James Anthony Froude

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Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral law is written on the tablets of eternity.

James Anthony Froude (1818-04-231894-10-20) was a controversial English historian, novelist, biographer, and editor of Fraser's Magazine.


  • I would not so dishonour God as to lend my voice to perpetuate all the mad and foolish things which men have dared to say of Him. I believe that we may find in the Bible the highest and purest religion most of all in the history of Him in whose name we all are called. His religion — not the Christian religion, but the religion of Christ — the poor man's gospel; the message of forgiveness, of reconciliation, of love; and, oh, how gladly would I spend my life, in season and out of season, in preaching this! But I must have no hell terrors, none of these fear doctrines; they were not in the early creeds, God knows whether they were ever in the early gospels, or ever passed His lips. He went down to hell, but it was to break the chains, not to bind them.
  • I cut a hole in my heart and wrote with the blood.
    • On the writing of his novel The Nemesis of Faith (1849), in a letter to Charles Kingsley, as quoted in Doubting Clerics : From James Anthony Froude to Robert Elsmere via George Eliot (1989) by Rosemary Ashton
  • Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral law is written on the tablets of eternity. For every false word or unrighteous deed, for cruelty and oppression, for lust or vanity, the price has to be paid at last.
    • "The Science of History", (5 February 1864); lecture published in Representative Essays (1885) by George Haven Putnam, p. 274; Lord Acton quoted the first sentence of this statement in an address "The Study Of History" (11 June 1895), and it has often since been misattributed to him. The phrase has also sometimes been misquoted as: Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral laws are written on the table of eternity.
  • Nature is less partial than she appears, and all situations in life have their compensations along with them.
    • Bunyan (1880), Ch. X, p. 175; a 2005 edition is also available from Kessinger Publishing ISBN 1-417-97107-X
  • Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself.
    • Oceana, or, England and her colonies: Or England and Her Colonies (1886) [C. Scribner's Sons, 1972, ISBN 083699096X, 9780836990966, 396 pages], p. 67
    • Quoted on Criminal Minds, Season 2, Episode 22

About James Anthony Froude

  • We seem to be in companionship with a spirit who is transfusing himself into our souls, and so vitalising them by his superior energy, that life, both outward and inward, presents itself to us in higher relief, in colours brightened and deepened.
  • After my death I wish no other herald, no other speaker of my living actions, to keep my honour from corruption, but such an honest chronicler as Froude.
    • Thomas Carlyle, as quoted in a Punch cartoon (shown above), emphasizing some of the less pleasant and impressive aspects of Carlyle's life revealed in Froude's biographical writings and publications. (30 December 1882), p. 303

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