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Macaulay, the Shaping of the Historian by…

Macaulay, the Shaping of the Historian (1973)

by John Clive

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531335,555 (4.67)3
"Macaulay's History of England stands as a classic more than a century after its completion; his parliamentary speeches and his collected Essays inspired generations of British statesmen; English and American schoolboys by the millions memorized and recited his Lays of Ancient Rome. What were the forces--familial, intellectual, circumstantial, and psychological--that shaped the life and mind of the great English historian and orator whose name became a household word on both sides of the Atlantic? In this book, based in large part on manuscript sources hitherto never fully exploited, historian John Clive shows us Macaulay the child, the youth, and the burgeoning historian and statesman--against the background of pre-Victorian England, in which he made his intellectual and political debut. With sympathy and skill, the varied threads of Macaulay's formative years are brought to light: his moralistic, Evangelical upbringing in the pietistic atmosphere of the Clapham Sect; his relationship with his stern, dominating father, his gentle, protective mother, and his two youngest sisters, Margaret and Hannah, who alone were to respond to his immense need for warmth and affection; his youthful oratorical and literary successes; his early preoccupation with history as the advance of civilization; his dual role as actor and spectator in the great events of the first Reform Bill battle, as well as in Whig society in London; and, finally, his years as a legal and educational reformer in India. Here is the private man: ungainly, undistinguished-looking, given to self-dramatization and fantasy and torrents of talk; enjoying his role as a social lion, but becoming disillusioned and dissatisfied with his role in politics. Determined to be his own man, he had no sooner achieved financial and political security--in a lucrative post on the Governor-General's Council in India--than the relationship with his beloved sisters so necessary to his emotional security was destroyed. Here is the public Macaulay: cocksure and impetuous, a parvenu lacking the specific gravity of a statesman, and yet speaking out not only for freedom as an abstraction, but concretely for the rights of Jews, Roman Catholics and blacks; envisioning a potential beauty and splendor in industrialization; almost singlehandedly writing a penal code for India; becoming embroiled in the crucial controversy over Indian education (what should be taught and in what language); and forever leaving his mark on Anglo-Indian cultural relations--just as India left its mark on him. And, finally, here is the Macaulay who returned at the age of 38 to a London in the grip of the impending coronation of Queen Victoria--with the idea of the History of England firmly in his mind. From Clapham, to Cambridge, to the House of Commons, to Calcutta, and back to England, Macaulay is seen not only as a man of extraordinary intellect and vision finding himself but as the product of a family, a class, a time, and a place. The man and his works are made immediate and are fully understood in this superb, full-scale portrait."--Dust jacket.… (more)



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1345 Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian, by John Clive (read 6 July 1975)(Book of the Year)(National Book Award history prize for 1974) When I read this astoundingly well written book I said it was "the perfect book." Thomas Babington Macaulay was born Oct 25, 1800. This book depicts his father Zachary, covers TBM's childhood and years at Cambridge, his study of law (he practiced only slightly), his time in Parliament, his time in India (he left England Feb 15, 1834 and returned June 1, 1838), and discusses everything about his life up to that date: June 1, 1838, I had never seen a book better done--everything about it was interesting: it whetted my interest in everything discussed: Macaulay's essays, the 1832 Reform Bill, England and India. I expected that Clive would do a book covering the rest of Macaulay's life, but so far as I know he never did. This book, of course, won my award for best book read in 1975. ( )
2 vote Schmerguls | Nov 22, 2007 |
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