Page images
PDF
EPUB

ESSAYS OF MACAULAY

WILLIAM PITT, EARL OF CHATHAM; THE

EARL OF CHATHAM; LORD CLIVE;

WARREN HASTINGS

EDITED BY

SAMUEL THURBER

Boston

ALLYN AND BACON

1894

EWTON TECLOG SMYCZY
853.260.133

ULCERDER 18, 1933

COPYRIGHT, 1892,

BY

SAMUEL THURBER.

TYPOGRAPHY BY J. S. CUSHING & Co., Boston.

PRESSWORK BY BERWICK & Smith, BOSTON.

INTRODUCTION.

The publication, for students' use, of four of Macaulay's greatest historical essays certainly needs no apology or explanation. Of these essays, no less than of the literary ones, the subjects are important and the style profoundly interesting. Macaulay continues to be read in spite of acknowledged bias as a historian, and in spite of the assertion of now and then a rhetorician that the charm of his language depends on meretricious qualities. He will continue to be read by students of English quite as much as by students of history. Wherever style is studied, it will be necessary to inquire whence Macaulay derives his power to fascinate. His writings are rhetoric in the concrete. One may study clearness and force in the text-books to any extent, and yet be forced to investigate Macaulay to learn what these qualities of style really are and how great is their value.

Macaulay was a politician with intense convictions. With the century and a half of English politics preceding his own time he was probably better acquainted than any of his contemporaries. The Whig party of his day, to which he belonged, and the Tory party,

1 Select Essays of Macaulay (Milton, Bunyan, Johnson, Goldsmith, Madame D'Arblay), edited by Samuel Thurber. Allyn & Bacon.

which he opposed, were known to him from their beginnings. He felt the historical continuity of his activity, as a British citizen in the midst of political strife, with that of the great men of the Revolution and of the whole Georgian era.

To him Pitt was intimately known. From his own experience and observation he appreciated the motives that governed that great leader, and he sympathized with the vicissitudes of his career. No other man could speak about Pitt with the readiness and the copiousness of Macaulay. To a reader of to-day, and especially to an American reader, Macaulay's superabundance of knowledge is sometimes a cause of embarrassment. Details are given us in too great profusion, and what was meant to help or to please serves only to perplex. Hence some annotation is generally recognized as needed by the great majority of readers who would peruse these essays with intelligence and appreciation.

Of all Macaulay's essays, it is perhaps the Clive and the Hastings that have proved the most popular. Like all his most fervid chapters, these too have had to be corrected here and there in justice to individuals, or in conformity to more fully ascertained historical truth. But the essays are read as romances are, because they seize and hold the attention, and because they portray great men engaged in struggle and magnificently achieving success.

The student will remember that Macaulay wrote the Clive and the Hastings after a four years' residence in India, during which it had been his business to acquaint

1 As by Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, in his Story of Nuncomar and the Impeachment of Sir Elijah Impey. Macmillan & Co., London, 1885.

« PreviousContinue »