Here he is on the tenets ofthe Puritans: "It was a sin to hang garlands on a Maypole, to drink a friend's health, to fly a hawk, to hunt a stag, to play at chess, to wear lovelocks, to put starch into a ruff, to touch the virginals, to read the Faerie Queene." Here he is describing the Princess Mary skating on the Dutch canals, "poised on one leg, and clad in petticoats shorter than are generally worn by ladies so strictly decorous." And here on the profound submission and obedience of the Jesuit "whether he should live under the arctic circle or under the equator, whether he should pass his life in arranging gems and collating manuscripts at the Vatican or in persuading naked barbarians under the Southern Cross not to eat each other." Here on the country squires hurrying to London early in 1690 to oppose the Corporation Bill, which they interpreted as a retrospective penal law against the entire Tory party: "A hundred knights and squires left their halls hung with mistletoe and holly, and their boards groaning with brawn and plum porridge, and rode up post to town, cursing the short days, the cold weather, the miry road, and the villainous Whigs." These examples could be multiplied indefinitely; and there is no need to comment on their visual and dramatic impact.
What is worth noting is how often the historian's visual imagination is reinforced by what might be called his propulsive imagination.
He was essentially plebeian, said Lady Holland; “uncouth and not a man of the world,” Lord Melbourne said to Queen Victoria.
And yet, when we have said the worst that we can of him, how triumphantly he turns and conquers us, as he conquered his contemporary critics!
But the ability to make it, regularly and as a matter of course, is rare and not to be despised.
At a more complex level, it is this same capacity which enabled Macaulay to propel the lord of the manor of the late seventeenth century to London, and to see him there jostled by bullies, splashed by hackney coachmen, victimized by pickpockets and shopkeepers, and derided by fops; or to describe the effect on Englishmen Clive, John.
But his Toryism, such as it is, he has held fast through all changes of fortune and fashion; and he has at last retired from public life, leaving behind him, to the best of our belief, no personal enemy, and carrying with him the respect and good will of many who strongly dissent from his opinions. Courtenay’s leisure, is introduced by a preface in which he informs us that the assistance furnished to him from various quarters “has taught him the superiority of literature to politics for developing the kindlier feelings, and conducing to an agreeable life.” We are truly glad that Mr.
Courtenay is so well satisfied with his new employment, and we heartily congratulate him on having been driven by events to make an exchange which, advantageous as it is, few people make while they can avoid it.
That little, squat man, ungainly and protruding from his clothes, took the House of Commons by storm.
When he rose to speak, wrote Gladstone, members crowded in as to a division.