John Clare: The Critical Heritage

By Mark Storey | Go to book overview

18.

John Clare and the Morning Post

1820

The Morning Post (like the New Times), thanks largely to Mrs Emmerson and Lord Radstock, contained a number of ‘puffs’ on Clare, who soon tired of these attentions. Writing to Taylor on 3 April 1821, Clare referred to ‘those silly beggarly flattery in the Morning Post &c &c &c—I think Ive gaind as much harm as good by it—& am nothing in debt on that quarter’ (LJC, p. 111); his sentiments were pre-echoed by Taylor in a letter of 31 May 1820 to his brother James, after the third edition of Poems Descriptive had appeared: ‘I am much annoyed by Lord R’s puffing in the Post & New Times & am determined to put an end to it, for I cannot but think it is disgraceful to me & injurious to Clare’s Fame as well as Feelings. ’ Later in the same letter, Taylor gloomily prophesied, ‘Poor Fellow! I question if his advancement will make him much happier. ’ (Quoted in Olive Taylor, ‘John Taylor, Author and Publisher’, London Mercury, July 1925, xii, 262. )

(a) From a letter from ‘A Well-Wisher to Merit’, Morning Post, 11 February 1820. The writer, referring to ‘this surely heaven-born Poet’, asks, ‘what is best to be done for this wonderful child of Nature?’ The solution offered is to make him a ‘nominal under gardener. ’ The writer then turns to the question of a second edition:

Another advantage would likewise accrue from a second edition, that is, some two or three poems in the present edition might be expunged, in order to make room for others of riper and purer growth. It is probable that the compiler of the present volume might have chosen his selection with a view of making more fully known the versatility of the youth’s genius; or perhaps the stock was so scanty as not to admit of choice. At any rate much allowance must be made for a seeming want of refinement, which it must be confessed appears in one or two instances, in this otherwise most admirable little work….

-81-

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