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CHIEF FACTS IN MACAULAY'S LIFE.
BIRTH, October 25, 1800.
MACAULAY THE MAN.
It is a pleasure to write of a career and a nature so wholesome, happy and sound as those of Thomas Babington Macaulay. Few men of genius have ever been born in so precisely the age and country where their special powers could develop with least friction and most complete effect, Macaulay's birth-year was the birth-year of the century. During his mature life, England was passing through a reaction from the ungoverned emotional strain of the revolutionary time. She had become practical, and sought to reach her ends through constitutional reforms and discussions in Parliament. Of this practical, sensible, cool-headed phase of her history, Macaulay was an excellent representative. There was no passion in his life; there was little sadness; there was no struggle, beyond that implied in an honorable, successful, and constant activity. In inheritance, in training, in the environment and circumstances of life, above all in his own character, he was singularly fortunate. And he knew it. He never bemoaned the past, like Carlyle, nor sighed for the future, like Shelley. He was at home in his own generation; and outward fame continually growing, and inward peace almost unbroken, sum up his bright and useful years.
His inheritance was admirable. Zachary Macaulay, his father, was a man who would have delighted Carlyle: a
silent man, rugged in his integrity, unflinching in his religious zeal. One of the most active promoters of the abolition of the slave-trade, his affiliations were with men who approached public questions with deep interest from the moral side; and the young Macaulay was thus from childhood brought out of the narrow circle of his own boyish nature, and taught to fling himself with keen intensity into the broad life of the nation. His mother was a wise, warm-hearted woman; and a crowd of younger brothers and sisters completed a home which roused a passionate devotion in Macaulay when he was a child, and developed in him a deep and sunny domestic affection, that clung to him through his life. He was never allowed to suspect that he was in the least different from other children: that to
say “ Thank you, madam, the agony is abated," when hot coffee was spilled on his small legs, was an unusual form of rejoinder for a little boy; or, that there was anything exceptional in writing a Universal History at the age of six. Perfectly modest and merry, he passed a bright childhood. He received the conventional training of the young Englishman, at school and in the University. He did not take honors at Cambridge, because he hated mathematics; but he made many friends, and distinguished himself for his talk and general powers.
The year 1824 was the turning-point of his life, and marks the beginning of his active work. In this year, he took a fellowship at Trinity; and in this year, his father's business losses threw on Macaulay the burden of heavy debts, and the support of his brothers and sisters. He assumed the burden with simple and ready cheer; carried it easily, and before he was forty had met all his obligations and amassed a small fortune. In the following year, 1825, began his connection with the Edinburgh Review, a connection unbroken for nearly twenty years. His famous article on Milton, writ