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´╗┐Title: Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay. Volume 1
Author: Trevelyan, George Otto, 1838-1928
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay. Volume 1" ***

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Volume I

By Sir George Otto Trevelyan


WHEN publishing the Second Edition of Lord MACAULAY'S Life and Letters,
I may be permitted to say that no pains were spared in order that the
First Edition should be as complete as possible. But, in the course of
the last nine months, I have come into possession of a certain quantity
of supplementary matter, which the appearance of the book has elicited
from various quarters. Stray letters have been hunted up. Half-forgotten
anecdotes have been recalled. Floating reminiscences have been reduced
to shape;--in one case, as will be seen from the extracts from Sir
William Stirling Maxwell's letter, by no unskilful hand. I should have
been tempted to draw more largely upon these new resources, if it had
not been for the examples, which literary history only too copiously
affords, of the risk that attends any attempt to alter the form, or
considerably increase the bulk, of a work which, in its original shape,
has had the good fortune not to displease the public. I have, however,
ventured, by a very sparing selection from sufficiently abundant
material, slightly to enlarge, and, I trust, somewhat to enrich the

If this Second Edition is not rigidly correct in word and substance,
I have no valid excuse to offer. Nothing more pleasantly indicates the
wide-spread interest with which Lord MACAULAY has inspired his readers,
both at home and in foreign countries, than the almost microscopic care
with which these volumes have been studied. It is not too much to say
that, in several instances, a misprint, or a verbal error, has been
brought to my notice by at least five-and-twenty different persons; and
there is hardly a page in the book which has not afforded occasion for
comment or suggestion from some friendly correspondent. There is no
statement of any importance throughout the two volumes the accuracy of
which has been circumstantially impugned; but some expressions, which
have given personal pain or annoyance, have been softened or removed.

There is another class of criticism to which I have found myself
altogether unable to defer. I have frequently been told by reviewers
that I should "have better consulted MACAULAY'S reputation," or "done
more honour to MACAULAY'S memory," if I had omitted passages in the
letters or diaries which may be said to bear the trace of intellectual
narrowness, or political and religious intolerance. I cannot but think
that strictures, of this nature imply a serious misconception of the
biographer's duty. It was my business to show my Uncle as he was, and
not as I, or any one else, would have had him. If a faithful picture of
MACAULAY could not have been produced without injury to his memory, I
should have left the task of drawing that picture to others; but, having
once undertaken the work, I had no choice but to ask myself, with regard
to each feature of the portrait, not whether it was attractive, but
whether it was characteristic. We who had the best opportunity of
knowing him have always been convinced that his character would stand
the test of an exact, and even a minute, delineation; and we humbly
believe that our confidence was not misplaced, and that the reading
world has now extended to the man the approbation which it has long
conceded to his hooks.

G. O. T.

December 1876.


THIS work has been undertaken principally from a conviction that it
is the performance of a duty which, to the best of my ability, it is
incumbent on me to fulfil. Though even on this ground I cannot appeal
to the forbearance of my readers, I may venture to refer to a peculiar
difficulty which I have experienced in dealing with Lord MACAULAY'S
private papers.

To give to the world compositions not intended for publication may be
no injury to the fame of writers who, by habit, were careless and hasty
workmen; but it is far otherwise in the case of one who made it a
rule for himself to publish nothing which was not carefully planned,
strenuously laboured, and minutely finished. Now, it is impossible
to examine Lord MACAULAY'S journals and correspondence without being
persuaded that the idea of their being printed, even in part, never was
present to his mind; and I should not feel myself justified in laying
them before the public if it were not that their unlaboured and
spontaneous character adds to their biographical value all, and perhaps
more than all, that it detracts from their literary merit.

To the heirs and relations of Mr. Thomas Flower Ellis and Mr. Adam
Black, to the Marquis of Lansdowne, to Mr. Macvey Napier, and to the
executors of Dr. Whewell, my thanks are due for the courtesy with which
they have placed the different portions of my Uncle's correspondence at
my disposal. Lady Caroline Lascelles has most kindly permitted me to
use as much of Lord Carlisle's journal as relates to the subject of this
work; and Mr. Charles Cowan, my Uncle's old opponent at Edinburgh, has
sent me a considerable mass of printed matter bearing upon the elections
of 1847 and 1852. The late Sir Edward Ryan, and Mr. Fitzjames Stephen,
spared no pains to inform me with regard to Lord MACAULAY'S work at
Calcutta. His early letters, with much that relates to the whole
course of his life, have been preserved, studied, and arranged, by the
affectionate industry of his sister, Miss Macaulay; and material of high
interest has been entrusted to my hands by Mr. and the Hon. Mrs. Edward
Cropper. I have been assisted throughout the book by the sympathy, and
the recollections, of my sister Lady Holland, the niece to whose custody
Lord MACAULAY'S papers by inheritance descend.


March 1876.



Sir George Otto Trevelyan

CHAPTER I. 1800-1818.

     Plan and scope of the work--History of the Macaulay family--
     Aulay--Kenneth--Johnson and Boswell--John Macaulay and his
     children--Zachary Macaulay--His career in the West Indies
     and in Africa--His character--Visit of the French squadron
     to Sierra Leone--Zachary Macaulay's marriage--Birth of his
     eldest son--Lord Macaulay's early years--His childish
     productions--Mrs. Hannah More--General Macaulay--Choice of a
     school--Shelford--Dean Milner--Macaulay's early letters--
     Aspenden hall--The boy's habits and mental endowments--His
     home--The Clapham set--The boy's relations with his father--
     The political ideas amongst which he was brought up, and
     their influence on the work of his life.

HE who undertakes to publish the memoirs of a distinguished man may find
a ready apology in the custom of the age. If we measure the effective
demand for biography by the supply, the person commemorated need possess
but a very moderate reputation, and have played no exceptional part,
in order to carry the reader through many hundred pages of anecdote,
dissertation, and correspondence. To judge from the advertisements of
our circulating libraries, the public curiosity is keen with regard to
some who did nothing worthy of special note, and others who acted so
continuously in the face of the world that, when their course was
run, there was little left for the world to learn about them. It may,
therefore, be taken for granted that a desire exists to hear something
authentic about the life of a man who has produced works which are
universally known, but which bear little or no indication of the private
history and the personal qualities of the author.

This was in a marked degree the case with Lord Macaulay. His two famous
contemporaries in English literature have, consciously or unconsciously,
told their own story in their books. Those who could see between the
lines in "David Copperfield" were aware that they had before them a
delightful autobiography; and all who knew how to read Thackeray could
trace him in his novels through every stage in his course, on from the
day when as a little boy, consigned to the care of English relatives and
schoolmasters, he left his mother on the steps of the landing-place at
Calcutta. The dates and names were wanting, but the man was there; while
the most ardent admirers of Macaulay will admit that a minute study of
his literary productions left them, as far as any but an intellectual
knowledge of the writer himself was concerned, very much as it found
them. A consummate master of his craft, he turned out works which
bore the unmistakable marks of the artificer's hand, but which did not
reflect his features. It would be almost as hard to compose a picture of
the author from the History, the Essays, and the Lays, as to evolve an
idea of Shakespeare from Henry the Fifth and Measure for Measure.

But, besides being a man of letters, Lord Macaulay was a statesman, a
jurist, and a brilliant ornament of society, at a time when to shine
in society was a distinction which a man of eminence and ability might
justly value. In these several capacities, it will be said, he was known
well, and known widely. But in the first place, as these pages will
show, there was one side of his life (to him, at any rate, the most
important,) of which even the persons with whom he mixed most freely and
confidentially in London drawing-rooms, in the Indian Council chamber,
and in the lobbies and on the benches of the House of Commons, were only
in part aware. And in the next place, those who have seen his features
and heard his voice are few already and become yearly fewer; while, by a
rare fate in literary annals, the number of those who read his books
is still rapidly increasing. For everyone who sat with him in private
company or at the transaction of public business,--for every ten who
have listened to his oratory in Parliament or from the hustings,--there
must be tens of thousands whose interest in history and literature he
has awakened and informed by his pen, and who would gladly know what
manner of man it was that has done them so great a service.

To gratify that most legitimate wish is the duty of those who have the
means at their command. His lifelike image is indelibly impressed upon
their minds, (for how could it be otherwise with any who had enjoyed so
close relations with such a man?) although the skill which can reproduce
that image before the general eye may well be wanting. But his own
letters will supply the deficiencies of the biographer. Never did any
one leave behind him more copious materials for enabling others to
put together a narrative which might be the history, not indeed of his
times, but of the man himself. For in the first place he so soon showed
promise of being one who would give those among whom his early years
were passed reason to be proud, and still more certain assurance that
he would never afford them cause for shame, that what he wrote was
preserved with a care very seldom bestowed on childish compositions;
and the value set upon his letters by those with whom he corresponded
naturally enough increased as years went on. And in the next place he
was by nature so incapable of affectation or concealment that he could
not write otherwise than as he felt, and, to one person at least, could
never refrain from writing all that he felt; so that we may read in his
letters, as in a clear mirror, his opinions and inclinations, his
hopes and affections, at every succeeding period of his existence. Such
letters could never have been submitted to an editor not connected with
both correspondents by the strongest ties; and even one who stands in
that position must often be sorely puzzled as to what he has the heart
to publish and the right to withhold.

I am conscious that a near relative has peculiar temptations towards
that partiality of the biographer which Lord Macaulay himself so often
and so cordially denounced; and the danger is greater in the case of one
whose knowledge of him coincided with his later years; for it would not
be easy to find a nature which gained more by time than his, and lost
less. But believing, as I do, (to use his own words,) that "if he were
now living he would have sufficient judgment and sufficient greatness
of mind" to wish to be shown as himself, I will suppress no trait in
his disposition, or incident in his career, which might provoke blame
or question. Such in all points as he was, the world, which has been so
indulgent to him, has a right to know him; and those who best love him
do not fear the consequences of freely submitting his character and his
actions to the public verdict.

The most devout believers in the doctrine of the transmission of
family qualities will be content with tracing back descent through four
generations; and all favourable hereditary influences, both intellectual
and moral, are assured by a genealogy which derives from a Scotch
Manse. In the first decade of the eighteenth century Aulay Macaulay,
the great-grandfather of the historian, was minister of Tiree and Coll;
where he was "grievously annoyed by a decreet obtained after instance of
the Laird of Ardchattan, taking away his stipend." The Duchess of Argyll
of the day appears to have done her best to see him righted; "but his
health being much impaired, and there being no church or meeting-house,
he was exposed to the violence of the weather at all seasons; and
having no manse or plebe, and no fund for communion elements, and no
mortification for schools or any pious purpose in either of the islands,
and the air being unwholesome, he was dissatisfied;" and so, to the
great regret of the parishioners whom he was leaving behind, he migrated
to Harris, where he discharged the clerical duties for nearly half a

Aulay was the father of fourteen children, of whom one, Kenneth, the
minister of Ardnamurchan, still occupies a very humble niche in the
temple of literature. He wrote a History of St. Kilda which happened to
fall into the hands of Dr. Johnson, who spoke of it more than once with
favour. His reason for liking the book is characteristic enough. Mr.
Macaulay had recorded the belief prevalent in St. Kilda that, as soon as
the factor landed on the island, all the inhabitants had an attack
which from the account appears to have partaken of the nature both
of influenza and bronchitis. This touched the superstitious vein in
Johnson, who praised him for his "magnanimity" in venturing to
chronicle so questionable a phenomenon; the more so because,--said
the Doctor,--"Macaulay set out with a prejudice against prejudice, and
wanted to be a smart modern thinker." To a reader of our day the History
of St. Kilda appears to be innocent of any trace of such pretension;
unless it be that the author speaks slightingly of second-sight, a
subject for which Johnson always had a strong hankering. In 1773 Johnson
paid a visit to Mr. Macaulay, who by that time had removed to Calder,
and began the interview by congratulating him on having produced "a very
pretty piece of topography,"--a compliment which did not seem to the
taste of the author. The conversation turned upon rather delicate
subjects, and, before many hours had passed, the guest had said to the
host one of the very rudest things recorded by Boswell! Later on in the
same evening he atoned for his incivility by giving one of the boys of
the house a pocket Sallust, and promising to procure him a servitorship
at Oxford. Subsequently Johnson pronounced that Mr. Macaulay was not
competent to have written the book that went by his name; a decision
which, to those who happen to have read the work, will give a very poor
notion of my ancestor's abilities.

The eldest son of old Aulay, and the grandfather of Lord Macaulay, was
John, born in the year 1720. He was minister successively of Barra,
South Uist, Lismore, and Inverary; the last appointment being a proof
of the interest which the family of Argyll continued to take in the
fortunes of the Macaulays. He, likewise, during the famous tour in
the Hebrides, came across the path of Boswell, who mentions him in an
exquisitely absurd paragraph, the first of those in which is described
the visit to Inverary Castle. ["Monday, Oct. 25.--My acquaintance, the
Rev. Mr. John M'Aulay, one of the ministers of Inverary, and brother to
our good friend at Calder, came to us this morning, and accompanied us
to the castle, where I presented Dr. Johnson to the Duke of Argyll. We
were shown through the house; and I never shall forget the impression
made upon my fancy by some of the ladies' maids tripping about in neat
morning dresses. After seeing for a long time little but rusticity,
their lively manner, and gay inciting appearance, pleased me so much,
that I thought for a moment I could have been a knight-errant for
them."] Mr. Macaulay afterwards passed the evening with the travellers
at their inn, and provoked Johnson into what Boswell calls warmth, and
anyone else would call brutality, by the very proper remark that he
had no notion of people being in earnest in good professions if their
practice belied them. When we think what well-known ground this was to
Lord Macaulay, it is impossible to suppress a wish that the great talker
had been at hand to avenge his grandfather and grand-uncle. Next morning
"Mr. Macaulay breakfasted with us, nothing hurt or dismayed by his last
night's correction. Being a man of good sense he had a just admiration
of Dr. Johnson." He was rewarded by seeing Johnson at his very best, and
hearing him declaim some of the finest lines that ever were written in a
manner worthy of his subject.

There is a tradition that, in his younger days, the minister of Inverary
proved his Whiggism by giving information to the authorities which
almost led to the capture of the young Pretender. It is perhaps a matter
of congratulation that this item was not added to the heavy account that
the Stuarts have against the Macaulay family. John Macaulay enjoyed
a high reputation as a preacher, and was especially renowned for his
fluency. In 1774 he removed to Cardross in Dumbartonshire, where, on the
bank of the noble estuary of the Clyde, he spent the last fifteen years
of a useful and honoured life. He was twice married. His first wife died
at the birth of his first child. Eight years afterwards, in 1757, he
espoused Margaret, daughter of Colin Campbell of Inveresragan, who
survived him by a single year. By her he had the patriarchal number of
twelve children, whom he brought up on the old Scotch system,--common
to the households of minister, man of business, farmer, and peasant
alike,--on fine air, simple diet, and a solid training in knowledge
human and divine. Two generations after, Mr. Carlyle, during a visit to
the late Lord Ashburton at the Grange, caught sight of Macaulay's face
in unwonted repose, as he was turning over the pages of a book. "I
noticed," said he, "the homely Norse features that you find everywhere
in the Western Isles, and I thought to myself 'Well! Anyone can see that
you are an honest good sort of fellow, made out of oatmeal.'"

Several of John Macaulay's children obtained position in the world.
Aulay, the eldest by his second wife, became a clergyman of the Church
of England. His reputation as a scholar and antiquary stood high, and in
the capacity of a private tutor he became known even in royal circles.
He published pamphlets and treatises, the list of which it is not worth
while to record, and meditated several large works that perhaps never
got much beyond a title. Of all his undertakings the one best deserving
commemoration in these pages was a tour that he made into Scotland
in company with Mr. Thomas Babington, the owner of Rothley Temple in
Leicestershire, in the course of which the travellers paid a visit
to the manse at Cardross. Mr. Babington fell in love with one of the
daughters of the house, Miss Jean Macaulay, and married her in
1787. Nine years afterwards he had an opportunity of presenting his
brother-in-law Aulay Macaulay with the very pleasant living of Rothley.

Alexander, another son of John Macaulay, succeeded his father as
minister of Cardross. Colin went into the Indian army, and died a
general. He followed the example of the more ambitious among his brother
officers, and exchanged military for civil duties. In 1799 he acted as
secretary to a political and diplomatic Commission which accompanied
the force that marched under General Harris against Seringapatam. The
leading Commissioner was Colonel Wellesley, and to the end of General
Macaulay's life the great Duke corresponded with him on terms of
intimacy, and (so the family flattered themselves) even of friendship.
Soon after the commencement of the century Colin Macaulay was appointed
Resident at the important native state of Travancore. While on this
employment he happened to light upon a valuable collection of books, and
rapidly made himself master of the principal European languages, which
he spoke and wrote with a facility surprising in one who had acquired
them within a few leagues of Cape Comorin.

There was another son of John Macaulay, who in force and elevation of
character stood out among his brothers, and who was destined to make
for himself no ordinary career. The path which Zachary Macaulay chose
to tread did not lead to wealth, or worldly success, or indeed to much
worldly happiness. Born in 1768, he was sent out at the age of sixteen
by a Scotch house of business as bookkeeper to an estate in Jamaica, of
which he soon rose to be sole manager. His position brought him into
the closest possible contact with negro slavery. His mind was not
prepossessed against the system of society which he found in the West
Indies. His personal interests spoke strongly in its favour, while his
father, whom he justly respected, could see nothing to condemn in an
institution recognised by Scripture. Indeed, the religious world still
allowed the maintenance of slavery to continue an open question. John
Newton, the real founder of that school in the Church of England of
which in after years Zachary Macaulay was a devoted member, contrived to
reconcile the business of a slave trader with the duties of a Christian,
and to the end of his days gave scandal to some of his disciples, (who
by that time were one and all sworn abolitionists,) by his supposed
reluctance to see that there could be no fellowship between light and
such darkness.

But Zachary Macaulay had eyes of his own to look about him, a clear head
for forming a judgment on what he saw, and a conscience which would
not permit him to live otherwise than in obedience to its mandates. The
young Scotchman's innate respect for his fellows, and his appreciation
of all that instruction and religion can do for men, was shocked at the
sight of a population deliberately kept ignorant and heathen. His kind
heart was wounded by cruelties practised at the will and pleasure of a
thousand petty despots. He had read his Bible too literally to acquiesce
easily in a state of matters under which human beings were bred and
raised like a stock of cattle, while outraged morality was revenged
on the governing race by the shameless licentiousness which is the
inevitable accompaniment of slavery. He was well aware that these evils,
so far from being superficial or remediable, were essential to the
very existence of a social fabric constituted like that within which he
lived. It was not for nothing that he had been behind the scenes in that
tragedy of crime and misery. His philanthropy was not learned by the
royal road of tracts, and platform speeches, and monthly magazines. What
he knew he had spelt out for himself with no teacher except the aspect
of human suffering, and degradation, and sin.

He was not one of those to whom conviction comes in a day; and, when
convinced, he did nothing sudden. Little more than a boy in age,
singularly modest, and constitutionally averse to any course that
appeared pretentious or theatrical, he began by a sincere attempt to
make the best of his calling. For some years he contented himself with
doing what he could, (so he writes to a friend,) "to alleviate the
hardships of a considerable number of my fellow-creatures, and to render
the bitter cup of servitude as palatable as possible." But by the time
he was four-and-twenty he became tired of trying to find a compromise
between right and wrong, and, refusing really great offers from the
people with whom he was connected, he threw up his position, and
returned to his native country. This step was taken against the wishes
of his father, who was not prepared for the construction which his son
put upon the paternal precept that a man should make his practice square
with his professions.

But Zachary Macaulay soon had more congenial work to do. The young West
Indian overseer was not alone in his scruples. Already for some time
past a conviction had been abroad that individual citizens could not
divest themselves of their share in the responsibility in which the
nation was involved by the existence of slavery in our colonies. Already
there had been formed the nucleus of the most disinterested, and
perhaps the most successful, popular movement which history records. The
question of the slave trade was well before Parliament and the country.
Ten years had passed since the freedom of all whose feet touched the
soil of our island had been vindicated before the courts at Westminster,
and not a few negroes had become their own masters as a consequence
of that memorable decision. The patrons of the race were somewhat
embarrassed by having these expatriated freedmen on their hands;
an opinion prevailed that the traffic in human lives could never
be efficiently checked until Africa had obtained the rudiments of
civilisation; and, after long discussion, a scheme was matured for
the colonisation of Sierra Leone by liberated slaves. A company was
organised, with a charter from the Crown, and a board which included the
names of Granville Sharpe and Wilberforce. A large capital was speedily
subscribed, and the Chair was accepted by Mr. Henry Thornton, a leading
City banker and a member of Parliament, whose determined opposition to
cruelty and oppression in every form was such as might be expected in
one who had inherited from his father the friendship of the poet Cowper.
Mr. Thornton heard Macaulay's story from Thomas Babington, with whom he
lived on terms of close intimacy and political alliance. The Board, by
the advice of its Chairman, passed a resolution appointing the young man
Second Member in the Sierra Leone Council, and early in the year 1793
he sailed for Africa, where soon after his arrival he succeeded to the
position and duties of Governor.

The Directors had done well to secure a tried man. The colony was at
once exposed to the implacable enmity of merchants whose market the
agents of the new company spoiled in their capacity of traders,
and slave-dealers with whom they interfered in their character of
philanthropists. The native tribes in the vicinity, instigated by
European hatred and jealousy, began to inflict upon the defenceless
authorities of the settlement a series of those monkey-like
impertinences which, absurdly as they may read in a narrative, are
formidable and ominous when they indicate that savages feel their power.
These barbarians, who had hitherto commanded as much rum and gunpowder
as they cared to have by selling their neighbours at the nearest
barracoon, showed no appreciation for the comforts and advantages of
civilisation. Indeed, those advantages were displayed in anything but
an attractive shape even within the pale of the company's territory.
An aggregation of negroes from Jamaica, London, and Nova Scotia,
who possessed no language except an acquired jargon, and shared no
associations beyond the recollections of a common servitude, were
not very promising apostles for the spread of Western culture and the
Christian faith. Things went smoothly enough as long as the business of
the colony was mainly confined to eating the provisions that had been
brought in the ships; but as soon as the work became real, and the
commons short, the whole community smouldered down into chronic mutiny.

Zachary Macaulay was the very man for such a crisis. To a rare fund of
patience, and self-command, and perseverance, he united a calm courage
that was equal to any trial. These qualities were, no doubt, inherent
in his disposition; but no one except those who have turned over his
voluminous private journals can understand what constant effort, and
what incessant watchfulness, went to maintain throughout a long life a
course of conduct, and a temper of mind, which gave every appearance
of being the spontaneous fruit of nature. He was not one who dealt in
personal experiences; and few among even the friends who loved him like
father or brother, and who would have trusted him with all their fortune
on his bare word, knew how entirely his outward behaviour was the
express image of his religious belief. The secret of his character and
of his actions lay in perfect humility and an absolute faith. Events did
not discompose him, because they were sent by One who best knew his own
purposes. He was not fretted by the folly of others, or irritated
by their hostility, because he regarded the humblest or the worst of
mankind as objects, equally with himself, of the divine love and care.
On all other points he examined himself so closely that the meditations
of a single evening would fill many pages of diary; but so completely
in his case had the fear of God cast out all other fear that amidst
the gravest perils, and the most bewildering responsibilities, it never
occurred to him to question whether he was brave or not. He worked
strenuously and unceasingly, never amusing himself from year's end to
year's end, and shrinking from any public praise or recognition as from
an unlawful gratification, because he was firmly persuaded that, when
all had been accomplished and endured, he was yet but an unprofitable
servant, who had done that which was his duty to do. Some, perhaps, will
consider such motives as oldfashioned, and such convictions as out of
date; but self-abnegation, self-control, and self-knowledge that does
not give to self the benefit of any doubt, are virtues which are not
oldfashioned, and for which, as time goes on, the world is likely to
have as much need as ever. [Sir James Stephen writes thus of his friend
Macaulay: "That his understanding was proof against sophistry, and
his nerves against fear, were, indeed, conclusions to which a stranger
arrived at the first interview with him. But what might be suggesting
that expression of countenance, at once so earnest and so monotonous--by
what manner of feeling those gestures, so uniformly firm and deliberate
were prompted--whence the constant traces of fatigue on those
overhanging brows and on that athletic though ungraceful figure--what
might be the charm which excited amongst his chosen circle a faith
approaching to superstition, and a love rising to enthusiasm, towards a
man whose demeanour was so inanimate, if not austere:--it was a riddle
of which neither Gall nor Lavater could have found the key."

That Sir James himself could read the riddle is proved by the concluding
words of a passage marked by a force and tenderness of feeling unusual
even in him: "His earthward affections,--active and all--enduring as
they were, could yet thrive without the support of human sympathy,
because they were sustained by so abiding a sense of the divine
presence, and so absolute a submission to the divine will, as raised
him habitually to that higher region where the reproach of man could not
reach, and the praise of man might not presume to follow him."]

Mr. Macaulay was admirably adapted for the arduous and uninviting task
of planting a negro colony. His very deficiencies stood him in good
stead; for, in presence of the elements with which he had to deal, it
was well for him that nature had denied him any sense of the ridiculous.
Unconscious of what was absurd around him, and incapable of being
flurried, frightened, or fatigued, he stood as a centre of order and
authority amidst the seething chaos of inexperience and insubordination.
The staff was miserably insufficient, and every officer of the Company
had to do duty for three in a climate such that a man is fortunate if he
can find health for the work of one during a continuous twelvemonth. The
Governor had to be in the counting-house, the law-court, the school, and
even the chapel. He was his own secretary, his own paymaster, his own
envoy. He posted ledgers, he decided causes, he conducted correspondence
with the Directors at home, and visited neighbouring potentates on
diplomatic missions which made up in danger what they lacked in dignity.
In the absence of properly qualified clergymen, with whom he would have
been the last to put himself in competition, he preached sermons
and performed marriages;--a function which must have given honest
satisfaction to one who had been so close a witness of the enforced
and systematised immorality of a slave-nursery. Before long, something
fairly resembling order was established, and the settlement began to
enjoy a reasonable measure of prosperity. The town was built, the fields
were planted, and the schools filled. The Governor made a point of
allotting the lightest work to the negroes who could read and write; and
such was the stimulating effect of this system upon education that he
confidently looked forward "to the time when there would be few in
the colony unable to read the Bible." A printing-press was in constant
operation, and in the use of a copying-machine the little community was
three-quarters of a century ahead of the London public offices.

But a severe ordeal was in store for the nascent civilisation of Sierra
Leone. On a Sunday morning in September 1794, eight French sail appeared
off the coast. The town was about as defensible as Brighton; and it is
not difficult to imagine the feelings which the sansculottes inspired
among Evangelical colonists whose last advices from Europe dated from
the very height of the Reign of Terror. There was a party in favour of
escaping into the forest with as much property as could be removed at so
short a notice; but the Governor insisted that there would be no chance
of saving the Company's buildings unless the Company's servants could
make up their minds to remain at their posts, and face it out. The
squadron moored within musket-shot of the quay, and swept the streets
for two hours with grape and bullets; a most gratuitous piece of
cruelty that killed a negress and a child, and gave one unlucky English
gentleman a fright which ultimately brought him to his grave. The
invaders then proceeded to land, and Mr. Macaulay had an opportunity of
learning something about the condition of the French marine during the
heroic period of the Republic.

A personal enemy of his own, the captain of a Yankee slaver, brought
a party of sailors straight to the Governor's house. What followed had
best be told in Mr. Macaulay's own words. "Newell, who was attended by
half-a-dozen sans-culottes, almost foaming with rage, presented a pistol
to me, and with many oaths demanded instant satisfaction for the slaves
who had run away from him to my protection. I made very little
reply, but told him he must now _take_ such satisfaction as he judged
equivalent to his claims, as I was no longer master of my actions. He
became so very outrageous that, after bearing with him a little while,
I thought it most prudent to repair myself to the French officer, and
request his safe-conduct on board the Commodore's ship. As I passed
along the wharf the scene was curious enough. The Frenchmen, who had
come ashore in filth and rags, were now many of them dressed out with
women's shifts, gowns, and petticoats. Others had quantities of cloth
wrapped about their bodies, or perhaps six or seven suits of clothes
upon them at a time. The scene which presented itself on my getting
on board the flag-ship was still more singular. The quarter-deck was
crowded by a set of ragamuffins whose appearance beggared every previous
description, and among whom I sought in vain for some one who looked
like a gentleman. The stench and filth exceeded anything I had ever
witnessed in any ship, and the noise and confusion gave me some idea of
their famous Mountain. I was ushered into the Commodore's cabin, who
at least received me civilly. His name was Citizen Allemand. He did not
appear to have the right of excluding any of his fellow-citizens even
from this place. Whatever might be their rank, they crowded into it,
and conversed familiarly with him." Such was the discipline of the fleet
that had been beaten by Lord Hove on the first of June; and such the raw
material of the armies which, under firm hands, and on an element more
suited to the military genius of their nation, were destined to triumph
at Rivoli and Hohenlinden.

Mr. Macaulay, who spoke French with ease and precision, in his anxiety
to save the town used every argument which might prevail on the
Commodore, whose Christian name, (if one may use such a phrase with
reference to a patriot of the year two of the Republic,) happened oddly
enough to be the same as his own. He appealed first to the traditional
generosity of Frenchmen towards a fallen enemy, but soon discerned that
the quality in question had gone out with the old order of things, if
indeed it ever existed. He then represented that a people, who professed
to be waging war with the express object of striking off the fetters of
mankind, would be guilty of flagrant inconsistency if they destroyed an
asylum for liberated slaves; but the Commodore gave him to understand
that sentiments, which sounded very well in the Hall of the Jacobins,
were out of place on the West Coast of Africa. The Governor returned
on shore to find the town already completely gutted. It was evident at
every turn that, although the Republican battalions might carry liberty
and fraternity through Europe on the points of their bayonets, the
Republican sailors had found a very different use for the edge of their
cutlasses. "The sight of my own and of the Accountant's offices almost
sickened me. Every desk, and every drawer, and every shelf, together
with the printing and copying presses, had been completely demolished
in the search for money. The floors were strewed with types, and papers,
and leaves of books; and I had the mortification to see a great part of
my own labour, and of the labour of others, for several years
totally destroyed. At the other end of the house I found telescopes,
hygrometers, barometers, thermometers, and electrical machines, lying
about in fragments. The view of the town library filled me with lively
concern. The volumes were tossed about and defaced with the utmost
wantonness; and, if they happened to bear any resemblance to Bibles,
they were torn in pieces and trampled on. The collection of natural
curiosities next caught my eye. Plants, seeds, dried birds, insects,
and drawings were scattered about in great confusion, and some of the
sailors were in the act of killing a beautiful musk-cat, which they
afterwards ate. Every house was full of Frenchmen, who were hacking, and
destroying, and tearing up everything which they could not convert to
their own use. The destruction of live stock on this and the following
day was immense. In my yard alone they killed fourteen dozen of fowls,
and there were not less than twelve hundred hogs shot in the town." It
was unsafe to walk in the streets of Freetown during the forty-eight
hours that followed its capture, because the French crews, with too much
of the Company's port wine in their heads to aim straight, were firing
at the pigs of the poor freedmen over whom they had achieved such a
questionable victory.

To readers of Erckmann-Chatrian it is unpleasant to be taken thus behind
the curtain on which those skilful artists have painted the wars of the
early Revolution. It is one thing to be told how the crusaders of '93
and '94 were received with blessings and banquets by the populations to
whom they brought freedom and enlightenment, and quite another to read
the journal in which a quiet accurate-minded Scotchman tells us how
a pack of tipsy ruffians sat abusing Pitt and George to him, over a
fricassee of his own fowls, and among the wreck of his lamps and mirrors
which they had smashed as a protest against aristocratic luxury.

"There is not a boy among them who has not learnt to accompany the name
of Pitt with an execration. When I went to bed, there was no sleep to be
had on account of the sentinels thinking fit to amuse me the whole night
through with the revenge they meant to take on him when they got him to
Paris. Next morning I went on board the 'Experiment.' The Commodore and
all his officers messed together, and I was admitted among them. They
are truly the poorest-looking people I ever saw. Even the Commodore
has only one suit which can at all distinguish him, not to say from the
officers, but from the men. The filth and confusion of their meals was
terrible. A chorus of boys usher in the dinner with the Marseilles hymn,
and it finishes in the same way. The enthusiasm of all ranks among them
is astonishing, but not more so than their blindness. They talk with
ecstasy of their revolutionary government, of their bloody executions,
of their revolutionary tribunal, of the rapid movement of their
revolutionary army with the Corps of justice and the flying guillotine
before it; forgetting that not one of them is not liable to its stroke
on the accusation of the greatest vagabond on board. They asked me with
triumph if yesterday had not been Sunday. 'Oh,' said they, 'the National
Convention have decreed that there is no Sunday, and that the Bible is
all a lie.'" After such an experience it is not difficult to account
for the keen and almost personal interest with which, to the very day of
Waterloo, Mr. Macaulay watched through its varying phases the rise
and the downfall of the French power. He followed the progress of the
British arms with a minute and intelligent attention which from a very
early date communicated itself to his son; and the hearty patriotism of
Lord Macaulay is perhaps in no small degree the consequence of what
his father suffered from the profane and rapacious sansculottes of the
revolutionary squadron.

Towards the middle of October the Republicans took their departure. Even
at this distance of time it is provoking to learn that they got back
to Brest without meeting an enemy that had teeth to bite. The African
climate, however, reduced the squadron to such a plight, that it was
well for our frigates that they had not the chance of getting its
fever-stricken crews under their hatches. The French never revisited
Freetown. Indeed, they had left the place in such a condition that
it was not worth their while to return. The houses had been carefully
burned to the ground, and the live stock killed. Except the clothes
on their backs, and a little brandy and flour, the Europeans had lost
everything they had in the world. Till assistance came from the mother
country they lived upon such provisions as could be recovered from the
reluctant hands of the negro settlers, who providentially had not been
able to resist the temptation of helping the Republicans to plunder the
Company's stores. Judicious liberality at home, and a year's hard work
on the spot, did much to repair the damage; and, when his colony was
again upon its feet, Mr. Macaulay sailed to England with the object
of recruiting his health, which had broken down under an attack of low

On his arrival he was admitted at once and for ever within the innermost
circle of friends and fellow-labourers who were united round Wilberforce
and Henry Thornton by indissoluble bonds of mutual personal regard and
common public ends. As an indispensable part of his initiation into that
very pleasant confederacy, he was sent down to be introduced to Hannah
More, who was living at Cowslip Green, near Bristol, in the enjoyment
of general respect, mixed with a good deal of what even those who admire
her as she deserved must in conscience call flattery. He there met
Selina Mills, a former pupil of the school which the Miss Mores kept
in the neighbouring city, and a lifelong friend of all the sisters. The
young lady is said to have been extremely pretty and attractive, as
may well be believed by those who saw her in later years. She was the
daughter of a member of the Society of Friends, who at one time was a
bookseller in Bristol, and who built there a small street called "Mills
Place," in which he himself resided. His grandchildren remembered him
as an old man of imposing appearance, with long white hair, talking
incessantly of Jacob Boehmen. Mr. Mills had sons, one of whom edited a
Bristol journal exceedingly well, and is said to have made some figure
in light literature. This uncle of Lord Macaulay was a very lively,
clever man, full of good stories, of which only one has survived. Young
Mills, while resident in London, had looked in at Rowland Hill's chapel,
and had there lost a new hat. When he reported the misfortune to his
father, the old Quaker replied: "John, if thee'd gone to the right place
of worship, thee'd have kept thy hat upon thy head." Lord Macaulay was
accustomed to say that he got his "joviality" from his mother's family.
If his power of humour was indeed of Quaker origin, he was rather
ungrateful in the use to which he sometimes put it.

Mr. Macaulay fell in love with Miss Mills, and obtained her affection
in return. He had to encounter the opposition of her relations, who were
set upon her making another and a better match, and of Mrs. Patty More,
(so well known to all who have studied the somewhat diffuse annals of
the More family,) who, in the true spirit of romantic friendship, wished
her to promise never to marry at all, but to domesticate herself as a
youngest sister in the household at Cowslip Green. Miss Hannah,
however, took a more unselfish view of the situation, and advocated Mr.
Macaulay's cause with firmness and good feeling. Indeed, he must have
been, according to her particular notions, the most irreproachable of
lovers, until her own Coelebs was given to the world. By her help he
carried his point in so far that the engagement was made and recognised;
but the friends of the young lady would not allow her to accompany him
to Africa; and, during his absence from England, which began in the
early months of 1796, by an arrangement that under the circumstances was
very judicious, she spent much of her time in Leicestershire with his
sister Mrs. Babington.

His first business after arriving at Sierra Leone was to sit in judgment
on the ringleaders of a formidable outbreak which had taken place in
the colony; and he had an opportunity of proving by example that negro
disaffection, from the nature of the race, is peculiarly susceptible
to treatment by mild remedies, if only the man in the post of
responsibility has got a heart and can contrive to keep his head. He had
much more trouble with a batch of missionaries, whom he took with him in
the ship, and who were no sooner on board than they began to fall out,
ostensibly on controversial topics, but more probably from the same
motives that so often set the laity quarrelling during the incessant and
involuntary companionship of a sea-voyage. Mr. Macaulay, finding that
the warmth of these debates furnished sport to the captain and other
irreligious characters, was forced seriously to exert his authority
in order to separate and silence the disputants. His report of these
occurrences went in due time to the Chairman of the Company, who excused
himself for an arrangement which had turned out so ill by telling a
story of a servant who, having to carry a number of gamecocks from one
place to another, tied them up in the same bag, and found on arriving at
his journey's end that they had spent their time in tearing each other
to pieces. When his master called him to account for his stupidity he
replied: "Sir, as they were all your cocks, I thought they would be all
on one side."

Things did not go much more smoothly on shore. Mr. Macaulay's official
correspondence gives a curious picture of his difficulties in the
character of Minister of Public Worship in a black community. "The
Baptists under David George are decent and orderly, but there is
observable in them a great neglect of family worship, and sometimes
an unfairness in their dealings. To Lady Huntingdon's Methodists, as a
body, may with great justice be addressed the first verse of the
third chapter of the Revelation. The lives of many of them are very
disorderly, and rank antinomianism prevails among them." But his sense
of religion and decency was most sorely tried by Moses Wilkinson, a
so-called Wesleyan Methodist, whose congregation, not a very respectable
one to begin with, had recently been swollen by a Revival which had been
accompanied by circumstances the reverse of edifying. [Lord Macaulay
had in his youth heard too much about negro preachers, and negro
administrators, to permit him to entertain any very enthusiastic
anticipations with regard to the future of the African race. He writes
in his journal for July 8 1858: "Motley called. I like him much. We
agree wonderfully well about slavery, and it is not often that I meet
any person with whom I agree on that subject. For I hate slavery from
the bottom of my soul; and yet I am made sick by the cant and the silly
mock reasons of the Abolitionists. The nigger driver and the negrophile
are two odious things to me. I must make Lady Macbeth's reservation:
'Had he not resembled--,'"] The Governor must have looked back
with regret to that period in the history of the colony when he was
underhanded in the clerical department.

But his interest in the negro could bear ruder shocks than an occasional
outburst of eccentric fanaticism. He liked his work, because he liked
those for whom he was working. "Poor people," he writes, "one cannot
help loving them. With all their trying humours, they have a warmth of
affection which is really irresistible." For their sake he endured all
the risk and worry inseparable from a long engagement kept by the lady
among disapproving friends, and by the gentleman at Sierra Leone. He
stayed till the settlement had begun to thrive, and the Company had
almost begun to pay; and until the Home Government had given marked
tokens of favour and protection, which some years later developed into a
negotiation under which the colony was transferred to the Crown. It was
not till 1799 that he finally gave up his appointment, and left a region
which, alone among men, he quitted with unfeigned, and, except in one
particular, with unmixed regret. But for the absence of an Eve, he
regarded the West Coast of Africa as a veritable Paradise, or, to use
his own expression, as a more agreeable Montpelier. With a temper which
in the intercourse of society was proof against being ruffled by any
possible treatment of any conceivable subject, to the end of his life he
showed faint signs of irritation if anyone ventured in his presence to
hint that Sierra Leone was unhealthy.

On his return to England he was appointed Secretary to the Company, and
was married at Bristol on the 26th of August, 1799. A most close union
it was, and, (though in latter years he became fearfully absorbed in
the leading object of his existence, and ceased in a measure to be the
companion that he had been,) his love for his wife, and deep trust and
confidence in her, never failed. They took a small house in Lambeth for
the first twelve months. When Mrs. Macaulay was near her confinement,
Mrs. Babington, who belonged to the school of matrons who hold that the
advantage of country air outweighs that of London doctors, invited her
sister-in-law to Rothley Temple; and there, in a room panelled from
ceiling to floor, like every corner of the ancient mansion, with oak
almost black from age,--looking eastward across the park and southward
through an ivy-shaded window into a little garden,--Lord Macaulay was
born. It was on the 25th of October 1800, the day of St. Crispin, the
anniversary of Agincourt, (as he liked to say,) that he opened his eyes
on a world which he was destined so thoroughly to learn and so intensely
to enjoy. His father was as pleased as a father could be; but fate
seemed determined that Zachary Macaulay should not be indulged in any
great share of personal happiness. The next morning the noise of a
spinning-jenny, at work in a cottage, startled his horse as he was
riding past. He was thrown, and both arms were broken; and he spent in
a sick-room the remainder of the only holiday worth the name which, (as
far as can be traced in the family records,) he ever took during his
married life. Owing to this accident the young couple were detained
at Rothley into the winter; and the child was baptised in the private
chapel which formed part of the house, on the 26th November 1800, by the
names of Thomas Babington;--the Rev. Aulay Macaulay, and Mr. and Mrs.
Babington, acting as sponsors.

The two years which followed were passed in a house in Birchin Lane,
where the Sierra Leone Company had its office. The only place where the
child could be taken for exercise, and what might be called air, was
Drapers' Gardens, which (already under sentence to be covered with
bricks and mortar at an early date) lies behind Throgmorton Street,
and within a hundred yards of the Stock Exchange. To this dismal yard,
containing as much gravel as grass, and frowned upon by a board of Rules
and Regulations almost as large as itself, his mother used to convoy the
nurse and the little boy through the crowds that towards noon swarmed
along Cornhill and Threadneedle Street; and thither she would return,
after a due interval, to escort them back to Birchin Lane. So strong
was the power of association upon Macaulay's mind that in after years
Drapers' Garden was among his favourite haunts. Indeed, his habit of
roaming for hours through and through the heart of the City, (a habit
that never left him as long as he could roam at all,) was due in part
to the recollection which caused him to regard that region as native

Baby as he was when he quitted it, he retained some impression of his
earliest home. He remembered standing up at the nursery window by his
father's side, looking at a cloud of black smoke pouring out of a tall
chimney. He asked if that was hell; an inquiry that was received with a
grave displeasure which at the time he could not understand. The kindly
father must have been pained, almost against his own will, at finding
what feature of his creed it was that had embodied itself in so very
material a shape before his little son's imagination. When in after days
Mrs. Macaulay was questioned as to how soon she began to detect in the
child a promise of the future, she used to say that his sensibilities
and affections were remarkably developed at an age which to her hearers
appeared next to incredible. He would cry for joy on seeing her after a
few hours' absence, and, (till her husband put a stop to it,) her power
of exciting his feelings was often made an exhibition to her friends.
She did not regard this precocity as a proof of cleverness; but, like
a foolish young mother, only thought that so tender a nature was marked
for early death.

The next move which the family made was into as healthy an atmosphere,
in every sense, as the most careful parent could wish to select. Mr.
Macaulay took a house in the High Street of Clapham, in the part now
called the Pavement, on the same side as the Plough inn, but some doors
nearer to the Common. It was a roomy comfortable dwelling, with a very
small garden behind, and in front a very small one indeed, which
has entirely disappeared beneath a large shop thrown out towards the
road-way by the present occupier, who bears the name of Heywood. Here
the boy passed a quiet and most happy childhood. From the time that he
was three years old he read incessantly, for the most part lying on the
rug before the fire, with his book on the ground, and a piece of bread
and batter in his hand. A very clever woman, who then lived in the house
as parlour-maid, told how he used to sit in his nankeen frock, perched
on the table by her as she was cleaning the plate, and expounding to
her out of a volume as big as himself. He did not care for toys, but was
very fond of taking his walk, when he would hold forth to his companion,
whether nurse or mother, telling interminable stories out of his own
head, or repeating what he had been reading in language far above his
years. His memory retained without shout effort the phraseology of the
book which he had been last engaged on, and he talked, as the maid said,
"quite printed words," which produced an effect that appeared formal,
and often, no doubt, exceedingly droll. Mrs. Hannah More was fond
of relating how she called at Mr. Macaulay's, and was met by a fair,
pretty, slight child, with abundance of light hair, about four years of
age, who came to the front door to receive her, and tell her that his
parents were out, but that if she would be good enough to come in he
would bring her a glass of old spirits; a proposition which greatly
startled the good lady, who had never aspired beyond cowslip wine. When
questioned as to what he knew about old spirits, he could only say that
Robinson Crusoe often had some. About this period his father took him on
a visit to Lady Waldegrave at Strawberry Hill, and was much pleased, to
exhibit to his old friend the fair bright boy, dressed in a green coat
with red cellar and cuffs, a frill at the throat, and white trousers.
After some time had been spent among the wonders of the Orford
Collection, of which he ever after carried a catalogue in his head, a
servant who was waiting upon the company in the great gallery spilt some
hot coffee over his legs. The hostess was all kindness and compassion,
and when, after a while, she asked how he was feeling, the little fellow
looked up in her face and replied: "Thank you, madam, the agony is

But it must not be supposed that his quaint manners proceeded from
affectation or conceit; for all testimony declares that a more simple
and natural child never lived, or a more lively and merry one. He had at
his command the resources of the Common; to this day the most unchanged
spot within ten miles of St. Paul's, and which to all appearance
will ere long hold that pleasant preeminence within ten leagues.
That delightful wilderness of gorse bushes, and poplar groves, and
gravel-pits, and ponds great and small, was to little Tom Macaulay a
region of inexhaustible romance and mystery. He explored its recesses;
he composed, and almost believed, its legends; he invented for its
different features a nomenclature which has been faithfully preserved
by two generations of children. A slight ridge, intersected by deep
ditches, towards the west of the Common, the very existence of which no
one above eight years old would notice, was dignified with the title of
the Alps; while the elevated island, covered with shrubs, that gives
a name to the Mount pond, was regarded with infinite awe as being the
nearest approach within the circuit of his observation to a conception
of the majesty of Sinai. Indeed, at this period his infant fancy was
much exercised with the threats and terrors of the Law. He had a little
plot of ground at the back of the house, marked out as his own by a Tory
of oyster-shells, which a maid one day threw away as rubbish. He went
straight to the drawing-room, where his mother was entertaining some
visitors, walked into the circle, and said very solemnly: "Cursed be
Sally; for it is written, Cursed is he that removeth his neighbour's

While still the merest child he was sent as a day-scholar to Mr.
Greaves, a shrewd Yorkshireman with a turn for science, who had been
originally brought to the neighbourhood in order to educate a number
of African youths sent over to imbibe Western civilisation at the
fountain-head. The poor fellows had found as much difficulty in keeping
alive at Clapham as Englishmen experience at Sierra Leone; and, in the
end, their tutor set up a school for boys of his own colour, and at one
time had charge of almost the entire rising generation of the Common.
Mrs. Macaulay explained to Tom that he must learn to study without the
solace of bread and butter, to which he replied: "Yes, mama, industry
shall be my bread and attention my butter." But, as a matter of fact,
no one ever crept more unwillingly to school. Each several afternoon he
made piteous entreaties to be excused returning after dinner, and was
met by the unvarying formula: "No, Tom, if it rains cats and dogs, you
shall go."

His reluctance to leave home had more than one side to it. Not only did
his heart stay behind, but the regular lessons of the class took him
away from occupations which in his eyes were infinitely more delightful
and important; for these were probably the years of his greatest
literary activity. As an author he never again had mere facility, or
anything like so wide a range. In September 1808, his mother writes:
"My dear Tom continues to show marks of uncommon genius. He gets on
wonderfully in all branches of his education, and the extent of
his reading, and of the knowledge he has derived from it, are truly
astonishing in a boy not yet eight years old. He is at the same time as
playful as a kitten. To give you some idea of the activity of his mind
I will mention a few circumstances that may interest you and Colin. You
will believe that to him we never appear to regard anything he does as
anything more than a schoolboy's amusement. He took it into his head to
write a compendium of Universal History about a year ago, and he really
contrived to give a tolerably connected view of the leading events from
the Creation to the present time, filling about a quire of paper. He
told me one day that he had been writing a paper, which Henry Daly
was to translate into Malabar, to persuade the people of Travancore to
embrace the Christian religion. On reading it I found it to contain a
very clear idea of the leading facts and doctrines of that religion,
with some strong arguments for its adoption. He was so fired with
reading Scott's Lay and Marmion, the former of which he got entirely,
and the latter almost entirely, by heart, merely from his delight in
reading them, that he determined on writing himself a poem in six cantos
which he called the 'Battle of Cheviot.' After he had finished about
three of the cantos of about 120 lines each, which he did in a couple of
days, he became tired of it. I make no doubt he would have finished his
design, but, as he was proceeding with it, the thought struck him of
writing an heroic poem to be called 'Olaus the Great, or the Conquest
of Mona,' in which, after the manner of Virgil, he might introduce in
prophetic song the future fortunes of the family;--among others, those
of the hero who aided in the fall of the tyrant of Mysore, after having
long suffered from his tyranny; [General Macaulay had been one of Tippoo
Sahib's prisoners] and of another of his race who had exerted himself
for the deliverance of the wretched Africans. He has just begun it. He
has composed I know not how many hymns. I send you one, as a specimen,
in his own handwriting, which he wrote about six months ago on one
Monday morning while we were at breakfast."

The affection of the last generation of his relatives has preserved
all these pieces, but the piety of this generation will refrain from
submitting them to public criticism. A marginal note, in which Macaulay
has expressed his cordial approval of Uncle Toby's [Tristram Shandy,
chapter clxiii.] remark about the great Lipsius, indicates his own
wishes in the matter too clearly to leave any choice for those who come
after him. But there still may be read in a boyish scrawl the epitome of
Universal History, from "a new king who knew not Joseph,"--down through
Rameses, and Dido, and Tydeus, and Tarquin, and Crassus, and Gallienus,
and Edward the Martyr,--to Louis, who "set off on a crusade against the
Albigenses," and Oliver Cromwell, who "was an unjust and wicked man."
The hymns remain, which Mrs. Hannah More, surely a consummate judge of
the article, pronounced to be "quite extraordinary for such a baby."
To a somewhat later period probably belongs a vast pile of blank verse,
entitled "Fingal, a poem in xii books;" two of which are in a complete
and connected shape, while the rest of the story is lost amidst a
labyrinth of many hundred scattered lines, so transcribed as to suggest
a conjecture that the boy's demand for foolscap had outrun the paternal

Of all his performances, that which attracted most attention at the time
was undertaken for the purpose of immortalising Olaus Magnus, King of
Norway, from whom the clan to which the bard belonged was supposed
to derive its name. Two cantos are extant, of which there are several
exemplars, in every stage of calligraphy from the largest round hand
downwards, a circumstance which is apparently due to the desire on the
part of each of the little Macaulays to possess a copy of the great
family epic. The opening stanzas, each of which contains more lines than
their author counted years, go swinging along with plenty of animation
and no dearth of historical and geographical allusion.

 Day set on Cumbria's hills supreme,
 And, Menai, on thy silver stream.
 The star of day had reached the West.
 Now in the main it sank to rest.
 Shone great Eleindyn's castle tall:
 Shone every battery, every hall:
 Shone all fair Mona's verdant plain;
 But chiefly shone the foaming main.

And again

 "Long," said the Prince, "shall Olave's name
 Live in the high records of fame.
 Fair Mona now shall trembling stand
 That ne'er before feared mortal hand.
 Mona, that isle where Ceres' flower
 In plenteous autumn's golden hour
 Hides all the fields from man's survey
 As locusts hid old Egypt's day."

The passage containing a prophetic mention of his father and uncle
after the manner of the sixth book of the Aeneid, for the sake of
which, according to Mrs. Macaulay, the poem was originally designed, can
nowhere be discovered. It is possible that in the interval between the
conception and the execution the boy happened to light upon a copy of
the Rolliad. If such was the case, he already had too fine a sense
of humour to have persevered in his original plan after reading that
masterpiece of drollery. It is worthy of note that the voluminous
writings of his childhood, dashed off at headlong speed in the odds
and ends of leisure from school-study and nursery routine, are not only
perfectly correct in spelling and grammar, but display the same lucidity
of meaning, and scrupulous accuracy in punctuation and the other minor
details of the literary art, which characterise his mature works.

Nothing could be more judicious than the treatment that Mr. and Mrs.
Macaulay adopted towards their boy. They never handed his productions
about, or encouraged him to parade his powers of conversation or
memory. They abstained from any word or act which might foster in him
a perception of his own genius with as much care as a wise millionaire
expends on keeping his son ignorant of the fact that he is destined to
be richer than his comrades. "It was scarcely ever," writes one who knew
him well from the very first, "that the consciousness was expressed
by either of his parents of the superiority of their son over other
children. Indeed, with his father I never remember any such expression.
What I most observed myself was his extraordinary command of language.
When he came to describe to his mother any childish play, I took care
to be present, when I could, that I might listen to the way in which he
expressed himself, often scarcely exceeded in his later years. Except
this trifle, I remember him only as a good-tempered boy, always
occupied, playing with his sisters without assumption of any kind." One
effect of this early discipline showed itself in his freedom from vanity
and susceptibility,--those qualities which, coupled together in our
modern psychological dialect under the head of "self-consciousness," are
supposed to be the besetting defects of the literary character. Another
result was his habitual over-estimate of the average knowledge possessed
by mankind. Judging others by himself, he credited the world at large
with an amount of information which certainly few have the ability
to acquire, or the capacity to retain. If his parents had not been
so diligent in concealing from him the difference between his own
intellectual stores and those of his neighbours, it is probable that
less would have been heard of Lord Macaulay's Schoolboy.

The system pursued at home was continued at Barley Wood, the place where
the Misses More resided from 1802 onwards. Mrs. Macaulay gladly sent her
boy to a house where he was encouraged without being spoiled, and where
he never failed to be a welcome guest. The kind old ladies made a real
companion of him, and greatly relished his conversation; while at the
same time, with their ideas on education, they would never have allowed
him, even if he had been so inclined, to forget that he was a child.
Mrs. Hannah More, who had the rare gift of knowing how to live with both
young and old, was the most affectionate and the wisest of friends, and
readily undertook the superintendence of his studies, his pleasures, and
his health. She would keep him with her for weeks, listening to him as
he read prose by the ell, declaimed poetry by the hour, and discussed
and compared his favourite heroes, ancient, modern, and fictitious,
under all points of view and in every possible combination; coaxing him
into the garden under pretence of a lecture on botany; sending him from
his books to run round the grounds, or play at cooking in the kitchen;
giving him Bible lessons which invariably ended in a theological
argument, and following him with her advice and sympathy through his
multifarious literary enterprises. ["The next time," (my uncle once said
to us,) "that I saw Hannah More was in 1807. The old ladies begged my
parents to leave me with them for a week, and this visit was a great
event in my life. In parlour and kitchen they could not make enough of
me. They taught me to cook; and I was to preach, and they got in people
from the fields and I stood on a chair, and preached sermons. I might
have been indicted for holding a conventicle."] She writes to his father
in 1809: "I heartily hope that the sea air has been the means of setting
you up, and Mrs. Macaulay also, and that the dear little poet has caught
his share of bracing.... Tell Tom I desire to know how 'Olaus' goes on.
The sea, I suppose, furnished him with some new images."

The broader and more genial aspect under which life showed itself to the
boy at Barley Wood has left its trace in a series of childish squibs and
parodies, which may still be read with an interest that his Cambrian
and Scandinavian rhapsodies fail to inspire. The most ambitious of
these lighter efforts is a pasquinade occasioned by some local scandal,
entitled "Childe Hugh and the labourer, a pathetic ballad." The "Childe"
of the story was a neighbouring baronet, and the "Abbot" a neighbouring
rector, and the whole performance, intended, as it was, to mimic the
spirit of Percy's Reliques, irresistibly suggests a reminiscence of
John Gilpin. It is pleasant to know that to Mrs. Hannah More was due the
commencement of what eventually became the most readable of libraries,
as is shown in a series of letters extending over the entire period of
Macaulay's education. When he was six years old she writes; "Though you
are a little boy now, you will one day, if it please God, be a man; but
long before you are a man I hope you will be a scholar. I therefore
wish you to purchase such books as will be useful and agreeable to you
_then_, and that you employ this very small sum in laying a little tiny
corner-stone for your future library." A year or two afterwards she
thanks him for his "two letters, so neat and free from blots. By this
obvious improvement you have entitled yourself to another book. You must
go to Hatchard's and choose. I think we have nearly exhausted the Epics.
What say you to a little good prose? Johnson's Hebrides, or Walton's
Lives, unless you would like a neat edition of Cowper's poems or
Paradise Lost for your own eating? In any case choose something which
you do not possess. I want you to become a complete Frenchman, that
I may give you Racine, the only dramatic poet I know in any modern
language that is perfectly pure and good. I think you have hit off the
Ode very well, and I am much obliged to you for the Dedication." The
poor little author was already an adept in the traditional modes of
requiting a patron.

He had another Maecenas in the person of General Macaulay, who came back
from India in 1810. The boy greeted him with a copy of verses, beginning

 "Now safe returned from Asia's parching strand,
  Welcome, thrice welcome to thy native land."

To tell the unvarnished truth, the General's return was not altogether
of a triumphant character. After very narrowly escaping with his life
from an outbreak at Travancore, incited by a native minister who owed
him a grudge, he had given proof of courage and spirit during some
military operations which ended in his being brought back to the
Residency with flying colours. But, when the fighting was over, he
countenanced, and perhaps prompted, measures of retaliation which were
ill taken by his superiors at Calcutta. In his congratulatory effusion
the nephew presumes to remind the uncle that on European soil there
still might be found employment for so redoubtable a sword.

 "For many a battle shall be lost and won
  Ere yet thy glorious labours shall be done."

The General did not take the hint, and spent the remainder of his life
peacefully enough between London, Bath, and the Continental capitals.
He was accustomed to say that his travelling carriage was his only
freehold; and, wherever he fixed his temporary residence, he had
the talent of making himself popular. At Geneva he was a universal
favourite; he always was welcome at Coppet; and he gave the strongest
conceivable proof of a cosmopolitan disposition by finding himself
equally at home at Rome and at Clapham. When in England he lived much
with his relations, to whom he was sincerely attached. He was generous
in a high degree, and the young people owed to him books which they
otherwise could never have obtained, and treats and excursions which
formed the only recreations that broke the uniform current of their
lives. They regarded their uncle Colin as the man of the world of the
Macaulay family.

Zachary Macaulay's circumstances during these years were good, and
constantly improving. For some time he held the post of Secretary to the
Sierra Leone Company, with a salary of L500 per annum. He subsequently
entered into partnership with a nephew, and the firm did a large
business as African merchants under the names of Macaulay and Babington.
The position of the father was favourable to the highest interests of
his children. A boy has the best chance of being well brought up in
a household where there is solid comfort, combined with thrift and
simplicity; and the family was increasing too fast to leave any margin
for luxurious expenditure. Before the eldest son had completed his
thirteenth year he had three brothers and five sisters.

[It was in the course of his thirteenth year that the boy wrote his
"Epitaph on Henry Martyn."

 Here Martyn lies. In manhood's early bloom
 The Christian hero finds a Pagan tomb.
 Religion, sorrowing o'er her favourite son,
 Points to the glorious trophies that he won.
 Eternal trophies! not with carnage red,
 Not stained with tears by hapless captives shed,
 But trophies of the Cross. For that dear name,
 Through every form of danger, death, and shame,
 Onward he journeyed to a happier shore,
 Where danger, death and shame assault no more."]

In the course of 1812 it began to be evident that Tom had got beyond
the educational capabilities of Clapham; and his father seriously
contemplated the notion of removing to London in order to place him as a
day-scholar at Westminster. Thorough as was the consideration which the
parents gave to the matter, their decision was of more importance
than they could at the time foresee. If their son had gone to a public
school, it is more than probable that he would have turned out a
different man, and have done different work. So sensitive and homeloving
a boy might for a while have been too depressed to enter fully unto
the ways of the place; but, as he gained confidence, he could not have
withstood the irresistible attractions which the life of a great school
exercises over a vivid eager nature, and he would have sacrificed to
passing pleasures and emulations a part, at any rate, of those years
which, in order to be what he was, it was necessary that he should spend
wholly among his books. Westminster or Harrow might have sharpened his
faculties for dealing with affairs and with men; but the world at large
would have lost more than he could by any possibility have gained. If
Macaulay had received the usual education of a young Englishman, he
might in all probability have kept his seat for Edinburgh; but he
could hardly have written the Essay on Von Ranke, or the description of
England in the third chapter of the History.

Mr. Macaulay ultimately fixed upon a private school, kept by the Rev.
Mr. Preston, at Little Shelford, a village in the immediate vicinity
of Cambridge. The motives which guided this selection were mainly of
a religious nature. Mr. Preston held extreme Low Church opinions, and
stood in the good books of Mr. Simeon, whose word had long been law in
the Cambridge section of the Evangelical circle. But whatever had been
the inducement to make it, the choice proved singularly fortunate. The
tutor, it is true, was narrow in his views, and lacked the taste and
judgment to set those views before his pupils in an attractive form.
Theological topics dragged into the conversation at unexpected moments,
inquiries about their spiritual state, and long sermons which had to be
listened to under the dire obligation of reproducing them in an epitome,
fostered in the minds of some of the boys a reaction against the outward
manifestations of religion;--a reaction which had already begun under
the strict system pursued in their respective homes. But, on the other
hand, Mr. Preston knew both how to teach his scholars, and when to leave
them to teach themselves. The eminent judge, who divided grown men into
two sharply defined and most uncomplimentary categories, was accustomed
to say that private schools made poor creatures, and public schools sad
dogs; but Mr. Preston succeeded in giving a practical contradiction
to Sir William Maine's proposition. His pupils, who were limited to an
average of a dozen at a time, got far beyond their share of honours at
the university and of distinction in after life. George Stainforth,
a grandson of Sir Francis Baring, by his success at Cambridge was
the first to win the school an honourable name, which was more than
sustained by Henry Malden, now Greek Professor at University College,
London, and by Macaulay himself. Shelford was strongly under the
influence of the neighbouring university; an influence which Mr.
Preston, himself a fellow of Trinity, wisely encouraged. The boys were
penetrated with Cambridge ambitions and ways of thought; and frequent
visitors brought to the table, where master and pupils dined in common,
the freshest Cambridge gossip of the graver sort.

Little Macaulay received much kindness from Dean Milner, the President
of Queen's College, then at the very summit of a celebrity which is
already of the past. Those who care to search among the embers of that
once brilliant reputation can form a fair notion of what Samuel Johnson
would have been if he had lived a generation later, and had been
absolved from the necessity of earning his bread by the enjoyment of
ecclesiastical sinecures, and from any uneasiness as to his worldly
standing by the possession of academical dignities and functions. The
Dean who had boundless goodwill for all his fellow-creatures at every
period of life, provided that they were not Jacobins or sceptics,
recognised the promise of the boy, and entertained him at his college
residence on terms of friendliness, and almost of equality. After one of
these visits he writes to Mr. Macaulay; "Your lad is a fine fellow. He
shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men."

Shelford: February 22, 1813.

My dear Papa,--As this is a whole holiday, I cannot find a better time
for answering your letter. With respect to my health, I am very well,
and tolerably cheerful, as Blundell, the best and most clever of all the
scholars, is very kind, and talks to me, and takes my part. He is quite
a friend of Mr. Preston's. The other boys, especially Lyon, a Scotch
boy, and Wilberforce, are very good-natured, and we might have gone on
very well had not one, a Bristol fellow, come here. He is unanimously
alloyed to be a queer fellow, and is generally characterised as a
foolish boy, and by most of us as an ill-natured one. In my learning
I do Xenophon every day, and twice a week the Odyssey, in which I am
classed with Wilberforce, whom all the boys allow to be very clever,
very droll, and very impudent. We do Latin verses trice a week, and I
have not yet been laughed at, as Wilberforce is the only one who hears
them, being in my class. We are exercised also once a week in English
composition, and once in Latin composition, and letters of persons
renowned in history to each other. We get by heart Greek grammar or
Virgil every evening. As for sermon-writing, I have hitherto got off
with credit, and I hope I shall keep up my reputation. We have had the
first meeting of our debating society the other day, when a vote of
censure was moved for upon Wilberforce, but he getting up said, "Mr.
President, I beg to second the motion." By this means he escaped. The
kindness which Mr. Preston shows me is very great. He always assists
me in what I cannot do, and takes me to walk out with him every now
and then. My room is a delightful snug little chamber, which nobody can
enter, as there is a trick about opening the door. I sit like a king,
with my writing-desk before me; for, (would you believe it?) there is
a writing-desk in my chest of drawers; my books on one side, my box of
papers on the other, with my arm-chair and my candle; for every boy has
a candlestick, snuffers, and extinguisher of his own. Being pressed for
room, I will conclude what I have to say to-morrow, and ever remain,

Your affectionate son,


The youth who on this occasion gave proof of his parentage by his
readiness and humour was Wilberforce's eldest son. A fortnight later
on, the subject chosen for discussion was "whether Lord Wellington or
Marlborough was the greatest general. A very warm debate is expected."

Shelford: April 20, 1813.

My dear Mama,--Pursuant to my promise I resume my pen to write to you
with the greatest pleasure. Since I wrote to you yesterday, I have
enjoyed myself more than I have ever done since I came to Shelford. Mr.
Hodson called about twelve o'clock yesterday morning with a pony for me,
and took me with him to Cambridge. How surprised and delighted was I
to learn that I was to take a bed at Queen's College in Dean Milner's
apartments! Wilberforce arrived soon after, and I spent the day very
agreeably, the Dean amusing me with the greatest kindness. I slept
there, and came home on horseback to-day just in time for dinner.
The Dean has invited me to come again, and Mr. Preston has given his
consent. The books which I am at present employed in reading to myself
are, in English, Plutarch's Lives, and Milner's Ecclesiastical History;
in French, Fenelon's Dialogues of the Dead. I shall send you back the
volumes of Madame de Genlis's petits romans as soon as possible, and I
should be very much obliged for one or two more of them. Everything now
seems to feel the influence of spring. The trees are all out. The lilacs
are in bloom. The days are long, and I feel that I should be happy
were it not that I want home. Even yesterday, when I felt more real
satisfaction than I have done for almost three months, I could not help
feeling a sort of uneasiness, which indeed I have always felt more or
less since I have been here, and which is the only thing that hinders me
from being perfectly happy. This day two months will put a period to my

"Fly fast the hours, and dawn th' expected morn."

Every night when I lie down I reflect that another day is cut off from
the tiresome time of absence.

Your affectionate son,


Shelford: April 26 1813.

My dear Papa,--Since I have given you a detail of weekly duties, I hope
you will be pleased to be informed of my Sunday's occupations. It is
quite a day of rest here, and I really look to it with pleasure through
the whole of the week. After breakfast we learn a chapter in the Greek
Testament that is with the aid of our Bibles, and without doing it with
a dictionary like other lessons. We then go to church. We dine almost
as soon as we come back, and we are left to ourselves till afternoon
church. During this time I employ myself in reading, and Mr. Preston
lends me any books for which I ask him, so that I am nearly as well
off in this respect as at home, except for one thing, which, though I
believe it is useful, is not very pleasant. I can only ask for one book
at a time, and cannot touch another till I have read it through. We then
go to church, and after we come hack I read as before till tea-time.
After tea we write out the sermon. I cannot help thinking that Mr.
Preston uses all imaginable means to make us forget it, for he gives us
a glass of wine each on Sunday, and on Sunday only, the very day when we
want to have all our faculties awake; and some do literally go to sleep
during the sermon, and look rather silly when they wake. I, however,
have not fallen into this disaster.

Your affectionate son,


The constant allusions to home politics and to the progress of the
Continental struggle, which occur throughout Zachary Macaulay's
correspondence with his son, prove how freely, and on what an equal
footing, the parent and child already conversed on questions of public
interest. The following letter is curious as a specimen of the eagerness
with which the boy habitually flung himself into the subjects which
occupied his father's thoughts. The renewal of the East India Company's
charter was just then under the consideration of Parliament, and
the whole energies of the Evangelical party were exerted in order to
signalise the occasion by securing our Eastern dominions as a field for
the spread of Christianity. Petitions against the continued exclusion
of missionaries were in course of circulation throughout the island, the
drafts of which had been prepared by Mr. Macaulay.

Shelford: May 8, 1813.

My dear Papa,--As on Monday it will be out of my power to write, since
the examination subjects are to be given out I write to-day instead to
answer your kind and long letter.

I am very much pleased that the nation seems to take such interest in
the introduction of Christianity into India. My Scotch blood begins
to boil at the mention of the 1,750 names that went up from a single
country parish. Ask Mama and Selina if they do not now admit my argument
with regard to the superior advantages of the Scotch over the English

As to my examination preparations, I will if you please give you a
sketch of my plan. On Monday, the day on which the examination subjects
are given out, I shall begin. My first performance will be my verses and
my declamation. I shall then translate the Greek and Latin. The first
time of going over I shall mark the passages which puzzle me, and then
return to them again. But I shall have also to rub up my Mathematics,
(by the bye, I begin the second book of Euclid to-day,) and to study
whatever History may be appointed for the examination. I shall not be
able to avoid trembling, whether I know my subjects or not. I am however
intimidated at nothing but Greek. Mathematics suit my taste, although,
before I came, I declaimed against them, and asserted that, when I went
to College, it should not be to Cambridge. I am occupied with the hope
of lecturing Mama and Selina upon Mathematics, as I used to do upon
Heraldry, and to change Or, and Argent, and Azure, and Gules, for
squares, and points, and circles, and angles, and triangles, and
rectangles, and rhomboids, and in a word "all the pomp and circumstance"
of Euclid. When I come home I shall, if my purse is sufficient, bring a
couple of rabbits for Selina and Jane.

Your affectionate son,


It will be seen that this passing fondness for mathematics soon changed
into bitter disgust.

Clapham May 28, 1813.

My dear Tom,--I am very happy to hear that you have so far advanced in
your different prize exercises, and with such little fatigue. I know you
write with great ease to yourself, and would rather write ten poems than
prune one; but remember that excellence is not attained at first. All
your pieces are much mended after a little reflection, and therefore
take some solitary walks, and think over each separate thing. Spare no
time or trouble to render each piece as perfect as you can, and then
leave the event without one anxious thought. I have always admired
a saying of one of the old heathen philosophers. When a friend was
condoling with him that he so well deserved of the gods, and yet that
they did not shower their favours on him, as on some others less worthy,
he answered, "I will, however, continue to deserve well of them." So do
you, my dearest. Do your best because it is the will of God you should
improve every faculty to the utmost now, and strengthen the powers of
your mind by exercise, and then in future you will be better enabled to
glorify God with all your powers and talents, be they of a more humble,
or higher order, and you shall not fail to be received into everlasting
habitations, with the applauding voice of your Saviour, "Well done, good
and faithful servant." You see how ambitious your mother is. She must
have the wisdom of her son acknowledged before Angels, and an assembled
world. My wishes can soar no higher, and they can be content with
nothing less for any of my children. The first time I saw your face, I
repeated those beautiful lines of Watts' cradle hymn,

 Mayst thou live to know and fear Him,
 Trust and love Him all thy days
 Then go dwell for ever near Him,
 See His face, and sing His praise.

and this is the substance of all my prayers for you. In less than a
month you and I shall, I trust, be rambling over the Common, which now
looks quite beautiful.

I am ever, my dear Tom,

Your affectionate mother,


The commencement of the second half-year at school, perhaps the darkest
season of a boy's existence, was marked by an unusually severe and
prolonged attack of home-sickness. It would be cruel to insert the first
letter written after the return to Shelford from the summer holidays.
That which follows it is melancholy enough.

Shelford: August 14. 1813.

My dear Mama,--I must confess that I have been a little disappointed
at not receiving a letter from home to-day. I hope, however, for one
to-morrow. My spirits are far more depressed by leaving home than
they were last half-year. Everything brings home to my recollection.
Everything I read, or see, or hear, brings it to my mind. You told me I
should be happy when I once came here, but not an hour passes in which
I do not shed tears at thinking of home. Every hope, however unlikely to
be realised, affords me some small consolation. The morning on which I
went, you told me that possibly I might come home before the holidays.
If you can confirm this hope, believe me when I assure you that there is
nothing which I would not give for one instant's sight of home. Tell
me in your next, expressly, if you can, whether or no there is any
likelihood of my coming home before the holidays. If I could gain Papa's
leave, I should select my birthday on October 25 as the time which I
should wish to spend at that home which absence renders still dearer to
me. I think I see you sitting by Papa just after his dinner, reading my
letter, and turning to him, with an inquisitive glance, at the end of
the paragraph. I think too that I see his expressive shake of the head
at it. O, may I be mistaken! You cannot conceive what an alteration a
favourable answer would produce in me. If your approbation of my request
depends upon my advancing in study, I will work like a cart-horse. If
you should refuse it, you will deprive me of the most pleasing illusion
which I ever experienced in my life. Pray do not fail to write speedily.

Your dutiful and affectionate son,


His father answered him in a letter of strong religious complexion,
full of feeling, and even of beauty, but too long for reproduction in a
biography that is not his own.

Mr. Macaulay's deep anxiety for his son's welfare sometimes induced him
to lend too ready an ear to busybodies, who informed him of failings
in the boy which would have been treated more lightly, and perhaps more
wisely, by a less devoted father. In the early months of 1814 he writes
as follows, after hearing the tale of some guest of Mr. Preston whom
Tom had no doubt contradicted at table in presence of the assembled

London: March 4, 1814.

My dear Tom,--In taking up my pen this morning a passage in Cowper
almost involuntarily occurred to me. You will find it at length in his

 "Ye powers who rule the Tongue, if such there are,
  And make colloquial happiness your care,
  Preserve me from the thing I dread and hate,
  A duel in the form of a debate.
  Vociferated logic kills me quite.
  A noisy man is always in the right."

You know how much such a quotation as this would fall in with my
notions, averse as I am to loud and noisy tones, and self-confident,
overwhelming, and yet perhaps very unsound arguments. And you will
remember how anxiously I dwelt upon this point while you were at home.
I have been in hopes that this half-year would witness a great change
in you in this respect. My hopes, however, have been a little damped by
something which I heard last week through a friend, who seemed to have
received an impression that you had gained a high distinction among the
young gentlemen at Shelford by the loudness and vehemence of your tones.
Now, my dear Tom, you cannot doubt that this gives me pain; and it does
so not so much on account of the thing itself, as because I consider
it a pretty infallible test of the mind within. I do long and pray
most earnestly that the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit may be
substituted for vehemence and self-confidence, and that you may be as
much distinguished for the former as ever you have been for the latter.
It is a school in which I am not ambitious that any child of mine should
take a high degree.

If the people of Shelford be as bad as you represent them in your
letters, what are they but an epitome of the world at large? Are they
ungrateful to you for your kindnesses? Are they foolish, and wicked,
and wayward in the use of their faculties? What is all this but what
we ourselves are guilty of every day? Consider how much in our case the
guilt of such conduct is aggravated by our superior knowledge. We shall
not have ignorance to plead in its extenuation, as many of the people of
Shelford may have. Now, instead of railing at the people of Shelford, I
think the best thing which you and your schoolfellows could do would be
to try to reform them. You can buy and distribute useful and striking
tracts, as well as Testaments, among such as can read. The cheap
Repository and Religious Tract Society will furnish tracts suited to all
descriptions of persons; and for those who cannot read--why should you
not institute a Sunday school to be taught by yourselves, and in which
appropriate rewards being given for good behaviour, not only at school
but through the week, great effects of a moral kind might soon be
produced? I have exhausted my paper, and must answer the rest of your
letter in a few days. In the meantime,

I am ever your most affectionate father,


A father's prayers are seldom fulfilled to the letter. Many years were
to elapse before the son ceased to talk loudly and with confidence; and
the literature that he was destined to distribute through the world was
of another order from that which Mr. Macaulay here suggests. The answer,
which is addressed to the mother, affords a proof that the boy could
already hold his own. The allusions to the Christian Observer, of which
his father was editor, and to Dr. Herbert Marsh, with whom the ablest
pens of Clapham were at that moment engaged in hot and embittered
controversy, are thrown in with an artist's hand.

Shelford: April 11. 1814.

My dear Mama,--The news is glorious indeed. Peace! Peace with a Bourbon,
with a descendant of Henri Quatre, with a prince who is bound to us by
all the ties of gratitude. I have some hopes that it will be a lasting
peace; that the troubles of the last twenty years may make kings and
nations wiser. I cannot conceive a greater punishment to Buonaparte than
that which the allies have inflicted on him. How can his ambitious mind
support it? All his great projects and schemes, which once made every
throne in Europe tremble, are buried in the solitude of an Italian isle.
How miraculously everything has been conducted! We almost seem to hear
the Almighty saying to the fallen tyrant, "For this cause have I raised
thee up, that I might show in thee My power."

As I am in very great haste with this letter, I shall have but little
time to write. I am sorry to hear that some nameless friend of Papa's
denounced my voice as remarkably loud. I have accordingly resolved to
speak in a moderate key except on the undermentioned special occasions.
Imprimis, when I am speaking at the same time with three others.
Secondly, when I am praising the Christian Observer. Thirdly, when I
am praising Mr. Preston or his sisters I may be allowed to speak in my
loudest voice, that they may hear me.

I saw to-day that greatest of churchmen, that pillar of Orthodoxy,
that true friend to the Liturgy, that mortal enemy to the Bible
Society,--Herbert Marsh, D.D., Professor of Divinity on Lady Margaret's
foundation. I stood looking at him for about ten minutes, and shall
always continue to maintain that he is a very ill-favoured gentleman as
far as outward appearance is concerned. I am going this week to spend
a day or two at Dean Milner's, where I hope, nothing unforeseen
preventing, to see you in about two months' time.

Ever your affectionate son,


In the course of the year 1814 Mr. Preston removed his establishment to
Aspenden Hall near Buntingford, in Hertfordshire; a large old-fashioned
mansion, standing amidst extensive shrubberies, and a pleasant
undulating domain sprinkled with fine timber. The house has been rebuilt
within the last twenty years, and nothing remains of it except the dark
oak panelling of the hall in which the scholars made their recitations
on the annual speech day. The very pretty church, which stands hard by
within the grounds, was undergoing restoration in 1873 and by this time
the only existing portion of the former internal fittings is the family
pew, in which the boys sat on drowsy summer afternoons, doing what they
could to keep their impressions of the second sermon distinct from their
reminiscences of the morning. Here Macaulay spent four most industrious
years, doing less and less in the class-room as time went on, but
enjoying the rare advantage of studying Greek and Latin by the side of
such a scholar as Malden. The two companions were equally matched in age
and classical attainments, and at the university maintained a rivalry so
generous as hardly to deserve the name. Each of the pupils had his own
chamber, which the others were forbidden to enter under the penalty of
a shilling fine. This prohibition was in general not very strictly
observed; but the tutor had taken the precaution of placing Macaulay
in a room next his own;--a proximity which rendered the position of an
intruder so exceptionally dangerous that even Malden could not remember
having once passed his friend's threshold during the whole of their stay
at Aspenden.

In this seclusion, removed from the delight of family intercourse, (the
only attraction strong enough to draw him from his books,) the boy
read widely, unceasingly, more than rapidly. The secret of his immense
acquirements lay in two invaluable gifts of nature,--an unerring memory,
and the capacity for taking in at a glance the contents of a printed
page. During the first part of his life he remembered whatever caught
his fancy without going through the process of consciously getting it
by heart. As a child, during one of the numerous seasons when the social
duties devolved upon Mr. Macaulay, he accompanied his father on an
afternoon call, and found on a table the Lay of the Last Minstrel, which
he had never before met with. He kept himself quiet with his prize while
the elders were talking, and, on his return home, sat down upon his
mother's bed, and repeated to her as many cantos as she had the patience
or the strength to listen to. At one period of his life he was known to
say that, if by some miracle of Vandalism all copies of Paradise Lost
and the Pilgrim's Progress were destroyed off the face of the earth,
he would undertake to reproduce them both from recollection whenever
a revival of learning came. In 1813, while waiting in a Cambridge
coffee-room for a postchaise which was to take him to his school, he
picked up a county newspaper containing two such specimens of provincial
poetical talent as in those days might be read in the corner of any
weekly journal. One piece was headed "Reflections of an Exile;" while
the other was a trumpery parody on the Welsh ballad "Ar hyd y nos,"
referring to some local anecdote of an ostler whose nose had been bitten
off by a filly. He looked them once through, and never gave them a
thought for forty years, at the end of which time he repeated them both
without missing,--or, as far as he knew, changing,--a single word.

[Sir William Stirling Maxwell says, in a letter with which he has
honoured me: "Of his extraordinary memory I remember Lord Jeffrey
telling me an instance. They had had a difference about a quotation from
Paradise Lost, and made a wager about it; the wager being a copy of the
hook, which, on reference to the passage, it was found Jeffrey had won.
The bet was made just before, and paid immediately after, the Easter
vacation. On putting the volume into Jeffrey's hand, your uncle said,
'I don't think you will find me tripping again. I knew it, I thought,
pretty well before; but I am sure I know it now.' Jeffrey proceeded to
examine him, putting him on at a variety of the heaviest passages--the
battle of the angels--the dialogues of Adam and the archangels,--and
found him ready to declaim them all, till he begged him to stop. He
asked him how he had acquired such a command of the poem, and had for
answer: 'I had him in the country, and I read it twice over, and I
don't think that I shall ever forget it again.' At the same time he told
Jeffrey that he believed he could repeat everything of his own he had
ever printed, and nearly all he had ever written, 'except, perhaps, some
of my college exercises.'

"I myself had an opportunity of seeing and hearing a remarkable proof of
your uncle's hold upon the most insignificant verbiage that chance had
poured into his ear. I was staying with him at Bowood, in the winter
of 1852. Lord Elphinstone--who had been many years before Governor of
Madras,--was telling one morning at breakfast of a certain native barber
there, who was famous, in his time, for English doggrel of his own
making, with which he was wont to regale his customers. 'Of course,'
said Lord Elphinstone, 'I don't remember any of it; but was very funny,
and used to be repeated in society.' Macaulay, who was sitting a good
way off, immediately said: 'I remember being shaved by the fellow, and
he recited a quantity of verse to me during the operation, and here
is some of it;' and then he went off in a very queer doggrel about the
exploits of Bonaparte, of which I recollect the recurring refrain--

 But when he saw the British boys,
 He up and ran away.

It is hardly conceivable that he had ever had occasion to recall that
poem since the day when he escaped from under the poet's razor.]

As he grew older, this wonderful power became impaired so far that
getting by rote the compositions of others was no longer an involuntary
process. He has noted in his Lucan the several occasions on which he
committed to memory his favourite passages of an author whom he regarded
as unrivalled among rhetoricians; and the dates refer to 1836, when he
had just turned the middle point of life. During his last years, at his
dressing-table in the morning, he would learn by heart one or another
of the little idylls in which Martial expatiates on the enjoyments of a
Spanish country-house, or a villa-farm in the environs of Rome;--those
delicious morsels of verse which, (considering the sense that modern
ideas attach to the name,) it is an injustice to class under the head of

Macaulay's extraordinary faculty of assimilating printed matter at first
sight remained the same through life. To the end he read books more
quickly than other people skimmed them, and skimmed them as fast as
anyone else could turn the leaves. "He seemed to read through the skin,"
said one who had often watched the operation. And this speed was not in
his case obtained at the expense of accuracy. Anything which had once
appeared in type, from the highest effort of genius down to the most
detestable trash that ever consumed ink and paper manufactured for
better things, had in his eyes an authority which led him to look upon
misquotation as a species of minor sacrilege.

With these endowments, sharpened by an insatiable curiosity, from his
fourteenth year onward he was permitted to roam almost at will over
the whole expanse of literature. He composed little beyond his school
exercises, which themselves bear signs of having been written in a
perfunctory manner. At this period he had evidently no heart in anything
but his reading. Before leaving Shelford for Aspenden he had already
invoked the epic muse for the last time.

 "Arms and the man I sing, who strove in vain
  To save green Erin from a foreign reign."

The man was Roderic, king of Connaught, whom he got tired of singing
before he had well completed two books of the poem. Thenceforward he
appears never to have struck his lyre, except in the first enthusiasm
aroused by the intelligence of some favourable turn of fortune on
the Continent. The flight of Napoleon from Russia was celebrated in a
"Pindaric Ode" duly distributed into strophes and antistrophes;
and, when the allies entered Paris, the school put his services into
requisition to petition for a holiday in honour of the event. He
addressed his tutor in a short poem, which begins with a few sonorous
and effective couplets, grows more and more like the parody on
Fitzgerald in "Rejected Addresses," and ends in a peroration of which
the intention is unquestionably mock-heroic:

 "Oh, by the glorious posture of affairs,
  By the enormous price that Omnium hears,
  By princely Bourbon's late recovered Crown,
  And by Miss Fanny's safe return from town,
  Oh, do not thou, and thou alone, refuse
  To show thy pleasure at this glorious news!"

Touched by the mention of his sister, Mr. Preston yielded and young
Macaulay never turned another verse except at the bidding of his
schoolmaster, until, on the eve of his departure for Cambridge, he
wrote between three and four hundred lines of a drama, entitled "Don
Fernando," marked by force and fertility of diction, but somewhat too
artificial to be worthy of publication under a name such as his. Much
about the same time he communicated to Malden the commencement of a
burlesque poem on the story of Anthony Babington; who, by the part that
he took in the plots against the life of Queen Elizabeth, had given the
family a connection with English history which, however questionable,
was in Macaulay's view better than none.

 "Each, says the proverb, has his taste. 'Tis true.
  Marsh loves a controversy; Coates a play;
  Bennet a felon; Lewis Way a Jew;
  The Jew the silver spoons of Lewis Way.
  The Gipsy Poetry, to own the truth,
  Has been my love through childhood and in youth."

It is perhaps as well that the project to all appearance stopped with
the first stanza, which in its turn was probably written for the sake of
a single line. The young man had a better use for his time than to spend
it in producing frigid imitations of Beppo.

He was not unpopular among his fellow-pupils, who regarded him with
pride and admiration, tempered by the compassion which his utter
inability to play at any sort of game would have excited in every
school, private or public alike. He troubled himself very little about
the opinion of those by whom he was surrounded at Aspenden. It required
the crowd and the stir of a university to call forth the social
qualities which he possessed in so large a measure. The tone of his
correspondence during these years sufficiently indicates that he lived
almost exclusively among books. His letters, which had hitherto been
very natural and pretty, began to smack of the library, and please less
than those written in early boyhood. His pen was overcharged with the
metaphors and phrases of other men; and it was not till maturing powers
had enabled him to master and arrange the vast masses of literature
which filled his memory that his native force could display itself
freely through the medium of a style which was all his own. In 1815 he
began a formal literary correspondence, after the taste of the previous
century, with Mr. Hudson, a gentleman in the Examiner's Office of the
East India House.

Aspenden Hall: August 22, 1815.

Dear Sir,--The Spectator observes, I believe in his first paper, that
we can never read an author with much zest unless we are acquainted with
his situation. I feel the same in my epistolary correspondence; and,
supposing that in this respect we may be alike, I will just tell you
my condition. Imagine a house in the middle of pretty large grounds,
surrounded by palings. These I never pass. You may therefore suppose
that I resemble the Hermit of Parnell.

 "As yet by books and swains the world he knew,
  Nor knew if books and swains report it true."

If you substitute newspapers and visitors for books and swains, you may
form an idea of what I know of the present state of things. Write to
me as one who is ignorant of every event except political occurrences.
These I learn regularly; but if Lord Byron were to publish melodies or
romances, or Scott metrical tales without number, I should never see
them, or perhaps hear of them, till Christmas. Retirement of this kind,
though it precludes me from studying the works of the hour, is very
favourable for the employment of "holding high converse with the mighty

I know not whether "peeping at the world through the loopholes of
retreat" be the best way of forming us for engaging in its busy and
active scenes. I am sure it is not a way to my taste. Poets may talk
of the beauties of nature, the enjoyments of a country life, and rural
innocence; but there is another kind of life which, though unsung
by bards, is yet to me infinitely superior to the dull uniformity of
country life. London is the place for me. Its smoky atmosphere, and its
muddy river, charm me more than the pure air of Hertfordshire, and the
crystal currents of the river Rib. Nothing is equal to the splendid
varieties of London life, "the fine flow of London talk," and the
dazzling brilliancy of London spectacles. Such are my sentiments, and,
if ever I publish poetry, it shall not be pastoral. Nature is the last
goddess to whom my devoirs shall be paid.

Yours most faithfully,


This votary of city life was still two months short of completing his
fifteenth year!

Aspenden Hall: August 23, 1815.

My dear Mama,--You perceive already in so large a sheet, and so small a
hand, the promise of a long, a very long letter, longer, as I intend
it, than all the letters which you send in a half-year together. I have
again begun my life of sterile monotony, unvarying labour, the dull
return of dull exercises in dull uniformity of tediousness. But do not
think that I complain.

 My mind to me a kingdom is,
 Such perfect joy therein I find
 As doth exceed all other bliss
 That God or nature hath assigned.

Assure yourself that I am philosopher enough to be happy,--I meant to
say not particularly unhappy,--in solitude; but man is an animal made
for society. I was gifted with reason, not to speculate in Aspenden
Park, but to interchange ideas with some person who can understand me.
This is what I miss at Aspenden. There are several here who possess both
taste and reading; who can criticise Lord Byron and Southey with much
tact and "savoir du metier." But here it is not the fashion to think.
Hear what I have read since I came here. Hear and wonder! I have in the
first place read Boccacio's Decameron, a tale of a hundred cantos. He is
a wonderful writer. Whether he tells in humorous or familiar strains the
follies of the silly Calandrino, or the witty pranks of Buffalmacco and
Bruno, or sings in loftier numbers

 Dames, knights, and arms, and love, the feats that spring
 From courteous minds and generous faith,

or lashes with a noble severity and fearless independence the vices of
the monks and the priestcraft of the established religion, he is always
elegant, amusing, and, what pleases and surprises most in a writer of
so unpolished an age, strikingly delicate and chastised. I prefer him
infinitely to Chaucer. If you wish for a good specimen of Boccacio, as
soon as you have finished my letter, (which will come, I suppose, by
dinner-time,) send Jane up to the library for Dryden's poems, and you
will find among them several translations from Boccacio, particularly
one entitled "Theodore and Honoria."

But, truly admirable as the bard of Florence is, I must not permit
myself to give him more than his due share of my letter. I have likewise
read Gil Blas, with unbounded admiration of the abilities of Le Sage.
Malden and I have read Thalaba together, and are proceeding to the Curse
of Kehama. Do not think, however, that I am neglecting more important
studies than either Southey or Boccacio. I have read the greater part of
the History of James I. and Mrs. Montague's essay on Shakspeare, and
a great deal of Gibbon. I never devoured so many books in a fortnight.
John Smith, Bob Hankinson, and I, went over the Hebrew Melodies
together. I certainly think far better of them than we used to do at
Clapham. Papa may laugh, and indeed he did laugh me out of my taste at
Clapham; but I think that there is a great deal of beauty in the first
melody, "She walks in beauty," though indeed who it is that walks in
beauty is not very exactly defined. My next letter shall contain a
production of my muse, entitled "An Inscription for the Column of
Waterloo," which is to be shown to Mr. Preston to-morrow. What he may
think of it I do not know. But I am like my favourite Cicero about my
own productions. It is all one to me what others think of them. I never
like them a bit less for being disliked by the rest of mankind. Mr.
Preston has desired me to bring him up this evening two or three
subjects for a Declamation. Those which I have selected are as follows:
1st, a speech in the character of Lord Coningsby, impeaching the Earl of
Oxford; 2nd, an essay on the utility of standing armies; 3rd, an essay
on the policy of Great Britain with regard to continental possessions.
I conclude with sending my love to Papa, Selina, Jane, John, ("but he
is not there," as Fingal pathetically says, when in enumerating his sons
who should accompany him to the chase he inadvertently mentions the dead
Ryno,) Henry, Fanny, Hannah, Margaret, and Charles. Valete.


This exhaustive enumeration of his brothers and sisters invites
attention to that home where he reigned supreme. Lady Trevelyan thus
describes their life at Clapham: "I think that my father's strictness
was a good counterpoise to the perfect worship of your uncle by the rest
of the family. To us he was an object of passionate love and devotion.
To us he could do no wrong. His unruffled sweetness of temper, his
unfailing flow of spirits, his amusing talk, all made his presence
so delightful that his wishes and his tastes were our law. He hated
strangers; and his notion of perfect happiness was to see us all working
round him while he read aloud a novel, and then to walk all together
on the Common, or, if it rained, to have a frightfully noisy game of
hide-and-seek. I have often wondered how our mother could ever have
endured our noise in her little house. My earliest recollections speak
of the intense happiness of the holidays, beginning with finding him in
Papa's room in the morning; the awe at the idea of his having reached
home in the dark after we were in bed, and the Saturnalia which at once
set in;--no lessons; nothing but fun and merriment for the whole six
weeks. In the year 1816 we were at Brighton for the summer holidays, and
he read to us Sir Charles Grandison. It was always a habit in our family
to read aloud every evening. Among the books selected I can recall
Clarendon, Burnet, Shakspeare, (a great treat when my mother took the
volume,) Miss Edgeworth, Mackenzie's Lounger and Mirror, and, as a
standing dish, the Quarterly and the Edinburgh Reviews. Poets too,
especially Scott and Crabbe, were constantly chosen. Poetry and novels,
except during Tom's holidays, were forbidden in the daytime, and
stigmatised as 'drinking drams in the morning.'"

Morning or evening, Mr. Macaulay disapproved of novel-reading; but, too
indulgent to insist on having his own way in any but essential matters,
he lived to see himself the head of a family in which novels were
more read, and better remembered, than in any household of the United
Kingdom. The first warning of the troubles that were in store for him
was an anonymous letter addressed to him as editor of the Christian
Observer, defending works of fiction, and eulogising Fielding and
Smollett. This he incautiously inserted in his periodical, and brought
down upon himself the most violent objurgations from scandalised
contributors, one of whom informed the public that he had committed the
obnoxious number to the flames, and should thenceforward cease to take
in the Magazine. The editor replied with becoming spirit; although by
that time he was aware that the communication, the insertion of which in
an unguarded moment had betrayed him into a controversy for which he had
so little heart, had proceeded from the pen of his son. Such was young
Macaulay's first appearance in print, if we except the index to the
thirteenth volume of the Christian Observer, which he drew up during his
Christmas holidays of 1814. The place where he performed his earliest
literary work can be identified with tolerable certainty. He enjoyed the
eldest son's privilege of a separate bedchamber; and there, at the front
window on the top story, furthest from the Common and nearest to London,
we can fancy him sitting, apart from the crowded play-room, keeping
himself warm as best he might, and travelling steadily through the
blameless pages the contents of which it was his task to classify for
the convenience of posterity.

Lord Macaulay used to remark that Thackeray introduced too much of the
Dissenting element into his picture of Clapham in the opening chapters
of "The Newcomes." The leading people of the place,--with the exception
of Mr. William Smith, the Unitarian member of Parliament,--were one and
all staunch Churchmen; though they readily worked in concert with those
religious communities which held in the main the same views, and pursued
the same objects, as themselves. Old John Thornton, the earliest of the
Evangelical magnates, when he went on his annual tour to the South
Coast or the Scotch mountains, would take with him some Independent or
Wesleyan minister who was in need of a holiday; and his followers in
the next generation had the most powerful motives for maintaining the
alliance which he had inaugurated. They could not neglect such doughty
auxiliaries in the memorable war which they waged against cruelty,
ignorance, and irreligion, and in their less momentous skirmishes with
the votaries of the stage, the racecourse, and the card-table.
Without the aid of nonconformist sympathy, and money, and oratory,
and organisation, their operations would have been doomed to certain
failure. The cordial relations entertained with the members of other
denominations by those among whom his youth was passed did much to
indoctrinate Macaulay with a lively and genuine interest in sectarian
theology. He possessed a minute acquaintance, very rare among men of
letters, with the origin and growth of the various forms of faith and
practice which have divided the allegiance of his countrymen; not the
least important of his qualifications for writing the history of an
epoch when the national mind gave itself to religious controversy even
more largely than has been its wont.

The method of education in vogue among the Clapham families was simple,
without being severe. In the spacious gardens, and the commodious houses
of an architecture already dating a century back, which surrounded the
Common, there was plenty of freedom, and good fellowship, and reasonable
enjoyment for young and old alike. Here again Thackeray has not
done justice to a society that united the mental culture, and the
intellectual activity, which are developed by the neighbourhood of a
great capital, with the wholesome quiet and the homely ways of country
life. Hobson and Brian Newcome are not fair specimens of the effect
of Clapham influences upon the second generation. There can have been
nothing vulgar, and little that was narrow, in a training which produced
Samuel Wilberforce, and Sir James Stephen, and Charles and Robert Grant,
and Lord Macaulay. The plan on which children were brought up in the
chosen home of the Low Church party, during its golden age, will
bear comparison with systems about which, in their day, the world was
supposed never to tire of hearing, although their ultimate results have
been small indeed.

It is easy to trace whence the great bishop and the great writer derived
their immense industry. Working came as naturally as walking to sons who
could not remember a time when their fathers idled. "Mr. Wilberforce and
Mr. Babington have never appeared downstairs lately, except to take a
hasty dinner, and for half an hour after we have supped. The slave-trade
now occupies them nine hours daily. Mr. Babington told me last night
that he had fourteen hundred folio pages to read, to detect the
contradictions, and to collect the answers which corroborate Mr.
Wilberforce's assertions in his speeches. These, with more than two
thousand pages to be abridged, must be done within a fortnight, and they
talk of sitting up one night in every week to accomplish it. The two
friends begin to look very ill, but they are in excellent spirits, and
at this moment I hear them laughing at some absurd questions in the
examination." Passages such as this are scattered broadcast through the
correspondence of Wilberforce and his friends. Fortitude, and diligence,
and self-control, and all that makes men good and great, cannot be
purchased from professional educators. Charity is not the only quality
which begins at home. It is throwing away money to spend a thousand a
year on the teaching of three boys, if they are to return from school
only to find the older members of their family intent on amusing
themselves at any cost of time and trouble, or sacrificing self-respect
in ignoble efforts to struggle into a social grade above their own. The
child will never place his aims high, and pursue them steadily, unless
the parent has taught him what energy, and elevation of purpose, mean
not less by example than by precept.

In that company of indefatigable workers none equalled the labours of
Zachary Macaulay. Even now, when he has been in his grave for more than
the third of a century, it seems almost an act of disloyalty to record
the public services of a man who thought that he had done less than
nothing if his exertions met with praise, or even with recognition. The
nature and value of those services may be estimated from the terms in
which a very competent judge, who knew how to weigh his words, spoke
of the part which Mr. Macaulay played in one only of his numerous
enterprises,--the suppression of slavery and the slave-trade. "That God
had called him into being to wage war with this gigantic evil became his
immutable conviction. During forty successive years he was ever burdened
with this thought. It was the subject of his visions by day and of his
dreams by night. To give them reality he laboured as men labour for the
honours of a profession or for the subsistence of their children.
In that service he sacrificed all that a man may lawfully
sacrifice--health, fortune, repose, favour, and celebrity. He died a
poor man, though wealth was within his reach. He devoted himself to
the severest toil, amidst allurements to luxuriate in the delights of
domestic and social intercourse, such as few indeed have encountered.
He silently permitted some to usurp his hardly-earned honours, that
no selfish controversy might desecrate their common cause. He made no
effort to obtain the praises of the world, though he had talents to
command, and a temper peculiarly disposed to enjoy them. He drew upon
himself the poisoned shafts of calumny, and, while feeling their sting
as generous spirits only can feel it, never turned a single step aside
from his path to propitiate or to crush the slanderers."

Zachary Macaulay was no mere man of action. It is difficult to
understand when it was that he had time to pick up his knowledge of
general literature; or how he made room for it in a mind so crammed
with facts and statistics relating to questions of the day that when
Wilberforce was at a loss for a piece of information he used to say,
"Let us look it out in Macaulay." His private papers, which are one long
register of unbroken toil, do nothing to clear up the problem. Highly
cultivated, however, he certainly was, and his society was in request
with many who cared little for the objects which to him were everything.
That he should have been esteemed and regarded by Lord Brougham, Francis
Homer, and Sir James Mackintosh, seems natural enough, but there is
something surprising in finding him in friendly and frequent
intercourse with some of his most distinguished French contemporaries.
Chateaubriand, Sismondi, the Duc de Broglie, Madame de Stael, and
Dumont, the interpreter of Bentham, corresponded with him freely in
their own language, which he wrote to admiration. The gratification that
his foreign acquaintance felt at the sight of his letters would have
been unalloyed but for the pamphlets and blue-books by which they were
too often accompanied. It is not difficult to imagine the feelings of a
Parisian on receiving two quarto volumes, with the postage only in part
pre-paid, containing the proceedings of a Committee on Apprenticeship in
the West Indies, and including the twelve or fifteen thousand questions
and answers on which the Report was founded. It would be hard to meet
with a more perfect sample of the national politeness than the passage
in which M. Dumont acknowledges one of the less formidable of these
unwelcome gifts. "Mon cher Ami,--Je ne laisserai pas partir Mr. Inglis
sans le charger de quelques lignes pour vous, afin de vous remercier du
Christian Observer que vous avez eu la bonte de m'envoyer. Vous savez
que j'ai a great taste for it; mais il faut vous avouer une triste
verite, c'est que je manque absolument de loisir pour le lire. Ne m'en
envoyez plus; car je me sens peine d'avoir sous les yeux de si bonnes
choses, dont je n'ai pas le temps de tue nourrir."

"In the year 1817," Lady Trevelyan writes, "my parents made a tour in
Scotland with your uncle. Brougham gave them a letter to Jeffrey, who
hospitably entertained them; but your uncle said that Jeffrey was not
at all at his ease, and was apparently so terrified at my father's
religious reputation that he seemed afraid to utter a joke. Your uncle
complained grievously that they travelled from manse to manse, and
always came in for very long prayers and expositions. [Macaulay writes
in his journal of August 8, 1859: "We passed my old acquaintance,
Dumbarton castle, I remembered my first visit to Dumbarton, and the old
minister, who insisted on our eating a bit of cake with him, and said
a grace over it which might have been prologue to a dinner of the
Fishmongers' Company, or the Grocers' Company."] I think, with all the
love and reverence with which your uncle regarded his father's memory,
there mingled a shade of bitterness that he had not met quite the
encouragement and appreciation from him which he received from others.
But such a son as he was! Never a disrespectful word or look; always
anxious to please and amuse; and at last he was the entire stay and
support of his father's declining years.

"Your uncle was of opinion that the course pursued by his father towards
him during his youth was not judicious. But here I am inclined to
disagree with him. There was no want of proof of the estimation in which
his father held him, corresponding with him from a very early age as
with a man, conversing with him freely, and writing of him most fondly.
But, in the desire to keep down any conceit, there was certainly in my
father a great outward show of repression and depreciation. Then
the faults of your uncle were peculiarly those that my father had no
patience with. Himself precise in his arrangements, writing a beautiful
hand, particular about neatness, very accurate and calm, detesting
strong expressions, and remarkably self-controlled; while his eager
impetuous boy, careless of his dress, always forgetting to wash his
hands and brush his hair, writing an execrable hand, and folding
his letters with a great blotch for a seal, was a constant care and
irritation. Many letters to your uncle have I read on these subjects.
Sometimes a specimen of the proper way of folding a letter is sent him,
(those were the sad days before envelopes were known,) and he is desired
to repeat the experiment till he succeeds. General Macaulay's fastidious
nature led him to take my father's line regarding your uncle, and my
youthful soul was often vexed by the constant reprimands for venial
transgressions. But the great sin was the idle reading, which was a
thorn in my father's side that never was extracted. In truth, he really
acknowledged to the full your uncle's abilities, and felt that if he
could only add his own morale, his unwearied industry, his power of
concentrating his energies on the work in hand, his patient painstaking
calmness, to the genius and fervour which his son possessed, then a
being might be formed who could regenerate the world. Often in later
years I have heard my father, after expressing an earnest desire for
some object, exclaim, 'If I had only Tom's power of speech!' But he
should have remembered that all gifts are not given to one, and that
perhaps such a union as he coveted is even impossible. Parents must
be content to see their children walk in their own path, too happy if
through any road they attain the same end, the living for the glory of
God and the good of man."

From a marvellously early date in Macaulay's life public affairs divided
his thoughts with literature, and, as he grew to manhood, began more and
more to divide his aspirations. His father's house was much used as a
centre of consultation by members of Parliament who lived in the suburbs
on the Surrey side of London; and the boy could hardly have heard more
incessant, and assuredly not more edifying, political talk if he had
been brought up in Downing Street. The future advocate and interpreter
of Whig principles was not reared in the Whig faith. Attached friends of
Pitt, who in personal conduct, and habits of life, certainly came nearer
to their standard than his great rival,--and warmly in favour of a war
which, to their imagination, never entirely lost its early character of
an internecine contest with atheism.--the Evangelicals in the House of
Commons for the most part acted with the Tories. But it may be doubted
whether, in the long run, their party would not have been better without
them. By the zeal, the munificence, the laborious activity, with which
they pursued their religious and semi-religious enterprises, they did
more to teach the world how to get rid of existing institutions than
by their votes and speeches at Westminster they contributed to preserve
them. [Macaulay, writing to one of his sisters in 1844, says: "I think
Stephen's article on the Clapham Sect the best thing he ever did, I do
not think with you that the Claphamites were men too obscure for such
delineation. The truth is that from that little knot of men emanated
all the Bible Societies, and almost all the Missionary Societies, in the
world. The whole organisation of the Evangelical party was their work.
The share which they had in providing means for the education of the
people was great. They were really the destroyers of the slave-trade,
and of slavery. Many of those whom Stephen describes were public men of
the greatest weight, Lord Teignmouth governed India in Calcutta, Grant
governed India in Leadenhall Street, Stephen's father was Perceval's
right-hand man in the House of Commons. It is needless to speak of
Wilberforce. As to Simeon, if you knew what his authority and influence
were, and how they extended from Cambridge to the most remote corners
of England, you would allow that his real sway in the Church was far
greater than that of any primate. Thornton, to my surprise, thinks the
passage about my father unfriendly. I defended Stephen. The truth is
that he asked my permission to draw a portrait of my father for the
Edinburgh Review. I told him that I had only to beg that he would not
give it the air of a puff; a thing which, for myself and for my friends,
I dread far more than any attack. My influence over the Review is so
well known that a mere eulogy of my father appearing in that work would
only call forth derision. I therefore am really glad that Stephen has
introduced into his sketch some little characteristic traits which, in
themselves, were not beauties."] With their May meetings, and African
Institutions, and Anti-slavery Reporters, and their subscriptions of
tens of thousands of pounds, and their petitions bristling with hundreds
of thousands of signatures, and all the machinery for informing opinion
and bringing it to bear on ministers and legislators which they did
so much to perfect and even to invent, they can be regarded as nothing
short of the pioneers and fuglemen of that system of popular agitation
which forms a leading feature in our internal history during the past
half-century. At an epoch when the Cabinet which they supported was
so averse to manifestations of political sentiment that a Reformer who
spoke his mind in England was seldom long out of prison, and in Scotland
ran a very serious risk of transportation, Toryism sat oddly enough on
men who spent their days in the committee-room and their evenings on the
platform, and each of whom belonged to more Associations combined for
the purpose of influencing Parliament than he could count on the fingers
of both his hands.

There was something incongruous in their position; and as time went
on they began to perceive the incongruity. They gradually learned that
measures dear to philanthropy might be expected to result from the
advent to power of their opponents; while their own chief too often
failed them at a pinch out of what appeared to them an excessive,
and humiliating, deference to interests powerfully represented on the
benches behind him. Their eyes were first opened by Pitt's change of
attitude with regard to the object that was next all their hearts. There
is something almost pathetic in the contrast between two entries in
Wilberforce's diary, of which the first has become classical, but the
second is not so generally known. In 1787, referring to the movement
against the slave-trade, he says: "Pitt recommended me to undertake its
conduct, as a subject suited to my character and talents. At length, I
well remember, after a conversation in the open air at the root of an
old tree at Holwood, just above the vale of Keston, I resolved to give
notice on a fit occasion in the House of Commons of my intention to
bring the subject forward." Twelve years later Mr. Henry Thornton had
brought in a bill for confining the trade within certain limits upon
the coast of Africa. "Upon the second reading of this bill," writes
Wilberforce, "Pitt coolly put off the debate when I had manifested a
design of answering P.'s speech, and so left misrepresentations without
a word. William Smith's anger;--Henry Thornton's coolness;--deep
impression on me, but conquered, I hope, in a Christian way."

Besides instructing their successors in the art of carrying on a popular
movement, Wilberforce and his followers had a lesson to teach, the value
of which not so many perhaps will be disposed to question. In public
life, as in private, they habitually had the fear of God before their
eyes. A mere handful as to number, and in average talent very much on
a level with the mass of their colleagues;--counting in their ranks no
orator, or minister, or boroughmonger;--they commanded the ear of the
House, and exerted on its proceedings an influence, the secret of which
those who have studied the Parliamentary history of the period find it
only too easy to understand. To refrain from gambling and ball-giving,
to go much to church and never to the theatre, was not more at variance
with the social customs of the day than it was the exception in the
political world to meet with men who looked to the facts of the case and
not to the wishes of the minister, and who before going into the lobby
required to be obliged with a reason instead of with a job. Confidence
and respect, and (what in the House of Commons is their unvarying
accompaniment) power, were gradually, and to a great extent
involuntarily, accorded to this group of members. They were not addicted
to crotchets, nor to the obtrusive and unseasonable assertion of
conscientious scruples. The occasions on which they made proof of
independence and impartiality were such as justified, and dignified,
their temporary renunciation of party ties. They interfered with
decisive effect in the debates on the great scandals of Lord Melville
and the Duke of York, and in more than one financial or commercial
controversy that deeply concerned the national interests, of which
the question of the retaining the Orders in Council was a conspicuous
instance. A boy who, like young Macaulay, was admitted to the intimacy
of politicians such as these, and was accustomed to hear matters of
state discussed exclusively from a public point of view without any
afterthought of ambition, or jealousy, or self-seeking, could hardly
fail to grow up a patriotic and disinterested man. "What is far better
and more important than all is this, that I believe Macaulay to be
incorruptible. You might lay ribbons, stars, garters, wealth, titles
before him in vain. He has an honest genuine love of his country, and
the world would not bribe him to neglect her interests." Thus said
Sydney Smith, who of all his real friends was the least inclined to
over-praise him.

The memory of Thornton and Babington, and the other worthies of their
day and set, is growing dim, and their names already mean little in our
ears. Part of their work was so thoroughly done that the world, as its
wont is, has long ago taken the credit of that work to itself. Others of
their undertakings, in weaker hands than theirs, seem out of date among
the ideas and beliefs which now are prevalent. At Clapham, as elsewhere,
the old order is changing, and not always in a direction which to them
would be acceptable or even tolerable. What was once the home of Zachary
Macaulay stands almost within the swing of the bell of a stately
and elegant Roman Catholic chapel; and the pleasant mansion of Lord
Teignmouth, the cradle of the Bible Society, is now a religious house of
the Redemptorist Order. But in one shape or another honest performance
always lives, and the gains that accrued from the labours of these
men are still on the right side of the national ledger. Among the most
permanent of those gains is their undoubted share in the improvement of
our political integrity by direct, and still more by indirect, example.
It would be ungrateful to forget in how large a measure it is due to
them that one, whose judgments upon the statesmen of many ages and
countries have been delivered to an audience vast beyond all precedent,
should have framed his decisions in accordance with the dictates of
honour and humanity, of ardent public spirit and lofty public virtue.

CHAPTER II. 1818-1824.

     Macaulay goes to the University--His love for Trinity
     College--His contemporaries at Cambridge--Charles Austin--
     The Union Debating Society--University studies, successes,
     and failures--The Mathematical Tripos--The Trinity
     Fellowship--William the Third--Letters--Prize poems--
     Peterloo--Novel-reading--The Queen's Trial--Macaulay's
     feeling towards his mother--A Reading-party--Hoaxing an
     editor--Macaulay takes pupils.

IN October 1818 Macaulay went into residence at Trinity College,
Cambridge. Mr. Henry Sykes Thornton, the eldest son of the member for
Southwark, was his companion throughout his university career. The
young men lived in the same lodgings, and began by reading with the same
tutor; a plan which promised well, because, in addition to what was his
own by right, each had the benefit of the period of instruction paid for
by the other. But two hours were much the same as one to Macaulay, in
whose eyes algebra and geometry were so much additional material for
lively and interminable argument. Thornton reluctantly broke through the
arrangement, and eventually stood highest among the Trinity wranglers
of his year; an elevation which he could hardly have attained if he had
pursued his studies in company with one who regarded every successive
mathematical proposition as an open question. A Parliamentary election
took place while the two friends were still quartered together in Jesus
Lane. A tumult in the neighbouring street announced that the citizens
were expressing their sentiments by the only channel which was open to
them before the days of Reform; and Macaulay, to whom any excitement of
a political nature was absolutely irresistible, dragged Thornton to
the scene of action, and found the mob breaking the windows of the Hoop
hotel, the head-quarters of the successful candidates. His ardour
was cooled by receiving a dead cat full in the face. The man who was
responsible for the animal came up and apologised very civilly, assuring
him that there was no town and gown feeling in the matter, and that the
cat had been meant for Mr. Adeane. "I wish," replied Macaulay, "that you
had meant it for me, and hit Mr. Adeane."

After no long while he removed within the walls of Trinity, and resided
first in the centre rooms of Bishop's Hostel, and subsequently in the
Old Court, between the Gate and the Chapel. The door, which once bore
his name, is on the ground floor, to the left hand as you face the
staircase. In more recent years, undergraduates who are accustomed to
be out after lawful hours have claimed a right of way through the window
which looks towards the town;--to the great annoyance of any occupant
who is too good-natured to refuse the accommodation to others, and too
steady to need it himself. This power of surreptitious entry had not
been discovered in Macaulay's days; and, indeed, he would have cared
very little for the privilege of spending his time outside walls which
contained within them as many books as even he could read, and more
friends than even he could talk to. Wanting nothing beyond what his
college had to give, he revelled in the possession of leisure and
liberty, in the almost complete command of his own time, in the power of
passing at choice from the most perfect solitude to the most agreeable
company. He keenly appreciated a society which cherishes all that is
genuine, and is only too out-spoken in its abhorrence of pretension and
display:--a society in which a man lives with those whom he likes,
and with those only; choosing his comrades for their own sake, and so
indifferent to the external distinctions of wealth and position that
no one who has entered fully into the spirit of college life can ever
unlearn its priceless lesson of manliness and simplicity.

Of all his places of sojourn during his joyous and shining pilgrimage
through the world, Trinity, and Trinity alone, had any share with his
home in Macaulay's affection and loyalty. To the last he regarded it as
an ancient Greek, or a mediaeval Italian, felt towards his native city.
As long as he had place and standing there, he never left it willingly
or returned to it without delight. The only step in his course about the
wisdom of which he sometimes expressed misgiving was his preference of
a London to a Cambridge life. The only dignity that in his later days he
was known to covet was an honorary fellowship, which would have allowed
him again to look through his window upon the college grass-plots,
and to sleep within sound of the splashing of the fountain; again to
breakfast on commons, and dine beneath the portraits of Newton and Bacon
on the dais of the hall; again to ramble by moonlight round Neville's
cloister, discoursing the picturesque but somewhat exoteric philosophy
which it pleased him to call by the name of metaphysics. From the door
of his rooms, along the wall of the Chapel, there runs a flagged pathway
which affords an acceptable relief from the rugged pebbles that surround
it. Here as a Bachelor of Arts he would walk, book in hand, morning
after morning throughout the long vacation, reading with the same
eagerness and the same rapidity whether the volume was the most abstruse
of treatises, the loftiest of poems, or the flimsiest of novels. That
was the spot where in his failing years he specially loved to renew
the feelings of the past; and some there are who can never revisit it
without the fancy that there, if anywhere, his dear shade must linger.

He was fortunate in his contemporaries. Among his intimate friends were
the two Coleridges--Derwent, the son, and Henry Nelson, who was destined
to be the son-in-law of the poet; and how exceptional that destiny was
the readers of Sara Coleridge's letters are now aware. Hyde Villiers,
whom an untimely death alone prevented from taking an equal place in
a trio of distinguished brothers, was of his year, though not of his
college. [Lord Clarendon, and his brothers, were all Johnians.] In the
year below were the young men who now bear the titles of Lord Grey, Lord
Belper, and Lord Romilly; [This paragraph was written in the summer of
1874. Three of Macaulay's old college friends, Lord Romilly, Moultrie,
and Charles Austin, died, in the hard winter that followed, within a few
days of each other.] and after the same interval came Moultrie, who in
his "Dream of Life," with a fidelity which he himself pronounced to have
been obtained at some sacrifice of grace, has told us how the heroes of
his time looked and lived, and Charles Villiers, who still delights our
generation by showing us how they talked. Then there was Praed, fresh
from editing the Etonian, as a product of collective boyish effort
unique in its literary excellence and variety; and Sidney Walker,
Praed's gifted school fellow, whose promise was blighted by premature
decay of powers; and Charles Austin, whose fame would now be more in
proportion to his extraordinary abilities, had not his unparalleled
success as an advocate tempted him before his day to retire from the
toils of a career of whose rewards he already had enough.

With his vigour and fervour, his depth of knowledge and breadth
of humour, his close reasoning illustrated by an expansive
imagination,--set off, as these gifts were, by the advantage, at that
period of life so irresistible, of some experience of the world at home
and abroad,--Austin was indeed a king among his fellows.

                         "Grave, sedate,
 And (if the looks may indicate the age,)
 Our senior some few years; no keener wit,
 No intellect more subtle, none more bold,
 Was found in all our host."

So writes Moultrie, and the testimony of his verse is borne out by
John Stuart Mill's prose. "The impression he gave was that of boundless
strength, together with talents which, combined with such apparent
force of will and character, seemed capable of dominating the world."
He certainly was the only man who ever succeeded in dominating Macaulay.
Brimming over with ideas that were soon to be known by the name of
Utilitarian, a panegyrist of American institutions, and an unsparing
assailant of ecclesiastical endowments and hereditary privileges, he
effectually cured the young undergraduate of his Tory opinions, which
were never more than skin deep, and brought him nearer to Radicalism
than he ever was before or since. The report of this conversion, of
which the most was made by ill-natured tale-bearers who met with more
encouragement than they deserved, created some consternation in the
family circle; while the reading set at Cambridge was duly scandalised
at the influence which one, whose classical attainments were rather
discursive than exact, had gained over a Craven scholar. To this hour
men may be found in remote parsonages who mildly resent the fascination
which Austin of Jesus exercised over Macaulay of Trinity. [It was at
this period of his career that Macaulay said to the late Mr. Hampden
Gurney: "Gurney, I have been a Tory, I am a Radical; _but I never will
be a Whig_."]

The day and the night together were too short for one who was entering
on the journey of life amidst such a band of travellers. So long as a
door was open, or a light burning, in any of the courts, Macaulay was
always in the mood for conversation and companionship. Unfailing in his
attendance at lecture and chapel, blameless with regard to college laws
and college discipline, it was well for his virtue that no curfew was in
force within the precincts of Trinity. He never tired of recalling the
days when he supped at midnight on milk-punch and roast turkey, drank
tea in floods at an hour when older men are intent upon anything rather
than on the means of keeping themselves awake, and made little of
sitting over the fire till the bell rang for morning chapel in order
to see a friend off by the early coach. In the license of the summer
vacation, after some prolonged and festive gathering, the whole party
would pour out into the moonlight, and ramble for mile after mile
through the country, till the noise of their wide-flowing talk mingled
with the twittering of the birds in the hedges which bordered the Coton
pathway or the Madingley road. On such occasions it must have been well
worth the loss of sleep to hear Macaulay plying Austin with sarcasms
upon the doctrine of the Greatest Happiness, which then had still some
gloss of novelty; putting into an ever-fresh shape the time-honoured
jokes against the Johnians for the benefit of the Villierses; and urging
an interminable debate on Wordsworth's merits as a poet, in which
the Coleridges, as in duty bound, were ever ready to engage. In this
particular field he acquired a skill of fence which rendered him the
most redoubtable of antagonists. Many years afterwards, at the time when
the Prelude was fresh from the press, he was maintaining against the
opinion of a large and mixed society that the poem was unreadable. At
last, overborne by the united indignation of so many of Wordsworth's
admirers, he agreed that the question should be referred to the test
of personal experience; and on inquiry it was discovered that the only
individual present who had got through the Prelude was Macaulay himself.

It is not only that the witnesses of these scenes unanimously declare
that they have never since heard such conversation in the most renowned
of social circles. The partiality of a generous young man for trusted
and admired companions may well colour his judgment over the space of
even half a century. But the estimate of university contemporaries
was abundantly confirmed by the outer world. While on a visit to Lord
Lansdowne at Bowood, years after they had left Cambridge, Austin and
Macaulay happened to get upon college topics one morning at breakfast.
When the meal was finished they drew their chairs to either end of the
chimney-piece, and talked at each other across the hearth-rug as if
they were in a first-floor room in the Old Court of Trinity. The whole
company, ladies, artists, politicians, and diners-out, formed a silent
circle round the two Cantabs, and, with a short break for lunch, never
stirred till the bell warned them that it was time to dress for dinner.

It has all irrevocably perished. With life before them, and each intent
on his own future, none among that troop of friends had the mind to play
Boswell to the others. One repartee survives, thrown off in the heat
of discussion, but exquisitely perfect in all its parts. Acknowledged
without dissent to be the best applied quotation that ever was made
within five miles of the Fitzwilliam Museum, it is unfortunately too
strictly classical for reproduction in these pages.

We are more easily consoled for the loss of the eloquence which then
flowed so full and free in the debates of the Cambridge Union. In 1820
that Society was emerging from a period of tribulation and repression.
The authorities of the university, who, as old constituents of Mr. Pitt
and warm supporters of Lord Liverpool, had never been very much
inclined to countenance the practice of political discussion among the
undergraduates, set their faces against it more than ever at an epoch
when the temper of the time increased the tendency of young men to run
into extremes of partisanship. At length a compromise was extorted from
the reluctant hands of the Vice-Chancellor, and the Club was allowed
to take into consideration public affairs of a date anterior to the
century. It required less ingenuity than the leaders of the Union had at
their command to hit upon a method of dealing with the present under the
guise of the past. Motions were framed that reflected upon the existing
Government under cover of a censure on the Cabinets of the previous
generation. Resolutions which called upon the meeting to declare that
the boon of Catholic Emancipation should have been granted in the year
1795, or that our Commercial Policy previous to 1800 should have been
founded on the basis of Free Trade, were clearly susceptible of great
latitude of treatment. And, again, in its character of a reading club,
the Society, when assembled for the conduct of private business, was
at liberty to review the political creed of the journals of the day in
order to decide which of them it should take in, and which it should
discontinue. The Examiner newspaper was the flag of many a hard-fought
battle; the Morning Chronicle was voted in and out of the rooms
half-a-dozen times within a single twelvemonth; while a series of
impassioned speeches on the burning question of interference in behalf
of Greek Independence were occasioned by a proposition of Malden's "that
'e Ellenike salpigks' do lie upon the table."

At the close of the debates, which were held in a large room at the back
of the Red Lion in Petty Cury, the most prominent members met for supper
in the Hotel, or at Moultrie's lodgings, which were situated close at
hand. They acted as a self-appointed Standing Committee, which watched
over the general interests of the Union, and selected candidates whom
they put in nomination for its offices. The Society did not boast a
Hansard;--an omission which, as time went on, some among its orators had
no reason to regret. Faint recollections still survive of a discussion
upon the august topic of the character of George the Third. "To whom
do we owe it," asked Macaulay, "that while Europe was convulsed with
anarchy and desolated with war, England alone remained tranquil,
prosperous, and secure? To whom but the Good Old King? Why was it that,
when neighbouring capitals were perishing in the flames, our own was
illuminated only for triumphs? [This debate evidently made some noise in
the university world. There is an allusion to it in a squib of Praed's,
very finished and elegant, and beyond all doubt contemporary. The
passage relating to Macaulay begins with the lines--"Then the favourite
comes with his trumpets and drums, And his arms and his metaphors
crossed."] You may find the cause in the same three words: the Good Old
King." Praed, on the other hand, would allow his late monarch neither
public merits nor private virtues. "A good man! If he had been a plain
country gentleman with no wider opportunities for mischief, he would at
least have bullied his footmen and cheated his steward."

Macaulay's intense enjoyment of all that was stirring and vivid around
him undoubtedly hindered him in the race for university honours; though
his success was sufficient to inspirit him at the time, and to give him
abiding pleasure in the retrospect. He twice gained the Chancellor's
medal for English verse, with poems admirably planned, and containing
passages of real beauty, but which may not be republished in the teeth
of the panegyric which, within ten years after they were written, he
pronounced upon Sir Roger Newdigate. Sir Roger had laid down the rule
that no exercise sent in for the prize which he established at Oxford
was to exceed fifty lines. This law, says Macaulay, seems to have more
foundation in reason than is generally the case with a literary canon,
"for the world, we believe, is pretty well agreed in thinking that the
shorter a prize poem is, the better."

Trinity men find it difficult to understand how it was that he missed
getting one of the three silver goblets given for the best English
Declamations of the year. If there is one thing which all Macaulay's
friends, and all his enemies, admit, it is that he could declaim
English. His own version of the affair was that the Senior Dean, a
relative of the victorious candidate, sent for him and said: "Mr.
Macaulay, as you have not got the first cup, I do not suppose that you
will care for either of the others." He was consoled, however, by the
prize for Latin Declamation; and in 1821 he established his classical
repute by winning a Craven University scholarship in company with his
friend Malden, and Mr. George Long, who preceded Malden as Professor of
Greek at University College, London.

Macaulay detested the labour of manufacturing Greek and Latin verse in
cold blood as an exercise; and his Hexameters were never up to the best
Etonian mark, nor his Iambics to the highest standard of Shrewsbury. He
defined a scholar as one who reads Plato with his feet on the fender.
When already well on in his third year he writes: "I never practised
composition a single hour since I have been at Cambridge." "Soak your
mind with Cicero," was his constant advice to students at that time of
life when writing Latin prose is the most lucrative of accomplishments.
The advantage of this precept was proved in the Fellowship examination
of the year 1824, when he obtained the honour which in his eyes was the
most desirable that Cambridge had to give. The delight of the young man
at finding himself one of the sixty masters of an ancient and splendid
establishment; the pride with which he signed his first order for the
college plate, and dined for the first time at the high table in his
own right; the reflection that these privileges were the fruit, not
of favour or inheritance, but of personal industry and ability,--were
matters on which he loved to dwell long after the world had loaded
him with its most envied prizes. Macaulay's feeling on this point is
illustrated by the curious reverence which he cherished for those
junior members of the college who, some ninety years ago, by a spirited
remonstrance addressed to the governing body, brought about a reform in
the Trinity Fellowship examination that secured to it the character for
fair play, and efficiency, which it has ever since enjoyed. In his copy
of the Cambridge Calendar for the year 1859, (the last of his life,)
throughout the list of the old mathematical Triposes the words "one of
the eight" appear in his hand-writing opposite the name of each of these
gentlemen. And I can never remember the time when it was not diligently
impressed upon me that, if I minded my syntax, I might eventually hope
to reach a position which would give me three hundred pounds a year, a
stable for my horse, six dozen of audit ale every Christmas, a loaf and
two pats of butter every morning, and a good dinner for nothing, with as
many almonds and raisins as I could eat at dessert.

Macaulay was not chosen a Fellow until his last trial, nominally for
the amazing reason that his translations from Greek and Latin, while
faithfully representing the originals, were rendered into English that
was ungracefully bald and inornate. The real cause was, beyond all
doubt, his utter neglect of the special study of the place; a liberty
which Cambridge seldom allows to be taken with impunity even by her most
favoured sons. He used to profess deep and lasting regret for his early
repugnance to scientific subjects; but the fervour of his penitence in
after years was far surpassed by the heartiness with which he inveighed
against mathematics as long as it was his business to learn them.
Everyone who knows the Senate House may anticipate the result. When the
Tripos of 1822 made its appearance, his name did not grace the list. In
short, to use the expressive vocabulary of the university, Macaulay was
gulfed--a mishap which disabled him from contending for the Chancellor's
medals, then the crowning trophies of a classical career. "I well
remember," says Lady Trevelyan, "that first trial of my life. We were
spending the winter at Brighton when a letter came giving an account of
the event. I recollect my mother taking me into her room to tell me, for
even then it was known how my whole heart was wrapped up in him, and
it was thought necessary to break the news. When your uncle arrived at
Brighton, I can recall my mother telling him that he had better go at
once to his father, and get it over, and I can see him as he left the
room on that errand."

During the same year he engaged in a less arduous competition. A certain
Mr. Greaves of Fulbourn had long since provided a reward of ten pounds
for "the Junior Bachelor of Trinity College who wrote the best essay on
the Conduct and Character of William the Third." As the prize is annual,
it is appalling to reflect upon the searching analysis to which the
motives of that monarch must by this time have been subjected. The
event, however, may be counted as an encouragement to the founders
of endowments; for, amidst the succession of juvenile critics whose
attention was by his munificence turned in the direction of his
favourite hero, Mr. Greaves had at last fallen in with the right man. It
is more than probable that to this old Cambridgeshire Whig was due the
first idea of that History in whose pages William of Orange stands as
the central figure. The essay is still in existence, in a close
neat hand, which twenty years of Reviewing never rendered illegible.
Originally written as a fair copy, but so disfigured by repeated
corrections and additions as to be unfit for the eyes of the college
authorities, it bears evident marks of having been held to the flames,
and rescued on second, and in this case it will be allowed, on better
thoughts. The exercise, (which is headed by the very appropriate motto,

               "Primus qui legibus urbem
 Fundabit, Curibus parvis et paupere terra
 Missus in imperium magnum,")

is just such as will very likely be produced in the course of next
Easter term by some young man of judgment and spirit, who knows
his Macaulay by heart, and will paraphrase him without scruple. The
characters of James, of Shaftesbury, of William himself; the Popish
plot; the struggle over the Exclusion bill; the reaction from Puritanic
rigour into the license of the Restoration, are drawn on the same lines
and painted in the same colours as those with which the world is now
familiar. The style only wants condensation, and a little of the humour
which he had not yet learned to transfer from his conversation to his
writings, in order to be worthy of his mature powers. He thus describes
William's lifelong enemy and rival, whose name he already spells after
his own fashion.

"Lewis was not a great general. He was not a great legislator. But he
was, in one sense of the words, a great king. He was a perfect master of
all the mysteries of the science of royalty,--of all the arts which at
once extend power and conciliate popularity,--which most advantageously
display the merits, or most dexterously conceal the deficiencies, of a
sovereign. He was surrounded by great men, by victorious commanders,
by sagacious statesmen. Yet, while he availed himself to the utmost of
their services, he never incurred any danger from their rivalry. His was
a talisman which extorted the obedience of the proudest and mightiest
spirits. The haughty and turbulent warriors whose contests had agitated
France during his minority yielded to the irresistible spell, and,
like the gigantic slaves of the ring and lamp of Aladdin, laboured to
decorate and aggrandise a master whom they could have crushed. With
incomparable address he appropriated to himself the glory of campaigns
which had been planned, and counsels which had been suggested, by
others. The arms of Turenne were the terror of Europe. The policy of
Colbert was the strength of France. But in their foreign successes, and
their internal prosperity, the people saw only the greatness and wisdom
of Lewis."

In the second chapter of the History much of this is compressed into the
sentence: "He had shown, in an eminent degree, two talents invaluable to
a prince,--the talent of choosing his servants well, and the talent of
appropriating to himself the chief part of the credit of their acts."

In a passage that occurs towards the close of the essay may be traced
something more than an outline of the peroration in which, a quarter
of a century later on, he summed up the character and results of the
Revolution of 1688.

"To have been a sovereign, yet the champion of liberty; a revolutionary
leader, yet the supporter of social order, is the peculiar glory of
William. He knew where to pause. He outraged no national prejudice. He
abolished no ancient form. He altered no venerable name. He saw that the
existing institutions possessed the greatest capabilities of excellence,
and that stronger sanctions, and clearer definitions, were alone
required to make the practice of the British constitution as admirable
as the theory. Thus he imparted to innovation the dignity and
stability of antiquity. He transferred to a happier order of things the
associations which had attached the people to their former government.
As the Roman warrior, before he assaulted Veii, invoked its guardian
gods to leave its walls, and to accept the worship and patronise the
cause of the besiegers, this great prince, in attacking a system of
oppression, summoned to his aid the venerable principles and deeply
seated feelings to which that system was indebted for protection."

A letter, written during the latter years of his life, expresses
Macaulay's general views on the subject of University honours. "If a man
brings away from Cambridge self-knowledge, accuracy of mind, and habits
of strong intellectual exertion, he has gained more than if he had made
a display of showy superficial Etonian scholarship, got three or four
Browne's medals, and gone forth into the world a schoolboy and doomed to
be a schoolboy to the last. After all, what a man does at Cambridge is,
in itself, nothing. If he makes a poor figure in life, his having
been Senior Wrangler or University scholar is never mentioned but with
derision. If he makes a distinguished figure, his early honours merge in
those of a later date. I hope that I do not overrate my own place in the
estimation of society. Such as it is, I would not give a halfpenny to
add to the consideration which I enjoy, all the consideration that I
should derive from having been Senior Wrangler. But I often regret, and
even acutely, my want of a Senior Wrangler's knowledge of physics and
mathematics; and I regret still more some habits of mind which a Senior
Wrangler is pretty certain to possess." Like all men who know what the
world is, he regarded the triumph of a college career as of less value
than its disappointments. Those are most to be envied who soonest learn
to expect nothing for which they have not worked hard, and who never
acquire the habit, (a habit which an unbroken course of University
successes too surely breeds,) of pitying themselves overmuch if ever in
after life they happen to work in vain.

Cambridge: Wednesday. (Post-mark, 1818)

My dear Mother,--King, I am absolutely certain, would take no more
pupils on any account. And, even if he would, he has numerous applicants
with prior claims. He has already six, who occupy him six hours in the
day, and is likewise lecturer to the college. It would, however, be
very easy to obtain an excellent tutor. Lefevre and Malkin are men
of first-rate mathematical abilities, and both of our college. I can
scarcely bear to write on Mathematics or Mathematicians. Oh for words to
express my abomination of that science, if a name sacred to the useful
and embellishing arts may be applied to the perception and recollection
of certain properties in numbers and figures! Oh that I had to learn
astrology, or demonology, or school divinity! Oh that I were to pore
over Thomas Aquinas, and to adjust the relation of Entity with the
two Predicaments, so that I were exempted from this miserable study!
"Discipline" of the mind! Say rather starvation, confinement, torture,
annihilation! But it must be. I feel myself becoming a personification
of Algebra, a living trigonometrical canon, a walking table of
Logarithms. All my perceptions of elegance and beauty gone, or at least
going. By the end of the term my brain will be "as dry as the remainder
biscuit after a voyage." Oh to change Cam for Isis! But such is my
destiny; and, since it is so, be the pursuit contemptible, below
contempt, or disgusting beyond abhorrence, I shall aim at no second
place. But three years! I cannot endure the thought. I cannot bear
to contemplate what I must have to undergo. Farewell then Homer and
Sophocles and Cicero.

 Farewell happy fields
 Where joy for ever reigns
 Hail, horrors, hail, Infernal world!

How does it proceed? Milton's descriptions have been driven out of my
head by such elegant expressions as the following

[Long mathematical formula]

My classics must be Woodhouse, and my amusements summing an infinite
series. Farewell, and tell Selina and Jane to be thankful that it is
not a necessary part of female education to get a headache daily without
acquiring one practical truth or beautiful image in return. Again, and
with affectionate love to my Father, farewell wishes your most miserable
and mathematical son


Cambridge: November 9, 1818.

My dear Father,--Your letter, which I read with the greatest pleasure,
is perfectly safe from all persons who could make a bad use of it. The
Emperor Alexander's plans as detailed in the conversation between him
and Clarkson [Thomas Clarkson, the famous assailant of slavery.]
are almost superhuman; and tower as much above the common hopes and
aspirations of philanthropists as the statue which his Macedonian
namesake proposed to hew out of Mount Athos excelled the most colossal
works of meaner projectors. As Burke said of Henry the Fourth's
wish that every peasant in France might have the chicken in his pot
comfortably on a Sunday, we may say of these mighty plans, "The mere
wish, the unfulfilled desire, exceeded all that we hear of the splendid
professions and exploits of princes." Yet my satisfaction in the success
of that noble cause in which the Emperor seems to be exerting himself
with so much zeal is scarcely so great as my regret for the man who
would have traced every step of its progress with anxiety, and hailed
its success with the most ardent delight. Poor Sir Samuel Romilly!
Quando ullum invenient parem? How long may a penal code at once too
sanguinary and too lenient, half written in blood like Draco's, and
half undefined and loose as the common law of a tribe of savages, be the
curse and disgrace of the country? How many years may elapse before a
man who knows like him all that law can teach, and possesses at the same
time like him a liberality and a discernment of general rights which
the technicalities of professional learning rather tend to blunt, shall
again rise to ornament and reform our jurisprudence? For such a man, if
he had fallen in the maturity of years and honours, and been borne from
the bed of sickness to a grave by the side of his prototype Hale amidst
the tears of nobles and senators, even then, I think, the public sorrow
would have been extreme. But that the last moments of an existence of
high thoughts and great virtues should have been passed as his were
passed! In my feelings the scene at Claremont [The death of Princess
Charlotte.] this time last year was mere dust in the balance in

Ever your affectionate son,

T. B. M.

Cambridge: Friday, February 5, 1819.

My dear Father,--I have not of course had time to examine with attention
all your criticisms on Pompeii. [The subject of the English poem for the
Chancellor's prize of 1819 was the Destruction of Pompeii.] I certainly
am much obliged to you for withdrawing so much time from more important
business to correct my effusions. Most of the remarks which I have
examined are perfectly just; but as to the more momentous charge, the
want of a moral, I think it might be a sufficient defence that, if a
subject is given which admits of none, the man who writes without a
moral is scarcely censurable. But is it the real fact that no literary
employment is estimable or laudable which does not lead to the spread
of moral truth or the excitement of virtuous feeling? Books of amusement
tend to polish the mind, to improve the style, to give variety to
conversation, and to lend a grace to more important accomplishments. He
who can effect this has surely done something. Is no useful end served
by that writer whose works have soothed weeks of languor and sickness,
have relieved the mind exhausted from the pressure of employment by an
amusement which delights without enervating, which relaxes the tension
of the powers without rendering them unfit for future exercise? I should
not be surprised to see these observations refuted; and I shall not be
sorry if they are so. I feel personally little interest in the question.
If my life be a life of literature, it shall certainly be one of
literature directed to moral ends.

At all events let us be consistent. I was amused in turning over an old
volume of the Christian Observer to find a gentleman signing himself
Excubitor, (one of our antagonists in the question of novel-reading,)
after a very pious argument on the hostility of novels to a religious
frame of mind, proceeding to observe that he was shocked to hear a
young lady who had displayed extraordinary knowledge of modern ephemeral
literature own herself ignorant of Dryden's fables! Consistency with
a vengeance! The reading of modern poetry and novels excites a worldly
disposition and prevents ladies from reading Dryden's fables! There is a
general disposition among the more literary part of the religious world
to cry down the elegant literature of our own times, while they are
not in the slightest degree shocked at atrocious profaneness or gross
indelicacy when a hundred years have stamped them with the title
of classical. I say: "If you read Dryden you can have no reasonable
objection to reading Scott." The strict antagonist of ephemeral reading
exclaims, "Not so. Scott's poems are very pernicious. They call away the
mind from spiritual religion, and from Tancred and Sigismunda." But I
am exceeding all ordinary limits. If these hasty remarks fatigue you,
impute it to my desire of justifying myself from a charge which I should
be sorry to incur with justice. Love to all at home.

Affectionately yours,

T. B. M.

With or without a moral, the poem carried the day. The subject for the
next year was Waterloo. The opening lines of Macaulay's exercise
were pretty and simple enough to ruin his chance in an academical

 It was the Sabbath morn. How calm and fair
 Is the blest dawning of the day of prayer!
 Who hath not felt how fancy's mystic power
 With holier beauty decks that solemn hour;
 A softer lustre in its sunshine sees;
 And hears a softer music in its breeze?
 Who hath not dreamed that even the skylark's throat
 Hails that sweet morning with a gentler note?
 Fair morn, how gaily shone thy dawning smile
 On the green valleys of my native isle!
 How gladly many a spire's resounding height
 With peals of transport hailed thy newborn light!
 Ah! little thought the peasant then, who blest
 The peaceful hour of consecrated rest,
 And heard the rustic Temple's arch prolong
 The simple cadence of the hallowed song,
 That the same sun illumed a gory field,
 Where wilder song and sterner music pealed;
 Where many a yell unholy rent the air,
 And many a hand was raised,--but not in prayer.

The prize fell to a man of another college, and Trinity comforted itself
by inventing a story to the effect that the successful candidate had run
away from the battle.

In the summer of 1819 there took place a military affair, less
attractive than Waterloo as a theme for poets, but which, as far as this
country is concerned, has proved even more momentous in its ultimate
consequences. On the 16th of August a Reform demonstration was arranged
at Manchester resembling those which were common in the Northern
districts during the year 1866, except that in 1819 women formed an
important element in the procession. A troop of yeomanry, and afterwards
two squadrons of hussars, were sent in among the crowd, which was
assembled in St. Peter's Fields, the site on which the Free Trade Hall
now stands. The men used their swords freely, and the horses their
hoofs. The people, who meant anything but fighting, trampled each other
down in the attempt to escape. Five or six lives were lost, and fifty or
sixty persons were badly hurt; but the painful impression wrought upon
the national conscience was well worth the price. British blood has
never since been shed by British hands in any civic contest that rose
above the level of a lawless riot. The immediate result, however, was
to concentrate and embitter party feeling. The grand jury threw out
the bills against the yeomen, and found true bills against the popular
orators who had called the meeting together. The Common Councilmen of
the City of London, who had presented an Address to the Prince Regent
reflecting upon the conduct of the Government, were roundly rebuked
for their pains. Earl Fitzwilliam was dismissed from the office of Lord
Lieutenant, for taking part in a Yorkshire county gathering which had
passed resolutions in the same sense as the Address from the City. On
the other hand, a Peterloo medal was struck, which is still treasured
in such Manchester families as have not learned to be ashamed of the old
Manchester politics.

In this heated state of the political atmosphere the expiring Toryism
of the Anti-Slavery leaders flamed up once again. "I declare," said
Wilberforce, "my greatest cause of difference with the democrats is
their laying, and causing people to lay, so great a stress on the
concerns of this world as to occupy their whole minds and hearts, and
to leave a few scanty and lukewarm thoughts for the heavenly treasure."
Zachary Macaulay, who never canted, and who knew that on the 16th of
August the Manchester Magistrates were thinking just as much or as
little about religion as the Manchester populace, none the less took
the same side as Wilberforce. Having formed for himself, by observations
made on the spot, a decided opinion that the authorities ought to be
supported, he was much disturbed by reports which came to him from

September, 1819.

My dear Father,--My mother's letter, which has just arrived, has given
me much concern. The letter which has, I am sorry to learn, given you
and her uneasiness was written rapidly and thoughtlessly enough, but can
scarcely, I think, as far as I remember its tenour, justify some of the
extraordinary inferences which it has occasioned. I can only assure you
most solemnly that I am not initiated into any democratical societies
here, and that I know no people who make politics a common or frequent
topic of conversation, except one man who is a determined Tory. It is
true that this Manchester business has roused some indignation here, as
at other places, and drawn philippics against the powers that be from
lips which I never heard opened before but to speak on university
contests or university scandal. For myself I have long made it a rule
never to talk on politics except in the most general manner; and I
believe that my most intimate associates have no idea of my opinions
on the questions of party. I can scarcely be censured, I think, for
imparting them to you;--which, however, I should scarcely have thought
of doing, (so much is my mind occupied with other concerns,) had
not your letter invited me to state my sentiments on the Manchester

I hope that this explanation will remove some of your uneasiness. As
to my opinions, I have no particular desire to vindicate them. They are
merely speculative, and therefore cannot partake of the nature of moral
culpability. They are early formed, and I am not solicitous that you
should think them superior to those of most people at eighteen. I will,
however, say this in their defence. Whatever the affectionate alarm of
my dear mother may lead her to apprehend, I am not one of the "sons of
anarchy and confusion" with whom she classes me. My opinions, good or
bad, were learnt, not from Hunt and Waithman, but from Cicero, from
Tacitus, and from Milton. They are the opinions which have produced
men who have ornamented the world, and redeemed human nature from the
degradation of ages of superstition and slavery. I may be wrong as to
the facts of what occurred at Manchester; but, if they be what I have
seen them stated, I can never repent speaking of them with indignation.
When I cease to feel the injuries of others warmly, to detest wanton
cruelty, and to feel my soul rise against oppression, I shall think
myself unworthy to be your son.

I could say a great deal more. Above all I might, I think, ask, with
some reason, why a few democratical sentences in a letter, a private
letter, of a collegian of eighteen, should be thought so alarming an
indication of character, when Brougham and other people, who at an age
which ought to have sobered them talk with much more violence, are
not thought particularly ill of? But I have so little room left that I
abstain, and will only add thus much. Were my opinions as decisive as
they are fluctuating, and were the elevation of a Cromwell or the renown
of a Hampden the certain reward of my standing forth in the democratic
cause, I would rather have my lips sealed on the subject than give my
mother or you one hour of uneasiness. There are not so many people in
the world who love me that I can afford to pain them for any object of
ambition which it contains. If this assurance be not sufficient, clothe
it in what language you please, and believe me to express myself in
those words which you think the strongest and most solemn. Affectionate
love to my mother and sisters. Farewell.

T. B. M.

Cambridge: January 5, 1820.

My dear Father,--Nothing that gives you disquietude can give me
amusement. Otherwise I should have been excessively diverted by the
dialogue which you have reported with so much vivacity; the accusation;
the predictions; and the elegant agnomen of "the novel-reader" for which
I am indebted to this incognito. I went in some amazement to Malden,
Romilly, and Barlow. Their acquaintance comprehends, I will venture to
say, almost every man worth knowing in the university in every field of
study. They had never heard the appellation applied to me by any man.
Their intimacy with me would of course prevent any person from speaking
to them on the subject in an insulting manner; for it is not usual here,
whatever your unknown informant may do, for a gentleman who does not
wish to be kicked downstairs to reply to a man who mentions another as
his particular friend, "Do you mean the blackguard or the novel-reader?"
But I am fully convinced that had the charge prevailed to any extent it
must have reached the ears of one of those whom I interrogated. At all
events I have the consolation of not being thought a novel-reader by
three or four who are entitled to judge upon the subject, and whether
their opinion be of equal value with that of this John-a-Nokes against
whom I have to plead I leave you to decide.

But stronger evidence, it seems, is behind. This gentleman was in
company with me. Alas that I should never have found out how accurate
an observer was measuring my sentiments, numbering the novels which I
criticised, and speculating on the probability of my being plucked. "I
was familiar with all the novels whose names he had ever heard." If so
frightful an accusation did not stun me at once, I might perhaps hint
at the possibility that this was to be attributed almost as much to
the narrowness of his reading on this subject as to the extent of mine.
There are men here who are mere mathematical blocks; who plod on their
eight hours a day to the honours of the Senate House; who leave the
groves which witnessed the musings of Milton, of Bacon, and of Gray,
without one liberal idea or elegant image, and carry with them into the
world minds contracted by unmingled attention to one part of science,
and memories stored only with technicalities. How often have I seen
such men go forth into society for people to stare at them, and ask each
other how it comes that beings so stupid in conversation, so uninformed
on every subject of history, of letters, and of taste, could gain such
distinction at Cambridge!

It is in such circles, which, I am happy to say, I hardly know but by
report, that knowledge of modern literature is called novel-reading; a
commodious name, invented by ignorance and applied by envy, in the same
manner as men without learning call a scholar a pedant, and men without
principle call a Christian a Methodist. To me the attacks of such men
are valuable as compliments. The man whose friend tells him that he is
known to be extensively acquainted with elegant literature may suspect
that he is flattering him; but he may feel real and secure satisfaction
when some Johnian sneers at him for a novel-reader. [My uncle was fond
of telling us how he would walk miles out of Cambridge in order to meet
the coach which brought the last new Waverley novel.]

As to the question whether or not I am wasting time, I shall leave that
for time to answer. I cannot afford to sacrifice a day every week in
defence and explanation as to my habits of reading. I value, most deeply
value, that solicitude which arises from your affection for me; but
let it not debar me from justice and candour. Believe me ever, my dear

Your most affectionate son,

T. B. M.

The father and son were in sympathy upon what, at this distance of time,
appears as the least inviting article of the Whig creed. They were both
partisans of the Queen. Zachary Macaulay was inclined in her favour by
sentiments alike of friendship, and of the most pardonable resentment.
Brougham, her illustrious advocate, had for ten years been the main hope
and stay of the movement against Slavery and the Slave Trade; while the
John Bull, whose special mission it was to write her down, honoured the
Abolitionist party with its declared animosity. However full its columns
might be of libels upon the honour of the wives and daughters of Whig
statesmen, it could always find room for calumnies against Mr. Macaulay
which in ingenuity of fabrication, and in cruelty of intention,
were conspicuous even among the contents of the most discreditable
publication that ever issued from the London press. When Queen Caroline
landed from the Continent in June 1820 the young Trinity undergraduate
greeted her Majesty with a complimentary ode, which certainly little
resembled those effusions that, in the old courtly days, an University
was accustomed to lay at the feet of its Sovereign. The piece has no
literary value, and is curious only as reflecting the passion of the
hour. The first and last stanzas run as follows:--

 Let mirth on every visage shine
 And glow in every soul.
 Bring forth, bring forth, the oldest wine,
 And crown the largest bowl.
 Bear to her home, while banners fly
 From each resounding steeple,
 And rockets sparkle in the sky,
 The Daughter of the People.
 E'en here, for one triumphant day,
 Let want and woe be dumb,
 And bonfires blaze, and schoolboys play.
 Thank Heaven, our Queen is come.

     *   *   *   *

 Though tyrant hatred still denies
 Each right that fits thy station,
 To thee a people's love supplies
 A nobler coronation;
 A coronation all unknown
 To Europe's royal vermin;
 For England's heart shall be thy throne,
 And purity thine ermine;
 Thy Proclamation our applause,
 Applause denied to some;
 Thy crown our love; thy shield our laws.
 Thank Heaven, our Queen is come!

Early in November, warned by growing excitement outside the House of
Lords, and by dwindling majorities within, Lord Liverpool announced
that the King's Ministers had come to the determination not to proceed
further with the Bill of Pains and Penalties. The joy which this
declaration spread through the country has been described as "beyond the
scope of record."

Cambridge: November 13, 1820.

My dear Father,--All here is ecstasy. "Thank God, the country is saved,"
were my first words when I caught a glimpse of the papers of Friday
night. "Thank God, the country is saved," is written on every face and
echoed by every voice. Even the symptoms of popular violence, three days
ago so terrific, are now displayed with good humour and received with
cheerfulness. Instead of curses on the Lords, on every post and every
wall is written, "All is as it should be;" "Justice done at last;" and
similar mottoes expressive of the sudden turn of public feeling. How the
case may stand in London I do not know; but here the public danger,
like all dangers which depend merely on human opinions and feelings,
has disappeared from our sight almost in the twinkling of an eye. I hope
that the result of these changes may be the secure reestablishment
of our commerce, which I suppose political apprehension must have
contributed to depress. I hope, at least, that there is no danger to our
own fortunes of the kind at which you seem to hint. Be assured however,
my dear Father, that, be our circumstances what they may, I feel firmly
prepared to encounter the worst with fortitude, and to do my utmost to
retrieve it by exertion. The best inheritance you have already secured
to me,--an unblemished name and a good education. And for the
rest, whatever calamities befall us, I would not, to speak without
affectation, exchange adversity consoled, as with us it must ever be,
by mutual affection and domestic happiness, for anything which can be
possessed by those who are destitute of the kindness of parents and
sisters like mine. But I think, on referring to your letter, that I
insist too much upon the signification of a few words. I hope so, and
trust that everything will go well. But it is chapel time, and I must

Ever most affectionately yours,


Trin. Coll.: March 25, 1821.

My dear Mother,--I entreat you to entertain no apprehensions about my
health. My fever, cough, and sore-throat have all disappeared for the
last four days. Many thanks for your intelligence about poor dear John's
recovery, which has much exhilarated me. Yet I do not know whether
illness to him is not rather a prerogative than an evil. I am sure that
it is well worth while being sick to be nursed by a mother. There is
nothing which I remember with such pleasure as the time when you nursed
me at Aspenden. The other night, when I lay on my sofa very ill and
hypochondriac, I was thinking over that time. How sick, and sleepless,
and weak I was, lying in bed, when I was told that you were come! How
well I remember with what an ecstasy of joy I saw that face approaching
me, in the middle of people that did not care if I died that night
except for the trouble of burying me! The sound of your voice, the touch
of your hand, are present to me now, and will be, I trust in God, to
my last hour. The very thought of these things invigorated me the other
day; and I almost blessed the sickness and low spirits which brought
before me associated images of a tenderness and an affection, which,
however imperfectly repaid, are deeply remembered. Such scenes and such
recollections are the bright half of human nature and human destiny. All
objects of ambition, all rewards of talent, sink into nothing
compared with that affection which is independent of good or adverse
circumstances, excepting that it is never so ardent, so delicate, or so
tender as in the hour of languor or distress. But I must stop. I had no
intention of pouring out on paper what I am much more used to think than
to express. Farewell, my dear Mother.

Ever yours affectionately,


Macaulay liked Cambridge too well to spend the long vacation elsewhere
except under strong compulsion; but in 1821, with the terrors of the
Mathematical Tripos already close at hand, he was persuaded into joining
a reading party in Wales with a Mr. Bird as tutor. Eardley Childers, the
father of the statesman of that name, has preserved a pleasant little
memorial of the expedition.

To Charles Smith Bird, Eardley Childers, Thos. B. Macaulay, William
Clayton Walters, Geo. B. Paley, Robert Jarratt, Thos. Jarratt, Edwin
Kempson, Ebenezer Ware, Wm. Cornwall, John Greenwood, J. Lloyd, and Jno.
Wm. Gleadall, Esquires.

Gentlemen,--We the undersigned, for ourselves and the inhabitants in
general of the town of Llanrwst in the county of Denbigh, consider it
our duty to express to you the high sense we entertain of your general
good conduct and demeanour during your residence here, and we assure
you that we view with much regret the period of your separation and
departure from amongst us. We are very sensible of the obligation we
are under for your uniformly benevolent and charitable exertions
upon several public occasions, and we feel peculiar pleasure in thus
tendering to you individually our gratitude and thanks.

Wishing you all possible prosperity and happiness in your future
avocations, we subscribe ourselves with unfeigned respect, Gentlemen,

Your most obedient servants,


&c., &c.

(25 signatures.)

In one respect Macaulay hardly deserved his share of this eulogium. A
scheme was on foot in the town to found an auxiliary branch of the Bible
Society. A public meeting was called, and Mr. Bird urged his eloquent
pupil to aid the project with a specimen of Union rhetoric. Macaulay,
however, had had enough of the Bible Society at Clapham, and sturdily
refused to come forward as its champion at Llanrwst.

Llanrwst: July--, 1821.

My dear Mother,--You see I know not how to date my letter. My calendar
in this sequestered spot is as irregular as Robinson Crusoe's after he
had missed one day in his calculation. I have no intelligence to send
you, unless a battle between a drunken attorney and an impudent publican
which took place here yesterday may deserve the appellation. You may
perhaps be more interested to hear that I sprained my foot, and am just
recovering from the effects of the accident by means of opodeldoc which
I bought at the tinker's. For all trades and professions here lie in a
most delightful confusion. The druggist sells hats; the shoemaker is the
sole bookseller, if that dignity may be allowed him on the strength of
the three Welsh Bibles, and the guide to Caernarvon, which adorn his
window; ink is sold by the apothecary; the grocer sells ropes, (a
commodity which, I fear, I shall require before my residence here is
over,) and tooth-brushes. A clothes-brush is a luxury yet unknown to
Llanrwst. As to books, for want of any other English literature, I
intend to learn Paradise Lost by heart at odd moments. But I must
conclude. Write to me often, my dear Mother, and all of you at home, or
you may have to answer for my drowning myself, like Gray's bard, in "Old
Conway's foaming flood," which is most conveniently near for so poetical
an exit.

Ever most affectionately yours,

T. B. M.

Llanrwst: August 32, 1821.

My dear Father,--I have just received your letter, and cannot but feel
concerned at the tone of it. I do not think it quite fair to attack me
for filling my letters with remarks on the King's Irish expedition. It
has been the great event of this part of the world. I was at Bangor
when he sailed. His bows, and the Marquis of Anglesea's fete, were the
universal subjects of conversation; and some remarks on the business
were as natural from me as accounts of the coronation from you in
London. In truth I have little else to say. I see nothing that connects
me with the world except the newspapers. I get up, breakfast, read, play
at quoits, and go to bed. This is the history of my life. It will do for
every day of the last fortnight.

As to the King, I spoke of the business, not at all as a political,
but as a moral question,--as a point of correct feeling and of private
decency. If Lord were to issue tickets for a gala ball immediately
after receiving intelligence of the sudden death of his divorced wife, I
should say the same. I pretend to no great insight into party politics;
but the question whether it is proper for any man to mingle in
festivities while his wife's body lies unburied is one, I confess, which
I thought myself competent to decide. But I am not anxious about the
fate of my remarks, which I have quite forgot, and which, I dare say,
were very foolish. To me it is of little importance whether the King's
conduct were right or wrong; but it is of great importance that those
whom I love should not think me a precipitate, silly, shallow sciolist
in politics, and suppose that every frivolous word that falls from my
pen is a dogma which I mean to advance as indisputable; and all this
only because I write to them without reserve; only because I love them
well enough to trust them with every idea which suggests itself to me.
In fact, I believe that I am not more precipitate or presumptuous than
other people, but only more open. You cannot be more fully convinced
than I am how contracted my means are of forming a judgment. If I chose
to weigh every word that I uttered or wrote to you, and, whenever I
alluded to politics, were to labour and qualify my expressions as if I
were drawing up a state paper, my letters might be a great deal wiser,
but would not be such letters as I should wish to receive from those
whom I loved. Perfect love, we are told, casteth out fear. If I say,
as I know I do, a thousand wild and inaccurate things, and employ
exaggerated expressions about persons or events in writing to you or
to my mother, it is not, I believe, that I want power to systematise my
ideas or to measure my expressions, but because I have no objection to
letting you see my mind in dishabille. I have a court dress for days of
ceremony and people of ceremony, nevertheless. But I would not willingly
be frightened into wearing it with you; and I hope you do not wish me to
do so.

Ever yours,

T. B. M.

To hoax a newspaper has, time out of mind, been the special ambition of
undergraduate wit. In the course of 1821 Macaulay sent to the Morning
Post a burlesque copy of verses, entitled "Tears of Sensibility." The
editor fell an easy victim, but unfortunately did not fall alone.

 No pearl of ocean is so sweet
 As that in my Zuleika's eye.
 No earthly jewel can compete
 With tears of sensibility.

 Like light phosphoric on the billow,
 Or hermit ray of evening sky,
 Like ripplings round a weeping willow
 Are tears of sensibility.

 Like drops of Iris-coloured fountains
 By which Endymion loved to lie,
 Like dew-gems on untrodden mountains
 Are tears of sensibility.

 While Zephyr broods o'er moonlight rill
 The flowerets droop as if to die,
 And from their chaliced cup distil
 The tears of sensibility.

 The heart obdurate never felt
 One link of Nature's magic tie
 If ne'er it knew the bliss to melt
 In tears of sensibility.

 The generous and the gentle heart
 Is like that balmy Indian tree
 Which scatters from the wounded part
 The tears of sensibility.

 Then oh! ye Fair, if Pity's ray
 E'er taught your snowy breasts to sigh,
 Shed o'er my contemplative lay
 The tears of sensibility.

November 2, 1821.

My dear Mother,--I possess some of the irritability of a poet, and
it has been a good deal awakened by your criticisms. I could not have
imagined that it would have been necessary for me to have said that the
execrable trash entitled "Tears of Sensibility" was merely a burlesque
on the style of the magazine verses of the day. I could not suppose that
you could have suspected me of _seriously_ composing such a farrago
of false metaphor and unmeaning epithet. It was meant solely for a
caricature on the style of the poetasters of newspapers and journals;
and, (though I say it who should not say it,) has excited more attention
and received more praise at Cambridge than it deserved. If you have
it, read it over again, and do me the justice to believe that such a
compound of jargon, nonsense, false images, and exaggerated sentiment,
is not the product of my serious labours. I sent it to the Morning
Post, because that paper is the ordinary receptacle of trash of the
description which I intended to ridicule, and its admission therefore
pointed the jest. I see, however, that for the future I must mark more
distinctly when I intend to be ironical.

Your affectionate son

T. B. M.

Cambridge: July 26, 1822.

My dear Father,--I have been engaged to take two pupils for nine months
of the next year. They are brothers, whose father, a Mr. Stoddart,
resides at Cambridge. I am to give them an hour a day, each; and am to
receive a hundred guineas. It gives me great pleasure to be able even in
this degree to relieve you from the burden of my expenses here. I begin
my tutorial labours to-morrow. My pupils are young, one being fifteen
and the other thirteen years old, but I hear excellent accounts of their
proficiency, and I intend to do my utmost for them. Farewell.

T. B. M.

A few days later on he writes "I do not dislike teaching whether it is
that I am more patient than I had imagined, or that I have not yet had
time to grow tired of my new vocation. I find, also, what at first sight
may appear paradoxical, that I read much more in consequence, and that
the regularity of habits necessarily produced by a periodical employment
which cannot be procrastinated fully compensates for the loss of the
time which is consumed in tuition."

Trinity College, Cambridge: October 1, 1824.

My dear Father,--I was elected Fellow this morning, shall be sworn in
to-morrow, and hope to leave Cambridge on Tuesday for Rothley Temple.
The examiners speak highly of the manner in which I acquitted myself,
and I have reason to believe that I stood first of the candidates.

I need not say how much I am delighted by my success, and how much
I enjoy the thought of the pleasure which it will afford to you, my
mother, and our other friends. Till I become a Master of Arts next July
the pecuniary emolument which I shall derive will not be great. For
seven years from that time it will make me almost an independent man.

Malden is elected. You will take little interest in the rest of our
Cambridge successes and disappointments.

Yours most affectionately,

T. B. M.

CHAPTER III. 1824-30.

     Macaulay is called to the bar--Does not make it a serious
     profession--Speech before the Anti-Slavery Society--Knight's
     Quarterly Magazine--The Edinburgh Review and the Essay on
     Milton--Macaulay's personal appearance and mode of
     existence--His defects and virtues, likings and antipathies--
     Croker Sadler--Zachary Macaulay's circumstances--
     Description of the family habits of life in Great Ormond
     Street--Macaulay's sisters--Hannah Macaulay--the Judicious
     Poet--Macaulay's humour in conversation--His articles in the
     Review--His attacks on the Utilitarians and on Southey--
     Blackwood's Magazine--Macaulay is made Commissioner of
     Bankruptcy--Enters Parliament--Letters from Circuit and

MACAULAY was called to the bar in 1826, and joined the Northern circuit.
On the evening that he first appeared at mess, when the company were
retiring for the night, he was observed to be carefully picking out the
longest candle. An old King's Counsel, who noticed that he had a volume
under his arm, remonstrated with him on the danger of reading in bed,
upon which he rejoined with immense rapidity of utterance "I always read
in bed at home; and, if I am not afraid of committing parricide, and
matricide, and fratricide, I can hardly be expected to pay any special
regard to the lives of the bagmen of Leeds." And, so saying, he left
his hearers staring at one another, and marched off to his room, little
knowing that, before many years were out, he would have occasion to
speak much more respectfully of the Leeds bagmen.

Under its social aspect Macaulay heartily enjoyed his legal career.
He made an admirable literary use of the Saturnalia which the Northern
circuit calls by the name of "Grand Night," when personalities of the
most pronounced description are welcomed by all except the object
of them, and forgiven even by him. His hand may be recognised in a
macaronic poem, written in Greek and English, describing the feast at
which Alexander murdered Clitus. The death of the victim is treated with
an exuberance of fantastic drollery, and a song, put into the mouth of
Nearchus, the admiral of the Macedonian fleet, and beginning with the

 "When as first I did come back from ploughing the salt water
  They paid me off at Salamis, three minae and a quarter,--"

is highly Aristophanic in every sense of the word.

He did not seriously look to the bar as a profession. No persuasion
would induce him to return to his chambers in the evening, according to
the practice then in vogue. After the first year or two of the period
during which he called himself a barrister he gave up even the pretence
of reading law, and spent many more hours under the gallery of the House
of Commons, than in all the Courts together. The person who knew him
best said of him: "Throughout life he never really applied himself to
any pursuit that was against the grain." Nothing is more characteristic
of the man than the contrast between his unconquerable aversion to the
science of jurisprudence at the time when he was ostensibly preparing
himself to be an advocate, and the zest with which, on his voyage to
India, he mastered that science in principle and detail as soon as
his imagination was fired by the prospect of the responsibilities of a

He got no business worth mention, either in London or on circuit.
Zachary Macaulay, who was not a man of the world, did what he could to
make interest with the attorneys, and, as a last resource, proposed
to his son to take a brief in a suit which he himself had instituted
against the journal that had so grossly libelled him. "I am rather
glad," writes Macaulay from York in March 1827, "that I was not in
London, if your advisers thought it right that I should have appeared as
your counsel. Whether it be contrary to professional etiquette I do not
know; but I am sure that it would be shocking to public feeling, and
particularly imprudent against adversaries whose main strength lies in
detecting and exposing indecorum or eccentricity. It would have been
difficult to avoid a quarrel with Sugden, with Wetherell, and with old
Lord Eldon himself. Then the John Bull would have been upon us with
every advantage. The personal part of the consideration it would have
been my duty, and my pleasure and pride also, to overlook; but your
interests must have suffered."

Meanwhile he was busy enough in fields better adapted than the law to
his talents and his temperament. He took a part in a meeting of the
Anti-Slavery Society held at Freemasons' Tavern, on the 25th of June
1824, with the Duke of Gloucester in the chair. The Edinburgh Review
described his speech as "a display of eloquence so signal for rare and
matured excellence that the most practised orator may well admire how it
should have come from one who then for the first time addressed a public

Those who know what the annual meeting of a well-organised and
disciplined association is, may imagine the whirlwind of cheers which
greeted the declaration that the hour was at hand when "the peasant of
the Antilles will no longer crawl in listless and trembling dejection
round a plantation from whose fruits he must derive no advantage, and
a hut whose door yields him no protection; but, when his cheerful and
voluntary labour is performed, he will return with the firm step and
erect brow of a British citizen from the field which is his freehold to
the cottage which is his castle."

Surer promise of aptitude for political debate was afforded by the skill
with which the young speaker turned to account the recent trial for
sedition, and death in prison, of Smith, the Demerara missionary; an
event which was fatal to Slavery in the West Indies in the same degree
as the execution of John Brown was its deathblow in the United States.
"When this country has been endangered either by arbitrary power or
popular delusion, truth has still possessed one irresistible organ, and
justice one inviolable tribunal. That organ has been an English press,
and that tribunal an English jury. But in those wretched islands we
see a press more hostile to truth than any censor, and juries more
insensible to justice than any Star Chamber. In those islands alone
is exemplified the full meaning of the most tremendous of the curses
denounced against the apostate Hebrews, 'I will curse your blessings.'
We can prove this assertion out of the mouth of our adversaries. We
remember, and God Almighty forbid that we ever should forget, how,
at the trial of Mr. Smith, hatred regulated every proceeding, was
substituted for every law, and allowed its victim no sanctuary in the
house of mourning, no refuge in the very grave. Against the members of
that court-martial the country has pronounced its verdict. But what is
the line of defence taken by its advocates? It has been solemnly and
repeatedly declared in the House of Commons that a jury composed
of planters would have acted with far more injustice than did this
court;--this court which has never found a single lawyer to stake his
professional character on the legality of its proceedings. The argument
is this. Things have doubtless been done which should not have been
done. The court-martial sat without a jurisdiction; it convicted without
evidence; it condemned to a punishment not warranted by law. But we must
make allowances. We must judge by comparison. 'Mr Smith ought to have
been very thankful that it was no worse. Only think what would have been
his fate if he had been tried by a jury of planters!' Sir, I have always
lived under the protection of the British laws, and therefore I
am unable to imagine what could be worse; but, though I have small
knowledge, I have a large faith; I by no means presume to set any limits
to the possible injustice of a West Indian judicature. And since the
colonists maintain that a jury composed of their own body not only
possibly might, but necessarily must, have acted with more iniquity than
this court-martial, I certainly shall not dispute the assertion, though
I am utterly unable to conceive the mode."

That was probably the happiest half-hour of Zachary Macaulay's life. "My
friend," said Wilberforce, when his turn came to speak, "would doubtless
willingly bear with all the base falsehoods, all the vile calumnies, all
the detestable artifices which have been aimed against him, to render
him the martyr and victim of our cause, for the gratification he has
this day enjoyed in hearing one so dear to him plead such a cause in
such a manner." Keen as his pleasure was, he took it in his own sad
way. From the first moment to the last, he never moved a muscle of his
countenance, but sat with his eyes fixed on a piece of paper, on which
he seemed to be writing with a pencil. While talking with his son that
evening, he referred to what had passed only to remark that it was
ungraceful in so young a man to speak with folded arms in the presence
of royalty.

In 1823 the leading members of the cleverest set of boys who ever were
together at a public school found themselves collected once more at
Cambridge. Of the former staff of the Etonian, Praed, Moultrie, Nelson
Coleridge, and, among others, Mr. Edmond Beales, so well known to our
generation as an ardent politician, were now in residence at King's or
Trinity. Mr. Charles Knight, too enterprising a publisher to let such
a quantity of youthful talent run to waste, started a periodical, which
was largely supported by undergraduates and Bachelors of Arts, among
whom the veterans of the Eton press formed a brilliant, and, as he
vainly hoped, a reliable nucleus of contributors.

Knight's Quarterly Magazine is full of Macaulay, and of Macaulay in the
attractive shape which a great author wears while he is still writing
to please no one but himself. He unfortunately did not at all please his
father. In the first number, besides a great deal of his that is
still worth reading, there were printed under his adopted signature of
Tristram Merton two little poems, the nature of which may be guessed
from Praed's editorial comments. "Tristram Merton, I have a strong
curiosity to know who Rosamond is. But you will not tell me; and, after
all, as far as your verses are concerned, the surname is nowise germane
to the matter. As poor Sheridan said, it is too formal to be registered
in love's calendar." And again: "Tristram, I hope Rosamond and your Fair
Girl of France will not pull caps; but I cannot forbear the temptation
of introducing your Roxana and Statira to an admiring public." The
verses were such as any man would willingly look back to having written
at two and twenty; but their appearance occasioned real misery to
Zachary Macaulay, who indeed disapproved of the whole publication
from beginning to end, with the exception of an article on West Indian
Slavery which his son had inserted with the most filial intention, but
which, it must be allowed, was not quite in keeping with the general
character of the magazine.

July 9, 1823.

My dear Father,--I have seen the two last letters which you have sent to
my mother. They have given me deep pain; but pain without remorse. I am
conscious of no misconduct, and whatever uneasiness I may feel arises
solely from sympathy for your distress.

You seem to imagine that the book is edited, or principally written,
by friends of mine. I thought that you had been aware that the work
is conducted in London, and that my friends and myself are merely
contributors, and form a very small proportion of the contributors.
The manners of almost all of my acquaintances are so utterly alien from
coarseness, and their morals from libertinism, that I feel assured that
no objection of that nature can exist to their writings. As to my own
contributions I can only say that the Roman Story was read to my mother
before it was published, and would have been read to you if you had
happened to be at home. Not one syllable of censure was uttered.

The Essay on the Royal Society of Literature was read to you. I made
the alterations which I conceived that you desired, and submitted
them afterwards to my mother. As to the poetry which you parallel with
Little's, if anything vulgar or licentious has been written by myself,
I am willing to bear the consequences. If anything of that cast has been
written by my friends, I allow that a certain degree of blame attaches
to me for having chosen them at least indiscreetly. If, however, a
bookseller of whom we knew nothing has coupled improper productions with
ours in a work over which we had no control, I cannot plead guilty to
anything more than misfortune; a misfortune in which some of the most
rigidly moral and religious men of my acquaintance have participated in
the present instance.

I am pleading at random for a book which I never saw. I am defending
the works of people most of whose names I never heard. I am therefore
writing under great disadvantages. I write also in great haste. I am
unable even to read over what I have written.

Affectionately yours

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 he 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 cheek."

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 himself."

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 comedy:

 "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

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 opinions.

"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 her.

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 affection.

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 longing.

"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

 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 times.

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 barristers."

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

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

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 honour.

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.

CHAPTER IV. 1830-1832.

     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 legislation.

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 fellow-countrymen.

 "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 be 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 be 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 own.

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 kindliness, and even their courtesies, for those with whom
they stood shoulder to shoulder in the fray. Politicians, Conservative
and Liberal alike, who were themselves young during the Sessions of 1866
and 1867, and who can recall the sensations evoked by a contest of which
the issues were far less grave and the passions less strong than of
yore, will make allowances for one who, with the imagination of a poet
and the temperament of an orator, at thirty years old was sent straight
into the thickest of the tumult which then raged round the standard of
Reform, and will excuse him for having borne himself in that battle of
giants as a determined and a fiery partisan.

If to live intensely be to live happily, Macaulay had an enviable lot
during those stirring years; and, if the old songwriters had reason
on their side when they celebrated the charms of a light purse, he
certainly possessed that element of felicity. Among the earliest
economical reforms undertaken by the new Government was a searching
revision of our Bankruptcy jurisdiction, in the course of which
his Commissionership was swept away, without leaving him a penny of
compensation. "I voted for the Bankruptcy Court Bill," he said in answer
to an inquisitive constituent. "There were points in that Bill of
which I did not approve, and I only refrained from stating those points
because an office of my own was at stake." When this source fell dry he
was for a while a poor man; for a member of Parliament, who has others
to think of besides himself, is anything but rich on sixty or seventy
pounds a quarter as the produce of his pen, and a college income which
has only a few more months to run. At a time when his Parliamentary fame
stood at its highest he was reduced to sell the gold medals which he had
gained at Cambridge; but he was never for a moment in debt; nor did he
publish a line prompted by any lower motive than the inspiration of his
political faith, or the instinct of his literary genius. He had none but
pleasant recollections connected with the period when his fortunes were
at their lowest. From the secure prosperity of after life he delighted
in recalling the time when, after cheering on the fierce debate for
twelve or fifteen hours together, he would walk home by daylight to his
chambers, and make his supper on a cheese which was a present from
one of his Wiltshire constituents, and a glass of the audit ale which
reminded him that he was still a fellow of Trinity.

With political distinction came social success, more rapid and more
substantial, perhaps, than has ever been achieved by one who took so
little trouble to win or to retain it. The circumstances of the time
were all in his favour. Never did our higher circles present so much
that would attract a new-comer, and never was there more readiness to
admit within them all who brought the honourable credentials of talent
and celebrity. In 1831 the exclusiveness of birth was passing away, and
the exclusiveness of fashion had not set in. The Whig party, during
its long period of depression, had been drawn together by the bonds
of common hopes, and endeavours, and disappointments; and personal
reputation, whether literary, political, or forensic, held its own as
against the advantages of rank and money to an extent that was never
known before, and never since. Macaulay had been well received in the
character of an Edinburgh Reviewer, and his first great speech in the
House of Commons at once opened to him all the doors in London that were
best worth entering. Brought up, as he had been, in a household which
was perhaps the strictest and the homeliest among a set of families
whose creed it was to live outside the world, it put his strength of
mind to the test when he found himself courted and observed by the
most distinguished and the most formidable personages of the day. Lady
Holland listened to him with unwonted deference, and scolded him with a
circumspection that was in itself a compliment. Rogers spoke of him with
friendliness, and to him with positive affection, and gave him the last
proof of his esteem and admiration by asking him to name the morning for
a breakfast-party. He was treated with almost fatherly kindness by the
able and worthy man who is still remembered by the name of Conversation
Sharp. Indeed, his deference for the feelings of all whom he liked
and respected, which an experienced observer could detect beneath the
eagerness of his manner and the volubility of his talk, made him a
favourite among those of a generation above his own. He bore his honours
quietly, and enjoyed them with the natural and hearty pleasure of a man
who has a taste for society, but whose ambitions lie elsewhere. For the
space of three seasons he dined out almost nightly, and spent many of
his Sundays in those suburban residences which, as regards the company
and the way of living, are little else than sections of London removed
into a purer air.

Before very long his habits and tastes began to incline in the direction
of domesticity, and even of seclusion; and, indeed, at every period of
his life he would gladly desert the haunts of those whom Pope and
his contemporaries used to term "the great," to seek the cheerful and
cultured simplicity of his home, or the conversation of that one friend
who had a share in the familiar confidence which Macaulay otherwise
reserved for his nearest relatives. This was Mr. Thomas Flower Ellis,
whose reports of the proceedings in King's Bench, extending over a whole
generation, have established and perpetuated his name as that of an
acute and industrious lawyer. He was older than Macaulay by four years.
Though both Fellows of the same college, they missed each other at the
university, and it was not until 1827, on the Northern circuit, that
their acquaintance began. "Macaulay has joined," writes Mr. Ellis; "an
amusing person; somewhat boyish in his manner, but very original." The
young barristers had in common an insatiable love of the classics;
and similarity of character, not very perceptible on the surface, soon
brought about an intimacy which ripened into an attachment as important
to the happiness of both concerned as ever united two men through every
stage of life and vicissitude of fortune. Mr. Ellis had married early;
but in 1839 he lost his wife, and Macaulay's helpful and heartfelt
participation in his great sorrow riveted the links of a chain that was
already indissoluble.

The letters contained in this volume will tell, better than the words
of any third person, what were the points of sympathy between the two
companions, and in what manner they lived together till the end came.
Mr. Ellis survived his friend little more than a year; not complaining
or lamenting but going about his work like a man from whose day the
light has departed.

Brief and rare were the vacations of the most hard-worked Parliament
that had sat since the times of Pym and Hampden. In the late autumn of
1831, the defeat of the Reform Bill in the House of Lords delivered
over the country to agitation, resentment, and alarm; and gave a short
holiday to public men who were not Ministers, magistrates, or officers
in the yeomanry. Hannah and Margaret Macaulay accompanied their brother
on a visit to Cambridge, where they met with the welcome which young
Masters of Arts delight in providing for the sisters of a comrade of
whom they are fond and proud.

"On the evening that we arrived," says Lady Trevelyan, "we met at dinner
Whewell, Sedgwick, Airy, and Thirlwail and how pleasant they were,
and how much they made of us two happy girls, who were never tired of
seeing, and hearing and admiring! We breakfasted, lunched, and dined
with one or the other of the set during our stay, and walked about the
colleges all day with the whole train. [A reminiscence from that week of
refined and genial hospitality survives in the Essay on Madame d'Arblay.
The reception which Miss Burney would have enjoyed at Oxford, if she had
visited it otherwise than as an attendant on Royalty, is sketched off
with all the writer's wonted spirit, and more than his wonted grace.]
Whewell was then tutor; rougher, but less pompous, and much more
agreeable, than in after years; though I do not think that he ever
cordially liked your uncle. We then went on to Oxford, which from
knowing no one there seemed terribly dull to us by comparison with
Cambridge, and we rejoiced our brother's heart by sighing after

During the first half of his life Macaulay spent some months of every
year at the seat of his uncle, Mr. Babington, who kept open house for
his nephews and nieces throughout the summer and autumn. Rothley Temple,
which lies in a valley beyond the first ridge that separates the flat
unattractive country immediately round Leicester from the wild and
beautiful scenery of Charnwood Forest, is well worth visiting as a
singularly unaltered specimen of an old English home. The stately trees;
the grounds, half park and half meadow; the cattle grazing up to the
very windows; the hall, with its stone pavement rather below than above
the level of the soil, hung with armour rude and rusty enough to dispel
the suspicion of its having passed through a collector's hands; the low
ceilings; the dark oak wainscot, carved after primitive designs, that
covered every inch of wall in bedroom and corridor; the general air
which the whole interior presented of having been put to rights at
the date of the Armada and left alone ever since;--all this antiquity
contrasted quaintly, but prettily enough, with the youth and gaiety that
lit up every corner of the ever-crowded though comfortable mansion. In
wet weather there was always a merry group sitting on the staircase, or
marching up and down the gallery; and, wherever the noise and fun were
most abundant, wherever there was to be heard the loudest laughter and
the most vehement expostulation, Macaulay was the centre of a circle
which was exclaiming at the levity of his remarks about the Blessed
Martyr; disputing with him on the comparative merits of Pascal, Racine,
Corneille, Moliere, and Boileau or checking him as he attempted to
justify his godparents by running off a list of all the famous Thomases
in history. The place is full of his memories. His favourite walk was a
mile of field-road and lane which leads from the house to a lodge on
the highway; and his favourite point of view in that walk was a slight
acclivity, whence the traveller from Leicester catches his first sight
of Rothley Temple, with its background of hill and greenwood. He is
remembered as sitting at the window in the hall, reading Dante to
himself, or translating it aloud as long as any listener cared to remain
within ear-shot. He occupied, by choice, a very small chamber on the
ground floor, through the window of which he could escape unobserved
while afternoon callers were on their way between the front door and the
drawing-room. On such occasions he would take refuge in a boat moored
under the shade of some fine oaks which still exist, though the
ornamental water on whose bank they stood has since been converted into
dry land.

A journal kept at intervals by Margaret Macaulay, some extracts from
which have here been arranged in the form of a continuous narrative,
affords a pleasant and faithful picture of her brother's home-life
during the years 1831 and 1832. With an artless candour, from which his
reputation will not suffer, she relates the alternations of hope and
disappointment through which the young people passed when it began to be
a question whether or not he would be asked to join the Administration.

"I think I was about twelve when I first became very fond of my brother,
and from that time my affection for him has gone on increasing during a
period of seven years. I shall never forget my delight and enchantment
when I first found that he seemed to like talking to me. His manner was
very flattering to such a child, for he always took as much pains to
amuse me, and to inform me on anything I wished to know, as ho could
have done to the greatest person in the land. I have heard him express
great disgust towards those people who, lively and agreeable abroad, are
a dead weight in the family circle. I think the remarkable clearness
of his style proceeds in some measure from the habit of conversing with
very young people, to whom he has a great deal to explain and impart.

"He reads his works to us in the manuscript, and, when we find fault, as
I very often do with his being too severe upon people, he takes it with
the greatest kindness, and often alters what we do not like. I hardly
ever, indeed, met with a sweeter temper than his. He is rather hasty,
and when he has not time for an instant's thought, he will sometimes
return a quick answer, for which he will be sorry the moment he has said
it. But in a conversation of any length, though it may be on subjects
that touch him very nearly, and though the person with whom he converses
may be very provoking and extremely out of temper, I never saw him lose
his. He never uses this superiority, as some do, for the purpose
of irritating another still more by coolness; but speaks in a kind,
good-natured manner, as if he wished to bring the other back to temper
without appearing to notice that he had lost it.

"He at one time took a very punning turn, and we laid a wager in books,
my Mysteries of Udolpho against his German Theatre, that he could not
make two hundred puns in one evening. He did it, however, in two hours,
and, although they were of course most of them miserably bad, yet it was
a proof of great quickness.

"Saturday, February 26, 1831--At dinner we talked of the Grants. Tom
said he had found Mr. Robert Grant walking about in the lobbies of the
House of Commons, and saying that he wanted somebody to defend his place
in the Government, which he heard was going to be attacked. 'What did
you say to him?' we asked. 'Oh, I said nothing; but, if they'll give me
the place, I'll defend it. When I am Judge Advocate, I promise you that
I will not go about asking anyone to defend me.'

"After dinner we played at capping verses, and after that at a game in
which one of the party thinks of something for the others to guess at.
Tom gave the slug that killed Perceval, the lemon that Wilkes squeezed
for Doctor Johnson, the pork-chop which Thurtell ate after he had
murdered Weare, and Sir Charles Macarthy's jaw which was sent by the
Ashantees as a present to George the Fourth.

"Some one mentioned an acquaintance who had gone to the West Indies,
hoping to make money, but had only ruined the complexions of his
daughters. Tom said:

 Mr. Walker was sent to Berbice
 By the greatest of statesmen and earls.
 He went to bring back yellow boys,
 But he only brought back yellow girls.

"I never saw anything like the fun and humour that kindles in his eye
when a repartee or verse is working in his brain.

"March 3, 1831.--Yesterday morning Hannah and I walked part of the way
to his chambers with Tom, and, as we separated, I remember wishing him
good luck and success that night. He went through it most triumphantly,
and called down upon himself admiration enough to satisfy even his
sister. I like so much the manner in which he receives compliments. He
does not pretend to be indifferent, but smiles in his kind and animated
way, with 'I am sure it is very kind of you to say so,' or something of
that nature. His voice from cold and over-excitement got quite into a
scream towards the last part. A person told him that he had not heard
such speaking since Fox. 'You have not heard such screaming since Fox,'
he said.

"March 24, 1831.--By Tom's account, there never was such a scene of
agitation as the House of Commons presented at the passing of the
second reading of the Reform Bill the day before yesterday, or rather
yesterday, for they did not divide till three or four in the morning.
When dear Tom came the next day he was still very much excited, which I
found to my cost, for when I went out to walk with him he walked so very
fast that I could scarcely keep up with him at all. With sparkling
eyes he described the whole scene of the preceding evening in the most
graphic manner.

"'I suppose the Ministers are all in high spirits,' said Mamma. 'In
spirits, Ma'am? I'm sure I don't know. In bed, I'll answer for it.'
Mamma asked him for franks, that she might send his speech to a lady
[This lady was Mrs. Hannah More.] who, though of high Tory principles,
is very fond of Tom, and has left him in her will her valuable library.
'Oh, no,' he said, 'don't send it. If you do, she'll cut me off with a

"Tom is very much improved in his appearance during the last two or
three years. His figure is not so bad for a man of thirty as for a man
of twenty-two. He dresses better, and his manners, from seeing a great
deal of society, are very much improved. When silent and occupied in
thought, walking up and down the room as he always does, his hands
clenched and muscles working with the intense exertion of his
mind, strangers would think his countenance stern; but I remember a
writing-master of ours, when Tom had come into the room and left it
again, saying, 'Ladies, your brother looks like a lump of good-humour!'

"March 30, 1831--Tom has just left me, after a very interesting
conversation. He spoke of his extreme idleness. He said: 'I never knew
such an idle man as I am. When I go in to Empson or Ellis their tables
are always covered with books and papers. I cannot stick at anything for
above a day or two. I mustered industry enough to teach myself Italian.
I wish to speak Spanish. I know I could master the difficulties in a
week, and read any book in the language at the end of a month, but
I have not the courage to attempt it. If there had not been really
something in me, idleness would have ruined me.'

"I said that I was surprised at the great accuracy of his information,
considering how desultory his reading had been. 'My accuracy as to
facts,' he said, 'I owe to a cause which many men would not confess.
It is due to my love of castle-building. The past is in my mind soon
constructed into a romance.' He then went on to describe the way in
which from his childhood his imagination had been filled by the study of
history. 'With a person of my turn,' he said, 'the minute touches are of
as great interest, and perhaps greater, than the most important events.
Spending so much time as I do in solitude, my mind would have rusted
by gazing vacantly at the shop windows. As it is, I am no sooner in
the streets than I am in Greece, in Rome, in the midst of the French
Revolution. Precision in dates, the day or hour in which a man was born
or died, becomes absolutely necessary. A slight fact, a sentence, a
word, are of importance in my romance. Pepys's Diary formed almost
inexhaustible food for my fancy. I seem to know every inch of Whitehall.
I go in at Hans Holbein's gate, and come out through the matted gallery.
The conversations which I compose between great people of the time are
long, and sufficiently animated; in the style, if not with the merits,
of Sir Walter Scott's. The old parts of London, which you are sometimes
surprised at my knowing so well, those old gates and houses down by the
river, have all played their part in my stories.' He spoke, too, of
the manner in which he used to wander about Paris, weaving tales of the
Revolution, and he thought that he owed his command of language greatly
to this habit.

"I am very sorry that the want both of ability and memory should prevent
my preserving with greater truth a conversation which interested me very

"May 21, 1831.--Tom was from London at the time my mother's death
occurred, and things fell out in such a manner that the first
information he received of it was from the newspapers. He came home
directly. He was in an agony of distress, and gave way at first to
violent bursts of feeling. During the whole of the week he was with
us all day, and was the greatest comfort to us imaginable. He talked a
great deal of our sorrow, and led the conversation by degrees to other
subjects, bearing the whole burden of it himself and interesting us
without jarring with the predominant feeling of the time. I never saw
him appear to greater advantage--never loved him more dearly.

"September 1831.--Of late we have walked a good deal. I remember pacing
up and down Brunswick Square and Lansdowne Place for two hours one day,
deep in the mazes of the most subtle metaphysics;--up and down
Cork Street, engaged over Dryden's poetry and the great men of that
time;--making jokes all the way along Bond Street, and talking politics

"Walking in the streets with Tom and Hannah, and talking about the hard
work the heads of his party had got now, I said:

"'How idle they must think you, when they meet you here in the busy
part of the day!' 'Yes, here I am,' said he, 'walking with two unidea'd
girls. [Boswell relates in his tenth chapter how Johnson scolded Langton
for leaving "his social friends, to go and sit with a set of wretched
unidea'd girls."] However, if one of the Ministry says to me, "Why walk
you here all the day idle?" I shall say, "Because no man has hired me."'

"We talked of eloquence, which he has often compared to fresco-painting:
the result of long study and meditation, but at the moment of execution
thrown off with the greatest rapidity; what has apparently been the work
of a few hours being destined to last for ages.

"Mr. Tierney said he was sure Sir Philip Francis had written Junius, for
he was the proudest man he ever knew, and no one ever heard of anything
he had done to be proud of.

"November 14, 1831, half-past-ten.--On Friday last Lord Grey sent for
Tom. His note was received too late to be acted on that day. On
Saturday came another, asking him to East Sheen on that day, or Sunday.
Yesterday, accordingly, he went, and stayed the night, promising to be
here as early as possible to-day. So much depends upon the result of
this visit! That he will be offered a place I have not the least doubt.
He will refuse a Lordship of the Treasury, a Lordship of the Admiralty,
or the Mastership of the Ordnance. He will accept the Secretaryship
of the Board of Control, but will not thank them for it; and would not
accept that, but that he thinks it will be a place of importance during
the approaching discussions on the East Indian monopoly.

"If he gets a sufficient salary, Hannah and I shall most likely live
with him. Can I possibly look forward to anything happier? I cannot
imagine a course of life that would suit him better than thus to enjoy
the pleasures of domestic life without its restraints; with sufficient
business, but not, I hope, too much.

"At one o'clock he came. I went out to meet him. 'I have nothing to
tell you. Nothing. Lord Grey sent for me to speak about a matter of
importance, which must be strictly private.'

"November 27.--I am just returned from a long walk, during which the
conversation turned entirely on one subject. After a little previous
talk about a certain great personage, [The personage was Lord Brougham,
who at this time was too formidable for the poor girl to venture to
write his name at length even in a private journal.] I asked Tom when
the present coolness between them began. He said: 'Nothing could exceed
my respect and admiration for him in early days. I saw at that time
private letters in which he spoke highly of my articles, and of me as
the most rising man of the time. After a while, however, I began to
remark that he became extremely cold to me, hardly ever spoke to me on
circuit, and treated me with marked slight. If I were talking to a man,
if he wished to speak to him on politics or anything else that was not
in any sense a private matter, he always drew him away from me instead
of addressing us both. When my article on Hallam came out, he complained
to Jeffrey that I took up too much of the Review; and, when my first
article on Mill appeared, he foamed with rage, and was very angry with
Jeffrey for having printed it.'

"'But,' said I,' the Mills are friends of his, and he naturally did not
like them to be attacked.'

"'On the contrary,' said Tom, 'he had attacked them fiercely himself;
but he thought I had made a hit, and was angry accordingly. When a
friend of mine defended my articles to him, he said: "I know nothing of
the articles. I have not read Macaulay's articles." What can be imagined
more absurd than his keeping up an angry correspondence with Jeffrey
about articles he has never read? Well, the next thing was that Jeffrey,
who was about to give up the editorship, asked me if I would take it. I
said that I would gladly do so, if they would remove the headquarters of
the Review to London. Jeffrey wrote to him about it. He disapproved of
it so strongly that the plan was given up. The truth was that he felt
that his power over the Review diminished as mine increased, and he saw
that he would have little indeed if I were editor.

"'I then came into Parliament. I do not complain that he should have
preferred Denman's claims to mine, and that he should have blamed Lord
Lansdowne for not considering him. I went to take my seat. As I turned
from the table at which I had been taking the oaths, he stood as near
to me as you do now, and he cut me dead. We never spoke in the House,
excepting once, that I can remember, when a few words passed between
us in the lobby. I have sat close to him when many men of whom I
knew nothing have introduced themselves to me to shake hands, and
congratulate me after making a speech, and he has never said a single
word. I know that it is jealousy, because I am not the first man whom he
has used in this way. During the debate on the Catholic claims he was
so enraged because Lord Plunket had made a very splendid display, and
because the Catholics had chosen Sir Francis Burdett instead of him to
bring the Bill forward, that he threw every difficulty in its way. Sir
Francis once said to him: "Really, Mr.-- you are so jealous that it is
impossible to act with you." I never will serve in an Administration of
which he is the head. On that I have most firmly made up my mind. I do
not believe that it is in his nature to be a month in office without
caballing against his colleagues. ["There never was a direct personal
rival, or one who was in a position which, however reluctantly, implied
rivalry, to whom he has been just; and on the fact of this ungenerous
jealousy I do not understand that there is any difference of
opinion."--Lord Cockburn's Journal.]

"'He is, next to the King, the most popular man in England. There is
no other man whose entrance into any town in the kingdom would be so
certain to be with huzzaing and taking off of horses. At the same time
he is in a very ticklish situation, for he has no real friends. Jeffrey,
Sydney Smith, Mackintosh, all speak of him as I now speak to you. I was
talking to Sydney Smith of him the other day, and said that, great as I
felt his faults to be, I must allow him a real desire to raise the lower
orders, and do good by education, and those methods upon which his heart
has been always set. Sydney would not allow this, or any other, merit.
Now, if those who are called his friends feel towards him, as they all
do, angry and sore at his overbearing, arrogant, and neglectful conduct,
when those reactions in public feeling, which must come, arrive, he will
have nothing to return upon, no place of refuge, no hand of such tried
friends as Fox and Canning had to support him. You will see that he will
soon place himself in a false position before the public. His popularity
will go down, and he will find himself alone. Mr. Pitt, it is true, did
not study to strengthen himself by friendships but this was not from
jealousy. I do not love the man, but I believe he was quite superior to
that. It was from a solitary pride he had. I heard at Holland House the
other day that Sir Philip Francis said that, though he hated Pitt, he
must confess there was something fine in seeing how he maintained his
post by himself. "The lion walks alone," he said. "The jackals herd

This conversation, to those who have heard Macaulay talk, bears
unmistakable signs of having been committed to paper while the
words,--or, at any rate, the outlines,--of some of the most important
sentences were fresh in his sister's mind. Nature had predestined the
two men to mutual antipathy. Macaulay, who knew his own range and kept
within it, and who gave the world nothing except his best and most
finished work, was fretted by the slovenly omniscience of Brougham, who
affected to be a walking encyclopaedia, "a kind of semi-Solomon, half
knowing everything from the cedar to the hyssop." [These words are
extracted from a letter written by Macaulay.] The student, who, in his
later years, never left his library for the House of Commons without
regret, had little in common with one who, like Napoleon, held that a
great reputation was a great noise; who could not change horses without
making a speech, see the Tories come in without offering to take a
judgeship, or allow the French to make a Revolution without proposing to
naturalise himself as a citizen of the new Republic. The statesman who
never deserted an ally, or distrusted a friend, could have no fellowship
with a free-lance, ignorant of the very meaning of loyalty; who, if
the surfeited pen of the reporter had not declined its task, would have
enriched our collections of British oratory by at least one Philippic
against every colleague with whom he had ever acted. The many who read
this conversation by the light of the public history of Lord Melbourne's
Administration, and still more the few who have access to the secret
history of Lord Grey's Cabinet, will acknowledge that seldom was a
prediction so entirely fulfilled, or a character so accurately read.
And that it was not a prophecy composed after the event is proved by the
circumstance that it stands recorded in the handwriting of one who died
before it was accomplished.

"January 3, 1832.--Yesterday Tom dined at Holland House, and heard Lord
Holland tell this story. Some paper was to be published by Mr. Fox, in
which mention was made of Mr. Pitt having been employed at a club in a
manner that would have created scandal. Mr. Wilberforce went to Mr. Fox,
and asked him to omit the passage. 'Oh, to be sure,' said Mr. Fox; 'if
there are any good people who would be scandalised, I will certainly
put it out!' Mr. Wilberforce then preparing to take his leave, he said:
'Now, Mr. Wilberforce, if, instead of being about Mr. Pitt, this had
been an account of my being seen gaming at White's on a Sunday, would
you have taken so much pains to prevent it being known?' 'I asked this,'
said Mr. Fox, 'because I wanted to see what he would say, for I knew he
would not tell a lie about it. He threw himself back, as his way was,
and only answered: "Oh, Mr. Fox, you are always so pleasant!"'

"January 8, 1832.--Yesterday Tom dined with us, and stayed late. He
talked almost uninterruptedly for six hours. In the evening he made a
great many impromptu charades in verse. I remember he mentioned a piece
of impertinence of Sir Philip Francis. Sir Philip was writing a history
of his own time, with characters of its eminent men, and one day asked
Mr. Tierney if he should like to hear his own character. Of course
he said 'Yes,' and it was read to him. It was very flattering, and he
expressed his gratification for so favourable a description of himself.
'Subject to revision, you must remember, Mr. Tierney,' said Sir Philip,
as he laid the manuscript by; 'subject to revision according to what may
happen in the future.'

"I am glad Tom has reviewed old John Bunyan. Many are reading it who
never read it before. Yesterday, as he was sitting in the Athenaeum, a
gentleman called out: 'Waiter, is there a copy of the Pilgrim's Progress
in the library?' As might be expected, there was not.

"February 12, 1832.--This evening Tom came in, Hannah and I being
alone. He was in high boyish spirits. He had seen Lord Lansdowne in the
morning, who had requested to speak with him. His Lordship said that he
wished to have a talk about his taking office, not with any particular
thing in view, as there was no vacancy at present, and none expected,
but that he should be glad to know his wishes in order that he might be
more able to serve him in them.

"Tom, in answer, took rather a high tone. He said he was a poor man,
but that he had as much as he wanted, and, as far as he was personally
concerned, had no desire for office. At the same time he thought that,
after the Reform Bill had passed, it would be absolutely necessary that
the Government should be strengthened; that he was of opinion that he
could do it good service; that he approved of its general principles,
and should not be unwilling to join it. Lord Lansdowne said that they
all,--and he particularly mentioned Lord Grey,--felt of what importance
to them his help was, and that he now perfectly understood his views.

"February 13, 1832.--It has been much reported, and has even appeared in
the newspapers, that the Ministers were doing what they could to get Mr.
Robert Grant out of the way to make room for Tom. Last Sunday week it
was stated in the John Bull that Madras had been offered to the Judge
Advocate for this purpose, but that he had refused it. Two or three
nights since, Tom, in endeavouring to get to a high bench in the House,
stumbled over Mr. Robert Grant's legs, as he was stretched out half
asleep. Being roused he apologised in the usual manner, and then added,
oddly enough: 'I am very sorry, indeed, to stand in the way of your

"March 15, 1832.--Yesterday Hannah and I spent a very agreeable
afternoon with Tom.

"He began to talk of his idleness. He really came and dawdled with us
all day long; he had not written a line of his review of Burleigh's
Life, and he shrank from beginning on such a great work. I asked him to
put it by for the present, and write a light article on novels. This he
seemed to think he should like, and said he could get up an article on
Richardson in a very short time, but he knew of no book that he could
hang it on. Hannah advised that he should place at the head of this
article a fictitious title in Italian of a critique on Clarissa Harlowe,
published at Venice. He seemed taken with this idea, but said that, if
he did such a thing, he must never let his dearest friend know.

"I was amused with a parody of Tom's on the nursery song 'Twenty pounds
shall marry me,' as applied to the creation of Peers.

 What though now opposed I be?
 Twenty Peers shall carry me.
 If twenty won't, thirty will,
 For I'm his Majesty's bouncing Bill.

Sir Robert Peel has been extremely complimentary to him. One sentence
he repeated to us: 'My only feeling towards that gentleman is a not
ungenerous envy, as I listened to that wonderful flow of natural and
beautiful language, and to that utterance which, rapid as it is, seems
scarcely able to convey its rich freight of thought and fancy!' People
say that these words were evidently carefully prepared.

"I have just been looking round our little drawing-room, as if trying to
impress every inch of it on my memory, and thinking how in future years
it will rise before my mind as the scene of many hours of light-hearted
mirth; how I shall again see him, lolling indolently on the old blue
sofa, or strolling round the narrow confines of our room. With such
a scene will come the remembrance of his beaming countenance, happy
affectionate smile, and joyous laugh; while, with everyone at ease
around him, he poured out the stores of his full mind in his own
peculiarly beautiful and expressive language, more delightful here than
anywhere else, because more perfectly unconstrained. The name which
passes through this little room in the quiet, gentle tones of sisterly
affection is a name which will be repeated through distant generations,
and go down to posterity linked with eventful times and great deeds."

The last words here quoted will be very generally regarded as the
tribute of a sister's fondness. Many, who readily admit that Macaulay's
name will go down to posterity linked with eventful times and great
deeds, make that admission with reference to times not his own, and
deeds in which he had no part except to commemorate them with his pen.
To him, as to others, a great reputation of a special order brought with
it the consequence that the credit, which he deserved for what he had
done well, was overshadowed by the renown of what he did best. The
world, which has forgotten that Newton excelled as an administrator, and
Voltaire as a man of business, remembers somewhat faintly that Macaulay
was an eminent orator and, for a time at least, a strenuous politician.
The universal voice of his contemporaries, during the first three years
of his parliamentary career, testifies to the leading part which he
played in the House of Commons, so long as with all his heart he cared,
and with all his might he tried, to play it. Jeffrey, (for it is well
to adduce none but first-rate evidence,) says in his account of an
evening's discussion on the second reading of the Reform Bill: "Not
a very striking debate. There was but one exception, and it was a
brilliant one. I mean Macaulay, who surpassed his former appearance in
closeness, fire, and vigour, and very much improved the effect of it by
a more steady and graceful delivery. It was prodigiously cheered, as
it deserved, and I think puts him clearly at the head of the great
speakers, if not the debaters, of the House." And again, on the 17th of
December: "Macaulay made, I think, the best speech he has yet delivered;
the most condensed, at least, and with the greatest weight of matter.
It contained, indeed, the only argument to which any of the speakers
who followed him applied themselves." Lord Cockburn, who sat under the
gallery for twenty-seven hours during the last three nights of the Bill,
pronounced Macaulay's speech to have been "by far the best;" though,
like a good Scotchman, he asserts that he heard nothing at Westminster
which could compare with Dr. Chalmers in the General Assembly. Sir James
Mackintosh writes from the Library of the House of Commons: "Macaulay
and Stanley have made two of the finest speeches ever spoken in
Parliament;" and a little further on he classes together the two young
orators as "the chiefs of the next, or rather of this, generation."

To gain and keep the position that Mackintosh assigned him Macaulay
possessed the power, and in early days did not lack the will. He was
prominent on the Parliamentary stage, and active behind the scenes;--the
soul of every honourable project which might promote the triumph of his
principles, and the ascendency of his party. One among many passages
in his correspondence may be quoted without a very serious breach of
ancient and time-worn confidences. On the 17th of September, 1831, he
writes to his sister Hannah: "I have been very busy since I wrote last,
moving heaven and earth to render it certain that, if our ministers
are so foolish as to resign in the event of a defeat in the Lords, the
Commons may be firm and united; and I think that I have arranged a
plan which will secure a bold and instant declaration on our part,
if necessary. Lord Ebrington is the man whom I have in my eye as our
leader. I have had much conversation with him, and with several of our
leading county members. They are all staunch; and I will answer for
this,--that, if the ministers should throw us over, we will be ready to
defend ourselves."

The combination of public spirit, political instinct, and legitimate
self-assertion, which was conspicuous in Macaulay's character, pointed
him out to some whose judgment had been trained by long experience of
affairs as a more than possible leader in no remote future; and it
is not for his biographer to deny that they had grounds for their
conclusion. The prudence, the energy, the self-reliance, which he
displayed in another field, might have been successfully directed to
the conduct of an executive policy, and the management of a popular
assembly. Macaulay never showed himself deficient in the qualities which
enable a man to trust his own sense; to feel responsibility, but not to
fear it; to venture where others shrink; to decide while others waver;
with all else that belongs to the vocation of a ruler in a free country.
But it was not his fate; it was not his work; and the rank which he
might have claimed among the statesmen of Britain was not ill exchanged
for the place which he occupies in the literature of the world.

To Macvey Napier, Esq.

York: March 22, 1830.

My dear Sir,--I was in some doubt as to what I should be able to do for
Number 101, and I deferred writing till I could make up my mind. If my
friend Ellis's article on Greek History, of which I have formed high
expectations, could have been ready, I should have taken a holiday. But,
as there is no chance of that for the next number, I ought, I think, to
consider myself as his bail, and to surrender myself to your disposal in
his stead.

I have been thinking of a subject, light and trifling enough, but
perhaps not the worse for our purpose on that account. We seldom want
a sufficient quantity of heavy matter. There is a wretched poetaster of
the name of Robert Montgomery who has written some volumes of detestable
verses on religious subjects, which by mere puffing in magazines and
newspapers have had an immense sale, and some of which are now in their
tenth or twelfth editions. I have for some time past thought that the
trick of puffing, as it is now practised both by authors and publishers,
is likely to degrade the literary character, and to deprave the public
taste, in a frightful degree. I really think that we ought to try what
effect satire will have upon this nuisance, and I doubt whether we can
ever find a better opportunity.

Yours very faithfully


To Macvey Napier, Esq.

London: August 19, 1830.

My dear Sir,--The new number appeared this morning in the shop windows.
The article on Niebuhr contains much that is very sensible; but it is
not such an article as so noble a subject required. I am not like Ellis,
Niebuhr-mad; and I agree with many of the remarks which the reviewer
has made both on this work, and on the school of German critics and
historians. But surely the reviewer ought to have given an account of
the system of exposition which Niebuhr has adopted, and of the theory
which he advances respecting the Institutions of Rome. The appearance of
the book is really an era in the intellectual history of Europe, and I
think that the Edinburgh Review ought at least to have given a luminous
abstract of it. The very circumstance that Niebuhr's own arrangement and
style are obscure, and that his translators have need of translators to
make them intelligible to the multitude, rendered it more desirable that
a clear and neat statement of the points in controversy should be laid
before the public. But it is useless to talk of what cannot be mended.
The best editors cannot always have good writers, and the best writers
cannot always write their best.

I have no notion on what ground Brougham imagines that I am going to
review his speech. He never said a word to me on the subject. Nor did
I ever say either to him, or to anyone else, a single syllable to that
effect. At all events I shall not make Brougham's speech my text.
We have had quite enough of puffing and flattering each other in the
Review. It is a vile taste for men united in one literary undertaking to
exchange their favours.

I have a plan of which I wish to know your opinion. In ten days, or
thereabouts, I set off for France, where I hope to pass six weeks. I
shall be in the best society, that of the Duc de Broglie, Guizot, and
so on. I think of writing an article on the Politics of France since the
Restoration, with characters of the principal public men, and a parallel
between the present state of France and that of England. I think that
this might be made an article of extraordinary interest. I do not say
that I could make it so. It must, you will perceive, be a long paper,
however concise I may try to be; but as the subject is important, and
I am not generally diffuse, you must not stint me. If you like this
scheme, let me know as soon as possible.

Ever yours truly


It cannot be denied that there was some ground for the imputation of
systematic puffing which Macaulay urges with a freedom that a modern
editor would hardly permit to the most valued contributor. Brougham had
made a speech on Slavery in the House of Commons; but time was wanting
to get the Corrected Report published soon enough for him to obtain his
tribute of praise in the body of the Review. The unhappy Mr. Napier was
actually reduced to append a notice to the July number regretting that
"this powerful speech, which, as we are well informed, produced an
impression on those who heard it not likely to be forgotten, or to
remain barren of effects, should have reached us at a moment when it was
no longer possible for us to notice its contents at any length.... On
the eve of a general election to the first Parliament of a new reign, we
could have wished to be able to contribute our aid towards the diffusion
of the facts and arguments here so strikingly and commandingly stated
and enforced, among those who are about to exercise the elective
franchise.... We trust that means will be taken to give the widest
possible circulation to the Corrected Report. Unfortunately, we can,
at present, do nothing more than lay before our readers its glowing
peroration--so worthy of this great orator, this unwearied friend of
liberty and humanity."

To Macvey Napier, Esq.

Paris: September 16, 1830.

My dear Sir,--I have just received your letter, and I cannot deny that
I am much vexed at what has happened. It is not very agreeable to find
that I have thrown away the labour, the not unsuccessful labour as I
thought, of a month; particularly as I have not many months of perfect
leisure. This would not have happened if Brougham had notified his
intentions to you earlier, as he ought in courtesy to you, and to
everybody connected with the Review, to have done. He must have known
that this French question was one on which many people would be desirous
to write.

I ought to tell you that I had scarcely reached Paris when I received
a letter containing a very urgent application from a very respectable
quarter. I was desired to write a sketch, in one volume, of the late
Revolution here. Now, I really hesitated whether I should not make
my excuses to you, and accept this proposal,--not on account of the
pecuniary terms, for about these I have never much troubled myself--but
because I should have had ampler space for this noble subject than the
Review would have afforded. I thought, however, that this would not be
a fair or friendly course towards you. I accordingly told the applicants
that I had promised you an article, and that I could not well write
twice in one month on the same subject without repeating myself. I
therefore declined; and recommended a person whom I thought quite
capable of producing an attractive book on these events. To that person
my correspondent has probably applied. At all events I cannot revive the
negotiation. I cannot hawk my rejected articles up and down Paternoster

I am, therefore, a good deal vexed at this affair; but I am not at all
surprised at it. I see all the difficulties of your situation. Indeed,
I have long foreseen them. I always knew that in every association,
literary or political, Brougham would wish to domineer. I knew also that
no Editor of the Edinburgh Review could, without risking the ruin of
the publication, resolutely oppose the demands of a man so able and
powerful. It was because I was certain that he would exact submissions
which I am not disposed to make that I wished last year to give up
writing for the Review. I had long been meditating a retreat. I thought
Jeffrey's abdication a favourable time for effecting it; not, as I hope
you are well assured, from any unkind feeling towards you; but because I
knew that, under any Editor, mishaps such as that which has now occurred
would be constantly taking place. I remember that I predicted to Jeffrey
what has now come to pass almost to the letter.

My expectations have been exactly realised. The present constitution
of the Edinburgh Review is this, that, at whatever time Brougham may be
pleased to notify his intention of writing on any subject, all previous
engagements are to be considered as annulled by that notification. His
language translated into plain English is this: "I must write about this
French Revolution, and I will write about it. If you have told Macaulay
to do it, you may tell him to let it alone. If he has written an
article, he may throw it behind the grate. He would not himself have
the assurance to compare his own claims with mine. I am a man who act
a prominent part in the world; he is nobody. If he must be reviewing,
there is my speech about the West Indies. Set him to write a puff on
that. What have people like him to do, except to eulogise people like
me?" No man likes to be reminded of his inferiority in such a way, and
there are some particular circumstances in this case which render the
admonition more unpleasant than it would otherwise be. I know that
Brougham dislikes me; and I have not the slightest doubt that he feels
great pleasure in taking this subject out of my hands, and at having
made me understand, as I do most clearly understand, how far my services
are rated below his. I do not blame you in the least. I do not see how
you could have acted otherwise. But, on the other hand, I do not see why
I should make any efforts or sacrifices for a Review which lies under an
intolerable dictation. Whatever my writings may be worth, it is not for
want of strong solicitations, and tempting offers, from other quarters
that I have continued to send them to the Edinburgh Review. I adhered
to the connection solely because I took pride and pleasure in it. It has
now become a source of humiliation and mortification.

I again repeat, my dear Sir, that I do not blame you in the least.
This, however, only makes matters worse. If you had used me ill, I might
complain, and might hope to be better treated another time. Unhappily
you are in a situation in which it is proper for you to do what it
would be improper in me to endure. What has happened now may happen next
quarter, and must happen before long, unless I altogether refrain from
writing for the Review. I hope you will forgive me if I say that I
feel what has passed too strongly to be inclined to expose myself to a
recurrence of the same vexations.

Yours most truly


A few soft words induced Macaulay to reconsider his threat of
withdrawing from the Review; but, even before Mr. Napier's answer
reached him, the feeling of personal annoyance had already been effaced
by a greater sorrow. A letter arrived, announcing that his sister Jane
had died suddenly and most unexpectedly. She was found in the morning
lying as though still asleep, having passed away so peacefully as not to
disturb a sister who had spent the night in the next room, with a door
open between them. Mrs. Macaulay never recovered from this shock. Her
health gave way, and she lived into the coming year only so long as to
enable her to rejoice in the first of her son's Parliamentary successes.

Paris: September 26.

My dear Father,--This news has broken my heart. I am fit neither to go
nor to stay. I can do nothing but sit down in my room, and think of poor
dear Jane's kindness and affection. When I am calmer, I will let you
know my intentions. There will be neither use nor pleasure in remaining
here. My present purpose, as far as I can form one, is to set off in two
or three days for England; and in the meantime to see nobody, if I can
help it, but Dumont, who has been very kind to me. Love to all,--to all
who are left me to love. We must love each other better.

T. B. M.

London: March 30, 1831

Dear Ellis,--I have little news for you, except what you will learn from
the papers as well as from me. It is clear that the Reform Bill must
pass, either in this or in another Parliament. The majority of one
does not appear to me, as it does to you, by any means inauspicious. We
should perhaps have had a better plea for a dissolution if the
majority had been the other way. But surely a dissolution under such
circumstances would have been a most alarming thing. If there should be
a dissolution now, there will not be that ferocity in the public mind
which there would have been if the House of Commons had refused to
entertain the Bill at all. I confess that, till we had a majority, I was
half inclined to tremble at the storm which we had raised. At present I
think that we are absolutely certain of victory, and of victory without

Such a scene as the division of last Tuesday I never saw, and never
expect to see again. If I should live fifty years, the impression of it
will be as fresh and sharp in my mind as if it had just taken place.
It was like seeing Caesar stabbed in the Senate House, or seeing Oliver
taking the mace from the table; a sight to be seen only once, and never
to be forgotten. The crowd overflowed the House in every part. When the
strangers were cleared out, and the doors locked, we had six hundred and
eight members present,--more by fifty-five than ever were in a division
before. The Ayes and Noes were like two volleys of cannon from opposite
sides of a field of battle. When the opposition went out into the lobby,
an operation which took up twenty minutes or more, we spread ourselves
over the benches on both sides of the House; for there were many of us
who had not been able to find a seat during the evening. ["The practice
in the Commons, until 1836, was to send one party forth into the lobby,
the other remaining in the House."--Sir T. Erskine May's "Parliamentary
Practice."] When the doors were shut we began to speculate on our
numbers. Everybody was desponding. "We have lost it. We are only two
hundred and eighty at most. I do not think we are two hundred and fifty.
They are three hundred. Alderman Thompson has counted them. He says they
are two hundred and ninety-nine." This was the talk on our benches. I
wonder that men who have been long in Parliament do not acquire a better
coup d'oeil for numbers. The House, when only the Ayes were in it,
looked to me a very fair House,--much fuller than it generally is even
on debates of considerable interest. I had no hope, however, of three
hundred. As the tellers passed along our lowest row on the left hand
side the interest was insupportable,--two hundred and ninety-one,--two
hundred and ninety-two,--we were all standing up and stretching forward,
telling with the tellers. At three hundred there was a short cry of
joy,--at three hundred and two another,--suppressed however in a moment;
for we did not yet know what the hostile force might be. We knew,
however, that we could not be severely beaten. The doors were thrown
open, and in they came. Each of them, as he entered, brought some
different report of their numbers. It must have been impossible, as
you may conceive, in the lobby, crowded as they were, to form any exact
estimate. First we heard that they were three hundred and three; then
that number rose to three hundred and ten; then went down to three
hundred and seven. Alexander Barry told me that he had counted, and that
they were three hundred and four. We were all breathless with anxiety,
when Charles Wood, who stood near the door, jumped up on a bench and
cried out, "They are only three hundred and one." We set up a shout that
you might have heard to Charing Cross, waving our hats, stamping against
the floor, and clapping our hands. The tellers scarcely got through the
crowd; for the House was thronged up to the table, and all the floor
was fluctuating with heads like the pit of a theatre. But you might have
heard a pin drop as Duncannon read the numbers. Then again the shouts
broke out, and many of us shed tears. I could scarcely refrain. And
the jaw of Peel fell; and the face of Twiss was as the face of a damned
soul; and Herries looked like Judas taking his necktie off for the last
operation. We shook hands, and clapped each other on the back, and went
out laughing, crying, and huzzaing into the lobby. And no sooner were
the outer doors opened than another shout answered that within the
House. All the passages, and the stairs into the waiting-rooms, were
thronged by people who had waited till four in the morning to know the
issue. We passed through a narrow lane between two thick masses of them;
and all the way down they were shouting and waving their hats, till we
got into the open air. I called a cabriolet, and the first thing the
driver asked was, "Is the Bill carried?" "Yes, by one." "Thank God for
it, Sir." And away I rode to Gray's Inn,--and so ended a scene which
will probably never be equalled till the reformed Parliament
wants reforming; and that I hope will not be till the days of our
grandchildren, till that truly orthodox and apostolical person Dr.
Francis Ellis is an archbishop of eighty.

As for me, I am for the present a sort of lion. My speech has set me
in the front rank, if I can keep there; and it has not been my luck
hitherto to lose ground when I have once got it. Sheil and I are on very
civil terms. He talks largely concerning Demosthenes and Burke. He made,
I must say, an excellent speech; too florid and queer, but decidedly

Why did not Price speak? If he was afraid, it was not without reason;
for a more terrible audience there is not in the world. I wish that
Praed had known to whom he was speaking. But, with all his talent, he
has no tact, and he has fared accordingly. Tierney used to say that he
never rose in the House without feeling his knees tremble under him; and
I am sure that no man who has not some of that feeling will ever succeed

Ever yours


London: May 27, 1835.

My dear Hannah,--Let me see if I can write a letter a la Richardson:--a
little less prolix it must be, or it will exceed my ounce. By the bye,
I wonder that Uncle Selby never grudged the postage of Miss Byron's
letters. According to the nearest calculation that I can make, her
correspondence must have enriched the post office of Ashby Canons by
something more than the whole annual interest of her fifteen thousand

I reached Lansdowne House by a quarter to eleven, and passed through the
large suite of rooms to the great Sculpture Gallery. There were seated
and standing perhaps three hundred people, listening to the performers,
or talking to each other. The room is the handsomest and largest, I
am told, in any private house in London. I enclose our musical bill of
fare. Fanny, I suppose, will be able to expound it better than I. The
singers were more showily dressed than the auditors, and seemed quite at
home. As to the company, there was just everybody in London (except that
little million and a half that you wot of,)--the Chancellor, and the
First Lord of the Admiralty, and Sydney Smith, and Lord Mansfield, and
all the Barings and the Fitzclarences, and a hideous Russian spy, whose
face I see everywhere, with a star on his coat. During the interval
between the delights of "I tuoi frequenti," and the ecstasies of "Se tu
m'ami," I contrived to squeeze up to Lord Lansdowne. I was shaking hands
with Sir James Macdonald, when I heard a command behind us: "Sir James,
introduce me to Mr. Macaulay;" and we turned, and there sate a large
bold-looking woman, with the remains of a fine person, and the air of
Queen Elizabeth. "Macaulay," said Sir James, "let me present you to Lady
Holland." Then was her ladyship gracious beyond description, and asked
me to dine and take a bed at Holland House next Tuesday. I accepted
the dinner, but declined the bed, and I have since repented that I so
declined it. But I probably shall have an opportunity of retracting on

To-night I go to another musical party at Marshall's, the late M.P.
for Yorkshire. Everybody is talking of Paganini and his violin. The man
seems to be a miracle. The newspapers say that long streamy flakes of
music fall from his string, interspersed with luminous points of sound
which ascend the air and appear like stars. This eloquence is quite
beyond me.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

London: May 28, 1831.

My dear Hannah,--More gaieties and music-parties; not so fertile of
adventures as that memorable masquerade whence Harriet Byron was carried
away; but still I hope that the narrative of what passed there will
gratify "the venerable circle." Yesterday I dressed, called a cab, and
was whisked away to Hill Street. I found old Marshall's house a very
fine one. He ought indeed to have a fine one; for he has, I believe, at
least thirty thousand a year. The carpet was taken up, and chairs were
set out in rows, as if we had been at a religious meeting. Then we
had flute-playing by the first flute-player in England, and
pianoforte-strumming by the first pianoforte-strummer in England,
and singing by all the first singers in England, and Signor Rubini's
incomparable tenor, and Signor Curioni's incomparable counter-tenor, and
Pasta's incomparable expression. You who know how airs much inferior
to these take my soul, and lap it in Elysium, will form some faint
conception of my transport. Sharp beckoned me to sit by him in the back
row. These old fellows are so selfish. "Always," said he, "establish
yourself in the middle of the row against the wall; for, if you sit in
the front or next the edges, you will be forced to give up your seat to
the ladies who are standing." I had the gallantry to surrender mine to
a damsel who had stood for a quarter of an hour; and I lounged into the
ante-rooms, where I found Samuel Rogers. Rogers and I sate together on
a bench in one of the passages, and had a good deal of very pleasant
conversation. He was,--as indeed he has always been to me,--extremely
kind, and told me that, if it were in his power, he would contrive to be
at Holland House with me, to give me an insight into its ways. He is the
great oracle of that circle.

He has seen the King's letter to Lord Grey, respecting the Garter; or
at least has authentic information about it. It is a happy stroke of
policy, and will, they say, decide many wavering votes in the House of
Lords. The King, it seems, requests Lord Grey to take the order, as a
mark of royal confidence in him "at so critical a time;"--significant
words, I think.

Ever yours


To Hannah More Macaulay.

London: May 30, 1831.

Well, my dear, I have been to Holland House. I took a glass coach, and
arrived, through a fine avenue of elms, at the great entrance towards
seven o'clock. The house is delightful;--the very perfection of the
old Elizabethan style;--a considerable number of very large and very
comfortable rooms, rich with antique carving and gilding, but carpeted
and furnished with all the skill of the best modern upholsterers. The
library is a very long room,--as long, I should think, as the gallery
at Rothley Temple,--with little cabinets for study branching out of it.
warmly and snugly fitted up, and looking out on very beautiful grounds.
The collection of books is not, like Lord Spencer's, curious; but it
contains almost everything that one ever wished to read. I found nobody
there when I arrived but Lord Russell, the son of the Marquess of
Tavistock. We are old House of Commons friends; so we had some very
pleasant talk, and in a little while in came Allen, who is warden of
Dulwich College, and who lives almost entirely at Holland House. He is
certainly a man of vast information and great conversational powers.
Some other gentlemen dropped in, and we chatted till Lady Holland made
her appearance. Lord Holland dined by himself on account of his gout.
We sat down to dinner in a fine long room, the wainscot of which is
rich with gilded coronets, roses, and portcullises. There were Lord
Albemarle, Lord Alvanley, Lord Russell, Lord Mahon,--a violent Tory, but
a very agreeable companion, and a very good scholar. There was Cradock,
a fine fellow who was the Duke of Wellington's aide-de-camp in 1815, and
some other people whose names I did not catch. What however is more to
the purpose, there was a most excellent dinner. I have always heard that
Holland House is famous for its good cheer, and certainly the reputation
is not unmerited. After dinner Lord Holland was wheeled in, and placed
very near me. He was extremely amusing and good-natured.

In the drawing-room I had a long talk with Lady Holland about the
antiquities of the house, and about the purity of the English language,
wherein she thinks herself a critic. I happened, in speaking about the
Reform Bill, to say that I wished that it had been possible to form a
few commercial constituencies, if the word constituency were admissible.
"I am glad you put that in," said her ladyship. "I was just going
to give it you. It is an odious word. Then there is _talented_ and
_influential_, and _gentlemanly_. I never could break Sheridan of
_gentlemanly_, though he allowed it to be wrong." We talked about the
word _talents_ and its history. I said that it had first appeared in
theological writing, that it was a metaphor taken from the parable in
the New Testament, and that it had gradually passed from the vocabulary
of divinity into common use. I challenged her to find it in any
classical writer on general subjects before the Restoration, or even
before the year 1700. I believe that I might safely have gone down
later. She seemed surprised by this theory, never having, so far as I
could judge, heard of the parable of the talents. I did not tell her,
though I might have done so, that a person who professes to be a critic
in the delicacies of the English language ought to have the Bible at his
fingers' ends.

She is certainly a woman of considerable talents and great literary
acquirements. To me she was excessively gracious; yet there is a
haughtiness in her courtesy which, even after all that I had heard of
her, surprised me. The centurion did not keep his soldiers in better
order than she keeps her guests. It is to one "Go," and he goeth; and to
another "Do this," and it is done. "Ring the bell, Mr. Macaulay." "Lay
down that screen, Lord Russell; you will spoil it." "Mr. Allen, take a
candle and show Mr. Cradock the picture of Buonaparte." Lord Holland
is, on the other hand, all kindness, simplicity, and vivacity. He talked
very well both on politics and on literature. He asked me in a very
friendly manner about my father's health, and begged to be remembered to

When my coach came, Lady Holland made me promise that I would on
the first fine morning walk out to breakfast with them, and see the
grounds;--and, after drinking a glass of very good iced lemonade, I
took my leave, much amused and pleased. The house certainly deserves
its reputation for pleasantness, and her ladyship used me, I believe, as
well as it is her way to use anybody.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

Court of Commissioners, Basinghall Street: May 31, 1831.

My dear Sister,--How delighted I am that you like my letters, and how
obliged by yours! But I have little more than my thanks to give for your
last. I have nothing to tell about great people to-day. I heard no fine
music yesterday, saw nobody above the rank of a baronet, and was shut
up in my own room reading and writing all the morning. This day seems
likely to pass in much the same way, except that I have some bankruptcy
business to do, and a couple of sovereigns to receive. So here I am,
with three of the ugliest attorneys that ever deserved to be transported
sitting opposite to me; a disconsolate-looking bankrupt, his hands in
his empty pockets, standing behind; a lady scolding for her money, and
refusing to be comforted because it is not; and a surly butcher-like
looking creditor, growling like a house-dog, and saying, as plain as
looks can say "If I sign your certificate, blow me, that's all." Among
these fair and interesting forms, on a piece of official paper, with
a pen and with ink found at the expense of the public, am I writing to

These dirty courts, filled with Jew money-lenders, sheriffs' officers,
attorneys' runners, and a crowd of people who live by giving sham bail
and taking false oaths, are not by any means such good subjects for a
lady's correspondent as the Sculpture Gallery at Lansdowne House, or
the conservatory at Holland House, or the notes of Pasta, or the talk of
Rogers. But we cannot be always fine. When my Richardsonian epistles are
published, there must be dull as well as amusing letters among them;
and this letter is, I think, as good as those sermons of Sir Charles to
Geronymo which Miss Byron hypocritically asked for, or as the greater
part of that stupid last volume.

We shall soon have more attractive matter. I shall walk out to breakfast
at Holland House; and I am to dine with Sir George Philips, and with
his son the member for Steyning, who have the best of company; and I
am going to the fancy ball of the Jew. He met me in the street, and
implored me to come. "You need not dress more than for an evening party.
You had better come. You will be delighted. It will be so very pretty."
I thought of Dr. Johnson and the herdsman with his "See, such pretty
goats." [See Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides, Sept. 1 1773. "The Doctor
was prevailed with to mount one of Vass's grays. As he rode upon it
downhill, it did not go well, and he grumbled. I walked on a little
before, but was excessively entertained with the method taken to keep
him in good humour. Hay led the horse's head, talking to Dr. Johnson
as much as he could and, (having heard him, in the forenoon, express a
pastoral pleasure on seeing the goats browsing,) just when the Doctor
was uttering his displeasure, the fellow cried, with a very Highland
accent, 'See, such pretty goats!' Then he whistled whu! and made them
jump."] However, I told my honest Hebrew that I would come. I may
perhaps, like the Benjamites, steal away some Israelite damsel in the
middle of her dancing.

But the noise all round me is becoming louder, and a baker in a white
coat is bellowing for the book to prove a debt of nine pounds fourteen
shillings and fourpence. So I must finish my letter and fall to

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London June 1, 1831.

My dear Sister,--My last letter was a dull one. I mean this to be very
amusing. My last was about Basinghall Street, attorneys, and bankrupts.
But for this,--take it dramatically in the German style.

Fine morning. Scene, the great entrance of Holland House.

Enter MACAULAY and Two FOOTMEN in livery.

 First Footman.--Sir, may I venture to demand your name?

 Macaulay.--Macaulay, and thereto I add M.P.
 And that addition, even in these proud halls,
 May well ensure the bearer some respect.

 Second Footman.--And art thou come to breakfast with our Lord?

 Macaulay.--I am for so his hospitable will,
 And hers--the peerless dame ye serve--hath bade.

 First Footman.--Ascend the stair, and thou above shalt find,
 On snow-white linen spread, the luscious meal.

(Exit MACAULAY up stairs.)

In plain English prose, I went this morning to breakfast at Holland
House. The day was fine, and I arrived at twenty minutes after ten.
After I had lounged a short time in the dining-room, I heard a gruff
good-natured voice asking, "Where is Mr. Macaulay? Where have you put
him?" and in his arm-chair Lord Holland was wheeled in. He took me round
the apartments, he riding and I walking. He gave me the history of the
most remarkable portraits in the library, where there is, by the bye,
one of the few bad pieces of Lawrence that I have seen--a head of
Charles James Fox, an ignominious failure. Lord Holland said that it
was the worst ever painted of so eminent a man by so eminent an artist.
There is a very fine head of Machiavelli, and another of Earl Grey,
a very different sort of man. I observed a portrait of Lady Holland
painted some thirty years ago. I could have cried to see the change. She
must have been a most beautiful woman. She still looks, however, as if
she had been handsome, and shows in one respect great taste and sense.
She does not rouge at all; and her costume is not youthful, so that
she looks as well in the morning as in the evening. We came back to the
dining-room. Our breakfast party consisted of my Lord and Lady, myself,
Lord Russell, and Luttrell. You must have heard of Luttrell. I met him
once at Rogers's; and I have seen him, I think, in other places. He is
a famous wit,--the most popular, I think, of all the professed wits,--a
man who has lived in the highest circles, a scholar, and no contemptible
poet. He wrote a little volume of verse entitled "Advice to Julia,"--not
first rate, but neat, lively, piquant, and showing the most consummate
knowledge of fashionable life.

We breakfasted on very good coffee, and very good tea, and very good
eggs, butter kept in the midst of ice, and hot rolls. Lady Holland told
us her dreams; how she had dreamed that a mad dog bit her foot, and how
she set off to Brodie, and lost her way in St. Martin's Lane, and could
not find him. She hoped, she said, the dream would not come true. I said
that I had had a dream which admitted of no such hope; for I had dreamed
that I heard Pollock speak in the House of Commons, that the speech was
very long, and that he was coughed down. This dream of mine diverted
them much.

After breakfast Lady Holland offered to conduct me to her own
drawing-room, or, rather, commanded my attendance. A very beautiful room
it is, opening on a terrace, and wainscoted with miniature paintings
interesting from their merit, and interesting from their history. Among
them I remarked a great many,--thirty, I should think,--which even I,
who am no great connoisseur, saw at once could come from no hand but
Stothard's. They were all on subjects from Lord Byron's poems. "Yes,"
said she; "poor Lord Byron sent them to me a short time before the
separation. I sent them back, and told him that, if he gave them away,
he ought to give them to Lady Byron. But he said that he would not, and
that if I did not take them, the bailiffs would, and that they would be
lost in the wreck." Her ladyship then honoured me so far as to conduct
me through her dressing-room into the great family bedchamber to show me
a very fine picture by Reynolds of Fox, when a boy, birds-nesting. She
then consigned me to Luttrell, asking him to show me the grounds.

Through the grounds we went, and very pretty I thought them. In the
Dutch garden is a fine bronze bust of Napoleon, which Lord Holland put
up in 1817, while Napoleon was a prisoner at St. Helena. The inscription
was selected by his lordship, and is remarkably happy. It is from
Homer's Odyssey. I will translate it, as well as I can extempore, into a
measure which gives a better idea of Homer's manner than Pope's singsong

 For not, be sure, within the grave
 Is hid that prince, the wise, the brave;
 But in an islet's narrow bound,
 With the great Ocean roaring round,
 The captive of a foeman base
 He pines to view his native place.

There is a seat near the spot which is called Rogers's seat. The poet
loves, it seems, to sit there. A very elegant inscription by Lord
Holland is placed over it.

 "Here Rogers sate; and here for ever dwell
  With me those pleasures which he sang so well."

Very neat and condensed, I think. Another inscription by Luttrell hangs
there. Luttrell adjured me with mock pathos to spare his blushes; but I
am author enough to know what the blushes of authors mean. So I read
the lines, and very pretty and polished they were, but too many to be
remembered from one reading.

Having gone round the grounds I took my leave, very much pleased with
the place. Lord Holland is extremely kind. But that is of course; for he
is kindness itself. Her ladyship too, which is by no means of course, is
all graciousness and civility. But, for all this, I would much rather
be quietly walking with you; and the great use of going to these fine
places is to learn how happy it is possible to be without them. Indeed,
I care so little for them that I certainly should not have gone to-day,
but that I thought that I should be able to find materials for a letter
which you might like.



To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: June 3, 1831.

My dear Sister,--I cannot tell you how delighted I am to find that my
letters amuse you. But sometimes I must be dull like my neighbours.
I paid no visits yesterday, and have no news to relate to-day. I am
sitting again in Basinghall Street and Basil Montagu is haranguing about
Lord Verulam, and the way of inoculating one's mind with truth; and
all this a propos of a lying bankrupt's balance-sheet. ["Those who are
acquainted with the Courts in which Mr. Montagu practises with so much
ability and success, will know how often he enlivens the discussion of
a point of law by citing some weighty aphorism, or some brilliant
illustration, from the De Augmentis or the Novum Organum."--Macaulay's
Review of Basil Montagu's Edition of Bacon.]

Send me some gossip, my love. Tell me how you go on with German. What
novel have you commenced? Or, rather, how many dozen have you finished?
Recommend me one. What say you to "Destiny"? Is the "Young Duke" worth
reading? and what do you think of "Laurie Todd"?

I am writing about Lord Byron so pathetically that I make Margaret cry,
but so slowly that I am afraid I shall make Napier wait. Rogers, like
a civil gentleman, told me last week to write no more reviews, and to
publish separate works; adding, what for him is a very rare thing,
a compliment: "You may do anything, Mr. Macaulay." See how vain and
insincere human nature is! I have been put into so good a temper with
Rogers that I have paid him, what is as rare with me as with him, a very
handsome compliment in my review. ["Well do we remember to have heard a
most correct judge of poetry revile Mr. Rogers for the incorrectness of
that most sweet and graceful passage:--

 'Such grief was ours,--it seems but yesterday,--
  When in thy prime, wishing so much to stay,
  Twas thine, Maria, thine without a sigh
  At midnight in a sister's arms to die,
  Oh! thou wast lovely; lovely was thy frame,
  And pure thy spirit as from heaven it came;
  And, when recalled to join the blest above,
  Thou diedst a victim to exceeding love
  Nursing the young to health. In happier hours,
  When idle Fancy wove luxuriant flowers,
  Once in thy mirth thou badst me write on thee;
  And now I write what thou shalt never see.'

Macaulay's Essay on Byron.] It is not undeserved; but I confess that
I cannot understand the popularity of his poetry. It is pleasant and
flowing enough; less monotonous than most of the imitations of Pope and
Goldsmith; and calls up many agreeable images and recollections. But
that such men as Lord Granville, Lord Holland, Hobhouse, Lord Byron, and
others of high rank in intellect, should place Rogers, as they do, above
Southey, Moore, and even Scott himself, is what I cannot conceive. But
this comes of being in the highest society of London. What Lady Jane
Granville called the Patronage of Fashion can do as much for a middling
poet as for a plain girl like Miss Arabella Falconer. [Lady Jane, and
Miss Arabella, appear in Miss Edgeworth's "Patronage."]

But I must stop. This rambling talk has been scrawled in the middle of
haranguing, squabbling, swearing, and crying. Since I began it I have
taxed four bills, taken forty depositions, and rated several perjured

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah and Margaret Macaulay.

London: June 7, 1831.

Yesterday I dined at Marshall's, and was almost consoled for not meeting
Ramohun Roy by a very pleasant party. The great sight was the two wits,
Rogers and Sydney Smith. Singly I have often seen them; but to see them
both together was a novelty, and a novelty not the less curious because
their mutual hostility is well known, and the hard hits which they have
given to each other are in everybody's mouth. They were very civil,
however. But I was struck by the truth of what Matthew Bramble, a person
of whom you probably never heard, says in Smollett's Humphrey Clinker:
that one wit in a company, like a knuckle of ham in soup, gives a
flavour; but two are too many. Rogers and Sydney Smith would not come
into conflict. If one had possession of the company, the other was
silent; and, as you may conceive, the one who had possession of the
company was always Sydney Smith, and the one who was silent was always
Rogers. Sometimes, however, the company divided, and each of them had a
small congregation. I had a good deal of talk with both of them; for, in
whatever they may disagree, they agree in always treating me with very
marked kindness.

I had a good deal of pleasant conversation with Rogers. He was telling
me of the curiosity and interest which attached to the persons of
Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron. When Sir Walter Scott dined at a
gentleman's in London some time ago, all the servant-maids in the house
asked leave to stand in the passage and see him pass. He was, as you
may conceive, greatly flattered. About Lord Byron, whom he knew well, he
told me some curious anecdotes. When Lord Byron passed through Florence,
Rogers was there. They had a good deal of conversation, and Rogers
accompanied him to his carriage. The inn had fifty windows in front. All
the windows were crowded with women, mostly English women, to catch a
glance at their favourite poet. Among them were some at whose houses he
had often been in England, and with whom he had lived on friendly terms.
He would not notice them, or return their salutations. Rogers was the
only person that he spoke to.

The worst thing that I know about Lord Byron is the very unfavourable
impression which he made on men, who certainly were not inclined to
judge him harshly, and who, as far as I know, were never personally
ill-used by him. Sharp and Rogers both speak of him as an unpleasant,
affected, splenetic person. I have heard hundreds and thousands of
people who never saw him rant about him; but I never heard a single
expression of fondness for him fall from the lips of any of those who
knew him well. Yet, even now, after the lapse of five-and-twenty years,
there are those who cannot talk for a quarter of an hour about Charles
Fox without tears.

Sydney Smith leaves London on the 20th, the day before Parliament meets
for business. I advised him to stay, and see something of his friends
who would be crowding to London. "My flock!" said this good shepherd.
"My dear Sir, remember my flock! The hungry sheep look up and are not

I could say nothing to such an argument; but I could not help thinking
that, if Mr. Daniel Wilson had said such a thing, it would infallibly
have appeared in his funeral sermon, and in his Life by Baptist Noel.
But in poor Sydney's mouth it sounded like a joke. He begged me to come
and see him at Combe Florey. "There I am, Sir, the priest of the Flowery
Valley, in a delightful parsonage, about which I care a good deal, and a
delightful country, about which I do not care a straw." I told him that
my meeting him was some compensation for missing Ramohun Roy. Sydney
broke forth:

"Compensation! Do you mean to insult me? A beneficed clergyman,
an orthodox clergyman, a nobleman's chaplain, to be no more than
compensation for a Brahmin; and a heretic Brahmin too, a fellow who has
lost his own religion and can't find another; a vile heterodox dog, who,
as I am credibly informed eats beef-steaks in private! A man who has
lost his caste! who ought to have melted lead poured down his nostrils,
if the good old Vedas were in force as they ought to be."

These are some Boswelliana of Sydney; not very clerical, you will say,
but indescribably amusing to the hearers, whatever the readers may think
of them. Nothing can present a more striking contrast to his rapid,
loud, laughing utterance, and his rector-like amplitude and rubicundity,
than the low, slow, emphatic tone, and the corpse-like face of Rogers.
There is as great a difference in what they say as in the voice and
look with which they say it. The conversation of Rogers is remarkably
polished and artificial. What he says seems to have been long meditated,
and might be published with little correction. Sydney talks from the
impulse of the moment, and his fun is quite inexhaustible.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M Macaulay.

London: June 8, 1831.

My dear Sister,--Yesterday night I went to the Jew's. I had indeed no
excuse for forgetting the invitation; for, about a week after I had
received the green varnished billet, and answered it, came another in
the self-same words, and addressed to Mr. Macaulay, Junior. I thought
that my answer had miscarried; so down I sate, and composed a second
epistle to the Hebrews. I afterwards found that the second invitation
was meant for Charles.

I set off a little after ten, having attired myself simply as for a
dinner-party. The house is a very fine one. The door was guarded by
peace-officers, and besieged by starers. My host met me in a
superb court-dress, with his sword at his side. There was a most
sumptuous-looking Persian, covered with gold lace. Then there was an
Italian bravo with a long beard. Two old gentlemen, who ought to have
been wiser, were fools enough to come in splendid Turkish costumes at
which everybody laughed. The fancy-dresses were worn almost exclusively
by the young people. The ladies for the most part contented themselves
with a few flowers and ribands oddly disposed. There was, however,
a beautiful Mary Queen of Scots, who looked as well as dressed the
character perfectly; an angel of a Jewess in a Highland plaid; and
an old woman, or rather a woman,--for through her disguise it was
impossible to ascertain her age,--in the absurdest costume of the last
century. These good people soon began their quadrilles and galopades,
and were enlivened by all the noise that twelve fiddlers could make for
their lives.

You must not suppose the company was made up of these mummers. There was
Dr. Lardner, and Long, the Greek Professor in the London University, and
Sheil, and Strutt, and Romilly, and Owen the philanthropist. Owen laid
bold on Sheil, and gave him a lecture on Co-operation which lasted
for half an hour. At last Sheil made his escape. Then Owen seized Mrs.
Sheil,--a good Catholic, and a very agreeable woman,--and began to prove
to her that there could be no such thing as moral responsibility. I had
fled at the first sound of his discourse, and was talking with Strutt
and Romilly, when behold! I saw Owen leave Mrs. Sheil and come towards
us. So I cried out "Sauve qui peut!" and we ran off. But before we had
got five feet from where we were standing, who should meet us face to
face but Old Basil Montagu? "Nay, then," said I, "the game is up. The
Prussians are on our rear. If we are to be bored to death there is no
help for it." Basil seized Romilly; Owen took possession of Strutt; and
I was blessing myself on my escape, when the only human being worthy to
make a third with such a pair, J--, caught me by the arm, and begged to
have a quarter of an hour's conversation with me. While I was suffering
under J--, a smart impudent-looking young dog, dressed like a sailor in
a blue jacket and check shirt, marched up, and asked a Jewish-looking
damsel near me to dance with him. I thought that I had seen the fellow
before; and, after a little looking, I perceived that it was Charles;
and most knowingly, I assure you, did he perform a quadrille with Miss
Hilpah Manasses.

If I were to tell you all that I saw I should exceed my ounce. There
was Martin the painter, and Proctor, alias Barry Cornwall, the poet or
poetaster. I did not see one Peer, or one star, except a foreign order
or two, which I generally consider as an intimation to look to my
pockets. A German knight is a dangerous neighbour in a crowd. [Macaulay
ended by being a German knight himself.] After seeing a galopade very
prettily danced by the Israelitish women, I went downstairs, reclaimed
my hat, and walked into the dining-room. There, with some difficulty,
I squeezed myself between a Turk and a Bernese peasant, and obtained an
ice, a macaroon, and a glass of wine. Charles was there, very active in
his attendance on his fair Hilpah. I bade him good night. "What!" said
young Hopeful, "are you going yet?" It was near one o'clock; but this
joyous tar seemed to think it impossible that anybody could dream of
leaving such delightful enjoyments till daybreak. I left him staying
Hilpah with flagons, and walked quietly home. But it was some time
before I could get to sleep. The sound of fiddles was in mine ears; and
gaudy dresses, and black hair, and Jewish noses, were fluctuating up and
down before mine eyes.

There is a fancy ball for you. If Charles writes a history of it, tell
me which of us does it best.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M Macaulay.

London: June 10. 1835.

My dear Sister,--I am at Basinghall Street, and I snatch this quarter of
an hour, the only quarter of an hour which I am likely to secure during
the day, to write to you. I will not omit writing two days running,
because, if my letters give you half the pleasure which your letters
give me, you will, I am sure, miss them. I have not, however, much to
tell. I have been very busy with my article on Moore's Life of Byron. I
never wrote anything with less heart. I do not like the book; I do not
like the hero; I have said the most I could for him, and yet I shall be
abused for speaking as coldly of him as I have done.

I dined the day before yesterday at Sir George Philips's with Sotheby,
Morier the author of "Hadji Baba," and Sir James Mackintosh. Morier
began to quote Latin before the ladies had left the room, and quoted it
by no means to the purpose. After their departure he fell to repeating
Virgil, choosing passages which everybody else knows and does not
repeat. He, though he tried to repeat them, did not know them, and could
not get on without my prompting. Sotheby was full of his translation of
Homer's Iliad, some specimens of which he has already published. It is a
complete failure; more literal than that of Pope, but still tainted
with the deep radical vice of Pope's version, a thoroughly modern and
artificial manner. It bears the same kind of relation to the Iliad
that Robertson's narrative bears to the story of Joseph in the book of

There is a pretty allegory in Homer--I think in the last book, but I
forget precisely where--about two vessels, the one filled with blessings
and the other with sorrow, which stand, says the poet, on the right and
left hand of Jupiter's throne, and from which he dispenses good and evil
at his pleasure among men. What word to use for these vessels has long
posed the translators of Homer. Pope, who loves to be fine, calls
them _urns_. Cowper, who loves to be coarse, calls them _casks_;--a
translation more improper than Pope's; for a cask is, in our general
understanding, a wooden vessel; and the Greek word means an earthen
vessel. There is a curious letter of Cowper's to one of his female
correspondents about this unfortunate word. She begged that Jupiter
might be allowed a more elegant piece of furniture for his throne than
a cask. But Cowper was peremptory. I mentioned this incidentally when
we were talking about translations. This set Sotheby off. "I," said
he, "have translated it _vase_. I hope that meets your ideas. Don't you
think vase will do? Does it satisfy you?" I told him, sincerely enough,
that it satisfied me; for I must be most unreasonable to be dissatisfied
at anything that he chooses to put in a book which I never shall read.
Mackintosh was very agreeable; and, as usually happens when I meet him,
I learned something from him. [Macaulay wrote to one of his nieces in
September 1859: "I am glad that Mackintosh's Life interests you. I knew
him well; and a kind friend he was to me when I was a young fellow,
fighting my way uphill."]

The great topic now in London is not, as you perhaps fancy, Reform,
but Cholera. There is a great panic; as great a panic as I remember,
particularly in the City. Rice shakes his head, and says that this is
the most serious thing that has happened in his time; and assuredly, if
the disease were to rage in London as it has lately raged in Riga, it
would be difficult to imagine anything more horrible. I, however, feel
no uneasiness. In the first place I have a strong leaning towards the
doctrines of the anti-contagionists. In the next place I repose a great
confidence in the excellent food and the cleanliness of the English.

I have this instant received your letter of yesterday with the enclosed
proof-sheets. Your criticism is to a certain extent just; but you have
not considered the whole sentence together. Depressed is in itself
better than weighed down; but "the oppressive privileges which had
depressed industry" would be a horrible cacophony. I hope that word
convinces you. I have often observed that a fine Greek compound is an
excellent substitute for a reason.

I met Rogers at the Athenaeum. He begged me to breakfast with him, and
name my day, and promised that he would procure me as agreeable a party
as he could find in London. Very kind of the old man, is it not? and,
if you knew how Rogers is thought of, you would think it as great a
compliment as could be paid to a Duke. Have you seen what the author of
the "Young Duke" says about me: how rabid I am, and how certain I am to

Ever yours

T. B. M.

Macaulay's account of the allusion to himself in the "Young Duke"
is perfectly accurate; and yet, when read as a whole, the passage in
question does not appear to have been ill-naturedly meant. ["I hear that
Mr. Babington Macaulay is to be returned. If he speaks half as well as
he writes, the House will be in fashion again. I fear that he is one of
those who, like the individual whom he has most studied, will give up to
a party what was meant for mankind. At any rate, he must get rid of his
rabidity. He writes now on all subjects as if he certainly intended to
be a renegade, and was determined to make the contrast complete."--The
Young Duke, book v chap. vi.] It is much what any young literary man
outside the House of Commons might write of another who had only been
inside that House for a few weeks; and it was probably forgotten by the
author within twenty-four hours after the ink was dry. It is to be
hoped that the commentators of the future will not treat it as an
authoritative record of Mr. Disraeli's estimate of Lord Macaulay's
political character.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: June 25, 1831.

My dear Sister,--There was, as you will see, no debate on Lord John
Russell's motion. The Reform Bill is to be brought in, read once, and
printed, without discussion. The contest will be on the second reading,
and will be protracted, I should think, through the whole of the week
after next;--next week it will be, when you read this letter.

I breakfasted with Rogers yesterday. There was nobody there but Moore.
We were all on the most friendly and familiar terms possible; and Moore,
who is, Rogers tells me, excessively pleased with my review of his
book, showed me very marked attention. I was forced to go away early on
account of bankrupt business; but Rogers said that we must have the talk
out so we are to meet at his house again to breakfast. What a delightful
house it is! It looks out on the Green Park just at the most pleasant
point. The furniture has been selected with a delicacy of taste quite
unique. Its value does not depend on fashion, but must be the same while
the fine arts are held in any esteem. In the drawing-room, for example,
the chimney-pieces are carved by Flaxman into the most beautiful Grecian
forms. The book-case is painted by Stothard, in his very best manner,
with groups from Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Boccacio. The pictures are
not numerous; but every one is excellent. In the dining-room there are
also some beautiful paintings. But the three most remarkable objects in
that room are, I think, a cast of Pope taken after death by Roubiliac;
a noble model in terra-cotta by Michael Angelo, from which he afterwards
made one of his finest statues, that of Lorenzo de Medici; and, lastly,
a mahogany table on which stands an antique vase.

When Chantrey dined with Rogers some time ago he took particular notice
of the vase, and the table on which it stands, and asked Rogers who
made the table. "A common carpenter," said Rogers. "Do you remember
the making of it?" said Chantrey. "Certainly," said Rogers, in some
surprise. "I was in the room while it was finished with the chisel, and
gave the workman directions about placing it." "Yes," said Chantrey, "I
was the carpenter. I remember the room well, and all the circumstances."
A curious story, I think, and honourable both to the talent which raised
Chantrey, and to the magnanimity which kept him from being ashamed of
what he had been.

Ever yours affectionately

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: June 29, 1831.

My dear Sister,--We are not yet in the full tide of Parliamentary
business. Next week the debates will be warm and long. I should not
wonder if we had a discussion of five nights. I shall probably take a
part in it.

I have breakfasted again with Rogers. The party was a remarkable
one,--Lord John Russell, Tom Moore, Tom Campbell, and Luttrell. We were
all very lively. An odd incident took place after breakfast, while we
were standing at the window and looking into the Green Park. Somebody
was talking about diners-out. "Ay," said Campbell--

"Ye diners-out from whom we guard our spoons."

Tom Moore asked where the line was. "Don't you know?" said Campbell.
"Not I," said Moore. "Surely," said Campbell, "it is your own." "I never
saw it in my life," said Moore. "It is in one of your best things in the
Times," said Campbell. Moore denied it. Hereupon I put in my claim,
and told them that it was mine. Do you remember it? It is in some lines
called the Political Georgics, which I sent to the Times about three
years ago. They made me repeat the lines, and were vociferous in praise
of them. Tom Moore then said, oddly enough:

"There is another poem in the Times that I should like to know
the author of;--A Parson's Account of his Journey to the Cambridge
Election." I laid claim to that also. "That is curious," said Moore. "I
begged Barnes to tell me who wrote it. He said that he had received it
from Cambridge, and touched it up himself, and pretended that all the
best strokes were his. I believed that he was lying, because I never
knew him to make a good joke in his life. And now the murder is out."
They asked me whether I had put anything else in the Times. Nothing, I
said, except the Sortes Virgilianae, which Lord John remembered well.
I never mentioned the Cambridge Journey, or the Georgics, to any but
my own family; and I was therefore, as you may conceive, not a little
flattered to hear in one day Moore praising one of them, and Campbell
praising the other.

I find that my article on Byron is very popular; one among a thousand
proofs of the bad taste of the public. I am to review Croker's edition
of Bozzy. It is wretchedly ill done. The notes are poorly written, and
shamefully inaccurate. There is, however, much curious information in
it. The whole of the Tour to the Hebrides is incorporated with the Life.
So are most of Mrs. Thrale's anecdotes, and much of Sir John Hawkins's
lumbering book. The whole makes five large volumes. There is a most
laughable sketch of Bozzy, taken by Sir T. Lawrence when young. I never
saw a character so thoroughly hit off. I intend the book for you, when I
have finished my criticism on it. You are, next to myself, the best read
Boswellite that I know. The lady whom Johnson abused for flattering
him [See Boswell's Life of Johnson, April 15, 1778.] was certainly,
according to Croker, Hannah More. Another ill-natured sentence about
a Bath lady ["He would not allow me to praise a lady then at Bath;
observing, 'She does not gain upon me, sir; I think her empty-headed.'"]
whom Johnson called "empty-headed" is also applied to your godmother.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: July 6, 1835.

My dear Sister,--I have been so busy during the last two or three days
that I have found no time to write to you. I have now good news for you.
I spoke yesterday night with a success beyond my utmost expectations. I
am half ashamed to tell you the compliments which I have received; but
you well know that it is not from vanity, but to give you pleasure, that
I tell you what is said about me. Lord Althorp told me twice that it was
the best speech he had ever heard; Graham, and Stanley, and Lord John
Russell spoke of it in the same way; and O'Connell followed me out of
the house to pay me the most enthusiastic compliments. I delivered my
speech much more slowly than any that I have before made, and it is in
consequence better reported than its predecessors, though not well. I
send you several papers. You will see some civil things in the leading
articles of some of them. My greatest pleasure, in the midst of all this
praise, is to think of the pleasure which my success will give to my
father and my sisters. It is happy for me that ambition has in my mind
been softened into a kind of domestic feeling, and that affection has at
least as much to do as vanity with my wish to distinguish myself. This
I owe to my dear mother, and to the interest which she always took in my
childish successes. From my earliest years, the gratification of those
whom I love has been associated with the gratification of my own thirst
for fame, until the two have become inseparably joined in my mind.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M Macaulay

London: July 8, 1831.

My dear Sister,--Do you want to hear all the compliments that are paid
to me? I shall never end, if I stuff my letters with them; for I meet
nobody who does not give me joy. Baring tells me that I ought never to
speak again. Howick sent a note to me yesterday to say that his father
wished very much to be introduced to me, and asked me to dine with them
yesterday, as, by great good luck, there was nothing to do in the
House of Commons. At seven I went to Downing Street, where Earl Grey's
official residence stands. It is a noble house. There are two splendid
drawing-rooms, which overlook St. James's Park. Into these I was shown.
The servant told me that Lord Grey was still at the House of Lords, and
that her Ladyship had just gone to dress. Howick had not mentioned the
hour in his note. I sate down, and turned over two large portfolios of
political caricatures. Earl Grey's own face was in every print. I was
very much diverted. I had seen some of them before; but many were new to
me, and their merit is extraordinary. They were the caricatures of that
remarkably able artist who calls himself H. B. In about half an hour
Lady Georgiana Grey, and the Countess, made their appearance. We had
some pleasant talk, and they made many apologies. The Earl, they said,
was unexpectedly delayed by a question which had arisen in the Lords.
Lady Holland arrived soon after, and gave me a most gracious reception;
shook my hand very warmly, and told me, in her imperial decisive manner,
that she had talked with all the principal men on our side about my
speech, that they all agreed that it was the best that had been made
since the death of Fox, and that it was more like Fox's speaking than
anybody's else. Then she told me that I was too much worked, that I must
go out of town, and absolutely insisted on my going to Holland House to
dine, and take a bed, on the next day on which there is no Parliamentary
business. At eight we went to dinner. Lord Howick took his father's
place, and we feasted very luxuriously. At nine Lord Grey came from the
House with Lord Durham, Lord Holland, and the Duke of Richmond. They
dined on the remains of our dinner with great expedition, as they had to
go to a Cabinet Council at ten. Of course I had scarcely any talk with
Lord Grey. He was, however, extremely polite to me, and so were his
colleagues. I liked the ways of the family.

I picked up some news from these Cabinet Ministers. There is to be
a Coronation on quite a new plan; no banquet in Westminster Hall, no
feudal services, no champion, no procession from the Abbey to the Hall,
and back again. But there is to be a service in the Abbey. All the Peers
are to come in state and in their robes, and the King is to take the
oaths, and be crowned and anointed in their presence. The spectacle will
be finer than usual to the multitude out of doors. The few hundreds who
could obtain admittance to the Hall will be the only losers.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: July 8, 1831.

My dear Sister,--Since I wrote to you I have been out to dine and sleep
at Holland House. We had a very agreeable and splendid party; among
others the Duke and Duchess of Richmond, and the Marchioness of
Clanricarde, who, you know, is the daughter of Canning. She is very
beautiful, and very like her father, with eyes full of fire, and great
expression in all her features. She and I had a great deal of talk. She
showed much cleverness and information, but, I thought, a little more of
political animosity than is quite becoming in a pretty woman. However,
she has been placed in peculiar circumstances. The daughter of a
statesman who was a martyr to the rage of faction may be pardoned
for speaking sharply of the enemies of her parent; and she did speak
sharply. With knitted brows, and flashing eyes, and a look of feminine
vengeance about her beautiful mouth, she gave me such a character of
Peel as he would certainly have had no pleasure in hearing.

In the evening Lord John Russell came; and, soon after, old Talleyrand.
I had seen Talleyrand in very large parties, but had never been near
enough to hear a word that he said. I now had the pleasure of listening
for an hour and a half to his conversation. He is certainly the greatest
curiosity that I ever fell in with. His head is sunk down between two
high shoulders. One of his feet is hideously distorted. 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 them. 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 that 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 a redire. Le Cardinal trompait; mais il ne mentait pas. Or, M.
de Metternich ment toujours, et ne trompe jamais." He mentioned M. de
St. Aulaire,--now one of the most distinguished public men of France. I
said: "M. de Saint-Aulaire est beau-pere de M. le duc de Cazes, n'est-ce
pas?" "Non, monsieur," said Talleyrand; "l'on disait, il y a douze
ans, que M. de Saint-Aulaire etoit beau-pere de M. de Cazes; l'on dit
maintenant que M. de Cazes est gendre de M. de Saint-Aulaire." [This
saying remained in Macaulay's mind. He quoted it on the margin of his
Aulus Gellius, as an illustration of the passage in the nineteenth book
in which Julius Caesar is described, absurdly enough as "perpetuus ille
dictator, Cneii Pompeii socer".] It was not easy to describe the change
in the relative positions of two men more tersely and more sharply; and
these remarks were made in the lowest tone, and without the slightest
change of muscle, just as if he had been remarking that the day was
fine. He added: "M. de Saint-Aulaire a beaucoup d'esprit. Mais il est
devot, et, ce qui pis est, devot honteux. Il va se cacher dans quelque
hameau pour faire ses Paques." This was a curious remark from a Bishop.
He told several stories about the political men of France; not of any
great value in themselves; but his way of telling them was beyond
all praise,--concise, pointed, and delicately satirical. When he had
departed, I could not help breaking out into admiration of his talent
for relating anecdotes. Lady Holland said that he had been considered
for nearly forty years as the best teller of a story in Europe, and that
there was certainly nobody like him in that respect.

When the Prince was gone, we went to bed. In the morning Lord John
Russell drove me back to London in his cabriolet, much amused with what
I had seen and heard. But I must stop.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

Basinghall Street: July 15 1831.

My dear Sister,--The rage of faction at the present moment exceeds
anything that has been known in our day. Indeed I doubt whether, at the
time of Mr. Pitt's first becoming Premier, at the time of Sir Robert
Walpole's fall, or even during the desperate struggles between the
Whigs and Tories at the close of Anne's reign, the fury of party was so
fearfully violent. Lord Mahon said to me yesterday that friendships of
long standing were everywhere giving way, and that the schism between
the reformers and the anti-reformers was spreading from the House of
Commons into every private circle. Lord Mahon himself is an exception.
He and I are on excellent terms. But Praed and I become colder every

The scene of Tuesday night beggars description. I left the House at
about three, in consequence of some expressions of Lord Althorp's which
indicated that the Ministry was inclined to yield on the question of
going into Committee on the Bill. I afterwards much regretted that I had
gone away; not that my presence was necessary; but because I should have
liked to have sate through so tremendous a storm. Towards eight in
the morning the Speaker was almost fainting. The Ministerial members,
however, were as true as steel. They furnished the Ministry with the
resolution which it wanted. "If the noble Lord yields," said one of
our men, "all is lost." Old Sir Thomas Baring sent for his razor, and
Benett, the member for Wiltshire, for his night-cap; and they were both
resolved to spend the whole day in the House rather than give way. If
the Opposition had not yielded, in two hours half London would have been
in Old Palace Yard.

Since Tuesday the Tories have been rather cowed. But their demeanour,
though less outrageous than at the beginning of the week, indicates what
would in any other time be called extreme violence. I have not been once
in bed till three in the morning since last Sunday. To-morrow we have a
holiday. I dine at Lansdowne House. Next week I dine with Littleton,
the member for Staffordshire, and his handsome wife. He told me that
I should meet two men whom I am curious to see, Lord Plunket and the
Marquess Wellesley; let alone the Chancellor, who is not a novelty to

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: July 25, 1831.

My dear Sister,--On Saturday evening I went to Holland House. There
I found the Dutch Ambassador, M. de Weissembourg, 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 ancient 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 really is 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.

Perhaps I may write again to-morrow.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

Library of the House of Commons

July 26, 1831.

My dear Sister,--Here I am seated, waiting for the debate on the borough
of St. Germains with a very quiet party,--Lord Milton, Lord Tavistock,
and George Lamb. But, instead of telling you in dramatic form my
conversations with Cabinet Ministers, I shall, I think, go back two
or three days, and complete the narrative which I left imperfect in my
epistle of yesterday.

[This refers to a passage in a former letter, likewise written from the
Library of the House.

"'Macaulay!' Who calls Macaulay? Sir James Graham. What can he have to
say to me? Take it dramatically:

Sir J. G. Macaulay!

Macaulay. What?

Sir J. G. Whom are you writing to, that you laugh so much over your

Macaulay. To my constituents at Caine, to be sure. They expect news of
the Reform Bill every day.

Sir J. G. Well, writing to constituents is less of a plague to you than
to most people, to judge by your face.

Macaulay. How do you know that I am not writing a billet doux to a lady?

Sir J. G. You look more like it, by Jove!

Cutlar Ferguson, M.P. for Kirkcudbright. Let ladies and constituents
alone, and come into the House. We are going on to the case of the
borough of Great Bedwin immediately."]

At half after seven on Sunday I was set down at Littleton's palace, for
such it is, in Grosvenor Place. It really is a noble house; four
superb drawing-rooms on the first floor, hung round with some excellent
pictures--a Hobbema, (the finest by that artist in the world, it is
said,) and Lawrence's charming portrait of Mrs. Littleton. The beautiful
original, by the bye, did not make her appearance. We were a party of
gentlemen. But such gentlemen! Listen, and be proud of your connection
with one who is admitted to eat and drink in the same room with beings
so exalted. There were two Chancellors, Lord Brougham and Lord Plunket.
There was Earl Gower; Lord St. Vincent; Lord Seaford; Lord Duncannon;
Lord Ebrington; Sir James Graham; Sir John Newport; the two Secretaries
of the Treasury, Rice and Ellice; George Lamb; Denison; and half a
dozen more Lords and distinguished Commoners, not to mention Littleton
himself. Till last year he lived in Portman Square. When he changed
his residence his servants gave him warning. They could not, they said,
consent to go into such an unheard-of part of the world as Grosvenor
Place. I can only say that I have never been in a finer house than
Littleton's, Lansdowne House excepted,--and perhaps Lord Milton's, which
is also in Grosvenor Place. He gave me a dinner of dinners. I talked
with Denison, and with nobody else. I have found out that the real use
of conversational powers is to put them forth in tete-a-tete. A man
is flattered by your talking your best to him alone. Ten to one he is
piqued by your overpowering him before a company. Denison was agreeable
enough. I heard only one word from Lord Plunket, who was remarkably
silent. He spoke of Doctor Thorpe, and said that, having heard the
Doctor in Dublin, he should like to hear him again in London. "Nothing
easier," quoth Littleton; "his chapel is only two doors off; and he will
be just mounting the pulpit." "No," said Lord Plunket; "I can't lose my
dinner." An excellent saying, though one which a less able man than Lord
Plunket might have uttered.

At midnight I walked away with George Lamb, and went--where for a ducat?
"To bed," says Miss Hannah. Nay, my sister, not so; but to Brooks's.
There I found Sir James Macdonald; Lord Duncannon, who had left
Littleton's just before us; and many other Whigs and ornaments of human
nature. As Macdonald and I were rising to depart we saw Rogers, and I
went to shake hands with him. You cannot think how kind the old man was
to me. He shook my hand over and over, and told me that Lord Plunket
longed to see me in a quiet way, and that he would arrange a breakfast
party in a day or two for that purpose.

Away I went from Brooks's--but whither? "To bed now, I am sure," says
little Anne. No, but on a walk with Sir James Macdonald to the end of
Sloane Street, talking about the Ministry, the Reform Bill, and the East
India question.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

House of Commons Smoking Room: Saturday.

My dear Sister,--The newspapers will have, explained the reason of our
sitting to-day. At three this morning I left the House. At two this
afternoon I have returned to it, with the thermometer at boiling heat,
and four hundred and fifty people stowed together like negroes in the
John Newton's slaveship. I have accordingly left Sir Francis Burdett
on his legs, and repaired to the smoking-room; a large, wainscoted,
uncarpeted place, with tables covered with green baize and writing
materials. On a full night it is generally thronged towards twelve
o'clock with smokers. It is then a perfect cloud of fume. There have I
seen, (tell it not to the West Indians,) Buxton blowing fire out of his
mouth. My father will not believe it. At present, however, all the doors
and windows are open, and the room is pure enough from tobacco to suit
my father himself.

Get Blackwood's new number. There is a description of me in it. What do
you think he says that I am? "A little, splay-footed, ugly, dumpling of
a fellow, with a mouth from ear to ear." Conceive how such a charge must
affect a man so enamoured of his own beauty as I am.

I said a few words the other night. They were merely in reply, and quite
unpremeditated, and were not ill received. I feel that much practice
will be necessary to make me a good debater on points of detail; but my
friends tell me that I have raised my reputation by showing that I was
quite equal to the work of extemporaneous reply. My manner, they say, is
cold and wants care. I feel this myself. Nothing but strong excitement,
and a great occasion, overcomes a certain reserve and mauvaise honte
which I have in public speaking; not a mauvaise honte which in the least
confuses me, or makes me hesitate for a word, but which keeps me from
putting any fervour into my tone or my action. This is perhaps in some
respects an advantage; for, when I do warm, I am the most vehement
speaker in the House, and nothing strikes an audience so much as the
animation of an orator who is generally cold.

I ought to tell you that Peel was very civil, and cheered me loudly; and
that impudent leering Croker congratulated the House on the proof which
I had given of my readiness. He was afraid, he said, that I had been
silent so long on account of the many allusions which had been made
to Calne. Now that I had risen again he hoped that they should hear me
often. See whether I do not dust that varlet's jacket for him in the
next number of the Blue and Yellow. I detest him more than cold boiled
veal. ["By the bye," Macaulay writes elsewhere, "you never saw such a
scene as Croker's oration on Friday night. He abused Lord John Russell;
he abused Lord Althorp; he abused the Lord Advocate, and we took no
notice;--never once groaned or cried 'No!' But he began to praise Lord
Fitzwilliam;--'a venerable nobleman, an excellent and amiable nobleman'
and so forth; and we all broke out together with 'Question!' 'No, no!'
'This is too bad!' 'Don't, don't!' He then called Canning his right
honourable friend. 'Your friend! damn your impudent face!' said the
member who sate next me."]

After the debate I walked about the streets with Bulwer till near
three o'clock. I spoke to him about his novels with perfect sincerity,
praising warmly, and criticising freely. He took the praise as a greedy
boy takes apple-pie, and the criticism as a good dutiful boy takes
senna-tea. He has one eminent merit, that of being a most enthusiastic
admirer of mine; so that I may be the hero of a novel yet, under the
name of Delamere or Mortimer. Only think what an honour!

Bulwer is to be editor of the New Monthly Magazine. He begged me very
earnestly to give him something for it. I would make no promises; for
I am already over head and ears in literary engagements. But I may
possibly now and then send him some trifle or other. At all events I
shall expect him to puff me well. I do not see why I should not have my
puffers as well as my neighbours.

I am glad that you have read Madame de Stael's Allemagne. The book is a
foolish one in some respects; but it abounds with information, and shows
great mental power. She was certainly the first woman of her age; Miss
Edgeworth, I think, the second; and Miss Austen the third.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: August 29, 1831.

My dear Sister,--Here I am again settled, sitting up in the House
of Commons till three o'clock five days in the week, and getting an
indigestion at great dinners the remaining two. I dined on Saturday with
Lord Althorp, and yesterday with Sir James Graham. Both of them gave me
exactly the same dinner; and, though I am not generally copious on the
repasts which my hosts provide for me, I must tell you, for the honour
of official hospitality, how our Ministers regale their supporters.
Turtle, turbot, venison, and grouse, formed part of both entertainments.

Lord Althorp was extremely pleasant at the head of his own table. We
were a small party; Lord Ebrington, Hawkins, Captain Spencer, Stanley,
and two or three more. We all of us congratulated Lord Althorp on his
good health and spirits. He told us that he never took exercise now;
that from his getting up, till four o'clock, he was engaged in the
business of his office; that at four he dined, went down to the House
at five, and never stirred till the House rose, which is always after
midnight; that he then went home, took a basin of arrow-root with a
glass of sherry in it, and went to bed, where he always dropped asleep
in three minutes. "During the week," said he, "which followed my taking
office, I did not close my eyes for anxiety. Since that time I have
never been awake a quarter of an hour after taking off my clothes."
Stanley laughed at Lord Althorp's arrow-root, and recommended his own
supper, cold meat and warm negus; a supper which I will certainly begin
to take when I feel a desire to pass the night with a sensation as if I
was swallowing a nutmeg-grater every third minute.

We talked about timidity in speaking. Lord Althorp said that he had only
just got over his apprehensions. "I was as much afraid," he said, "last
year as when first I came into Parliament. But now I am forced to speak
so often that I am quite hardened. Last Thursday I was up forty times."
I was not much surprised at this in Lord Althorp, as he is certainly one
of the most modest men in existence. But I was surprised to hear Stanley
say that he never rose without great uneasiness. "My throat and lips,"
he said, "when I am going to speak, are as dry as those of a man who
is going to be hanged." Nothing can be more composed and cool than
Stanley's manner. His fault is on that side. A little hesitation at
the beginning of a speech is graceful; and many eminent speakers have
practised it, merely in order to give the appearance of unpremeditated
reply to prepared speeches; but Stanley speaks like a man who never knew
what fear, or even modesty, was. Tierney, it is remarkable, who was
the most ready and fluent debater almost ever known, made a confession
similar to Stanley's. He never spoke, he said, without feeling his knees
knock together when he rose.

My opinion of Lord Althorp is extremely high. In fact, his character is
the only stay of the Ministry. I doubt whether any person has ever lived
in England who, with no eloquence, no brilliant talents, no profound
information, with nothing in short but plain good sense and an excellent
heart, possessed so much influence both in and out of Parliament. His
temper is an absolute miracle. He has been worse used than any Minister
ever was in debate; and he has never said one thing inconsistent, I do
not say with gentlemanlike courtesy, but with real benevolence. Lord
North, perhaps, was his equal in suavity and good-nature; but Lord North
was not a man of strict principles. His administration was not only
an administration hostile to liberty, but it was supported by vile and
corrupt means,--by direct bribery, I fear, in many cases. Lord Althorp
has the temper of Lord North with the principles of Romilly. If he had
the oratorical powers of either of those men, he might do anything. But
his understanding, though just, is slow, and his elocution painfully
defective. It is, however, only justice to him to say that he has done
more service to the Reform Bill even as a debater than all the other
Ministers together, Stanley excepted.

We are going,--by we I mean the Members of Parliament who are for
reform,--as soon as the Bill is through the Commons, to give a grand
dinner to Lord Althorp and Lord John Russell, as a mark of our respect.
Some people wished to have the other Cabinet Ministers included; but
Grant and Palmerston are not in sufficiently high esteem among the Whigs
to be honoured with such a compliment.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: September 9, 1835.

My dear Sister,--I scarcely know where to begin, or where to end, my
story of the magnificence of yesterday. No pageant can be conceived more
splendid. The newspapers will happily save me the trouble of relating
minute particulars. I will therefore give you an account of my own
proceedings, and mention what struck me most. I rose at six. The cannon
awaked me; and, as soon as I got up, I heard the bells pealing on every
side from all the steeples in London. I put on my court-dress, and
looked a perfect Lovelace in it. At seven the glass coach, which I had
ordered for myself and some of my friends, came to the door. I called in
Hill Street for William Marshall, M.P. for Beverley, and in Cork Street
for Strutt the Member for Derby, and Hawkins the Member for Tavistock.
Our party being complete, we drove through crowds of people, and ranks
of horseguards in cuirasses and helmets, to Westminster Hall, which we
reached as the clock struck eight.

The House of Commons was crowded, and the whole assembly was in uniform.
After prayers we went out in order by lot, the Speaker going last. My
county, Wiltshire, was among the first drawn; so I got an excellent
place in the Abbey, next to Lord Mahon, who is a very great favourite of
mine, and a very amusing companion, though a bitter Tory.

Our gallery was immediately over the great altar. The whole vast avenue
of lofty pillars was directly in front of us. At eleven the guns
fired, the organ struck up, and the procession entered. I never saw so
magnificent a scene. All down that immense vista of gloomy arches there
was one blaze of scarlet and gold. First came heralds in coats stiff
with embroidered lions, unicorns, and harps; then nobles bearing the
regalia, with pages in rich dresses carrying their coronets on cushions;
then the Dean and Prebendaries of Westminster in copes of cloth of gold;
then a crowd of beautiful girls and women, or at least of girls and
women who at a distance looked altogether beautiful, attending on the
Queen. Her train of purple velvet and ermine was borne by six of these
fair creatures. All the great officers of state in full robes, the Duke
of Wellington with his Marshal's staff, the Duke of Devonshire with his
white rod, Lord Grey with the Sword of State, and the Chancellor with
his seals, came in procession. Then all the Royal Dukes with their
trains borne behind them, and last the King leaning on two Bishops. I do
not, I dare say, give you the precise order. In fact, it was impossible
to discern any order. The whole abbey was one blaze of gorgeous dresses,
mingled with lovely faces.

The Queen behaved admirably, with wonderful grace and dignity. The
King very awkwardly. The Duke of Devonshire looked as if he came to be
crowned instead of his master. I never saw so princely a manner and air.
The Chancellor looked like Mephistopheles behind Margaret in the church.
The ceremony was much too long, and some parts of it were carelessly
performed. The Archbishop mumbled. The Bishop of London preached, well
enough indeed, but not so effectively as the occasion required; and,
above all, the bearing of the King made the foolish parts of the ritual
appear monstrously ridiculous, and deprived many of the better parts of
their proper effect. Persons who were at a distance perhaps did not feel
this; but I was near enough to see every turn of his finger, and every
glance of his eye. The moment of the crowning was extremely fine. When
the Archbishop placed the crown on the head of the King, the trumpets
sounded, and the whole audience cried out "God save the King." All the
Peers and Peeresses put on their coronets, and the blaze of splendour
through the Abbey seemed to be doubled. The King was then conducted to
the raised throne, where the Peers successively did him homage, each
of them kissing his cheek, and touching the crown. Some of them were
cheered, which I thought indecorous in such a place, and on such an
occasion. The Tories cheered the Duke of Wellington; and our people, in
revenge, cheered Lord Grey and Brougham.

You will think this a very dull letter for so great a subject; but I
have only had time to scrawl these lines in order to catch the post.
I have not a minute to read them over. I lost yesterday, and have been
forced to work to-day. Half my article on Boswell went to Edinburgh the
day before yesterday. I have, though I say it who should not say it,
beaten Croker black and blue. Impudent as he is, I think he must be
ashamed of the pickle in which I leave him. [Mr. Carlyle reviewed
Croker's book in "Fraser's Magazine" a few months after the appearance
of Macaulay's article in the "Edinburgh." The two Critics seem to have
arrived at much the same conclusion as to the merits of the work.
"In fine," writes Mr. Carlyle, "what ideas Mr. Croker entertains of
a literary _whole_, and the thing called _Book_, and how the very
Printer's Devils did not rise in mutiny against such a conglomeration as
this, and refuse to print it, may remain a problem.... It is our painful
duty to declare, aloud, if that be necessary, that his gift, as weighed
against the hard money which the booksellers demand for giving it you,
is (in our judgment) very much the lighter. No portion, accordingly, of
our small floating capital has been embarked in the business, or ever
shall be. Indeed, were we in the market for such a thing, there is
simply no edition of Boswell to which this last would seem preferable,"]

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: September 13, 1831.

My dear Sister,--I am in high spirits at the thought of soon seeing you
all in London, and being again one of a family, and of a family which I
love so much. It is well that one has something to love in private life;
for the aspect of public affairs is very menacing;--fearful, I think,
beyond what people in general imagine. Three weeks, however, will
probably settle the whole, and bring to an issue the question, Reform or
Revolution. One or the other I am certain that we must and shall have.
I assure you that the violence of the people, the bigotry of the Lords,
and the stupidity and weakness of the Ministers, alarm me so much that
even my rest is disturbed by vexation and uneasy forebodings; not for
myself; for I may gain, and cannot lose; but for this noble country,
which seems likely to be ruined without the miserable consolation of
being ruined by great men. All seems fair as yet, and will seem fair for
a fortnight longer. But I know the danger from information more accurate
and certain than, I believe, anybody not in power possesses; and I
perceive, what our men in power do not perceive, how terrible the danger

I called on Lord Lansdowne on Sunday. He told me distinctly that he
expected the Bill to be lost in the Lords, and that, if it were
lost, the Ministers must go out. I told him, with as much strength of
expression as was suited to the nature of our connection, and to his age
and rank, that, if the Ministers receded before the Lords, and hesitated
to make Peers, they and the Whig party were lost; that nothing remained
but an insolent oligarchy on the one side, and an infuriated people on
the other; and that Lord Grey and his colleagues would become as odious
and more contemptible than Peel and the Duke of Wellington. Why did they
not think of all this earlier? Why put their hand to the plough, and
look back? Why begin to build without counting the cost of finishing?
Why raise the public appetite, and then baulk it? I told him that the
House of Commons would address the King against a Tory Ministry. I
feel assured that it would do so. I feel assured that, if those who are
bidden will not come, the highways and hedges will be ransacked to get
together a reforming Cabinet. To one thing my mind is made up. If nobody
else will move an address to the Crown against a Tory Ministry, I will.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

London: October 17, 1831.

My dear Ellis,--I should have written to you before, but that I mislaid
your letter and forgot your direction. When shall you be in London? Of
course you do not mean to sacrifice your professional business to the
work of numbering the gates, and telling the towers, of boroughs in
Wales. [Mr. Ellis was one of the Commissioners appointed to arrange
the boundaries of Parliamentary boroughs in connection with the Reform
Bill.] You will come back, I suppose, with your head full of ten pound
householders instead of eroes and of Caermarthen and Denbigh instead of
Carians and Pelasgians. Is it true, by the bye, that the Commissioners
are whipped on the boundaries of the boroughs by the beadles, in order
that they may not forget the precise line which they have drawn? I deny
it wherever I go, and assure people that some of my friends who are in
the Commission would not submit to such degradation.

You must have been hard-worked indeed, and soundly whipped too, if
you have suffered as much for the Reform Bill as we who debated it. I
believe that there are fifty members of the House of Commons who have
done irreparable injury to their health by attendance on the discussions
of this session. I have got through pretty well, but I look forward, I
confess, with great dismay to the thought of recommencing; particularly
as Wetherell's cursed lungs seem to be in as good condition as ever.

I have every reason to be gratified by the manner in which my speeches
have been received. To say the truth, the station which I now hold in
the House is such that I should not be inclined to quit it for any place
which was not of considerable importance. What you saw about my having
a place was a blunder of a stupid reporter's. Croker was taunting the
Government with leaving me to fight their battle, and to rally their
followers; and said that the honourable and learned member for Calne,
though only a practising barrister in title, seemed to be in reality
the most efficient member of the Government. By the bye, my article on
Croker has not only smashed his book, but has hit the Westminster Review
incidentally. The Utilitarians took on themselves to praise the accuracy
of the most inaccurate writer that ever lived, and gave as an instance
of it a note in which, as I have shown, he makes a mistake of twenty
years and more. John Mill is in a rage, and says that they are in a
worse scrape than Croker; John Murray says that it is a damned nuisance;
and Croker looks across the House of Commons at me with a leer of
hatred, which I repay with a gracious smile of pity.

I am ashamed to have said so much about myself. But you asked for news
about me. No request is so certain to be granted, or so certain to be a
curse to him who makes it as that which you have made to me.

Ever yours


London: January 9, 1832.

Dear Napier,--I have been so much engaged by bankrupt business, as we
are winding up the affairs of many estates, that I shall not be able to
send off my article about Hampden till Thursday the 12th. It will be,
I fear, more than forty pages long. As Pascal said of his eighteenth
letter, I would have made it shorter if I could have kept it longer. You
must indulge me, however; for I seldom offend in that way.

It is in part a narrative. This is a sort of composition which I have
never yet attempted. You will tell me, I am sure with sincerity, how you
think that I succeed in it. I have said as little about Lord Nugent's
book as I decently could.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

London: January 19, 1832.

Dear Napier,--I will try the Life of Lord Burleigh, if you will tell
Longman to send me the book. However bad the work may be, it will serve
as a heading for an article on the times of Elizabeth. On the whole,
I thought it best not to answer Croker. Almost all the little pamphlet
which he published, (or rather printed, for I believe it is not for
sale,) is made up of extracts from Blackwood; and I thought that a
contest with your grog-drinking, cock-fighting, cudgel-playing Professor
of Moral Philosophy would be too degrading. I could have demolished
every paragraph of the defence. Croker defended his thuetoi philoi
by quoting a passage of Euripides which, as every scholar knows, is
corrupt; which is nonsense and false metre if read as he reads it; and
which Markland and Matthiae have set right by a most obvious correction.
But, as nobody seems to have read his vindication, we can gain nothing
by refuting it. ["Mr. Croker has favoured us with some Greek of his
own. 'At the altar,' say Dr. Johnson. 'I recommended my th ph.'
'These letters,' says the editor, (which Dr. Strahan seems not to
have understood,) probably mean _departed friends._' Johnson was not
a first-rate Greek scholar; but he knew more Greek than most boys
when they leave school; and no schoolboy could venture to use the word
thuetoi in the sense which Mr. Croker ascribes to it without imminent
danger of a flogging."--Macaulay's Review of Croker's Boswell.]

Ever yours


CHAPTER V. 1832-1834.

     Macaulay is invited to stand for Leeds--The Reform bill
     passes--Macaulay appointed Commissioner of the Board of
     Control--His life in office--Letters to his sisters--
     Contested election at Leeds--Macaulay's bearing as a
     candidate--Canvassing--Pledges--Intrusion of religion into
     politics--Placemen in Parliament--Liverpool--Margaret
     Macaulay's marriage--How it affected her brother--He is
     returned for Leeds--Becomes Secretary of the Board of
     Control--Letters to Hannah Macaulay--Session of 1832--
     Macaulay's Speech on the India Bill--His regard for Lord
     Glenelg--Letters to Hannah Macaulay--The West Indian
     question--Macaulay resigns Office--He gains his point, and
     resumes his place--Emancipation of the Slaves--Death of
     Wilberforce--Macaulay is appointed Member of the Supreme
     Council of India--Letters to Hannah Macaulay, Lord
     Lansdowne, and Mr. Napier--Altercation between Lord Althorp
     and Mr. Shiel--Macaulay's appearance before the Committee of
     Investigation--He sails for India.

DURING the earlier half of the year 1832 the vessel of Reform was still
labouring heavily; but, long before she was through the breakers, men
had begun to discount the treasures which she was bringing into port.
The time was fast approaching when the country would be called upon to
choose its first Reformed Parliament. As if the spectacle of what
was doing at Westminster did not satisfy their appetite for political
excitement, the Constituencies of the future could not refrain from
anticipating the fancied pleasures of an electoral struggle. Impatient
to exercise their privileges, and to show that they had as good an eye
for a man as those patrons of nomination seats whose discernment was
being vaunted nightly in a dozen speeches from the Opposition benches
of the House of Commons, the great cities were vying with each other to
seek representatives worthy of the occasion and of themselves. The Whigs
of Leeds, already provided with one candidate in a member of the great
local firm of the Marshalls, resolved to seek for another among the
distinguished politicians of their party. As early as October 1831
Macaulay had received a requisition from that town, and had pledged
himself to stand as soon as it had been elevated into a Parliamentary
borough. The Tories, on their side, brought forward Mr. Michael Sadler,
the very man on whose behalf the Duke of Newcastle had done "what he
liked with his own" in Newark,--and, at the last general election, had
done it in vain. Sadler, smarting from the lash of the Edinburgh Review,
infused into the contest an amount of personal bitterness that for
his own sake might better have been spared; and, during more than a
twelvemonth to come, Macaulay lived the life of a candidate whose own
hands are full of public work at a time when his opponent has nothing to
do except to make himself disagreeable. But, having once undertaken
to fight the battle of the Leeds Liberals, he fought it stoutly and
cheerily; and he would have been the last to claim it as a merit, that,
with numerous opportunities of a safe and easy election at his disposal,
he remained faithful to the supporters who had been so forward to honour
him with their choice.

The old system died hard; but in May 1832 came its final agony. The
Reform Bill had passed the Commons, and had been read a second time in
the Upper House; but the facilities which Committee affords for maiming
and delaying a measure of great magnitude and intricacy proved too much
for the self-control of the Lords. The King could not bring himself
to adopt that wonderful expedient by which the unanimity of the three
branches of our legislature may, in the last resort, be secured.
Deceived by an utterly fallacious analogy, his Majesty began to be
persuaded that the path of concession would lead him whither it had led
Louis the Sixteenth; and he resolved to halt on that path at the point
where his Ministers advised him to force the hands of their lordships
by creating peers. The supposed warnings of the French Revolution, which
had been dinned into the ears of the country by every Tory orator
from Peel to Sibthorpe, at last had produced their effect on the royal
imagination. Earl Grey resigned, and the Duke of Wellington, with a
loyalty which certainly did not stand in need of such an unlucky proof,
came forward to meet the storm. But its violence was too much even for
his courage and constancy. He could not get colleagues to assist him in
the Cabinet, or supporters to vote with him in Parliament, or soldiers
to fight for him in the streets; and it was evident that in a few days
his position would be such as could only be kept by fighting.

The revolution had in truth commenced. At a meeting of the political
unions on the slope of Newhall Hill at Birmingham a hundred thousand
voices had sung the words:

 God is our guide. No swords we draw.
 We kindle not war's battle fires.
 By union, justice, reason, law,
 We claim the birthright of our sires.

But those very men were now binding themselves by a declaration that,
unless the Bill passed, they would pay no taxes, nor purchase property
distrained by the tax-gatherer. In thus renouncing the first obligation
of a citizen they did in effect draw the sword, and they would have been
cravens if they had left it in the scabbard. Lord Milton did something
to enhance the claim of his historic house upon the national gratitude
by giving practical effect to this audacious resolve; and, after the
lapse of two centuries, another Great Rebellion, more effectual than its
predecessor, but so brief and bloodless that history does not recognise
it as a rebellion at all, was inaugurated by the essentially English
proceeding of a quiet country gentleman telling the Collector to
call again. The crisis lasted just a week. The Duke had no mind for a
succession of Peterloos, on a vaster scale, and with a different issue.
He advised the King to recall his Ministers; and his Majesty, in his
turn, honoured the refractory lords with a most significant circular
letter, respectful in form, but unmistakable in tenor. A hundred peers
of the Opposition took the hint, and contrived to be absent whenever
Reform was before the House. The Bill was read for a third time by a
majority of five to one on the 4th of June; a strange, and not very
complimentary, method of celebrating old George the Third's birthday. On
the 5th it received the last touches in the Commons; and on the 7th
it became an Act, in very much the same shape, after such and so many
vicissitudes, as it wore when Lord John Russell first presented it to

Macaulay, whose eloquence had signalised every stage of the conflict,
and whose printed speeches are, of all its authentic records, the most
familiar to readers of our own day, was not left without his reward. He
was appointed one of the Commissioners of the Board of Control, which,
for three quarters of a century from 1784 onwards, represented the Crown
in its relations to the East Indian directors. His duties, like those of
every individual member of a Commission, were light or heavy as he chose
to make them; but his own feeling with regard to those duties must not
be deduced from the playful allusions contained in letters dashed off,
during the momentary leisure of an over-busy day, for the amusement of
two girls who barely numbered forty years between them. His speeches and
essays teem with expressions of a far deeper than official interest in
India and her people; and his minutes remain on record, to prove that he
did not affect the sentiment for a literary or oratorical purpose. The
attitude of his own mind with regard to our Eastern empire is depicted
in the passage on Burke, in the essay on Warren Hastings, which
commences with the words, "His knowledge of India--," and concludes
with the sentence, "Oppression in Bengal was to him the same thing as
oppression in the streets of London." That passage, unsurpassed as it is
in force of language, and splendid fidelity of detail, by anything that
Macaulay ever wrote or uttered, was inspired, as all who knew him could
testify, by sincere and entire sympathy with that great statesman
of whose humanity and breadth of view it is the merited, and not
inadequate, panegyric.

In Margaret Macaulay's journal there occurs more than one mention of
her brother's occasional fits of contrition on the subject of his own
idleness; but these regrets and confessions must be taken for what they
are worth, and for no more. He worked much harder than he gave himself
credit for. His nature was such that whatever he did was done with all
his heart, and all his power; and he was constitutionally incapable
of doing it otherwise. He always under-estimated the tension and
concentration of mind which he brought to bear upon his labours, as
compared with that which men in general bestow on whatever business
they may have in hand; and, to-wards the close of life, this honourable
self-deception no doubt led him to draw far too largely upon his failing
strength, under the impression that there was nothing unduly severe in
the efforts to which he continued to brace himself with ever increasing

During the eighteen months that he passed at the Board of Control he had
no time for relaxation, and very little for the industry which he loved
the best. Giving his days to India, and his nights to the inexorable
demands of the Treasury Whip, he could devote a few hours to the
Edinburgh Review only by rising at five when the rules of the House of
Commons had allowed him to get to bed betimes on the previous evening.
Yet, under these conditions, he contrived to provide Mr. Napier with
the highly finished articles on Horace Walpole and Lord Chatham, and to
gratify a political opponent, who was destined to be a life-long friend,
by his kindly criticism and spirited summary of Lord Mahon's "History of
the War of the Succession in Spain." And, in the "Friendship's Offering"
of 1833, one of those mawkish annual publications of the album species
which were then in fashion, appeared his poem of the Armada; whose
swinging couplets read as if somewhat out of place in the company of
such productions as "The Mysterious Stranger, or the Bravo of Banff;"
"Away to the Greenwood, a song;" and "Lines on a Window that had been
frozen," beginning with,

 "Pellucid pane, this morn on thee
  My fancy shaped both tower and tree."

To Hannah and Margaret Macaulay

Bath: June 10, 1832.

My dear Sisters,--Everything has gone wrong with me. The people at Calne
fixed Wednesday for my re-election on taking office; the very day on
which I was to have been at a public dinner at Leeds. I shall therefore
remain here till Wednesday morning, and read Indian politics in quiet. I
am already deep in Zemindars, Ryots, Polygars, Courts of Phoujdary, and
Courts of Nizamut Adawlut. I can tell you which of the native Powers are
subsidiary, and which independent, and read you lectures of an hour on
our diplomatic transactions at the courts of Lucknow, Nagpore, Hydrabad,
and Poonah. At Poonah, indeed, I need not tell you that there is no
court; for the Paishwa, as you are doubtless aware, was deposed by Lord
Hastings in the Pindarree War. Am I not in fair training to be as great
a bore as if I had myself been in India?--that is to say, as great a
bore as the greatest.

I am leading my watering-place life here; reading, writing, and walking
all day; speaking to nobody but the waiter and the chambermaid; solitary
in a great crowd, and content with solitude. I shall be in London again
on Thursday, and shall also be an M. P. From that day you may send your
letters as freely as ever; and pray do not be sparing of them. Do you
read any novels at Liverpool? I should fear that the good Quakers would
twitch them out of your hands, and appoint their portion in the fire.
Yet probably you have some safe place, some box, some drawer with a key,
wherein a marble-covered book may lie for Nancy's Sunday reading. And,
if you do not read novels, what do you read? How does Schiller go on? I
have sadly neglected Calderon; but, whenever I have a month to spare, I
shall carry my conquests far and deep into Spanish literature.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah and Margaret Macaulay.

London: July 2, 1832.

My dear Sisters,--I am, I think, a better correspondent than you two put
together. I will venture to say that I have written more letters, by a
good many, than I have received, and this with India and the Edinburgh
Review on my hands; the Life of Mirabeau to be criticised; the Rajah of
Travancore to be kept in order; and the bad money, which the Emperor
of the Burmese has had the impudence to send us byway of tribute, to be
exchanged for better. You have nothing to do but to be good, and write.
Make no excuses, for your excuses are contradictory. If you see sights,
describe them; for then you have subjects. If you stay at home, write;
for then you have time. Remember that I never saw the cemetery or the
railroad. Be particular, above all, in your accounts of the Quakers.
I enjoin this especially on Nancy; for from Meg I have no hope of
extracting a word of truth.

I dined yesterday at Holland House; all Lords except myself. Lord
Radnor, Lord Poltimore, Lord King, Lord Russell, and his uncle Lord
John. Lady Holland was very gracious, praised my article on Burleigh to
the skies, and told me, among other things, that she had talked on the
preceding day for two hours with Charles Grant upon religion, and had
found him very liberal and tolerant. It was, I suppose, the cholera
which sent her Ladyship to the only saint in the Ministry for ghostly
counsel. Poor Macdonald's case was most undoubtedly cholera. It is
said that Lord Amesbury also died of cholera, though no very strange
explanation seems necessary to account for the death of a man of
eighty-four. Yesterday it was rumoured that the three Miss Molyneuxes,
of whom by the way there are only two, were all dead in the same way;
that the Bishop of Worcester and Lord Barham were no more; and many
other foolish stories. I do not believe there is the slightest ground
for uneasiness; though Lady Holland apparently considers the case so
serious that she has taken her conscience out of Allen's keeping, and
put it into the hands of Charles Grant.

Here I end my letter; a great deal too long already for so busy a man to
write, and for such careless correspondents to receive.

T. B. M.

To Hannah and Margaret Macaulay.

London: July 6, 1832.

 Be you Foxes, be you Pitts,
 You must write to silly chits.
 Be you Tories, be you Whigs,
 You must write to sad young gigs.
 On whatever board you are--
 Treasury, Admiralty, War,
 Customs, Stamps, Excise, Control;--
 Write you must, upon my soul.

So sings the judicious poet; and here I sit in my parlour, looking
out on the Thames, and divided, like Garrick in Sir Joshua's picture,
between Tragedy and Comedy; a letter to you, and a bundle of papers
about Hydrabad, and the firm of Palmer and Co., late bankers to the

Poor Sir Walter Scott is going back to Scotland by sea tomorrow. All
hope is over; and he has a restless wish to die at home. He is many
thousand pounds worse than nothing. Last week he was thought to be so
near his end that some people went, I understand, to sound Lord Althorp
about a public funeral. Lord Althorp said, very like himself, that if
public money was to be laid out, it would be better to give it to the
family than to spend it in one day's show. The family, however, are said
to be not ill off.

I am delighted to hear of your proposed tour, but not so well pleased
to be told that you expect to be bad correspondents during your stay at
Welsh inns. Take pens and ink with you, if you think that you shall find
none at the Bard's Head, or the Glendower Arms. But it will be too
bad if you send me no letters during a tour which will furnish so many
subjects. Why not keep a journal, and minute down in it all that you
see and hear? and remember that I charge you, as the venerable circle
charged Miss Byron, to tell me of every person who "regards you with an
eye of partiality."

What can I say more? as the Indians end their letters. Did not Lady
Holland tell me of some good novels? I remember:--Henry Masterton, three
volumes, an amusing story and a happy termination. Smuggle it in,
next time that you go to Liverpool, from some circulating library; and
deposit it in a lock-up place out of the reach of them that are clothed
in drab; and read it together at the curling hour.

My article on Mirabeau will be out in the forthcoming number. I am not
a good judge of my own compositions, I fear; but I think that it will be
popular. A Yankee has written to me to say that an edition of my works
is about to be published in America with my life prefixed, and that he
shall be obliged to me to tell him when I was born, whom I married,
and so forth. I guess I must answer him slick right away. For, as the
judicious poet observes,

 Though a New England man lolls back in his chair,
 With a pipe in his mouth, and his legs in the air,
 Yet surely an Old England man such as I
 To a kinsman by blood should be civil and spry.

How I run on in quotation! But, when I begin to cite the verses of our
great writers, I never can stop. Stop I must, however.


T. B. M.

To Hannah and Margaret Macaulay.

London: July 18, 1832.

My dear Sisters,--I have heard from Napier. He speaks rapturously of my
article on Dumont, [Dumont's "Life of Mirabeau." See the Miscellaneous
Writings of Lord Macaulay.] but sends me no money. Allah blacken his
face! as the Persians say. He has not yet paid me for Burleigh.

We are worked to death in the House of Commons, and we are henceforth
to sit on Saturdays. This, indeed, is the only way to get through our
business. On Saturday next we shall, I hope, rise before seven, as I am
engaged to dine on that day with pretty, witty Mrs.--. I fell in with
her at Lady Grey's great crush, and found her very agreeable. Her
husband is nothing in society. Ropers has some very good stories about
their domestic happiness,--stories confirming a theory of mine which, as
I remember, made you very angry. When they first married, Mrs.--treated
her husband with great respect. But, when his novel came out and
failed completely, she changed her conduct, and has, ever since that
unfortunate publication, henpecked the poor author unmercifully. And the
case, says Ropers, is the harder, because it is suspected that she wrote
part of the book herself. It is like the scene in Milton where Eve,
after tempting Adam, abuses him for yielding to temptation. But do you
not remember how I told you that much of the love of women depended on
the eminence of men? And do you not remember how, on behalf of your sex,
you resented the imputation?

As to the present state of affairs, abroad and at home, I cannot sum it
up better than in these beautiful lines of the poet:

 Peel is preaching, and Croker is lying.
 The cholera's raging, the people are dying.
 When the House is the coolest, as I am alive,
 The thermometer stands at a hundred and five.
 We debate in a heat that seems likely to burn us,
 Much like the three children who sang in the furnace.
 The disorders at Paris have not ceased to plague us;
 Don Pedro, I hope, is ere this on the Tagus;
 In Ireland no tithe can be raised by a parson;
 Mr. Smithers is just hanged for murder and arson;
 Dr. Thorpe has retired from the Lock, and 'tis said
 That poor little Wilks will succeed in his stead.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah and Margaret Macaulay.

London: July 21 1832.

My dear Sisters,--I am glad to find that there is no chance of Nancy's
turning Quaker. She would, indeed, make a queer kind of female Friend.

What the Yankees will say about me I neither know nor care. I told them
the dates of my birth, and of my coming into Parliament. I told them
also that I was educated at Cambridge. As to my early bon-mots, my
crying for holidays, my walks to school through showers of cats and
dogs, I have left all those for the "Life of the late Right Honourable
Thomas Babington Macaulay, with large extracts from his correspondence,
in two volumes, by the Very Rev. J. Macaulay, Dean of Durham, and Rector
of Bishopsgate, with a superb portrait from the picture by Pickersgill
in the possession of the Marquis of Lansdowne."

As you like my verses, I will some day or other write you a whole
rhyming letter. I wonder whether any man ever wrote doggrel so easily. I
run it off just as fast as my pen can move, and that is faster by about
three words in a minute than any other pen that I know. This comes of
a schoolboy habit of writing verses all day long. Shall I tell you the
news in rhyme? I think I will send you a regular sing-song gazette.

 We gained a victory last night as great as e'er was known.
 We beat the Opposition upon the Russian loan.
 They hoped for a majority, and also for our places.
 We won the day by seventy-nine. You should have seen their faces.
 Old Croker, when the shout went down our rank, looked blue with rage.
 You'd have said he had the cholera in the spasmodic stage.
 Dawson was red with ire as if his face was smeared with berries;
 But of all human visages the worst was that of Herries.
 Though not his friend, my tender heart I own could not but feel
 A little for the misery of poor Sir Robert Peel.
 But hang the dirty Tories! and let them starve and pine!
 Huzza for the majority of glorious seventy-nine!

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah and Margaret Macaulay.

House of Commons Smoking-Room

July 23, 1832.

My dear Sisters,--I am writing here, at eleven at night, in this
filthiest of all filthy atmospheres, and in the vilest of all vile
company; with the smell of tobacco in my nostrils, and the ugly,
hypocritical face of Lieutenant ---- before my eyes. There he sits
writing opposite to me. To whom, for a ducat? To some secretary of an
Hibernian Bible Society; or to some old woman who gives cheap tracts,
instead of blankets, to the starving peasantry of Connemara; or to
some good Protestant Lord who bullies his Popish tenants. Reject not my
letter, though it is redolent of cigars and genuine pigtail; for this is
the room--

The room,--but I think I'll describe it in rhyme, That smells of tobacco
and chloride of lime. The smell of tobacco was always the same; But the
chloride was brought since the cholera came.

But I must return to prose, and tell you all that has fallen out since
I wrote last. I have been dining with the Listers at Knightsbridge.
They are in a very nice house, next, or almost next, to that which
the Wilberforces had. We had quite a family party. There were George
Villiers, and Hyde Villiers, and Edward Villiers. Charles was not there.
George and Hyde rank very high in my opinion. I liked their behaviour to
their sister much. She seems to be the pet of the whole family; and
it is natural that she should be so. Their manners are softened by her
presence; and any roughness and sharpness which they have in intercourse
with men vanishes at once. They seem to love the very ground that she
treads on; and she is undoubtedly a charming woman, pretty, clever,
lively, and polite.

I was asked yesterday evening to go to Sir John Burke's, to meet another
heroine who was very curious to see me. Whom do you think? Lady Morgan.
I thought, however, that, if I went, I might not improbably figure in
her next novel; and, as I am not ambitious of such an honour, I kept
away. If I could fall in with her at a great party, where I could see
unseen and hear unheard, I should very much like to make observations on
her; but I certainly will not, if I can help it, meet her face to face,
lion to lioness.

That confounded chattering--, has just got into an argument about the
Church with an Irish papist who has seated himself at my elbow; and they
keep such a din that I cannot tell what I am writing. There they go.
The Lord Lieutenant--the Bishop of Derry-Magee--O'Connell--your
Bible meetings--your Agitation meetings--the propagation of the
Gospel--Maynooth College--the Seed of the Woman shall bruise the
Serpent's head. My dear Lieutenant, you will not only bruise, but break,
my head with your clatter. Mercy! mercy! However, here I am at the end
of my letter, and I shall leave the two demoniacs to tear each other to

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah and Margaret Macaulay.

Library of the H. of C. July 30, 1832, 11 o'clock at night.

My dear Sisters,--Here I am. Daniel Whittle Harvey is speaking; the
House is thin; the subject is dull; and I have stolen away to write
to you. Lushington is scribbling at my side. No sound is heard but the
scratching of our pens, and the ticking of the clock. We are in a far
better atmosphere than in the smoking-room, whence I wrote to you last
week; and the company is more decent, inasmuch as that naval officer,
whom Nancy blames me for describing in just terms, is not present.

By the bye, you know doubtless the lines which are in the mouth of every
member of Parliament, depicting the comparative merits of the two rooms.
They are, I think, very happy.

 If thou goest into the Smoking-room
 Three plagues will thee befall,--
 The chloride of lime, the tobacco smoke,
 And the Captain who's worst of all,
 The canting Sea-captain,
 The prating Sea-captain,
 The Captain who's worst of all.

 If thou goest into the Library
 Three good things will thee befall,-- Very good books, and very good air,
 And M*c**l*y, who's best of all,
 The virtuous M*c**l*y,
 The prudent M*c**l*y,
 M*c**l*y who's best of all.

Oh, how I am worked! I never see Fanny from Sunday to Sunday. All my
civilities wait for that blessed day; and I have so many scores of
visits to pay that I can scarcely find time for any of that Sunday
reading in which, like Nancy, I am in the habit of indulging. Yesterday,
as soon as I was fixed in my best and had breakfasted, I paid a round
of calls to all my friends who had the cholera. Then I walked to all the
clubs of which I am a member, to see the newspapers. The first of
these two works you will admit to be a work of mercy; the second, in
a political man, one of necessity. Then, like a good brother, I walked
under a burning sun to Kensington to ask Fanny how she did, and stayed
there two hours. Then I went to Knightsbridge to call on Mrs. Listen and
chatted with her till it was time to go and dine at the Athenaeum. Then
I dined, and after dinner, like a good young man, I sate and read Bishop
Heber's journal till bedtime. There is a Sunday for you! I think that I
excel in the diary lire. I will keep a journal like the Bishop, that my
memory may

 "Smell sweet, and blossom in the dust."

Next Sunday I am to go to Lord Lansdowne's at Richmond, so that I hope
to have something to tell you. But on second thoughts I will tell you
nothing, nor ever will write to you again, nor ever speak to you again.
I have no pleasure in writing to undutiful sisters. Why do you not send
me longer letters? But I am at the end of my paper, so that I have no
more room to scold.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah and Margaret Macaulay.

London: August 14, 1832.

My dear Sisters,--Our work is over at last; not, however, till it has
half killed us all.[On the 8th August, 1832, Macaulay writes to Lord
Mahon: "We are now strictly on duty. No furloughs even for a dinner
engagement, or a sight of Taglioni's legs, can be obtained. It is very
hard to keep forty members in the House. Sibthorpe and Leader are on the
watch to count us out; and from six till two we never venture further
than the smoking-room without apprehension. In spite of all our
exertions the end of the Session seems further and further off every
day. If you would do me the favour of inviting Sibthorpe to Chevening
Park you might be the means of saving my life, and that of thirty or
forty more of us who are forced to swallow the last dregs of the oratory
of this Parliament; and nauseous dregs they are."] On Saturday we
met,--for the last time, I hope, on business. When the House rose, I set
off for Holland House. We had a small party, but a very distinguished
one. Lord Grey, the Chancellor, Lord Palmerston, Luttrell, and myself
were the only guests. Allen was of course at the end of the table,
carving the dinner and sparring with my Lady. The dinner was not so
good as usual; for the French cook was ill; and her Ladyship kept up a
continued lamentation during the whole repast. I should never have found
out that everything was not as it should be but for her criticisms. The
soup was too salt; the cutlets were not exactly comme il faut; and the
pudding was hardly enough boiled. I was amused to hear from the splendid
mistress of such a house the same sort of apologies which--made when her
cook forgot the joint, and sent up too small a dinner to table. I told
Luttrell that it was a comfort to me to find that no rank was exempted
from these afflictions.

They talked about --'s marriage. Lady Holland vehemently defended the
match; and, when Allen said that--had caught a Tartar, she quite went
off into one of her tantrums: "She a Tartar! Such a charming girl a
Tartar! He is a very happy man, and your language is insufferable:
insufferable, Mr. Allen." Lord Grey had all the trouble in the world to
appease her. His influence, however, is very great. He prevailed on her
to receive Allen again into favour, and to let Lord Holland have a slice
of melon, for which he had been petitioning most piteously, but which
she had steadily refused on account of his gout. Lord Holland thanked
Lord Grey for his intercession.. "Ah, Lord Grey, I wish you were always
here. It is a fine thing to be Prime Minister." This tattle is worth
nothing, except to show how much the people whose names will fill the
history of our times resemble, in all essential matters, the quiet folks
who live in Mecklenburg Square and Brunswick Square.

I slept in the room which was poor Mackintosh's. The next day, Sunday,
---- came to dinner. He scarcely ever speaks in the society of Holland
House. Rogers, who is the bitterest and most cynical observer of little
traits of character that ever I knew-, once said to me of him: "Observe
that man. He never talks to men; he never talks to girls; but, when he
can get into a circle of old tabbies, he is just in his element. He will
sit clacking with an old woman for hours together. That always settles
my opinion of a young fellow."

I am delighted to find that you like my review on Mirabeau, though I am
angry with Margaret for grumbling at my Scriptural allusions, and still
more angry with Nancy for denying my insight into character. It is one
of my strong points. If she knew how far I see into hers, she would he
ready to hang herself. Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah and Margaret Macaulay.

London: August 16, 1832,

My dear Sisters,--We begin to see a hope of liberation. To-morrow, or on
Saturday at furthest, the hope to finish our business. I did not reach
home till four this morning, after a most fatiguing and yet rather
amusing night. What passed will not find its way into the papers, as
the gallery was locked during most of the time. So I will tell you the

There is a bill before the House prohibiting those processions of
Orangemen which have excited a good deal of irritation in Ireland. This
bill was committed yesterday night. Shaw, the Recorder of Dublin, an
honest man enough, but a bitter Protestant fanatic, complained that
it should be brought forward so late in the Session. Several of his
friends, he said, had left London believing that the measure had been
abandoned. It appeared, however, that Stanley and Lord Althorp had given
fair notice of their intention; so that, if the absent members had been
mistaken, the fault was their own; and the House was for going on. Shaw
said warmly that he would resort to all the means of delay in his power,
and moved that the chairman should leave the chair. The motion was
negatived by forty votes to two. Then the first clause was read. Shaw
divided the House again on that clause. He was beaten by the same
majority. He moved again that the chairman should leave the chair. He
was beaten again. He divided on the second clause. He was beaten again.
He then said that he was sensible that he was doing very wrong; that
his conduct was unhandsome and vexatious; that he heartily begged our
pardons; but that he had said that he would delay the bill as far as
the forms of the House would permit; and that he must keep his word. Now
came a discussion by which Nancy, if she had been in the ventilator, [A
circular ventilator, in the roof of the House of Commons, was the only
Ladies' Gallery that existed in the year 1832.] might have been greatly
edified, touching the nature of vows; whether a man's promise given
to himself,--a promise from which nobody could reap any advantage,
and which everybody wished him to violate,--constituted an obligation.
Jephtha's daughter was a case in point, and was cited by somebody
sitting near me. Peregrine Courtenay on one side of the House, and Lord
Palmerston on the other, attempted to enlighten the poor Orangeman
on the question of casuistry. They might as well have preached to any
madman out of St. Luke's. "I feel," said the silly creature, "that I am
doing wrong, and acting very unjustifiably. If gentlemen will forgive
me, I will never do so again. But I must keep my word." We roared with
laughter every time he repeated his apologies. The orders of the House
do not enable any person absolutely to stop the progress of a bill
in Committee, but they enable him to delay it grievously. We divided
seventeen times, and between every division this vexatious Irishman
made us a speech of apologies and self-condemnation. Of the two who had
supported him at the beginning of his freak one soon sneaked away. The
other, Sibthorpe, stayed to the last, not expressing remorse like Shaw,
but glorying in the unaccommodating temper he showed and in the delay
which he produced. At last the bill went through. Then Shaw rose;
congratulated himself that his vow was accomplished; said that the only
atonement he could make for conduct so unjustifiable was to vow that he
would never make such a vow again; promised to let the bill go through
its future stages without any more divisions; and contented himself
with suggesting one or two alterations in the details. "I hint at these
amendments," he said. "If the Secretary for Ireland approves of them, I
hope he will not refrain from introducing them because they are brought
forward by me. I am sensible that I have forfeited all claim to the
favour of the House. I will not divide on any future stage of the bill."
We were all heartily pleased with these events; for the truth was that
the seventeen divisions occupied less time than a real hard debate would
have done, and were infinitely more amusing. The oddest part of the
business is that Shaw's frank good-natured way of proceeding, absurd as
it was, has made him popular. He was never so great a favourite with
the House as after harassing it for two or three hours with the most
frivolous opposition. This is a curious trait of the House of Commons.
Perhaps you will find this long story, which I have not time to read
over again, very stupid and unintelligible. But I have thought it my
duty to set before you the evil consequences of making vows rashly, and
adhering to them superstitiously; for in truth, my Christian brethren,
or rather my Christian sisters, let us consider &c. &c. &c.

But I reserve the sermon on promises, which I had to preach, for another

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah and Margaret Macaulay

London: August 17, 1832.

My dear Sisters,--I brought down my story of Holland House to dinnertime
on Saturday evening. To resume my narrative, I slept there on Sunday
night. On Monday morning, after breakfast, I walked to town with
Luttrell, whom I found a delightful companion. Before we went, we sate
and chatted with Lord Holland in the library for a quarter of an hour.
He was very entertaining. He gave us an account of a visit which he paid
long ago to the Court of Denmark; and of King Christian, the madman, who
was at last deprived of all real share in the government on account of
his infirmity. "Such a Tom of Bedlam I never saw," said Lord Holland.
"One day the Neapolitan Ambassador came to the levee, and made a
profound bow to his Majesty. His Majesty bowed still lower. The
Neapolitan bowed down his head almost to the ground; when, behold! the
King clapped his hands on his Excellency's shoulders, and jumped over
him like a boy playing at leap-frog. Another day the English Ambassador
was sitting opposite the King at dinner. His Majesty asked him to take
wine. The glasses were filled. The Ambassador bowed, and put the wine to
his lips. The King grinned hideously and threw his wine into the face of
one of the footmen. The other guests kept the most profound gravity;
but the Englishman, who had but lately come to Copenhagen, though a
practised diplomatist, could not help giving some signs of astonishment.
The King immediately addressed him in French: 'Eh, mais, Monsieur
l'Envoye d'Angleterre, qu'avez-vous done? Pourquoi riez-vous? Est-ce
qu'il y'ait quelque chose qui vous ait diverti? Faites-moi le plaisir de
me l'indiquer. J'aime beaucoup les ridicules.'"

Parliament is up at last. We official men are now left alone at the
West End of London, and are making up for our long confinement in
the mornings by feasting together at night. On Wednesday I dined with
Labouchere at his official residence in Somerset House. It is well that
he is a bachelor; for he tells me that the ladies his neighbours make
bitter complaints of the unfashionable situation in which they are
cruelly obliged to reside gratis. Yesterday I dined with Will Brougham,
and an official party, in Mount Street. We are going to establish a
Club, to be confined to members of the House of Commons in place under
the present Government, who are to dine together weekly at Grillon's
Hotel, and to settle the affairs of the State better, I hope, than our
masters at their Cabinet dinners.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: September 20, 1832

My dear Sister,--I am at home again from Leeds, where everything is
going on as well as possible. I, and most of my friends, feel sanguine
as to the result. About half my day was spent in speaking, and hearing
other people speak; in squeezing and being squeezed; in shaking hands
with people whom I never saw before, and whose faces and names I forget
within a minute after being introduced to them. The rest was passed in
conversation with my leading friends, who are very honest substantial
manufacturers. They feed me on roast beef and Yorkshire pudding; at
night they put me into capital bedrooms; and the only plague which they
give me is that they are always begging me to mention some food or wine
for which I have a fancy, or some article of comfort and convenience
which I may wish them to procure.

I travelled to town with a family of children who ate without
intermission from Market Harborough, where they got into the coach, to
the Peacock at Islington, where they got out of it. They breakfasted
as if they had fasted all the preceding day. They dined as if they had
never breakfasted. They ate on the road one large basket of sandwiches,
another of fruit, and a boiled fowl; besides which there was not an
orange-girl, an old man with cakes, or a boy with filberts, who came to
the coach-side when we stopped to change horses, of whom they did not
buy something.

I am living here by myself with no society, or scarcely any, except my
books. I read a play of Calderon before I breakfast; then look over
the newspaper; frank letters; scrawl a line or two to a foolish girl
in Leicestershire; and walk to my Office. There I stay till near five,
examining claims of money-lenders on the native sovereigns of India,
and reading Parliamentary papers. I am beginning to understand something
about the Bank, and hope, when next I go to Rothley Temple, to be
a match for the whole firm of Mansfield and Babington on questions
relating to their own business. When I leave the Board, I walk for two
hours; then I dine; and I end the day quietly over a basin of tea and a

On Saturday I go to Holland House, and stay there till Monday. Her
Ladyship wants me to take up my quarters almost entirely there; but
I love my own chambers and independence, and am neither qualified nor
inclined to succeed Allen in his post. On Friday week, that is to-morrow
week, I shall go for three days to Sir George Philips's, at Weston,
in Warwickshire. He has written again in terms half complaining; and,
though I can ill spare time for the visit, yet, as he was very kind to
me when his kindness was of some consequence to me, I cannot, and will
not, refuse.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay

London: September 25, 1832.

My dear Sister,--I went on Saturday to Holland House, and stayed
there Sunday. It was legitimate Sabbath employment,--visiting the
sick,--which, as you well know, always stands first among the works of
mercy enumerated in good books. My Lord was ill, and my Lady thought
herself so. He was, during the greater part of the day, in bed. For a
few hours he lay on his sofa, wrapped in flannels. I sate by him about
twenty minutes, and was then ordered away. He was very weak and languid;
and, though the torture of the gout was over, was still in pain; but he
retained all his courage, and all his sweetness of temper. I told his
sister that I did not think that he was suffering much. "I hope not,"
said she; "but it is impossible to judge by what he says; for through
the sharpest pain of the attack he never complained." I admire him
more, I think, than any man whom I know. He is only fifty-seven,
or fifty-eight. He is precisely the man to whom health would be
particularly valuable; for he has the keenest zest for those pleasures
which health would enable him to enjoy. He is, however, an invalid, and
a cripple. He passes some weeks of every year in extreme torment. When
he is in his best health he can only limp a hundred yards in a day. Yet
he never says a cross word. The sight of him spreads good humour over
the face of every one who comes near him. His sister, an excellent old
maid as ever lived, and the favourite of all the young people of her
acquaintance, says that it is quite a pleasure to nurse him. She was
reading the "Inheritance" to him as he lay in bed, and he enjoyed it
amazingly. She is a famous reader; more quiet and less theatrical than
most famous readers, and therefore the fitter for the bed-side of a sick
man. Her Ladyship had fretted herself into being ill, could eat nothing
but the breast of a partridge, and was frightened out of her wits by
hearing a dog howl. She was sure that this noise portended her death, or
my Lord's. Towards the evening, however, she brightened up, and was in
very good spirits. My visit was not very lively. They dined at four, and
the company was, as you may suppose at this season, but scanty. Charles
Greville, commonly called, heaven knows why, Punch Greville, came on
the Saturday. Byng, named from his hair Poodle Byng, came on the Sunday.
Allen, like the poor, we had with us always. I was grateful, however,
for many pleasant evenings passed there when London was full, and Lord
Holland out of bed. I therefore did my best to keep the house alive. I
had the library and the delightful gardens to myself during most of the
day, and I got through my visit very well.

News you have in the papers. Poor Scott is gone, and I cannot be sorry
for it. A powerful mind in ruins is the most heart-breaking thing which
it is possible to conceive. Ferdinand of Spain is gone too; and, I fear,
old Mr. Stephen is going fast. I am safe at Leeds. Poor Hyde Villiers is
very ill. I am seriously alarmed about him. Kindest love to all.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

Weston House: September 29, 1832.

My dear Sister,--I came hither yesterday, and found a handsome house,
pretty grounds, and a very kind host and hostess. The house is really
very well planned. I do not know that I have ever seen so happy an
imitation of the domestic architecture of Elizabeth's reign. The oriels,
towers, terraces, and battlements are in the most perfect keeping; and
the building is as convenient within as it is picturesque without. A few
weather-stains, or a few American creepers, and a little ivy, would make
it perfect; and all that will come, I suppose, with time. The terrace
is my favourite spot. I always liked "the trim gardens" of which
Milton speaks, and thought that Brown and his imitators went too far
in bringing forests and sheep-walks up to the very windows of

I came through Oxford. It was as beautiful a day as the second day of
our visit, and the High Street was in all its glory. But it made me
quite sad to find myself there without you and Margaret. All my old
Oxford associations are gone. Oxford, instead of being, as it used
to be, the magnificent old city of the seventeenth century,--still
preserving its antique character among the improvements of modern times,
and exhibiting in the midst of upstart Birminghams and Manchesters the
same aspect which it wore when Charles held his court at Christchurch,
and Rupert led his cavalry over Magdalene Bridge, is now to me only the
place where I was so happy with my little sisters. But I was restored to
mirth, and even to indecorous mirth, by what happened after we had
left the fine old place behind us. There was a young fellow of about
five-and-twenty, mustachioed and smartly dressed, in the coach with
me. He was not absolutely uneducated; for he was reading a novel, the
Hungarian brothers, the whole way. We rode, as I told you, through the
High Street. The coach stopped to dine; and this youth passed half an
hour in the midst of that city of palaces. He looked about him with his
mouth open, as he re-entered the coach, and all the while that we were
driving away past the Ratcliffe Library, the Great Court of All Souls,
Exeter, Lincoln, Trinity, Balliol, and St. John's. When we were about
a mile on the road he spoke the first words that I had heard him utter.
"That was a pretty town enough. Pray, sir, what is it called?" I could
not answer him for laughing; but he seemed quite unconscious of his own

Ever yours

T. B. M.

During all the period covered by this correspondence the town of Leeds
was alive with the agitation of a turbulent, but not very dubious,
contest. Macaulay's relations with the electors whose votes he was
courting are too characteristic to be omitted altogether from the story
of his life; though the style of his speeches and manifestoes is more
likely to excite the admiring envy of modern members of Parliament,
than to be taken as a model for their communications to their own
constituents. This young politician, who depended on office for his
bread, and on a seat in the House of Commons for office, adopted from
the first an attitude of high and almost peremptory independence which
would have sat well on a Prime Minister in his grand climacteric. The
following letter, (some passages of which have been here omitted, and
others slightly condensed,) is strongly marked in every line with the
personal qualities of the writer.

London: August 3, 1832.

"My dear Sir,--I am truly happy to find that the opinion of my friends
at Leeds on the subject of canvassing agrees with that which I have long
entertained. The practice of begging for votes is, as it seems to me,
absurd, pernicious, and altogether at variance with the true principles
of representative government. The suffrage of an elector ought not to
be asked, or to be given as a personal favour. It is as much for the
interest of constituents to choose well, as it can be for the interest
of a candidate to be chosen. To request an honest man to vote according
to his conscience is superfluous. To request him to vote against his
conscience is an insult. The practice of canvassing is quite reasonable
under a system in which men are sent to Parliament to serve themselves.
It is the height of absurdity under a system under which men are sent to
Parliament to serve the public. While we had only a mock representation,
it was natural enough that this practice should be carried to a great
extent. I trust it will soon perish with the abuses from which it
sprung. I trust that the great and intelligent body of people who have
obtained the elective franchise will see that seats in the House of
Commons ought not to be given, like rooms in an almshouse, to urgency
of solicitation; and that a man who surrenders his vote to caresses and
supplications forgets his duty as much as if he sold it for a bank-note.
I hope to see the day when an Englishman will think it as great an
affront to be courted and fawned upon in his capacity of elector as in
his capacity of juryman. He would be shocked at the thought of finding
an unjust verdict because the plaintiff or the defendant had been very
civil and pressing; and, if he would reflect, he would, I think, be
equally shocked at the thought of voting for a candidate for whose
public character he felt no esteem, merely because that candidate had
called upon him, and begged very hard, and had shaken his hand very
warmly. My conduct is before the electors of Leeds. My opinions shall on
all occasions be stated to them with perfect frankness. If they approve
that conduct, if they concur in those opinions, they ought, not for my
sake, but for their own, to choose me as their member. To be so chosen,
I should indeed consider as a high and enviable honour; but I should
think it no honour to be returned to Parliament by persons who, thinking
me destitute of the requisite qualifications, had yet been wrought upon
by cajolery and importunity to poll for me in despite of their better

"I wish to add a few words touching a question which has lately been
much canvassed; I mean the question of pledges. In this letter, and in
every letter which I have written to my friends at Leeds, I have plainly
declared my opinions. But I think it, at this conjuncture, my duty to
declare that I will give no pledges. I will not bind myself to make or
to support any particular motion. I will state as shortly as I can some
of the reasons which have induced me to form this determination.
The great beauty of the representative system is, that it unites
the advantages of popular control with the advantages arising from a
division of labour. Just as a physician understands medicine better than
an ordinary man, just as a shoemaker makes shoes better than an ordinary
man, so a person whose life is passed in transacting affairs of State
becomes a better statesman than an ordinary man. In politics, as well
as every other department of life, the public ought to have the means of
checking those who serve it. If a man finds that he derives no benefit
from the prescription of his physician, he calls in another. If his
shoes do not fit him, he changes his shoemaker. But when he has called
in a physician of whom he hears a good report, and whose general
practice he believes to be judicious, it would be absurd in him to tie
down that physician to order particular pills and particular draughts.
While he continues to be the customer of a shoemaker, it would be absurd
in him to sit by and mete every motion of that shoemaker's hand. And in
the same manner, it would, I think, be absurd in him to require
positive pledges, and to exact daily and hourly obedience, from his
representative. My opinion is, that electors ought at first to choose
cautiously; then to confide liberally; and, when the term for which they
have selected their member has expired, to review his conduct equitably,
and to pronounce on the whole taken together.

"If the people of Leeds think proper to repose in me that confidence
which is necessary to the proper discharge of the duties of a
representative, I hope that I shall not abuse it. If it be their
pleasure to fetter their members by positive promises, it is in
their power to do so. I can only say that on such terms I cannot
conscientiously serve them.

"I hope, and feel assured, that the sincerity with which I make this
explicit declaration, will, if it deprive me of the votes of my friends
at Leeds, secure to me what I value far more highly, their esteem.

"Believe me ever, my dear Sir,

"Your most faithful Servant,


This frank announcement, taken by many as a slight, and by some as a
downright challenge, produced remonstrances which, after the interval of
a week, were answered by Macaulay in a second letter; worth reprinting
if it were only for the sake of his fine parody upon the popular cry
which for two years past had been the watchword of Reformers.

"I was perfectly aware that the avowal of my feelings on the subject of
pledges was not likely to advance my interest at Leeds. I was perfectly
aware that many of my most respectable friends were likely to differ
from me; and therefore I thought it the more necessary to make,
uninvited, an explicit declaration of my feelings. If ever there was
a time when public men were in an especial measure _bound to speak the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth_, to the people, this
is that time. Nothing is easier than for a candidate to avoid unpopular
topics as long as possible, and, when they are forced on him, to take
refuge in evasive and unmeaning phrases. Nothing is easier than for
him to give extravagant promises while an election is depending, and to
forget them as soon as the return is made. I will take no such course.
I do not wish to obtain a single vote on false pretences. Under the
old system I have never been the flatterer of the great. Under the new
system I will not be the flatterer of the people. The truth, or what
appears to me to be such, may sometimes be distasteful to those whose
good opinion I most value. I shall nevertheless always abide by it, and
trust to their good sense, to their second thoughts, to the force of
reason, and the progress of time. If, after all, their decision should
be unfavourable to me, I shall submit to that decision with fortitude
and good humour. It is not necessary to my happiness that I should
sit in Parliament; but it is necessary to my happiness that I should
possess, in Parliament or out of Parliament, the consciousness of having
done what is right."

Macaulay had his own ideas as to the limits within which constituents
are justified in exerting their privilege of questioning a candidate;
and, on the first occasion when those limits were exceeded, he made a
notable example of the transgressor. During one of his public meetings,
a voice was heard to exclaim from the crowd in the body of the hall:
"An elector wishes to know the religious creed of Mr. Marshall and Mr.
Macaulay." The last-named gentleman was on his legs in a moment. "Let
that man stand up!" he cried. "Let him stand on a form, where I can see
him!" The offender, who proved to be a Methodist preacher, was heisted
on to a bench by his indignant neighbours; nerving himself even in that
terrible moment by a lingering hope that he might yet be able to hold
his own. But the unhappy man had not a chance against Macaulay,
who harangued him as if he were the living embodiment of religious
intolerance and illegitimate curiosity. "I have heard with the greatest
shame and sorrow the question which has been proposed to me; and with
peculiar pain do I learn that this question was proposed by a minister
of religion. I do most deeply regret that any person should think
it necessary to make a meeting like this an arena for theological
discussion. I will not be a party to turning this assembly to such
a purpose. My answer is short, and in one word. Gentlemen, I am a
Christian." At this declaration the delighted audience began to cheer;
but Macaulay would have none of their applause. "This is no subject," he
said, "for acclamation. I will say no more. No man shall speak of me as
the person who, when this disgraceful inquisition was entered upon in an
assembly of Englishmen, brought forward the most sacred subjects to be
canvassed here, and be turned into a matter for hissing or for cheering.
If on any future occasion it should happen that Mr. Carlile should
favour any large meeting with his infidel attacks upon the Gospel, he
shall not have it to say that I set the example. Gentlemen, I have done;
I tell you, I will say no more; and if the person who has thought fit to
ask this question has the feelings worthy of a teacher of religion, he
will not, I think, rejoice that he has called me forth."

This ill-fated question had been prompted by a report, diligently spread
through the town, that the Whig candidates were Unitarians; a report
which, even if correct, would probably have done little to damage
their electioneering prospects. There are few general remarks which
so uniformly hold good as the observation that men are not willing to
attend the religious worship of people who believe less than themselves,
or to vote at elections for people who believe more than themselves.
While the congregations at a high Anglican service are in part composed
of Low churchmen and Broad churchmen; while Presbyterians and
Wesleyans have no objection to a sound discourse from a divine of the
Establishment; it is seldom the case that any but Unitarians are seen
inside a Unitarian chapel. On the other hand, at the general election
of 1874, when not a solitary Roman Catholic was returned throughout
the length and breadth of the island of Great Britain, the
Unitarians retained their long acknowledged pre-eminence as the most
over-represented sect in the kingdom.

While Macaulay was stern in his refusal to gratify his electors with
the customary blandishments, he gave them plenty of excellent political
instruction; which he conveyed to them in rhetoric, not premeditated
with the care that alone makes speeches readable after a lapse of years,
but for this very reason all the more effective when the passion of the
moment was pouring itself from his lips in a stream of faultless, but
unstudied, sentences. A course of mobs, which turned Cobden into an
orator, made of Macaulay a Parliamentary debater; and the ear and eye
of the House of Commons soon detected, in his replies from the Treasury
bench, welcome signs of the invaluable training that can be got nowhere
except on the hustings and the platform. There is no better sample of
Macaulay's extempore speaking than the first words which he addressed
to his committee at Leeds after the Reform Bill had received the Royal
assent. "I find it difficult to express my gratification at seeing such
an assembly convened at such a time. All the history of our own country,
all the history of other countries, furnishes nothing parallel to it.
Look at the great events in our own former history, and in every one of
them, which, for importance, we can venture to compare with the Reform
Bill, we shall find something to disgrace and tarnish the achievement.
It was by the assistance of French arms and of Roman bulls that King
John was harassed into giving the Great Charter. In the times of Charles
I., how much injustice, how much crime, how much bloodshed and misery,
did it cost to assert the liberties of England! But in this event, great
and important as it is in substance, I confess I think it still more
important from the manner in which it has been achieved. Other countries
have obtained deliverances equally signal and complete, but in no
country has that deliverance been obtained with such perfect peace; so
entirely within the bounds of the Constitution; with all the forms of
law observed; the government of the country proceeding in its regular
course; every man going forth unto his labour until the evening. France
boasts of her three days of July, when her people rose, when barricades
fenced the streets, and the entire population of the capital in grins
successfully vindicated their liberties. They boast, and justly, of
those three days of July; but I will boast of our ten days of May. We,
too, fought a battle, but it was with moral arms. We, too, placed an
impassable barrier between ourselves and military tyranny; but we fenced
ourselves only with moral barricades. Not one crime committed, not one
acre confiscated, not one life lost, not one instance of outrage or
attack on the authorities or the laws. Our victory has not left a single
family in mourning. Not a tear, not a drop of blood, has sullied the
pacific and blameless triumph of a great people."

The Tories of Leeds, as a last resource, fell to denouncing Macaulay as
a placeman; a stroke of superlative audacity in a party which, during
eight-and-forty years, had been out of office for only fourteen months.
It may well be imagined that he found plenty to say in his own defence.
"The only charge which malice can prefer against me is that I am a
placeman. Gentlemen, is it your wish that those persons who are thought
worthy of the public confidence should never possess the confidence of
the King? Is it your wish that no men should be Ministers but those whom
no populous places will take as their representatives? By whom, I ask,
has the Reform Bill been carried? By Ministers. Who have raised Leeds
into the situation to return members to Parliament? It is by the
strenuous efforts of a patriotic Ministry that that great result has
been produced. I should think that the Reform Bill had done little for
the people, if under it the service of the people was not consistent
with the service of the Crown."

Just before the general election Hyde Villiers died, and the
Secretaryship to the Board of Control became vacant. Macaulay
succeeded his old college friend in an office that gave him weighty
responsibility, defined duties, and, as it chanced, exceptional
opportunities for distinction. About the same time, an event occurred
which touched him more nearly than could any possible turn of fortune
in the world of politics. His sisters Hannah and Margaret had for some
months been almost domesticated among a pleasant nest of villas which
lie in the southern suburb of Liverpool, on Dingle Bank; a spot whose
natural beauty nothing can spoil, until in the fulness of time its
inevitable destiny shall convert it into docks. The young ladies were
the guests of Mr. John Cropper, who belonged to the Society of Friends,
a circumstance which readers who have got thus far into the Macaulay
correspondence will doubtless have discovered for themselves. Before the
visit was over, Margaret became engaged to the brother of her host, Mr.
Edward Cropper, a man in every respect worthy of the personal esteem and
the commercial prosperity which have fallen to his lot.

There are many who will be surprised at finding in Macaulay's letters,
both now and hereafter, indications of certain traits in his disposition
with which the world, knowing him only through his political actions
and his published works, may perhaps be slow to credit him; but which,
taking his life as a whole, were predominant in their power to affect
his happiness and give matter for his thoughts. Those who are least
partial to him will allow that his was essentially a virile intellect.
He wrote, he thought, he spoke, he acted, like a man. The public
regarded him as an impersonation of vigour, vivacity, and self-reliance;
but his own family, together with one, and probably only one, of
his friends, knew that his affections were only too tender, and his
sensibilities only too acute. Others may well be loth to parade what he
concealed; but a portrait of Macaulay, from which these features were
omitted, would be imperfect to the extent of misrepresentation; and it
must be acknowledged that, where he loved, he loved more entirely, and
more exclusively, than was well for himself. It was improvident in him
to concentrate such intensity of feeling upon relations who, however
deeply they were attached to him, could not always be in a position to
requite him with the whole of their time, and the whole of their heart.
He suffered much for that improvidence; but he was too just and too kind
to permit that others should suffer with him; and it is not for one who
obtained by inheritance a share of his inestimable affection to regret a
weakness to which he considers himself by duty bound to refer.

How keenly Macaulay felt the separation from his sister it is impossible
to do more than indicate. He never again recovered that tone of thorough
boyishness, which had been produced by a long unbroken habit of gay
and affectionate intimacy with those younger than himself; indulged in
without a suspicion on the part of any concerned that it was in its very
nature transitory and precarious. For the first time he was led to doubt
whether his scheme of life was indeed a wise one; or, rather, he began
to be aware that he had never laid out any scheme of life at all. But
with that unselfishness which was the key to his character and to much
of his career, (resembling in its quality what we sometimes admire in
a woman, rather than what we ever detect in a man,) he took successful
pains to conceal his distress from those over whose happiness it
otherwise could not have failed to cast a shadow.

"The attachment between brothers and sisters," he writes in November
1832, "blameless, amiable, and delightful as it is, is so liable to be
superseded by other attachments that no wise man ought to suffer it to
become indispensable to him. That women shall leave the home of their
birth, and contract ties dearer than those of consanguinity, is a law
as ancient as the first records of the history of our race, and as
unchangeable as the constitution of the human body and mind. To repine
against the nature of things, and against the great fundamental law of
all society, because, in consequence of my own want of foresight, it
happens to bear heavily on me, would be the basest and most absurd

"I have still one more stake to lose. There remains one event for which,
when it arrives, I shall, I hope, be prepared. From that moment, with
a heart formed, if ever any man's heart was formed, for domestic
happiness, I shall have nothing left in this world but ambition.
There is no wound, however, which time and necessity will not render
endurable; and, after all, what am I more than my fathers,--than the
millions and tens of millions who have been weak enough to pay double
price for some favourite number in the lottery of life, and who have
suffered double disappointment when their ticket came up a blank?"

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

Leeds: December 12, 1832

My dear Sister,--The election here is going on as well as possible.
Today the poll stands thus:

 Marshall     Macaulay     Sadler
  1,804        1,792        1,353

The probability is that Sadler will give up the contest. If he persists,
he will be completely beaten. The voters are under 4,000 in number;
those who have already polled are 3,100; and about five hundred will
not poll at all. Even if we were not to bring up another man, the
probability is that we should win. On Sunday morning early I hope to be
in London; and I shall see you in the course of the day.

I had written thus far when your letter was delivered to me. I am
sitting in the midst of two hundred friends, all mad with exultation and
party spirit, all glorying over the Tories, and thinking me the happiest
man in the world. And it is all that I can do to hide my tears, and
to command my voice, when it is necessary for me to reply to their
congratulations. Dearest, dearest sister, you alone are now left to me.
Whom have I on earth but thee? But for you, in the midst of all these
successes, I should wish that I were lying by poor Hyde Villiers. But
I cannot go on. I am wanted to waste an address to the electors; and I
shall lay it on Sadler pretty heavily. By what strange fascination is it
that ambition and resentment exercise such power over minds which ought
to be superior to them? I despise myself for feeling so bitterly towards
this fellow as I do. But the separation from dear Margaret has jarred
my whole temper. I am cried up here to the skies as the most affable and
kind-hearted of then, while I feel a fierceness and restlessness within
me, quite new, and almost inexplicable.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: December 24, 1832.

My dear Sister,--I am much obliged to you for your letter, and am
gratified by all its contents, except what you say about your own cough.
As soon as you come back, you shall see Dr. Chambers, if you are not
quite well. Do not oppose me in this; for I have set my heart on it.
I dined on Saturday at Lord Essex's in Belgrave Square. But never was
there such a take-in. I had been given to understand that his Lordship's
cuisine was superintended by the first French artists, and that I
should find there all the luxuries of the Almanach des Gourmands. What
a mistake! His lordship is luxurious, indeed, but in quite a different
way. He is a true Englishman. Not a dish on his table but what Sir Roger
de Coverley, or Sir Hugh Tyrold, [The uncle of Miss Burney's Camilla.]
might have set before his guests. A huge haunch of venison on the
sideboard; a magnificent piece of beef at the bottom of the table;
and before my Lord himself smoked, not a dindon aux truffes, but a fat
roasted goose stuffed with sage and onions. I was disappointed, but
very agreeably; for my tastes are, I fear, incurably vulgar, as you may
perceive by my fondness for Mrs. Meeke's novels.

Our party consisted of Sharp; Lubbock; Watson, M.P. for Canterbury; and
Rich, the author of "What will the Lords do?" who wishes to be M. P.
for Knaresborough. Rogers was to have been of the party; but his brother
chose that very day to die upon, so that poor Sam had to absent himself.
The Chancellor was also invited, but he had scampered off to pass his
Christmas with his old mother in Westmoreland. We had some good talk,
particularly about Junius's Letters. I learned some new facts which I
will tell you when we meet. I am more and more inclined to believe that
Francis was one of the people principally concerned.

Ever yours

T.B. M.

On the 29th of January, 1833, commenced the first Session of the
Reformed Parliament. The main incidents of that Session, so fruitful in
great measures of public utility, belong to general history; if indeed
Clio herself is not fated to succumb beneath the stupendous undertaking
of turning Hansard into a narrative imbued with human interest.
O'Connell,--criticising the King's speech at vast length, and passing in
turns through every mood from the most exquisite pathos to downright and
undisguised ferocity,--at once plunged the House into a discussion on
Ireland, which alternately blazed and smouldered through four livelong
nights. Shed and Grattan spoke finely; Peel and Stanley admirably;
Bulwer made the first of his successes, and Cobbett the second of
his failures; but the longest and the loudest cheers were those which
greeted each of the glowing periods in which Macaulay, as the champion
of the Whig party, met the great agitator face to face with high, but
not intemperate, defiance.["We are called base, and brutal, and bloody.
Such are the epithets which the honourable and learned member for Dublin
thinks it becoming to pour forth against the party to which he owes
every political privilege that he enjoys. The time will come when
history will do justice to the Whigs of England, and will faithfully
relate how much they did and suffered for Ireland. I see on the
benches near me men who might, by uttering one word against Catholic
Emancipation.--nay, by merely abstaining from uttering a word in favour
of Catholic Emancipation,--have been returned to this House without
difficulty or expense, and who, rather than wrong their Irish
fellow-subjects, were content to relinquish all the objects of their
honourable ambition, and to retire into private life with conscience
and fame untarnished. As to one eminent person, who seems to be regarded
with especial malevolence by those who ought never to mention his name
without respect and gratitude, I will only say this, that the loudest
clamour which the honourable and learned gentleman can excite against
Lord Grey will be trifling when compared with the clamour which Lord
Grey withstood in order to place the honourable and learned gentleman
where he now sits. Though a young member of the Whig party I will
venture to speak in the name of the whole body. I tell the honourable
and learned gentleman, that the same spirit which sustained us in a just
contest for him will sustain us in an equally just contest against him.
Calumny, abuse, royal displeasure, popular fury, exclusion from office,
exclusion from Parliament, we were ready to endure them all, rather than
that he should be less than a British subject. We never will suffer him
to be more."] In spite of this flattering reception, he seldom addressed
the House. A subordinate member of a Government, with plenty to do in
his own department, finds little temptation, and less encouragement,
to play the debater. The difference of opinion between the two Houses
concerning the Irish Church Temporalities Bill, which constituted the
crisis of the year, was the one circumstance that excited in Macaulay's
mind any very lively emotions; but those emotions, being denied their
full and free expression in the oratory of a partisan, found vent in the
doleful prognostications of a despairing patriot which fill his letters
throughout the months of June and July. His abstinence from the passing
topics of Parliamentary controversy obtained for him a friendly, as well
as an attentive, hearing from both sides of the House whenever he
spoke on his own subjects; and did much to smooth the progress of those
immense and salutary reforms with which the Cabinet had resolved to
accompany the renewal of the India Company's Charter.

So rapid had been the march of events under that strange imperial
system established in the East by the enterprise and valour of three
generations of our countrymen, that each of the periodical revisions
of that system was, in effect, a revolution. The legislation of 1813
destroyed the monopoly of the Indian trade. In 1833 the time had arrived
when it was impossible any longer to maintain the monopoly of the China
trade; and the extinction of this remaining commercial privilege could
not fail to bring upon the Company commercial ruin. Skill, and energy,
and caution, however happily combined, would not enable rulers who were
governing a population larger than that governed by Augustus, and making
every decade conquests more extensive than the conquests of Trajan, to
compete with private merchants in an open market. England, mindful of
the inestimable debt which she owed to the great Company, did not intend
to requite her benefactors by imposing on them a hopeless task. Justice
and expediency could be reconciled by one course, and one only;--that
of buying up the assets and liabilities of the Company on terms the
favourable character of which should represent the sincerity of the
national gratitude. Interest was to be paid from the Indian exchequer
at the rate of ten guineas a year on every hundred pounds of stock;
the Company was relieved of its commercial attributes, and became a
corporation charged with the function of ruling Hindoostan; and its
directors, as has been well observed, remained princes, but merchant
princes no longer.

The machinery required for carrying into effect this gigantic
metamorphosis was embodied in a bill every one of whose provisions
breathed the broad, the fearless, and the tolerant spirit with which
Reform had inspired our counsels. The earlier Sections placed the whole
property of the Company in trust for the Crown, and enacted that "from
and after the 22nd day of April 1834 the exclusive right of trading
with the dominions of the Emperor of China, and of trading in tea, shall
cease." Then came clauses which threw open the whole continent of
India as a place of residence for all subjects of his Majesty; which
pronounced the doom of Slavery; and which ordained that no native of the
British territories in the East should "by reason only of his religion,
place of birth, descent, or colour, be disabled from holding any place,
office, or employment." The measure was introduced by Mr. Charles Grant,
the President of the Board of Control, and was read a second time on
Wednesday the 10th July. On that occasion Macaulay defended the bill in
a thin House; a circumstance which may surprise those who are not aware
that on a Wednesday, and with an Indian question on the paper, Cicero
replying to Hortensius would hardly draw a quorum. Small as it was, the
audience contained Lord John Russell, Peel, O'Connell, and other masters
in the Parliamentary craft. Their unanimous judgment was summed up by
Charles Grant, in words which every one who knows the House of Commons
will recognise as being very different from the conventional verbiage
of mutual senatorial flattery. "I must embrace the opportunity of
expressing, not what I felt, (for language could not express it,) but
of making an attempt to convey to the House my sympathy with it in its
admiration of the speech of my honourable and learned friend; a speech
which, I will venture to assert, has never been exceeded within these
walls for the development of statesmanlike policy and practical good
sense. It exhibited all that is noble in oratory; all that is sublime,
I had almost said, in poetry; all that is truly great, exalted, and
virtuous in human nature. If the House at large felt a deep interest in
this magnificent display, it may judge of what were my emotions when
I perceived in the hands of my honourable friend the great principles
which he expounded glowing with fresh colours, and arrayed in all the
beauty of truth."

There is no praise more gratefully treasured than that which is bestowed
by a generous chief upon a subordinate with whom he is on the best of
terms. Macaulay to the end entertained for Lord Glenelg that sentiment
of loyalty which a man of honour and feeling will always cherish with
regard to the statesman under whom he began his career as a servant of
the Crown. [The affinity between this sentiment and that of the Quaestor
towards his first Proconsul, so well described in the Orations against
Verres, is one among the innumerable points of resemblance between the
public life of ancient Rome and modern England.] The Secretary repaid
the President for his unvarying kindness and confidence by helping him
to get the bill through committee with that absence of friction which
is the pride and delight of official men. The vexed questions of
Establishment and Endowment, (raised by the clauses appointing
bishops to Madras and Bombay, and balancing them with as many salaried
Presbyterian chaplains,) increased the length of the debates and the
number of the divisions; but the Government carried every point by
large majorities, and, with slight modifications in detail, and none in
principle, the measure became law with the almost universal approbation
both of Parliament and the country.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

House of Commons. Monday night, half-past 12.

My dear Sister,--The papers will scarcely contain any account of what
passed yesterday in the House of Commons in the middle of the day.
Grant and I fought a battle with Briscoe and O'Connell in defence of
the Indian people, and won it by 38 to 6. It was a rascally claim of
a dishonest agent of the Company against the employers whom he had
cheated, and sold to their own tributaries. [In his great Indian speech
Macaulay referred to this affair, in a passage, the first sentence of
which has, by frequent quotation, been elevated into an apophthegm: "A
broken head in Cold Bath Fields produces a greater sensation than three
pitched battles in India. A few weeks ago we had to decide on a claim
brought by an individual against the revenues of India. If it had been
an English question the walls would scarcely have held the members who
would have flocked to the division. It was an Indian question; and we
could scarcely, by dint of supplication, make a House."] The nephew
of the original claimant has been pressing his case on the Board most
vehemently. He is an attorney living in Russell Square, and very likely
hears the word at St. John's Chapel. He hears it however to very little
purpose; for he lies as much as if he went to hear a "cauld clatter of
morality" at the parish church.

I remember that, when you were at Leamington two years ago, I used to
fill my letters with accounts of the people with whom I dined. High life
was new to me then; and now it has grown so familiar that I should
not, I fear, be able, as I formerly was, to select the striking
circumstances. I have dined with sundry great folks since you left
London, and I have attended a very splendid rout at Lord Grey's. I
stole thither, at about eleven, from the House of Commons with Stewart
Mackenzie. I do not mean to describe the beauty of the ladies, nor
the brilliancy of stars and uniforms. I mean only to tell you one
circumstance which struck, and even affected me. I was talking to Lady
Charlotte Lindsay, the daughter of Lord North, a great favourite of
mine, about the apartments and the furniture, when she said with a good
deal of emotion: "This is an interesting visit to me. I have never been
in this house for fifty years. It was here that I was born; I left it a
child when my father fell from power in 1782, and I have never crossed
the threshold since." Then she told me how the rooms seemed dwindled to
her; how the staircase, which appeared to her in recollection to be the
most spacious and magnificent that she had ever seen, had disappointed
her. She longed, she said, to go over the garrets and rummage her old
nursery. She told me how, in the No-Popery riots of 1780, she was
taken out of bed at two o'clock in the morning. The mob threatened Lord
North's house. There were soldiers at the windows, and an immense and
furious crowd in Downing Street. She saw, she said, from her nursery
the fires in different parts of London; but she did not understand the
danger; and only exulted in being up at midnight. Then she was conveyed
through the Park to the Horse Guards as the safest place; and was laid,
wrapped up in blankets, on the table in the guardroom in the midst of
the officers. "And it was such fun," she said, "that I have ever after
had rather a liking for insurrections."

I write in the midst of a crowd. A debate on Slavery is going on in the
Commons; a debate on Portugal in the Lords. The door is slamming behind
me every moment, and people are constantly going out and in. Here comes
Vernon Smith. "Well, Vernon, what are they doing?" "Gladstone has just
made a very good speech, and Howick is answering him." "Aye, but in the
House of Lords?" "They will beat us by twenty, they say." "Well, I do
not think it matters much." "No; nobody out of the House of Lords cares
either for Don Pedro, or for Don Miguel."

There is a conversation between two official men in the Library of the
House of Commons on the night of the 3rd June 1833, reported word
for word. To the historian three centuries hence this letter will be
invaluable. To you, ungrateful as you are, it will seem worthless.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

Smoking-Room of the House of Commons June 6, 1833.

My Darling,--Why am I such a fool as to write to a gypsey at Liverpool,
who fancies that none is so good as she if she sends one letter for my
three? A lazy chit whose fingers tire with penning a page in reply to a
quire! There, Miss, you read all the first sentence of my epistle, and
never knew that you were reading verse. I have some gossip for you about
the Edinburgh Review. Napier is in London, and has called on me several
times. He has been with the publishers, who tell him that the sale is
falling off; and in many private parties, where he hears sad complaints.
The universal cry is that the long dull articles are the ruin of the
Review. As to myself, he assures me that my articles are the only things
which keep the work up at all. Longman and his partners correspond with
about five hundred booksellers in different parts of the kingdom. All
these booksellers, I find, tell them that the Review sells, or does not
sell, according as there are, or are not, articles by Mr. Macaulay.
So, you see, I, like Mr. Darcy,[The central male figure in "Pride and
Prejudice."] shall not care how proud I am. At all events, I cannot but
be pleased to learn that, if I should be forced to depend on my pen for
subsistence, I can command what price I choose.

The House is sitting; Peel is just down; Lord Palmerston is speaking;
the heat is tremendous; the crowd stifling; and so here I am in the
smoking-room, with three Repealers making chimneys of their mouths under
my very nose.

 To think that this letter will bear to my Anna
 The exquisite scent of O'Connor's Havannah!

You know that the Lords have been foolish enough to pass a vote implying
censure on the Ministers.[On June 3rd, 1833, a vote of censure on the
Portuguese policy of the Ministry was moved by the Duke of
Wellington, and carried in the Lords by 79 votes to 69. On June 6th a
counter-resolution was carried in the Commons by 361 votes to 98.] The
Ministers do not seem inclined to take it of them. The King has snubbed
their Lordships properly; and in about an hour, as I guess, (for it is
near eleven), we shall have come to a Resolution in direct opposition
to that agreed to by the Upper House. Nobody seems to care one straw for
what the Peers say about any public matter. A Resolution of the Court
of Common Council, or of a meeting at Freemasons' Hall, has often made
a greater sensation than this declaration of a branch of the Legislature
against the Executive Government. The institution of the Peerage is
evidently dying a natural death.

I dined yesterday--where, and on what, and at what price, I am ashamed
to tell you. Such scandalous extravagance and gluttony I will not commit
to writing. I blush when I think of it. You, however, are not wholly
guiltless in this matter. My nameless offence was partly occasioned by
Napier; and I have a very strong reason for wishing to keep Napier in
good humour. He has promised to be at Edinburgh when I take a certain
damsel thither; to loop out for very nice lodgings for us in Queen
Street; to show us everything and everybody; and to see us as far as
Dunkeld on our way northward, if we do go northward. In general I abhor
visiting; but at Edinburgh we must see the people as well as the walls
and windows; and Napier will be a capital guide.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: June 14, 1833.

My dear Sister,--I do not know what you may have been told. I may have
grumbled, for ought I know, at not having more letters from you; but, as
to being angry, you ought to know by this time what sort of anger mine
is when you are its object.

You have seen the papers, I dare say, and you will perceive that I did
not speak yesterday night.[The night of the First Reading of the India
Bill.] The House was thin. The debate was languid. Grant's speech had
done our work sufficiently for one night; and both he and Lord Althorp
advised me to reserve myself for the Second Reading.

What have I to tell you? I will look at my engagement book, to see where
I am to dine.

 Friday June 14 .     Lord Grey.
 Saturday June 15.    Mr. Boddington.
 Sunday June 16 .     Mr. S. Rice.
 Saturday June 22.    Sir R. Inglis.
 Thursday June 27.    The Earl of Ripon.
 Saturday June 29.    Lord Morpeth.

Read, and envy, and pine, and die. And yet I would give a large slice of
my quarter's salary, which is now nearly due, to be at the Dingle. I am
sick of Lords with no brains in their heads, and Ladies with paint on
their cheeks, and politics, and politicians, and that reeking furnace of
a House. As the poet says,

 Oh! rather would I see this day
 My little Nancy well and merry
 Than the blue riband of Earl Grey,
 Or the blue stockings of Miss Berry.

Margaret tells us that you are better, and better, and better. I want to
hear that you are well. At all events our Scotch tour will set you up.
I hope, for the sake of the tour, that we shall keep our places; but I
firmly believe that, before many days have passed, a desperate attempt
will be made in the House of Lords to turn us out. If we stand the
shock, we shall be firmer than ever. I am not without anxiety as to the
result; yet I believe that Lord Grey understands the position in which
he is placed, and, as for the King, he will not forget his last blunder,
I will answer for it, even if he should live to the age of his father.
[This "last blunder" was the refusal of the King to stand by his
Ministers in May 1832. Macaulay proved a bad prophet; for, after an
interval of only three years, William the Fourth repeated his blunder in
an aggravated form.]

But why plague ourselves about politics when we have so much pleasanter
things to talk of? The Parson's Daughter; don't you like the Parson's
Daughter? What a wretch Harbottle was! And Lady Frances, what a sad
worldly woman! But Mrs. Harbottle, dear suffering angel! and Emma Level,
all excellence! Dr. Mac Gopus you doubtless like; but you probably do
not admire the Duchess and Lady Catherine. There is a regular cone over
a novel for you! But, if you will have my opinion, I think it Theodore
Book's worst performance; far inferior to the Surgeon's Daughter; a set
of fools making themselves miserable by their own nonsensical fancies
and suspicions. Let me hear your opinion, for I will be sworn that,

 In spite of all the serious world,
 Of all the thumbs that ever twirled,
 Of every broadbrim-shaded brow,
 Of every tongue that e'er said "thou,"
 You still read books in marble covers
 About smart girls and dapper lovers.

But what folly I have been scrawling! I must go to work.

 I cannot all day
 Be neglecting Madras
 And slighting Bombay
 For the sake of a lass.

Kindest love to Edward, and to the woman who owns him.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

London: June 17, 1833.

Dear Hannah,--All is still anxiety here. Whether the House of Lords will
throw out the Irish Church Bill, whether the King will consent to create
new Peers, whether the Tories will venture to form a Ministry, are
matters about which we are all in complete doubt. If the Ministry should
really be changed, Parliament will, I feel quite sure, be dissolved.
Whether I shall have a seat in the next Parliament I neither know nor
care. I shall regret nothing for myself but our Scotch tour. For the
public I shall, if this Parliament is dissolved, entertain scarcely any
hopes. I see nothing before us but a frantic conflict between extreme
opinions; a short period of oppression; then a convulsive reaction; and
then a tremendous crash of the Funds, the Church, the Peerage, and the
Throne. It is enough to make the most strenuous royalist lean a little
to republicanism to think that the whole question between safety and
general destruction may probably, at this most fearful conjuncture,
depend on a single man whom the accident of his birth has placed in a
situation to which certainly his own virtues or abilities would never
have raised him.

The question must come to a decision, I think, within the fortnight. In
the meantime the funds are going down, the newspapers are storming, and
the faces of men on both sides are growing day by day more gloomy and
anxious. Even during the most violent part of the contest for the Reform
Bill I do not remember to have seen so much agitation in the political
circles. I have some odd anecdotes for you, which I will tell you when
we meet. If the Parliament should be dissolved, the West Indian and East
Indian Bills are of course dropped. What is to become of the slaves?
What is to become of the tea-trade? Will the negroes, after receiving
the Resolutions of the House of Commons promising them liberty, submit
to the cart-whip? Will our merchants consent to have the trade with
China, which has just been offered to them, snatched away? The Bank
Charter, too, is suspended. But that is comparatively a trifle. After
all, what is it to me who is in or out, or whether those fools of Lords
are resolved to perish, and drag the King to perish with them in
the ruin which they have themselves made? I begin to wonder what the
fascination is which attracts men, who could sit over their tea and
their books in their own cool quiet room, to breathe bad air, hear bad
speeches, lounge up and down the long gallery, and doze uneasily on the
green benches till three in the morning. Thank God, these luxuries
are not necessary to me. My pen is sufficient for my support, and my
sister's company is sufficient for my happiness. Only let me see
her well and cheerful, and let offices in Government, and seats in
Parliament, go to those who care for them. If I were to leave public
life to-morrow, I declare that, except for the vexation which it might
give you and one or two others, the event would not be in the slightest
degree painful to me. As you boast of having a greater insight into
character than I allow to you, let me know how you explain this
philosophical disposition of mine, and how you reconcile it with my
ambitious inclinations. That is a problem for a young lady who professes
knowledge of human nature.

Did I tell you that I dined at the Duchess of Kent's, and sate next that
loveliest of women, Mrs. Littleton? Her husband, our new Secretary for
Ireland, told me this evening that Lord Wellesley, who sate near us
at the Duchess's, asked Mrs. Littleton afterwards who it was that was
talking to her. "Mr. Macaulay." "Oh! "said the Marquess," I am
very sorry I did not know it. I have a most particular desire to be
acquainted with that man." Accordingly Littleton has engaged me to dine
with him, in order to introduce me to the Marquess. I am particularly
curious, and always was, to know him. He has made a great and splendid
figure in history, and his weaknesses, though they make his character
less worthy of respect, make it more interesting as a study. Such a
blooming old swain I never saw; hair combed with exquisite nicety, a
waistcoat of driven snow, and a star and garter put on with rare skill.

To-day we took up our Resolutions about India to the House of Lords. The
two Houses had a conference on the subject in an old Gothic room called
the Painted Chamber. The painting consists in a mildewed daub of a woman
in the niche of one of the windows. The Lords sate in little cocked hats
along a table; and we stood uncovered on the other side, and delivered
in our Resolutions. I thought that before long it may be our turn to
sit, and theirs to stand.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

London: June 21, 1833.

Dear Hannah,--I cannot tell you how delighted I was to learn from Fanny
this morning that Margaret pronounces you to be as well as she could
wish you to be. Only continue so, and all the changes of public life
will be as indifferent to me as to Horatio. If I am only spared the
misery of seeing you suffer, I shall be found

 A man that fortune's buffets and rewards
 Has ta'en with equal thanks.

Whether we are to have buffets or rewards is known only to Heaven and
to the Peers. I think that their Lordships are rather cowed. Indeed, if
they venture on the course on which they lately seemed bent, I would not
give sixpence for a coronet or a penny for a mitre.

I shall not read the Repealers; and I think it very impudent in you to
make such a request. Have I nothing to do but to be your novel-taster?
It is rather your duty to be mine. What else have you to do? I have read
only one novel within the last week, and a most precious one it was: the
Invisible Gentleman. Have you ever read it? But I need not ask. No
doubt it has formed part of your Sunday studies. A wretched, trumpery,
imitation of Godwin's worst manner. What a number of stories I shall
have to tell you when we meet!--which will be, as nearly as I can guess,
about the 10th or 12th of August. I shall be as rich as a Jew by that

 Next Wednesday will be quarter-day;
 And then, if I'm alive,
 Of sterling pounds I shall receive
 Three hundred seventy-five.

 Already I possess in cash
 Two hundred twenty-four,
 Besides what I have lent to John
 Which makes up twenty more.

 Also the man who editeth
 The Yellow and the Blue
 Doth owe me ninety pounds at least,
 All for my last review.

 So, if my debtors pay their debts,
 You'll find, dear sister mine,
 That all my wealth together makes
 Seven hundred pounds and nine.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

The rhymes in which Macaulay unfolds his little budget derive a
certain dignity and meaning from the events of the ensuing weeks.
The unparalleled labours of the Anti-Slavery leaders were at length
approaching a successful issue, and Lord Grey's Cabinet had declared
itself responsible for the emancipation of the West Indian negroes. But
it was already beginning to be known that the Ministerial scheme, in
its original shape, was not such as would satisfy even the more moderate
Abolitionists. Its most objectionable feature was shadowed forth in the
third of the Resolutions with which Mr. Stanley, who had the question
in charge, prefaced the introduction of his bill: "That all persons, now
slaves, be entitled to be registered as apprenticed labourers, and to
acquire thereby all the rights and privileges of freemen, subject to
the restriction of labouring, for a time to be fixed by Parliament,
for their present owners." It was understood that twelve years would
be proposed as the period of apprenticeship; although no trace of this
intention could be detected in the wording of the Resolution. Macaulay,
who thought twelve years far too long, felt himself justified in
supporting the Government during the preliminary stages; but he took
occasion to make some remarks indicating that circumstances might occur
which would oblige him to resign office, and adopt a line of his own.

As time went on it became evident that his firmness would be put to
the test; and a severe test it was. A rising statesman, whose prospects
would be irremediably injured by abruptly quitting a Government that
seemed likely to be in power for the next quarter of a century; a
zealous Whig, who shrank from the very appearance of disaffection to his
party; a man of sense, with no ambition to be called Quixotic; a member
for a large constituency, possessed of only seven hundred pounds in the
world when his purse was at its fullest; above all, an affectionate son
and brother, now, more than ever, the main hope and reliance of those
whom he held most dear;--it may well be believed that he was not in a
hurry to act the martyr. His father's affairs were worse than bad. The
African firm, without having been reduced to declare itself bankrupt,
had ceased to exist as a house of business; or existed only so far that
for some years to come every penny that Macaulay earned, beyond what the
necessities of life demanded, was scrupulously devoted to paying, and
at length to paying off, his father's creditors; a dutiful enterprise
in which he was assisted by his brother Henry, [Henry married in 1841
a daughter of his brother's old political ally, Lord Denman. He died at
Boa Vista, in 1846, leaving two sons, Henry, and Joseph, Macaulay.] a
young man of high spirit and excellent abilities, who had recently been
appointed one of the Commissioners of Arbitration in the Prize Courts at
Sierra Leone.

The pressure of pecuniary trouble was now beginning to make itself felt
even by the younger members of the family. About this time, or perhaps a
little earlier, Hannah Macaulay writes thus to one of her cousins:
"You say nothing about coming to us. You must come in good health and
spirits. Our trials ought not greatly to depress us; for, after all, all
we want is money, the easiest want to bear; and, when we have so many
mercies--friends who love us and whom we love; no bereavements; and,
above all, (if it be not our own fault,) a hope full of immortality--let
us not be so ungrateful as to repine because we are without what in
itself cannot make our happiness."

Macaulay's colleagues, who, without knowing his whole story, knew enough
to be aware that he could ill afford to give up office, were earnest
in their remonstrances; but he answered shortly, and almost roughly:
"I cannot go counter to my father. He has devoted his whole life to the
question, and I cannot grieve him by giving way when he wishes me to
stand firm." During the crisis of the West India Bill, Zachary Macaulay
and his son were in constant correspondence. There is something touching
in the picture which these letters present of the older man, (whose
years were coming to a close in poverty which was the consequence of his
having always lived too much for others,) discussing quietly and gravely
how, and when, the younger was to take a step that in the opinion
of them both would be fatal to his career; and this with so little
consciousness that there was anything heroic in the course which they
were pursuing, that it appears never to have occurred to either of their
that any other line of conduct could possibly be adopted.

Having made up his mind as to what he should do, Macaulay set about it
with as good a grace as is compatible with the most trying position in
which a man, and especially a young man, can find himself. Carefully
avoiding the attitude of one who bargains or threatens, he had given
timely notice in the proper quarter of his intentions and his views. At
length the conjuncture arrived when decisive action could no longer
be postponed. On the 24th of July Mr. Thomas Fowell Buxton moved an
amendment in Committee, limiting the apprenticeship to the shortest
period necessary for establishing the system of free labour. Macaulay,
whose resignation was already in Lord Althorp's hands, made a speech
which produced all the more effect as being inornate, and, at times,
almost awkward. Even if deeper feelings had not restrained the range of
his fancy and the flow of his rhetoric, his judgment would have told
him that it was not the moment for an oratorical display. He began
by entreating the House to extend to him that indulgence which it had
accorded on occasions when he had addressed it "with more confidence
and with less harassed feelings." He then, at some length, exposed the
effects of the Government proposal. "In free countries the master has
a choice of labourers, and the labourer has a choice of masters; but
in slavery it is always necessary to give despotic power to the master.
This bill leaves it to the magistrate to keep peace between master and
slave. Every time that the slave takes twenty minutes to do that which
the master thinks he should do in fifteen, recourse must be had to
the magistrate. Society would day and night be in a constant state
of litigation, and all differences and difficulties must be solved by
judicial interference."

He did not share in Mr. Buxton's apprehension of gross cruelty as a
result of the apprenticeship. "The magistrate would be accountable to
the Colonial Office, and the Colonial Office to the House of Commons, in
which every lash which was inflicted under magisterial authority would
be told and counted. My apprehension is that the result of continuing
for twelve years this dead slavery,--this state of society destitute of
any vital principle,--will be that the whole negro population will sink
into weak and drawling inefficacy, and will be much less fit for liberty
at the end of the period than at the commencement. My hope is that the
system will die a natural death; that the experience of a few months
will so establish its utter inefficiency as to induce the planters to
abandon it, and to substitute for it a state of freedom. I have voted,"
he said, "for the Second Reading, and I shall vote for the Third
Reading; but, while the bill is in Committee, I shall join with other
honourable gentlemen in doing all that is possible to amend it."

Such a declaration, coming from the mouth of a member of the Government,
gave life to the debate, and secured to Mr. Buxton an excellent
division, which under the circumstances was equivalent to a victory. The
next day Mr. Stanley rose; adverted shortly to the position in which the
Ministers stood; and announced that the term of apprenticeship would be
reduced from twelve years to seven. Mr. Buxton, who, with equal energy
and wisdom, had throughout the proceedings acted as leader of the
Anti-slavery party in the House of Commons, advised his friends to make
the best of the concession; and his counsel was followed by all those
Abolitionists who were thinking more of their cause than of themselves.
It is worthy of remark that Macaulay's prophecy came true, though not
at so early a date as he ventured to anticipate. Four years of the
provisional system brought all parties to acquiesce in the premature
termination of a state of things which denied to the negro the blessings
of freedom, and to the planter the profits of slavery.

"The papers," Macaulay writes to his father, "will have told you all
that has happened, as far as it is known to the public. The secret
history you will have heard from Buxton. As to myself, Lord Althorp
told me yesterday night that the Cabinet had determined not to accept
my resignation. I have therefore the singular good luck of having saved
both my honour and my place, and of having given no just ground of
offence either to the Abolitionists or to my party-friends. I have more
reason than ever to say that honesty is the best policy."

This letter is dated the 27th of July. On that day week, Wilberforce
was carried to his grave in Westminster Abbey. "We laid him," writes
Macaulay, "side by side with Canning, at the feet of Pitt, and within
two steps of Fox and Grattan." He died with the promised land full in
view. Before the end of August Parliament abolished slavery, and the
last touch was put to the work that had consumed so many pure and noble
lives. In a letter of congratulation to Zachary Macaulay, Mr. Buxton
says: "Surely you have reason to rejoice. My sober and deliberate
opinion is that you have done more towards this consummation than any
other man. For myself, I take pleasure in acknowledging that you have
been my tutor all the way through, and that I could have done nothing
without you." Such was the spirit of these men, who, while the struggle
lasted, were prodigal of health and ease; but who, in the day of
triumph, disclaimed, each for himself, even that part of the merit
which their religion allowed them to ascribe to human effort and

London: July 11, 1833.

Dear Hannah,--I have been so completely overwhelmed with business for
some days that I have not been able to find time for writing a
line. Yesterday night we read the India Bill a second time. It was a
Wednesday, and the reporters gave hardly any account of what passed.
They always resent being forced to attend on that day, which is their
holiday. I made the best speech, by general agreement, and in my own
opinion, that I ever made in my life. I was an hour and three-quarters
up; and such compliments as I had from Lord Althorp, Lord Palmerston,
Lord John Russell, Wynne, O'Connell, Grant, the Speaker, and twenty
other people, you never heard. As there is no report of the speech,
I have been persuaded, rather against my will, to correct it for
publication. I will tell you one compliment that was paid me, and which
delighted me more than any other. An old member said to me: "Sir, having
heard that speech may console the young people for never having heard
Mr. Burke." [A Tory member said that Macaulay resembled both the Burkes:
that he was like the first from his eloquence, and like the second from
his stopping other people's mouths.]

The Slavery Bill is miserably bad. I am fully resolved not to be dragged
through the mire, but to oppose, by speaking and voting, the clauses
which I think objectionable. I have told Lord Althorp this, and have
again tendered my resignation. He hinted that he thought that the
Government would leave me at liberty to take my own line, but that he
must consult his colleagues. I told him that I asked for no favour; that
I knew what inconvenience would result if official men were allowed to
dissent from Ministerial measures, and yet to keep their places; and
that I should not think myself in the smallest degree ill-used if the
Cabinet accepted my resignation. This is the present posture of affairs.
In the meantime the two Houses are at daggers drawn. Whether the
Government will last to the end of the Session I neither know nor care.
I am sick of Boards, and of the House of Commons; and pine for a few
quiet days, a cool country breeze, and a little chatting with my dear

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay

London: July 19, 1833.

My dear Sister,--I snatch a few minutes to write a single line to you.
We went into Committee on the India Bill at twelve this morning, sate
till three, and are just set at liberty for two hours. At five we
recommence, and shall be at work till midnight. In the interval between
three and five I have to despatch the current business of the office,
which, at present, is fortunately not heavy; to eat my dinner, which I
shall do at Grant's; and to write a short scrawl to my little sister.

My work, though laborious, has been highly satisfactory. No Bill, I
believe, of such importance,--certainly no important Bill in my time,
has been received with such general approbation. The very cause of the
negligence of the reporters, and of the thinness of the House, is that
we have framed our measure so carefully as to give little occasion for
debate. Littleton, Denison, and many other members, assure me that they
never remember to have seen a Bill better drawn or better conducted.

On Monday night, I hope, my work will be over. Our Bill will have been
discussed, I trust, for the last time in the House of Commons; and, in
all probability, I shall within forty-eight hours after that time be out
of office. I am fully determined not to give way about the West India
Bill; and I can hardly expect,--I am sure I do not wish,--that the
Ministers should suffer me to keep my place and oppose their measure.
Whatever may befall me or my party, I am much more desirous to come to
an end of this interminable Session than to stay either in office or
in Parliament. The Tories are quite welcome to take everything, if
they will only leave me my pen and my books, a warm fireside, and you
chattering beside it. This sort of philosophy, an odd kind of cross
between Stoicism and Epicureanism, I have learned, where most people
unlearn all their philosophy, in crowded senates and fine drawing-rooms.

But time flies, and Grant's dinner will be waiting. He keeps open house
for us during this fight.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

London: July 22, 1833.

My dear Father,--We are still very anxious here. The Lords, though they
have passed the Irish Church Bill through its first stage, will very
probably mutilate it in Committee. It will then be for the Ministers to
decide whether they can with honour keep their places. I believe that
they will resign if any material alteration should be made; and then
everything is confusion.

These circumstances render it very difficult for me to shape my course
right with respect to the West India Bill, the Second Reading of which
stands for this evening. I am fully resolved to oppose several of the
clauses. But to declare my intention publicly, at a moment when the
Government is in danger, would have the appearance of ratting. I must be
guided by circumstances; but my present intention is to say nothing on
the Second Reading. By the time that we get into Committee the political
crisis, will, I hope, be over; the fate of the Church Bill will be
decided one way or the other; and I shall be able to take my own
course on the Slavery question without exposing myself to the charge of
deserting my friends in a moment of peril.

Ever yours affectionately


To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: July 24, 1833,

My dear Sister,--You will have seen by the papers that the West India
debate on Monday night went off very quietly in little more than an
hour. To-night we expect the great struggle, and I fear that, much
against my inclination, I must bear a part in it. My resignation is in
Lord Althorp's hands. He assures me that he will do his utmost to obtain
for me liberty to act as I like on this question; but Lord Grey and
Stanley are to be consulted, and I think it very improbable that they
will consent to allow me so extraordinary a privilege. I know that, if I
were Minister, I would not allow such latitude to any man in office; and
so I told Lord Althorp. He answered in the kindest and most flattering
manner; told me that in office I had surpassed their expectations, and
that, much as they wished to bring me in last year, they wished much
more to keep me in now. I told him in reply that the matter was one for
the Ministers to settle, purely with a view to their own interest; that
I asked for no indulgence; that I could make no terms; and that, what I
would not do to serve them, I certainly would not do to keep my place.
Thus the matter stands. It will probably be finally settled within a few

This detestable Session goes on lengthening, and lengthening, like a
human hair in one's mouth. (Do you know that delicious sensation?) Last
month we expected to have been up before the middle of August. Now we
should be glad to be quite certain of being in the country by the first
of September. One comfort I shall have in being turned out: I will not
stay a day in London after the West India Bill is through Committee;
which I hope it will be before the end of next week.

The new Edinburgh Review is not much amiss; but I quite agree with
the publishers, the editor, and the reading public generally, that the
number would have been much the better for an article of thirty or forty
pages from the pen of a gentleman who shall be nameless.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: July 25, 1833.

My dear Sister,--The plot is thickening. Yesterday Buxton moved an
instruction to the Committee on the Slavery Bill, which the Government
opposed, and which I supported. It was extremely painful to me to speak
against all my political friends; so painful that at times I could
hardly go on. I treated them as mildly as I could; and they all tell me
that I performed my difficult task not ungracefully. We divided at two
this morning, and were 151 to 158. The Ministers found that, if they
persisted, they would infallibly be beaten. Accordingly they came down
to the House at twelve this day, and agreed to reduce the apprenticeship
to seven years for the agricultural labourers, and to five years for
the skilled labourers. What other people may do I cannot tell; but I am
inclined to be satisfied with this concession; particularly as I believe
that, if we press the thing further, they will resign, and we shall have
no Bill at all, but instead of it a Tory Ministry and a dissolution.
Some people flatter me with the assurance that our large minority, and
the consequent change in the Bill, have been owing to me. If this be so,
I have done one useful act at least in my life.

I shall now certainly remain in office; and if, as I expect, the Irish
Church Bill passes the Lords, I may consider myself as safe till the
next Session; when Heaven knows what may happen. It is still quite
uncertain when we may rise. I pine for rest, air, and a taste of family
life, more than I can express. I see nothing but politicians, and talk
about nothing but politics.

I have not read Village Belles. Tell me, as soon as you can get it,
whether it is worth reading. As John Thorpe [The young Oxford man in
"Northanger Abbey."] says "Novels! Oh Lord! I never read novels. I have
something else to do."


T. B. M,

To Hannah M. Macaulay,

London: July 27, 1833.

My dear Sister,--Here I am, safe and well, at the end of one of the most
stormy weeks that the oldest man remembers in Parliamentary affairs.
I have resigned my office, and my resignation has been refused. I have
spoken and voted against the Ministry under which I hold my place. The
Ministry has been so hard run in the Commons as to be forced to modify
its plan; and has received a defeat in the Lords, [On the 25th of July
the Archbishop of Canterbury carried an amendment on the Irish Church
Bill, against the Government, by 84 votes to 82.]--a slight one to be
sure, and on a slight matter,--yet such that I, and many others, fully
believed twenty-four hours ago that they would have resigned. In fact,
some of the Cabinet,--Grant among the rest, to my certain knowledge,
were for resigning. At last Saturday has arrived. The Ministry is as
strong as ever. I am as good friends with the Ministers as ever. The
East India Bill is carried through our House. The West India Bill is so
far modified that, I believe, it will be carried. The Irish Church Bill
has got through the Committee in the Lords; and we are all beginning to
look forward to a Prorogation in about three weeks.

To-day I went to Hayden's to be painted into his great picture of the
Reform Banquet. Ellis was with me, and declares that Hayden has touched
me off to a nicety. I am sick of pictures of my own face. I have seen
within the last few days one drawing of it, one engraving, and three
paintings. They all make me a very handsome fellow. Hayden pronounces my
profile a gem of art, perfectly antique; and, what is worth the praise
of ten Haydens, I was told yesterday that Mrs. Littleton, the handsomest
woman in London, had paid me exactly the same compliment. She pronounced
Mr. Macaulay's profile to be a study for an artist. I have bought a new
looking-glass and razor-case on the strength of these compliments, and
am meditating on the expediency of having my hair cut in the Burlington
Arcade, rather than in Lamb's Conduit Street. As Richard says,

 "Since I am crept in favour with myself,
  I will maintain it with some little cost."

I begin, like Sir Walter Elliot, [The Baronet in "Persuasion."] to
rate all my acquaintance according to their beauty. But what nonsense I
write, and in times that make many merry men look grave!

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: July 29, 1833.

My dear Sister,--I dined last night at Holland House. There was a
very pleasant party. My Lady was courteous, and my Lord extravagantly
entertaining, telling some capital stories about old Bishop Horsley,
which were set off with some of the drollest mimicry that I ever saw.
Among many others there were Sir James Graham; and Dr. Holland, who is
a good scholar as well as a good physician; and Wilkie, who is a modest,
pleasing companion as well as an excellent artist. For ladies, we had
her Grace of--; and her daughter Lady--, a fine, buxom, sonsy lass, with
more colour than, I am sorry to say, is often seen among fine ladies. So
our dinner and our soiree were very agreeable.

We narrowly escaped a scene at one time. Lord is in the navy, and is
now on duty in the fleet at the Tagus. We got into a conversation about
Portuguese politics. His name was mentioned, and Graham, who is First
Lord of the Admiralty, complimented the Duchess on her son's merit, to
which, he said, every despatch bore witness. The Duchess forthwith began
to entreat that he might be recalled. He was very ill, she said. If he
stayed longer on that station she was sure that he would die; and then
she began to cry. I cannot bear to see women cry, and the matter
became serious, for her pretty daughter began to bear her company. That
hardhearted Lord ---- seemed to be diverted by the scene. He, by all
accounts, has been doing little else than making women cry during the
last five-and-twenty years. However, we all were as still as death while
the wiping of eyes and the blowing of noses proceeded. At last Lord
Holland contrived to restore our spirits; but, before the Duchess went
away, she managed to have a tete-a-tete with Graham, and, I have no
doubt, begged and blubbered to some purpose. I could not help thinking
how many honest stout-hearted fellows are left to die on the most
unhealthy stations for want of being related to some Duchess who has
been handsome, or to some Duchess's daughter who still is so.

The Duchess said one thing that amused us. We were talking about Lady
Morgan. "When she first came to London," said Lord Holland, "I remember
that she carried a little Irish harp about with her wherever she
went." Others denied this. I mentioned what she says in her Book of the
Boudoir. There she relates how she went one evening to Lady--'s with her
little Irish harp, and how strange everybody thought it. "I see nothing
very strange," said her Grace, "in her taking her harp to Lady--'s. If
she brought it safe away with her, that would have been strange indeed."
On this, as a friend of yours says, we la-a-a-a-a-a-a-ft.

I am glad to find that you approve of my conduct about the Niggers. I
expect, and indeed wish, to be abused by the Agency Society. My father
is quite satisfied, and so are the best part of my Leeds friends.

I amuse myself, as I walk back from the House at two in the morning,
with translating Virgil. I am at work on one of the most beautiful
episodes, and am succeeding pretty well. You shall have what I have
done when I come to Liverpool, which will be, I hope, in three weeks or

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: July 31, 1833.

My dear Sister,--Political affairs look cheeringly. The Lords passed the
Irish Church Bill yesterday, and mean, we understand, to give us little
or no trouble about the India Bill. There is still a hitch in the
Commons about the West India Bill, particularly about the twenty
millions for compensation to the planters; but we expect to carry our
point by a great majority. By the end of next week we shall be very near
the termination of our labours. Heavy labours they have been.

So Wilberforce is gone! We talk of burying him in Westminster Abbey; and
many eminent men, both Whigs and Tories, are desirous to join in paying
him this honour. There is, however, a story about a promise given to old
Stephen that they should both lie in the same grave. Wilberforce kept
his faculties, and, except when he was actually in fits, his spirits, to
the very last. He was cheerful and full of anecdote only last Saturday.
He owned that he enjoyed life much, and that he had a great desire to
live longer. Strange in a man who had, I should have said, so little to
attach him to this world, and so firm a belief in another; in a man with
an impaired fortune, a weak spine, and a worn-out stomach! What is
this fascination which makes us cling to existence in spite of present
sufferings and of religious hopes? Yesterday evening I called at the
house in Cadogan Place, where the body is lying. I was truly fond of
him; that is, "je l'aimais comme l'on aime." And how is that? How very
little one human being generally cares for another! How very little the
world misses anybody! How soon the chasm left by the best and wisest
men closes! I thought, as I walked back from Cadogan Place, that our
own selfishness when others are taken away ought to teach us how little
others will suffer at losing us. I thought that, if I were to die
to-morrow, not one of the fine people, whom I dine with every week, will
take a cotelette aux petits pois the less on Saturday at the table to
which I was invited to meet them, or will smile less gaily at the ladies
over the champagne. And I am quite even with them. What are those pretty
lines of Shelley?

 Oh, world, farewell!
 Listen to the passing bell.
 It tells that thou and I must part
 With a light and heavy heart.

There are not ten people in the world whose deaths would spoil my
dinner; but there are one or two whose deaths would break my heart. The
more I see of the world, and the more numerous my acquaintance becomes,
the narrower and more exclusive my affection grows, and the more I cling
to my sisters, and to one or two old tried friends of my quiet days. But
why should I go on preaching to you out of Ecclesiastes? And here comes,
fortunately, to break the train of my melancholy reflections, the proof
of my East India Speech from Hansard; so I must put my letter aside, and
correct the press. Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: August 2, 1833.

My dear Sister,--I agree with your judgment on Chesterfield's Letters.
They are for the most part trash; though they contain some clever
passages, and the style is not bad. Their celebrity must be attributed
to causes quite distinct from their literary merit, and particularly to
the position which the author held in society. We see in our own time
that the books written by public men of note are generally rated at
more than their real value: Lord Granville's little compositions, for
example; Canning's verses; Fox's history; Brougham's treatises. The
writings of people of high fashion, also, have a value set on them far
higher than that which intrinsically belongs to them. The verses of the
late Duchess of Devonshire, or an occasional prologue by Lord Alvanley,
attract a most undue share of attention. If the present Duke of
Devonshire, who is the very "glass of fashion and mould of form,"
were to publish a book with two good pages, it would be extolled as a
masterpiece in half the drawing-rooms of London. Now Chesterfield was,
what no person in our time has been or can be, a great political leader,
and at the same time the acknowledged chief of the fashionable world; at
the head of the House of Lords, and at the head of laze; Mr. Canning
and the Duke of Devonshire in one. In our time the division of labour
is carried so far that such a man could not exist. Politics require the
whole of energy, bodily and mental, during half the year; and leave
very little time for the bow window at White's in the day, or for the
crush-room of the Opera at night. A century ago the case was different.
Chesterfield was at once the most distinguished orator in the Upper
House, and the undisputed sovereign of wit and fashion. He held this
eminence for about forty years. At last it became the regular custom
of the higher circles to laugh whenever he opened his mouth, without
waiting for his bon mot. He used to sit at White's with a circle of
young men of rank round him, applauding every syllable that he uttered.
If you wish for a proof of the kind of position which Chesterfield
held among his contemporaries, look at the prospectus of Johnson's
Dictionary. Look even at Johnson's angry letter. It contains the
strongest admission of the boundless influence which Chesterfield
exercised over society. When the letters of such a man were published,
of course they were received more favourably by far than they deserved.

So much for criticism. As to politics, everything seems tending to
repose; and I should think that by this day fortnight we shall probably
be prorogued. The Jew Bill was thrown out yesterday night by the Lords.
No matter. Our turn will come one of these days.

If you want to see me puffed and abused by somebody who evidently knows
nothing about me, look at the New Monthly for this month. Bulwer, I see,
has given up editing it. I suppose he is making money in some other way;
for his dress must cost as much as that of any five other members of

To-morrow Wilberforce is to be buried. His sons acceded, with great
eagerness, to the application made to them by a considerable number of
the members of both Houses that the funeral should be public. We meet
to-morrow at twelve at the House of Commons, and we shall attend the
coffin into the Abbey. The Duke of Wellington, Lord Eldon, and Sir
R. Peel have put down their names, as well as the Ministers and the

My father urges me to pay some tribute to Wilberforce in the House of
Commons. If any debate should take place on the third reading of the
West India Bill in which I might take part, I should certainly embrace
the opportunity of doing honour to his memory. But I do not expect that
such an occasion will arise. The House seems inclined to pass the Bill
without more contest; and my father must be aware that anything like
theatrical display,--anything like a set funeral oration not springing
naturally out of the discussion of a question,--is extremely distasteful
to the House of Commons.

I have been clearing off a great mass of business, which had accumulated
at our office while we were conducting our Bill through Parliament.
Today I had the satisfaction of seeing the green boxes, which a week
ago were piled up with papers three or four feet high, perfectly empty.
Admire my superhuman industry. This I will say for myself, that, when
I do sit down to work, I work harder and faster than any person that I
ever knew.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

The next letter, in terms too clear to require comment, introduces
the mention of what proved to be the most important circumstance in
Macaulay's life.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: August 17, 1833.

My dear Sister,--I am about to write to you on a subject which to you
and Margaret will be one of the most agitating interest; and which, on
that account chiefly, is so to me.

By the new India bill it is provided that one of the members of the
Supreme Council, which is to govern our Eastern Empire, is to be chosen
from among persons who are not servants of the Company. It is probable,
indeed nearly certain, that the situation will be offered to me.

The advantages are very great. It is a post of the highest dignity and
consideration. The salary is ten thousand pounds a year. I am assured by
persons who know Calcutta intimately, and who have themselves mixed in
the highest circles and held the highest offices at that Presidency,
that I may live in splendour there for five thousand a year, and may
save the rest of the salary with the accruing interest. I may therefore
hope to return to England at only thirty-nine, in the full vigour of
life, with a fortune of thirty thousand pounds. A larger fortune I never

I am not fond of money, or anxious about it. But, though every day makes
me less and less eager for wealth, every day shows me more and more
strongly how necessary a competence is to a man who desires to be either
great or useful. At present the plain fact is that I can continue to be
a public man only while I can continue in office. If I left my place in
the Government, I must leave my seat in Parliament too. For I must live;
I can live only by my pen; and it is absolutely impossible for any man
to write enough to procure him a decent subsistence, and at the same
time to take an active part in politics. I have not during this Session
been able to send a single line to the Edinburgh Review; and, if I had
been out of office, I should have been able to do very little. Edward
Bulwer has just given up the New Monthly Magazine on the ground that he
cannot conduct it, and attend to his Parliamentary duties. Cobbett has
been compelled to neglect his Register so much that its sale has fallen
almost to nothing. Now, in order to live like a gentleman, it would be
necessary for me to write, not as I have done hitherto, but regularly,
and even daily. I have never made more than two hundred a year by my
pen. I could not support myself in comfort on less than five hundred;
and I shall in all probability have many others to support. The
prospects of our family are, if possible, darker than ever.

In the meantime my political outlook is very gloomy. A schism in the
Ministry is approaching. It requires only that common knowledge of
public affairs, which any reader of the newspapers may possess, to see
this; and I have more, much more, than common knowledge on the subject.
They cannot hold together. I tell you in perfect seriousness that my
chance of keeping my present situation for six months is so small, that
I would willingly sell it for fifty pounds down. If I remain in office,
I shall, I fear, lose my political character. If I go out, and engage in
opposition, I shall break most of the private ties which I have formed
during the last three years. In England I see nothing before me, for
some time to come, but poverty, unpopularity, and the breaking up of old

If there were no way out of these difficulties, I would encounter them
with courage. A man can always act honourably and uprightly; and, if
I were in the Fleet Prison or the rules of the King's Bench, I believe
that I could find in my own mind resources which would preserve me from
being positively unhappy. But, if I could escape from these impending
disasters, I should wish to do so. By accepting the post which is
likely to be offered to me, I withdraw myself for a short time from the
contests of faction here. When I return, I shall find things settled,
parties formed into new combinations, and new questions under
discussion. I shall then be able, without the scandal of a violent
separation, and without exposing myself to the charge of inconsistency,
to take my own line. In the meantime I shall save my family from
distress; and shall return with a competence honestly earned, as rich as
if I were Duke of Northumberland or Marquess of Westminster, and able
to act on all public questions without even a temptation to deviate
from the strict line of duty. While in India, I shall have to discharge
duties not painfully laborious, and of the highest and most honourable
kind. I shall have whatever that country affords of comfort or
splendour; nor will my absence be so long that my friends, or the public
here, will be likely to lose sight of me.

The only persons who know what I have written to you are Lord Grey,
the Grants, Stewart Mackenzie, and George Babington. Charles Grant
and Stewart Mackenzie, who know better than most men the state of the
political world, think that I should act unwisely in refusing this post;
and this though they assure me,--and, I really believe, sincerely,--that
they shall feel the loss of my society very acutely. But what shall I
feel? And with what emotions, loving as I do my country and my family,
can I look forward to such a separation, enjoined, as I think it is,
by prudence and by duty? Whether the period of my exile shall be one
of comfort,--and, after the first shock, even of happiness,--depends on
you. If, as I expect, this offer shall be made to me, will you go with
me? I know what a sacrifice I ask of you. I know how many dear and
precious ties you must, for a time, sunder. I know that the splendour
of the Indian Court, and the gaieties of that brilliant society of which
you would be one of the leading personages, have no temptation for you.
I can bribe you only by telling you that, if you will go with me, I will
love you better than I love you now, if I can.

I have asked George Babington about your health and mine. He says that
he has very little apprehension for me, and none at all for you. Indeed,
he seemed to think that the climate would be quite as likely to do you
good as harm.

All this is most strictly secret. You may, of course, show the letter
to Margaret; and Margaret may tell Edward; for I never cabal against
the lawful authority of husbands. But further the thing must not go. It
would hurt my father, and very justly, to hear of it from anybody before
he hears of it from myself; and, if the least hint of it were to get
abroad, I should be placed in a very awkward position with regard to the
people at Leeds. It is possible, though not probable, that difficulties
may arise at the India House; and I do not mean to say anything to any
person, who is not already in the secret, till the Directors have made
their choice, and till the King's pleasure has been taken.

And now think calmly over what I have written. I would not have written
on the subject even to you, till the matter was quite settled, if I had
not thought that you ought to have full time to make up your mind. If
you feel an insurmountable aversion to India, I will do all in my power
to make your residence in England comfortable during my absence, and
to enable you to confer instead of receiving benefits. But if my dear
sister would consent to give me, at this great crisis of my life, that
proof, that painful and arduous proof, of her affection, which I beg
of her, I think that she will not repent of it. She shall not, if the
unbounded confidence and attachment of one to whom she is dearer than
life can compensate her for a few years' absence from much that she

Dear Margaret! She will feel this. Consult her, my love, and let us both
have the advantage of such advice as her excellent understanding, and
her warm affection for us, may furnish. On Monday next, at the latest, I
expect to be with you. Our Scotch tour, under these circumstances, must
be short. By Christmas it will be fit that the new Councillor should
leave England. His functions in India commence next April. We shall
leave our dear Margaret, I hope, a happy mother.

Farewell, my dear sister. You cannot tell how impatiently I shall wait
for your answer.

T. B. M.

This letter, written under the influence of deep and varied emotions,
was read with feelings of painful agitation and surprise. India was not
then the familiar name that it has become to a generation which regards
a visit to Cashmere as a trip to be undertaken between two London
seasons, and which discusses over its breakfast table at home the
decisions arrived at on the previous afternoon in the Council-room of
Simla or Calcutta. In those rural parsonages and middle-class households
where service in our Eastern territories now presents itself in the
light of a probable and desirable destiny for a promising son, those
same territories were forty years ago regarded as an obscure and distant
region of disease and death. A girl who had seen no country more foreign
than Wales, and crossed no water broader and more tempestuous than the
Mersey, looked forward to a voyage which (as she subsequently learned
by melancholy experience), might extend over six weary months, with an
anxiety that can hardly be imagined by us who spend only half as many
weeks on the journey between Dover and Bombay. A separation from
beloved relations under such conditions was a separation indeed; and, if
Macaulay and his sister could have foreseen how much of what they left
at their departure they would fail to find on their return, it is a
question whether any earthly consideration could have induced them to
quit their native shore. But Hannah's sense of duty was too strong for
these doubts and tremors; and, happily, (for on the whole her resolution
was a fortunate one,) she resolved to accompany her brother in an
expatriation which he never would have faced without her. With a mind
set at ease by a knowledge of her intention, he came down to Liverpool
as soon as the Session was at an end; and carried her off on a jaunt to
Edinburgh, in a post-chaise furnished with Horace Walpole's letters for
their common reading, and Smollett's collected works for his own.
Before October he was back at the Board of Control; and his letters
recommenced, as frequent and rather more serious and business-like than
of old.

London: October 5, 1833

Dear Hannah,--Life goes on so quietly here, or rather stands so still,
that I have nothing, or next to nothing, to say. At the Athenaeum I now
and then fall in with some person passing through town on his way to the
Continent or to Brighton. The other day I met Sharp, and had a long talk
with him about everything and everybody,--metaphysics, poetry, politics,
scenery, and painting. One thing I have observed in Sharp, which is
quite peculiar to him among town-wits and diners-out. He never talks
scandal. If he can say nothing good of a man, he holds his tongue. I do
not, of course, mean that in confidential communication about politics
he does not speak freely of public men; but about the foibles of private
individuals I do not believe that, much as I have talked with him,
I ever heard him utter one word. I passed three or four hours very
agreeably in his company at the club.

I have also seen Kenny for an hour or two. I do not know that I ever
mentioned Kenny to you. When London is overflowing, I meet such numbers
of people that I cannot remember half their names. This is the time
at which every acquaintance, however slight, attracts some degree of
attention. In the desert island, even poor Poll was something of a
companion to Robinson Crusoe. Kenny is a writer of a class which, in our
time, is at the very bottom of the literary scale. He is a dramatist.
Most of the farces, and three-act plays, which have succeeded during
the last eight or ten years, are, I am told, from his pen. Heaven knows
that, if they are the farces and plays which I have seen, they do him
but little honour. However, this man is one of our great comic writers.
He has the merit, such as it is, of hitting the very bad taste of our
modern audiences better than any other person who has stooped to that
degrading work. We had a good deal of literary chat; and I thought him a
clever shrewd fellow.

My father is poorly; not that anything very serious is the matter with
him; but he has a cold, and is in low spirits.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

London: October 14, 1833

Dear Hannah,--I have just finished my article on Horace Walpole. This is
one of the happy moments of my life; a stupid task performed; a weight
taken off my mind. I should be quite joyous if I had only you to read it
to. But to Napier it must go forthwith; and, as soon as I have finished
this letter, I shall put it into the general post with my own fair
hands. I was up at four this morning to put the last touch to it. I
often differ with the majority about other people's writings, and still
oftener about my own; and therefore I may very likely be mistaken; but
I think that this article will be a hit. We shall see. Nothing ever cost
me more pains than the first half; I never wrote anything so flowingly
as the latter half; and I like the latter half the best. I have laid it
on Walpole so unsparingly that I shall not be surprised if Miss Berry
should cut me. You know she was Walpole's favourite in her youth.
Neither am I sure that Lord and Lady Holland will be well pleased. But
they ought to be obliged to me; for I refrained for their sake from
laying a hand, which has been thought to be not a light one, on that old
rogue the first Lord Holland. [Lord Holland, once upon a time, speaking
to Macaulay of his grandfather, said: "He had that temper which kind
folks have been pleased to say belongs to my family; but he shared the
fault that belonged to that school of statesmen, an utter disbelief in
public virtue."]

Charles Grant is still at Paris; ill, he says. I never knew a man who
wanted setting to rights so often. He goes as badly as your watch.

My father is at me again to provide for P--. What on earth have I to
do with P--? The relationship is one which none but Scotchmen would
recognise. The lad is such a fool that he would utterly disgrace my
recommendation. And, as if to make the thing more provoking, his sisters
say that he must be provided for in England, for that they cannot think
of parting with him. This, to be sure, matters little; for there is
at present just as little chance of getting anything in India as in

But what strange folly this is which meets me in every quarter; people
wanting posts in the army, the navy, the public offices, and saying
that, if they cannot find such posts, they must starve! How do all the
rest of mankind live? If I had not happened to be engaged in politics,
and if my father had not been connected, by very extraordinary
circumstances, with public men, I should never have dreamed of having
places. Why cannot P-- be apprenticed to some hatter or tailor? He may
do well in such a business; he will do detestably ill as a clerk in my
office. He may come to make good coats; he will never, I am sure, write
good despatches. There is nothing truer than Poor Richard's say: "We
are taxed twice as heavily by our pride as by the state." The curse of
England is the obstinate determination of the middle classes to make
their sons what they call gentlemen. So we are overrun by clergymen
without livings; lawyers without briefs; physicians without patients;
authors without readers; clerks soliciting employment, who might
have thriven, and been above the world, as bakers, watchmakers, or
innkeepers. The next time my father speaks to me about P--, I will offer
to subscribe twenty guineas towards making a pastry-cook of him. He had
a sweet tooth when he was a child.

So you are reading Burnet! Did you begin from the beginning? What do
you think of the old fellow? He was always a great favourite of mine;
honest, though careless; a strong party man on the right side, yet with
much kind feeling towards his opponents, and even towards his personal
enemies. He is to me a most entertaining writer; far superior to
Clarendon in the art of amusing, though of course far Clarendon's
inferior in discernment, and in dignity and correctness of style. Do you
know, by the bye, Clarendon's life of himself? I like it, the part after
the Restoration at least, better than his great History.

I am very quiet; rise at seven or half-past; read Spanish till ten;
breakfast; walk to my office; stay there till four; take a long walk,
dine towards seven; and am in bed before eleven. I am going through Don
Quixote again, and admire it more than ever. It is certainly the best
novel in the world, beyond all comparison.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: October 21, 1833.

My dear Sister,--Grant is here at last, and we have had a very long talk
about matters both public and private. The Government would support
my appointment; but he expects violent opposition from the Company. He
mentioned my name to the Chairs, and they were furious. They know that
I have been against them through the whole course of the negotiations
which resulted in the India Bill. They put their opposition on the
ground of my youth,--a very flattering objection to a man who this week
completes his thirty-third year. They spoke very highly of me in other
respects; but they seemed quite obstinate.

The question now is whether their opposition will be supported by the
other Directors. If it should be so, I have advised Grant most strongly
to withdraw my name, to put up some other man, and then to fight the
battle to the utmost. We shall be suspected of jobbing if we proceed to
extremities on behalf of one of ourselves; but we can do what we
like, if it is in favour of some person whom we cannot be suspected of
supporting from interested motives. From the extreme unreasonableness
and pertinacity which are discernible in every communication that we
receive from the India House at present, I am inclined to think that
I have no chance of being chosen by them, without a dispute in which I
should not wish the Government to engage for such a purpose. Lord Grey
says that I have a right to their support if I ask for it; but that,
for the sake of his administration generally, he is very adverse to my
going. I do not think that I shall go. However, a few days will decide
the matter.

I have heard from Napier. He praises my article on Walpole in terms
absolutely extravagant. He says that it is the best that I ever
wrote; and, entre nous, I am not very far from agreeing with him. I
am impatient to have your opinion. No flattery pleases me so much as
domestic flattery. You will have the Number within the week.

Ever yours

T. B. M

To Macvey Napier, Esq.

London: October 21, 1833.

Dear Napier,--I am glad to learn that you like my article. I like it
myself; which is not much my habit. Very likely the public, which has
often been kinder to my performances than I was, may on this, as on
other occasions, differ from me in opinion. If the paper has any merit,
it owes it to the delay of which you must, I am sure, have complained
very bitterly in your heart. I was so thoroughly dissatisfied with the
article, as it stood at first, that I completely re-wrote it; altered
the whole arrangement; left out ten or twelve pages in one part; and
added twice as many in another. I never wrote anything so slowly as the
first half, or so rapidly as the last half.

You are in an error about Akenside, which I must clear up for his
credit, and for mine. You are confounding the Ode to Curio and the
Epistle to Curio. The latter is generally printed at the end of
Akenside's works, and is, I think, the best thing that he ever wrote.
The Ode is worthless. It is merely an abridgment of the Epistle executed
in the most unskilful way. Johnson says, in his Life of Akenside, that
no poet ever so much mistook his powers as Akenside when he took to
lyric composition. "Having," I think the words are, "written with great
force and poignancy his Epistle to Curio, he afterwards transformed it
into an Ode only disgraceful to its author." ["Akenside was one of
the fiercest and the most uncompromising of the young patriots out of
Parliament. When he found that the change of administration had produced
no change of system, he gave vent to his indignation in the 'Epistle to
Curio,' the best poem that he ever wrote; a poem, indeed, which seems to
indicate that, if he had left lyrical composition to Cray and Collins,
and had employed his powers in grave and elevated satire, he might have
disputed the pre-eminence of Dryden." This passage occurs in Macaulay's
Essay on Horace Walpole. In the course of the same Essay, Macaulay
remarks that "Lord Chesterfield stands much lower in the estimation
of posterity than he would have done if his letters had never been

When I said that Chesterfield had lost by the publication of his
letters, I of course considered that he had much to lose; that he
has left an immense reputation, founded on the testimony of all his
contemporaries of all parties, for wit, taste, and eloquence; that what
remains of his Parliamentary oratory is superior to anything of that
time that has come down to us, except a little of Pitt's. The utmost
that can be said of the letters is that they are the letters of a
cleverish man; and there are not many which are entitled even to that
praise. I think he would have stood higher if we had been left to judge
of his powers,--as we judge of those of Chatham, Mansfield, Charles
Townshend, and many others,--only by tradition, and by fragments of
speeches preserved in Parliamentary reports.

I said nothing about Lord Byron's criticism on Walpole, because I
thought it, like most of his Lordship's criticism, below refutation. On
the drama Lord Byron wrote more nonsense than on any subject. He wanted
to have restored the unities. His practice proved as unsuccessful as his
theory was absurd. His admiration of the "Mysterious Mother" was of
a piece with his thinking Gifford, and Rogers, greater poets than
Wordsworth, and Coleridge.

Ever yours truly


London: October 28, 1833.

Dear Hannah,--I wish to have Malkin as head of the Commission at Canton,
and Grant seems now to be strongly bent on the same plan. [Sir Benjamin
Malkin, a college friend of Macaulay, was afterwards a judge in
the Supreme Court at Calcutta.] Malkin is a man of singular temper,
judgment, and firmness of nerve. Danger and responsibility, instead of
agitating and confusing him, always bring out whatever there is in him.
This was the reason of his great success at Cambridge. He made a figure
there far beyond his learning or his talents, though both his learning
and his talents are highly respectable. But the moment that he sate down
to be examined, which is just the situation in which all other people,
from natural flurry, do worse than at other times, he began to do his
very best. His intellect became clearer, and his manner more quiet, than
usual. He is the very man to make up his mind in three minutes if the
Viceroy of Canton were in a rage, the mob bellowing round the doors of
the factory, and an English ship of war making preparations to bombard
the town.

A propos of places, my father has been at me again about P--. Would you
think it? This lad has a hundred and twenty pounds a year for life! I
could not believe my ears; but so it is; and I, who have not a penny,
with half a dozen brothers and sisters as poor as myself, am to move
heaven and earth to push this boy who, as he is the silliest, is also, I
think, the richest relation that I have in the world.

I am to dine on Thursday with the Fishmongers' Company, the first
company for gourmandise in the world. Their magnificent Hall near London
Bridge is not yet built, but, as respects eating and drinking, I shall
be no loser; for we are to be entertained at the Albion Tavern. This is
the first dinner-party that I shall have been to for a long time. There
is nobody in town that I know except official men, and they have left
their wives and households in the country. I met Poodle Byng, it is
true, the day before yesterday in the street; and he begged me to make
haste to Brooks's; for Lord Essex was there, he said, whipping up for a
dinner-party; cursing and swearing at all his friends for being out
of town; and wishing--what an honour!--that Macaulay was in London. I
preserved all the dignity of a young lady in an affaire du coeur. "I
shall not run after my Lord, I assure you. If he wants me, he knows
where he may hear of me." This nibble is the nearest approach to a
dinner-party that I have had.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

London: November 1, 1833.

Dear Hannah,--I have not much to add to what I told you yesterday; but
everything that I have to add looks one way. We have a new Chairman and
Deputy Chairman, both very strongly in my favour. Sharp, by whom I sate
yesterday at the Fishmongers' dinner, told me that my old enemy James
Mill had spoken to him on the subject. Mill is, as you have heard, at
the head of one of the principal departments of the India House. The
late Chairman consulted him about me; hoping, I suppose, to have his
support against me. Mill said, very handsomely, that he would advise
the Company to take me; for, as public men went, I was much above the
average, and, if they rejected me, he thought it very unlikely that they
would get anybody so fit. This is all the news that I have to give you.
It is not much. But I wish to keep you as fully informed of what is
going on as I am myself.

Old Sharp told me that I was acting quite wisely, but that he should
never see me again; and he cried as he said it. [Mr. Sharp died in 1837,
before Macaulay's return from India.] I encouraged him; and told him
that I hoped to be in England again before the end of 1839, and that
there was nothing impossible in our meeting again. He cheered up after
a time; told me that he should correspond with me, and give me all the
secret history both of politics and of society; and promised to select
the best books, and send them regularly to me.

The Fishmongers' dinner was very good, but not so profusely splendid as
I had expected. There has been a change, I find, and not before it was
wanted. They had got at one time to dining at ten guineas a head. They
drank my health, and I harangued them with immense applause. I talked
all the evening to Sharp. I told him what a dear sister I had, and how
readily she had agreed to go with me. I had told Grant the same in
the morning. Both of them extolled my good fortune in having such a

Ever yours

T. B. M.

London: November--, 1833.

Dear Hannah,--Things stand as they stood; except that the report of my
appointment is every day spreading more widely; and that I am beset by
advertising dealers begging leave to make up a hundred cotton shirts for
me, and fifty muslin gowns for you, and by clerks out of place begging
to be my secretaries. I am not in very high spirits to-day, as I have
just received a letter from poor Ellis, to whom I had not communicated
my intentions till yesterday. He writes so affectionately and so
plaintively that he quite cuts me to the heart. There are few indeed
from whom I shall part with so much pain; and he, poor fellow, says
that, next to his wife, I am the person for whom he feels the
most thorough attachment, and in whom he places the most unlimited

On the 11th of this month there is to be a dinner given to Lushington
by the electors of the Tower Hamlets. He has persecuted me with
importunities to attend, and make a speech for him; and my father has
joined in the request. It is enough, in these times, Heaven knows, for
a man who represents, as I do, a town of a hundred and twenty thousand
people to keep his own constituents in good humour; and the Spitalfields
weavers, and Whitechapel butchers, are nothing to me. But, ever since
I succeeded in what everybody allows to have been the most hazardous
attempt of the kind ever made,--I mean in persuading an audience of
manufacturers, all Whigs or Radicals, that the immediate alteration
of the corn-laws was impossible,--I have been considered as a capital
physician for desperate cases in politics. However,--to return from that
delightful theme, my own praises,--Lushington, who is not very popular
with the rabble of the Tower Hamlets, thinks that an oration from me
would give him a lift. I could not refuse him directly, backed as he was
by my father. I only said that I would attend if I were in London on the
11th; but I added that, situated as I was, I thought it very probable
that I should be out of town.

I shall go to-night to Miss Berry's soiree. I do not know whether I
told you that she resented my article on Horace Walpole so much that
Sir Stratford Canning advised me not to go near her. She was Walpole's
greatest favourite. His Reminiscences are addressed to her in terms of
the most gallant eulogy. When he was dying at past eighty, he asked her
to marry him, merely that he might make her a Countess and leave her
his fortune. You know that in Vivian Grey she is called Miss Otranto. I
always expected that my article would put her into a passion, and I was
not mistaken; but she has come round again, and sent me a most pressing
and kind invitation the other day.

I have been racketing lately, having dined twice with Rogers, and once
with Grant. Lady Holland is in a most extraordinary state. She came
to Rogers's, with Allen, in so bad a humour that we were all forced
to rally, and make common cause against her. There was not a person at
table to whom she was not rude; and none of us were inclined to submit.
Rogers sneered; Sydney made merciless sport of her. Tom Moore looked
excessively impertinent; Bobus put her down with simple straightforward
rudeness; and I treated her with what I meant to be the coldest
civility. Allen flew into a rage with us all, and especially with
Sydney, whose guffaws, as the Scotch say, were indeed tremendous. When
she and all the rest were gone, Rogers made Tom Moore and me sit down
with him for half an hour, and we coshered over the events of the
evening. Rogers said that he thought Allen's firing up in defence of his
patroness the best thing that he had seen in him. No sooner had Tom and
I got into the street than he broke forth: "That such an old stager as
Rogers should talk such nonsense, and give Allen credit for attachment
to anything but his dinner! Allen was bursting with envy to see us so
free, while he was conscious of his own slavery."

Her Ladyship has been the better for this discipline. She has
overwhelmed me ever since with attentions and invitations. I have at
last found out the cause of her ill-humour, or at least of that portion
of it of which I was the object. She is in a rage at my article on
Walpole, but at what part of it I cannot tell. I know that she is very
intimate with the Waldegraves, to whom the manuscripts belong, and for
whose benefit the letters were published. But my review was surely not
calculated to injure the sale of the book. Lord Holland told me, in an
aside, that he quite agreed with me, but that we had better not discuss
the subject.

A note; and, by my life, from my Lady Holland: "Dear Mr. Macaulay, pray
wrap yourself very warm, and come to us on Wednesday." No, my good
Lady. I am engaged on Wednesday to dine at the Albion Tavern with the
Directors of the East India Company; now my servants; next week, I hope,
to be my masters.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: November 22, 1833.

My dear Sister,--The decision is postponed for a week; but there is no
chance of an unfavourable result. The Chairs have collected the
opinions of their brethren; and the result is, that, of the twenty-four
Directors, only six or seven at the most will vote against me.

I dined with the Directors on Wednesday at the Albion Tavern. We had a
company of about sixty persons, and many eminent military men amongst
them. The very courteous manner in which several of the Directors begged
to be introduced to me, and drank my health at dinner, led me to think
that the Chairs have not overstated the feeling of the Court. One of
them, an old Indian and a great friend of our uncle the General, told
me in plain words that he was glad to hear that I was to be in their
service. Another, whom I do not even know by sight, pressed the Chairman
to propose my health. The Chairman with great judgment refused. It
would have been very awkward to have had to make a speech to them in the
present circumstances.

Of course, my love, all your expenses, from the day of my appointment,
are my affair. My present plan, formed after conversation with
experienced East Indians, is not to burden myself with an extravagant
outfit. I shall take only what will be necessary for the voyage. Plate,
wine, coaches, furniture, glass, china, can be bought in Calcutta as
well as in London. I shall not have money enough to fit myself out
handsomely with such things here; and to fit myself out shabbily would
be folly. I reckon that we can bring our whole expense for the passage
within the twelve hundred pounds allowed by the Company. My calculation
is that our cabins and board will cost L250 apiece. The passage of our
servants L50 apiece. That makes up L600. My clothes and etceteras, as
Mrs. Meeke observes, I will, I am quite sure, come within L200. [Mrs.
Meeke was his favourite among bad novel-writers, See page 96.] Yours
will, of course, be more. I will send you L300 to lay out as you like;
not meaning to confine you to it, by any means; but you would probably
prefer having a sum down to sending in your milliner's bills to me.
I reckon my servant's outfit at L50; your maid's at as much more. The
whole will be L1200.

One word about your maid. You really must choose with great caution.
Hitherto the Company has required that all ladies, who take maidservants
with them from this country to India, should give security to send
them back within two years. The reason was, that no class of people
misconducted themselves so much in the East as female servants from
this country. They generally treat the natives with gross insolence; an
insolence natural enough to people accustomed to stand in a subordinate
relation to others when, for the first time, they find a great
population placed in a servile relation towards them. Then, too, the
state of society is such that they are very likely to become mistresses
of the wealthy Europeans, and to flaunt about in magnificent palanquins,
bringing discredit on their country by the immorality of their lives
and the vulgarity of their manners. On these grounds the Company has
hitherto insisted upon their being sent back at the expense of those who
take them out. The late Act will enable your servant to stay in India,
if she chooses to stay. I hope, therefore, that you will be careful
in your selection. You see how much depends upon it. The happiness and
concord of our native household, which will probably consist of sixty or
seventy people, may be destroyed by her, if she should be ill-tempered
and arrogant. If she should be weak and vain, she will probably form
connections that will ruin her morals and her reputation. I am no
preacher, as you very well know; but I have a strong sense of the
responsibility under which we shall both lie with respect to a poor
girl, brought by us into the midst of temptations of which she cannot
be aware, and which have turned many heads that might have been steady
enough in a quiet nursery or kitchen in England.

To find a man and wife, both of whom would suit us, would be very
difficult; and I think it right, also, to offer to my clerk to keep him
in my service. He is honest, intelligent, and respectful; and, as he is
rather inclined to consumption, the change of climate would probably be
useful to him. I cannot bear the thought of throwing any person who has
been about me for five years, and with whom I have no fault to find, out
of bread, while it is in my power to retain his services.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

London: December 5, 1833

Dear Lord Lansdowne,--I delayed returning an answer to your kind letter
till this day, in order that I might be able to send you definite
intelligence. Yesterday evening the Directors appointed me to a seat in
the Council of India. The votes were nineteen for me, and three against

I feel that the sacrifice which I am about to make is great. But the
motives which urge me to make it are quite irresistible. Every day that
I live I become less and less desirous of great wealth. But every day
makes me more sensible of the importance of a competence. Without a
competence it is not very easy for a public man to be honest; it is
almost impossible for him to be thought so. I am so situated that I can
subsist only in two ways: by being in office, and by my pen. Hitherto,
literature has been merely my relaxation,--the amusement of perhaps a
month in the year. I have never considered it as the means of support. I
have chosen my own topics, taken my own time, and dictated my own terms.
The thought of becoming a bookseller's hack; of writing to relieve, not
the fulness of the mind, but the emptiness of the pocket; of spurring a
jaded fancy to reluctant exertion; of filling sheets with trash merely
that the sheets may be filled; of bearing from publishers and editors
what Dryden bore from Tonson, and what, to my own knowledge, Mackintosh
bore from Lardner, is horrible to me. Yet thus it must be, if I should
quit office. Yet to hold office merely for the sake of emolument would
be more horrible still. The situation, in which I have been placed for
some time back, would have broken the spirit of many men. It has rather
tended to make me the most mutinous and unmanageable of the followers of
the Government. I tendered my resignation twice during the course of the
last Session. I certainly should not have done so if I had been a man
of fortune. You, whom malevolence itself could never accuse of coveting
office for the sake of pecuniary gain, and whom your salary very poorly
compensates for the sacrifice of ease, and of your tastes, to the public
service, cannot estimate rightly the feelings of a man who knows that
his circumstances lay him open to the suspicion of being actuated in his
public conduct by the lowest motives. Once or twice, when I have been
defending unpopular measures in the House of Commons, that thought has
disordered my ideas, and deprived me of my presence of mind.

If this were all, I should feel that, for the sake of my own happiness
and of my public utility, a few years would be well spent in obtaining
an independence. But this is not all. I am not alone in the world. A
family which I love most fondly is dependent on me. Unless I would see
my father left in his old age to the charity of less near relations;
my youngest brother unable to obtain a good professional education; my
sisters, who are more to me than any sisters ever were to a brother,
forced to turn governesses or humble companions,--I must do something,
I must make some effort. An opportunity has offered itself. It is in
my power to make the last days of my father comfortable, to educate my
brother, to provide for my sisters, to procure a competence for myself.
I may hope, by the time I am thirty-nine or forty, to return to England
with a fortune of thirty thousand pounds. To me that would be affluence.
I never wished for more.

As far as English politics are concerned, I lose, it is true, a few
years. But, if your kindness had not introduced me very early to
Parliament,--if I had been left to climb up the regular path of my
profession, and to rise by my own efforts,--I should have had very
little chance of being in the House of Commons at forty. If I have
gained any distinction in the eyes of my countrymen,--if I have acquired
any knowledge of Parliamentary and official business, and any habitude
for the management of great affairs,--I ought to consider these things
as clear gain.

Then, too, the years of my absence, though lost, as far as English
politics are concerned, will not, I hope, be wholly lost, as respects
either my own mind or the happiness of my fellow-creatures. I can
scarcely conceive a nobler field than that which our Indian Empire now
presents to a statesman. While some of my partial friends are blaming
me for stooping to accept a share in the government of that Empire, I
am afraid that I am aspiring too high for my qualifications. I sometimes
feel, I most unaffectedly declare, depressed and appalled by the immense
responsibility which I have undertaken. You are one of the very few
public men of our time who have bestowed on Indian affairs the attention
which they deserve; and you will therefore, I am sure, fully enter into
my feelings.

And now, dear Lord Lansdowne, let me thank you most warmly for the kind
feeling which has dictated your letter. That letter is, indeed, but a
very small part of what I ought to thank you for. That at an early age
I have gained some credit in public life; that I have done some little
service to more than one good cause; that I now have it in my power
to repair the ruined fortunes of my family, and to save those who are
dearest to me from the misery and humiliation of dependence; that I am
almost certain, if I live, of obtaining a competence by honourable
means before I am past the full vigour of manhood,--this I owe to your
kindness. I will say no more. I will only entreat you to believe that
neither now, nor on any former occasion, have I ever said one thousandth
part of what I feel.

If it will not be inconvenient to you, I propose to go to Bowood on
Wednesday next. Labouchere will be my fellow-traveller. On Saturday we
must both return to town. Short as my visit must be, I look forward to
it with great pleasure.

Believe me, ever,

Yours most faithfully and affectionately


To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: December 5, 1833

My dear Sister,--I am overwhelmed with business, clearing off my work
here, and preparing for my new functions. Plans of ships, and letters
from captains, pour in without intermission. I really am mobbed with
gentlemen begging to have the honour of taking me to India at my own
time. The fact is that a Member of Council is a great catch, not merely
on account of the high price which he directly pays for accommodation,
but because other people are attracted by him. Every father of a young
writer, or a young cadet, likes to have his son on board the same vessel
with the great man, to dine at the same table, and to have a chance of
attracting his notice. Everything in India is given by the Governor
in Council; and, though I have no direct voice in the disposal of
patronage, my indirect influence may be great.

Grant's kindness through all these negotiations has been such as I
really cannot describe. He told me yesterday, with tears in his eyes,
that he did not know what the Board would do without me. I attribute his
feeling partly to Robert Grant's absence; not that Robert ever did me
ill offices with him far from it; but Grant's is a mind that cannot
stand alone. It is begging your pardon for my want of gallantry, a
feminine mind. It turns, like ivy, to some support. When Robert is near
him, he clings to Robert. Robert being away, he clings to me. This may
be a weakness in a public man; but I love him the better for it.

I have lately met Sir James Graham at dinner. He took me aside, and
talked to me on my appointment with a warmth of kindness which, though
we have been always on good terms, surprised me. But the approach of
a long separation, like the approach of death, brings out all friendly
feelings with unusual strength. The Cabinet, he said, felt the loss
strongly. It was great at the India Board, but in the House of Commons,
(he used the word over and over,) "irreparable." They all, however, he
said, agreed that a man of honour could not make politics a profession
unless he had a competence of his own, without exposing himself to
privation of the severest kind. They felt that they had never had it
in their power to do all they wished to do for me. They had no means of
giving me a provision in England; and they could not refuse me what
I asked in India. He said very strongly that they all thought that
I judged quite wisely; and added that, if God heard his prayers, and
spared my health, I should make a far greater figure in public life than
if I had remained during the next five or six years in England.

I picked up in a print-shop the other day some superb views of the
suburbs of Chowringhee, and the villas of the Garden Reach. Selina
professes that she is ready to die with envy of the fine houses and
verandahs. I heartily wish we were back again in a nice plain brick
house, three windows in front, in Cadogan Place or Russell Square, with
twelve or fifteen hundred a year, and a spare bedroom,--(we, like Mrs.
Norris, [A leading personage in Miss Austen's "Mansfield Park."] must
always have a spare bedroom,)--for Edward and Margaret, Love to them

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Macvey Napier, Esq.

London: December 5, 1833

Dear Napier,--You are probably not unprepared for what I am about to
tell you. Yesterday evening the Directors of the East India Company
elected me one of the members of the Supreme Council. It will,
therefore, be necessary that in a few weeks,--ten weeks, at furthest,--I
should leave this country for a few years.

It would be mere affectation in me to pretend not to know that my
support is of some importance to the Edinburgh Review. In the situation
in which I shall now be placed, a connection with the Review will be of
some importance to me. I know well how dangerous it is for a public man
wholly to withdraw himself from the public eye. During an absence of six
years, I run some risk of losing most of the distinction, literary and
political, which I have acquired. As a means of keeping myself in the
recollection of my countrymen during my sojourn abroad the Review will
be invaluable to me; nor do I foresee that there will be the slightest
difficulty in my continuing to write for you at least as much as ever.
I have thought over my late articles, and I really can scarcely call
to mind a single sentence in any one of them which might not have been
written at Calcutta as easily as in London. Perhaps in India I might not
have the means of detecting two or three of the false dates in Croker's
Boswell. But that would have been all. Very little, if any, of the
effect of my most popular articles is produced either by minute research
into rare books, or by allusions to mere topics of the day.

I think therefore that we might easily establish a commerce mutually
beneficial. I shall wish to be supplied with all the good books
which come out in this part of the world. Indeed, many books which
in themselves are of little value, and which, if I were in England, I
should not think it worth while to read, will be interesting to me in
India; just as the commonest daubs, and the rudest vessels, at Pompeii
attract the minute attention of people who would not move their eyes
to see a modern signpost, or a modern kettle. Distance of place, like
distance of time, makes trifles valuable.

What I propose, then, is that you should pay me for the articles which I
may send you from India, not in money, but in books. As to the amount
I make no stipulations. You know that I have never haggled about such
matters. As to the choice of books, the mode of transmission, and other
matters, we shall have ample time to discuss them before my departure.
Let me know whether you are willing to make an arrangement on this

I have not forgotten Chatham in the midst of my avocations. I hope to
send you an article on him early next week.

Ever yours sincerely


From the Right Hon. Francis Jeffrey to Macvey Napier, Esq.

24, Moray Place Saturday evening, December

My dear Napier,--I am very much obliged to you for the permission
to read this. It is to me, I will confess, a solemn and melancholy
announcement. I ought not, perhaps, so to consider it. But I cannot help
it. I was not prepared for six years, and I must still hope that it will
not be so much. At my age, and with that climate for him, the chances of
our ever meeting again are terribly endangered by such a term. He does
not know the extent of the damage which his secession may be to the
great cause of Liberal government. His anticipations and offers about
the Review are generous and pleasing, and must be peculiarly gratifying
to you. I think, if you can, you should try to see him before he goes,
and I envy you the meeting.

Ever very faithfully yours


To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: December 21, 1833.

My dear Sister,--Yesterday I dined at Boddington's. We had a very
agreeable party: Duncannon, Charles Grant, Sharp, Chantrey the sculptor,
Bobus Smith, and James Mill. Mill and I were extremely friendly, and
I found him a very pleasant companion, and a man of more general
information than I had imagined.

Bobus was very amusing. He is a great authority on Indian matters. He
was during several years Advocate-General in Bengal, and made all his
large fortune there. I asked him about the climate. Nothing, he said,
could be pleasanter, except in August and September. He never ate or
drank so much in his life. Indeed, his looks do credit to Bengal; for
a healthier man of his age I never saw. We talked about expenses. "I
cannot conceive," he said, "how anybody at Calcutta can live on less
than L3,000 a year, or can contrive to spend more than L4,000." We
talked of the insects and snakes, and he said a thing which reminded me
of his brother Sydney: "Always, Sir, manage to have at your table
some fleshy, blooming, young writer or cadet, just come out; that the
musquitoes may stick to him, and leave the rest of the company alone."

I have been with George Babington to the Asia. We saw her to every
disadvantage, all litter and confusion; but she is a fine ship, and our
cabins will be very good. The captain I like much. He is an agreeable,
intelligent, polished man of forty; and very good-looking, considering
what storms and changes of climate he has gone through. He advised me
strongly to put little furniture into our cabins. I told him to have
yours made as neat as possible, without regard to expense. He has
promised to have it furnished simply, but prettily; and when you see it,
if any addition occurs to you, it shall be made. I shall spare nothing
to make a pretty little boudoir for you. You cannot think how my friends
here praise you. You are quite Sir James Graham's heroine.

To-day I breakfasted with Sharp, whose kindness is as warm as possible.
Indeed, all my friends seen to be in the most amiable mood. I have twice
as many invitations as I can accept; and I have been frequently begged
to name my own party. Empty as London is, I never was so much beset with
invitations. Sharp asked me about you. I told him how much I regretted
my never having had any opportunity of showing you the best part of
London society. He said that he would take care that you should see what
was best worth seeing before your departure. He promises to give us a
few breakfast-parties and dinner-parties, where you will meet as many
as he can muster of the best set in town,--Rogers, Luttrell, Rice, Tom
Moore, Sydney Smith, Grant, and other great wits and politicians. I am
quite delighted at this; both because you will, I am sure, be amused,
and pleased, at a time when you ought to have your mind occupied, and
because even to have mixed a little in a circle so brilliant will be
of advantage to you in India. You have neglected, and very rightly and
sensibly, frivolous accomplishments; you have not been at places of
fashionable diversion; and it is, therefore, the more desirable that
you should appear among the dancing, pianoforte-playing, opera-going,
damsels at Calcutta as one who has seen society better than any that
they ever approached. I hope that you will not disapprove of what I have
done. I accepted Sharp's offer for you eagerly.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: January 2, 1834.

My dear Sister,--I am busy with an article for Napier. [The first
article on Lord Chatham.] I cannot in the least tell at present whether
I shall like it or not. I proceed with great ease; and in general I have
found that the success of my writings has been in proportion to the ease
with which they have been written.

I had a most extraordinary scene with Lady Holland. If she had been as
young and handsome as she was thirty years ago, she would have turned my
head. She was quite hysterical about my going; paid me such compliments
as I cannot repeat; cried; raved; called me dear, dear Macaulay. "You
are sacrificed to your family. I see it all. You are too good to them.
They are always making a tool of you; last Session about the slaves; and
now sending you to India!" I always do my best to keep my temper with
Lady Holland for three reasons; because she is a woman; because she is
very unhappy in her health, and in the circumstances of her position;
and because she has a real kindness for me. But at last she said
something about you. This was too much, and I was beginning to answer
her in a voice trembling with anger, when she broke out again: "I beg
your pardon. Pray forgive me, dear Macaulay. I was very impertinent. I
know you will forgive me. Nobody has such a temper as you. I have said
so a hundred times. I said so to Allen only this morning. I am sure you
will bear with my weakness. I shall never see you again;" and she cried,
and I cooled; for it would have been to very little purpose to be angry
with her. I hear that it is not to me alone that she runs on in this
way. She storms at the Ministers for letting me go. I was told that at
one dinner she became so violent that even Lord Holland, whose temper,
whatever his wife may say, is much cooler than mine, could not command
himself, and broke out: "Don't talk such nonsense, my Lady. What, the
devil! Can we tell a gentleman who has a claim upon us that he must lose
his only chance of getting an independence in order that he may come and
talk to you in an evening?"

Good-bye, and take care not to become so fond of your own will as my
Lady. It is now my duty to omit no opportunity of giving you wholesome
advice. I am henceforward your sole guardian. I have bought Gisborne's
Duties of Women, Moore's Fables for the Female Sex, Mrs. King's Female
Scripture Characters, and Fordyce's Sermons. With the help of these
books I hope to keep my responsibility in order on our voyage, and in

Ever yours

T. B. M.

To Hannah M. Macaulay.

London: January 4, 1834.

My dear Sister,--I am now buying books; not trashy books which will only
bear one reading; but good books for a library. I have my eye on all the
bookstalls; and I shall no longer suffer you, when we walk together in
London, to drag me past them as you used to do. Pray make out a list of
any which you would like to have. The provision which I design for the
voyage is Richardson, Voltaire's works, Gibbon, Sismondi's History of
the French, Davila, the Orlando in Italian, Don Quixote in Spanish,
Homer in Greek, Horace in Latin. I must also have some books of
jurisprudence, and some to initiate me in Persian and Hindostanee. Shall
I buy "Dunallan" for you? I believe that in your eyes it would stand in
the place of all the rest together. But, seriously, let me know what you
would like me to procure.

Ellis is making a little collection of Greek classics for me. Sharp has
given me one or two very rare and pretty books, which I much wanted. All
the Edinburgh Reviews are being bound, so that we shall have a complete
set, up to the forth coming number, which will contain an article of
mine on Chatham. And this reminds me that I must give over writing to
you, and fall to my article. I rather think that it will be a good one.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

London: February 13, 1834.

Dear Napier,--It is true that I have been severely tried by ill-health
during the last few weeks; but I am now rapidly recovering, and am
assured by all my medical advisers that a week of the sea will make me
better than ever I was in my life.

I have several subjects in my head. One is Mackintosh's History; I mean
the fragment of the large work. Another plan which I have is a very fine
one, if it could be well executed. I think that the time is come when a
fair estimate may be formed of the intellectual and moral character of
Voltaire. The extreme veneration, with which he was regarded during his
lifetime, has passed away; the violent reaction, which followed, has
spent itself; and the world can now, I think, bear to hear the truth,
and to see the man exhibited as he was,--a strange mixture of greatness
and littleness, virtues and vices. I have all his works, and shall take
them in my cabin on the voyage. But my library is not particularly rich
in those books which illustrate the literary history of his times. I
have Rousseau, and Marmontel's Memoirs, and Madame du Deffand's Letters,
and perhaps a few other works which would be of use. But Grimm's
Correspondence, and several other volumes of memoirs and letters, would
be necessary. If you would make a small collection of the works which
would be most useful in this point of view, and send it after me as soon
as possible, I will do my best to draw a good Voltaire. I fear that the
article must be enormously long,--seventy pages perhaps;--but you know
that I do not run into unnecessary lengths.

I may perhaps try my hand on Miss Austen's novels. That is a subject on
which I shall require no assistance from books.

Whatever volumes you may send me ought to be half bound; or the white
ants will devour them before they have been three days on shore. Besides
the books which may be necessary for the Review, I should like to have
any work of very striking merit which may appear during my absence. The
particular department of literature which interests me most is history;
above all, English history. Any valuable book on that subject I should
wish to possess. Sharp, Miss Berry, and some of my other friends, will
perhaps, now and then, suggest a book to you. But it is principally on
your own judgment that I must rely to keep me well supplied.

Yours most truly


On the 4th of February Macaulay bade farewell to his electors, in an
address which the Leeds Tories probably thought too high-flown for the
occasion. ["If, now that I have ceased to be your servant, and am only
your sincere and grateful friend, I may presume to offer you advice
which must, at least, be allowed to be disinterested, I would say to
you: Act towards your future representatives as you have acted towards
me. Choose them, as you chose me, without canvassing and without
expense. Encourage them, as you encouraged me, always to speak to you
fearlessly and plainly. Reject, as you have hitherto rejected, the wages
of dishonour. Defy, as you have hitherto defied, the threats of petty
tyrants. Never forget that the worst and most degrading species of
corruption is the corruption which operates, not by hopes, but by fears.
Cherish those noble and virtuous principles for which we have struggled
and triumphed together--the principles of liberty and toleration, of
justice and order. Support, as you have steadily supported, the cause of
good government; and may all the blessings which are the natural
fruits of good government descend upon you and be multiplied to you an
hundredfold! May your manufactures flourish; may your trade be extended;
may your riches increase! May the works of your skill, and the signs of
your prosperity, meet me in the furthest regions of the East, and give
me fresh cause to be proud of the intelligence, the industry, and the
spirit of my constituents!"] But he had not yet done with the House of
Commons. Parliament met on the first Tuesday in the month; and, on the
Wednesday, O'Connell, who had already contrived to make two speeches
since the Session began, rose for a third time to call attention to
words uttered during the recess by Mr. Hill, the Member for Hull. That
gentleman, for want of something better to say to his constituents, had
told them that he happened to know "that an Irish Member, who spoke
with great violence against every part of the Coercion Bill, and voted
against every clause of it, went to Ministers and said: 'Don't bate a
single atom of that Bill, or it will be impossible for any man to live
in Ireland."' O'Connell called upon Lord Althorp, as the representative
of the Government, to say what truth there was in this statement. Lord
Althorp, taken by surprise, acted upon the impulse of the moment, which
in his case was a feeling of reluctance to throw over poor Mr. Hill to
be bullied by O'Connell and his redoubtable tail. After explaining that
no set and deliberate communication of the nature mentioned had been
made to the Ministers, his Lordship went on to say that he "should not
act properly if he did not declare that he had good reason to believe
that some Irish Members did, in private conversation, use very different
language" from what they had employed in public.

It was chivalrously, but most unwisely, spoken. O'Connell at once gave
the cue by inquiring whether he himself was among the Members referred
to, and Lord Althorp assured him that such was not the case. The
Speaker tried to interfere; but the matter had gone too far. One Irish
representative after another jumped up to repeat the same question with
regard to his own case, and received the same answer. At length Sheil
rose, and asked whether he was one of the Members to whole the Noble
Lord had alluded. Lord Althorp replied: "Yes. The honourable and learned
gentleman is one." Sheil, "in the face of his country, and the presence
of his God," asserted that the individual who had given any such
information to the Noble Lord was guilty of a "gross and scandalous
calumny," and added that he understood the Noble Lord to have made
himself responsible for the imputation. Then ensued one of those
scenes in which the House of Commons appears at its very worst. All the
busybodies, as their manner is, rushed to the front; and hour after
hour slipped away in an unseemly, intricate, and apparently interminable
wrangle. Sheil was duly called upon to give an assurance that the affair
should not be carried beyond the walls of the House. He refused to
comply, and was committed to the charge of the Sergeant at Arms. The
Speaker then turned to Lord Althorp, who promised in Parliamentary
language not to send a challenge. Upon this, as is graphically enough
described in the conventional terms of Hansard, "Mr O'Connell made some
observation to the honourable Member sitting next him which was not
heard in the body of the House. Lord Althorp immediately rose, and amid
loud cheers, and with considerable warmth, demanded to know what the
honourable and learned gentleman meant by his gesticulation;" and then,
after an explanation from O'Connell, his Lordship went on to use phrases
which very clearly signified that, though he had no cause for sending a
challenge, he had just as little intention of declining one; upon which
he likewise was made over to the Sergeant. Before, however, honourable
Members went to their dinners, they had the relief of learning that
their refractory colleagues had submitted to the Speaker's authority,
and had been discharged from custody.

There was only one way out of the difficulty. On the 10th of February
a Committee of Investigation was appointed, composed of Members who
enjoyed a special reputation for discretion. Mr. Hill called his
witnesses. The first had nothing relevant to tell. Macaulay was the
second; and he forthwith cut the matter short by declaring that,
on principle, he refused to disclose what had passed in private
conversation; a sentiment which was actually cheered by the Committee.
One sentence of common sense brought the absurd embroilment to a
rational conclusion. Mr. Hill saw his mistake; begged that no further
evidence might be taken; and, at the next sitting of the House, withdrew
his charge in unqualified terms of self-abasement and remorse. Lord
Althorp readily admitted that he had acted "imprudently as a man, and
still more imprudently as a Minister," and stated that he considered
himself bound to accept Sheil's denial; but he could not manage so to
frame his remarks as to convey to his hearers the idea that his opinion
of that honourable gentleman had been raised by the transaction. Sheil
acknowledged the two apologies with effusion proportioned to their
respective value; and so ended an affair which, at the worst, had evoked
a fresh proof of that ingrained sincerity of character for the sake
of which his party would have followed Lord Althorp to the death. [In
Macaulay's journal for June 4, 1851, we read: "I went to breakfast
with the Bishop of Oxford, and there learned that Sheil was dead. Poor
fellow! We talked about Sheil, and I related my adventure of February
1834. Odd that it should have been so little known or so completely

Gravesend: February 15, 1834.

Dear Lord Lansdowne,--I had hoped that it would have been in my power to
shake hands with you once more before my departure; but this deplorably
absurd affair in the House of Commons has prevented me from calling
on you. I lost a whole day while the Committee were deciding whether
I should, or should not, be forced to repeat all the foolish, shabby,
things that I had heard Sheil say at Brooks's. Everybody thought me
right, as I certainly was.

I cannot leave England without sending a few lines to you,--and yet they
are needless. It is unnecessary for me to say with what feelings I shall
always remember our connection, and with what interest I shall always
learn tidings of you and of your family.

Yours most sincerely


CHAPTER VI. 1834-1838.

     The outward voyage--Arrival at Madras--Macaulay is summoned
     to join Lord William Bentinck in the Neilgherries--His
     journey up-country--His native servant--Arcot--Bangalore--
     Seringapatam--Ascent of the Neilgherries--First sight of the
     Governor-General--Letters to Mr. Ellis, and the Miss
     Macaulays--A summer on the Neilgherries--Native Christians--
     Clarissa--A tragi-comedy--Macaulay leaves the Neilgherries,
     travels to Calcutta, and there sets up house--Letters to Mr.
     Napier, and Mrs. Cropper--Mr. Trevelyan--Marriage of Hannah
     Macaulay--Death of Mrs. Cropper--Macaulay's work in India--
     His Minutes for Council--Freedom of the Press--Literary
     gratitude--Second Minute on the Freedom of the Press--The
     Black Act--A Calcutta public meeting--Macaulay's defence of
     the policy of the Indian Government--His Minute on
     Education--He becomes President of the Committee of Public
     Instruction--His industry in discharging the functions of
     that post--Specimens of his official writing--Results of his
     labours--He is appointed President of the Law Commission,
     and recommends the framing of a Criminal Code--Appearance of
     the Code--Comments of Mr. Fitzjames Stephen--Macaulay's
     private life in India--Oriental delicacies--Breakfast-
     parties--Macaulay's longing for England--Calcutta and
     Dublin--Departure from India--Letters to Mr. Ellis, Mr.
     Sharp, Mr. Napier, and Mr. Z. Macaulay.

FROM the moment that a deputation of Falmouth Whigs, headed by their
Mayor, came on board to wish Macaulay his health in India and a happy
return to England, nothing occurred that broke the monotony of an
easy and rapid voyage. "The catching of a shark; the shooting of an
albatross; a sailor tumbling down the hatchway and breaking his head; a
cadet getting drunk and swearing at the captain," are incidents to which
not even the highest literary power can impart the charm of novelty
in the eyes of the readers of a seafaring nation. The company on the
quarterdeck was much on a level with the average society of an East
Indiaman. "Hannah will give you the histories of all these good people
at length, I dare say, for she was extremely social; danced with the
gentlemen in the evenings, and read novels and sermons with the ladies
in the mornings. I contented myself with being very civil whenever I was
with the other passengers, and took care to be with them as little as I
could. Except at meals, I hardly exchanged a word with any human being.
I never was left for so long a time so completely to my own resources;
and I am glad to say that I found them quite sufficient to keep me
cheerful and employed. During the whole voyage I read with keen and
increasing enjoyment. I devoured Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, French,
and English; folios, quartos, octavos, and duodecimos."

On the 10th of June the vessel lay to off Madras; and Macaulay had his
first introduction to the people for whom he was appointed to legislate
in the person of a boatman who pulled through the surf on his raft. "He
came on board with nothing on him but a pointed yellow cap, and walked
among us with a self-possession and civility which, coupled with
his colour and his nakedness, nearly made me die of laughing." This
gentleman was soon followed by more responsible messengers, who brought
tidings the reverse of welcome. Lord William Bentinck, who was then
Governor-General, was detained by ill-health at Ootacamund in the
Neilgherry Hills; a place which, by name at least, is now as familiar to
Englishmen as Malvern; but which in 1834 was known to Macaulay, by
vague report, as situated somewhere "in the mountains of Malabar, beyond
Mysore." The state of public business rendered it necessary that the
Council should meet; and, as the Governor-General had left one member
of that body in Bengal as his deputy, he was not able to make a quorum
until his new colleague arrived from England. A pressing summons to
attend his Lordship in the Hills placed Macaulay in some embarrassment
on account of his sister, who could not with safety commence her Eastern
experiences by a journey of four hundred miles up the country in the
middle of June. Happily the second letter which he opened proved to be
from Bishop Wilson, who insisted that the son and daughter of so eminent
an Evangelical as the Editor of the Christian Observer, themselves part
of his old congregation in Bedford Row, should begin their Indian
life nowhere except under his roof. Hannah, accordingly, continued her
voyage, and made her appearance in Calcutta circles with the Bishop's
Palace as a home, and Lady William Bentinck as a kind, and soon an
affectionate, chaperon; while her brother remained on shore at Madras,
somewhat consoled for the separation by finding himself in a country
where so much was to be seen, and where, as far as the English residents
were concerned, he was regarded with a curiosity at least equal to his

During the first few weeks nothing came amiss to him. "To be on land
after three months at sea is of itself a great change. But to be in such
a land! The dark faces, with white turbans, and flowing robes; the trees
not our trees; the very smell of the atmosphere that of a hothouse, and
the architecture as strange as the vegetation." Every feature in that
marvellous scene delighted him both in itself, and for the sake of the
innumerable associations and images which it conjured up in his active
and well-stored mind. The salute of fifteen guns that greeted him, as
he set his foot on the beach, reminded him that he was in a region where
his countrymen could exist only on the condition of their being warriors
and rulers. When on a visit of ceremony to a dispossessed Rajah or
Nabob, he pleased himself with the reflection that he was face to
face with a prince who in old days governed a province as large as a
first-class European kingdom, conceding to his Suzerain, the Mogul,
no tribute beyond "a little outward respect such as the great Dukes of
Burgundy used to pay to the Kings of France; and who now enjoyed the
splendid and luxurious insignificance of an abdicated prince which fell
to the lot of Charles the Fifth or Queen Christina of Sweden," with a
court that preserved the forms of royalty, the right of keeping as many
badly armed and worse paid ragamuffins as he could retain under his
tawdry standard, and the privilege of "occasionally sending letters of
condolence and congratulation to the King of England, in which he calls
himself his Majesty's good brother and ally."

Macaulay set forth on his journey within a week from his landing,
travelling by night, and resting while the sun was at its hottest. He
has recorded his first impressions of Hindostan in a series of journal
letters addressed to his sister Margaret. The fresh and vivid character
of those impressions--the genuine and multiform interest excited in him
by all that met his ear or eye--explain the secret of the charm which
enabled him in after days to overcome the distaste for Indian literature
entertained by that personage who, for want of a better, goes by the
name of the general reader. Macaulay reversed in his own case, the
experience of those countless writers on Indian themes who have
successively blunted their pens against the passive indifference of the
British public; for his faithful but brilliant studies of the history of
our Eastern Empire are to this day incomparably the most popular of his
works. [When published in a separate form the articles on Lord Clive and
Warren Hastings have sold nearly twice as well as the articles on Lord
Chatham, nearly thrice as well as the article on Addison, and nearly
five times as well as the article on Byron. The great Sepoy mutiny,
while it something more than doubled the sale of the essay on Warren
Hastings, all but trebled the sale of the essay on Lord Clive; but,
taking the last twenty years together, there has been little to choose
between the pair. The steadiness and permanence of the favour with which
they are regarded may be estimated by the fact that, during the five
years between 1870 and 1874, as compared with the five years between
1865 and 1869, the demand for them has been in the proportion of seven
to three; and, as compared with the five years between 1860 and 1864, in
the proportion of three to one.] It may be possible, without injury to
the fame of the author, to present a few extracts from a correspondence,
which is in some sort the raw material of productions that have already
secured their place among our national classics:

"In the afternoon of the 17th June I left Madras. My train consisted of
thirty-eight persons. I was in one palanquin, and my servant followed in
another. He is a half-caste. On the day on which we set out he told me
he was a Catholic; and added, crossing himself and turning up the whites
of his eyes, that he had recommended himself to the protection of his
patron saint, and that he was quite confident that we should perform
our journey in safety. I thought of Ambrose Llamela, Gil Blas's devout
valet, who arranges a scheme for robbing his master of his portmanteau,
and, when he comes back from meeting his accomplices, pretends that he
has been to the cathedral to implore a blessing on their voyage. I did
him, however, a great injustice; for I have found him a very honest man,
who knows the native languages, and who can dispute a charge, bully a
negligent bearer, arrange a bed, and make a curry. But he is so fond of
giving advice that I fear he will some day or other, as the Scotch say,
raise my corruption, and provoke me to send him about his business. His
name, which I never hear without laughing, is Peter Prim.

"Half my journey was by daylight, and all that I saw during that time
disappointed me grievously. It is amazing how small a part of the
country is under cultivation. Two-thirds at least, as it seemed to me,
was in the state of Wandsworth Common, or, to use an illustration which
you will understand better, of Chatmoss. The people whom we met were as
few as in the Highlands of Scotland. But I have been told that in India
the villages generally lie at a distance from the roads, and that much
of the land, which when I passed through it looked like parched moor
that had never been cultivated, would after the rains be covered with

After traversing this landscape for fifteen hours he reached the town of
Arcot, which, under his handling, was to be celebrated far and wide as
the cradle of our greatness in the East.

"I was most hospitably received by Captain Smith, who commanded the
garrison. After dinner the palanquins went forward with my servant, and
the Captain and I took a ride to see the lions of the neighbourhood.
He mounted me on a very quiet Arab, and I had a pleasant excursion. We
passed through a garden which was attached to the residence of the Nabob
of the Carnatic, who anciently held his court at Arcot. The garden has
been suffered to run to waste, and is only the more beautiful for having
been neglected. Garden, indeed, is hardly a proper word. In England
it would rank as one of our noblest parks, from which it differs
principally in this, that most of the fine trees are fruit trees.
From this we came to a mountain pass which reminded me strongly of
Borradaile, near Derwentwater, and through this defile we struck into
the road, and rejoined the bearers."

And so he went forward on his way, recalling at every step the
reminiscence of some place, or event, or person; and, thereby, doubling
for himself, and perhaps for his correspondent, the pleasure which
the reality was capable of affording. If he put up at a collector's
bungalow, he liked to think that his host ruled more absolutely and over
a larger population than "a Duke of Saxe-Weimar or a Duke of Lucca;"
and, when he came across a military man with a turn for reading, he
pronounced him "as Dominic Sampson said of another Indian Colonel, 'a
man of great erudition, considering his imperfect opportunities.'"

On the 19th of June he crossed the frontier of Mysore; reached Bangalore
on the morning of the 20th and rested there for three days in the house
of the Commandant.

"On Monday, the 23rd, I took leave of Colonel Cubbon, who told me,
with a warmth which I was vain enough to think sincere, that he had not
passed three such pleasant days for thirty years. I went on all night,
sleeping soundly in my palanquin. At five I was waked, and found that a
carriage was waiting for me. I had told Colonel Cubbon that I very much
wished to see Seringapatam. He had written to the British authorities at
the town of Mysore, and an officer had come from the Residency to show
me all that was to be seen. I must now digress into Indian politics;
and let me tell you that, if you read the little that I shall say about
them, you will know more on the subject than half the members of the

After a few pages occupied by a sketch of the history of Mysore during
the preceding century, Macaulay proceeds

"Seringapatam has always been a place of peculiar interest to me. It was
the scene of the greatest events of Indian history. It was the residence
of the greatest of Indian princes. From a child, I used to hear it
talked of every day. Our uncle Colin was imprisoned there for four
years, and he was afterwards distinguished at the siege. I remember
that there was, in a shop-window at Clapham, a daub of the taking
of Seringapatam, which, as a boy, I often used to stare at with the
greatest interest. I was delighted to have an opportunity of seeing
the place; and, though my expectations were high, they were not

"The town is depopulated; but the fortress, which was one of the
strongest in India, remains entire. A river almost as broad as the
Thames at Chelsea breaks into two branches, and surrounds the walls,
above which are seen the white minarets of a mosque. We entered, and
found everything silent and desolate. The mosque, indeed, is still kept
up, and deserves to be so; but the palace of Tippoo has fallen into
utter ruin. I saw, however, with no small interest, the airholes of the
dungeon in which the English prisoners were confined, and the water-gate
leading down to the river where the body of Tippoo was found still
warm by the Duke of Wellington, then Colonel Wellesley. The exact spot
through which the English soldiers fought their way against desperate
disadvantages into the fort is still perfectly discernible. But, though
only thirty-five years have elapsed since the fall of the city, the
palace is in the condition of Tintern Abbey and Melrose Abbey. The
courts, which bear a great resemblance to those of the Oxford Colleges,
are completely overrun with weeds and flowers. The Hall of Audience,
once considered the finest in India, still retains some very faint
traces of its old magnificence. It is supported on a great number of
light and lofty wooden pillars, resting on pedestals of black granite.
These pillars were formerly covered with gilding, and here and there
the glitter may still be perceived. In a few more years not the smallest
trace of this superb chamber will remain. I am surprised that more care
was not taken by the English to preserve so splendid a memorial of
the greatness of him whom they had conquered. It was not like Lord
Wellesley's general mode of proceeding; and I soon saw a proof of his
taste and liberality. Tippoo raised a most sumptuous mausoleum to his
father, and attached to it a mosque which he endowed. The buildings are
carefully maintained at the expense of our Government. You walk up from
the fort through a narrow path, bordered by flower beds and cypresses,
to the front of the mausoleum, which is very beautiful, and in general
character closely resembles the most richly carved of our small Gothic
chapels. Within are three tombs, all covered with magnificent palls
embroidered in gold with verses from the Koran. In the centre lies
Hyder; on his right the mother of Tippoo; and Tippoo himself on the

During his stay at Mysore, Macaulay had an interview with the deposed
Rajah; whose appearance, conversation, palace, furniture, jewels,
soldiers, elephants, courtiers, and idols, he depicts in a letter,
intended for family perusal, with a minuteness that would qualify him
for an Anglo-Indian Richardson. By the evening of the 24th June he was
once more on the road; and, about noon on the following day, he began
to ascend the Neilgherries, through scenery which, for the benefit of
readers who had never seen the Pyrenees or the Italian slopes of
an Alpine pass, he likened to "the vegetation of Windsor Forest, or
Blenheim, spread over the mountains of Cumberland." After reaching
the summit of the table-land, he passed through a wilderness where for
eighteen miles together he met nothing more human than a monkey, until
a turn of the road disclosed the pleasant surprise of an amphitheatre
of green hills encircling a small lake, whose banks were dotted with
red-tiled cottages surrounding a pretty Gothic church. The whole station
presented "very much the look of a rising English watering-place. The
largest house is occupied by the Governor-General. It is a spacious
and handsome building of stone. To this I was carried, and immediately
ushered into his Lordship's presence. I found him sitting by a fire in a
carpeted library. He received me with the greatest kindness, frankness,
and hospitality. He is, as far as I can yet judge, all that I
have heard; that is to say, rectitude, openness, and good-nature,
personified." Many months of close friendship and common labours did
but confirm Macaulay in this first view of Lord William Bentinck. His
estimate of that singularly noble character survives in the closing
sentence of the essay on Lord Clive; and is inscribed on the base of
the statue which, standing in front of the Town Hall may be seen far
and wide over the great expanse of grass that serves as the park, the
parade-ground, and the race-course of Calcutta.

To Thomas Flower Ellis.

Ootacamund: July 1, 1834.

Dear Ellis,--You need not get your map to see where Ootacamund is; for
it has not found its way into the maps. It is a new discovery; a place
to which Europeans resort for their health, or, as it is called by the
Company's servants--blessings on their learning,--a _sanaterion_. It
lies at the height of 7,000 feet above the sea.

While London is a perfect gridiron, here am I, at 13 degrees North from
the equator, by a blazing wood fire, with my windows closed. My bed is
heaped with blankets, and my black servants are coughing round me in all
directions. One poor fellow in particular looks so miserably cold that,
unless the sun comes out, I am likely soon to see under my own roof
the spectacle which, according to Shakespeare, is so interesting to the
English,--a dead Indian. [The Tempest, act ii. scene 2.]

I travelled the whole four hundred miles between this and Madras on
men's shoulders. I had an agreeable journey on the whole. I was honoured
by an interview with the Rajah of Mysore, who insisted on showing me
all his wardrobe, and his picture gallery. He has six or seven coloured
English prints, not much inferior to those which I have seen in the
sanded parlour of a country inn; "Going to Cover," "The Death of the
Fox," and so forth. But the bijou of his gallery, of which he is as vain
as the Grand Duke can be of the Venus, or Lord Carlisle of the Three
Maries, is a head of the Duke of Wellington, which has, most certainly,
been on a sign-post in England.

Yet, after all, the Rajah was by no means the greatest fool whom I
found at Mysore. I alighted at a bungalow appertaining to the British
Residency. There I found an Englishman who, without any preface,
accosted me thus: "Pray, Mr. Macaulay, do not you think that Buonaparte
was the Beast?" "No, Sir, I cannot say that I do." "Sir, he was the
Beast. I can prove it. I have found the number 666 in his name. Why,
Sir, if he was not the Beast, who was?" This was a puzzling question,
and I am not a little vain of my answer. "Sir," said I, "the House of
Commons is the Beast. There are 658 members of the House; and these,
with their chief officers,--the three clerks, the Sergeant and his
deputy, the Chaplain, the doorkeeper, and the librarian,--make 666."
"Well, Sir, that is strange. But I can assure you that, if you write
Napoleon Buonaparte in Arabic, leaving out only two letters, it will
give 666." "And pray, Sir, what right have you to leave out two letters?
And, as St. John was writing Greek, and to Greeks, is it not likely that
he would use the Greek rather than the Arabic notation?" "But, Sir,"
said this learned divine, "everybody knows that the Greek letters were
never used to mark numbers." I answered with the meekest look and voice
possible: "I do not think that everybody knows that. Indeed I have
reason to believe that a different opinion,--erroneous no doubt,--is
universally embraced by all the small minority who happen to know any
Greek." So ended the controversy. The man looked at me as if he thought
me a very wicked fellow; and, I dare say, has by this time discovered
that, if you write my name in Tamul, leaving out T in Thomas, B
in Babington, and M in Macaulay, it will give the number of this
unfortunate Beast.

I am very comfortable here. The Governor-General is the frankest and
best-natured of men. The chief functionaries, who have attended him
hither, are clever people, but not exactly on a par as to general
attainments with the society to which I belonged in London. I thought,
however, even at Madras, that I could have formed a very agreeable
circle of acquaintance; and I am assured that at Calcutta I shall find
things far better. After all, the best rule in all parts of the world,
as in London itself, is to be independent of other men's minds. My power
of finding amusement without companions was pretty well tried on my
voyage. I read insatiably; the Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil, Horace,
Caesar's Commentaries, Bacon de Augmentis, Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto,
Tasso, Don Quixote, Gibbon's Rome, Mill's India, all the seventy volumes
of Voltaire, Sismondi's History of France, and the seven thick folios of
the Biographia Britannica. I found my Greek and Latin in good condition
enough. I liked the Iliad a little less, and the Odyssey a great deal
more than formerly. Horace charmed me more than ever; Virgil not quite
so much as he used to do. The want of human character, the poverty of
his supernatural machinery, struck me very strongly. Can anything be so
bad as the living bush which bleeds and talks, or the Harpies who
befoul Aeneas's dinner? It is as extravagant as Ariosto, and as dull
as Wilkie's Epigoniad. The last six books, which Virgil had not fully
corrected, pleased me better than the first six. I like him best on
Italian ground. I like his localities; his national enthusiasm; his
frequent allusions to his country, its history, its antiquities, and
its greatness. In this respect he often reminded me of Sir Walter Scott,
with whom, in the general character of his mind, he had very little
affinity. The Georgics pleased me better; the Eclogues best,--the second
and tenth above all. But I think the finest lines in the Latin language
are those five which begin,

"Sepibus in nostris parvam te roscida mala--"

[Eclogue viii. 37.]

I cannot tell you how they struck me. I was amused to find that Voltaire
pronounces that passage to be the finest in Virgil.

I liked the Jerusalem better than I used to do. I was enraptured with
Ariosto; and I still think of Dante, as I thought when I first read him,
that he is a superior poet to Milton, that he runs neck and neck with
Homer, and that none but Shakespeare has gone decidedly beyond him.

As soon as I reach Calcutta I intend to read Herodotus again. By the
bye, why do not you translate him? You would do it excellently; and
a translation of Herodotus, well executed, would rank with original
compositions. A quarter of an hour a day would finish the work in five
years. The notes might be made the most amusing in the world. I wish you
would think of it. At all events, I hope you will do something which may
interest more than seven or eight people. Your talents are too great,
and your leisure time too small, to be wasted in inquiries so frivolous,
(I must call them,) as those in which you have of late been too much
engaged; whether the Cherokees are of the same race with the Chickasaws;
whether Van Diemen's Land was peopled from New Holland, or New Holland
from Van Diemen's land; what is the precise anode of appointing a
headman in a village in Timbuctoo. I would not give the worst page in
Clarendon or Fra Paolo for all that ever was, or ever will be, written
about the migrations of the Leleges and the laws of the Oscans.

I have already entered on my public functions, and I hope to do some
good. The very wigs of the judges in the Court of King's Bench would
stand on end if they knew how short a chapter my Law of Evidence will
form. I am not without many advisers. A native of some fortune in Madras
has sent me a paper on legislation. "Your honour must know," says this
judicious person, "that the great evil is that men swear falsely in this
country. No judge knows what to believe. Surely if your honour can make
men to swear truly, your honour's fame will be great, and the Company
will flourish. Now, I know how men may be made to swear truly; and I
will tell your honour for your fame, and for the profit of the Company.
Let your honour cut off the great toe of the right foot of every man
who swears falsely, whereby your honour's fame will be extended." Is not
this an exquisite specimen of legislative wisdom?

I must stop. When I begin to write to England, my pen runs as if it
would run on for ever.

Ever yours affectionately

T. B. M.

To Miss Fanny and Miss Selina Macaulay.

Ootacamund: August 10, 1834.

My dear Sisters,--I sent last month a full account of my journey hither,
and of the place, to Margaret, as the most stationary of our family;
desiring her to let you all see what I had written to her. I think that
I shall continue to take the same course. It is better to write one full
and connected narrative than a good many imperfect fragments.

Money matters seem likely to go on capitally. My expenses, I find, will
be smaller than I anticipated. The Rate of Exchange, if you know what
that means, is very favourable indeed; and, if I live, I shall get rich
fast. I quite enjoy the thought of appearing in the light of an old
hunks who knows on which side his bread is buttered; a warm man; a
fellow who will cut up well. This is not a character which the Macaulays
have been much in the habit of sustaining; but I can assure you that,
after next Christmas, I expect to lay up, on an average, about seven
thousand pounds a year, while I remain in India.

At Christmas I shall send home a thousand, or twelve hundred, pounds for
my father, and you all. I cannot tell you what a comfort it is to me
to find that I shall be able to do this. It reconciles me to all the
pains--acute enough, sometimes, God knows,--of banishment. In a few
years, if I live--probably in less than five years from the time at
which you will be reading this letter--we shall be again together in a
comfortable, though a modest, home; certain of a good fire, a good joint
of meat, and a good glass of wine; without owing obligations to anybody;
and perfectly indifferent, at least as far as our pecuniary interest is
concerned, to the changes of the political world. Rely on it, my dear
girls, that there is no chance of my going back with my heart cooled
towards you. I came hither principally to save my family, and I am not
likely while here to forget them.

Ever yours

T. B. M.

The months of July and August Macaulay spent on the Neilgherries, in a
climate equable as Madeira and invigorating as Braemar; where thickets
of rhododendron fill the glades and clothe the ridges; and where the
air is heavy with the scent of rose-trees of a size more fitted for an
orchard than a flower-bed, and bushes of heliotrope thirty paces round.
The glories of the forests and of the gardens touched him in spite of
his profound botanical ignorance, and he dilates more than once upon his
"cottage buried in laburnums, or something very like them, and geraniums
which grow in the open air." He had the more leisure for the natural
beauties of the place, as there was not much else to interest even a
traveller fresh from England.

"I have as yet seen little of the idolatry of India; and that little,
though excessively absurd, is not characterised by atrocity or
indecency. There is nothing of the sort at Ootacamund. I have not,
during the last six weeks, witnessed a single circumstance from which
you would have inferred that this was a heathen country. The bulk of the
natives here are a colony from the plains below, who have come up hither
to wait on the European visitors, and who seem to trouble themselves
very little about caste or religion. The Todas, the aboriginal
population of these hills, are a very curious race. They had a grand
funeral a little while ago. I should have gone if it had not been a
Council day; but I found afterwards that I had lost nothing. The whole
ceremony consisted in sacrificing bullocks to the manes of the defunct.
The roaring of the poor victims was horrible. The people stood talking
and laughing till a particular signal was made, and immediately all
the ladies lifted up their voices and wept. I have not lived three and
thirty years in this world without learning that a bullock roars when he
is knocked down, and that a woman can cry whenever she chooses.

"By all that I can learn, the Catholics are the most respectable portion
of the native Christians. As to Swartz's people in the Tanjore, they are
a perfect scandal to the religion which they profess. It would have been
thought something little short of blasphemy to say this a year ago; but
now it is considered impious to say otherwise, for they have got into a
violent quarrel with the missionaries and the Bishop. The missionaries
refused to recognise the distinctions of caste in the administration of
the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and the Bishop supported them in
the refusal. I do not pretend to judge whether this was right or wrong.
Swartz and Bishop Heber conceived that the distinction of caste, however
objectionable politically, was still only a distinction of rank;
and that, as in English churches the gentlefolks generally take the
Sacrament apart from the poor of the parish, so the high-caste natives
might be allowed to communicate apart from the Pariahs.

"But, whoever was first in the wrong, the Christians of Tanjore took
care to be most so. They called in the interposition of Government, and
sent up such petitions and memorials as I never saw before or since;
made up of lies, invectives, bragging, cant, bad grammar of the most
ludicrous kind, and texts of Scripture quoted without the smallest
application. I remember one passage by heart, which is really only a
fair specimen of the whole: 'These missionaries, my Lord, loving only
filthy lucre, bid us to eat Lord-supper with Pariahs as lives ugly,
handling dead men, drinking rack and toddy, sweeping the streets, mean
fellows altogether, base persons, contrary to that which Saint Paul
saith: I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him

"Was there ever a more appropriate quotation? I believe that nobody on
either side of the controversy found out a text so much to the purpose
as one which I cited to the Council of India, when we were discussing
this business: 'If this be a question of words, and names, and of your
law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.' But though,
like Gallio, I drove them and their petitions from my judgment seat,
I could not help saying to one of the missionaries, who is here on the
Hills, that I thought it a pity to break up the Church of Tanjore on
account of a matter which such men as Swartz and Heber had not been
inclined to regard as essential. 'Sir,' said the reverend gentleman,
'the sooner the Church of Tanjore is broken up the better. You can form
no notion of the worthlessness of the native Christians there.' I could
not dispute this point with him; but neither could I help thinking,
though I was too polite to say so, that it was hardly worth the while
of so many good men to come fifteen thousand miles over sea and land in
order to make proselytes, who, their very instructors being judges, were
more children of hell than before."

Unfortunately Macaulay's stay on the Neilgherries coincided with the
monsoon. "The rain streamed down in floods. It was very seldom that I
could see a hundred yards in front of me. During a month together I did
not get two hours' walking." He began to be bored, for the first and
last time in his life; while his companions, who had not his resources,
were ready to hang themselves for very dulness. The ordinary amusements
with which, in the more settled parts of India, our countrymen beguile
the rainy season, were wanting in a settlement that had only lately been
reclaimed from the desert; in the immediate vicinity of which you still
ran the chance of being "trod into the shape of half a crown by a wild
elephant, or eaten by the tigers, which prefer this situation to the
plains below for the same reason that takes so many Europeans to India;
they encounter an uncongenial climate for the sake of what they can
get." There were no books in the place except those that Macaulay had
brought with him, among which, most luckily, was Clarissa Harlowe. Aided
by the rain outside, he soon talked his favourite romance into general
favour. The reader will consent to put up with one or two slight
inaccuracies in order to have the story told by Thackeray.

"I spoke to him once about Clarissa. 'Not read Clarissa!' he cried out.
'If you have once read Clarissa, and are infected by it, you can't leave
it. When I was in India I passed one hot season in the Hills; and there
were the Governor-General, and the Secretary of Government, and the
Commander-in-Chief, and their wives. I had Clarissa with me; and,
as soon as they began to read, the whole station was in a passion of
excitement about Miss Harlowe, and her misfortunes, and her scoundrelly
Lovelace. The Governor's wife seized the book; the Secretary waited for
it; the Chief justice could not read it for tears.' He acted the whole
scene; he paced up and down the Athenaeum library. I dare say he could
have spoken pages of the book; of that book, and of what countless piles
of others!"

An old Scotch doctor, a Jacobin and a free-thinker, who could only be
got to attend church by the positive orders of the Governor-General,
cried over the last volume until he was too ill to appear at dinner.
[Degenerate readers of our own day have actually been provided with an
abridgment of Clarissa, itself as long as an ordinary novel. A wiser
course than buying the abridgment would be to commence the original
at the Third volume. In the same way, if anyone, after obtaining the
outline of Lady Clementina's story from a more adventurous friend,
will read Sir Charles Grandison, skipping all letters from Italians,
to Italians, and about Italians, he will find that he has got hold of
a delightful, and not unmanageable, book.] The Chief
Secretary,--afterwards, as Sir William Macnaghten, the hero and the
victim of the darkest episode in our Indian history,--declared that
reading this copy of Clarissa, under the inspiration of its owner's
enthusiasm, was nothing less than an epoch in his life. After the lapse
of thirty years, when Ootacamund had long enjoyed the advantage of a
book-club and a circulating library, the tradition of Macaulay and
his novel still lingered on with a tenacity most unusual in the
ever-shifting society of an Indian station.

"At length Lord William gave me leave of absence. My bearers were posted
along the road; my palanquins were packed; and I was to start next day;
when an event took place which may give you some insight into the state
of the laws, morals, and manners among the natives.

"My new servant, a Christian, but such a Christian as the missionaries
make in this part of the world, had been persecuted most unmercifully
for his religion by the servants of some other gentlemen on the Hills.
At last they contrived to excite against him (whether justly or
unjustly I am quite unable to say) the jealousy of one of Lord William's
under-cooks. We had accordingly a most glorious tragi-comedy; the part
of Othello by the cook aforesaid; Desdemona by an ugly, impudent Pariah
girl, his wife; Iago by Colonel Casement's servant; and Michael Cassio
by my rascal. The place of the handkerchief was supplied by a small
piece of sugar-candy which Desdemona was detected in the act of sucking,
and which had found its way from my canisters to her fingers. If I
had any part in the piece, it was, I am afraid, that of Roderigo, whom
Shakespeare describes as a 'foolish gentleman,' and who also appears to
have had 'money in his purse.'

"On the evening before my departure my bungalow was besieged by a mob
of blackguards. The Native judge came with them. After a most prodigious
quantity of jabbering, of which I could not understand one word, I
called the judge, who spoke tolerable English, into my room, and learned
from him the nature of the case. I was, and still am, in doubt as to the
truth of the charge. I have a very poor opinion of my man's morals,
and a very poor opinion also of the veracity of his accusers. It was,
however, so very inconvenient for me to be just then deprived of my
servant that I offered to settle the business at my own expense. Under
ordinary circumstances this would have been easy enough, for the Hindoos
of the lower castes have no delicacy on these subjects. The husband
would gladly have taken a few rupees, and walked away; but the
persecutors of my servant interfered, and insisted that he should be
brought to trial in order that they might have the pleasure of smearing
him with filth, giving him a flogging, beating kettles before him, and
carrying him round on an ass with his face to the tail.

"As the matter could not be accommodated, I begged the Judge to try the
case instantly; but the rabble insisted that the trial should not take
place for some days. I argued the matter with them very mildly, and told
them that I must go next day, and that, if my servant were detained,
guilty or innocent, he must lose his situation. The gentle and reasoning
tone of my expostulations only made them impudent. They are, in truth,
a race so accustomed to be trampled on by the strong that they always
consider humanity as a sign of weakness. The Judge told me that he never
heard a gentleman speak such sweet words to the people. But I was now
at an end of my sweet words. My blood was beginning to boil at the
undisguised display of rancorous hatred and shameless injustice. I sate
down, and wrote a line to the Commandant of the station, begging him to
give orders that the case might be tried that very evening. The Court
assembled, and continued all night in violent contention. At last the
judge pronounced my servant not guilty. I did not then know, what I
learned some days after, that this respectable magistrate had received
twenty rupees on the occasion.

"The husband would now gladly have taken the money which he refused the
day before; but I would not give him a farthing. The rascals who had
raised the disturbance were furious. My servant was to set out at eleven
in the morning, and I was to follow at two. He had scarcely left the
door when I heard a noise. I looked forth, and saw that the gang had
pulled him out of his palanquin, torn off his turban, stripped him
almost naked, and were, as it seemed, about to pull him to pieces. I
snatched up a sword-stick, and ran into the middle of them. It was all
I could do to force my way to him, and, for a moment, I thought my own
person was in danger as well as his. I supported the poor wretch in my
arms; for, like most of his countrymen, he is a chickenhearted fellow,
and was almost fainting away. My honest barber, a fine old soldier in
the Company's service, ran off for assistance, and soon returned with
some police officers. I ordered the bearers to turn round, and proceeded
instantly to the house of the Commandant. I was not long detained here.
Nothing can be well imagined more expeditious than the administration of
justice in this country, when the judge is a Colonel, and the plaintiff
a Councillor. I told my story in three words. In three minutes the
rioters were marched off to prison, and my servant, with a sepoy to
guard him, was fairly on his road and out of danger."

Early next morning Macaulay began to descend the pass.

"After going down for about an hour we emerged from the clouds and
moisture, and the plain of Mysore lay before us--a vast ocean of foliage
on which the sun was shining gloriously. I am very little given to cant
about the beauties of nature, but I was moved almost to tears. I jumped
off the palanquin, and walked in front of it down the immense declivity.
In two hours we descended about three thousand feet. Every turning in
the road showed the boundless forest below in some new point of view. I
was greatly struck with the resemblance which this prodigious jungle, as
old as the world and planted by nature, bears to the fine works of the
great English landscape gardeners. It was exactly a Wentworth Park, as
large as Devonshire. After reaching the foot of the hills, we travelled
through a succession of scenes which might have been part of the garden
of Eden. Such gigantic trees I never saw. In a quarter of an hour I
passed hundreds the smallest of which would bear a comparison with any
of those oaks which are shown as prodigious in England. The grass, the
weeds, and the wild flowers grew as high as my head. The sun, almost
a stranger to me, was now shining brightly; and, when late in the
afternoon I again got out of my palanquin and looked back, I saw the
large mountain ridge from which I had descended twenty miles behind me,
still buried in the same mass of fog and rain in which I had been living
for weeks.

"On Tuesday, the 16th" (of September), "I went on board at Madras. I
amused myself on the voyage to Calcutta with learning Portuguese, and
made myself almost as well acquainted with it as I care to be. I
read the Lusiad, and am now reading it a second time. I own that I am
disappointed in Camoens; but I have so often found my first impressions
wrong on such subjects that I still hope to be able to join my voice to
that of the great body of critics. I never read any famous foreign book,
which did not, in the first perusal, fall short of my expectations;
except Dante's poem, and Don Quixote, which were prodigiously superior
to what I had imagined. Yet in these cases I had not pitched my
expectations low."

He had not much time for his Portuguese studies. The run was unusually
fast, and the ship only spent a week in the Bay of Bengal, and
forty-eight hours in the Hooghly. He found his sister comfortably
installed in Government House, where he himself took up his quarters
during the next six weeks; Lady William Bentinck having been prepared
to welcome him as her guest by her husband's letters, more than one
of which ended with the words "e un miracolo." Towards the middle of
November, Macaulay began housekeeping for himself; living, as he always
loved to live, rather more generously than the strict necessities of his
position demanded. His residence, then the best in Calcutta, has long
since been converted into the Bengal Club.

To Macvey Napier, Esq.

Calcutta: December 10, 1834.

Dear Napier,--First to business. At length I send you the article on
Mackintosh; an article which has the merit of length, whatever it may be
deficient in. As I wished to transmit it to England in duplicate, if not
in triplicate, I thought it best to have two or three copies coarsely
printed here under the seal of strict secresy. The printers at Edinburgh
will, therefore, have no trouble in deciphering my manuscript, and the
corrector of the press will find his work done to his hands.

The disgraceful imbecility, and the still more disgraceful malevolence,
of the editor have, as you will see, moved my indignation not a little.
I hope that Longman's connection with the Review will not prevent you
from inserting what I have said on this subject. Murray's copy writers
are unsparingly abused by Southey and Lockhart in the Quarterly; and it
would be hard indeed if we might not in the Edinburgh strike hard at an
assailant of Mackintosh.

I shall now begin another article. The subject I have not yet fixed
upon; perhaps the romantic poetry of Italy, for which there is an
excellent opportunity; Panizzi's reprint of Boiardo; perhaps the little
volume of Burnet's Characters edited by Bishop Jebb. This reminds me
that I have to acknowledge the receipt of a box from Longman, containing
this little book; and other books of much greater value, Grimm's
Correspondence, Jacquemont's Letters, and several foreign works on
jurisprudence. All that you have yet sent have been excellently chosen.
I will mention, while I am on this subject, a few books which I want,
and which I am not likely to pick up here--Daru's Histoire de Venise;
St. Real's Conjuration de Venise; Fra Paolo's works; Monstrelet's
Chronicle; and Coxe's book on the Pelhams. I should also like to have a
really good edition of Lucian.

My sister desires me to send you her kind regards. She remembers her
visit to Edinburgh, and your hospitality, with the greatest pleasure.
Calcutta is called, and not without some reason, the city of palaces;
but I have seen nothing in the East like the view from the Castle Rock,
nor expect to see anything like it till we stand there together again.

Kindest regards to Lord Jeffrey.

Yours most truly


To Mrs. Cropper.

Calcutta: December 7, 1834.

Dearest Margaret,--I rather suppose that some late letters from Nancy
may have prepared you to learn what I am now about to communicate. She
is going to be married, and with my fullest and warmest approbation. I
can truly say that, if I had to search India for a husband for her,
I could have found no man to whom I could with equal confidence have
entrusted her happiness. Trevelyan is about eight and twenty. He was
educated at the Charter-house, and then went to Haileybury, and came out
hither. In this country he has distinguished himself beyond any man
of his standing by his great talent for business; by his liberal
and enlarged views of policy; and by literary merit, which, for his
opportunities, is considerable. He was at first placed at Delhi under
----, a very powerful and a very popular man, but extremely corrupt.
This man tried to initiate Trevelyan in his own infamous practices.
But the young fellow's spirit was too noble for such things. When only
twenty-one years of age he publicly accused ----, then almost at the
head of the service, of receiving bribes from the natives. A perfect
storm was raised against the accuser. He was almost everywhere abused,
and very generally cut. But with a firmness and ability scarcely ever
seen in any man so young, he brought his proofs forward, and, after an
inquiry of some weeks, fully made out his case. ---- was dismissed in
disgrace, and is now living obscurely in England. The Government here
and the Directors at home applauded Trevelyan in the highest terms; and
from that tithe he has been considered as a man likely to rise to the
very top of the service. Lord William told him to ask for anything that
he wished for. Trevelyan begged that something might be done for his
elder brother, who is in the Company's army. Lord William told him
that he had richly earned that or anything else, and gave Lieutenant
Trevelyan a very good diplomatic employment. Indeed Lord William, a man
who makes no favourites, has always given to Trevelyan the strongest
marks, not of a blind partiality, but of a thoroughly well-grounded and
discriminating esteem.

Not long ago Trevelyan was appointed by him to the Under Secretaryship
for foreign affairs, an office of a very important and confidential
nature. While holding the place he was commissioned to report to
Government on the operation of the Internal Transit duties of India.
About a year ago his Report was completed. I shall send to England a
copy or two of it by the first safe conveyance; for nothing that I
can say of his abilities, or of his public spirit, will be half so
satisfactory. I have no hesitation in affirming that it is a perfect
masterpiece in its kind. Accustomed as I have been to public affairs, I
never read an abler State paper; and I do not believe that there is, I
will not say in India, but in England, another man of twenty-seven who
could have written it. Trevelyan is a most stormy reformer. Lord William
said to me, before anyone had observed Trevelyan's attentions to Nancy:
"That man is almost always on the right side in every question; and it
is well that he is so, for he gives a most confounded deal of trouble
when he happens to take the wrong one." [Macaulay used to apply to his
future brother-in-law the remark which Julius Caesar made with regard
to his young friend Brutus: "Magni refert hic quid velit; sed quidquid
volet, valde volet."] He is quite at the head of that active party among
the younger servants of the Company who take the side of improvement. In
particular, he is the soul of every scheme for diffusing education among
the natives of this country. His reading has been very confined; but to
the little that he has read he has brought a mind as active and restless
as Lord Brougham's, and much more judicious and honest.

As to his person, he always looks like a gentleman, particularly on
horseback. He is very active and athletic, and is renowned as a great
master in the most exciting and perilous of field sports, the spearing
of wild boars. His face has a most characteristic expression of ardour
and impetuosity, which makes his countenance very interesting to me.
Birth is a thing that I care nothing about; but his family is one of the
oldest and best in England.

During the important years of his life, from twenty to twenty-five,
or thereabouts, Trevelyan was in a remote province of India, where his
whole time was divided between public business and field sports, and
where he seldom saw a European gentleman and never a European lady. He
has no small talk. His mind is full of schemes of moral and political
improvement, and his zeal boils over in his talk. His topics, even
in courtship, are steam navigation, the education of the natives, the
equalisation of the sugar duties, the substitution of the Roman for the
Arabic alphabet in the Oriental languages.

I saw the feeling growing from the first; for, though I generally pay
not the smallest attention to those matters, I had far too deep an
interest in Nancy's happiness not to watch her behaviour to everybody
who saw much of her. I knew it, I believe, before she knew it herself;
and I could most easily have prevented it by merely treating Trevelyan
with a little coldness, for he is a man whom the smallest rebuff would
completely discourage. But you will believe, my dearest Margaret, that
no thought of such base selfishness ever passed through my mind. I
would as soon have locked my dear Nancy up in a nunnery as have put the
smallest obstacle in the way of her having a good husband. I therefore
gave every facility and encouragement to both of them. What I have
myself felt it is unnecessary to say. My parting from you almost broke
my heart. But when I parted from you I had Nancy; I had all my other
relations; I had my friends; I had my country. Now I have nothing except
the resources of my own mind, and the consciousness of having acted not
ungenerously. But I do not repine. Whatever I suffer I have brought on
myself. I have neglected the plainest lessons of reason and experience.
I have staked my happiness without calculating the chances of the dice.
I have hewn out broken cisterns; I have leant on a reed; I have built on
the sand; and I have fared accordingly. I must bear my punishment as
I can; and, above all, I must take care that the punishment does not
extend beyond myself.

Nothing can be kinder than Nancy's conduct has been. She proposes that
we should form one family; and Trevelyan, (though, like most lovers, he
would, I imagine, prefer having his goddess to himself,) consented with
strong expressions of pleasure. The arrangement is not so strange as
it might seem at home. The thing is often done here; and those quarrels
between servants, which would inevitably mar any such plan in England,
are not to be apprehended in an Indian establishment. One advantage
there will be in our living together of a most incontestable sort; we
shall both be able to save more money. Trevelyan will soon be entitled
to his furlough; but he proposes not to take it till I go home.

I shall write in a very different style from this to my father. To him I
shall represent the marriage as what it is, in every respect except its
effect on my own dreams of happiness--a most honourable and happy event;
prudent in a worldly point of view; and promising all the felicity
which strong mutual affection, excellent principles on both sides,
good temper, youth, health, and the general approbation of friends can
afford. As for myself, it is a tragical denouement of an absurd plot.
I remember quoting some nursery rhymes, years ago, when you left me in
London to join Nancy at Rothley Temple or Leamington, I forget which.
Those foolish lines contain the history of my life.

 "There were two birds that sat on a stone;
  One flew away, and there was but one.
  The other flew away, and then there was none;
  And the poor stone was left all alone."

Ever, my dearest Margaret, yours


A passage from a second letter to the same person deserves to be quoted,
as an instance of how a good man may be unable to read aright his own
nature, and a wise man to forecast his own future. "I feel a growing
tendency to cynicism and suspicion. My intellect remains; and is likely,
I sometimes think, to absorb the whole man. I still retain, (not only
undiminished, but strengthened by the very events which have deprived
me of everything else,) my thirst for knowledge; my passion for holding
converse with the greatest minds of all ages and nations; any power of
forgetting what surrounds me, and of living with the past, the future,
the distant, and the unreal. Books are becoming everything to me. If
I had at this moment my choice of life, I would bury myself in one of
those immense libraries that we saw together at the universities,
and never pass a waking hour without a book before me." So little was
Macaulay aware that, during the years which were to come, his thoughts
and cares would be less than ever for himself, and more for others,
and that his existence would be passed amidst a bright atmosphere of
affectionate domestic happiness, which, until his own death came, no
accident was thenceforward destined to overcloud.

But, before his life assumed the equable and prosperous tenor in which
it continued to the end, one more trouble was in store for him. Long
before the last letters to his sister Margaret had been written, the
eyes which were to have read them had been closed for ever. The fate
of so young a wife and mother touched deeply all who had known her, and
some who knew her only by name. [Moultrie made Mrs. Cropper's death
the subject of some verses on which her relatives set a high value. He
acknowledges his little poem to be the tribute of one who had been a
stranger to her whom it was written to commemorate:

 "And yet methinks we are not strange: so many claims there be
  Which seem to weave a viewless band between my soul and thee.
  Sweet sister of my early friend, the kind, the singlehearted,
  Than whose remembrance none more bright still gilds the days departed!
  Beloved, with more than sister's love, by some whose love to me
  Is now almost my brightest gem in this world's treasury."]

When the melancholy news arrived in India, the young couple were
spending their honeymoon in a lodge in the Governor-General's park
at Barrackpore. They immediately returned to Calcutta, and, under the
shadow of a great sorrow, began their sojourn in their brother's house,
who, for his part, did what he might to drown his grief in floods of
official work. ["April 8. Lichfield. Easter Sunday. After the service
was ended we went over the Cathedral. When I stood before the famous
children by Chantrey, I could think only of one thing; that, when last I
was there, in 1832, my dear sister Margaret was with me and that she was
greatly affected. I could not command my tears and was forced to leave
our party, and walk about by myself."--Macaulay's Journal for the year

The narrative of that work may well be the despair of Macaulay's
biographer. It would be inexcusable to slur over what in many important
respects was the most honourable chapter of his life; while, on the
other hand, the task of interesting Englishmen in the details of Indian
administration is an undertaking which has baffled every pen except his
own. In such a dilemma the safest course is to allow that pen to
tell the story for itself; or rather so much of the story as, by
concentrating the attention of the reader upon matters akin to those
which are in frequent debate at home, may enable him to judge whether
Macaulay, at the council-board and the bureau, was the equal of Macaulay
in the senate and the library.

Examples of his Minute-writing may with some confidence be submitted to
the criticism of those whose experience of public business has taught
them in what a Minute should differ from a Despatch, a Memorial, a
Report, and a Decision. His method of applying general principles to the
circumstances of a special case, and of illustrating those principles
with just as much literary ornament as would place his views in a
pictorial form before the minds of those whom it was his business to
convince, is strikingly exhibited in the series of papers by means of
which he reconciled his colleagues in the Council, and his masters
in Leadenhall Street, to the removal of the modified Censorship which
existed in India previously to the year 1835.

"It is difficult," he writes, "to conceive that any measures can be more
indefensible than those which I propose to repeal. It has always been
the practice of politic rulers to disguise their arbitrary measures
under popular forms and names. The conduct of the Indian Government with
respect to the Press has been altogether at variance with this trite
and obvious maxim. The newspapers have for years been allowed as ample a
measure of practical liberty as that which they enjoy in England. If any
inconveniences arise from the liberty of political discussion, to those
inconveniences we are already subject. Yet while our policy is thus
liberal and indulgent, we are daily reproached and taunted with the
bondage in which we keep the Press. A strong feeling on this subject
appears to exist throughout the European community here; and the loud
complaints which have lately been uttered are likely to produce a
considerable effect on the English people, who will see at a glance
that the law is oppressive, and who will not know how completely it is

"To impose strong restraints on political discussion is an intelligible
policy, and may possibly--though I greatly doubt it--be in some
countries a wise policy. But this is not the point at issue. The
question before us is not whether the Press shall be free, but whether,
being free, it shall be called free. It is surely mere madness in a
Government to make itself unpopular for nothing; to be indulgent, and
yet to disguise its indulgence under such outward forms as bring on it
the reproach of tyranny. Yet this is now our policy. We are exposed
to all the dangers--dangers, I conceive, greatly over-rated--of a free
Press; and at the same time we contrive to incur all the opprobrium of
a censorship. It is universally allowed that the licensing system, as
at present administered, does not keep any man who can buy a press from
publishing the bitterest and most sarcastic reflections on any public
measure, or any public functionary. Yet the very words 'license to
print' have a sound hateful to the ears of Englishmen in every part
of the globe. It is unnecessary to inquire whether this feeling be
reasonable; whether the petitioners who have so strongly pressed this
matter on our consideration would not have shown a better judgment if
they had been content with their practical liberty, and had reserved
their murmurs for practical grievances. The question for us is not what
they ought to do, but what we ought to do; not whether it be wise in
them to complain when they suffer no injury, but whether it be wise in
us to incur odium unaccompanied by the smallest accession of security or
of power.

"One argument only has been urged in defence of the present system. It
is admitted that the Press of Bengal has long been suffered to enjoy
practical liberty, and that nothing but an extreme emergency could
justify the Government in curtailing that liberty. But, it is said, such
an emergency may arise, and the Government ought to retain in its hands
the power of adopting, in that event, the sharp, prompt, and decisive
measures which may be necessary for the preservation of the Empire. But
when we consider with what vast powers, extending over all classes of
people, Parliament has armed the Governor-General in Council, and, in
extreme cases, the Governor-General alone, we shall probably be inclined
to allow little weight to this argument. No Government in the world
is better provided with the means of meeting extraordinary dangers by
extraordinary precautions. Five persons, who may be brought together in
half an hour, whose deliberations are secret, who are not shackled by
any of those forms which elsewhere delay legislative measures, can, in a
single sitting, make a law for stopping every press in India. Possessing
as we do the unquestionable power to interfere, whenever the safety of
the State array require it, with overwhelming rapidity and energy, we
surely ought not, in quiet times, to be constantly keeping the offensive
form and ceremonial of despotism before the eyes of those whom,
nevertheless, we permit to enjoy the substance of freedom."

Eighteen months elapsed; during which the Calcutta Press found occasion
to attack Macaulay with a breadth and ferocity of calumny such as few
public men, in any age or country, have ever endured, and none, perhaps,
have ever forgiven. There were many mornings when it was impossible for
him to allow the newspapers to lie about his sister's drawing-room.

The Editor of the Periodical which called itself, and had a right to
call itself, the "Friend of India," undertook to shame his brethren
by publishing a collection of their invectives; but it was very soon
evident that no decent journal could venture to foul its pages by
reprinting the epithets, and the anecdotes, which constituted the daily
greeting of the literary men of Calcutta to their fellow-craftsman of
the Edinburgh Review. But Macaulay's cheery and robust common sense
carried him safe and sound through an ordeal which has broken down
sterner natures than his, and embittered as stainless lives. The
allusions in his correspondence, all the more surely because they are
brief and rare, indicate that the torrent of obloquy to which he was
exposed interfered neither with his temper nor with his happiness; and
how little he allowed it to disturb his judgment or distort his public
spirit is proved by the tone of a State paper, addressed to the Court of
Directors in September 1836, in which he eagerly vindicates the freedom
of the Calcutta Press, at a time when the writers of that Press, on the
days when they were pleased to be decent, could find for him no milder
appellations than those of cheat, swindler, and charlatan.

"I regret that on this, or on any subject, my opinion should differ from
that of the Honourable Court. But I still conscientiously think that we
acted wisely when we passed the law on the subject of the Press; and
I am quite certain that we should act most unwisely if we were now to
repeal that law.

"I must, in the first place, venture to express an opinion that the
importance of that question is greatly over-rated by persons, even the
best informed and the most discerning, who are not actually on the spot.
It is most justly observed by the Honourable Court that many of the
arguments which may be urged in favour of a free Press at home do not
apply to this country. But it is, I conceive, no less true that scarcely
any of those arguments which have been employed in Europe to defend
restrictions on the Press apply to a Press such as that of India.

"In Europe, and especially in England, the Press is an engine of
tremendous power, both for good and for evil. The most enlightened
men, after long experience both of its salutary and of its pernicious
operation, have come to the conclusion that the good on the whole
preponderates. But that there is no inconsiderable amount of evil to be
set off against the good has never been disputed by the warmest friend
to freedom of discussion.

"In India the Press is comparatively a very feeble engine. It does far
less good and far less harm than in Europe. It sometimes renders
useful services to the public. It sometimes brings to the notice of
the Government evils the existence of which would otherwise have been
unknown. It operates, to some extent, as a salutary check on public
functionaries. It does something towards keeping the administration
pure. On the other hand, by misrepresenting public measures, and by
flattering the prejudices of those who support it, it sometimes produces
a slight degree of excitement in a very small portion of the community.

"How slight that excitement is, even when it reaches its greatest
height, and how little the Government has to fear from it, no person
whose observation has been confined to European societies will readily
believe. In this country the number of English residents is very small,
and, of that small number, a great proportion are engaged in the service
of the State, and are most deeply interested in the maintenance of
existing institutions. Even those English settlers who are not in the
service of the Government have a strong interest in its stability. They
are few; they are thinly scattered among a vast population, with whom
they have neither language, nor religion, nor morals, nor manners, nor
colour in common; they feel that any convulsion which should overthrow
the existing order of things would be ruinous to themselves. Particular
acts of the Government--especially acts which are mortifying to the
pride of caste naturally felt by an Englishman in India--are often
angrily condemned by these persons. But every indigo-planter in Tirhoot,
and every shopkeeper in Calcutta, is perfectly aware that the downfall
of the Government would be attended with the destruction of his fortune,
and with imminent hazard to his life.

"Thus, among the English inhabitants of India, there are no fit subjects
for that species of excitement which the Press sometimes produces
at home. There is no class among them analogous to that vast body of
English labourers and artisans whose minds are rendered irritable by
frequent distress and privation, and on whom, therefore, the sophistry
and rhetoric of bad men often produce a tremendous effect. The English
papers here might be infinitely more seditious than the most seditious
that were ever printed in London without doing harm to anything but
their own circulation. The fire goes out for want of some combustible
material on which to seize. How little reason would there be to
apprehend danger to order and property in England from the most
inflammatory writings, if those writings were read only by Ministers of
State, Commissioners of the Customs and Excise, Judges and Masters in
Chancery, upper clerks in Government offices, officers in the army,
bankers, landed proprietors, barristers, and master manufacturers! The
most timid politician would not anticipate the smallest evil from the
most seditious libels, if the circulation of those libels were confined
to such a class of readers; and it is to such a class of readers that
the circulation of the English newspapers in India is almost entirely

The motive for the scurrility with which Macaulay was assailed by a
handful of sorry scribblers was his advocacy of the Act familiarly known
as the Black Act, which withdrew from British subjects resident in the
provinces their so-called privilege of bringing civil appeals before the
Supreme Court at Calcutta. Such appeals were thenceforward to be tried
by the Sudder Court, which was manned by the Company's judges, "all of
them English gentlemen of liberal education; as free as even the judges
of the Supreme Court from any imputation of personal corruption,
and selected by the Government from a body which abounds in men as
honourable and as intelligent as ever were employed in the service of
any state." The change embodied in the Act was one of little practical
moment; but it excited an opposition based upon arguments and assertions
of such a nature that the success or failure of the proposed measure
became a question of high and undeniable importance.

"In my opinion," writes Macaulay, "the chief reason for preferring the
Sudder Court is this--that it is the court which we have provided to
administer justice, in the last resort, to the great body of the people.
If it is not fit for that purpose, it ought to be made so. If it is fit
to administer justice to the great body of the people, why should we
exempt a mere handful of settlers from its jurisdiction? There certainly
is, I will not say the reality, but the semblance of partiality and
tyranny in the distinction made by the Charter Act of 1813. That
distinction seems to indicate a notion that the natives of India may
well put up with something less than justice, or that Englishmen in
India have a title to something more than justice. If we give our own
countrymen an appeal to the King's Courts, in cases in which all others
are forced to be contented with the Company's Courts, we do in fact cry
down the Company's Courts. We proclaim to the Indian people that there
are two sorts of justice--a coarse one, which we think good enough for
then, and another of superior quality, which we keep for ourselves. If
we take pains to show that we distrust our highest courts, how can we
expect that the natives of the country will place confidence in them?

"The draft of the Act was published, and was, as I fully expected,
not unfavourably received by the British in the Mofussil. [The term
"Mofussil" is used to denote the provinces of the Bengal Presidency, as
opposed to the Capital.] Seven weeks have elapsed since the notification
took place. Time has been allowed for petitions from the furthest
corners of the territories subject to this Presidency. But I have heard
of only one attempt in the Mofussil to get up a remonstrance; and the
Mofussil newspapers which I have seen, though generally disposed to
cavil at all the acts of the Government, have spoken favourably of this

"In Calcutta the case has been somewhat different; and this is a
remarkable fact. The British inhabitants of Calcutta are the only
British-born subjects in Bengal who will not be affected by the proposed
Act; and they are the only British subjects in Bengal who have expressed
the smallest objection to it. The clamour, indeed, has proceeded from
a very small portion of the society of Calcutta. The objectors have not
ventured to call a public meeting, and their memorial has obtained
very few signatures. But they have attempted to make up by noise and
virulence for what has been wanting in strength. It may at first sight
appear strange that a law, which is not unwelcome to those who are to
live under it, should excite such acrimonious feelings among people who
are wholly exempted from its operation. But the explanation is simple.
Though nobody who resides at Calcutta will be sued in the Mofussil
courts, many people who reside at Calcutta have, or wish to have,
practice in the Supreme Court. Great exertions have accordingly been
made, though with little success, to excite a feeling against this
measure among the English inhabitants of Calcutta.

"The political phraseology of the English in India is the same with the
political phraseology of our countrymen at home; but it is never to be
forgotten that the same words stand for very different things at London
and at Calcutta. We hear much about public opinion, the love of liberty,
the influence of the Press. But we must remember that public opinion
means the opinion of five hundred persons who have no interest, feeling,
or taste in common with the fifty millions among whom they live; that
the love of liberty means the strong objection which the five hundred
feel to every measure which can prevent them from acting as they choose
towards the fifty millions, that the Press is altogether supported by
the five hundred, and has no motive to plead the cause of the fifty

"We know that India cannot have a free Government. But she may have
the next best thing--a firm and impartial despotism. The worst state in
which she can possibly be placed is that in which the memorialists would
place her. They call on us to recognise them as a privileged order of
freemen in the midst of slaves. It was for the purpose of averting
this great evil that Parliament, at the same time at which it suffered
Englishmen to settle in India, armed us with those large powers which,
in my opinion, we ill deserve to possess, if we have, not the spirit to
use them now."

Macaulay had made two mistakes. He had yielded to the temptation of
imputing motives, a habit which the Spectator newspaper has pronounced
to be his one intellectual vice, finely adding that it is "the vice
of rectitude;" and he had done worse still, for he had challenged his
opponents to a course of agitation. They responded to the call. After
preparing the way by a string of communications to the public journals,
in to which their objections to the Act were set forth at enormous
length, and with as much point and dignity as can be obtained by
a copious use of italics and capital letters, they called a public
meeting, the proceedings at which were almost too ludicrous for
description. "I have seen," said one of the speakers, "at a Hindoo
festival, a naked dishevelled figure, his face painted with grotesque
colours, and his long hair besmeared with dirt and ashes. His tongue was
pierced with an iron bar, and his breast was scorched by the fire from
the burning altar which rested on his stomach. This revolting figure,
covered with ashes, dirt, and bleeding voluntary wounds, may the next
moment ascend the Sudder bench, and in a suit between a Hindoo and an
Englishman think it an act of sanctity to decide against law in favour
of the professor of the true faith." Another gentleman, Mr. Longueville
Clarke, reminded "the tyrant" that

 There yawns the sack, and yonder rolls the sea.

"Mr. Macaulay may treat this as an idle threat; but his knowledge of
history will supply him with many examples of what has occurred when
resistance has been provoked by milder instances of despotism than the
decimation of a people." This pretty explicit recommendation to lynch a
Member of Council was received with rapturous applause.

At length arose a Captain Biden, who spoke as follows: "Gentlemen, I
come before you in the character of a British seaman, and on that ground
claim your attention for a few moments. Gentlemen, there has been
much talk during the evening of laws, and regulations, and rights,
and liberties; but you all seem to have forgotten that this is the
anniversary of the glorious Battle of Waterloo. I beg to propose, and I
call on the statue of Lord Cornwallis and yourselves to join me in
three cheers for the Duke of Wellington and the Battle of Waterloo." The
audience, who by this time were pretty well convinced that no grievance
which could possibly result under the Black Act could equal the horrors
of a crowd in the Town Hall of Calcutta during the latter half of June,
gladly caught at the diversion, and made noise enough to satisfy even
the gallant orator. The business was brought to a hurried close, and the
meeting was adjourned till the following week.

But the luck of Macaulay's adversaries pursued them still. One of the
leading speakers at the adjourned meeting, himself a barrister, gave
another barrister the lie, and a tumult ensued which Captain Biden
in vain endeavoured to calm by his favourite remedy. "The opinion at
Madras, Bombay, and Canton," said he,--and in so saying he uttered the
only sentence of wisdom which either evening had produced,--"is that
there is no public opinion at Calcutta but the lawyers. And now,--who
has the presumption to call it a burlesque?--let's give three cheers for
the Battle of Waterloo, and then I'll propose an amendment which shall
go into the whole question." The Chairman, who certainly had earned
the vote of thanks for "his very extraordinary patience," which Captain
Biden was appropriately selected to move, contrived to get resolutions
passed in favour of petitioning Parliament and the Home Government
against the obnoxious Act.

The next few weeks were spent by the leaders of the movement in
squabbling over the preliminaries of duels that never came off, and
applying for criminal informations for libel against each other, which
their beloved Supreme Court very judiciously refused to grant; but in
the course of time the petitions were signed, and an agent was selected,
who undertook to convey them to England. On the 22nd of March, 1838, a
Committee of inquiry into the operation of the Act was moved for in the
House of Commons; but there was nothing in the question which tempted
Honourable Members to lay aside their customary indifference with regard
to Indian controversies, and the motion fell through without a division.
The House allowed the Government to have its own way in the matter; and
any possible hesitation on the part of the Ministers was borne down by
the emphasis with which Macaulay claimed their support. "I conceive," he
wrote, "that the Act is good in itself, and that the time for passing it
has been well chosen. The strongest reason, however, for passing it is
the nature of the opposition which it has experienced. The organs of
that opposition repeated every day that the English were the conquerors,
and the lords of the country, the dominant race; the electors of the
House of Commons, whose power extends both over the Company at home,
and over the Governor-General in Council here. The constituents of the
British Legislature, they told us, were not to be bound by laws made by
any inferior authority. The firmness with which the Government withstood
the idle outcry of two or three hundred people, about a matter with
which they had nothing to do, was designated as insolent defiance of
public opinion. We were enemies of freedom, because we would not suffer
a small white aristocracy to domineer over millions. How utterly at
variance these principles are with reason, with justice, with the honour
of the British Government, and with the dearest interests of the Indian
people, it is unnecessary for me to point out. For myself, I can only
say that, if the Government is to be conducted on such principles, I am
utterly disqualified, by all my feelings and opinions, from bearing any
part in it, and cannot too soon resign my place to some person better
fitted to hold it."

It is fortunate for India that a man with the tastes, and the training,
of Macaulay came to her shores as one vested with authority, and that
he came at the moment when he did; for that moment was the very
turning-point of her intellectual progress. All educational action had
been at a stand for some time back, on account of an irreconcilable
difference of opinion in the Committee of Public Instruction; which was
divided, five against five, on either side of a controversy,--vital,
inevitable, admitting of neither postponement nor compromise, and
conducted by both parties with a pertinacity and a warmth that was
nothing but honourable to those concerned. Half of the members were
for maintaining and extending the old scheme of encouraging Oriental
learning by stipends paid to students in Sanscrit, Persian, and Arabic;
and by liberal grants for the publication of works in those languages.
The other half were in favour of teaching the elements of knowledge
in the vernacular tongues, and the higher branches in English. On his
arrival, Macaulay was appointed President of the Committee; but he
declined to take any active part in its proceedings until the Government
had finally pronounced on the question at issue. Later in January 1835
the advocates of the two systems, than whom ten abler men could not be
found in the service, laid their opinions before the Supreme Council;
and, on the and of February, Macaulay, as a member of that Council,
produced a minute in which he adopted and defended the views of the
English section in the Committee.

"How stands the case? We have to educate a people who cannot at present
be educated by means of their mother-tongue. We must teach them some
foreign language. The claims of our own language it is hardly necessary
to recapitulate. It stands preeminent even among the languages of the
West. It abounds with works of imagination not inferior to the noblest
which Greece has bequeathed to us; with models of every species of
eloquence; with historical compositions, which, considered merely
as narratives, have seldom been surpassed, and which, considered as
vehicles of ethical and political instruction, have never been equalled;
with just and lively representations of human life and human nature;
with the most profound speculations on metaphysics, morals, government,
jurisprudence, and trade; with full and correct information respecting
every experimental science which tends to preserve the health, to
increase the comfort, or to expand the intellect of man. Whoever knows
that language has ready access to all the vast intellectual wealth which
the the wisest nations of the earth have created and hoarded in the
course of ninety generations. It may safely be said that the literature
now extant in that language is of far greater value than all the
literature which three hundred years ago was extant in all the languages
of the world together. Nor is this all. In India, English is the
language spoken by the ruling class. It is spoken by the higher class of
natives at the seats of government. It is likely to become the language
of commerce throughout the seas of the East. It is the language of two
great European communities which are rising, the one in the south of
Africa, the other in Australasia; communities which are every year
becoming more important, and more closely connected with our Indian
Empire. Whether we look at the intrinsic value of our literature or at
the particular situation of this country, we shall see the strongest
reason to think that, of all foreign tongues, the English tongue is that
which would be the most useful to our native subjects.

"The question now before us is simply whether, when it is in our power
to teach this language, we shall teach languages in which, by universal
confession, there are no books on any subject which deserve to be
compared to our own; whether, when we can teach European science, we
shall teach systems which, by universal confession, whenever they differ
from those of Europe, differ for the worse; and whether, when we can
patronise sound philosophy and true history, we shall countenance, at
the public expense, medical doctrines, which would disgrace an English
furrier--astronomy, which would move laughter in the girls at an English
boarding-school--history, abounding with kings thirty feet high, and
reigns thirty thousand years long--and geography made up of seas of
treacle and seas of butter.

"We are not without experience to guide us. History furnishes several
analogous cases, and they all teach the same lesson. There are in modern
times, to go no further, two memorable instances of a great impulse
given to the mind of a whole society--of prejudice overthrown--of
knowledge diffused--of taste purified--of arts and sciences planted in
countries which had recently been ignorant and barbarous.

"The first instance to which I refer is the great revival of letters
among the western nations at the close of the fifteenth and the
beginning of the sixteenth century. At that time almost everything that
was worth reading was contained in the writings of the ancient
Greeks and Romans. Had our ancestors acted as the Committee of Public
Instruction has hitherto acted; had they neglected the language of
Cicero and Tacitus; had they confined their attention to the old
dialects of our own island; had they printed nothing, and taught nothing
at the universities, but chronicles in Anglo-Saxon, and romances in
Norman French, would England have been what she now is? What the Greek
and Latin were to the contemporaries of More and Ascham, our tongue is
to the people of India. The literature of England is now more valuable
than that of classical antiquity. I doubt whether the Sanscrit
literature be as valuable as that of our Saxon and Norman progenitors.
In some departments--in history, for example--I am certain that it is
much less so.

"Another instance may be said to be still before our eyes. Within the
last hundred and twenty years a nation which had previously been in
a state as barbarous as that in which our ancestors were before the
Crusades has gradually emerged from the ignorance in which it was sunk,
and has taken its place among civilised communities. I speak of Russia.
There is now in that country a large educated class, abounding with
persons fit to serve the state in the highest functions, and in no way
inferior to the most accomplished men who adorn the best circles of
Paris and London. There is reason to hope that this vast Empire, which
in the time of our grandfathers was probably behind the Punjab, may, in
the time of our grandchildren, be pressing close on France and Britain
in the career of improvement. And how was this change effected? Not by
flattering national prejudices; not by feeding the mind of the young
Muscovite with the old woman's stories which his rude fathers had
believed; not by filling his head with lying legends about St. Nicholas;
not by encouraging him to study the great question, whether the world
was or was not created on the 13th of September; not by calling him 'a
learned native,' when he has mastered all these points of knowledge; but
by teaching him those foreign languages in which the greatest mass of
information had been laid up, and thus putting all that information
within his reach. The languages of western Europe civilised Russia. I
cannot doubt that they will do for the Hindoo what they have done for
the Tartar."

This Minute, which in its original shape is long enough for an article
in a quarterly review, and as businesslike as a Report of a Royal
Commission, set the question at rest at once and for ever. On the 7th of
March, 1835, Lord William Bentinck decided that "the great object of the
British Government ought to be the promotion of European literature and
science among the natives of India;" two of the Orientalists retired
from the Committee of Public Instruction; several new members, both
English and native, were appointed; and Macaulay entered upon the
functions of President with an energy and assiduity which in his case
was an infallible proof that his work was to his mind.

The post was no sinecure. It was an arduous task to plan, found, and
construct, in all its grades, the education of such a country as
India. The means at Macaulay's disposal were utterly inadequate for the
undertaking on which he was engaged. Nothing resembling an organised
staff was as yet in existence. There were no Inspectors of Schools.
There were no training colleges for masters. There were no boards of
experienced managers. The machinery consisted of voluntary committees
acting on the spot, and corresponding directly with the superintending
body at Calcutta. Macaulay rose to the occasion, and threw himself
into the routine of administration and control with zeal sustained
by diligence and tempered by tact. "We were hardly prepared," said a
competent critic, "for the amount of conciliation which he evinces in
dealing with irritable colleagues and subordinates, and for the strong,
sterling, practical common sense with which he sweeps away rubbish, or
cuts the knots of local and departmental problems." The mastery which a
man exercises over himself, and the patience and forbearance displayed
in his dealings with others, are generally in proportion to the value
which he sets upon the objects of his pursuit. If we judge Macaulay by
this standard, it is plain that he cared a great deal more for providing
our Eastern Empire with an educational outfit that would work and wear
than he ever cared for keeping his own seat in Parliament or pushing his
own fortunes in Downing Street. Throughout his innumerable Minutes, on
all subjects from the broadest principle to the narrowest detail, he
is everywhere free from crotchets and susceptibilities; and everywhere
ready to humour any person who will make himself useful, and to adopt
any appliance which can be turned to account.

"I think it highly probable that Mr. Nicholls may be to blame, because I
have seldom known a quarrel in which both parties were not to blame. But
I see no evidence that he is so. Nor do I see any evidence which tends
to prove that Mr. Nicholls leads the Local Committee by the nose. The
Local Committee appear to have acted with perfect propriety, and
I cannot consent to treat them in the manner recommended by Mr.
Sutherland. If we appoint the Colonel to be a member of their body,
we shall in effect pass a most severe censure on their proceedings. I
dislike the suggestion of putting military men on the Committee as
a check on the civilians. Hitherto we have never, to the best of my
belief, been troubled by any such idle jealousies. I would appoint the
fittest men without caring to what branch of the service they belonged,
or whether they belonged to the service at all." [This, and the
following extracts, are taken from a volume of Macaulay's Minutes, "now
first collected from Records in the Department of Public instruction, by
H. Woodrow, Esq., M.A., Inspector of Schools at Calcutta, and formerly
Fellow of Caius College, Cambridge." The collection was published in

Exception had been taken to an applicant for a mastership, on the ground
that he had been a preacher with a strong turn for proselytising.

"Mr. ---- seems to be so little concerned about proselytising, that he
does not even know how to spell the word; a circumstance which, if I did
not suppose it to be a slip of the pen, I should think a more serious
objection than the 'Reverend' which formerly stood before his name. I am
quite content with his assurances."

In default of better, Macaulay was always for employing the tools
which came to hand. A warm and consistent advocate of appointment by
competitive examination, wherever a field for competition existed, he
was no pedantic slave to a theory. In the dearth of schoolmasters, which
is a feature in every infant educational system, he refused to reject
a candidate who mistook "Argos for Corinth," and backed the claims of
aspirants of respectable character who could "read, write, and work a

"By all means accept the King of Oude's present; though, to be sure,
more detestable maps were never seen. One would think that the revenues
of Oude, and the treasures of Saadut Ali, might have borne the expense
of producing something better than a map in which Sicily is joined on
to the toe of Italy, and in which so important an eastern island as Java
does not appear at all."

"As to the corrupting influence of the zenana, of which Mr. Trevelyan
speaks, I may regret it; but I own that I cannot help thinking that the
dissolution of the tie between parent and child is as great a moral evil
as can be found in any zenana. In whatever degree infant schools relax
that tie they do mischief. For my own part, I would rather hear a boy
of three years old lisp all the bad words in the language than that he
should have no feelings of family affection--that his character should
be that which must be expected in one who has had the misfortune of
having a schoolmaster in place of a mother."

"I do not see the reason for establishing any limit as to the age of
scholars. The phenomena are exactly the same which have always been
found to exist when a new mode of education has been rising into
fashion. No man of fifty now learns Greek with boys; but in the
sixteenth century it was not at all unusual to see old Doctors of
Divinity attending lectures side by side with young students."

"With respect to making our College libraries circulating libraries,
there is much to be said on both sides. If a proper subscription is
demanded from those who have access to them, and if all that is raised
by this subscription is laid out in adding to the libraries, the
students will be no losers by the plan. Our libraries, the best of them
at least, would be better than any which would be readily accessible at
an up-country station; and I do not know why we should grudge a young
officer the pleasure of reading our copy of Boswell's Life of Johnson
or Marmontel's Memoirs, if he is willing to pay a few rupees for the

These utterances of cultured wisdom or homely mother-wit are sometimes
expressed in phrases almost as amusing, though not so characteristic, as
those which Frederic the Great used to scrawl on the margin of reports
and despatches for the information of his secretaries.

"We are a little too indulgent to the whims of the people in our employ.
We pay a large sum to send a master to a distant station. He dislikes
the place. The collector is uncivil; the surgeon quarrels with him;
and he must be moved. The expenses of the journey have to be defrayed.
Another man is to be transferred from a place where he is comfortable
and useful. Our masters run from station to station at our cost, as
vapourised ladies at home run about from spa to spa. All situations have
their discomforts; and there are times when we all wish that our lot had
been cast in some other line of life, or in some other place."

With regard to a proposed coat of arms for Hooghly College, he says

"I do not see why the mummeries of European heraldry should be
introduced into any part of our Indian system. Heraldry is not a
science which has any eternal rules. It is a system of arbitrary canons,
originating in pure caprice. Nothing can be more absurd and grotesque
than armorial bearings, considered in themselves. Certain recollections,
certain associations, make them interesting in many cases to an
Englishman; but in those recollections and associations the natives of
India do not participate. A lion, rampant, with a folio in his paw, with
a man standing on each side of him, with a telescope over his head,
and with a Persian motto under his feet, must seem to them either very
mysterious, or very absurd."

In a discussion on the propriety of printing some books of Oriental
science, Macaulay writes

"I should be sorry to say anything disrespectful of that liberal
and generous enthusiasm for Oriental literature which appears in Mr.
Sutherland's minute; but I own that I cannot think that we ought to be
guided in the distribution of the small sum, which the Government has
allotted for the purpose of education, by considerations which seem
a little romantic. That the Saracens a thousand years ago cultivated
mathematical science is hardly, I think, a reason for our spending any
money in translating English treatises on mathematics into Arabic. Mr.
Sutherland would probably think it very strange if we were to urge the
destruction of the Alexandrian Library as a reason against patronising
Arabic literature in the nineteenth century. The undertaking may be, as
Mr. Sutherland conceives, a great national work. So is the breakwater at
Madras. But under the orders which we have received from the Government,
we have just as little to do with one as with the other."

Now and then a stroke, aimed at Hooghly College, hits nearer home. That
men of thirty should be bribed to continue their education into mature
life "seems very absurd. Moghal Jan has been paid to learn something
during twelve years. We are told that he is lazy and stupid; but there
are hopes that in four years more he will have completed his course
of study. We have had quite enough of these lazy, stupid schoolboys of

"I must frankly own that I do not like the list of books. Grammars of
rhetoric and grammars of logic are among the most useless furniture of
a shelf. Give a boy Robinson Crusoe. That is worth all the grammars of
rhetoric and logic in the world. We ought to procure such books as are
likely to give the children a taste for the literature of the West; not
books filled with idle distinctions and definitions, which every man
who has learned them makes haste to forget. Who ever reasoned better for
having been taught the difference between a syllogism and an enthymeme?
Who ever composed with greater spirit and elegance because he could
define an oxymoron or an aposiopesis? I am not joking, but writing quite
seriously, when I say that I would much rather order a hundred copies
of Jack the Giant-killer for our schools than a hundred copies of any
grammar of rhetoric or logic that ever was written."

"Goldsmith's Histories of Greece and Rome are miserable performances,
and I do not at all like to lay out 50 pounds on them, even after they
have received all Mr. Pinnock's improvements. I must own too, that I
think the order for globes and other instruments unnecessarily large.
To lay out 324 pounds at once on globes alone, useful as I acknowledge
those articles to be, seems exceedingly profuse, when we have only about
3,000 pounds a year for all purposes of English education. One 12-inch
or 18-inch globe for each school is quite enough; and we ought not, I
think, to order sixteen such globes when we are about to establish only
seven schools. Useful as the telescopes, the theodolites, and the other
scientific instruments mentioned in the indent undoubtedly are, we
must consider that four or five such instruments run away with a year's
salary of a schoolmaster, and that, if we purchase them, it will be
necessary to defer the establishment of schools."

At one of the colleges at Calcutta the distribution of prizes was
accompanied by some histrionic performances on the part of the pupils.

"I have no partiality," writes Macaulay, "for such ceremonies. I think
it a very questionable thing whether, even at home, public spouting and
acting ought to form part of the system of a place of education. But
in this country such exhibitions are peculiarly out of place. I can
conceive nothing more grotesque than the scene from the Merchant of
Venice, with Portia represented by a little black boy. Then, too, the
subjects of recitation were ill chosen. We are attempting to introduce a
great nation to a knowledge of the richest and noblest literature in
the world. The society of Calcutta assemble to see what progress we are
making; and we produce as a sample a boy who repeats some blackguard
doggerel of George Colman's, about a fat gentleman who was put to bed
over an oven, and about a man-midwife who was called out of his bed by
a drunken man at night. Our disciple tries to hiccup, and tumbles and
staggers about in imitation of the tipsy English sailors whom he has
seen at the punch houses. Really, if we can find nothing better worth
reciting than this trash, we had better give up English instruction

"As to the list of prize books, I am not much better satisfied. It
is absolutely unintelligible to me why Pope's Works and my old friend
Moore's Lalla Rookh should be selected from the whole mass of English
poetry to be prize books. I will engage to frame, currente calamo, a
better list. Bacon's Essays, Hume's England, Gibbon's Rome, Robertson's
Charles V., Robertson's Scotland, Robertson's America, Swift's Gulliver,
Robinson Crusoe, Shakespeare's Works, Paradise Lost, Milton's smaller
poems, Arabian Nights, Park's Travels, Anson's Voyage, the Vicar of
Wakefield, Johnson's Lives, Gil Blas, Voltaire's Charles XII., Southey's
Nelson, Middleton's Life of Cicero.

"This may serve as a specimen. These are books which will amuse and
interest those who obtain them. To give a boy Abercrombie on the
Intellectual Powers, Dick's Moral Improvement, Young's Intellectual
Philosophy, Chalmers's Poetical Economy!!! (in passing I may be allowed
to ask what that means?) is quite absurd. I would not give orders at
random for books about which we know nothing. We are under no necessity
of ordering at haphazard. We know Robinson Crusoe, and Gulliver, and
the Arabian Nights, and Anson's Voyage, and many other delightful works
which interest even the very young, and which do not lose their interest
to the end of our lives. Why should we order blindfold such books as
Markham's New Children's Friend, the juvenile Scrap Book, the Child's
Own Book, Niggens's Earth, Mudie's Sea, and somebody else's Fire and
Air?--books which, I will be bound for it, none of us ever opened.

"The list ought in all its parts to be thoroughly recast. If Sir
Benjamin Malkin will furnish the names of ten or twelve works of a
scientific kind, which he thinks suited for prizes, the task will not
be difficult; and, with his help, I will gladly undertake it. There is a
marked distinction between a prize book and a school book. A prize book
ought to be a book which a boy receives with pleasure, and turns over
and over, not as a task, but spontaneously. I have not forgotten my own
school-boy feelings on this subject. My pleasure at obtaining a prize
was greatly enhanced by the knowledge that my little library would
receive a very agreeable addition. I never was better pleased than when
at fourteen I was master of Boswell's Life of Johnson, which I had long
been wishing to read. If my master had given me, instead of Boswell, a
Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, or a Geographical Class book, I should
have been much less gratified by my success."

The idea had been started of paying authors to write books in the
languages of the country. On this Macaulay remarks

"To hire four or five people to make a literature is a course which
never answered and never will answer, in any part of the world.
Languages grow. They cannot be built. We are now following the slow but
sure course on which alone we can depend for a supply of good books in
the vernacular languages of India. We are attempting to raise up a large
class of enlightened natives. I hope that, twenty years hence, there
will be hundreds, nay thousands, of natives familiar with the best
models of composition, and well acquainted with Western science. Among
them some persons will be found who will have the inclination and the
ability to exhibit European knowledge in the vernacular dialects. This
I believe to be the only way in which we can raise up a good vernacular
literature in this country."

These hopeful anticipations have been more than fulfilled. Twice twenty
years have brought into existence, not hundreds or thousands, but
hundreds of thousands, of natives who can appreciate European knowledge
when laid before them in the English language, and can reproduce it in
their own. Taking one year with another, upwards of a thousand works of
literature and science are published annually in Bengal alone, and
at least four times that number throughout the entire continent. Our
colleges have more than six thousand students on their books, and two
hundred thousand boys are receiving a liberal education in schools of
the higher order. For the improvement of the mass of the people, nearly
seven thousand young men are in training as Certificated Masters. The
amount allotted in the budget to the item of Public Instruction has
increased more than seventy-fold since 1835; and is largely supplemented
by the fees which parents of all classes willingly contribute when once
they have been taught the value of a commodity the demand for which is
created by the supply. During many years past the generosity of wealthy
natives has to a great extent been diverted from the idle extravagance
of pageants and festivals, to promote the intellectual advancement of
their fellow-countrymen. On several different occasions, at a single
stroke of the pen, our Indian universities have been endowed with twice,
three times, four times the amount of the slender sum which Macaulay
had at his command. But none the less was he the master-engineer, whose
skill and foresight determined the direction of the channels, along
which this stream of public and private munificence was to flow for the
regeneration of our Eastern Empire.

It may add something to the merit of Macaulay's labours in the cause of
Education that those labours were voluntary and unpaid; and voluntary
and unpaid likewise was another service which he rendered to India, not
less durable than the first, and hardly less important. A clause in the
Act of 1833 gave rise to the appointment of a Commission to inquire into
the jurisprudence and jurisdiction of our Eastern Empire. Macaulay, at
his own instigation, was appointed President of that Commission. He had
not been many months engaged in his new duties before he submitted a
proposal, by the adoption of which his own industry and the high talents
of his colleagues, Mr. Cameron and Sir John Macleod, might be turned to
the best account by being employed in framing a Criminal Code for the
whole Indian Empire. "This Code," writes Macaulay, "should not be a mere
digest of existing usages and regulations, but should comprise all the
reforms which the Commission may think desirable. It should be framed
on two great principles, the principle of suppressing crime with the
smallest possible amount of suffering, and the principle of ascertaining
truth at the smallest possible cost of time and money. The Commissioners
should be particularly charged to study conciseness, as far as it is
consistent with perspicuity. In general, I believe, it will be found
that perspicuous and concise expressions are not only compatible, but

The offer was eagerly accepted, and the Commission fell to work. The
results of that work did not show themselves quickly enough to satisfy
the most practical, and, (to its credit be it spoken,) the most exacting
of Governments; and Macaulay was under the necessity of explaining and
excusing a procrastination, which was celerity itself as compared with
any codifying that had been done since the days of Justinian.

"During the last rainy season,--a season, I believe, peculiarly
unhealthy,--every member of the Commission, except myself, was wholly
incapacitated for exertion. Mr. Anderson has been twice under the
necessity of leaving Calcutta, and has not, till very lately, been
able to labour with his accustomed activity. Mr. Macleod has been, till
within the last week or ten days, in so feeble a state that the smallest
effort seriously disordered him; and his health is so delicate that,
admirably qualified as he is, by very rare talents, for the discharge
of his functions, it would be imprudent, in forming any prospective
calculation, to reckon on much service from him. Mr. Cameron, of the
importance of whose assistance I need not speak, has been, during more
than four months, utterly unable to do any work, and has at length been
compelled to ask leave of absence, in order to visit the Cape for the
recovery of his health. Thus, as the Governor-General has stated, Mr.
Millett and myself have, during a considerable time, constituted the
whole effective strength of the Commission. Nor has Mr. Millett been
able to devote to the business of the Commission his whole undivided

"I must say that, even if no allowance be made for the untoward
occurrences which have retarded our progress, that progress cannot
be called slow. People who have never considered the importance and
difficulty of the task in which we are employed are surprised to find
that a Code cannot be spoken of extempore, or written like an article
in a magazine. I am not ashamed to acknowledge that there are several
chapters in the Code on which I have been employed for months; of which
I have changed the whole plan ten or twelve times; which contain not a
single word as it originally stood; and with which I am still very far
indeed from being satisfied. I certainly shall not hurry on my share
of the work to gratify the childish impatience of the ignorant. Their
censure ought to be a matter of perfect indifference to men engaged in
a task, on the right performance of which the welfare of millions may,
during a long series of years, depend. The cost of the Commission is
as nothing when compared with the importance of such a work. The time
during which the Commission has sat is as nothing compared with the time
during which that work will produce good, or evil, to India.

"Indeed, if we compare the progress of the Indian Code with the progress
of Codes under circumstances far more favourable, we shall find little
reason to accuse the Law Commission of tardiness. Buonaparte had at his
command the services of experienced jurists to any extent to which he
chose to call for them; yet his legislation proceeded at a far slower
rate than ours. The French Criminal Code was begun, under the Consulate,
in March 1801; and yet the Code of Criminal Procedure was not completed
till 1808, and the Penal Code not till 1810. The Criminal Code
of Louisiana was commenced in February 1821. After it had been in
preparation during three years and a half, an accident happened to the
papers which compelled Mr. Livingstone to request indulgence for another
year. Indeed, when I remember the slow progress of law reforms at home,
and when I consider that our Code decides hundreds of questions, every
one of which, if stirred in England, would give occasion to voluminous
controversy and to many animated debates, I must acknowledge that I am
inclined to fear that we have been guilty rather of precipitation than
of delay."

This Minute was dated the end of January, 1837; and in the course of
the same year the Code appeared, headed by an Introductory Report in the
shape of a letter to the Governor-General, and followed by an Appendix
containing eighteen notes, each in itself an essay. The most readable of
all Digests, its pages are alive with illustrations drawn from history,
from literature, and from the habits and occurrences of everyday life.
The offence of fabricating evidence is exemplified by a case which may
easily be recognised as that of Lady Macbeth and the grooms; ["A, after
wounding a person with a knife, goes into the room where Z is sleeping,
smears Z's clothes with blood, and lays the knife under Z's pillow;
intending not only that suspicion may thereby be turned away front
himself, but also that Z may be convicted of voluntarily causing
grievous hurt. A is liable to punishment as a fabricator of false
evidence."] and the offence of voluntary culpable homicide by an
imaginary incident of a pit covered with sticks and turf, which
irresistibly recalls a reminiscence of Jack the Giant-killer. The
chapters on theft and trespass establish the rights of book owners
as against book stealers, book borrowers, and book defacers, with an
affectionate precision which would have gladdened the heart of Charles
Lamb or Sir Walter Scott. ["A, being on friendly terms with Z, goes
into Z's library, in Z's absence, and takes a book without Z's express
consent. Here, it is probable that A may have conceived that he had Z's
implied consent to use Z's books. If this was A's impression, A has not
committed theft."

"A takes up a book belonging to Z, and reads it, not having any right
over the book, and not having the consent of any person entitled to
authorise A so to do. A trespasses.

"A, being exasperated at a passage in a book which is lying on the
counter of Z, snatches it up, and tears it to pieces. A has not
committed theft, as he has not acted fraudulently, though he may
have committed criminal trespass and mischief."] In the chapter on
manslaughter, the judge is enjoined to treat with lenity an act done
in the first anger of a husband or father, provoked by the intolerable
outrage of a certain kind of criminal assault. "Such an assault produced
the Sicilian Vespers. Such an assault called forth the memorable blow of
Wat Tyler." And, on the question whether the severity of a hurt should
be considered in apportioning the punishment, we are reminded of
"examples which are universally known. Harley was laid up more than
twenty days by the wound which he received from Guiscard;" while "the
scratch which Damien gave to Louis the Fifteenth was so slight that it
was followed by no feverish symptoms." Such a sanguine estimate of the
diffusion of knowledge with regard to the details of ancient crimes
could proceed from no pen but that of the writer who endowed schoolboys
with the erudition of professors, and the talker who, when he poured
forth the stores of his memory, began each of his disquisitions with the
phrase, "don't you remember?"

If it be asked whether or not the Penal Code fulfils the ends for which
it was framed, the answer may safely be left to the gratitude of Indian
civilians, the younger of whom carry it about in their saddle-bags, and
the older in their heads. The value which it possesses in the eyes of a
trained English lawyer may be gathered from the testimony of Macaulay's
eminent successor, Mr. Fitzjames Stephen, who writes of it thus:

"In order to appreciate the importance of the Penal Code, it must be
borne in mind what crime in India is. Here, in England, order is so
thoroughly well established that the crime of the country is hardly more
than an annoyance. In India, if crime is allowed to let to a head, it
is capable of destroying the peace and prosperity of whole tracts
of country. The mass of the people in their common moods are gentle,
submissive, and disposed to be innocent; but, for that very reason, bold
and successful criminals are dangerous in the extreme. In old days, when
they joined in gangs or organised bodies, they soon acquired political
importance. Now, in many parts of India, crime is quite as uncommon
as in the least criminal parts of England; and the old high-handed
systematised crime has almost entirely disappeared. This great
revolution (for it is nothing less) in the state of society of a whole
continent has been brought about by the regular administration of a
rational body of criminal law.

"The administration of criminal justice is entrusted to a very
small number of English magistrates, organised according to a
carefully-devised system of appeal and supervision which represents the
experience of a century. This system is not unattended by evils; but it
is absolutely necessary to enable a few hundred civilians to govern a
continent. Persons in such a position must be provided with the plainest
instructions as to the nature of their duties. These instructions, in
so far as the administration of criminal justice is concerned, are
contained in the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The Code of Criminal Procedure contains 541 sections, and forms a
pamphlet of 210 widely printed octavo pages. The Penal Code consists of
510 sections. Pocket editions of these Codes are published, which may be
carried about as easily as a pocket Bible; and I doubt whether, even
in Scotland, you would find many people who know their Bibles as Indian
civilians know their Codes."

After describing the confusion and complication of the criminal law of
our Indian Empire before it was taken in hand by the Commission of 1834,
Mr. Stephen proceeds to say:

"Lord Macaulay's great work was far too daring and original to be
accepted at once. It was a draft when he left India in 1838. His
successors made remarks on it for twenty-two years. Those years were
filled with wars and rumours of wars. The Afghan disasters and triumphs,
the war in Central India, the wars with the Sikhs, Lord Dalhousie's
annexations, threw law reform into the background, and produced a state
of mind not very favourable to it. Then came the Mutiny, which in its
essence was the breakdown of an old system; the renunciation of an
attempt to effect an impossible compromise between the Asiatic and the
European view of things, legal, military, and administrative. The effect
of the Mutiny on the Statute-book was unmistakable. The Code of Civil
Procedure was enacted in 1859. The Penal Code was enacted in 1860, and
came into operation on the 1st of January 1862. The credit of passing
the Penal Code into law, and of giving to every part of it the
improvements which practical skill and technical knowledge could bestow,
is due to Sir Barnes Peacock, who held Lord Macaulay's place during the
most anxious years through which the Indian Empire has passed. The Draft
and the Revision are both eminently creditable to their authors; and the
result of their successive efforts has been to reproduce in a concise,
and even beautiful, form the spirit of the law of England; the most
technical, the most clumsy, and the most bewildering of all systems of
criminal law; though I think, if its principles are fully understood, it
is the most rational. If anyone doubts this assertion, let him compare
the Indian Penal Code with such a book as Mr. Greaves's edition of
Russell on Crimes. The one subject of homicide, as treated by Mr.
Greaves and Russell, is, I should think, twice as long as the whole
Penal Code; and it does not contain a tenth part of the matter."

"The point which always has surprised me most in connection with
the Penal Code is, that it proves that Lord Macaulay must have had a
knowledge of English criminal law which, considering how little he had
practised it, may fairly be called extraordinary. [Macaulay's practice
at the bar had been less than little, according to an account which he
gave of it at a public dinner: "My own forensic experience, gentlemen,
has been extremely small; for my only recollection of an achievement
that way is that at quarter sessions I once convicted a boy of stealing
a parcel of cocks and hens."] He must have possessed the gift of going
at once to the very root of the matter, and of sifting the corn from the
chaff to a most unusual degree; for his Draft gives the substance of
the criminal law of England, down to its minute working details, in
a compass which, by comparison with the original, may be regarded as
almost absurdly small. The Indian Penal Code is to the English criminal
law what a manufactured article ready for use is to the materials out of
which it is made. It is to the French 'Code Penal,' and, I may add, to
the North German Code of 1871, what a finished picture is to a sketch.
It is far simpler, and much better expressed, than Livingstone's Code
for Louisiana; and its practical success has been complete. The clearest
proof of this is that hardly any questions have arisen upon it which
have had to be determined by the courts; and that few and slight
amendments have had to be made in it by the Legislature."

Without troubling himself unduly about the matter, Macaulay was
conscious that the world's estimate of his public services would be
injuriously affected by the popular notion, which he has described as
"so flattering to mediocrity," that a great writer cannot be a great
administrator; and it is possible that this consciousness had something
to do with the heartiness and fervour which he threw into his defence
of the author of "Cato" against the charge of having been an inefficient
Secretary of State. There was much in common between his own lot
and that of the other famous essayist who had been likewise a Whig
statesman; and this similarity in their fortunes may account in part for
the indulgence, and almost tenderness, with which he reviewed the career
and character of Addison. Addison himself, at his villa in Chelsea, and
still more amidst the gilded slavery of Holland House, might have envied
the literary seclusion, ample for so rapid a reader, which the usages of
Indian life permitted Macaulay to enjoy. "I have a very pretty garden,"
he writes, "not unlike our little grass-plot at Clapham, but larger.
It consists of a fine sheet of turf, with a gravel walk round it, and
flower-beds scattered over it. It looks beautiful just now after the
rains, and I hear that it keeps its verdure during a great part of the
year. A flight of steps leads down from my library into the garden, and
it is so well shaded that you may walk there till ten o'clock in the

Here, book in hand, and in dressing-gown and slippers, he would spend
those two hours after sun-rise which Anglo-Indian gentlemen devote
to riding, and Anglo-Indian ladies to sleeping off the arrears of the
sultry night. Regularly, every morning, his studies were broken in upon
by the arrival of his baby niece, who came to feed the crows with the
toast which accompanied his early cup of tea; a ceremony during which
he had much ado to protect the child from the advances of a multitude of
birds, each almost as big as herself, which hopped and fluttered round
her as she stood on the steps of the verandah. When the sun drove him
indoors, (which happened sooner than he had promised himself, before he
had learned by experience what the hot season was,) he went to his bath
and toilette, and then to breakfast; "at which we support nature under
the exhausting effects of the climate by means of plenty of eggs,
mango-fish, snipe-pies, and frequently a hot beefsteak. My cook is
renowned through Calcutta for his skill. He brought me attestations of
a long succession of gourmands, and among them one from Lord Dalhousie,
who pronounced him decidedly the first artist in Bengal. [Lord
Dalhousie, the father of the Governor-General, was Commander-In-Chief
in India during the years 1830 and 1831.] This great man, and his two
assistants, I am to have for thirty rupees a month. While I am on the
subject of the cuisine, I may as well say all that I have to say about
it at once. The tropical fruits are wretched. The best of them is
inferior to our apricot or gooseberry. When I was a child, I had a
notion of its being the most exquisite of treats to eat plantains and
yams, and to drink palm-wine. How I envied my father for having enjoyed
these luxuries! I have now enjoyed them all, and I have found like much
greater men on much more important occasions, that all is vanity. A
plantain is very like a rotten pear,--so like that I would lay twenty to
one that a person blindfolded would not discover the difference. A yam
is better. It is like an indifferent potato. I tried palm-wine at a
pretty village near Madras, where I slept one night. I told Captain
Barron that I had been curious to taste that liquor ever since I first
saw, eight or nine and twenty years ago, the picture of the negro
climbing the tree in Sierra Leone. The next morning I was roused by a
servant, with a large bowl of juice fresh from the tree. I drank it, and
found it very like ginger-beer in which the ginger has been sparingly

Macaulay necessarily spent away from home the days on which the Supreme
Council, or the Law Commission, held their meetings; but the rest of his
work, legal, literary, and educational, he carried on in the quiet of
his library. Now and again, a morning was consumed in returning calls,
an expenditure of time which it is needless to say that he sorely
grudged. "Happily, the good people here are too busy to be at home.
Except the parsons, they are all usefully occupied somewhere or other,
so that I have only to leave cards; but the reverend gentlemen are
always within doors in the heat of the day, lying on their backs,
regretting breakfast, longing for tiffin, and crying out for lemonade."
After lunch he sate with Mrs. Trevelyan, translating Greek or reading
French for her benefit; and Scribe's comedies and Saint Simon's Memoirs
beguiled the long languid leisure of the Calcutta afternoon, while the
punkah swung overhead, and the air came heavy and scented through the
moistened grass-matting which shrouded the windows. At the approach of
sunset, with its attendant breeze, he joined his sister in her drive
along the banks of the Hooghly; and they returned by starlight,--too
often to take part in a vast banquet of forty guests, dressed as
fashionably as people can dress at ninety degrees East from Paris; who,
one and all, had far rather have been eating their curry, and drinking
their bitter beer, at home, in all the comfort of muslin and nankeen.
Macaulay is vehement in his dislike of "those great formal dinners,
which unite all the stiffness of a levee to all the disorder and
discomfort of a two-shilling ordinary. Nothing can be duller. Nobody
speaks except to the person next him. The conversation is the most
deplorable twaddle, and, as I always sit next to the lady of the highest
rank, or, in other words, to the oldest, ugliest, and proudest woman in
the company, I am worse off than my neighbours."

Nevertheless he was far too acute a judge of men to undervalue the
special type of mind which is produced and fostered by the influences of
an Indian career. He was always ready to admit that there is no better
company in the world than a young and rising civilian; no one who has
more to say that is worth hearing, and who can say it in a manner better
adapted to interest those who know good talk from bad. He delighted in
that freedom from pedantry, affectation, and pretension which is one of
the most agreeable characteristics of a service, to belong to which
is in itself so effectual an education, that a bore is a phenomenon
notorious everywhere within a hundred miles of the station which has the
honour to possess him, and a fool is quoted by name throughout all the
three Presidencies. Macaulay writes to his sisters at home: "The best
way of seeing society here is to have very small parties. There is
a little circle of people whose friendship I value, and in whose
conversation I take pleasure: the Chief Justice, Sir Edward Ryan; my old
friend, Malkin; Cameron and Macleod, the Law Commissioners; Macnaghten,
among the older servants of the Company, and Mangles, Colvin, and John
Peter Grant among the younger. [It cannot be said that all the claims
made upon Macaulay's friendship were acknowledged as readily as those
of Sir Benjamin Malkin. "I am dunned unmercifully by place-hunters. The
oddest application that I have received is from that rascal --, who is
somewhere in the interior. He tells me he is sure that prosperity has
not changed me; that I am still the same John Macaulay who was his
dearest friend, his more than brother; and that he means to come up, and
live with me at Calcutta. If he fulfils his intention, I will have him
taken before the police-magistrates."] These, in my opinion, are the
flower of Calcutta society, and I often ask some of them to a quiet
dinner." On the Friday of every week, these chosen few met round
Macaulay's breakfast table to discuss the progress which the Law
Commission had made in its labours; and each successive point which
was started opened the way to such a flood of talk,--legal, historical,
political, and personal,--that the company would sit far on towards
noon over the empty teacups, until an uneasy sense of accumulating
despatch-boxes drove them, one by one, to their respective offices.

There are scattered passages in these letters which prove that
Macaulay's feelings, during his protracted absence from his native
country, were at times almost as keen as those which racked the breast
of Cicero, when he was forced to exchange the triumphs of the Forum,
and the cozy suppers with his brother augurs, for his hateful place
of banishment at Thessalonica, or his hardly less hateful seat of
government at Tarsus. The complaints of the English statesman do not,
however, amount in volume to a fiftieth part of those reiterated out
pourings of lachrymose eloquence with which the Roman philosopher
bewailed an expatriation that was hardly one-third as long. "I have no
words," writes Macaulay, very much under-estimating the wealth of his
own vocabulary, "to tell you how I pine for England, or how intensely
bitter exile has been to me, though I hope that I have borne it well. I
feel as if I had no other wish than to see my country again and die. Let
me assure you that banishment is no light matter. No person can judge of
it who has not experienced it. A complete revolution in all the habits
of life; an estrangement from almost every old friend and acquaintance;
fifteen thousand miles of ocean between the exile and everything that
he cares for; all this is, to me at least, very trying. There is no
temptation of wealth, or power, which would induce me to go through it
again. But many people do not feel as I do. Indeed, the servants of the
Company rarely have such a feeling; and it is natural that they should
not have it, for they are sent out while still schoolboys, and when they
know little of the world. The moment of emigration is to them also the
moment of emancipation; and the pleasures of liberty and affluence to a
great degree compensate them for the loss of their home. In a few years
they become orientalised, and, by the time that they are of my age, they
would generally prefer India, as a residence, to England. But it is a
very different matter when a man is transplanted at thirty-three."

Making, as always, the best of everything, he was quite ready to allow
that he might have been placed in a still less agreeable situation. In
the following extract from a letter to his friend, Mrs. Drummond, there
is much which will come home to those who are old enough to remember how
vastly the Dublin of 1837 differed, for the worse, from the Dublin of
1875, "It now seems likely that you may remain in Ireland for years.
I cannot conceive what has induced you to submit to such an exile.
I declare, for my own part, that, little as I love Calcutta, I would
rather stay here than be settled in the Phoenix Park. The last residence
which I would choose would be a place with all the plagues, and none of
the attractions, of a capital; a provincial city on fire with factions
political and religious, peopled by raving Orangemen and raving
Repealers, and distracted by a contest between Protestantism as
fanatical as that of Knot and Catholicism as fanatical as that of
Bonner. We have our share of the miseries of life in this country.
We are annually baked four months, boiled four more, and allowed the
remaining four to become cool if we can. At this moment, the sun is
blazing like a furnace. The earth, soaked with oceans of rain, is
steaming like a wet blanket. Vegetation is rotting all round us. Insects
and undertakers are the only living creatures which seem to enjoy the
climate. But, though our atmosphere is hot, our factions are lukewarm. A
bad epigram in a newspaper, or a public meeting attended by a tailor,
a pastry-cook, a reporter, two or three barristers, and eight or ten
attorneys, are our most formidable annoyances. We have agitators in
our own small way, Tritons of the minnows, bearing the same sort of
resemblance to O'Connell that a lizard bears to an alligator. Therefore
Calcutta for me, in preference to Dublin."

He had good reason for being grateful to Calcutta, and still better for
not showing his gratitude by prolonging his stay there over a fourth
summer and autumn. "That tremendous crash of the great commercial houses
which took place a few years ago has produced a revolution in fashions.
It ruined one half of the English society in Bengal, and seriously
injured the other half. A large proportion of the most important
functionaries here are deeply in debt, and accordingly, the mode of
living is now exceedingly quiet and modest. Those immense subscriptions,
those public tables, those costly equipages and entertainments of which
Heber, and others who saw Calcutta a few years back, say so much,
are never heard of. Speaking for myself, it was a great piece of good
fortune that I came hither just at the time when the general distress
had forced everybody to adopt a moderate way of living. Owing very much
to that circumstance, (while keeping house, I think, more handsomely
than any other member of Council,) I have saved what will enable me
to do my part towards making my family comfortable; and I shall have a
competency for myself, small indeed, but quite sufficient to render
me as perfectly independent as if I were the possessor of Burleigh or
Chatsworth." [Macaulay writes to Lord Mahon on the last day of December
1836: "In another year I hope to leave this country, with a fortune
which you would think ridiculously small, but which will make me as
independent as if I had all that Lord Westminster has above the ground,
and Lord Durham below it. I have no intention of again taking part in
politics; but I cannot tell what effect the sight of the old Hall and
Abbey may produce on me."]

"The rainy season of 1837 has been exceedingly unhealthy. Our house has
escaped as well as any; yet Hannah is the only one of us who has come
off untouched. The baby has been repeatedly unwell. Trevelyan has
suffered a good deal, and is kept right only by occasional trips in a
steamer down to the mouth of the Hooghly. I had a smart touch of fever,
which happily stayed but an hour or two, and I took such vigorous
measures that it never came again; but I remained unnerved and exhausted
for nearly a fortnight. This was my first, and I hope my last, taste of
Indian maladies. It is a happy thing for us all that we are not to pass
another year in the reek of this deadly marsh." Macaulay wisely declined
to set the hope of making another lac of rupees against the risk, to
himself and others of such a fate as subsequently befell Lord Canning
and Mr. James Wilson. He put the finishing stroke to his various
labours; resigned his seat in the Council, and his Presidentships of the
Law Commission and the Committee of Public Instruction; and, in company
with the Trevelyans, sailed for England in the first fortnight of the
year 1838.

To Mr Thomas Flower Ellis.

Calcutta: December 16, 1834.

Dear Ellis,--Many thanks for your letter. It is delightful in this
strange land to see the handwriting of such a friend. We must keep up
our spirits. We shall meet, I trust, in little more than four years,
with feelings of regard only strengthened by our separation. My spirits
are not bad; and they ought not to be bad. I have health; affluence;
consideration; great power to do good; functions which, while they are
honourable and useful, are not painfully burdensome; leisure for study;
good books; an unclouded and active mind; warm affections; and a very
dear sister. There will soon be a change in my domestic arrangements. My
sister is to be married next week. Her lover, who is lover enough to
be a knight of the Round Table, is one of the most distinguished of our
young Civilians.

I have the very highest opinion of his talents both for action and for
discussion. Indeed, I should call him a man of real genius. He is also,
what is even more important, a man of the utmost purity of honour, of
a sweet temper, and of strong principle. His public virtue has gone
through very severe trials, and has come out resplendent. Lord William,
in congratulating me the other day, said that he thought my destined
brother-in-law the ablest young man in the service. His name is
Trevelyan. He is a nephew of Sir John Trevelyan, a baronet; in Cornwall
I suppose, by the name; for I never took the trouble to ask.

He and my sister will live with me during my stay here. I have a house
about as large as Lord Dudley's in Park Lane, or rather larger, so
that I shall accommodate them without the smallest difficulty. This
arrangement is acceptable to me, because it saves me from the misery of
parting with my sister in this strange land; and is, I believe, equally
gratifying to Trevelyan, whose education, like that of other Indian
servants, was huddled up hastily at home; who has an insatiable thirst
for knowledge of every sort; and who looks on me as little less than
an oracle of wisdom. He came to me the other morning to know whether
I would advise him to keep up his Greek, which he feared he had nearly
lost. I gave him Homer, and asked him to read a page; and I found that,
like most boys of any talent who had been at the Charterhouse, he was
very well grounded in that language. He read with perfect rapture, and
has marched off with the book, declaring that he shall never be content
till he has finished the whole. This, you will think, is not a bad
brother-in-law for a man to pick up in 22 degrees of North latitude, and
100 degrees of East longitude.

I read much, and particularly Greek; and I find that I am, in all
essentials, still not a bad scholar. I could, I think, with a year's
hard study, qualify myself to fight a good battle for a Craven's
scholarship. I read, however, not as I read at College, but like a
man of the world. If I do not know a word, I pass it by unless it is
important to the sense. If I find, as I have of late often found, a
passage which refuses to give up its meaning at the second reading, I
let it alone. I have read during the last fortnight, before breakfast,
three books of Herodotus, and four plays of Aeschylus. My admiration of
Aeschylus has been prodigiously increased by this reperusal. I cannot
conceive how any person of the smallest pretension to taste should doubt
about his immeasurable superiority to every poet of antiquity, Homer
only excepted. Even Milton, I think, must yield to him. It is quite
unintelligible to me that the ancient critics should have placed him
so low. Horace's notice of him in the Ars Poetica is quite ridiculous.
There is, to be sure, the "magnum loqui;" but the great topic insisted
on is the skill of Aeschylus as a manager, as a property-man; the
judicious way in which he boarded the stage; the masks, the buskins, and
the dresses.

 ["Post hunc personae pallaeque repertor honestae
   Aeschylus et modicis instravit pulpita tignis,
   Et docuit magnumnque loqui, nitique cothuruo."]

And, after all, the "magnum loqui," though the most obvious
characteristic of Aeschylus, is by no means his highest or his best. Nor
can I explain this by saying that Horace had too tame and unimaginative
a mind to appreciate Aeschylus. Horace knew what he could himself do,
and, with admirable wisdom, he confined himself to that; but he seems
to have had a perfectly clear comprehension of the merit of those
great masters whom he never attempted to rival. He praised Pindar most
enthusiastically. It seems incomprehensible to me that a critic, who
admired Pindar, should not admire Aeschylus far more.

Greek reminds me of Cambridge and of Thirlwall. When you see Thirlwall,
tell him that I congratulate him from the bottom of my soul on having
suffered in so good a cause; and that I would rather have been treated
as he has been treated, on such an account, than have the Mastership of
Trinity. [The subjoined extract from the letter of a leading member of
Trinity College explains Macaulay's indignation. "Thirlwall published a
pamphlet in 1834, on the admission of Dissenters to the University. The
result was that he was either deprived of his Assistant Tutorship or had
to give it up. Thirlwall left Cambridge soon afterwards. I suppose
that, if he had remained, he would have been very possibly Wordsworth's
successor in the Mastership."] There would be some chance for the
Church, if we had more Churchmen of the same breed, worthy successors of
Leighton and Tillotson.

From one Trinity Fellow I pass to another. (This letter is quite a study
to a metaphysician who wishes to illustrate the Law of Association.) We
have no official tidings yet of Malkin's appointment to the vacant seat
on the Bench at Calcutta. I cannot tell you how delighted I am at
the prospect of having him here. An honest enlightened Judge, without
professional narrowness, is the very man whom we want on public grounds.
And, as to my private feelings, nothing could be more agreeable to me
than to have an old friend, and so estimable a friend, brought so near
to me in this distant country.

Ever, dear Ellis,

Yours very affectionately


Calcutta: February 8, 1835.

Dear Ellis,--The last month has been the most painful that I ever went
through. Indeed, I never knew before what it was to be miserable. Early
in January, letters from England brought me news of the death of my
youngest sister. What she was to me no words can express. I will not say
that she was dearer to me than anything in the world; for my sister who
was with me was equally dear; but she was as dear to me as one human
being can be to another. Even now, when time has begun to do its healing
office, I cannot write about her without being altogether unmanned. That
I have not utterly sunk under this blow I owe chiefly to literature.
What a blessing it is to love books as I love them;--to be able to
converse with the dead, and to live amidst the unreal! Many times during
the last few weeks I have repeated to myself those fine lines of old

 ei gar tis kai penthos egon neokedei thumo
 aksetai kradien akakhemenos, autar aoidos
 mousaon therapon kleia proteron anthropon
 umnese, makaras te theous oi Olumpon ekhousi,
 aips oge dusphroneon epilethetai oude ti kedeon
 memnetai takheos de paretrape dora theaon.

["For if to one whose grief is fresh as he sits silent with
sorrow-stricken heart, a minstrel, the henchman of the Muses, celebrates
the men of old and the gods who possess Olympus; straightway he forgets
his melancholy, and remembers not at all his grief, beguiled by the
blessed gift of the goddesses of song." In Macaulay's Hesiod this
passage is scored with three lines in pencil.]

I have gone back to Greek literature with a passion quite astonishing
to myself. I have never felt anything like it. I was enraptured with
Italian during the six months which I gave up to it; and I was little
less pleased with Spanish. But, when I went back to the Greek, I felt
as if I had never known before what intellectual enjoyment was. Oh that
wonderful people! There is not one art, not one science, about which we
may not use the same expression which Lucretius has employed about the
victory over superstition, "Primum Graius homo--."

I think myself very fortunate in having been able to return to these
great masters while still in the full vigour of life, and when my taste
and judgment are mature. Most people read all the Greek that they ever
read before they are five and twenty. They never find time for such
studies afterwards till they are in the decline of life; and then their
knowledge of the language is in a great measure lost, and cannot easily
be recovered. Accordingly, almost all the ideas that people have of
Greek literature, are ideas formed while they were still very young. A
young man, whatever his genius may be, is no judge of such a writer as
Thucydides. I had no high opinion of him ten years ago. I have now been
reading him with a mind accustomed to historical researches, and to
political affairs; and I am astonished at my own former blindness, and
at his greatness. I could not bear Euripides at college. I now read my
recantation. He has faults undoubtedly. But what a poet! The Medea, the
Alcestis, the Troades, the Bacchae, are alone sufficient to place him in
the very first rank. Instead of depreciating him, as I have done, I may,
for aught I know, end by editing him.

I have read Pindar,--with less pleasure than I feel in reading the great
Attic poets, but still with admiration. An idea occurred to me which may
very likely have been noticed by a hundred people before. I was always
puzzled to understand the reason for the extremely abrupt transitions
in those Odes of Horace which are meant to be particularly fine. The
"justum et tenacem" is an instance. All at once you find yourself in
heaven, Heaven knows how. What the firmness of just men in times of
tyranny, or of tumult, has to do with Juno's oration about Troy it
is hardly possible to conceive. Then, again, how strangely the fight
between the Gods and the Giants is tacked on to the fine hymn to the
Muses in that noble ode, "Descende coelo et die age tibia"! This
always struck me as a great fault, and an inexplicable one; for it
is peculiarly alien from the calm good sense, and good taste, which
distinguish Horace.

My explanation of it is this. The Odes of Pindar were the acknowledged
models of lyric poetry. Lyric poets imitated his manner as closely as
they could; and nothing was more remarkable in his compositions than the
extreme violence and abruptness of the transitions. This in Pindar was
quite natural and defensible. He had to write an immense number of poems
on subjects extremely barren, and extremely monotonous. There could be
little difference between one boxing-match and another. Accordingly,
he made all possible haste to escape from the immediate subject, and to
bring in, by hook or by crook, some local description; some old legend;
something or other, in short, which might be more susceptible
of poetical embellishment, and less utterly threadbare, than the
circumstances of a race or a wrestling-match. This was not the practice
of Pindar alone. There is an old story which proves that Simonides did
the same, and that sometimes the hero of the day was nettled at finding
how little was said about him in the Ode for which he was to pay. This
abruptness of transition was, therefore, in the Greek lyric poets, a
fault rendered inevitable by the peculiarly barren and uniform nature
of the subjects which they had to treat. But, like many other faults
of great masters, it appeared to their imitators a beauty; and a beauty
almost essential to the grander Ode. Horace was perfectly at liberty to
choose his own subjects, and to treat them after his own fashion. But he
confounded what was merely accidental in Pindar's manner with what was
essential; and because Pindar, when he had to celebrate a foolish lad
from Aegina who had tripped up another's heels at the Isthmus, made all
possible haste to get away from so paltry a topic to the ancient heroes
of the race of Aeacus, Horace took it into his head that he ought always
to begin as far from the subject as possible, and then arrive at it by
some strange and sudden bound. This is my solution. At least I can
find no better. The most obscure passage,--at least the strangest
passage,--in all Horace may be explained by supposing that he was
misled by Pindar's example: I mean that odd parenthesis in the "Qualem

 Mos unde deductus per omne--.

This passage, taken by itself, always struck me as the harshest,
queerest, and most preposterous digression in the world. But there are
several things in Pindar very like it. [Orelli makes an observation,
much to the same effect, in his note on this passage in his edition of

You must excuse all this, for I labour at present under a suppression of
Greek, and am likely to do so for at least three years to come. Malkin
may be some relief; but I am quite unable to guess whether he means to
come to Calcutta. I am in excellent bodily health, and I am recovering
my mental health; but I have been sorely tried. Money matters look well.
My new brother-in-law and I are brothers in more than law. I am more
comfortable than I expected to be in this country; and, as to the
climate, I think it, beyond all comparison, better than that of the
House of Commons.

Yours affectionately


Writing three days after the date of the foregoing letter, Macaulay
says to his old friend Mr. Sharp: "You see that my mind is not in great
danger of rusting. The danger is that I may become a mere pedant. I feel
a habit of quotation growing on me; but I resist that devil, for such
it is, and it flees from me. It is all that I can do to keep Greek and
Latin out of all my letters. Wise sayings of Euripides are even now at
my fingers' ends. If I did not maintain a constant struggle against this
propensity, my correspondence would resemble the notes to the 'Pursuits
of Literature.' It is a dangerous thing for a man with a very strong
memory to read very much. I could give you three or four quotations
this moment in support of that proposition; but I will bring the vicious
propensity under subjection, if I can." [Many years later Macaulay wrote
to my mother: "Dr. -- came, and I found him a very clever man; a little
of a coxcomb, but, I dare say, not the worse physician for that. He must
have quoted Horace and Virgil six times at least a propos of his medical
inquiries. Horace says, in a poem in which he jeers the Stoics, that
even a wise man is out of sort when 'pituita molesta est;' which is,
being interpreted, 'when, his phlegm is troublesome.' The Doctor thought
it necessary to quote this passage in order to prove that phlegm is
troublesome;--a proposition, of the truth of which, I will venture to
say, no man on earth is better convinced than myself."]

Calcutta, May 29, 1835.

Dear Ellis,--I am in great want of news. We know that the Tories
dissolved at the end of December, and we also know that they were beaten
towards the end of February. [In November 1834 the King called Sir
Robert Peel to power; after having of his own accord dismissed the Whig
Ministry. Parliament was dissolved, but the Tories did not succeed in
obtaining a majority. After three months of constant and angry fighting,
Peel was driven from office in April 1835.] As to what passed in the
interval, we are quite in the dark. I will not plague you with comments
on events which will have been driven out of your mind by other events
before this reaches you, or with prophecies which may be falsified
before you receive them. About the final issue I am certain. The
language of the first great reformer is that which I should use in reply
to the exultation of our Tories here, if there were any of them who
could understand it

 sebou, proseukhou thopte ton kratount aei
 emoi d'elasson Zeuos e meden melei.
 drato krateito tonde ton brakhun khronon
 opes thelei daron gar ouk arksei theois

["Worship thou, adore, and flatter the monarch of the hour. To me Jove
is of less account than nothing. Let him have his will, and his sceptre,
for this brief season; for he will not long be the ruler of the Gods."
It is needless to say that poor William the Fourth was the Jove of the
Whig Prometheus.]

As for myself, I rejoice that I am out of the present storm. "Suave mari
magno;" or, as your new Premier, if he be still Premier, construes. "It
is a source of melancholy satisfaction." I may, indeed, feel the effects
of the changes here, but more on public than private grounds. A Tory
Governor-General is not very likely to agree with me about the very
important law reforms which I am about to bring before the Council. But
he is not likely to treat me ill personally; or, if he does,

 all ou ti khairon, en tod orthothe Belos,

["It shall be to his cost, so long as this bow carries true."]

as Philoctetes says. In a few months I shall have enough to enable me to
live, after my very moderate fashion, in perfect independence at home;
and whatever debts any Governor-General may choose to lay on me at
Calcutta shall be paid off, he may rely on it, with compound interest,
at Westminster.

My time is divided between public business and books. I mix with society
as little as I can. My spirits have not yet recovered,--I sometimes
think that they will never wholly recover,--the shock which they
received five months ago. I find that nothing soothes them so much as
the contemplation of those miracles of art which Athens has bequeathed
to us. I am really becoming, I hope not a pedant, but certainly an
enthusiast about classical literature. I have just finished a second
reading of Sophocles. I am now deep in Plato, and intend to go right
through all his works. His genius is above praise. Even where he is most
absurd,--as, for example, in the Cratylus,--he shows an acuteness, and
an expanse of intellect, which is quite a phenomenon by itself. The
character of Socrates does not rise upon me. The more I read about him,
the less I wonder that they poisoned him. If he had treated me as he
is said to have treated Protagoras, Hippias, and Gorgias, I could never
have forgiven him.

Nothing has struck me so much in Plato's dialogues as the raillery.
At college, somehow or other, I did not understand or appreciate it. I
cannot describe to you the way in which it now tickles me. I often sink
forward on my huge old Marsilius Ficinus in a fit of laughter. I should
say that there never was a vein of ridicule so rich, at the same time so
delicate. It is superior to Voltaire's; nay, to Pascal's. Perhaps there
are one or two passages in Cervantes, and one or two in Fielding, that
might give a modern reader a notion of it.

I have very nearly finished Livy. I never read him through before. I
admire him greatly, and would give a quarter's salary to recover the
lost Decades. While I was reading the earlier books I went again
through Niebuhr. And I am sorry to say that, having always been a little
sceptical about his merits, I am now a confirmed unbeliever. I do not of
course mean that he has no merit. He was a man of immense learning, and
of great ingenuity. But his mind was utterly wanting in the faculty
by which a demonstrated truth is distinguished from a plausible
supposition. He is not content with suggesting that an event may have
happened. He is certain that it happened, and calls on the reader to be
certain too, (though not a trace of it exists in any record whatever,)
because it would solve the phenomena so neatly. Just read over again, if
you have forgotten it, the conjectural restoration of the Inscription in
page 126 of the second volume; and then, on your honour as a scholar and
a man of sense, tell me whether in Bentley's edition of Milton there is
anything which approaches to the audacity of that emendation. Niebuhr
requires you to believe that some of the greatest men in Rome were
burned alive in the Circus; that this event was commemorated by an
inscription on a monument, one half of which is sill in existence; but
that no Roman historian knew anything about it; and that all tradition
of the event was lost, though the memory of anterior events much less
important has reached our time. When you ask for a reason, he tells you
plainly that such a thing cannot be established by reason; that he is
sure of it; and that you must take his word. This sort of intellectual
despotism always moves me to mutiny, and generates a disposition to
pull down the reputation of the dogmatist. Niebuhr's learning was
immeasurably superior to mine; but I think myself quite as good a judge
of evidence as he was. I might easily believe him if he told me that
there were proofs which I had never seen; but, when he produces all his
proofs, I conceive that I am perfectly competent to pronounce on their

As I turned over his leaves just now, I lighted on another instance
of what I cannot but call ridiculous presumption. He says that Martial
committed a blunder in making the penultimate of Porsena short. Strange
that so great a scholar should not know that Horace had done so too!

Minacis aut Etrusca Porsenae manus.

There is something extremely nauseous to me in a German Professor
telling the world, on his own authority, and without giving the smallest
reason, that two of the best Latin poets were ignorant of the quantity
of a word which they must have used in their exercises at school a
hundred times.

As to the general capacity of Niebuhr for political speculations,
let him be judged by the Preface to the Second Volume. He there says,
referring to the French Revolution of July 1830, that "unless God
send us some miraculous help, we have to look forward to a period of
destruction similar to that which the Roman world experienced about the
middle of the third century." Now, when I see a man scribble such abject
nonsense about events which are passing under our eyes, what confidence
can I put in his judgment as to the connection of causes and effects in
times very imperfectly known to us.

But I must bring my letter, or review, to a close. Remember me most
kindly to your wife. Tell Frank that I mean to be a better scholar than
he when I come back, and that he must work hard if he means to overtake

Ever, dear Ellis,

Your affectionate friend


Calcutta: August 25, 1835.

Dear Ellis,--Cameron arrived here about a fortnight ago, and we are most
actively engaged in preparing a complete Criminal Code for India. He and
I agree excellently. Ryan, the most liberal of Judges, lends us his best
assistance. I heartily hope, and fully believe, that we shall put
the whole Penal law, and the whole law of Criminal Procedure, into a
moderately sized volume. I begin to take a very warm interest in this
work. It is, indeed, one of the finest employments of the intellect that
it is easy to conceive. I ought, however, to tell you that, the more
progress I make as a legislator, the more intense my contempt for the
mere technical study of law becomes.

I am deep in the examination of the political theories of the old
philosophers. I have read Plato's Republic, and his laws; and I am now
reading Aristotle's Politics; after which I shall go through Plato's two
treatises again. I every now and then read one of Plutarch's Lives on
an idle afternoon; and in this way I have got through a dozen of them. I
like him prodigiously. He is inaccurate, to be sure, and a romancer;
but he tells a story delightfully, and his illustrations and sketches
of character are as good as anything in ancient eloquence. I have never,
till now, rated him fairly.

As to Latin, I am just finishing Lucan, who remains pretty much where he
was in my opinion; and I am busily engaged with Cicero, whose character,
moral and intellectual, interests me prodigiously. I think that I see
the whole man through and through. But this is too vast a subject for
a letter. I have gone through all Ovid's poems. I admire him; but I was
tired to death before I got to the end. I amused myself one evening with
turning over the Metamorphoses, to see if I could find any passage of
ten lines which could, by possibility, have been written by Virgil.
Whether I was in ill luck or no I cannot tell; but I hunted for half
an hour without the smallest success. At last I chanced to light on a
little passage more Virgilian, to my thinking, than Virgil himself. Tell
me what you say to my criticism. It is part of Apollo's speech to the

                        Semper habebunt
 Te coma, te citharae, te nostrae, laure, pharetrae
 Tu ducibus Latiis aderis, cum laeta triumphum
 Vox canet, et longas visent Capitolia pompas.
 Portibus Augustis cadem fidissima custos
 Ante fores stabis, mediamque tuebere quercum.

As to other Latin writers, Sallust has gone sadly down in my opinion.
Caesar has risen wonderfully. I think him fully entitled to Cicero's
praise. [In the dialogue "De Claris Oratoribus" Cicero makes Atticus say
that 'A consummate judge of style (who is evidently intended for Cicero
himself,) pronounces Caesar's Latin to be the most elegant, with one
implied exception, that had ever been heard in the Senate or the Forum'.
Atticus then goes on to detail at full length a compliment which Caesar
had paid to Cicero's powers of expression; and Brutus declares with
enthusiasm that such praise, coming from such a quarter, is worth more
than a Triumph, as Triumphs were then given; and inferior in value
only to the honours which were voted to the statesman who had baffled
Catiline. The whole passage is a model of self-glorification, exquisite
in skill and finish.] He has won the honour of an excellent historian
while attempting merely to give hints for history. But what are they
all to the great Athenian? I do assure you that there is no prose
composition in the world, not even the De Corona, which I place so high
as the seventh book of Thucydides. It is the ne plus ultra of human art.
I was delighted to find in Gray's letters the other day this query to
Wharton: "The retreat from Syracuse--Is it or is it not the finest thing
you ever read in your life?"

Did you ever read Athenaeus through? I never did; but I am meditating
an attack on him. The multitude of quotations looks very tempting; and I
never open him for a minute without being paid for my trouble.

Yours very affectionately


Calcutta: December 30, 1835,

Dear Ellis,--What the end of the Municipal Reform Bill is to be I cannot
conjecture. Our latest English intelligence is of the 15th of August.
The Lords were then busy in rendering the only great service that I
expect them ever to render to the nation; that is to say, in hastening
the day of reckoning. [In the middle of August the Irish Tithe Bill went
up to the House of Lords, where it was destined to undergo a mutilation
which was fatal to its existence.] But I will not fill my paper with
English politics.

I am in excellent health. So are my sister and brother-in-law, and their
little girl, whom I am always nursing; and of whom I am becoming fonder
than a wise man, with half my experience, would choose to be of anything
except himself. I have but very lately begun to recover my spirits. The
tremendous blow which fell on me at the beginning of this year has left
marks behind it which I shall carry to my grave. Literature has saved my
life and my reason. Even now, I dare not, in the intervals of business,
remain alone for a minute without a book in my hand. What my course of
life will be, when I return to England, is very doubtful. But I am more
than half determined to abandon politics, and to give myself wholly to
letters; to undertake some great historical work, which may be at once
the business and the amusement of my life; and to leave the pleasures of
pestiferous rooms, sleepless nights, aching heads, and diseased stomachs
to Roebuck and to Praed.

In England I might probably be of a very different opinion. But, in the
quiet of my own little grass-plot,--when the moon, at its rising, finds
me with the Philoctetes or the De Finibus in my hand,--I often wonder
what strange infatuation leads men who can do something better to
squander their intellect, their health, their energy, on such subjects
as those which most statesmen are engaged in pursuing. I comprehend
perfectly how a man who can debate, but who would make a very
indifferent figure as a contributor to an annual or a magazine,--such a
man as Stanley, for example,--should take the only line by which he
can attain distinction. But that a man before whom the two paths of
literature and politics lie open, and who might hope for eminence
in either, should choose politics, and quit literature, seems to me
madness. On the one side is health, leisure, peace of mind, the search
after truth, and all the enjoyments of friendship and conversation.
On the other side is almost certain ruin to the constitution, constant
labour, constant anxiety. Every friendship which a man may have, becomes
precarious as soon as he engages in politics. As to abuse, men soon
become callous to it, but the discipline which makes them callous is
very severe. And for what is it that a man who might, if he chose, rise
and lie down at his own hour, engage in any study, enjoy any amusement,
and visit any place, consents to make himself as much a prisoner as
if he were within the rules of the Fleet; to be tethered during eleven
months of the year within the circle of half a mile round Charing Cross;
to sit, or stand, night after night for ten or twelve hours, inhaling a
noisome atmosphere, and listening to harangues of which nine-tenths are
far below the level of a leading article in a newspaper? For what is
it that he submits, day after day, to see the morning break over the
Thames, and then totters home, with bursting temples, to his bed? Is
it for fame? Who would compare the fame of Charles Townshend to that of
Hume, that of Lord North to that of Gibbon, that of Lord Chatham to that
of Johnson? Who can look back on the life of Burke and not regret that
the years which he passed in ruining his health and temper by political
exertions were not passed in the composition of some great and durable
work? Who can read the letters to Atticus, and not feel that Cicero
would have been an infinitely happier and better man, and a not less
celebrated man, if he had left us fewer speeches, and more Academic
Questions and Tusculan Disputations; if he had passed the time which he
spent in brawling with Vatinius and Clodius in producing a history
of Rome superior even to that of Livy? But these, as I said, are
meditations in a quiet garden, situated far beyond the contagious
influence of English action. What I might feel if I again saw Downing
Street and Palace Yard is another question. I tell you sincerely my
present feelings.

I have cast up my reading account, and brought it to the end of the year
1835. It includes December 1834; for I came into my house and unpacked
my books at the end of November 1834. During the last thirteen months
I have read Aeschylus 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 Athenaeus; Plautus twice; Terence twice;
Lucretius twice; Catullus; Tibullus; Propertius; Lucan; Statius; Silius
Italicus; Livy; Velleius Paterculus; Sallust; Caesar; 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.
Of Aristophanes I think as I always thought; but Lucian has agreeably
surprised me. At school I read some of his Dialogues of the Dead when I
was thirteen; and, to my shame, I never, to the best of my belief, read
a line of him since. I am charmed with him. His style seems to me to be
superior to that of any extant writer who lived later than the age of
Demosthenes and Theophrastus. He has a most peculiar and delicious
vein of humour. It is not the humour of Aristophanes; it is not that of
Plato; and yet it is akin to both; not quite equal, I admit, to either,
but still exceedingly charming. I hardly know where to find an instance
of a writer, in the decline of a literature, who has shown an invention
so rich, and a taste so pure. But, if I get on these matters, I shall
fill sheet after sheet. They must wait till we take another long walk,
or another tavern dinner, together; that is, till the summer of 1838.

I had a long story to tell you about a classical examination here; but I
have not time. I can only say that some of the competitors tried to read
the Greek with the papers upside down; and that the great man of the
examination, the Thirlwall of Calcutta, a graduate of Trinity College,
Dublin, translated the words of Theophrastus, osas leitourgias
leleitroupgeke "how many times he has performed divine service." ["How
many public services he had discharged at his own expense." Macaulay
used to say that a lady who dips into Mr. Grote's history, and learns
that Alcibiades won the heart of his fellow-citizens by the novelty of
his theories and the splendour of his liturgies, may get a very false
notion of that statesman's relations with the Athenian public.]

Ever yours affectionately


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. [See the Appendix
at the end.] In his copy of Quintus Calaber, (a versifier who is less
unknown by the title of Quintus Smyrnaeus,) appear the entries,

"September 22, 1833." "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 Smyrnaeus twice.

Calcutta; May 30, 1836.

Dear Ellis,--I have just received your letter dated December, 28; How
time flies! Another hot season has almost passed away, and we are daily
expecting the beginning of the rains. Cold season, hot season, and
rainy season are all much the same to me. I shall have been two years on
Indian ground in less than a fortnight, and I have not taken ten grains
of solid, or a pint of liquid, medicine during the whole of that time.
If I judged only from my own sensations, I should say that this climate
is absurdly maligned; but the yellow, spectral, figures which surround
me serve to correct the conclusions which I should be inclined to draw
from the state of my own health.

One execrable effect the climate produces. It destroys all the works of
man with scarcely one exception. Steel rusts; razors lose their edge;
thread decays; clothes fall to pieces; books moulder away, and drop out
of their bindings; plaster cracks; timber rots; matting is in shreds.
The sun, the steam of this vast alluvial tract, and the infinite armies
of white ants, make such havoc with buildings that a house requires
a complete repair every three years. Ours was in this situation about
three months ago; and, if we had determined to brave the rains without
any precautions, we should, in all probability, have had the roof down
on our heads. Accordingly we were forced to migrate for six weeks from
our stately apartments and our flower-beds, to a dungeon where we were
stifled with the stench of native cookery, and deafened by the noise
of native music. At last we have returned to our house. We found it
all snow-white and pea-green; and we rejoice to think that we shall not
again be under the necessity of quitting it, till we quit it for a ship
bound on a voyage to London.

We have been for some months in the middle of what the people here think
a political storm. To a person accustomed to the hurricanes of English
faction this sort of tempest in a horsepond is merely ridiculous.
We have put the English settlers up the country under the exclusive
jurisdiction of the Company's Courts in civil actions in which they are
concerned with natives. The English settlers are perfectly contented;
but the lawyers of the Supreme Court have set up a yelp which they think
terrible, and which has infinitely diverted me. They have selected me as
the object of their invectives, and I am generally the theme of five
or six columns of prose and verse daily. I have not patience to read
a tenth part of what they put forth. The last ode in my praise which I
perused began,

 "Soon we hope they will recall ye,
  Tom Macaulay, Tom Macaulay."

The last prose which I read was a parallel between me and Lord

My mornings, from five to nine, are quite my own. I still give them
to ancient literature. I have read Aristophanes twice through since
Christmas; and have also read Herodotus, and Thucydides again. I got
into a way last year of reading a Greek play every Sunday. I began on
Sunday the 18th of October with the Prometheus, and next Sunday I shall
finish with the Cyclops of Euripides. Euripides has made a complete
conquest of me. It has been unfortunate for him that we have so many
of his pieces. It has, on the other hand, I suspect, been fortunate for
Sophocles that so few of his have come down to us. Almost every play of
Sophocles, which is now extant, was one of his masterpieces. There
is hardly one of them which is not mentioned with high praise by some
ancient writer. Yet one of them, the Trachiniae, is, to my thinking,
very poor and insipid. Now, if we had nineteen plays of Sophocles, of
which twelve or thirteen should be no better than the Trachiniae,--and
if, on the other hand, only seven pieces of Euripides had come down to
us, and if those seven had been the Medea, the Bacchae, the Iphigenia in
Aulis, the Orestes, the Phoenissae, the Hippolytus, and the Alcestis, I
am not sure that the relative position which the two poets now hold in
our estimation would not be greatly altered.

I have not done much in Latin. I have been employed in turning over
several third-rate and fourth-rate writers. After finishing Cicero, I
read through the works of both the Senecas, father and son. There is
a great deal in the Controversiae both of curious information, and of
judicious criticism. As to the son, I cannot bear him. His style affects
me in something the same way with that of Gibbon. But Lucius Seneca's
affectation is even more rank than Gibbon's. His works are made up of
mottoes. There is hardly a sentence which might not be quoted; but to
read him straightforward is like dining on nothing but anchovy sauce.
I have read, as one does read such stuff, Valerius Maximus, Annaeus
Florus, Lucius Ampelius, and Aurelius Victor. I have also gone through
Phaedrus. I am now better employed. I am deep in the Annals of Tacitus,
and I am at the same time reading Suetonius.

You are so rich in domestic comforts that I am inclined to envy you. I
am not, however, without my share. I am as fond of my little niece
as her father. I pass an hour or more every day in nursing her, and
teaching her to talk. She has got as far as Ba, Pa, and Ma; which, as
she is not eight months old, we consider as proofs of a genius little
inferior to that of Shakespeare or Sir Isaac Newton.

The municipal elections have put me in good spirits as to English
politics. I was rather inclined to despondency.

Ever yours affectionately


Calcutta: July 25, 1836.

My dear Ellis,--I have heard from you again, and glad I always am to
hear from you. There are few things to which I look forward with more
pleasure than to our meeting. It is really worth while to go into
banishment for a few years for the pleasure of going home again. Yet
that home will in some things be a different home--oh how different a
home!--from that to which I expected to return. But I will not stir up
the bitterness of sorrow which has at last subsided.

You take interest, I see, in my Greek and Latin studies. I continue to
pursue them steadily and actively. I am now reading Demosthenes with
interest and admiration indescribable. I am slowly, at odd minutes,
getting through the stupid trash of Diodorus. I have read through
Seneca, and an affected empty scribbler he is. I have read Tacitus
again, and, by the bye, I will tell you a curious circumstance relating
to that matter. In my younger days I always thought the Annals a
prodigiously superior work to the History. I was surprised to find that
the Annals seemed cold and poor to me on the last reading. I began to
think that I had overrated Tacitus. But, when I began the History, I was
enchanted, and thought more highly of him than ever. I went back to the
Annals, and liked them even better than the History. All at once the
explanation of this occurred to me. While I was reading the Annals I
was reading Thucydides. When I began the History, I began the Hellenics.
What made the Annals appear cold and poor to me was the intense interest
which Thucydides inspired. Indeed, what colouring is there which would
not look tame when placed side by side with the magnificent light, and
the terrible shade, of Thucydides? Tacitus was a great man, but he was
not up to the Sicilian expedition. When I finished Thucydides, and
took up Xenophon, the case was reversed. Tacitus had been a foil to
Thucydides. Xenophon was a foil to Tacitus.

I have read Pliny the Younger. Some of the Epistles are interesting.
Nothing more stupid than the Panegyric was ever preached in the
University church. I am reading the Augustan History, and Aulus Gellius.
Aulus is a favourite of mine. I think him one of the best writers of his

I read in the evenings a great deal of English, French, and Italian;
and a little Spanish. I have picked up Portuguese enough to read Camoens
with care; and I want no more. I have adopted an opinion about the
Italian historians quite different from that which I formerly held, and
which, I believe, is generally considered as orthodox. I place Fra Paolo
decidedly at the head of them, and next to him Davila, whom I take to
be the best modern military historian except Colonel Napier. Davila's
battle of Ivry is worthy of Thucydides himself. Next to Davila I put
Guicciardini, and last of all Machiavelli. But I do not think that you
ever read much Italian.

The English poetry of the day has very few attractions for me. Van
Artevelde is far the best specimen that I have lately seen. I do not
much like Talfourd's Ion; but I mean to read it again. It contains
pretty lines; but, to my thinking, it is neither fish nor flesh. There
is too much, and too little, of the antique about it. Nothing but the
most strictly classical costume can reconcile me to a mythological plot;
and Ion is a modern philanthropist, whose politics and morals have been
learned from the publications of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful

I do not know whether the noise which the lawyers of the Supreme Court
have been raising against our legislative authority has reached, or
will reach, England. They held a public meeting, which ended,--or rather
began, continued, and ended,--in a riot; and ever since then the leading
agitators have been challenging each other, refusing each other's
challenges, libelling each other, swearing the peace against each other,
and blackballing each other. Mr. Longueville Clarke, who aspires to
be the O'Connell of Calcutta, called another lawyer a liar. The
last-mentioned lawyer challenged Mr. Longueville Clarke. Mr. Longueville
Clarke refused to fight, on the ground that his opponent had been
guilty of hugging attorneys. The Bengal Club accordingly blackballed
Longueville. This, and some other similar occurrences, have made the
opposition here thoroughly ridiculous and contemptible. They will
probably send a petition home; but, unless the House of Commons has
undergone a great change since 1833, they have no chance there.

I have almost brought my letter to a close without mentioning the most
important matter about which I had to write. I dare say you have heard
that my uncle General Macaulay, who died last February, has left me
L10,000 This legacy, together with what I shall have saved by the end of
1837, will make me quite a rich man; richer than I even wish to be as a
single man; and every day renders it more unlikely that I should marry.

We have had a very unhealthy season; but sickness has not come near our
house. My sister, my brother-in-law, and their little child, are as well
as possible. As to me, I think that, as Buonaparte said of himself after
the Russian campaign, J'ai le diable au corps.

Ever yours affectionately


To Macvey Napier, Esq.

Calcutta: November 26, 1836.

Dear Napier,--At last I send you an article of interminable length about
Lord Bacon. I hardly know whether it is not too long for an article in a
Review; but the subject is of such vast extent that I could easily have
made the paper twice as long as it is.

About the historical and political part there is no great probability
that we shall differ in opinion; but what I have said about Bacon's
philosophy is widely at variance with what Dugald Stuart, and
Mackintosh, have said on the same subject. I have not your essay; nor
have I read it since I read it at Cambridge, with very great pleasure,
but without any knowledge of the subject. I have at present only a very
faint and general recollection of its contents, and have in vain tried
to procure a copy of it here. I fear, however, that, differing widely
as I do from Stewart and Mackintosh, I shall hardly agree with you. My
opinion is formed, not at second hand, like those of nine-tenths of the
people who talk about Bacon; but after several very attentive perusals
of his greatest works, and after a good deal of thought. If I am in the
wrong, my errors may set the minds of others at work, and may be the
means of bringing both them, and me, to a knowledge of the truth. I
never bestowed so much care on anything that I have written. There is
not a sentence in the latter half of the article which has not been
repeatedly recast. I have no expectation that the popularity of the
article will bear any proportion to the trouble which I have expended
on it. But the trouble has been so great a pleasure to me that I have
already been greatly overpaid. Pray look carefully to the printing.

In little more than a year I shall be embarking for England, and I
have determined to employ the four months of my voyage in mastering
the German language. I should be much obliged to you to send me out,
as early as you can, so that they may be certain to arrive in time, the
best grammar, and the best dictionary, that can be procured; a German
Bible; Schiller's works; Goethe's works; and Niebuhr's History, both in
the original, and in the translation. My way of learning a language is
always to begin with the Bible, which I can read without a dictionary.
After a few days passed in this way, I am master of all the common
particles, the common rules of syntax, and a pretty large vocabulary.
Then I fall on some good classical work. It was in this way that I
learned both Spanish and Portuguese, and I shall try the same course
with German.

I have little or nothing to tell you about myself. My life has flowed
away here with strange rapidity. It seems but yesterday that I left
my country; and I am writing to beg you to hasten preparations for my
return. I continue to enjoy perfect health, and the little political
squalls which I have had to weather here are mere capfuls of wind to a
man who has gone through the great hurricanes of English faction.

I shall send another copy of the article on Bacon by another ship.

Yours very truly


Calcutta: November 28, 1836.

Dear Napier,--There is an oversight in the article on Bacon which I
shall be much obliged to you to correct. I have said that Bacon did not
deal at all in idle rants "like those in which Cicero and Mr. Shandy
sought consolation for the loss of Tullia and of Bobby." Nothing can, as
a general remark, be more true, but it escaped my recollection that two
or three of Mr. Shandy's consolatory sentences are quoted from Bacon's
Essays. The illustration, therefore, is singularly unfortunate. Pray
alter it thus; "in which Cicero vainly sought consolation for the loss
of Tullia." To be sure, it is idle to correct such trifles at a distance
of fifteen thousand miles.

Yours ever


From Lord Jeffrey to Macvey Napier, Esq.

May 2, 1837.

My dear N.,--What mortal could ever dream of cutting out the least
particle of this precious work, to make it fit better into your Review?
It would be worse than paring down the Pitt Diamond to fit the old
setting of a Dowager's ring. Since Bacon himself, I do not know that
there has been anything so fine. The first five or six pages are in a
lower tone, but still magnificent, and not to be deprived of a word.

Still, I do not object to consider whether it might not be best to serve
up the rich repast in two courses; and on the whole I incline to that
partition. 120 pages might cloy even epicures, and would be sure to
surfeit the vulgar; and the biography and philosophy are so entirely
distinct, and of not very unequal length, that the division would not
look like a fracture.


In the end, the article appeared entire; occupying 104 pages of the
Review; and accompanied by an apology for its length in the shape of one
of those editorial appeals to "the intelligent scholar," and "the best
class of our readers," which never fail of success.

The letters addressed to Zachary Macaulay are half filled with anecdotes
of the nursery; pretty enough, but such as only a grandfather could
be expected to read. In other respects, the correspondence is chiefly
remarkable for the affectionate ingenuity with which the son selects
such topics as would interest the father.

Calcutta: October 12 1836.

My dear Father, We were extremely gratified by receiving, a few days
ago, a letter from you which, on the whole, gave a good account of your
health and spirits. The day after tomorrow is the first anniversary of
your little grand-daughter's birthday. The occasion is to be celebrated
with a sort of droll puppet-show, much in fashion among the natives; an
exhibition much in the style of Punch in England, but more dramatic and
more showy. All the little boys and girls from the houses of our friends
are invited, and the party will, I have no doubt, be a great deal more
amusing than the stupid dinners and routs with which the grown-up people
here kill the time.

In a few months,--I hope, indeed, in a few weeks,--we shall send up the
Penal Code to Government. We have got rid of the punishment of death,
except in the case of aggravated treason and wilful murder. We shall
also get rid indirectly of everything that can properly be called
slavery in India. There will remain civil claims on particular people
for particular services, which claims may be enforced by civil action;
but no person will be entitled, on the plea of being the master of
another, to do anything to that other which it would be an offence to do
to a free-man.

Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully. We find it
difficult,--indeed, in some places impossible,--to provide instruction
for all who want it. At the single town of Hoogly fourteen hundred boys
are learning English. The effect of this education on the Hindoos is
prodigious. No Hindoo, who has received an English education, ever
remains sincerely attached to his religion. Some continue to profess it
as matter of policy; but many profess themselves pure Deists, and
some embrace Christianity. It is my firm belief that, if our plans of
education are followed up, there will not be a single idolater among
the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence. And this will
be effected without any efforts to proselytise; without the smallest
interference with religious liberty; merely by the natural operation of
knowledge and reflection. I heartily rejoice in the prospect.

I have been a sincere mourner for Mill. He and I were on the best terms,
and his services at the India House were never so much needed as at this
time. I had a most kind letter from him a few weeks before I heard of
his death. He has a son just come out, to whom I have shown such little
attentions as are in my power.

Within half a year after the time when you read this we shall be making
arrangements for our return. The feelings with which I look forward to
that return I cannot express. Perhaps I should be wise to continue
here longer, in order to enjoy during a greater number of months the
delusion,--for I know that it will prove a delusion,--of this delightful
hope. I feel as if I never could be unhappy in my own country; as if
to exist on English ground and among English people, seeing the old
familiar sights and hearing the sound of my mother tongue, would be
enough for me. This cannot be; yet some days of intense happiness I
shall surely have; and one of those will be the day when I again see my
dear father and sisters.

Ever yours most affectionately T. B. MACAULAY.

Calcutta: November 30, 1836.

Dear Ellis,--How the months run away! Here is another cold season;
morning fogs, cloth coats, green peas, new potatoes, and all the
accompaniments of a Bengal winter. As to my private life, it has glided
on, since I wrote to you last, in the most peaceful monotony. If it were
not for the books which I read, and for the bodily and mental growth of
my dear little niece, I should have no mark to distinguish one part of
the year from another. Greek and Latin, breakfast; business, an evening
walk with a book, a drive after sunset, dinner, coffee, my bed,--there
you have the history of a day. My classical studies go on vigorously.
I have read Demosthenes twice,--I need not say with what delight and
admiration. I am now deep in Isocrates and from him I shall pass to
Lysias. I have finished Diodorus Siculus at last, after dawdling over
him at odd times ever since last March. He is a stupid, credulous,
prosing old ass; yet I heartily wish that we had a good deal more of
him. I have read Arrian's expedition of Alexander, together with Quintus
Curtius. I have at stray hours read Longus's Romance and Xenophon's
Ephesiaca; and I mean to go through Heliodorus, and Achilles Tatius,
in the same way. Longus is prodigiously absurd; but there is often an
exquisite prettiness in the style. Xenophon's Novel is the basest thing
to be found in Greek. [Xenophon the Ephesian lived in the third or
fourth century of the Christian era. At the end of his work Macaulay has
written: "A most stupid worthless performance, below the lowest trash of
an English circulating library." Achilles Tatius he disposes of with
the words "Detestable trash;" and the Aethiopics of Heliodorus, which he
appears to have finished on Easter-day, 1837, he pronounces "The best of
the Greek Romances, which is not saying much for it."] It was discovered
at Florence, little more than a hundred years ago, by an English envoy.
Nothing so detestable ever came from the Minerva Press. I have read
Theocritus again, and like him better than ever.

As to Latin, I made a heroic attempt on Pliny's Natural History; but I
stuck after getting through about a quarter of it. I have read Ammianus
Marcellinus, the worst written book in ancient Latin. The style would
disgrace a monk of the tenth century; but Marcellinus has many of the
substantial qualities of a good historian. I have gone through the
Augustan history, and much other trash relating to the lower empire;
curious as illustrating the state of society, but utterly worthless as
composition. I have read Statius again and thought him as bad as ever.
I really found only two lines worthy of a great poet in all the Thebais.
They are these. What do you think of my taste?

 "Clamorem, bello qualis supremus apertis
  Urbibus, aut pelago jam descendente carina."

I am now busy with Quintilian and Lucan, both excellent writers. The
dream of Pompey in the seventh book of the Pharsalia is a very noble
piece of writing. I hardly know an instance in poetry of so great an
effect produced by means so simple. There is something irresistibly
pathetic in the lines

 "Qualis erat populi facies, clamorque faventum
  Olim cum juvenis--"

and something unspeakably solemn in the sudden turn which follows

 "Crastina dira quies--"

There are two passages in Lucan which surpass in eloquence anything
that I know in the Latin language. One is the enumeration of Pompey's

 "Quod si tam sacro dignaris nomine saxum--"

The other is the character which Cato gives of Pompey,

 "Civis obit, inquit--"

a pure gem of rhetoric, without one flaw, and, in my opinion, not
very far from historical truth. When I consider that Lucan died at
twenty-six, I cannot help ranking him among the most extraordinary men
that ever lived.

[The following remarks occur at the end of Macaulay's copy of the

August 30, 1835.

"When Lucan's age is considered, it is impossible not to allow that the
poem is a very extraordinary one; more extraordinary, perhaps, than if
it had been of a higher kind; for it is more common for the imagination
to be in full vigour at an early time of life than for a young man to
obtain a complete mastery of political and philosophical rhetoric. I
know no declamation in the world, not even Cicero's best, which equals
some passages in the Pharsalia. As to what were meant for bold poetical
flights,--the sea-fight at Marseilles, the Centurion who is covered
with wounds, the snakes in the Libyan desert, it is all as detestable as
Cibber's Birthday Odes. The furious partiality of Lucan takes away much
of the pleasure which his talents would otherwise afford. A poet who
is, as has often been said, less a poet than a historian, should to a
certain degree conform to the laws of history. The manner in which he
represents the two parties is not to be reconciled with the laws even of
fiction. The senators are demigods; Pompey, a pure lover of his country;
Cato, the abstract idea of virtue; while Caesar, the finest gentleman,
the most humane conqueror, and the most popular politician that Rome
ever produced, is a bloodthirsty ogre. If Lucan had lived, he would
probably have improved greatly." "Again, December 9, 1836,"]

I am glad that you have so much business, and sorry that you have so
little leisure. In a few years you will be a Baron of the Exchequer; and
then we shall have ample time to talk over our favourite classics. Then
I will show you a most superb emendation of Bentley's in Ampelius, and
I will give you unanswerable reasons for pronouncing that Gibbon was
mistaken in supposing that Quintus Curtius wrote under Gordian.

Remember me most kindly to Mrs. Ellis. I hope that I shall find Frank
writing as good Alcaics as his father.

Ever yours affectionately


Calcutta: March 8, 1837.

Dear Ellis,--I am at present very much worked, and have been so for a
long time past. Cameron, after being laid up for some months, sailed at
Christmas for the Cape, where I hope his health will be repaired; for
this country can very ill spare him. However, we have almost brought
our great work to a conclusion. In about a month we shall lay before the
Government a complete penal Code for a hundred millions of people,
with a commentary explaining and defending the provisions of the text.
Whether it is well, or ill, done heaven knows. I only know that it seems
to me to be very ill done when I look at it by itself; and well done
when I compare it with Livingstone's Code, with the French Code, or
with the English statutes which have been passed for the purpose of
consolidating and amending the Criminal Law. In health I am as well
as ever I was in my life. Time glides fast. One day is so like another
that, but for a habit which I acquired soon after I reached India of
pencilling in my books the date of my reading them, I should have hardly
any way of estimating the lapse of time. If I want to know when an event
took place, I call to mind which of Calderon's plays, or of Plutarch's
Lives, I was reading on that day. I turn to the book; find the date; and
am generally astonished to see that, what seems removed from me by only
two or three months, really happened nearly a year ago.

I intend to learn German on my voyage home, and I have indented largely,
(to use our Indian official term), for the requisite books. People tell
me that it is a hard language; but I cannot easily believe that there is
a language which I cannot master in four months, by working ten hours
a day. I promise myself very great delight and information from German
literature; and, over and above, I feel a soft of presentiment, a kind
of admonition of the Deity, which assures me that the final cause of my
existence,--the end for which I was sent into this vale of tears,--was
to make game of certain Germans. The first thing to be done in obedience
to this heavenly call is to learn German; and then I may perhaps try, as
Milton says,

 "Frangere Saxonicas Britonum sub Marte phalanges."

Ever yours affectionately


The years which Macaulay spent in India formed a transition period
between the time when he kept no journal at all, and the time when the
daily portion of his journal was completed as regularly as the daily
portion of his History. Between 1834 and 1838, he contented himself with
jotting down any circumstance that struck his fancy in the book which he
happened to have in hand. The records of his Calcutta life, written in
half a dozen different languages, are scattered throughout the whole
range of classical literature from Hesiod to Macrobius. At the end
of the eighty-ninth Epistle of Seneca we read: "April 11, 1836. Hodie
praemia distribui tois en to mouseio Sanskritiko neaniskois. [To-day I
distributed the prizes to the students of the Sanscrit College."]

On the last page of the Birds of Aristophanes: "Jan. 16, 1836. Oi
presbeis of papa ton Basileos ton Nepauliton eisegonto khthes es
Kalkouttan." ["The ambassadors from the King of Nepaul entered Calcutta
yesterday." It may be observed that Macaulay wrote Greek with or without
accents, according to the humour, or hurry, of the moment.]

On the first page of Theocrats: "March 20, 1835. Lord W. Bentinck sailed
this morning."

On the last page of the "De Amicitia:" "March 5, 1836. Yesterday Lord
Auckland arrived at Government House, and was sworn in."

Beneath an idyl of Moschus, of all places in the world, Macaulay notes
the fact of Peel being First Lord of the Treasury; and he finds space,
between two quotations in Athenaeus, to commemorate a Ministerial
majority of 29 on the Second Reading of the Irish Church Bill.

A somewhat nearer approach to a formal diary may be found in his
Catullus, which contains a catalogue of the English books that he read
in the cold season of 1835-36; as for instance

 Gibbon's Answer to Davis.        November 6 and 7
 Gibbon on Virgil's VI Aeneid     November 7
 Whately's Logic                  November 15
 Thirlwall's Greece               November 22
 Edinburgh Review                 November 29

And all this was in addition to his Greek and Latin studies, to his
official work, to the French that he read with his sister, and the
unrecorded novels that he read to himself; which last would alone have
afforded occupation for two ordinary men, unless this month of November
was different from every other month of his existence since the day that
he left Mr. Preston's schoolroom. There is something refreshing, amidst
the long list of graver treatises, to light upon a periodical entry of
"Pikwikina"; the immortal work of a Classic who has had more readers in
a single year than Statius and Seneca in all their eighteen centuries
together. Macaulay turned over with indifference, and something of
distaste, the earlier chapters of that modern Odyssey. The first touch
which came home to him was Jingle's "Handsome Englishman?" In that
phrase he recognised a master; and, by the time that he landed in
England, he knew his Pickwick almost as intimately as his Grandison.

Calcutta: June 15, 1837

Dear Napier,--Your letter about my review of Mackintosh miscarried,
vexatiously enough. I should have been glad to know what was thought of
my performance among friends and foes; for here we have no information
on such subjects. The literary correspondents of the Calcutta newspapers
seem to be penny-a-line risen, whose whole stock of literature comes
from the conversations in the Green Room.

My long article on Bacon has, no doubt, been in your hands some time. I
never, to the best of my recollection, proposed to review Hannah More's
Life or Works. If I did, it must have been in jest. She was exactly
the very last person in the world about whom I should choose to write
a critique. She was a very kind friend to me from childhood. Her notice
first called out my literary tastes. Her presents laid the foundation
of my library. She was to me what Ninon was to Voltaire,--begging her
pardon for comparing her to a bad woman, and yours for comparing myself
to a great man. She really was a second mother to me. I have a real
affection for her memory. I therefore could not possibly write about her
unless I wrote in her praise; and all the praise which I could give to
her writings, even after straining my conscience in her favour, would be
far indeed from satisfying any of her admirers.

I will try my hand on Temple, and on Lord Clive. Shaftesbury I shall
let alone. Indeed, his political life is so much connected with Temple's
that, without endless repetition, it would be impossible for me to
furnish a separate article on each. Temple's Life and Works, the part
which he took in the controversy about the ancients and moderns; the
Oxford confederacy against Bentley; and the memorable victory which
Bentley obtained, will be good subjects. I am in training for this part
of the subject, as I have twice read through the Phalaris controversy
since I arrived in India.

I have been almost incessantly engaged in public business since I sent
off the paper on Bacon; but I expect to have comparative leisure
during the short remainder of my stay here. The Penal Code of India is
finished, and is in the press. The illness of two of my colleagues threw
the work almost entirely on me. It is done, however; and I am not likely
to be called upon for vigorous exertion during the rest of my Indian

Yours ever


If you should have assigned Temple, or Clive, to anybody else, pray do
not be uneasy on that account. The pleasure of writing pays itself.

Calcutta: December 18, 1837.

Dear Ellis,--My last letter was on a deeply melancholy subject, the
death of our poor friend Malkin. I have felt very much for his widow.
The intensity of her affliction, and the fortitude and good feeling
which she showed as soon as the first agony was over, have interested me
greatly in her. Six or seven of Malkin's most intimate friends here have
joined with Ryan and me, in subscribing to put up a plain marble
tablet in the cathedral, for which I have written an inscription. [This
inscription appears in Lord Macaulay's Miscellaneous Works.]

My departure is now near at hand. This is the last letter which I shall
write to you from India. Our passage is taken in the Lord Hungerford;
the most celebrated of the huge floating hotels which run between London
and Calcutta. She is more renowned for the comfort and luxury of her
internal arrangements than for her speed. As we are to stop at the Cape
for a short time, I hardly expect to be with you till the end of May, or
the beginning of June. I intend to make myself a good German scholar by
the time of my arrival in England. I have already, at leisure moments
broken the ice. I have read about half of the New Testament in Luther's
translation, and am now getting rapidly, for a beginner, through
Schiller's History of the Thirty Years' War. My German library consists
of all Goethe's works, all Schiller's works, Muller's History of
Switzerland, some of Tieck, some of Lessing, and other works of less
fame. I hope to despatch them all on my way home. I like Schiller's
style exceedingly. His history contains a great deal of very just and
deep thought, conveyed in language so popular and agreeable that dunces
would think him superficial.

I lately took it into my head to obtain some knowledge of the Fathers,
and I read therefore a good deal of Athanasius, which by no means raised
him in my opinion. I procured the magnificent edition of Chrysostom, by
Montfaucon, from a public library here, and turned over the eleven huge
folios, reading wherever the subject was of peculiar interest. As to
reading him through, the thing is impossible. These volumes contain
matter at least equal to the whole extant literature of the best times
of Greece, from Homer to Aristotle inclusive. There are certainly some
very brilliant passages in his homilies. It seems curious that, though
the Greek literature began to flourish so much earlier than the Latin,
it continued to flourish so much later. Indeed, if you except the
century which elapsed between Cicero's first public appearance and
Livy's death, I am not sure that there was any time at which Greece had
not writers equal or superior to their Roman contemporaries. I am sure
that no Latin writer of the age of Lucian is to be named with Lucian;
that no Latin writer of the age of Longinus is to be named with
Longinus; that no Latin prose of the age of Chrysostom can be named with
Chrysostom's compositions. I have read Augustin's Confessions. The book
is not without interest; but he expresses himself in the style of a

Our Penal Code is to be published next week. It has cost me very intense
labour; and, whatever its faults may be, it is certainly not a slovenly
performance. Whether the work proves useful to India or not, it has been
of great use, I feel and know, to my own mind.

[In October 1854, Macaulay writes to my mother: "I cannot but be pleased
to find that, at last, the Code on which I bestowed the labour of two of
the best years of my life has had justice done to it. Had this justice
been done sixteen years ago, I should probably have given much more
attention to legislation, and much less to literature than I have done.
I do not know that I should have been either happier or more useful than
I have been."]

Ever yours affectionately


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