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Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay by George Otto Trevelyan

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T. B. M.

Moved by the father's evident unhappiness, the son promised never
to write again for the obnoxious periodical. The second number
was so dull and decorous that Zachary Macaulay, who felt that, if
the magazine went on through successive quarters reforming its
tone in the same proportion, it would soon be on a level of
virtue with the Christian Observer, withdrew his objection; and
the young man wrote regularly till the short life of the
undertaking ended in something very like a quarrel between the
publisher and his contributors. It is not the province of
biography to dilate upon works which are already before the
world; and the results of Macaulay's literary labour during the
years 1823 and 1824 have been, perhaps, only too freely
reproduced in the volumes which contain his miscellaneous
writings. It is, however, worthy of notice that among his earlier
efforts in literature his own decided favourite was "the
Conversation between Mr. Abraham Cowley and Mr. John Milton
touching the great Civil War." But an author, who is exempt from
vanity, is inclined to rate his own works rather according as
they are free from faults than as they abound in beauties; and
Macaulay's readers will very generally give the preference to two
fragmentary sketches of Roman and Athenian society which sparkle
with life, and humour, and a masculine vigorous fancy that had
not yet learned to obey the rein. Their crude but genuine merit
suggests a regret that he did not in after days enrich the
Edinburgh Review with a couple of articles on classical subjects,
as a sample of that ripened scholarship which produced the
Prophecy of Capys, and the episode relating to the Phalaris
controversy in the Essay on Sir William Temple.

Rothley Temple: October 7, 1824.

My dear Father,--As to Knight's Magazine, I really do not think
that, considering the circumstances under which it is conducted,
it can be much censured. Every magazine must contain a certain
quantity of mere ballast, of no value but as it occupies space.
The general tone and spirit of the work will stand a comparison,
in a moral point of view, with any periodical publication not
professedly religious. I will venture to say that nothing has
appeared in it, at least since the first number, from the pen of
any of my friends, which can offend the most fastidious. Knight
is absolutely in our hands, and most desirous to gratify us all,
and me in particular. When I see you in London I will mention to
you a piece of secret history which will show you how important
our connection with this work may possibly become.

Yours affectionately

T. B. M.

The "piece of secret history" above referred to was beyond a
doubt the commencement of Macaulay's connection with the
Edinburgh Review. That famous periodical, which for three and
twenty years had shared in and promoted the rising fortunes of
the Liberal cause, had now attained its height--a height
unequalled before or since--of political, social, and literary
power. To have the entry of its columns was to command the most
direct channel for the spread of opinions, and the shortest road
to influence and celebrity. But already the anxious eye of the
master seemed to discern symptoms of decline. Jeffrey, in Lord
Cockburn's phrase, was "growing feverish about new writers." In
January 1825 he says in a letter to a friend in London: "Can you
not lay your hands on some clever young man who would write for
us? The original supporters of the work are getting old, and
either too busy or too stupid, and here the young men are mostly
Tories." Overtures had already been made to Macaulay, and that
same year his article on Milton appeared in the August number.

The effect on the author's reputation was instantaneous. Like
Lord Byron, he awoke one morning and found himself famous. The
beauties of the work were such as all men could recognise, and
its very faults pleased. The redundance of youthful enthusiasm,
which he himself unsparingly condemns in the preface to his
collected essays, seemed graceful enough in the eyes of others,
if it were only as a relief from the perverted ability of that
elaborate libel on our great epic poet which goes by the name of
Dr. Johnson's Life of Milton. Murray declared that it would be
worth the copyright of Childe Harold to have Macaulay on the
staff of the Quarterly. The family breakfast table in Bloomsbury
was covered with cards of invitation to dinner from every quarter
of London, and his father groaned in spirit over the conviction
that thenceforward the law would be less to him than ever. A warm
admirer of Robert Hall, Macaulay heard with pride how the great
preacher, then wellnigh worn out with that long disease, his
life, was discovered lying on the floor, employed in learning by
aid of grammar and dictionary enough Italian to enable him to
verify the parallel between Milton and Dante. But the compliment
that of all others came most nearly home,--the only commendation
of his literary talent which even in the innermost domestic
circle he was ever known to repeat,--was the sentence with which
Jeffrey acknowledged the receipt of his manuscript: "The more I
think, the less I can conceive where you picked up that style."

Macaulay's outward man was never better described than in two
sentences of Praed's Introduction to Knight's Quarterly Magazine.
"There came up a short manly figure, marvellously upright, with a
bad neckcloth, and one hand in his waistcoat pocket. ["I well
remember," writes Sir William Stirling Maxwell, "the first time I
met him,--in 1845 or '46, I think,--at dinner at the house of his
old friend, Sir John Macleod. I did not know him by sight, and,
when he came into the room with two or three other guests, I
supposed that he was announced as General--I forget what. The
party was large, and I was on the other side of the table, and a
good way off, and I was very soon struck by the amazing number of
subjects on which he seemed at home;--politics, home and
foreign,--French literature, and Hebrew poetry;--and I remember
thinking, 'This is a General with a singularly well-stored mind
and badly tied neckcloth.' Till, at last, a remark on the prose
of Dryden led me to conclude that it could be no one but the
Great Essayist."] Of regular beauty he had little to boast; but
in faces where there is an expression of great power, or of great
good humour, or both, you do not regret its absence." This
picture, in which every touch is correct, tells all that there is
to be told. He had a massive head, and features of a powerful and
rugged cast, but so constantly lit up by every joyful and
ennobling emotion that it mattered little if, when absolutely
quiescent, his face was rather homely than handsome. While
conversing at table no one thought him otherwise than good-
looking; but, when he rose, he was seen to be short and stout in
figure. "At Holland House, the other day," writes his sister
Margaret in September 1831, "Tom met Lady Lyndhurst for the first
time. She said to him: 'Mr. Macaulay, you are so different to
what I expected. I thought you were dark and thin, but you are
fair, and really, Mr. Macaulay, you are fat."' He at all times
sat and stood straight, full, and square; and in this respect
Woolner, in the fine statue at Cambridge, has missed what was
undoubtedly the most marked fact in his personal appearance.

He dressed badly, but not cheaply. His clothes, though ill put on,
were good, and his wardrobe was always enormously overstocked.
Later in life he indulged himself in an apparently inexhaustible
succession of handsome embroidered waistcoats, which he used to
regard with much complacency. He was unhandy to a degree quite
unexampled in the experience of all who knew him. When in the open
air he wore perfectly new dark kid gloves, into the fingers of
which he never succeeded in inserting his own more than half way.
After be had sailed for India there were found in his chambers
between fifty and sixty strops, hacked into strips and splinters,
and razors without beginning or end. About the same period he hurt
his hand, and was reduced to send for a barber. After the
operation, he asked what was to pay. "Oh, Sir," said the man,
"whatever you usually give the person who shaves you." "In that
case," said Macaulay, "I should give you a great gash on each

During an epoch when, at our principal seats of education,
athletic pursuits are regarded as a leading object of existence
rather than as a means of health and recreation, it requires some
boldness to confess that Macaulay was utterly destitute of bodily
accomplishments, and that he viewed his deficiencies with supreme
indifference. He could neither swim, nor row, nor drive, nor
skate, nor shoot. He seldom crossed a saddle, and never
willingly. When in attendance at Windsor as a cabinet minister he
was informed that a horse was at his disposal. "If her Majesty
wishes to see me ride," he said, "she must order out an
elephant." The only exercise in which he can be said to have
excelled was that of threading crowded streets with his eyes
fixed upon a book. He might be seen in such thoroughfares as
Oxford Street, and Cheapside, walking as fast as other people
walked, and reading a great deal faster than anybody else could
read. As a pedestrian he was, indeed, above the average. Till he
had passed fifty he thought nothing of going on foot from the
Albany to Clapham, and from Clapham on to Greenwich; and, while
still in the prime of life, he was for ever on his feet indoors
as well as out. "In those days," says his cousin Mrs. Conybeare,
"he walked rapidly up and down a room as he talked. I remember on
one occasion, when he was making a call, he stopped short in his
walk in the midst of a declamation on some subject, and said,
'You have a brick floor here.' The hostess confessed that it was
true, though she hoped that it had been disguised by double
matting and a thick carpet. He said that his habit of always
walking enabled him to tell accurately the material he was
treading on."

His faults were such as give annoyance to those who dislike a man
rather than anxiety to those who love him. Vehemence, over-
confidence, the inability to recognise that there are two sides
to a question or two people in a dialogue, are defects which
during youth are perhaps inseparable from gifts like those with
which he was endowed. Moultrie, speaking of his undergraduate
days, tells us that

"To him
There was no pain like silence--no constraint
So dull as unanimity. He breathed
An atmosphere of argument, nor shrank
From making, where he could not find, excuse
For controversial fight."

At Cambridge he would say of himself that, whenever anybody
enunciated a proposition, all possible answers to it rushed into
his mind at once; and it was said of him by others that he had no
politics except the opposite of those held by the person with
whom he was talking. To that charge, at any rate, he did not long
continue liable. He left college a staunch and vehement Whig,
eager to maintain against all comers, and at any moment, that
none but Whig opinions had a leg to stand upon. His cousin George
Babington, a rising surgeon, with whom at one time he lived in
the closest intimacy, was always ready to take up the Tory
cudgels. The two friends "would walk up and down the room,
crossing each other for hours, shouting one another down with a
continuous simultaneous storm of words, until George at length
yielded to arguments and lungs combined. Never, so far as I
remember, was there any loss of temper. It was a fair, good-
humoured battle in not very mannerly lists."

Even as a very young man nine people out of ten liked nothing
better than to listen to him, which was fortunate; because in his
early days he had scanty respect of persons, either as regarded
the choice of his topics, or the quantity of his words. But with
his excellent temper, and entire absence of conceit, he soon
began to learn consideration for others in small things as well
as in great. By the time he was fairly launched in London he was
agreeable in company, as well as forcible and amusing.
Wilberforce speaks of his "unruffled good-humour." Sir Robert
Inglis, a good observer with ample opportunity of forming a
judgment, pronounced that he conversed and did not dictate, and
that he was loud but never overbearing. As far back as the year
1826 Crabb Robinson gave a very favourable account of his
demeanour in society, which deserves credence as the testimony of
one who liked his share of talk, and was not willing to be put in
the background for anybody. "I went to James Stephen, and drove
with him to his house at Hendon. A dinner party. I had a most
interesting companion in young Macaulay, one of the most
promising of the rising generation I have seen for a long time.
He has a good face,--not the delicate features of a man of genius
and sensibility, but the strong lines and well-knit limbs of a
man sturdy in body and mind. Very eloquent and cheerful.
Overflowing with words, and not poor in thought. Liberal in
opinion, but no radical. He seems a correct as well as a full
man. He showed a minute knowledge of subjects not introduced by

So loyal and sincere was Macaulay's nature that he was unwilling
to live upon terms of even apparent intimacy with people whom he
did not like, or could not esteem; and, as far as civility
allowed, he avoided their advances, and especially their
hospitality. He did not choose, he said, to eat salt with a man
for whom he could not say a good word in all companies. He was
true throughout life to those who had once acquired his regard
and respect. Moultrie says of him

"His heart was pure and simple as a child's
Unbreathed on by the world: in friendship warm,
Confiding, generous, constant; and, though now
He ranks among the great ones of the earth
And hath achieved such glory as will last
To future generations, he, I think,
Would sup on oysters with as right good will
In this poor home of mine as e'er he did
On Petty Cury's classical first floor
Some twenty years ago."

He loved to place his purse, his influence, and his talents at
the disposal of a friend; and anyone whom he called by that name
he judged with indulgence, and trusted with a faith that would
endure almost any strain. If his confidence proved to have been
egregiously misplaced, which he was always the last to see, he
did not resort to remonstrance or recrimination. His course under
such circumstances he described in a couplet from an old French

"Le bruit est pour le fat, la plainte pour le sot;
L'honnete homme trompe s'eloigne et ne dit mot.

["La Coquette corrigee. Comedie par Mr. Delanoue, 1756." In his
journal of February 15, 1851, after quoting the couplet, Macaulay
adds: "Odd that two lines of a damned play, and, it should seem,
a justly damned play, should have lived near a century and have
become proverbial."]

He was never known to take part in any family quarrel, or
personal broil, of any description whatsoever. His conduct in
this respect was the result of self-discipline, and did not
proceed from any want of sensibility. "He is very sensitive,"
said his sister Margaret, "and remembers long, as well as feels
deeply, anything in the form of slight." Indeed, at college his
friends used to tell him that his leading qualities were
"generosity and vindictiveness." Courage he certainly did not
lack. During the years when his spirit was high, and his pen cut
deep, and when the habits of society were different from what
they are at present, more than one adversary displayed symptoms
of a desire to meet him elsewhere than on paper. On these
occasions, while showing consideration for his opponent, he
evinced a quiet but very decided sense of what was due to
himself, which commanded the respect of all who were implicated,
and brought difficulties that might have been grave to an
honourable and satisfactory issue.

He reserved his pugnacity for quarrels undertaken on public
grounds, and fought out with the world looking on as umpire. In
the lists of criticism and of debate it cannot be denied that, as
a young man, he sometimes deserved the praise which Dr. Johnson
pronounced upon a good hater. He had no mercy for bad writers,
and notably for bad poets, unless they were in want of money; in
which case he became within his means, the most open-handed of
patrons. He was too apt to undervalue both the heart and the head
of those who desired to maintain the old system of civil and
religious exclusion, and who grudged political power to their
fellow-countrymen, or at any rate to those of their fellow-
countrymen whom he was himself prepared to enfranchise.
Independent, frank, and proud almost to a fault, he detested the
whole race of jobbers and time-servers, parasites and scandal-
mongers, led-captains, led-authors, and led-orators. Some of his
antipathies have stamped themselves indelibly upon literary
history. He attributed to the Right Honourable John Wilson
Croker, Secretary to the Admiralty during the twenty years
preceding 1830, qualities which excited his disapprobation beyond
control, and possibly beyond measure. His judgment has been
confirmed by the public voice, which identifies Croker with the
character of Rigby in Mr. Disraeli's Coningsby.

Macaulay was the more formidable as an opponent because he could
be angry without losing his command of the situation. His first
onset was terrific; but in the fiercest excitement of the melee he
knew when to call a halt. A certain member of Parliament named
Michael Thomas Sadler had fallen foul of Malthus, and very foul
indeed of Macaulay, who in two short and telling articles took
revenge enough for both. [Macaulay writes to Mr. Napier in
February 1831: "People here think that I have answered Sadler
completely. Empson tells me that Malthus is well pleased, which is
a good sign. As to Blackwood's trash I could not get through it.
It bore the same relation to Sadler's pamphlet that a bad hash
bears to a bad joint."] He writes on this subject to Mr. Macvey
Napier, who towards the close of 1829 had succeeded Jeffrey in the
editorship of the Edinburgh Review: "The position which we have
now taken up is absolutely impregnable, and, if we were to quit
it, though we might win a more splendid victory, we should expose
ourselves to some risk. My rule in controversy has always been
that to which the Lacedaemonians adhered in war: never to break
the ranks for the purpose of pursuing a beaten enemy." He had,
indeed, seldom occasion to strike twice. Where he set his mark,
there was no need of a second impression. The unduly severe fate
of those who crossed his path during the years when his blood was
hot teaches a serious lesson on the responsibilities of genius.
Croker, and Sadler, and poor Robert Montgomery, and the other less
eminent objects of his wrath, appear likely to enjoy just so much
notoriety, and of such a nature, as he has thought fit to deal
out to them in his pages; and it is possible that even Lord
Ellenborough may be better known to our grand-children by
Macaulay's oration on the gates of Somnauth than by the noise
of his own deeds, or the echo of his own eloquence.

When Macaulay went to college he was justified in regarding
himself as one who would not have to work for his bread. His
father, who believed himself to be already worth a hundred
thousand pounds, had statedly declared to the young man his
intention of making him, in a modest way, an eldest son; and had
informed him that, by doing his duty at the university, he would
earn the privilege of shaping his career at choice. In 1818 the
family removed to London, and set up an establishment on a scale
suited to their improved circumstances in Cadogan Place, which,
in everything except proximity to Bond Street, was then hardly
less rural than Clapham. But the prosperity of the house of
Macaulay and Babington was short-lived. The senior member of the
firm gave his whole heart, and five-sixths of his time, to
objects unconnected with his business; and he had selected a
partner who did not possess the qualities necessary to compensate
for his own deficiencies. In 1819 the first indications of
possible disaster begin to show themselves in the letters to and
from Cambridge; while waiting for a fellowship Macaulay was glad
to make a hundred guineas by taking pupils; and, as time went on,
it became evident that he was to be an eldest son only in the
sense that, throughout the coming years of difficulty and
distress, his brothers and sisters would depend mainly upon him
for comfort, guidance, and support. He acknowledged the claim
cheerfully, lovingly, and, indeed, almost unconsciously. It was
not in his disposition to murmur over what was inevitable, or to
plume himself upon doing what was right. He quietly took up the
burden which his father was unable to bear; and, before many
years had elapsed, the fortunes of all for whose welfare he
considered himself responsible were abundantly assured. In the
course of the efforts which he expended on the accomplishment of
this result he unlearned the very notion of framing his method of
life with a view to his own pleasure; and such was his high and
simple nature, that it may well be doubted whether it ever
crossed his mind that to live wholly for others was a sacrifice
at all.

He resided with his father in Cadogan Place, and accompanied him
when, under the pressure of pecuniary circumstances, he removed
to a less fashionable quarter of the town. In 1823 the family
settled in 50 Great Ormond Street, which runs east and west for
some three hundred yards through the region bounded by the
British Museum, the Foundling Hospital, and Gray's Inn Road. It
was a large rambling house, at the corner of Powis Place, and was
said to have been the residence of Lord Chancellor Thurlow at the
time when the Great Seal was stolen from his custody. It now
forms the east wing of an Homoeopathic hospital. Here the
Macaulays remained till 1831. "Those were to me," says Lady
Trevelyan, "years of intense happiness. There might be money
troubles, but they did not touch us. Our lives were passed after
a fashion which would seem indeed strange to the present
generation. My father, ever more and more engrossed in one
object, gradually gave up all society; and my mother never could
endure it. We had friends, of course, with whom we stayed out for
months together; and we dined with the Wilberforces, the Buxtons,
Sir Robert Inglis, and others; but what is now meant by
'society' was utterly unknown to us.

"In the morning there was some pretence of work and study. In the
afternoon your uncle always took my sister Margaret and myself a
long walk. We traversed every part of the City, Islington,
Clerkenwell, and the Parks, returning just in time for a six
o'clock dinner. What anecdotes he used to pour out about every
street, and square, and court, and alley! There are many places I
never pass without 'the tender grace of a day that is dead'
coming back to me. Then, after dinner, he always walked up and
down the drawing-room between us chatting till tea-time. Our
noisy mirth, his wretched puns, so many a minute, so many an
hour! Then we sang, none of us having any voices, and he, if
possible, least of all; but still the old nursery songs were set
to music, and chanted. My father, sitting at his own table, used
to look up occasionally, and push back his spectacles, and, I
dare say, wonder in his heart how we could so waste our time.
After tea the book then in reading was produced. Your uncle very
seldom read aloud himself of an evening, but walked about
listening, and commenting, and drinking water.

"The Sundays were in some respects trying days to him. My
father's habit was to read a long sermon to us all in the
afternoon, and again after evening service another long sermon
was read at prayer-time to the servants. Our doors were open to
sons of relations or friends; and cousins who were medical
students, or clerks in merchants' houses, came in regularly to
partake of our Sunday dinner and sermons. Sunday walking, for
walking's sake, was never allowed; and even going to a distant
church was discouraged. When in Cadogan Place, we always crossed
the Five Fields, where Belgrave Square now stands, to hear Dr.
Thorpe at the Lock Chapel, and bring him home to dine with us.
From Great Ormond Street, we attended St. John's Chapel in
Bedford Row, then served by Daniel Wilson, afterwards Bishop of
Calcutta. He was succeeded in 1826 by the Rev. Baptist Noel. Your
uncle generally went to church with us in the morning, and
latterly formed the habit of walking out of town, alone or with a
friend, in the after part of the day. I never heard that my
father took any notice of this; and, indeed, in the interior of
his own family, he never attempted in the smallest degree to
check his son in his mode of life, or in the expression of his

"I believe that breakfast was the pleasantest part of the day to
my father. His spirits were then at their best, and he was most
disposed to general conversation. He delighted in discussing the
newspaper with his son, and lingered over the table long after
the meal was finished. On this account he felt it extremely when,
in the year 1829, your uncle went to live in chambers, and often
said to my mother that the change had taken the brightness out of
his day. Though your uncle generally dined with us, yet my father
was tired by the evening, so that the breakfast hour was a
grievous loss to him, as indeed it was to us all. Truly he was to
old and young alike the sunshine of our home; and I believe that
no one, who did not know him there, ever knew him in his most
brilliant, witty, and fertile vein."

That home was never more cheerful than during the eight years
which followed the close of Macaulay's college life. There had
been much quiet happiness at Clapham, and much in Cadogan Place;
but it was round the house in Great Ormond Street that the
dearest associations gathered. More than forty years afterwards,
when Lady Trevelyan was dying, she had herself driven to the
spot, as the last drive she ever took, and sat silent in her
carriage for many minutes with her eyes fixed upon those well-
known walls.

[In August 1857, Macaulay notes in his diary: "I sent the
carriage home, and walked to the Museum. Passing through Great
Ormond Street I saw a bill upon No. 50. I knocked, was let in,
and went over the house with a strange mixture of feelings. It is
more than twenty-six years since I was in it. The dining-room,
and the adjoining room, in which I once slept, are scarcely
changed--the same colouring on the wall, but more dingy. My
father's study much the same;--the drawing-rooms too, except the
papering. My bedroom just what it was. My mother's bedroom. I had
never been in it since her death. I went away sad."]

While warmly attached to all his nearest relations, Macaulay
lived in the closest and most frequent companionship with his
sisters Hannah and Margaret, younger than himself by ten and
twelve years respectively. His affection for these two, deep and
enduring as it was, had in it no element of blindness or
infatuation. Even in the privacy of a diary, or the confidence of
the most familiar correspondence, Macaulay, when writing about
those whom he loved, was never tempted to indulge in fond
exaggeration of their merits. Margaret, as will be seen in the
course of this narrative, died young, leaving a memory of outward
graces, and sweet and noble mental qualities, which is treasured
by all among whom her short existence was passed. As regards the
other sister, there are many alive who knew her for what she was;
and, for those who did not know her, if this book proves how much
of her brother's heart she had, and how well it was worth having,
her children will feel that they have repaid their debt even to

Education in the Macaulay family was not on system. Of what are
ordinarily called accomplishments the daughters had but few, and
Hannah fewest of any; but, ever since she could remember
anything, she had enjoyed the run of a good standard library, and
had been allowed to read at her own time, and according to her
own fancy. There were two traits in her nature which are seldom
united in the same person: a vivid practical interest in the
realities which surrounded her, joined with the power of passing
at will into a world of literature and romance in which she found
herself entirely at home. The feeling with which Macaulay and his
sister regarded books differed from that of other people in kind
rather than in degree. When they were discoursing together about
a work of history or biography, a bystander would have supposed
that they had lived in the times of which the author treated, and
had a personal acquaintance with every human being who was
mentioned in his pages. Pepys, Addison, Horace Walpole, Dr.
Johnson, Madame de Genlis, the Duc de St. Simon, and the several
societies in which those worthies moved, excited in their minds
precisely the same sort of concern, and gave matter for
discussions of exactly the same type, as most people bestow upon
the proceedings of their own contemporaries. The past was to them
as the present, and the fictitious as the actual. The older
novels, which had been the food of their early years, had become
part of themselves to such an extent that, in speaking to each
other, they frequently employed sentences from dialogues in those
novels to express the idea, or even the business, of the moment.
On matters of the street or of the household they would use the
very language of Mrs. Elton and Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Woodhouse, Mr.
Collins, and John Thorpe, and the other inimitable actors on Jane
Austen's unpretending stage: while they would debate the love
affairs and the social relations of their own circle in a series
of quotations from Sir Charles Grandison or Evelina.

The effect was at times nothing less than bewildering. When Lady
Trevelyan married, her husband, whose reading had lain anywhere
rather than among the circulating libraries, used at first to
wonder who the extraordinary people could be with whom his wife
and his brother-in-law appeared to have lived. This style of
thought and conversation had for young minds a singular and a not
unhealthy fascination. Lady Trevelyan's children were brought up
among books, (to use the homely simile of an American author), as
a stable-boy among horses. The shelves of the library, instead of
frowning on us as we played and talked, seemed alive with kindly
and familiar faces. But death came, and came again, and then all
was changed, and changed as in an instant. There were many
favourite volumes out of which the spirit seemed to vanish at
once and for ever. We endeavoured unsuccessfully to revive by our
own efforts the amusement which we had been taught to find in the
faded flatteries and absurdities that passed between Miss Seward
and her admirers, or to retrace for ourselves the complications
of female jealousy which played round Cowper's tea-table at
Olney. We awoke to the discovery that the charm was not in us,
nor altogether in the books themselves. The talisman, which
endowed with life and meaning all that it touched, had passed
away from among us, leaving recollections which are our most
cherished, as they must ever be our proudest, possession.

Macaulay thought it probable that he could re-write Sir Charles
Grandison from memory, and certainly he might have done so with
his sister's help. But his intimate acquaintance with a work was
no proof of its merit. "There was a certain prolific author,"
says Lady Trevelyan, "named Mrs. Meeke, whose romances he all but
knew by heart; though he quite agreed in my criticism that they
were one just like another, turning on the fortunes of some young
man in a very low rank of life who eventually proves to be the
son of a Duke. Then there was a set of books by a Mrs. Kitty
Cuthbertson, most silly though readable productions, the nature
of which may be guessed from their titles:--'Santo Sebastiano, or
the Young Protector,' 'The Forest of Montalbano,' 'The Romance of
the Pyrenees,' and 'Adelaide, or the Countercharm.' I remember
how, when 'Santo Sebastiano' was sold by auction in India, he and
Miss Eden bid against each other till he secured it at a fabulous
price; and I possess it still."

As an indication of the thoroughness with which this literary
treasure has been studied, there appears on the last page an
elaborate computation of the number of fainting-fits that occur
in the course of the five volumes.

Julia de Clifford . . . . . 11
Lady Delamore . . . . . . . 4
Lady Theodosia. . . . . . . 4
Lord Glenbrook . . . . . . 2
Lord Delamore . . . . . . 2
Lady Enderfield . . . . . . 1
Lord Ashgrove . . . . . . . 1
Lord St. Orville . . . . . 1
Henry Mildmay . . . . . . . 1

A single passage, selected for no other reason than because it is
the shortest, will serve as a specimen of these catastrophes "One
of the sweetest smiles that ever animated the face of mortal now
diffused itself over the countenance of Lord St. Orville, as he
fell at the feet of Julia in a death-like swoon."

The fun that went on in Great Ormond Street was of a jovial, and
sometimes uproarious, description. Even when the family was by
itself, the school-room and the drawing-room were full of young
people; and friends and cousins flocked in numbers to a resort
where so much merriment was perpetually on foot. There were
seasons during the school holidays when the house overflowed with
noise and frolic from morning to night; and Macaulay, who at any
period of his life could literally spend whole days in playing
with children, was master of the innocent revels. Games of hide-
and-seek, that lasted for hours, with shouting and the blowing of
horns up and down the stairs and through every room, were varied
by ballads, which, like the Scalds of old, he composed during the
act of recitation, while the others struck in with the chorus. He
had no notion whatever of music, but an infallible ear for
rhythm. His knack of improvisation he at all times exercised
freely. The verses which he thus produced, and which he
invariably attributed to an anonymous author whom he styled "the
Judicious Poet," were exclusively for home consumption. Some of
these effusions illustrate a sentiment in his disposition which
was among the most decided, and the most frequently and loudly
expressed. Macaulay was only too easily bored, and those whom he
considered fools he by no means suffered gladly. He once amused
his sisters by pouring out whole Iliads of extempore doggrel upon
the head of an unfortunate country squire of their acquaintance,
who had a habit of detaining people by the button, and who was
especially addicted to the society of the higher order of clergy

"His Grace Archbishop Manners Sutton
Could not keep on a single button.
As for Right Reverend John of Chester,
His waistcoats open at the breast are.
Our friend* has filled a mighty trunk
With trophies torn from Doctor Monk
And he has really tattered foully
The vestments of Archbishop Howley
No button could I late discern on
The garments of Archbishop Vernon,
And never had his fingers mercy
Upon the garb of Bishop Percy.
The buttons fly from Bishop Ryder
Like corks that spring from bottled cyder,--"

[*The name of this gentleman has been concealed, as not being
sufficiently known by all to give point, but well enough
remembered by some to give pain.]

and so on, throughout the entire bench, until, after a good half-
hour of hearty and spontaneous nonsense, the girls would go
laughing back to their Italian and their drawing-boards.

He did not play upon words as a habit, nor did he interlard his
talk with far-fetched or overstrained witticisms. His humour,
like his rhetoric, was full of force and substance, and arose
naturally from the complexion of the conversation or the
circumstance of the moment. But when alone with his sisters, and,
in after years, with his nieces, he was fond of setting himself
deliberately to manufacture conceits resembling those on the
heroes of the Trojan War which have been thought worthy of
publication in the collected works of Swift. When walking in
London he would undertake to give some droll turn to the name of
every shopkeeper in the street, and, when travelling, to the name
of every station along the line. At home he would run through the
countries of Europe, the States of the Union, the chief cities of
our Indian Empire, the provinces of France, the Prime Ministers
of England, or the chief writers and artists of any given
century; striking off puns, admirable, endurable, and execrable,
but all irresistibly laughable, which followed each other in
showers like sparks from flint. Capping verses was a game of
which he never tired. "In the spring of 1829," says his cousin
Mrs. Conybeare, "we were staying in Ormond Street. My chief
recollection of your uncle during that visit is on the evenings
when we capped verses. All the family were quick at it, but his
astounding memory made him supereminent. When the time came for
him to be off to bed at his chambers, he would rush out of the
room after uttering some long-sought line, and would be pursued
to the top of the stairs by one of the others who had contrived
to recall a verse which served the purpose, in order that he
might not leave the house victorious; but he, with the hall-door
open in his hand, would shriek back a crowning effort, and go off

Nothing of all this can be traced in his letters before the year
1830. Up to that period he corresponded regularly with no one but
his father, between whom and himself there existed a strong
regard, but scanty sympathy or similarity of pursuits. It was not
until he poured out his mind almost daily to those who approached
him more nearly in age, and in tastes, that the lighter side of
his nature began to display itself on paper. Most of what he
addressed to his parents between the time when he left Cambridge,
and the time when he entered the House of Commons, may be
characterised as belonging to the type of duty- letters, treating
of politics, legal gossip, personal adventures, and domestic
incidents, with some reticence and little warmth or ease of
expression, The periodical insertion on the son's part of
anecdotes and observations bearing upon the question of Slavery
reminds the reader of those presents of tall recruits with which,
at judiciously chosen intervals, Frederic the Great used to
conciliate his terrible father. As between the Macaulays, these
little filial attentions acquire a certain gracefulness from the
fact that, in the circumstances of the family, they could be
prompted by no other motive than a dutiful and disinterested

It must not be supposed,--no one who examines the dates of his
successive essays will for a moment suppose,--that his attention
was distracted, or his energy dissipated, by trifles. Besides
the finished study of Machiavelli, and the masterly sketch of
our great civil troubles known as the article on Hallam's
Constitutional History, he produced much which his mature judgment
would willingly have allowed to die, but which had plenty of life
in it when it first appeared between the blue and yellow covers.
His most formidable enterprise, during the five earliest years of
his connection with the great Review, was that passage of arms
against the champions of the Utilitarian philosophy in which he
touched the mighty shields of James Mill and Jeremy Bentham, and
rode slashing to right and left through the ranks of their less
distinguished followers. Indeed, while he sincerely admired the
chiefs of the school, he had a young man's prejudice against their
disciples, many of whom he regarded as "persons who, having read
little or nothing, are delighted to be rescued from the sense of
their own inferiority by some teacher who assures them that the
studies which they have neglected are of no value, puts five or
six phrases into their mouths, lends them an odd number of the
Westminster Review, and in a month transforms them into
philosophers." It must be allowed that there was some colour for
his opinion. The Benthamite training may have stimulated the finer
intellects, (and they were not few,) which came within its
influence; but it is impossible to conceive anything more dreary
than must have been the condition of a shallow mind, with a native
predisposition to sciolism, after its owner had joined a society
"composed of young men agreeing in fundamental principles,
acknowledging Utility as their standard in ethics and politics,"
"meeting once a fortnight to read essays and discuss questions
conformably to the premises thus agreed on," and "expecting the
regeneration of mankind, not from any direct action on the
sentiments of unselfish benevolence and love of justice, but from
the effect of educated intellect enlightening the selfish
feelings." John Stuart Mill, with that candour which is the rarest
of his great qualities, gave a generous and authoritative
testimony to the merit of these attacks upon his father, and his
father's creed, which Macaulay himself lived to wish that he had
left unwritten.

["The author has been strongly urged to insert three papers on
the Utilitarian Philosophy, which, when they first appeared,
attracted some notice. * * * He has, however, determined to omit
these papers, not because he is disposed to retract a single
doctrine which they contain, but because he is unwilling to offer
what might be regarded as an affront to the memory of one from
whose opinions he still widely dissents, but to whose talents and
virtues he admits that he formerly did not do justice. * * It
ought to be known that Mr. Mill had the generosity, not only to
forgive, but to forget the unbecoming acrimony with which he had
been assailed, and was, when his valuable life closed, on terms
of cordial friendship with his assailant."--Preface to Macaulay's
Collected Essays.]

He was already famous enough to have incurred the inevitable
penalty of success in the shape of the pronounced hostility of
Blackwood's Magazine. The feelings which the leading contributors
to that periodical habitually entertained towards a young and
promising writer were in his case sharpened by political
partisanship; and the just and measured severity which he infused
into his criticism on Southey's "Colloquies of Society" brought
down upon him the bludgeon to whose strokes poetic tradition has
attributed the death of Keats. Macaulay was made of harder stuff,
and gave little heed to a string of unsavoury invectives
compounded out of such epithets as "ugly," "splay-footed," and
"shapeless;" such phrases as "stuff and nonsense," "malignant
trash," "impertinent puppy," and "audacity of impudence;" and
other samples from the polemical vocabulary of the personage who,
by the irony of fate, filled the Chair of Moral Philosophy at
Edinburgh. The substance of Professor Wilson's attacks consisted
in little more than the reiteration of that charge of intellectual
juvenility, which never fails to be employed as the last resource
against a man whose abilities are undoubted, and whose character
is above detraction.

"North. He's a clever lad, James.

"Shepherd. Evidently; and a clever lad he'll remain, depend ye
upon that, a' the days of his life. A clever lad thirty years auld
and some odds is to ma mind the maist melancholy sight in nature.
Only think of a clever lad o' three-score-and-ten, on his
deathbed, wha can look back on nae greater achievement than
having aince, or aiblins ten times, abused Mr. Southey in the
Embro' Review."

The prophecies of jealousy seldom come true. Southey's book died
before its author, with the exception of the passages extracted
by Macaulay, which have been reproduced in his essay a hundred
times, and more, for once that they were printed in the volumes
from which he selected them for his animadversion.

The chambers in which he ought to have been spending his days,
and did actually spend his nights between the years 1829 and
1834, were within five minutes' walk of the house in Great Ormond
Street. The building of which those chambers formed a part,--8
South Square, Gray's Inn,--has since been pulled down to make
room for an extension of the Library; a purpose which, in
Macaulay's eyes, would amply compensate for the loss of such
associations as might otherwise have attached themselves to the
locality. His Trinity fellowship brought him in nearly three
hundred pounds annually, and the Edinburgh Review nearly two
hundred. In January 1828, during the interregnum that separated
the resignation of Lord Goderich and the acceptance of the
Premiership by the Duke of Wellington, Lord Lyndhurst made him a
Commissioner of Bankruptcy; a rare piece of luck at a time when,
as Lord Cockburn tells us, "a youth of a Tory family, who was
discovered to have a leaning towards the doctrines of the
opposition, was considered as a lost son." "The Commission is
welcome," Macaulay writes to his father, "and I am particularly
glad that it has been given at a time when there is no ministry,
and when the acceptance of it implies no political obligation. To
Lord Lyndhurst I of course feel personal gratitude, and I shall
always take care how I speak of him."

The emoluments of the office made up his income, for the three or
four years during which he held it, to about nine hundred pounds
per annum. His means were more than sufficient for his wants, but
too small, and far too precarious, for the furtherance of the
political aspirations which now were uppermost in his mind.
"Public affairs," writes Lady Trevelyan, "were become intensely
interesting to him. Canning's accession to power, then his death,
the repeal of the Test Act, the Emancipation of the Catholics,
all in their turn filled his heart and soul. He himself longed to
be taking his part in Parliament, but with a very hopeless

"In February 1830 I was staying at Mr. Wilberforce's at Highwood
Hill when I got a letter from your uncle, enclosing one from Lord
Lansdowne, who told him that he had been much struck by the
articles on Mill, and that he wished to be the means of first
introducing their author to public life by proposing to him to
stand for the vacant seat at Calne. Lord Lansdowne expressly
added that it was your uncle's high moral and private character
which had determined him to make the offer, and that he wished in
no respect to influence his votes, but to leave him quite at
liberty to act according to his conscience. I remember flying
into Mr. Wilberforce's study, and, absolutely speechless, putting
the letter into his hands. He read it with much emotion, and
returned it to me, saying 'Your father has had great trials,
obloquy, bad health, many anxieties. One must feel as if Tom were
given him for a recompense.' He was silent for a moment, and then
his mobile face lighted up, and he clapped his hand to his ear,
and cried: 'Ah! I hear that shout again. Hear! Hear! What a life
it was!'"

And so, on the eve of the most momentous conflict that ever was
fought out by speech and vote within the walls of a senate-house,
the young recruit went gaily to his post in the ranks of that
party whose coming fortunes he was prepared loyally to follow,
and the history of whose past he was destined eloquently, and
perhaps imperishably, to record.

York: April 2, 1826.

My dear Father,--I am sorry that I have been unable to avail
myself of the letters of introduction which you forwarded to me.
Since I received them I have been confined to the house with a
cold; and, now that I am pretty well recovered, I must take my
departure for Pontefract. But, if it had been otherwise, I could
not have presented these recommendations. Letters of this sort
may be of great service to a barrister; but the barrister himself
must not be the bearer of them. On this subject the rule is most
strict, at least on our circuit. The hugging of the Bar, like the
Simony of the Church, must be altogether carried on by the
intervention of third persons. We are sensible of our dependence
on the attorneys, and proportioned to that sense of dependence is
our affectation of superiority. Even to take a meal with an
attorney is a high misdemeanour. One of the most eminent men
among us brought himself into a serious scrape by doing so. But
to carry a letter of introduction, to wait in the outer room
while it is being read, to be then ushered into the presence, to
receive courtesies which can only be considered as the
condescensions of a patron, to return courtesies which are little
else than the blessings of a beggar, would be an infinitely more
terrible violation of our professional code. Every barrister to
whom I have applied for advice has most earnestly exhorted me on
no account whatever to present the letters myself. I should
perhaps add that my advisers have been persons who cannot by any
possibility feel jealous of me.

In default of anything better I will eke out my paper with some
lines which I made in bed last night,--an inscription for a
picture of Voltaire.

If thou would'st view one more than man and less,
Made up of mean and great, of foul and fair,
Stop here; and weep and laugh, and curse and bless,
And spurn and worship; for thou seest Voltaire.
That flashing eye blasted the conqueror's spear,
The monarch's sceptre, and the Jesuit's beads
And every wrinkle in that haggard sneer
Hath been the grave of Dynasties and Creeds.
In very wantonness of childish mirth
He puffed Bastilles, and thrones, and shrines away,
Insulted Heaven, and liberated earth.
Was it for good or evil? Who shall say?

Ever affectionately yours

T. B. M.

York: July 21, 1826.

My dear Father,--The other day, as I was changing my neck-cloth
which my wig had disfigured, my good landlady knocked at the door
of my bedroom, and told me that Mr. Smith wished to see me, and
was in my room below. Of all names by which men are called there
is none which conveys a less determinate idea to the mind than
that of Smith. Was he on the circuit? For I do not know half the
names of my companions. Was he a special messenger from London?
Was he a York attorney coming to be preyed upon, or a beggar
coming to prey upon me, a barber to solicit the dressing of my
wig, or a collector for the Jews' Society? Down I went, and to my
utter amazement beheld the Smith of Smiths, Sydney Smith, alias
Peter Plymley. I had forgotten his very existence till I
discerned the queer contrast between his black coat and his snow-
white head, and the equally curious contrast between the clerical
amplitude of his person, and the most unclerical wit, whim, and
petulance of his eye. I shook hands with him very heartily; and
on the Catholic question we immediately fell, regretted Evans,
triumphed over Lord George Beresford, and abused the Bishops.
[These allusions refer to the general election which had recently
taken place.] He then very kindly urged me to spend the time
between the close of the Assizes and the commencement of the
Sessions at his house; and was so hospitably pressing that I at
last agreed to go thither on Saturday afternoon. He is to drive
me over again into York on Monday morning. I am very well pleased
at having this opportunity of becoming better acquainted with a
man who, in spite of innumerable affectations and oddities, is
certainly one of the wittiest and most original writers of our

Ever yours affectionately

T. B. M.

Bradford: July 26, 1826.

My dear Father,--On Saturday I went to Sydney Smith's. His parish
lies three or four miles out of any frequented road. He is,
however, most pleasantly situated. "Fifteen years ago," said he
to me as I alighted at the gate of his shrubbery, "I was taken
up in Piccadilly and set down here. There was no house, and no
garden; nothing but a bare field." One service this eccentric
divine has certainly rendered to the Church. He has built the
very neatest, most commodious, and most appropriate rectory that
I ever saw. All its decorations are in a peculiarly clerical
style; grave, simple, and gothic. The bed-chambers are excellent,
and excellently fitted up; the sitting-rooms handsome; and the
grounds sufficiently pretty. Tindal and Parke, (not the judge of
course,) two of the best lawyers, best scholars, and best men in
England, were there. We passed an extremely pleasant evening, had
a very good dinner, and many amusing anecdotes.

After breakfast the next morning I walked to church with Sydney
Smith. The edifice is not at all in keeping with the rectory. It
is a miserable little hovel with a wooden belfry. It was,
however, well filled, and with decent people, who seemed to take
very much to their pastor. I understand that he is a very
respectable apothecary; and most liberal of his skill, his
medicine, his soul, and his wine, among the sick. He preached a
very queer sermon--the former half too familiar and the latter
half too florid, but not without some ingenuity of thought and

Sydney Smith brought me to York on Monday morning, in time for
the stage-coach which runs to Skipton. We parted with many
assurances of goodwill. I have really taken a great liking to
him. He is full of wit, humour, and shrewdness. He is not one of
those show-talkers who reserve all their good things for special
occasions. It seems to be his greatest luxury to keep his wife
and daughters laughing for two or three hours every day. His
notions of law, government, and trade are surprisingly clear and
just. His misfortune is to have chosen a profession at once above
him and below him. Zeal would have made him a prodigy; formality
and bigotry would have made him a bishop; but he could neither
rise to the duties of his order, nor stoop to its degradations.

He praised my articles in the Edinburgh Review with a warmth
which I am willing to believe sincere, because he qualified his
compliments with several very sensible cautions. My great danger,
he said, was that of taking a tone of too much asperity and
contempt in controversy. I believe that he is right, and I shall
try to mend.

Ever affectionately yours

T. B. M.

Lancaster: September 1, 1827.

My dear Father,--Thank Hannah from me for her pleasant letter. I
would answer it if I had anything equally amusing to say in
return; but here we have no news, except what comes from London,
and is as stale as inland fish before it reaches us. We have
circuit anecdotes to be sure; and perhaps you will be pleased to
hear that Brougham has been rising through the whole of this
struggle. At York Pollock decidedly took the lead. At Durham
Brougham overtook him, passed him at Newcastle, and got immensely
ahead of him at Carlisle and Appleby, which, to be sure, are the
places where his own connections lie. We have not been here quite
long enough to determine how he will succeed with the
Lancastrians. This has always hitherto been his least favourable
place. He appears to improve in industry and prudence. He learns
his story more thoroughly, and tells it more clearly, than
formerly. If he continues to manage causes as well as he has done
of late he must rise to the summit of the profession. I cannot
say quite so much for his temper, which this close and constant
rivalry does not improve. He squabbles with Pollock more than, in
generosity or policy, he ought to do. I have heard several of our
younger men wondering that he does not show more magnanimity. He
yawns while Pollock is speaking; a sign of weariness which, in
their present relation to each other, he would do well to
suppress. He has said some very good, but very bitter, things.
There was a case of a lead-mine. Pollock was for the proprietors,
and complained bitterly of the encroachments which Brougham's
clients had made upon this property, which he represented as of
immense value. Brougham said that the estimate which his learned
friend formed of the property was vastly exaggerated, but that it
was no wonder that a person who found it so easy to get gold for
his lead should appreciate that heavy metal so highly. The other
day Pollock laid down a point of law rather dogmatically. "Mr.
Pollock," said Brougham, "perhaps, before you rule the point, you
will suffer his Lordship to submit a few observations on it to
your consideration."

I received the Edinburgh paper which you sent me. Silly and
spiteful as it is, there is a little truth in it. In such cases I
always remember those excellent lines of Boileau

"Moi, qu'une humeur trop libre, un esprit peu soumis,
De bonne heure a pourvo d'utiles ennemis,
Je dois plus a leur haine (il faut que je l'avoue)
Qu'au faible et vain talent dont la France me loue.
Sitot que sur un vice un pensent me confondre,
C'est en me guerissant que je sais leur repondre."

This place disagrees so much with me that I shall leave it as
soon as the dispersion of the circuit commences,--that is, after
the delivery of the last batch of briefs; always supposing, which
may be supposed without much risk of mistake, that there are none
for me.

Ever yours affectionately

T. B. M.

It was about this period that the Cambridge Senate came to a
resolution to petition against the Catholic Claims. The minority
demanded a poll, and conveyed a hint to their friends in London.
Macaulay, with one or two more to help him, beat up the Inns of
Court for recruits, chartered a stage-coach, packed it inside and
out with young Whig Masters of Arts, and drove up King's Parade
just in time to turn the scale in favour of Emancipation. The
whole party dined in triumph at Trinity, and got back to town the
same evening; and the Tory journalists were emphatic in their
indignation at the deliberate opinion of the University having
been overridden by a coachful of "godless and briefless

Court House, Pomfret: April 15, 1828.

My dear Mother,--I address this epistle to you as the least
undeserving of a very undeserving family. You, I think, have sent
me one letter since I left London. I have nothing here to do but
to write letters; and, what is not very often the case, I have
members of Parliament in abundance to frank them, and abundance
of matter to fill them with. My Edinburgh expedition has given me
so much to say that, unless I write off some of it before I come
home, I shall talk you all to death, and be voted a bore in every
house which I visit. I will commence with Jeffrey himself. I had
almost forgotten his person; and, indeed, I should not wonder if
even now I were to forget it again. He has twenty faces almost as
unlike each other as my father's to Mr. Wilberforce's, and
infinitely more unlike to each other than those of near relatives
often are; infinitely more unlike, for example, than those of the
two Grants. When absolutely quiescent, reading a paper, or
hearing a conversation in which he takes no interest, his
countenance shows no indication whatever of intellectual
superiority of any kind. But as soon as he is interested, and
opens his eyes upon you, the change is like magic. There is a
flash in his glance, a violent contortion in his frown, an
exquisite humour in his sneer, and a sweetness and brilliancy in
his smile, beyond anything that ever I witnessed. A person who
had seen him in only one state would not know him if he saw him
in another. For he has not, like Brougham, marked features which
in all moods of mind remain unaltered. The mere outline of his
face is insignificant. The expression is everything; and such
power and variety of expression I never saw in any human
countenance, not even in that of the most celebrated actors. I
can conceive that Garrick may have been like him. I have seen
several pictures of Garrick, none resembling another, and I have
heard Hannah More speak of the extraordinary variety of
countenance by which he was distinguished, and of the unequalled
radiance and penetration of his eye. The voice and delivery of
Jeffrey resemble his face. He possesses considerable power of
mimicry, and rarely tells a story without imitating several
different accents. His familiar tone, his declamatory tone, and
his pathetic tone are quite different things. Sometimes Scotch
predominates in his pronunciation; sometimes it is imperceptible.
Sometimes his utterance is snappish and quick to the last degree;
sometimes it is remarkable for rotundity and mellowness. I can
easily conceive that two people who had seen him on different
days might dispute about him as the travellers in the fable
disputed about the chameleon.

In one thing, as far as I observed, he is always the same and
that is the warmth of his domestic affections. Neither Mr.
Wilberforce, nor my uncle Babington, come up to him in this
respect. The flow of his kindness is quite inexhaustible. Not
five minutes pass without some fond expression, or caressing
gesture, to his wife or his daughter. He has fitted up a study
for himself; but he never goes into it. Law papers, reviews,
whatever he has to write, he writes in the drawing-room, or in
his wife's boudoir. When he goes to other parts of the country on
a retainer he takes them in the carriage with him. I do not
wonder that he should be a good husband, for his wife is a very
amiable woman. But I was surprised to see a man so keen and
sarcastic, so much of a scoffer, pouring himself out with such
simplicity and tenderness in all sorts of affectionate nonsense.
Through our whole journey to Perth he kept up a sort of mock
quarrel with his daughter; attacked her about novel-reading,
laughed her into a pet, kissed her out of it, and laughed her
into it again. She and her mother absolutely idolise him, and I
do not wonder at it.

His conversation is very much like his countenance and his voice,
of immense variety; sometimes plain and unpretending even to
flatness; sometimes whimsically brilliant and rhetorical almost
beyond the license of private discourse. He has many interesting
anecdotes, and tells them very well. He is a shrewd observer; and
so fastidious that I am not surprised at the awe in which many
people seem to stand when in his company. Though not altogether
free from affectation himself, he has a peculiar loathing for it
in other people, and a great talent for discovering and exposing
it. He has a particular contempt, in which I most heartily concur
with him, for the fadaises of bluestocking literature, for the
mutual flatteries of coteries, the handing about of vers de
societe, the albums, the conversaziones, and all the other
nauseous trickeries of the Sewards, Hayleys, and Sothebys. I am
not quite sure that he has escaped the opposite extreme, and that
he is not a little too desirous to appear rather a man of the
world, an active lawyer, or an easy careless gentleman, than a
distinguished writer. I must own that, when Jeffrey and I were by
ourselves, he talked much and very well on literary topics. His
kindness and hospitality to me were, indeed, beyond description,
and his wife was as pleasant and friendly as possible. I liked
everything but the hours. We were never up till ten, and never
retired till two hours at least after midnight. Jeffrey, indeed,
never goes to bed till sleep comes on him overpoweringly, and
never rises till forced up by business or hunger. He is extremely
well in health; so that I could not help suspecting him of being
very hypochondriac; for all his late letters to me have been
filled with lamentations about his various maladies. His wife
told me, when I congratulated her on his recovery, that I must
not absolutely rely on all his accounts of his own diseases. I
really think that he is, on the whole, the youngest-looking man
of fifty that I know, at least when he is animated.

His house is magnificent. It is in Moray Place, the newest pile
of buildings in the town, looking out to the Forth on one side,
and to a green garden on the other. It is really equal to the
houses in Grosvenor Square. Fine, however, as is the new quarter
of Edinburgh, I decidedly prefer the Old Town. There is nothing
like it in the island. You have been there, but you have not seen
the town, and no lady ever sees a town. It is only by walking on
foot through all corners at all hours that cities can be really
studied to good purpose. There is a new pillar to the memory of
Lord Melville; very elegant, and very much better than the man
deserved. His statue is at the top, with a wreath on the head
very like a nightcap drawn over the eyes. It is impossible to
look at it without being reminded of the fate which the original
most richly merited. But my letter will overflow even the ample
limits of a frank, if I do not conclude. I hope that you will be
properly penitent for neglecting such a correspondent when you
receive so long a dispatch, written amidst the bellowing of
justices, lawyers, criers, witnesses, prisoners, and prisoners'
wives and mothers.

Ever yours affectionately

T. B. M.

Lancaster: March 24, 1829.

My dear Father,--A single line to say that I am at Lancaster.
Where you all are I have not the very slightest notion. Pray let
me hear. That dispersion of the Gentiles which our friends the
prophets foretell seems to have commenced with our family.

Everything here is going on in the common routine. The only
things of peculiar interest are those which we get from the
London papers. All minds seem to be perfectly made up as to the
certainty of Catholic Emancipation having come at last. The
feeling of approbation among the barristers is all but unanimous.
The quiet townspeople here, as far as I can see, are very well
contented. As soon as I arrived I was asked by my landlady how
things had gone. I told her the division, which I had learned
from Brougham at Garstang. She seemed surprised at the majority.
I asked her if she was against the measure. "No; she only wished
that all Christians would live in peace and charity together." A
very sensible speech, and better than one at least of the members
for the county ever made in his life.

I implore you above everything, my dear Father, to keep up your
health and spirits. Come what may, the conveniences of life,
independence, our personal respectability, and the exercise of
the intellect and the affections, we are almost certain of
retaining; and everything else is a mere superfluity, to be
enjoyed, but not to be missed. But I ought to be ashamed of
reading you a lecture on qualities which you are so much more
competent to teach than myself.

Ever yours very affectionately

T. B. M.

To Macvey Napier, Esq.

50 Great Ormond Street, London:

January 25, 1830.

My dear Sir,--I send off by the mail of to-day an article on
Southey,--too long, I fear, to meet your wishes, but as short as
I could make it.

There were, by the bye, in my last article a few omissions made,
of no great consequence in themselves; the longest, I think, a
paragraph of twelve or fourteen lines. I should scarcely have
thought this worth mentioning, as it certainly by no means
exceeds the limits of that editorial prerogative which I most
willingly recognise, but that the omissions seemed to me, and to
one or two persons who had seen the article in its original
state, to be made on a principle which, however sound in itself,
does not I think apply to compositions of this description. The
passages omitted were the most pointed and ornamented sentences
in the review. Now, for high and grave works, a history for
example, or a system of political or moral philosophy, Doctor
Johnson's rule,--that every sentence which the writer thinks fine
ought to be cut out,--is excellent. But periodical works like
ours, which unless they strike at the first reading are not
likely to strike at all, whose whole life is a month or two, may,
I think, be allowed to be sometimes even viciously florid.
Probably, in estimating the real value of any tinsel which I may
put upon my articles, you and I should not materially differ. But
it is not by his own taste, but by the taste of the fish, that
the angler is determined in his choice of bait.

Perhaps after all I am ascribing to system what is mere accident.
Be assured, at all events, that what I have said is said in
perfect good humour, and indicates no mutinous disposition.

The Jews are about to petition Parliament for relief from the
absurd restrictions which lie on them,--the last relique of the
old system of intolerance. I have been applied to by some of them
in the name of the managers of the scheme to write for them in
the Edinburgh Review. I would gladly further a cause so good, and
you, I think, could have no objection.

Ever yours truly


Bowood: February 20, 1830.

My dear Father,--I am here in a very nice room, with perfect
liberty, and a splendid library at my command. It seems to be
thought desirable that I should stay in the neighbourhood, and
pay my compliments to my future constituents every other day.

The house is splendid and elegant, yet more remarkable for
comfort than for either elegance or splendour. I never saw any
great place so thoroughly desirable for a residence. Lord
Kerry tells me that his uncle left everything in ruin,--trees cut
down, and rooms unfurnished,--and sold the library, which was
extremely fine. Every book and picture in Bowood has been bought
by the present Lord, and certainly the collection does him great

I am glad that I stayed here. A burgess of some influence, who,
at the last election, attempted to get up an opposition to the
Lansdowne interest, has just arrived. I called on him this
morning, and, though he was a little ungracious at first,
succeeded in obtaining his promise. Without him, indeed, my
return would have been secure; but both from motives of interest
and from a sense of gratitude I think it best to leave nothing
undone which may tend to keep Lord Lansdowne's influence here
unimpaired against future elections.

Lord Kerry seems to me to be going on well. He has been in very
good condition, he says, this week; and hopes to be at the
election, and at the subsequent dinner. I do not know when I have
taken so much to so young a man. In general my intimacies have
been with my seniors; but Lord Kerry is really quite a favourite
of mine,--kind, lively, intelligent, modest, with the gentle
manners which indicate a long intimacy with the best society, and
yet without the least affectation. We have oceans of beer, and
mountains of potatoes, for dinner. Indeed, Lady Lansdowne drank
beer most heartily on the only day which she passed with us, and,
when I told her laughing that she set me at ease on a point which
had given me much trouble, she said that she would never suffer
any dandy novelist to rob her of her beer or her cheese.

The question between law and politics is a momentous one. As far
as I am myself concerned, I should not hesitate; but the interest
of my family is also to be considered. We shall see, however,
before long what my chance of success as a public man may prove
to be. At present it would clearly be wrong in me to show any
disposition to quit my profession.

I hope that you will be on your guard as to what you may say to
Brougham about this business. He is so angry at it that he cannot
keep his anger to himself. I know that he has blamed Lord
Lansdowne in the robing-room of the Court of King's Bench. The
seat ought, he says, to have been given to another man. If he
means Denman, I can forgive, and even respect him, for the
feeling which he entertains.

Believe me ever yours most affectionately

T. B. M.



State of public affairs when Macaulay entered Parliament--His
maiden speech--The French Revolution of July 1830--Macaulay's
letters from Paris--The Palais Royal--Lafayette--Lardner's
Cabinet Cyclopaedia--The new Parliament meets--Fall of the Duke
of Wellington--Scene with Croker--The Reform Bill--Political
success--House of Commons life--Macaulay's party spirit--Loudon
Society--Mr. Thomas Flower Ellis--Visit to Cambridge--Rothley
Temple--Margaret Macaulay's Journal--Lord Brougham--Hopes of
Office--Macaulay as a politician--Letters to Hannah Macaulay, Mr.
Napier, and Mr. Ellis.

THROUGHOUT the last two centuries of our history there never was
a period when a man conscious of power, impatient of public
wrongs, and still young enough to love a fight for its own sake,
could have entered Parliament with a fairer prospect of leading a
life worth living, and doing work that would requite the pains,
than at the commencement of the year 1830.

In this volume, which only touches politics in order to show to
what extent Macaulay was a politician, and for how long,
controversies cannot appropriately be started or revived. This is
not the place to enter into a discussion on the vexed question as
to whether Mr. Pitt and his successors, in pursuing their system
of repression, were justified by the necessities of the long
French war. It is enough to assert, what few or none will deny,
that, for the space of more than a generation from 1790 onwards,
our country had, with a short interval, been governed on declared
reactionary principles. We, in whose days Whigs and Tories have
often exchanged office, and still more often interchanged
policies, find it difficult to imagine what must have been the
condition of the kingdom, when one and the same party almost
continuously held not only place, but power, throughout a period
when, to an unexampled degree, "public life was exasperated by
hatred, and the charities of private life soured by political
aversion." [These expressions occur in Lord Cockburn's Memorials
of his Time.] Fear, religion, ambition, and self-interest,--
everything that could tempt and everything that could deter,--
were enlisted on the side of the dominant opinions. To profess
Liberal views was to be excluded from all posts of emolument,
from all functions of dignity, and from all opportunities of
public usefulness. The Whig leaders, while enjoying that security
for life and liberty which even in the worst days of our recent
history has been the reward of eminence, were powerless in the
Commons and isolated in the Lords. No motive but disinterested
conviction kept a handful of veterans steadfast round a banner
which was never raised except to be swept contemptuously down by
the disciplined and overwhelming strength of the ministerial
phalanx. Argument and oratory were alike unavailing under a
constitution which was indeed a despotism of privilege. The
county representation of England was an anomaly, and the borough
representation little better than a scandal. The constituencies
of Scotland, with so much else that of right belonged to the
public, had got into Dundas's pocket. In the year 1820 all the
towns north of Tweed together contained fewer voters than are now
on the rolls of the single burgh of Hawick, and all the counties
together contained fewer voters than are now on the register of
Roxburghshire. So small a band of electors was easily manipulated
by a party leader who had the patronage of India at his command.
The three Presidencies were flooded with the sons and nephews of
men who were lucky enough to have a seat in a Town Council, or a
superiority in a rural district; and fortunate it was for our
empire that the responsibilities of that noblest of all careers
soon educated young Indian Civil Servants into something higher
than mere adherents of a political party.

While the will of the nation was paralysed within the senate,
effectual care was taken that its voice should not be heard
without. The press was gagged in England, and throttled in
Scotland. Every speech, or sermon, or pamphlet, the substance of
which a Crown lawyer could torture into a semblance of sedition,
sent its author to the jail, the hulks, or the pillory. In any
place of resort where an informer could penetrate, men spoke
their minds at imminent hazard of ruinous fines, and protracted
imprisonment. It was vain to appeal to Parliament for redress
against the tyranny of packed juries, and panic-driven
magistrates. Sheridan endeavoured to retain for his countrymen
the protection of Habeas Corpus; but he could only muster forty-
one supporters. Exactly as many members followed Fox into the
lobby when he opposed a bill, which, interpreted in the spirit
that then actuated our tribunals, made attendance at an open
meeting summoned for the consideration of Parliamentary Reform a
service as dangerous as night-poaching, and far more dangerous
than smuggling. Only ten more than that number ventured to
protest against the introduction of a measure, still more
inquisitorial in its provisions and ruthless in its penalties,
which rendered every citizen who gave his attention to the
removal of public grievances liable at any moment to find himself
in the position of a criminal;--that very measure in behalf of
which Bishop Horsley had stated in the House of Peers that he
did not know what the mass of the people of any country had to do
with the laws, except to obey them.

Amidst a population which had once known freedom, and was still
fit to be entrusted with it, such a state of matters could not
last for ever. Justly proud of the immense success that they had
bought by their resolution, their energy, and their perseverance,
the Ministers regarded the fall of Napoleon as a party triumph
which could only serve to confirm their power. But the last
cannon-shot that was fired on the 18th of June, was in truth the
death-knell of the golden age of Toryism. When the passion and
ardour of the war gave place to the discontent engendered by a
protracted period of commercial distress, the opponents of
progress began to perceive that they had to reckon, not with a
small and disheartened faction, but with a clear majority of the
nation led by the most enlightened, and the most eminent, of its
sons. Agitators and incendiaries retired into the background, as
will always be the case when the country is in earnest; and
statesmen who had much to lose, but were not afraid to risk it,
stepped quietly and firmly to the front. The men, and the sons of
the men, who had so long endured exclusion from office, embittered
by unpopularity, at length reaped their reward. Earl Grey, who
forty years before had been hooted through the streets of North
Shields with cries of "No Popery," lived to bear the most
respected name in England; and Brougham, whose opinions differed
little from those for expressing which Dr. Priestley in 1791 had
his house burned about his ears by the Birmingham mob, was now the
popular idol beyond all comparison or competition.

In the face of such unanimity of purpose, guided by so much worth
and talent, the Ministers lost their nerve, and, like all rulers
who do not possess the confidence of the governed, began first to
make mistakes, and then to quarrel among themselves. Throughout
the years of Macaulay's early manhood the ice was breaking fast.
He was still quite young when the concession of Catholic
Emancipation gave a moral shock to the Tory party from which it
never recovered until the old order of things had finally passed
away. [Macaulay was fond of repeating an answer made to him by
Lord Clarendon in the year 1829. The young men were talking over
the situation, and Macaulay expressed curiosity as to the terms
in which the Duke of Wellington would recommend the Catholic
Relief Bill to the Peers. "Oh," said the other, "it will be easy
enough. He'll say 'My lords! Attention! Right about face!
March!'"] It was his fortune to enter into other men's labours
after the burden and heat of the day had already been borne, and
to be summoned into the field just as the season was at hand for
gathering in a ripe and long-expected harvest of beneficent

On the 5th of April, 1830, he addressed the House of Commons on
the second reading of Mr. Robert Grant's bill for the Removal of
Jewish Disabilities. Sir James Mackintosh rose with him, but
Macaulay got the advantage of the preference that has always been
conceded to one who speaks for the first time after gaining his
seat during the continuance of a Parliament;--a privilege which,
by a stretch of generosity, is now extended to new members who
have been returned at a general election. Sir James subsequently
took part in the debate; not, as he carefully assured his
audience, "to supply any defects in the speech of his honourable
friend, for there were none that he could find, but principally
to absolve his own conscience." Indeed, Macaulay, addressing
himself to his task with an absence of pretension such as never
fails to conciliate the goodwill of the House towards a maiden
speech, put clearly and concisely enough the arguments in favour
of the bill;--arguments which, obvious, and almost common-place,
as they appear under his straightforward treatment, had yet to be
repeated during a space of six and thirty years before they
commended themselves to the judgment of our Upper Chamber.

"The power of which you deprive the Jew consists in maces, and
gold chains, and skins of parchment with pieces of wax dangling
from their edges. The power which you leave the Jew is the power
of principal over clerk, of master over servant, of landlord over
tenant. As things now stand, a Jew may be the richest man in
England. He may possess the means of raising this party and
depressing that; of making East Indian directors; of making
members of Parliament. The influence of a Jew may be of the first
consequence in a war which shakes Europe to the centre. His power
may come into play in assisting or thwarting the greatest plans
of the greatest princes; and yet, with all this confessed,
acknowledged, undenied, you would have him deprived of power!
Does not wealth confer power? How are we to permit all the
consequences of that wealth but one? I cannot conceive the nature
of an argument that is to bear out such a position. If we were to
be called on to revert to the day when the warehouses of Jews
were torn down and pillaged, the theory would be comprehensible.
But we have to do with a persecution so delicate that there is no
abstract rule for its guidance. You tell us that the Jews have no
legal right to power, and I am bound to admit it; but in the same
way, three hundred years ago they had no legal right to be in
England, and six hundred years ago they had no legal right to the
teeth in their heads. But, if it is the moral right we are to
look at, I hold that on every principle of moral obligation the
Jew has a right to political power."

He was on his legs once again, and once only, during his first
Session; doing more for future success in Parliament by his
silence than he could have effected by half a dozen brilliant
perorations. A crisis was rapidly approaching when a man gifted
with eloquence, who by previous self-restraint had convinced the
House that he did not speak for speaking's sake, might rise
almost in a day to the very summit of influence and reputation.
The country was under the personal rule of the Duke of
Wellington, who had gradually squeezed out of his Cabinet every
vestige of Liberalism, and even of independence, and who at last
stood so completely alone that he was generally supposed to be in
more intimate communication with Prince Polignac than with any of
his own colleagues. The Duke had his own way in the Lords; and on
the benches of the Commons the Opposition members were unable to
carry, or even visibly to improve their prospect of carrying, the
measures on which their hearts were set. The Reformers were not
doing better in the division lobby than in 1821; and their
question showed no signs of having advanced since the day when it
had been thrown over by Pitt on the eve of the French Revolution.

But the outward aspect of the situation was very far from
answering to the reality. While the leaders of the popular party
had been spending themselves in efforts that seemed each more
abortive than the last,--dividing only to be enormously outvoted,
and vindicating with calmness and moderation the first principles
of constitutional government only to be stigmatised as the
apostles of anarchy,--a mighty change was surely but
imperceptibly effecting itself in the collective mind of their

"For, while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main."

Events were at hand, which unmistakably showed how different was
the England of 1830 from the England of 1790. The King died;
Parliament was dissolved on the 24th of July; and in the first
excitement and bustle of the elections, while the candidates were
still on the roads and the writs in the mailbags, came the news
that Paris was in arms. The troops fought as well as Frenchmen
ever can be got to fight against the tricolour; but by the
evening of the 29th it was all over with the Bourbons. The
Minister, whose friendship had reflected such unpopularity on our
own Premier, succumbed to the detestation of the victorious
people, and his sacrifice did not save the dynasty. What was
passing among our neighbours for once created sympathy, and not
repulsion, on this side the Channel. One French Revolution had
condemned English Liberalism to forty years of subjection, and
another was to be the signal which launched it on as long a
career of supremacy. Most men said, and all felt, that Wellington
must follow Polignac; and the public temper was such as made it
well for the stability of our throne that it was filled by a
monarch who had attracted to himself the hopes and affection of
the nation, and who shared its preferences and antipathies with
regard to the leading statesmen of the day.

One result of political disturbance in any quarter of the globe
is to fill the scene of action with young members of Parliament,
who follow Revolutions about Europe as assiduously as Jew brokers
attend upon the movements of an invading army. Macaulay, whose
re-election for Calne had been a thing of course, posted off to
Paris at the end of August, journeying by Dieppe and Rouen, and
eagerly enjoying a first taste of continental travel. His letters
during the tour were such as, previously to the age of railroads,
brothers who had not been abroad before used to write for the
edification of sisters who expected never to go abroad at all. He
describes in minute detail manners and institutions that to us
are no longer novelties, and monuments which an educated
Englishman of our time knows as well as Westminster Abbey, and a
great deal better than the Tower. Everything that he saw, heard,
ate, drank, paid, and suffered, was noted down in his exuberant
diction to be read aloud and commented on over the breakfast
table in Great Ormond Street.

"At Rouen," he says, "I was struck by the union of venerable
antiquity with extreme liveliness and gaiety. We have nothing of
the sort in England. Till the time of James the First, I imagine,
our houses were almost all of wood, and have in consequence
disappeared. In York there are some very old streets; but they
are abandoned to the lowest people, and the gay shops are in the
newly-built quarter of the town. In London, what with the fire of
1666, and what with the natural progress of demolition and
rebuilding, I doubt whether there are fifty houses that date from
the Reformation. But in Rouen you have street after street of
lofty stern-looking masses of stone, with Gothic carvings. The
buildings are so high, and the ways so narrow, that the sun can
scarcely reach the pavements. Yet in these streets, monastic in
their aspect, you have all the glitter of Regent Street or the
Burlington Arcade. Rugged and dark, above, below they are a blaze
of ribands, gowns, watches, trinkets, artificial flowers; grapes,
melons, and peaches such as Covent Garden does not furnish,
filling the windows of the fruiterers; showy women swimming
smoothly over the uneasy stones, and stared at by national guards
swaggering by in full uniform. It is the Soho Bazaar transplanted
into the gloomy cloisters of Oxford."

He writes to a friend just before he started on his tour: "There
is much that I am impatient to see, but two things specially,--
the Palais Royal, and the man who called me the Aristarchus of
Edinburgh." Who this person might be, and whether Macaulay
succeeded in meeting him, are questions which his letters leave
unsolved; but he must have been a constant visitor at the Palais
Royal if the hours that he spent in it bore any relation to the
number of pages which it occupies in his correspondence. The
place was indeed well worth a careful study; for in 1830 it was
not the orderly and decent bazaar of the Second Empire, but was
still that compound of Parnassus and Bohemia which is painted in
vivid colours in the "Grand Homme de Province" of Balzac,--still
the paradise of such ineffable rascals as Diderot has drawn with
terrible fidelity in his "Neveu de Rameau."

"If I were to select the spot in all the earth in which the good
and evil of civilisation are most strikingly exhibited, in which
the arts of life are carried to the highest perfection, and in
which all pleasures, high and low, intellectual and sensual, are
collected in the smallest space, I should certainly choose the
Palais Royal. It is the Covent Garden Piazza, the Paternoster
Row, the Vauxhall, the Albion Tavern, the Burlington Arcade, the
Crockford's the Finish, the Athenaeum of Paris all in one. Even
now, when the first dazzling effect has passed off, I never
traverse it without feeling bewildered by its magnificent
variety. As a great capital is a country in miniature, so the
Palais Royal is a capital in miniature,--an abstract and epitome
of a vast community, exhibiting at a glance the politeness which
adorns its higher ranks, the coarseness of its populace, and the
vices and the misery which lie underneath its brilliant exterior.
Everything is there, and everybody. Statesmen, wits,
philosophers, beauties, dandies, blacklegs, adventurers, artists,
idlers, the king and his court, beggars with matches crying for
charity, wretched creatures dying of disease and want in garrets.
There is no condition of life which is not to be found in this
gorgeous and fantastic Fairyland."

Macaulay had excellent opportunities for seeing behind the scenes
during the closing acts of the great drama that was being played
out through those summer months. The Duc de Broglie, then Prime
Minister, treated him with marked attention, both as an
Englishman of distinction, and as his father's son. He was much
in the Chamber of Deputies, and witnessed that strange and
pathetic historical revival when, after an interval of forty such
years as mankind had never known before, the aged La Fayette
again stood forth, in the character of a disinterested dictator,
between the hostile classes of his fellow-countrymen.

"De La Fayette is so overwhelmed with work that I scarcely knew
how to deliver even Brougham's letter, which was a letter of
business, and should have thought it absurd to send him
Mackintosh's, which was a mere letter of introduction, I fell in
with an English acquaintance who told me that he had an
appointment with La Fayette, and who undertook to deliver them
both. I accepted his offer, for, if I had left them with the
porter, ten to one they would never have been opened. I hear that
hundreds of letters are lying in the lodge of the hotel. Every
Wednesday morning, from nine to eleven, La Fayette gives audience
to anybody who wishes to speak with him; but about ten thousand
people attend on these occasions, and fill, not only the house,
but all the courtyard and half the street. La Fayette is
Commander in Chief of the National Guard of France. The number of
these troops in Paris alone is upwards of forty thousand. The
Government find a musket and bayonet; but the uniform, which
costs about ten napoleons, the soldiers provide themselves. All
the shopkeepers are enrolled, and I cannot sufficiently admire
their patriotism. My landlord, Meurice, a man who, I suppose, has
realised a million francs or more, is up one night in four with
his firelock doing the duty of a common watchman.

"There is, however, something to be said as an explanation of the
zeal with which the bourgeoisie give their time and money to the
public. The army received so painful a humiliation in the battles
of July that it is by no means inclined to serve the new system
faithfully. The rabble behaved nobly during the conflict, and
have since shown rare humanity and moderation. Yet those who
remember the former Revolution feel an extreme dread of the
ascendency of mere multitude and there have been signs, trifling
in themselves, but such as may naturally alarm people of
property. Workmen have struck. Machinery has been attacked.
Inflammatory handbills have appeared upon the walls. At present
all is quiet; but the thing may happen, particularly if Polignac
and Peyronnet should not be put to death. The Peers wish to save
them. The lower orders, who have had five or six thousand of
their friends and kinsmen butchered by the frantic wickedness of
these men, will hardly submit. 'Eh! eh!' said a fierce old
soldier of Napoleon to me the other day. 'L'on dit qu'ils seront
deportes: mais ne m'en parle pas. Non! non! Coupez-leur le cou.
Sacre! Ca ne passera pas comme ca.'"

"This long political digression will explain to you why Monsieur
De La Fayette is so busy. He has more to do than all the
Ministers together. However, my letters were presented, and he
said to my friend that he had a soiree every Tuesday, and should
be most happy to see me there. I drove to his house yesterday
night. Of the interest which the common Parisians take in
politics you may judge by this. I told my driver to wait for me,
and asked his number. 'Ah! monsieur, c'est un beau numero. C'est
un brave numero. C'est 221.' You may remember that the number of
deputies who voted the intrepid address to Charles the Tenth,
which irritated him into his absurd coup d'etat, was 221. I
walked into the hotel through a crowd of uniforms, and found the
reception-rooms as full as they could hold. I was not able to
make my way to La Fayette; but I was glad to see him. He looks
like the brave, honest, simple, good-natured man that he is."

Besides what is quoted above, there is very little of general
interest in these journal letters; and their publication would
serve no purpose except that of informing the present leader of
the Monarchists what his father had for breakfast and dinner
during a week of 1830, and of enabling him to trace changes in
the disposition of the furniture of the De Broglie hotel. "I
believe," writes Macaulay, "that I have given the inventory of
every article in the Duke's salon. You will think that I have
some intention of turning upholsterer."

His thoughts and observations on weightier matters he kept for an
article on the State of Parties in France which he intended to
provide for the October number of the Edinburgh Review. While he
was still at Paris, this arrangement was rescinded by Mr. Napier
in compliance with the wish, or the whim, of Brougham; and
Macaulay's surprise and annoyance vented itself in a burst of
indignant rhetoric strong enough to have upset a Government. [See
on page 142 the letter to Mr. Napier of September 16, 1831.] His
wrath,--or that part of it, at least, which was directed against
the editor,--did not survive an interchange of letters; and he at
once set to work upon turning his material into the shape of a
volume for the series of Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia, under the
title of "The History of France, from the Restoration of the
Bourbons to the Accession of Louis Philippe." Ten years ago
proofs of the first eighty-eight pages were found in Messrs.
Spottiswoode's printing office, with a note on the margin to the
effect that most of the type was broken up before the sheets had
been pulled. The task, as far as it went, was faithfully
performed; but the author soon arrived at the conclusion that he
might find a more profitable investment for his labour. With his
head full of Reform, Macaulay was loth to spend in epitomising
history the time and energy that would be better employed in
helping to make it.

When the new Parliament met on the 26th of October it was already
evident that the Government was doomed. Where the elections were
open, Reform had carried the day. Brougham was returned for
Yorkshire, a constituency of tried independence, which before
1832 seldom failed to secure the triumph of a cause into whose
scale it had thrown its enormous weight. The counties had
declared for the Whigs by a majority of eight to five, and the
great cities by a majority of eight to one. Of the close boroughs
in Tory hands many were held by men who had not forgotten
Catholic Emancipation, and who did not mean to pardon their
leaders until they had ceased to be Ministers.

In the debate on the Address the Duke of Wellington uttered his
famous declaration that the Legislature possessed, and deserved
to possess, the full and entire confidence of the country; that
its existing constitution was not only practically efficient but
theoretically admirable; and that, if he himself had to frame a
system of representation, he should do his best to imitate so
excellent a model, though he admitted that the nature of man was
incapable at a single effort of attaining to such mature
perfection. His bewildered colleagues could only assert in excuse
that their chief was deaf, and wish that everybody else had been
deaf too. The second ministerial feat was of a piece with the
first. Their Majesties had accepted an invitation to dine at
Guildhall on the 9th of November. The Lord Mayor elect informed
the Home Office that there was danger of riot, and the Premier,
(who could not be got to see that London was not Paris because
his own political creed happened to be much the same as Prince
Polignac's,) advised the King to postpone his visit to the City,
and actually talked of putting Lombard Street and Cheapside in
military occupation. Such a step taken at such a time by such a
man had its inevitable result. Consols, which the Duke's speech
on the Address had brought from 84 to 80, fell to 77 in an hour
and a half; jewellers and silversmiths sent their goods to the
banks; merchants armed their clerks and barricaded their
warehouses; and, when the panic subsided, fear only gave place to
the shame and annoyance which a loyal people, whose loyalty was
at that moment more active than ever, experienced from the
reflection that all Europe was discussing the reasons why our
King could not venture to dine in public with the Chief
Magistrate of his own capital. A strong Minister, who sends the
funds down seven per cent. in as many days, is an anomaly that no
nation will consent to tolerate; the members of the Cabinet
looked forward with consternation to a scheme of Reform which,
with the approbation of his party, Brougham had undertaken to
introduce on the 15th of November; and when, within twenty-four
hours of the dreaded debate, they were defeated on a motion for a
committee on the Civil List, their relief at having obtained an
excuse for retiring at least equalled that which the country felt
at getting rid of them.

Earl Grey came in, saying, (and meaning what he said,) that the
principles on which he stood were "amelioration of abuses,
promotion of economy, and the endeavour to preserve peace
consistently with the honour of the country." Brougham, who was
very sore at having been forced to postpone his notice on Reform
on account of the ministerial crisis, had gratuitously informed
the House of Commons on two successive days that he had no
intention of taking office. A week later on he accepted the
Chancellorship with an inconsistency which his friends readily
forgave, for they knew that, when he resolved to join the
Cabinet, he was thinking more of his party than of himself; a
consideration that naturally enough only sharpened the relish
with which his adversaries pounced upon this first of his
innumerable scrapes. When the new writ for Yorkshire was moved,
Croker commented sharply on the position in which the Chancellor
was placed, and remarked that he had often heard Brougham declare
that "the characters of public men formed part of the wealth of
England;"--a reminiscence which was delivered with as much
gravity and unction as if it had been Mackintosh discoursing on
Romilly. Unfortunately for himself, Croker ruined his case by
referring to a private conversation, an error which the House of
Commons always takes at least an evening to forgive; and Macaulay
had his audience with him as he vindicated the absent orator with
a generous warmth, which at length carried him so far that he was
interrupted by a call to order from the Chair. "The noble Lord
had but a few days for deliberation, and that at a time when
great agitation prevailed, and when the country required a strong
and efficient Ministry to conduct the government of the State. At
such a period a few days are as momentous as months would be at
another period. It is not by the clock that we should measure the
importance of the changes that might take place during such an
interval. I owe no allegiance to the noble Lord who has been
transferred to another place; but as a member of this House I
cannot banish from my memory the extraordinary eloquence of that
noble person within these walls,--an eloquence which has left
nothing equal to it behind; and when I behold the departure of
the great man from amongst us, and when I see the place in which
he sat, and from which he has so often astonished us by the
mighty powers of his mind, occupied this evening by the
honourable member who has commenced this debate, I cannot express
the feelings and emotions to which such circumstances give rise."

Parliament adjourned over Christmas; and on the 1st of March 1831
Lord John Russell introduced the Reform Bill amidst breathless
silence, which was at length broken by peals of contemptuous
laughter from the Opposition benches, as he read the list of the
hundred and ten boroughs which were condemned to partial or
entire disfranchisement. Sir Robert Inglis led the attack upon a
measure that he characterised as Revolution in the guise of a
statute. Next morning as Sir Robert was walking into town over
Westminster Bridge, he told his companion that up to the previous
night he had been very anxious, but that his fears were now at an
end, inasmuch as the shock caused by the extravagance of the
ministerial proposals would infallibly bring the country to its
senses. On the evening of that day Macaulay made the first of his
Reform speeches. When he sat down the Speaker sent for him, and
told him that in all his prolonged experience he had never seen
the House in such a state of excitement. Even at this distance of
time it is impossible to read aloud the last thirty sentences
without an emotion which suggests to the mind what must have been
their effect when declaimed by one who felt every word that he
spoke, in the midst of an assembly agitated by hopes and
apprehensions such as living men have never known, or have long
forgotten. ["The question of Parliamentary Reform is still
behind. But signs, of which it is impossible to misconceive the
import, do most clearly indicate that, unless that question also
be speedily settled, property, and order, and all the
institutions of this great monarchy, will he exposed to fearful
peril. Is it possible that gentlemen long versed in high
political affairs cannot read these signs? Is it possible that
they can really believe that the Representative system of
England, such as it now is, will last to the year 1860? If not,
for what would they have us wait? Would they have us wait, merely
that we may show to all the world how little we have profited by
our own recent experience? Would they have us wait, that we may
once again hit the exact point where we can neither refuse with
authority, nor concede with grace? Would they have us wait, that
the numbers of the discontented party may become larger, its
demands higher, its feelings more acrimonious, its organisation
more complete? Would they have us wait till the whole tragicomedy
of 1827 has been acted over again? till they have been brought
into office by a cry of 'No Reform,' to be reformers, as they
were once before brought into office by a cry of 'No Popery', to
be emancipators? Have they obliterated from their minds--gladly,
perhaps, would some among them obliterate from their minds--the
transactions of that year? And have they forgotten all the
transactions of the succeeding year? Have they forgotten how the
spirit of liberty in Ireland, debarred from its natural outlet,
found a vent by forbidden passages? Have they forgotten how we
were forced to indulge the Catholics in all the license of
rebels, merely because we chose to withhold from them the
liberties of subjects? Do they wait for associations more
formidable than that of the Corn Exchange, for contributions
larger than the Rent, for agitators more violent than those who,
three years ago, divided with the King and the Parliament the
sovereignty of Ireland? Do they wait for that last and most
dreadful paroxysm of popular rage, for that last and most cruel
test of military fidelity? Let them wait, if their past
experience shall induce them to think that any high honour or any
exquisite pleasure is to be obtained by a policy like this. Let
them wait, if this strange and fearful infatuation be indeed upon
them, that they should not see with their eyes, or hear with
their ears, or understand with their heart. But let us know our
interest and our duty better. Turn where we may, within, around,
the voice of great events is proclaiming to us, Reform, that you
may preserve. Now, therefore, while everything at home and abroad
forebodes ruin to those who persist in a hopeless struggle
against the spirit of the age, now, while the crash of the
proudest throne of the Continent is still resounding in our ears,
now, while the roof of a British palace affords an ignominious
shelter to the exiled heir of forty kings, now, while we see on
every side ancient institutions subverted, and great societies
dissolved, now, while the heart of England is still sound, now,
while old feelings and old associations retain a power and a
charm which may too soon pass away, now, in this your accepted
time, now, in this your day of salvation, take counsel, not of
prejudice, not of party spirit, not of the ignominious pride of a
fatal consistency, but of history, of reason, of the ages which
are past, of the signs of this most portentous time. Pronounce in
a manner worthy of the expectation with which this great debate
has been anticipated, and of the long remembrance which it will
leave behind. Renew the youth of the State. Save property,
divided against itself. Save the multitude, endangered by its own
ungovernable passions. Save the aristocracy, endangered by its
own unpopular power. Save the greatest, the fairest, and most
highly civilised community that ever existed, from calamities
which may in a few days sweep away all the rich heritage of so
many ages of wisdom and glory. The danger is terrible. The time
is short. If this bill should he rejected, I pray to God that
none of those who concur in rejecting it may ever remember their
votes with unavailing remorse, amidst the wreck of laws, the
confusion of ranks, the spoliation of property, and the
dissolution of social order."] Sir Thomas Denman, who rose later
on in the discussion, said, with universal acceptance, that the
orator's words remained tingling in the ears of all who heard
them, and would last in their memories as long as they had
memories to employ. That sense of proprietorship in an effort of
genius, which the House of Commons is ever ready to entertain,
effaced for a while all distinctions of party. "Portions of the
speech," said Sir Robert Peel, "were as beautiful as anything I
have ever heard or read. It reminded one of the old times." The
names of Fox, Burke, and Canning were during that evening in
everybody's mouth; and Macaulay overheard with delight a knot of
old members illustrating their criticisms by recollections of
Lord Plunket. He had reason to be pleased; for he had been
thought worthy of the compliment which the judgment of Parliament
reserves for a supreme occasion. In 1866, on the second reading
of the Franchise Bill, when the crowning oration of that
memorable debate had come to its close amidst a tempest of
applause, one or two veterans of the lobby, forgetting Macaulay
on Reform,--forgetting, it may be, Mr. Gladstone himself on the
Conservative Budget of 1852,--pronounced, amidst the willing
assent of a younger generation, that there had been nothing like
it since Plunket.

The unequivocal success of the first speech into which he had
thrown his full power decided for some time to come the tenor of
Macaulay's career. During the next three years he devoted himself
to Parliament, rivalling Stanley in debate, and Hume in the
regularity of his attendance. He entered with zest into the
animated and manysided life of the House of Commons, of which so
few traces can ordinarily be detected in what goes by the name of
political literature. The biographers of a distinguished
statesman too often seem to have forgotten that the subject of
their labours passed the best part of his waking hours, during
the half of every year, in a society of a special and deeply
marked character, the leading traits of which are at least as
well worth recording as the fashionable or diplomatic gossip that
fills so many volumes of memoirs and correspondence. Macaulay's
letters sufficiently indicate how thoroughly he enjoyed the ease,
the freedom, the hearty good-fellowship, that reign within the
precincts of our national senate; and how entirely he recognised
that spirit of noble equality, so prevalent among its members,
which takes little or no account of wealth, or title, or indeed
of reputation won in other fields, but which ranks a man
according as the value of his words, and the weight of his
influence, bear the test of a standard which is essentially its

In February 1831 he writes to Whewell: "I am impatient for
Praed's debut. The House of Commons is a place in which I would
not promise success to any man. I have great doubts even about
Jeffrey. It is the most peculiar audience in the world. I should
say that a man's being a good writer, a good orator at the bar, a
good mob-orator, or a good orator in debating clubs, was rather a
reason for expecting him to fail than for expecting him to
succeed in the House of Commons. A place where Walpole succeeded
and Addison failed; where Dundas succeeded and Burke failed;
where Peel now succeeds and where Mackintosh fails; where Erskine
and Scarlett were dinner-bells; where Lawrence and Jekyll, the
two wittiest men, or nearly so, of their time, were thought
bores, is surely a very strange place. And yet I feel the whole
character of the place growing upon me. I begin to like what
others about me like, and to disapprove what they disapprove.
Canning used to say that the House, as a body, had better taste
than the man of best taste in it, and I am very much inclined to
think that Canning was right."

The readers of Macaulay's letters will, from time to time, find
reason to wish that the young Whig of 1830 had more frequently
practised that studied respect for political opponents, which now
does so much to correct the intolerance of party among men who
can be adversaries without ceasing to regard each other as
colleagues. But this honourable sentiment was the growth of later
days; and, at an epoch when the system of the past and the system
of the future were night after night in deadly wrestle on the
floor of St. Stephen's, the combatants were apt to keep their

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