Arthur Hugh Clough: The Critical Heritage

By Michael Thorpe | Go to book overview

37.

W. H. Smith, from ‘Dipsychus and the Letters of A. H. Clough’, Macmillan’s Magazine

December 1866, xv, 89-102

William Henry Smith (1808-72) was a philosopher, author of two philosophical dialogues, the evolutionist novel ‘Thorndale’ (1857) and ‘Gravenhurst’ (1857) and a minor poet.

…Clough, when alive, if spoken of as a poet, was quoted as the author of the Bothie of Tober-na-vuolich; henceforth, he will be known as the author of Dipsychus, and of some lyrics of unsurpassable beauty, where deep reflection meets with a pathetic and musical utterance.

We hardly know to which first to turn—the Letters, or this poem of Dipsychus, so much light does each throw upon the other, and both on the man whom we still seem to have but lately lost from amongst us. For our own part, it is long since we have taken up a book that has so riveted our attention, or so stirred our thoughts, as these Letters and Remains. Any one wishing to study our age, in a phase of it at once most noble and most sad, could not do better than peruse this volume. He must, however, bring to it a candid and intelligent spirit, and perhaps some sad experience of his own, or he will not read the lesson aright.

There is but one pen that could do full justice to Arthur Clough— the same that gave us the living portraiture of Sterling. Both of these men had the happiness of being friends of Carlyle. Both may be said to have been his disciples, if such men are the disciples of any one; both, at least, were followers of the gospel of labour—of work performed for its own good results, come what may to the worker. Both were distinguished by the personal influence they exercised over their contemporaries, an influence by no means to be measured by their literary reputation; an influence of the man and the character, not of the writer or public teacher; an influence, in short, which is but another name for the love they called forth. Both were men of rare energy, H

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