Symonds (1840-93) was a prolific minor poet, classical scholar, author of the History of the Italian Renaissance and of studies of Dante and Whitman.
He had written an earlier long essay on Clough which had been intended to supplement Palgrave’s ‘Memoir’, but after its appearance in Cornhill Magazine in October 1866 he wrote to Mrs Clough regretting any misconceptions he might have fostered through ignorance of Clough’s life. He thinks Allingham’s article in Fraser’s (see No. 36) must have been better informed than his. Accordingly, he begins this article with an uncontroversial résumé of the life and a careful discussion of Clough’s religious standpoint. He had also, by this time, become Mrs Clough’s friend and was helping her to prepare the Poems and Prose Remains of 1869 (we first learn of this joint venture in his letter to her of 4 May 1868, The Letters of John Addington Symonds, I, 804, ed. Schueller and Peters). Since he refers in another letter of 1 January 1869, to ‘Jowett’s approval of the general plan’ of the collection, it seems reasonable to regard the article printed here as relevant to the more complete Poems and Prose Remains which are the subject of this section, though they did not appear until later in 1869.
It is also interesting to note that in the first letter to Mrs Clough to which I have referred Symonds felt able to assure her that ‘there are several at Cambridge and Oxford’ of his generation ‘who look on Mr Clough’s poems as the expression of their deepest convictions and seek in him a mirror of themselves, deriving strength and support from his example’ (The Letters of J. A. S., I, 670).