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EDWARD A. FREEMAN
HONORARY Degree at OXFORD. THE War betweeN GERMANY AND FRANCE. SWISS POLITICS. ARTICLES ON TRIKOUPES, GENERAL CHURCH, MR. FINLAY, BISHOP THIRLWALL, PROFESSOR WILLIS. FOREIGN TOURS. LITERARY PROJECTS. GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE.
THREE volumes of the History of the Norman Conquest had now been published, and Freeman's claim to take a high rank amongst the historians of his country was fully established. The University of Oxford recognized his merits by conferring upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law in June, 1870. The Latin speeches with which the candidates selected for this honour are presented in the Sheldonian Theatre were made Mr. Bryce, at that time the Regius Professor of Civil Law. He introduced Freeman in the following terms:'Virum vobis praesento Universitatis nostrae decus insigne, quem Oxonienses omnes honoris atque salutis Academiae semper studiosissimum novistis, in originibus
et Graecis et Germanis et maxime Anglicis mire doctum, in negligentiorum hominum erroribus detegendis acerrimum, eundemque facetiarum plenum, inter historiae patriae scriptores, quum verborum vi atque copia dicendi, tum quoque curâ atque diligentiâ in rerum veritate indaganda loco nulli secundo verè dignum, illustrissimis Germaniae Galliaeque scriptoribus comparandum, Edwardum Augustum Freeman Coll. SS. et indiv. Trinitatis olim soc. ut admittatur ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili honoris causâ.'
In July, 1870, the great war between France and Germany began. Freeman watched the course of it with the keenest interest, and hailed the success of the Germans with the deepest satisfaction. Not that he had any sympathy with Prussia. He had indignantly denounced the joint attack made by Prussia and Austria upon Denmark in 1865. In a letter to the Daily News (July 1, 1865) he had pointed out that as Prussia and Austria were only members of the German League, it was an insolent usurpation on their part to undertake the settlement of the dispute between Germany and Denmark about the Sleswig-Holstein provinces. It was still less justifiable to settle it by a violent aggression upon Denmark, a country which had done them no wrong, and to carry on the war in a spirit of brutal rapacity, which was condemned by all the laws of honourable warfare. It was from no love of Prussia, therefore, that he rejoiced in the victory of the German arms, but it was because their success accomplished the overthrow of Louis Napoleon, whom he regarded as an odious and criminal tyrant; it was because it humbled the pride and crippled the power of the French nation, which had for ages been the principal disturber of the peace of Europe, and because
it restored to the Germans towns and territories which the French had at various times stolen from them by force or fraud. It was not a war merely between France and Prussia, but between France and Germany. The wanton attack of France upon Prussia had roused all Germany against the common enemy, and he trusted to see, as the issue of the war, the realization of one of his fondest dreams, a free united Germany, whether in the form of a kingdom or of a confederation.
A sound judgement concerning the war could not be formed except by the light of past history. In a letter to the Pall Mall, dated November 25, 1870, he says:'The present war has largely risen out of a misconception of history, out of the French dream of a frontier of the Rhine which never existed. The war on the part of Germany, is, in truth, a vigorous setting forth of the historical truth that the Rhine is, and always has been, a German river. It is practically important to make people understand that the combined fraud and violence by which Philip the Fair seized Lyons, by which Louis XI seized Provence, by which Henry VII seized Metz, by which Louis XIV seized Strassburg, by which the elder Buonaparte seized half Europe, and the younger seized Savoy and Nizza, are all parts of one long conspiracy against the peace of the world, a conspiracy against which it has ever been the first duty of every European nation to stand on its defence, and which it is now the high mission of Germany to render hopeless for the future.' In another letter, dated March 18, 1871, maintaining that the annexation of Elsass and Lothringen by the Germans was founded upon historic right, he takes some pains to define what is to be understood by historic right. 'I have ventured,' he says, 'to speak of historic right