A propos of places, my father has been at me again about P—. Would you think it? This lad has a hundred and twenty pounds a year for life! I could not believe my ears; but so it is; and I, who have not a penny, with half a dozen brothers and sisters as poor as myself, am to move heaven and earth to push this boy who, as he is the silliest, is also, I think, the richest relation that I have in the world.
I am to dine on Thursday with the Fishmongers' Company, the first company for gourmandise in the world. Their magnificent Hall near London Bridge is not yet built, but, as respects eating and drinking, I shall be no loser; for we are to be entertained at the Albion Tavern. This is the first dinner-party that I shall have been to for a long time. There is nobody in town that I know except official men, and they have left their wives and households in the country. I met Poodle Byng, it is true, the day before yesterday in the street; and he begged me to make haste to Brooks's; for Lord Essex was there, he said, whipping up for a dinner-party; cursing and swearing at all his friends for being out of town; and wishing—what an honour!—that Macaulay was in London. I preserved all the dignity of a young lady in an affaire du coeur. "I shall not run after my Lord, I assure you. If he wants me, he knows where he may hear of me." This nibble is the nearest approach to a dinner-party that I have had.
T. B. M.
London: November 1, 1833.
Dear Hannah,—I have not much to add to what I told you yesterday; but everything that I have to add looks one way. We have a new Chairman and Deputy Chairman, both very strongly in my favour. Sharp, by whom I sate yesterday at the Fishmongers' dinner, told me that my old enemy James Mill had spoken to him on the subject. Mill is, as you have heard, at the head of one of the principal departments of the India House. The late Chairman consulted him about me; hoping, I suppose, to have his support against me. Mill said, very handsomely, that he would advise the Company to take me; for, as public men went, I was much above the average, and, if they rejected me, he thought it very unlikely that they would get anybody so fit. This is all the news that I have to give you. It is not much. But I wish to keep you as fully informed of what is going on as I am myself.
Old Sharp told me that I was acting quite wisely, but that he should never see me again; and he cried as he said it. [Mr. Sharp died in 1837, before Macaulay's return from India.] I encouraged him; and told him that I hoped to be in England again before the end of 1839, and that there was nothing impossible in our meeting again. He cheered up after a time; told me that he should correspond with me, and give me all the secret history both of politics and of society; and promised to select the best books, and send them regularly to me.
The Fishmongers' dinner was very good, but not so profusely splendid as I had expected. There has been a change, I find, and not before it was wanted. They had got at one time to dining at ten guineas a head. They drank my health, and I harangued them with immense applause. I talked all the evening to Sharp. I told him what a dear sister I had, and how readily she had agreed to go with me. I had told Grant the same in the morning. Both of them extolled my good fortune in having such a companion.
T. B. M.
London: November—, 1833.
Dear Hannah,—Things stand as they stood; except that the report of my appointment is every day spreading more widely; and that I am beset by advertising dealers begging leave to make up a hundred cotton shirts for me, and fifty muslin gowns for you, and by clerks out of place begging to be my secretaries. I am not in very high spirits to-day, as I have just received a letter from poor Ellis, to whom I had not communicated my intentions till yesterday. He writes so affectionately and so plaintively that he quite cuts me to the heart. There are few indeed from whom I shall part with so much pain; and he, poor fellow, says that, next to his wife, I am the person for whom he feels the most thorough attachment, and in whom he places the most unlimited confidence.
On the 11th of this month there is to be a dinner given to Lushington by the electors of the Tower Hamlets. He has persecuted me with importunities to attend, and make a speech for him; and my father has joined in the request. It is enough, in these times, Heaven knows, for a man who represents, as I do, a town of a hundred and twenty thousand people to keep his own constituents in good humour; and the Spitalfields weavers, and Whitechapel butchers, are nothing to me. But, ever since I succeeded in what everybody allows to have been the most hazardous attempt of the kind ever made,—I mean in persuading an audience of manufacturers, all Whigs or Radicals, that the immediate alteration of the corn-laws was impossible,—I have been considered as a capital physician for desperate cases in politics. However,—to return from that delightful theme, my own praises,—Lushington, who is not very popular with the rabble of the Tower Hamlets, thinks that an oration from me would give him a lift. I could not refuse him directly, backed as he was by my father. I only said that I would attend if I were in London on the 11th; but I added that, situated as I was, I thought it very probable that I should be out of town.
I shall go to-night to Miss Berry's soiree. I do not know whether I told you that she resented my article on Horace Walpole so much that Sir Stratford Canning advised me not to go near her. She was Walpole's greatest favourite. His Reminiscences are addressed to her in terms of the most gallant eulogy. When he was dying at past eighty, he asked her to marry him, merely that he might make her a Countess and leave her his fortune. You know that in Vivian Grey she is called Miss Otranto. I always expected that my article would put her into a passion, and I was not mistaken; but she has come round again, and sent me a most pressing and kind invitation the other day.
I have been racketing lately, having dined twice with Rogers, and once with Grant. Lady Holland is in a most extraordinary state. She came to Rogers's, with Allen, in so bad a humour that we were all forced to rally, and make common cause against her. There was not a person at table to whom she was not rude; and none of us were inclined to submit. Rogers sneered; Sydney made merciless sport of her. Tom Moore looked excessively impertinent; Bobus put her down with simple straightforward rudeness; and I treated her with what I meant to be the coldest civility. Allen flew into a rage with us all, and especially with Sydney, whose guffaws, as the Scotch say, were indeed tremendous. When she and all the rest were gone, Rogers made Tom Moore and me sit down with him for half an hour, and we coshered over the events of the evening. Rogers said that he thought Allen's firing up in defence of his patroness the best thing that he had seen in him. No sooner had Tom and I got into the street than he broke forth: "That such an old stager as Rogers should talk such nonsense, and give Allen credit for attachment to anything but his dinner! Allen was bursting with envy to see us so free, while he was conscious of his own slavery."
Her Ladyship has been the better for this discipline. She has overwhelmed me ever since with attentions and invitations. I have at last found out the cause of her ill-humour, or at least of that portion of it of which I was the object. She is in a rage at my article on Walpole, but at what part of it I cannot tell. I know that she is very intimate with the Waldegraves, to whom the manuscripts belong, and for whose benefit the letters were published. But my review was surely not calculated to injure the sale of the book. Lord Holland told me, in an aside, that he quite agreed with me, but that we had better not discuss the subject.
A note; and, by my life, from my Lady Holland: "Dear Mr. Macaulay, pray wrap yourself very warm, and come to us on Wednesday." No, my good Lady. I am engaged on Wednesday to dine at the Albion Tavern with the Directors of the East India Company; now my servants; next week, I hope, to be my masters.
T. B. M.
To Hannah M. Macaulay.
London: November 22, 1833.
My dear Sister,—The decision is postponed for a week; but there is no chance of an unfavourable result. The Chairs have collected the opinions of their brethren; and the result is, that, of the twenty-four Directors, only six or seven at the most will vote against me.
I dined with the Directors on Wednesday at the Albion Tavern. We had a company of about sixty persons, and many eminent military men amongst them. The very courteous manner in which several of the Directors begged to be introduced to me, and drank my health at dinner, led me to think that the Chairs have not overstated the feeling of the Court. One of them, an old Indian and a great friend of our uncle the General, told me in plain words that he was glad to hear that I was to be in their service. Another, whom I do not even know by sight, pressed the Chairman to propose my health. The Chairman with great judgment refused. It would have been very awkward to have had to make a speech to them in the present circumstances.
Of course, my love, all your expenses, from the day of my appointment, are my affair. My present plan, formed after conversation with experienced East Indians, is not to burden myself with an extravagant outfit. I shall take only what will be necessary for the voyage. Plate, wine, coaches, furniture, glass, china, can be bought in Calcutta as well as in London. I shall not have money enough to fit myself out handsomely with such things here; and to fit myself out shabbily would be folly. I reckon that we can bring our whole expense for the passage within the twelve hundred pounds allowed by the Company. My calculation is that our cabins and board will cost L250 apiece. The passage of our servants L50 apiece. That makes up L600. My clothes and etceteras, as Mrs. Meeke observes, I will, I am quite sure, come within L200. [Mrs. Meeke was his favourite among bad novel-writers, See page 96.] Yours will, of course, be more. I will send you L300 to lay out as you like; not meaning to confine you to it, by any means; but you would probably prefer having a sum down to sending in your milliner's bills to me. I reckon my servant's outfit at L50; your maid's at as much more. The whole will be L1200.
One word about your maid. You really must choose with great caution. Hitherto the Company has required that all ladies, who take maidservants with them from this country to India, should give security to send them back within two years. The reason was, that no class of people misconducted themselves so much in the East as female servants from this country. They generally treat the natives with gross insolence; an insolence natural enough to people accustomed to stand in a subordinate relation to others when, for the first time, they find a great population placed in a servile relation towards them. Then, too, the state of society is such that they are very likely to become mistresses of the wealthy Europeans, and to flaunt about in magnificent palanquins, bringing discredit on their country by the immorality of their lives and the vulgarity of their manners. On these grounds the Company has hitherto insisted upon their being sent back at the expense of those who take them out. The late Act will enable your servant to stay in India, if she chooses to stay. I hope, therefore, that you will be careful in your selection. You see how much depends upon it. The happiness and concord of our native household, which will probably consist of sixty or seventy people, may be destroyed by her, if she should be ill-tempered and arrogant. If she should be weak and vain, she will probably form connections that will ruin her morals and her reputation. I am no preacher, as you very well know; but I have a strong sense of the responsibility under which we shall both lie with respect to a poor girl, brought by us into the midst of temptations of which she cannot be aware, and which have turned many heads that might have been steady enough in a quiet nursery or kitchen in England.
To find a man and wife, both of whom would suit us, would be very difficult; and I think it right, also, to offer to my clerk to keep him in my service. He is honest, intelligent, and respectful; and, as he is rather inclined to consumption, the change of climate would probably be useful to him. I cannot bear the thought of throwing any person who has been about me for five years, and with whom I have no fault to find, out of bread, while it is in my power to retain his services.
T. B. M.
London: December 5, 1833
Dear Lord Lansdowne,—I delayed returning an answer to your kind letter till this day, in order that I might be able to send you definite intelligence. Yesterday evening the Directors appointed me to a seat in the Council of India. The votes were nineteen for me, and three against me.
I feel that the sacrifice which I am about to make is great. But the motives which urge me to make it are quite irresistible. Every day that I live I become less and less desirous of great wealth. But every day makes me more sensible of the importance of a competence. Without a competence it is not very easy for a public man to be honest; it is almost impossible for him to be thought so. I am so situated that I can subsist only in two ways: by being in office, and by my pen. Hitherto, literature has been merely my relaxation,—the amusement of perhaps a month in the year. I have never considered it as the means of support. I have chosen my own topics, taken my own time, and dictated my own terms. The thought of becoming a bookseller's hack; of writing to relieve, not the fulness of the mind, but the emptiness of the pocket; of spurring a jaded fancy to reluctant exertion; of filling sheets with trash merely that the sheets may be filled; of bearing from publishers and editors what Dryden bore from Tonson, and what, to my own knowledge, Mackintosh bore from Lardner, is horrible to me. Yet thus it must be, if I should quit office. Yet to hold office merely for the sake of emolument would be more horrible still. The situation, in which I have been placed for some time back, would have broken the spirit of many men. It has rather tended to make me the most mutinous and unmanageable of the followers of the Government. I tendered my resignation twice during the course of the last Session. I certainly should not have done so if I had been a man of fortune. You, whom malevolence itself could never accuse of coveting office for the sake of pecuniary gain, and whom your salary very poorly compensates for the sacrifice of ease, and of your tastes, to the public service, cannot estimate rightly the feelings of a man who knows that his circumstances lay him open to the suspicion of being actuated in his public conduct by the lowest motives. Once or twice, when I have been defending unpopular measures in the House of Commons, that thought has disordered my ideas, and deprived me of my presence of mind.
If this were all, I should feel that, for the sake of my own happiness and of my public utility, a few years would be well spent in obtaining an independence. But this is not all. I am not alone in the world. A family which I love most fondly is dependent on me. Unless I would see my father left in his old age to the charity of less near relations; my youngest brother unable to obtain a good professional education; my sisters, who are more to me than any sisters ever were to a brother, forced to turn governesses or humble companions,—I must do something, I must make some effort. An opportunity has offered itself. It is in my power to make the last days of my father comfortable, to educate my brother, to provide for my sisters, to procure a competence for myself. I may hope, by the time I am thirty-nine or forty, to return to England with a fortune of thirty thousand pounds. To me that would be affluence. I never wished for more.
As far as English politics are concerned, I lose, it is true, a few years. But, if your kindness had not introduced me very early to Parliament,—if I had been left to climb up the regular path of my profession, and to rise by my own efforts,—I should have had very little chance of being in the House of Commons at forty. If I have gained any distinction in the eyes of my countrymen,—if I have acquired any knowledge of Parliamentary and official business, and any habitude for the management of great affairs,—I ought to consider these things as clear gain.
Then, too, the years of my absence, though lost, as far as English politics are concerned, will not, I hope, be wholly lost, as respects either my own mind or the happiness of my fellow-creatures. I can scarcely conceive a nobler field than that which our Indian Empire now presents to a statesman. While some of my partial friends are blaming me for stooping to accept a share in the government of that Empire, I am afraid that I am aspiring too high for my qualifications. I sometimes feel, I most unaffectedly declare, depressed and appalled by the immense responsibility which I have undertaken. You are one of the very few public men of our time who have bestowed on Indian affairs the attention which they deserve; and you will therefore, I am sure, fully enter into my feelings.
And now, dear Lord Lansdowne, let me thank you most warmly for the kind feeling which has dictated your letter. That letter is, indeed, but a very small part of what I ought to thank you for. That at an early age I have gained some credit in public life; that I have done some little service to more than one good cause; that I now have it in my power to repair the ruined fortunes of my family, and to save those who are dearest to me from the misery and humiliation of dependence; that I am almost certain, if I live, of obtaining a competence by honourable means before I am past the full vigour of manhood,—this I owe to your kindness. I will say no more. I will only entreat you to believe that neither now, nor on any former occasion, have I ever said one thousandth part of what I feel.
If it will not be inconvenient to you, I propose to go to Bowood on Wednesday next. Labouchere will be my fellow-traveller. On Saturday we must both return to town. Short as my visit must be, I look forward to it with great pleasure.
Believe me, ever,
Yours most faithfully and affectionately
T. B. MACAULAY.
To Hannah M. Macaulay.
London: December 5, 1833
My dear Sister,—I am overwhelmed with business, clearing off my work here, and preparing for my new functions. Plans of ships, and letters from captains, pour in without intermission. I really am mobbed with gentlemen begging to have the honour of taking me to India at my own time. The fact is that a Member of Council is a great catch, not merely on account of the high price which he directly pays for accommodation, but because other people are attracted by him. Every father of a young writer, or a young cadet, likes to have his son on board the same vessel with the great man, to dine at the same table, and to have a chance of attracting his notice. Everything in India is given by the Governor in Council; and, though I have no direct voice in the disposal of patronage, my indirect influence may be great.
Grant's kindness through all these negotiations has been such as I really cannot describe. He told me yesterday, with tears in his eyes, that he did not know what the Board would do without me. I attribute his feeling partly to Robert Grant's absence; not that Robert ever did me ill offices with him far from it; but Grant's is a mind that cannot stand alone. It is begging your pardon for my want of gallantry, a feminine mind. It turns, like ivy, to some support. When Robert is near him, he clings to Robert. Robert being away, he clings to me. This may be a weakness in a public man; but I love him the better for it.
I have lately met Sir James Graham at dinner. He took me aside, and talked to me on my appointment with a warmth of kindness which, though we have been always on good terms, surprised me. But the approach of a long separation, like the approach of death, brings out all friendly feelings with unusual strength. The Cabinet, he said, felt the loss strongly. It was great at the India Board, but in the House of Commons, (he used the word over and over,) "irreparable." They all, however, he said, agreed that a man of honour could not make politics a profession unless he had a competence of his own, without exposing himself to privation of the severest kind. They felt that they had never had it in their power to do all they wished to do for me. They had no means of giving me a provision in England; and they could not refuse me what I asked in India. He said very strongly that they all thought that I judged quite wisely; and added that, if God heard his prayers, and spared my health, I should make a far greater figure in public life than if I had remained during the next five or six years in England.
I picked up in a print-shop the other day some superb views of the suburbs of Chowringhee, and the villas of the Garden Reach. Selina professes that she is ready to die with envy of the fine houses and verandahs. I heartily wish we were back again in a nice plain brick house, three windows in front, in Cadogan Place or Russell Square, with twelve or fifteen hundred a year, and a spare bedroom,—(we, like Mrs. Norris, [A leading personage in Miss Austen's "Mansfield Park."] must always have a spare bedroom,)—for Edward and Margaret, Love to them both.
T. B. M.
To Macvey Napier, Esq.
London: December 5, 1833
Dear Napier,—You are probably not unprepared for what I am about to tell you. Yesterday evening the Directors of the East India Company elected me one of the members of the Supreme Council. It will, therefore, be necessary that in a few weeks,—ten weeks, at furthest,—I should leave this country for a few years.
It would be mere affectation in me to pretend not to know that my support is of some importance to the Edinburgh Review. In the situation in which I shall now be placed, a connection with the Review will be of some importance to me. I know well how dangerous it is for a public man wholly to withdraw himself from the public eye. During an absence of six years, I run some risk of losing most of the distinction, literary and political, which I have acquired. As a means of keeping myself in the recollection of my countrymen during my sojourn abroad the Review will be invaluable to me; nor do I foresee that there will be the slightest difficulty in my continuing to write for you at least as much as ever. I have thought over my late articles, and I really can scarcely call to mind a single sentence in any one of them which might not have been written at Calcutta as easily as in London. Perhaps in India I might not have the means of detecting two or three of the false dates in Croker's Boswell. But that would have been all. Very little, if any, of the effect of my most popular articles is produced either by minute research into rare books, or by allusions to mere topics of the day.
I think therefore that we might easily establish a commerce mutually beneficial. I shall wish to be supplied with all the good books which come out in this part of the world. Indeed, many books which in themselves are of little value, and which, if I were in England, I should not think it worth while to read, will be interesting to me in India; just as the commonest daubs, and the rudest vessels, at Pompeii attract the minute attention of people who would not move their eyes to see a modern signpost, or a modern kettle. Distance of place, like distance of time, makes trifles valuable.
What I propose, then, is that you should pay me for the articles which I may send you from India, not in money, but in books. As to the amount I make no stipulations. You know that I have never haggled about such matters. As to the choice of books, the mode of transmission, and other matters, we shall have ample time to discuss them before my departure. Let me know whether you are willing to make an arrangement on this basis.
I have not forgotten Chatham in the midst of my avocations. I hope to send you an article on him early next week.
Ever yours sincerely
T. B. MACAULAY.
From the Right Hon. Francis Jeffrey to Macvey Napier, Esq.
24, Moray Place Saturday evening, December
My dear Napier,—I am very much obliged to you for the permission to read this. It is to me, I will confess, a solemn and melancholy announcement. I ought not, perhaps, so to consider it. But I cannot help it. I was not prepared for six years, and I must still hope that it will not be so much. At my age, and with that climate for him, the chances of our ever meeting again are terribly endangered by such a term. He does not know the extent of the damage which his secession may be to the great cause of Liberal government. His anticipations and offers about the Review are generous and pleasing, and must be peculiarly gratifying to you. I think, if you can, you should try to see him before he goes, and I envy you the meeting.
Ever very faithfully yours
To Hannah M. Macaulay.
London: December 21, 1833.
My dear Sister,—Yesterday I dined at Boddington's. We had a very agreeable party: Duncannon, Charles Grant, Sharp, Chantrey the sculptor, Bobus Smith, and James Mill. Mill and I were extremely friendly, and I found him a very pleasant companion, and a man of more general information than I had imagined.
Bobus was very amusing. He is a great authority on Indian matters. He was during several years Advocate-General in Bengal, and made all his large fortune there. I asked him about the climate. Nothing, he said, could be pleasanter, except in August and September. He never ate or drank so much in his life. Indeed, his looks do credit to Bengal; for a healthier man of his age I never saw. We talked about expenses. "I cannot conceive," he said, "how anybody at Calcutta can live on less than L3,000 a year, or can contrive to spend more than L4,000." We talked of the insects and snakes, and he said a thing which reminded me of his brother Sydney: "Always, Sir, manage to have at your table some fleshy, blooming, young writer or cadet, just come out; that the musquitoes may stick to him, and leave the rest of the company alone."
I have been with George Babington to the Asia. We saw her to every disadvantage, all litter and confusion; but she is a fine ship, and our cabins will be very good. The captain I like much. He is an agreeable, intelligent, polished man of forty; and very good-looking, considering what storms and changes of climate he has gone through. He advised me strongly to put little furniture into our cabins. I told him to have yours made as neat as possible, without regard to expense. He has promised to have it furnished simply, but prettily; and when you see it, if any addition occurs to you, it shall be made. I shall spare nothing to make a pretty little boudoir for you. You cannot think how my friends here praise you. You are quite Sir James Graham's heroine.
To-day I breakfasted with Sharp, whose kindness is as warm as possible. Indeed, all my friends seen to be in the most amiable mood. I have twice as many invitations as I can accept; and I have been frequently begged to name my own party. Empty as London is, I never was so much beset with invitations. Sharp asked me about you. I told him how much I regretted my never having had any opportunity of showing you the best part of London society. He said that he would take care that you should see what was best worth seeing before your departure. He promises to give us a few breakfast-parties and dinner-parties, where you will meet as many as he can muster of the best set in town,—Rogers, Luttrell, Rice, Tom Moore, Sydney Smith, Grant, and other great wits and politicians. I am quite delighted at this; both because you will, I am sure, be amused, and pleased, at a time when you ought to have your mind occupied, and because even to have mixed a little in a circle so brilliant will be of advantage to you in India. You have neglected, and very rightly and sensibly, frivolous accomplishments; you have not been at places of fashionable diversion; and it is, therefore, the more desirable that you should appear among the dancing, pianoforte-playing, opera-going, damsels at Calcutta as one who has seen society better than any that they ever approached. I hope that you will not disapprove of what I have done. I accepted Sharp's offer for you eagerly.
T. B. M.
To Hannah M. Macaulay.
London: January 2, 1834.
My dear Sister,—I am busy with an article for Napier. [The first article on Lord Chatham.] I cannot in the least tell at present whether I shall like it or not. I proceed with great ease; and in general I have found that the success of my writings has been in proportion to the ease with which they have been written.
I had a most extraordinary scene with Lady Holland. If she had been as young and handsome as she was thirty years ago, she would have turned my head. She was quite hysterical about my going; paid me such compliments as I cannot repeat; cried; raved; called me dear, dear Macaulay. "You are sacrificed to your family. I see it all. You are too good to them. They are always making a tool of you; last Session about the slaves; and now sending you to India!" I always do my best to keep my temper with Lady Holland for three reasons; because she is a woman; because she is very unhappy in her health, and in the circumstances of her position; and because she has a real kindness for me. But at last she said something about you. This was too much, and I was beginning to answer her in a voice trembling with anger, when she broke out again: "I beg your pardon. Pray forgive me, dear Macaulay. I was very impertinent. I know you will forgive me. Nobody has such a temper as you. I have said so a hundred times. I said so to Allen only this morning. I am sure you will bear with my weakness. I shall never see you again;" and she cried, and I cooled; for it would have been to very little purpose to be angry with her. I hear that it is not to me alone that she runs on in this way. She storms at the Ministers for letting me go. I was told that at one dinner she became so violent that even Lord Holland, whose temper, whatever his wife may say, is much cooler than mine, could not command himself, and broke out: "Don't talk such nonsense, my Lady. What, the devil! Can we tell a gentleman who has a claim upon us that he must lose his only chance of getting an independence in order that he may come and talk to you in an evening?"
Good-bye, and take care not to become so fond of your own will as my Lady. It is now my duty to omit no opportunity of giving you wholesome advice. I am henceforward your sole guardian. I have bought Gisborne's Duties of Women, Moore's Fables for the Female Sex, Mrs. King's Female Scripture Characters, and Fordyce's Sermons. With the help of these books I hope to keep my responsibility in order on our voyage, and in India.
T. B. M.
To Hannah M. Macaulay.
London: January 4, 1834.
My dear Sister,—I am now buying books; not trashy books which will only bear one reading; but good books for a library. I have my eye on all the bookstalls; and I shall no longer suffer you, when we walk together in London, to drag me past them as you used to do. Pray make out a list of any which you would like to have. The provision which I design for the voyage is Richardson, Voltaire's works, Gibbon, Sismondi's History of the French, Davila, the Orlando in Italian, Don Quixote in Spanish, Homer in Greek, Horace in Latin. I must also have some books of jurisprudence, and some to initiate me in Persian and Hindostanee. Shall I buy "Dunallan" for you? I believe that in your eyes it would stand in the place of all the rest together. But, seriously, let me know what you would like me to procure.
Ellis is making a little collection of Greek classics for me. Sharp has given me one or two very rare and pretty books, which I much wanted. All the Edinburgh Reviews are being bound, so that we shall have a complete set, up to the forth coming number, which will contain an article of mine on Chatham. And this reminds me that I must give over writing to you, and fall to my article. I rather think that it will be a good one.
T. B. M.
London: February 13, 1834.
Dear Napier,—It is true that I have been severely tried by ill-health during the last few weeks; but I am now rapidly recovering, and am assured by all my medical advisers that a week of the sea will make me better than ever I was in my life.
I have several subjects in my head. One is Mackintosh's History; I mean the fragment of the large work. Another plan which I have is a very fine one, if it could be well executed. I think that the time is come when a fair estimate may be formed of the intellectual and moral character of Voltaire. The extreme veneration, with which he was regarded during his lifetime, has passed away; the violent reaction, which followed, has spent itself; and the world can now, I think, bear to hear the truth, and to see the man exhibited as he was,—a strange mixture of greatness and littleness, virtues and vices. I have all his works, and shall take them in my cabin on the voyage. But my library is not particularly rich in those books which illustrate the literary history of his times. I have Rousseau, and Marmontel's Memoirs, and Madame du Deffand's Letters, and perhaps a few other works which would be of use. But Grimm's Correspondence, and several other volumes of memoirs and letters, would be necessary. If you would make a small collection of the works which would be most useful in this point of view, and send it after me as soon as possible, I will do my best to draw a good Voltaire. I fear that the article must be enormously long,—seventy pages perhaps;—but you know that I do not run into unnecessary lengths.
I may perhaps try my hand on Miss Austen's novels. That is a subject on which I shall require no assistance from books.
Whatever volumes you may send me ought to be half bound; or the white ants will devour them before they have been three days on shore. Besides the books which may be necessary for the Review, I should like to have any work of very striking merit which may appear during my absence. The particular department of literature which interests me most is history; above all, English history. Any valuable book on that subject I should wish to possess. Sharp, Miss Berry, and some of my other friends, will perhaps, now and then, suggest a book to you. But it is principally on your own judgment that I must rely to keep me well supplied.
Yours most truly
T. B. MACAULAY.
On the 4th of February Macaulay bade farewell to his electors, in an address which the Leeds Tories probably thought too high-flown for the occasion. ["If, now that I have ceased to be your servant, and am only your sincere and grateful friend, I may presume to offer you advice which must, at least, be allowed to be disinterested, I would say to you: Act towards your future representatives as you have acted towards me. Choose them, as you chose me, without canvassing and without expense. Encourage them, as you encouraged me, always to speak to you fearlessly and plainly. Reject, as you have hitherto rejected, the wages of dishonour. Defy, as you have hitherto defied, the threats of petty tyrants. Never forget that the worst and most degrading species of corruption is the corruption which operates, not by hopes, but by fears. Cherish those noble and virtuous principles for which we have struggled and triumphed together—the principles of liberty and toleration, of justice and order. Support, as you have steadily supported, the cause of good government; and may all the blessings which are the natural fruits of good government descend upon you and be multiplied to you an hundredfold! May your manufactures flourish; may your trade be extended; may your riches increase! May the works of your skill, and the signs of your prosperity, meet me in the furthest regions of the East, and give me fresh cause to be proud of the intelligence, the industry, and the spirit of my constituents!"] But he had not yet done with the House of Commons. Parliament met on the first Tuesday in the month; and, on the Wednesday, O'Connell, who had already contrived to make two speeches since the Session began, rose for a third time to call attention to words uttered during the recess by Mr. Hill, the Member for Hull. That gentleman, for want of something better to say to his constituents, had told them that he happened to know "that an Irish Member, who spoke with great violence against every part of the Coercion Bill, and voted against every clause of it, went to Ministers and said: 'Don't bate a single atom of that Bill, or it will be impossible for any man to live in Ireland."' O'Connell called upon Lord Althorp, as the representative of the Government, to say what truth there was in this statement. Lord Althorp, taken by surprise, acted upon the impulse of the moment, which in his case was a feeling of reluctance to throw over poor Mr. Hill to be bullied by O'Connell and his redoubtable tail. After explaining that no set and deliberate communication of the nature mentioned had been made to the Ministers, his Lordship went on to say that he "should not act properly if he did not declare that he had good reason to believe that some Irish Members did, in private conversation, use very different language" from what they had employed in public.
It was chivalrously, but most unwisely, spoken. O'Connell at once gave the cue by inquiring whether he himself was among the Members referred to, and Lord Althorp assured him that such was not the case. The Speaker tried to interfere; but the matter had gone too far. One Irish representative after another jumped up to repeat the same question with regard to his own case, and received the same answer. At length Sheil rose, and asked whether he was one of the Members to whole the Noble Lord had alluded. Lord Althorp replied: "Yes. The honourable and learned gentleman is one." Sheil, "in the face of his country, and the presence of his God," asserted that the individual who had given any such information to the Noble Lord was guilty of a "gross and scandalous calumny," and added that he understood the Noble Lord to have made himself responsible for the imputation. Then ensued one of those scenes in which the House of Commons appears at its very worst. All the busybodies, as their manner is, rushed to the front; and hour after hour slipped away in an unseemly, intricate, and apparently interminable wrangle. Sheil was duly called upon to give an assurance that the affair should not be carried beyond the walls of the House. He refused to comply, and was committed to the charge of the Sergeant at Arms. The Speaker then turned to Lord Althorp, who promised in Parliamentary language not to send a challenge. Upon this, as is graphically enough described in the conventional terms of Hansard, "Mr O'Connell made some observation to the honourable Member sitting next him which was not heard in the body of the House. Lord Althorp immediately rose, and amid loud cheers, and with considerable warmth, demanded to know what the honourable and learned gentleman meant by his gesticulation;" and then, after an explanation from O'Connell, his Lordship went on to use phrases which very clearly signified that, though he had no cause for sending a challenge, he had just as little intention of declining one; upon which he likewise was made over to the Sergeant. Before, however, honourable Members went to their dinners, they had the relief of learning that their refractory colleagues had submitted to the Speaker's authority, and had been discharged from custody.
There was only one way out of the difficulty. On the 10th of February a Committee of Investigation was appointed, composed of Members who enjoyed a special reputation for discretion. Mr. Hill called his witnesses. The first had nothing relevant to tell. Macaulay was the second; and he forthwith cut the matter short by declaring that, on principle, he refused to disclose what had passed in private conversation; a sentiment which was actually cheered by the Committee. One sentence of common sense brought the absurd embroilment to a rational conclusion. Mr. Hill saw his mistake; begged that no further evidence might be taken; and, at the next sitting of the House, withdrew his charge in unqualified terms of self-abasement and remorse. Lord Althorp readily admitted that he had acted "imprudently as a man, and still more imprudently as a Minister," and stated that he considered himself bound to accept Sheil's denial; but he could not manage so to frame his remarks as to convey to his hearers the idea that his opinion of that honourable gentleman had been raised by the transaction. Sheil acknowledged the two apologies with effusion proportioned to their respective value; and so ended an affair which, at the worst, had evoked a fresh proof of that ingrained sincerity of character for the sake of which his party would have followed Lord Althorp to the death. [In Macaulay's journal for June 4, 1851, we read: "I went to breakfast with the Bishop of Oxford, and there learned that Sheil was dead. Poor fellow! We talked about Sheil, and I related my adventure of February 1834. Odd that it should have been so little known or so completely forgotten!"]
Gravesend: February 15, 1834.
Dear Lord Lansdowne,—I had hoped that it would have been in my power to shake hands with you once more before my departure; but this deplorably absurd affair in the House of Commons has prevented me from calling on you. I lost a whole day while the Committee were deciding whether I should, or should not, be forced to repeat all the foolish, shabby, things that I had heard Sheil say at Brooks's. Everybody thought me right, as I certainly was.
I cannot leave England without sending a few lines to you,—and yet they are needless. It is unnecessary for me to say with what feelings I shall always remember our connection, and with what interest I shall always learn tidings of you and of your family.
Yours most sincerely
T. B. MACAULAY.
CHAPTER VI. 1834-1838.
The outward voyage—Arrival at Madras—Macaulay is summoned to join Lord William Bentinck in the Neilgherries—His journey up-country—His native servant—Arcot—Bangalore— Seringapatam—Ascent of the Neilgherries—First sight of the Governor-General—Letters to Mr. Ellis, and the Miss Macaulays—A summer on the Neilgherries—Native Christians— Clarissa—A tragi-comedy—Macaulay leaves the Neilgherries, travels to Calcutta, and there sets up house—Letters to Mr. Napier, and Mrs. Cropper—Mr. Trevelyan—Marriage of Hannah Macaulay—Death of Mrs. Cropper—Macaulay's work in India— His Minutes for Council—Freedom of the Press—Literary gratitude—Second Minute on the Freedom of the Press—The Black Act—A Calcutta public meeting—Macaulay's defence of the policy of the Indian Government—His Minute on Education—He becomes President of the Committee of Public Instruction—His industry in discharging the functions of that post—Specimens of his official writing—Results of his labours—He is appointed President of the Law Commission, and recommends the framing of a Criminal Code—Appearance of the Code—Comments of Mr. Fitzjames Stephen—Macaulay's private life in India—Oriental delicacies—Breakfast- parties—Macaulay's longing for England—Calcutta and Dublin—Departure from India—Letters to Mr. Ellis, Mr. Sharp, Mr. Napier, and Mr. Z. Macaulay.
FROM the moment that a deputation of Falmouth Whigs, headed by their Mayor, came on board to wish Macaulay his health in India and a happy return to England, nothing occurred that broke the monotony of an easy and rapid voyage. "The catching of a shark; the shooting of an albatross; a sailor tumbling down the hatchway and breaking his head; a cadet getting drunk and swearing at the captain," are incidents to which not even the highest literary power can impart the charm of novelty in the eyes of the readers of a seafaring nation. The company on the quarterdeck was much on a level with the average society of an East Indiaman. "Hannah will give you the histories of all these good people at length, I dare say, for she was extremely social; danced with the gentlemen in the evenings, and read novels and sermons with the ladies in the mornings. I contented myself with being very civil whenever I was with the other passengers, and took care to be with them as little as I could. Except at meals, I hardly exchanged a word with any human being. I never was left for so long a time so completely to my own resources; and I am glad to say that I found them quite sufficient to keep me cheerful and employed. During the whole voyage I read with keen and increasing enjoyment. I devoured Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, French, and English; folios, quartos, octavos, and duodecimos."
On the 10th of June the vessel lay to off Madras; and Macaulay had his first introduction to the people for whom he was appointed to legislate in the person of a boatman who pulled through the surf on his raft. "He came on board with nothing on him but a pointed yellow cap, and walked among us with a self-possession and civility which, coupled with his colour and his nakedness, nearly made me die of laughing." This gentleman was soon followed by more responsible messengers, who brought tidings the reverse of welcome. Lord William Bentinck, who was then Governor-General, was detained by ill-health at Ootacamund in the Neilgherry Hills; a place which, by name at least, is now as familiar to Englishmen as Malvern; but which in 1834 was known to Macaulay, by vague report, as situated somewhere "in the mountains of Malabar, beyond Mysore." The state of public business rendered it necessary that the Council should meet; and, as the Governor-General had left one member of that body in Bengal as his deputy, he was not able to make a quorum until his new colleague arrived from England. A pressing summons to attend his Lordship in the Hills placed Macaulay in some embarrassment on account of his sister, who could not with safety commence her Eastern experiences by a journey of four hundred miles up the country in the middle of June. Happily the second letter which he opened proved to be from Bishop Wilson, who insisted that the son and daughter of so eminent an Evangelical as the Editor of the Christian Observer, themselves part of his old congregation in Bedford Row, should begin their Indian life nowhere except under his roof. Hannah, accordingly, continued her voyage, and made her appearance in Calcutta circles with the Bishop's Palace as a home, and Lady William Bentinck as a kind, and soon an affectionate, chaperon; while her brother remained on shore at Madras, somewhat consoled for the separation by finding himself in a country where so much was to be seen, and where, as far as the English residents were concerned, he was regarded with a curiosity at least equal to his own.
During the first few weeks nothing came amiss to him. "To be on land after three months at sea is of itself a great change. But to be in such a land! The dark faces, with white turbans, and flowing robes; the trees not our trees; the very smell of the atmosphere that of a hothouse, and the architecture as strange as the vegetation." Every feature in that marvellous scene delighted him both in itself, and for the sake of the innumerable associations and images which it conjured up in his active and well-stored mind. The salute of fifteen guns that greeted him, as he set his foot on the beach, reminded him that he was in a region where his countrymen could exist only on the condition of their being warriors and rulers. When on a visit of ceremony to a dispossessed Rajah or Nabob, he pleased himself with the reflection that he was face to face with a prince who in old days governed a province as large as a first-class European kingdom, conceding to his Suzerain, the Mogul, no tribute beyond "a little outward respect such as the great Dukes of Burgundy used to pay to the Kings of France; and who now enjoyed the splendid and luxurious insignificance of an abdicated prince which fell to the lot of Charles the Fifth or Queen Christina of Sweden," with a court that preserved the forms of royalty, the right of keeping as many badly armed and worse paid ragamuffins as he could retain under his tawdry standard, and the privilege of "occasionally sending letters of condolence and congratulation to the King of England, in which he calls himself his Majesty's good brother and ally."
Macaulay set forth on his journey within a week from his landing, travelling by night, and resting while the sun was at its hottest. He has recorded his first impressions of Hindostan in a series of journal letters addressed to his sister Margaret. The fresh and vivid character of those impressions—the genuine and multiform interest excited in him by all that met his ear or eye—explain the secret of the charm which enabled him in after days to overcome the distaste for Indian literature entertained by that personage who, for want of a better, goes by the name of the general reader. Macaulay reversed in his own case, the experience of those countless writers on Indian themes who have successively blunted their pens against the passive indifference of the British public; for his faithful but brilliant studies of the history of our Eastern Empire are to this day incomparably the most popular of his works. [When published in a separate form the articles on Lord Clive and Warren Hastings have sold nearly twice as well as the articles on Lord Chatham, nearly thrice as well as the article on Addison, and nearly five times as well as the article on Byron. The great Sepoy mutiny, while it something more than doubled the sale of the essay on Warren Hastings, all but trebled the sale of the essay on Lord Clive; but, taking the last twenty years together, there has been little to choose between the pair. The steadiness and permanence of the favour with which they are regarded may be estimated by the fact that, during the five years between 1870 and 1874, as compared with the five years between 1865 and 1869, the demand for them has been in the proportion of seven to three; and, as compared with the five years between 1860 and 1864, in the proportion of three to one.] It may be possible, without injury to the fame of the author, to present a few extracts from a correspondence, which is in some sort the raw material of productions that have already secured their place among our national classics:
"In the afternoon of the 17th June I left Madras. My train consisted of thirty-eight persons. I was in one palanquin, and my servant followed in another. He is a half-caste. On the day on which we set out he told me he was a Catholic; and added, crossing himself and turning up the whites of his eyes, that he had recommended himself to the protection of his patron saint, and that he was quite confident that we should perform our journey in safety. I thought of Ambrose Llamela, Gil Blas's devout valet, who arranges a scheme for robbing his master of his portmanteau, and, when he comes back from meeting his accomplices, pretends that he has been to the cathedral to implore a blessing on their voyage. I did him, however, a great injustice; for I have found him a very honest man, who knows the native languages, and who can dispute a charge, bully a negligent bearer, arrange a bed, and make a curry. But he is so fond of giving advice that I fear he will some day or other, as the Scotch say, raise my corruption, and provoke me to send him about his business. His name, which I never hear without laughing, is Peter Prim.
"Half my journey was by daylight, and all that I saw during that time disappointed me grievously. It is amazing how small a part of the country is under cultivation. Two-thirds at least, as it seemed to me, was in the state of Wandsworth Common, or, to use an illustration which you will understand better, of Chatmoss. The people whom we met were as few as in the Highlands of Scotland. But I have been told that in India the villages generally lie at a distance from the roads, and that much of the land, which when I passed through it looked like parched moor that had never been cultivated, would after the rains be covered with rice."
After traversing this landscape for fifteen hours he reached the town of Arcot, which, under his handling, was to be celebrated far and wide as the cradle of our greatness in the East.
"I was most hospitably received by Captain Smith, who commanded the garrison. After dinner the palanquins went forward with my servant, and the Captain and I took a ride to see the lions of the neighbourhood. He mounted me on a very quiet Arab, and I had a pleasant excursion. We passed through a garden which was attached to the residence of the Nabob of the Carnatic, who anciently held his court at Arcot. The garden has been suffered to run to waste, and is only the more beautiful for having been neglected. Garden, indeed, is hardly a proper word. In England it would rank as one of our noblest parks, from which it differs principally in this, that most of the fine trees are fruit trees. From this we came to a mountain pass which reminded me strongly of Borradaile, near Derwentwater, and through this defile we struck into the road, and rejoined the bearers."
And so he went forward on his way, recalling at every step the reminiscence of some place, or event, or person; and, thereby, doubling for himself, and perhaps for his correspondent, the pleasure which the reality was capable of affording. If he put up at a collector's bungalow, he liked to think that his host ruled more absolutely and over a larger population than "a Duke of Saxe-Weimar or a Duke of Lucca;" and, when he came across a military man with a turn for reading, he pronounced him "as Dominic Sampson said of another Indian Colonel, 'a man of great erudition, considering his imperfect opportunities.'"
On the 19th of June he crossed the frontier of Mysore; reached Bangalore on the morning of the 20th and rested there for three days in the house of the Commandant.
"On Monday, the 23rd, I took leave of Colonel Cubbon, who told me, with a warmth which I was vain enough to think sincere, that he had not passed three such pleasant days for thirty years. I went on all night, sleeping soundly in my palanquin. At five I was waked, and found that a carriage was waiting for me. I had told Colonel Cubbon that I very much wished to see Seringapatam. He had written to the British authorities at the town of Mysore, and an officer had come from the Residency to show me all that was to be seen. I must now digress into Indian politics; and let me tell you that, if you read the little that I shall say about them, you will know more on the subject than half the members of the Cabinet."
After a few pages occupied by a sketch of the history of Mysore during the preceding century, Macaulay proceeds
"Seringapatam has always been a place of peculiar interest to me. It was the scene of the greatest events of Indian history. It was the residence of the greatest of Indian princes. From a child, I used to hear it talked of every day. Our uncle Colin was imprisoned there for four years, and he was afterwards distinguished at the siege. I remember that there was, in a shop-window at Clapham, a daub of the taking of Seringapatam, which, as a boy, I often used to stare at with the greatest interest. I was delighted to have an opportunity of seeing the place; and, though my expectations were high, they were not disappointed.
"The town is depopulated; but the fortress, which was one of the strongest in India, remains entire. A river almost as broad as the Thames at Chelsea breaks into two branches, and surrounds the walls, above which are seen the white minarets of a mosque. We entered, and found everything silent and desolate. The mosque, indeed, is still kept up, and deserves to be so; but the palace of Tippoo has fallen into utter ruin. I saw, however, with no small interest, the airholes of the dungeon in which the English prisoners were confined, and the water-gate leading down to the river where the body of Tippoo was found still warm by the Duke of Wellington, then Colonel Wellesley. The exact spot through which the English soldiers fought their way against desperate disadvantages into the fort is still perfectly discernible. But, though only thirty-five years have elapsed since the fall of the city, the palace is in the condition of Tintern Abbey and Melrose Abbey. The courts, which bear a great resemblance to those of the Oxford Colleges, are completely overrun with weeds and flowers. The Hall of Audience, once considered the finest in India, still retains some very faint traces of its old magnificence. It is supported on a great number of light and lofty wooden pillars, resting on pedestals of black granite. These pillars were formerly covered with gilding, and here and there the glitter may still be perceived. In a few more years not the smallest trace of this superb chamber will remain. I am surprised that more care was not taken by the English to preserve so splendid a memorial of the greatness of him whom they had conquered. It was not like Lord Wellesley's general mode of proceeding; and I soon saw a proof of his taste and liberality. Tippoo raised a most sumptuous mausoleum to his father, and attached to it a mosque which he endowed. The buildings are carefully maintained at the expense of our Government. You walk up from the fort through a narrow path, bordered by flower beds and cypresses, to the front of the mausoleum, which is very beautiful, and in general character closely resembles the most richly carved of our small Gothic chapels. Within are three tombs, all covered with magnificent palls embroidered in gold with verses from the Koran. In the centre lies Hyder; on his right the mother of Tippoo; and Tippoo himself on the left."
During his stay at Mysore, Macaulay had an interview with the deposed Rajah; whose appearance, conversation, palace, furniture, jewels, soldiers, elephants, courtiers, and idols, he depicts in a letter, intended for family perusal, with a minuteness that would qualify him for an Anglo-Indian Richardson. By the evening of the 24th June he was once more on the road; and, about noon on the following day, he began to ascend the Neilgherries, through scenery which, for the benefit of readers who had never seen the Pyrenees or the Italian slopes of an Alpine pass, he likened to "the vegetation of Windsor Forest, or Blenheim, spread over the mountains of Cumberland." After reaching the summit of the table-land, he passed through a wilderness where for eighteen miles together he met nothing more human than a monkey, until a turn of the road disclosed the pleasant surprise of an amphitheatre of green hills encircling a small lake, whose banks were dotted with red-tiled cottages surrounding a pretty Gothic church. The whole station presented "very much the look of a rising English watering-place. The largest house is occupied by the Governor-General. It is a spacious and handsome building of stone. To this I was carried, and immediately ushered into his Lordship's presence. I found him sitting by a fire in a carpeted library. He received me with the greatest kindness, frankness, and hospitality. He is, as far as I can yet judge, all that I have heard; that is to say, rectitude, openness, and good-nature, personified." Many months of close friendship and common labours did but confirm Macaulay in this first view of Lord William Bentinck. His estimate of that singularly noble character survives in the closing sentence of the essay on Lord Clive; and is inscribed on the base of the statue which, standing in front of the Town Hall may be seen far and wide over the great expanse of grass that serves as the park, the parade-ground, and the race-course of Calcutta.
To Thomas Flower Ellis.
Ootacamund: July 1, 1834.
Dear Ellis,—You need not get your map to see where Ootacamund is; for it has not found its way into the maps. It is a new discovery; a place to which Europeans resort for their health, or, as it is called by the Company's servants—blessings on their learning,—a sanaterion. It lies at the height of 7,000 feet above the sea.
While London is a perfect gridiron, here am I, at 13 degrees North from the equator, by a blazing wood fire, with my windows closed. My bed is heaped with blankets, and my black servants are coughing round me in all directions. One poor fellow in particular looks so miserably cold that, unless the sun comes out, I am likely soon to see under my own roof the spectacle which, according to Shakespeare, is so interesting to the English,—a dead Indian. [The Tempest, act ii. scene 2.]
I travelled the whole four hundred miles between this and Madras on men's shoulders. I had an agreeable journey on the whole. I was honoured by an interview with the Rajah of Mysore, who insisted on showing me all his wardrobe, and his picture gallery. He has six or seven coloured English prints, not much inferior to those which I have seen in the sanded parlour of a country inn; "Going to Cover," "The Death of the Fox," and so forth. But the bijou of his gallery, of which he is as vain as the Grand Duke can be of the Venus, or Lord Carlisle of the Three Maries, is a head of the Duke of Wellington, which has, most certainly, been on a sign-post in England.
Yet, after all, the Rajah was by no means the greatest fool whom I found at Mysore. I alighted at a bungalow appertaining to the British Residency. There I found an Englishman who, without any preface, accosted me thus: "Pray, Mr. Macaulay, do not you think that Buonaparte was the Beast?" "No, Sir, I cannot say that I do." "Sir, he was the Beast. I can prove it. I have found the number 666 in his name. Why, Sir, if he was not the Beast, who was?" This was a puzzling question, and I am not a little vain of my answer. "Sir," said I, "the House of Commons is the Beast. There are 658 members of the House; and these, with their chief officers,—the three clerks, the Sergeant and his deputy, the Chaplain, the doorkeeper, and the librarian,—make 666." "Well, Sir, that is strange. But I can assure you that, if you write Napoleon Buonaparte in Arabic, leaving out only two letters, it will give 666." "And pray, Sir, what right have you to leave out two letters? And, as St. John was writing Greek, and to Greeks, is it not likely that he would use the Greek rather than the Arabic notation?" "But, Sir," said this learned divine, "everybody knows that the Greek letters were never used to mark numbers." I answered with the meekest look and voice possible: "I do not think that everybody knows that. Indeed I have reason to believe that a different opinion,—erroneous no doubt,—is universally embraced by all the small minority who happen to know any Greek." So ended the controversy. The man looked at me as if he thought me a very wicked fellow; and, I dare say, has by this time discovered that, if you write my name in Tamul, leaving out T in Thomas, B in Babington, and M in Macaulay, it will give the number of this unfortunate Beast.
I am very comfortable here. The Governor-General is the frankest and best-natured of men. The chief functionaries, who have attended him hither, are clever people, but not exactly on a par as to general attainments with the society to which I belonged in London. I thought, however, even at Madras, that I could have formed a very agreeable circle of acquaintance; and I am assured that at Calcutta I shall find things far better. After all, the best rule in all parts of the world, as in London itself, is to be independent of other men's minds. My power of finding amusement without companions was pretty well tried on my voyage. I read insatiably; the Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil, Horace, Caesar's Commentaries, Bacon de Augmentis, Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto, Tasso, Don Quixote, Gibbon's Rome, Mill's India, all the seventy volumes of Voltaire, Sismondi's History of France, and the seven thick folios of the Biographia Britannica. I found my Greek and Latin in good condition enough. I liked the Iliad a little less, and the Odyssey a great deal more than formerly. Horace charmed me more than ever; Virgil not quite so much as he used to do. The want of human character, the poverty of his supernatural machinery, struck me very strongly. Can anything be so bad as the living bush which bleeds and talks, or the Harpies who befoul Aeneas's dinner? It is as extravagant as Ariosto, and as dull as Wilkie's Epigoniad. The last six books, which Virgil had not fully corrected, pleased me better than the first six. I like him best on Italian ground. I like his localities; his national enthusiasm; his frequent allusions to his country, its history, its antiquities, and its greatness. In this respect he often reminded me of Sir Walter Scott, with whom, in the general character of his mind, he had very little affinity. The Georgics pleased me better; the Eclogues best,—the second and tenth above all. But I think the finest lines in the Latin language are those five which begin,
"Sepibus in nostris parvam te roscida mala—"
[Eclogue viii. 37.]
I cannot tell you how they struck me. I was amused to find that Voltaire pronounces that passage to be the finest in Virgil.
I liked the Jerusalem better than I used to do. I was enraptured with Ariosto; and I still think of Dante, as I thought when I first read him, that he is a superior poet to Milton, that he runs neck and neck with Homer, and that none but Shakespeare has gone decidedly beyond him.
As soon as I reach Calcutta I intend to read Herodotus again. By the bye, why do not you translate him? You would do it excellently; and a translation of Herodotus, well executed, would rank with original compositions. A quarter of an hour a day would finish the work in five years. The notes might be made the most amusing in the world. I wish you would think of it. At all events, I hope you will do something which may interest more than seven or eight people. Your talents are too great, and your leisure time too small, to be wasted in inquiries so frivolous, (I must call them,) as those in which you have of late been too much engaged; whether the Cherokees are of the same race with the Chickasaws; whether Van Diemen's Land was peopled from New Holland, or New Holland from Van Diemen's land; what is the precise anode of appointing a headman in a village in Timbuctoo. I would not give the worst page in Clarendon or Fra Paolo for all that ever was, or ever will be, written about the migrations of the Leleges and the laws of the Oscans.
I have already entered on my public functions, and I hope to do some good. The very wigs of the judges in the Court of King's Bench would stand on end if they knew how short a chapter my Law of Evidence will form. I am not without many advisers. A native of some fortune in Madras has sent me a paper on legislation. "Your honour must know," says this judicious person, "that the great evil is that men swear falsely in this country. No judge knows what to believe. Surely if your honour can make men to swear truly, your honour's fame will be great, and the Company will flourish. Now, I know how men may be made to swear truly; and I will tell your honour for your fame, and for the profit of the Company. Let your honour cut off the great toe of the right foot of every man who swears falsely, whereby your honour's fame will be extended." Is not this an exquisite specimen of legislative wisdom?
I must stop. When I begin to write to England, my pen runs as if it would run on for ever.
Ever yours affectionately
T. B. M.
To Miss Fanny and Miss Selina Macaulay.
Ootacamund: August 10, 1834.
My dear Sisters,—I sent last month a full account of my journey hither, and of the place, to Margaret, as the most stationary of our family; desiring her to let you all see what I had written to her. I think that I shall continue to take the same course. It is better to write one full and connected narrative than a good many imperfect fragments.
Money matters seem likely to go on capitally. My expenses, I find, will be smaller than I anticipated. The Rate of Exchange, if you know what that means, is very favourable indeed; and, if I live, I shall get rich fast. I quite enjoy the thought of appearing in the light of an old hunks who knows on which side his bread is buttered; a warm man; a fellow who will cut up well. This is not a character which the Macaulays have been much in the habit of sustaining; but I can assure you that, after next Christmas, I expect to lay up, on an average, about seven thousand pounds a year, while I remain in India.
At Christmas I shall send home a thousand, or twelve hundred, pounds for my father, and you all. I cannot tell you what a comfort it is to me to find that I shall be able to do this. It reconciles me to all the pains—acute enough, sometimes, God knows,—of banishment. In a few years, if I live—probably in less than five years from the time at which you will be reading this letter—we shall be again together in a comfortable, though a modest, home; certain of a good fire, a good joint of meat, and a good glass of wine; without owing obligations to anybody; and perfectly indifferent, at least as far as our pecuniary interest is concerned, to the changes of the political world. Rely on it, my dear girls, that there is no chance of my going back with my heart cooled towards you. I came hither principally to save my family, and I am not likely while here to forget them.
T. B. M.
The months of July and August Macaulay spent on the Neilgherries, in a climate equable as Madeira and invigorating as Braemar; where thickets of rhododendron fill the glades and clothe the ridges; and where the air is heavy with the scent of rose-trees of a size more fitted for an orchard than a flower-bed, and bushes of heliotrope thirty paces round. The glories of the forests and of the gardens touched him in spite of his profound botanical ignorance, and he dilates more than once upon his "cottage buried in laburnums, or something very like them, and geraniums which grow in the open air." He had the more leisure for the natural beauties of the place, as there was not much else to interest even a traveller fresh from England.
"I have as yet seen little of the idolatry of India; and that little, though excessively absurd, is not characterised by atrocity or indecency. There is nothing of the sort at Ootacamund. I have not, during the last six weeks, witnessed a single circumstance from which you would have inferred that this was a heathen country. The bulk of the natives here are a colony from the plains below, who have come up hither to wait on the European visitors, and who seem to trouble themselves very little about caste or religion. The Todas, the aboriginal population of these hills, are a very curious race. They had a grand funeral a little while ago. I should have gone if it had not been a Council day; but I found afterwards that I had lost nothing. The whole ceremony consisted in sacrificing bullocks to the manes of the defunct. The roaring of the poor victims was horrible. The people stood talking and laughing till a particular signal was made, and immediately all the ladies lifted up their voices and wept. I have not lived three and thirty years in this world without learning that a bullock roars when he is knocked down, and that a woman can cry whenever she chooses.
"By all that I can learn, the Catholics are the most respectable portion of the native Christians. As to Swartz's people in the Tanjore, they are a perfect scandal to the religion which they profess. It would have been thought something little short of blasphemy to say this a year ago; but now it is considered impious to say otherwise, for they have got into a violent quarrel with the missionaries and the Bishop. The missionaries refused to recognise the distinctions of caste in the administration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and the Bishop supported them in the refusal. I do not pretend to judge whether this was right or wrong. Swartz and Bishop Heber conceived that the distinction of caste, however objectionable politically, was still only a distinction of rank; and that, as in English churches the gentlefolks generally take the Sacrament apart from the poor of the parish, so the high-caste natives might be allowed to communicate apart from the Pariahs.
"But, whoever was first in the wrong, the Christians of Tanjore took care to be most so. They called in the interposition of Government, and sent up such petitions and memorials as I never saw before or since; made up of lies, invectives, bragging, cant, bad grammar of the most ludicrous kind, and texts of Scripture quoted without the smallest application. I remember one passage by heart, which is really only a fair specimen of the whole: 'These missionaries, my Lord, loving only filthy lucre, bid us to eat Lord-supper with Pariahs as lives ugly, handling dead men, drinking rack and toddy, sweeping the streets, mean fellows altogether, base persons, contrary to that which Saint Paul saith: I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.'
"Was there ever a more appropriate quotation? I believe that nobody on either side of the controversy found out a text so much to the purpose as one which I cited to the Council of India, when we were discussing this business: 'If this be a question of words, and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.' But though, like Gallio, I drove them and their petitions from my judgment seat, I could not help saying to one of the missionaries, who is here on the Hills, that I thought it a pity to break up the Church of Tanjore on account of a matter which such men as Swartz and Heber had not been inclined to regard as essential. 'Sir,' said the reverend gentleman, 'the sooner the Church of Tanjore is broken up the better. You can form no notion of the worthlessness of the native Christians there.' I could not dispute this point with him; but neither could I help thinking, though I was too polite to say so, that it was hardly worth the while of so many good men to come fifteen thousand miles over sea and land in order to make proselytes, who, their very instructors being judges, were more children of hell than before."
Unfortunately Macaulay's stay on the Neilgherries coincided with the monsoon. "The rain streamed down in floods. It was very seldom that I could see a hundred yards in front of me. During a month together I did not get two hours' walking." He began to be bored, for the first and last time in his life; while his companions, who had not his resources, were ready to hang themselves for very dulness. The ordinary amusements with which, in the more settled parts of India, our countrymen beguile the rainy season, were wanting in a settlement that had only lately been reclaimed from the desert; in the immediate vicinity of which you still ran the chance of being "trod into the shape of half a crown by a wild elephant, or eaten by the tigers, which prefer this situation to the plains below for the same reason that takes so many Europeans to India; they encounter an uncongenial climate for the sake of what they can get." There were no books in the place except those that Macaulay had brought with him, among which, most luckily, was Clarissa Harlowe. Aided by the rain outside, he soon talked his favourite romance into general favour. The reader will consent to put up with one or two slight inaccuracies in order to have the story told by Thackeray.
"I spoke to him once about Clarissa. 'Not read Clarissa!' he cried out. 'If you have once read Clarissa, and are infected by it, you can't leave it. When I was in India I passed one hot season in the Hills; and there were the Governor-General, and the Secretary of Government, and the Commander-in-Chief, and their wives. I had Clarissa with me; and, as soon as they began to read, the whole station was in a passion of excitement about Miss Harlowe, and her misfortunes, and her scoundrelly Lovelace. The Governor's wife seized the book; the Secretary waited for it; the Chief justice could not read it for tears.' He acted the whole scene; he paced up and down the Athenaeum library. I dare say he could have spoken pages of the book; of that book, and of what countless piles of others!"
An old Scotch doctor, a Jacobin and a free-thinker, who could only be got to attend church by the positive orders of the Governor-General, cried over the last volume until he was too ill to appear at dinner. [Degenerate readers of our own day have actually been provided with an abridgment of Clarissa, itself as long as an ordinary novel. A wiser course than buying the abridgment would be to commence the original at the Third volume. In the same way, if anyone, after obtaining the outline of Lady Clementina's story from a more adventurous friend, will read Sir Charles Grandison, skipping all letters from Italians, to Italians, and about Italians, he will find that he has got hold of a delightful, and not unmanageable, book.] The Chief Secretary,—afterwards, as Sir William Macnaghten, the hero and the victim of the darkest episode in our Indian history,—declared that reading this copy of Clarissa, under the inspiration of its owner's enthusiasm, was nothing less than an epoch in his life. After the lapse of thirty years, when Ootacamund had long enjoyed the advantage of a book-club and a circulating library, the tradition of Macaulay and his novel still lingered on with a tenacity most unusual in the ever-shifting society of an Indian station.
"At length Lord William gave me leave of absence. My bearers were posted along the road; my palanquins were packed; and I was to start next day; when an event took place which may give you some insight into the state of the laws, morals, and manners among the natives.
"My new servant, a Christian, but such a Christian as the missionaries make in this part of the world, had been persecuted most unmercifully for his religion by the servants of some other gentlemen on the Hills. At last they contrived to excite against him (whether justly or unjustly I am quite unable to say) the jealousy of one of Lord William's under-cooks. We had accordingly a most glorious tragi-comedy; the part of Othello by the cook aforesaid; Desdemona by an ugly, impudent Pariah girl, his wife; Iago by Colonel Casement's servant; and Michael Cassio by my rascal. The place of the handkerchief was supplied by a small piece of sugar-candy which Desdemona was detected in the act of sucking, and which had found its way from my canisters to her fingers. If I had any part in the piece, it was, I am afraid, that of Roderigo, whom Shakespeare describes as a 'foolish gentleman,' and who also appears to have had 'money in his purse.'
"On the evening before my departure my bungalow was besieged by a mob of blackguards. The Native judge came with them. After a most prodigious quantity of jabbering, of which I could not understand one word, I called the judge, who spoke tolerable English, into my room, and learned from him the nature of the case. I was, and still am, in doubt as to the truth of the charge. I have a very poor opinion of my man's morals, and a very poor opinion also of the veracity of his accusers. It was, however, so very inconvenient for me to be just then deprived of my servant that I offered to settle the business at my own expense. Under ordinary circumstances this would have been easy enough, for the Hindoos of the lower castes have no delicacy on these subjects. The husband would gladly have taken a few rupees, and walked away; but the persecutors of my servant interfered, and insisted that he should be brought to trial in order that they might have the pleasure of smearing him with filth, giving him a flogging, beating kettles before him, and carrying him round on an ass with his face to the tail.
"As the matter could not be accommodated, I begged the Judge to try the case instantly; but the rabble insisted that the trial should not take place for some days. I argued the matter with them very mildly, and told them that I must go next day, and that, if my servant were detained, guilty or innocent, he must lose his situation. The gentle and reasoning tone of my expostulations only made them impudent. They are, in truth, a race so accustomed to be trampled on by the strong that they always consider humanity as a sign of weakness. The Judge told me that he never heard a gentleman speak such sweet words to the people. But I was now at an end of my sweet words. My blood was beginning to boil at the undisguised display of rancorous hatred and shameless injustice. I sate down, and wrote a line to the Commandant of the station, begging him to give orders that the case might be tried that very evening. The Court assembled, and continued all night in violent contention. At last the judge pronounced my servant not guilty. I did not then know, what I learned some days after, that this respectable magistrate had received twenty rupees on the occasion.
"The husband would now gladly have taken the money which he refused the day before; but I would not give him a farthing. The rascals who had raised the disturbance were furious. My servant was to set out at eleven in the morning, and I was to follow at two. He had scarcely left the door when I heard a noise. I looked forth, and saw that the gang had pulled him out of his palanquin, torn off his turban, stripped him almost naked, and were, as it seemed, about to pull him to pieces. I snatched up a sword-stick, and ran into the middle of them. It was all I could do to force my way to him, and, for a moment, I thought my own person was in danger as well as his. I supported the poor wretch in my arms; for, like most of his countrymen, he is a chickenhearted fellow, and was almost fainting away. My honest barber, a fine old soldier in the Company's service, ran off for assistance, and soon returned with some police officers. I ordered the bearers to turn round, and proceeded instantly to the house of the Commandant. I was not long detained here. Nothing can be well imagined more expeditious than the administration of justice in this country, when the judge is a Colonel, and the plaintiff a Councillor. I told my story in three words. In three minutes the rioters were marched off to prison, and my servant, with a sepoy to guard him, was fairly on his road and out of danger."
Early next morning Macaulay began to descend the pass.
"After going down for about an hour we emerged from the clouds and moisture, and the plain of Mysore lay before us—a vast ocean of foliage on which the sun was shining gloriously. I am very little given to cant about the beauties of nature, but I was moved almost to tears. I jumped off the palanquin, and walked in front of it down the immense declivity. In two hours we descended about three thousand feet. Every turning in the road showed the boundless forest below in some new point of view. I was greatly struck with the resemblance which this prodigious jungle, as old as the world and planted by nature, bears to the fine works of the great English landscape gardeners. It was exactly a Wentworth Park, as large as Devonshire. After reaching the foot of the hills, we travelled through a succession of scenes which might have been part of the garden of Eden. Such gigantic trees I never saw. In a quarter of an hour I passed hundreds the smallest of which would bear a comparison with any of those oaks which are shown as prodigious in England. The grass, the weeds, and the wild flowers grew as high as my head. The sun, almost a stranger to me, was now shining brightly; and, when late in the afternoon I again got out of my palanquin and looked back, I saw the large mountain ridge from which I had descended twenty miles behind me, still buried in the same mass of fog and rain in which I had been living for weeks.
"On Tuesday, the 16th" (of September), "I went on board at Madras. I amused myself on the voyage to Calcutta with learning Portuguese, and made myself almost as well acquainted with it as I care to be. I read the Lusiad, and am now reading it a second time. I own that I am disappointed in Camoens; but I have so often found my first impressions wrong on such subjects that I still hope to be able to join my voice to that of the great body of critics. I never read any famous foreign book, which did not, in the first perusal, fall short of my expectations; except Dante's poem, and Don Quixote, which were prodigiously superior to what I had imagined. Yet in these cases I had not pitched my expectations low."
He had not much time for his Portuguese studies. The run was unusually fast, and the ship only spent a week in the Bay of Bengal, and forty-eight hours in the Hooghly. He found his sister comfortably installed in Government House, where he himself took up his quarters during the next six weeks; Lady William Bentinck having been prepared to welcome him as her guest by her husband's letters, more than one of which ended with the words "e un miracolo." Towards the middle of November, Macaulay began housekeeping for himself; living, as he always loved to live, rather more generously than the strict necessities of his position demanded. His residence, then the best in Calcutta, has long since been converted into the Bengal Club.
To Macvey Napier, Esq.
Calcutta: December 10, 1834.
Dear Napier,—First to business. At length I send you the article on Mackintosh; an article which has the merit of length, whatever it may be deficient in. As I wished to transmit it to England in duplicate, if not in triplicate, I thought it best to have two or three copies coarsely printed here under the seal of strict secresy. The printers at Edinburgh will, therefore, have no trouble in deciphering my manuscript, and the corrector of the press will find his work done to his hands.
The disgraceful imbecility, and the still more disgraceful malevolence, of the editor have, as you will see, moved my indignation not a little. I hope that Longman's connection with the Review will not prevent you from inserting what I have said on this subject. Murray's copy writers are unsparingly abused by Southey and Lockhart in the Quarterly; and it would be hard indeed if we might not in the Edinburgh strike hard at an assailant of Mackintosh.
I shall now begin another article. The subject I have not yet fixed upon; perhaps the romantic poetry of Italy, for which there is an excellent opportunity; Panizzi's reprint of Boiardo; perhaps the little volume of Burnet's Characters edited by Bishop Jebb. This reminds me that I have to acknowledge the receipt of a box from Longman, containing this little book; and other books of much greater value, Grimm's Correspondence, Jacquemont's Letters, and several foreign works on jurisprudence. All that you have yet sent have been excellently chosen. I will mention, while I am on this subject, a few books which I want, and which I am not likely to pick up here—Daru's Histoire de Venise; St. Real's Conjuration de Venise; Fra Paolo's works; Monstrelet's Chronicle; and Coxe's book on the Pelhams. I should also like to have a really good edition of Lucian.
My sister desires me to send you her kind regards. She remembers her visit to Edinburgh, and your hospitality, with the greatest pleasure. Calcutta is called, and not without some reason, the city of palaces; but I have seen nothing in the East like the view from the Castle Rock, nor expect to see anything like it till we stand there together again.
Kindest regards to Lord Jeffrey.
Yours most truly
T. B. MACAULAY.
To Mrs. Cropper.
Calcutta: December 7, 1834.
Dearest Margaret,—I rather suppose that some late letters from Nancy may have prepared you to learn what I am now about to communicate. She is going to be married, and with my fullest and warmest approbation. I can truly say that, if I had to search India for a husband for her, I could have found no man to whom I could with equal confidence have entrusted her happiness. Trevelyan is about eight and twenty. He was educated at the Charter-house, and then went to Haileybury, and came out hither. In this country he has distinguished himself beyond any man of his standing by his great talent for business; by his liberal and enlarged views of policy; and by literary merit, which, for his opportunities, is considerable. He was at first placed at Delhi under ——, a very powerful and a very popular man, but extremely corrupt. This man tried to initiate Trevelyan in his own infamous practices. But the young fellow's spirit was too noble for such things. When only twenty-one years of age he publicly accused ——, then almost at the head of the service, of receiving bribes from the natives. A perfect storm was raised against the accuser. He was almost everywhere abused, and very generally cut. But with a firmness and ability scarcely ever seen in any man so young, he brought his proofs forward, and, after an inquiry of some weeks, fully made out his case. —— was dismissed in disgrace, and is now living obscurely in England. The Government here and the Directors at home applauded Trevelyan in the highest terms; and from that tithe he has been considered as a man likely to rise to the very top of the service. Lord William told him to ask for anything that he wished for. Trevelyan begged that something might be done for his elder brother, who is in the Company's army. Lord William told him that he had richly earned that or anything else, and gave Lieutenant Trevelyan a very good diplomatic employment. Indeed Lord William, a man who makes no favourites, has always given to Trevelyan the strongest marks, not of a blind partiality, but of a thoroughly well-grounded and discriminating esteem.
Not long ago Trevelyan was appointed by him to the Under Secretaryship for foreign affairs, an office of a very important and confidential nature. While holding the place he was commissioned to report to Government on the operation of the Internal Transit duties of India. About a year ago his Report was completed. I shall send to England a copy or two of it by the first safe conveyance; for nothing that I can say of his abilities, or of his public spirit, will be half so satisfactory. I have no hesitation in affirming that it is a perfect masterpiece in its kind. Accustomed as I have been to public affairs, I never read an abler State paper; and I do not believe that there is, I will not say in India, but in England, another man of twenty-seven who could have written it. Trevelyan is a most stormy reformer. Lord William said to me, before anyone had observed Trevelyan's attentions to Nancy: "That man is almost always on the right side in every question; and it is well that he is so, for he gives a most confounded deal of trouble when he happens to take the wrong one." [Macaulay used to apply to his future brother-in-law the remark which Julius Caesar made with regard to his young friend Brutus: "Magni refert hic quid velit; sed quidquid volet, valde volet."] He is quite at the head of that active party among the younger servants of the Company who take the side of improvement. In particular, he is the soul of every scheme for diffusing education among the natives of this country. His reading has been very confined; but to the little that he has read he has brought a mind as active and restless as Lord Brougham's, and much more judicious and honest.
As to his person, he always looks like a gentleman, particularly on horseback. He is very active and athletic, and is renowned as a great master in the most exciting and perilous of field sports, the spearing of wild boars. His face has a most characteristic expression of ardour and impetuosity, which makes his countenance very interesting to me. Birth is a thing that I care nothing about; but his family is one of the oldest and best in England.
During the important years of his life, from twenty to twenty-five, or thereabouts, Trevelyan was in a remote province of India, where his whole time was divided between public business and field sports, and where he seldom saw a European gentleman and never a European lady. He has no small talk. His mind is full of schemes of moral and political improvement, and his zeal boils over in his talk. His topics, even in courtship, are steam navigation, the education of the natives, the equalisation of the sugar duties, the substitution of the Roman for the Arabic alphabet in the Oriental languages.
I saw the feeling growing from the first; for, though I generally pay not the smallest attention to those matters, I had far too deep an interest in Nancy's happiness not to watch her behaviour to everybody who saw much of her. I knew it, I believe, before she knew it herself; and I could most easily have prevented it by merely treating Trevelyan with a little coldness, for he is a man whom the smallest rebuff would completely discourage. But you will believe, my dearest Margaret, that no thought of such base selfishness ever passed through my mind. I would as soon have locked my dear Nancy up in a nunnery as have put the smallest obstacle in the way of her having a good husband. I therefore gave every facility and encouragement to both of them. What I have myself felt it is unnecessary to say. My parting from you almost broke my heart. But when I parted from you I had Nancy; I had all my other relations; I had my friends; I had my country. Now I have nothing except the resources of my own mind, and the consciousness of having acted not ungenerously. But I do not repine. Whatever I suffer I have brought on myself. I have neglected the plainest lessons of reason and experience. I have staked my happiness without calculating the chances of the dice. I have hewn out broken cisterns; I have leant on a reed; I have built on the sand; and I have fared accordingly. I must bear my punishment as I can; and, above all, I must take care that the punishment does not extend beyond myself.