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early age, he is said to have been able to repeat to his playmates, a story of Scheherazade, almost in the original language ; and later, to narrate the story, depict the characters, and reproduce the descriptions of a novel by Sir Walter. In this early trait, we see that love of narrative which afterwards distinguished both his writings and his conversation. His poems are narrative poems; his history a succession of narratives; even his speeches in Parliament were most brilliant, when he could spring from mere argument into a narrative description. He was born a storyteller, and had he been a native of the East would certainly have become a dervish, for the mere pleasure of repeating tales.
Not much is known of the historian's early days; he was educated at home chiefly, and in strict Presbyterian principles. In some families, with religious ideas leaning towards that sect, a knowledge of the text and history of the Scriptures almost takes the place of all real religious instruction. Macaulay was chiefly exercised in repeating texts, and learning biblical stories. He had so much Old Testament history running in his head, that he often applied Scriptural names to his father's visitors. One was called Moses, another Holofernes, and so on : but one in particular, whom he probably disliked, went by the name of the Beast. His father and mother were not much pleased at the application of this náme to their friend; but what could they say, when, one morning, the gentleman in question having called in a fly, which was waiting at the door for bim, the young boy suddenly exclaimed, 'Look here, mother, you see I am right. Look, look at the number of the Beast.' It happened that the number on the fly was no other than 666.
That he read immensely in early days, and learned to make what he read his own by thinking, we can have no doubt; for long before most young men have stored in the first shelf-loads of the wealth of ages,' Thomas Babington had so stocked his mind with classical lore, with the history and biography of all periods, and especially with poetry, for which he had more taste than genius, that Sydney Smith called him, 'a book in breeches. He might have said with more truth, a library in breeches.'
At eighteen he was sent to Cambridge, after a short stay with a private tutor, and entered at Trinity College. The choice of a university was unfortunate, and perhaps one of the obstacles to Macaulay's fame, which he had to surmount. His mind was more fitted for facts than for theories, for precision than for reasoning. The wonderful powers of memory with which he was gifted, naturally led him to cultivate his perceptive more than his logical powers. In consequence, while he was devoted to classics, he had neither taste nor ability for mathematics, which is the chief study at Cambridge. In consequence of this, he did not attempt to take honours in the examination for the degree; but what he could obtain, in the way of distinction, he did obtain. Thus, he carried off the Craven Scholarship, which is given for proficiency in Greek ; and he was also twice successful in competition for the Chancellor's Medal for the best English poem. “Pompeii' was the subject of the first; ‘Evening' that of the second ; and his success in writing couplets, induced him to look on poetry, for
a long time, as his avocation. But a poet is born, not made,' we are told ; and Macaulay--while he could express himself in grand heroic style, and possessed much flower of illustration was devoid of that brilliant genius, without which it is impossible to be a poet. There was much majesty, but not sufficient tenderness of feeling about him for Parnassus. We have, most of us, read with delight those bold descriptive pieces, 'The Lays of Ancient Rome,' and many a boy can say by heart, that which begins :
Lars Porsenna of Clusium
but for the softer and more soaring spirit of poesy, he had no gift. It is said that the first idea of writing the ‘Lays' was suggested by his hearing some balladsingers in Whitechapel, and keenly perceiving the effect on their listeners of the simplest narrative verse. His poetry is narrative, just as his narrative is poetic; but he was born to be Macaulay the Historian, not Macaulay the Poet, and, whatever may once have been thought, he will live rather by his history than by bis Lays of Ancient Rome.'
It was at Cambridge, too, that he first tried his powers in oratory; he became a member of the Union Debating Society, and sućceeded well in speeches which were prepared rather than spontaneous.
His character as a classic, and a young man of learning, was sufficiently high to allow his college to overlook his distaste for mathematics, and to elect him to hold a fellowship. On leaving the University in 1825, he went up
to London to study for the bar, to which he was after
wards called. It is possible that he might have become a celebrated advocate, had he devoted himself to his profession ; his unfailing energy and his wonderful narrative powers, must have made him capable of swaying a jury and convincing a judge; but his tastes led him in the direction of literature, of which he was to become so great an ornament. Already he had contributed a few papers to a school magazine, entitled The Etonian,' and he now amused himself with composing ballads and writing essays for a publication called “ Knight's Quarterly Magazine,' to which several of his young friends and companions contributed. These periodicals did not succeed, and were soon given up. The young friends who wrote for it, took fanciful names to disguise their own. Winthrop Praed was called Peregrine Courtenay; Nelson Coleridge, Professor Malden, and Gerard Montgomery, were also contributors under different names; and Macaulay assumed that of Tristram Merton. The contributors met betimes to dine and sip wine together, while they discoursed cleverly and brilliantly on literary subjects. On one occasion, Thomas de Quincey, lately dead, who was one of the finest English writers, but who destroyed his health and happiness by eating opium, the experience of which he gave to the world in a celebrated work called. Confessions of an Opium Eater,' introduced himself to the young men assembled, and solemnly warned them against ever indulging in that baneful practice.
Meanwhile, though Macaulay indulged in literature rather than law, he did not neglect the study of the latter; and, in later years, he found the advantage of his legal studies, when he was called upon to draw up a code for India.
He was first brought into notice by a speech in favour of the very subject which his father had so zealously espoused the liberation of the unfortunate negro slaves. This was delivered at the age of twenty-four, at an anti-slavery meeting. The subject was then much before the public, and the speech of the young man was so powerful and brilliant, that the Edinburgh Review,' the organ of the Whig party, selected it for praise, while its editor kept his eye on the speaker. It was then that Macaulay, not yet twenty-five years old, wrote and sent to that Review an essay upon Milton,' to which his subsequent fame, as a writer, was chiefly owing. With this article, Lord Jeffrey, then the editor of the 'Edinburgh,' was much pleased, and determined that it should not be the young man's last contribution to his Review. Yet, in after years, Macaulay himself saw its juvenile errors of style, and, with much honesty, acknowledged them. He was aware that his prose, at that time, was too flowery, and that a check must be put upon his tendency to illustration and ornament. It was the work of a young man, but it was the best he could produce without greater practice and maturer developement. He evinced in it the deep study he had made of the subject, and not of that only, but of every onethat could bear upon it, especially of Dante, who has often been compared to our great English epic writer. The essay, with all its faults, excited great attention. In it, a writer has said, 'he scattered his riches round him like an ancient Peruvian monarch with inexhaustible wealth, but knowing not its value; his decisions were firm and clear, but brightened by a rapture as of poetry.' He wrote grandly, because he