Arthur Hugh Clough: The Critical Heritage

By Michael Thorpe | Go to book overview

Homeric simplicity is perhaps not the description which would suggest itself to most men; but whatever words can serve the literary memory of the author of The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich and Amours de Voyage will be ungrudgingly allowed by those who can appreciate the singular independence of his work.


55.

Unsigned article, ‘Clough and his Defender’ in the Academy

2 October 1897

In a recent review of Mr. John Mackinnon Robertson’s volume, New Essays towards a Critical Method, an allusion was made to the somewhat curious appreciation of Arthur Hugh Clough’s verse which it contains. Clough’s reputation might be thought to have so waned and dwindled during the last twenty years among all classes of readers that it might seem by this time to have well-nigh reached its vanishing point. As a member of a famous group of Rugby men, he is held by many to have been thrust into a position of eminence which his work never really merited, and the charm of his personality seems, during his life, and even after his death, to have enlisted for him the rather undiscriminating admiration of a powerful circle, especially among Oxford men, who exerted themselves to thrust him down the throats of an undiscerning public. But the cult of Clough has died entirely in the Oxford of to-day, and if it lingers at all among men of letters, it seldom makes itself heard. By most of us Clough, particularly Clough the poet, has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. One or two of his lyrics in the Arnold manner are occasionally quoted, and one may admire the dexterity and adroitness of The Latest Decalogue. But The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich (which we cannot pronounce) and the Amours de Voyage (which we cannot read) are dead past recall.

This, we say, was, or so we thought, the general opinion. The Bothie, as we all know, is not poetry, or anything at all like poetry—it

-365-

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