John Clare - By Himself by Clare, John; Robinson, Eric; Powell, David

By Clare, John; Robinson, Eric; Powell, David

This quantity brings jointly, in definitive shape, all of John Clare's very important autobiographical writings. His Autobiographical Fragments, Journal, and Sketches are set along his recognized Journey out of Essex. Maps of Clare's geographical region, his will, and extracts from his asylum letters also are integrated, proposing the writer in all his guises—ploughboy, gardener, and militiaman; lover and husband; acquaintance of Hazlitt, Lamb, and Coleridge; and eventually, inmate in an asylum.

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I think I was 13 years of age now but trifling things are never pun[c]tually rememberd as their occurence is never strikingly impressd on the memory, so I cannot say with assurance none of these things was committed to paper this summer I met with a fragment of Thompsons Seasons 17 a young man, by ttade a weaver, much older then myself, then in the village, show'd it me I knew nothing of blank verse nor ryhme either otherwise than by the trash of Ballad Singers, but I still remember my sensations in reading the opening of Spring I cant say the reason, but the following lines made my heart twitter with joy.

On the next Sunday I started to stamford to buy Thompson, for I teazd my father out of the 15 /6d and woud not let him have any peace till he consented to give it me, but when I got there I was told by a young shop boy in the street who had a book in his hand which I found to be 'Collins Odes and poems' that the booksellers woud not open the shop on a Sunday this was a dissapointment most strongly felt and I returned home in very low spirits, but haveing to tend horses the next week in company with other boys I plannd a scheme in secret to obtain my wishes by stelth, giving one of the boys a penny to keep my horses in my absence, with an additional penny to keep the Secret I started off and as we was generally soon with getteing out our horses that they might fill themselves before the flyes >-vas out I got to Stamford I dare say before a door had been opend and I loiterd about the town for hours ere 1 coud obtain my wishes I at length got it with an agreeable dissapointment in return for my first, buying it for 6d less then I had propos' d and never was I more pleasd with a bargain then I was with this shilling purchase On my return the Sun got up and it was a beautiful morning I coud not wait till I got back without reading it and as J did not like to let any body see me reading on the road of a working day I dumb over the wall into Burghly Park 20 and nestled in a lawn at the wall side the Scenery around me was uncommonly beautiful at that time of the year and what with reading the book and beholding the beautys of artful nature in the park I got into a strain of descriptive ryhming on my journey home this was 'the morning walk' 21 the first thing I commited to paper I afterwards wrote the evening walk 22 and several descriptions of Local Spots in the fields which I had frequented for Pootys, flowers, or Nests in my early child hood I burned most of these after I got to consiet I knew better how to make poetry others I corrected perhaps 20 times over till their origional form was entirley lost such as the 11 JOHN CLARE BY HIMSELF Morning walk now extant I always turn to this years service with F.

Thats the creed of my consience- and I care for nobody else's- all have liberty to think as they please and he is a knave that cheats his heart with false appearences, be his opinions as they may- here is as faithful account of myself as I can possibly 30 SKETCHES IN THE LIFE OF JOHN CLARE give I have been as free to disclose my own faults as a meddler is those of his neighbours - and by so doing have doubtless baffled the aims of skulking assasins from throwing weapons in the dark with the force they woud have done had I made myself better then I am.

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