John Clare Journal (1824-25)

All of Clare's 1824/5 Journal has now been posted on this site. I will be leaving it for research purposes for the forseeable future. Comments on individual entries are, of course, still very welcome.  I will seek to answer questions within a day or so.

30th April 1825

Recievd another letter from the editor of Bloomfields Correspondence requesting me to alter a line in my sonnet on Bloomfield 'Thy injured muse & memory need no sigh' & asking permission to publish only 2 of them which I shall not agree with either way Editors are troubled with nice amendings & if Doctors were as fond of amputation as they are of altering & correcting the world woud have nothing but cripples.

29th April 1825

The hedge-Sparrow in the Box tree has been about 12 days building her nest the Robin in the wall about 14 & the Jenny-wren near 3 weeks heard all through last night the sort of watch-ticking noise calld a death-watch I observed there was 1 on each side the chamber & as soon as one finished ticking the other began I think it is a call that the male & female use in the time of cohabiting a Jenny wrens nest with the outside just built I mean to see how long she is about the lining

28th April 1825

Hedge-Sparrow finished her nest in Billing's Box-tree & laid l egg — Walnutt showing leaf — Sycamore & Horse-chestnutt nearly coverd I observed a snail on his journey at full speed & I marked by my watch that he went 13 inches in 3 minutes which was the utmost he coud do without stopping to wind or rest It was the large garden snail

27th April 1825

Heard the Cuckoo for the first time this Season — it was said to be heard a week back by a Shepherd — Saw the large Grey Wagtail. I think it a bird of passage as I have never seen it in winter — some young Plants of Ash & Maple showing leaf — Saw a bird with a dark line over each ear I think it one ot the fly catchers

26th April 1825

This used to be 'Breakday' when the fen commons used to be broke as it was calld by turning in the stock it used to be a day of busy note with the villages but Enclosure has spoiled all

25th April 1825

Heard a terrible kick-up with the Rats in the ceiling last night & might have made up a tollerable faith to believe them ghosts — A thunderstorm several claps very loud in the distance came from South West

24th April 1825

No Proofs of the New Poems yet — Recievd a Letter from Lord Radstock & Mrs Emmerson

23rd April 1825

Saw the redstart or Firetail today & little Willow wren the blackthorn tree in full flower that shines about the hedges like cloaths hung out to dry — Saw in the Stamford paper that the lost leaf of Domesday book was found & had no time to copy out the account

22nd April 1825

[Two fieldfares]

Went to Milton — Saw the red-headed brown linnet smaller than the brown — saw a Pettichap or hoverbird— & a large flock of Fieldfares — brought home a white Primrose heard a many Nightingales — in the evening I heard a bird make a long continued noise for a minute together like a childs skriecker or a cricket but much louder — Henderson promises to give me some information respecting the birds about Milton

21st April 1825

Heard the Nightingale for the first time this season in Royce Wood.

20th April 1825

Recievd a letter from Taylor in answer to mine to Hessey of last Sunday — He is very pettish respecting my anxiety & irritation & says that if my friends who gave me the advice & cautions &c respecting the neglect & mystery of booksellers or myself can find a Publisher who can do better by them than he does he will readily return the M.S.S. — but he throws a river in the way for me to cross by saying that tho none of their distrust can do no good it may do harm — now if it can do harm to find fault with actions that can find no commendation I am sure it can do no good to speak in their praise

19th April 1825

The Swallows have made their appearance I saw one to-day & I heard by a cowboy that they were come 3 days ago

18th April 1825

Resumd my letters on Natural History in good earnest & intend to get them finished with this year if I can get out into the fields for I will insert nothing but what has come under my notice

17th April 1825

I have waited 3 weeks for a new proof of the Shepherds Calendar & nothing has come which was to be in 3 days—I have sent for some rough copys of Poems which I sent up to Taylor when the Village Minstrel was in the press & I have not got them yet & never shall I expect—-I want them to finish some for a future publication & correct others—[4 lines scored out and indecipherable] I have never as yet had a settling—Recievd a letter from Dr. Darling—no proofs yet— sa'w a solitary Field fare in Oxey wood I never observed one so late before — wrote to Hessey in a manner that I am always very loath to write but I coud keep my patience no longer

To Hessey
April 17 1825

FRIEND HESSEY
I have waited a long while for a proof of the book & my patience being exhausted I must write tho I have neither the inclination or wish to be offended — Artis brought down a story that made me perfectly satisfied that letter writing was but waste time & paper a thing is easily written tho it is never to be done & he said that he found on his second application for the M.S.S. which I have written for about twelve times that you did not mean to send them for what reason I cannot tell — I shall want them & cannot get on with my present occupation without them tho I have been unable latly to do anything if I had them — another thing that surprised me very much was the confession that Van Dyk made at my plan for the new book by saying that he had not many of the poems mentioned therein — now this is very strange that an editor should be employed by Taylor to get out my poems & that he should still neglect even to make him aquainted with the M.S.S. this is a very odd way of taking in a substitute for tho he could not find time to correct them himself he might certainly have found time to have put them in his hands — I felt very vext at the time & I am far from satisfied with the neglecting manner that has been going on latly Van Dyk said I should have a proof in three days it is now three weeks & none, has yet come if this is to be the plan of proceeding I would really from my heart that my M.S.S. were returned Altogether & I left to do them myself — I cannot meet with worse success than I have lately be as it will — my friends have been long busy with advice & cautions &c but I did not heed it then tho I find at the wrong end of the story that it would have been much better as a preventive to an often uneasy mind of restless anxietys had I taken an earlier heed of what they told me as to the determined neglect & mysterious manner of the profession in general I do not wish to hurt the feelings of anyone nor do I wish they should hurt mine — but when delay is carried into a system its cause must grow a substitute for a worse name — I will go on no further but I will just ask you to give a moments reflection to my situation & see how you would like it yourself

Yours


These never were returned nor accounted for*
How this comment of Clare's appears on a sent letter is a mystery. The only solution is that Clare looked over his letters to Taylor and Hessey while in London in 1828.

16th April 1825

Took a walk in the field a birds nesting & botanizing & had like to have been taken up as a poacher in Hilly wood by a meddlesome conseited keeper belonging to Sir John Trollop he swore that he had seen me in act more than once of shooting game when I never shot even so much as a sparrow in my life — what terrifying rascals these woodkeepers & game-keepers are they make a prison of the forrests & are its gaolers

15th April 1825

Recievd a letter from Lord Radstock in which his Lordship says that Van Dyk is going out of town for a while this is the man that was to get my new book thro the press in 6 weeks & with the assistance of Taylor & Hessey has been a month about one proof of it [2 lines scored out and indecipherable]

14th April 1825

My mother is 67* years old this day she has been afflicted with a dropsy for this 20 years & has for all that outlived a large family of brothers & sisters & remains 'the last of the flock'. The Snakehead or fritillary in flower also the light-blue pink & white Hyacinths — Bluebell or Harebell in flower the Primrose Violet & Bedlam Cowslip fading out of flower.

* Ann Stimson was baptized 17 April 1757 — Registers of Castor Parish.

13th April 1825

The black thorn showing flower

10th April 1825

Found a branch of white thorn in Porters Snow close knotted & nearly in flower it is considerd very early if a branch of May as it is calld can be found on the first of new May

8th April 1825

Recievd a letter from Lord Radstock & one from Mrs Emmerson with an offer that Mr Clutterbuck the Attorney will draw up my will if I chuse which oppertunity I shall certainly take hold of.

Letter - To Artis

March or April, 1825

MY DEAR ARTIS
How are you getting on nay I may be like the Irishman & ask Were you are for I dont know were to find you nor know wether you are at London or York as I write at a venture & the purport of this is to beg your kindness to get a frank for the enclosed letter if in case the pensil marks be rubbed out the Direction is to 'Mrs William Wright Clapham Surrey'. How are you -getting on with your 'Fossil Plants' & 'Antiquitys' I have found some more fragments of pot in Harrison's close near Oxey & am now convinced myself that there is some more worth the trial one of the bits had the letter 'V on it a mark of the potters I suppose I have saved them 'all for your inspection when you next come to Helpstone — have you been to see Hessey I suspect you have as they have begun printing the New Poems — lets hear from you — a little news of any sort is acceptable here — did you see the poems in Montgomery's ' Iris ' I think you heard me talk of it when you was last here.
I am dear Artis
Yours very sincerely
JOHN CLARE

3rd April 1825

A cold wintry day 2 gentlemen came to see me from Milton one of them appeared to be a sensible & well informed man he talkd much of the poets but did not like Wordsworth & when I told him I did he instantly asked me wether I did not like Byron better I don't like these comparisons to knock your opinions on the head with I told him that I read Wordsworth oftener than I did Byron & he seemd to express his supprise at it by observing that he coud not read Wordsworth at all

2nd April 1825

'The Langfield & Crowhurst choir sung several select pieces from Handel in the Cavity of a yew tree in the church yard of the latter place the tree is 36 feet in Circumference & is now in a growing state — the hollow was filled up like a room & sufficiently large to contain the performers — on cleaning out the interior of the tree some years since a 7 Ib cannon ball was discovered which no doubt had been fired into it; it was cut out from the solid part of the tree' Stamford Mercury

1st April 1825

My Sister Sophy is 27 year old today Recievd from Wilson Vyse's Tutor's Guide 2 Vols.*

* 'Being a Complete System of Arithmetic; with various branches in the
Mathematics' by Charles Vyse(1772).

31st March 1825

Artis & Henderson came to see me & we went to see the Roman Station agen Oxey Wood which he says is plainly roman — he told me that he went three times & sent oftener for the M.S.S. which they did not send at last [Some lines scored out & indecipherable]

30th March 1825

Recievd a letter from Van Dyk which proves all my suspicions are well founded I suspected that he had not seen those M.S.S. which I considerd my best poems & he says in his letter that he has not [4 lines scored out and are unable to be read].

27th March 1825

This is Palm Sunday — I went to the woods to seek some branches of the sallow palm for the childern calld by them 'geese & goslings' & 'Cats & Kittens' — Susan Simpson & her brother came to see me — lent her the 2 Vols of Walladmor.

24th March 1825

Recievd a letter from Lord Radstock with a packet of Newspapers from Mrs Emmerson

23rd March 1825

Recievd a parcel from Holbeach with a Letter & the Scientific Receptacle from J. Savage — they have inserted my poems & have been lavish with branding every corner with 'J. Clares' — How absurd are the serious meant images or attempts at fine writing in these young writers one of them concludes a theme on a dead schoolmaster with a very pathetic & sublime wish as he fancys perhaps 'wishing that the tear he leaves on his grave may grow up a marble monument to his memory' — This is the first crop of tears I have ever heard of sown with an intention to grow.

21st March 1825

Had a double Polyanthus & single white Hepatica sent me from Stamford round which was rapped [in] a curious prospectus of an 'Everyday Book' by W. Hone if such a thing was well got up it woud make one of the most entertaining things ever published — & I think the prospectus bids fair to do something there is a fine quotation from Herrick for a Motto how delightful is the freshness of these old poets it-is meeting with green spots in deserts

20th March 1825

Still sharp frosty mornings — Recievd a letter from Mrs Emmerson with an Ode to Spring —Spring is a wonderful mother for ryhmes

19th March 1825

Had from Drakards a folio blank book price 9/- to insert the best of my poems in that Hessey says he will send down.

18th March 1825

The sharp frosty mornings still continue.

17th March 1825

Recievd a letter & present of Books from Lord Radstock containing Hannah Mores Spirit of Prayer — Bishop Wilsons Maxims, Burnets Life of God in the Soul of Man 'A New Manual of Prayers' & Watsons 'Answer to Paine' a quiet unaffected defence of the Bible & an example for all controversialists to go bye were railing has no substitute for argument I have not read Tom Paine but I have always understood him to be a low blackguard

16th March 1825

Took a walk to hunt pootys about Royce Close & the Tindhills — went to visit an old favourite spot in Oxey Wood that used to be smotherd with Ferns — got some sallow trees to set in Billings close & a stoven of Black alder to set in my garden

15th March 1825

I have been reading over Mrs Barbaulds Lessons for Childern to my eldest child who is continually teasing me to read them I find by this that they are particularly suited to the tastes of childern as she is never desirous of hearing anything read a second time but them

14th March 1825

My double Scarlet anemonie in full flower — A sharp frosty morning

13th March 1825

Recievd a letter from the Editor of Bloomfields Correspondence enclosing the return of my letter of Bloomfield & a scrap of his handwriting written in his summer house at Shefford an Inscription in it which I hear is now defaced what a sad thing it is to see the relics of such poets destroyed who woud not have made a pilgrimage to have seen the summer house & its inscription as left by the Bard—in the same letter was a pretty unaffected letter from Hannah Bloomfield his daughter she seems to inherit the gentle unassuming manners of feelings for which her father was loved & esteemed — lent Henderson 3 Nos. of the New London Mag: & Review"

12th March 1825

Recievd the first Proof of the 'Shepherds Calendar' from Hessey to correct & a letter from Lord Radstock in which he seems to be offended at a late opinion of mine of some Newspaper Poems that he sent me as specimens of the beautiful & he thanks his stars that his taste is not so refined as to make him above admiring them — the word refinement has lost its original use & is nothing more than a substitute for fashionable coquette which I thank my stars for keeping me too ignorant to learn

11th March 1825

Intend to call my Natural History of Helpstone 'Biographys of Birds & Flowers' with an appendix on Animals & Insects—The frogs have began to croke & spawn in the ponds & dykes.

10th March 1825

Heard an Anecdote yesterday of Dr Dodd* which is well known & considerd authentic among the common people it is said that Dr Dodd was taunted on his way to the place of execution by a lady who had envied his popularity & looking out of a window as he passd she exclaimed "Now Dr Dodd weres your God" when he bade her look in the last chapter of Micah & read the 8th 9th & 10th verses for an answer which she did & dyd soon afterwards of a broken heart

* William Dodd (1729-77), a forger who yet preached 'very eloquently and touchingly', says Horace Walpole. He wrote Thoughts in Prison while under sentence of death.

[Micah 7:8-10]

9th March 1825

I had a very odd dream last night & I take it as an ill omen for I dont expect that the book will meet a better fate I thought I had one of the proofs of the new poems from London & after looking at it awhile it shrank thro my hands like sand & crumbled into dust the birds were singing in Oxey Wood at 6 o clock this evening as loud & various as at May

8th March 1825

[Wild Service Tree]

Wrote to Hessey & to Jos Weston of 12 Providence Row Finsbury Square London enclosing my letters of Bloomfield for his use in a forthcoming vol of his Corespondence — went to Royce Wood to get some Service trees to set in Billings close

7th March 1825

Wrote to E. T. Artis—Mrs Gilchrist & Mrs Emmerson—enclosing one in Artis's Letter (to get it Franked) for Mrs W. Wright of Clapham requesting her to give me a bulb of the 'Tyger Lily' & a sucker of the 'White Province Rose'

To Joseph Weston
Helpstone
March 7. 1825

DEAR SIR
In answer to yours of the third I am sorry to say that I posses but little of the corespondence of my departed ' brother bard' what I do posses you are welcome too & as to my letters to him you may do with them just as you please & make of them what use you like I deeply regret that ill health prevented our corespondence & that death prevented us from being better acquainted I sincerely loved the man & admired his Genius & had a strong anxiety to make a Journey to spend a day with him on my second visit to London & 1 intended to have stopped at Biggleswade on my return, home for that purpose but my purse got too near the bottonl for a Stoppage on the road & as it was too great a distance to walk home this with other matters prevented me from seeing him as one of my family was very ill at the same time & hastened my return—
Whatever cause his friends may have to regret the death of the Poet—Fame is not one of then! for he dyed ripe for immor¬tality & had he written nothing else but 'Richard & Kate' that fine picture of Rural Life were sufficient to establish his name as the English Theocritus & the first of Rural Bards in this country & is Fashion (that feeble substitute for Fame) had nothing to do with his .exaltation its neglect will have nothing to affect his memory, it is built on a more solid foundation & time £one line heavily scored out]] will bring its own reward to the 'Farmers Boy,—I beg you will have the kindness to take care of the M.S. & return it when you have done with it as I wish to preserve a scrap of his handwriting—The Copy on the other side is a note which accompanied his present of' Mayday with the Muses' I gave the original to Allan Cunningham the Poet who has a high respect for Bloomfield's genius & whose request on that account (to posses a scrap of his writing) I was proud & happy to gratify©—floon after the Poet's death I wrote ' in a inellancholy feeling 3 Sonnets to his memory I was not aware that his "Remains' woud have had such insertions or I shoud have sent them to his da'ughter-—I shall fill this sheet with them for your perusal tho I expect they will come out in the volume now in the press that will be published this Spring: with my best wishes that your kindly labours for the memory of the departed Poet may meet with the success it deserves I remain
Yours very faithfully
JOHN CLARE

6th March 1825

Recievd a parcel from Hessey with the magazine & a leaf of the new poems also a present of Miss Rents Sylvan Sketches she seems to be a regular book maker Parish Officers are modern savages as the following will testify 'Crowland Abbey — certain surveyors have lately dug up several foundation stones of the Abbey & also a great quantity of stone coffins for the purpose of repairing the parish roads' — Stamford Mercury. Anna taken again for the worse yesterday had a terrible fever all night & remains in a doubtful state

5th March 1825

[One of Carry Akroyd's foxes]

Recievd a letter from Lord Radstock & Mr Emmerson also one from a Mr Weston the Editor of poor Bloomfields Letters & Remains requesting me to send him the letters I have of the poet & asking permission to publish those of mine poor Bloomfield I wish that death had left me a little longer the pleasure of his friendship — Went to see the fox cover on Etton field sown with furze some years ago which now present a novel appearance & thrive better than on their native heath tho the place is low ground

4th March 1825

Went to Ailsworth to fetch ling or common heath & furze bushes to set in my garden—went in Bates spinney to hunt the black maiden hair found none but saw some of the largest furze & common brakes I had ever seen my friend Billings measured a furze bush which was 11 foot & a high & a brake branch - 9 foot & a quarter - found a curious sort of Iris or flag growing in a pond in the wood & fancy it not a common one brought a bit home to set

3rd March 1825

This is Pattys Birthday [She was 26]

2nd March 1825

Found a Mavis Thrushes nest with 3 eggs these birds always build early they make a nest like a blackbirds but instinct has taught them a lesson against the cold which the other has no occasion for & that is they never line their nests without wool which keeps the nest warm at this early season they always begin to sing as soon as the male blossoms of the hazel or (trails) make their appearance & build their nests when female flowers put forth their little crimson threads at the end of the buds to recieve the impregning dust of the male dangling trails

1st March 1825

Saw today the largest piece of Ivy I ever saw in my life mailing a tree which it nearly surpassd in size in Oxey Wood it was thicker than my thigh & its cramping embraces seemd to diminish the tree to a dwarf — it has been asserted by some that ivy is very injurious to trees & by others that it does no injury at all — I cannot decide against it — the large pieces were coverd all over with root-like fibres as thick as hair, & they representd the limbs of animals more than the bark of a tree

27th February 1825

Recievd a letter in rhyme from a John Pooley — a very dull fooley — who ran me lOd further into debt as I had not money to pay the postage.

26th February 1825

Recievd a Letter from Lord Radstock filld with scraps of Newspaper Poetry among which was a pretty valentine by Mongomery & some verses said to be written by Lord Byron they are in his manner—the rest after the perusal of the Newspapers are 'nothing'—when his Lordship sees anything he fancys better then the rest he always attributes it to Mrs Emmerson or some of his friends as he has done now one to her & one to Van Dyk

22nd February 1825

A hedge sparrow building its nest in one of Billingss Box trees.

21st February 1825

A robin busy at building its nest in the Garden.

20th February 1825

Found several pieces of Roman pot in Harrisons top close on the hill over which the road crosses to the Tindhills at the north-east corner of Oxey Wood I piece was the lettered & Artis says they are Roman & I verily believe some Roman camp or pottery was made there

19th February 1825

[James Mongomery's grave and monument in Sheffield Cathedral close]

Recievd a Newspaper from Montgomery in which my poem of the Vanitys of Life was inserted with an ingenius & flattering comment past upon it praise from such a person as Montgomery is heart stirring & its the only one from a poet that I have met with—went to Turnills Heath close to get some furzebushes to set in the Garden

17th February 1825

Saw a large bunch of blue violets in flower & a root of the Bedlam cowslip

16th February 1825

[Swordy Well in 2008]

Heard the Skylark sing at Swordy Well saw a piece of bayonet & gun barrel found while digging a stone pit this proves the story that superstition tells of a battle fought here by the rebels in Cromwells time—it is said were there is smoke there is fire & I often think were superstition lingers with her storys there is always some truth in them—brought home a bush of Ling or heath to plant in the garden

15th February 1825

Heard the blackbird sing in Hilly Wood recievd a Valentine from Mrs Emmerson my Anna is some¬thing better

14th February 1825

Wrote to Vandyk & Dr Darling in my letter to Van Dyk I inserted the tune of' 'Peggy Band' there is a many beautiful tunes to these provincial ballads such as the 'White Cockade' 'Wars Alarms' 'Down the Burn Davy' old & new 'Thro the wood Laddy' 'Dusty Miller' 'Highland Laddie' & a very beautiful one I forget the title it begins 'A witherd old gipsey one day I espied who bade me shun the thick woods & said something beside' but the old woman that sung it is gone the old 'Guardian Angels' 'Banks of Banna' & a thousand others.

13th February 1825

Recievd a letter from Dr. Darling an odd sort of fellow came today with a bag full of old school summing books wanting me to buy them & vowing he was the author of them & that I might make a good bargain by publishing them what odd characters there are in the world the fellow fancyd that was excessive ignorant to palm such ignorant impudence upon me for truth after he found his scheme would not take he begged pence & departed he is the son of an odd fellow at Baston he is a little foolish by nature & they put him a long while to school to compleat what she began—my dear Anna taken very ill

12th February 1825

Receivd a letter from Van Dyk in which he appears as the Editor of my Poems they chose who they please this time but my choice comes next & I think I shall feel able to do it myself he wishes me to alter the title of my song written in imitation of Peggy Band to Peggy Bland because the old ballad is bad I did it in memory of the music & shall not alter it

11th February 1825

Saw the first young Lamb this season — saw a blue violet on the Ivy bank next the lane in Billings Close

10th February 1825

Fine day the bees are out & busily seeking for wax among the little flowers of the yellow acconite — a sparrow is building its nest in a hole in the old wallnut tree in the Taylors' garden

9th February 1825

Went to Stamford today with Patty in great distress to Dr Cooper I have set it down here to see if I shall live till 1829 to see it again I fear not but so be it I am not my own maker.

7th February 1825

Greatly distressed today & uncommonly ill O what a blessing is health we know not how to prize it till we loose it Dr. Darling restored me to health but my foolish follys has compelled her to leave me again & I fear for ever

6th February 1825

Recievd a letter from Mrs Gilchrist — heard by Ned Simpson of Stamford that a bird of the hawk kind was shot at a fountain in Holly well Park of a large size which he calls the 'hair legd falcon' Heard by the same of a white mole being caught in Stamford field.

Read in the Examiner the Bankrupt of W. Baynes & Son so there goes £5 which I was to have had for writing in the Amulet

4th February 1825

The first winters day a sharp frost & a night fall of snow drifted in heaps by a keen wind — there has been a deal of talk about the forwardness of this season — but last season was not much behind — on the third of this month I found an hedge-sparrows nest in Billings Boxtrees before the window with 3 eggs in it I lookd again in March & found 2 young ones pen-featherd starved to death she laid again in the same nest & brought off a fledged brood in April Recievd a joint letter from Lord Radstock & Mrs Emmerson under a Frank which was put into post too soon for which a charge of 1py was made — Knaves in office watch chances as the cat watches mice & are of that species of animal that catch their prey by supprise Recievd a letter from Dr Darling

3rd February 1825

Recievd a letter from Hessey with £5 enclosed & a parcel containing 2 Nos. of the new series of London Mag, and Walladmor a German - Scotch novel if Job was living now he woud stand a chance to gain his wish 'O that mine enemy woud write a book' for this is the age of book making — & like the small-pox almost everybody catches the plague

2nd February 1825

Went to walk in the fields & heard Word bells chiming for a funeral when I enquird I found it was for poor old John Cue of Ufford a friend of mine with whom I workd some seasons at turnip-hoeing for which he was famous he knew my Grandfather well & told me many rec-colections of their young day follys John Cue was once head Gardener for Lord Manners of Ufford Hall — he was fond of flowers & books & possessed a many curious ones of the latter among which was Parkinson

1st February 1825

A beautiful morning took a walk in the fields saw some birch poles in the quick fencing & fancyd the bark of birch might make a good substitute for Paper it is easily parted in thin laiers & one shred of bark round the tree woud split into 10 or a dozen sheets I have tryd it & find it recieves the ink very readily

31st January 1825

Went to Simons Wood for a sucker of the Barberry bush to set in my Garden—saw the Corn tree putting out into leaf—a yellow crocus & a bunch of single snowdrops in full flower—the mavis thrush has been singing all day long Spring seems begun the woodbines all over the wood are in full leaf

30th January 1825

Receivd a letter from Mrs Emmerson & a Litterary Gazette from somebody in which is a Review of an unsuccessful attempt to reach Repulse Bay &c by Captain Lyon from which the following curious incident is extracted he says 'Near the large grave was a third pile of stones covering the body of a child which was coiled up in the same manner. A snow bunting had found its way thro the loose stones which composed this little tomb & its now forsaken neatly built nest was found placed on the neck of the child. As the Snow bunting has all the domestic Virtues of our English Redbreast it has always been considerd by us as the Robin of these dreary wilds & its lively chirp & fearless confidence have renderd it respected by the most hungry sportsmen—I coud not on this occasion view its little nest placed on the breast of Infancy without wishing that I possesed the power of poetically expressing the feelings it excited'

27th January 1825

Receivd a letter from Mr Sharp & one from Lord Radstock & answerd his Lordships sending in it the ' Vanitys of Life' a poem — heard the buzz of the black beetle or cockchafer that flyes about in the autumn evenings & early in spring it is different to the brown or summer beetle which is described by Collins

the beetle winds His small but sullen horn

& is not so common.

26th January 1825

Fetchd some soil from Cowper green for my ferns & flowers — the sharpest frost for this winter which woud not bare a boy to slide on — from what cause sprung the superstition of making the No. 3 a fatal No. ? — it is so much so — that ghosts use it & never pay a visit without giving their (fashionable) signal of 3 raps to announce their arrival

25th January 1825

A fine day the bees were out busily flying as if seeking flowers the sky was hung with light flying clouds & the season appeard as if the beginning of April

23rd January 1825

Newspaper wonders "There is now living at Barton an old lady of the name of Faunt who has nearly attaind the great age of 105 years — she has lately cut new teeth to the great surprise of the family — Stamford Mercury.
Took a walk to Hilly Wood brought home another plant of the white maidenhair fern that grows on a sallow stoven in a sort of spring wrote to Mr Sharp of the dead letter office — finishd my '2 ballads to Mary' which I intend to send to the Literary Gazette as also my 3 sonnets to Bloomfield & I am weary of writing

22nd January 1825

'A new Vegetable called the Asparagus Potatoe' has been introduced into this country it comes into season just as the asparagus goes out' — 'So little wind prevails in Italy that not a windmill is to be seen in any part of it there were two in Venice but were taken down as usless for want of wind' — 'An elm tree supposd to be a thousand years old was blown down near Ludlow castle' — 'A blackbirds nest with four young ones was found a few days ago in Yorkshire — Stamford Mercury

21st January 1825


A robin whistling on the plumb trees by the window I never heard one so early before

20th January 1825

Wrote a letter to Hessey

19th January 1825

[Snowy Helpston - Steven Booth]

A slight storm of snow for the first time this winter — just compleatd the 9th Chapter of my Life — corrected the poem on the 'Vanities of the World' which I have written in imitation of the old poets on whom I mean to father it & send it to Mongomery's paper the Iris or the Literary Chronicle under that character

16th January 1825

Took a walk in ‘Porters snow Close' to hunt ferns in the morning & in Turnills 'heath wood' in the after¬noon found nothing but the foxfern which is the commonest of all about here—Receivd a letter from Mrs Emmerson & answerd it

15th January 1825

This day is my Fathers birthday who is 60 years old — 'Thus runs the world away'

14th January 1825


A scarlet daisey in flower in the Garden — Recievd a letter from C. A. Elton who tells me there is a many plants & ferns about Bristol downs & valleys & 'some rather peculiar to the country' I hope I shall be able to go in Spring

13th January 1825

Helpd Billings to take in Beans

11th January 1825

Began to fetch maiden earth from molehills for my flower beds—heard the Mavis thrush sing for the first time this winter it often sings earlier & has been heard on Christmas day when the weather has been open

10th January 1825

Saw a whitethorn bush yesterday in Oxey wood in the leaf all over & by next Sunday no doubt the knots of May may be seen—the winter ackonite just peeping out with its yellow flowers—the arum just appearing under the hedges as in April & the Avens (a common hedgerow plant) has never lost its leaves but appears as green as at Spring

9th January 1825

Newspaper Miracles Wonders Curiositys &c &c under these heads I shall insert anything I can find worth reading & laughing at—2 extraordinary large eels were last week taken upon the Saltings at Steeple in Dengre hundred Essex—these monsters of their species (& there is every reason to believe them freshwater silver eel)—one was seven feet in length twenty-one inches in surcumference & weighd fifty-seven pounds the other was six feet long larger round then the former & weighd sixty-two pound—twenty years back one was taken nearly six feet long close to Portman marsh wall—in Essex a quarter of a mile from Maldon bridge—a part of one of the eels was eaten by our correspondent who speaks highly of its flavour—Essex herald A parish clerk 115 years old is now able to read without spectacles & dig graves &c &c — Stamford Mercury

8th January 1825

A rhyming schoolmaster is the greatest bore in literature the following ridiculous advertisement proves the assertion taken from the Stamford Mercury. 'Boston' Mr Gilberts boarding & day school will reopen on Monday January 17th 1825

'For fervours past his heart must flow
& Kind regard to youth shall show
That Gilbert feels & grateful will
The noble art to learn instill'

7th January 1825

Bought some cakes of colors with the intention of trying to make sketches of curious snail horns Butterflys Moths Sphinxes Wild flowers & whatever my wanderings may meet with that are not too common

6th January 1825

My dear boy Frederick is 1 year old this day.

5th January 1825

Jiliflowers Polyanthuses Marigolds & the yellow yarrow are in flower & the double scarlet Anemone nearly out crocuses peeping out above ground swelling with flower the authoress Miss Kent of the Flora Domestica says the snowdrop is the first spring flower she is mistaken the yellow winter aconite is always earlier & the first on the list of spring.

To James Montgomery
Helpstone.
Jan. 5, 1825.

MY DEAR SIR
I copied the following verses from a MS on the flye-leaves of an old book entitled the Worlds Best Wealth, a Collection of choice Counsils in Verse & Prose printed for A. Bettesworth at the Red Lion in Paternoster Row 1720 they seem to have been written after the perusal of the book & are in the manner of the Company in which I found them, I think they are as good as a many old poems that have been preserved with more care & under that feeling I was tempted to send them thinking they might find a corner from Oblivion in your entertaining literary paper the 'Iris' but if my judgment has misled me to over-rate their merit you will excuse the freedom I have taken & the trouble I have given you in the perusal — for after all it is but an erring opinion that may have little else than the love of poesy to reccommend it

I am
Yours sincerely
JOHN CLARE

2nd January 1835

Recievd a parcel from Mrs Emmerson took a walk to Simons Wood found 3 distinct species of the 'Bramble' or Mulbery—Henderson will have it there is but 2 but I am certain he is wrong & believe there is 4 the common one that grows in the hedges the larger sort that grows on commons bearing larger fruit calld by childern 'blackberry' the small creeping dewberry that runs along the ground in the land furrows & on the brinks of brooks & a much larger one of the same kind growing in woods botanists may say what they will for tho these are all of a family they are distinctly different there are 2 sorts of the wild rose the one in hedges bearing blush-colord flowers & the other much smaller in woods with white ones

1st January 1825

Saw a Reciept to mend broken China in the Stamford Mercury—Gloucestershire cheese softend by warm water & mixd with quick lime is a good cement for China ware &c &c—Newspapers have been famous for Hyperbole & the Stamford Mercury has long been one at the head of the list of extravagance—in an article relating an accident at Drury Lane Theatre is the following—' A large piece of timber fell on Miss Poveys head & wounded her severely she was of course incapable of performing &c who woud not of course believe Miss Poveys head harder than a Statues after this