Imagens das páginas

a man.

Macaulay remained half a boy, in his childhood he was already half

His precocity was noteworthy. From the age of three he read constantly, lying for the most part on the floor before a grate fire, with a book as big as himself held open by one hand and a piece of bread and butter in the other. When he was old enough to go to school

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his mother told him that he must learn to study without the solace of bread and butter. “Yes, mamma,” he replied, “industry shall be my bread and attention my butter.” As a matter of fact, however,

he hated school. Probably he found that the routine interrupted the course of his studies. At all events, he would beg piteously, whenever it rained, which in London is practically every day, to be allowed to stay at home; but to these appeals his mother always replied: “No, Tom. If it rains cats and dogs, you shall go.” It is no wonder that he preferred his own intellectual pursuits to those of the schoolroom, for the former speedily became vast and fascinating. At eight he had already written an epic poem, compiled a digest of universal history, and composed a paper which was to be translated into Malabar to persuade the people of Travancore to embrace the Christian religion. Aside from his literary activity, however, he displayed the same instincts as an ordinary child. He set iside a portion of the infinitesimal back yard, for instance, as his own, marking it off by a row of oyster shells. One day a maid threw these away as rubbish. When Tom discovered the outrage, he marched straight to his mother, who was entertaining some ladies in the parlor, and said very solemnly in the presence of the entire company: “Cursed be Sally, for it is written,

Cursed is he that removeth his neighbor's landmark! '" On another occasion, at Lady Waldegrave's, a servant spilled some hot coffee on his legs. His hostess was greatly grieved at the accident, and inquired solicitously how he felt. After a time the little fellow looked up gravely and said, suppressing a sob, as we may guess: “ Thank you, madam, the agony is abated.” He was then perhaps six years old.

A little later his mother took him with her one day when she went to make an afternoon call. While the ladies gossiped, Tom was busy with a book which he found on the parlor table. It was the

Lay of the Last Minstrel.” Upon returning home he repeated page after page of it to his mother until, from sheer exhaustion, she stopped him. The secret of the immense learning which adorns his pages may be inferred from this incident. To the temptation to show off these powers, his parents, happily, never yielded. Tom grew up in happy unconsciousness of the fact that he knew more than other boys of his age. Indeed, it seems probable that he never found it out, for in his essays he again and again ascribes such extraordinary learning to the ordinary youth that Macaulay's schoolboy is at once the inspiration and despair of every ambitious youngster and the classic scoff of every callous pedagogue.

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In 1813 he was sent to a private school kept by a Mr. Preston, near Cambridge. Here, for five years, he studied Greek, Latin, and mathematics; absorbed literature; and rigorously abstained from society and athletics.

Macaulay entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1818. His career there was a credit both to him and to Trinity. He studied languages, read books, and attended chapel in a fashion that must have won the approval of the faculty. He sat up all night talking politics and drinking tea with the boys. He made a reputation as a debater. He won the chancellor's medal for English verse. Upon graduation, he earned a fellowship which secured him, to quote his own appreciative words, three hundred pounds a year, a stable for his horse, six dozen of audit ale every Christmas, a roll and two pats of butter for breakfast every morning, and a good dinner for nothing, with as many almonds and raisins as he could eat at dessert. Not the least human and interesting feature of his college career is furnished by his dislike of mathematics, which he never ceased to denounce as long as it was his business to study them, though in later years he frankly confessed and regretted that he lacked certain qualities of mind which a rigorous training in mathematics is pretty sure to give.

He was forced, near the end of his course, to step down from the luxurious position of an elder son whose father was worth 100,000 pounds, and not only to earn his own way, but to support his father as well. This he did with a cheerfulness which did him honor, although, for a time, he was reduced to such poverty that he had to sell the medals which he had won at college. Thus Zachary Macaulay's devotion to the abolition of slavery, though it reduced him to poverty, exhibited his son in a light which enriches literature. If this is not more heroic, it is more agreeable than the dyspeptic scolding and grumbling of Thomas Carlyle, his great rival and contemporary

His good nature, indeed, was one of Macaulay's most noteworthy traits. He loved to play and romp with children. His relations with his sisters were charming. Read his letters to them; you cannot afford to miss their gossipy kindness and brilliancy. Somebody described him as looking like a lump of good humor. On the most trivial and

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most trying occasions this kept bubbling up. Once he hurt his hand and had to send for a barber to shave him. When the operation was finished, Macaulay asked what he was to pay. “Whatever you give the person who usually shaves you,” said the man.

“ In that case," was the reply, “I should give you a great gash on each cheek.” At Cambridge during his college days he got mixed up in a political riot on one occasion and received a dead cat full in the face. The man who had thrown it came up and apologized very civilly, explaining that he had meant it for Mr. Adeane. “I wish," said Macaulay,

had meant it for me and had hit Mr. Adeane." This readiness in repartee made him a favorite in society. He lived on intimate terms with the most brilliant and famous set in London. He was an everlasting talker; his conversation might, indeed, be described as good—and too abundant. One of his enemies called him Mr.“ Babbletongue” Macaulay. One of his friends said to the assembled company, on an occasion when Macaulay was late, "If you have anything to say, say it now; Macaulay is coming." Sydney Smith called him a book in breeches. “He has,” says that famous divine, “occasional flashes of silence that make his conversation perfectly delightful."

His father wished him to be a lawyer, and in compliance with his wishes Thomas studied enough to gain admission to the Bar and rewrite the Indian penal code; but he never practiced. His real vocation from the first was literature.

At college he wrote capital poems, stories, and essays for Knight's “Quarterly Magazine "; and in 1825 his vocation was definitely revealed to him and the world by the brilliant success of his first contribution to the Edinburgh Review," the essay on Milton. Like Byron, he woke up one morning and found himself famous. His breakfast table was covered with invitations to dinner from all parts of London. Murray, the editor of the “ Quarterly Review,” declared it would be worth the copyright of “ Childe Harold” to have him on his staff. Jeffrey, the editor of the “ Edinburgh Review,” wrote to him: The more I think the less I can conceive where you picked up that style."

“ That style!” What is the secret of its charm? What is there about it which has made Macaulay the favorite serious author, next after Shakespeare and the Bible, of the Anglo-Saxon race? The answer is easy: (1) He is intensely human. He loves, hates, laughs, berates heartily. (2) His works present a singularly judicious mixture of opposite qualities. He steers from grave to gay, from lively to severe, with a skill second only to Shakespeare's. (3) The lucidity of his style has never been surpassed. It is almost impossible to mistake the meaning of one of his sentences. (4) He possesses most of the qualities of an ideal schoolmaster. He teaches, but he does not let his readers know that he teaches. He constantly flatters and stimulates you by assuming that you know more than you do. There is probably not a page of his essays in which he has not been guided, consciously or otherwise, by Pope's maxim:

“Fools must be taught as if you taught them not,

And things unknown proposed as things forgot.” A noted writer on education regrets the wealth of his allusions, but these same allusions, if rightly understood, constitute one of the best reasons why young people should read Macaulay. They arouse curiosity always, and not seldom convey information. (5) Most essayists appeal chiefly to the judgment and the reason. Macaulay is constantly doing this, but he is also alive to the importance of the imagination. Like all good teachers, he knows how to make pictures. Critics say he is shallow, because he does not analyze motives. While Carlyle shows us Johnson's soul, they tell us, Macaulay shows us only his ugly face. The criticism is just precisely as it is just to say that the manikins used in medical schools, to show the inner workings of frail human flesh, are greater works of art than the Apollo Belvedere or the Venus di Medici. No writer ever made a picture as lifelike as Macaulay's Johnson unless he understood the soul behind the man's exterior. As a matter of fact, Macaulay's picture of Johnson is a much more finished product than Carlyle's. He begins where Carlyle leaves off. The truth appears to be that Macaulay's critics reason somewhat after this fashion: “We never understood anything before. We can understand Macaulay. Therefore Macaulay must be shallow.” They seem to forget that a puddle in the street may

be opaque without being deep, and that water in the ocean may be as deep as

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