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.
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.
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.
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,"]
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 is.
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.
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.
T. B. MACAULAY.
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.
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.]
T. B. MACAULAY.
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 Parliament.
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 difficulty.
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.
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 Nizam.
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.
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!
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 pieces.
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.
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 story.
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 occasion.
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.
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 novel.
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.
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.
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 drawing-rooms.
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 absurdity.
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 judgment.
"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,
"T. B. MACAULAY."
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 selfishness.
"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.