The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

II. Historians, Biographers and Political Orators

§ 25. Froude

Before we pass on to the treatment of later periods of English history, we pause at the name of James Anthony Froude. He holds a position so peculiar to himself in our historical literature that it is difficult to assign to his name its appropriate position in an enumeration of our principal nineteenth century writers on history. His true place would be near that of Carlyle; whom, during the greater part of his literary life, he consciously followed as his master, whose way of looking at history he made his own, and the biography of whom was among the note-worthiest of his books. He had begun to write with quite other models before his eyes; but, although he very early disengaged himself from the controlling influence of Newman, it impressed itself, if upon nothing else in him, upon his style as a writer. His contribution to Lives of the English Saints—a life of St. Neot, erstwhile prince Athelstan of Kent—undertaken at Newman’s request, is chiefly remarkable for the effect on the writer of the requisite investigation of his subject; but it, also, shows his interst in history, and English history especially, as a desirable university study, of which he thinks the statute-book might (perhaps in an abridged form) usefully be made a foundation. Then came the intellectual experiences which put an end to his connection with academical, and with clerical, work, and in the midst of which he found a friend in Kingsley (to whose sister-in-law, the Argemone of Yeast, he gave his hand). In 1849, he was introduced to Carlyle; and, soon afterwards, he settled down to a literary life at Plas Gwynant in Wales and Bideford in Devon. Here, he began, and carried on during many years, his History of England from the Fall of Wolsey, which, first intended to reach to the death of Elizabeth, actually closed with the dissipation of the Spanish Armada.