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I really have not time to read that regularly. I have handed it over to Morfill, who represents Slavonic interests in Oxford. He is always glad of it. It has been a very good move making him Slavonic Reader in the University, or more truly making the post of Slavonic Reader for him. He has just been to Russia, and has come back, having found nobody there.
There has been a good deal lately in the English papers about Bohemian affairs; but I do not very well understand it. An agreement has taken place between the Germans and the Old Czechs; but the Young Czechs are dissatisfied. The English papers, of course, call the Young Czechs names. And it seems that the effect of all this is to put off the coronation, that is, to escape from admitting the independence of the kingdom. Of course, it is well for Germans and Czechs, as for English and Welsh, or for any other sets of people, to dwell together in unity if they can; but not at the cost of giving up the lawful independence of the country. I am rather wanting to say something again about these matters in connexion with South-Eastern affairs generally; but I don't very well understand the case, as complicated by this agreement of Old Czechs and Germans. A short and clear account would be a great kindness. But I cannot go through the Politik daily, unless I were to give up Sicily and everything else. Indeed it has not followed me since I have been at home. I shall have to go back to Oxford in October, which I do not at all like.
I see also that there is a good deal of stir about the Italian 'Irredentists.' This I am glad to see, as everything that weakens the so-called League of Peace must be good. I wish them all good luck in Trentino. Trieste is another thing. When Garibaldi said, 'Men of Trieste, to your mountains,' he hardly knew that they would find the mountains inhabited by Slaves. There is the great difficulty in all your lands, the neighbourhood and rivalry of different nations, which gives the advantage to the enemies of both. I see my way with Trent and Cattaro; I don't see it at Trieste, and the Lord of Trieste has a better claim than in some other places. My son-in-law passed the other day through the archduchy of Austria under another name, and came out in the kingdom of Hungary under his own. You know, I suppose, that his presence is forbidden
in the one and allowed in the other. I always tell this to people who are puzzled about the dual monarchy, as the best illustration of its nature.
TO MISS EDITH THOMPSON.
Oxford, October 26, 1890.
I had been wanting to hear from you a long time, and wanting you to come and see us, either at Somerleaze or here. As you did not come to Somerleaze, you must come here. I should say after the Assizes. That will be some time in November, I do not yet know when. As you know, we are turned out, and shall take refuge with Margaret and others. When we get in again, I hope you will come and abide a long time, and dispute and drive me into corners. And you may come to my Widerkind lecture, and add a comment de illustribus Edithabus necnon et Edgivabus'; for we have got, by way of Otto the Great, Hugh the Great, and Karolus ille Simplex, into the deepest mysteries about Æthelstan's sisters. Stubbs has somewhat to say about them in the preface to the new William of Malmesbury.
I am quite another creature from what I was this time last year. I have good hopes of keeping in England through the winter. Sicily, vols. i and ii, will, I hope, be out before Christmas.
Clements Markham has got a dodge that Henry VII and not Richard III killed those two boys, sons of Edward IV. James Gairdner won't hear of it. My Lord of Oxford declines to give an opinion gratis.
I expect the Bishop of Emmaus on Tuesday.
Get well and tell me something more, and I will write you a longer letter.
1 'Concerning illustrious Ediths, likewise also Edgivas.'
Emperor 962-973, married Edith, sister of the English King Æthelstan.
3 Hugh, Duke of the French, 923-956, married a sister of Otto the
Charles the Simple, King of the West-Franks, 893-929, married a sister of King Æthelstan.
See articles in Historical Review, April and July, 1891.
• Patterson, an old college friend. See above, vol. i. p. 45.
TO THE SAME.
Oxford, November 23, 1890.
What has become of you? I have had only a card for a huge time. I hope you have not gone very sick and unable to do anything. And specially, when are you coming here? We shall rejoice to see you any time from December 1 to-I want to be able to say till April 13-that is, as there really seems a good hope of my being able to stay in England through the winter, I have a dream of taking out my residence here at a pull, and going home early to see the apple-blossom. But Helen and Florence don't seem to fancy that. Then I would stay at home from April to September, and then go and take a very mild turn beyond sea, just in Normandy and thereabouts. I am going some time or other to do the rest of Henry I-to fill up the gap between me and Kate Norgate. That is to be in a final edition of Norman Conquest and William Rufus. Sicily, vols. i and ii, are in the wretched stage of Preface, Index, Contents, Map-as much bother as any other, and much less interest. But I have been somewhat called off by a lecture on Otto the Great and those times, into which I have thrown a good deal of heart, and have written some things. And, as perhaps you know, I have been at Birmingham Midland-presiding', and finding out that Thomas Attwood2 is nearly forgotten at Birmingham.
1 On October 7, as President of the Birmingham and Midland Institute, he distributed the prizes to the students, and made a long address about Birmingham, specially with reference to its having recently been made a city.
2 On Thomas Attwood, see above, vol. i. pp. 13, 14.
DISSATISFACTION WITH LIFE AT OXFORD.
A. D. 1891-1892.
IT is impossible to read the letters written during the last two years of Freeman's life without a sense of sadness, filled as they are with references to literary projects and plans for foreign travel, which were so soon to be frustrated by the hand of death. He was now in his sixty-eighth year, his health had been broken for some time past, and his physical strength was diminished, but his mental vigour remained unimpaired, and his enthusiasm for work was unabated. 'My head,' he would often say, 'is as good as ever, but I want a new pair of legs.'
The only mental faculty in which he was conscious of any degree of weakness was his memory, not so much with reference to past history, as to the incidents of his own work from day to day.
Writing to Canon Venables of Lincoln in January, 1891, he says:
'Rash,' do you say, to be doing Sicily? Why I am doing that and a dozen other things, πŵs yàp oυ; I do things better and quicker than I ever did: every faculty strengthens except mere memory. That weakens. I very often am struck by a thing as
if it were new to me. I say, 'I must go and work this thing out.' I look back and find that I have done it all some time back, and then clean forgotten that I had ever heard of it.
In February he was induced to go to Eastbourne, in the hope of escaping from fog, and enjoying more sunshine than is commonly to be seen at Oxford at that time of year; but he did not gain so much in these respects as had been hoped, and, as usual, by the sea-side he felt the loss of congenial society.
TO MISS EDITH THOMPSON.
19, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, February 8, 1891.
One or two cards and letters have passed between you and this, but I have said nothing (an American printer would divide that noth-ing, as if it were the son of Noth). I do wish you were here, or somebody to say something to, though I can't say that Eastbourne is rich for subjects for talk. Specially it gives very little chance of περιφρονεῖν τὸν ἥλιον. They say that greater light dances on Easter-day; so he just put out his nose for a bit to-day on Quinquagesima; for some days I had thought he was clean put out. 'Twas mighty foggy yesterday over this muddy arm of Ocean; the whole thing is muddy, just like the bit that there is at the mouth of a river in Sicily. I am beginning to like Mediterranean best; Ocean does leave such an ugly lot of mud about when he goes down. I got down-in-the-mouth yesterday, asking whether it was because there was no fog in Oxford that I was brought hither; but the sunlight to-day has cheered me somewhat. For some days I have not felt much amiss except great weakness, which makes me easily tired; but I think the sun to-day has strengthened me, and I have walked farther along the shore than I have any other day. And my wits are all right again, which I know by the best test, that I am up to reading High-Dutch. To be sure Giesebrecht's Kaiserzeit is very clear High-Dutch. And I have just read Liudprand's Legatio and Vita Oddonis, which I had not read for years. You see what all this is for. I was always mightily
1 'Observing the sun.' Aristoph. Clouds, 225.