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ested adherence to them. A brief residence in Jamaica in his youth had acquainted him with the cruelties practised on the slaves there. After his return to England, through the columns of the Christian Observer, of which he was editor, he labored earnestly to force legislation to free the slaves of the West Indies. This brought him into close association with Wilberforce and other political reformers who were working for the same end. His home was a centre for consultation for the members of Parliament who lived on the Surrey side of London. Thus young Macaulay was admitted to the intimacy of politicians while he was still a child, and was made familiar with the workings of Parliament. His mother gave the boy the love and petting his affectionate nature craved, and she recognized the unusual activity of his mind. How could any mother be blind to the precocity of a child of three years who spent his happiest hours lying before the fire with a piece of bread and butter in his hand, reading from a book open before him on the rug; and who, when eight years old, had memorized all of Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel and Marmion, unconsciously, simply through the delight in reading them ? Fortunately for him both his father and his mother had the wisdom to refrain from parading his accomplishments, and they insisted on a like treatment from their friends and the child's
tutors. There were eight other children, three brothers and five sisters. Thomas was the eldest, and the idol of all the rest. He was the sunshine of the family, they said, and when Tom was away there was never any fun at all, or anything worth doing.
Hannah More may be regarded as his first literary patron. She treated him as a child, but rewarded his poetic efforts by presenting to him his first books to start a library. His first hero was his uncle, General Colin Macaulay, who was retired from service in India. This nephew of ten evidently desired more fighting for his hero, for he hinted in verse:
“For many a battle shall be lost and won,
Ere yet thy glorious labors shall be done.”
When Macaulay was about thirteen years old he was sent from home to a private school. At this time begins the long series of letters which serve to make up the real biography of his life. These first letters tell of his studies and his readings, and many of them disclose the intense homesickness of this home-loving boy. In one addressed to his mother he writes: “Everything I read or hear or see brings home to my mind. You told me I should be happy when I once came here, but not an hour passes in which I do not shed tears at thinking of home.
Tell me in your next, expressly, if you can, whether or no there is any like
lihood of my coming home before the holidays; if your approbation of my request depends upon my advancing in study I will work like a cart-horse."
In 1818 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge. There his love of literature and his vivid interest in outside political affairs seem fairly balanced. He took many prizes, but lost many that others thought he deserved. The losses he seems to have taken philosophically, for in later years he wrote, “If a man brings away from Cambridge self-knowledge, accuracy of mind, and habits of strong intellectual exertion, he has gained more than if he had made a display and show of superficial scholarship; for, after all, what a man does at Cambridge is in itself nothing." He took his A.B. degree in 1822, and was elected to a fellowship in Trinity in 1824. Two changes had come to him while he was in college. When he entered, his father was in affluent circumstances. By mismanagement somewhere the business in which the money was invested failed. Thomas and his brother Henry ultimately paid off the father's debts, but upon Thomas fell the support of the family. While waiting for his fellowship he did some tutoring. When the fellowship came, its three hundred pounds a year, with about three hundred that he made by his writing, enabled the family to live happily, if not luxuriously. Of his assuming this charge his biog
rapher says: “He quietly took up the burden which his father was unable to bear, and before many years had elapsed the fortunes of all for whose welfare he considered himself responsible were abundantly assured. In the course of the efforts which he expended on the accomplishment of this result he unlearned the very notion of framing his method of life with a view to his own pleasure; and such was his high and simple nature that it may well be doubted whether it ever crossed his mind that to live wholly for others was a sacrifice at all.” His sister's tribute is, “Those were years of intense happiness; if there were money troubles, they did not touch us. We traversed every part of the city, Islington, Clerkenwell, and the parks, returning just in time for a six o'clock dinner. What anecdotes he used to pour out about every street and court and square and alley ! Then after dinner he always walked up and down the drawing-room between us, chatting till tea-time. noisy mirth, his wretched puns, so many a minute, so many an hour !”
The other change was of political opinion. He, like his father, was a Tory, but before the end of his first year at Cambridge he had been converted to Whig principles. It was a time of extreme views, when riots were occurring in all the large cities; the cry was “ Bread or Blood,” and the famous “Six Acts'
had been passed; but though Macaulay had always been a reformer and had now turned Whig, his mind was cool and well balanced, so that at no time was her a revolutionist.
It was during his college life that his contributions to Knight's Quarterly Magazine began. These earliest writings show the essential features of that direct, lucid “style” which has since come to be famous. The Battle of Ivry, The Battle of Naseby, and The Conversation of Mr. Abraham Cowley and Mr. John Milton touching the Great Civil War were published in this magazine. His father disapproved of such light literature as poetry and essays, and he very strongly disapproved of Knight's Quarterly Magazine. Macaulay's answers to his father's letters of remonstrance are gentle and respectful. Occasionally, though, he breaks forth, as in one letter: "Consistency with a vengeance! The reading of modern poetry and novels is complained of as exciting a worldly disposition and preventing ladies from reading Dryden's Fables!” Still, the disapproval of those he loved pained him, and it must have been relief as well as pride that made him promise his father a “piece of secret history." The editors of the Edinburgh Review, a liberal publication which wielded the greatest power in social, political, and literary circles, had been looking about for a new writer who should be young, clever,