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distinct idea of what the work contained. It
may be all very well to give us thrilling accounts of certain personages who figured greatly, such as Mirabeau, Danton, &c. But what we want is a distinct and intelligible account of the whole revolution. What is conceived to be a wonderfully, wise extract from the work in question is after the flight of Louis XVI. from Paris: “Stars fade out and galaxies ; street lamps of the city of God.” What do we understand by this collocation of words P We may infer the meaning, but is the language at all appropriate! Is it not quite possible to narrate the fact in a clearer manner? Let the whole paragraph from which that sentence is taken be read, until we ascertain how we can relish " the slumbering Wood of Bondy, where Long-haired Childeric Donothing was struck through with iron; not unreasonably in a world like ours. These peaked stone towers are Raincy-towers of wicked D’Orleans.” Even the contents of the work go beyond what we would recommend, for we are grated with such wonderful chapters as these,-“ Astræa Redux,”
Windbags," “ Contrat Social," " Inertia," &c. How different, on the other hand, does Macaulay write! and let us take for a specimen the commencement of his celebrated “ History of England," in which we will find reasonable thought and language.
"I purpose to write the History of England from the accession of King James the second down to a time which is within the memory of men still living. I shall recount the errors which in a few months alienated a loyal gentry and priesthood from the House of Stuart. I shall trace the course of that revolution which terminated the long struggle between our Sovereigns and their Parliaments, and bound up together the rights of the people and the title of the reigning dynasty. I shall relate how the new settlement was, during many troubled years, successfully defended against foreign and domestic enemies; how, under that settlement, the authority of law and the security of property were found to be compatible with a liberty of discussion and of individual action never before known; how, from the auspicious union of order and freedom, sprang a prosperity of which the annals of human affairs had furnished no example ; how our country, from a state of ignominious vassalage, rapidly rose to the place of umpire among European powers; how her opulence and her martial glory grew together; how, by wise and resolute good faith, was gradually established a public credit fruitful of marvels, which to the statesman of any former age would have seemed incredible; how a gigantic commerce gave birth to a maritime power, compared with which every other maritime power, ancient or modern, sinks into insignificance,” &c.
Carlyle is set up as a man who has enunciated a principle, and that is telling the truth ; but we nowhere_find that Maciulay ever encouraged what was false or dishonest. In whatever way Carlyle has enunciated the principle of telling what is genuine, we believe that the enunciation of that principle is held by every honest and decent man in the kingdom as well as Carlyle. Carlyle lives in obscurity, and can therefore, without any timidity, give any ideas he may please to the public, without the public ever knowing if he would adhere to these ideas were he tested as to his belief.
What we mean is this,-that Carlyle was never in a position from which we are able to judge if he was honest to his convictions or not. He has not been publicly and practically tested. We do not attach much importance to those who create a buzz about truth. To write about it is very easy and commendable; but to realize and act it is a rather difficult task. We have, however, some acquaintance with Macaulay's estimate of the value of truth, or what he conceived to be such. His conscience told him that he should support the Roman Catholic College at Maynooth; and, as a matter of course, he obeyed the dictates of his conscience. Because he would not act against his principle of right in this question, he was driven by sectarian and sanctimonious Edinburgh from his seat in Parliament. In concluding a speech once on the subject, he said,
“To every bill which shall seem to me likely to promote the real union of Great Britain and Ireland I will give my support, regardless of obloquy, regardless of the risk which I may run of losing my seat in Parliament. For such obloquy I have learned to consider as true glory; and as to my seat, I am determined that it shall never be held by an ignominious tenure ; and I am sure that it can never be lost in a more honourable cause."
Was not that manly, outspoken conduct? Was it not a stand for individual truth? No sooner had Edinburgh degraded the high-souled champion than she was struck with remorse for her conduct. She felt grief; but she honoured herself once more by electing him without solicitation, without expenses, without trouble, to be her favoured and honoured representative. Whatever may be said about his polity with regard to the Maynooth question, it must be honoured for sincerity and conscientiousness. He believed that the Church of Rome had rights-that she was misrepresented. The natural sympathies that subsist between man and man are stronger than every religion and creed in the universe. Such being our convictions on Macaulay with regard to the Catholic Church, we certainly make no apology for following in the same train.
We have not a solitary instance in Carlyle's life to show that he ever clung so tenaciously to truth; and if truth be one of the elements that form a great writer, we think that Macaulay is greater than Carlyle. The former had to stand or fall from being the parliamentary representative of the “ Modern Athens" for the sake of bis beliefs, and he nobly chose the latter alternative.
We hear much talk now-a-days regarding hero-worship; and when an author condescends to portray the character of a public man, he generally selects a hero-the beau idéal of his own mind. If the hero chosen is or has been a virtuous man, one who contributed largely to the prosperity of his countrymen, who has avoided all unnecessary and aggressive acts, having the least tendency towards being oppressive in his character, then we admit that such a hero is worthy of admiration and deserving of praise, Bat a ho is Carlyle's beau idéal? No less than the selfish and cruel Frederick the Great, whose conduct and reputation have been well summed up by the negative opener. Macaulay's hero was the stern
yet loving, the daring yet intrepid man, the philosophic, wise, and prudent king, William of Orange. Even the selection of a noble hero gives Macaulay the pre-eminence for choosing so virtuous and exemplary a man as his beau idéal, for his beau idéal he undoubtedly was.
All the considerations that we have adduced will, in our opinion, show, at least, that Macaulay is the greater writer-that he has the elements which compose good writing on his side. We may state that our space has prevented us from giving more copious extracts to establish our view of the question, as extracts are the best means to explicate the matter. We will just make one quotation yet, and that the concluding paragraph of his address to the Philosophical Institution of Edinburgh :-*
“I have been requested to invite you to fill your glasses to the 'Literature of Britain ;' to that literature, the brightest, the purest, the most durable of all the glories of our country; to that literature so rich in precious truth and precious fiction; to that literature which boasts of the prince of all poets and of the prince of all philosophers; to that literature which has exercised an influence wider than that of our commerce and mightier than that of our arms; to that literature which has taught France the principles of liberty, and has furnished Germany with models of art; to that literature which forms a tie closer than the tie of consanguinity between us and the commonwealths of the valley of the Mississippi ; to that literature before the light of which impious and cruel superstitions are fast taking flight on the banks of the Ganges; to that literature which will, in future ages, instruct and delight the unborn millions who will have turned the Australasian and Caffrarian deserts into cities and gardens. To the literature of Britain, then! And wherever British literature spreads, may it be attended by British virtue and British freedom.”
We quote no more, as we believe our task is completed, although at greater length than we at first intended. We claim a verdict in favour of Macaulay. His literary life formed only a fractional part of his labours, and his life, as a whole, was short in comparison to that of Carlyle. In conclusion, therefore, we maintain that Macaulay is a greater writer than Carlyle.
G. M. S. CARLYLE.-III. No man has impressed bis age more than Mr. Thomas Carlyle ; and no one has delighted while instructing it so much as Lord Macaulay. This is because the former is a man of genius, while the latter is a man of talent only. Genius is the great source of original thought; talent is the subtle adapier of thought to use and time. We have only to look at facts to see and know that Carlyle is a great original force in the world, and that Macaulay is only a receptive and applying intellect. No man thinks of Macaulifying his English ; but few men who have ever perused a page of Carlyle have been free from the fascination of his very expression, and have, without strong resistiveness, been able to avoid feeling inclined to imitate his pbraseology. Carlyle sees and realizes,
Macaulay paints; Carlyle reproduces, Macaulay describes : Carlyle's figures live and move, think and act, feel and speak, are human and composite; Macaulay's are picturesque puppetry and semi-mechanical marionettes, and are far more histrionic than historie. Macaulay is an author, but Carlyle is far more; he is an influence, a force,-a force, too, without a rival in our times. Macaulay's history is re-creative, Carlyle's creative. The latter writes to inform and inspirit, the former to gratify and incline to Whiggism; the latter is a productive writer, the former is a reproductive one. Carlyle is a lofty and ardent soul, whose fire, and life, and honest sincerity is felt; Macaulay is a clever and popular man, whose prodigious efforts of culture and power of position made him the darling of a party and the pet of a political circle. Macaulay wanted generous geniality and hearty sympathy, Carlyle possesses a spirit aglow with love for humanity, and his sympathies are so intense that he can enter into the very soul of each of his characters, and learn the very secrets of his mode of life, thought, and individuality. This arises from his genius, his inborn greatness, his poetic gift. The greater writer is certainly he who most influences the vital soul of man. Carlyle has been the influential mind of the age on all the effective men of our time. Macaulay has exerted little or no influence on the thinkers, teachers, and statesmen of the age. Macaulay was an Edinburgh Reviewer, Carlyle is reviewer and reviser of human thought. The man who keeps but a little above the commonplace level of life and thought current in an age, and who, accepting the opinions prevalent in that time, touches them into elegant expression and burnishes them into aphoristic and quotable sentences, is sure to be popular; for he makes himself only the mirror in which the most ordinary minds of the country see themselves reflected, and they accept him as their representative-man. But the chief merit of such a man is a millinery dexterity, a manipulative cleverness, a power of management of the materials in hand or in fashion. Such a modish modiste was Macaulay. He caught the watchwords of his party, and played the echo to the opinions entertained by them. He got hold of the few notions which were current among the men of the day who were admired and looked up to, and he put them into a cunning kaleidoscope, wherein he juggled them into unwonted beauty, which dazzled and bewildered and gratified those who saw into what seemingly divine crystallizations the few beads and broken glass got into when turned and twirled in the ambidextrous style of the magicians of parliamentary oratory and review literature. Even his History is more of a showman's catalogue of portraits, and the prestidigitation of puppets, than the impressive exhibition of principles. His general acceptance as the interpreter of a party, his ready acquiescence in party tactics, and his willing reception of a party position as the advocate and apologist of his faction, are all evidences of the essentially mediocre spirit of Macaulay as a man, and consequently as a writer ; for, as a writer, an author cannot
rise higher than his nature. In this relation Macaulay made some telling remarks in his review of the Rev. Robert Montgomery's poems after quoting the lines,
“ The soul, aspiring, pants its source to mount
As streams meander level with their fount." We take this to be, on the whole, the worst simile in the world. In the first place, no stream meanders, or can possibly meander, level with its fount. In the next place, if streams did meander level with their founts, no two motions can be less like each other than that of meandering level and that of mounting upwards. As streams cannot rise higher than their founts, writers cannot rise higher than their natures ; and hence every proof of the mediocrity of a man is an argument of his being commonplace as a writer, in comparison with those great original souls who are the begetters of new truths and influences which operate in changing life.
Such a great soul is Thomas Carlyle. In effectiveness, no man of the present age rivals him. He has been the best abused man in all the literary world, and he has been able to withstand the united abuse of both hemispheres, and that, be it remembered, was the product of all the intensest hatred of the world ; for the odium theologicum has been poured out very vehemently on his devoted bead; the odium politicum has been hurled against him from the highest places; the odium philosophicum has been used to pelt him with its hard names and harsh imprecations; the odium literarium has spilt much splenetic ink upon his reputation; and the odium vulgare has not been spared; but he has overlived them all, and his words, howsoever rugged and unliked, go forth to the ends of the world. He is not only an expositor, he is an impulse, an influence, an original force, a stirrer of the hearts of men.
No amount of comparison of extracts can give any adequate ex. hibition of this difference. It is a whole, as well as a wholesome entireness of being with which Carlyle impresses us; while Macaulay may be judged of by extracts, Carlyle cannot be 80. He is full of the "infinite variety" of genius; Macaulay is only full of the “infinite variety" of, as we have said, kaleidoscopic common. place. To determine what constitutes greatness in a writer is the first thing, and then there comes out the ground of comparison regarding who is the "greater" of the two. Nobody, I presume, ever thought of Macaulay as one of the great new creativns of the Infinite Father; he has always been, we ibink, looked upon as the offspring of his party. Carlyle is the issue of no party.' He is an independent and fresh soul. He looks upon the problems of life ab initio, and does not believe in the gospel of custom and the evangelism of British factions. He writes out of the depths of a pure spirit, and does not care to harmonize his views with the conditions of things as they have been from of old. Productiveness is better than reproductiveness, genius is higher than talent, truth is nobler than party, and life is liigher than politics; and hence Carlyle is a greater writer than Macaulay.