Imatges de pÓgina

campaigns were without topics of eventful interest, but Mr. Macaulay, not unnaturally, deals with them episodically. They break the thread of his great constitutional narrative, and plunge him into the history, not of England, but of Europe. While the great European confederacy was the object of King William's political life, while diplomacy was his forte, and these campaigns his greatest glory, we close these volumes with less information on the details of his diplomacy, and less interest in his military operations, than we have in regard to any other portion of the history. Of his correspondence with Heinsius we have very little, and the description of the siege of Namur or the battle of Landen will not bear a comparison with those of Derry or Killiecrankie.

But it is time to bring our criticism to a close. We conclude, as we commenced, in unfeigned admiration of the power, wisdom, and success of this great national work; of the comprehensive philosophy of its plan, and the rare felicity of its execution. The height at which it aims is ambitious; but Mr. Macaulay has reached it; and will hand down his name to future times indissolubly linked with that free constitution the history of which he has done so much to illustrate. Let those who wish to study the genius of British liberty, learn by the light of these volumes-imbibe their spirit-and be roused by their noble fervour to thoughts and deeds worthy of freemen. As long as she is animated by such patriotism, and imbued with such principles, we may augur the best for the future of our country and for the dynasty established by William, under which she has risen to such freedom and such greatness.



OCTOBER, 1861.


ART. I.-1. The History of England from the Accession of James the Second. Vol. V. By Lord MACAULAY. Edited by his Sister, Lady TREVELYAN. London: 1861.

2. The New Examen; or an Enquiry into the Evidence relating to certain Passages in Lord Macaulay's History. By JOHN PAGET, Barrister-at-Law. Edinburgh and London: 1861.


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OR the last time we prefix to our critical labours a volume of Macaulay's History of England.' The last sounding chords which the hand of the great master ever struck have now reached the ear of the public: the hand is cold, and the great heart which inspired it has ceased to beat. The country which he loved so well, the liberty which he cherished, and the constitution which he fenced round with his eloquence and research, have lost their ardent defender. Over the recent grave of so great a man criticism must lower its tone, and even malice must be subdued, if not silent. His powers were great, his aspirations lofty, his ends noble and generous. Prejudices and peculiarities, as fall to the lot of all, no doubt he had; but they arose chiefly from his impetuous sense of right, his disdain of meaner minds and motives, and his wrath against oppression. When the volcano once began to work, the lava overflowed in a torrent which, while irresistible, was sometimes perhaps undiscriminating; but there was breadth, massiveness, and grandeur throughout; a noble example of prodigious intellect dedicated to the purest and truest patriotism, without one selfish tinge to sully, or one base ingredient to taint its influence.

Macaulay writes himself so plainly in his works, that it would be impertinent to attempt any laboured delineation of



his genius; but as it begins to recede from the point of vision its radiance increases. Gradually taking his place among those that dwell in that Pantheon in which the present world places the heroes of the past, he fills a higher position than when envious critics and indignant friends wrangled over his intellectual conquests, and grudged or defended his renown. Now that he is gone we can better appreciate what we have lost, and what in our day we cannot look to have replaced.

With whom shall we rank him? In intellectual power certainly with the greatest. Neither the versatile Bolingbroke, nor the wayward, graceful, inspired, and impracticable Burke, need have disdained the comparison. In pliancy and ease Bolingbroke surpasses him, as Burke does in delicacy of fancy, but in fertility of resource, fire, and power he excels them both. We choose these two names as the greatest of the class to which Macaulay properly belongs,-the literary statesmen of England. It is needless to compare him with historians like Hume or Gibbon, or with political leaders like the great chiefs of the rival parties. He did not belong to either order. His writings were for the most part political, not philosophical; and, like those both of Bolingbroke and Burke, they derived their tendency and colour from his views of public and political life. He was a statesman writing of history. With Burke, indeed, he has a strong affinity: the same impetuous temperament, the same ear for sonorous composition, the same delightful power of abstracting and absorbing the mind, and the same genuine and unaffected warmth. But Burke, with all his refinement, has an element of coarseness about him, of which Macaulay was entirely destitute, and if the touch of the Irish statesman was freer his drawing was not so true. Burke's judgment followed, Macaulay's led, the course of passionate and intense emotion, which frequently lured the first astray, but never beguiled the manly sense of the last.


Bolingbroke, in capacity and power, is, perhaps, a more ambitious standard than Burke. But he must be judged more by what he could have done than by what he did. seems, so far as we know him, to have had, like Macaulay, a prodigious memory, which served him as a storehouse where he found everything worthy of remembrance in letters or in time whenever he had occasion for it, and he wielded, perhaps, the most brilliant, pure, and sparkling style of any writer in the language. He had also an amount of ability as a man of affairs, with a knowledge of, and power of adaptation to, men and things, to which the two others had no pretensions. But he has left, after all, only nominis umbra-the shadow, ill-de

fined and misty, of a mighty name. Save that he has in a few tracts, intended to be ephemeral, embalmed in the richest words the language could furnish some grand muscular delineations of that constitution which he did his best to upset, nothing tangible remains of his genius. He did nothing, and the fault lay not in his stars which he blamed so freely, but in himself,-in the coldness, selfishness, and insincerity of his nature.

Alongside either, Macaulay holds his place, nor does he suffer by the contrast. Within his own range, and it was large, his power was prodigious. Gifted with a force of memory of the rarest kind, retentive and precise to a degree which rendered pastime to him what to most men is laborious toil; an extent of scholarship both cultivated and varied; a glowing fancy which coloured and tinted with the flush of poetry the inmost recesses of his learning; a fine ear for rhythm; a true pleasure in the roll and music of words, he brought these rare materials to bear on the best and highest interests of his country and mankind. In large and single-hearted views of public policy he far outstrips either of his rivals. As an orator, as a deliverer of great, weighty, powerful rhetorical appeals, we know not any one who can be placed before him. Had he not been so soon removed, and to a certain extent physically disabled from pursuing his parliamentary career, there was no height of eminence to which he might not have attained. It is the fashion to say he was not a debater. We do not at all concur in this estimate of him. Except in practice, he had all the qualities which make up a debater-quickness, ready wit, ever present resources, keen reasoning, powerful, sonorous, although sometimes ponderous declamation. Indeed, if his reputation in other departments had not been so high, and if his tastes had not rather led him to shun the contention of political assemblies and to prefer the retirement of his more studious avocations, there is no height to which Macaulay might not have risen in the arena of debate. His power, perhaps, was somewhat unwieldy for the ordinary gladiatorship of the House of Commons. But he had versatility enough to have overcome that defect. He showed on more than one occasion that aptitude for reply, and, above all, that power of swaying large assemblies, which constitutes the true power and efficiency of Parliamentary oratory. Even as it is, some of his recorded speeches may rank with the greatest ever delivered in the House of Commons. very last speech he ever made in that House, had the rare result of converting a minority into a majority, indeed a very small minority into an overwhelming majority. The question was the right of the Master of the Rolls to sit in Parlia


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