Page images
PDF
EPUB

INTRODUCTION.

[ocr errors]

The journals that were found after my husband's death were not known to exist, and had evidently been written for no eye but his own. They consist of a retrospect of his early life written at seventeen, and a daily or weekly record of his inner life, his studies, remarks on books, and thoughts on the Society of Friends, in which he was educated. These continue during a period of ten years (with occasional interruptions) until his baptism into the Church of England.

When these MSS. and his letters were collected, it was with the hope that one of Mr. Clark's intimate friends might be found to weave them into a memoir. But those who are best qualified for the task have their hands too full of pressing work to undertake it, and I shrink from committing the papers to any one who might not be able to enter into the varied phases of his many-sided character. Believing that selections from these MSS. will be of some interest to the friends who knew him in mature life, and that the history of his early struggles may be of use to those who are in similar difficulties, I venture to publish them without interpolation, giving a slight consecutive sketch of his life by way of introduction.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

Samuel Clark was born at Southampton, May 19th, 1810. He was the youngest of the ten children of Joseph and Fanny Clark, who were of the middle-class, and members of the Society of Friends. They were much respected, not only at Southampton, but by the leading members of the Society, Mrs. Fry, J. J.Gurney, and Friends generally. They brought up their children as strict members of the same religious body, though Samuel always spoke of his mother, for whom he had the deepest reverence and love, as being truly catholic in many of her opinions and practices.

Samuel is described as a delicate, intelligent child, with light curly hair and blue eyes, though in manhood his hair was quite black and his eyes hazel, fading to a pale grey when in a low state of health. When the Emperor Nicholas of Russia was in England, he expressed a wish to visit a good specimen of a middleclass family, and was taken to the house in which Samuel was staying. The child was much impressed by the gigantic, bearded stranger, who put his hand on his curly head, and in broken English said, “You are fine little boy.'

Samuel was sent to a school kept by Mr. T. Graham for a year and half, and afterwards to that of Mr. John Bullar, a good classical scholar and a man of much general learning, who left his mark on the rising generation of Southampton. After a twelvemonth at this school, he spent a year of idleness at Brighton for the benefit of his health, and on his return was another year and half under Mr. Bullar's tuition.

When, at the early age of thirteen and a half, his father decided on employing him in his business, Samuel went down on his knees to beg to be permitted

6

a

[blocks in formation]

to remain longer at school. His mother added her entreaties to his, and collected his school bills to show that only £30 had been spent on his education. The request was refused with the words: Thou knowest enough for what I want of thee.'

His ardour for knowledge was not, however, abated by this check, and he set himself diligently to carry on his studies alone. At this period of his life, and for the next few years, his hours of business were from 6 A.M. to 8 P.M., so that his only times for reading were before and after these hours and during the intervals allotted for meals. He always kept some classical author open in his desk, in order to study if he had a few moments of leisure. He appears rarely to have had a day's holiday, and to have taken hardly sufficient out-of-door exercise to keep him in health. His sensitive nervous temperament was affected from a child by changes of weather, and his studious habits confirmed the delicacy of digestion from which he suffered all his life.

The extent of his reading in English was marvellous, considering the circumstances, and he also acquired an accurate knowledge of French, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, to which the study of various sciences was added.

Mr. Michael Maurice, father of Professor Maurice, went to reside at Southampton. Of his life there one of his daughters writes: 'My father deplored the want of energy and intellectual pursuits in the town. The Mechanics’ Institute was dragging on its existence without spirit or usefulness, and the Literary and Philosophic Society was in the same condition. My father, in planning to make these institutions really useful by a course of practical lectures, became acquainted with Samuel Clark, a young Quaker, between

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

eighteen and twenty years of age, of great promise, and of very remarkable mental powers. He engaged his warm co-operation in the work, and was astonished at his capacity in lecturing, and at the amount of information he could bring to bear on various subjects. He offered to help him to a more systematic course of study after his business of the day was finished. This offer was eagerly accepted, and it was difficult to say whether the pupil or teacher enjoyed these opportunities most.

My eldest sister, Elizabeth, also became deeply interested in this young friend, and they used to read general literature together, especially poetry.

'He confided to her his many difficulties, and the yearning of his heart after higher truths than Quakerism had grasped, and his longing for greater light.'

He remained at Southampton until a competency had been secured for his parents and unmarried sisters, taking all the time an active part in the Society of Friends, the Anti-Slavery Society, the Mechanics’ Institute, and the Literary and Philosophic Institution.

In 1836 he went to London, and became a partner in the old publishing firm of Darton and Son, on Holborn Hill.

He had here the opportunity of talking over his doubts with the Rev. F. D. Maurice, who had just been appointed Chaplain to Guy's Hospital. Samuel Clark's arguments and statement of difficulties, and the information which he gave of a threatened disruption of the Society, suggested the form of Mr. Maurice's · Letters to a Member of the Society of Friends, which first appeared in monthly parts, and was published in 1837 under the title of “The Kingdom of Christ.' But those letters were not written till after

[blocks in formation]

the time when Mr. Clark had finally decided on joining the Church.

His affection and friendship for F. D. Maurice continued and deepened as years went on.

He frankly expressed his opinion when he differed from his friend, and he looked on his intercourse with him as one of the greatest blessings of his life.

On the 16th of April, 1837, he was baptised at St. Thomas's Church, Southwark, by the Rev. F.D. Maurice, but he did not resign his membership in the Society of Friends until the next year, when he made known to his father the step he had taken.

In January, 1839, he matriculated at Magdalen Hall (now Hertford College), Oxford, but he was unable to reside until the following year, and his continuous residence in the university was interrupted by the necessity of spending a term occasionally in London, to attend to business. At Oxford his evenings were employed in literary work to defray his college expenses, which prevented his reading for honours.

He dissolved partnership with Darton in 1843. In the autumn of that year he accompanied Mr. (now Sir Edward) Strachey to Italy, spending some time in Naples and its neighbourhood, and proceeding alone to Greece in January, 1844. After a short tour there he returned to Italy, visiting Rome and other parts, and reaching England in the summer in H.M.S. The Queen.

He was known at Oxford as 'Athenian Clark' after his return from Greece, owing to an incident that occurred in his examination.

He asserted the possibility of the voice being well heard on Mars' Hill, and gave his own experience in proof of it. When standing on the Pnyx, he had heard

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »