28 JANUARY 1882, Page 25

Evenings with a Reviewer ; or, Macaulay and Bacon. By

James Spedding. With a Prefatory Notice by G. S. Venables. (Kagan Paul, Trench, and Co.)—Mr. Spedding wrote this work, which is a detailed examination of Lord Macaulay's famous essay, many years before his death. It preceded, in fact, his "Life and Letters of Lord Bacon," but he was content to leave it unpublished. Towards the end of his life, he saw reason to regret the suppression of this formal vindication of Bacon's character, and prepared it for the press. That it is conclusive as against Macaulay can scarcely be doubted ; that it does for Bacon's character all that its writer expected it to effect, can scarcely bo granted. Its appearance will be welccme, though, indeed, in these busy times even so interesting a question can hardly be expected to retain the attention of many, because it completes the labours of a life devoted with singular unity of purpose to one great work. Of this life, Mr. G. S. Venables has given us a sketch that seems, so pleasing a picture does it give of "a scholar and a gentleman," all too short. Mr. Spedding's career was one of uneventful labour, though it included one remarkable incident. He refused, in 1847, the office of Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, made to him by Lord Grey, on the retirement of Sir James Stephen. Six years before, his services could have been secured for the country at a very moderate stipend, and, in the opinion of every one but himself, they would have been exceeding valuable. He con- siatently declared. that he was not fit for the post, humorously remark- ing, in reference to the opinion of his friends, that it "was fortunate he was by when the decision was taken."