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are not many such brilliant and strik- often mars their effect. We see it ing passages as those we have quoted. not only in delineating the immortal The subject, of course, would not ad- deeds of heroes, or the virtues of mit of, the mind of the reader would princesses, but in portraying the hasink under, the frequent repetition of bits of serving-women or the frailties such powerful emotion. But the style of maids of honour. With all its is generally the same. It almost al- elevated and poetical qualities, the ways indicates a crowd of separate mind of Macaulay occasionally gives ideas, facts, or assertions, in such close token of its descent from our common juxtaposition that they literally seem ancestress, Eve, in an evident fondwedged together. Such is the extent ness for gossip. It would perhaps be of the magazine of reading and infor- well for him to remember that the mation from which they are drawn, scandal of our great great-grandmothat they come tumbling out, often thers is not generally interesting, or without much order or arrangement, permanently edifying; and that he is and generally so close together that it not to measure the gratification it will is difficult for a person not previously give to the world in general, by the aviacquainted with the subject to tell dity with which it is devoured among which are of importance and which the titled descendants of the fair sinare immaterial.
ners in the Whig coteries. There is This tendency, when as confirmed often a want of breadth and keeping in and general as it has now become, his pictures. To resume our pictorial we consider by far the most serious metaphor, Macaulay's pages often fault in Mr Macaulay's style ; and remind us of the paintings of Bassano, it is not less conspicuous in his in which warriors and pilgrims, horses general history than in his detached and mules, dromedaries and camels, biographies. Indeed, its continu- sheep and lambs, Arabs and Ethioance in the former species of com- pians, shining armour and glistening position is mainly owing to the pans, spears and pruning-hooks, scibrilliant success with which it has mitars and shepherds' crooks, baskets, been attended in the latter. In his- tents, and precious stuffs, are crammed torical essays it is not a blemish, it is together without mercy, and with an rather a beauty; because, in such equal light thrown on the most inminiature portraits or cabinet pieces, significant as the most important parts minuteness of finishing and crowding of the piece. of incidents in a small space are When he is engaged in a subject, among the principal requisites we de- however, in which minute painting is sire, the chief charm we admire. But not misplaced, and the condensation the style of painting which we justly of striking images is a principal charm, admire in Albano and Vanderwert, Mr Macaulay's pictorial eye and poetiwould be misplaced in the ceiling of cal powers appear in their full lustre, the Sistine Chapel, or even the ex- We observe with pleasure that he has tended canvass of the Transfiguration. not forgotten the example and preWe do not object to such elaborate cept of Herodotus, who considered finishing, such brevity of sentences, geography as a principal part of hissuch crowding of facts and ideas, in tory; and that, in the description of the delineation of the striking inci- countries, he has put forth the whole dents or principal characters of the vigour of his mind with equal correctwork; what we object to is its con- ness of drawing and brilliancy of cotinuance on ordinary occasions, in the louring. As a specimen, we subjoin drawing of inconsiderable characters, the admirable picture of the plain of and in what should be the simple Bengal, in the life of Clive :thread of the story. Look how easy Hume is in his ordinary narrative
“Of the provinces which had been how unambitious Livy, in the greater subject to the house of Tamerlane, the part of his history. We desiderate wealthiest was Bengal. No part of India such periods of relaxation and repose for agriculture and for commerce. The
possessed such natural advantages, both in Macaulay. We there always dis- Ganges, rushing
through a hundred chancover learning, genius, power; but nels to the sea, has formed a vast plain the prodigal display of these powers of rich mould, which, even under the tro
pical sky, rivals the verdure of an English as much as every countenance. In April. The rice-fields yield an increase his previous writings, Mr Macaulay such as is elsewhere unknown. Spices, had enjoyed few opportunities of exsugar, vegetable oils, are produced with hibiting his strength in this important marvellous exuberance. The rivers afford particular; though it might have been an inexhaustible supply of fish. The anticipated, from the brilliancy of his desolate islands along the sea-coast, overgrown by noxious vegetation, and swarm
imagination, and the powerful pictures ing with deer and tigers, supply the cul- in bis Lays of Rome, that he would not tivated districts with abundance of salt: be inferior in this respect to what he The great stream which fertilises the soil had proved himself to be in other is, at the same time, the chief highway of parts of history. But the matter has Eastern commerce. On its banks, and on now been put to the test; and it gives those of its tributary waters, are the is the highest satisfaction to perceive, wealthiest marts, the most splendid capi- from the manner in which he has tals, and the most sacred shrines of India. treated a comparatively trifling enThe tyranny of man lad for ages struggled in vain against the overflowing to portray the splendid victories of
gagement, that he is fully qualified bounty of nature. In spite of the Mussulman despot, and of the Mahratta free- Marlborongh, the bold intrepidity of booter, Bengal was known through the Hawke, and the gallant daring of East as the garden of Eden, as the rich Peterborough. It would be difficult kingdom. Its population multiplied to find in history a more spirited and exceedingly. Distant provinces were graphic description than he has given nourished from the overflowing of its in his great work of the battle of granaries; and the noble ladies of Lon- Sedgemoor, with the scene of which don and Paris were clothed in the deli- he seems, from early acquaintance, to cate produce of its looms. The race by
be peculiarly familiar:-whom this rich tract was peopled, enervated by a soft climate, and accustomed “ Monmouth was startled at finding to peaceful arocations, bore the same re
that a broad and profound trench lay lation to other Asiatics which the Asiatics
between him and the camp he had hoped generally bear to the bold and energetic to surprise. The insurgents halted on the children of Europe. The Castilians have
edge of the hollow, and fired. Part of a proverb, that in Valencia the earth is
the royal infantry, on the opposite bank, water, and the men women; and the de
returned the fire. During three quarters scription is at least equally applicable to the vast plain of the lower Ganges. incessant.
of an hour the roar of musketry was
The Somersetshire peasants Whatever the Bengalee does he does
behaved as if they had been veteran languidly. His favourite pursuits are
soldiers, save only that they levelled their sedentary. He shrinks from bold exer
pieces too high. But now the other dition; and though voluble in dispute, and
visions of the royal army were in motion. singularly pertinacious in the war of The Life Guards, and Blues, came prickchicane, he seldom engages in a personal
ing up from Weston Zoyland, and scatconflict, and scarcely ever enlists as a
tered, in an instant, some of Grey's horse, soldier. We doubt whether there be a hundred Bengalees in the whole army of tives spread a panic among the fugitives
who had attempted to rally. The fugithe East India Company. There never, in the rear, who had charge of the amperhaps, existed a people so thoroughly
munition. The waggoners drove off at fitted by nature and by habit for a foreign full speed, and never stopped till they yoke."*
were some miles from the field of battle. The talent of military description, Monmouth had hitherto done his part and the picture of battle, is one of a
like a stout and able warrior. He had very peculiar kind, wbich is often been seen on foot, pike in hand, encourwbolly awanting in historians of a
aging his infantry by voice and example. very high character in other respects.
But he was too well acquainted with It is a common observation, that ali military affairs not to know that all was battles in history are like each other, which surprise and darkness had given
His men had lost the advantage a sure proof that their authors did not them. They were deserted by the horse understand the subject; for every and by the ammunition waggons. The battle, fought from the beginning of king's forces were now united, and in time, in reality differs from another good order. Feversham had been
* Critical and Historical Essays, iii. 141, 142.
awakened by the firing, had adjusted his we could wish into the merits of the cravat, had looked himself well in the great work on which he has staked glass, and had come to see what his men his reputation with future times. It were doing. What was of much more
was looked forward to with peculiar, consequence, Churchill (Marlborough ) had rapidly made an entirely new dispo, both from the known celebrity and
and we may say unexampled interest, sition of the royal infantry. The day had
talents of the author-not less as a begun to break. The event of a conflict on an open plain by broad sunlight could parliamentary orator than a practised not be doubtful. Yet Monmouth should critic-and the importance of the blank have felt that it was not for him to fly, which he was expected to fill up in Engwhile thousands, whom affection for him lish literature. He has contracted an had hurried to destruction, were still engagement with the public, to give the fighting manfully in his cause. But vain History of England during the last hopes, and the intense love of life, pre- century ; to fill up the void from the vailed. He saw that, if he tarried, the English to the French Revolution. royal cavalry would soon be in his rear: He came after Hume, whose simple he mounted, and rode off from the field.
and undying narrative will be coeval Yet his foot, though deserted, made a gallant stand. The Life Guards attacked
with the long and eventful thread them on the right, the Blues on the left; taken the bistory of the glorious age
of English story. He has underbut these Somerset clowns, with their scythes and the but-ends of their muskets,
of Queen Anne, and the era of the faced the royal horse like old soldiers.
first Georges of the victories of Oglethorpe made a vigorous attempt to Marlborough, and the disasters of break them, and was manfully repulsed. North-of the energy of Chatham, Sarsfield, á brave Irish officer, whose and the brilliancy of Bolingbroke; he name afterwards obtained a melancholy has to recount equally the chivalcelebrity, charged on the other flank.
rous episode of Charles Edward and His men were beaten back : he himself the heroic death of Wolfe—the inwas struck to the ground, and lay, for a time, as one dead. But the struggle of and the matchless triumphs of Clive.
glorious capitulation of Cornwallis, the hardy rustics could not last; their That the two first volumes of his work powder and ball were spent. Cries were heard of, “ Ammunition! for God's sake, have not disappointed the public exammunition !” But no ammunition was
pectation is proved by the fact, that, at hand. And now the king's artillery before two months had elapsed from
Even when the guns had ar- publication, they had already reached rived, there was such a want of gunners,
a third edition. that a sergeant of Dumbarton's regiment We shall not, in treating of the had to take upon himself the manage- merits of this very remarkable proment of several pieces. The cannon, duction, adopt the not uncommon prachowever, though ill served, brought the tice of 'reviewers on such occasions. engagement to a speedy close. The pikes We shall not pretend to be better inof the rebel battalions began to shake formed on the details of the subject the ranks broke. The king's cavalry than the author. We shall not set up charged again, and bore down everything the
reading of a few weeks or months before them. The king's infantry came pouring across the ditch. Even in that against the study of half a lifetime. extremity, the Mendip miners stood We shall not imitate certain critics bravely to their arms, and sold their lives who look at the bottom of the pages dearly. But the rout was in a few for the authorities of the author, and, minutes complete; three hundred of the having got the clue to the requisite soldiers had been killed or wounded. information, proceed to examine with of the rebels, more than a thousand lay the utmost minuteness every particudead on the moor."*
lar of his narrative, and make in con
sequence a vast display of knowledge We have dwelt so long on the gene- wholly derived from the reading which ral characteristics and peculiar excel- he has suggested. We shall not be so lencies of Mr Macaulay's compositions, deluded as to suppose we have made that we have hardly left ourselves a great discovery in biography, because sufficient space to enter so fully as we have ascertained that some Lady
* History, i. 610, 611.
Caroline of the last generation was middle ages, but the reverse among born on the 7th October 1674, instead enlightened nations of modern times. of the 8th February 1675, as the his. It is refreshing to see opinions of this torian, with shameful negligence, has obviously just and important kind adattirmed ; nor shall we take credit to vanced, and distinctions drawn, by a ourselves for a journey down to Hamp- writer of the high celebrity and vast shire to consult the parish register on knowledge of Mr Macaulay. It is the subject. As little shall we in future still more important when we have accuse Macaulay of inaccuracy in de- only just emerged from an age in scribing battles, because on referring, which the admission of the Roman without mentioning it, to the military Catholics into parliament was authorities he has quoted, and the page strenuously recommended, as the he has referred to, we have discovered greatest boon which could possibly be that at some battle, as Malplaquet, conferred on society-and are entering Lottum's men stood on the right of the on another, in which its ceremonies Prince of Orange, when he says they and excitements have become the restood on the left; or that Marlborough fuge of so many even in this country, dined on a certain day at one o'clock, at least of the softer sex, and in the when in point of fact he did not sit highest ranks, with whom the usual down, as is proved by incontestable attractions of the world have begun authority, till half-past two. We shall to fail or become insipid — to see the leave such minute and Lilliputian evident tendency of the Romish faith criticisms to the minute and Lillipu- characterised in a manner equally tian minds by whom alone they are removed from the bigoted prejudices of ever made. Mr Macaulay can afford the Puritans, and the blind passion of to smile at all reviewers who affect to modern Catholic proselytism, by an possess more than his own gigantic author bred up amid the din of Roman stores of information.
Catholic Emancipation, and a distinIn the first place, we must bestow guished contributor to the Edinburgh the highest praise on the general sketch Review. of English history which he has given We wish we could bestow equal down to the period of Charles. Such praise on the justice of the views, and a precis forms the most appropriate impartiality of the delineation of chaintroduction to his work, and it is done racter, in the critical period of the Great with a penetration and justice which Rebellion, which Mr Macaulay treats leaves nothing to be desired. Several more at length ; and lest he should of his remarks are equally original and fear that our praise will be valueless, profound, and applicable-not only to as being that of a panegyric, we shall a right understanding of the thread of be proud to give him fierce battle on former events, but to the social ques- that point. We thank God we are tions with which the nation is engaged not only old Tories, but, as the at the present moment. We allude in Americans said of a contemporary particular to the observations that the historian, the “ oldest of Tories;” and spread of the Reformation has been we are weak enough to be contirmed everywhere commensurate with that in our opinions by the evident fact that of the Teutonic race, and that it has they are those of a small minority of never been able to take root among the present age. It is not likely, those of Celtic descent; that, in modern therefore, that we should not find times, the spread of intelligence and the an opportunity to break a lance vigour of the human mind, has been with our author in regard to Charles coextensive with the establishment of I. and the Great Rebellion. We must the Reformed opinions, while despot- admit, however, that Mr Macaulay ism in governments, and slumber in is much more impartial in his estitheir subjects, has characterised, with mate of that event, than he was certain brilliant exceptions of infidel in some of his previous essays ; that passion, those in which the ancient he gives with anxious fairness the faith is still prevalent; and that the arguments on the opposite side of Romish belief and observances were the the question ; and that he no longer greatest blessing to humanity, during represents the royal victim as now a the violence and barbarism of the favourite only with women—and that because his countenance is pacific and independence. Even Hume has rehandsome on the canvass of Vandyke, presented the conduct and motives of and lie took his son often on his knee, the leaders of the Long Parliament in and kissed him.
too favourable a light-and it is no Mr Macaulay represents the Great wonder he did so, for it is only since Rebellion as a glorious and salutary his time that the selfish passions have struggle for the liberties of England; been brought into play on the politi-a struggle to the success of which, cal theatre—which at once explains against the tyranny of the Stuarts, the the difficulties with which Charles had subsequent greatness of England is to struggle, and put in a just light his mainly to be ascribed. The trialandexe- tragic fate. cution of Charles I. he describes as an Mr Hume represents the Long event melancholy, and to be deplored; Parliament, in the commencement of but unavoidable and necessary, in con- the contest with the king, as influsequence of the perfidy and deceit of enced by a generous desire to secure a “man whose whole life had been a and extend the liberties of their counseries of attacks on the liberties of try, and as making use of the constiEngland." He does full justice to the tutional privilege of giving or withcourage and dignity with which he met holding supplies for that important his fate, but holds that he was de- object. If this was really their object, servedly destroyed, though in a most we should at once admit they acted violent and illegal manner, in conse- the part of true patriots, and are ensequence of his flatteries and machi. titled to the lasting gratitude of their nations. * " There never," says he, country and the world. But, admitting “ was a politician to whom so many this was what they professed, that this frauds and falsehoods were brought was their stalking-horse, in what rehome by undeniable evidence." We spect did their conduct correspond with take a directly opposite view of the such patriotic declarations? Did they question. We consider the resistance use either their legitimate or usurped of the Long Parliament to Charles power for the purpose of extending as a series of selfish and unprincipled and confirming the liberties of their acts of treason against a lawful sove- country, or even diminishing the reign ; not less fatal to the liberties weight of the public burdens which of the country at the time, than they pressed most severely on the people ? were calculated in the end to have so far from doing so, they multiplied proved to its independence, and which these burdens fiftyfold ; they levied would long ere this have worked out them, not by the authority of parliaits ruiu, if another event had not, in a ment, but by the terrors of military way which its author did not intend, execution; and while they refused to worked out a cure for the disease. the entreaties of the king the pittance We consider the civil war as com- of a few hundred thousand pounds, to menced from blind selfishness, “igno- put the coasts in a state of defence, rant impatience of taxation," and and protect the commerce of his subconsummated under the combined in- jects, they levied of their own authofluence of hypocritical zeal and guilty rity, and without parliamentary sancambition. We regard the death of tion, no less than eighty-four millions Charles as an atrocious and abomin- sterling, between 1640 and 1659, in able murder, vindicated by no reasons the form of military contributionsof expedience, authorised by no prin- levied for no other purpose but to ciple of justice, which has lowered for deluge the kingdom with blood, deever England to the level of the ad- stroy its industry, and subject its joining nations in the scale of crime; liberties to the ruin of military opand which, had it not been vindi- pression. True, Charles I. dissolved cated by subsequent loyalty and many parliaments, was often hasty chivalrous feeling, in the better part of and intemperate in the mode of doing the people, would long since have ex- s0; for eleven years reigned without tinguished aliko its liberties and its a House of Commons, and brought on
Vol.i. p. 127, 128.