The Death of Jane Welsh Carlyle

No marriage has been documented so assiduously as that of Thomas and Jane Carlyle. Ronald Pearsall describes how a famous Victorian historian was the first who attempted to unveil its secrets.

The Froudes were a strange wayward family. The youngest son of the Archdeacon of Totnes was James Anthony, historian, disciple of Carlyle, and a renegade from the Oxford Movement; although one of the most careless and inaccurate of all historians, he eventually became Professor of Modern History at Oxford, a startling contrast to his predecessor, E. A. Freeman, of whom Chambers's Biographical Dictionary reports with rare acerbity, “his insight and breadth of view are scarce proportional to his knowledge”.

Froude may have lacked the precision expected of a professional historian, but he had gusto, immense energy, and perseverance. So had his elder brother, the ill-fated Richard Hurrell Froude, a leader in the Oxford Movement, who could counter the gentlemanly behaviour of his colleagues Newman and Keble with the cutting witticism that the only good he knew of Cranmer (a bête noire of the Oxford Movement) was that he burnt well.

Another brother, William, is lost in the footnotes of biography, but here, too, one can discern energy of no mean order. William was an engineer and a mathematician, who at the age of twenty-seven became assistant to the great Brunei.

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