Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

"January 18, 1852. --At dinner I received a note from Lord John asking to see me to-morrow at eleven.”

[ocr errors]

January 19.-I was anxious; but determined, if I found myself hard pressed, to beg a day for consideration, and then to send a refusal in writing. I find it difficult to refuse people face to face. I went to Chesham Place. He at once asked me to join the Cabinet. I refused, and gave about a quarter of my reasons, though half a quarter would have been sufficient. I told him that I should be of no use; that I was not a debater; that it was too late for me to become one; that I might once have turned out effective in that way, but that now my literary habits, and my literary reputation, had made it impossible. I pleaded health, temper, and tastes. He did not urge me much, and I think has been rather induced by others, than by his own judgment, to make the proposition. I added that I would not sit for any nomination borough, and that my turn of mind disqualified me for canvassing great constituent bodies. I might have added that I did not wish to be forced to take part against Palmerston in a personal dispute; that I much doubt whether I should like the new Reform Bill; and that I had no reason to believe that all that I think right will be done as respects national defence. I did speak very strongly on this point, as I feel.”

"January 31.- I see that Lord Broughton retires,

and that Maule goes to the India Board. I might have had that place, I believe; the pleasantest in the Government, and the best suited to me; but I judged far better for my reputation and peace of mind.”

In February Macaulay paid another visit to Windsor Castle.

February 6.-—We breakfasted at nine. I strolled up and down the fine gallery for an hour; then with Mahon to the Library; and then to the top of the Round Tower, and enjoyed a noble view. In the Library, taking up by the merest chance a finely bound book, it proved to be Ticknor's;-a presentation copy, with a letter from the author to the Queen, saying that he had sent his volumes because he had been told by the American Minister that an eminent literary man had recommended them to her Majesty. I was the eminent literary man; and I dare say that I could find the day in my journal. It is an odd coincidence that I should light on his letter. Dinner was at a quarter to seven on account of the play which was to follow. The theatre was handsome, the scenery good, and the play King John. There were faults in the acting, as there are great faults in the play, considered as an acting play; but there was great effect likewise. Constance made me cry. The scene between King John and Hubert, and that between Hubert and Arthur, were very telling. Faulconbridge swaggered well. The allusions to a French invasion, and to

the Popish encroachments, would have been furiously applauded at Drury Lane or Covent Garden. Here we applauded with some reserve. The little girl who acted Arthur did wonders. * Lord Salisbury seemed not to like the part which his namesake performed in the play.”*

" **

February 16.-I finished St. Simon's Memoirs, and am more struck with the goodness of the good parts than ever. To be sure the road from fountain to fountain lies through a very dry desert.”

May 1.-A cold ist of May. After breakfast I went to Turnham Green, to look at the place. I found it after some search; the very spot beyond all doubt, and admirably suited for an assassina

tion. ***

“On my return I looked into Shakespeare, and could not get away from him. I passed the whole

**

* It is almost worth while to be past middle life in order to have seen Miss Kate Terry in Arthur.

Sal. Stand by, or I shall gall you, Faulconbridge.
Bast. Thou wert better gall the devil, Salisbury.
If thou but frown on me, or stir thy foot,
Or teach thy hasty spleen to do me shame,
I'll strike thee dead. Put up thy sword betime;
Or I'll so maul you and your toasting-iron

That you shall think the devil is come from hell.” *** See the account of the Assassination Plot in Chapter XXI. of the History. The place and time were fixed. The place was to be a narrow and winding lane leading from the landing-place on the north of the river to Turnham Green. The spot may still easily be found. The ground has since been drained by trenches. But in the seventeenth century it was a quagmire, through which the royal coach was with difficulty tugged at a foot's pace. The time was to be the afternoon of Saturday the fifteenth of February.”

day, till it was time to dress, in turning him over. Then to dine with the Royal Academy.* A great number of my friends, and immense smiling and shaking of hands. I got a seat in a pleasant situation near Thesiger, Hallam, and Inglis. The scene was lively, and many of the pictures good. I was charmed by Stanfield's Rochelle, and Roberts's three paintings. It is the old Duke's birthday; he is eighty-three to-day. I never see him now without a painful interest. I look at him every time with the thought that this may be the last. We drank his health with immense shouting and tablebanging. He returned thanks, and spoke of the loss of the Birkenhead. I remarked, (and Lawrence the American Minister said that he had remarked the same thing,) that, in his eulogy of the poor fellows who were lost, the Duke never spoke of their courage, but always of their discipline and subordination. He repeated it several times over. The courage, I suppose, he treated as a thing of

Lord Derby spoke with spirit, but with more hesitation than on any occasion on which I have heard him. Disraeli's speech was clever. In defiance of all rule he gave Lord John Russell's health. Lord John answered good humouredly and well. I was glad of it. Although a speech at the Royal Academy is not much, it is important that, whatever he does now, should be well done."

course.

* Macaulay attended the dinner in his character of Professor of Ancient Literature to the Royal Academy.

CHAPTER XIII.

1852-1856.

The magnetoscope, and table-turning Macaulay's re-election for Edin

burgh, and the general satisfaction which it occasioned - He has a serious attack of illness -- Clifton-Extracts from Macaulay's journalHis strong feelings for old associations-Barley Wood - Letters to Mr. Ellis-Great change in Macaulay's health and habits-His speech at Edinburgh- The House of Commons-Mr. Disraeli's Budget-Formation of Lord Aberdeen's Ministry--The Judges' Exclusion Bill—The India Bill — The Annuity Tax-Macaulay ceases to take an active part in politics — Letters to Mr. Ellis -- Mrs. Beecher Stowe - - Tunbridge Wells --- Plato- Mr. Vizetelly -- Macaulay's patriotism - The Crimean War--Open competition - The History--Thames Ditton --Publication of Macaulay's third and fourth volumes-Statistics of the sale of the History-Honours conferred on Macaulay-The British Museum.

The year 1852 opened very pleasantly for Macaulay. From January to July his diary presents a record of hopeful and uninterrupted literary labour, and of cheerful dinners and breakfasts at the houses which he cared to frequent. About this period the friends among whom he lived were much given to inquiries into fields of speculation that may not unfairly be classed under the head of the Occult Sciences; allusions to which more than once occur both in Lord Carlisle's and in Macaulay's journals. Lord Carlisle writes:

May, 19, 1852. — Breakfasted with the Mahons. We talked a good deal of the magnetoscope, which has received a staggerer from Dufferin, who went rather disguised a second time, and got quite a different character.

« AnteriorContinuar »