Arthur Hugh Clough at Balliol College

Balliol College

Arthur Hugh Clough left Rugby to start at Balliol College, which was considered among the most academically demanding colleges at the University of Oxford (Kenny 38). Oxford at this time was still a “religious and almost monastic institution,” and religion and religious tension would play a key role in Clough’s university career (32). Students at Oxford were required to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England to matriculate, thus excluding Jewish peoples, atheists, Dissenters, and Catholics (32).

Clough studied at Oxford during a tumultuous time for the university’s religious affiliations as the Tractarians and liberal Anglicans disagreed on the direction the church should move in. During this time, Clough’s friend and math tutor, W.G. Ward, a Tractarian, proved to be a tremendous influence on Clough’s thoughts about religion, philosophy, and art (Chorley 52). Although Clough was reportedly an excellent scholar, he performed poorly on the Oxford exams in 1841, earning Second-Class Honors rather than First-Class, to the surprise of many who knew him (Kenny 60). Clough seems to have taken the disappointment hard; he reportedly walked to Rugby, a distance of roughly 45 miles, after his exams to tell Dr. Arnold, “I have failed” (Armstrong 10).

Image: The facade of Balliol College, Oxford. Photographed by Toby Ord, February 2005. Available on Wikimedia Commons.

Works Referenced

Armstrong, Isobel. Arthur Hugh Clough. Longmans Green, 1962.

Chorley, Katharine. Arthur Hugh Clough: The Uncommitted Mind. Clarendon Press, 1962. 

Kenny, Anthony. Arthur Hugh Clough: A Poet’s Life. Bloomsbury Academic, 2005.

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