Chapter 2 -- 1818-1824
Macaulay goes to the University -- His love for Trinity College -- His contemporaries at Cambridge -- Charles Austin -- The Union Debating Society -- University studies, successes, and failures -- The Mathematical Tripos -- The Trinity Fellowship -- William the Third -- Letters -- Prize poems -- Peterloo -- Novel-reading -- The Queen's Trial -- Macaulay's feeling towards his mother -- A Reading-party -- Hoaxing an editor -- Macaulay takes pupils.

In October 1818 Macaulay went into residence at Trinity College, Cambridge. Mr. Henry Sykes Thornton, the eldest son of the member for Southwark, was his companion throughout his university career. The young men lived in the same lodgings, and began by reading with the same tutor; a plan which promised well, because, in addition to what was his own by right, each had the benefit of the period of instruction paid for by the other. But two hours were much the same as one to Macaulay, in whose eyes algebra and geometry were so much additional material for lively and interminable argument. Thornton reluctantly broke through the arrangement, and eventually stood highest among the Trinity wranglers of his year; an elevation which he could hardly have attained if he had pursued his studies in company with one who regarded every successive mathematical proposition as an open question. A Parliamentary election took place while the two friends were still quartered together in Jesus Lane. A tumult in the neighbouring street announced that the citizens were expressing their sentiments by the only channel which was open to them before the days of Reform; and Macaulay, to whom any excitement of a political nature was absolutely irresistible, dragged Thornton to the scene of action, and found the mob breaking the windows of the Hoop hotel, the head-quarters of the successful candidates. His ardour was cooled by receiving a dead cat full in the face. The man who was responsible for the animal came up and apologised very civilly, assuring him that there was no town and gown feeling in the matter, and that the cat had been meant for Mr. Adeane. "I wish," replied Macaulay, "that you had meant it for me, and hit Mr. Adeane."

After no long while he removed within the walls of Trinity, and resided first in the centre rooms of Bishop's Hostel, and subsequently in the Old Court, between the Gate and the Chapel. The door, which once bore his name, is on the ground floor, to the left hand as you face the staircase. In more recent years, undergraduates who are accustomed to be out after lawful hours have claimed a right of way through the window which looks towards the town; --to the great annoyance of any occupant who is too good-natured to refuse the accommodation to others, and too steady to need it himself. This power of surreptitious entry had not been discovered in Macaulay's days; and, indeed, he would have cared very little for the privilege of spending his time outside walls which contained within them as many books as even he could read, and more friends than even he could talk to. Wanting nothing beyond what his college had to give, he revelled in the possession of leisure and liberty, in the almost complete command of his own time, in the power of passing at choice from the most perfect solitude to the most agreeable company. He keenly appreciated a society which cherishes all that is genuine, and is only too out-spoken in its abhorrence of pretension and display: --a society in which a man lives with those whom he likes, and with those only; choosing his comrades for their own sake, and so indifferent to the external distinctions of wealth and position that no one who has entered fully into the spirit of college life can ever unlearn its priceless lesson of manliness and simplicity.

Of all his places of sojourn during his joyous and shining pilgrimage through the world, Trinity, and Trinity alone, had any share with his home in Macaulay's affection and loyalty. To the last he regarded it as an ancient Greek, or a mediaeval Italian, felt towards his native city. As long as he had place and standing there, he never left it willingly or returned to it without delight. The only step in his course about the wisdom of which he sometimes expressed misgiving was his preference of a London to a Cambridge life. The only dignity that in his later days he was known to covet was an honorary fellowship, which would have allowed him again to look through his window upon the college grass-plots, and to sleep within sound of the splashing of the fountain; again to breakfast on commons, and dine beneath the portraits of Newton and Bacon on the dais of the hall; again to ramble by moonlight round Neville's cloister, discoursing upon the picturesque but somewhat exoteric philosophy which it pleased him to call by the name of metaphysics. From the door of his rooms, along the wall of the Chapel, there runs a flagged pathway which affords an acceptable relief from the rugged pebbles that surround it. Here as a Bachelor of Arts he would walk, book in hand, morning after morning throughout the long vacation, reading with the same eagerness and the same rapidity whether the volume was the most abstruse of treatises, the loftiest of poems, or the flimsiest of novels. That was the spot where in his failing years he specially loved to renew the feelings of the past; and some there are who can never revisit it without the fancy that there, if anywhere, his dear shade must linger.

He was fortunate in his contemporaries. Among his intimate friends were the two Coleridges-- Derwent, the son, and Henry Nelson, who was destined to be the son-in-law of the poet; and how exceptional that destiny was the readers of Sara Coleridge's letters are now aware. Hyde Villiers, whom an untimely death alone prevented from taking an equal place in a trio of distinguished brothers, was of his year, though not of his college. (Lord Clarendon, and his brothers, were all Johnians.) In the year below were the young men who now bear the titles of Lord Grey, Lord Belper, and Lord Romilly; (This paragraph was written in the summer of 1874. Three of Macaulay's old college friends, Lord Romilly, Moultrie, and Charles Austin, died, in the hard winter that followed, within a few days of each other.) and after the same interval came Moultrie, who in his "Dream of Life," with a fidelity which he himself pronounced to have been obtained at some sacrifice of grace, has told us how the heroes of his time looked and lived; and Charles Villiers, who still delights our generation by showing us how they talked. Then there was Praed, fresh from editing the Etonian, as a product of collective boyish effort unique in its literary excellence and variety; and Sidney Walker, Praed's gifted school fellow, whose promise was blighted by premature decay of powers; and Charles Austin, whose fame would now be more in proportion to his extraordinary abilities, had not his unparalleled success as an advocate tempted him before his day to retire from the toils of a career of whose rewards he already had enough.

With his vigour and fervour, his depth of knowledge and breadth of humour, his close reasoning illustrated by an expansive imagination, --set off, as these gifts were, by the advantage, at that period of life so irresistible, of some experience of the world at home and abroad, --Austin was indeed a king among his fellows.

                         "Grave, sedate,
And (if the looks may indicate the age,)
Our senior some few years; no keener wit,
No intellect more subtle, none more bold,
Was found in all our host."
So writes Moultrie, and the testimony of his verse is borne out by John Stuart Mill's prose. "The impression he gave was that of boundless strength, together with talents which, combined with such apparent force of will and character, seemed capable of dominating the world." He certainly was the only man who ever succeeded in dominating Macaulay. Brimming over with ideas that were soon to be known by the name of Utilitarian, a panegyrist of American institutions, and an unsparing assailant of ecclesiastical endowments and hereditary privileges, he effectually cured the young undergraduate of his Tory opinions, which were never more than skin deep, and brought him nearer to Radicalism than he ever was before or since. The report of this conversion, of which the most was made by ill-natured tale-bearers who met with more encouragement than they deserved, created some consternation in the family circle; while the reading set at Cambridge was duly scandalised at the influence which one whose classical attainments were rather discursive than exact, had gained over a Craven scholar. To this hour men may be found in remote parsonages who mildly resent the fascination which Austin of Jesus exercised over Macaulay of Trinity. (It was at this period of his career that Macaulay said to the late Mr. Hampden Gurney: "Gurney, I have been a Tory, I am a Radical; but I never will be a Whig.")

The day and the night together were too short for one who was entering on the journey of life amidst such a band of travellers. So long as a door was open, or a light burning, in any of the courts, Macaulay was always in the mood for conversation and companionship. Unfailing in his attendance at lecture and chapel, blameless with regard to college laws and college discipline, it was well for his virtue that no curfew was in force within the precincts of Trinity. He never tired of recalling the days when he supped at midnight on milk-punch and roast turkey, drank tea in floods at an hour when older men are intent upon anything rather than on the means of keeping themselves awake, and made little of sitting over the fire till the bell rang for morning chapel in order to see a friend off by the early coach. In the license of the summer vacation, after some prolonged and festive gathering, the whole party would pour out into the moonlight, and ramble for mile after mile through the country, till the noise of their wide-flowing talk mingled with the twittering of the birds in the hedges which bordered the Coton pathway or the Madingley road. On such occasions it must have been well worth the loss of sleep to hear Macaulay plying Austin with sarcasms upon the doctrine of the Greatest Happiness, which then had still some gloss of novelty; putting into an ever-fresh shape the time-honoured jokes against the Johnians for the benefit of the Villierses; and urging an interminable debate on Wordsworth's merits as a poet, in which the Coleridges, as in duty bound, were ever ready to engage. In this particular field he acquired a skill of fence which rendered him the most redoubtable of antagonists. Many years afterwards, at the time when the Prelude was fresh from the press, he was maintaining against the opinion of a large and mixed society that the poem was unreadable. At last, overborne by the united indignation of so many of Wordsworth's admirers, he agreed that the question should be referred to the test of personal experience; and on inquiry it was discovered that the only individual present who had got through the Prelude was Macaulay himself.

It is not only that the witnesses of these scenes unanimously declare that they have never since heard such conversation in the most renowned of social circles. The partiality of a generous young man for trusted and admired companions may well colour his judgment over the space of even half a century. But the estimate of university contemporaries was abundantly confirmed by the outer world. While on a visit to Lord Lansdowne at Bowood, years after they had left Cambridge, Austin and Macaulay happened to get upon college topics one morning at breakfast. When the meal was finished they drew their chairs to either end of the chimney-piece, and talked at each other across the hearth-rug as if they were in a first-floor room in the Old Court of Trinity. The whole company, ladies, artists, politicians, and diners-out, formed a silent circle round the two Cantabs, and, with a short break for lunch, never stirred till the bell warned them that it was time to dress for dinner.

It has all irrevocably perished. With life before them, and each intent on his own future, none among that troop of friends had the mind to play Boswell to the others. One repartee survives, thrown off in the heat of discussion, but exquisitely perfect in all its parts. Acknowledged without dissent to be the best applied quotation that ever was made within five miles of the Fitzwilliam Museum, it is unfortunately too strictly classical for reproduction in these pages.

We are more easily consoled for the loss of the eloquence which then flowed so full and free in the debates of the Cambridge Union. In 1820 that Society was emerging from a period of tribulation and repression. The authorities of the university, who, as old constituents of Mr. Pitt and warm supporters of Lord Liverpool, had never been very much inclined to countenance the practice of political discussion among the undergraduates, set their faces against it more than ever at an epoch when the temper of the time increased the tendency of young men to run into extremes of partisanship. At length a compromise was extorted from the reluctant hands of the Vice-Chancellor, and the Club was allowed to take into consideration public affairs of a date anterior to the century. It required less ingenuity than the leaders of the Union had at their command to hit upon a method of dealing with the present under the guise of the past. Motions were framed that reflected upon the existing Government under cover of a censure on the Cabinets of the previous generation. Resolutions which called upon the meeting to declare that the boon of Catholic Emancipation should have been granted in the year 1795, or that our Commercial Policy previous to 1800 should have been founded on the basis of Free Trade, were clearly susceptible of great latitude of treatment. And, again, in its character of a reading club, the Society, when assembled for the conduct of private business, was at liberty to review the political creed of the journals of the day in order to decide which of them it should take in, and which it should discontinue. The Examiner newspaper was the flag of many a hard-fought battle; the Morning Chronicle was voted in and out of the rooms half-a- dozen times within a single twelvemonth; while a series of impassioned speeches on the burning question of interference in behalf of Greek Independence were occasioned by a proposition of Malden's "that 'e Ellenike salpigks' do lie upon the table."

At the close of the debates, which were held in a large room at the back of the Red Lion in Petty Cury, the most prominent members met for supper in the Hotel, or at Moultrie's lodgings, which were situated close at hand. They acted as a self-appointed Standing Committee, which watched over the general interests of the Union, and selected candidates whom they put in nomination for its offices. The Society did not boast a Hansard; --an omission which, as time went on, some among its orators had no reason to regret. Faint recollections still survive of a discussion upon the august topic of the character of George the Third. "To whom do we owe it," asked Macaulay, "that while Europe was convulsed with anarchy and desolated with war, England alone remained tranquil, prosperous, and secure? To whom but the Good Old King? Why was it that, when neighbouring capitals were perishing in the flames, our own was illuminated only for triumphs? (This debate evidently made some noise in the university world. There is an allusion to it in a squib of Praed's, very finished and elegant, and beyond all doubt contemporary. The passage relating to Macaulay begins with the lines-- "Then the favourite comes with his trumpets and drums, And his arms and his metaphors crossed.") You may find the cause in the same three words: the Good Old King." Praed, on the other hand, would allow his late monarch neither public merits nor private virtues. "A good man! If he had been a plain country gentleman with no wider opportunities for mischief, he would at least have bullied his footmen and cheated his steward."

Macaulay's intense enjoyment of all that was stirring and vivid around him undoubtedly hindered him in the race for university honours; though his success was sufficient to inspirit him at the time, and to give him abiding pleasure in the retrospect. He twice gained the Chancellor's medal for English verse, with poems admirably planned, and containing passages of real beauty, but which may not be republished in the teeth of the panegyric which, within ten years after they were written, he pronounced upon Sir Roger Newdigate. Sir Roger had laid down the rule that no exercise sent in for the prize which he established at Oxford was to exceed fifty lines. This law, says Macaulay, seems to have more foundation in reason than is generally the case with a literary canon, "for the world, we believe, is pretty well agreed in thinking that the shorter a prize poem is, the better."

Trinity men find it difficult to understand how it was that he missed getting one of the three silver goblets given for the best English Declamations of the year. If there is one thing which all Macaulay's friends, and all his enemies, admit, it is that he could declaim English. His own version of the affair was that the Senior Dean, a relative of the victorious candidate, sent for him and said: "Mr. Macaulay, as you have not got the first cup, I do not suppose that you will care for either of the others." He was consoled, however, by the prize for Latin Declamation; and in 1821 he established his classical repute by winning a Craven University scholarship in company with his friend Malden, and Mr. George Long, who preceded Malden as Professor of Greek at University College, London.

Macaulay detested the labour of manufacturing Greek and Latin verse in cold blood as an exercise; and his Hexameters were never up to the best Etonian mark, nor his Iambics to the highest standard of Shrewsbury. He defined a scholar as one who reads Plato with his feet on the fender. When already well on in his third year he writes: "I never practised composition a single hour since I have been at Cambridge." "Soak your mind with Cicero," was his constant advice to students at that time of life when writing Latin prose is the most lucrative of accomplishments. The advantage of this precept was proved in the Fellowship examination of the year 1824, when he obtained the honour which in his eyes was the most desirable that Cambridge had to give. The delight of the young man at finding himself one of the sixty masters of an ancient and splendid establishment; the pride with which he signed his first order for the college plate, and dined for the first time at the high table in his own right; the reflection that these privileges were the fruit, not of favour or inheritance, but of personal industry and ability, --were matters on which he loved to dwell long after the world had loaded him with its most envied prizes. Macaulay's feeling on this point is illustrated by the curious reverence which he cherished for those junior members of the college who, some ninety years ago, by a spirited remonstrance addressed to the governing body, brought about a reform in the Trinity Fellowship examination that secured to it the character for fair play, and efficiency, which it has ever since enjoyed. In his copy of the Cambridge Calendar for the year 1859, (the last of his life,) throughout the list of the old mathematical Triposes the words "one of the eight" appear in his hand-writing opposite the name of each of these gentlemen. And I can never remember the time when it was not diligently impressed upon me that, if I minded my syntax, I might eventually hope to reach a position which would give me three hundred pounds a year, a stable for my horse, six dozen of audit ale every Christmas, a loaf and two pats of butter every morning, and a good dinner for nothing, with as many almonds and raisins as I could eat at dessert.

Macaulay was not chosen a Fellow until his last trial, nominally for the amazing reason that his translations from Greek and Latin, while faithfully representing the originals, were rendered into English that was ungracefully bald and inornate. The real cause was, beyond all doubt, his utter neglect of the special study of the place; a liberty which Cambridge seldom allows to be taken with impunity even by her most favoured sons. He used to profess deep and lasting regret for his early repugnance to scientific subjects; but the fervour of his penitence in after years was far surpassed by the heartiness with which he inveighed against mathematics as long as it was his business to learn them. Everyone who knows the Senate House may anticipate the result. When the Tripos of 1822 made its appearance, his name did not grace the list. In short, to use the expressive vocabulary of the university, Macaulay was gulfed-- a mishap which disabled him from contending for the Chancellor's medals, then the crowning trophies of a classical career. "I well remember," says Lady Trevelyan, "that first trial of my life. We were spending the winter at Brighton when a letter came giving an account of the event. I recollect my mother taking me into her room to tell me, for even then it was known how my whole heart was wrapped up in him, and it was thought necessary to break the news. When your uncle arrived at Brighton, I can recall my mother telling him that he had better go at once to his father, and get it over, and I can see him as he left the room on that errand."

During the same year he engaged in a less arduous competition. A certain Mr. Greaves of Fulbourn had long since provided a reward of ten pounds for "the Junior Bachelor of Trinity College who wrote the best essay on the Conduct and Character of William the Third." As the prize is annual, it is appalling to reflect upon the searching analysis to which the motives of that monarch must by this time have been subjected. The event, however, may be counted as an encouragement to the founders of endowments; for, amidst the succession of juvenile critics whose attention was by his munificence turned in the direction of his favourite hero, Mr. Greaves had at last fallen in with the right man. It is more than probable that to this old Cambridgeshire Whig was due the first idea of that History in whose pages William of Orange stands as the central figure. The essay is still in existence, in a close neat hand, which twenty years of Reviewing never rendered illegible. Originally written as a fair copy, but so disfigured by repeated corrections and additions as to be unfit for the eyes of the college authorities, it bears evident marks of having been held to the flames, and rescued on second, and in this case it will be allowed, on better thoughts. The exercise, (which is headed by the very appropriate motto,

"Primus qui legibus urbem  Fundabit, Curibus parvis et paupere terra  Missus in imperium magnum,")
is just such as will very likely be produced in the course of next Easter term by some young man of judgment and spirit, who knows his Macaulay by heart, and will paraphrase him without scruple. The characters of James, of Shaftesbury, of William himself; the Popish plot; the struggle over the Exclusion bill; the reaction from Puritanic rigour into the license of the Restoration, are drawn on the same lines and painted in the same colours as those with which the world is now familiar. The style only wants condensation, and a little of the humour which he had not yet learned to transfer from his conversation to his writings, in order to be worthy of his mature powers. He thus describes William's lifelong enemy and rival, whose name he already spells after his own fashion.
"Lewis was not a great general. He was not a great legislator. But he was, in one sense of the words, a great king. He was a perfect master of all the mysteries of the science of royalty, --of all the arts which at once extend power and conciliate popularity, --which most advantageously display the merits, or most dexterously conceal the deficiencies, of a sovereign. He was surrounded by great men, by victorious commanders, by sagacious statesmen. Yet, while he availed himself to the utmost of their services, he never incurred any danger from their rivalry. His was a talisman which extorted the obedience of the proudest and mightiest spirits. The haughty and turbulent warriors whose contests had agitated France during his minority yielded to the irresistible spell, and, like the gigantic slaves of the ring and lamp of Aladdin, laboured to decorate and aggrandise a master whom they could have crushed. With incomparable address he appropriated to himself the glory of campaigns which had been planned, and counsels which had been suggested, by others. The arms of Turenne were the terror of Europe. The policy of Colbert was the strength of France. But in their foreign successes, and their internal prosperity, the people saw only the greatness and wisdom of Lewis."
In the second chapter of the History much of this is compressed into the sentence: "He had shown, in an eminent degree, two talents invaluable to a prince, --the talent of choosing his servants well, and the talent of appropriating to himself the chief part of the credit of their acts."

In a passage that occurs towards the close of the essay may be traced something more than an outline of the peroration in which, a quarter of a century later on, he summed up the character and results of the Revolution of 1688.

"To have been a sovereign, yet the champion of liberty; a revolutionary leader, yet the supporter of social order, is the peculiar glory of William. He knew where to pause. He outraged no national prejudice. He abolished no ancient form. He altered no venerable name. He saw that the existing institutions possessed the greatest capabilities of excellence, and that stronger sanctions, and clearer definitions, were alone required to make the practice of the British constitution as admirable as the theory. Thus he imparted to innovation the dignity and stability of antiquity. He transferred to a happier order of things the associations which had attached the people to their former government. As the Roman warrior, before he assaulted Veii, invoked its guardian gods to leave its walls, and to accept the worship and patronise the cause of the besiegers, this great prince, in attacking a system of oppression, summoned to his aid the venerable principles and deeply seated feelings to which that system was indebted for protection."
A letter, written during the latter years of his life, expresses Macaulay's general views on the subject of University honours. "If a man brings away from Cambridge self-knowledge, accuracy of mind, and habits of strong intellectual exertion, he has gained more than if he had made a display of showy superficial Etonian scholarship, got three or four Browne's medals, and gone forth into the world a schoolboy and doomed to be a schoolboy to the last. After all, what a man does at Cambridge is, in itself, nothing. If he makes a poor figure in life, his having been Senior Wrangler or University scholar is never mentioned but with derision. If he makes a distinguished figure, his early honours merge in those of a later date. I hope that I do not overrate my own place in the estimation of society. Such as it is, I would not give a halfpenny to add to the consideration which I enjoy, all the consideration that I should derive from having been Senior Wrangler. But I often regret, and even acutely, my want of a Senior Wrangler's knowledge of physics and mathematics; and I regret still more some habits of mind which a Senior Wrangler is pretty certain to possess." Like all men who know what the world is, he regarded the triumph of a college career as of less value than its disappointments. Those are most to be envied who soonest learn to expect nothing for which they have not worked hard, and who never acquire the habit, (a habit which an unbroken course of University successes too surely breeds,) of pitying themselves overmuch if ever in after life they happen to work in vain.
Cambridge: Wednesday. (Post-mark, 1818)

My dear Mother, --King, I am absolutely certain, would take no more pupils on any account. And, even if he would, he has numerous applicants with prior claims. He has already six, who occupy him six hours in the day, and is likewise lecturer to the college. It would, however, be very easy to obtain an excellent tutor. Lefevre and Malkin are men of first-rate mathematical abilities, and both of our college. I can scarcely bear to write on Mathematics or Mathematicians. Oh for words to express my abomination of that science, if a name sacred to the useful and embellishing arts may be applied to the perception and recollection of certain properties in numbers and figures! Oh that I had to learn astrology, or demonology, or school divinity! Oh that I were to pore over Thomas Aquinas, and to adjust the relation of Entity with the two Predicaments, so that I were exempted from this miserable study! "Discipline" of the mind! Say rather starvation, confinement, torture, annihilation! But it must be. I feel myself becoming a personification of Algebra, a living trigonometrical canon, a walking table of Logarithms. All my perceptions of elegance and beauty gone, or at least going. By the end of the term my brain will be "as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage." Oh to change Cam for Isis! But such is my destiny; and, since it is so, be the pursuit contemptible, below contempt, or disgusting beyond abhorrence, I shall aim at no second place. But three years! I cannot endure the thought. I cannot bear to contemplate what I must have to undergo. Farewell then Homer and Sophocles and Cicero.

 Farewell happy fields
Where joy for ever reigns
Hail, horrors, hail, Infernal world!
How does it proceed? Milton's descriptions have been driven out of my head by such elegant expressions as the following
[Long mathematical formula]
My classics must be Woodhouse, and my amusements summing an infinite series. Farewell, and tell Selina and Jane to be thankful that it is not a necessary part of female education to get a headache daily without acquiring one practical truth or beautiful image in return. Again, and with affectionate love to my Father, farewell wishes your most miserable and mathematical son


Cambridge: November 9, 1818.

My dear Father, --Your letter, which I read with the greatest pleasure, is perfectly safe from all persons who could make a bad use of it. The Emperor Alexander's plans as detailed in the conversation between him and Clarkson [Thomas Clarkson, the famous assailant of slavery] are almost superhuman; and tower as much above the common hopes and aspirations of philanthropists as the statue which his Macedonian namesake proposed to hew out of Mount Athos excelled the most colossal works of meaner projectors. As Burke said of Henry the Fourth's wish that every peasant in France might have the chicken in his pot comfortably on a Sunday, we may say of these mighty plans, "The mere wish, the unfulfilled desire, exceeded all that we hear of the splendid professions and exploits of princes." Yet my satisfaction in the success of that noble cause in which the Emperor seems to be exerting himself with so much zeal is scarcely so great as my regret for the man who would have traced every step of its progress with anxiety, and hailed its success with the most ardent delight. Poor Sir Samuel Romilly! Quando ullum invenient parem? How long may a penal code at once too sanguinary and too lenient, half written in blood like Draco's, and half undefined and loose as the common law of a tribe of savages, be the curse and disgrace of the country? How many years may elapse before a man who knows like him all that law can teach, and possesses at the same time like him a liberality and a discernment of general rights which the technicalities of professional learning rather tend to blunt, shall again rise to ornament and reform our jurisprudence? For such a man, if he had fallen in the maturity of years and honours, and been borne from the bed of sickness to a grave by the side of his prototype Hale amidst the tears of nobles and senators, even then, I think, the public sorrow would have been extreme. But that the last moments of an existence of high thoughts and great virtues should have been passed as his were passed! In my feelings the scene at Claremont [The death of Princess Charlotte.] this time last year was mere dust in the balance in comparison.

Ever your affectionate son,
T. B. M.

Cambridge: Friday, February 5, 1819.

My dear Father, --I have not of course had time to examine with attention all your criticisms on Pompeii. [The subject of the English poem for the Chancellor's prize of 1819 was the Destruction of Pompeii.] I certainly am much obliged to you for withdrawing so much time from more important business to correct my effusions. Most of the remarks which I have examined are perfectly just; but as to the more momentous charge, the want of a moral, I think it might be a sufficient defence that, if a subject is given which admits of none, the man who writes without a moral is scarcely censurable. But is it the real fact that no literary employment is estimable or laudable which does not lead to the spread of moral truth or the excitement of virtuous feeling? Books of amusement tend to polish the mind, to improve the style, to give variety to conversation, and to lend a grace to more important accomplishments. He who can effect this has surely done something. Is no useful end served by that writer whose works have soothed weeks of languor and sickness, have relieved the mind exhausted from the pressure of employment by an amusement which delights without enervating, which relaxes the tension of the powers without rendering them unfit for future exercise? I should not be surprised to see these observations refuted; and I shall not be sorry if they are so. I feel personally little interest in the question. If my life be a life of literature, it shall certainly be one of literature directed to moral ends.

At all events let us be consistent. I was amused in turning over an old volume of the Christian Observer to find a gentleman signing himself Excubitor, (one of our antagonists in the question of novel-reading,) after a very pious argument on the hostility of novels to a religious frame of mind, proceeding to observe that he was shocked to hear a young lady who had displayed extraordinary knowledge of modern ephemeral literature own herself ignorant of Dryden's fables! Consistency with a vengeance! The reading of modern poetry and novels excites a worldly disposition and prevents ladies from reading Dryden's fables! There is a general disposition among the more literary part of the religious world to cry down the elegant literature of our own times, while they are not in the slightest degree shocked at atrocious profaneness or gross indelicacy when a hundred years have stamped them with the title of classical. I say: "If you read Dryden you can have no reasonable objection to reading Scott." The strict antagonist of ephemeral reading exclaims, "Not so. Scott's poems are very pernicious. They call away the mind from spiritual religion, and from Tancred and Sigismunda." But I am exceeding all ordinary limits. If these hasty remarks fatigue you, impute it to my desire of justifying myself from a charge which I should be sorry to incur with justice. Love to all at home.

Affectionately yours,
T. B. M.

With or without a moral, the poem carried the day. The subject for the next year was Waterloo. The opening lines of Macaulay's exercise were pretty and simple enough to ruin his chance in an academical competition.
It was the Sabbath morn. How calm and fair
Is the blest dawning of the day of prayer!
Who hath not felt how fancy's mystic power
With holier beauty decks that solemn hour;
A softer lustre in its sunshine sees;
And hears a softer music in its breeze?
Who hath not dreamed that even the skylark's throat
Hails that sweet morning with a gentler note?
Fair morn, how gaily shone thy dawning smile
On the green valleys of my native isle!
How gladly many a spire's resounding height
With peals of transport hailed thy newborn light!
Ah! little thought the peasant then, who blest
The peaceful hour of consecrated rest,
And heard the rustic Temple's arch prolong
The simple cadence of the hallowed song,
That the same sun illumed a gory field,
Where wilder song and sterner music pealed;
Where many a yell unholy rent the air,
And many a hand was raised, --but not in prayer.
The prize fell to a man of another college, and Trinity comforted itself by inventing a story to the effect that the successful candidate had run away from the battle.

In the summer of 1819 there took place a military affair, less attractive than Waterloo as a theme for poets, but which, as far as this country is concerned, has proved even more momentous in its ultimate consequences. On the 16th of August a Reform demonstration was arranged at Manchester resembling those which were common in the Northern districts during the year 1866, except that in 1819 women formed an important element in the procession. A troop of yeomanry, and afterwards two squadrons of hussars, were sent in among the crowd, which was assembled in St. Peter's Fields, the site on which the Free Trade Hall now stands. The men used their swords freely, and the horses their hoofs. The people, who meant anything but fighting, trampled each other down in the attempt to escape. Five or six lives were lost, and fifty or sixty persons were badly hurt; but the painful impression wrought upon the national conscience was well worth the price. British blood has never since been shed by British hands in any civic contest that rose above the level of a lawless riot. The immediate result, however, was to concentrate and embitter party feeling. The grand jury threw out the bills against the yeomen, and found true bills against the popular orators who had called the meeting together. The Common Councilmen of the City of London, who had presented an Address to the Prince Regent reflecting upon the conduct of the Government, were roundly rebuked for their pains. Earl Fitzwilliam was dismissed from the office of Lord Lieutenant, for taking part in a Yorkshire county gathering which had passed resolutions in the same sense as the Address from the City. On the other hand, a Peterloo medal was struck, which is still treasured in such Manchester families as have not learned to be ashamed of the old Manchester politics.

In this heated state of the political atmosphere the expiring Toryism of the Anti-Slavery leaders flamed up once again. "I declare," said Wilberforce, "my greatest cause of difference with the democrats is their laying, and causing people to lay, so great a stress on the concerns of this world as to occupy their whole minds and hearts, and to leave a few scanty and lukewarm thoughts for the heavenly treasure." Zachary Macaulay, who never canted, and who knew that on the 16th of August the Manchester Magistrates were thinking just as much or as little about religion as the Manchester populace, none the less took the same side as Wilberforce. Having formed for himself, by observations made on the spot, a decided opinion that the authorities ought to be supported, he was much disturbed by reports which came to him from Cambridge.

September, 1819.

My dear Father, --My mother's letter, which has just arrived, has given me much concern. The letter which has, I am sorry to learn, given you and her uneasiness was written rapidly and thoughtlessly enough, but can scarcely, I think, as far as I remember its tenour, justify some of the extraordinary inferences which it has occasioned. I can only assure you most solemnly that I am not initiated into any democratical societies here, and that I know no people who make politics a common or frequent topic of conversation, except one man who is a determined Tory. It is true that this Manchester business has roused some indignation here, as at other places, and drawn philippics against the powers that be from lips which I never heard opened before but to speak on university contests or university scandal. For myself I have long made it a rule never to talk on politics except in the most general manner; and I believe that my most intimate associates have no idea of my opinions on the questions of party. I can scarcely be censured, I think, for imparting them to you; --which, however, I should scarcely have thought of doing, (so much is my mind occupied with other concerns,) had not your letter invited me to state my sentiments on the Manchester business.

I hope that this explanation will remove some of your uneasiness. As to my opinions, I have no particular desire to vindicate them. They are merely speculative, and therefore cannot partake of the nature of moral culpability. They are early formed, and I am not solicitous that you should think them superior to those of most people at eighteen. I will, however, say this in their defence. Whatever the affectionate alarm of my dear mother may lead her to apprehend, I am not one of the "sons of anarchy and confusion" with whom she classes me. My opinions, good or bad, were learnt, not from Hunt and Waithman, but from Cicero, from Tacitus, and from Milton. They are the opinions which have produced men who have ornamented the world, and redeemed human nature from the degradation of ages of superstition and slavery. I may be wrong as to the facts of what occurred at Manchester; but, if they be what I have seen them stated, I can never repent speaking of them with indignation. When I cease to feel the injuries of others warmly, to detest wanton cruelty, and to feel my soul rise against oppression, I shall think myself unworthy to be your son.

I could say a great deal more. Above all I might, I think, ask, with some reason, why a few democratical sentences in a letter, a private letter, of a collegian of eighteen, should be thought so alarming an indication of character, when Brougham and other people, who at an age which ought to have sobered them talk with much more violence, are not thought particularly ill of? But I have so little room left that I abstain, and will only add thus much. Were my opinions as decisive as they are fluctuating, and were the elevation of a Cromwell or the renown of a Hampden the certain reward of my standing forth in the democratic cause, I would rather have my lips sealed on the subject than give my mother or you one hour of uneasiness. There are not so many people in the world who love me that I can afford to pain them for any object of ambition which it contains. If this assurance be not sufficient, clothe it in what language you please, and believe me to express myself in those words which you think the strongest and most solemn. Affectionate love to my mother and sisters. 

T. B. M.

Cambridge: January 5, 1820.

My dear Father, --Nothing that gives you disquietude can give me amusement. Otherwise I should have been excessively diverted by the dialogue which you have reported with so much vivacity; the accusation; the predictions; and the elegant agnomen of "the novel-reader" for which I am indebted to this incognito. I went in some amazement to Malden, Romilly, and Barlow. Their acquaintance comprehends, I will venture to say, almost every man worth knowing in the university in every field of study. They had never heard the appellation applied to me by any man. Their intimacy with me would of course prevent any person from speaking to them on the subject in an insulting manner; for it is not usual here, whatever your unknown informant may do, for a gentleman who does not wish to be kicked downstairs to reply to a man who mentions another as his particular friend, "Do you mean the blackguard or the novel-reader?" But I am fully convinced that had the charge prevailed to any extent it must have reached the ears of one of those whom I interrogated. At all events I have the consolation of not being thought a novel-reader by three or four who are entitled to judge upon the subject, and whether their opinion be of equal value with that of this John-a-Nokes against whom I have to plead I leave you to decide.

But stronger evidence, it seems, is behind. This gentleman was in company with me. Alas that I should never have found out how accurate an observer was measuring my sentiments, numbering the novels which I criticised, and speculating on the probability of my being plucked. "I was familiar with all the novels whose names he had ever heard." If so frightful an accusation did not stun me at once, I might perhaps hint at the possibility that this was to be attributed almost as much to the narrowness of his reading on this subject as to the extent of mine. There are men here who are mere mathematical blocks; who plod on their eight hours a day to the honours of the Senate House; who leave the groves which witnessed the musings of Milton, of Bacon, and of Gray, without one liberal idea or elegant image, and carry with them into the world minds contracted by unmingled attention to one part of science, and memories stored only with technicalities. How often have I seen such men go forth into society for people to stare at them, and ask each other how it comes that beings so stupid in conversation, so uninformed on every subject of history, of letters, and of taste, could gain such distinction at Cambridge!

It is in such circles, which, I am happy to say, I hardly know but by report, that knowledge of modern literature is called novel-reading; a commodious name, invented by ignorance and applied by envy, in the same manner as men without learning call a scholar a pedant, and men without principle call a Christian a Methodist. To me the attacks of such men are valuable as compliments. The man whose friend tells him that he is known to be extensively acquainted with elegant literature may suspect that he is flattering him; but he may feel real and secure satisfaction when some Johnian sneers at him for a novel-reader. [My uncle was fond of telling us how he would walk miles out of Cambridge in order to meet the coach which brought the last new Waverley novel.]

As to the question whether or not I am wasting time, I shall leave that for time to answer. I cannot afford to sacrifice a day every week in defence and explanation as to my habits of reading. I value, most deeply value, that solicitude which arises from your affection for me; but let it not debar me from justice and candour. Believe me ever, my dear Father,

Your most affectionate son,
T. B. M.

The father and son were in sympathy upon what, at this distance of time, appears as the least inviting article of the Whig creed. They were both partisans of the Queen. Zachary Macaulay was inclined in her favour by sentiments alike of friendship, and of the most pardonable resentment. Brougham, her illustrious advocate, had for ten years been the main hope and stay of the movement against Slavery and the Slave Trade; while the John Bull, whose special mission it was to write her down, honoured the Abolitionist party with its declared animosity. However full its columns might be of libels upon the honour of the wives and daughters of Whig statesmen, it could always find room for calumnies against Mr. Macaulay which in ingenuity of fabrication, and in cruelty of intention, were conspicuous even among the contents of the most discreditable publication that ever issued from the London press. When Queen Caroline landed from the Continent in June 1820 the young Trinity undergraduate greeted her Majesty with a complimentary ode, which certainly little resembled those effusions that, in the old courtly days, an University was accustomed to lay at the feet of its Sovereign. The piece has no literary value, and is curious only as reflecting the passion of the hour. The first and last stanzas run as follows:--
Let mirth on every visage shine
And glow in every soul.
Bring forth, bring forth, the oldest wine,
And crown the largest bowl.
Bear to her home, while banners fly
From each resounding steeple,
And rockets sparkle in the sky,
The Daughter of the People.
E'en here, for one triumphant day,
Let want and woe be dumb,
And bonfires blaze, and schoolboys play.
Thank Heaven, our Queen is come.

*   *   *   *

Though tyrant hatred still denies
Each right that fits thy station,
To thee a people's love supplies
A nobler coronation;
A coronation all unknown
To Europe's royal vermin;
For England's heart shall be thy throne,
And purity thine ermine;
Thy Proclamation our applause,
Applause denied to some;
Thy crown our love; thy shield our laws.
Thank Heaven, our Queen is come!
Early in November, warned by growing excitement outside the House of Lords, and by dwindling majorities within, Lord Liverpool announced that the King's Ministers had come to the determination not to proceed further with the Bill of Pains and Penalties. The joy which this declaration spread through the country has been described as "beyond the scope of record."
Cambridge: November 13, 1820.

My dear Father, --All here is ecstasy. "Thank God, the country is saved," were my first words when I caught a glimpse of the papers of Friday night. "Thank God, the country is saved," is written on every face and echoed by every voice. Even the symptoms of popular violence, three days ago so terrific, are now displayed with good humour and received with cheerfulness. Instead of curses on the Lords, on every post and every wall is written, "All is as it should be;" "Justice done at last;" and similar mottoes expressive of the sudden turn of public feeling. How the case may stand in London I do not know; but here the public danger, like all dangers which depend merely on human opinions and feelings, has disappeared from our sight almost in the twinkling of an eye. I hope that the result of these changes may be the secure reestablishment of our commerce, which I suppose political apprehension must have contributed to depress. I hope, at least, that there is no danger to our own fortunes of the kind at which you seem to hint. Be assured however, my dear Father, that, be our circumstances what they may, I feel firmly prepared to encounter the worst with fortitude, and to do my utmost to retrieve it by exertion. The best inheritance you have already secured to me, --an unblemished name and a good education. And for the rest, whatever calamities befall us, I would not, to speak without affectation, exchange adversity consoled, as with us it must ever be, by mutual affection and domestic happiness, for anything which can be possessed by those who are destitute of the kindness of parents and sisters like mine. But I think, on referring to your letter, that I insist too much upon the signification of a few words. I hope so, and trust that everything will go well. But it is chapel time, and I must conclude.

Ever most affectionately yours,

Trin. Coll.: March 25, 1821.

My dear Mother, --I entreat you to entertain no apprehensions about my health. My fever, cough, and sore-throat have all disappeared for the last four days. Many thanks for your intelligence about poor dear John's recovery, which has much exhilarated me. Yet I do not know whether illness to him is not rather a prerogative than an evil. I am sure that it is well worth while being sick to be nursed by a mother. There is nothing which I remember with such pleasure as the time when you nursed me at Aspenden. The other night, when I lay on my sofa very ill and hypochondriac, I was thinking over that time. How sick, and sleepless, and weak I was, lying in bed, when I was told that you were come! How well I remember with what an ecstasy of joy I saw that face approaching me, in the middle of people that did not care if I died that night except for the trouble of burying me! The sound of your voice, the touch of your hand, are present to me now, and will be, I trust in God, to my last hour. The very thought of these things invigorated me the other day; and I almost blessed the sickness and low spirits which brought before me associated images of a tenderness and an affection, which, however imperfectly repaid, are deeply remembered. Such scenes and such recollections are the bright half of human nature and human destiny. All objects of ambition, all rewards of talent, sink into nothing compared with that affection which is independent of good or adverse circumstances, excepting that it is never so ardent, so delicate, or so tender as in the hour of languor or distress. But I must stop. I had no intention of pouring out on paper what I am much more used to think than to express. Farewell, my dear Mother.

Ever yours affectionately,

Macaulay liked Cambridge too well to spend the long vacation elsewhere except under strong compulsion; but in 1821, with the terrors of the Mathematical Tripos already close at hand, he was persuaded into joining a reading party in Wales with a Mr. Bird as tutor. Eardley Childers, the father of the statesman of that name, has preserved a pleasant little memorial of the expedition.
To Charles Smith Bird, Eardley Childers, Thos. B. Macaulay, William Clayton Walters, Geo. B. Paley, Robert Jarratt, Thos. Jarratt, Edwin Kempson, Ebenezer Ware, Wm. Cornwall, John Greenwood, J. Lloyd, and Jno. Wm. Gleadall, Esquires.

Gentlemen, --We the undersigned, for ourselves and the inhabitants in general of the town of Llanrwst in the county of Denbigh, consider it our duty to express to you the high sense we entertain of your general good conduct and demeanour during your residence here, and we assure you that we view with much regret the period of your separation and departure from amongst us. We are very sensible of the obligation we are under for your uniformly benevolent and charitable exertions upon several public occasions, and we feel peculiar pleasure in thus tendering to you individually our gratitude and thanks.

Wishing you all possible prosperity and happiness in your future avocations, we subscribe ourselves with unfeigned respect, Gentlemen,

Your most obedient servants,

&c., &c.
(25 signatures.)

In one respect Macaulay hardly deserved his share of this eulogium. A scheme was on foot in the town to found an auxiliary branch of the Bible Society. A public meeting was called, and Mr. Bird urged his eloquent pupil to aid the project with a specimen of Union rhetoric. Macaulay, however, had had enough of the Bible Society at Clapham, and sturdily refused to come forward as its champion at Llanrwst.
Llanrwst: July --, 1821.

My dear Mother, --You see I know not how to date my letter. My calendar in this sequestered spot is as irregular as Robinson Crusoe's after he had missed one day in his calculation. I have no intelligence to send you, unless a battle between a drunken attorney and an impudent publican which took place here yesterday may deserve the appellation. You may perhaps be more interested to hear that I sprained my foot, and am just recovering from the effects of the accident by means of opodeldoc which I bought at the tinker's. For all trades and professions here lie in a most delightful confusion. The druggist sells hats; the shoemaker is the sole bookseller, if that dignity may be allowed him on the strength of the three Welsh Bibles, and the guide to Caernarvon, which adorn his window; ink is sold by the apothecary; the grocer sells ropes, (a commodity which, I fear, I shall require before my residence here is over,) and tooth-brushes. A clothes-brush is a luxury yet unknown to Llanrwst. As to books, for want of any other English literature, I intend to learn Paradise Lost by heart at odd moments. But I must conclude. Write to me often, my dear Mother, and all of you at home, or you may have to answer for my drowning myself, like Gray's bard, in "Old Conway's foaming flood," which is most conveniently near for so poetical an exit.

Ever most affectionately yours,
T. B. M. 

Llanrwst: August 32, 1821.

My dear Father, --I have just received your letter, and cannot but feel concerned at the tone of it. I do not think it quite fair to attack me for filling my letters with remarks on the King's Irish expedition. It has been the great event of this part of the world. I was at Bangor when he sailed. His bows, and the Marquis of Anglesea's fete, were the universal subjects of conversation; and some remarks on the business were as natural from me as accounts of the coronation from you in London. In truth I have little else to say. I see nothing that connects me with the world except the newspapers. I get up, breakfast, read, play at quoits, and go to bed. This is the history of my life. It will do for every day of the last fortnight.

As to the King, I spoke of the business, not at all as a political, but as a moral question, --as a point of correct feeling and of private decency. If Lord were to issue tickets for a gala ball immediately after receiving intelligence of the sudden death of his divorced wife, I should say the same. I pretend to no great insight into party politics; but the question whether it is proper for any man to mingle in festivities while his wife's body lies unburied is one, I confess, which I thought myself competent to decide. But I am not anxious about the fate of my remarks, which I have quite forgot, and which, I dare say, were very foolish. To me it is of little importance whether the King's conduct were right or wrong; but it is of great importance that those whom I love should not think me a precipitate, silly, shallow sciolist [[=dilettante]] in politics, and suppose that every frivolous word that falls from my pen is a dogma which I mean to advance as indisputable; and all this only because I write to them without reserve; only because I love them well enough to trust them with every idea which suggests itself to me. In fact, I believe that I am not more precipitate or presumptuous than other people, but only more open. You cannot be more fully convinced than I am how contracted my means are of forming a judgment. If I chose to weigh every word that I uttered or wrote to you, and, whenever I alluded to politics, were to labour and qualify my expressions as if I were drawing up a state paper, my letters might be a great deal wiser, but would not be such letters as I should wish to receive from those whom I loved. Perfect love, we are told, casteth out fear. If I say, as I know I do, a thousand wild and inaccurate things, and employ exaggerated expressions about persons or events in writing to you or to my mother, it is not, I believe, that I want power to systematise my ideas or to measure my expressions, but because I have no objection to letting you see my mind in dishabille. I have a court dress for days of ceremony and people of ceremony, nevertheless. But I would not willingly be frightened into wearing it with you; and I hope you do not wish me to do so.

Ever yours,
T. B. M.

To hoax a newspaper has, time out of mind, been the special ambition of undergraduate wit. In the course of 1821 Macaulay sent to the Morning Post a burlesque copy of verses, entitled "Tears of Sensibility." The editor fell an easy victim, but unfortunately did not fall alone.
No pearl of ocean is so sweet 
As that in my Zuleika's eye.
No earthly jewel can compete
With tears of sensibility.

Like light phosphoric on the billow,
Or hermit ray of evening sky,
Like ripplings round a weeping willow
Are tears of sensibility.

Like drops of Iris-coloured fountains
By which Endymion loved to lie,
Like dew-gems on untrodden mountains
Are tears of sensibility.

While Zephyr broods o'er moonlight rill
The flowerets droop as if to die,
And from their chaliced cup distil
The tears of sensibility.

The heart obdurate never felt
One link of Nature's magic tie
If ne'er it knew the bliss to melt
In tears of sensibility.

The generous and the gentle heart
Is like that balmy Indian tree
Which scatters from the wounded part
The tears of sensibility.

Then oh! ye Fair, if Pity's ray
E'er taught your snowy breasts to sigh,
Shed o'er my contemplative lay
The tears of sensibility.

November 2, 1821.

My dear Mother, --I possess some of the irritability of a poet, and it has been a good deal awakened by your criticisms. I could not have imagined that it would have been necessary for me to have said that the execrable trash entitled "Tears of Sensibility" was merely a burlesque on the style of the magazine verses of the day. I could not suppose that you could have suspected me of seriously composing such a farrago of false metaphor and unmeaning epithet. It was meant solely for a caricature on the style of the poetasters of newspapers and journals; and, (though I say it who should not say it,) has excited more attention and received more praise at Cambridge than it deserved. If you have it, read it over again, and do me the justice to believe that such a compound of jargon, nonsense, false images, and exaggerated sentiment, is not the product of my serious labours. I sent it to the Morning Post, because that paper is the ordinary receptacle of trash of the description which I intended to ridicule, and its admission therefore pointed the jest. I see, however, that for the future I must mark more distinctly when I intend to be ironical.

Your affectionate son
T. B. M.

Cambridge: July 26, 1822.

My dear Father, --I have been engaged to take two pupils for nine months of the next year. They are brothers, whose father, a Mr. Stoddart, resides at Cambridge. I am to give them an hour a day, each; and am to receive a hundred guineas. It gives me great pleasure to be able even in this degree to relieve you from the burden of my expenses here. I begin my tutorial labours to-morrow. My pupils are young, one being fifteen and the other thirteen years old, but I hear excellent accounts of their proficiency, and I intend to do my utmost for them. Farewell.

T. B. M.

A few days later on he writes "I do not dislike teaching, whether it is that I am more patient than I had imagined, or that I have not yet had time to grow tired of my new vocation. I find, also, what at first sight may appear paradoxical, that I read much more in consequence, and that the regularity of habits necessarily produced by a periodical employment which cannot be procrastinated fully compensates for the loss of the time which is consumed in tuition."
Trinity College, Cambridge: October 1, 1824.

My dear Father, --I was elected Fellow this morning, shall be sworn in to-morrow, and hope to leave Cambridge on Tuesday for Rothley Temple. The examiners speak highly of the manner in which I acquitted myself, and I have reason to believe that I stood first of the candidates.

I need not say how much I am delighted by my success, and how much I enjoy the thought of the pleasure which it will afford to you, my mother, and our other friends. Till I become a Master of Arts next July the pecuniary emolument which I shall derive will not be great. For seven years from that time it will make me almost an independent man.

Malden is elected. You will take little interest in the rest of our Cambridge successes and disappointments.

Yours most affectionately,
T. B. M. 

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