Edward Daniel Clarke
In 1801, he returned to Egypt, and whilst in that country, a dispute arising between the French and English generals respecting the literary treasures collected by the former, he was deputed by General Hutchinson to point out those most worthy of being conveyed to England, which country is indebted to him, amongst other things, for the acquisition of the famous sarcophagus of Alexander the Great. From Europe he proceeded to Greece, where his enthusiasm seems to have reached its highest stretch. 'It is necessary,' he exclaims, to forget all that has preceded - all the travels of my life - all I ever imagined - all I ever saw I Asia, Egypt, the Isles, Italy, the Alps - Whatever you will! Greece surpasses all! Stupendous in its ruins! - awful in its mountains, - captivating in its vales, - bewitching in its climate. Nothing ever equaled it - no pen can describe it - no pencil can portray it!'
Our traveler returned to Cambridge in 1802, when, in consequence of his presents to the university, of which the principal was a Grecian statue of Ceres, he was presented with the degree of LL. D. It does not appear at what time he took orders, but in 1806, in which year he married Angelica, daughter of Sir William Beaumaris Rush, he succeeded to the college living of Harlton in Cambridgeshire; and shortly afterwards to the vicarage of All Saints, Cambridge, where he officiated with great popularity, and upon which he bestowed an altar-piece, after the Grecian model. In the year last-mentioned, he commenced a course of lectures on mineralogy, the excellence of which induced the university, in 1808, to found a professorship for the encouragement of that branch of learning, when he was unanimously elected to the chair. About the same time he received L1,000 from the curators of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, for the manuscripts he had collected during his travels, including the famous one known as the Patmos Plato,to which Professor Porson assigned a very high antiquity. In 1810, the first volume of his travels appeared; and was succeeded, at subsequent periods, by five others. The publication of them produced him a sum of L6595; and by no means a more than adequate one, when it is considered that the work occupied five thousand pages of quarto letter-press; a task, under which, he says, I should have sunk, had I not been blessed with double the share of spirits which commonly belong to sedentary men.' Yet amidst all this toil and multifarious employment, he pursued the study of chemistry both with zeal and success, as appears in one of his letters to a friend, in September, 1816, in which he says, I sacrificed the whole month of August to chemistry. Oh, how I did work I It was delightful play to me; and I stuck to it, day and night. At last, having blown off both my eye-brows and eye-lashes, and nearly blown out both my eyes, I ended with a bang that shook all the houses round my lecture-room. The Cambridge paper has told you the result of all this alchemy, for I have actually decomposed the earths, and attained them in a metallic form.' The death of this accomplished traveler took place at the residence of his father-in-law, on the 9th of March, 1822, and he was buried on the 18th, in the chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge, with academic solemnities.
For ardent enterprise, energy of purpose, industry of research, and extent and variety of observation, few travelers are to be compared with Dr. Clarke. His works have, on this account, become more popular than any other of a similar nature, though containing an account of countries both before and since visited and described. They would certainly bear abridgement; but it would require a most skillful hand to select from pages where few paragraphs appear worthy of rejection, if of curtailment. Al though he expresses himself with enthusiasm, and many of his reflections are hastily and inconsiderately formed, his style is chaste and clear, and he details the most curious facts with a simplicity incompatible with exaggeration. In speaking of the second volume, Lord Byron says, 'in a letter to the author, in tracing some of my old paths, adorned by you so beautifully, I receive double delight. How much you have traversed! I must resume my seven-leagued boots, and journey to Palestine, which your description mortifies me not to have seen, more than ever.'
A peculiar feature in the character of Dr. Clarke, is the rapidity with which he passed from one pursuit to another. I have lived to know,' he says in a letter to Dr. D'Oyley, that the great secret of human happiness is this: - never suffer your energies to stagnate. The old adage,' he adds, of " too many irons in the fire," conveys an abominable lie. You cannot have too many; poker, tongs, and all - keep them all going.' His ardor for knowledge,' says his biographer, the Rev. Mr. Otter, not unaptly called by his old tutor, literary heroism, was one of the most zealous, most sustained, and most enduring principles of action that ever animated a human breast.' As a preacher, his biographer speaks of the sublimity and excellence of his discourses,' and says that his ardor in the pursuit of science was softened by moral and social views.' In private life he was amiable and benevolent; and, to conversation equally interesting and intelligent, joined the most kind and captivating manners. He was survived by five sons and two daughters.
In addition to his Travels, Dr. Clarke was the author of Testimony of different Authors respecting the Colossal Statue of Ceres; The Tomb of Alexander; Description of the Greek Marbles brought from the Shores of the Euxine, Archipelago, and Mediterranean; besides some letters and pamphlets, on subjects relating to science and antiquity.