Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay: Wikis


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The Right Honourable
 The Lord Macaulay 

In office
27 September 1839 – 30 August 1841
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister The Viscount Melbourne
Preceded by Viscount Howick
Succeeded by Sir Henry Hardinge

In office
7 July 1846 – 8 May 1848
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister Lord John Russell
Preceded by Hon. Bingham Baring
Succeeded by The Earl Granville

Born 25 October 1800 (1800-10-25)
Leicestershire, England
Died 28 December 1859 (1859-12-29)
Nationality British
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Unmarried
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay PC (25 October 1800 – 28 December 1859) was a British poet, historian and Whig politician. He wrote extensively as an essayist and reviewer, and on British history. He also held political office as Secretary at War between 1839 and 1841 and Paymaster-General between 1846 and 1848.


Background, education and early life

The son and eldest child of Zachary Macaulay, a Scottish Highlander who became a colonial governor and abolitionist, Thomas Macaulay was born in Leicestershire, England. He was noted as a child prodigy. As a toddler, gazing out the window from his cot at the chimneys of a local factory, he is reputed to have put the question to his mother: "Does the smoke from those chimneys come from the fires of hell?" He was educated at a private school in Hertfordshire and at Trinity College, Cambridge.[1] Whilst at Cambridge he wrote much poetry and won several prizes, including the Chancellor's Gold Medal in June 1821.[2] In 1825 he published a prominent essay on Milton in the Edinburgh Review. In 1826 he was called to the bar but showed more interest in a political than a legal career. It was once rumoured[3] that Macaulay had fallen for Maria Kinnaird, the wealthy ward of "Conversation" Sharp, but in fact he never married and had no children.

Political career

In 1830 the Marquess of Lansdowne invited Macaulay to become Member of Parliament for the pocket borough of Calne. His maiden speech was in favor of abolishing the civil disabilities of the Jews. However, Macaulay made his name with a series of speeches in favour of parliamentary reform. [2] After the Great Reform Act of 1832 was passed, he became MP for Leeds.[2] In the Reform, Calne's representation was reduced from two to one; Leeds had never been represented before, but now had two members. Though proud to have helped pass the Reform Bill, Macaulay never ceased to be grateful to his former patron, Lansdowne, who remained a great friend and political ally.


Macaulay was Secretary to the Board of Control under Lord Grey from 1832 until 1833. After the passing of the Government of India Act 1833, he was appointed as the first Law Member of the Governor-General's Council. He went to India in 1834. Serving on the Supreme Council of India between 1834 and 1838 he was instrumental in creating the foundations of bilingual colonial India, by convincing the Governor-General to adopt English as the medium of instruction in higher education, from the sixth year of schooling onwards, rather than Sanskrit or Arabic then used in the institutions supported by the East India Company. His final years in India were devoted to the creation of a Penal Code, as the leading member of the Law Commission.

In the aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Macaulay's criminal law proposal was enacted. The Indian Penal Code (1860) was followed by the Criminal Procedure Code, 1872 and the Civil Procedure Code, 1909. The Indian Penal Code was later reproduced in most other British colonies – and to date many of these laws are still in effect in places as far apart as Singapore, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

The term Macaulay's Children is used to refer to people born of Indian ancestry who adopt Western culture as a lifestyle, or display attitudes influenced by colonisers[4]. It is used as a pejorative term, and the connotation is one of disloyalty to one's country and one's heritage. This frame of mind or attitude is also referred to as Macaulayism

Thomas Babington Macaulay at the age 50 years — after an engraving by W. Holl, from a drawing by George Richmond

The passage to which the term refers is from his Minute on Indian Education, delivered in 1835. It reads,

It is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population.[5]

Government minister

Returning to Britain in 1838, he became MP for Edinburgh. He was made Secretary at War in 1839 by Lord Melbourne and was sworn of the Privy Council the same year.[6] In 1841 Macaulay addressed the issue of copyright law. Macaulay's position, slightly modified, became the basis of copyright law in the English-speaking world for many decades. Macaulay argued that copyright is a monopoly and as such has generally negative effects on society.[7] After the fall of Melbourne's government in 1841 Macaulay devoted more time to literary work, but returned to office as Paymaster-General in 1846 in Lord John Russell's administration.

In the election of 1847 he lost his seat in Edinburgh. He attributed the loss to the anger of religious zealots over his speech in favour of expanding the annual grant to Maynooth College in Ireland, which trained young men for the Catholic priesthood; some observers also attributed his loss to his neglect of local issues. In 1849 he was elected Rector of the University of Glasgow, a position with no administrative duties, often awarded by the students to men of political or literary fame; he also received the freedom of the city. In 1852, the voters of Edinburgh offered to re-elect him to Parliament. He accepted on the express condition that he need not campaign and would not pledge himself to a position on any political issue. Remarkably, he was elected on those terms. However, he seldom attended the House, due to ill health; indeed his weakness after suffering a heart attack caused him to postpone for several months making his speech of thanks to the Edinburgh voters. He resigned his seat in January, 1856. In 1857 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Macaulay, of Rothley in the County of Leicester,[8] but seldom attended the House of Lords.

Literary works

Lays of Ancient Rome, 1881 edition

During his first period out of office he composed Lays of Ancient Rome, a series of very popular ballads about heroic episodes in Roman history. The most famous of them, Horatius, concerns the heroism of Horatius Cocles. It contains the oft-quoted lines:

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods?"

During the 1840s he began work on his most famous work, " The History of England from the Accession of James the Second", publishing the first two volumes in 1848. At first, he had planned to bring his history down to the reign of George III. After publication of his first two volumes, his hope was to complete his work with the death of Queen Anne in 1714. The third and fourth volumes, bringing the history to the Peace of Ryswick, were published in 1855. However, at his death in 1859, he was working on the fifth volume. This, bringing the History down to the death of William III, was prepared for publication by his sister, Lady Trevelyan, after his death.[9]

Macaulay's political writings are famous for their ringing prose and for its confident, sometimes dogmatic, emphasis on a progressive model of British history, according to which the country threw off superstition, autocracy and confusion to create a balanced constitution and a forward-looking culture combined with freedom of belief and expression. This model of human progress has been called the Whig interpretation of history. This philosophy appears most clearly in the essays Macaulay wrote for the Edinburgh Review. But it is also reflected in the History; the most stirring passages in the work are those that describe the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688. Macaulay's approach has been criticised by later historians for its one-sidedness and its complacency. Karl Marx referred to him as a 'systematic falsifier of history'.[10] His tendency to see history as a drama led him to treat figures whose views he opposed as if they were villains, while characters he approved of were presented as heroes. Macaulay goes to considerable length, for example, to absolve his main hero William III of any responsibility for the Glencoe massacre. On the other hand, this outlook, together with his obvious love of his subject matter and of English civilization, helps to place the reader within the age being described in a personal way that no cold neutrality could, and Macaulay's History is generally recognized as one of the masterpieces of historical writing and a magisterial literary triumph only comparable as such to Gibbon and Michelet.

Macaulay sat on the committee to decide on subjects from British history to be painted in the new Palace of Westminster. The need to collect reliable portraits of noted figures in British history for this project led to the foundation of the National Portrait Gallery, which was formally established on 2 December 1856. Macaulay was amongst its founder trustees and is honoured as one of only three busts above the main entrance.

During later years his health made work increasingly difficult for him. He died in December 1859, aged 59, leaving his major work, The History of England from the Accession of James the Second incomplete. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. As he had no children, his peerage became extinct on his death.

Macaulay's nephew, Sir George Trevelyan, Bt, wrote a best-selling "Life and Letters" of his famous uncle, which is still the best complete life of Macaulay. His great-nephew was the Cambridge historian G. M. Trevelyan.



See also

  • Whig history further explains the Whig interpretation of history that Macaulay espoused.


  1. ^ Macaulay, Thomas Babington in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  2. ^ a b c William Thomas, 'Macaulay, Thomas Babington, Baron Macaulay (1800–1859)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 25 Jan 2008
  3. ^ Macaulay, Margaret: Recollections (see entry for 22nd November, 1831)
  4. ^ Think it Over: Macaulay and India's rootless generations
  5. ^ Macaulay's "minute on education" arguing for the use of English in India
  6. ^ London Gazette: no. 19774, p. 1841, 1 October 1839.
  7. ^ Macaulay's speeches on copyright law
  8. ^ London Gazette: no. 22039, p. 3075, 11 September 1857.
  9. ^ Macaulay, Thomas Babington, History of England. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1878. Vol. V, title page and prefatory "Memoir of Lord Macaulay".
  10. ^ Karl Marx, Das Kapital, ch. 27, p.877: "I quote Macaulay, because as a systematic falsifier of history he minimizes facts of this kind as much as possible"
  11. ^ a b c d Burke, Bernard (1864). The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. London: Harrison & sons. p. 635.  

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hon. James Abercromby
Sir James Macdonald, Bt
Member of Parliament for Calne
1830 – 1832
With: Sir James Macdonald, Bt to 1831
Charles Richard Fox 1831–1832
Succeeded by
The Earl of Kerry
New constituency Member of Parliament for Leeds
1832 – 1834
With: John Marshall
Succeeded by
John Marshall
Edward Baines
Preceded by
Sir John Campbell
Hon. James Abercromby
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh
1839 – 1847
With: Sir John Campbell to 1841
William Gibson-Craig from 1841
Succeeded by
Charles Cowan
William Gibson-Craig
Preceded by
Charles Cowan
William Gibson-Craig
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh
1852 – 1856
With: Charles Cowan
Succeeded by
Charles Cowan
Adam Black
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Hyde Villiers
Secretary to the Board of Control
Succeeded by
Thomas Gordon
Preceded by
Viscount Howick
Secretary at War
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Hardinge
Preceded by
Hon. Bingham Baring
Succeeded by
The Earl Granville
Academic offices
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Peerage of the United Kingdom
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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it.

Thomas Babington (or Babbington) Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay (25 October 180028 December 1859) was a nineteenth century British poet, historian and Whig politician.



  • It is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, --a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.
  • Press where ye see my white plume shine, amidst the ranks of war,
    And be your oriflamme today the helmet of Navarre.
  • Oh! wherefore come ye forth in triumph from the north,
    With your hands and your feet and your raiment all red?
    And wherefore doth your rout send forth a joyous shout?
    And whence be the grapes of the wine-press which ye tread?
  • Soon fades the spell, soon comes the night;
    Say will it not be then the same,
    Whether we played the black or white,
    Whether we lost or won the game?
    • Sermon in a Churchyard, st. 8 (1825)
  • Out of his surname they have coined an epithet for a knave, and out of his Christian name a synonym for the Devil.
  • Nothing is so useless as a general maxim.
    • On Machiavelli (1827)
  • The gallery in which the reporters sit has become a fourth estate of the realm.
    • On Hallam's Constitutional History (1828)
  • Intoxicated with animosity.
    • On Hallam's Constitutional History
  • I have not the Chancellor’s encyclopedic mind. He is indeed a kind of semi-Solomon. He half knows everything, from the cedar to the hyssop.
    • Letter to Macvey Napier (December 17, 1830)
  • That wonderful book, while it obtains admiration from the most fastidious critics, is loved by those who are too simple to admire it.
    • On Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (1831)
  • What a singular destiny has been that of this remarkable man!—To be regarded in his own age as a classic, and in ours as a companion! To receive from his contemporaries that full homage which men of genius have in general received only from posterity; to be more intimately known to posterity than other men are known to their contemporaries!
    • On Boswell’s Life of Johnson (1831)
  • Reform, that we may preserve.
    • Debate on the First Reform Bill (March 2, 1831)
  • Ye diners-out from whom we guard our spoons.
    • Political Georgics (June 29, 1831)
  • The conformation of his mind was such that whatever was little seemed to him great, and whatever was great seemed to him little.
    • On Horace Walpole (1833)
  • Such night in England ne'er had been, nor ne'er again shall be.
    • The Armada, l. 34 (1833)
  • To sum up the whole, we should say that the aim of the Platonic philosophy was to exalt man into a god.
    • On Lord Bacon (1837)
  • An acre in Middlesex is better than a principality in Utopia.
    • On Lord Bacon
  • Temple was a man of the world amongst men of letters, a man of letters amongst men of the world.
    • On Sir William Temple (1838)
  • Every schoolboy knows who imprisoned Montezuma, and who strangled Atahualpa.
    • On Lord Clive (1840)
  • She [the Roman Catholic Church] may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.
    • On Ranke's History of the Popes (1840)
  • She [the Catholic Church] thoroughly understands what no other Church has ever understood, how to deal with enthusiasts.
    • On Ranke's History of the Popes
  • The Chief Justice was rich, quiet, and infamous.
    • On Warren Hastings (1841)
  • In that temple of silence and reconciliation where the enmities of twenty generations lie buried, in the great Abbey which has during many ages afforded a quiet resting-place to those whose minds and bodies have been shattered by the contentions of the Great Hall.
    • On Warren Hastings
  • Thus, then, stands the case. It is good, that authors should be remunerated; and the least exceptionable way of remunerating them is by a monopoly. Yet monopoly is an evil. For the sake of the good we must submit to the evil; but the evil ought not to last a day longer than is necessary for the purpose of securing the good.
    • Speech on the Copyright Bill, delivered February 5, 1841.
  • I shall not be satisfied unless I produce something which shall for a few days supersede the last fashionable novel on the tables of young ladies.
    • Letter to Macvey Napier (November 5, 1841)
  • In order that he might rob a neighbour whom he had promised to defend, black men fought on the coast of Coromandel and red men scalped each other by the great lakes of North America.
    • On Fredrick the Great (1842)
  • We hardly know an instance of the strength and weakness of human nature so striking and so grotesque as the character of this haughty, vigilant, resolute, sagacious blue-stocking, half Mithridates and half Trissotin, bearing up against a world in arms, with an ounce of poison in one pocket and a quire of bad verses in the other.
    • On Fredrick the Great
  • I would rather be a poor man in a garret with plenty of books than a king who did not love reading.
    • Letter to his Niece (September 15, 1842)
  • The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it.
    • Review of Aiken’s Life of Addison (1843)
  • He [Richard Steele] was a rake among scholars, and a scholar among rakes.
    • Review of Aiken’s Life of Addison
  • A man who has never looked on Niagra has but a faint idea of a cataract; and he who has not read Barère's Memoirs may be said not to know what it is to lie.
    • On Mémoires de Bertrand Barère (1844)
  • There you [Sir Robert Peel] sit, doing penance for the disingenuousness of years.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (April 14, 1845)
  • Forget all feuds, and shed one English tear
    O'er English dust. A broken heart lies here.
    • Epitaph on a Jacobite (1845)
  • The sweeter sound of woman’s praise.
    • Lines written in August, 1847
  • It is odd that the last twenty-five years which have witnessed the greatest progress ever made in physical science — the greatest victories ever achieved by mind over matter — should have produced hardly a volume that will be remembered in 1900.
    • Diary entry for March 9, 1850
  • Your Constitution is all sail and no anchor.
    • Letter to H.S. Randall, author of a Life of Thomas Jefferson (May 23, 1857)

Essay on Mitford's History of Greece (1824)

  • That is the best government which desires to make the people happy, and knows how to make them happy.
  • Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular.
  • Wherever literature consoles sorrow or assuages pain; wherever it brings gladness to eyes which fail with wakefulness and tears, and ache for the dark house and the long sleep,—there is exhibited in its noblest form the immortal influence of Athens.

On Milton (1825)

  • We hold that the most wonderful and splendid proof of genius is a great poem produced in a civilized age.
  • Nobles by the right of an earlier creation, and priests by the imposition of a mightier hand.
  • The dust and silence of the upper shelf.
  • As civilization advances, poetry almost necessarily declines.
  • Perhaps no person can be a poet, or even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind.
  • There is only one cure for the evils which newly acquired freedom produces, and that cure is freedom.

On John Dryden (1828)

  • The English Bible,—a book which if everything else in our language should perish, would alone suffice to show the whole extent of its beauty and power.
  • His imagination resembled the wings of an ostrich. It enabled him to run, though not to soar.
  • A man possessed of splendid talents, which he often abused, and of a sound judgment, the admonitions of which he often neglected; a man who succeeded only in an inferior department of his art, but who in that department succeeded pre-eminently.
  • It seems that the creative faculty and the critical faculty cannot exist together in their highest perfection.

Southey's Colloquies on Society (1830)

  • Men are never so likely to settle a question rightly as when they discuss it freely.
  • A single breaker may recede; but the tide is evidently coming in.
  • Nothing is so galling to a people not broken in from the birth as a paternal, or, in other words, a meddling government, a government which tells them what to read, and say, and eat, and drink and wear.
  • There is surely no contradiction in saying that a certain section of the community may be quite competent to protect the persons and property of the rest, yet quite unfit to direct our opinions, or to superintend our private habits.

On Moore’s Life of Lord Byron (1830)

  • He had a head which statuaries loved to copy, and a foot the deformity of which the beggars in the streets mimicked.
  • We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.
  • From the poetry of Lord Byron they drew a system of ethics compounded of misanthropy and voluptuousness,—a system in which the two great commandments were to hate your neighbour and to love your neighbour’s wife.

Lays of Ancient Rome (1842)

  • Lars Porsena of Closium
    By the Nine Gods he swore
    That the great house of Tarquin
    Should suffer wrong no more.
    By the Nine Gods he swore it,
    And named a trysting day,
    And bade his messengers ride forth,
    East and west and south and north,
    To summon his array.
    • Horatius, st. 1
  • To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh soon or late.
    And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds,
    For the ashes of his fathers,
    And the temples of his gods?
    • Horatius, st. 27
  • Then none was for a party,
    Then all were for the State;
    Then the rich man helped the poor,
    And the poor man loved the great;
    Then lands were fairly portioned,
    Then spoils were fairly sold;
    The Romans were like brothers
    In the brave days of old.
    • Horatius, st. 32
  • Now Roman is to Roman
    More hateful than a foe;
    And the Tribunes beard the high
    and the fathers grind the low;
    As we wax hot in faction,
    In battle we wax cold;
    And men fight not as they fought
    In the brave days of old.
    • Horatius, st. 33
  • Was none who would be foremost
    To lead such dire attack;
    But those behind cried, "Forward!"
    And those before cried, "Back!"
    • Horatius, st. 50
  • "Oh, Tiber! Father Tiber!
    To whom the Romans pray,
    A Roman's life, a Roman's arms,
    Take thou in charge this day!"
    So he spake, and speaking sheathed
    The good sword by his side,
    And with his harness on his back,
    Plunged headlong in the tide.
    • Horatius, st. 59
  • No sound of joy or sorrow
    Was heard from either bank;
    But friends and foes in dumb surprise,
    With parted lips and straining eyes,
    Stood gazing where he sank;
    And when above the surges,
    They saw his crest appear,
    All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
    And even the ranks of Tuscany
    Could scarce forbear to cheer.
    • Horatius, st. 60

History of England (1849-1861)

  • Those who compare the age in which their lot has fallen with a golden age which exists only in imagination, may talk of degeneracy and decay; but no man who is correctly informed as to the past, will be disposed to take a morose or desponding view of the present.
    • Vol. I, ch. 1
  • I shall cheerfully bear the reproach of having descended below the dignity of history if I can succeed in placing before the English of the nineteenth century a true picture of the life of their ancestors.
    • Vol. I, ch. 1
  • There were gentlemen and there were seamen in the navy of Charles II. But the seamen were not gentlemen, and the gentlemen were not seamen.
    • Vol. I, ch. 2
  • The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
    • Vol. I, ch. 3
  • The ambassador [of Russia] and the grandees who accompanied him were so gorgeous that all London crowded to stare at them, and so filthy that nobody dared to touch them. They came to the court balls dropping pearls and vermin.
    • Vol. V, ch. 23


  • People crushed by law have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws.
    • According to Kenneth Owen Morgan (The Illustrated History of Britain (1984) p. 421) this was said by Macaulay in 1832. If so, he was quoting a letter written by Edmund Burke in 1777.
  • The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.[citation needed]
  • "We are free, we are civilised, to little purpose, if we grudge to any portion of the human race an equal measure of freedom and civilisation." [1]
  • "I am quite ready to take the Oriental learning at the valuation of the Orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia."[citation needed]
  • "Nine-tenths the calamities of the human race are due to the union of high intelligence with low desires."
    • "Lord Bacon," (1837) in Essays 2:183.
  • "If any person had told the Parliament which met in terror and perplexity after the crash of 1720 that in 1830 the wealth of England would surpass all their wildest dreams, that the annual revenue would equal the principal of that debt which they considered an intolerable burden, that for one man of £10,000 then living there would be five men of £50,000, that London would be twice as large and twice as populous, and that nevertheless the rate of mortality would have diminished to one half of what it then was, that the post-office would bring more into the exchequer than the excise and customs had brought in together under Charles II, that stage coaches would run from London to York in 24 hours, that men would be in the habit of sailing without wind, and would be beginning to ride without horses, our ancestors would have given as much credit to the prediction as they gave to Gulliver's Travels."
    • From Edinburgh Review, 1830
  • "It would be, on the most selfish view of the case, far better for us that the people of India were well governed and independent of us, than ill governed and subject to us; that they were ruled by their own kings, but wearing our broadcloth, and working with our cutlery, than that they were performing their salams to English collectors and English magistrates, but were too ignorant to value, or too poor to buy, English manufactures. To trade with civilised men is infinitely more profitable than to govern savages." [2]
  • "Copyright is monopoly, and produces all the effects which the general voice of mankind attributes to monopoly. [...] Monopoly is an evil. For the sake of the good we must submit to the evil; but the evil ought not to last a day longer than is necessary for the purpose of securing the good."[3]
  • "The work of Dr. Nares has filled us with astonishment similar to that which Captain Lemuel Gulliver felt when first he landed in Brobdingnag, and saw corn as high as the oaks in the New Forest, thimbles as large as buckets, and wrens of the bulk of turkeys. The whole book, and every component part of it, is on a gigantic scale. The title is as long as an ordinary preface: the prefatory matter would furnish out an ordinary book; and the book contains as much reading as an ordinary library. We cannot sum up the merits of the stupendous mass of paper which lies before us better than by saying that it consists of about two thousand closely printed quarto pages, that it occupies fifteen hundred inches cubic measure, and that it weighs sixty pounds avoirdupois. Such a book might, before the deluge, have been considered as light reading by Hilpa and Shallum. But unhappily the life of man is now three-score years and ten; and we cannot but think it somewhat unfair in Dr. Nares to demand from us so large a portion of so short an existence. Compared with the labour of reading through these volumes, all other labour, the labour of thieves on the treadmill, of children in factories, of negroes in sugar plantations, is an agreeable recreation."
  • "To punish public outrages on morals and religion is unquestionably within the competence of rulers. But when a government, not content with requiring decency, requires sanctity, it oversteps the bounds which mark its proper functions. And it may be laid down as a universal rule that a government which attempts more than it ought will perform less."
    • "Leigh Hunt" (1841), in Critical...Essays 2:509.
  • "There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendency extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe. The members of her communion are certainly not fewer than a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be difficult to show that all other Christian sects united amount to a hundred and twenty millions. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's."[citation needed]


  • I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in the country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.
    • This quotation is commonly said to have been spoken by Macaulay during a speech to the British Parliament in 1835. Since Macaulay was in India at the time, it is more likely to have come from his Minute on Indian Education. However, these words do not appear in that text. According to Koenraad Elst, these words were printed in The Awakening Ray, Vol. 4, No. 5, published by the Gnostic Center, preceded by: "His words were to the effect." Burjor Avari cites this misattribution as an example of "tampering with historical evidence" in India: The Ancient Past (ISBN 9780415356169, p 19-20), writes: "No proof of this statement has been found in any of the volumes containing the writings and speeches of Macaulay. In a journal in which the extract appeared, the writer did not reproduce the exact wording of the Minutes, but merely paraphrased them, using the qualifying phrase: ‘His words were to the effect.:’ This is extremely mischievous, as numerous interpretations can be drawn from the Minutes."

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