The Bothie of Toper-na-fuosich

Arthur Hugh Clough
Clough (1819-1861), the son of a Liverpool cotton merchant, was Dr. Thomas Arnold's prize pupil at Rugby. He became a scholar at Balliol College, where he took a second and told Dr. Arnold in June 1841 "I have failed." He became a fellow of Oriel, but resigned. Then he was made principal of University Hall, London, as an examiner in the examination office, but was eventually forced to resign there as well. Clough was continually plagued by doubts religious and otherwise, particularly when his experience at Oxford challenged his indoctrination at Rugby. The poetry published during his lifetime, "The Bothie" and Ambarvalia, was for the most part poorly received in England. With this in mind he published his epistolary Amours de Voyage in the United States only. (It appeared anonymously in the Atlantic Monthly, 1858). He died in Florence, and Matthew Arnold wrote "Thyrsis" to commemorate his death.

(in English, 'the hut of the bearded well')
In September 1847 Clough stayed at the Bothie of Tobair na Feosag, a forester's cottage about six miles from the head of Loch Ericht, on the west shore of Scotland. Clough was told by the boatman on Loch Ericht that the name was really "Toper-na-Fuosich," meaning "the baird's well." While William Michael Rossetti's translation of "the bearded well" refers to Tobair na Feosag, Clough's title is actually a bawdy Gaelic toast. A reviewer in the Literary Gazette for 18 August 1849, quipped that "the author ought to have been more guarded against the malicious Gael who imposed it on the inquisitive Sassenach." Soon afterward, Clough discovered his error and wrote to William Allingham in 1855, that "I was so disgusted with the mishap of the name, that I have never had pleasure in [the poem] since." To fit the meter he experimented with "The Bothie of Toper-na-Kippoch" and later, "The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich," a change he registered throughout the poem's 1862 edition. Clough had also tried "Tober-navohlich" and "Topernafasach," finally deciding that only "The Bothie" should appear on the title page.

A joint publication with Thomas Burbidge, Ambarvalia is a collection of thirty-two short lyrics and blank-verse fragments which appeared in January 1849. It was often referred to in Clough's letters as the Sicilian Shepherd. Contemporary critics tended to prefer Burbidge's contributions to Clough's, generally citing the obscurity of the latter as the reason.

Thomas Burbidge
As William Michael Rossetti's review indicates, this now-forgotten poet is perhaps best known for his collaboration with Clough on Ambarvalia. Burbidge (1816-1892) was Clough's schoolfellow at Rugby, which he attended 1830-1834. His mischievousness attracted the lifelong friendship of Clough, who in adulthood would regularly send him drafts of poems. When Burbidge left for Trinity College, Cambridge (where he took his BA in 1841) Clough would often arrange to meet him at Rugby. After taking his LL.D, Burbidge was made headmaster at Leamington College 1851-1857, after which he became Chaplain at Malta, and later, Palermo.