Page:Cousins's Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature.djvu/86
74 Dictionary of English Literature
last of which was pub. as a book in 1841. Although his writings did not yet produce a large income, his circumstances had become comfortable, owing to Mrs. C. having succeeded to her patrimony in 1840. Books now followed each other rapidly, Chartism had ap peared in 1839, Past and Present came out in 1843, and Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell in 1845, the last named being perhaps the most successful of his writings, inasmuch as it fully attained the object aimed at in clearing Cromwell from the ignorant or male volent aspersions under which he had long lain, and giving him his just place among the greatest of the nation. In 1850 he pub. his fiercest blast, Latter Day Pamphlets, which was followed next year by his biography of his friend John Sterling (q.v.). It was about this time, as is shown by the Letters and Memoirs of Mrs. C., that a temporary estrangement arose between his wife and himself, based apparently on Mrs. C.'s part upon his friendship with Lady Ash- burton, a cause of which C. seems to have been unconscious. In 1851 he began his largest, if not his greatest work, Frederick the Great, which occupied him from that year until 1865, and in connec tion with which he made two visits to Germany in 1852 and 1858. It is a work of astonishing research and abounds in brilliant passages, but lacks the concentrated intensity of The French Revolu tion. It is, however, the one of his works which enjoys the highest reputation in Germany. In 1865 he was elected Lord Rector of the Univ. of Edin., and delivered a remarkable address to the students by whom he was received with enthusiasm. Almost immediately after wards a heavy blow fell upon him in the death of Mrs. C., and in the discovery, from her diary, of how greatly she had suffered, unknown to him, from the neglect and want of consideration which, owing to absorption in his work and other causes, he had perhaps uncon sciously shown. Whatever his faults, of which the most was made in some quarters, there can be no doubt that C. and his wife were sincerely attached to each other, and that he deeply mourned her. In 1866 his Reminiscences (pub. 1881) were written. The Franco- German War of 1870-71 profoundly interested him, and evoked a plea for Germany. From this time his health began to give way more and more. In 1872 hs right hand became paralysed. In 1874 he received the distinction of the Prussian Order of Merit, as the biographer of its founder, and in the same year, Mr. Disraeli offered him the choice of the Grand Cross of the Bath or a baronetcy and a pension, all of which he declined. The completion of his 8oth year in 1875 was made the occasion of many tributes of respect and veneration, including a gold medal from some of his Scottish admirers. He d. on February 5, 1881. Burial in Westminster Abbey was offered, but he had left instructions that he should lie with his kindred. He bequeathed the property of Craigenputtock to the Univ. of Edin.
C. exercised a very powerful influence upon the thought of his age, not only by his own writings and personality, but through the- many men of distinction both in literature and active life whom he- imbued with his doctrines; and perhaps no better proof of this exists than the fact that much that was new and original when first propounded by him has passed into the texture of the national] ideas. His style is perhaps the most remarkable and individual in