31st October 1824

Took a walk got some branches of the spindle tree with its pink-colord berrys that shine beautifully in the pale sun found for the first time 'the herb true love' or 'one berry' in Oxey Wood brought a root home to set in my garden—lookd into the 2 Vols of Sermons from Lord Radstock the texts are well selected & the sermons are plain & sensibly written they are in my mind much superior to Blairs popular Sermons & that is not going great lengths in their praise for Blairs are quiet & cold & his study seems more in the eloquence & flow of Style then in the doctrine of religion for the language is beautiful but it is studied like Dr Johnson's musical periods

30th October 1824

Recievd a present of 2 Volumes of Sermons On the Doctrines & Practice of Christianity from Lord Radstock he is one of my best friends & not of much kin with the world. The chrysanthemums are just opening their beautiful double flowers I have 6 sorts this year the claret-coloured the buff the bright yellow the paper-white the purple & the rose-coloured lost one—the chocolate or coffee-color—promisd more from Milton

29th October 1824

Read some poems of Wordsworth his 'Lucy Gray' or Solitude 'The Pet Lamb' 'We are Seven' the Oak & broom 'the Eglantine & the Fountain' Two April Mornings are some of my greatest favourites When I first began to read poetry I dislikd Wordworth because I heard he was dislikd & I was astonishd when I lookd into him to find my mistaken pleasure in being delighted & finding him so natural & beautiful in his 'White Doe of Rylstone" there is some of the sweetest poetry I ever met with tho full of his mysteries.

28th October 1824

Wrote a letter to Mrs Gilchrist read some passages in Shakespear turnd over a few leaves of Knox's Essays- read Bacon's essay on the idea of a compleat garden divided into every month of the year in which the flowers bloom what beautiful Essays these are I take them up like Shakespear & read them over & still find plenty to entertain me & new thoughts that strike me as if for the first time

27th October 1824

I have been much stuck with some passages in the Poems of Aaron Hill with many happy expressions & original images I have inserted a few of them in Appendix he seems to struggle to free his ideas from the turnpike hackney-isms of sounding rhymes & tinkling periods then in fashion for most of the rhymers of that day seem to catch their little inspirations from Pope.

26th October 1824

Recievd a letter from Allan Cunningham— looked into Pope I know not how it is but I cannot take him up often or read him long together the uninterrupted flow of the verses wearys the ear there are some fine passages in the 'Essay on Man' the Pastorals are nicknamed so for daffodils breathing flutes beachen bowls silver crooks purling brooks & such like everlasting singsong does not make pastorals. His prologue to the Satires is good but that celebrated Epitaph on Gay ends burlesquely.

25th October 1824

Old Shepherd Newman dyed this morning an old tenant of the fields & the last of the old shepherds the fields are now left desolate & his old haunts look like houses disinhabited the fading woods seem mourning in the autumn wind how often hath he seen the blue skye the green fields & woods & the season's changes now he sleeps unconscious of all what a desolate mystery doth it leave round the living mind the end of Gray's 'Elegy' might well be applied to this tenant of the fields—'Oft have we seen him'

24th October 1824

Recievd a letter from Lord Radstock— finished another chapter of my life read some passages in Blair's Sermons lookd into Maddox on the culture of flowers & the Flora Domestica* which with a few improvements & additions would be one of the most entertaining books ever written if I live I will write one on the same plan & call it 'A Garden of Wild Flowers' as it shall contain nothing else with quotations from poets & others an English Botany on this plan woud be very interesting & unuterable words now in vogue only overloads it in mystery till it makes it darkness visible

23rd October 1824

Continued to read Hazlitt I like his Lectures on the Poets better than those of the comic writers & on Shakespear his View of the English Stage is not so good as either they might have remained in their first places without any loss to the world viz the Newspapers for which they were written his other works I have not seen read in Shakespear 'the Midsummer Night's Dream' for the first time I have still got 3 parts out of 4 of the plays to read & I hope I shall not leave'the world without reading them

21st October 1824

Recievd a letter from Hessey & wrote one took a walk in the fields gatherd a bunch of wild flowers that lingerd in shelterd places as loath to dye—the ragwort still shines in its yellow clusters & the little heath-bell or harvest-bell quakes to the wind under the quick banks & warm furze— clumps of wild Marjoram are yet in flower about the mole-hilly banks & clumps of meadow-sweet linger with a few bushes yet unfaded

20th October 1824

Workd in the garden at making a shed for my Auriculas the Michaelmas daisey is in full flower both the lilac-blue & the white thick-set with its little clustering stars of flowers I love them for their visits in such a melancholy season as the end of autumn—the Horse chestnut tree is losing large hand-shaped leavs that litter in yellow heaps round the trunk the walnut is compleatly bare & the leavs are tand brown & shriveld up as if scorchd the elms are as green & fresh as the oaks

A hiatus

I am away in foreign parts for a fortnight or so from the 19th… I will try to make the odd post, but may not be able to do so. Normal service will be resumed on my return.

19th October 1824

Lookd over a New vol of provincial poems by a neighbouring poet Bantons—Excursions of Fancy & poor fancies I find them there is not a new thought in them 4 years ago a poet was not to be heard of within a century of Helpstone & now there is a swarm Roses Early Muse Wilkinsons Percy both of Peterbro Messing's Rural Walks of Exton Adcock Cottage Poems of Oakham-—Cantons Excursions of Fancy of Teigh—Strattons Poems of Abbots Ripton &c &c & all of a kin wanting in natural images &c

18th October 1824

Lookd again into Don Juan like it better & feel a wish that the great poet had livd to finish it tho he appears to have lost his intended plan on setting out & to have continued it with any purpose that came uppermost—Don Juan's visit to England reads tiresome & one wishes at the end that he had met with another shipwreck on his voyage to have sent him elsewhere

17th October 1824

Recievd a letter from Mrs Gilchrist — read some passages in my Shakspear took a walk the hedges look beautiful with their hips & glossy sloes lookd into the poems of Coleridge, Lamb & Lloyd. Coleridge's monody on Chatterton is beautiful but his sonnets are not happy ones they seem to be a labour after exelence which he did not reach. Some of those by his friend Lloyd are excelent & seem to have attained it without trouble 'To Craig Millar Castle' & 'To November' are the best in my opinion—Lamb's best poetry is in Elia tho 'tis a sufficient fame in a late harvest—I wish he woud write on

16th October 1824

Wrote 2 more pages of my life find it not so easy as I at first imagind as I am anxious to give an undisguisd narrative of facts good & bad in the last sketch which I wrote for Taylor I had little vanitys about me to gloss over failings which I shall now take care to lay bare for readers if they ever are published to comment upon as they please in my last 4 years I shall give my likes & dislikes of friends & acquaintances as free as I do of myself—

15th October 1824

Read in Elton's Poems some passages in The Brothers are very good & appear to be the utterance of feeling the small poems are middling 'Rob Roy' & 'A Father's Reverie' are two of the best—there is a pleasant sound lingers on the ear whilst reading these lines:
—the bare trees with crashing boughs aloft
Rock & re-echo & at whiles are hush'd:
I commune with my spirit & am still

14th October 1824

Wrote a letter to Lord Radstock — Read some passages in the Poems of Tannahill* some of his Songs are beautiful particularly 'Loudon's bonny woods & braes' 'We'll meet beside the dusky glen' & 'Jessey'. His poems are poor & appear as if they were written by another. The epithet 'virgin voice' is odd & this line sounds namby pambily '& therefore love I thee' the Scotch poets excel in song-writing because they take their images from common life where nature exists without affectation

* Robert Tannahill, the Paisley weaver (1774-1810), published his volume of poems and songs in 1807. His songs have a popularity second only to that of some of Burns'.

13th October 1824

Feel rather worse lookd over the Magazine for amusement, for Magazines are the best things in Literature to pass away a melancholy hour their variety & the freshness of their subjects whether good or bad never fail of amusement to reccomend them Blackwood's has had a hard hit on Taylor there are no more Editor Scotts at present to check them The letter on Macadamizing is good the review on Walladmor* is 30 pages long I wish De Quincey had better subjects for his genius tho there are some parts of the novel that seems alive with action.
* A novel attributed to Sir Walter Scott, but actually by G. W. Haering.

12th October 1824

Began to learn a poor lame boy the common rules of arithmetic & find him very apt & willing to learn. Began an enquiry into the life of Bloomfield with the intention of writing one & a criticism on his genius & Writings. A fellow of the name of Weston pretended to know a great deal about him but I must enquire into its authenticity Capel Lofft* did not improve on the account given by his brother George by altering it — Editors often commit this fault.

*The Suffolk squire by whose exertions The Farmer's Boy was published in 1800.

11th October 1824

I have been dipping into The Miseries of Human Life. Here & there the petty troubles are whimsical enough & the thing a novel one which is sufficient to ensure success now & I understand it ran through a many editions & that the Authors made £ 1,500 by it clear profit so much for fashion Collins's poems would not pay for the printing & the price Milton got for his Paradise Lost is well known so fashion's taste is still the same her outside only alters—out upon her foolery.

10th October 1824

A wet day have finished the life of Savage in Johnson's Lives of the Poets it is a very interesting piece of biography but the criticisms are dictated by friendship that too often forgets judgment ought to be one of the company to leave this & turn to the life of Gray what a contrast it almost makes the mind disbelieve criticism & to fancy itself led astray by even the wisest of men I never take up Johnson's Lives but I regret his beginning at the wrong end first & leaving out those beautiful minstrels of Elizabeth had he forgot that there had been such poets as Spenser Drayton Suckling &c &c but it was the booksellers' judgment that employd his pen & we know by experience that most of their judgments lye in their pockets so the Poets of Elizabeth are still in cobwebs & mystery read in the afternoon Erskine's Evidence of Revealed Religion & find in it some of the best reasoning in favour of its object I have ever read I think a doubting Christian may be set aright at a first perusal & a reasoning Deist lose doubts sufficient to be half a Christian in some of the originals & a whole one ere he get to the end.

9th October 1824

Observed today that the Swallows are all gone. When they went I know not. Saw them at the beginning of the week, a white one was seen this season by Mr Clark in the fields while out shooting. Patty has been to Stamford & brought me a letter from Ned Drury who came from Lincoln to the Mayor's Feast on Thursday. It revives old reccolections. Poor fellow he is an odd one but still my reccolections are inclined in his favour. What a long way to come to the Mayor's feast, I would not go one Mile after it to hear the din of knives & forks & to see a throng of blank faces about me chattering & stuffing 'that boast no more expression than a muffin'.

8th October 1824

Very ill today & very unhappy my 3 Childern are all unwell had a dismal dream of being in hell. This is the third time I have had such a dream. As I am more & more convinced that I cannot recover, I will make a memorandum of my temporary concerns, for next to the Spiritual, they ought to come & be attended to for the sake of those left behind. I will insert them in the Appendix. Neglect is the rust of life that eateth it away & layeth the best of minds fallow & maketh them desert. Done nothing.

7th October 1824

Got a parcel from London Elton's Brothers & Allen's Grammar gifts of the authors & Erskine's Internal Evidences of Religion the gift of Lord Radstock one of my best friends a very sensible book. This passage stuck me I first opened 'To walk without God in the world is to walk in sin & sin is the way of danger’. Men have been told this by their own consciences & they have partially or occasionally believed it, but still they walked on; too true. Recievd 3 letters from Van Dyk, Mrs Emmerson & Hessey. Done nothing.

6th October 1824

Recieved the London Magazine by my friend Henderson who brought it from town with him. A very dull no. The worst of magazines is waste-paper repetition for humbug is editor of them all in the June no. De Quincey had a paper on 'False Distinctions' which contended quite right enough that women had an inferior genius to men. In July 'Surrey' put up a little clever petition against it which read very well but proved nothing. In the 'Lion's Head' a little Unknown stuck a letter to the Editor on the same side. In August another popt a plea for female genius between the two opinions of middling stuff. In September 'Surrey' popt in another push for his opinion & in October the middling middle one is pushing a go-between again. When will it end. The article on Byron carries ignorance on the face of it. Recievd a letter from Cary.

5th October 1824

One can scarcely trust fame or credit in these days of misrepresentation and deception. This morning a PlayBill was thrown into my house with this pompous Blunder on the face of it
On Thursday Evening Oct. 7 1824 'Will be published the
popular new comedy (never acted here) calld
Pride shall have a fall or the Twentieth Huzzar
written by the Rev. G. Groby and now performing
in the Theatre Royal Covent Garden with
increased attraction & applause
(advt. in the Times)
In the Times Telescope they rechristened me Robert Clare: there went the left wing of my fame.

4th October 1824

I have again reflected over my new will & I believe the expression of 'and their respective legal representatives' is wrong so I shall alter it as soon as it is returned — I had several memorandum which I intended to have inserted in the will but I was told it would cost too much in proving if it was long so I will insert them in the Appendix that my desires may be known & as I am anxious hope attended too tho it often happens otherwise there’s little trust in the world to leave faith behind us upon promises.

3rd October 1824

Began to read again 'The Garden of Florence' by Reynolds it is a beautiful simple tale with few conseits it begins prettily, 'In the fair city of Florence there did dwell...' & ends sweetly 'The lovely nightingale & watching star, At evening ever their companions are' there is a many beautys in it.
'The Romance of Youth' is too romantic that is the youth it describes is not a general character yet there are several beautys in it of true poesy the redcap is a beautiful comparison ' Itself a feather'd flower' the comparing the white stem of the Birch to a serpent is bad taste something like the serpents wreathing round the artificial trees in Vauxhall Gardens verse 32 about the king­fisher turns on a consiet & verse 66 about the fairys bodice is a worse consiet still—'May the rose of months the violet of the year' is very pretty the volume is full of beautys of the best sort the verse about the 2 children is another addition to the many from Chantreys monument
Let C. Mossop take my new Will home with him for lawyer Taylor to alter — Read in the Testament the Epistle of St. John I love that simple-hearted expression on little children it breathes of brotherly affection & love.

2nd October 1824

Read the poems of Conder over a second time like some of them very much there is a great many & unpretentious beautys among them the Imitations of the Psalms are good the Ode to the Nightingale is good but the expression Sir Nightingale is bad & spoils it The principal poem is like many such attempts poor the best poems on religion are those found in the Scriptures which are inimitable & therefor all imitations cannot but be inferior — the first sonnet on autumn is a good one & the Song 'Twas not when early flowers was springing' is beautiful I am much pleased with many more which I shall read anon

1st October 1824

Had a new will made as the old one was not right proving nothing that I wishd & everything contrary this I don't like I leave C. Mossop E, T. Artis & J. A. Hessey executors & all monies arising from book profits &c. in their trust with that in the Funds & whatever may be put out to interest the money in the Funds to be drawn out & shared equally among my children when the youngest is 21 I don't understand the expression in it of my 'Son & daughters &? their respective Representatives & shall have it alterd—it was signed by W. Bradford & Taylor