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ten at this time, at once made him known all over England as a young man of brilliant promise. When only thirty, he was sitting in Parliament, vehemently devoted to Whig principles, and winning for himself a great name as an orator, by his eloquence and sound common sense in the great Reform Bill debate of 1832. Plunged heart and soul into the excitement of politics, he yet found time to mingle freely with the most brilliant London society, to do much official work, and to write many of his best-known essays. In 1834 he accepted a lucrative position in India : and there he spent four years with a favorite sister, during which he read and wrote prodigiously, drew up a penal code, a monument of legislation, and saved a fortune large enough to secure his comfort for the rest of his life. He came home, and passed from honor to honor. Twice he sat in the Cabinet; all over England he was famous as statesman and orator. When he retired from politics in 1847, it was in order to be free for that History of England which was greeted on its publication by a tumult of applause. Finally, in 1857, he was given a peerage; and he enjoyed it with the same unaffected and dignified complacency with which he welcomed every honor of his long career.
His external life was happy in private as in public. He never married: simply – we have his word for it because he never fell in love; but in his devotion to his little nieces and nephews, he showered forth all the warm and tender sweetness of his nature. Friends abounded. He was rich, was contented with London, and London life. Above all, even the omnivorous appetite of a Macaulay could not devour all the books in the world; and as long as any books remained unread — Latin, Greek, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian — life would have retained for him an undimmed interest. Happy, and what is rarer, knowing that he was happy; famous, honored, and beloved ; - Macaulay passed the latter part of his life in a peaceful retirement, sank in quiet fortitude through years of distressing but not enfeebling illness, and finally died without warning on the 28th of December, 1859. Two months before, he had written: “October 25, 1859. My birthday. I am fifty-nine years old. Well, I have had a happy life. I do not know that any one whom I have seen close has had a happier."
The current of his inner life, like that of his outer, was smooth. He had a sunshiny temperament, affectionate, with no touch of unrest. He was generous and modest. His devotion to those he loved was complete. His unflinching sense of honor was of that highest type which is utterly free from selfconsciousness. He voted for a measure which would make him penniless; he resigned his position in Parliament, rather than hurt his father's feelings; while in India, he pleaded noply for the freedom of the press, at a time when the newspapers of the country were bespattering him with foul abuse: and in all these crises he took his own behavior simply for granted. It was easy for Macaulay to be good.
He never had any doubts, speculative or practical. He always knew exactly what he ought to do, and he always did it. He was always quite sure of what he believed ; and anything that he could not make up his mind about, he decided was not worth his thoughts. No wonder that he was a happy man.
One is glad to be able to say of a man eminent for his literary work, that his moral nature was even greater than his intellectual; and this we may say of Macaulay. So far as intellect goes, he cannot be called an original thinker. He could not be, for he never stopped to think. When he was taking a walk, he read; when he was on shipboard, he read; when he was in trouble, he read; when he was happy, he read; and when he had no book in his hand, he repeated books out of his memory. So he had no time to let his own mind work, and took all his opinions as he found them ready made for him
in books, and determined by his temperament. It is curious to compare his letters with those of a man like Carlyle and to see how exclusively Macaulay confines himself to giving the
He never discusses a subject, though he occasionally announces a view. Neither the profoundly imaginative nor the profoundly speculative nature could bear such a life as his. But his lack of originality made it all the easier for him to produce a great quantity of excellent and valuable work. He had a wonderful memory, unfailing industry, a vivid conception of the past and a unique style; and he was thoroughly interested in his subject. He said the things that most intelligent people thought, so eloquently and incisively that they began at once to pride themselves on their own cleverness. He achieved his ambition; he wrote a History of England, which for a time supplanted the novel on every drawing-room table. He did more than this : for he made the past real to us, and he impressed his style with ineffaceable force on the English of his century. Wonderfully popular during his life, there was a tendency to speak lightly of Macaulay, for some time after his death. The re-action has worn itself out, and we are ready at last to recognize his real and great value. We do not blame Xenophon because he is not Thucydides, nor Macaulay because he is not Carlyle.
SIX FAMOUS ESSAYS ON ENGLISH HISTORY, BY
MACAULAY THE WRITER.
If we have rightly understood the character of Macaulay, we can almost predict the qualities of his style. For style is not arbitrary and mechanical, nor is it the result of conscious effort. The succession of sounds, the cadence of sentences, the diction; far more, the choice of figures and incidents, the grouping and general tone, - all these are, like the perfume of the flower, the spontaneous and necessary expression of that nature from which they spring.
The first note of Macaulay's style is, then, the same which we have found in his life: it is the note of certainty. He knows exactly what he wants to say, and he says it with entire
Whether he has to describe a man, a policy, or a battle, his touch is firm and strong. His subject never runs away with him. This power of quiet and masterly control is visible in the whole scope and trend of his art. An essay sweeps onward, and we grasp its complex thought with ease: “ Beneath the smooth and polished surface, layer under layer may be seen of subordinate narratives, crossing and interlacing each other, like the parts in the score of an oratorio. And this complexity results, not in confusion, but in the most admirable clearness and unity of effect” — (Cotter Morrison). Again, the power is shown in the portrayal of character, on however small a canvas. The vignette of Surajah Dowlah in the Essay on Clive, is an excellent example. Above all, it is visible in the very turn and sequence of phrase; in the regular beat of the sentence, in clear-cut antithesis, in swift climax, in sonorous and firmly built period. The antithetical or balanced sentence is the form most characteristic of Macaulay. “Yes, mamma, industry shall be my bread, and attention my butter,” he said to his mother on first starting for school when he was a tiny fellow; and the sentence, which in form might come straight from the History of England, shows the truth of our statement that style is born in a man, not added to him. Now the antithetical form comes from a mind which expresses itself incisively because it sees certainly. It was the assurance with which Macaulay classified his ideas, that enabled him to put them over against each other with an unfailing regularity which sometimes becomes tedious. He may not suggest much to the imagination, but he gives it a great deal, as much as he sees himself.
And the occasional monotony of his style is largely relieved by another quality: the vividness of his conception of the past. It has been said that at the very time when history was tending to become scientific and philosophical — that is, to accumulate facts and study causes Macaulay was recalling it to the personal and the picturesque. He could not render us a greater service. Hastening through space in every direction are the light rays, which have left the earth through all the ages of the past. Each ray carries with it the constant ineffaceable image, clear as when first it met the eye of man, of the scene which was taking place at its departure. Still Leonidas defends the pass of Thermopylæ ; still young Raleigh, with courtly grace, flings his cloak before Elizabeth ; still Napoleon surveys the field of Elba. Across these rays, Macaulay seems to project his spirit; and he sees the panorama of the past. One by one, he retraces their path of light; and the vision of events as they actually follow each other is unrolled before him. On this magic journey he takes us with him. He shows us all the actions of men; the battlefield, the council-chamber, the secret plot. He does not philosophize; he does not discuss. He does not, at his best, analyze men's passions, nor unveil the secrets of their heart. He depicts; and herein lies his best power. Who can read the description of the Black Hole, of the Battle of Plassey, and