The Life of Algernon Charles Swinburne

By Edmund Gosse | Go to book overview
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WHEN he left Oxford,1 Algernon went up to Northumberland, where his grandfather had now entered the ninety-eighth year of his life. From Capheaton he made negotiations with his father, who, deeply incensed by his son's failure at the University, continued to inquire what Algernon meant to do. The young man declined to live any longer at home, but preferred his liberty in London, with the power to devote himself to literature. Lady Jane was on his side, and Admiral Swinburne ultimately withdrew his opposition. After a long delay, in the course of 1860, an allowance, small at first, but ultimately

Swinburne's name continued to head the list of undergraduates at Balliol for nearly twenty years after he left Oxford. My friend, the late Master of the College, who kindly verified the fact for me, told me that in February 1878 the poet removed his name. Up to this date he had regularly renewed his Caution money every year, and he did this as a protest against the action of the authorities. If he had not done so, his name would have disappeared from the Calendar, but if the dues are paid up, the University cannot prevent the name from appearing. As the Master informed me, "The College pays the dues annually out of the Caution until this comes to an end, and after the 'cupboard is bare' the name disappears mechanically." Swinburne's persistence in forcing his name on to the Calendar is an interesting proof of his annoyance.


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