion.

Lines 17-22 from 'The Parish':

Say groves of myrtle here in winter grow
& blasts blow blessings every time they blow
That golden showers in mercey fall to bless
The half thatchd mouldering hovels of distress
That edens self in freedoms infant sphere
Was but a desert to our Eden here

30th May 1825

Took a walk yesterday to Bassetts close at the bottom of the wormstalls to see the Ash trees that the lightning struck on Saturday it took off the large top & splintered the body to atoms driving large pieces of it in all directions round the tree to the distance of fifty yards.
The stump of the trunk left standing was pilled of the bark all round & split to the bottom.
I never saw such terrible power of lightning in my life before: people came to see it from all the neighbouring villages & took away the fragments as curiositys

29th May 1825

[The Lesser Butterfly orchid]
The following Advertisment is from the Observer of Sunday May 22 1825: "Just published The Speech of his Royal Highness the Duke of York in the House of Lords the 25 April 1825 Printed by J. Whittaker (with the same splendour as the account of the Coronation of his Majesty) in letters of Gold on the finest cord paper price 10/6 Sold by Septimus Prowett 23 Old Bond Street.

Well done Septimus Prowett the speech is an open & honest one & well deserves it—Heard the most severe thunderclap yesterday that I ever heard in my life it was-heard instantly (only 3 pulses) after the flash—Found a very scarce & curious orchis of an iron grey color or rather a pale rusty tinge with a root like the pilewort I cannot make out its name—I found last week a fine white piegon orchis* which is seldom found

* In his copy of Isaac Eraerton's Treatise on the Culture of the Auricula, Clare has written a list of 'orchis's counted from privet hedge'. But among the twenty he mentions there is no 'piegon' (Clare's usual spelling for 'pigeon') orchis. Nor has Mr. Ernest Colman, the Peterborough botanist, ever heard, locally, of 'pigeon' orchis. The only white orchis is, of course, butterfly orchis, though sometimes spotted orchis is white, with small coloured markings. Or had Clare misheard Henderson's possible abbreviation of pyramidal—'pyram' (pyramidal orchis is occasionally nearly white, too) and not yet seen it written ?

27th May 1825

Recievd a letter & a packet of Newspapers yesterday from Mrs Emmerson in which she promises to send me some Polyanthuses from Bath & Carnations also—

28th May 1825

Found the old Frog in my garden that has been there this 4 years I know it by a mark which it recievd from my spade 4 years ago I thought it woud die of the wound so I turned it up on a bed of flowers at the end of the garden which is thickly covered with ferns & bluebells I am glad to see it has recoverd in Winter it gets into some straw in a corner of the garden & never ventures out till the beginning of May when it hides among the flowers & keeps its old bed never venturing further up the garden

26th May 1825

Took up my hyacinth bulbs & laid them in ridges of earth to dry made a new frame for my Auriculas found a large white orchis in Oxey Wood of a curious species & very rare I watched a Bluecap or Blue Titmouse feeding her young whose nest was in a wall close to an Orchard she got caterpillars out of the blossoms of the apple trees & leaves of the plumb—she fetchd 120 caterpillars in half an hour now supposing she only feeds them 4 times a day a quarter of an hour each time she fetches in no less than 480 caterpillars & I shoud think treble that number

24th May 1825

The Catholics have lost their bill once more & its nothing but right they shoud when one beholds the sacred humbugs which their religion hurds up & sanctifys.

A list of Catholic relics in a church at Dobberan in Mecklenburg—-From Nugent's Travels

"A small quantity of flax which the Virgin Mary had for spinning—A bundle of hay which the three wise men of the east had for their cattle & left behind them at Bethlehem—a bone of Ignatius Loyola the founder of the Jesuits—A piece of poor Lazaruses Garment—a bone of St. Christopher & first joint of his thumb—a piece of linnen cloth which the Virgin Mary wove with her own hands—a piece of the head belonging to the fish mentioned in Tobit—The napkin which the bridegroom made use of at the marriage of Cana in Galilee—a hair of St. Jerome's mustachios—Part of Judas bowels which gushed out as he burst asunder—the Sissors with which Delila cut off Samson's hair—a piece of the apron which the butcher wore when he killed the calf upon the return of the prodigal son—one of the five smooth stones which David put into his bag when he went to encounter the giant Goliath—a branch of the tree on which Absalom hung by the hair—The Deeds of St Thomas as the Apostle of St Paul & of St Peter—A piece of St Peters fishing net—the priest fold the traveller that one of the relics had been stolen in the last Century & it was no less than a quill from the Angel Gabriel's wing".

23rd May 1825

More Wonders from the Mercury

'A Clergyman of the established Church name Benson now Attracts larger congregations at St Giles Church then the celebrated Mr Irving once did at the Caledonian. Mr Benson's chief characterization is calm & dignified reasoning Mr Irvine's powerful eloquence & vehement action’

211 Stage Coaches pass weekly through Daventry Northamptonshire' — Stamford Mercury

22nd May 1825

Newspaper Odditys
'A .spirited London bookseller announces that he is printing the Duke of York's Speech against the Catholics in Letters of Gold' — This is shining fame at least.
'The total population of America is 34,280,000 of which 11,287,000 are Protestants 22,177,000 Roman Catholics & 820,000 Indians not Christians'
At Wieland in Poland the imagination is confounded at the idea of finding, after a descent of 850 steps in the salt mines, vast Halls. (The Hall of Klosky is 3,100 feel high & 180 feet wide) -- stabling for 80 horses, storehouses, offices for Clerks, & three chapels, the whole of the fittings – altars, crucifixes, tables, desk & seats worked in salt!' Stamford Mercury
Recievd a letter from Lord Radstock with one enclosed of a Mr Boileau with a flattering compliment on my poems calling me a pretty flower

18th May 1825

At a meeting of Florists held at the old King's Head at Newark last week prizes were adjudged as follows:

First - Grimes Privateer - Mr. Ordoynd
Second - Stretches Alexander - Mr. Ordoynd
Third - Wild's Black & Clear - Mr. Welby

First - Twineys Princess of Wales - Mr. Ordoynd
Second - Frillings Names Tantoraria - Mr. Taylor
Third - England's Defiance - Mr. Clark

15th May 1825

Extracts from the Stamford Mercury
Coals were first used in England in the reign of Edward the 1st the smoke was supposed to corrupt the air so much he forbad the use of them.

A fellow who passes himself off on the ignorant by telling them that ‘a flying serpent will come to destroy them, against whose venom he sells spells that will ensure their safety’ the delusion respecting the flying serpent still continues: The fatal days were stated to be Thursday last the 18th & 28th. The Prophet has been travelling through Dorset & the adjoining counties offering his charms for sale & has not found a deficiency of dupes yet. Of those who demur he asks 'If you will not receive the servants how will you receive the master when he comes'.

14th May 1825

Received the April & May Magazine from London with a letter from Hessey (and) one from Van Dyk that has lain ever since l5th of March. The Magazine is very dull. A note also from Miss Kent accompanied the parcel to request my assistance to give her information for her intended ‘History of Birds’, but if my assistance is not worth more than 12 lines it is worth nothing & I shall not interfere.

13th May 1825

Met with an extraordinary incident today while walking in Open Wood to hunt a Nightingales nest I popt unawares on an old Fox & her 4 young cubs that were playing about. She saw me & instantly approached me growling like an angry dog. I had no stick & tried all I could to fright her by imitating the bark of a fox-hound, which only irritated her the more, & if I had not retreated a few paces back she would have seized me. When I set up an halloo she started.

12th May 1825

It is often reported that the Skylark never sings but on the wing. This report is worth little truth, like a many others. I saw one this morning sing on the ground.

11th May 1825

Recievd a letter last night from Henderson with a plant of the Double Marsh marigold. The male flowers of the Wallnutt ripe & falling off.

10th May 1825

[Chiffchaff or Pettichap]

Saw a male & female of the Tree-sparrow (as I supposed them) in Royce Close hedge next the lane. The cock bird had a very black head & its shades of brown were more deep & distinct than the house sparrow. The female when flying showed 2 white feathers in her tail. They seemed to have a nest in the hedgerow, but I could not find it. Saw a Pettichap in Bushy close -- its note is more like 'chippachap' -- it keeps in continual motion on the tops of trees uttering its note.

9th May 1825

Wrote another portion of my Life & took a Walk to seek a Nightingales nest. Found a Song thrush’s in bushy close by the side of a young oak with 4 eggs. Never saw one of this kind in such a place before.

8th May 1825

Went to walk in the fields saw the white thorn in some places about the hedges covered over with May & the wilding or Crab also was smothered with blossom; the Maple was in full flower.

7th May 1825

Sent some Pootys & Ferns to Henderson yesterday.

6th May 1825

Could not sleep all night got up at 3 o’dock in the morning & walked about the fields. The birds were high in their songs in Royce Wood & almost deafening. I heard the Cricket-bird* again in full cry in Royce Wood -- it is just like a childs 'screeker'. Saw a Hawk-like bird that made an odd noise like one of the notes of the Nightingale, as if to decoy his prey into sight.

* The high, insect-like reeling song of the grasshopper warbler is the best clue to its presence. Even when you hear one it can be difficult to locate it due to the ventriloquial effect of its singing. If seen on migration it moves like a little mouse, creeping through the foliage. (RSPB)

3rd May 1825

Wrote a letter to Taylor & one to Mrs Emmerson.
Addressed: John Taylor Esq., Waterloo Place, Pall Mall, London.
Helpston May 5. -25
Dear Taylor
I delayed to answer your letter till a proof arived to prove that you had not forgotten the promise of sending one & getting on with the book but as nothing of that kind come I must write without it—I had hopes when I recieved your last that your resolves to get on with the poems were in earnest—it is not for the mere gratification of seeing it out that makes me urgent but it is for more substantial reasons which I shall not lengthen the letter to explain—for I am weary of writing or talking about my conserns—Anticipation is a pleasant feeling but it borders on dissapointment which is a very unpleasant one therefore I have waited & hoped-for the best & as I hate offensive correspondence I pass over the unpleasant part of ours as well as I can I might be under a mistake & if so the feelings they excited woud be irritating yet I feel now the negligence in getting out the poems woud make any one complain & whatever harm may come from complaining of matters that appear to claim no commendation I am sure no good can come from speaking in their praise—when I feel anything I must speak it I know that my temper is hasty & with that knowledge of myself I always strive to choke it & soften hard opinion with reasonable interpretations—but put yourself in my place for a minute & see how you woud have felt & written yourself & if you feel that you shoud have acted otherwise then I will take it as an example & strive to correct my failings & be as perfect in an imperfect world as I can

I have no desire to seek another publisher neither do I believe any other woud do as well for me as you may do much less better but when obligation is sought or offered it sells the kindness therefore I will go no further on that head & if I did drawing comparisons from others woud not be adding praise if the complaints of authors are to be noticed & why shoud they not have cause for their lamentations as well as Jeremiah—all I have to say is that if you want to get out of the job of publishing my poems you may tell me so & I will seek another & trust to providence, but if you have no desire to turn me adrift the speedy publication of my poems will gladly convince me that I was mistaken & I shall be happy to prove that you are my friend as usual—here With me endeth the matter I shall say nothing further I dont like to write under such feelings & I wish to get out of them as soon as I can

I beg that Miss Taylor will accept my kindest remembrances & I am heartily glad to hear that she recovers so much—as for my part I cannot get rid of my complaint at all it leaves me & returns again as virulent as ever last week I was much worse & this week I am much better agen but I have little hopes it is not lasting I shall be very happy to recieve Mrs W. Wrights kind present of the flowers which she so readily assented to give me & will as gladly send her anything that I posses in return I wish you woud tell her so—I dont think it Woud be too late to send a sucker of the White Provence Rose provided it were lapt up in wet moss & not kept on the Journey the Tiger lily too woud not hurt if sent in the same manner moss keeps the wet like spunge & if this is not to be had fine hay well wetted woud do nearly as well I hope you will tell her as I have been expecting them this 3 weeks I shall send my flowers to her in Henderson's parcel to Milton House for I fear they will be too bulky for any other conveyance & not worth the expense of carriage

I will conclude with the hopes of seeing a proof of the Shepherds Calender in a few days—I told Hessey that I was ready to join the Young Lady in writing the History of Birds but I have heard nothing about it & I have such a fear of my own inability to do anything for such a matter that I cannot enter into it with any spirit as I find that I dont know half the Swimmers & Waders that inhabit the fens & I understand that there are a many of them strangers to the Natural History book makers themselves that have hitherto written about it

I am dear Taylor

Yours sincerely


2nd May 1825

Bradfords Club feast next door. Never went into the yard to see them a thing I never did in my life before. Illness makes the merriest pastimes of life as tiresome fooleries & turns the sweetest offerings of pleasure to gall.