Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/262

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Freeman
Freeman
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with his wife and two younger daughters. He fell ill at Valencia on 7 May, but on the 9th went on to Alicante, where his illness proved to be smallpox. He died at Alicante on the 16th, and was buried in the protestant cemetery there. He left two sons and four daughters. His eldest daughter, Margaret, a lady of great ability and sweetness of character, who was of much help to him in his work, was born on 17 Oct. 1848, married the eminent antiquary, Mr. Arthur J. Evans, keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, on 19 Sept. 1878, and died at Alassio on 11 March 1893. She compiled the index volumes of Hook's 'Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury' and her father's 'Norman Conquest,' and the index to his 'History of Sicily,' vols. ii-iii. After Freeman's death his library was purchased and presented, under certain conditions, to Owens College, Manchester, where the books form a separate collection known as the 'Freeman Library.' A portrait of Freeman is in the hall of Trinity College, Oxford, and there are engraved portraits in Dean Stephens's 'Life and Letters of E. A. Freeman.'

Freeman, while ceasing to hold many of the views of his early days on ecclesiastical matters, remained a sincerely religious member of the English church. Though his temper was impatient, and he was apt to be rude to people who were distasteful to him, he was truly kind, generous-hearted, and loveable. Unsparing in his condemnation of false pretenders to learning, he would cheerfully interrupt his own work to enlighten the ignorance of an honest student. All cruelty to man or beast roused his fiercest indignation, all suffering drew forth his pity, and he was liberal in his gifts. He was eminently truthful and expressed his thoughts and feelings without reserve. No more affectionate or constant friend ever lived. Among his most valued friends were Dr. Stubbs, at one time bishop of Oxford, John Richard Green [q v.], the Right Hon. James Bryce, Professor W. B. Dawkins, and the Rev. (Very Rev.) W. R. W. Stephens, now dean of Winchester, his biographer. His memory was excellent, his intellect clear, and his mind orderly and logical. His industry was amazing, he worked methodically and with an eager desire to get at the truth, and he loved his work with an intensity which rendered him limited in intellectual sympathy. In politics and history his interest was almost unlimited. Politics he studied not merely as they concern single nations, but as a science to be mastered by comparing the political institutions of all nations derived from a common source. Each portion of history, he would urge, and he carried out his own doctrine, should be regarded as a scene in 'one unbroken drama which takes in the political history of European man' (Inaugural Lecture). The range of his historical knowledge was wide. For some time he was specially attracted by the history of the Greeks and Romans ; then for many years his attention was largely devoted to the early history of the English nation, and in later life he found his chief pleasure in studying the history, architecture, and antiquities of the peoples of the Mediterranean, and used to say that he never felt 'quite happy away from palms and columns.'

His historical work is distinguished by critical ability, precision and accuracy of statement, and a certain fervour of spirit. His judgment was rarely swayed by feeling, and as a rule his estimates of character are masterly. Even where he seems partial he gives his readers full opportunity of testing his conclusions and never misrepresents his authorities. Almost exclusively an historian of politics, he passes by much that most deeply concerns human progress. Within his own sphere he exhibits an extraordinary power of seeing the past as though he lived in it, for he was not a mere student, and his active interest in present politics and other practical affairs enabled him to invest the politics and men of past times with reality. Yet the weight which he attached to the formal aspect of institutions seems to have rendered some of his doctrines on early English constitutional matters open to question. Historical facts had in themselves, and apart from their relative importance, so strong an attraction for him that his narrative is sometimes over-crowded. Nor was he content to state a point and then leave it alone, but repeats a single idea over and over again in slightly different words. Hence some of his books are too long and prolix to be popular. When, however, he had to write in a small space, as in his 'General Sketch of European History,' his power of condensation is as remarkable as his breadth of view and firmness of touch. His style varies greatly. Writing with his authorities open before him he was apt to follow them closely, and when he does so the effect is sometimes wearisome ; and his desire to use so far as possible only words which are purely English limited his vocabulary and was some drawback to his sentences. Yet his writing is always forcible and lucid, and in his 'Norman Conquest' and his 'History of Sicily' he occasionally pictures scenes vividly and in eloquent language. Physical infirmity caused no de-