Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay
George Otto Trevelyan

Part 9 out of 9

what was thought of my performance among friends and foes; for
here we have no information on such subjects. The literary
correspondents of the Calcutta newspapers seem to be penny-a-line
risen, whose whole stock of literature comes from the
conversations in the Green Room.

My long article on Bacon has, no doubt, been in your hands some
time. I never, to the best of my recollection, proposed to review
Hannah More's Life or Works. If I did, it must have been in jest.
She was exactly the very last person in the world about whom I
should choose to write a critique. She was a very kind friend to
me from childhood. Her notice first called out my literary
tastes. Her presents laid the foundation of my library. She was
to me what Ninon was to Voltaire,--begging her pardon for
comparing her to a bad woman, and yours for comparing myself to a
great man. She really was a second mother to me. I have a real
affection for her memory. I therefore could not possibly write
about her unless I wrote in her praise; and all the praise which
I could give to her writings, even after straining my conscience
in her favour, would be far indeed from satisfying any of her

I will try my hand on Temple, and on Lord Clive. Shaftesbury I
shall let alone. Indeed, his political life is so much connected
with Temple's that, without endless repetition, it would be
impossible for me to furnish a separate article on each. Temple's
Life and Works, the part which he took in the controversy about
the ancients and moderns; the Oxford confederacy against Bentley;
and the memorable victory which Bentley obtained, will be good
subjects. I am in training for this part of the subject, as I
have twice read through the Phalaris controversy since I arrived
in India.

I have been almost incessantly engaged in public business since I
sent off the paper on Bacon; but I expect to have comparative
leisure during the short remainder of my stay here. The Penal
Code of India is finished, and is in the press. The illness of
two of my colleagues threw the work almost entirely on me. It is
done, however; and I am not likely to be called upon for vigorous
exertion during the rest of my Indian career.

Yours ever


If you should have assigned Temple, or Clive, to anybody else,
pray do not be uneasy on that account. The pleasure of writing
pays itself.

Calcutta: December 18, 1837.

Dear Ellis,--My last letter was on a deeply melancholy subject,
the death of our poor friend Malkin. I have felt very much for
his widow. The intensity of her affliction, and the fortitude and
good feeling which she showed as soon as the first agony was
over, have interested me greatly in her. Six or seven of Malkin's
most intimate friends here have joined with Ryan and me, in
subscribing to put up a plain marble tablet in the cathedral, for
which I have written an inscription. [This inscription appears in
Lord Macaulay's Miscellaneous Works.]

My departure is now near at hand. This is the last letter which I
shall write to you from India. Our passage is taken in the Lord
Hungerford; the most celebrated of the huge floating hotels which
run between London and Calcutta. She is more renowned for the
comfort and luxury of her internal arrangements than for her
speed. As we are to stop at the Cape for a short time, I hardly
expect to be with you till the end of May, or the beginning of
June. I intend to make myself a good German scholar by the time
of my arrival in England. I have already, at leisure moments
broken the ice. I have read about half of the New Testament in
Luther's translation, and am now getting rapidly, for a beginner,
through Schiller's History of the Thirty Years' War. My German
library consists of all Goethe's works, all Schiller's works,
Muller's History of Switzerland, some of Tieck, some of Lessing,
and other works of less fame. I hope to despatch them all on my
way home. I like Schiller's style exceedingly. His history
contains a great deal of very just and deep thought, conveyed in
language so popular and agreeable that dunces would think him

I lately took it into my head to obtain some knowledge of the
Fathers, and I read therefore a good deal of Athanasius, which by
no means raised him in my opinion. I procured the magnificent
edition of Chrysostom, by Montfaucon, from a public library here,
and turned over the eleven huge folios, reading wherever the
subject was of peculiar interest. As to reading him through, the
thing is impossible. These volumes contain matter at least equal
to the whole extant literature of the best times of Greece, from
Homer to Aristotle inclusive. There are certainly some very
brilliant passages in his homilies. It seems curious that, though
the Greek literature began to flourish so much earlier than the
Latin, it continued to flourish so much later. Indeed, if you
except the century which elapsed between Cicero's first public
appearance and Livy's death, I am not sure that there was any
time at which Greece had not writers equal or superior to their
Roman contemporaries. I am sure that no Latin writer of the age
of Lucian is to be named with Lucian; that no Latin writer of the
age of Longinus is to be named with Longinus; that no Latin prose
of the age of Chrysostom can be named with Chrysostom's
compositions. I have read Augustin's Confessions. The book is not
without interest; but he expresses himself in the style of a

Our Penal Code is to be published next week. It has cost me very
intense labour; and, whatever its faults may be, it is certainly
not a slovenly performance. Whether the work proves useful to
India or not, it has been of great use, I feel and know, to my
own mind.

[In October 1854, Macaulay writes to my mother: "I cannot but be
pleased to find that, at last, the Code on which I bestowed the
labour of two of the best years of my life has had justice done
to it. Had this justice been done sixteen years ago, I should
probably have given much more attention to legislation, and much
less to literature than I have done. I do not know that I should
have been either happier or more useful than I have been."]

Ever yours affectionately



Back to Full Books