Leon Lemmer: J A Froude: ‘Die laaste onontdekte groot Victoriaan’ (Deel 2)

Spotprent in 'Punch' op 30 Desember 1882 van J A Froude wat 'n 'eerlike' skets van sy vriend Carlyle vashou
Deel op

Ter aanvulling van Herbert Paul se boek (Praag 13.06.2020) bespreek ek in hierdie rubriek Julia Markus se biografie: J Anthony Froude: The last undiscovered great Victorian (New York: Scribner, 2005, 364p; Amazon Kindle $18,39). Die opskrif van hierdie rubriek is aan die newetitel van hierdie boek ontleen. Dit is die Britse historikus, A(lfred) L(eslie) Rowse (1903-1997) wat geskryf het: “[Froude] is the last great Victorian awaiting revival, when so many inferior to him have been regurgitated” (Kindle 2207 – Froude the historian: Victorian man of letters, 1987). Markus is bekend as ‘n fiksieskrywer, maar sy is ook ‘n Engelsdosent aan Hofstra University, Long Island, New York. Sy het ‘n verdienstelike biografie oor Froude geskryf, al is sy polities oorverlig.

Froude het as kind ‘n moeilike tyd in ‘n groot huisgesin en op skool gehad. Hy noem dit “as hard, and the treatment as barbarous as that of the negroes in Virginia” (204). Hy het in die tyd van die Oxford Movement grootgeword, wat die Church of England na Rooms-Katolisisme wou teruglei. Froude se oortuiging was egter dat die staat oor die kerk moet heers en nie andersom nie. Aan Oxford University het hy agtergekom “how easy it had once been ‘to make crooked things straight on paper'” (1157), wat sy lewensroeping sou word. Dit laat my dink aan wat Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) geskryf het: “Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” Froude het ook spoedig tot die besef gekom: “One loves those who are not far removed from oneself” (1773).

“Unlike [Thomas] Carlyle [1795-1881], Froude felt slavery was an evil … He favored the Confederacy [of American states]” (1892). Oor die Amerikaanse Burgeroorlog (1861-1865) skryf Froude: “You cannot treat an institution as old as mankind as a crime to be put out by force … If the sword is pressed into service beyond the common sense of mankind, it will kill the man that uses it” (1912). Ná hierdie oorlog kon hy “hope and believe that a time will come when there will no longer be Englishmen and Americans, but we shall be of one heart and mind, and perhaps one name” (1921). “For Froude, Americans were still ‘the English reproduced in a new sphere'” (4500). Dwarsdeur sy lewe het Froude probeer om veral Anglo-Saksiese blankes saam te snoer. Heelwat van sy idees het hy aan Carlyle ontleen, bv sy “loathing of democracy … the spuriousness of the contemporary idea of equality … the hypocrisy of ‘nigger philanthropists'” (2160). Carlyle het Froude beskryf as “the valuablest friend I now have in England” (2374).

“Under [William Edwart] Gladstone [1809-1898, British prime minister 1868-74, 1880-85, 1886 and 1892-94] and the Liberals there were constant discussions about loosening colonial ties to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the Cape. England protected her colonies militarily, but the colonies were not producing enough revenue. That the colonies were seen in economic terms as a drag on the economy appalled Froude. For they were ‘other Englands’, having the ability to extend English blood and English values far beyond the small island that was the motherland” (2611). Die kolonies kon ‘n uitlaatklep vir die oorbevolkte Brittanje wees. Froude skryf: “The attachment of a people to their country depends upon the sense in which it is really and truly their home … And the idea of home is inseparably connected with the possession or permanent occupation of land” (2639). Froude wou hê dat Britte hulle op groot skaal permanent – nie net tydelik nie – in die kolonies vestig sodat daardie gebiede verbrits kon word. Dit herinner aan die begin van die Afrikanerdom: “Die historikus GD Scholtz het jare gelede aangevoer dat Afrikaners op 9 Februarie 1657 uit die vestiging van nege Vryburgergesinne aan die Liesbeekrivier ontstaan het” (Flip Buys, Die pad na selfbestuur: Anderkant die mislukking van staatsbestuur, Centurion: Kraal Uitgewers, 2019, p 203 – Praag 11.04.2020). Eerder as enige ander jaartal kan 1657 as die begin van Afrikaans beskou word.

Per skip op pad na Suid-Afrika in 1874 skryf Froude: “I hear much of the Cape Dutch. The English colonists seem not to like them … I do not yet make out the Boers, who are described as lazy, indifferent to progress or moneymaking, thinking little of politics, and only resenting English interference with them; yet most people to whom I talk seem to agree that in the Orange Free State the natives are better managed than any other part of Africa” (2704). Later skryf hy oor die Britse inpalming van die diamantveld: ‘”By our stupid interference we have exasperated the entire Dutch population,’ both in and out of the colony, and have jeopardized the possibility of confederation, because of the preponderance of the Dutch. He became more and more convinced that ‘the Imperial Government should confine itself to the Table Mountain Peninsula, fortify the two harbours [Table Bay and Simon’s Town], and hold it as a naval and military station, leaving the rest of the country to itself'” (2747). Froude het geen erg aan materialistiese oorwegings soos diamante gehad nie. Wat die migrasie van Britte betref: “Let them immigrate to other Englands instead” (2756). Daar was klaarblyklik te veel swartes na Froude se sin in Suidelike Afrika. “His opinion was that the Dutch, with their tougher policies toward the Africans, did better than the English in that regard” (2783). “Froude’s most solid accomplishment [regarding South Africa] was his insistence that the Dutch had been cheated when England reclaimed the diamond fields” (2874).

“For [Froude], no single political issue was more important than how England was to regard her colonies” (4138). In Desember 1884 het hy sy seun, Ashley, saam met hom per skip geneem na drie kolonies: die Kaapkolonie, Australië en Nieu-Seeland. Vandaar is hulle na die Sandwich-eilande, Hawaii en San Francisco. Per trein is hulle daarna oor Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago en Buffalo na New York City en vandaar na Cork in Ierland en Liverpool. “At Honolulu [Hawaii] he wandered about studying the people and their customs, wondering at the homogenizing effect of ‘our Anglo-American character,’ which was spreading over the world” (4437).

Ná afloop van sy reis om die wêreld het Froude sy boek, Oceana (1886), geskryf. “He took the word Oceana from Sir James Harrington’s [1611-1677] seventeenth-century Utopian vision of a perfect commonwealth that was reserved for the English-speaking people” (4220). In The commonwealth of Oceana (1656/2012, 180p; Amazon Kindle $0)* word die grondwet van ‘n utopiese republiek uiteengesit. “The determining element of power in a state is property, particularly property in land” (Wikipedia). Die ANC-regime wil alle mag in homself sentraliseer. Hierdie boek uit Jan van Riebeeck se tyd kan help verklaar waarom die ANC-kamerade sonder vergoeding op blanke eiendom beslag wil/gaan lê.

[* Die eerste Kindle-leesmasjien is op 19.11.2007 beskikbaar gestel. Dit bly vir my ‘n 21ste eeuse wonder dat ‘n teks wat 364 jaar gelede gepubliseer is, binne ‘n minuut uit Amerika gratis aan my gestuur word. Die Kindle-weergawe is die teks soos geredigeer deur Henry Morley (1887). Oceana was Harrington se naam vir Engeland (Kindle 62). Harrington was ‘n republikein en glad nie ‘n monargis nie. Volgens hom vloei politieke mag voort uit ekonomiese mag. Dit sluit aan by Aristoteles se standpunt dat as hierdie twee geskei word, ‘n revolusie volg. Dit is presies wat in 1994 in Suid-Afrika gebeur het. Nic Wiehahn (1929-2006), die hoof van Unisa se Sakeskool, het in die verslag van die Wiehahn-kommissie (1979) aanbeveel dat swartes as vaklui opgelei en vakbonde vir swartes gewettig word. Wiehahn het daagliks ‘n strikdas gedra om hom van gewone sterflinge te onderskei. Hy het ‘n regs- en sake-agtergrond gehad en was glad nie in ideologie onderleg nie. Aan die begin van die PW Botha-bewind is hierdie kommissie se aanbevelings aanvaar, hoewel John Vorster voorbehoude gehad het. Daarmee het swartes ekonomiese burgerskap verkry. “Die NP-koukus was baie tevrede en Andries Treurnicht en Ferdie Hartzenberg, toekomstige leiers van die Konserwatiewe Party, het selfs Nic Wiehahn in die wandelgang gelukgewens” (Hermann Giliomee, Historikus: ‘n Outobiografie, Kaapstad: Tafelberg, 2016, p 119). Harrington onderskei tussen “property, real or personal; that is to say, in lands, or in money and goods” (159); dus vaste en roerende eiendom. Dit is vaste eiendom, bv plase, wat inwoners aan ‘n land bind en hulle ekonomiese en gevolglik politieke mag gee. Met onteiening sonder vergoeding wil die ANC-regime die bietjie politieke mag waaroor die blankes sedert 1994 beskik, verder ondergrawe. Landbou is ‘n kernbedryf. “Agriculture is the bread of the nation; we are hung upon it by the teeth; it is a mighty nursery of strength, the best army, and the most assured knapsack” (3185).]

“He found at Cape Town, as he suspected that ‘the history of Ireland is repeating itself – as if Ireland was not enough.’ The English had been unfair to the Dutch, both in territorial disputes and in their championing the ‘coloured races’ over the Boers” (4239). “Those with whom he mingled spoke the language exactly as it was spoken at home. This pleased him on one level, but on another he found it too imitative. A new country needs its own accent – its stamp of originality” (4285). Dit is waarom ek ‘n voorstander is van Afrikaans as die enigste amptelike taal in Suid-Afrika (en Namibië). Dit is ook waarom die ANC-regime se aanhang van die koloniale taal Engels as eintlik die enigste amptelike taal deur bv Keniaanse swartes gekritiseer word.

“Politicians were men given two eyes only to blind one – either the left or the right depending on party. ‘A wise man keeps both his eyes, belongs to no party, and can see things as they are'” (4321). “According to him [Carlyle] England’s business, if she understood it, was to gather her colonies close to her and spread her people where they could breathe again, and send the stream of life back into her loaded veins. Instead of doing this, she had been feeding herself on cant and fine phrases and delusive promises of unexampled prosperity” (4330). “What Froude had recognized at the time when many in England felt the colonies simply a burden was the energy and renewal that the immigrant brought to the new land … ‘In the colonies only we can safely multiply, and the people, I think, are awakening to know it'” (4491). “The England Carlyle looked forward to was ‘an England with the soul in her awake once more – no longer a small island, but an ocean empire, where her millions and tens of millions would be spread over their broad inheritance, each leading wholesome and happy lives on their own fields, and by their own firesides, hardened into men by the sun of Australia or the frosts of Canada – free human beings” (4330). By sulke vergelykings word Suid-Afrika gewoonlik uitgelaat omdat Froude weens die baie swartes skynbaar min lig in ons toekoms gesien het.

“Do we understand clearly what makes a nation great? Froude questioned. Not its material but its spiritual growth. The assumption that once all men have the vote and political liberty is secured virtue will follow is erroneous. That was why Aristotle knew democracies were always short-lived. For virtue resided not in having a vote, but in binding duty and obligation to the common wellness” (4339). “However, it was obvious to Froude that modern man, once having been emancipated from human authority, had no intention of replacing the chains on his limbs. He wanted to attend to his own interests. What does that mean in a democracy? Getting as much money as he can and as much pleasure as the money will buy for him, while losing the older and sterner moral training along the way. The soul dies out of him – why, he forgets he ever had one. ‘Hitherto this has been the history of every democratic experiment in the world'” (4347).

“If people hadn’t focused on the value of confederation before Oceana, they did after it … Froude now looked to the United States as a metaphor for the United States of Oceana: ‘The problem how to combine a number of self-governed communities into a single sommonwealth, which now lies before Englishmen who desire to see a federation of the empire, has been solved, and solved completely, in the American Union’ … The ‘United British Empire’ could be based on the American experience” (4500).

“By not going to Canada, Froude had lost the chance to visit Our Western Home, the first stop for English pauper children sent to Canada from the streets of industrialized England. From there they were disbursed to willing families … The English feminist Maria S Rye, who created Our Western Home … personally escorted the emigrating children there” (4518). “She would not minister to Roman Catholic paupers, and this was perhaps a bit of luck for those popish ‘gutter children,’ as she called them, who at least for all their misery were not uprooted from the only life they knew and submitted to the stern matriarchy, scant diet, and religious observances of Our Western Home, before being placed with a rural family more or less indentured in a foreign land” (4527). Froude skryf: “A continued stream of young, well-taught, unspoilt English natures would be the most precious gift which the colonies could receive from us” (4536).

“Froude really ought to have gone to Canada, where eventually thousands of the teeming poor of English cities, paupers and ‘orphans’ (often illegitimate offspring), were sent to be raised in the rural communities, some lucky to be adopted by Canadian parents, others fated to hard lives on cold farms. There were no follow-ups to the placements, and when Andrew Doyle was sent to investigate, he quoted a shrewd and intelligent sixteen-year-old girl who told him: ‘Doption, sir, is when folks get a girl to work without wages.’ That remark was often quoted by those who opposed Miss Rye’s childhood emigration, a movement that lasted on into the mid-twentieth century” (4545).

Deesdae word feitlik net die destydse swart slawerny in die Amerikas beklemtoon. In werklikheid is baie blanke volwassenes, bv “misdadigers” (al het hulle dalk net geld geskuld) en leeglêers, asook arm en weeskinders, daarheen gestuur. Dit het die blanke bevolking ‘n hupstoot gegee. In Suid-Afrika kon die blankes se huidige situasie, wat getalle betref, baie gunstiger gewees het as die VOC destyds blanke werkers pleks van nieblanke slawe ingevoer het. In daardie sin was dit ook ‘n fout om later, tydens die Britse bewind, toegang tot die Kaapkolonie vir Britse “misdadigers” te weier. Hulle is toe eerder in Australië afgelaai. In ‘n 1995-publikasie, The Dorling Kindersley World Reference Atlas,word die Australiese bevolking as 95% blank aangedui (p 77). Weens veral Asiatiese immigrante het die blanke komponent die afgelope dekades gekrimp. In 2016 was dit reeds minder as 77%.

In Desember 1886 het Froude die Britse West Indiese eilande besoek; agtereenvolgens Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, Dominica en Jamaika, asook die Spaanse kolonie Kuba en die onafhanklike Haïti. Hy het ‘n boek oor sy reis gepubliseer: The English in the West Indies (1888). Dit lyk asof politieke “korrektheid” soms by Markus kriewel: “The decay of the plantations and the diminished white presence blended with his mood – all his towers were being abolished. His observations were at times contradictory, his view of native life superficial” (4723). Markus verwys na “the Froudacious tone and provoking observations of the book” (4723). Let ook op haar ingesteldheid in die volgende sinne: “In Oceana little time was spent on the condition of native populations, and that was just as well. Froude was best served when he left those issues alone, for there was nothing forward-looking in his views” (4750). Maar bewustheid van die toenemende verswelging van blankes deur swartes ís om vooruit te kyk. “He had little to say about India; he saw South Africa and Ireland going to ruin” (4750). Dit is waar: Met Indië het Froude nie raad gehad nie en in die geval van Suid-Afrika en Ierland het hy nie vertroue in die meerderheidsbevolking gehad nie.

“Froude believed black men were naturally inferior to white men,* just as Celts were inferior to Saxons, but with good government, they could be educated and trained to the service class in which they could lead useful, productive lives. He often equated the negroes of the West Indies with the Irish, as unfit to rule. He envisioned what most of his fellows had deemed impossible: the return of the white race to these fertile islands to farm, to build, to govern. And despite his erudition, he seemed out of touch with the complicated realities of the situation” (4794). Sodra swartes ‘n gemors van ‘n situasie maak, moet ons aanhoor hoe “kompleks” dinge is – die mooi Afrikaanse woord “ingewikkeld” word nie gebruik nie.

[* In Markus se boek word dit later gekwalifiseer met verwysing na Froude-aanhalings wat Dunn in sy biografie verskaf. Volgens Markus “[it] betray[s] a certain understanding” (5312). “Froude wrote he came to the opinion long ago in Africa that there were no inherent differences between black and white men. ‘With the same chances and the same treatment, I believe that distinguished men would be produced equally from both races.’ But it didn’t follow that this could be done immediately. Giving the Negroes the same political powers as the English claimed for themselves would only injure them and aid their sliding back into a primitive condition. After all, his own ‘Anglo Norman race has become capable of self-government only after a thousand years of civil and spiritual authority.’ Before the civil rights movement in America in the 1960s, many Americans who considered themselves nominally liberal thought it would take a hundred years for blacks to find equality. In a young country, a hundred years compares with Froude’s thousand. In both it was simply a very long time away. At least it was a far cry from Carlyle’s reactionary tolerance of slavery, though one does not wish to make too much a point of it” (5312).]

Polities korrek hou Markus van die hedendaagse omgekeerde immigrasie: van die derdewêreld na die eerstewêreld: “Today, many of the natives of the colonized countries of the nineteenth century have become emigrants. Froude had no ndea that the kernel of his truth would later be reflected in diversity throughout the Western world. The youth, the hope, the vigor, the restorative [!] power of emigration, morally as well as economically, are as valid today as when he encapsulated them for his people in Oceana – but they wear new clothes. It was the immigration of English to English colonies and to the United States that was at the heart of Froude’s vision. On indigenous populations his quick eye was hardly as keen” (4759). Anders as Markus sou ek eerder beweer dat kolonialisme ten minste in sekere opsigte opbouend in die kolonies was, bv bekendstelling van die inheemse bevolking aan Europese beskawing en die daarstelling van infrastruktuur. Die intog van derdewêreldse immigrante in eens koloniale moederlande sedert die Tweede Wêreldoorlog, daarenteen, is dikwels nie kultureel verrykend soos hiperverligtes dikwels beweer nie. Dit het in werklikheid kultureel meesal ‘n hoogs afbrekende invloed op eeue-oue Europese beskawing.

“In Barbados “he rarely saw a white face, but what he did see from his hotel was good humor and self-satisfaction written over each and every black face. To Froude all natives appeared happy at first glance, and therefore he believed all the natives were happy – not to mention lucky. These islands of the West Indies were a paradise for ‘them’ – warm weather, fruit from trees, yams they grew. In the West Indies, Froude appeared more like the typical tourist on the grand tour than he had in Oceana, more the caricature of the Brit, nose in air, taking first impressions as ultimate truth” (4803). Hy merk ook op dat dit eerder die swart vroue as die mans is wat werk (4812).

“A Jamaican planter … told him it was too late for the imperial government to mend matters in Jamaica – meaning the return to prosperity through landed white proprietors: ‘The blacks were increasing so fast, and the white influence was diminishing so fast, that Jamaica in a few years would be another Hayti'” (4723). “The English were leaving in droves, and the Negroes were to be allowed votes, as if votes would make them free. Instead, without proper government, they would return to wars and savagery” (4740).

Froude se literêre vermoëns word geloof. Sy uitgangspunt was: “If you sincerely desire to write nothing but what you really know or think, and to say that as clearly and as briefly as you can, style will come as a matter of course. Ornament for ornament’s sake is always to be avoided. There is a rhythm in prose as well as in verse, but you must trust your ear for that” (3933). “Froude’s prose is as fresh today as when it was written, prose as clean and clear and deep as the mountain lakes he loved to fly-fish” (3933). “He was a man who had from his earliest years found in literature the structure for his passions, always the desire to encompass his universe, always the desire to be clear this time, to make himself understood” (4073). “For both Carlyle and Froude, biography was ‘the only history … the inner nature of the persons of whom it speaks is the essential thing about them'” (3970).

“Perhaps more than anything, his political perspective has obscured him. JA Froude was anything but politically correct, even in his time … Many of the contrarian issues he brought to public scrutiny are – quite suddenly – once more being discussed: emigration, faith, evangelical concerns, the bonding together of English-speaking peoples in wartime. Beyond it all, the very nature of democracy itself” (5735). Die ANC hang verouderde idees, bv marxisme, aan. Dieselfde geld vir die gelykverklarende “demokrasie” waarmee ons sedert 1994 opgeskeep sit. Een van die baie dinge wat die armsalige NP-onderhandelaars nie geweet het nie, is dat demokrasie by intelligensia toe reeds lank nie meer as saligmakend beskou is nie.

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