Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/271

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Froude
Froude
259

following the lead of Carlyle, he opposed Beaconsfield's policy in eastern Europe, and in the same year he contributed a preface to Madame Olga Novikoft's pamphlet, 'Is Russia Wrong?' He also wrote a preface to the same author's 'Russia and England,' published in 1880.

Meanwhile in 1876 Froude was appointed with Thomas Henry Huxley [q. v.Suppl.] a member of the Scottish universities commission (Huxley, Life of T. H. Huxley, i. 330, 477, 479). In this capacity he paid frequent visits to Edinburgh, staying with (Sir) John Skelton [q. v.] at the Hermitage. Abandoning for the moment contemporary politics, he wrote in 1878 a sketch of 'Bunyan' for Mr. John Morley's 'English Men of Letters' series, and in 1879 published his ' Caesar ' (new ed. 1886; translated into Czech, 1884), a work which embodies a pale reflection of Mommsen's view of Caesar without Mommsen's knowledge of the subject.

In 1880 Froude spent much time with Carlyle during his last illness. On 5 Feb. 1881 Carlyle died, leaving Froude his sole literary executor; John Carlyle and Forster, who were to have been consulted as to the publication of Carlyle's papers, were both dead. The main contents of these papers were the 'Reminiscences' which Carlyle wrote in the years following his wife's death in 1869, and the 'Letters and Memorials' of Mrs. Carlyle, which Carlyle had arranged, annotated, and given to Froude in 1871. Carlyle's instructions in the matter were somewhat contradictory; in a passage at the end of his manuscript which Froude suppressed, he forbade his friends to publish 'any part of it' without 'fit editing,' and declared that 'the fit editing of perhaps nine-tenths of it will, after I am gone, have become impossible.' In his will of 1873 he desired that there should be no 'express biography' of him, but left the question of publishing his literary remains to Froude's discretion, and again in 1880 when Froude discussed the matter with him Carlyle approved of the proposed publication. Froude took the view that Carlyle intended by a posthumous penance to atone for his harshness towards his wife, but such a view cannot be accepted without demur. If the act of publishing the papers were regarded by Carlyle as a genuine penance, it would have been imperative for him to perform it in his lifetime. To direct their publication after his death was to deprive the act of publishing, regarded as a penance, of all effect. Froude, however, obstinately adhering to his own theory, proceeded to publish without any reserve the most intimate details of the Carlyles' domestic life. The 'Reminiscences ' appeared in two volumes in 1881, and the 'Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle' (London, 3 vols.) in 1883. Meanwhile Froude set to work on a full and frank biography of Carlyle. This was completed in four volumes: the 'History of the first Forty Years of Carlyle's Life' in 1882 (London, 2 vols.; new edit. 1890), and the ' History of Carlvle's Life in London' in 1884 (2 vols.; new edit. 1890). Froude's literary genius was as apparent in these volumes as in every thing that he wrote, and Froude himself considered his 'Life of Carlyle' of more permanent value than any of his other works (Appendix to Rowfant Catalogue, 1900, p. 164). But its ruthless exposure of his master's weaknesses caused widespread dismay. Carlyle's comment on English biography, 'how delicate, decent it is, bless its mealy mouth!' seems to have preyed upon Froude's mind, and in his anxiety to avoid the biographical conventions which provoked Carlyle's scorn he went to the opposite extreme. But the historical accuracy of the portraits he drew of Carlyle and his wife was denied by the majority of those who were in a position to know the facts. He was accused of misreading his documents and even manipulating them in order to justify his preconceived ideas of Carlyle's penitential intentions. Professor Charles Eliot Norton, who had the advantage of reading the Carlyles' love-letters, declares that they ' afford a view of their characters and relations to each other different both in particulars and in general effect from that given by Mr. Froude' (Early Letters, ii. 367).' So, too, Professor Masson wrote: ' I cannot recognise the Carlyle of Mr. Froude in the nine volumes as the real and total Carlyle I myself knew' (Carlyle personally and in his Writings, 1885, pp. 10-11). With regard to Froude's editorial methods, Professor Norton says: 'Almost every letter in the Life [of Carlyle by Froude} which I have collated with the original is incorrectly printed, some of them grossly so' (Early Letters, ii. 376; cf. David Wilson, Froude and Carlyle, 1898 passim; Moncure D. Conway, Carlyle, 1881). Froude defended himself from these charges in 'Carlyle's Life in London' (i. 1-7, ii. 408-12), and Ruskin, Mrs. Ireland, and Skelton were convinced of the substantial truth of his books (Collingwood, Life of Ruskin, ii. 243).

The books on the Carlyles occupied most of Froude's time during 1881-4, but in 1881 he wrote a chapter on recent events in Ire-