Edward Daniel Clarke
THIS distinguished traveler and antiquarian, son of the Rev. Edward Clarke, was born at Willingdon, in the county of Sussex, on the 5th of June 1769. Whilst very young, he gave proofs of a roving disposition, and of a fondness for natural history and chemistry, and many amusing anecdotes are related of his conduct under the influence of these predilections. He received the rudiments of education at an academy in the village of Uckfield; and, in 1779, was sent to the grammar school at Tunbridge, then under the superintendence of the celebrated Vicessimus Knox. Here he made but little classical progress, but his fondness for books was evinced by his habit of reading late at night, when all his schoolfellows were asleep, for which purpose he spent great part of his pocket-money in purchasing candles. In 1786, shortly after which his father died, he entered Jesus College, Cambridge, where he obtained the situation of chapel clerk, to the duties of which office he was scrupulously attentive, but distinguished himself in no branch of university learning, excepting that of English declamation. He devoted himself, however, with great assiduity to his self-selected studies, which consisted of history, antiquity, and every variety of learning comprehended under the term of belles lettres. Natural history, and particularly mineralogy, also occupied great part of his time and he evinced a capacity for scientific pursuits, by the construction of a large balloon at Oxford, and of an orrery at home, for the purpose of delivering lectures to his sister, his only auditor. His sole means of support at this time were derived from an income of about L96 per annum, the source of which was a Rustat scholarship, and his exhibition from Tunbridge. Thus situated, and having made a vow to accept no pecuniary assistance from his mother, whose income was extremely small, he determined to exert himself, and accordingly, as the time approached for his examination, he, for 'the first time, entered upon a regular course of study, and on proceeding to his degree, in January 1790, he obtained the mathematical honor of a junior optime, which, though it did not confer a high distinction, enabled the college, with some show of justice, to elect him afterwards to a fellowship. In the following April, on the recommendation of the Bishop of Gloucester, he became tutor to the Honorable Henry Tufton, nephew of the Duke of Dorset, with whom he made the tour of Great Britain; and, on his return, published an account of it, but the work is by no means on a level with his subsequent performances.
In 1791, he went with his pupil to Calais and, in the following year, he obtained an engagement to accompany Lord Berwick on a tour to Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. 'He was now,' says Mr. St. John, one of his biographers, in the position for which nature had originally designed him.' An unbounded love of travel,' are the words of Clarke himself, ' influenced me at a very early period of my life. It was conceived in infancy, and I shall carry it with me to the grave. When I reflect upon the speculations of my youth, I am at a loss to account for a passion, which, predominating over every motive of interest, and every tie of affection, urges me to press forward, and to pursue inquiry, even in the bosom of the ocean and the desert. Sometimes, in the dreams of fancy, I am weak enough to imagine that the map of the world was painted in the awning of my cradle., and that my nurse chaunted the wanderings of pilgrims in her legendary lullabies.' He remained abroad about two years, and on his return, became tutor, successively, to Sir Thomas Mostyn, and to two sons of the present Marquis of Anglesey. In 1798, having previously taken his degree of M. A., he resumed his residence at Cambridge; and, in the following year, set out with his pupil and friend, Mr. Cripps, on a tour through Denmark, Sweden, Lapland, Finland, Russia, Tartary, Cir cassia, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Greece, and Turkey. Having arrived at the gulf of Bothnia, Clarke declared he would not return until he should have snuffed the polar air,' and he accordingly proceeded as far as Enontakis, in latitude 68 deg. 30 min. 30 sec. north: beyond which, illness prevented him from venturing.
On the 26th of January 1800, he arrived at Petersburg, whence he continued his course to Moscow, and Taganrog on the sea of Azoff; and, on his reaching Achmedshid, in the Crimea, he passed some time with his pupil in the house of Professor Pallas. He next visited Constantinople, where he was employed in searching for, and examining, Greek medals; and, among other curiosities of the Turkish capital, he contrived to enter the seraglio, where,' he says, Frank had before set his foot.' Hence he made an excursion to the Troad, at the prospect of beholding which, he had previously said in a letter to a friend, Tears of joy stream from my eyes while I write.' Egypt and Syria next claimed his attention and whilst near the lake of Genesareth, he took particular observation Of the Druzes, whom he describes as the most extraordinary people on earth,' and whose custom of prostrating themselves weekly before the molten calf, he observes, is exactly that worship at which Moses was so incensed in descending from Mount Sinai.'