The Bothie of Toper-na-Fuosich

The Bothie of Toper-na-Fuosich was first published in November, 1848. Written in hexameters after Longfellow's taming of "our forward-rushing, consonant-crushing, Anglo-savage enunciation" in Evangeline (1847), the poem recounts a student reading party in Scotland.

Philip falls in love with a peasant girl, Elspie, but unable to find a place in English society, "they rounded the globe to New Zealand."

English critics generally ridiculed the poem. Unsigned reviews in the Spectator and the Literary Gazette perhaps reflected a philistine resentment of Oxonians: "at first view The Bothie of Toper-na-Fuosich looked like some Oxford satire; but if it does cover any occult meaning, it is confined to the initiated" (Spectator, 2 December 1848). More sophisticated readers--among them W. M. Thackeray, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Charles Kingsley--praised the poem, but the most enthusiastic reception came from the United States. In his critique for the Massachusetts Quarterly Review (March 1849), Emerson declared that "the poem has great literary merits . . . . The Homeric iteration has a singular charm . . . and there is a wealth of expression, a power of description and of portrait-painting, which excels out best romancers."

Matthew Arnold, perhaps Clough's closest friend, initially derided the poem for sounding "more American than English," but tempered his criticism to concede in 1861 that Clough's "composition produces a sense in the reader which Homer's composition produces."

Of his review in The Germ,William Michael Rossetti wrote in the preface of the 1901 reprint: "The only remark which I need make on this somewhat ponderous article is that I, as editor of The Germ, was more or less expected to do the sort of work for which other 'proprietors' had little inclination." Yet he did report that, in response to the review, "I had a letter from Clough, conveying his thanks to me for the copy of The Germ, and the criticism" (PRB Journal, 27 January 1850).