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Jerrold, Tennyson and Macaulay

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Jerrold, Tennyson and Macaulay

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    James Hutchison Stirling
Excerpt from book: LORD MACAULAY. Judging from such notices as we have read, it would seem difficult for the critics of the day to speak of this eminent man in other terms than those of extreme admiration, or of not much less extreme dislike. The way in which the whole stock quiver of superlatives has, on this occasion, been precipitately emptied, and its contents indiscriminately applied, reminds us of a passage of Lord Macaulay's own. He remarks, in reference to a certain successful speech, that it was said of it, " that it was more ornamented than the speeches of Demosthenes, and less diffuse than those of Cicero." " This unmeaning phrase," he continues, " has been quoted a hundred times : that it should ever have been quoted except to be laughed at, is strange : the vogue which it has obtained may serve to show in how slovenly a way most people are content to think." A truer obser vation has very seldom been made : and we dare say the recollection of our readers has not any very difficult or distant journey to travel back for the discovery of illustrations in professional criticisms on Lord Macaulay himself. Where there are no bounds neither is there any centre, and there reigns only a futile and impracticable vague. This we, for our part, would fain eschew. In short, a characterization that, with precision of limit, shall possess a coherent, reasoned interior of discernment and discrimation—this is our object : and, if we fail in its accomplishment, we can assure our readers that it will be against our own best efforts. To those who look forward to the triumphs of literary or political life, the career of Macaulay is no less instructive than interesting. What elements of success were given him, and, still more, what elements of success he himself brought, deserve, on the part of all su...  
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