The perfect historian is he in whose work the character and spirit of
the age is exhibited in miniature. He relates no fact, he attributes no
expression to his characters, which is not authenticated by sufficient
testimony. But by judicious selection, rejection and arrangement, he
gives to truth those attractions which have been usurped by fiction. In
his narrative a due subordination is observed: some transactions are
prominent; others retire. But the scale on which he represents them is
increased or diminished, not according to the dignity of the persons
concerned in them, but according to the degree in which they elucidate
the condition of society and the nature of man.
—Essay on History
Success is in the blood.
There are men whom Fate can never keep down—they march jauntily forward,
and take by divine right the best of everything that earth affords. But
their success is not attained by the Doctor Samuel Smiles Connecticut
policy. They do not lie in wait, nor scheme, nor fawn, nor seek to adapt
their sails to catch the breeze of popular favor. Still, they are ever
alert and alive to any good that may come their way, and when it comes
they simply appropriate it, and tarrying not, move steadily forward.
Good health! Whenever you go out of doors, draw the chin in, carry the
crown of your head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in
sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every
hand-clasp. Do not fear being misunderstood and never waste a minute
thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your mind what you would
like to do, and then without violence of direction you will move straight
to the goal.
Fear is the rock on which we split, and hate is the shoal on which many a
bark is stranded. When we are fearful, the judgment is as unreliable as
the compass of a ship whose hold is full of iron ore; when we hate, we
have unshipped the rudder; and if we stop to meditate on what the gossips
say, we have allowed a hawser to befoul the screw.
Keep your mind on the great and splendid thing you would like to do; and
then, as the days go gliding by, you will find yourself unconsciously
seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfilment of
your desire, just as the coral-insect takes from the running tide the
elements that it needs. Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful
person you desire to be, and the thought you hold is hourly transforming
you into that particular individual. Thought is supreme, and to think is
often better than to do.
Preserve a right mental attitude—the attitude of courage, frankness and
To think rightly is to create.
Darwin and Spencer have told us that this is the method of Creation. Each
animal has evolved the parts it needed and desired. The horse is fleet
because it wishes to be; the bird flies because it desires to; the duck
has a web-foot because it wants to swim. All things come through desire,
and every sincere prayer is answered. Many people know this, but they do
not believe it thoroughly enough so that it shapes their lives.
We want friends, so we scheme and chase 'cross lots after strong people,
and lie in wait for good folks—or alleged good folks—hoping to attach
ourselves to them. The only way to secure friends is to be one.
And before you are fit for friendship you must be able to do without it.
That is to say, you must have sufficient self-reliance to take care of
yourself, and then out of the surplus of your energy you can do for
others. The man who craves friendship, and yet desires a self-centered
spirit more, will never lack for friends.
If you would have friends, cultivate solitude instead of society. Drink in
the ozone; bathe in the sunshine; and out in the silent night, under the
stars, say to yourself again and yet again, "I am a part of all my eyes
behold!" And the feeling will surely come to you that you are no mere
interloper between earth and sky; but that you are a necessary particle of
the Whole. No harm can come to you that does not come to all, and if you
shall go down, it can only be amid a wreck of worlds.
Thus by laying hold on the forces of the Universe, you are strong with
them. And when you realize this, all else is easy, for in your arteries
course red corpuscles, and in your heart there is the will to do and be.
Carry your chin in, and the crown of your head high. We are gods in the
Thomas B. Macauley was small in stature; but he always carried his chin
well in and the crown of his head high.
It was said of Rubens that throughout his lifetime he kept success tied to
the leg of his easel with a blue ribbon. If ever a writing man had success
tied to the leg of his easy chair, that man was Macaulay. In the
characters and careers of Rubens and Macaulay there is a marked
When Macaulay was twenty-two he was at Cambridge, and the tidings arrived
that a dire financial storm had wrecked the family fortune. The young man
had ever been led to suppose that his father was rich—rich beyond all
danger from loss—and that he himself would never have a concern beyond
amusing himself, and the cultivation of his intellect. And so in practical
affairs his education had been sadly neglected. But when the news of
calamity came, instead of being depressed, he was elated to think that now
he could make himself positively useful.
Responsibility gravitates to the man who can shoulder it. Strong men who
can wisely direct the efforts of others are always needed—they were needed
in Eighteen Hundred Twenty-two, when Tom Macaulay received word of his
father's trouble—they are needed today more than then—men who meet
calamity with a smile and are pleased at sight of obstacles, knowing they
can overcome them. Augustine Birrell has written, "Macaulay always went
his sublime way rejoicing like a strong man to run a race, knowing full
well that he could give anybody five yards in fifty and win easily."
Macaulay took up the burden that his father was not able to bear, mastered
every detail of the business, studied out the weak points, and then
explained to the creditors just what they had better do.
And they did it.
We always trust the man who has courage plus, enthusiasm to spare, and who
shows by his manner that he is master of the situation.
In a few years Macaulay saved from the wreck enough to secure his father,
mother and sisters against want for the rest of their days, and eventually
he paid every creditor in full with interest. Had he run away from the
difficulty, as his father was on the point of doing, the family would have
been turned homeless into the streets.
Moral—Things are never so bad as they seem; and all difficulties sneak
away when you look them squarely in the eye.
At this time the family, consisting of the father, mother, three sisters
and a brother, lived at Fifty Great Ormond Street, not far from the
British Museum. The house is still standing, but I recently discovered
that the occupants know nothing, and care less, about Thomas Macaulay.
Tom was the child of his mother. In temperament, disposition and physique
he was as much unlike his father as two men can well be. Old Zachary
Macaulay was a strong, earnest man who took himself seriously. In latter
years he grew morose, puritanic and was full of dread of the Unseen. He
preached long sermons to his family, cautioned them against frivolity,
forbade music, tabued games, and constantly spoke of the tongue as "the
He, of course, was not aware of it, but he was teaching his children by
"When I meet Macaulay I always imagine I am in Holland," once said Sydney
"Why so!" asked a friend.
"Because he is such a windmill," was the reply.
But then we must remember that Sydney Smith never much liked Macaulay—they
were too near alike. Whenever they met there was usually a wordy duel. "He
is so overflowing with learning that it runs over and he stands in the
slop," said Smith.
Tom talked a great deal, he was fond of music and games, and was never so
pleased as when engaging in some wild frolic with his sisters and any
chance youngster that happened to stray in. His sister, Lady Trevelyan,
has recorded that during those days of gloom which followed her father's
failure, matters were made worse by the stricken man moping at home and
tightening the domestic discipline.
Tom never resented this, but on the instant the father would leave the
house, it was the signal of a wild pandemonium of disorder. Tom would play
he was a tiger, and crawling under the sofa would emit fearful growls that
would cause the children to scream with pretended fright. Next they would
play fire, and pile all the furniture in the center of the room, heaping
books, clothing, rugs on top. Then Tom would "rescue" his mother if she
appeared on the scene, and seizing her in his arms carry her to a place of
safety, and then engage in a pillow-fight if she came back.
This wild frolic was always a delight to the children, and Tom's
homecoming was ever watched with eager anticipation. His visits shot the
gloom through with sunshine, and when he went away even the neighbors'
children were in tears. His health and enthusiasm infected everybody he
In the course of looking after his father's business Macaulay unlearned
most of the previous lessons of his life, and taught himself that to do
for others and sink self was the manly method. But so lightly did he bear
the burden that it is doubtful if he ever considered he was making any
When his father died, Macaulay put entirely out of his mind the question
of a household separate and apart from that of his mother and sisters. He
devoted himself entirely to them; he wanted no other love than theirs.
Unlike so many men of decided talent, the best and most loving side of
Macaulay's nature was made manifest at home. His bubbling wit, brilliant
conversation, and good-cheer were for his own fireside, first; and all
that cutting, critical, scathing flood of invective was for the public
that wore a rhinoceros-hide.
Macaulay's article on Milton, published during his twenty-fifth year, in
the "Edinburgh Review," is generally regarded as a most wonderful
achievement. "Just think!" the critics cry—"the first article printed to
be of a quality that electrified the world!" But we must remember that
this youth had been getting ready to write that article for ten years.
At college Macaulay shirked mathematics and philosophy, spending his time
and attention on things he liked better. The only study in which he
excelled was composition. Even in babyhood his command of language had
been a wonder to the neighborhood in which he lived. Hannah More had for a
time taken him under her immediate charge and prophesied great things of
his literary faculty; and his mother was not slow in seconding the
At Cambridge he already had more than a local reputation as a writer, and
it was this reputation that secured him the commission to write for the
"Review." The terrible Jeffrey was getting old and his regular staff had
pretty nearly worked out their vein. Jeffrey wrote up to London (being
south) to a friend telling him that the "Review" must have new blood, and
imploring him to be on the lookout for some young man who had ideas in his
This friend knew the vigor and incisiveness of Macaulay's style, and as he
read the letter from Jeffrey he exclaimed, "Macaulay!"
It was a great compliment to a mere youth to be asked to contribute to the
"Edinburgh Review." Edinburgh was a literary center, and you could not
throw a stone in Princess Street, any more than you can in Tremont Street,
Boston, without hitting a poet and caroming on two novel-writers and an
Thomas Carlyle, five years older than Macaulay, and who was to live and
write for twenty-five years after Macaulay's passing, had not yet struck
twelve. London, too, like Edinburgh, was full of writing men, standing in
the market-places of Grub Street with no man to hire.
And yet Fate sought out Tom Macaulay, five feet four, who had plenty of
other work on hand; and through that single "Essay on Milton" he sprang at
once into the front rank of British writers—and at the same time there was
thrust into his hands a bonus of fifty pounds for the work.
As a study of a thing that made the reputation of a writer, the "Milton"
is worth a careful reading. It is very sure that in America today there
are a hundred men who could write just as good an article, but whether
these men are Macaulays or not is quite another question. But it is not at
all probable that a writer will ever again leap into place and power on so
small a feat.
Yet the article surely shows all the dash and vigor that mark Macaulay's
literary style. There is personality in it; it reveals the red corpuscle;
and tells without question that there is a man behind the guns. It was
opportune; for literature at that particular time had reached a point
where the sciolist was in full possession, and the dead husks of learning
were being palmed off for the living thoughts of living men.
Periodicity reveals itself in all Nature, and even in the world of thought
there are years of famine and years of plenty. Dry rot gets into letters;
things are ripe for a revolution; the tinder is dry, and along comes some
Martin Luther and applies the torch.
Macaulay simply expressed himself boldly, frankly, and without thought of
favor—writing as he felt.
The article made a great stir—the first edition of the magazine was
quickly exhausted, and Macaulay awoke one morning, like Byron, and found
himself famous. All there was about it, the "Milton" revealed a man, a
strong, vivid-thinking, vigorous man, who, seeing things clearly, wrote
from his heart. Art is born of feeling: it is heart, not head, that
carries conviction home; but if you have both, as Macaulay had, it is no
From the publication of Macaulay's first article the "Review" took on a
new lease of life. Prosperity came that way and for the rest of his life
the "Review" was not long without contributions from his pen; and the
numbers that contained his articles were always in great demand. Writers
who possess a piercing insight into the heart of things, and who have the
courage to express themselves, regardless of the views of others, are well
feared by men in power.
The man who knows, who can think, and who can write, holds a sword of
Damocles over every politician.
Governments are honeycombed with vulnerable spots; and to secure the ready
writer on your side is the part of wisdom.
Macaulay's article on Milton proved that there was a thinker loose, and
that on occasion he could strike. The politicians began to court him, and
we find him writing articles of a very Junius-like quality on contemporary
When he was twenty-six years old we are told he was "called to the Bar,"
which means that he was given permission to practise law—the expression,
"called," being a mild form of fiction that still obtains in England in
legal matters, while in America the word applies only in theology.
The practise of law, however, was not at all to the taste of Macaulay, and
after a few short terms on the circuit he relinquished it entirely.
In the meantime we find he read continually. Indeed, about the only bad
habit this man had was reading. He read to excess—he read everything and
read all the time. He read novels, history, poetry, and dived deeply into
the dead languages, reading Plutarch's Lives twice in a year, and
Euripides, Thucydides, Homer, Cicero, Cæsar—all without special aim or
end. Such a restless appetite for reading is apt to produce mental
dyspepsia, and is not at all to be advised for average people; and the
probabilities are that even in Macaulay's case his time might often have
been better spent in meditation.
In Eighteen Hundred Twenty-seven appeared in the "Review" the "Essay on
Mill." Like all of Macaulay's articles it reveals a wealth of learning and
bristles with information on many themes. It often seems as if Macaulay
took a subject simply to execute a learned war-dance around it. The
article on Mill is a good example of merely touching the central theme and
then going off into by-lanes of economics, history and civil government,
with endless allusions to literature, poetry, art and philosophy. It is
all intensely interesting, closely woven, often gorgeous in its coloring;
and "style" runs like a thread of gold through it all.
Shortly after this article appeared, Lord Lansdowne intimated to the young
writer that he would like the honor of introducing him into public life,
and if agreeable he could arrange for him to stand for Parliament in the
vacant seat of Calne.
Calne was one of those vest-pocket boroughs, owned by a single man, of
which England has so many. The people think they choose their
representative, but they do not, any more than we do in America. The
government by the Boss and for the Boss is no new institution. Macaulay
presented himself and was elected without opposition. And so before his
thirtieth year he found himself on the flood-tide of national politics.
Fifteen years before, if any one had expressed himself as plainly as
Macaulay did on entering Parliament, he would have had a taste of jail,
the hulks, or the pillory. So alert had the Government agents been for
sedition that to stick one's tongue in his cheek at a member of the
Cabinet was considered fully as bad as poaching, both being heinous
offenses before God and man. Persecution was in the air and tyranny
But tyranny is self-limiting. If laws are too severe, there will surely
come a time when they will not be observed, and history shows that the men
who have introduced the guillotine ended their careers in its embrace.
A change had come in England. The Tories were being jostled from their
seats, and the Whigs were just coming into power. Liberalism was abroad in
the land, and surely the time had come when a strong man might speak his
Macaulay was by nature a protester; he was "agin 'em"; and when he chose a
subject for his maiden speech he was not only sincere, but exceeding
politic. He guessed the lay of the land, and knew the direction of the
wind. Heresy was popular.
His address was in favor of an act removing the legal disabilities of
Jews. It was a plea for liberty, and such was the vigor, power and vivid
personality he threw into the address that he astonished the House and
brought in the loungers from the cloakrooms.
It was his only speech during the session. Efforts were made to get him on
his feet again, but he was too wise to lend the battery of his mind to any
commonplace theme. Only a subject such as might stir men's souls could
Wise Thomas Macaulay!
He had made a reputation as a writer by his first article, and after his
maiden speech all London chanted his praises as an orator. He practised
self-restraint and knew better than to dilute his fame by holding argument
with small men on little topics.
His first speech at the next session of Parliament only served to fix his
place as an orator more firmly. The immediate excuse was the "Reform
Bill"; but the subject was liberty, and literature and history were called
upon to furnish fire and supply the fuel for pyrotechnics. After its
delivery the Speaker sent for Macaulay and personally congratulated him on
making the most effective address to which he had listened for twenty-five
years. The House of Commons, ever willing and anxious to appropriate a
genius, being glutted by the dull and commonplace, sought in many ways
from this time forward to do honor to Macaulay.
The elder members grew reminiscent and said the good old times were coming
back, and talked of Burke, Fox, Canning and Lord Plunket.
Jeffrey, feeling a sense of guardianship over Macaulay, having launched
him, as he rightfully claimed, was on hand to hear the speech, and made
haste to embrace his ward, kissing him on both cheeks.
Judging from this distance, there was nothing especially peculiar or
distinctive about Macaulay's oratory, save his intense personality and
vivid earnestness. An educated man, thoroughly alive on any one theme, is
always interesting. And it was Macaulay's policy never to speak in public
on a theme that did not bring out his entire armament, and yet with it all
he was wise enough to cultivate a feeling of restraint and leave the
impression that he had much more in reserve. So it was in his literary
work: he never wrote when tired, nor attempted to express when he was not
thoroughly alive to the subject in hand. He watched his mood. And thus in
all Macaulay's "Essays" we feel the systole and diastole, and the hot,
strong, impatient movement of ruddy life. There is "go" in every sentence.
This is what constitutes his marvelous style—life, life, life!
To very few men, indeed, is it given to be at once a brilliant talker, a
strong writer and an effective orator. Clever talkers are seldom orators,
and the great writers usually ebulliate only in the silence of their
The fame of Macaulay went abroad, and he became the social lion of
London—he was courted, feted, petted—and in drawing-rooms when he
attended, people stood on tiptoe to catch a glimpse of him, and remained
breathless that they might hear him speak. No doubt the fact that he was a
bachelor helped fan the social flame. His sister has recorded that every
morning cards and letters of invitation were piled high on his
With it all, though, the handsome little man preserved his poise, and his
modesty and becoming dignity in public never failed him.
Such was Macaulay's popularity that, after having served two terms for the
borough of Calne, the way was opened for him to stand for Leeds. Indeed,
it is probable that a dozen districts would have been glad to elect him as
After the passing of the "Reform Bill," to which his efforts had been so
valuable, he was appointed one of the Commissioners of the Board of
Control. This Board represented the King in the Government's relations
with the East India Company. Macaulay, being the strongest man on the
Board, was naturally chosen its secretary, just as the best man in a jury
is chosen foreman. Here was a man who was not content to be a mere
figurehead in office, trusting to paid clerks and underlings to secure him
information and do the work—not he. Macaulay set himself the task of
thoroughly acquainting himself with Indian affairs. He read every book of
importance bearing on the subject; and studied the record and history of
every man of consequence who was or had been connected with India. His
intensely practical, businesslike mind sifted every detail, intuitively
separating the relevant from the inconsequential, so that within a few
months older heads were going to him for information, just as in a store
or shop there is always one man who knows where things are, and in times
of doubt he is the man who is sought out. To the many it is so much easier
to ask some one else than to find out for themselves; and it also shifts
the responsibility, and gives one a chance, if necessary, to prove a
One feature of the Reform Bill provided that one of the members of the
Supreme Council of India should be chosen from among persons not connected
in any way with the East India Company.
This membership of the Supreme Council was a most important office, and
carried with it the modest salary of ten thousand pounds a year—fifty
thousand dollars—double what the President of the United States then
Macaulay had had no hand in creating this office, and indeed, at the time
the Reform Bill was being gotten into shape, his interest in Indian
affairs had only been casual. But now he was recognized as the one man for
the new office, and the office sought the man.
Comparatively, Macaulay was a poor man, and the acceptance of the office
for the term of six years would place him for the rest of his life beyond
the reach of want. He could live royally and retire at forty years of age,
with at least thirty thousand pounds to his credit. And yet he hesitated
about accepting the office. His far-reaching eye told him that an exile
for six years from England would place him out of touch with things at
home, and that the greater office to which he aspired would be beyond his
grasp. Besides that, the fact would always be brought up that his reward
for well-doing had been enough, just as we have an unwritten law in
America that there shall be no "third term."
Macaulay saw all this and hesitated.
He advised with Lord Lansdowne, and with his sister Hannah, his nearest
and best friend; and if it had been possible his mother would have been
given the casting vote; but two years before, she had passed out, yet not
until she realized that her son was one of the foremost men in England.
Hannah Macaulay (named in honor of Hannah More) advised the acceptance of
the office, and upon his earnest request agreed to share her brother's
Hannah Macaulay, gracious in every way, was the sister of her brother. Her
mind was fit companion for his, and whenever he had a difficult problem on
hand he would clarify it by explaining it to her; and be it known, you can
never talk well to a dullard.
And so Hannah the loyal resigned her position as governess, and brother
and sister packed up and sailed away in the good ship "Asia" for India.
Among their belongings was a modest library of three thousand volumes, all
of which, a wit has said, were read twice through by Macaulay on the
outward voyage. India was safely reached, and Macaulay set himself with
his accustomed vigor to learning the language and informing himself as to
the actual status of things, in order that he might provide for their
betterment. On account of his grasp on legal matters he was elected Legal
Adviser of the Supreme Council.
Everything went well for a year, and then a terrible calamity overtook
His sister was in love.
This seems a good place to explain that Thomas Babington Macaulay himself
was never in love. He had no time for that—his days were too full of books
and practical business to ever waste any time on soft sentiment.
But now he was confronted by a condition, not a theory: Lord Trevelyan was
in love with his sister, and his sister was in love with Lord Trevelyan.
Macaulay might have discovered the fact for himself and saved the lovers
the embarrassment of making a confession, had he not been so terribly busy
with his books, but Macaulay, like love, was blind—to some things.
He heard the confession, and wept.
Then he gave the pair his blessing—there was nothing else to do.
It was not long after the wedding that he discovered he had found a
brother instead of having lost a sister; and the sister being very happy,
Macaulay was happy, too. He insisted that they move their effects into his
house, and they did so, all living as one happy family. So the years
passed; and when children came Macaulay's joy was complete. His heart went
out to his sister's children as though they were his own. Occasionally the
good mother complained that the Legal Adviser of the Supreme Council undid
her discipline by indulging the youngsters in things that she had
forbidden. To all of which the Legal Adviser would only laugh, and
crawling under the settle would emit many tigerish growls, and the
children would scream with terror and delight, and other children,
brown-legged, wearing no clothes to speak of, would come trooping in, and
together they would manage, after an awful struggle, to capture the tiger,
and with some in front and others behind and two or three on his back,
would carry him away captive.
One of these children, grown to manhood, Sir George Trevelyan, was
destined to write, with the help of his mother, the best life of Macaulay
that has ever been written.
The exile did not prove quite so severe as was anticipated; but when in
Eighteen Hundred Thirty-eight it was necessary for Lord Trevelyan to
return to England, Macaulay, sick at the thought of being left behind,
resigned his office and sailed back with the family.
We are told that officeholders seldom die and never resign. This may be
true in the main; but surely there can not be found another instance in
history of a man throwing up an office with a fifty-thousand-dollar salary
attachment, simply because he could not bear the thought of being
separated from his sister's children.
Soon after his return to England Macaulay was elected to a seat in
Parliament from Edinburgh, a city that he had scarcely so much as visited,
but to whose interest he had been loyal in that, up to this time,
nine-tenths of all he had written had been printed there.
To represent Edinburgh in the House of Commons was no small matter, and we
know that Macaulay was not unmindful of the honor.
His next preferment was his appointment as Secretary of War, and a seat in
During all these busy years he ever had on hand some piece of literary
work. In fact, all of the "Essays" on which his literary fame so largely
rests, were composed on "stolen time" in the lull seized from the official
and social whirl in which he lived.
If you want a piece of work well and thoroughly done, pick a busy man. The
man of leisure postpones and procrastinates, and is ever making
preparations and "getting things in shape"; but the ability to focus on a
thing and do it is the talent of the man seemingly o'erwhelmed with work.
Women in point lace and diamonds, club habitues and "remittance men"—those
with all the time there is—can never be entrusted to carry the message to
Pin your faith to the busy person.
Macaulay's first and only political rebuff came with his defeat the second
time he stood for election in Edinburgh. His conscientious opposition to a
measure in which the Scottish people were especially interested caused the
tide to turn against him.
No doubt, though, the failure of re-election was a good thing for
Macaulay—and for the world. He at once began serious work on his "History
of England"—that project which had been in his head and heart for a score
of years. All of his literary labors so far had been merely ephemeral—at
least he so regarded them. The Essays he regarded only as so many
newspaper articles, not worth the collecting. It was America that first
guessed their true value as literature, and it was not until the American
editions were pouring into England that Macaulay allowed his scattered
work to be collected, corrected and put into authorized book form.
This history was to be the thesis that would admit his name to the Roster
of Fame. But, alas, the history was destined to be only a fragment. It
covers scarce fifteen years, and is like that other splendid fragment, the
work of Henry Thomas Buckle, a preface; Buckle's preface is the greatest
ever penned, with its author dead at forty. The projected work of both of
these men was too great for any one man to accomplish in a single
lifetime. A hundred years of unremitting toil could not have completed
In Eighteen Hundred Forty-nine he was elected Lord Rector of the
University of Glasgow; and at his speech of installation he took occasion
to take formal leave of political life. He would devote the remainder of
his days to literature and abstract thought.
Men are continually "retiring" from business and active life, all unaware
of the grim humor of the proceedings. It was not so very long before
Edinburgh, in an endeavor to undo the slight she had put upon Macaulay,
again elected him to Parliament, without his being near, or raising his
hand either for or against the measure.
And again his voice was heard in the House of Commons.
Macaulay was a modest man, and yet he knew his power.
The Premiership dangled just beyond his reach. Many claim that if he had
not gone to India he would have moved by strong, steady strides straight
to the highest office that England could bestow. And others aver that when
he was created a Peer in Eighteen Hundred Fifty-seven it was a move toward
the Premiership, and that if his health had not failed he would surely
have won the goal. But how futile it is to speculate on what might have
happened had not this or the other occurred!
Yet certainly the daring caution of Macaulay's mind, his dignity and
luring presence, his patience, self-command, good temper, and all those
manifold graces of his heart, would have made him an almost ideal Premier,
one who might rank with Palmerston, Peel, Disraeli or Gladstone.
But the highest office was not for him.
We die by heart-beats; and Macaulay at fifty-nine had lived as much as
most strong men do if they exist a hundred years.
It is easy to show where Lord Macaulay could have been greater. His life
lies open to us as the ether. We complain because he did not read less and
meditate more; we sigh at his lack of religion and mention the fact that
he never loved a woman, seemingly waiving tautology and the fact that men
who do not love are never religious.
We forget that it takes a good many men to make the Ideal Man.
If Macaulay had been different he would have been some one else. He was a
brave, tender-hearted man who lived one day at a time, packing the moments
with good-cheer, good work and an earnest wish to do better tomorrow than
he had done today. That Nature occasionally produces such a man should be
a cause for gratitude in the hearts of all the rest of us little folk who
jig, mince, mouth, amble, run, peek about and criticize our betters.