John Clare: The Critical Heritage

By Mark Storey | Go to book overview

41.

John Clare and C. H. Townsend on plagiarism

1820

(a) Clare to Townsend, May 1820, LJC, p. 48. Townsend (see No. 10c) had sent Clare a copy of Beattie’s Minstrel.

‘The Minstrel’ is a sweet poem & far as I have read a many thoughts occur which are in my ‘Peasant Boy’ I doubt the world will think them plagarisms, therefore I must alter or cut them out altogether, but nature is the same here at Helpstone as it is elsewhere.

(b) Townsend to Clare, 5 September 1820, Eg. 2245, fol. 212v:

It does not surprise me, that there should be coincidences between your own poetry, & Beattie’s, since you both copied from Nature, but sure I am, that there exists sufficient diversity in your pictures to prevent the alarm you feel of being charged with plagiarism. Do not alter one line from this fear. There will always be a freshness in your nature-painting strains, which will distinguish them from copies. Every original mind (and such is yours) will ever treat even a hacknied subject in an original manner.

-125-

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