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under the control of the landowners — the aristocracy ; grain was kept dear in the interests of a class, by unjust taxation. But the agitation for reforms had already begun. And in literature and religion as well a liberalizing spirit was at work. Everywhere new ideas were in conflict with old forms — the nineteenth century against the eighteenth. Surrounded as he was by a society of brilliant contemporaries, and in the ferment of the new life which was working in the universities, Macaulay, with his well-stored mind and his exhaustless intellectual energy, found here opportunity for the free play and full expansion of his powers. Macaulay was eminently a sociable man. He loved to talk almost as well as he loved to read. He could talk all day and all night.

No hour which found him a listener was ever too late; and if his companion wished his share of the time, they both talked at once. It was not until many years later that he acquired the habit of intermittent "flashes of silence," which Sydney Smith noted as so delightful. His extraordinary fertility of mind and readiness of memory made him incomparable. He was never at a loss for an argument. Everything that he had ever read seemed at the end of his tongue; his mind could range in an instant through his vast storehouse of information, and bring to the front whatever bore on the question in hand. If he wished to illustrate the use of a word, he seemed to be able to quote offhand every passage containing that word which he had ever read, it made no difference whether it was Latin, Greek, or English. It was no wonder that a man of such powers should have won for himself a foremost place as a conversationalist and an orator, as well as in literature.

His career at the university was signalized by the academic honors which he won. His scholarship, it is true, was not of the kind which loves to delve in details or range about abstractions. He disliked and neglected mathematics, and

he defined a scholar as one who reads Plato with his feet on the fender. But in 1821 he proved the quality of his classical attainments by carrying off a Craven scholarship, and twice he won the Chancellor's medal for English verse. Finally, in 1824, he was elected, after the usual competitive examination, one of the Fellows of his college.

His first distinguished literary success was in 1825, and it was obtained by the publication of the Essay on Milton. Already he had begun to appear in print, having contributed a number of articles and some verse to a newly started and short-lived London quarterly. But the Edinburgh Review, which printed the Essay on Milton, was the most important periodical in the country. The Essay was immediately recognized as the work of a new and brilliant writer, and Macaulay became a regular contributor to the Review. At the same time he was pursuing the study of the law, though with little interest and no expectation of making it seriously his profession. It is said that “he never really applied himself to any pursuit that was against the grain," and the law was not to his taste. But politics were ; and in 1830 he entered the House of Commons as member for Calne.

For the next seventeen years literature held only a second place in his thoughts. His speeches on the Reform Bill in 1831 placed him at once in the front rank of parliamentary orators, and contributed largely to the

of the Had he been free to follow the bent of his own inclinations, he might perhaps have risen to a position second to none of the great leaders of his party. But his poverty hampered him. His father's business, good when Macaulay entered the university, had gone from bad to worse, until at last there was nothing of it left but debts, which Macaulay most honorably assumed and at last completely paid. His writing could be depended on for a small income, but it drew upon his time. As long as his

success

measure.

party was in power he was sure of office and a salary, but it fettered his independence. At this juncture an opportunity presented itself which enabled him, by banishing himself from England for a few years, to earn a sum sufficient to yield him a comfortable income for the rest of his life. He was appointed a member of the Supreme Council of India, and early in 1834 he left England to enter upon his new duties as one of the five English rulers of a great empire.

The summer of 1838 saw him back in London. In his new-found leisure he began to plan his History of England. But his services were too valuable to his party to admit of his remaining in private life. Within a year he was elected to Parliament again as one of the members for Edinburgh, and soon after was taken into the Cabinet as Secretary of War. Macaulay was an ardent Whig, and always ready to do battle for his party. He was soon relieved from the cares of office, however, by the success of the Tories in 1841, and though he continued to sit as one of the representatives of Edinburgh, he was for the most part free to press forward the preparation of his greatest work. Five years later he again held office for a short time, but in the elections of 1847 he lost his seat in Parliament, and withdrew from public life. In 1852 he refused a place in the Cabinet ; and though, in the same year, yielding to the wishes of his former constituents at Edinburgh, who were anxious to make amends for his earlier defeat and were proud of so distinguished a representative, he again entered Parliament, he never afterwards took a prominent part in the country's business. All his strength was given to the History,

In 1848 the first two volumes appeared. Its success was unprecedented. Macaulay had proposed to himself to write a work which should “supersede the last fashionable novel on the tables of young ladies.” The History proved to be the most popular book of its generation, both in England.

and America. In his own country three thousand copies went in ten days, – a record surpassing anything since Waverley, nearly forty years before ; and four months later a New York publisher informed Macaulay that there were six editions on the market, with probably sixty thousand copies sold, adding, “No work, of any kind, has ever so completely taken our whole country by storm." The next two volumes, published in 1855, were still more popular. Within three months his publishers paid him £20,000 in a single check. With pecuniary reward came also the honors that belonged to the first English historian of his day. In 1849 he had declined the professorship of modern history at Cambridge. In 1853 he was elected a foreign member of the Institute of France, and the king of Prussia named him a knight of the Order of Merit. Learned societies all over Europe made him of their number; he held high offices ‘at the universities of Glasgow and Cambridge ; and in 1857 he was elevated to the peerage, as Baron Macaulay of Rothley,

Not content with making himself the most popular and influential essayist and historian of his time, Lord Macaulay had aspired also to the poet's laurels. In 1842 he had published his well-known Lays of Ancient Rome. Full of fire and spirit, of rapid movement, vigor, and stateliness, they are as characteristic of their author as are his speeches or his History. Macaulay was not a poet of the kind of the greatest poets of our century. His imagination was rather historic than poetic; one of the tenderest-hearted of men, his feeling was social and sympathetic rather than lyric and impassioned ; his delight was in objective activity, not in the companionship of his own moods; he loved the life of men better than the life of nature; he was not an instinctive master of the secrets of the human heart. But he had the power of making the past seem present to him. He moved in other days or lands as easily as his own; London became

at will the London of Queen Anne or the capital of the Cæsars. He could reconstruct, from the material which his great reading supplied, all the life and color and movement of generations dead and gone. The Lays of Ancient Rome are not mere rhetoric in verse; they move us like martial music and the tread of marching men; they are genuine poetry, though not of the kind which our age values most.

Lord Macaulay's life had always been intense. “ When I do sit down to work,” he said of himself, “ I work harder and faster than any person that I ever knew"; and he played as hard as he worked. His tremendous intellectual energy, always active, and always applying itself in powerfully concentrated effort, had begun to wear out his body. In 1852 had developed serious trouble with his heart, and he never regained perfect health. As the History progressed, he applied himself to his task with increasing difficulty ; after the publication of the second instalment his waning strength compelled him to resign his seat in Parliament; the fifth volume he did not live to see in print. Toward the close of the year 1859 his weakness grew upon him, and on December 28th death came, suddenly but painlessly, as he sat in his easy chair with open book beside him. buried in Westminster Abbey, near to Johnson and Addison, -- the great representative prose writer of the first half of the nineteenth century beside the two great essayists of the eighteenth.

The most conspicuous trait in Macaulay's character, the trait which appears in all that he did, is his vigor, his energy of intellect. He is a kind of nineteenth-century Dr. Johnson, made fit for the drawing-room. But where Johnson was lazy, he was active ; where Johnson was melancholy, he was cheerful; where Johnson was weak, he was strong. His exhaustless capacity for work, his incessant intellectual

He was

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