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But perhaps no one of these interviews delighted Moore so greatly as the one next to be noticed, the account of which will remind the reader of the literary dinner at Foote's, when Dr. Johnson electrified the eulogizing translator of Demosthenes with the blunt declaration, “That speech I wrote in a garret in Exeter Street.” But to Moore's narrative : —
“Went (Lord John and I together in a hackney-coach) to breakfast with Rogers. The party, besides ourselves, Macaulay Luttrell, and Campbell. Macaulay gave us an account of the Monothelite controversy, as revived at present among some of the fanatics of the day. In the course of conversation Campbell quoted a line, ‘Ye diners-out, from whom we guard our spoons,’ and, looking over at me, said, significantly, ‘You ought to know that line.' I pleaded not guilty. Upon which he said, ‘It is a poem that appeared in The Times, which every one attributes to you;' but I again declared that I did not even remember it. Macaulay then broke silence, and said, to our general surprise, ‘That is mine.” On which we all expressed a wish to have it recalled to our memories, and he repeated the whole of it. I then remembered having been much struck with it at the time, and said that there was another squib, still better, on the subject of William Bankes's candidateship for Cambridge, which so amused me when it appeared, and showed such power in that style of composition, that I wrote up to Barnes about it, and advised him by all means to secure that hand as an ally. “That was mine also,” said Macaulay; thus discovering to us a new power, in addition to that varied store of talent which we had already known him to possess. He is certainly one of the most remarkable men of the day.”—June 26, 1831: Memoirs, &c., vi. 213, 214.
We have ourselves listened with great interest to Mr. Washington Irving's graphic description of the historical arguments (not “wit-combats”) between Hallam and Macaulay. Mr. Irving assured us that Macaulay could quote with as much facility from the volume and page of the authorities which he referred to as if they were immediately under his eye.
Among the many honors conferred upon our author, not the least was his election, together with Mr. Prescott, November 30, 1852, to membership of the Royal Irish Academy. These gentlemen were elected to fill the vacancies in the department of polite scholarship (which numbers only fifteen) caused by the death of Moore and Wordsworth.
“Macaulay,” observed the secretary on that occasion, “the historian, the critic, the poet, the philosopher, — however individuals may find fault with his history, dissent from his criticism, censure his poems, or dispute his philosophy, - must still be regarded as one of the foremost literary men in the world.”
The late Sydney Smith also bears testimony to Macaulay's wide range of knowledge and conversational fluency,
and — far higher commendation — to his patriotism and political honesty.
“I always prophesied his greatness, from the first moment I saw him, then a very young and unknown man on the Northern circuit. There are no limits to his knowledge, on small subjects as well as great: he is like a book in breeches.
“Yes; I agree he is certainly more agreeable since his return from India. His enemies might have said before (though I never did so) that he talked rather too much; but now he has occasional flashes of silence that make his conversation perfectly delightful. But what is far better and more important than all this is, that I believe Macaulay to be incorruptible. You might lay ribbons, stars, garters, wealth, title, before him in vain. He has an honest, genuine love of his country; and the world could not bribe him to neglect her interests.”
Such was the account prepared in 1857, of the literary and political career of one of the most illustrious Englishmen of modern times. Compiled by an industrious use of the materials indicated, and without any assistance from its sub ject, it was gratifying to the author—and it is but proper that, as a certificate of accuracy, the fact should be known to the reader — that Lord Macaulay to whom (without the agency of the biographer) the sketch was submitted, indicated no errors; and, let it be added in justice to the departed, he complained of no criticisms. “Every body,” he remarked to us in a letter written about a year before his death, – “Every body has a right to blame me for what I have written; nor shall I ever complain of the 1reedom with which that right is exercised.” It was in accordance with this spirit, that notwithstanding the very decided—not hostile, and, we trust, not captious — manner in which the present writer had in several instances in his Dictionary of Authors ventured to oppose some of the critical canons of the great Essayist, his lordship took a warm interest in the success of the work just indicated, and expressed that interest in terms to which a bare reference, honorable as it is to his heart, will not, it is hoped, be thought unbecoming in our pen. To have submitted to his eye the completed results of many years of anxious and conscientious toil; — to have “bound up the sheaves” ere the Lord of the harvest had called to his rest him who had so well borne “the burden and heat of the day;”—perchance to have been gladdened by the continued approval of the elder and the better workman ; — this would have been reward, indeed —but it was not “thus written l’” In the last days of 1859, -a year “much to be remembered ” for its illustrious dead, - the sad intelligence that MACAULAY was no more, bowed the hearts of thousands in every part of the world where English letters had carried the name of their greatest living master! The profound impression produced by this melancholy event will be best exhibited by a selection from the many notices called forth by the occasion: nor can we do a better service to the memory of the dead or the respect of the living than by the presentation proposed. w His lordship had been confined to his house by an attack of disease of the heart (from which he suffered extremely in 1852) for about ten days before Christmas, 1859, -on which day he had sufficiently recovered to preside at a family dinner-party at his own table. Whilst his friends were look. ing hopefully for his speedy restoration to health and usefulness, he suddenly died, whilst. sleeping in his arm-chair in g
his library. But the particulars we shall presently cite in the words of our countryman, Edward Everett, whose graphic portraiture of his friend it would be injustice to our readers to omit.
NOTICES OF THE DEATH AND FUNERAL, AND LITERARY AND PERSONAL CHARACTER OF LORD MACAULAY.
Under the date of the 31st of December, 1860, the “Lonlon Times,” in one of those critical and biographical articles for which it is peculiarly distinguished, remarks: —
“No death which we could chronicle will be more deeply or more widely lamented than that of Lord Macaulay. His loss is not simply that of a great man. It is the loss of a great man who accumulated immense stores of information that perish with him. As on the funeral pile of some Oriental potentate the wealth of a province is heaped up to be burned, we see passing with the historian into the darkness of the grave not only a majestic mind which sooner or later must have gone from among us, but also the vast acquisitions of this mind, which we fancy might have remained to us for ever. Macaulay's wealth of information was almost incredible, and in all his writings, in his speeches, in his conversations, he poured it forth so lavishly, and yet so carefully, that reader and hearer scarcely knew which to admire most—the extent of his knowledge, or the felicity with which he brought it to bear upon the matter in hand. He had a more intimate acquaintance with English history than any man living, or perhaps any man who ever lived. His acquaintance with it was not a barren knowledge, but had fructified into political wisdom; and no pen could surpass his in the description of what he knew, and thought and felt. The death of such a man is more than a common loss —is more than the loss of a man equally great in other departments of literature.
“Macaulay is cut off in his 60th year, and in the midst of his work. Who is to finish what he has begun ?' Who is to make good wherein he has failed ? The deep regret for such a loss will be universally felt wherever the English language is spoken, will be mingled with surprise at its suddenness. Only on Monday last Lord Macaulay had entertained his family at a Christmas party. It is true that for some years he had suffered from an affection of the heart, and three weeks ago he had a return of threatening symptoms. But he appeared to rally again ; the symptoms, although serious, were not alarming; and at the Christmas party on Monday last he was only so far unlike himself as to be rather silent. If Sydney Smith had been there, he would not have had to complain, as he once did, that he longed for some “brilliant flashes of silence;’ and yet, in spite of Lord Macaulay's quietness, his friends in parting with him that night little thought that in less than eight-and-forty hours he would be no more for this world. On Wednesday evening, about eight o'clock, he died in a fainting fit, without the least pain. “In 1830, Mr. Macaulay had made such a reputation for himself that he became M. P. for the borough of Calne—a seat then, as now, in the nomination of Lord Lansdowne. We have therefore to account for those eight years between 1822, when he took his Bachelor's degree, and 1830, when he entered the House of Commons, and to show how he fought his way upward. For the first four of these years a good deal of his time was spent between London and Cambridge, where he had his Fellowship. He took his Master's degree in 1825, and he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn, in 1826. But far more important to his future prospects was the fact that in this period he began to write. He wrote poetry, he wrote essays, he wrote imaginary conversations, he wrote critiques, –he wrote in every form. These appeared as contributions to ‘Knight's Quarterly Magazine, of which it will readily be understood they formed the principal attraction. It was in these days he produced his ballads of the Spanish Armada, the • Battle of the League, and Ivry; and we believe that some of his other contributions have been republished in America, although certainly not all. Macaulay was chary of publishing his periodical writings; and it is only by digging into the British Museum that we can find out what he was in the beginning. One chance, indeed, he has given us of ascertaining what he was when fresh from College. He had earned such a reputation by the contributions of which we have spoken, that he was engaged to write an article on Milton for the “Edinburgh Review.’ This appeared in August, 1825, and Jeffrey's opinion of it was so high that he immediately secured the services of the young Essayist for future numbers. It is scarcely necessary to say that this famous paper on Milton was afterwards republished by Macaulay in his collected essays, and we have all, therefore, an opportunity of taking his measure as a