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excellent, often generous ; his taste is correct, his criticism, for the most part, just ; and it is impossible not to admire the light and airy hand with which he treats of the most difficult subjects, and the happy expressions with which he often illustrates the most abstruse ideas. He deals more in Scotch metaphysics than suits the present age; he made some signal and well-known mistakes in the estimation of contemporary poetry; and laboured, without effect, to write up Ford, Massinger, and the old dramatists, whom their inveterate indecency bas justly banished from general popularity. But these faults are amply redeemed by the attractions of his essays in other respects. There are no more charming reviews in our language than some which his collected papers contain; and no one can rise from the perusal with any surprise that the accomplished author of works containing so much just and kindly criticism should deservedly be a most popular and respected judge.
It is impossible to imagine a more thorough contrast to those of Lord Jeffrey than the writings of SIDNEY Smith exhibit. Though a reverend and pious divine, the prebendary of St Paul's had very little of the sacerdotal character in his writings. His conversational talents were great, his success in the highest London society unbounded ; but this intoxicating course neither relaxed the vigour of his application, nor deadened the warmth of his feelings. His powers, and they were of no ordinary kind, were always directed, though sometimes with mistaken zeal, to the interests of humanity. His sayings, like those of Talleyrand, were repeated from one end of the empire to the other. These brilliant and sparkling qualities are conspicuous in his writings, and have mainly contributed to their remarkable success both in this country and America. There is scarcely any scholarship, and little information, to be met with in his works. Few take them up to be instructed ; many to be amused. He has little of the equanimity of the judge about him, but a great deal of the wit and jocularity of the pleader. He would have made a first-rate jury counsel, for he would alternately have driven them by the force of his arguments, and amused them by the brilliancy of his expressions. There is no more vigorous and forcible diatribe in our language than his celebrated letter on North American repudiation, which roused the attention, and excited the admiration, of the repudiators themselves. He has expressed in a single line a great truth, applicable, it is to be feared, to other nations besides the Americans,—“They preferred any load of infamy, however great, to any burden of taxation, , however light.” But Sidney Smith's blows were expended, and wit lavished, in general, on subjects of passing or ephemeral interest; they were not, like the strokes of Johnson, levelled at the universal frailties and characteristics of human nature. On this account, though their success hitherto has been greater, it is doubtful whether his essays will take so high a lasting place in English literature as those of Lord Jeffrey, which in general treat of works of permanent interest.
SIR JAMES Mackintosh differs as widely from the two original pillars of the Edinburgh Review as they do from each other. The publication of his collected essays, with the historical sketch and fragment which he has left, enables us now to form a fair estimate of his powers. That they were great, no one can doubt; but they are of a different kind from what was at first anticipated. It is now apparent that, even if his noble mind had not been in a great degree swallowed up as it was in the bottomless gulf of London society, and if he had spent his whole forenoons for the last fifteen years of his life in writing his history, instead of conversing with fashionable or literary ladies, his labours would have terminated in disappointment. The beginning of the history which he has left is a sufficient proof of this ; it is learned, minute, and elaborate, but dull. The Whigs, according to their usual practice with all writers of their own party, hailed its appearance with a flourish of trumpets ; but we doubt whether many of them have yet read it through. He had little dramatic power ; bis writings exhibit no traces of a pictorial eye, and though he had much poetry in his mind, they are not imbued with the poetic character. These deficiencies are fatal to the popularity of any historian. No amount of learning or philosophical acuteness can supply their want in the narrative of events. Guizot is a proof of this : he is, perhaps, one of the greatest writers on the philosophy of history that ever lived ; but his History of the English Revolution is lifeless beside the pages of Hume or Gibbon. Sir James Mackintosh
was fitted to have been the Guizot of English history. His mind was essentially didactic. Reflection, not action, was both the bent of his disposition and the theatre of his glory. The characters of the poets and statesmen of England during the eighteenth century, written on the voyage home from Bombay, and published in his very interesting Life by his sons, are perhaps the most perfect criticisms and portraits of the kind in the English language. But he was a great essayist or painter of character, rather than a great historian. His History of England, written for Lardner's Encyclopedia, can scarcely be called a history ; it is rather a series of discourses on history. It treats so largely of some events, so scantily of others, that a reader not previously acquainted with the subject, might rise from its perusal with scarcely any idea of the thread of English story. But no one who was already informed on it can do so, without feeling his mind stored with original and valuable reflection, just and profound views. His collected essays from the Edinburgh Review, lately put together, are not so discursive as those of Lord Jeffrey, nor so amusing as those of Sidney Smith ; but they are much more profound than either, and treat of subjects more permanently interesting to the human race. Many of them, particularly that on representative governments, abound with views equally just and original. It is impossible not to regret that a mind so richly stored with historical knowledge, and so largely endowed with philosophic penetration, should have left so few lasting monuments of its great and varied powers.
Much as these very eminent men differ from each other, Mr MACAULAY is, perhaps, still more clearly distinguished from either. Both his turn of mind and style of writing are peculiar, and exhibit a combination rarely if ever before witnessed in English, or even modern literature. Unlike Lord Jeffrey, he is deeply learned in ancient and modern lore ; his mind is richly stored with the poetry and history both of classical and Continental literature. Unlike Mackintosh, he is eminently dramatic and pictorial; he alternately speaks poetry to the soul and pictures to the eye. Unlike Sidney Smith, he has avoided subjects of party contention and passing interest, and grappled with the great questions, the immortal names, which will for ever attract the interest and command the attention of man. Milton, Bacon, Machiavelli, first awakened his discriminating and critical taste; Clive, Warren Hastings, Frederick the Great, called forth his dramatic and historic powers. He has treated of the Reformation and the Catholic reaction in his review of Ranke ; of the splendid despotism of the Popedom in that of Hildebrand ; of the French Revolution in that of Barère. There is no danger of his essays being forgotten, like many of those of Addison ; nor of pompous uniformity of style being complained of, as in most of those of Johnson. His learning is prodigious; and perhaps the chief defects of his composition arise from the exuberant riches of the stores from which they are drawn. When warmed in his subject he is thoroughly in earnest, and his language, in consequence, goes direct to the heart. In many of his writings and especially the first volume of his history, and his essay on the Reformation—there are reflections equally just and original, which never were surpassed in the philosophy of history. That he is imbued with the soul of poetry need be told to none who have read his Battle of the Lake Regillus ; that he is a great biographer will be disputed by none who are acquainted with the splendid biographies of Clive and Hastings, by much the finest productions of the kind in the English language.
Macaulay's style, like other original things, has already produced a school of imitators. Its influence may distinctly be traced, both in the periodical and daily literature of the day. Its great characteristic is the shortness of the sentences, which often equals that of Tacitus himself, and the rapidity with which new and distinct ideas or facts succeed each other in his richly-stored pages. He is the Pope of English prose : he often gives two sentiments or facts in a single line. No preceding writer in prose, in any modern language with which we are acquainted, has carried this art of abbreviation, or rather cramming of ideas, to such a length ; and to its felicitous use much of the celebrity which he has acquired is to be ascribed. There is no doubt that it is a most powerful engine for the stirring of the mind, and when not repeated too often, or carried too far, has a surprising effect. Its
introduction forms an era in our historical composition. It reminds us of Sallust and Tacitus. To illustrate our meaning, and at the same time adorn our pages with passages of exquisite, almost redundant beauty, we gladly transcribe two well-known ones, taken from the most perfect of his
Of Lord Clive he says“From Clive's second visit to India dates the political ascendency of the English in that country. His dexterity and resolution realised, in the course of a few months, more than all the gorgeous visions which had floated before the imagination of Dupleix. Such an extent of cultivated territory, such an amonnt of revenue, such a multitude of subjects, was never added to the dominion of Rome by the most successful proconsul. Nor were such wealthy spoils ever borne under arches of triumph, down the Sacred Way, and through the crowded Forum, to the threshold of Tarpeian Jove. The fame of those who subdued Antiochus and Tigranes grows dim, when compared with the splendour of the exploits wbich the young English adventurer achieved, at the head of an army not equal in numbers to one-half of a Roman legion. From Clive's third visit to India dates the purity of the administration of our Eastern empire. He first made dauntless and unsparing war on that gigantic system of oppression, extortion, and corruption, which had previously prevailed in India. In that war he manfully put to hazard bis ease, his fame, and his splendid fortune. The same sense of justice which forbids us to conceal or extenuate the faults of his earlier days, compels us to admit that those faults were nobly repaired. If the reproach of the Company and its servants has been taken away; if in India the yoke of foreign masters, elsewhere the heaviest of all yokes, has been found lighter than that of any native dynasty ; if to that gang of public robbers which formerly spread terror through the whole of Bengal, has succeeded a body of functionaries not more highly distinguished by ability and diligence, than by integrity, disinterestedness, and public spirit; if we now see such men as Munro, Elphinstone, and Metcalfe, after leading victorious armies, after making and deposing kings, return proud of their honourable poverty from a land which once beld to every greedy factor the hope of boundless wealth--the praise is in no small degree due to Clive. His name stands high in the roll of conquerors; but it is found in a better list--in the Jist of those who have done and suffered much in the cause of mankind, To the warrior, history will assign a place in the same rank with Lucullus and Trajan ; nor will she deny to the reformer a share of that veneration with which France cherishes the memory of Turgot, and with which the latest generation of Hindoos will contemplate the statue of Lord William Bentinck." *
The well-known description of Hastings' trial is as follows:
"The place was worthy of such a trial. It was the great hall of William Rufus-the hall which had resounded with acclamations at the inauguration of thirty kings; the hall which had witnessed the just sentence of Bacon, and the just absolution of Somers; the hall where the eloquence of Strafford had for a moment awed and melted a victorious party, inflamed with just resentment; the hall where Charles had confronted the High Court of Justice with the placid courage which has half redeemed his fame. Neither military nor civil pomp was wanting. The avenues were lined with grena
* Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, iij. 205, 206.