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CLIFFORD, W. K.—CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH

large following, and in 1877 Westbourne Park chapel was opened for him. As a preacher, writer, propagandist and ardent Liberal politician, he became a power in the Nonconformist body. He was president of the London Baptist Association in 1879, of the Baptist Union in 1888 and 1899, and of the National Council of Evangelical Churches in 1898. His chief prominence in politics, however, dates from 1903 onwards in consequence of his advocacy of “passive resistance” to the Education Act of 1902. Into this movement he threw himself with militant ardour, his own goods being distrained upon, with those of numerous other Nonconformists, rather than that any contribution should be made by them in taxation for the purpose of an Education Act which in their opinion was calculated to support denominational religious teaching in the schools. The “passive resistance” movement, with Dr Clifford as its chief leader, had a large share in the defeat of the Unionist government in January 1906, and his efforts were then directed to getting a new act passed which should be undenominational in character. The rejection of Mr Birrell’s bill in 1906 by the House of Lords was accordingly accompanied by denunciations of that body from Dr Clifford and his followers; but as year by year went by, up to 1909, with nothing but failure on the part of the Liberal ministry to arrive at any solution of the education problem,—failure due now not to the House of Lords but to the inherent difficulties of the subject (see Education),—it became increasingly clear to the public generally that the easy denunciations of the act of 1902, which had played so large a part in the elections of 1906, were not so simple to carry into practice, and that a compromise in which the denominationalists would have their say would have to be the result. Meanwhile “passive resistance” lost its interest, though Dr Clifford and his followers continued to protest against their treatment.


CLIFFORD, WILLIAM KINGDON (1845–1879), English mathematician and philosopher, was born on the 4th of May 1845 at Exeter, where his father was a prominent citizen. He was educated at a private school in his native town, at King’s College, London, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was elected fellow in 1868, after being second wrangler in 1867 and second Smith’s prizeman. In 1871 he was appointed professor of mathematics at University College, London, and in 1874 became fellow of the Royal Society. In 1875 he married Lucy, daughter of John Lane of Barbados. In 1876 Clifford, a man of high-strung and athletic, but not robust, physique, began to fall into ill-health, and after two voyages to the South, died during the third of pulmonary consumption at Madeira, on the 3rd of March 1879, leaving his widow with two daughters. Mrs W. K. Clifford soon earned for herself a prominent place in English literary life as a novelist, and later as a dramatist. Her best-known story, Mrs Keith’s Crime (1885), was followed by several other volumes, the best of which is Aunt Anne (1893); and the literary talent in the family was inherited by her daughter Ethel (Mrs Fisher Dilke), a writer of some charming verse.

Owing to his early death, Professor Clifford’s abilities and achievements cannot be fairly judged without reference to the opinion formed of him by his contemporaries. He impressed every one as a man of extraordinary acuteness and originality; and these solid gifts were set off to the highest advantage by quickness of thought and speech, a lucid style, wit and poetic fancy, and a social warmth which made him delightful as a friend and companion. His powers as a mathematician were of the highest order. It harmonizes with the concrete visualizing turn of his mind that, to quote Professor Henry Smith, “Clifford was above all and before all a geometer.” In this he was an innovator against the excessively analytic tendency of Cambridge mathematicians. In his theory of graphs, or geometrical representations of algebraic functions, there are valuable suggestions which have been worked out by others. He was much interested, too, in universal algebra, non-Euclidean geometry and elliptic functions, his papers “Preliminary Sketch of Bi-quaternions” (1873) and “On the Canonical Form and Dissection of a Riemann’s Surface” (1877) ranking as classics. Another important paper is his “Classification of Loci” (1878). He also published several papers on algebraic forms and projective geometry.

As a philosopher Clifford’s name is chiefly associated with two phrases of his coining, “mind-stuff” and the “tribal self.” The former symbolizes his metaphysical conception, which was suggested to him by his reading of Spinoza. “Briefly put,” says Sir F. Pollock, “the conception is that mind is the one ultimate reality; not mind as we know it in the complex forms of conscious feeling and thought, but the simpler elements out of which thought and feeling are built up. The hypothetical ultimate element of mind, or atom of mind-stuff, precisely corresponds to the hypothetical atom of matter, being the ultimate fact of which the material atom is the phenomenon. Matter and the sensible universe are the relations between particular organisms, that is, mind organized into consciousness, and the rest of the world. This leads to results which would in a loose and popular sense be called materialist. But the theory must, as a metaphysical theory, be reckoned on the idealist side. To speak technically, it is an idealist monism.” The other phrase, “tribal self,” gives the key to Clifford’s ethical view, which explains conscience and the moral law by the development in each individual of a “self,” which prescribes the conduct conducive to the welfare of the “tribe.” Much of Clifford’s contemporary prominence was due to his attitude towards religion. Animated by an intense love of truth and devotion to public duty, he waged war on such ecclesiastical systems as seemed to him to favour obscurantism, and to put the claims of sect above those of human society. The alarm was greater, as theology was still unreconciled with the Darwinian theory; and Clifford was regarded as a dangerous champion of the anti-spiritual tendencies then imputed to modern science.

His works, published wholly or in part since his death, are Elements of Dynamic (1879–1887); Seeing and Thinking, popular science lectures (1879); Lectures and Essays, with an introduction by Sir F. Pollock (1879); Mathematical Papers, edited by R. Tucker, with an introduction by Henry J. S. Smith (1882); and The Common Sense of the Exact Sciences, completed by Professor Karl Pearson (1885).


CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH, THOMAS CLIFFORD, 1st Baron (1630–1673), English lord treasurer, a member of the ancient family of Clifford, descended from Walter de Clifford of Clifford Castle in Herefordshire, was the son of Hugh Clifford of Ugbrook near Exeter, and of Mary, daughter of Sir George Chudleigh of Ashton, Devonshire. He was born on the 1st of August 1630, matriculated in 1647 at Exeter College, Oxford, where he showed distinguished ability, supplicated for the B.A. degree in 1650, and entered the Middle Temple in 1648. He represented Totnes in the convention parliament and in that of 1661; and he joined the faction of young men who spoke “confidently and often,” and who sought to rise to power by attacking Clarendon. The chancellor, according to Burnet, had repulsed his advances on account of his Romanism, and Clifford accordingly offered his services to Arlington, whose steady supporter he now became.

On the 16th of February 1663 Clifford obtained the reversion of a tellership in the exchequer, and in 1664, on the outbreak of the Dutch war, was appointed commissioner for the care of the sick, wounded and prisoners, with a salary of £1200. He was knighted, and was present with James at the victory off Lowestoft over the Dutch on the 3rd of June 1665, was rewarded with the prize-ship “Patriarch Isaac,” and in August, under the earl of Sandwich, took a prominent part in the unsuccessful attempt to capture the Dutch East India fleet in Bergen harbour. In August he was appointed by Arlington’s influence ambassador with Henry Coventry to the north of Europe. Subsequently he served again with the fleet, was present with Albemarle at the indecisive fight on the 1st to the 4th of June 1666, and at the victory on the 25th of July. In October 1667 he was one of those selected by the Commons to prepare papers concerning the naval operations. He showed great zeal and energy in naval affairs, and he is described by Pepys as “a very fine gentleman, and much set by at court for his activity in going to sea and stoutness everywhere and stirring up and down.” He became the same year controller of the household and a privy councillor,