Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clarke, Edward Daniel

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CLARKE, EDWARD DANIEL, LL.D. (1769–1822), traveller, antiquary, and mineralogist, was born on 5 June 1769 at the vicarage of Willingdon in Sussex. He was the second son of the Rev. Edward Clarke (traveller and author, 1730-1786 [q. v.]), by Anne, daughter of Thomas Grenfield of Guildford, and was a grandson of William Clarke the antiquary (1696-1771) [q. v.] After being instructed by a clergyman at Uckfield, Clarke was sent in 1779 to Tonbridge grammar school. About Easter 1786 he entered Jesus College, Cambridge, as chapel clerk. He read a good deal of English poetry, history, numismatics, and antiquities. He also made some study of natural science, especially mineralogy. On one occasion he won great local applause by the construction of a balloon, which he sent up from his college, bearing a kitten. He graduated B.A. 1790, M.A. 1794 (Graduati Cantribrig.) On leaving the university he was engaged at Hothfield in 1790 as tutor to the Hon. Henry Tufton, with whom, in the following year, he made a tour of Great Britain. Clarke published a journal of it, but most of the copies were destroyed or lost soon after publication. During the tour he collected some mineralogical specimens which formed the nucleus of his collection. In July 1792 he proceeded to Italy as a companion to Lord Berwick. He visited Turin, Genoa, Bologna, Florence, Rome, and Naples, keeping a journal, in which, among other items, there is a description of Vesuvius and a lively account of the liquefaction of St. Januarius's blood at Naples. He returned to England 30 Nov. 1793, out was again on the continent from January 1794 till the summer; he went up the Rhine and visited Venice and other Italian cities. While in Italy he collected vases, coins, and minerals. From the summer of 1794 till the autumn of 1796 he was tutor in the family of Sir Roger Mostyn in Wales, and, after that, in the family of Lord Uxbridge. In 1797 he travelled in Scotland, and kept a full journal, but did not perceive the importance of folklore. The superstitions of the islanders of St. Kilda are numerous (he says), but 'it is futile to enumerate all the silly chimeras with which credulity has filled the imaginations of a people so little enlightened.' He had now become a fellow, and also the bursar, of Jesus College, and went to reside there at Easter 1798. At this time he had as a pupil Mr. John Marten Cripps, a young man of independent means. It was arranged that Clarke should accompany Cripps as his companion on a European tour, the latter allowing Clarke a salary. On 20 May 1799 the two friends set out for the north of Europe, accompanied by Malthus (the writer on population' and by William Otter (afterwards bishop of Chichester), Clarke's lifelong friend and biographer.

Clarke was 'feverishly impatient' about his travels. In his journey from the Werner to Tomea, which, including a stay at Stockholm, occupied about eighteen days, he was 'never in bed more than four hours out of forty-eight.' Malthus and Otter soon dropped off, but Clarke and Cripps pressed on. Beiore they left the north of Europe they had completely traversed Denmark, Sweden, Laplana, part of Finland, and Norway, devoting most time to Sweden. At Enontakis in Lapland Clarke launched a balloon, eighteen feet high, which he had made for the diversion of the natives. He spent some time at the university of Upsal, and examined the whole of the mining district of Dalecarlia. All this time he was diligently collecting minerals, plants, drawings, and manuscript maps of much importance. In January 1800 Clarke was at St. Petersburg. In Russia he specially collected plants and seeds, and accumulated about eight hundred specimens of the minerals of Siberia. He was at Taganrok on the Sea of Azov in June 1800. Clarke's constitution was good, but about this time he suffered from illness: 'Plants, minerals, antiquities, statistics, geography, customs, insects, animals, climates, everything I coidd observe and preserve I have done; but it is with labour and pain of body and mind.' He was delighted with his reception by the Cossacks ('the best fellows upon earth') and the Calmucs. The part of Asia, however, visited by Clarke and Cripps was 'full of danger and désagrémens.' They penetrated into Circassia, and on reaching the Kuban river found the Tchernomorski and the Circassians at war. On 11 March 1801 Clarke dates a letter from 'The source of the Simois, on Mount Ida, below Gargarus.' He was again in vigorous health, and spent fourteen days 'in the most incessant research, traversing the plain of Troy in all directions.' Two artists, Lusieri and Preaux, accompanied him and made forty drawings. Clarke endeavours to identify the village of Chiblak with Ilium, and maintains that 'the spacious plain lying on the north-eastern side of the [river] Mender and watered by the Callifat Osmack' is the plain where 'all the principal events of the Trojan war' were signalised (see Clarke, Travels, ii. (1812); Otter, Life, ii. 97-100; Schliemann, Ilios, ch. iv.) After visiting Rhodes and other classic regions, he paid a brief visit to Rosetta, and, in June 1801, to Cyprus. In July of that year he was in the Holy Land, at Jerusalem. He visited Galilee, and by October had found his way to Athens. He travelled in the Morea and in northern Greece, Macedon, and Thessaly: he collected more than a thousand Greek coins in gold, silver, and copper, and in the Morea procured several Greek vases. His chief prize was obtained at Eleusis, whence he succeeded in carrying off the colossal Greek statue (of the fourth or third century B.C.) of a female figure, supposed by Clarke to be 'Ceres' (Demeter) herself, but now generally called a 'Kistophoros' (from the mystic κίστη, which surmounts the head of the figure). The statue was discovered at Eleusis in 1676 by the traveller Wheler, and several ambassadors had unsuccessfully made applications for its removal. Clarke bribed the waiwode of Athens, purchased the statue, and obtained a firman. Difficulties were then made by the Eleusinian peasants, who were accustomed to burn a lamp before it on days of festival, and believed that the fertility of their cornland would cease when the statue was removed. On 22 Nov. 1801 they were reassured when the priest of Eleusis, arrayed in his vestments, struck the first blow with a pickaxe at the rubbish in which the statue was partially buried. The marble weighed nearly two tons, but Clarke improvised a machine by which it was slowly moved over the brow of the hill of Eleusis to the sea in about nine hours. The Princessa, merchantman, freighted with this statue and with Clarke's other Greek marbles, was wrecked near Beachy Head, not far from the home of Mr. Cripps, whose father saved what he could from the wreck. All the marbles were rescued but a manuscript of the 'Arabian Nights,' procured by Clarke at Cairo, was greatly damaged, and several cases of his drawings and plants were broken up and their contents dispersed. Clarke presented his 'Ceres' and the other sculptures to the university of Cambridge, and the former was placed in the vestibule of the public library in July 1803. The 'Ceres' and the sculptures are now in the basement of the Fitzwilliam Museum, and constitute one of the two principal divisions of the museum's collection of antiquities. Among Clarke's miscellaneous marbles are a statue of Pan, a figure of Eros, a comic mask, a votive relief to Athene, and other reliefs, and also various sepulchral stelæ, &c. In 1809 Clarke published an account of them entitled 'Greek Marbles brought from the Shores of the Euxine, Archipelago, and Mediterranean,' &c. Cambridge, 1809, 8vo. The book was printed at the expense of the university, and contains three engravings of the 'Ceres' by Flaxman and a sketch of Eleusis by Sir William Gell. Clarke justly takes credit for refusing to 'restore' his statues; but his elucidations of them are now of very little archæological value, and the whole collection has been redescribed by Professor Michaelis in his 'Ancient Marbles in Great Britain,' pp. 241-52. In 1802 Clarke had published 'Testimonies of different authors respecting the Colossal Statue of Ceres … at Cambridge,' 1802, 8vo. With his visit to Greece Clarke's travels were over. In February 1802 he was in Constantinople, whence he wrote home to say that he had seventy-six cases (and Cripps more than eighty) containing antiquities &c. collected during his wanderings. In October 1802 he left Paris for England. In 1803 the university of Cambridge conferred upon him the degree of LL.D., and the honorary degree of M.A. upon Cripps. In 1805 Clarke was appointed senior tutor of Jesus College, and was occupied there till 25 March 1806, when he married Angelica, fifth daughter of Sir William Beaumaris Rush, bart., a lady by whom he had five sons and two daughters. In December 1805 he had been ordained and instituted to the vicarage of Harlton; about 1809 he was also presented to the rectory of Yeldham in Essex. Both livings he held till his death.

On 17 March 1807 he began to deliver a course of lectures on mineralogy at Cambridge. At the end of 1808 he was appointed to the university professorship of mineralogy, then first established. Clarke was a good speaker, and worked hard to make his lectures a success; he was still lecturing in 1821. In 1819 he published 'The Gas Blowpipe; or, Art of Fusion by burning the Gaseous Constituents of Water: giving the history of the Philosophical Apparatus so denominated: the Proofs of Analogy in its Operations to the nature of Volcanoes; together with an Appendix containing an account of Experiments [by Clarke, upon ninety-six mineral substances] with this Blowpipe,' London, 1819, 8vo (reprinted in Otter's 'Life,' ii. appendix vii). About 1816 Clarke, who had been accustomed to submit many of his minerals to the action of the common blowpipe, fell in with the 'Essai d'un art de fusion à l'aide de l'air du feu, par M. Ehrman, suivi des Mémoires de M. Lavoisier,' Strasburg, 1787, in which is described 'the use of hyorogen and oxygen gases propelled from different reservoirs in the fusion of mineral substances, and in aid of the common blowpipe.' While occupied with this treatise he 'saw accidentally at Mr. Newman's in Lisle Street (Leicester Square) a vessel invented by Mr. Brooke for a different purpose' (cf. Brooke's account of it in Thomson's Annals of Philos. May 1810, p. 367). He set Newman to work upon it with his ideas, and the latter at last produced the gas (or oxy-hydrogen) blowpipe. Clarke subjectea some refractory minerals to the action of his instrument, but at last the copper reservoir burst. He then employed the safety cylinder invented by Professor Cumming, and successfully continued his experiments, the results of which he from time to time communicated in the 'Journal of the Royal Institution' and in Dr. Thomson's 'Annals of Philosophy.' An account of Clarke's researches in connection with baiytes and the English ores of zinc is given in vol. ii. of Otter's 'Life' (pp. 348-54). He was a member of several geological societies, English and foreign.

In 1810 Clarke published the first instalment of his 'Travels.' The general title of the work is 'Travels in various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa.' There are six quarto volumes (1810-23), rather awkwardly denominated 'parts' and 'sections.' The volumes contain numerous illustrations, some from drawings by Clarke. Only twelve chapters of vol. vi. were prepared for the press by the author, the volume being completed and published after his death by his friend, the Rev. Robert Walpole. Some parts of the work appeared in new editions; vol. i. was translated into German by P. C. Weyland (Weimar, 1817, 8vo). The 'Travels' was well received, particularly the earlier volumes. The total sum paid to Clarke for the work was 6,696l. On 13 Feb. 1817 Clarke was elected librarian of Cambridge University; but his health had been giving way some time before his death, which took place on 9 March 1822 at the house of his father-in-law in Pall Mall. On 18 March he was buried in the chapel of Jesus College. A monument was erected near his grave by the members of the college, and a bust, executed by Chantrey, was subscribed for by his literary friends. A portrait of Clarke, engraved from a painting by J. Opie, R.A., forms the frontispiece to vol. i. of the 'Travels ' and to vol. i. of Otter's 'Life.' Among Clarke's friends were many men of eminence. He had some correspondence with Porson, and with Lord Byron, who spoke highly of the 'Travels.' The letters addressed to Clarke by Burckhardt the traveller are printed in Otter's 'Life,' ii. 276 ff.

Clarke's collection of minerals was purchased after his death by the university of Cambridge for 1,500l. The manuscripts procured by him during his travels were sold (together with some scarce printed books) during his lifetime to the university of Oxford, the offer for them being made in 1808. An account of the manuscripts was afterwards drawn up by Dean Gaisford ('Catalogus, sive Notitia Manuscriptorum quæ a cel. E. D. C. comparata in Bibliotheca Bodleiana adservantur,' &c. 1812, &c. 4to. University Press). Clarke disposed of his Greek coins in 1810, for the moderate sum of a hundred guineas, to Richard Payne Knight, who speaks of them as a 'very valuable addition' to his collection; they probably found their way to the British Museum as part of the Payne Knight bequest.

In addition to the writings already enumerated, Clarke was the author of:

  1. 'Le Reveur; or, the Waking Visions of an Absent Man' (a periodical work begun by Clarke in September 1796; twenty-nine parts were collected and printed in 1797, but the copies were injured and could not be made up for publication).
  2. 'The Tomb of Alexander, a dissertation on the Sarcophagus brought from Alexandria, and now in the British Museum,' Cambridge, 1806, 4to.
  3. 'A Methodical Distribution of the Mineral Kingdom,' Lewes, 1806, folio.
  4. 'A Letter addressed to the Gentlemen of the British Museum,' Cambridge, 1807, 4to.
  5. 'A Letter to H. Marsh in reply to certain observations contained in his pamphlet relative to the British and Foreign Bible Society,' Cambridge, 1812, 8vo.
  6. Two papers in the ' Archæologia ' for 1817— (α) On Celtic Remains discovered near Sawston, β) On some Antiquities found at Fulboum, Cambridgeshire.
  7. 'On the Composition of a dark Bituminous Limestone from the parish of Whiteford in Flintshire,' Geological Society, 1817.
  8. 'A Syllabus of Lectures in Mineralogy, containing a Methodical Distribution of Minerals,' 2nd edit. London, 1818, 8vo; 3rd edit. Cambridge, 1820, 8vo.
  9. 'A Letter to Mr. Archdeacon Wrangham on the character and writings of Sir G. Wheler, knight, as a traveller,' 1820 (only fifty copies printed; reprinted in Wrangham's 'Life of Zouch' and in Otter's 'Life of Clarke,' vol. ii. appendix).
  10. Three papers in vol. i. of the Transactions of the Philosophical Society at Cambridge (founded 1821).
  11. 'Observations on the Lituus of the Antient Romans' (from the 'Archæologia,' vol. xix.), London, 1821, 4to.
  12. Papers in Thomson's 'Annals of Philosophy,' enumerated in Otter's 'Life,' ii. appendix ix.

[Otter's Life and Remains of E. D. Clarke, 2 vols. London, 1826, 8vo; Clarke's Works; Gent. Mag. 1822, vol. xcii. pt. i. pp. 274–6; Nichols's Lit. Illustr. ii. 844, iii. 773, vi. 820, viii. 53; Lit. Anecd. iv. 389-91, 721; Michaelis's Ancient Marbles in Great Britain (1882), pp. 117–18, 241–62; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

W. W.