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and the tall thin form of Langton, the courtly sneer of
Beauclerk and the beaming smile of Garrick, Gibbon tapping
his snuff-box, and Sir Joshua with his trumpet in his ear.
In the foreground is that strange figure which is as familiar
to us as the figures of those among whom we have been brought
up--the gigantic body, the huge massy face, seamed with the
scars of disease, the brown coat, the black worsted stockings,
the grey wig with the scorched foretop, the dirty hands, the
nails bitten and pared to the quick. We see the eyes and mouth
moving with convulsive twitches; we see the heavy form rolling;
we hear it puffing, and then comes the 'Why, sir!' and the
'What then, sir?' and the 'No, sir!' and the 'You don't see
your way through the question, sir!'"
It is etched into your memory for ever.
I can remember that when I visited London at the age of sixteen the first thing I did after housing my luggage was to make a pilgrimage to Macaulay's grave, where he lies in Westminster Abbey, just under the shadow of Addison, and amid the dust of the poets whom he had loved so well. It was the one great object of interest which London held for me. And so it might well be, when I think of all I owe him. It is not merely the knowledge and the stimulation of fresh interests, but it is the charming gentlemanly tone, the broad, liberal outlook, the general absence of bigotry and of prejudice. My judgment now confirms all that I felt for him then.
My four-volume edition of the History stands, as you see, to the right of the Essays. Do you recollect the third chapter of that work--the one which reconstructs the England of the seventeenth century? It has always seemed to me the very high-water mark of Macaulay's powers, with its marvellous mixture of precise fact and romantic phrasing. The population of towns, the statistics of commerce, the prosaic facts of life are all transmuted into wonder and interest by the handling of the master. You feel that he could have cast a glamour over the multiplication table had he set himself to do so. Take a single concrete example of what I mean. The fact that a Londoner in the country, or a countryman in London, felt equally out of place in those days of difficult travel, would seem to hardly require stating, and to afford no opportunity of leaving a strong impression upon the reader's mind. See what Macaulay makes of it, though it is no more than a hundred other paragraphs which discuss a hundred various points--
"A cockney in a rural village was stared at as much as if he
had intruded into a kraal of Hottentots. On the other hand,
when the lord of a Lincolnshire or Shropshire manor appeared
in Fleet Street, he was as easily distinguished from the
resident population as a Turk or a Lascar. His dress, his gait,