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Arthur Hugh Clough





SA.'sTA i»Aiiii.'.iiA



I Childhood 7

II At Rugby 15

III As Undergraduate 37

IV As Fellow of Oriel 57

V The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuglich . . .87

VI Amours de Voyage 112


VIII Last Years 155

IX Conclusion 176


ARTHUR HUGH CLOUGH was born in Liver-
pool on January i, i8ig. His father, James
Butler Clough, was a cotton merchant, belonging
to an old and respectable Welsh famity. His
mother's maiden name was Anne Perfect. She was
the daughter of a banker living at Pontefract in

There is little or nothing in the poet's ancestry
to point to as indicative of forthcoming genius.
From the days of Henry VHI the Cloughs had
lived in the country, raised large families, and kept
their annals brief. There was, indeed, an eighteenth-
century Hugh Clough, friend of Cowper and Fellow
of King's College, who got himself known as a poet ;
but his example was hardly powerful enough to
influence his younger kinsman. Were it not so
remote, a reported relationship with John Calvin
might furnish more interesting ground for specula-
tion than this poetical connection.

The home county of the Cloughs was Denbighshire,
in North Wales. There the foundations of a con-
siderable family fortune had been laid by a sixteenth-
century Sir Richard Clough, who invested in lands



and buildings in his native county the money he
made in Antwerp as the agent of Sir Thomas Gres-
ham, and in Hamburg as court master of the Fel-
lowship of Merchant Adventurers. His descendants
enjoyed considerable prosperity and respect through-
out the following two centuries without finding
it necessary to bestir themselves particularly. But
one Roger Clough of the late eighteenth centur^^ a
clergyman and the grandfather of Arthur Hugh,
lost in a bank failure the greater part both of his
own fortune and the fortune he had married, and
left his ten children comparatively impoverished.
James Butler was the third child. He left Wales
to go into business in Liverpool, married there in
1816, and had four children — Charles Butler, born
1817 ; Arthur Hugh, 1819 ; Anne Jemima, 1820 ;
and George Augustus, 1821.

Arthur Clough and his sister both mention their
mother's family, the Perfects, only in connection
with a specific family imperfection. Arthur alludes
to it in a letter he writes from Rugby to his younger
brother : " Only remember, don't be indolent,
George ; you recollect what I told you about that
family failing. Idle, I do not think you will
be ; but take care you never say, ' It is too
much trouble,' ' I can't be bothered,' which are
tolerably old favourites of yours, and indeed of
all who have any Perfect blood in them." What-
ever trouble it may have given his brother, the
family failing did not prevent Arthur Hugh's life


from becoming a record of close application to
duty. Or it affected him perhaps, from this point
of view, in the manner of an inoculation, somewhat
as the shiftlessness of the elder Dickens was a prin-
cipal cause of the amazing industry of his son. But
it is possible to view the poet's life in another light,
in which his freedom from Perfect indolence is not
so certain. Perhaps he seemed busier than, in a
narrower sense, he really was. After all, he regarded
writing as his work, and yet wrote little. His other
activities, so vigorously pursued, would appear in
this light as evasions rather than efforts, as devices
for distracting the attention from the one point
to which a more genuine industry would have kept
it turned.

This appearance of a certain mental laziness in
Clough's adult life has been connected, very much
less reasonably, with another circumstance — the fact
that as a child he lived in a warm climate. Late
in the year 1823 the Cloughs removed from Liver-
pool to Charleston, South Carolina, which w^as their
home for some thirteen years. Arthur returned to
England in 1828 to enter school. He was in Charles-
ton therefore from his fourth to his tenth year.
The summers during this period were spent by the
Cloughs either in the North, or, very pleasantly,
we are told, on Sullivan's Island out in the bay.
Under these conditions the Charleston climate would
have to be very hot indeed to explain much in the
poet's matured character.


For the Memoir prefixed to the 1869 edition of the
Poems, Anne Jemima Clough suppUed some recollec-
tions of this period of her brother's life. This is the
Miss Clough who became, in 1871, the first Principal
of Newnham College, Cambridge. The family lived
at Charleston, she says, in "a large, ugly, red-brick
house " on the East Bay. The father had his office
on the ground floor of the building. His visitors
were planters from the river and captains of sailing
vessels, and his premises were piled with bagging and
twine and cotton. From their nursery windows the
children could watch the ships standing at the
wharves, and passing in and out of the bay. They
would have had to be very prosaic children not to
find their surroundings rich in the materials of
wonder and make-believe. It is a little singular
that the one of them presumably the most sensitive,
the poet to be, never voiced, in his later writings,
any recollection of these unusual scenes of his child-

But the Cloughs " were very English," as one of
their descendants remarks, and especially English
in the first five years of their stay in South
Carolina, the years before the two elder boys went
back to England to school. They did not allow
their children to go to any of the local schools, nor
help them to make friends with the American chil-
dren. Mrs. Clough made no effort to become ac-
quainted with the people of the city. She reminded
her son continually that he was a Briton ; toward


American traditions she created in her home an
attitude of indifference rather than of sympathy or
active hostiUty, either of which would have stimu-
lated a small boy's curiosity concerning the pic-
turesque scenes and people about him. Being very
loyal to his mother, and very receptive to her sug-
gestions, Arthur stayed in her room and read about
English sea captains of the past, instead of lingering
about his father's office to admire living American
sea captains. And so — to speak in a dangerously
serious way of the responsibilities of a child — missing
the romance and the humour that were close about
him in this first environment he confronted, this
child established a fair likelihood that if he ever
became a poet, his poetry would be chiefly remark-
able for other riches than romance or humour.

Arthur Clough at seven, in his sister's account, is
" a beautiful boy, with soft, silky, almost black
hair, and shining dark eyes, and a small delicate
mouth." He reads a great deal, is passionate, but
obstinate rather than easily roused, and is too fas-
tidious to go barefooted. He studies history and
books of travel with his mother, and is accustomed to
" do sums in the office, lying on the piled-up pieces
of cotton bagging."

During these years the father was frequently
away on business, and Arthur, his sister tells, came
to be his mother's constant companion. " She
poured out the fullness of her heart on him." Her
influence on him was great. She was very religious,


and spoke to her children early ^and late about God
and about Duty. She strove to inculcate in them
her own enthusiasm for all that was noble and other-
worldly. Her attachments were few and of great
strength. She was very affectionate, and clinging,
and womanly. Her influence, in short, was of pre-
cisely the sort to make a conscientious and idealistic
bo3^ quite too conscientious and idealistic. The
really remarkable thing about this influence was that
it was direct and positive. Many a similarly pious
nineteenth century mother succeeded in implanting
in the breast of a similarly sensitive son a fierce
ambition to become as hard as nails. The difference
in the case of Mrs. Clough and her son was mainly
that she had him to herself, without much inter-
ference from his father, or from relatives and friends ;
but partly too, perhaps, that the attraction between
them was especially strong. One result of all this
was that when the family went to visit its cousins,
on its return to England, Arthur, in the words of
his sister, " could not enter into the boys' rough
games and amusements." It is a frequent circum-
stance in the childhood of poets, so frequent that to
regret it would almost be to regret poets.

Clough 's father seems to have been a cheerful
and active, though not uniformly successful, business
man, very affectionate toward his family, with a
lively interest in the surface of things, and no interest
at all in what lay beneath the surface. He cared
much for company and little for books. He had


great zest for doing things and for moving about.
His inclinations in these matters were quite the
opposite of his wife's. And though it was the
mother's tendency that relatives and friends were
accustomed to find dominant in Arthur, they found
something of his father in him also. A zest for
doing things was certainly characteristic of Clough
the schoolboy, though it was to disappear from
Clough the undergraduate. His sister felt that in
his later years he came to resemble their father very
decidedly. His liking for the passing show, his tact,
and his constant watchfulness for the comfort of
those about him, are qualities she ascribes to the
paternal influence. But whatever may be true of
the adult Clough, the small boy was certainly his
mother's son much more than his father's. This is
true, doubtless, of most boys. But it was excep-
tionally true of Clough.

In June 1828 the Cloughs made a journey to Eng-
land. When the rest of the family returned to
America in October, they left Arthur and his elder
brother, Charles, in a school in Chester. Here they
remained until the summer of the next year, when
they both entered Rugby. A letter written by Arthur
to his sister from the Chester school attests the asso-
ciation in the youthful mind of a pictorial talent
and a taste for sensation with a breadth of interest
truly Baconian. " During the Easter holidays,"
it runs, " I had plenty of leisure for drawing. Two
men were hung here lately for robbing an old clergy-


man. We have bought a book entitled The New-
tonian System of Philosophy , which treats chiefly
of the power and weight of air ; the cause of volcanoes,
earthquakes, and other phenomena of nature, such
as lightning, the aurora borealis ; also a description
of the sun, planets, their moons or satellites, con-
stellations, comets, and other heavenly bodies ;
likewise of air-guns, balloons, air-pumps ; also a
very pleasing one of snow, hail, and vapours. It also
describes electricity and magnetism, and gives a
brief account of minerals, vegetables, and animals."
How much the account of the book sounds as if
Bacon himself were describing a notable publication
of his House of Saloman ! And sounding like the
sagest science of an earlier age, how childish, too,
it sounds ! Here is the gust of childhood for the last
time in anything we have of Clough's until The
Bothie, written in the zest of holiday release from
academic walls, twenty years later. For in the
eleventh year of his childhood, Clough was turned
over to Arnold of Rugby, to be kindly and firmly
and prematurely inducted into manhood.


WHEN the Clough boys were entered at Rugby,
Dr. Arnold had been there only a year, and
had just begun the work of his reform. It has always
been agreed that this reform wrought a transforma-
tion in English public life. It is not so clearly
appreciated that the actual changes in school organi-
zation and curriculum which it involved were few
and slight. An increase of pay for assistant masters,
with a corresponding increase in school fees, a little
more of modern history and English literature in the
course of study, the recognition of the old fagging
system as a regular means of discipline — these were
the main, and almost the only, changes in the outer
constitution of the school. The great change was a
change of spirit. Arnold insisted before anything
else on building character into his charges . Boys will
be boys, had been the reflection of previous school-
masters ; but Arnold remembered that boys would
be men. The old rules and the old punishments
were perfunctory ; they rested on a dim feeling that
restrictions and beatings were a wholesome element
in boy routine. Arnold punished severely if he



punished at all, and always with a clear view of
some benefit to be secured. He resolutely expelled
boys of whose moral influence he was dubious.
Those that stayed he laboured to place beyond the
necessity of punishment, by forcing the growth in
them of conscience and self-control.

It was a task of leadership more than of command
which Arnold had set himself, and he brought genius
to the performance of it. He really succeeded in
breaking down the long-standing hostility between
boys and masters. He really brought his boys to
the point of imitating his own character and conduct,
and even to the farther point of thinking as he did
about the duties and opportunities of the school.

Arthur Clough went to Rugby, his sister writes,
" a somewhat grave and studious boy, not without
tastes for walking, shooting, and sight-seeing, but
with little capacity for play and for mixing with
others." Life in the school made up the first, and
in great part the second, of these deficiencies.
Clough acquired skill at the Rugby games, and he
made friends. In athletics his record is not merely
of the kind so frequently pieced out for boys who
are really not so titanic or so agile as they might
have been. No less thoroughly competent an
authority than the author of Tom Broi&n's Schooldays
asserts that at the queen of the Rugby games Clough
was the best goal-keeper of his day ; but he adds that,
though he swam well too, Clough did not take a
prominent part in games. Other authorities are


less inclined to minimize Clough's prowess. William
D. Arnold, for instance, in a pamphlet, of interest
to Rugbeians, called Football : the Sixth Match,
says something of the work of the forward and
centre positions in the game, and then : " Lastly
there are those who feel that keeping goal, defending
the very crown of conquest, is no mean or unworthy
task, since beneath those very bars were given to
immortality the names of Clough and Harry Thorpe."
Clough's name stands on the athletic roll of honour
in the further capacity of first recorded winner of the
" Barbey Hill Run," the oldest of the official runs
of the school. But of course the games of Rugby
and the winners in them were numerous. Clough's
accomplishment at sports, it may be concluded, was
up to the average, and not above it.

Clough's friends at Rugby were nearly all men who
later went into the Church, and attained more or
less prominence as upholders of latitudinarian ideas.
One who looks through the Rugby roll of the years
of Arnold's mastership is struck by the fact that it
divides itself almost half and half into soldiers and
clergymen. The other callings are but thinly repre-
sented. Of the soldiers there are not a few that
made themselves famous in the Crimean War. Not
one of them is represented as a correspondent or even
by mention in the volume of Clough's letters. The}^
presumably, were the less sensitive members of
the school, who indeed also received Arnold's in-
spiration toward devotion to duty, but only in such


measure as left unimpaired the vigorous life of
instinct and of impulse. These constituted Clough's
opportunities for forming friendships outside the
limits of the one way of taking life in which he had
been brought up. And he failed to avail himself
of them.

Of the men older than himself that he knew well
the strongest personalities w^ere presumably three
men who were later to become deans of cathedrals.
Arthur P. Stanle}^ though he entered Rugby six
months later than Clough, was his senior by three
years. In later j^ears both the poet and the
Dean of Westminster testified to a high mutual
esteem ; in schooldays the admiration must have
been mainly on the side of Clough. That the two
made much the same kind of impression on their
schoolmates appears from the circumstance that
while the boy Arthur in Tom Brown's Schooldays
has generally been taken as a portrait of Stanley,
a number of contemporary Rugbeians thought that
Clough was the author's model. Still other
" Arthurs," except in name, must C. J. Vaughan
and W. C. Lake have been, lifelong disciples of
Arnold both, Vaughan as Headmaster of Harrow,
Master of the Temple, and Dean of Llandaff, succes-
sively, and Lake as Dean of Durham. Boys of less
brilliant futures, but doubtless equal purity of
character, and dear friends of Clough, were Thomas
Burbidge, J. P. Gell, and J. N. Simpkinson. Bur-
bidge went to Aberdeen University and then to


Cambridge, was Master of Leamington College for
a time, and then for many years a chaplain of Eng-
lish congregations in the cities of the Mediterranean.
It was with him that Clough joined in the publica-
tion of Amharvalia, in 1848. Gell and Simpkinson
became Trinity men at Cambridge, taught for a time,
Gell in Tasmania and Simpkinson at Harrow, and
concluded their lives as rectors of churches respec-
tively in London and in the country. Of younger
friends the most noteworthy are the Arnold boys,
Matthew and Thomas. They entered their father's
school only in the summer preceding Clough's last
year of residence, but he had known them well before
that time while they were living at home, and
during vacations from their earlier schooling at
Winchester. With the Arnold boys is associated
Theodore Walrond, an attractive boy from the
North, well-loved though not fated to accomplish
any memorable work in the world.

This, practically, is the list of Clough's intimate
companions at school. It is remarkable for the
brilliancy it comprises, but still more remarkable
for its homogeneity. To at least three of the number
has been applied the epithet " Doctor Arnold's
favourite pupil." They were all boys after his heart
— boys also of just the kind Mrs. Clough would have
chosen as associates for her son.

In addition to his intimates Clough had a great
number of admiring acquaintances. We are told
that he was the most prominent boy in the school in


his last year, and that when he left nearly every boy
in Rugby shook him by the hand. In the light
of a letter which he wrote in the next to the last year
of his residence, it is perhaps not wholly cynical to
suggest that this ovation awarded to his departure
may have rested on some confusion of motives. He
complains in this letter that he is "of necessity
thrown much with other fellows, and wishing now
most earnestly to know as many as possible ; for
there is a deal of evil springing up in the school,
and it is to be feared that the tares will choke much
of the wheat." It is conceivable that many a palp-
able tare was amiable on the occasion of Clough's
leaving from a feeUng that saying farewell to him
was not after all immeasurably less satisfactory than
choking him would have been.

For it was undoubtedly possible, then as now, to
look upon the schoolboy Clough as a prig. He was
saved from the more serious degrees of priggishness
by the honesty and wholeheartedness and unselfish-
ness with which he plunged into the life of the school.
He played his games with a little more of Dr. Arnold's
own consciousness of the moral value of athletic
exercises than comports with the ideal of care-free^
joyous youth ; yet he played them zealously and

He had a stronger and more spontaneous interest
in his studies, and was remarkably successful in
them. Before he was fourteen he won the only
scholarship the school afforded. He progressed


rapidly through the forms, until he had to wait a
year to get into the sixth, because he was under the
age limit for it. In his various classes he was winning
prizes continually : in a single letter to his mother
he is likely to mention as many as five or six new
ones. Toward the end of his next to last year he
writes her : "As for the prizes, I have this Easter
got one, the Latin verse ; and a second for each of
the others, viz. the Latin prose and the Greek verse,
so that I shall still have two to try for next year ;
so that, of course, I am very well satisfied." In
pursuits corresponding to our " student activities "
of to-day, he was equally successful. He held what
administrative offices there were, and was editor
and chief contributor of the Rugby Magazine.

But the most significant thing about Rugby life
for Clough was that it provided such._a_perfect
hotbed for fostering the preoccupation with morality
and religion implanted in him by his mother. Here
as at home he lived under constant incitement to
emulate the loftiest models of Christian conduct.
The atmosphere of the school differed from that of the
home chiefly, perhaps, in that it inculcated a respon-
sibility for the actions of others than oneself. Be-
cause he was early singled out as desirable material
for leadership, Clough was particularly encouraged
by Dr. Arnold to assume an intense feeling of account-
ability for the morals of the entire school. He was
Arnold's favourite as distinctly as he had been his
mother's favourite. Matthew Arnold' s elder brother


Thomas writes that Clough spent much of his
time in the private part of the master's house. He
was made especially welcome there " by his gentle-
ness and sincerity." He was thus exposed more
completely even than Arnold's own partly Wyke-
hamist sons, to the powerful personal influence of a
man whose chief defect as a schoolmaster was that
he failed to appreciate the utterly different effects
his system would have on the ordinary " roundabout
boy," and on a boy like Clough — or else that he
really believed such a morally over-trained product
as Clough was when he left for Oxford was the
proper end of public-school training.

The schoolboy letters of Clough that have been
preserved were nearly all written in the last two
years of his residence ; and they show clearly that
at any rate in that final period he considered him-
self as on the side rather of the masters than of the
pupils. He is continually writing to his friends
sentiments that would be unendurabl}^ priggish
if they were not so admirably and pathetically
sincere — such things as this : "I verily believe my
whole being is soaked through with the wishing
and hoping and striving to do the school good, or
rather to keep it up and hinder it from falling in
this, I do think, very critical time, so that all my
cares and affections and conversations, thoughts,
words, and deeds, look to that involuntarily."

The crisis Clough refers to is apparently the Tory
attack on the Broad Church principles, on the


peculiarly effective discipline, and on what was taken
to be the goody-goodiness of Rugby. For a time
the weight of this attack was shown in a decided
falling off in attendance. The situation may well
have seemed critical to those who believed that the
fate of a reform very badly needed not only by Rugby
but by all the English public schools was hanging
in the balance. Fate decided, of course, in favour
of Arnold. The superiority of the clean-living and
industrious Rugbeian to the slack and irreverent
product of the other schools became very obvious
when they met together as freshmen at the Uni-
versities. Among the rivals and opponents of Dr.
Arnold who recognized the excellence of the men he
made is Cardinal Newman, who says, in the Apologia,
of the 1 Broad Church movement : " The party grew
all the time that I was in Oxford, even in numbers,
certainly in breadth and definiteness of doctrine, and
in power. And, what was a far higher consideration,
by the accession of Dr. Arnold's pupils, it was invested
with an elevation of character which claimed the re-
spect even of its opponents." Such men as Vaughan
and Stanley and Lake, with others as substantial if

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