Thomas Humphry Ward, ed. The English Poets. 18801918. Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
Critical Introduction by Charles L. Graves
Arthur Clement Hilton (18511877)
[Arthur Clement Hilton was born at Banbury in 1851, and educated at Marlborough College and St. Johns College, Cambridge. The Light Green, a burlesque magazine for which he was chiefly responsible, appeared at Cambridge in 1872. Ordained in 1874, he became curate at Sandwich, where he died in 1877.]
THE THREE Cambridge poets all died young, Calverley at fifty-three, J. K. Stephen at thirty-three, and Arthur Clement Hilton at twenty-six. Hilton never reached the Sixth at Marlborough, and only took a pass degree at Cambridge, but his school and University record is not a fair index of his accomplishments. He had a genuine love of literature and archæology, wrote clever verses as a boy, and excelled as an actor. Still, his early efforts gave little inkling of the real genius for parody revealed in the Light Green, a burlesque magazinethe title of which was suggested by a short-lived Oxford periodical called the Dark Bluetwo numbers of which appeared in the May Term of 1872. Hilton wrote the great bulk of the contents, and all the best things are from his pen. Some of the wittiest versesnotably the delicious burlesque version of Tennysons May Queenare too rich in undergraduate references to appeal to the general public, but an exception must be made in favour of The Heathen Pass-ee, in which Hilton achieved the difficult task of rewriting a famous humorous poem, and equalling the humour of the original. As for the Octopus, it is generally admitted to be the best of all the innumerable parodies of Swinburne in the Dolores vein and stanza. It is a perfect caricature alike of the metrical excesses and the violent voluptuousness of the original. Hilton wrote a few light farcical plays, including his amusing Hamlet: or Not such a Fool as he Lookswhich students of burlesque may like to compare with Gilberts admirable Rosencrantz and Guildersternand some graceful verses of a graver cast, but his best work is to be found in the Light Green. Like not a few humorists, he had a deep underlying vein of seriousness, and taking Orders at the earliest possible age spent the last three years of his short life as a hard-working curate at Sandwich.