Froude's History of England

Wilfred Heeley

General Description

Date: 1856
Genre: Review


◦ Mackail, J. W. Life of William Morris .

Scholarly Commentary

Guest Editor: PC Fleming


This essay was Wilfred Heeley’s last submission to The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine; though he was one of the original members of the Brotherhood, he married and left for India in September (Mackail 90). The essay is listed under “Notices of Books” in the December table of contents, but has more in common with the other critical essays in the Magazine than with the other reviews. The majority of the essay relates the story of Henry VIII and the break from the Catholic church, as told by Froude. This kind of summary is typical of several essays in the Magazine, but not of the reviews of contemporary works.

This essay is also more than twice as long as any other review. The longest of the others is John Nichol’s in the December issue, and he reviews two works: Sydney Dobell’s “England in the Time of War” and George MacDonald’s “Within and Without”. It is possible that this essay on Froude was put under reviews by accident, mistaken for Heeley’s essay on Macaulay. That essay, though it reviews an earlier work, would fit better into the “notices of books” category than the essay on Froude.

Heeley opens this essay by discussing the use of historical writing, and how modern readers relate historical events to their own lives and times. He commends Froude for his accurate depiction of the Renaissance, and meeting his goal “to chastise and refute a false belief about a whole period, a gratuitous and ungenerous assumption that we are better and better off than they” (369).

Heeley draws no explicit comparisons between Froude and Macaulay, but since he reviewed works of the same title by these men, published within a year of each other, he must have had some comparison in mind. He criticizes Macaulay for his lack of sympathy with some of his subjects, but praises Froude for “the loving human way in which he looks on every one whom he deals with” (374).

Printing History

First printed in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine , June, 1856.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: Heeley005.raw.xml