Arthur Hugh Clough: The Critical Heritage

By Michael Thorpe | Go to book overview
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7.

Charles Kingsley on The Bothie

1849

From an unsigned review in Fraser’s Magazine, January 1849, xxxix, 103-10.

Kingsley (1819-75), Anglican clergyman, novelist, poet and Cambridge Professor of Modern History (1860-9), was prominent among writers concerned with social reform in the mid-century; he was a Christian Socialist and sympathetic towards Chartist aims. He bitterly opposed Tractarianism for its accent on celibacy and preached a full-blooded virility, including passionate—but godly —marriage.

‘And when I tell ye I saw a glazier, writes Thomas Hood’s Irish footman from Mont Blanc, ‘ye’ll be thinking I mane a fine boy walking about wid putty and glass at his back, and ye’ll be mightily mistaken; that’s just what a glazier isn’t like at all. And so I’ve described it to yees.

Even so say we of Mr. Clough’s Bothie. When our readers hear of an Oxford poem, written, too, by a college fellow and tutor, they will naturally expect, as usual, some pale and sickly bantling of the Lyra Apostolica1 school; all Mr. Keble’s defects caricatured, without any of his excellences—another deluge of milk-and-water from that perennial fount of bad verses, which, if quantity would but make up for quality, would be by this time world-famous, —and that is just what The Bothie is not like, ‘at all, at all.

Mr. Clough’s poetic début would have been certainly an easier one had he followed in the track of the reigning Oxford school. The only conditions of initiation into that guild have been, lately, that a man should be thorough bigot; that his conceptions should be sufficiently confused, and his style likewise; and, above all, that he should be

1Lyra Apostolica (1836): poems by Newman, Keble, R. H. Froude, I. W. Bowden, Isaac Williams and Samuel Wilberforce.

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