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THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY, the eldest son of Zachary Macaulay, well known as a philanthropist, was born at Rothley Temple, Leicestershire, October 25, 1800. Two years later his father moved to Clapham, where young Thomas passed the next ten years of his life. As a child he was extremely precocious, learning to read at the age of three, acquiring knowledge with great rapidity, and seldom, if ever, forgetting anything that he had read, seen, or heard. His biographer and nephew, Sir George Trevelyan, says of him: He read books more quickly than other people skimmed them, and skimmed them as fast as any one else could turn the leaves." Add to this wonderful gift another equally wonderful, but far more valuable, the gift of a stupendous and unerring memory, and you have the secret of Macaulay's immense acquirements. One instance out of many must suffice to show both the rapidity of his reading and the magnitude of his memory, even as a child. Calling with his father on a friend, Macaulay, still a small boy, sat by the window

reading Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel and Marmion, and finished both while the two men were talking. In the evening he surprised his father by telling him what he had read, and reciting from memory whole pages of both



Macaulay very early in life took to writing. At the age of seven he began a Compendium of Universal History, and at eight wrote a treatise intended to convert the natives of Malabar to Christianity." It was in this year also that, having read the Lay of the Last Minstrel and Marmion, he composed three cantos of a poem in imitation of Scott, and called it the Battle of Cheviot. In all these and other youthful compositions he showed “ perfect correctness both in grammar and in spelling, made his meaning uniformly clear, and was scrupulously accurate in his punctuation."

Despite all his precocity, all his ability, and cleverness, Macaulay was by no means a spoiled child. He was a simple, merry boy, free from any trace of self-consciousness or conceit. He thought that all boys knew as much as he; and even as a man, though aware of his own powers, he saw nothing in them to cause him to be exalted above other men.

In 1812 Macaulay was sent to a private school, near Cambridge, where he studied Greek, Latin, and mathematics. His leisure time he spent, as might be expected, in reading, for literature was his chief delight. Among the books that he eagerly devoured were Milton's Paradise

Lost and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, of which he remarked afterwards, that if all the copies of these two books were to be destroyed he would undertake to reproduce them both from memory.

At the age of eighteen Macaulay wisely entered Trinity College, Cambridge. His career here, however, was not remarkable, though he won several prizes for poems, essays, and declamations. He naturally made many friends, and in various ways cultivated and developed his social, conversational, and oratorical powers. In the Union Debating Society, where he ardently discussed the political questions of the day, he first turned his attention seriously to politics. When he went to college he had every reason to expect an inheritance sufficient to enable him to follow his literary inclinations without depending upon a profession. But his father met with reverses, and Macaulay was obliged to support himself. He sustained his disappointment bravely, immediately took a few pupils, and began to write for the magazines. In 1824 he was elected a Fellow of Trinity College, with a fixed annual salary, and two years later he was called to the bar.

Interest in Macaulay as a writer had been aroused in the proprietors of the Edinburgh Review, who had seen some of his articles in Knight's Quarterly, and had heard and praised a speech which he had delivered at a meeting of the Anti-Slavery Society. They, therefore, invited him to write for the Review, and in August, 1825, published that first brilliant Essay on Milton which heads the long list

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