Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clarke, Hewson

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CLARKE, HEWSON (1787–1832?), miscellaneous writer, born in 1787, was apprenticed at an early age to Mr. Huntley, chemist and druggist, Gateshead. There he contributed to the ‘Tyne Mercury’ a series of papers, afterwards enlarged and published in the ‘Saunterer’ (Newcastle, 1805, 2nd ed. 1806). This brought him local fame and some influential friends, and led to a sizarship in Emmanuel College, Cambridge. His university life was very irregular; he left without a degree, and went to London, where he edited the ‘Scourge,’ a monthly publication, contributed to the ‘Satirist,’ and engaged in miscellaneous literary work. He attacked characters so different as Joanna Southcote and Lord Byron. The first ‘being a prophetess was fair game for any one to shoot at,’ so Joanna’s friends reported him to have said, while she herself stated the libel to have been that ‘I attended Carpenter’s chapel, called the house of God, dressed in diamonds, and fell in love with the candle-snuffer, a comely youth, and went away with him, &c.’ (An Answer to Thomas Paine, &c., 1812, pp. 51 et semp.) Clarke libelled Byron in the ‘Satirist ’ for over a year. ‘For no reason that I can discover,' says Byron, in the postscript to the second edition of ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,’ ‘except a personal quarrel with a bear kept by me at Cambridge, to sit for a fellowship, and whom the jealousy of his Trinity contemporaries prevented from success.’ In that work Clarke is twice mentioned, and once with reference to a poem of his on ‘The Art of pleasing,’ his character is thus described :—

There Clarke, still striving piteously ‘to please,'
Forgetting dogg’rel leads not to degrees,
A would-be satirist, a hired buffoon,
A monthly scribbler of some low lampoon,
Coudemn`d to drudge, the meanest of the mean,
And furbish falsehoods for a magazine,
Dcvotes to scandal his congenial mind;
Himself a living libel on mankind.

Despite Byron’s judgement, Clarke’s writing prove him to have been a man of considerable ability. His other works were: ‘An impartial History of the Naval, Military, and Political Events in Europe, from the commencement of the French Revolution to the entrance of the Allies into Paris, and the conclusion of a general peace’ (2 vols. Bungay, 1815; new edition, 3 vols. London, 1816); ‘The Cabinet of Arts’ (by Clarke and John Dougall, 1825?); ‘A continuation of Hume’s History of England’ (2 vols. 1832). There is considerable doubt as to the exact time of Clarke's death. Mackenzie in 1827 asserts that he was already dead,‘unnoticed and unlamented,’ but the continuation of Hume (which is brought down to William IV) seems to disprove this.

[Mackenzie’s History of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Newcastle, 1827), ii. 760; Preface to the Saunterer; English Bards and Scotch Reviewers; Biog. Dict. of Living Authors, 1816; Brit. Mus. Cat]

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