finding him something of a failure, and speculating on why he failed. Lack of determination, inadequate opportunity, limited comprehension—here are the causes of failure; but Clough had a strong and steady will, the best of training and of friends, a wealth of good sense. More careful examination will show, perhaps, that the determination was too content to remain determination instead of removing the need for itself, that the training, though splendid for the usual boy, was of the wrong kind for at least one boy, and that a disproportionate share of the good sense rested on merely vicarious experience. But behind these suppositions will lurk a presentiment of some unescapable limitation in the man’s physical nature. He was not sufficiently sensuous. He did the best he could with a nervous system that was simply not finely enough organized, not delicate enough, to delight and gloriously to succeed in creative effort.
The spell which Clough threw over his contemporaries has become a memory, and yet his poems are by no means dead. It ought to be possible, therefore, to survey them candidly, and this acute and interesting book is a great help towards doing so. It disabuses one of the idea that Clough is out of date because he wrote about ‘problems. ’ As a conscientious intellectual he could not help doing that, but his musings are not of the single type which they have often been supposed to be. Nothing ages so quickly for new generations as the religious perplexities of the old, and it is unlucky for Clough that a simplifying legend has labelled him the poet of doubt. With the emphatic notes of ‘Easter Day’ in our mind, or the more subtle avowals of poems likeit is rather hard not to yield to this impression. But it is scarcely true of the first or last current of O