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LONDON, PARIS À MELBOURNE
First printed in this Series December 1885. Reprint d January 1886, January 1886, February 1886, July 1886,
1887, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1893, 1894, 1896.
THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY was born at Rothley Temple, in Leicestershire, on the 25th of October, 1800. His grandfather, the Rev. John Macaulay, minister of Cardross, had twelve children. One of them, Zachary, began life as overseer of an estate in Jamaica, saw the ills of slavery, and at the age of twenty-four went to Sierra Leone in the service of a company formed to oppose free labour to slave labour. After some years Zachary Macaulay settled in England as secretary to that company, and married a Quakeress, Selina Mills, who had been a pupil, and who remained a friend, of Hannah More and her sisters.
Zachary's sister Jean had married Mr. Thomas Babington of Rothley Temple, in Leicestershire; Mrs. Macaulay was staying with her friends at Rothley Temple when her first child was born; and so he was named Thomas Babington Macaulay. The child's earliest home was in Birchin Lane, at the house of the Sierra Leone Company; afterwards the family was established at a house in High Street, Clapham. From childhood Macaulay had a very wonderful memory. He read much, also wrote verses, and he “talked like
print.” When four years old he replied to a lady who condoled with him upon having hot coffee spilt over his legs, “Thank you, madam, the agony is abated.”
Macaulay was placed first at a school in Clapham, then with an Evangelical clergyman, who taught a dozen boys, at Little Shelford, near Cambridge. In October 1818, he was sent to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he twice gained the Chancellor's medal for English verse. He obtained also a prize offered to the Junior Bachelor of his College who should write the best essay on the “ Conduct and Character of William the Third.” He was brilliant among fellow students as a writer and a talker, and he never ceased to be a talker. In later days Samuel Rogers, at one of the breakfasts to which he gathered many men of letters, once announced that as Macaulay was coming presently, “If any one has anything to say let him say it now, while there remains a chance."
In 1823 and 1824 Macaulay contributed to a magazine, Knights Quarterly, set up by Cambridge students. Montcontour, Ivry, Songs of the Huguenots, were among his contributions. In 1824 he obtained a Fellowship of Trinity, and in August of the same year Francis Jeffrey, who was looking out for some young men who could put new blood into the Edinburgh Review, published with great satisfaction, Macaulay's first contribution to it, an article on Milton. This was a new departure in reviewing, for Macaulay's articles may be said to have established a change of fashion in
the form of writing for the quarterly reviews. His articles were not reviews, but independent essays, including a few words about some book which had been taken as a peg on which to hang short pieces of history or biography, written with little or no regard to the book supposed to be under review, as in the case of the present Essay, which is professedly a review of Mr. Gleig's "Life of Warren Hastings.” Young Macaulay continued to write articles in the Edinburgh Review. These, with his fluent talk in society, talk enriched from the stores of an unfathomable memory and brightoued by his kindly nature, caused Lord Lyndhurst to regard him as the most promising of the young Whigs. Lord Lyndhurst made him, in 1828, a Commissioner of Bankruptcy. With this appointment and about £300 a year from his fellowship, and £200 a year from his writing. Macaulay, at the age of twenty-eight, had an income of £900 a year. He felt strong enough to shape for himself a great career; and at his own choice, either in literature or in politics. At that time he looked chiefly to political life, and was put into Parliament in 1830 by Lord Lansdowne for the pocket borough of Calne. Macaulay was full of home affection, helpful as son and beuther, and in high spirits with the sense of sure success. “Yesterday Tom dined with us," & sister recorded one day in January, 1832 ; “Tom dined with us and stayed late. He talked almost uninterruptedly for six hours."
After the passing of the Reforn. Bill, Macaulay was