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Barlow, Henry Clark (DNB00)

BARLOW, HENRY CLARK, M.D. (1806–1876), writer on Dante, was born in Churchyard Row, Newington Butts, Surrey, 12 May 1806. He was the only child of Henry Barlow, who, after spending the years 1799–1804 in the naval service of the East India Company, settled at Newington; passed fourteen years (1808–1822) at Gravesend as a revenue officer (Memoir of Henry Barlow, p. 18); and died at Newington, in his seventy-fifth year, 12 Jan. 1858. Barlow's mother, who lived till 14 Jan. 1864, was Sophia, youngest daughter of Thomas Clark, a solicitor. Barlow was educated at Gravesend and Hall Place, Bexley; and in 1822 was articled to George Smith, an architect and surveyor, of Mercers' Hall, and soon became a student of the Royal Academy. In 1827, however, in consequence of an accidental wound in the nerve of the right thumb, he relinquished the profession, and devoted two years to ‘private study, to supply the deficiencies of a neglected education’ (Brief Memoir, &c., 1868). In 1829 he was in Paris attending the public lectures in the Jardin des Plantes and at the Collège de France. He matriculated at Edinburgh, after a preliminary course of classical study at Dollar, as a medical student, in November 1831, and took the degree of M.D. on 3 Aug. 1837. After an interval he removed to Paris, where he not only devoted himself to medical and scientific studies, but also to artistic criticism. From Paris in 1840 he proceeded to Belgium, the Rhine, and Holland. In the course of these journeys, as in previous ones made in the Isle of Wight, North and South Wales, Ireland, and the Western Highlands of Scotland, Barlow enriched his sketch-books and journals with drawings and descriptions, and his cabinet with geological specimens. He returned home to study Italian, and in the spring of 1841 again went to the continent. He spent the summer in Switzerland, in the autumn crossed the St. Gothard to Milan, and remained in Italy nearly five years. It was at Pisa, during the winter of 1844–5, that Barlow became acquainted ‘with the great poet of Italy and Europe, Dante Allighieri.’ In 1846, after revisiting England, he returned to Florence. In October 1847 he made ‘a pilgrimage to Ravenna, the Mecca of all Dantophilists.’ In 1848 he extended his travels to Athens and Constantinople, returning by way of the Danube through Hungary and Austria. In 1849 he resided for some time in Berlin, Dresden, and Prague. He published in 1850, from Newington Butts, a slight paper on Dante, entitled ‘La Divina Commedia: Remarks on the Reading of the 59th Verse of the 5th Canto of the “Inferno,”’ and Barlow's whole subsequent life seems to have been consecrated to the study of Dante. Later in 1850 he was again at Vienna, Venice, and Florence. In 1851 Barlow returned to England, where he published a little work entitled ‘Industry on Christian Principles,’ 8vo, London, 1851. In 1852 he was in Paris, engaged in the examination of the ‘Codici’ of Dante in the various libraries. He afterwards collated above 150 other manuscripts in Italy, Germany, Denmark, and England. In 1853 Barlow was in Germany, prosecuting his favourite studies; in the autumn of 1854 in the south of France; in 1856 in Denmark and Sweden; and, revisiting Edinburgh in 1857, was thence attracted to Manchester by the Art Treasures' Exhibition of that year. About this time he published at London ‘Letteratura Dantesca: Remarks on the Reading of the 114th Verse of the 7th Canto of the Paradise of the “Divina Commedia”’ (1857), and two years afterwards ‘Francesca da Rimini, her Lament and Vindication; with a brief Notice of the Malatesti’ (1859, 2nd edition, 1875). An Italian translation, ‘Francesca da Rimini, suo Lamento e Difesa,’ &c., in Dr. Filippo Scolari's ‘Esercitazioni Dantesche,’ appeared at Venice in 1865. Barlow published in 1862 ‘Il Gran Rifiuto, what it was, who made it, and how fatal to Dante Allighieri,’ ‘a dissertation on verses 58 to 63 of the 3rd canto of the “Inferno,”’ of which an Italian translation by G. G[uiscardi] appeared at Naples in 1864. Barlow also issued in 1862 ‘Il Conte Ugolino e l'Arcivescovo Ruggieri: a Sketch from the Pisan Chronicles,’ and a fragment of English history, entitled ‘The Young King and Bertrand de Born,’ from which the author deduced an amended reading in line 135 of the 28th canto of the ‘Inferno.’ In 1864 Barlow published the final result of his laborious work on the ‘Divina Commedia,’ ‘Critical, Historical, and Philosophical Contributions to the Study of the “Divina Commedia.”’ In the celebration of the sixth centenary of Dante's birth (14–16 May 1865), at Florence, Barlow took a prominent part, and described the festival in his ‘Sixth Centenary Festivals of Dante Allighieri in Florence and at Ravenna. By a Representative’ (London, 1866). Barlow was also present for a time at the festival which took place at Ravenna on 24–26 June following, in consequence of the recent discovery there of the bones of Dante. Before the first of these two celebrations the king of Italy bestowed upon Barlow the title of Cavahere dell' Ordine dei SS. Maurizio e Lazzaro. After the Dante commemoration he spent his time in studious seclusion and studious travel at home and abroad. He died, whilst on a foreign tour, at Salzburg, on Wednesday, 8 Nov. 1876. He was at the time a fellow or member of many learned societies in England, Italy, and Germany. He read a paper, which he had been contemplating since 1854, at the Royal Institute of British Architects, on ‘Symbolism in reference to Art’ (1860), and an article of his on ‘Sacred Trees’ was reprinted ‘for private circulation’ from the ‘Journal of Sacred Literature’ for July 1862. These papers, with a third, on the ‘Art History of the Tree of Life,’ originally read, 11 May 1859, before the Royal Society of Literature, were collected in a volume entitled ‘Essays on Symbolism,’ and published in 1866. He was a prolific contributor to the ‘Athenæum,’ to which he communicated some fifty articles on ‘subjects in reference to Dante and Italy.’ He was a constant correspondent of the ‘Morning Post,’ to which, besides articles referring to Dante, he addressed over forty ‘Letters on the National Gallery,’ 1849–67, as well as ‘Letters on the British Museum’ and ‘Letters on the Crystal Palace at Sydenham.’ His writings as poet, critic, and student are very numerous. He was the author of an inaugural ‘Dissertation on the Causes and Effects of Disease, considered in reference to the Moral Constitution of Man’ (Edinburgh, 1837); and he left several treatises in manuscript, one of which, the ‘Harmony of Creation and Redemption,’ 4 vols., folio, was placed thirteenth amongst the essays of over two hundred candidates for the great Burnett theological prize awarded at Aberdeen in 1854. Barlow left by will 1,000l. consols to University College, London, for the endowment of an annual course of lectures on the ‘Divina Commedia,’ as well as all the books, prints, &c. in his library which related to Dante and Italian history and literature. He also left 500l. consols to the Geological Society for the furtherance of geological science.

[Henry Barlow, of Newington Butts: a Memoir in Memoriam, privately printed; the Sixth Centenary Festivals of Dante Allighieri in Florence and at Ravenna, 1866; A Brief Memoir of Henry Clark Barlow, privately printed, whence the quoted passages in the foregoing life are chiefly taken; Athenæum, 11 and 18 Nov. 1876; Academy, 2 Dec. 1876.]

A. H. G.