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locile. At that early age he appears to have been sufficiently master of his stores of information to play with them, and his wit kept pace with his understanding."Several men of sense and learning," she says, "have been struck with the union of gayety and rationality in his conversation." Accuracy of expression seems also to have been as striking a trait of the boy's mind as volubility of utterance. One fault is mentioned, which was probably the result of his absorption in study and composition. Incessantly occupied, mentally, he paid but little attention to his personal appearance, and in dress was something of a sloven. Neither his father nor Hannah More could cure him of this fault, and, up to the time he became a peer, this neglect of externals seems to have been a characteristic trait. A fellow-pupil at the academy to which he was sent, describes him as " rather largely-built than otherwise, but not fond of any of the ordinary physical sports of boys; with a disproportionately large head, slouching or stooping shoulders, and a whitish or pallid complexion; incessantly reading or writing, and often reading or repeating poetry in his walks with his companions.
In October, 1818, the precocious youth entered Trinity College, Cambridge, and during the whole period of his residence at the University his special studies did not divert him from gratifying his thirst for general knowledge, and taste for general literature. In 1819 he gained the chancellor's medal for a poem on the subject of Pompeii, and in 1821 the same prize for one on Evening. For these, and for all compositions of the kind, he afterwards professed to feel the utmost scorn. Two years after his second success as a prize poet, we find him comparing prize poems to prize sheep. "The object," he says, "of the competitor for
the agricultural premium is to produce an animal fit, not to be eaten, but to be weighed. The object of the poetical candidate is to produce, not a good poem, but a poem of the exact degree of frigidity and bombast which may appear to his censors to be correct or sublime. In general prize sheep are good for nothing but to make tallow candles, and prize poems are good for nothing but to light them."
In 1821 he was elected Craven University Scholar; and in 1822 he graduated, and received his degree of B. A.; though he did not compete for honors, owing, it is said, to his dislike for mathematics. Between this period and 1824, when he was elected Fellow of his College, he contributed to Knight's Quarterly Magazine the poems and essays, in which, for the first time, we detect the leading traits of his intellectual character. He possessed the feeling and the faculty of the poet only so far as they are necessary for the interpretative and representative requirements of the historian. He possessed the understanding of the philosopher only so far as it is necessary to throw into relations the vividly conceived facts derived from the records of the annalist. He could not create, but he could reproduce; he could not vitally combine, but he could logically dispose. The fair operation of these mental qualities was disturbed by the peculiarities of his disposition. He had boundless self-confidence, which had been consciously or unconsciously pampered by friends who admired the remarkable brilliancy of his powers. Independence of thought was thus early connected with imperiousness of will and petulant disrespect for other minds. Having no self-distrust, there was nothing to check the positiveness of his judgments. Where more cautious thinkers doubted he dogmatized; their proba
bilities were his certainties; and generally the tone of his judgments seemed to imply his inward belief in the maxim of the egotist - "difference from me is the measure of absurdity." Lord Melbourne afterwards acutely touched upon this foible, when he lazily expressed his wish that he "was as sure of anything as Tom Macaulay was of everything.”
A portion of this positiveness is perhaps to be referred as much to the vividness of his perceptions as to the autocracy of his disposition. All that he read he remembered; and his memory, being indissolubly connected with his feelings and his imagination, vitalized all that it retained. Facts and persons of a past age were not to him hidden in the words which pretended to convey them to the mind, but were perceived as actual events and living beings. He could recollect because he could realize and reproduce. To his mental eye the past was present, and he had the delight of the poet in viewing as things what the historian had recorded in words. All men are more positive in regard to what they have seen than in re gard to what they have heard. If what they have seen awakens in them joy and enthusiasm, their expression is instinctively dogmatic, especially if they come into collision with persons of fainter and colder perceptions, whose understandings are sceptical because their sensibilities are dull. Such, to some degree, at least, was the dogmatism of Macaulay in his statements of facts. In respect to his positiveness in opinion, it may be said that his leading opinions were blended with his moral passions, and an unmistakable love of truth animates even his fiercest, haughtiest and most disdainful treatment of the opinions of opponents. These qualities do not of course wholly explain or ex
tenuate the leading defect of his character; for behind them, it must be admitted, were the triumphant consciousness of personal vigor, the insolent sense of personal superiority, and the relentlessness of temper which so often accompanies strength of intellectual conviction.
Among his contributions to Knight's Quarterly Magazine, the Fragment of a Roman Tale and The Athenian Revels, indicate that at college he had studied the ancient classics so thoroughly as to gain no little insight into Greek and Roman life. Alcibiades, Cæsar, and Catiline, seem as real to him as Canning and Wellington. In the papers on Mitford's History of Greece and The Athenian Orators, the same tendency of mind is displayed in a critical direction. His intellect penetrates to the realities of the society and the individuals he assumes to judge, and the independence, originality, and decision of his thinking, correspond to the clearness of his perceptions. The Conversation between Cowley and Milton is an example of the same sympathetic historic imagination exercised in the discussion of great historical questions, yet angrily debated; and in the poem of The Battle of Naseby, which purports to be written by Obadiah Bind-their-Kings-in-Chains-and-their-Nobles-with-links -of-Iron, Serjeant, in Ireton's Regiment, an attempt is made to reproduce the fiercest and gloomiest religious passions which raged in the breasts of the military fanatics among the Puritans. The critical papers on Dante and Petrarch exhibit the general characteristic of the writer's later literary criticismintellectual sympathy superior to rules, but submissive to laws; praising warmly, but at the same time, udging keenly; and as intolerant of faults as sensitive
to merits. The style, both of the historical and critical articles, is substantially the style of Macaulay's more celebrated essays. There is less energy and freedom of movement, a larger use of ornament for the sake of or nament, and a more obvious rhetorical artifice in the declamatory passages, but in essential elements it is
In the choice of a profession, Macaulay fixed upon the law. He was called to the bar in February, 1826, but we hear of no clients; and it is doubtful if he ever mastered the details of his profession. Sydney Smith, who knew him at this time, said afterwards 66 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." Indeed, politics and literature had, from the first, attractions too strong for him to resist; and before he entered on the practice of his profession, he had, by one article in a review, passed at a bound to a conspicuous place among the
writers of the time.
It might have been expected, from his family connections, that he would be a zealous whig and abolitionist, and his first, contribution to the Edinburgh Review was on the subject of West India Slavery. It was published in the number for January, 1825, and in extent of information, force and acuteness of argument, severity of denunciation and sarcasm, and fervor and brilliancy of style, it ranks high among the many vigorous productions in which Macaulay has recorded his love of freedom and hatred of oppression, and exhibited his power of making tyranny ridiculous as well as odious. It is curious that this paper, so full of the