John Clare and Charles Lamb

John Clare, the Northamptonshire  "stage peasant in grass-green coat and yellow waistcoat," with whom Lamb walked arm in arm along the Strand, discussing the "Clare-obscurities " of his poetry, and followed by troops of boys, shouting, " There go Tom and Jerry,"* who was lionized by the Mrs. Leo Hunters** of that day when he was not shut out by their footmen.

From ‘Charles Lamb and his biographers’ (1867)

*  Characters in Pierce Egan’s 19th century bestseller ‘Life in London’ in which Tom and Jerry’s ‘rambles and sprees through the Metropolis’ offers readers a unique glimpse into both high and low urban culture.


** A character in ‘Pickwick Papers’ (1852) : "Mrs. Leo Hunter—is proud to number among her acquaintance all those who have rendered themselves celebrated by their works and talents. Permit me, sir, to place in a conspicuous part of the list the name of Mr. Pickwick, and his brother–members of the club that derives its name from him.’ … She dotes on poetry, sir. She adores it; I may say that her whole soul and mind are wound up, and entwined with it. She has produced some delightful pieces, herself, sir. You may have met with her “Ode to an Expiring Frog,” sir.’ "

To an early butterfly

Thrice welcome here again thou fluttering thing
That gaily seeks about the opening flower
& opes & shuts thy gaudy spangld wing
Upon its bosom in the sunny hour
Fond gratefull thoughts from thy appearance spring
To see thee flye warms me once more to sing
That universal care who [h]apt thee down
& did thy winter dwelling please to give
That beings smiles on me dampt winters frown
& snatchd me from the storm & bid me live
& now agen the welcome seasons come
Tis thine & mine in natures gratful pride
To thank that good who snatchd us from the tomb
& stood our prop when all gave way beside


Village Minstrel II 206
EP II 386