By Robert E. Sullivan
At the a hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the loss of life of the English historian and flesh presser Thomas Babington Macaulay, Robert Sullivan bargains a portrait of a Victorian lifestyles that probes the price of energy, the perform of empire, and the influence of principles. His Macaulay is a Janus-faced grasp of the universe: a fashionable spokesman for abolishing slavery within the British Empire who cared little for the reason, a forceful suggest for reforming Whig politics yet a Machiavellian realist, a hovering parliamentary orator who refrained from debate, a self-declared Christian, but a skeptic and a secularizer of English background and tradition, and a stern public moralist who used to be in love along with his youngest sisters. probably most sensible identified within the West for his vintage heritage of britain, Macaulay left his such a lot everlasting mark on South Asia, the place his penal code is still the legislation. His father ensured that historic Greek and Latin literature formed Macaulay’s brain, yet he crippled his inheritor emotionally. Self-defense taught Macaulay that strength, calculation, and duplicity rule politics and human kin. In Macaulay’s writings, Sullivan reveals a sinister imaginative and prescient of growth that prophesied twentieth-century genocide. That the reverent portrait shaped via Macaulay’s unusual nuclear family eclipsed his insistent rhetoric approximately race, subjugation, and civilizing slaughter testifies to the grip of ethical obliviousness. Devoting his large skills to gaining power—above excited about England and its empire—made Macaulay’s lifestyles a tragedy. Sullivan deals an unsurpassed examine of an genius and a considerate meditation at the smooth ethics of strength. (20091015)
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Additional resources for Macaulay: The Tragedy of Power
It amounted to accepting the rule of cause and effect in life: was a person regularly willing and able to take care of himself and to accept the consequences of his actions, both here and in the hereafter? In public policy, the Claphamites seemed to turn self-Â�reliance into a virtual gospel. 20 In puffing self-Â�reliance, Tom was enduringly Zachary’s son. Families like the Macaulays were economic as well as emotional and cultural units. Their complex interdeÂ�penÂ�dence belied the vocabulary ofÂ€ autonomous selfhood that proliferated in much of the nineteenth-Â� century Atlantic world.
44 An aesthetic reader, Tom looked to writers to “communicate pleaÂ�sure innocently”—he meant beauty—and evaluated books by their capacity to produce in him what he desired. The Renaissance historian James Hankins has captured Macaulay’s lifelong way with books: “The aesthetic reader has a strong sense of the literary work as an object, and tries to relate its parts to the artistic effect of the whole. He also has a strong sense of the author as a literary personality. He tends to read the bare text without notes at the pace of oral delivery and relies on his native virtù and his classical education to understand it.
It was otherwise with religion. During the late winter and early spring of 1814 Tom worked on an epic, “The Conquest of Ireland,” twenty-Â�seven pages of which survive in a transcription made by his favorite niece. ” Tom’s poem, like its model, meant to do justice to the vanquished, but it depicted the enmity between the EnÂ�glish and the Irish as primordial, reminiscent of that between the Romans and the Carthaginians. At about the same time he wrote an “Essay on Patrio- HEIR 29 tism,” which tempered EnÂ�glishness with Christian universality.