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The Study Of Literature
English Literature Of The 19th Century:
 Third Or Later Victorian Period

 William Ewart Gladstone

 John Morley

 Historical Literature Of The Later Victorian Period

 Edward Augustus Freeman

 James Anthony Froude

 Sir Henry Sumner Maine

 William Edward Hartpole Lecky

 James Bryce

 John Addington Symonds

 Read More Articles About: English Literature Of The 19th Century

James Anthony Froude

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The greatest historian of recent times, most brilliant if not absolutely accurate in details, was James Anthony Froude. His character and career afford many contrasts with those of Freeman, who frequently took occasion to point out Froude's mistakes, yet without much diminishing the regard felt for his history. Froude was born in 1818, the son of a clergyman, and was educated at Westminster and Oxford. Coming under the influence of Newman, he took part in the Tractarian movement, and assisted in writing "Lives of the English Saints." But when Newman entered the Roman Church, Fronde recoiled and, falling into scepticism, wrote "The Nemesis of Faith" (1849), which was severely censured. Carlyle now became his adviser. From conscientious motives Froude gave up his college fellowship, and sought to make a living by literary work, writing for "Fraser's Magazine" and the "Westminster Review," the essays that were afterward collected in "Short Studies." But his chief work is the "History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada" (12 vols., 1856-7o). It was founded on original research, on a careful examination of the documents of the period, especially the acts of Parliament. These, he insisted, must be correct in fact, while narratives would partake the prejudices of the writer, especially if an ecclesiastic. Froude endeavored to restore life to the past, to render the personages introduced more than mere lay-figures. And he succeeded in presenting Henry VIII, Queen Catharine, Mary Queen of Scots, Mary of England, and Elizabeth as actual human persons, though whether they preserved exact resemblance to the originals was keenly disputed. Froude was possessed not only with artistic sense, but with intense patriotic feeling, which made him believe and assert that in the main England had acted right in the momentous crisis of the Reformation. He regarded ecclesiasticism as injurious to genuine morality. These were undoubtedly the motives of his selection of this epoch as his theme. Another subject fruitful in controversy was next handled in "The English in Ireland" (3 vols., 1871-74). This strongly partisan work, which supported the general course of the alien rulers, offended the Irish Nationalists without satisfying English readers. Froude was then sent by the British Government to visit and report on the colonies. The result is seen in his "Oceana," a general sketch, and "The English in the West Indies." The author's reports and recommendation to the Government called forth angry replies from the colonists, and were never acted upon. Fronde was appointed by Carlyle his literary executor, and as such gave to the world the reproachful "Reminiscences," which the writer had marked not to be published without revision. The result was to expose the bickerings of the Carlyle household, and exhibit the philosopher as a chronic faultfinder, snarling at everybody. His admirers were intensely displeased and threw the blame on Froude for not suppressing or discreetly editing the papers put in his charge. But the bold writer went steadily on his course. Eventually when Freeman, his severest critic, died, Froude was appointed to succeed him as professor of history at Oxford. He delivered three courses of lectures, which were published in "The Life and Letters of Erasmus," "English Seamen of the Sixteenth Century," and "Lectures on the Council of Trent." They give further example of the qualities seen in his previous historical works lively picturesque style, skill in rendering characters and incidents as real. Froude died in October, 1894.

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