Clarke, Jeremiah

, an English organist and composer of church music, was educated in the Chapel Royal, under Dr. Blow, who seems to have had a paternal affection for hir. In 1693 he resigned, in his favour, the place of master of the children and almoner of St. Paul’s, of which cathedral Clarke was soon after likewise appointed organist. In 1700 Dr. Blow and his pupil were appointed gentlemen extraordinary in the King’s chapel; of which, in 1704, on the death of Mr. Francis Pigoot, they were jointly admitted to the place of organist. The compositions of Clarke are not numerous, as an untimely aud melancholy end was put to his life before his genius had been allowed time to expand. Early in life he was so unfortunate as to conceive a violent and hopeless passion for a very beautiful lady of a rank far superior to his own; and his sufferings, under these circumstances, became at length so intolerable, that he resolved to terminate them by suicide. The late Mr. Samuel Wiley, one of the lay-vicars of St. Paul’s, who was very intimate with him, related the following extraordinary story. “Being at the house of a friend in the country, he found himself so miserable, that he suddenly determined to return to London: his friend, observing in his behaviour great marks of dejection, furnished him with a horse, and a servant to attend him. In his way to town, a fit of melancholy and despair having seized him, he alighted, and | giving his horse to the servant, went into a field, in the corner of which there was a pond surrounded with trees, which pointed out to his choice two ways of getting rid of life; but not being more inclined to the one than the other, he left it to the determination of chance; and taking a piece of money out of his pocket, and tossing it in the air, determined to abide by its decision; but the money falling on its edge in the clay, seemed to prohibit both these means of destruction. His mind was too much disordered to receive comfort, or take advantage of this delay; he therefore mounted his horse and rode to London, determined to find some other means of getting rid of life. And in July 1707, not many weeks after his return, he shot himself in his own hotise in St. Paul’s church -yard; the late Mr. John Reading, organist of St. Dunstan’s church, a scholar of Dr. Blow, and master of Mr. Stanley, intimately acquainted with Clarke, happening to go by the door at the instant the pistol went off, upon entering the house, found his friend and fellow-student in the agonies of death.

The anthems of this pathetic composer, which Dr. Boyce has printed, are not only more natural and pleasing than those of his master Dr. Blow, but wholly free from licentious harmony and breach of rule. He is mild, placid, and seemingly incapable of violence of any kind. In his first anthem (vol. ii.) which required cheerfulness and jubilation, he does not appear in his true character, which is tender and plaintive. The subject of the next is therefore better suited to the natural bias of his genius. There is indeed nothing in this anthem which indicates a master of grand and sublime conceptions; but there are a clearness and accuracy in the score, and melancholy cast of melody and harmony suitable to the words, which are likewise well accented, that cannot fail to soothe and please every appetite for music which is not depraved. Tenderness is, indeed, so much his characteristic, that he may well be called the Musical Otway of his time. 1

1 Burners Hist, of Music. Han-kins’s Hist, of Music.