Clough, Arthur Hugh
English poet (1819-1861). Autograph letter signed ("A. H. Clough"), with the draft of a poem. [Oxford]. 3 pp. on bifolium with integral address panel, to the "Revd. T. Burbidge, Rugby". One penny postage stamp. Traces of seal. Includes a photographic albumen print copy of a portrait of Clough.
$ 9,092 / 8.500 €
A very early, unknown letter to his friend Thomas Burbidge (1816-92) at Rugby, written while Clough was preparing for his final exams at Balliol: - "My dear Burbidge, You must not let another washing-day go by without writing to me. I am not very hard at work, for I am very tired &, since Yesterday Morning, not over well; perhaps in part owing to the heat which was more than worthy of May-day. I find that I have forgotten my books by wholesale, & I really cannot get them up again; so I take my chance; & indeed I care very little whether I miss or not.
I fell into another Sonnet the other day; which I will send you to fill up the half sheet, & for that reason only, I am sure. / To the great Metropolis. / Traffic, to speak from knowledge scarce begun, / I saw & travelling & fashion. Yea, / And if that Competition & display / Make a great Capital, then thou art one, / One, it may be, unrivalled neath the Sun. / But [outward, corrected to:] sovereign Symbol of the great and good, / True Royalty & genuine Statesmanhood, / Nobleness, learning, Piety was none. / If such realities indeed there are / Working within, unsignified, tis well; / The Stranger's fancy of the thing thou art / Is rather truly of a huge Bazaar, / A railway-terminus, a gay Hotel, / Anything but a mighty Nation's heart. Or should we begin better / If speak I may from knowledge but begun / Travelling there is, traffic, & fashion; - Yea, / If Stir & Competition &c.". - Clough had first visited London that April - on two weeks' vacation for extra tuition from a science tutor, Robert Lowe - and the satirical sonnet he produced reveals how little he must have enjoyed his stay. The poem was first published in 1951 in Lowry's, Norrington's and Mulhauser's edition, from a fair copy in the author's 1839-42 notebook. The present textual witness, hitherto unknown, provides interesting variations and amendments and may well pre-date the fair copy, which is simply annotated "April 1841". - Clough's ostensible indifference toward the results of his imminent examinations - the first paper would be written a week later, on 10 May, and the final oral exam was due for the 19th - was given the lie when, upon obtaining merely second class honours, he at once walked all the way to Rugby to confess to Dr Arnold, "I have failed"..