Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/270

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Froude
Froude
258

editorship of 'Frasers Magazine,' being succeeded by his sub-editor, William Allingham [q. v. Suppl.] Thereupon he flung himself with some warmth and with doubtful success into the agitation of current political questions. In the summer of 1874 his friend the Earl of Carnarvon, then secretary of state for the colonies, accepted his offer 'to travel through the different states [of South Africa] and ascertain what the real obstacles to confederation were, and by what means they could best be removed' (Life and Times of Sir John C. Molteno, i. 338). While in South Africa Froude endeavoured, not altogether successfully, to maintain the private character of his visit, but on his return he admitted its semi-official character.

On 23 Aug. 1874 Froude started for South Africa, and he described his tour in his 'Leaves from a South African Journal' (Short Studies, 3rd ser., 1877, pp. 338-94). He reached Table Bay on 21 Sept., sailed round to Durban, and thence made his way across Natal and the Drakensberg to Harrismith. From the Free State he went on to Pretoria in November, returning to Cape Town by way of Kimberley, Bloemfontein, and Colesberg, in December. He left for England on 10 Jan. 1875, convinced that British policy in South Africa had been characterised by a lack of wisdom and of justice. He regarded the acquisition of the Griqualand diamond fields in 1871 as a culmination of the evil traditional policy, and believed that Great Britain would be best advised to leave the South African States to work out their own future, retaining control only of Table Bay peninsula as a naval and military station. Froude duly reported his views in person to Lord Carnarvon, who seems to have been largely influenced by them. Immediately on Froude's arrival in England Carnarvon invited him to return to South Africa as member of a conference he proposed to assemble there to deliberate upon his scheme for South African federation. Froude accepted the offer, and again landed at Cape Town on 18 June 1875. Carnarvon's despatch embodying his scheme had preceded his arrival by a few days, but the Cape government under (Sir) John Charles Molteno [q. v. Suppl.] took umbrage at the manner in which Carnarvon laid down the details of the scheme, and on 10 June Mr. Cnow Sir Gordon) Sprigg carried a motion in the House of Assembly to the effect that any movement, in the direction of federation should originate in South Africa and not in England. This practically shelved the conference, and Froude on landing found the ground cut from his feet. Nevertheless he began a political campaign in Cape Colony and the Orange Free State in favour of federation; 'he attended a public dinner at Cape Town on the day of his arrival, at which he made so ill-advised a speech that, before twenty-four hours had passed, he had put himself in a position of antagonism to the governor [Sir Henry Barkly, q. v. Suppl.], his ministers, and public feeling generally at Cape Town' (Martineau, Life of Sir Bartle Frere, i. 172-3; Life and Times of Sir J. C. Molteno. 1900, passim). At Bloenfonteinhe is reported to have said,' You have the misfortune to possess ... a position on the globe the most attractive to every ambitious and aggressive power. The independence of South Africa will come when you can reply to those powers with shot and shell' (Greswell, Our South African Empire, i. 229: The South African Conference, 1876, pp. 14 sqq.) Froude's intentions were no doubt excellent, but the effect of his efforts was to give the coup de grâce to Carnarvon's policy; the proposed conference was abandoned, and the under-secretary for the colonies disclaimed responsibility for Froude's proceedings.

Froude returned to England in the autumn of 1875, and his report was published as a parliamentary paper (C. 1399). In 1876 Carnarvon assembled a conference in London to discuss South African affairs. He nominated Froude as representative of Griqualand West, a selection which that province at once repudiated. Other colonies refused to allow themselves to be represented, and the conference came to nothing. Froude defended the policy of which he had been the agent in the 'Quarterly Review' for January 1877, and Frederic Rogers, lord Blachford [q. v.], replied to it in the 'Edinburgh Review' for the following April, Froude was, however, opposed to the annexation of the Transvaal by the conservative government, and in April 1879 he contributed a second article to the 'Quarterly Review,' suggesting doubts as to the government's South African policy. Sir Bartle Frere described it as 'an essay in which for whole pages a truth expressed in brilliant epigrams regularly alternates with mistakes or mis-statements which would be scarcely pardoned in a special war correspondent hurriedly writing against time' (Life of Sir Bartle Frere, ii. 367). Subsequently Froude reiterated his views on South Africa in two lectures delivered before the Edinburgh Philosophical Institute on 6 and 9 Jan. 1880: they were published in the same year, and reissued with an introduction by Froude's daughter Margaret in 1900. In 1878, again