Mr. Clarke is a native of Atkinson, where he was born January 30, 1820. His parents were intelligent and successful farmers, and from them he inherited the robust constitution, the genial disposition, and the capacity for brain-work, which have carried him to the head of his profession in New Hampshire. They also furnished him with the small amount of money necessary to give a boy an education in those days, and in due course he graduated with high honors at Dartmouth College in the class of 1843. Then he became principal of the Meredith Bridge Academy, which position he held three years, reading law meanwhile in an office near by. In 1848 he was admitted to the Hillsborough county bar from the office of his brother, at Manchester, the late Honorable William C. Clarke, Attorney General of New Hampshire, and the next year went to California. From 1849 until 1851 he was practicing his profession, roughing it in the mines, and prospecting for a permanent business and location in California, Central America, and Mexico.
In 1851 he returned to Manchester and established himself as a lawyer, gaining in a few months a practice which gave him a living; but in October of the next year the sale of the MIRROR afforded an opening more suited to his talents and ambition, and having bought the property he thenceforth devoted himself to its development.
He had no experience, no capital, but he had confidence in himself, energy, good judgment, and a willingness to work for the success he was determined to gain. For months and years he was editor, reporter, business manager, accountant, and collector. In these capacities he did an amount of work that would have killed an ordinary man, and did it in a way that told; for everymonth added to the number of his patrons; and slowly but steadily his business increased in volume and his papers in influence.
He early made it a rule to condense everything that appeared in the columns of the MIRROR into the smallest possible space, to make what he printed readable as well as reliable, to make the paper better every year than it was the preceding year, and to furnish the weekly edition at a price which would give it an immense circulation without the help of travelling agents or the credit system: and to this policy he has adhered. Besides this, he spared no expense which he judged would add to the value of his publications, and his judgment has always set the bounds far off on the very verge of extravagance. Whatever machine promised to keep his office abreast of the times, and increase the capacity for good work, he has dared buy. Whatever man he has thought would brighten and strengthen his staff of assistants, he has gone for, and if possible got, and whatever new departure has seemed to him likely to win new friends for the MIRROR he has made.
In this way he has gone from the bottom of the ladder to the top. From time to time rival sheets have sprung up beside him, but only to maintain an existence for a brief period, or to be consolidated with the MIRROR. All the time there has been sharp competition from publishers elsewhere, but this has only stimulated him to make a better paper and push it succesfully in fields which they have regarded as their own.