Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/261

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Freeman
Freeman
249

while at home, he made several tours abroad at this time, and was visiting Dalmatia in 1875 when the revolt against the Turks broke out in Herzegovina. History, as well as more recent events, led him to detest the Ottoman rule in Europe. He had early learned to condemn the Crimean war, both because it upheld the Turks and served the purpose of the 'tyrant,' as he always called Napoleon III, and he was deeply moved by the revolt of the Slavonic provinces and by the accounts of Turkish atrocities. In 1876 he raised over 5,000l. for the relief of the Christian fugitives by personal appeals and letters to newspapers, wrote many articles, and made many speeches both against the Turks and the leaders of the conservative party in England. While his sentiments were generous, his words lacked moderation, specially in his speeches. At a meeting held in St. James's Hall on 9 Dec., he said in the course of an impassioned speech, 'Perish our dominion in India rather than that we should strike one blow or speak one word on behalf of the wrong against the right.' He was accused of having said 'Perish India.' The accusation, though often denied, was constantly repeated, was widely believed, and did him some damage in public estimation. The actual intemperance of his language on eastern questions seems to have weakened his position with his own party; for in spite of the services which he rendered to it at this time, he was not invited to stand for any constituency at the general election of 1880. In 1877 he received the order of Takova from the prince of Servia, and the order of Danilo from the prince of Montenegro, and during a tour in Greece which he made in that year was warmly received by the Greeks, specially in the Greek islands. He severed his connection with the 'Saturday Review' in 1878, because the paper took a line on eastern matters which he did not approve, and thus from conscientious scruples gave up a constant source of pleasure and an income amounting, it is said, to over 500l. a year, which he could ill afford to sacrifice.

From early manhood Freeman occasionally suffered from gout, and by the end of 1878 his health began to decline; he had constant and violent fits of coughing, slept little, and grew weak. Nevertheless his industry did not abate; he worked diligently at his Historical Geography,' his 'William Rufus,' and other matters, and in 1879 made two short tours in France in order to visit places connected with the history of Rufus. He was elected an honorary fellow of his college in 1880, and in 1881 was appointed a member of a royal commission to inquire into the constitution and working of the ecclesiastical courts. Absence from England and ill health prevented him from attending many of the meetings of the commissioners. To their report, which was issued in 1883, he added a statement of his dissent from the recommendation that the crown court of final appeal should consist of a permanent body of lay judges learned in the law, desiring that it should be open to the crown to appoint men of any profession who might be thought competent, 'as was the case with the court of delegates under the statute of Henry VIII.' In the autumn of 1881 he visited the United States, and lectured in several towns, returning to England in April 1882.

The regius professor of modern history at Oxford, the Rev. W. Stubbs, having accepted the bishopric of Chester, Freeman was appointed his successor in the chair in 1884, and in that year received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the university of Edinburgh. His appointment did not add to his happiness; he regretted having to be absent for a large part of each year from Somerleaze; he disliked many of the changes which had been effected at Oxford of late years, was annoyed at finding himself powerless to direct the school of which he was nominally the head, and was disappointed at the general neglect of his lectures by the undergraduates. His influence, however, was strongly felt by some of the older students of history at Oxford. Home rule for Ireland seemed to him to be advisable, and he approved of the main principles of Gladstone's scheme of 1886. Later revisions of the scheme were, he considered, unsatisfactory in that, while giving Ireland a parliament of its own, they proposed to retain Irish members in the parliament at Westminster. He received invitations to stand for two constituencies at the general election of 1886, but was forced to decline by the state of his health, which was then growing worse. A southern climate having been recommended for him, he spent some months in Sicily in 1886-7, in 1888-9, and again in the early part of 1890. From 1886 he was was working at his 'History of Sicily,' which he planned on a large scale. He undertook this work mainly because the fortunes of the island illustrated his favourite theory of the unity of history; Sicily was, he would say, 'the œcumenical island, the meeting-place of the nations.' He also hoped to write a history of the reign of Henry I, and for that purpose paid the last of his many visits to Normandy in 1891. In February 1892 he visited Spain in company