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Extra info for John Clare: The Critical Heritage (The Collected Critical Heritage : Victorian Poets)
His son, when of sufficient age, assisted his father in thrashing, and other agricultural labours;—at intervals, sometimes of great distance, attending a little school in the adjoining village of Glinton, where he learned to read and to write. Having there, also, attained the rudiments of arithmetic, his attention became riveted to figures, and, without assistance, he mastered the first eight problems of Ward’s Algebra, stimulated by the laudable but humble ambition of qualifying himself for the office of usher in a village school.
Having there, also, attained the rudiments of arithmetic, his attention became riveted to figures, and, without assistance, he mastered the first eight problems of Ward’s Algebra, stimulated by the laudable but humble ambition of qualifying himself for the office of usher in a village school. The intricacies of mathematics, however, without a guide, at length subdued the zeal of the youth, while the excitement of fancy seduced him from the study of Bonny-castle and Fenning. But to labour was the destiny of John Clare, and gardening being considered by his parents an occupation better fitted than the plough for a frame of no sturdy structure, he was sent for instruction to work in the gardens of the Marquis of Exeter, at Burghley; and, though the brutal disposition and dissolute habits of his teacher compelled him to relinquish his instructions at the end of nine months, it is to the use of the spade that Clare has ever since been indebted for his precarious and narrow subsistence; and, when the writer of this narrative first saw the poet, he had just quitted an engagement in the vicinity of Stamford, because his employer had reduced his stipend from eighteen to fourteen pence per diem!
111) hardly allowed criticism to flourish. 63 Although this article was sympathetic, it continued to romanticize. When the poet Richard Henry Stoddard took a look at the poetry in 1893 (No. 115b), it was only to discount the possibility of criticism; the best he could say about Clare’s poetry was that it was ‘winsome and charming’. Baugh (1948): this declares that Clare has ‘of late been overpraised for his sensitive descriptions of the small sights and sounds of the natural world’. As for the asylum poems, they possess a ‘childlike charm’ for those ignorant of the circumstances in which they were written, a ‘painful interest’ for those who know the details.