Arthur Hugh Clough: The Critical Heritage

By Michael Thorpe | Go to book overview

39.

R. H. Hutton, ‘Arthur Hugh Clough’, from Essays Theological and literary

London, 1871, II, 368-91

This is a revised and expanded version of a review in the Spectator, xlii, 11 September 1869, pp. 1073-5. Like the review, the essay incorporates the substance of Hutton’s earlier notice of the Bothie, in the Spectator, xxxv, 25 January 1862, pp. 104-5.

Richard Holt Hutton (1826-97) was a mathematician, theologian and man of letters. He succeeded Clough as Principal of University Hall, London, and was joint editor of the Spectator, 1861-97.

These two volumes, as they now stand, contain as adequate a picture of the singular but large, simple and tender nature of the Oxford poet as is attainable, and it is one which no-one can study without much profit, and perhaps also some loss; without feeling the high exaltation of true poetry and the keen pleasure caused by the subtlety of true scholarship, at every turn; nor also without feeling now and again those ‘blank misgivings of a creature moving about in worlds not realized, ’ which are scattered so liberally among those buoyant ardours, disappointed longings, and moods of speculative suspense, and which characterize these singular letters of reticent tenderness and rough self-satire.

Everyone who knew Clough even slightly received the strongest impression of the unusual breadth and massiveness of his mind. Singularly simple and genial, he was unfortunately cast upon a self-questioning age, which led him to worry himself with constantly testing the veracity of his own emotions. He has delineated in four lines the impression which his habitual reluctance to converse on the deeper themes of life made upon those of his friends who were attracted by his frank simplicity. In one of his shorter poems he writes:


I said my heart is all too soft;
He who would climb and soar aloft

-250-

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