Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/260

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Freeman
Freeman
248

of ballads, and in 1849 published his first book, 'A History of Architecture.' This book, dealing exclusively, so far as Christian times are concerned, with ecclesiastical architecture, treats its subject comprehensively and in a philosophical manner, laying down principles of development which are supported by examples. Though Freeman had not then seen any buildings beyond England, the merits of his work have been acknowledged fully in later years. It was followed in 1855 by another volume on Gothic window tracery. He also wrote reviews for the 'Guardian,' papers for quarterly and other periodicals, and some pamphlets on the new examination statute at Oxford. In 1855 he moved to Lanrumney Hall, near Cardiff. During the next five years he wrote many articles for various quarterlies on Greek and Roman history. The fortunes of the Greek nation were then, as throughout the rest of his life, of deep concern to him, and he corresponded on them with George Finlay [q. v.] and Spyridion Trikoupes, then the Greek minister in London. Among his other periodical work he began to write for the 'Saturday Review' soon after it was started in 1855, and for twenty-two years contributed constantly to it. He sought to be elected to parliament for Cardiff in 1857, and for Wallingford in 1858, as an independent radical, but did not go to the poll in either case. In 1858 he hoped to be appointed regius professor of modern history at Oxford, but Mr. Goldwin Smith was chosen. He was an examiner in the school of law and modern history at Oxford in 1857-8, 1863-4, and 1873. Though he travelled much in England, constantly adding to his knowledge of church architecture, he did not make a tour abroad until 1856, when he visited Southern France. From 1860 onwards he made frequent tours on the continent, and found his chiefest pleasure in them. To him, however, travel was not a mere matter of pleasure; he travelled either to see the places which were connected with the histories he was writing, or to extend his knowledge of architecture, or to visit spots of historical importance, and it was his habit to write articles on places of special interest which he visited. Many of these articles are collected in volumes, and are among the most attractive parts of his literary work. While travelling either in England or abroad, he made vigorous drawings of all noteworthy buildings and architectural details. Thousands of these drawings are still extant.

In 1860 he bought a house, with a small park, called Somerleaze, near Wells in Somerset, and settled there. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Camden professorship of ancient history at Oxford in 1861, and for the Chichele professorship of modern history in 1862. During the ten years which succeeded his going to Somerleaze, he established his reputation as an historian. In 1861 he began his 'History of Federal Government,' of which the first and only volume appeared in 1863, and in 1865 his 'History of the Norman Conquest,' of which the third volume was published in 1869. In that year also was published his 'Old English History for Children,' and in 1870 his 'History of the Cathedral Church of Wells.' Meanwhile he was contributing largely to periodicals, and chiefly to the 'Saturday Review,' for which he wrote in one year as many as ninety-six reviews and articles. In an article which he contributed to the 'Fortnightly Review' in October 1869 on the 'Morality of Field Sports,' he maintained that sport which entailed unnecessary suffering on animals was unjustifiable. He was answered by Anthony Trollope [q. v.], and the discussion which ensued excited general interest. Freeman's position illustrates his tender-heartedness for animals, and his constant habit of deciding all moral questions by reference to duty. He wrote many articles on matters which concerned the university of Oxford. While opposing changes which he believed to be needless, he advocated some useful reforms, such as the admission of non-collegiate students to the university. A letter which he wrote to the 'Daily News' in October 1864 led to a settlement of the question as to the stipend of the regius professor of Greek, Benjamin Jowett [q. v. Suppl.], by pointing out that Christ Church was morally bound to make adequate provision for the chair. At that time he was active as a magistrate, and though he found the duties of the office some hindrance to his writing, he took pleasure in fulfilling them for several years, and believed that the experience of practical affairs which he gained from them was useful to him as an historian. At the general election of 1868 he stood as a follower of Gladstone for one of the two seats for the Mid-Somerset division, and was defeated at the poll.

In June 1870 he received the honorary degree of D.C.L. at Oxford, in 1874 that of LL.D. at Cambridge; in 1875 the king of the Hellenes created him a knight-commander of the Order of the Redeemer, and in 1876 he was elected corresponding member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg. Though working incessantly