30th November 1824

An excessive wet day read the Literary Souvenier for 1825 in all its gilt & finery what a number of candidates for fame are smiling on its pages what a pity it is that time shoud be such a destroyer of our hopes & anxietys for the best of us are but doubts on fames promises & a century will thin the myriad worse than a plague

29th November 1824

Lent Henderson 5 Nos, of London Mag. from July to November & The Human Heart

28th November 1824

A gentleman came to see me today whose whole talk was of Bloomfield & Booksellers he told me to put no faith in them & when I told him that all my faith & MSS. likewise was in their hands already he shook his head & declared with a solemn bend of his body 'Then you are done by God They will never print them but will dally you on with well-managed excuses to the grave & then boast that they were your friends when you are not able to contradict it as they have done to Bloomfield' he then desired me to get my MSS. back by all means & sell them at a market-price at what they woud fetch he said that Bloomfield had not a £100 a year to maintain 5 or 6 in the family why I have not £50 to maintain 8 with This is a hungry difference

27th November 1824

Recievd a parcel of Ferns & flowers from Henderson the common polipody growing about the Thorp Park wall the harts tongue growing in a well at Caistor the Lady fern growing at Whittlesea Meer & tall White Lychnis with 7 new sorts of Chrysanthemums—the Paper White the bright lemon 3 sorts of lilac & 2 others — I love these flowers as they come in the melancholy of nature

26th November 1824

Went to see if the old hazel nut tree in Lea Close was cut down & found it still standing it is the largest hazel tree I ever saw being thicker then ones thigh in the trunk & the height of a moderate Ash — I once got a half peck of nuts when in the leaves of its branchs when a boy — the Inclosure has left it desolate its companion of oak & ash being gone

25th November 1824

Recievd a letter from Hessey I have not answerd his last & know not when I shall the worlds friendships are counterfeits & forgeries on that principle I have provd it & my affections are sickened unto death my memories are broken while my confidence is grown to a shadow in the bringing out of the second edition of the Minstrel they were a 12month in printing a title-page.

24th November 1824

I have often been struck with astonishment at the tales old men & women relate in their remembrances of the growth of trees the elm grooves in the Staves Acre Close at the town-end were the rooks build & that are of giant height my old friend Billings says he remembers them no thicker than his stick & saw my fathers uncle set them carrying a score on .his back at once I can scarcely believe it.

23rd November 1824

Some months back I began a system of profiting by my reading at least to make a show of it by noting down beautiful odd or remarkable passages—immitations in the poets & prosewriters which I read & I have inserted some likenesses [?] of Lord Byrons about which there has been much nattering & ink shed I never saw some of them

22nd November 1824

Lookd into Miltons Paradise Lost I once read it through when I was a boy at that time I liked the Death of Abel better what odd judgments those of boys are how they change as they ripen when I think of the slender merits of the Death of Abel against such a giant as Milton I cannot help smiling at my young fancys in those days of happy ignorance.

21st November 1824

Paid a second visit to the old castle in Ashton Lawn with my companion Billings to examine it—we strum* it & found it 20 yards long fronting the south & 18 fronting eastward we imagind about 12 foot of the walls still standing tho the rubbish has entirely coverd them except in some places were about a foot of the wall may be seen it is coverd within & without with blackthorn & privit & spurge laurel so that it is difficult to get about to view it I broke some of the cement off. that holds the stones together & it appears harder then the stones itself brought some home in my pocket for my friend Artis there is some rabbits hants* it & the earth they root out of their burrows is full of this cement & perishd stone—part of the moat is still open

* Connected with 'straum,' 'strime,' 'strome'—to 'stride', but obviously used here by Clare to mean 'measure', with approximately foot- or yard-long steps.

* As with 'shoy,' 'shy*, Clare spelt 'haunts* as he pronounced it.

20th November 1824

Went out to hunt the harts tongue species of fern & fell in with the ruins of the old castle in Ashton Lawn but found none its commonest place is in Wells in the crevices of the walls but I have found it growing about the badger-holes in Open Copy Wood got very wet & returnd home finishd the 8th chapter of my life.

19th November 1824

Had a visit from my friend Henderson & I felt revivd as I was very dull before he had pleasing News to deliver me having discoverd a new species of Fern a few days back growing among the bogs on Whittlesea Mere & our talk was of Ferns for the day he tells me there is 24 different species or more natives of England & Scotland one of the finest of the latter is calld the maidenhair growing in rock-clefts

18th November 1824

Read in Southeys Wesley he has made a very entertaining book of it but considering the subject I think he might have made more of it the character of Wesley is one of the finest I have read of they may speak of him as they please but they cannot diminish his simplicity of genius as an author & his piety as a Christian I sincerely wish that the present day coud find such a man.

17th November 1824

The Chrysanthemums are in full flower what a beautiful heart-cheering to the different seasons nature has provided in her continual successions of the bloom of flowers — ere winters bye the little acconite peeps its yellow flowers then the snowdrop & further on the crocus dropping in before the summer multitude & after their departure the tall hollyhock & little aster bloom in their showy colors then comes the michaelmas daisey & lastly the chrsanthemum while the China roses

all the year Or in the
bud or in the bloom appear.

16th November 1824

My friend Billings told me that he saw 4 swallows about the second of this month flying over his house he has not seen them since & forgot to tell me at the time — now what becomes of these swallows for the winter that they cannot go into another country now is certain & that they must abide or perish here is certain but how or were is a mystery that has made more opinions then proofs & remains a mystery

15th November 1824

Went to gather pootys on the roman bank for a collection found a scarce sort of which I only saw 2 in my life I pickd up under a hedge at Peakirk town-end & another in Bainton meadow its color is a fine sunny yellow larger than the common sort & round the rim of the base is a black edging which extends no further than the rim it is not in the collection at the British Museum

14th November 1824

Read in old Tusser with whose quaint rhymes I have often been entertaind he seems to have been acquainted with most of the odd measures now in fashion he seems to have felt a taste for enclosures & Mavor that busy note-maker & book-compiler of schoolboy memory has added an impertinent note to Tussers opinion as an echo of faint praise so much for a parsons opinion in such matters I am an advocate for open fields & I think that others experience confirm my opinion every day there is 2 pretty sonnets in Tusser & some natural images scatterd about the book the 4 following lines are pretty:

The year I compare as I find for a truth
The Spring unto Childhood the Summer to Youth
The Harvest to Manhood the Winter to Age
All quickly forgot as a play on a stage


Some of the words in the glossary have different meanings with us — to addle means to earn wages — eddish with us is the grass that grows again as soon as it is mown — staddle, bottom of a stack &c &c

13th November 1824

Lookd into Thomson's 'Winter' there is a freshness about it I think superior to the others tho rather of a pompous cast how natural all his descriptions are nature was consulted in all of them the more I read them the more truth I discover the following are great favourites of mine & prove what I mean describing a hasty flood forcing through a narrow passage he says:

It boils & wheels & foams & thunders through
Snatch'd in short eddies plays the wither'd leaf
& on the flood the dancing feather floats

12th November 1824

Burnt a will which Taylor of Deeping made for me by Mossops orders as it was a jumble of contradictions to my wishes — wrote the outline for another in which I meant to leave everything both in the copyright & fund money &c &c of all my Books M.S.S. & property in the power of my family at least in the trust of those I shall nominate trustees & Lord Radstock is one that I shoud like to trouble for the purpose.

11th November 1824

Recievd a letter from Inskip the friend of Bloomfield* - full of complaints at my neglect of writing what use is writing when the amount on both sides amounts to nothing more than waste paper I have desires to know something of Bloomfields latter days but I can hear of nothing further than his dying neglected so its of no use enquiring further for we know that to be the common lot of genius .

* Later, Thomas Inskip, author of "Cant, A Satire" (1843} was a friend during Clare's first eight years in the asylum at Northampton.

10th November 1824

Read 'Macbeth' what a soul-thrilling power hovers about this tradegy I have read it over about 20 times & it chains my feelings still to its persual like a new thing it is Shakespears masterpiece the thrilling feelings created by the description of Lady Macbeths terror-haunted walkings in her sleep sink deeper than a thousand ghosts—at least in my vision of the terrible she is a ghost herself & feels with spirit & body a double terror

9th November 1824

Read Shakespears 'Henry the Fifth' of which I have always been very fond from almost a boy I first met with it in an odd volume which I got for sixpence yet I thought then that the Welsh officer with 2 other of his companions were tedious talkers & I feel that I think so still yet I feel such an interest about the play that I can never lay it down till I see the end of it

8th November 1824

Read over the Magazine the review of Lord Byrons Conversations is rather entertaining the pretending letter of James Thomson * is a bold lye I dislike these lapt-up counterfeits mantled in truth like a brassy shilling in its silver washings those Birmingham halfpence passed off as matter of fact monies Elia can do better the rest of the articles are motley matters some poor & some middling Magazines are always of such wear

* Actually a genuine letter

7th November 1824

Recievd a packet from London with the Magazine & some copies of MSS that come very slowly & a letter very friendly worded but I have found that saying & doing Is a wide difference too far very often to be neighbours much less friends recievd a letter too from Van Dyk lookd into Wordsworth poems & read Solomons Song & beautiful as some of the images of that poem are some of them are not reconsilable in my judgment above the ridiculous I have inserted them in a blank verse fashion in the Appendix yet the more I read the Scriptures the more I feel astonishment at the sublime images I continually meet with in its poetical & prophetic books nay everywere about it all. other authors diminishes t& dwarfs by their sides

6th November 1824

Took a walk in the fields the oaks are beginning to turn reddish brown & the winds have stripped some nearly bare the underwood's last leaves are in their gayest yellows thus autumn seems to put on bridal colours for a shroud the little harvest-bell is still in bloom trembling to the cold wind almost the only flower living save the 'old man's beard' or travellers joy on the hedges

5th November 1824

Read in Bishop Percy's poems the Reliques of Ancient Poetry take them up as often as I may I am always delighted there is so much of the essence & simplicity of true poetry that makes me regret I did not see them sooner as they woud have formed my taste & laid the foundations of my judgment in writing & thinking poetically as it is I feel indebted to them for many feelings

4th November 1824

Recievd a letter & prospectus from a School¬master of Surfleet wishing me to become a correspondent to a periodical publication calld 'The Scientific Receptacle' what a crabbed name for poesy to enlist with its professes to be a kinsman to The Leeds Correspondant & the Boston Enquirer the latter of which I remember to have been much pleasd with— in which was a pretty song by Scott

3rd November 1824

Took a walk with John Billings to Swordy Well to gather some 'old man's beard' which hangs about the hedges in full bloom its downy clusters of artificial-like flowers appear at first as if the hedge was litterd with bunches of white cotton went into Hilly Wood & found a beautiful species of fern on a sallow stoven in a pit which I have not seen before there are 5 sorts growing about the woods here the common brake the fox fern the hart's tongue & the polypody 2 sorts the tall & the dwarf

2nd November 1824

Set some box edging round a border which I have made for my collection of ferns read some passages in Blair's Grave a beautiful poem & one of the best things after the manner of Shakespear its beginning is very characteristic of the subject there are crowds of beautiful passages about it who has not markd the following aged companions to many such spots of general decay ...

a row of reverend elms,
Long lashd by the rude winds.

Some rift half down
. . . others so thin atop

That scarce two crows could lodge in the same tree.

1st November 1824

Took a walk to Lolham Brigs to hunt for a species of fern that usd to grow on some willow tree heads in Lolham lane when I was a boy but coud find none got some of the yellow water-lily from the pits which the floods had washed up to set in an old water-tub in the garden & to try some on land in a swaily corner. as the horse-blob thrives well which is a water flower listend in the evening to Glinton bells at the top of the garden I always feel mellancholy at this season to hear them & yet it is a pleasure:

"I'm pleased & yet I'm sad"