Page images

THE MASSES.—This is a very common word, and one that has a deepening meaning upon our lips. Perhaps its substitution in place of the words that were formerly employed to mark the many from the few is one of the signs of our democratic times. We do not speak now of the "vulgar," the "plebs," the "rabble," and the like; nor is it thought the part of a gentleman in any good society, or in any book or periodical, to speak with contempt of the multitude. Nor are we satisfied to call them the people merely, for this term is too closely allied with political cant, and gives a suspicion of electioneering aims or partisan adulation. We speak of the masses in a way that marks them not only as the many but as the wtighfy, and the statesman and the moralist look with mingled solicitude and respect upon them as in number and gravity representing the future of the nation. The most obvious measure of them is number, and we may justly say that they are called the masses who are to be counted instead of being named. The memorable persons of an age are comparatively few, and their names are recorded in biographical dictionaries, official rolls, ete., while the great majority of people are not named to the public ear or known to the public eye, but are counted by thousands or millions. In fact, of those who think themselves among the notables, very few are known out of their own circle or town; and in a country so full of newspapers and facilities of travel as our own, it is often very disheartening to the supposed hero, orator, or author of one section to find that he has not been heard of a hundred miles from home; and on the hotel register or in the rail-cars he is as much one of the masses as any stereotype Mr. Green or Brown. If we test reputation by household fame, very few can lay claim to it; and if men of note are exclusive in their estimate of themselves in relation to the many, these are quite as exclusive in return, and the masses have but a very small number of names upon their list of public acquaintance, and coolly cut the acquaintance of the rank and file of literary and political greatness. Probably a hundred would be a large number of names to record as being known to our people at large; and perhaps the number required to save Sodom from destruction—the number ten—would comprise the first-class notables whose presence would make a sensation in any village in the land.

It may be, indeed, that first-class character does not win popularity in its own day, and the highest quality of merit can only be appreciated by the few, and must rely upon their influence with posterity to reach the many. Yet the dependence, although remote, is none the less important, and true genius will care far more to live in the homes of the people than at the courts of kings, and count a loving place in the farmer's cottage as a far higher reward than a stately shelf in the library of universities. So close is the relation between the many and the few, and so sure are they to need each other's service. And if this relation holds with poets, orators, historians, and the master minds in letters, much more with the thinkers, reformers, and heroes who work more directly upon the common conscience, and whose mission it is to lead the people to better things. Certainly the great question in the world now is, How shall we get hold of the masses? Princes and nobles—nay, even the groat despots of our time— are studying the temper of the people, and ready to

confess, that however little should be done by the people, every thing should be done for the people. It is not becoming in us, who write as one of the people, to take a position outside or above them, or venture to patronize the masses to which we belong. Yet, taking our stand among them, we are none the less moved to speak of their elements, characteristics, and destiny, and we may perhaps win the car of not a few of them to some honest and timely thoughts upon the position of the American people at this time.

We confess at the outset that we have respect for the masses in their most obvious aspect, or regarded simply as quantity. If a great mountain impresses us with its grandeur, why not that vastly more mighty and significant mass, a million of human beings—such, for instance, as makes up the population of this great city? Of course the nature of our respect for this mass must depend very much upon the mind they have or the life they live; but considered as so much mere volume of human existence, they have an immense importance in our eyes. Viewing them merely in their physical relations as indicated by the word proletaire, or as the classes that produce proles, or offspring, they give us the idea of wonderful power. A million of creatures who can propagate the human species, and continue to time without end this mysterious gift of life, with all its circumstances and attributes, both personal and social — what a startling spectacle! When, moreover, wo connect with this view of their reproductive functious all the offices of nursing, feeding, clothing, shelter that are connected with it, and try to embrace in one view all the natural history and economy of this mass of beings, the contemplation becomes overwhelming, and the fields, forests, waters, air, and skies seem to wait their bidding as willing servitors, ready to pay their tribute. Viewed merely as the highest of animals, man is a most impressive creature, more than a match for the lion or the elephant. What shall we say, then, of a million, or thirty millions, of these creatures gathered as one people?

We know very well that men do not rise in character of necessity as they spread in numbers, and many of the most densely peopled cities and countries are the feeblest and least significant. Yet there will always be enough of social and religious life in the multitnde to suggest, if they do not present, the higher characteristics of our race. If, indeed, the million persons were made, like so many bullets, in one mould, and were kept, like bullets, by their own torpor, or by artificial inclosures, from knowing any thing of each other, increase of numbers would not imply any increase of social life; and if one man had no social feeling, a thousand such men would have no more, since, as we were taught at school, a thousand times nothing is just nothing. Sometimes we are tempted to estimate numbers thus when we are among persons who have no enlarged views, no public spirit; and if one of these, by the absence of true human worth, is fitly called nobody, a thousand such nobodies are but nobody. But generally a multitnde of peoplo will have some kind of corporate consciousness that makes the many one —one mass at least, if not always one living body or one animated soul. Now, surely this sense of being one mass, or this consciousness of being part of the multitude, gives us an interesting and important view of mere numbers, even without ascending into

the higher forms of consciousness that deal with qualities of character rather than with numbers of persons. Thus, the feeling that we belong to a nation of thirty-one millions of people has within it a certain meaning and power before we begin to stndy the character of our people or consider the grounds of our fellowship and progress. In fact, a certain emotion seems to wait upon the presence of numbers, viewed merely as numbers, and a man feels himself to be a different creature according as he finds himself alone, or with one, or two, or three, or a dozen companions. When the number increases so to make exact counting impossible, he changes his unit of computation to hundreds or thousands, and his feeling rises as the new units swell. Thus an orator breathes more deeply when one of a thousand than of a hundred, and a general's courage rises as the regiments multiply. Generally, indeed, with this sense of numbers, certain qualities of character are appreciated and social affinities are developed. Yet we are justified in maintaining that, apart from any such consideration, there is power in the mere aggregation of numbers; and man, like nature, has a certain life in the mass, as the globe on which we live, before we speculate upon its electric functions or its animated tribes, has unity in its mere bulk, and the gravitation and cohesion of its matter are a type of the gravitation and cohesion that holds multitudes together before they are fused and assimilated by higher forces.

Certainly the most obvious ground of interest in an assembly is in its numbers, and the first question that is asked when we have been to a political, literary, or religious meeting is, "How many were there?" If we analyze the feeling we probably find that, before we discover any peculiar characteristics in the assembly, or enjoy any peculiar fellowship from diverse minds in combination, we find ourselves enlarged by being one of the many, and each man estimates himself by the size of the body to which he belongs. It is important to use this fact in our dealing with the people, and endeavor as far as we can to make mere numbers tell on the right side. Thus popular meetings are of great use apart from any thing that is said, and a vast work is done for any cause when two or three thousand persons come together and look upon each other and their leaders, although no novel ideas may be started and no startling measures may be initiated. Wo are convinced that many valuable movements have sadly languished from the neglect of this truth; and reformers, statesmen, and moralists have foolishly trusted their cause wholly to abstract reasoning or private conversation, while they overlook the immense power of numbers when gathered together under some commanding mind, or some exciting symbol of patriotism or religion.

It is necessary to be thoughtful, however, in using the power of numbers; and especially there is need of remembering that beyond a certain point multiplicity weakens, or at least confuses, the spectator, instead of strengthening or impressing him. Thus there is a limit to the size of an assembly that can be commanded by one voice or by one eye. Two or three thousand are enough for one man to speak to; and if the aim be to impress the eye, it is wiser to divide a hundred thousand men into ten divisions of ten thousand each than to crowd them together into one immense and unwieldy mass. Indeed, beyond a certain point, size fails to make any impression upon us, and as soon as an assembly is large enough to overflow our field of vision it becomes a mere

crowd; and a million of men in one assembly gives us no more idea of multitude, so far as we can judge from the midst of them, than a company of ten thousand men. Hence the superior power of numbers as presented by judicious divisions of the population into towns and states. Merely in a rhetorical or emotional point of view, our American Union is most happily adjusted; and every citizen, as he thinks of the thirty-four States that make up the nation, has a far more distinct and effective idea of the greatness of the people than if the whole population were crowded together in one enormous city, and he tried in vain to take in the whole mass at one view. It is as when we try to see the ocean, and find that we can sweep but a few miles of it with our eye; and we can far better appreciate its extent by looking upon some lake or gulf whose limits we can discern, and then taking this as the unit which is to be multiplied times enough to equal the great sea. Only in this way can we ever begin to appreciate great magnitudes; such, for example, as the entire population of the globe. Most persons get no satisfactory idea from the statement that there are about a theusand millious of human beings on the earth, and they can conceive of a tenth of the number or ten times the number as easily. We come much nearer the mark by riding through the streets and around the suburbs of a great city like ours, and then trying to imagine a thousand cities of about the same number of inhabitants, which must run very near the theusand millious of people assigned to the entire globe.

Perhaps we in this country have our keenest sense of the power of numbers by comparison, especially through the rivalry of sects and parties. We count by majorities and minorities, and where suffrage is so nearly universal as in America, our people are estimated mainly according to the number of votes cast. Yet the absolute number is not thought so important as the relative number, and the question at an election is not so much how many votes were cast, as whe had the majority, and how large was the majority. Here comes in the important consideration of the neutralizing of numbers by numbers, or the counterbalancing of masses by masses. Politicians, and in time the people, have a very close sense of the size of parties from this mode of comparison; and when, as is generally the case, this ready estimate of the magnitude of the opposing ranks is connected with the excitement of political opinions and local interests and personal influence, mass is made to appear something far more than mere bulk, and rival parties shine with all the various lights and move with all the various electric forces that appear in the bodies more celestial that star the heaveus abovo us, although sometimes they may remind us more of the glaring meteors that blaze a moment through the darkness to explode and vanish forever.

It should not be forgotten that we are now able to feel the existence and virtual presence of great numbers as never before, and the magnetic telegraph, the locomotive engine, and the press give each of us a ubiquity unknown in the old time. Thus we not only believe from documentary testimony that millions of people live in the great Western Valley, and are pushing on toward the Rocky Mountains, but we almost feel their touch; and when we pay our dollar and send a message to a friend at St. Louis, the answer seems to come to us warm and thrilling with the life of the whole intervening population, and we are vitally one of the million

ourselves. This new sense of oneness or solidarity is one of the memorable features of our age, and with all its advantages, it does not fail to suggest some misgivings as to its perils. Certainly since the father of lies began his infernal work, lying was never done on so gigantic a scale as now; and almost every week some monstrous falsehood puts on its more than seven-league boots, and travels from Florida to Maine, or from New Orleans to St. John's, in one electric flash. Rapidity of communication, indeed, does not of itself make more incidents to be transmitted, but simply makes the transmission nearly simultaneous with the occurrence—a fact in itself most significant, since much that passes as news, and is very exciting, would have very little importance if it were left to travel by the slow coach of the old lines of transportation. The peculiar characteristic of our time is the pressure of news from simultaneous occurrences, so that we all live not only our own life, but the life of the whole world, so far as its memorable experiences are concerned; and Europe is but a few days from us, while civilized America is pretty much all at our door, and certainly looks in upon as with our morning and evening paper. This fact must surely give us a new idea of our solidarity, and rid us of the vanity of that poor individualism that sometimes tempts us to set ourselves apart from our race, as if we could live for ourselves or from ourselves alone. It is a new question how this facility of communication shall be employed, and we may well be startled when we think of the power put into the hands of our press of acting upon the mind of the whole nation by telegraphic signals that throw the old beacon fires into contempt, and kindle the whole continent into flame at a single electric word. It may be that necessity and not choice must regulate this mode of communication, and all messages must be sent that business and actual life demand. Yet even in what is called positive news, what room there is for selection, and what frequent cause for suppression! And now that documents, opinions, and speeches are transmitted, what opportunity there is for bringing higher moral and intellectual forces to bear upon the people, and giving sound principles and timely truths the marvelous power of simultaneous publication and popular sympathy throughout the land! But we are advancing before we know it in our discussion, and passing from our view of the masses as numbers or quantity, and considering their qualiig, or the character of the influence to be brought to bear upon them.

Turn now to the higher view of the subject, and regard the many, not merely as brought together in space, but as united by some prevailing spirit; or, in other words, not merely as aggregated, but as congregated and assimilated. They may, of course, be assimilated by a good or a bad spirit, according as a hero or a buccaneer, an apostle or a fanatic, animates and leads them. If the question be asked whether it is easier to move great companies of men by good or by bad motives, we reply at once that popular passions always have in them decided elements of nobleness; and however blinded and mistaken the multitude may be in their ideas, their purposes are never wholly evil. Even the mob of the Reign of Terror thought that they were doing right, and were far more eager to avenge themselves upon those whom they considered as the enemies of liberty and humanity than to fill their own pockets with plunder. The very lowest class of motives do not show themselves in large assemblies, unless these Vol. XXIII.—No. 134.—S

are wholly imbruted and infuriated by war and bloodshed in its most fearful forms. Thus any exhibition of lustful passion is most offensive to the multitude; and whatever may be the secret sins or private vices of the constituents, the mob, in its corporate capacity, has an utter contempt and hatred for harlots and their retinue of followers. We allow that animosities are more contagious among the many than friendships, and nothing so stirs the crowd as the sight of a common enemy. Yet the animosity thus inflamed is not general or lasting, unless connected with some nobler passion, or some absorbing affection; and if Demosthenes, by his terrible invective against the King of Macedon, kindles in the city a fire of wrath that burns to march against Philip, and to conquer or to die, we must remember that this fire is fed out of the deep love of old Athens, and if hatred touches the match to the lamp, it is patriotism that supplies the oil and feeds it continually. A certain element of antagonism is needed to give zest to all popular movements and emotions; but the greatest power is evolved when the people are united by common interests and affections, and the rise of an enemy brings their union to a decided point, and gives them a common indignation and aim. Such is the effect of war upon nations well civilized and governed, but where public spirit has been permitted to languish during a long period of money-making and self-indulgence, and, perhaps, of selfish partisanship. With all the evils of war—and certainly there are more than we will undertake to rehearse—it evidently brings out patriotic feeling in a marvelous manner; and tho first gun fired against our flag has been the reveille of a new age of national enthusiasm—the signal, in fact, that the nation is new born.

But we need not look to such extreme and fearful means to find a wholesome antagonism. All social life comes from a meeting of apparent antagonisms, and every new force rises from the combination of two or more diverse elements. Nature illustrates this law, and air, water, and all the leading substances and organisms of nature show the working of the principle of polarity that educes power by the harmony of opposites. The higher the life evolved, the more wide and wonderful the range and diversity of the materials to be assimilated or combined. The organic substances unite more elements than the inorganic; the plant more than the mineral; the animal more than the plant; the human more than the animal; and man, who is the crown of creation, unites in his constitution the elements of all substances and faculties of all beings beneath him. Human society has the same unity in complexity that the human constitution has; and if we consider the organism and functions of a great nation, we shall be struck with the wonderful assimilation of parts apparently antagonistic. In fact, the nation begins with the union of beings the opposites of each other, and marriage which founds the family, unites for life the sexes, who, in a state of undisciplined nature, are always annoying each other, and in a virtual warfare of aggression and resistance. Business rests upon a similar assimilation, and its work goes on by the harmony between labor and capital, or numbers and wealth, the very powers that constantly tend to make war upon each other in a state of lawlessness. Loyalty, whether under a republican or a monarchical form of government, rests upon a like basis; and by it the weak and the strong, the small and the great, are brought together in a common allegiance : so that the greatest nation is not thatwhich is made up of entire equals, but that which combines the largest number of wholesome diversities in the most vital unity.

The statesman and the moralist, therefore, should bear this principle in mind, and endeavor so to unite and assimilate the various elements of the population as to produce the most comprehensive unity in diversity. They will see that a true method will find a place for the material apparently the most hopeless; and while our social polity thus far has not succeeded in working all the refuse population into the social fabric, and still a portion is set aside in the poor-house as helpless, or in the prison is dangerous, we are more willingly leaving people to their own affinities, and trusting less and less in arbitrary forces, such as the bayonet and the lash, to restrain them. Many whose unruly tempers might make them bad subjects in our city find better use for their reckless daring at sea or in the backwoods, and the more refined and attractive arts of peace waken into usefulness many timid natures, who under rude sway might be frightened into imbecility and pauperism. We can not go with the Socialists in affirming that a new method of living in community would neutralize all unwholesome social elements, and harmonize all antagonisms, for we believe that great responsibility rests with each man, and society can not take his work or his doom off his shoulders; but we are quite sure that a more enlarged system would point toward such results, and bring under wholesome motives numbers who are now given over to idleness or vice.

Our nationality is a marvelous example of the assimilation of diverse materials by one spirit and one constitution. For nearly a century we have lived together in virtual peace and prosperity, and the widest differences of climate and race have been combined under one powerful government. The East and the West, the North and the South differ in the temperament of their people, yet not enough to compel alienation. Nay, the Eastern man in his stability, and the Western man in his restlessness, are all the better friends by being able to give and receive each in exchange for what is received and given, as the slow and careful man is cheered by a companion more free and fast than himself, and nothing is more marked than the great good feeling between the extremes of our country. New England and the Mississippi Valley are great friends, and New York is hand in glove with San Francisco. Between North and South there are, we know, other elements of antagonism than those of climate and pulse, and some of these are too perplexing to be handled here now. But so far as the characteristics of the Northerner and Southerner are concerned, as growing out of cooler and warmer temperaments, or more balanced and more impulsive natures, they are fitted for being the best friends in the world; and if harsh political questions could be adjusted, or utterly removed from public debate, interesting affinities would show themselves, and friendship and marriage would join North and South in close ties both social and national. We need a better understanding between the good and true men of both sections; and it is much to be lamented that these two great communities have been interpreted to each other, not by the wisest and calmest, but by the most extreme and hot-headed agitators in both sections.

We are certainly agreeably disappointed in the disposition of the new Europeans who have lately come to live with us, and there is far less fear than

of old that they will make war upon our institutions. The Irish and the Germans are the most conspicuous in numbers and influence; yet they make very good Americans, and are ready to stand by our constitution and laws, even to take arms in their defense. The most dangerous disorganizes have not sprung from them, nor from the ranks of the common people, but rather from disappointed aspirants for political power, who mingle the pride of aristocrats with the passions and vulgarity of demagogues. We do not fear any great trouble from such difference of race, but apprehend rather that our national life will be enlarged and enriched from such a range and diversity of materials. In fact, our original States, although mainly English, had representatives from all nations; and the majority of English colonists, instead of being of one stereotype class, were so various in creed, politics, and habit, as to make the thirteen colonies most interesting specimens of unity in difference, and models of the principle and the policy that should now and ever carry out the old motto that out of the many ever makes the one.

We have not space to illustrate at length the philosophy of social assimilation, or to point out the means to be used to develop the highest order of life from the different elements in our country and our people We can have little hope from any measures that look merely to immediate effect, and do not consider the perpetuity of the national life. The national life is perpetuated by stability and progress; the one being the root, the other the branches and tho fruit of its prosperity. He is the wise leader of the masses who looks judiciously to these two ruling powers, and adjusts them effectively. Without stability, progress is restless, reckless, fruitless; and without progress, stability is sluggish, stagnant, lifeless. Our nation, in its fixed law and in its changing and animating men, has signally combined the two. Every patriot must strive and pray that the old constitution and laws may be maintained, and that the nation may be fixed in the steadfastness of a sound conservatism, and quickened by the fire of progressive courage. God has given us our guiding law and our moving mind, and he will continue and renew them still. More deeply perhaps than we are conscious, we feel this two-fold gift when we look at the flag of our Union, as we have so often done of late, and our hearts beat quicker, and our eyes fill with tears of joy and hope as we gaze upon its stripes and stars. Those stars speak to us of laws of equity as fixed as the eternal heavens; and those stripes, as they wave in the breeze, tell us of that mysterious breath which moves through men and nations, that they may be born, not of the flesh, but of God.

Guitnr's IfetI I£jInir.

TOWN TALK has but one topic in these days, and can not well have any other. There is little social gayety; few books are published; the Gallery of the National Academy is closed, and Church's picture of " The North" is the chief representative of the Fine Arts. But the great city was never more thronged and busy, and never so earnest in the experience of the younger citizens. Possibly in the old days, when the Sons of Liberty met in the building near the Bowling Green, long known as tho Atlantic Garden; or in the later times, when tho British fleat eailrd up the Chesapeake and the BritLih army marched upon Washington, there was a similar public excitement.

How little Americans of this generation supposed that they should ever hear the alarm of war! Our whole system is so peaceful—the doctrine of our institutions has always been so opposed to the traditions of other nations—that we have proudly felt how softly, by the mild voice of law, all our differences would be adjusted, and civilization secured and perpetuated by the ministries of peace.

We were too eager. When vital differences prevail among men there can be but one final solution —that of force. It seems to be a blind appeal to Providence, upon Fichte's doctrine that the right cause is sure to triumph. Hence, also, the old battle-cry, God for the right! Hence, also, the old hand-shaking before the encounter, in sign that there was no personal enmity, but that each combatant felt himself to be but an agent.

"Non-resistance won't work," said Fountain to the EasyChair, the other day. Fountain has cherished for a long time a secret conviction that the world had unconsciously drifted into the Millennium. The Crimean war shook his faith sadly. The Sepoy rebellion staggered him. But in the days upon which we have fallen in this country, he has abandoned the Millennial theory altogether.

It is said again that Thackeray is to take up Macaulay's IHstory, and bring it through the eighteenth century; and it is added that some people are very much disturbed by the intention.

"Some people" are disturbed by every thing that happens. Is there any reason why Thackeray should not do it? His studies and sympathies peculiarly fit him for the work; and his pictures, to say the worst of it, could not be more unfaithful than Macaulay's. Macaulay painted for the sake of the picture, not of the likeness. His gallery of portraits, extending through all his works, glows with splendor of color, vigor of drawing, and glitter of accessories. But when his great merits have been conceded, and the student proceeds to inquire whether they are the merits of a truthful chronicler or of a consummate literary artist—do you think Thackeray need be nervous?

Hear what one of his recent crities says—of course, a Tory critic:

"As a specimen of style—at once vivid and correct—it will last till the New Zealander himself shall appear on London Bridge ', but every day its assumption of fact and its appraisement of character are being called into question. The Scotch swear the historian has belied them. The Quakers affirm the same. Tories read the book because they say the caricature of conservatism can scarcely go farther, and the gorgeousness of the libels must abash smaller lampoonists for all time to come. Not even the Whigs, however, can rely on it; Lord John Russell would scarcely dare quote the fulsome portrait of his great idol, Lord Somers. 'Paint me,' said Cromwell to Lely, 'warts and all.' Macaulay's Whigs are wartless—his Tories are all warts. In his fifth volume he fails to see a solitary vice in Charles Montague. In the fourth he failed to perceive a single virtue in the Duke of Marlborough. This is not the way to write our aunals. It may be made very pleasant reading, especially when relieved with well-grouped pictures and elaborate processions, but it is not history."

It is a fair reply to this to say that the History of England is necessarily a history of parties—or, in

other words, of a certain policy, upon which the people have divided into parties; and every man who is competent to write a history must have his opinion of the right or wrong in the matter, and he will naturally favor those with whom he sympathizes. For example, Froude gives one view of Henry the Eighth and the Reformation, and the Protestant historians of England another. Which is right? How are you to reconcile them? The English Jacobites long drank to Charles the Martyr. The English Whigs secretly approved the doom of Charles the Traitor. Will you have Jacobite history or Whig history?

It does not follow, indeed, that a historian shall be unjust because he believes one party to have been in the wrong; and this is the force of the objection to Macaulay. "We do not complain," say the Tories, "that he was a Whig. But we do complain that he paints us as devils, and not as Tories. Lord Somers may have been a great man, but surely Marlborough was not a fool."

And so much must be allowed. Macaulay was not fair. He was not fair, for instance, as Motley is, whose sympathies for the Dutch in the struggle he records are quite as warm as Macaulay's could have been for the Whigs. A curious and remarkable illustration of Macaulay's subordination of the fact to the brilliant and effective account of it is given in the lately published "Autobiography, Letters, and Literary Remains of Mrs. Piozzi." Macaulay wrote a paper upon Dr. Johnson for the " Encyclopedia Britannica." It was one of his most admirable performances, and as a piece of brief and effective biography it was masterly. Dr. Johnson's intimacy with Mrs. Thrale, afterward Mrs. Piozzi, is one of the pleasantest episodes of his melancholy life. He seems to have been happier in her house than any where else in the world. Some time after Mr. Thrale's death his widow married Mr. Piozzi. There was a great outcry and surprise among her friends. Johnson wrote her an uupardonable letter. He insulted her, and she returned a most womanly and noble reply. Then she went with her husband to Italy, his native country; and before she returned Dr. Johnson was dead. Macaulay tells this story with his bitterest brilliancy. "She, meanwhile," he says, "fled from the laughter and hisses of her countrymen and countrywomen to a land where she was unknown, hastened across Mount Cenis, and learned, while passing a merry Christmas of concerts and lemonade parties at Milan, that the great man with whose name hers is inseparably associated had ceased to exist."

This is well turned, but unluckily it is not quite true. On the contrary, it is entirely untrue. The actual facts of tho story are told in the Diary and Letters of Mrs. Piozzi, and they differ substantially from the vivid and pointed description of the historian. "Give Archimedes a place to stand on," says Mrs. Piozzi's editor, "and he would move the world. Give Talleyrand a line of a man's handwriting, and he would engage to ruin him. Give Lord Macaulay a hint, a fancy, an insulated fact or phrase, a scrap of a journal or the tag end of a song, and on it, by the abused prerogative of genius, he would construct a theory of national or personal character which should confer undying glory or inflict indelible disgrace."

Thackeray differs entirely from Macaulay in precisely this requisite for historical composition. He is no partisan, because of his singular intellectual impartiality. His style is exquisitely lucid and

« PreviousContinue »