Fact and the Factitious in Amours de Voyage
Late in Amours de Voyage, Claude, the letter-writing protagonist, plays momentarily with the sense that through trusting himself and looking within he might have ‘gained a religious assurance’ and found in his own ‘poor soul’ a secure ‘moral basis to rest on’.1 It is a moment of potential comfort, suggesting the solace of a philosophical idealist when he discovers wisdom and authority within the structures of internal feeling. And yet it is not comfort. There was comfort in the previous fragment when he suddenly heard the sound of an English Psalm tune, but in these lines the assurance is only something he could ‘almost’ believe. In typically self-conscious fashion Claude regards the prospect of belief in an internalised ‘moral basis’ as mere possibility, as the conceptualisation of a ground he would dearly like to believe in. The assurance is the product of desire and the tone is self-mocking and detached. The moment of grounded belief was therefore never there and even its possibility is rejected: ‘Ah, but indeed I see, I feel it factitious entirely’ (V.v.98).
KeywordsVortex Depression Amid Coherence Alba
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- 1.Arthur Hugh Clough, Amours de Voyage, ed. Patrick Scott (University of Queensland Press, 1974), Canto V, letter v, ll. 95–7, p. 36. All quotations are taken from this comprehensively edited text (hereafter cited as Scott); future references will be given internally, citing canto, letter, and line number (the numbering is continuous within each canto). The poem was largely drafted in 1849, reworked during succeeding years and first published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1858. Clough also left a large number of cancelled passages and the textual notes in Scott’s edition provide full selections from this unpublished material.Google Scholar
- 3.See, e.g., Thomas Carlyle, ‘Characteristics’, in Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, vol. III (London: Chapman Hall, 1899).Google Scholar
- 4.J. D. Jump, ‘Clough’s Amours de Voyagé, English, vol. 9 (1953), 178.Google Scholar
- 5.Wendell V. Harris, Arthur Hugh Clough (New York: Twayne, 1970), p. 68; Masao Miyoshi, ‘Clough’s Poems of Self-Irony’, SEL, vol. 5 (1965), 696.Google Scholar
- 6.See, for example, Walter E. Houghton, The Poetry of Clough: An Essay in Revaluation (Yale University Press, 1963), pp. 127–8; Eugene August, ‘Amours de Voyage and Matthew Arnold in Love: an Inquiry’, VNL, vol. 60 (Fall 1981), 17; Katherine Chorley, Arthur Hugh Clough: the Uncommitted Mind (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), p. 195; Michael Timko, Innocent Victorian: the Satiric Poetry of Arthur Hugh Clough (Ohio University Press, 1963), pp. 143–9, 151.Google Scholar
- 7.So far the only critic to suggest, albeit parenthetically, that the contrasting opposites in the poem are themselves ‘in continual flux’, is Robert Micklus, in ‘A Voyage of Juxtapositions: the Dynamic World of Amours de Voyage’, Victorian Poetry, vol. 18 (1980), 408.Google Scholar
- 8.Robindra Kumar Biswas, Arthur Hugh Clough: Towards a Reconsideration (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 318.Google Scholar
- 9.John Goode, ‘Amours de Voyage: the Aqueous Poem’, in The Major Victorian Poets: Reconsiderations, ed. Isobel Armstrong (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969), p. 277.Google Scholar