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Not Heaven

In response to:

Winners and Losers at the 'Times' from the September 25, 1980 issue

To the Editors:

Murray Kempton’s piece [NYR, September 25] raises two interesting questions. One concerns the first use of the expression “The Fourth Estate.” In addition to the possibilities listed by Kempton, there is another: Macaulay. John Clive, in his Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian (Knopf, 1974) quotes Macaulay: “The gallery in which the reporters sit has become a fourth estate of the realm.” Clive then goes on: “In one striking phrase (which he was the first to use), Macaulay penetrated beneath the formal structure of politics to put his finger on the great new force of public opinion….” Despite Clive’s unfortunate digital metaphor, he presents us with a candidate in whose writings the phrase can actually be found. The sentence quoted appears in Macaulay’s essay on Hallam’s constitutional history, written in September, 1828. As for Brougham, he was Macaulay’s patron at the beginning of the latter’s career as a reviewer, and it is possible that so felicitous a turn of phrase might have been used by one of them in conversation and then repeated by one in a speech and the other in a review.

Kempton goes on to chide Salisbury for forgetting “that there never was a Vladimir Lenin.” Kempton is right when he says that Lenin began life as Vladimir llyich Ulyanov, but wrong when he suggests that there was no Vladimir llyich Lenin. Who founded the Bolshevik faction, and directed the revolution, and was the author of the Collected Works of V.I. Lenin, if not Vladimir llyich Lenin? Who—to paraphrase Groucho’s question about Grant’s Tomb—is displayed in V.I. Lenin’s hagiocrypt if not V.I. Lenin? Lenin, like Stalin, Trotsky, Molotov, and other Russian revolutionaries, kept his given name and patronymic while changing his surname; if there was no V.I. Lenin, then there was no J.V. Stalin, or V.M. Molotov, either. Some revolution, some dictatorship, some industrialized state, to have been made and run all these years by non-existent persons!

D.L. Olmsted

American Anthropological Association

University of California

Davis, California

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