Leon Lemmer: J A Froude: ‘Die laaste onontdekte groot Victoriaan’ (Deel 1)

Deel op

James Anthony Froude (1818-1894 – uitgespreek Frood) was ‘n Britse historikus. Hy is veral bekend vanweë sy boeke oor die Britse en Ierse geskiedenis en vir sy biografiese publikasies oor Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881). Carlyle was in vele opsigte Froude se mentor. ‘n Aanduiding van Carlyle se politiek is te vinde in sy essay, “Occasional discourse on the negro question.” Die volledige teks is gratis op die internet beskikbaar – ook Amazon Kindle, 19p, $11,38! “I feel there is an immense fund of Human Stupidity circulating among us.” Carlyle was beswaard oor die mode-ideologieë van destyds, wat hom laat voel het asof hy ‘n minderheid van een is. Kevin D Williamson het onlangs ‘n hele boek oor hierdie onderwerp gepubliseer: The smallest minority: Independent thinking in the age of mob politics (2019, 256p; Amazon Kindle $14,94).

James Anthony Froude (23 April 1818 tot 20 Oktober 1894)

Carlyle het bv waargeneem hoe gelukkig die swart Wes-Indiërs was terwyl hulle eilande weens bv luiheid of werkskuheid besig was om ekonomies ten gronde te gaan. Hierdie standpunt het inslag by Froude gevind, soos ek in ‘n volgende rubriek sal aantoon. Sedert 1994 is soortgelyke optimisme, ten spyte van rommelstatus, plaaslik waarneembaar. Carlyle het hom sterk uitgelaat: “No Black man who will not work according to what ability the gods have given him for working, has the smallest right to eat pumpkin … but has an indisputable and perpetual right to be compelled … to do competent work for his living. This is the everlasting duty of all men, black and white.” Luiheid of werkskuheid behoort nie met filantropie, bv staatstoelaes, vergoed te word nie.

Carlyle het in ‘n tyd gelewe toe iets soos hedendaagse politieke korrektheid nie bestaan het nie. “I remember a sober Scotsman, by no means addicted to frivolous merriment, telling me that he had come out of Carlyle’s house in physical pain from continious laughter at an imaginary dialogue between a missionary and a negro which Carlyle had conducted entirely himself” (aangehaal deur Paul, bron hier onder, Kindle 4094).

Drie biografieë is oor Froude gepubliseer. Die eerste een, deur Herbert W Paul, het in 1905 verskyn. Waldo Hilary Dunn (1882-1969) is die outeur van die tweede biografie: James Anthony Froude: A biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963). Die jongste Froude-biografie is deur Julia Markus geskryf en is in 2005 gepubliseer. Ek het ongelukkig nie toegang tot Dunn se boek nie, maar Markus verwys dikwels daarna. Ek bespreek vervolgens die boek van Paul in deel 1 van hierdie rubriek en Markus se biografie in deel 2.

Herbert W Paul

Herbert W Paul (1853-1935), ‘n Britse joernalis en politikus, het 11 jaar ná Froude se dood die eerste biografie oor hom gepubliseer: The life of Froude (New York: Scribner/Good Press, 1906/2019, 300p; Amazon Kindle $1,92). Paul was uitstekend ingelig en verskaf ‘n duidelike beeld van die destydse omstandighede. Biografieë van skrywers het dikwels as newetitel: His/Her life and works. In hierdie geval word die klem eerder op Froude se publikasies as sy lewe gelê, met as veronderstelling dat dit die beste manier is om ‘n outeur te leer ken. “Froude is in his books, especially in his books of travel, for in them, more than anywhere else, he thinks aloud” (Kindle 3477). Maar Paul se relaas omvat nie al Froude se skryfwerk nie. “A large number of Mr Froude’s letters were destroyed after his death, and it was not intended by the family that any biography of him should be written” (16). Gelukkig het Froude se dogter, Margaret, sover moontlik hulp aan Paul verleen.

Treffende sêgoed kom in die boek voor:

  • “The most useless of all coats, a coat of arms” (Edward Gibbon – 31). As die ANC-regime sy sin kry, sal die enigste wapens wat blankes mag besit, familiewapens wees.
  • “The way to heaven was to turn to the right and go straight on” (Froude se pa – 50). Dit is steeds waar, maar daar is deesdae glad te min siele wat polities regs is.
  • Tydens die groot hongersnood in Ierland in die middel van die 19de eeu het Froude waargeneem “well-fed priests, and a starving peasantry in rags” (296). In die nuwe Suid-Afrika is dit dikwels ‘n geval van uitgevrete, oorgewig politici en kreperende menigtes.
  • Die volgende aanhaling van Froude kan ook met ons huidige situasie geassosieer word: “I have no doubt that we could not get on without the devil. If it had not been so, he would not have been … We cannot leave what works somehow for what only promises to work” (581). Dink aan al die “uitdagings” (eintlik eie onvermoëns) waarmee die ANC-regime te make het.
  • “Publishers, like mothers-in-law, have got a bad name from bad jokes” (663).
  • “There are many writers of history, but very few historians” (763).
  • “It is much easier to preach than to argue” (800).
  • Koning Hendrik die VIIIste “was a good Catholic who preferred to be his own Pope” (Thomas Macaulay – 1009).
  • “The worth of a man must be measured by his life, not by his failure under a single and peculiar trial” (1036).
  • “The arts which have made the greatest progress are the arts of destruction” (1262); iets wat sekerlik waar van die gewelddadige, terroristiese ANC en die nuwe Suid-Afrika is. Dit geld ook vir die Amerikaanse swartes, soos hulle tans weer daagliks demonstreer.
  • “[Edward] Freeman could no more handle a metaphor than he could fish with a dry fly. He therefore, without the smallest consciousness of being absurd, condemned Froude for doing what he was unable to do himself” (1508).
  • “Print imposes some obligations” (1935). Dit is sekerlik waar. Sedert gedrukte leesstof in groot mate deur elektroniese publikasie aangevul word, het die gemak waarmee inligtingverspreiding geskied, meegebring dat skrywers minder verantwoordelikheid aan die dag lê. In werklikheid behoort baie meer omsigtig gehandel te word omdat die inligting feitlik dadelik wêreldwyd beskikbaar is.
  • “Great nations are those which produce great men” (Benjamin Disraeli – 1969). “The history of mankind is the history of great men” (Carlyle en Froude – 3814). Maar ‘n mens moet nie grootsheid gaan soek waar daar nie is nie. Byvoorbeeld, daar is fout as daardie gewaande status weens terrorisme verwerf is.
  • “I believe in holy earth as little as he [the Bishop of Peterborough] believes in holy water” (John Bright – 2039). Maar daar is aarde, bv blanke plase, wat asof dit heilige grond is (ten alle koste) beskerm moet word.
  • “I believe Bishops have produced more mischief in this world than any class of officials that have ever been invented” (Froude – 2075).
  • “That there are limits to the power of majorities no sane Constitionalist denies” (2114). Teoreties behoort dit só te wees, maar in die nuwe Suid-Afrika is toegelaat dat die swart meerderheid (dalk vir altyd) feitlik absolute politieke mag bekom het.
  • “The Church is not the same. It improves with the general march of progress that it condemns” (2283). Dink aan sommige in die NG Kerk wat deesdae bv rasgemengde- en selfdegeslaghuwelike goedpraat.
  • “It is always pleasant to discover that a preacher of righteousness has not been a good example himself” (gesê van Carlyle – 2927).
  • “A good woman with perhaps an excessive passion for insecticide” (3093), gesê van Carlyle se vrou, Jean Welsh, deur Charles Bowen omdat daar in haar postuum gepubliseerde briewe “too many household details” voorkom (3093).
  • “As they say of the mansions of Ireland, ‘they are always within a hundred yards of the best situation,’ so one feels that Froude is never quite in the bull’s-eye in the view he gives” (Frederick Dufferin – 3253).
  • “One sentence which all democrats would do well to learn: ‘Popular forms are possible only when individual men can govern their own lives on moral principles, and when duty is of more importance than pleasure, and justice than material expediency'” (3298).
  • “Each extension of the suffrage brings [a Chamber/Parliament] to a lower intellectual level” (Froude – 3332); iets wat ons sedert 1994 feitlik daagliks eerstehands ervaar.
  • “To what purpose the ineffectual strivings of short-lived humanity? Man’s life was but the shadow of a dream, and his work was but the heaping of sand which the next tide would level flat again” (Froude – 3531).
  • “[Benjamin] Disraeli only deceived others, whereas [William] Gladstone deceived also himself” (3565).
  • Oor Charles Darwin se evolusieleer: “Is man an ape or an angel? I, my lord, am on the side of the angels” (Disraeli – 3610). Hoewel ‘n dom mens reeds eeue lank in verskeie tale spreekwoordelik ‘n aap of ‘n bobbejaan genoem word, het die ANC-regime se denk- en uitdukkingspolisie besluit dat ‘n blanke dit nooit van ‘n swarte mag sê nie – andersom is dit vir hulle uiteraard heeltemal toelaatbaar. Woorde soos aap en bobbejaan gee ANC-kamerade as’t ware aapstuipe. Aapstuipe: “baie kwaad wees” (HAT).

“Froude was a born story-teller, with an irresistible propensity for making books” (366). “He wrote for the multitude who read books for relaxation, who want to have their facts clearly stated, and their thinking done for them” (600) – “easy, graceful narrative” (1191). “Froude said to [Alfred] Tennyson that the most essential quality in an historian was imagination … [ie] the truth as perceived by him” (1061). “He denied that history was a science” (3805). Froude: “I profess only to have dealt with my materials honestly to the best of my ability” (1627). “He made no claim to be impartial” (606), “[but] we must not transfer the passions of one age to the controversies of another” (857). Froude word as ‘n literêre historikus beskou (1262); iemand wie se werk graag en maklik gelees word, maar wie se publikasies vakkundig nie altyd na waarde geskat word nie.

“He adopted the creed of individualism, private enterprise, no interference by Government, and free trade” (530). “Froude had no faith in socialism” (399). “He recoiled from materialism” (543). “In democracy he had no faith” (832; ook 990, 2185). Soos Carlyle het hy gedink: “A low franchise would mean a low standard of politics [and government]” (844) – soos ons deesdae daagliks ervaar. “He had always a great contempt for universal suffrage” (844). “Froude and Carlyle had the same scorn of the multitude” (901). “[Their] ideal form of government was an enlightened despotism” (2021). “Froude … regarded Carlyle as his teacher, feeling that he owed him his emancipation from clerical bonds” (574). “Froude … learnt … that natural phenomena were due to natural causes” (380). “His belief that history had been cericalised, and required to be laicised, was regarded as peculiarly offensive” (1183). “Religion, he said, was meant to be obeyed, not to be examined. The sun was invaluable, unless you looked at it. If you looked at it, you saw neither it nor anything else” (907).

“The Reformation was the hinge on which all modern history turned” (693, 3841). Froude was kompromisloos Protestants en sterk teen Rooms-Katolisisme gekant. “He held that Protestant countries were the most prosperous because they were morally the best” (901). “Froude was an Englishman first and a Protestant afterwards … Much of his popularity was due to his patriotism and his Protestantism” (1071). “No one hated injustice more than Froude. But cruelty as such did not inspire him with any horror. No punishment, however atrocious, seemed to him too great for persons clearly guilty of enormous crimes” (1561). Die volgende beeld van Froude is in skrille kontras daarmee: “One newspaper quaintly described him as ‘looking like a Scotch farmer, with an open frank face and calm mild eyes'” (1969).

As ‘n ras- of etniese groep in ‘n onderdanige posisie is, kan sulke mense meer uitstaanbaar wees as wanneer hulle beheer oor ‘n land oorneem – soos ons sedert 1994 agtergekom het. As patriotiese Brit het Froude met betrekking tot die Iere soortgelyke insig geopenbaar, hoewel die kulturele kloof in daardie geval baie kleiner as in Suid-Afrika was en is. “So long as they [the Irish] are not supreme, Catholics are the best of subjects, of citizens, of neighbours, of friends” (1054). Sy twee hoofsware was: “The Irish are an inferior race and Catholicism an inferior religion” (2283). Ook: “The Irish are a subject race … [and] the Catholic faith is a degrading superstition” (2327). “Froude assumed that Irish Catholics had taken a double dose of original sin” (2336). Froude “had no sympathy with their political aspirations” (1289). Hy het dikwels vir lang tydperke in Ierland gewoon. “His liking for the Irish, though perfectly genuine, was accompanied with an underlying contempt which is more offensive to the objects of it than the hatred of an open foe. He regarded them as a race unfit for self-government, who had proved their unworthiness of freedom by not winning it with the sword” (1925).

‘n Mens kan jouself afvra: Is die apatie/willoosheid/koersloosheid van sommige hedendaagse Afrikaners en hulle gebrek aan selftrots nie te wyte aan die roemlose De Klerk-magsoorgawe nie? Daardie mandaatlose hensop druis immers lynreg in teen die hele Afrikanergeskiedenis van vóór 1990/94. “Independence she [Ireland] could not have, and that not because the interests of Great Britain forbade it … but because she was unfit for it herself … she … has never herself made an effective fight for her own rights … The Irishman requires to be ruled” (1989). “The misfortunes of Ireland are rather due to the congenital qualities of the race than to wrongs inflicted by their conquerors” (2012). “If Ireland desires to be a nation, she must learn not merely to shout for liberty, but to fight for it” (2030).

“I say frankly, that I believe the control of human things in this world is given to the strong, and those who cannot hold their own ground with all advantage on their side must bear the consequences of their weakness” (2057). Dit was ‘n klein groepie Afrikaanssprekende blankes wat in 1990/94 te vrot was om hulle man te staan, gevolglik is hulle deur die ANC ore aangesit. Froude “had stated in uncompromising language his opinion of the Irish race. ‘Passionate in everything – passionate in their patriotism, passionate in their religion, passionately courageous, passionately loyal and affectionate – they are without the manliness which would give strength and solidity to the sentimental part of their dispositions” (2213).

‘n Kernkenmerk van sy politiek was dat “Froude had always been interested in the Colonies, and was an advocate of Federation long before it had become a popular scheme” (2430). “Disraeli … spoke of the Colonies as millstones round our necks … Lord [Henry Herbert] Carnavon [1831-1890, colonial secretary 1866/7 and 1874/8] … passed in 1867 the Bill which federated Canada … He was now anxious to carry out a similar scheme in South Africa, and Froude offered to find out for him how the land lay. His visit was not to be in any sense official” (2439). Die Britse regering sou sy reis- en verblyfkoste betaal. Froude was altyd baie suinig. Toe hy later die Wes-Indiese eilande besoek het, het hy probeer om sover moontlik gratis by Britse amptenare tuis te gaan. In sy reisverslag het hy opvallend hoë lof vir sy weldoeners.

Hy het Suid-Afrika in 1874 besoek. “Froude was a firm believer in the Dutch method of dealing with Kaffirs … With the Boers Froude had a good deal of sympathy. Their religion … appealed to his deepest sentiments, and he admired the austere simplicity of their lives” (2491). “If we can make up our minds to allow the colonists to manage the natives their own way, we can safely confederate the whole country” (2500). By sy terugkeer Froud “proposed the assemblage of a Federal Conference at Cape Town” (2525). “In June, 1875, Froude went back to South Africa, this time as an acknowledged emissary of the Government” (2534). John Charles Molteno (1814-1886) was toe die eerste minister van die Kaapkolonie (1872-1878). Die Kaapse regering het Froude se besoek as inmenging in die kolonie se huishoudelike sake beskou, des te meer omdat ‘n federasie die skeiding van die Wes- en Oos-Kaap sou insluit. Die Molteno-regering se standpunt was: “All they claimed was complete freedom to manage their own affairs, to federate or not to federate, as they pleased and when they pleased” (2585). Die voorgestelde konferensie oor federalisme in Kaapstad het nie plaasgevind nie en die een in Londen in 1876 het misluk omdat Molteno geweier het om dit by te woon.

“Froude was too sanguine when he wrote: ‘A Conferate South African Dominion, embracing all the States, both English and Dutch, under a common flag, may be expected as likely to follow, and perhaps at no distant period” (2638). Hy was sy tyd vooruit. Die Unie van Suid-Afrika, nie ‘n federasie nie, het eers in 1910, 35 jaar later, tot stand gekom. Froude het die Britse regering gewaarsku dat Cetewayo met sy 40 000 gewapende manskappe in Natal ‘n ernstige bedreiging vir vrede inhou. “South Africa cannot be self-governed … except with the good-will of the Dutch population” (3166). “Unless South Africa was to be despotically governed, it must be administered with the consent of the Dutch. He dwelt strongly upon the danger of allowing and encouraging natives to procure arms in Griqualand West as an enticement to work for the diamond owners” (2638).

“Circumstances brought him [Froude] into much greater favour with the Dutch than with his own countrymen, for it was thought, not without reason, that he had brought Carnavon round to see the truth about the Diamond Fields and the Free State” (2568). Tereg was dit vir Froude so duidelik soos daglig dat die Britse regering die Vrystaat uit die diamantevonds in Griekwaland-Wes verneuk het. “In 1878 … Griqualand West became an integral part of Cape Colony” (2620). “Froude’s South African policy was to work with the Dutch and keep the natives in their place” (2664). “Froude would not have been a true disciple of Carlyle if he had felt or expressed much sympathy with the native race. He wanted them to be comfortable. For freedom he did not consider them fit. It was the Boers who really attracted him, and the man he admired the most in South Africa was President [Johannes] Brand [1823-1888, president of the Orange Free State, 1864-1888]. The sketch of the two Dutch Republics in his Report [to the British government] is drawn with a very friendly hand. He thought, not without reason, that they had been badly treated” (2603). Froude was medeverantwoordelik daarvoor dat die Britse regering ₤90 000 skadevergoeding vir die diamantveld aan die Oranje-Vrystaat betaal het (2655).

In 1877 het Froude hom sterk teen die anneksasie van die Transvaal uitgespreek (2647). Hy het gedink Suid-Afrika was ‘n plek “where everthing was being done [by the British government] which he thought least wise ” (3253). Hy het tevergeefs gehoop “that there is to be an end of ‘glory and gunpowder'” (3315). Froude is vóór die uitbreking van die Anglo-Boereoorlog (ABO, 1899-1902) oorlede. Die ABO het getoon dat hy Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914, Britse minister vir kolonies, 1895-1903) verkeerd getakseer het: “I like Chamberlain. He knows his mind. There is no dust in his eyes, and he throws no dust in the eyes of others” (3323). Chamberlain was in werklikheid in vele opsigte verantwoordelik vir die uitbreking van die ABO.

Carlyle was bekend vir sy “eloquent and humourous diatribes [which] were wonderful, laughter-moving, awe-compelling” (2802) – “jewels five words long” (2936): Byvoorbeeld: “[Stuart] Mill was a poor feckless driveller. [Charles] Darwin was a pretentious sciolist. [John Henry] Newman had the intellect of a rabbit. Herbert Spencer was ‘the most unending ass in Christendom’ … Editing [John] Keats was ‘currying dead dog'” (2793). “If he was a severe critic of others, he was a still sterner judge of himself” (3058). Froude het ‘n biografie oor Carlyle geskryf, waarin nie net sy voortreflikhede nie, maar ook sy tekortkominge aangetoon word. “The public had got on a false scent, and gossip had found a congenial theme. Carlyle was in truth one of the noblest men that ever lived. His faults were all on the surface” (3006). “That a great man often has many small faults is a truism which does not need perpetual insistence” (3032). “But the trivial mind grasps at trivialities, and will not be satisfied without them” (3084). “Froude still thought him the greatest man of his age” (2891). Ná Carlyle se dood het sy niggie, Mary Carlyle, groot probleme vir Froude veroorsaak, bv met aansprake op kopiereg van en outeursvergoeding vir Carlyle se werk. Ek gaan nie in besonderhede daaroor skryf nie. Wat van belang is, is dat Carlyle se naaste familielede, sy oorlewende broer en oorlewende suster, vir Froude gesteun het met uitsprake soos: “[Carlyle] always spoke of you as his best and truest friend” (2979).

“[Froude] loved travel, and as soon as he had shaken off the burden of Carlyle he took a voyage round the world, described, not always with topical accuracy, in Oceana (1886 – 3374). “A tour through the Colonies for the purpose of conversing with their most influential statesmen had long been one of his cherished plans … on the 6th of December, 1884, he left Tilbury Docks, with his son Ashley” (3391). “Before the end of the year Froude was at Cape Town, renewing his acquaintance with familiar scenes … Sir Hercules Robinson was Governor and High Commissioner, a man after Froude’s heart, ‘too upright to belong to any party,’ and thoroughly appreciative of all that was best in the Boers” (3400).

Hierdie besoek aan Suid-Afrika was baie kort. Daarna is Froude na Australië, waar daar sprake van federasievorming was, wat eers in 1901 werklikheid geword het. In Nieu-Seeland het hy George Grey (1812-1898, goewerneur van die Kaapkolonie 1854-1861) besoek, wat as Nieu-Seelandse eerste minister (1877-1879) nie danig suksesvol was nie. Froude se gevolgtrekking was: “The Colonies would be true to the mother country if the mother country were true to them” (3409). Via Amerika het hy in 1885 na Engeland teruggekeer.

“Before 1886 was out he had started on a voyage to the West Indies” (3409), weer met die idee dat hierdie Britse eilande in ‘n federasie saamgesnoer kon word. Hy het egter spoedig tot die gevolgtrekking gekom: “Imperial Federation is far away” (3486). “Except Australia, which is homogeneous, like the Dominion of Canada, the British Empire is no nearer Federation, and Ireland is no nearer Home rule, than they were then” (3495). Van sommige luidrugtige Britse politici sê Froude: “They are generous with what costs them nothing – Irish land, religious liberty, emancipation of niggers – sacrificing the dependencies to tickle the vanity of an English mob and catch the praises of the newspapers” (3436). Froude was krities oor die verswelgende swart meerderhede op die eilande. “In these islands there is only sadness. In New Zealand there was hope and life” (3460). Sy reisindrukke het hy gepubliseer in sy boek, The English in the West Indies (1888). Hy het gedink daardie eilande behoort despoties deur die Britte regeer te word. “The negroes were a difficulty. They were not really fit for self-government, as the statemen of the American Union [USA] had found. Personal freedom, the inalienable right of all men and all women, is a very different thing from the possession of a vote” (3503). “[His book] provoked numerous criticisms, though not of the sort which interfere with success. In everything Froude wrote … allowance has to be made for the personal equation” (3468).

Paul verskaf die volgende samevatting van Froude se idees: “He held the Reformation to be the greatest and most beneficent change in modern history. He believed the English race to be the finest in the world. He disbelieved in equality, and in Parliamentary government. Essentially an aristocrat in the proper sense of the term, he cherished the doctrine of submission to a few fit persons, qualified for authority by training and experience” (4015). “Froude detested and despised the cosmopolitan philosophy which regards patriotic sentiment as a relic of barbarism” (4040).

In ‘n volgende rubriek sal ek Julia Markus se Froude-biografie bespreek en daarna Froude se reisboek oor Suid-Afrika, asook die een oor die Wes-Indiese eilande.

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