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circles and village parties where we can hear a great deal of exceedingly aimless conversation. Yet one does not seem to be speaking rashly in saying that he must indeed be dull of soul and innocent of a sense of humor who does not enjoy these novels.
Scott's Tribute. No greater tribute has been paid her than an oft-quoted one by Sir Walter: "The Big Bow-wow style I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch which renders commonplace things interesting" (found in Miss Austen) "is denied me." This contrast between the methods of the two novelists may be brought
out by comparing passages that may be found in any of their books.1
Humor in Dialogue. One who can make such subjects as Miss Austen's interesting must be a genuine humorist, and that is what Miss Austen is. Her humor charms on almost every page, manifesting itself most delightfully in dialogue. Frequently when action is lacking, interest in the characters is kept at a high point by the humor and entire naturalness of their every-day conversation.
THE VICTORIAN AGE
No definite year marks the change from the Romantic age to the Victorian. Macaulay and Carlyle, true Victorians, began their literary careers in 1825 and 1824 respectively; and De Quincey and Wordsworth, as we have seen, continued to write until the middle of the century. The year 1832 is chosen as the dividing line, not quite arbitrarily, yet with no idea of being exact.
Variety in Individual Writers. One characteristic of the second division of the century has been mentioned — the growth of the scientific spirit. Of many others that might be given, perhaps variety is the most striking. Wordsworth and Coleridge combined the callings of poetry and criticism; Coleridge also claims consideration as philosopher. The other great writers of the earlier period, however, were limited in their modes of expression: Byron, Shelley, and Keats, poets only (and each eminent in one limited field), Miss Austen, a novelist only, Lamb and De Quincey, essayists
1 Cf., for example, the first meeting of Edgar and Lucy in The Bride of Lammermoor, chap. V, with the interview of Elizabeth Bennet and Lady Catherine, in Pride and Prejudice, chap. LVI.
only. It is further to be noted that the entire group were men of letters exclusively.
The great Victorians, on the other hand, were seldom to be restricted to a scanty plot of ground. Macaulay was statesman, historian, literary essayist. Arnold was poet, literary essayist, worker in education, student of society, and through all, reformer. Thackeray, though in all minds primarily a novelist, wrote some essays of great merit, and some ballads by no means to be despised. One thinks of Dickens as novelist; yet in view of the conscious purpose underlying many of his fictions, it is a question whether he should not be considered first of all a reformer. Tennyson and Browning, the two most conspicuous figures in Victorian literature, were poets only; but their poetry covers so wide a range that they too exemplify well the variety of interest and of form of expression belonging to the age.
THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY, 1800-1859
First in time of the Victorians is Macaulay, who was born in the year of Wordsworth's preface to the Lyrical Ballads, and who published his first essay nine years before the deaths of Lamb and Coleridge. That the enthusiastic reception of his Milton (1825) was due somewhat to the Romantic love of newness, makes his work look backward; but he was not essentially an innovator, and his work as a whole clearly belongs with that of the later period.
Macaulay's Style. What attracted readers to Macaulay was his style. The more I think," wrote Jeffrey, editor of the magazine in which the Milton essay appeared, "the less I can conceive where you picked up that style." It is a style that has had a host of admirers; and even its severest critic, Matthew Arnold, admits that it is "a style to dazzle,
to gain admirers everywhere, to attract imitators in multitude." To this topic we must return after stating briefly the facts of Macaulay's life.
Childhood. He was born at Rothley Temple, Leicestershire, almost the geographical centre of England. His mother was a Quaker, and his father a Scotch Presbyterian who devoted his life to the cause of abolition. He was one of the precocious children of literary fame; precocious, moreover, in a way to foretell his future greatness. When
Ever your mon
FACSIMILE OF MACAULAY'S SIGNATURE.
a mere child, asked by a lady whether he was suffering from a slight accident, he replied that "the agony was abated." Before his school-days were over, he had written a history of the world and several heroic poems, which a wise mother withheld from publication.
College Life. His parents moved to London while he was still young; and although his preparatory education was received in the country, he was a city boy, emphatically a London product. His record at school and at Trinity College, Cambridge, did not disappoint the hopes raised by his precocity. After graduating in 1822, he contributed to
magazines, making his first success with Milton three years later. From 1824 to 1831 he held a fellowship at Trinity worth £300 a year.
Public Career. Macaulay's career as statesman began with his election to Parliament in 1830. Though he continued to write for magazines, he gave much thought to the need of government reforms, especially in India. His understanding of the situation in India brought him appointment as a member of the Supreme Council there at a salary of £10,000. During four years in the East his principal work was formulating a Criminal Code for India, which he did admirably. Despite the demands of this work on his time, he read an almost incredible amount, chiefly Latin and Greek, not restricting himself to classic authors. He seems to have been a quite undiscriminating reader.
"Baron" Macaulay. After returning to England he again sat in Parliament, held positions in two Whig ministries, and was an active member of the opposition during the Tory ministry of Peel. In 1857 his services to the state were rewarded by elevation to the peerage as "Baron Macaulay of Rothley." His retirement from public life was due to anxiety to complete his History of England, the first two volumes of which had appeared in 1848. His failing health retarded the writing, and the five volumes completed before his death were only a small portion of his original plan. He died in December, 1859, and was buried in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey.
Poetry and Critical Writing. Besides the History of England and the Essay on Milton, Macaulay wrote a number of literary and historical essays for magazines, several biographies for the Encyclopædia Britannica, and some