The Life of Froude
By Herbert Paul
London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1905.
Although eleven years have elapsed since Mr. Froude's death, no biography of him has, so far as I know, appeared. This book is an attempt to tell the public something about a man whose writings have a permanent place in the literature of England.
It is a pleasure to acknowledge my obligation to Miss Margaret Froude for having allowed me the use of such written material as existed. A large number of Mr. Froude's letters were destroyed after his death, and it was not intended by the family that any biography of him should be written. Finding that I was engaged upon the task, Miss Froude supplied those facts, dates, and papers which were essential to the accuracy of the narrative. Mr. Froude's niece, Mrs. St. Leger Harrison, known to the world as Lucas Malet, has allowed me to use some of her uncle's letters to her mother.
Lady Margaret Cecil has, with great kindness, permitted me to make copious extracts from Mr. Froude's letters to her mother, the late Countess of Derby. I must also express my gratitude to Sir Thomas Sanderson, Lord Derby's executor, to Cardinal Newman's literary representative Mr. Edward Bellasis, and to Mr. Arthur Clough, son of Froude's early friend the poet.
Mr. James Rye, of Balliol College, Oxford, placed at my disposal, with singular generosity, the results of his careful examination into the charges made against Mr. Froude by Mr. Freeman.
The Rector of Exeter was good enough to show me the entries in the college books bearing upon Mr. Froude's resignation of his Fellowship, and to tell me everything he knew on the subject.
My indebtedness to the late Sir John Skelton's delightful book, The Table Talk of Shirley, will be obvious to my readers.
I have, in conclusion, to thank my old friend Mr. Birrell, for lending me his very rare copy of the funeral sermon preached by Mr. Froude at Torquay.
October 30, 1905.
IN reading biographies I always skip the genealogical details. To be born obscure and to die famous has been described as the acme of human felicity. However that may be, whether fame has anything to do with happiness or no, it is a man himself, and not his ancestors, whose life deserves, if it does deserve, to be written. Such was Froude's own opinion, and it is the opinion of most sensible people. Few, indeed, are the families which contain more than one remarkable figure, and this is the rock upon which the hereditary principle always in practice breaks. For human lineage is not subject to the scientific tests which alone could give it solid value as positive or negative evidence. There is nothing to show from what source, other than the ultimate source of every good and perfect gift, Froude derived his brilliant and splendid powers. He was a gentleman, and he did not care to find or make for himself a pedigree. He knew that the Froudes had been settled in Devonshire time out of mind as yeomen with small estates, and that one of them, to whom his own father always referred with contempt, had bought from the Heralds' College what Gibbon calls the most useless of all coats, a coat of arms. Froude's grandfather did a more sensible thing by marrying an heiress, a Devonshire heiress, Miss Hurrell, and thereby doubling his possessions. Although he died before he was five-and-twenty, he left four children behind him, and his only son was the historian's father.
James Anthony Froude, known as Anthony to those who called him by his Christian name, was born at Dartington, two miles from Totnes, on St. George's Day, Shakespeare's birthday, the 23rd of April, 1818. His father, who had taken a pass degree at Oxford, and had then taken orders, was by that time Rector of Dartington and Archdeacon of Totnes. Archdeacon Froude belonged to a type of clergyman now almost extinct in the Church of England, though with strong idiosyncrasies of his own. Orthodox without being spiritual, he was a landowner as well as a parson, a high and dry Churchman, an active magistrate, a zealous Tory, with a solid and unclerical income of two or three thousand a year. He was a personage in the county, as well as a dignitary of the Church. Every one in Devonshire knew the name of Froude, if only from "Parson Froude," no credit to his cloth, who appears as Parson Chowne in Blackmore's once popular novel, The Maid of Sker. But the Archdeacon was a man of blameless life, and not in the least like Parson Froude. A hard rider and passionately fond of hunting, he was a good judge of a horse and usually the best mounted man in the field. One of his exploits as an undergraduate was to jump the turnpike gate on the Abingdon road with pennies under his seat, between his knees and the saddle, and between his feet and the stirrups, without dropping one.
Although he had been rather extravagant and something of a dandy, he was able to say that he could account for every sixpence he spent after the age of twenty-one. On leaving Oxford he settled down to the life of a country parson with conscientious thoroughness, and was reputed the best magistrate in the South Hams. Farming his own glebe, as he did, with skill and knowledge, perpetually occupied, as he was, with clerical or secular business, he found the Church of England, not then disturbed by any wave of enthusiasm, at once necessary and sufficient to his religious sense. His horror of Nonconformists was such that he would not have a copy of The Pilgrim's Progress in his house. He upheld the Bishop and all established institutions, believing that the way to heaven was to turn to the right and go straight on. There were many such clergymen in his day.
In appearance he was a cold, hard, stern man, despising sentiment, reticent and self-restrained. But beneath the surface there lay deep emotions and an aesthetic sense, of which his drawings were the only outward sign. To these sketches he himself attached no value. "You can buy better at the nearest shop for sixpence," he would say, if he heard them praised. Yet good judges of art compared them with the early sketches of Turner, and Ruskin afterwards gave them enthusiastic praise. Mr. Froude had married, when quite a young man, Margaret Spedding, the daughter of an old college friend, from Armathwaite in Cumberland. Her nephew is known as the prince of Baconian scholars and the J. S. of Tennyson's poem. She was a woman of great beauty, deeply religious, belonging to a family more strongly given to letters and to science than the Froudes, whose tastes were rather for the active life of sport and adventure. One can imagine the Froudes of the sixteenth century manning the ships of Queen Bess and sailing with Frobisher or Drake. For many years Mrs. Froude was the mistress of a happy home, the mother of many handsome sons and fair daughters. The two eldest, Hurrell and Robert, were especially striking, brilliant lads, popular at Eton, their father's companions in the hunting-field or on the moors. But in Dartington Rectory, with all its outward signs of prosperity and welfare, there were the seeds of death. Before Anthony Froude, the youngest of eight, was three years old, his mother died of a decline, and within a few years the same illness proved fatal to five of her children. The whole aspect of life at Dartington was changed. The Archdeacon retired into himself and nursed his grief in silence, melancholy, isolated, austere.
This irreparable calamity was made by circumstances doubly calamitous. Though destined to survive all his brothers and sisters, Anthony was a weak, sickly child, not considered never heard the mention of his mother's name, or was the Archdeacon himself capable of showing any tenderness whatever. In place of a mother the little boy had an aunt, who applied to him principles of Spartan severity. At the mature age of three he was ducked every morning at a trough, to harden him, in the ice-cold water from a spring, and whenever he was naughty he was whipped. It may have been from this unpleasant discipline that he derived the contempt for self-indulgence, and the indifference to pain, which distinguished him in after life. On the other hand, he was allowed to read what he liked, and devoured Grimm's Tales, The Seven Champions of Christendom, and The Arabian Nights. He was an imaginative and reflective child, full of the wonder in which philosophy begins.
The boy felt from the first the romantic beauty of his home. Dartington Rectory, some two miles from Totnes, is surrounded by woods which overhang precipitously the clear waters of the River Dart. Dartington Hall, which stood near the rectory, is one of the oldest houses in England, originally built before the Conquest, and completed with great magnificence in the reign of Richard II. The vast banqueting-room was, in the nineteenth century, a ruin, and open to the sky. The remains of the old quadrangle were a treasure to local antiquaries, and the whole place was full of charm for an imaginative boy. Mr. Champernowne, the owner, was an intimate friend of the Archdeacon, to whom he left the guardianship of his children, so that the Froudes were as much at home in their squire's house as in the parsonage itself. Although most of his brothers and sisters were too old to be his companions, the group in which his first years were passed was an unusually spirited and vivacious one. Newman, who was one of Hurrell's visitors from Oxford, has described the young girls "blooming and in high spirits," full of gaiety and charm.*
— * Newman's Letters and Correspondence, ii. 73. —
The Froudes were a remarkable family. They had strong characters and decided tastes, but they had not their father's conventionality and preference for the high roads of life. They were devoted to sport, and at the same time abounded in mental vigour. All the brothers had the gift of drawing. John, though forced into a lawyer's office, would if left to himself have become an artist by profession. The nearest to Anthony in age was William, afterwards widely celebrated as a naval engineer. Then came Robert, the most attractive of the boys. A splendid athlete, compared by Anthony with a Greek statue, he had sweetness as well as depth of nature. His drawings of horses were the delight of his family; and when his favourite hunter died he wrote a graceful elegy on the afflicting event. The influence of his genial kindness was never forgotten by his youngest brother; but there was a stronger and more dominating personality of which the effect was less beneficial to a sensitive and nervous child.
Richard Hurrell Froude is regarded by High Churchmen as an originator of the Oxford Movement, and he impressed all his contemporaries by the brilliancy of his gifts. Dean Church went so far as to compare him with Pascal. But his ideas of bringing up children were naturally crude, and his treatment of Anthony was more harsh than wise. His early character as seen at home is described by his mother in a letter written a year before her death, when he was seventeen. Fond as she was of him and proud of his brilliant promise, she did not know what to make of him, so wayward was he and inconsiderately selfish. "I am in a wretched state of health," the poor lady explained, "and quiet is important to my recovery and quite essential to my comfort, yet he disturbs it for what he calls 'funny tormenting,' without the slightest feeling, twenty times a day. At one time he kept one of his brothers screaming, from a sort of teasing play, for near an hour under my window. At another he acted a wolf to his baby brother, whom he had promised never to frighten again."*
— * Guiney's Hurrell Froude, p. 8. —
Anthony was the baby brother, and though this form of teasing was soon given up, the temper which dictated it remained. Hurrell, it should be said, inflicted severe discipline upon himself to curb his own refractory nature. In applying the same to his little brother he showed that he did not understand the difference between Anthony's character and his own. But lack of insight and want of sympathy were among Hurrell's acknowledged defects.
Conceiving that the child wanted spirit, Hurrell once took him up by the heels, and stirred with his head the mud at the bottom of a stream. Another time he threw him into deep water out of a boat to make him manly. But he was not satisfied by inspiring physical terror. Invoking the aid of the preternatural, he taught his brother that the hollow behind the house was haunted by a monstrous and malevolent phantom, to which, in the plenitude of his imagination, he gave the name of Peningre. Gradually the child discovered that Peningre was an illusion, and began to suspect that other ideas of Hurrell's might be illusions too. Superstition is the parent of scepticism from the cradle to the gave. At the same time his own faculty of invention was rather stimulated than repressed. He was encouraged in telling, as children will, imaginative stories of things which never occurred.
In spite of ghosts and muddy water Anthony worshipped Hurrell, a born leader of men, who had a fascination for his brothers and sisters, though not perhaps of the most wholesome kind. The Archdeacon himself had no crotchets. He was a religious man, to whom religion meant duty rather than dogma, a light to the feet, and a lantern for the path. A Tory and a Churchman, he was yet a moderate Tory and a moderate Churchman; prudent, sensible, a man of the world. To Hurrell Dissenters were rogues and idiots, a Liberal was half an infidel, a Radical was, at least in intention, a thief. From the effect of this nonsense Anthony was saved for a time by his first school. At the age of nine he was sent to Buckfastleigh, five miles up the River Dart, where Mr. Lowndes, the rector and patron of the living, took boarders and taught them, mostly Devonshire boys. Buckfastleigh was not a bad school for the period. There was plenty of caning, but no bullying, and Latin was well taught. Froude was a gentle, amiable child, "such a very good-tempered little fellow that, in spite of his sawneyness, he is sure to be liked," as his eldest brother wrote in 1828. He suffered at this time from an internal weakness, which made games impossible. His passion, which he never lost, was for Greek, and especially for Homer. With a precocity which Mill or Macaulay might have envied, he had read both the Iliad and the Odyssey twice before he was eleven. The standard of accuracy at Buckfastleigh was not high, and Froude's scholarship was inexact. What he learnt there was to enjoy Homer, to feel on friendly terms with the Greeks and Trojans, at ease with the everlasting wanderer in the best story-book composed by man. Anthony's holidays were not altogether happy. He was made to work instead of amusing himself, and forced into an unwholesome precocity. Then at eleven he was sent to Westminster.
In 1830 the reputation of Westminster stood high. The boarding- houses were well managed, the lagging in them was light, and their tone was good. Unhappily, in spite of the head master's remonstrances, Froude's father, who had spent a great deal of money on his other sons' education, insisted on placing him in college, which was then far too rough for a boy of his age and strength. On account of what he had read, rather than what he had learnt, at Buckfastleigh, he took a very high place, and was put with boys far older than himself. The lagging was excessively severe. The bullying was gross and unchecked. The sanitary accommodation was abominable. The language of the dormitory was indecent and profane. Froude, whose health prevented him from the effective use of nature's weapons, was woke by the hot points of cigars burning holes in his face, made drunk by being forced to swallow brandy punch, and repeatedly thrashed. He was also more than half starved, because the big fellows had the pick of the joints at dinner, and left the small fellows little besides the bone. Ox-tail soup at the pastrycook's took the place of a meal which the authorities were bound to provide. Scandalous as all this may have been, it was not peculiar to Westminster. The state of college at Winchester, and at Eton, was in many respects as bad. Public schools had not yet felt the influence of Arnold and of the reforming spirit. Head masters considered domestic details beneath them, and parents, if they felt any responsibility at all, persuaded themselves that boys were all the better for roughing it as a preparation for the discipline of the world. The case of Froude, however, was a peculiarly bad one. He was suffering from hernia, and the treatment might well have killed him. Although his lagging only lasted for a year, he was persistently bullied and tormented, until he forgot what he had learned, instead of adding to it. When the body is starved and ill- treated, the mind will not work. The head master, Dr. Williamson, was disappointed in a boy of whom he had expected so much, and wrote unfavourable reports. After enduring undeserved and disabling hardships for three years and a half, Froude was taken away from Westminster at the age of fifteen.
To escape from such a den of horrors was at first a relief. But he soon found that his miseries were not over. He came home in disgrace. His misfortunes were regarded as his faults, and the worst construction was put upon everything he said or did. His clothes and books had been freely stolen in the big, unregulated dormitory. He was accused of having pawned them, and his denials were not believed. If he had had a mother, all might have been well, for no woman with a heart would assume that her child was lying. The Archdeacon, without a particle of evidence, assumed it at once, and beat the wretched boy severely in the presence of the approving Hurrell. Hurrell would have made an excellent inquisitor. His brother always spoke of him as peculiarly gifted in mind and in character; but he knew little of human nature, and he doubtless fancied that in torturing Anthony's body he was helping Anthony's soul. To alter two words in the fierce couplet of the satirist,
He said his duty, both to man and God, Required such conduct, which seemed very odd.
Anthony was threatened, in the true inquisitorial spirit, with a series of floggings, until he should confess what he had not done. At last, however, he was set down as incorrigibly stupid, and given up as a bad job. The Archdeacon arrived at the conclusion that his youngest son was a fool, and might as well be apprenticed to a tanner. Having hoped that he would be off his hands as a student of Christ Church at sixteen, he was bitterly disappointed, and took no pains to conceal his disappointment.
To Anthony himself it seemed a matter of indifference what became of him, and a hopeless mystery why he had been brought into the world. He had no friend. The consumption in the family was the boy's only hope. His mother had died of it, and his brother Robert, who had been kind to him, and taught him to ride. It was already showing itself in Hurrell. His own time could not, he thought, be long. Meanwhile, he was subjected to petty humiliations, in which the inventive genius of Hurrell may be traced. He was not, for instance, permitted to have clothes from a tailor. Old garments were found in the house, and made up for him in uncouth shapes by a woman in the village. His father seldom spoke to him, and never said a kind word to him. By way of keeping him quiet, he was set to copy out Barrow's sermons. It is difficult to understand how the sternest disciplinarian, being human, could have treated his own motherless boy with such severity. The Archdeacon acted, no doubt, upon a theory, the theory that sternness to children is the truest kindness in the long run.
Well might Macaulay say that he would rather a boy should learn to lisp all the bad words in the language than grow up without a mother. Froude's interrupted studies were nothing compared to a childhood without love, and there was nobody to make him feel the meaning of the word. Fortunately, though his father was always at home, his brother was much away, and he was a good deal left to himself after Robert's death. Hurrell did not disdain to employ him in translating John of Salisbury's letters for his own Life of Becket. No more was heard of the tanner, who had perhaps been only a threat. While he wandered in solitude through the woods, or by the river, his health improved, he acquired a passion for nature, and in his father's library, which was excellent, he began eagerly to read. He devoured Sharon Turner's History of England, and the great work of Gibbon. Shakespeare and Spenser introduced him to the region of the spirit in its highest and deepest, its purest and noblest forms. Unhappily he also fell in with Byron, the worst poet that can come into the hands of a boy, and always retained for him an admiration which would now be thought excessive. By these means he gained much. He discovered what poetry was, what history was, and he learned also the lesson that no one can teach, the hard lesson of self-reliance.
This was the period, as everybody knows, of the Oxford Movement, in which Hurrell Froude acted as a pioneer. Hurrell's ideal was the Church of the Middle Ages represented by Thomas Becket. In the vacations he brought some of his Tractarian friends home with him, and Anthony listened to their talk. Strange talk it seemed. They found out, these young men, that Dr. Arnold, one of the most devoutly religious men who ever lived, was not a Christian. The Reformation was an infamous rebellion against authority. Liberalism, not the Pope, was antichrist. The Church was above the State, and the supreme ruler of the world. Transubstantiation, which the Archdeacon abhorred, was probably true. Hurrell Froude was a brilliant talker, a consummate dialectician, and an ardent proselytising controversialist. But his young listener knew a little history, and perceived that, to put it mildly, there were gaps in Hurrell's knowledge.
When he heard that the Huguenots were despicable, that Charles I. was a saint, that the Old Pretender was James III., that the Revolution of 1688 was a crime, and that the Non-jurors were the true confessors of the English Church, it did not seem to square with his reading, or his reflections. Perhaps, after all, the infallible Hurrell might be wrong. One fear he had never been able to instil into his brother, and that was the fear of death. When asked what would happen if he were suddenly called to appear in the presence of God, Anthony replied that he was in the presence of God from morning to night and from night to morning. That abiding consciousness he never lost, and when his speculations went furthest they invariably stopped there.
Left with his father and one sister, the boy drank in the air of Dartmoor, and grew to love Devonshire with an unalterable affection. He also continued his reading, and invaded theology. Newton on the Prophecies remarked that "if the Pope was not Antichrist, he had bad luck to be so like him," and Renan had not yet explained that Antichrist was neither the Pope nor the French Revolution, but the Emperor Nero. From Pearson on the Creed he learned the distinction between "believing" and "believing in." When we believe in a person, we trust him. When we believe a thing, we are not sure of it. This is one of the few theological distinctions which are also differences. Meanwhile, the Archdeacon had been watching his youngest son, and had observed that he had at least a taste for books. Perhaps he might not be the absolute dolt that Hurrell pronounced him. He had lost five years, so far as classical training was concerned, by the mismanagement of the Archdeacon himself. Still, he was only seventeen, and there was time to repair the waste. He was sent to a private tutor's in preparation for Oxford. His tutor, a dreamy, poetical High Churchman, devoted to Wordsworth and Keble, failed to understand his character or to give him an interest in his work, and a sixth year was added to the lost five.
During this year his brother Hurrell died, and the tragic extinction of that commanding spirit seemed a presage of his own early doom. Two of his sisters, both lately married, died within a few months of Hurrell, and of each other. The Archdeacon, incapable of expressing emotion, became more reserved than ever, and scarcely spoke at all. Sadly was he disappointed in his children. Most of them went out of the world long before him. Not one of them distinguished himself in those regular professional courses which alone he understood as success. Hurrell joined ardently, while his life was spared, in the effort to counteract the Reformation and Romanise the Church of England. William, though he became a naval architect of the highest possible distinction, and performed invaluable services for his country, worked on his own account, and made his own experiments in his own fashion. Anthony, too, took his line, and went his way, whither his genius led him, indifferent to the opinion of the world. His had been a strange childhood, not without its redeeming features. Left to himself, seeing his brothers and sisters die around him, expecting soon to follow them, the boy grew up stern, hardy, and self-reliant. He was by no means a bookworm. He had learned to ride in the best mode, by falling off, and had acquired a passion for fishing which lasted as long as his life. There were few better yachtsmen in England than Froude, and he could manage a boat as well as any sailor in his native county. His religious education, as he always said himself, was thoroughly wholesome and sound, consisting of morality and the Bible. Sympathy no doubt he missed, and he used to regard the early death of his brother Robert as the loss of his best friend. For his father's character he had a profound admiration as an embodiment of all the manly virtues, stoical rather than Christian, never mawkish nor effeminate.
Westminster, it will have been seen, did less than nothing for Froude. His progress there was no progress at all, but a movement backwards, physical and mental deterioration. He recovered himself at home, his father's coldness and unkindness notwithstanding. But it was not until he went to Oxford that his real intellectual life began, and that he realised his own powers. In October, 1836, four months after Hurrell's death, he came into residence at Oriel. That distinguished society was then at the climax of its fame; Dr. Hawkins was beginning his long career as Provost; Newman and Church were Fellows; the Oriel Common Room had a reputation unrivalled in Oxford, and was famous far beyond the precincts of the University. But of these circumstances Froude thought little, or nothing. He felt free. For the first time in his life the means of social intercourse and enjoyment were at his disposal. His internal weakness had been overcome, and his health, in spite of all he had gone through, was good. He had an ample allowance, and facilities for spending it among pleasant companions in agreeable ways. He had shot up to his full height, five feet eleven inches, and from his handsome features there shone those piercing dark eyes which riveted attention where-ever they were turned. His loveless, cheerless boyhood was over, and the liberty of Oxford, which, even after the mild constraint of a public school, seems boundless, was to him the perfection of bliss. He began to develop those powers of conversation which in after years gave him an irresistible influence over men and women, young and old. Convinced that, like his brothers and sisters, he had but a short time to live, and having certainly been full of misery, he resolved to make the best of his time, and enjoy himself while he could. He was under no obligation to any one, unless it were to the Archdeacon for his pocket-money. His father and his brother, doubtless with the best intentions, had made life more painful for him after his mother's death than they could have made it if she had been alive. But Hurrell was gone, his father was in Devonshire, and he could do as he pleased. He lived with the idle set in college; riding, boating, and playing tennis, frequenting wines and suppers. From vicious excess his intellect and temperament preserved him. Deep down in his nature there was a strong Puritan element, to which his senses were subdued. Nevertheless, for two years he lived at Oxford in contented idleness, saying with Isaiah, and more literally than the prophet,
"Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die."
It was a wholly unreformed Oxford to which Froude came. If it "breathed the last enchantments of the Middle Age," it was mediaeval in its system too, and the most active spirits of the place, the leaders of the Oxford Movement, were frank reactionaries, who hated the very name of reform. Even a reduction in the monstrous number of Irish Bishoprics pertaining to the establishment was indignantly denounced as sacrilege, and was the immediate cause of Keble's sermon on National Apostasy to which the famous "movement" has been traced. John Henry Newman was at that time residing in Oriel, not as a tutor, but as Vicar of St. Mary's. He was kind to Froude for Hurrell's sake, and introduced him to the reading set. The fascination of his character acted at once as a spell. Froude attended his sermons, and was fascinated still more. For a time, however, the effect was merely aesthetic. The young man enjoyed the voice, the eloquence, the thinking power of the preacher as he might have enjoyed a sonata of Beethoven's. But his acquaintance with the reading men was not kept up, and he led an idle, luxurious life. Nobody then dreamt of an Oxford Commission, and the Colleges, like the University, were left to themselves. They were not economically managed, and the expenses of the undergraduates were heavy. Their battels were high, and no check was put upon the bills which they chose to run up with tradesmen. Froude spent his father's: money, and enjoyed himself. The dissipation was not flagrant. He was never a sensualist, nor a Sybarite. Even then he had a frugal mind, and knew well the value of money. "I remember," he says in The Oxford Counter Reformation, an autobiographical essay—"I remember calculating that I could have lived at a boarding-house on contract, with every luxury which I had in college, at a reduction of fifty per cent."* He was not given to coarse indulgence, and idleness was probably his worst sin at Oxford. But his innocence of evil was not ignorance; and though he never led a fast life himself, he knew perfectly well how those lived who did.
— * Short Studies on Great Subjects, 4th series, p. 180. —
An intellect like Froude's seldom slumbers long. He had to attend lectures, and his old love of Homer revived. Plato opened a new world, a word which never grows old, and becomes fresher the more it is explored. Herodotus proved more charming than The Arabian Nights. Thucydides showed how much wisdom may be contained in the form of history. Froude preferred Greek to Latin, and sat up at night to read the Philoctetes, the only work of literature that ever moved him to tears. Aeschylus divided his allegiance with Sophocles. But the author who most completely mastered him, and whom he most completely mastered, was Pindar. The Olympian Odes seemed to him like the Elgin Marbles in their serene and unapproachable splendour. All this classical reading, though it cannot have been fruitless, was not done systematically for the schools. Froude had no ambition, believing that he should soon die. But a reading-party during the Long Vacation of 1839 resulted in an engagement, which changed the course of his life.
Hitherto he had been under the impression that nobody cared for him at all, and that it mattered not what became of him. The sense of being valued by another person made him value himself. He became ambitious, and worked hard for his degree. He remembered how the master of his first school had prophesied that he would be a Bishop. He did not want to be a Bishop, but he began to think that such grandeur would not have been predicted of a fool. Abandoning his idle habits, he read night and day that he might distinguish himself in the young lady's eyes. After six months her father interfered. He had no confidence in the stability of this very young suitor's character, and he put an end to the engagement. Froude was stunned by the blow, and gave up all hope of a first class. In any case there would have been difficulties. His early training in scholarship had not been accurate, and he suffered from the blunders of his education. But under the influence of excitement he had so far made up for lost time that he got, like Hurrell, a second class in the final classical schools. His qualified success gave him, no satisfaction. He was suffering from a bitter sense of disappointment and wrong. It seemed to him that he was marked out for misfortune, and that there was no one to help him or to take any trouble about him. Thrown back upon himself, however, he conquered his discouragement and resolved that he would be the master of his fate.
It was in the year 1840 that Froude took his degree. Newman was then at the height of his power and influence. The Tracts for the Times, which Mrs. Browning in Aurora Leigh calls "tracts against the times," were popular with undergraduates, and High Churchmen were making numerous recruits. Newman's sermons are still read for their style. But we can hardly imagine the effect which they produced when they were delivered. The preacher's unrivalled command of English, his exquisitely musical voice, his utter unworldliness, the fervent evangelical piety which his high Anglican doctrine did not disturb, were less moving than his singular power, which he seemed to have derived from Christ Himself, of reading the human heart. The young men who listened to him felt, each of them, as if he had confessed his inmost thoughts to Newman, as if Newman were speaking to him alone. And yet, from his own point of view, there was a danger in his arguments, a danger which he probably did not see himself, peculiarly insidious to an acute, subtle, speculative mind like Froude's.
Newman's intellect, when left to itself, was so clear, so powerful, so intense, that it cut through sophistry like a knife, and went straight from premisses to conclusion. But it was only left to itself within narrow and definite limits. He never suffered from religious doubts. From Evangelical Protestantism to Roman Catholicism he passed by slow degrees without once entering the domain of scepticism. Dissenting altogether from Bishop Butler's view that reason is the only faculty by which we can judge even of revelation, he set religion apart, outside reason altogether. From the pulpit of St. Mary's he told his congregation that Hume's argument against miracles was logically sound. It was really more probable that the witnesses should be mistaken than that Lazarus should have been raised from the dead. But, all the same, Lazarus was raised from the dead: we were required by faith to believe it, and logic had nothing to do with the matter. How Butler would have answered Hume, Butler to whom probability was the guide of life, we cannot tell. Newman's answer was not satisfactory to Froude. If Hume were right, how could he also be wrong? Newman might say, with Tertullian, Credo quia impossibile. But mankind in general are not convinced by paradox, and "to be suddenly told that the famous argument against miracles was logically valid after all was at least startling."*
— * Short Studies on Great Subjects, 4th series, p. 205. —
Perplexed by this dilemma, Froude at Oxford as a graduate, taking pupils in what was then called science, and would now be called philosophy, for the Honour School of Literae Humaniores. He was soon offered, and accepted, a tutorship in Ireland. His pupils father, Mr. Cleaver, was rector of Delgany in the county of Wicklow. Mr. Cleaver was a dignified, stately clergyman of the Evangelical school. Froude had been taught by his brother at home, and by his friends at Oxford, to despise Evangelicals as silly, ignorant, ridiculous persons. He saw in Mr. Cleaver the perfect type of a Christian gentleman, cultivated, pious, and well bred. Mrs. Cleaver was worthy of her husband. They were both models of practical Christianity. They and their circle held all the opinions about Catholicism and the Reformation which Newman and the Anglo-Catholics denounced. The real thing was always among them, and they did not want any imitation. "A clergyman," says Froude, "who was afterwards a Bishop in the Irish Church, declared in my hearing that the theory of a Christian priesthood was a fiction; that the notion of the Sacraments as having a mechanical efficacy irrespective of their conscious effect upon the mind of the receiver was an idolatrous superstition; that the Church was a human institution, which had varied in form in different ages, and might vary again; that it was always fallible; that it might have Bishops in England, and dispense with Bishops in Scotland and Germany; that a Bishop was merely an officer; that the apostolical succession was probably false as a fact—and, if a fact, implied nothing but historical continuity. Yet the man who said these things had devoted his whole life to his Master's service—thought of nothing else, and cared for nothing else."*
— * Short Studies on Great Subjects, 4th series, p. 212. —
Froude had been taught by his brother, and his brother's set, to believe that Dissenters were, morally and intellectually, the scum of the earth. Here were men who, though not Dissenters themselves, held doctrines practically undistinguishable from theirs, and yet united the highest mental training with the service of God and the imitation of Christ. There was in the Cleaver household none of that reserve which the Tractarians inculcated in matters of religion. The Christian standard was habitually held up as the guide of life and conduct, an example to be always followed whatever the immediate consequences that might ensue. Mr. Cleaver was a man of moderate fortune, who could be hospitable without pinching, and he was acquainted with the best Protestant society in Ireland. Public affairs were discussed in his house with full knowledge, and without the frivolity affected by public men. O'Connell was at that time supreme in the government of Ireland, though his reign was drawing to a close. The Whigs held office by virtue of a compact with the Irish leader, and their Under-Secretary at Dublin Castle, Thomas Drummond, had gained the affections of the people by his sympathetic statesmanship. An epigrammatic speaker said in the House of Commons that Peel governed England, O'Connell governed Ireland, and the Whigs governed Downing Street. It was all coming to an end. Drummond died, the Whigs went out of office, Peel governed Ireland, and England too. Froude just saw the last phase of O'Connellism, and he did not like it. In politics he never looked very far below the surface of things, and the wrongs of Ireland did not appeal to him. That Protestantism was the religion of the English pale, and of the Scottish Presbyterians in Ulster, not of the Irish people, was a fact outside his thoughts. He saw two things clearly enough. One was the strength and beauty of the religious faith by which the Cleavers and their friends lived. The other was the misery, squalor, and chronic discontent of the Catholic population, then almost twice as large as after the famine it became. He did not pause to reflect upon what had been done by laws made in England, or upon the iniquity of taxing Ireland in tithes for the Church of a small minority. He concluded simply that Protestantism meant progress, and Catholicism involved stagnation. He heard dark stories of Ribbonism, and was gravely assured that if Mr. Cleaver's Catholic coachman, otherwise an excellent servant, were ordered to shoot his master, he would obey. Very likely Mr. Cleaver was right, though the event did not occur. What was the true origin of Ribbonism, what made it dangerous, why it had the sympathy of the people, were questions which Froude could hardly be expected to answer, inasmuch as they were not answered by Sir Robert Peel.
While Froude was at Delgany there appeared the once famous Tract Ninety, last of the series, unless we are to reckon Monckton Milnes's One Tract More. The author of Tract Ninety was Newman, and the ferment it made was prodigious. It was a subtle, ingenious, and plausible attempt to prove that the Articles and other formularies of the English Church might be honestly interpreted in a Catholic sense, as embodying principles which the whole Catholic Church held before the Reformation, and held still. Mr. Cleaver and his circle were profoundly shocked. To them Catholicism meant Roman Catholicism, or, as they called it, Popery. If a man were not a Protestant, he had no business to remain in the United Church of England and Ireland. If he did remain in it, he was not merely mistaken, but dishonest, and sophistry could not purge him from the moral stain of treachery to the institution of which he was an officer. Froude's sense of chivalry was aroused, and he warmly defended Newman, whom he knew to be as honest as himself, besides being saintly and pure. If he had stopped there, all might have been well. Mr. Cleaver was himself high-minded, and could appreciate the virtue of standing up for an absent friend. But Froude went further. He believed Newman to be legally and historically right. The Church of England was designed to be comprehensive. Chatham had spoken of it, not unfairly, as having an Arminian liturgy and Calvinist articles. When the Book of Common Prayer assumed its present shape, every citizen had been required to conform, and the policy of Elizabeth was to exclude no one. The result was a compromise, and Mr. Cleaver would have found it hard to reconcile his principles with the form of absolution in the Visitation of the Sick. This was, in Mr. Cleaver's opinion, sophistry almost as bad as Newman's, and Froude's tutorship came to an end. There was no quarrel, and, after a tour through the south of Ireland, where he saw superstition and irreverence, solid churches, well-fed priests, and a starving peasantry in rags, Froude returned for a farewell visit to Delgany. On this occasion he met Dr. Pusey, who had been at Christ Church with Mr. Cleaver, and was then visiting Bray. Dr. Pusey, however, was not at his ease He was told by a clerical guest, afterwards a Bishop, with more freedom than courtesy, that they wanted no Popery brought to Ireland, they had enough of their own. The sequel is curious. For while Newman justified Mr. Cleaver by going over to Rome, his own sons, including Froude's pupil, became Puseyite clergymen of the highest possible type. Froude returned to Oxford at the beginning of 1842, and won the Chancellor's Prize for an English essay on the influence of political economy in the development of nations. In the summer he was elected to a Devonshire Fellowship at Exeter, and his future seemed secure. But his mind was not at rest. It was an age of ecclesiastical controversy, and Oxford was the centre of what now seems a storm in a teacup. Froude became mixed up in it. On the one hand was the personal influence of Newman, who raised more doubts than he solved. On the other hand Froude's experience of Evangelical Protestantism in Ireland, where he read for the first time The Pilgrim's Progress, contradicted the assumption of the Tractarians that High Catholicity was an essential note of true religion. Gradually the young Fellow became aware that High Church and Low Church did not exhaust the intellectual world. He read Carlyle's French revolution, and Hero Worship, and Past and Present. He read Emerson too. For Emerson and Carlyle the Church of England did not exist. Carlyle despised it.
Emerson had probably not so much as given it a thought in his life. But what struck Froude most about them was that they dealt with actual phaenomena, with things and persons around them, with the world as it was. They did not appeal to tradition, or to antiquity, but to nature, and to the mind of man. The French Revolution, then but half a century old, was interpreted by Carlyle not as Antichrist, but as God's judgment upon sin.
Perhaps one view was not more historical than the other. But the first was groundless, and second had at least some evidence in support of it. God may be, or rather must be, conceived to work through other instruments besides Christianity. "Neither in Jerusalem, nor on this mountain, shall men worship the Father." Carlyle completed what Newman had begun, and the dogmatic foundation of Froude's belief gave way. The two greatest geniuses of the age, as he thought them, agreeing in little else, agreed that Christianity did not rest upon reason. Then upon what did it rest? Reason appeals to one. Faith is the appanage of a few. From Carlyle Froude went to Goethe, then almost unknown at Oxford, a true philosopher as well as a great poet, an example of dignity, a liberator of the human soul.
The Church as a profession is not suitable to a man in Froude's state of mind. But in Oxford at that time there flourished a lamentable system which would have been felt to be irreligious if the authorities of the place had known what religion really was. Most Fellows lost their Fellowships in a very short time unless they took orders, and Froude's Fellowship was in that sense a clerical one. They were ordained as a matter of course, the Bishop requiring no other title. They were not expected, unless they wished it, to take any parochial duty, and the notion that they had a "serious call" to keep their Fellowships can only be described as absurd. Froude had no other profession in view, and he persuaded himself that a Church established by law must allow a wider range of opinion than a voluntary communion could afford to tolerate. As we have seen, he had defended Tract Ninety, and he claimed for himself the latitude which he conceded to Newman. It was in his case a mistake, as he very soon discovered. But the system which encouraged it must bear a large part of the blame. Meanwhile he had been employed by Newman on an uncongenial task. After the discontinuance of Tracts for the Times, Newman projected another series, called Lives of the Saints. The idea was of course taken from the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum. But Newman had a definite polemical purpose. Just as he felt the force of Hume's argument against the probability of miracles, so he realised the difficulty of answering Gibbon's inquiry when miracles ceased. Had they ever ceased at all? Many Roman Catholics, if not the most enlightened and instructed, thought not. Newman conceived that the lives of English and Irish saints held much matter for edification, including marvels and portents of various kinds. He desired that these things should be believed, as he doubtless believed them. They proved, he thought, if they could be proved themselves, that supernatural power resided in the Church, and when the Church was concerned he laid his reason aside.
He was extraordinarily sanguine. "Rationalise," he said to Froude, "when the evidence is weak, and this will give credibility for others, when you can show that the evidence is strong." Froude chose St. Neot, a contemporary of Alfred, in whose life the supernatural played a comparatively small part. He told his story as legend, not quite as Newman wanted it. "This is all," he said at the end, "and perhaps rather more than all, that is known of the life of the blessed St. Neot." His connection with the series ceased. But his curiosity was excited. He read far and wide in the Benedictine biographies. No trace of investigation into facts could he discover. If a tale was edifying, it was believed, and credibility had nothing to do with it. The saints were beatified conjurers, and any nonsense about them was swallowed, if it involved the miraculous element. The effect upon Froude may be left to his own words. "St. Patrick I found once lighted a fire with icicles, changed a French marauder into a wolf, and floated to Ireland on an altar stone. I thought it nonsense. I found it eventually uncertain whether Patricius was not a title, and whether any single apostle of that name had so much as existed."
Froude's scepticism was too indiscriminate when it assailed the existence of St. Patrick, which is not now doubted by scholars, baseless as the Patrician legends may be. Colgan's Lives of Irish Saints had taken him back to Ireland, that he might examine the scenes described. He visited them under the best guidance; and Petre, the learned historian of the Round Towers, showed him a host of curious antiquities, including a utensil which had come to be called the Crown of Brian Boru. Legendary history made no impression upon Froude. The actual state of Ireland affected him with the deepest interest. A population of eight millions, fed chiefly upon potatoes, and multiplying like rabbits, light-hearted, reckless, and generous, never grudged hospitality, nor troubled themselves about paying their debts. Their kindness to strangers was unbounded. In the wilds of Mayo Froude caught the smallpox, and was nursed with a devotion which he always remembered, ungrateful as in some of his writings about Ireland he may seem. After his recovery he wandered about the coast, saw the station of Protestant missionaries at Achill, and was rowed out to Clare Island, where a disabled galleon from the Armada had been wrecked. His studies in hagiology led him to consider the whole question of the miraculous, and he found it impossible to work with Newman any more. A religion which rested upon such stories as Father Colgan's was a religion nurtured in lies.
All this, however, had nothing to do with the Church of England by law established, and Froude was ordained deacon in 1845. The same year Newman seceded, and was received into the Church of Rome. No similar event, before or since, has excited such consternation and alarm. So impartial an observer as Mr. Disraeli thought that the Church of England did not in his time recover from the blow. We are only concerned with it here as it affected Froude. It affected him in a way unknown outside the family. Hurrell Froude, who abhorred private judgment as a Protestant error, had told his brothers that when they saw Newman and Keble disagree they might think for themselves. He felt sure that he was thereby guarding them against thinking for themselves at all. But now the event which he considered impossible had happened. Newman had gone to Rome. Keble remained faithful to the Church of his baptism. Which side Hurrell Froude would have taken nobody could say. He had died a clergyman of the Church of England at the age of thirty-three, nine years before. Anthony Froude had no inclination to follow Newman. But neither did he agree with Keble. He thought for himself. Of his brief clerical career there exists a singular record in the shape of a funeral sermon preached at St. Mary's Church, Torquay, on the second Sunday after Trinity, 1847. The subject was George May Coleridge, vicar of the parish, the poet's nephew, who had been cut off in the prime of life while Froude acted as his curate. The sermon itself is not remarkable, except for being written in unusually good English. The doctrine is strictly orthodox, and the simple life of a good clergyman devoted to his people is described with much tenderness of feeling.
This sermon, of which he gave a copy to John Duke Coleridge, the future Lord Chief Justice of England, was Froude's first experiment in authorship, and it was at least harmless. As much cannot be said for the second, two anonymous stories, called Shadows of the Clouds and The Lieutenant's Daughter. The Lieutenant's Daughter has been long and deservedly forgotten. Shadows of the Clouds is a valuable piece of autobiography. Without literary merit, without any quality to attract the public, it gives a vivid and faithful account of the author's troubles at school and at home, together with a slight sketch of his unfortunate love-affair.
Froude was a born story-teller, with an irresistible propensity for making books. The fascination which, throughout his life, he had for women showed itself almost before he was out of his teens; and in this case the feeling was abundantly returned. Nevertheless he could, within a few years, publish the whole narrative, changing only the names, and then feel genuine surprise that the other person concerned should be pained. He was not inconsiderate. Those who lived with him never heard from him a rough or unkind word. But his dramatic instinct was uncontrollable and had to be expressed. The Archdeacon read the book, and was naturally furious. If he could have been in any way convinced of his errors, which may be doubted, to publish an account of them was not the best way to begin. Reconciliation had been made impossible, and Anthony was left to his own devices. His miscellaneous reading was not checked by an ordination which imposed no duties. Goethe sent him to Spinoza, a "God-intoxicated man," and a philosophical genius, but not a pillar of ecclesiastical orthodoxy. Vestiges of Creation, which had appeared in 1844, woke Oxford to the discovery that physical science might have something to say about the origin, or at least the growth, of the universe. The writer, Robert Chambers, whose name was not then known, so far anticipated Darwin that he dispensed with the necessity for a special creation of each plant and animal. He did not, any more than Darwin, attack the Christian religion, and he did not really go much farther than Lucretius. But he had more modern lights, he understood science, and he wrote in a popular style. He made a lively impression upon Froude, who learnt from him that natural phenomena were due to natural causes, at the same time that he acquired from Spinoza a disbelief in the freedom of the will. When Dr. Johnson said, "Sir, we know that the will is free, and there's an end on't," he did not understand the question. We all know that the will is free to act. But is man free to will? If everything about a man were within our cognisance, we could predict his conduct in given circumstances as certainly as a chemist can foretell the effect of mixing an acid with an alkali. I have no intention of expressing any opinion of my own upon this subject. The important thing is that Froude became in the philosophic sense a Determinist, and his conviction that Calvin was in that respect the best philosopher among theologians strengthened his attachment to the Protestant cause.
Protestantism apart, however, Froude's position as a clergyman had become intolerable. He had been persuaded to accept ordination for the reason, among others, that the Church could be reformed better from within than from without.
But there were few doctrines of the Church that he could honestly teach, and the straightforward course was to abandon the clerical profession. Nowadays a man in Froude's plight would only have to sign a paper, and he would be free. But before 1870 orders, even deacon's orders, were indelible. Neither a priest nor a deacon could sit in Parliament, or enter any other learned profession. Froude was in great difficulty and distress. He consulted his friends Arthur Stanley, Matthew Arnold, and Arthur Clough. Clough, though a layman, felt the same perplexity as himself. As a Fellow and Tutor of Oriel he had signed the Articles. Now that he no longer believed in them, ought he not to live up his appointments? The Provost, Dr. Hawkins, induced him to pause and reflect. Meanwhile he published a volume of poetry, including the celebrated Bothie, about which Froude wrote to him:
"I was for ever falling upon lines which gave me uneasy twitchings; e.g. the end of the love scene:
"And he fell at her feet, and buried his face in her apron.
"I daresay the head would fall there, but what an image! It chimes in with your notion of the attractiveness of the working business. But our undisciplined ears have divided the ideas too long to bear to have them so abruptly shaken together. Love is an idle sort of a god, and comes in other hours than the working ones; at least I have always found it so. I don't think of it in my working time, and when I see a person I do love working (at whatever it may be), I have quite another set of thoughts about her. . . It would do excellently well for married affection, for it is the element in which it lives. But I don't think young love gets born then. I only speak for myself, and from a very limited experience. As to the story, I don't the least object to it on The Spectator's ground. I think it could not have been done in prose. Verse was wanted to give it dignity. But if we find it trivial, the fault is in our own varnished selves. We have been polished up so bright that we forget the stuff we are made of."
Clough was in politics a Republican, and sympathised ardently with the French Revolution of 1848. So did Charles Kingsley, a Cambridge man, who was at that time on a visit to Exeter. But Kingsley, though a disciple of Carlyle, was also a hard-working clergyman, who held that the masses could be regenerated by Christian Socialism. Froude had no faith in Socialism, nor in Christianity as the Church understood it. In this year, 1848, Emerson also came to Oxford, and dined with Clough at Oriel, where they thought him like Newman. Froude was already an admirer of Emerson's essays, and laid his case before the American moralist. Emerson gave him, as might have been expected, no practical advice, but recommended him to read the Vedas. Nothing mattered much to Emerson, who took the opportunity to give a lecture in London on the Spiritual Unity of all Animated Beings. Froude attended it, and there first saw Carlyle, who burst, characteristically enough, into a shout of laughter at the close. Carlyle loved Emerson; but the Emersonian philosophy was to him like any other form of old clothes, only rather more grotesque than most.
In the Long Vacation of 1848 Froude went alone to Ireland for the third time, and shut himself up at Killarney. From Killarney he wrote a long account of himself to Clough:
"KILLARNEY, July 15, 1848.
"I came over here where for the present I am all day in the woods and on the lake and retire at night into an unpleasant hotel, where I am sitting up writing this and waiting with the rest of the household rather anxiously for the arrival of a fresh wedded pair. Next week I move off across the lake to a sort of lodge of Lord Kenmare, where I have persuaded an old lady to take me into the family. I am going to live with them, and I am going to have her ladyship's own boudoir to scribble in. It is a wild place enough with porridge and potatoes to eat, varied with what fish I may provide for myself and arbutus berries if it comes to starving. The noble lord has been away for some years. They will put a deal table into the said boudoir for me, and if living under a noble roof has charms for me I have that at least to console myself with. I can't tell about your coming. There may be a rising in September, and you may be tempted to turn rebel, you know; and I don't know whether you like porridge, or whether a straw bed is to your—not 'taste,' touch is better, I suppose. It is perfectly beautiful here, or it would be if it wasn't for the swarm of people about one that are for ever insisting on one's saying so. Between hotel-keeper and carmen and boatmen and guides that describe to my honour the scenery, and young girls that insist on my honour taking a taste of the goats' milk, and a thousand other creatures that insist on boring me and being paid for it, I am really thankful every night when I get to my room and find all the pieces of me safe in their places. However, I shall do very well when I get to my lodge, and in the meantime I am contented to do ill. I have hopes of these young paddies after all. I think they will have a fight for it, or else their landlords will bully the Government into strong measures as they call them—and then will finally disgust whatever there is left of doubtful loyalty in the country into open unloyalty, and they will win without fighting. There is the most genuine hatred of the Irish landlords everywhere that I can remember to have heard expressed of persons or things. My landlady that is to be next week told me she believed it was God's doing. If God wished the people should be stirred up to fight, then it was all right they should do it; and if He didn't will, why surely then there would be no fighting at all. I am not sure it could have been expressed better. I have heard horrid stories in detail of the famine. They are getting historical now, and the people can look back at them and tell them quietly. It is very lucky for us that we are let to get off for the most part with generalities, and the knowledge of details is left to those who suffer them. I think if it was not so we should all go mad or shoot ourselves.
"The echoes of English politics which come over here are very sickening: even The Spectator exasperates me with its d—d cold- water cure for all enthusiasm. When I see these beautiful mountain glens, I quite long to build myself a little den in the middle of them, and say good-bye to the world, with all its lies and its selfishness, till other times. I have still one great consolation here, and that is the rage and fury of the sqireens at the poor rates; six and sixpence in the pound with an estate mortgaged right up to high-water mark and the year's income anticipated is not the very most delightful prospect possible.
"The crows are very fat and very plenty. They sit on the roadside and look at you with a kind of right of property. There are no beggars—at least, professional ones. They were all starved-dead, gone where at least I suppose the means of subsistence will be found for them. There is no begging or starving, I believe, in the two divisions of Kingdom Come. I see in The Spectator the undergraduates were energetically loyal at Commemoration—nice boys—and the dons have been snubbed about Guizot. Is there a chance for M—-? Poor fellow, he is craving to be married, and ceteris paribus I suppose humanity allows it to be a claim, though John Mill doesn't. My wedding party have not arrived. It is impossible not to feel a kindly interest in them. At the bottom of all the agitation a wedding sets going in us all there is lying, I think a kind of misgiving, a secret pity for the fate of the poor rose which is picked now and must forthwith wither; and our boisterous jollification is but an awkward barely successful effort at concealing it. Well, good-bye. I hardly know when I look over these pages whether to wish you to get them or not.
"Yours notwithstanding, "J.A.F."
Ireland had been devastated, far more than decimated, by the famine, and was simmering with insurrection, like the Continent of Europe. The Corn Laws had gone, and the Whigs were back in office, but they could do nothing with Ireland. To Froude it appeared as if the disturbed state of the country were an emblem of distracted Churches and outworn creeds. Religion seemed to him hopelessly damaged, and he asked himself whether morality would not follow religion. If the Christian sanction were lost, would the difference between right and wrong survive? His own state of mind was thoroughly wretched. The creed in which he had been brought up was giving way under him, and he could find no principle of action at all. Brooding ceaselessly over these problems, he at the same time lowered his physical strength by abstinence, living upon bread, milk, and vegetables, giving up meat and wine. In this unpromising frame of mind, and in the course of solitary rambles, he composed The Nemesis of Faith.* The book is, both in substance and in style, quite unworthy of Froude. But in the life of a man who afterwards wrote what the world would not willingly let die it is an epoch of critical importance. To describe it in a word is impossible. To describe it in a few words is not easy. Froude himself called it in after life a "cry of pain," meaning that it was intended to relieve the intolerable pressure of his thoughts. It is not a novel, it is not a treatise, it is not poetry, it is not romance. It is the delineation of a mood; and though it was called, with some reason, sceptical, its moral, if it has a moral, is that scepticism leads to misconduct. That unpleasant and unverified hypothesis, soon rejected by Froude himself, has been revived by M. Bourget in Le Disciple, and L'Etape. The Nemesis of Faith is as unwholesome as either of these books, and has not their literary charm. It had few friends, because it disgusted free-thinking Liberals as much as it scandalised orthodox Conservatives. If it were read at all nowadays, as it is not, it would be read for the early sketches of Newman and Carlyle, afterwards amplified in memorable pages which are not likely to perish.
— * Chapman, 1849. —
In a letter to Charles Kingsley, written from Dartington on New Year's Day, 1849, Froude speaks with transparent candour of his book, and of his own mind:
"I wish to give up my Fellowship. I hate the Articles. I have said I hate chapel to the Rector himself; and then I must live somehow, and England is not hospitable, and the parties here to whom I am in submission believe too devoutly in the God of this world to forgive an absolute apostasy. Under pain of lost favour for ever if I leave my provision at Oxford, I must find another, and immediately. There are many matters I wish to talk over with you. I have a book advertised. You may have seen it. It is too utterly subjective to please you. I can't help it. If the creatures breed, they must come to the birth. There is something in the thing, I know; for I cut a hole in my heart, and wrote with the blood. I wouldn't write such another at the cost of the same pain for anything short of direct promotion into heaven."
Of Kingsley himself Froude wrote* to another clerical friend, friend of a lifetime, Cowley Powles: "Kingsley is such a fine fellow—I almost wish, though, he wouldn't write and talk Chartism, and be always in such a stringent excitement about it all. He dreams of nothing but barricades and provisional Governments and grand Smithfield bonfires, where the landlords are all roasting in the fat of their own prize oxen. He is so musical and beautiful in poetry, and so rough and harsh in prose, and he doesn't know the least that it is because in the first the art is carrying him out of himself, and making him forget just for a little that the age is so entirely out of joint." A very fine and discriminating piece of criticism.
— * April 10th, 1849. —
The immediate effect of The Nemesis, the only effect it ever had, was disastrous. Whatever else it might be, it was undoubtedly heretical, and in the Oxford of 1849 heresy was the unpardonable sin. The Senior Tutor of Exeter, the Reverend William Sewell, burnt the book during a lecture in the College Hall. Sewell, afterwards founder and first Warden of Radley, was a didactic Churchman, always talking or writing, seldom thinking, who contributed popular articles to The Quarterly Review. The editor, Lockhart, knew their value well enough. They tell one nothing, he said, they mean nothing, they are nothing, but they go down like bottled velvet. Sewell's eccentricities could not hurt Froude. But more serious consequences followed. The Governing Body of Exeter, the Rector* and Fellows, called upon him to resign his Fellowship. This they had no moral right to do, and Froude should have rejected the demand. For though his name and college were on the title-page of the book, the book itself was a work of fiction, and he could not justly be held responsible for the opinions of the characters. Expulsion was, however, held out to him as the alternative of resignation.
— * Dr. Richards. —
"If the Rector will permit me," he wrote from Oxford to Clough, "tomorrow I cease to be a Fellow of the College. But there is a doubt if he will permit it, and will not rather try to send me out in true heretic style. My book is therefore, as you may suppose, out. I know little of what is said, but it sells fast, and is being read, and is producing sorrow this time, I understand, as much as anger, but the two feelings will speedily unite."
If he could have appealed to a court of law, the authorities would probably have failed for want of evidence, and Froude would have retained his Fellowship. But he was sensitive, and yielded to pressure. He signed the paper presented to him as if he had been a criminal, and shook the dust of the University from his feet. Within ten years a new Rector, quite as orthodox as the old, had invited him to replace his name on the books of the college. It was long, however, before he returned to an Oxford where only the buildings were the same. Twenty years from this date an atheistic treatise might have been written with perfect impunity by any Fellow of any college. Nobody would even have read it if atheism had been its only recommendation. The wise indifference of the wise had relieved true religion from the paralysis of official patronage. But in 1849 the action of the Rector and Fellows was heartily applauded by the Visitor, Bishop Phillpotts, the famous Henry of Exeter. Their behaviour was conscientious, and Dr. Richards, the Rector, was a model of dignified urbanity. It is unreasonable to blame men for not being in advance of their age.
Froude's position was now, from a worldly point of view, deplorable. For the antagonism of High Churchmen he was of course prepared. "Never mind," he wrote to Clough of The Nemesis, "if the Puseyites hate it; they must fear it, and it will work in the mind they have made sick." But he was also assailed in the Protestant press as an awful example of what the Oxford Movement might engender. His book was denounced on all sides, even by freethinkers, who regarded it as a reproach to their cause. The professors of University College, London, had appointed him to a mastership at Hobart Town in Australia, for which he applied the year before in the hope that change of scene might help to re-settle his mind. On reading the attacks in the newspapers they pusillanimously asked him to withdraw, and he withdrew. A letter to Clough, dated the 6th of March, 1849, explains his intellectual and material position at this time in a vivid and striking manner.
"I admire Matt. to a very great extent, only I don't see what business he has to parade his calmness, and lecture us on resignation, when he has never known what a storm is, and doesn't know what to resign himself to. I think he only knows the shady side of nature out of books. Still I think his versifying, and generally his aesthetic power is quite wonderful .... On the whole he shapes better than you, I think, but you have marble to cut out, and he has only clay .... Do you think that if the Council do ask me to give up I might fairly ask Lord Brougham as their President to get me helped instead to ever so poor an honest living in the Colonies? I can't turn hack writer, and I must have something fixed to do. Congreve is down-hearted about Oxford: not so I. I quite look to coming back in a very few years."
The Archdeacon, conceiving that the best remedy for free thought was short commons, stopped his son's allowance. Froude would have been alone in the world, if the brave and generous Kingsley had not come to his assistance. Like a true Christian, he invited Froude to his house, and made him at home there. To appreciate the magnanimity of this offer we must consider that Kinglsey was himself suspected of being a heretic, and that his prominent association with Froude brought him letters of remonstrance by every post. He said nothing about them, and Froude, in perfect ignorance of what he was inflicting upon his host, stayed two months with him at Ilfracombe and Lynmouth. Yet Kingsley did not, and could not, agree with Froude. He was a resolved, serious Christian, and never dreamt of giving up his ministry. He did not in the least agree with Froude, who made no impression upon him in argument. He acted from kindness, and respect for integrity.
Froude, however, could not stay permanently with the Kingsleys. His father would have nothing to do with him, and in his son's opinion was right to leave him with the consequences of his own errors. But the outcry against him had been so violent and excessive as to provoke a reaction. Froude might be an "infidel," he was not a criminal, and in resigning his Fellowship he had shown more honesty than prudence. His position excited the sympathy of influential persons. Crabb Robinson, though an entire stranger to him, wrote a public protest against Froude's treatment. Other men, not less distinguished, went farther. Chevalier Bunsen, the Prussian Minister, Monckton Milnes, afterwards Lord Houghton, and others whose names he never knew, subscribed a considerable sum of money for maintaining the unpopular writer at a German university while he made a serious study of theological science. But he had had enough of theology, and the munificent offer was declined, though Bunsen harangued him enthusiastically for five hours in Carlton Gardens on the exquisite adaptation of Evangelical doctrines to the human soul, until Froude began to suspect that they must have originated in the soul itself.
At this time a greater change than the loss of his Fellowship came upon Froude. While staying with the Kingsleys at Ilfracombe, he met Mrs. Kingsley's sister, Charlotte Grenfell, the Argemone of Yeast, a lady of somewhat wilful, yet most brilliant spirit, with a small fortune of her own. Miss Grenfell had joined the Church of Rome two years before, and at that time thought of entering a convent. This idea was extremely distasteful to her sister and her sister's husband. Their favourite remedy for feminine caprice was marriage, and they soon had the satisfaction of seeing Miss Grenfell become Mrs. Froude. There were some difficulties in the way, for Froude's prospects were by no means assured, and Mrs. Kingsley felt occasional scruples. But Froude had confidence in himself, and when his mind was made up he would not look back.
"You remember," he wrote to Mrs. Kingsley, in 1849, "I warned you that I intended to take my own way in life, doing (as I always have done) in all important matters just what I should think good, at whatever risk of consequences, and taking no other person's opinion when it crossed with my own. Now in this matter I feel certain that the way to save Charlotte most pain is to shorten the struggle, and that will be best done by being short, peremptory, and decided in allowing no dictation and no interference .... Charlotte herself is really magnificent. Every letter shows me larger nobleness of heart. You cannot go back now, Mrs. Kingsley."
Mrs. Kingsley did not go back, and Froude had his way. Before the wedding, however, another and a novel experience awaited him. His misfortunes aroused the interest of a rich manufacturer at Manchester, Mr. Darbishire, who offered him a resident tutorship, and would have taken him into his own firm, even, as it would seem, into his own family, if he had desired to become a man of business, and to live in a smoky town. But Froude was engaged to be married, and had a passionate love of the country. His keen, clear, rapid intelligence would probably have served him well in commercial affairs when once he had learnt to understand them. He was reserved for a very different destiny, and he gratefully declined Mr. Darbishire's offer. Nevertheless, his stay at Manchester as private tutor had some share in his mental development. He made acquaintance with interesting persons, such as Harriet Martineau, Geraldine Jewsbury, Mrs. Gaskell, and William Edward Forster, then known as a young Quaker who had devoted himself, in the true Quaker spirit of self-sacrifice, to relieving the sufferers from the Irish famine. Besides Manchester friends, Froude imbibed Manchester principles. He had been half inclined to sympathise with the socialism of Louis Blanc and other French revolutionists. Manchester cured him. He adopted the creed of individualism, private enterprise, no interference by Government, and free trade. In these matters he did not, at that time, go with Carlyle, as in ecclesiastical matters he had not gone with Newman. His mind was intensely practical, though in personal questions of self-interest he was careless, and even indifferent. Henceforth he abandoned speculation, as well philosophical as theological, and reverted to the historical studies of his youth. Philosophy at Oxford in those days meant Plato, Aristotle, and Bishop Butler. Froude was a good Greek scholar, and he had the true Oxford reverence for Butler. But he had not gone deeper into philosophy than his examinations and his pupils required. He liked positive results, and metaphysicians always suggested to him the movements of a squirrel in a cage.
The alternative to business was literature. Biographies of literary men, said Carlyle, are the most wretched documents in human history, except the Newgate Calendar. But Carlyle said many things he did not believe, and this was probably one of them. The truth is, that the literary profession, like the commercial, requires some little capital with which to set out, and Froude received this with his wife. Besides it he had brilliant talents, unflagging industry, and powers of writing such as have seldom been given to any of the sons of men. While at Manchester he composed The Cat's Pilgrimage, the earliest of his Short Studies in date. The moral of this fanciful fable is very like the moral of Candide.
The discontented cat, tired of her monotonously comfortable place on the hearthrug, goes out into the world, and gets nothing more than experience for her pains. She finds the other animals occupied with their own concerns, and enjoying life because they do not go beyond them. Not a very elevating paper, perhaps, but better than The Nemesis of Faith, and Froude's last word on the subjects that had tormented his youth.
He recoiled from materialism, finding that it offered no explanation of the universe. Faith in God he had never entirely lost, and on that he founded his henceforth unshaken belief in the providential government of the world. Whatever might be the origin of the Christian religion, it furnished the best guide of life; and spiritual truth, as Bunsen said, was independent of history. He had no sort of sympathy with those who rejected belief in Christianity altogether, still less with those who abandoned Theism. Although he could not be a minister of the Church, he was content to be a member, understanding the Church to be what he was brought up to think it, the national organ of religion, a Protestant, evangelical establishment under the authority of the law and the supremacy of the Crown.
Froude returned to Manchester immediately after his marriage, but his wife did not like the place nor the people. They looked about for a country home, and were fortunate enough to find the most enchanting spot in North Wales. Plas Gwynant, the shining place, stands on a rising ground surrounded by woods, at the foot of Snowdon, between Capel Curig and Beddgelert. Beyond the lawn and meadow is Dinas Lake. A cherry orchard stood close to the house door, and a torrent poured through a rocky ravine in the grounds, falling into a pool below. A mile up the valley was the glittering lake, Lyn Gwynant, with a boat and plenty of fishing. Good shooting was also within reach.
To this ideal home Froude came with his wife in the summer of 1850. Here began a new life of cloudless happiness and perfect peace. His spiritual difficulties fell away from him, and he found that the Church in which he had been born was comprehensive enough for him, as for others. He was not called upon to solve problems which had baffled the subtlest intellects, and would baffle them till the end of time. Religion could be made practical, and not until its practical lessons had been exhausted was it necessary to go farther afield. "Do the duty that lies nearest you," said Goethe, who knew art and science, literature and life, as few men have known them. Froude was never idle, and never at a loss for amusement. Although he wrote regularly, and his love of reading was a passion, he had the keenest enjoyment of sport and expeditions, of country air and sights and sounds, of natural beauty and physical exercise. It was impossible to be dull in his company, for he was the prince of conversers, drawing out as much as he gave. No wonder that there were numerous visitors at Plas Gwynant. He was the best and warmest of friends. In London he would always lay aside his work for the day to entertain one of his contemporaries at Oxford, and at Plas Gwynant they found a hospitable welcome. He would fish with them, or shoot with them, or boat with them, or walk with them, discussing every subject under heaven. Perhaps the most valued of his guests was Clough, who had then written most of his poetry, and projected new enterprises, not knowing how short his life would be.
Besides Clough, Matthew Arnold came to Plas Gwynant, and Charles Kingsley, and John Conington, the Oxford Professor of Latin, and Max Muller, the great philologist. A letter to Max Muller, dated the 25th of June, 1851, gives a pleasant picture of existence there.
"I shall be so glad to see you in July. Come and stay as long as work will let you, and you can endure our hospitality. We are poor, and so are not living at a high rate. I can't give you any wine, because I haven't a drop in the house, and you must bring your own cigars, as I am come down to pipes. But to set against that, you shall have the best dinner in Wales every day—fresh trout, Welsh mutton, as much bitter ale as you can drink; a bedroom and a little sitting-room joining it all for your own self, and the most beautiful look-out from the window that I have ever seen. You may vary your retirement. You may change your rooms for the flower- garden, which is an island in the river, or for the edge of the waterfall, the music of which will every night lull you to sleep. Last of all, you will have the society of myself, and of my wife, and, what ought to weigh with you too, you will give us the great pleasure of yours."
Clough neither fished, nor shot, nor boated, but as a walking companion there was no one, in Froude's opinion, to be put above him. For fishing he gave pre-eminence to Kingsley, and together they carried up their coracles to waters higher than ordinary boats could reach. Kingsley was ardent in all forms of sport, and an enthusiast for Maurician theology, holding, as he said, that it had pleased God to show him and Maurice things which He had concealed from Carlyle. He had concealed them also from Froude, who regarded Carlyle as his teacher, feeling that he owed him his emancipation from clerical bonds.
Froude and Kingsley did not agree either in theology or in politics. "I meant to say," Froude wrote to his wife's brother-in-law in 1851, "that the philosophical necessity of the Incarnation as a fact must have been as cogent to the earliest thinkers as to ourselves. If we may say it must have been, they might say so. And they might, and indeed must, have concluded, each at their several date, that the highest historical person known to them must have been the Incarnate God; so that unless the Incarnation was the first fact in human history, there must have been a time when they would have used the argument and it would have led them wrong."
Concerning Kingsley's Socialism, especially as shown in Hypatia, Froude was cold and critical. "It is by no means as yet clear to me," he wrote about this time, "that all good people are Socialists, and that therefore whoever sticks to the old thing is a bad fellow. Whatever is has no end of claims on us. I have no doubt that we could not get on without the devil. If it had not been so, he would not have been. The ideas must be content to fight a long time before they assimilate all the wholesome flesh in the universe, and we cannot leave what works somehow for what only promises to work, and has yet by no means largely realised that promise. I consider it a bad sign in the thinkers among the Christian Socialists if they set to cursing those who don't agree with them. The multitudes must, but the thinkers should not. I cannot believe that if Clement of Alexandria had been asked whether he candidly believed Tacitus was damned because he was a heathen he would have said 'Yes.' Indeed, on indifferent matters (supposing he had been alive in Tacitus's time), I don't think he would have minded writing a leader in the Acta Diurna, even though Tacitus followed on the other side!"
Oxford, and its old clothes, Froude had cast behind him. He had never taken priest's orders, and the clerical disabilities imposed upon him were not only cruel, but ridiculous. Shut out from the law, he turned to literature, and became a regular reviewer. There was not so much reviewing then as there is now, but it was better paid. His services were soon in great request, for he wrote an incomparable style.
The origin of Froude's style is not obscure. Too original to be an imitator, he was in his handling of English an apt pupil of Newman. There is the same ease, the same grace, the same lightness of elastic strength. Froude, like Newman, can pass from racy, colloquial vernacular, the talk of educated men who understand each other, to heights of genuine eloquence, where the resources of our grand old English tongue are drawn out to the full. His vocabulary was large and various. He was familiar with every device of rhetoric. He could play with every pipe in the language, and sound what stop he pleased. Oxford men used to talk very much in those days, and have talked more or less ever since, about the Oriel style. Perhaps the best example of it is Church, the accomplished Dean of St. Paul's. Church does not rival Newman and Froude at their best. But he never, as they sometimes do, falls into loose and slipshod writing. He was the fine flower of the old Oxford education, growing in hedged gardens, sheltered from the winds of heaven, such as Catullus painted in everlasting colours long centuries ago. Froude was a man of the world, who knew the classics, and the minds of men, and cities, and governments, and the various races which make up the medley of the universe. He wrote for the multitude who read books for relaxation, who want to have their facts clearly stated, and their thinking done for them. He satisfied all their requirements, and yet he expressed himself with the natural eloquence of a fastidious scholar. Lucky indeed were the editors who could obtain the services of such a reviewer, and he was fortunate in being able to recommend with power the poetry of his friend, Matthew Arnold.*
— * His recommendation was entirely sincere. "Matt. A.'s Sohrab and Rustum," he wrote to Clough, "is to my taste all but perfect." —
Although Froude enjoyed with avidity the conversation of his chosen friends, he was not satisfied with intellectual epicureanism. He was resolved to make for himself a name, to leave behind him some not unworthy memorial. The history of the Reformation attracted him strongly. If an historian is a man of science, or a mere chronicler, then certainly Froude was not an historian. He made no claim to be impartial. He held that the Oxford Movement was not only endangering the National Church, but injuring the national character and corrupting men's knowledge of the past. He believed in the Reformation first as an historic fact, and secondly as a beneficent revolt of the laity against clerical dominion. He denied that since the Reformation there had been one Catholic Church, and as an Englishman he asserted in the language of the Articles that the Bishop of Rome had no jurisdiction within this realm of England. He wanted to vindicate the reformers, and to prove that in the struggle against Papal Supremacy English patriots took the side of the king. He was roused to indignation by slanders against the character of Elizabeth; and he held, as almost every one now holds, that the attempt to make an innocent saint of Mary Stuart was futile. Even More and Fisher he refused to accept as candidates for the crown of martyrdom. They were both excellent men. More was, in some respects, a great man. They were certainly far more virtuous than the king who put them to death. But they were executed for treason, not for heresy, and to clear their memory it is necessary to show that they had no part in conspiring with a foreign Power against their lawful sovereign. That Power, the Church of Rome, a Power till 1870, Froude cordially hated. He regarded it as an obstacle to progress, an enemy of freedom, an enslaver of the intellect and the soul. The English Catholics of his own time were mild, honourable, and loyal. Although they had been relieved of their disabilities, they had no power. Froude's reading and reflection led him to infer that when the Church was powerful it aimed a deadly blow at English independence, and that Henry VIII., with all his moral failings, was entitled to the credit of averting it. These opinions were not new. They were held by most people when Froude was a boy. It was from Oxford that an attack upon them came, and from Oxford came also, in the person of Froude, their champion.
Froude's historical work took at first the form of essays, chiefly in The Westminster Review and Fraser's Magazine. The Rolls Series of State Papers had not then begun, and the reign of Henry was imperfectly understood. Froude was especially attracted by the age of Elizabeth, who admired her father as a monarch, whatever she may have thought of him as a man. It was an age of mighty dramatists, of divine poets, of statesmen wise and magnanimous, if not great, of seamen who made England, not Spain, the ruler of the seas. It was with the seamen that Froude began. His essay on England's Forgotten Worthies, which appeared in The Westminster Review for 1852, was suggested by a new, and very bad, edition of Hakluyt. It inspired Kingsley with the idea of his historical novel, Westward Ho! and Tennyson drew from it, many years later, the story of his noble poem, The Revenge. The eloquence is splendid, and the patriotic fervour stirs the blood like the sound of a trumpet. The cruelties of the Spaniards in South America, perpetrated in the name of Holy Church, are described with unflinching fidelity and unsparing truth. For instance, four hundred French Huguenots were massacred in cold blood by Spaniards, who invaded their settlement in Florida at a time when France was at peace with Spain. These Protestants were flayed alive, and, to show that it was done in the cause of religion, an inscription was suspended over their bodies, "Not as Frenchmen, but as heretics." Even at this distance of time it is satisfactory to reflect that these defenders of the faith were not left to the slow judgment of God. A French privateer, Dominique de Gourges, whose name deserves to be held in honour and remembrance, sailed from Rochelle, collected a body of American Indians, swooped down upon the Spanish forts, and hanged their pious inmates, wretches not less guilty than the authors of St. Bartholomew, with the appropriate legend, "Not as Spaniards, but as murderers." "It was at such a time," says Froude, "and to take their part amidst such scenes as these, that the English navigators appeared along the shores of South America as the armed soldiers of the Reformation, and as the avengers of humanity." Hawkins, Drake, Raleigh, Davis, Grenville, are bright names in the annals of British seamanship. But they were not merely staunch patriots, and loyal subjects of the great Queen; they were pioneers of civil and religious freedom from the most grievous yoke and most intolerable bondage that had ever oppressed mankind.
In The Westminster for 1853 appeared Froude's essay on the Book of Job, which may be taken as his final expression of theological belief. Henceforward he turned from theology to history, from speculation to fact. Even his friendship for Frederic Maurice could not rouse him to any great interest in the latter's expulsion from King's College. "As thinkers," he wrote to Clough on the 22nd of November, 1853, "Maurice, and still more the Mauricians, appear to me the most hopelessly imbecile that any section of the world have been driven to believe in. I am glad you liked Job, though my writing it was a mere accident, and I am not likely to do more of the kind. I am going to stick to the History in spite of your discouragement, and I believe I shall make something of it. At any rate one has substantial stuff between one's fingers to be moulding at, and not those slime and sea sand ladders to the moon 'opinion.'"
Froude pursued his studies, reading all the collections of original documents in Strype and other chroniclers. Why, he asked himself should Henry, this bloody and ferocious tyrant, have been so popular in his own lifetime? Parliament, judges, juries, all the articulate classes of the community, why had they stood by him? No doubt he could dissolve Parliament, and dismiss the judges. But to submit without a struggle, without even protest or remonstrance, was not like Englishmen, before or since. When Erasmus visited England he found that the laity were the best read and the best behaved in Europe, while the clergy were gluttonous, profligate, and avaricious. No historian ever prepared himself more thoroughly for his task than Froude. Sir Francis Palgrave, the Deputy Keeper of the Records under Sir John Romilly, offered to let him see the unpublished documents in the Chapter House at Westminster which dealt with the later years of Wolsey's Government, and to the action of Parliament after the Cardinal' s fall. He examined them thoroughly, and accepted Parker's proposal that he should write the history of the period. But he had to leave Plas Gwynant. The London Library, which Carlyle had founded, sufficed for contributions to magazines. History was a more serious affair, and it was necessary for him to be, if not in London, at least near a railway. He returned to his native county, and took a house at Babbicombe, from which, after three years, he moved to Bideford. He made frequent visits to London, where he was the guest of his publisher, John Parker, at whose table he met Arthur Helps, John and Richard Doyle, Cornewall Lewis, Richard Trench, then Dean of Westminster, and Henry Thomas Buckle, once famous as a scientific historian. He called on the Carlyles at their house in Chelsea, and began an intimacy only broken by death. Carlyle himself was an excellent adviser in Froude's peculiar field. He had the same Puritan leanings, the same sympathy with the Reformation, the same hostility to ecclesiastical interference with secular affairs, unless, as in the case of John Knox, the interference was directed against Rome. Froude considered him not unlike Knox in humour, keenness of intellect, integrity, and daring. History was the one form of literature outside Goethe and Burns for which he really cared. He had translated Wilhelm Meister in 1824, and it was probably at his suggestion that Froude translated Elective Affinities for Bohn's Library in 1850. Scottish history and Scottish character Carlyle knew as he knew his Bible. His assistance and encouragement, which were freely given, proved invaluable to Froude.
Froude settled steadily down to work, dividing his time between London and Devonshire. Shooting and fishing had for the time to be dropped. For recreation he joined an archery club, where, as James Spedding told him, you were always sure of your game. In after life Froude, who never bore malice, used to say that his father had been right in leaving him to his own resources, and that the necessity of providing for himself was, in his instance, as in so many others, the foundation of his career. He owed much to his publisher, John Parker, who was liberal, generous, and confiding. Publishers, like mothers-in-law, have got a bad name from bad jokes. Parker, by trusting Froude, and relieving him from anxiety while he wrote, smoothed the way for a memorable contribution to English history which after many vicissitudes has now an established place as a work of genius and research.
The principles on which he worked are explained in a contribution to the volume of Oxford Essays for the year 1855. The subject of this brilliant though forgotten paper is the best means of teaching English history, and the author's judgments upon modern historians are peculiar. Hume and Hallam, the latter of whom was still living, are indiscriminately condemned. Macaulay, whose first two volumes were already famous, is ignored. The Oxford examiners are severely censured for prescribing Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors as authoritative, and Carlyle's Cromwell, a collection of materials rather than a book, is pronounced to be the one good modern history, though Froude denounces, with friendly candour, Carlyle's "distempered antagonism to the prevailing fashions of the age." The most characteristic part of this essay, however, is that which recommends the Statutes, with their preambles, as the best text- book, and the following passage would be confidently assigned by most critics to the History itself: