Imágenes de páginas

His face is as pale as that of a corpse, and wrinkled to a frightful degree. His eyes have an odd glassy stare quite peculiar to theni. His hair, thickly powdered and pomatumed, hangs down his shoulders on each side as straight as a pound of tallow-candles. His conversation, however, soon makes you forget his ugliness and infirmities. There is a poignancy without effort in all he says, which reminded me a little of the character which the wits of Johnson's circle give of Beauclerk. For example, we talked about Metternich and Cardinal Mazarin. “ J'y trouve beaucoup à redire. Le Cardinal trompait; mais il ne mentait pas. Or, M. de Metternich ment toujours, et ne trompe jamais." '

The same compliment, if it be one, that Talleyrand paid to the Cardinal might fairly be addressed to the most powerful and successful of living Ministers. The portraits of the host and hostess are uncommonly like.

• London: July 25, 1831. My dear Sister,-On Saturday evening I went to Holland House. There I found the Dutch Ambassador, M. de Wessemburg, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Smith, and Admiral Adam, a son of old Adam who fought the duel with Fox. We dined like Emperors, and jabbered in several languages. Her Ladyship, for an esprit fort, is the greatest coward that I ever saw. The last time that I was there she was frightened out of her wits by the thunder. She closed all the shutters, drew all the curtains, and ordered candles in broad day to keep out the lightning, or rather the appearance of the lightning. On Saturday she was in a terrible taking about the cholera; talked of nothing else ; refused to eat any ice because somebody said that ice was bad for the cholera; was sure that the cholera was at Glasgow; and asked me why a cordon of troops was not instantly placed around that town to prevent all intercourse between the infected and the healthy spots. Lord Holland made light of her fears. He is a thoroughly good-natured, open, sensible man; very lively ; very intellectual ; well read in politics, and in the lighter literature both of apcient and modern times. He sets me more at ease than almost any person that I know, by a certain good-humoured way of contradicting that he has. He always begins by drawing down his shaggy eyebrows, making a face extremely like his uncle, wagging his head and saying: “Now do you know, Mr. Macaulay, I do not quite see that. How do you make it out?" He tells a story delightfully, and bears the pain of his gout and the confinement and privations to which it subjects him, with admirable fortitude and cheerfulness. Her Ladyship is all courtesy and kindness to me: but her demeanour to some others, particularly to poor Allen, is such as it quite pains me to witness. He is really treated like a negro slave. “Mr. Allen, go into my drawing-room and bring my reticule." “Mr. Allen, go and see what can be the matter that they do not bring up dinner." "Mr. Allen, there is not enough turtle-soup for you. You must take gravy soup or none." Yet I can scarcely pity the man. He has an independent income, and, if he can stoop to be ordered about like a footman, I cannot so much blame her for the contempt with which she treats him.'

Lord Grey was not very prompt to recognise the services which had been rendered to his government by the zeal and eloquence of this youthful ally. Office was notoriously of importance to Macaulay, and the sooner he was engaged in the active service of the government the better. Yet he was only offered at first a Commissionership at the Board of Control, and it was not till the autumn of 1832 that he succeeded his friend Hyde Villiers in the Secretaryship of that Office. No doubt it was fortunate, as it turned out, that an official connexion with the government of India was his first step in the public service. The following session, moreover, witnessed the passing of a most important India Bill, which threw open the China Trade; extinguished slavery in the British territories in the East; and made a considerable step towards the transfer of the sovereignty of India from the Company to the Crown.

This measure was introduced by Mr. Charles Grant, as President of the Board of Control. But it had been in a great part prepared by Macaulay, and it was defended by him in the House with the most brilliant eloquence. The session of 1833, however, did not pass without many anxieties. Macaulay, himself, who sat for Leeds in the first Reform Parliament, was desponding. He saw nothing before him but a frantic ' conflict of extreme opinions; then a short period of oppression;

then a convulsive reaction; and then a tremendous crash of 'the Funds, the Church, the Peerage and the Throne.' Mr. . Stanley's Bill for the emancipation of the West Indian Negroes, based on a long period of apprenticeship, was strongly condemned by the zealous abolitionists, by Zachary Macaulay, and by Macaulay himself. At this moment, with all his hopes of political power and influence bursting into life, whilst pecuniary embarrassments were gathering round his family to such an extent that for several years every penny Macaulay earned, beyond what the necessities of life demanded, was devoted to paying off his father's creditors, with no professional income, and no means of subsistence but his pen, rather than support a measure which he conscientiously disapproved, Macaulay twice tendered his resignation. To the honour of the government it was not accepted, and he was allowed to stand aloof from the West India Bill.

In the touching verses he wrote after his defeat at Edinburgh in 1847, the Queen of Gain, the Queen of Fashion, and the Queen of Power pass scornfully by his cradle, and leave the nursling to pursue a nobler and a happier aim,

"The sense of beauty and the thirst for truth.'


kon the hom But it is earliest litera bet

Nothing could be more sincere. His indifference to gain was only modified by the desire to be generous to others, and he did not reckon the honours or amusements of the world amongst its real enjoyments. But it is singular that in 1833, after the extraordinary success of his earliest literary productions, it should not have occurred to him that he held between his fingers a power which might instantly create and command wealth, if not beyond the dreams of avarice, yet certainly beyond his own wants. Had he devoted himself at once, and continuously, in 1833 to literary work—had he then commenced his History, and brought out a volume a year, he might have realised as large a fortune as Sir Walter Scott, and probably far more than he brought back from India. But such was the simplicity of his character that this thought never struck him. It was with difficulty that he was persuaded to consent to the republication of his Essays and Articles in themselves a fortune; and he seems to have thought there was something humiliating in degrading literature into a craft or profession.

Literary history is full of the miseries of authors. Macaulay knew every anecdote in existence of their privations and struggles. The affronts Dryden had endured from Tonson, the exigencies Mackintosh submitted to from Lardner. But he only discovered by long and late experience that in these times an author of genius, who manages his affairs with prudence, may realise gains quite equal to the returns of any other profession. It would probably have been to his own advantage, and certainly to the advantage of the world, if he had never been tempted to wander from the paths of literature into the beaten tracks of parliamentary and official life.

The India Bill of 1833, which Macaulay had largely contributed to frame and to pass, contained a provision that one of the members of the Supreme Council at Calcutta should be appointed by the Crown from among persons not being servants of the Company. This office was called the legislative membership of Council, and it was to be filled by a lawyer, chiefly with a view to improving and drafting the Acts of the Government of India. The salary was ten thousand a year, and to Macaulay himself, then in the thirty-fourth year of his life, this splendid post was offered. In an interesting letter to his sisters, which is too long to quote, he weighs the favourable and the adverse reasons. Money and office had in themselves no attraction for him; the most brilliant employment abroad was to him an almost intolerable exile. But he felt that the political prospects of his party were gloomy; he knew that the state of his father's affairs was disastrous; and he desired

above all things to lay by a modest competency before he again embarked in public life. On these grounds he resolved to leave England, and he persuaded his sister Hannah to accompany him to Calcutta. · Macaulay, to say the truth, knew but little of law and less of India-he had been a few times on the Northern Circuit, and he had sat for a few months at the Board of Control. This appointment gave a new direction to his powers, and studies, before repulsive, acquired a new interest. It is probable that we owe to Macaulay's Indian experience two of the most brilliant essays in the English language, which have brought the marvellous fabric of the British Empire in the East visibly before millions of minds that had never thought of it before. But to Macaulay's dramatic genius the career of Clive and Warren Hastings—the triumph and the toil of the great Englishmen in India-was infinitely more captivating and attractive than the prodigious spectacle of India itself, with its laws, its religions, its castes, its customs, its languages, dating from times when the British Isles were a swamp and a forest, inhabited by a barbarous race. It is extremely characteristic, that the chosen companions of his voyage to India were Richardson, Voltaire, Gibbon, Sismondi, Hallam, Don Quixote, Homer, and Horace, with a few books on jurisprudence and a couple of Persian and Hindostanee grammars. On the voyage he says, 'I devoured Greek, Latin,

Spanish, Italian, French, and English, folios, quartos, octavos, sand duodecimos. We have no doubt of it; but we question whether Colebrooke's Institutes or the land-tenures of India had a very large share of his attention. Indeed, what must strike every reader with astonishment, is the vast amount of classical reading and research, to whick, judging from these letters, Macaulay's time was habitually devoted at Calcutta.

6" During the last thirteen months I have read Æschylus twice; Sophocles twice; Euripides once; Pindar twice ; Callimachus; Apollonius Rhodius; Quintus Calaber; Theocritus twice; Herodotus; Thucydides ; almost all Xenophon's works; almost all Plato; Aristotle's Politics, and a good deal of his Organon, besides dipping elsewhere in him; the whole of Plutarch's Lives ; about half of Lucian ; two or three books of Athenæus; Plautus twice; Terence twice; Lucretius twice; Catullus ; Tibullus; Propertius; Lucan ; Statius; Silius Italicus; Livy; Velleius Paterculus; Sallust; Cæsar; and, lastly, Cicero. I have, indeed, still a little of Cicero left; but I shall finish him in a few days. I am now deep in Aristophanes and Lucian.”

"That the enormous list of classical works recorded in the foregoing letter was not only read through, but read with care, is proved by the pencil marks, single, double, and treble, which meander down the margin of such passages as excited the admiration of the student; and by the remarks, literary, historical, and grammatical, with which the critic has interspersed every volume, and sometimes every page. In the case of a favourite writer, Macaulay frequently corrects the errors of the press, and even the punctuation, as minutely as if he were preparing the book for another edition. He read Plautus, Terence, and Aristophanes four times through at Calcutta; and Euripides thrice. In his copy of Quintus Calaber, (a versifier who is less unknown by the title of Quintus Smyrnæus,) appear the entries

“ September 22, 1835.

Turned over, July 13, 1837.” It may be doubted whether the Pandects would have attained the celebrity which they enjoy, if, in the course of the three years during which Justinian's Law Commission was at work, the president Tribonian had read Quintus Smyrnæus twice.'

The Indian Empire is a subject so vast and so profound, even to those whose lives have been spent in its service, that it is not too much to ask of the most gifted members of the Indian Government that they should give it all their attention. But though Macaulay's knowledge of India was superficial, it would be unjust to suppose thai his presence in the Council was not of great value. He brought to Indian Administration an intelligence, admirably stored by study and experience, with the most enlightened views of government; and his minutes are models of good judgment and practical sagacity. The part he took in India was essentially the application of sound liberal principles to a government which had till then been singularly jealous, close, and repressive. Thus he vindicated with the greatest energy the liberty of the Indian Press, he maintained the equality of Europeans and natives before the law, and he gave an impulse to the work of education, to which the prodigious progress of the native races in the last thirty years, through the study of the English language, is mainly attributable. His greatest legislative work, in his own judgment, was the Draft of a Penal Code—a subject which required less special technical knowledge of India than many others—for the rules of evidence and the definitions of offences might be common to all mankind. But twenty-two years elapsed before this code was promulgated. It was revised with great care and labour by experienced lawyers, and it owes a good deal to other hands, more especially to Sir Barnes Peacock, by whom it was at last brought into operation. Mr. Trevelyan quotes the high authority of Mr. Fitzjames Stephen in support of the fact that Macaulay had, somehow or other, acquired a very considerable knowledge of English criminal law, however little he had practised it. All these enlightened measures and

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