MACAULAY'S ESSAYS. Macaulay did not originate the essay of literary and historical criticism. But Macaulay's essays so far sur pass all others in brilliancy, style and solidity of matter that his name ranks with those of Bacon and Montaigne, each a master in his own special field. Macaulay's first published articles, writ ten while he was still in residence at Cambridge University, appeared in Knight's Quarterly Magazine in 1823 and 1824, and from that time until his death in 1859 he wrote two score essays for the Edinburgh Review and many articles for the 'Encyclopedia Britannica.' The subjects he wrote upon were many — Dante, Dryden, Mill on Government, Mr. Robert Mont gomery's poems, Moore's Life of Byron, Lord Bacon, Von Ranke, Leigh Hunt, Frederick the Great, Madame d'Arblay, Barere, etc., but by far the greater number deal with poets and men of letters or political personages in English history. Perhaps his most famous essays are those on Lord Clive, Warren Hastings and Wil liam Pitt, but others that deal with men of letters, Addison, for instance, or Samuel John son, are just as brilliant.
Macaulay's essays are set off by all the arts of rhetoric; they are ornamented by all the re sources of omnivorous reading and a marvelous memory; they sparkle with a youthful enthusi asm, and are compact of sound information. In their own class they have no rivals. They are books to be taken on a long sea voyage, to be put on the shelf of a lonely rancliman, to be read and reread by all who have any taste for literature. Pick up the essay on Addison and you are delighted with the tender sympathy of the critic who can set forth a good man's char acter in so generous and beautiful a manner. Read that on Croker's edition of 'Boswell's Johnson,' and you not only derive pleasure from Macaulay's admiration for Johnson, but you alsoget a lively idea of what the editor of a biography should not do. Take up any essay you please and you find knowledge, wit, sympa thy, admiration; you are delighted to find with what extraordinary ease you acquire informa tion, and how your horizon rapidly reaches out as if you were going up in a balloon, how places and things once so dark become enveloped in light as if the sun were rising, how great his tories/ events seem to have been familiar to you from boyhood and how eminent personages, hith erto unknown, leap into your sudden intimacy.
Thus to delight, in form, and exhilarate the reader is a wonderful feat, and for nine men out of 10 Macaulay's essays are wholly satisfac tory. They give a busy man what he wants to get from history and literature; but the 10th man finds himself not wholly satisfied. He
feels oppressed by the arts of rhetoric. These animated pages, paragraphs, sentences that ad vance upon him, rank by rank, marshaled ac cording to the most brilliant rules of tactics and strategy, trouble his spirit. Not a single sen tence, here or there, appears in undress uni form. Such prose affords no room for subtle ties. And the author's dogmatism rings in our ears like a trumpet in a room; this world of ours so full of perplexities, uncertainties, ob scurities, cannot be truly expressed in opinions of absolute definiteness. History, literature, art, are not mathematics; a column of figures adds up the same for all; but William of Orange, James the Second, Archbishop Laud, Alexander Pope, Francis Bacon, must seem different to different people. We need, in liter ature, in history, light and shade, we need twi light and even night; high noon all the time is intolerable. It seems unlikely that all right views on English politics, during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, were embodied in the Whig creed, that all the good in religion is with the Protestants and none with Roman Catholics, that a comparative estimate of national char acters summed up in the phrase *as the Italian is to the Englishman, as the Hindoo is to the Italian, as the Bengal is to other Hindoos;' etc., should not need explanations and qualifica tions. And why should a historical writer, all the time, be giving his personages good or bad marks for conduct, like a village schoolmaster? Such faults certainly exist. Macaulay had the temperament and the manner of an orator. He took, or rather he inherited, a view, he ac cepted it unquestioningly with enthusiasm, even with passion, he expressed that view in as ab solute and as lucid a manner as possible. He had the method of an orator whose oration will he heard but once, and who must be positive in order to convince. This may be a merit in an advocate hut it is a grave fault in a writer; and one would say that with such a fault it would he impossible for a man to be a great writer. But this very fault is proof of Macaulay's ex traordinary talents; with his eloquence, with his immense fund of information, with his obvious honesty and his contagious enthusiasm, he is able to cover up and conceal what in any other writer would be fatal defects.
A man withciut 'doubts, without.metaPhesics• without high imagination, without dreams, OM+ not be one of the world's greatest writers; bat Macaulay was a great English writer and occu pies a place in which he not only has no rival, but no competitor who can be compared with him.
Cam. E. EGGERT.