Macaulay and son : architects of imperial Britain
 9780300160239, 2012017211

Table of contents :
Contents
Illustrations
Acknowledgements
Introduction
1
Zachary Macaulay
2
An Evangelical Culture
3
A Family Story
4
Tom Macaulay
5
Imperial Man and the Space of Difference
6
The History Man
Conclusion
Notes
Select Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

Macaulay and Son

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Macaulay and Son architects of imperial britain

†i¢ C AT H E R I N E H A L L

YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS NEW HAVEN AND LONDON

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Copyright © 2012 Catherine Hall All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press) without written permission from the publishers. For information about this and other Yale University Press publications, please contact: U.S. Office: [email protected]  www.yalebooks.com Europe Office: sales @yaleup.co.uk  www.yalebooks.co.uk Set in Minion Pro by IDSUK (DataConnection) Ltd Printed in Great Britain by TJ International Ltd, Padstow, Cornwall Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hall, Catherine, 1946   Macaulay and son : architects of imperial Britain/Catherine Hall.    p. cm.   ISBN 978-0-300-16023-9 (cl : alk. paper) 1.  Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800–1859.  2.  Historians—Great Britain—Biography.  3.  Statesmen—Great Britain—Biography.  4.  Authors, English—19th century—Biography.  5.  Macaulay, Zachary, 1768-1838.   6.  Abolitionists—Great Britain—Biography.  I.  Title.   DA3.M3H267 2012   941.081092′2—dc23   [B] 2012017211 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. 10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

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For Margaret and Stuart

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Contents

†i¢ List of Illustrations  viii Acknowledgements  ix Introduction  xii Key sites for the Macaulays  xxx 1  Zachary Macaulay: The Making of an Abolitionist  1 2  An Evangelical Culture  50 3  A Family Story: The Pains of Love and Loss  93 4  Tom Macaulay: Reforming Man  139 5  Imperial Man and the Space of Difference  201 6  The History Man: Making Up a Nation  259 Conclusion: Father and Son  330 Notes  338 Select Bibliography  374 Index  381

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Illustrations

  1 F. Slater, Zachary Macaulay, early nineteenth century. © National Portrait Gallery, London.   2 G.J. Rowe, after original sketch by John Beckett, View of the Colony of Sierra Leone Previous to the Transports Being Discharged, March 16, 1792, c.1820s. Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, a part of the Nova Scotia Museum, M2008.38.1, Gift of Robert G. Kearns.   3 Unknown artist, A View of the Province of Freedom, from Voyage à la Rivière de Sierra-Leone sur la côte d’Afrique . . ., by Captain John Matthews, RN, 1797. © The British Library Board. All rights reserved (1051.a.22).   4 Coloured enamel plaque showing an African pleading, c.1790. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Michael Graham-Stewart Slavery Collection. Acquired with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund.   5 Copper halfpenny produced by the Abolitionist movement, c.1790–7. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Michael Graham-Stewart Slavery Collection. Acquired with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund.   6 Unknown artist, ‘The driver’s whip unfolds its torturing coil’, c.1800. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.   7 Whig demonstration, 14 May 1832. Leeds Public Library.   8 Sir George Hayter, The House of Commons, 1833–43. © National Portrait Gallery, London.   9 Unknown artist, Hannah Trevelyan, 1840s. © National Portrait Gallery, London. 10 William Wood, Chowringhee Road. General’s Tank, plate 16 from Views of Calcutta, 1833. © The British Library Board. All rights reserved (X630 (16)). 11 Henry Courtney Selous, The Opening of the Great Exhibition, 1851–2. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 12 Edward Matthew Ward, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron Macaulay, 1853. © National Portrait Gallery, London. 13 Claude Allin Shepperson, Your essay is copied from Macaulay, Punch, 6 October 1909.

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1 Zachary Macaulay: ‘there was something more than gravity in his face there was a deep settled sadness as if some bitter recollections had been burnt into him – some wrongs that he had devoted his life to right’ (William Smith).

2 View of the Colony of Sierra Leone: the arrival of the Nova Scotians.

3 Freetown as Zachary Macaulay might have seen it.

4 An African pleading. The iconic antislavery image of the victimised African torn from his home and transported in chains asking for help from white abolitionists.

5 Copper halfpenny produced by the Abolitionist movement, c.1790–97. These images were reproduced in multiple forms to maximise their circulation.

6 ‘The driver’s whip unfolds its torturing coil’, c.1800. The enslaved woman together with her child is locked in sorrow while the cruel slave-driver stands over her.

7 Whig Demonstration, 14 May 1832. The hotly contested election in Leeds in 1832 was a bruising encounter for Macaulay with ‘the people’, an experience he was not keen to repeat.

8 The House of Commons, 1833. Macaulay was present for this celebratory portrait of the House of Commons after the Reform Act.

9 Hannah Trevelyan, the beloved sister.

10 Chowringee Road, 1833: ‘The May Fair of Calcutta’.

11 The opening of the Great Exhibition: ‘There is just as much chance of a revolution in England at present as of the falling of the moon’.

12 Baron Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1853. The great writer and historian with his desk and his books.

13 Your essay is copied from Macaulay, Punch, October 1909. Macaulay’s History lived on in multiple forms.

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Acknowledgements

I

am very grateful to the Economic and Social Research Council for enabling me to work on ‘Re-thinking Modern British History’ (RES-06327-0009) between 2006–8. Much of the research for this book was done in those two years. I have been fortunate in that the History Department at UCL has consistently provided a supportive context for research and teaching over many years. I have received an extraordinary amount of help from a wide variety of friends and colleagues. I am especially grateful to those who have read and commented on parts or all of the manuscript as it has developed. Sally Alexander, Antoinette Burton, Esme Cleall, Nick Draper, David Feldman, Cora Kaplan, Elizabeth Kolsky, Gail Lewis, Keith McClelland, Margaret Rustin, Bill Schwarz, Lynne Segal and Barbara Taylor have all read material and helped me with their insights. Keith McClelland has, as always, given me invaluable help with the manuscript, not to speak of my computer. Michele Barrett found my first copies of Macaulay for me. Many others have helped me with references and thoughts. Special thanks to Leonore Davidoff, Jo Goldsworthy, Zoe Laidlaw, Alison Light, Jan Marsh, John McLaren, Katharine Prior, James Robertson, Anita Rupprecht, Anne Stott, William Thomas, Elizabeth Vibert and Marina Warner. Special thanks also to Claire Cripwell for helping me to think in a different kind of way. I owe innumerable debts to audiences who have engaged with me in seminars, conferences and meetings. The two days I spent with the Cambridge Victorian Studies Group was particularly memorable and I thank them for their help. Over the years the Macaulays have made appearances across the UK and beyond at different stages of the work. Academics at the Australian National University, Columbia, Essex, Harvard, Princeton, Chicago, Oxford, the Institute of Historical Research, Yale, Dublin, Leeds,

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Edinburgh, Berkeley, Birmingham, Southampton, Pennsylvania, Manchester, Loughborough, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Rutgers and Victoria have all kindly hosted me and given me opportunities to try out ideas in discussion with others. The special subject that I prepared for third-year history undergraduates on ‘Living the Empire: Metropole and Colony in the 1830s’ provided the initial incentive to read Macaulay and the generations of students who have done the course with me and researched and written their dissertations have given me much food for thought. Similarly, the groups of MA students working with me on ‘Thinking postcolonially: Britain and Empire in the C19’, particularly the stunning cohort of 2010–11, have kept me thinking. The research students that I have worked with over these years have been a source of stimulus and encouragement as we have goaded each other on to complete our respective projects. I owe particular thanks to Esme Cleall who provided superb research assistance over some months and to Hilary Ingram who rescued me from some bad mistakes with her exemplary scholarship. Kate Donington’s picture research was most helpful. Simone Borgstede, Anna Gust, Laura Ishiguro and Liz Harvey all shared thoughts with me. The seminar that I co-convene at the Institute of Historical Research together with Michael Collins, Clare Midgley, Zoe Laidlaw, Keith McClelland and Sonya Rose ‘Re-configuring the British: nation, empire, world’ continues to provide an excellent space for discussion and debate about Britain and empire. The librarians at Trinity College Cambridge, the University of London Library, the Brotherton Library in Leeds, the British Library, the London Library, the Rhodes House Library, the Robinson Library in the University of Newcastle and the Huntington Library have all been most helpful. The work on Macaulay began in 2002. Over the years I have published some material that helped in the writing of this volume. ‘At home with history: Macaulay and the History of England’, in Catherine Hall and Sonya O. Rose (eds), At Home with the Empire. Metropolitan Culture and the Imperial World (Cambridge: 2006) 32–53; ‘Making Colonial Subjects: Education in the Age of Empire’ in History of Education (37/6, Nov. 2008) 773–87; ‘An Empire of God or of Man: the Macaulays, father and son’ in Hilary M. Carey (ed.), Empire of Religion (Basingstoke: 2008), 64–83; ‘Macaulay’s Nation’ Victorian Studies, 51/30, (Spring 2009) 505–23; ‘Macaulay: A Liberal Historian?’ in Simon Gunn and James Vernon (eds) The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain (Berkeley and London: 2011) 19–36. I thank the editors for their support in developing my work.

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Jane Rendall was an exemplary reader for the press and I also benefited from the comments of two anonymous readers. Susan Forsyth has, as always, done a wonderful job of indexing. I am grateful to the staff at Yale University Press and especially to my editor Heather McCallum. The book is published with the help of a grant from the late Miss Isobel Thornley’s Bequest to the University of London. My sister, Margaret Rustin, is an unfailing source of love and support, and I was especially grateful for her comments on Chapter 3. Stuart has been with me all the way through – both thick and thin. I dedicate the book to them both with love. Catherine Hall May 2012

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Introduction

Z

achary Macaulay was a leading abolitionist, celebrated, as inscribed on his bust in Westminster Abbey, for his lifelong devotion to the cause of ‘the poor negro’, those men and women victimised by the cruelty of rapacious colonisers whose activities were halted in the name of a civilising mission to create a virtuous and benevolent empire. His son Thomas Babington Macaulay, also buried in Westminster Abbey, was the great historian of England whose vision of a progressive imperial nation, peacefully reformed across the centuries, fuelled a triumphalist national story, the legacies of which are still with us today. Zachary Macaulay has played a small part in histories of abolition, celebrated by some for his abolitionist work, but more recently castigated as an illiberal and authoritarian governor of Sierra Leone in the formative years of that colony. He was one of the architects, along with William Wilberforce, Henry Thornton, Charles Grant, James Stephen and others, of an Evangelical vision of nation and empire, one which would effect a transformation from depravity to virtue. His son has been the subject of extensive celebration, analysis and critique. Recognised by many as the greatest, certainly the most popular, of the whig historians, the magnificent arch of his five-volume History of England from the Reign of James II offered a ‘chequered narrative’ but one which would excite ‘all patriots’. ‘The history of our country’, he believed, ‘during the last hundred and sixty years is eminently the history of physical, of moral, and of intellectual improvement’.1 It was a story of progress, of the long transition from barbarism, a state in which many peoples of the empire still languished, to one of civilisation. England, he was convinced, was the most civilised nation in the world, suited to its position of global dominance, ready to lead others. His powerful rhetoric, lucid prose and dramatic set-pieces told the unfolding story of the

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unification of England and Scotland, the becoming of one people, one nation. (Wales to his mind had always been assimilated to England.) The ‘sister kingdom’ of Ireland, with its history ‘dark with crime and sorrow yet full of interest and instruction’, seriously troubled his narrative.2 He could only hope that it too would become English, for to be English was to be civilised and free, values he hoped would in time spread across the empire. Civilisation and freedom have been part of Western liberal discourse since the nineteenth century and the meanings of these terms have preoccupied me. Whose civilisation and whose freedom were at issue? I became an historian of Britain and empire to explore the legacies of colonialism for the colonisers, the British. What implications did it have for the British that a key part of their national identity was associated with ruling others? And what happened to that identity once the empire had gone? In the wake of 9/11 and the ‘war on terror’, when Tony Blair had committed the UK to standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the US, in the ‘battle . . . between the free and democratic world and terrorism’, I began to work on Tom Macaulay, one of the most influential proponents of liberal imperial discourse.3 In March 2003 the war against Iraq was launched, legitimated by Blair as a moral intervention against a despotic tyrant. Like millions of others I was against the war, though fully recognising the brutality of Saddam’s regime and horrified by the claim that the West had the right to assume such positions of moral certitude, apparently with no memory of past ‘civilising missions’, key aspects of some phases of European colonialisms. This was the return of the repressed, the assumption that Britain, despite its loss of empire, could use force and legislate for those others who were stuck in barbaric times, who needed white knights to rescue them. Moral rectitude was masking new geo-political claims. Britain’s shameful colonial history in Iraq, and subsequently in Afghanistan, seemed to be entirely forgotten.4 The discourse of liberal humanitarian intervention under the sign of gender equality was deployed unproblematically.5 Yet this was a reconfiguration of the arguments made by nineteenth-century imperialists – including both Macaulays – for an empire of virtue and civilisation. The success of Niall Ferguson (‘a modern Macaulay’, according to Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove) in his benevolent account of the British Empire and claim that it could provide a model for the Americans made it all too clear that this was an argument for historians too; that imperial thinking was far from dead and buried in the West and that proper assessments of Britain’s colonial past and its relation to national identity were critical to any rethinking of the present.6

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History is always a site of contestation; it lives on argument and debate, always in the context of the contemporary political world. My formation as a historian was at the highpoint of radical social history in the 1960s, with a rejection of dominant whig approaches. I learned to work from the margins, not the centre. My first mentor was my A level teacher who gave us Christopher Hill’s just published Century of Revolution as a textbook: a most unusual choice, insisting as it did on the Civil War as an English revolution. If I had gone to Oxford to read history I would have read Macaulay in my first term – but at Sussex there was no such imperative. As a student it was the Marxist historians who inspired me. They had rejected the whig story of peaceful progress and reform and were rewriting English history as a history of the transformation from feudalism to capitalism, of the emergence of class society, and of class struggle as central to historical change. Rodney Hilton taught me medieval history; Edward Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class was an inspirational text.7 But this was a history with few women, and from the late 1960s a generation of feminist historians attached to the women’s movement disrupted their story of the primacy of class, insisting on the centrality of gender, sexuality and reproduction to social and political formations.8 This narrative was challenged in its turn as post-war migration brought black politics into the heart of urban Britain and issues of race, ethnicity and identity came to be understood as critical to metropolitan as well as to colonial histories.9 Was it possible to be black and British? Did an Islamic identity override national belonging? Was Englishness indelibly associated with whiteness? What would it take for Britain to become a genuinely multicultural and diverse society?10 My work in the 1990s focused on the ways in which nineteenth-century English identities had been historically shaped by the profoundly unequal relations of empire: how Englishness depended on its colonised others, English freedom on conditions of unfreedom. ‘Identity’s constitution’, as Stuart Hall reminds us, ‘is always based on excluding something and establishing a violent hierarchy between the two resultant poles. . . . Identities can function as points of identification and attachment only because of their capacity to exclude, to leave out, to render “outside”, abjected’: ‘the manly Englishman’ and the ‘effeminate Bengali’ of Mrinalini Sinha’s analysis.11 I was particularly interested in early nineteenth-century missionary and abolitionist thinking, exploring how even the most progressive Englishmen and women tended to assume that their ways of life should be copied by colonial subjects. Racial thinking, I argued, and grammars of difference organised by class, gender, racial and ethnic divisions, underpinned white English identities.12 But in focusing on those who regarded themselves

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as most sympathetic to oppressed peoples and often critical of official imperial policies, I left untouched the centre, mainstream political orthodoxies and the narratives of progress at the heart of history as a discipline. Eventually, however, I began to think that the centre needed to be addressed more directly if history was to be critically de-centred. The subaltern histories inspired by the politics and related theoretical shifts of the late twentieth century had not sufficiently disrupted established orthodoxies. The whig chronology of a slow development of English constitutional government with its key moments – Magna Carta, 1688, 1832, 1867 – continued to shape ‘the big picture’. Why was it so powerful? Might those of us engaged in the production of ‘hidden histories’ learn something from looking at the centre? I turned to Thomas Babington Macaulay and embarked on reading the History. It was riveting: rhetorically brilliant, constructing an imagined unified nation, replete with references to England’s others, claiming the nation’s history as the source of its exceptionality, its capacity to ‘reform in time’ and avoid revolution. But how was empire represented in this most influential of texts? Whig historians don’t ‘do’ empire, J. W. Burrow had argued in his influential analysis, but was this the case?13 Might rethinking Macaulay, a classic exponent of England as the home of civilisation and freedom, prise open some of the ways in which race and empire were deeply embedded in these conceptions, and that way of constructing history normalised? In what ways might history writing be one of the sites for the construction of difference? The critique of nation and nationalisms seemed to consign national histories to the past for ‘old countries’, transnational and comparative histories deemed more appropriate for the new phase of globalisation (though historians of new nations had a very different perspective).14 But might there be more to say about England’s best-known national historian; something that would increase understanding of the continued power of liberal imperial discourse? He had inspired generations of public schoolboys, historians, politicians, lawmakers and colonial administrators – the governing classes – as well as autodidacts. Might I be able to unearth the racial and imperial thinking in one piece of the historical canon, as Toni Morrison had so wonderfully done for the American novel?15 Macaulay was writing on the cusp of the formation of history as a modern discipline, shaped both by the Enlightenment with its stagist theories of civilisation, and by Romanticism with its new ideas of peoples and nations. As Kathleen Wilson has argued, Britons’ own self-conception as ‘modern’ hinged on an emergent historical consciousness, a conviction that History was a blessing ensuring that those who possessed it were more advanced

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than those who did not.16 This was Macaulay’s gift to the English: ‘you are the quintessentially modern people’, he told his readers. But only some people were destined for modernity in any foreseeable future and it was the possession of their history that secured their progress. They knew the transformation they had effected as a people – from barbarism to civilisation. Those still locked in barbarism, from ‘slaves’ and ‘aboriginals’ to ‘Red Indians’ and ‘Hottentots’ were ‘The People without History’ in Eric Wolf ’s unforgettable phrase.17 Their forms of historical memory in songs, ballads and stories, paintings and carvings, the rich repositories of oral memory and folk culture, were not named as History. And as academic disciplines were formed in the mid-nineteenth century these cultures were consigned to anthropology. History, the story of progress, belonged to the West, and England, the first industrial nation, was the quintessentially modern society. English history was formed in such a frame, and those nationalist origins have cast long shadows.18 English nationalism is rarely named, the preferred term being patriotism; rather, it is embedded in a conception of the norm – what is – just as unmarked humanity is white, contrasted with ‘men of colour’.19 Dissecting an iconic nationalist history of the past might be one way of thinking about those forms of common sense: exploring the psychic, social, cultural and political conditions of the writing, and delineating the place of difference, making visible the underlying historical and material realities. Those people defined as outside history – the women, the labouring poor, the black settlers in Sierra Leone, the millions of Indian subjects – are the shadowy constituting others who haunted the Macaulays, both father and son, and made them who they were. Unpicking that process of cultural dispossession, that writing out of History means a reconfiguration of the topography of history – a return to the centre, but now from the margins, a process not of affirmation but of deconstruction. Macaulay’s narrative is of a prosperous, progressive nation, committed to liberty and civilisation, and a love of that vision of nation is at its heart. He names it England, yet it is Britain and Ireland that he writes about. Empire is one of the fundamental but unstated assumptions, a natural part of England’s greatness, scarcely mentioned in the thousands of pages that make up the five volumes. ‘Forgetting . . . is a crucial factor in the creation of a nation’, Ernest Renan told his audience at the Sorbonne in 1882; ‘unity is always effected by means of brutality’, there is much to be forgotten.20 National histories provide stories of origins, myths of progress, heroes and villains, frames of identification and belonging, ways of connecting public and private, past and present. Macaulay told of the constitutional reform that made England what it was, the leading imperial nation: revolutions

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only happened elsewhere; wars and conquest provided a backdrop but violence and brutality were sanitised, power cleansed. His heroes were men of moderation; tolerance became an English virtue. This History was a bestseller not just in Britain but through many parts of the world.21 ‘History is the fruit of power’, as the historian of Haiti Michel-Rolph Trouillot argues. But that power is not transparent; indeed its invisibility may be its ‘ultimate mark of power’. The events in San Domingue between 1791 and 1804, he suggests, were literally unthinkable in France and Britain. No European had the conceptual frame to grasp that enslaved Africans could envisage freedom. These were ‘unthinkable facts’ in the framework of Western thought, challenging notions of race, slavery and colonialism. ‘What happened in Haiti . . . contradicted most of what the West has told both itself and others about itself.’22 It literally could not be understood, was not recorded as fact or history. The production of historical knowledge requires analysis, he suggests, for its silences and evasions enter the process of historical production at four crucial moments: the moment of fact creation (the making of sources); the moment of fact assembly (the making of archives); the moment of fact retrieval (the making of narratives); and the moment of retrospective significance (the making of history in the final instance).

The inequalities of historical actors led to the uneven inscription of traces, and the sources built upon the traces privileged some over others. Silences were inherent, some things recorded, others not. ‘What is history’, he continues, ‘matters less than how history works’. The play of power is always present, from the moment of the creation of facts to the construction of historical establishments, which books matter, which historians count. And throughout this entire process, silencing is a practice, not something that simply happens.23 Questions of silence always raise questions of memory. Who has been forgotten? Which peoples and events downplayed? There is ‘no memory without forgetfulness, no forgetfulness without memory’, and memory is a site of conflict.24 It was the silences of whig history that provoked a group of communist historians to rewrite the history of England. The silences of Marxist history, with its analysis of class struggle as the agent of historical change, provoked feminists to write histories focused around questions of gender, of social and psychic formations. The archive was opened to different ways of looking, feminist eyes. New fields of inquiry emerged as new questions were posed, ‘problem spaces’ reconfigured.25 Once the notion of the archive itself

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was subjected to critical scrutiny, facts reassessed, documents recast, narratives rewritten, history began to look a little different.26 The silences of British gender history provoked questions about race. The silences of ‘British’ history, which was really English history, provoked new work from Wales and Scotland and challenged the hegemony of an assimilationist vision of England. Ireland had always had its own historiography but now work on the four nations seized the imagination of historians.27 Subaltern histories and postcolonial forms of analysis encouraged a whole new body of scholarship – critical colonial studies. Histories have been rethought, different kinds of facts valued, archives read along and against the grain, silences challenged and life histories of the marginalised, once seen as impossible to recover, pieced together from fragmentary records, making it possible to challenge the dominance of the colonisers’ representations of the colonised and to write new histories.28 These have not been the only productive challenges to silencing. Until recently historians have found it difficult to write about aspects of human consciousness associated with the emotions, states of mind and inner life: those were subjects for the novelist, the dramatist or the poet. Yet ‘historical facts are, in essence, psychological facts’, wrote Marc Bloch. However ‘brutal’ the external forces, ‘their action is weakened or intensified by man and his mind’. It is ‘human consciousness’ that is ‘the subject matter of history’.29 Intellectual historians have had much to say about ‘man and his mind’ in terms of traditions and texts. The feminist recognition of the interconnections between the personal and the political provided an impetus not only to think about the home, the domestic and the familial, the social facets of gender identities, but also to think about the domain of the psychic, the formation of an inner subjective world. How did ‘the “symbolic order” of language and representation and the social order articulate in the formation of the subject’?30 How was the outer world taken in and the inner world projected into wider social practices and institutions? Subjects in the process of psychic formation have to be ‘hailed’, in Althusser’s terminology, interpellated into place ‘as the social subjects of particular discourses and practices’. But they also have to invest in that position, through a process of identification.31 While psychoanalysis has attempted to provide an account of the mechanisms that sustain psychic formation, discourse analysis attends to the ways in which the psychic subject is positioned in wider practices and institutions. Oral historians were some of the first to open up these questions, through memory work, exploring the fragments of individual life stories; for example, to illuminate the structures of feeling that informed collective identities.32 Emphasising the ‘voices within’, the inner conflicts,

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the tensions at work within individuals, the successes and failures in resolving them, is as vital to historical understanding as what happens on the outside.33 Macaulay’s History was uninterested in what passed through men’s minds. He represented individuals as bundles of characteristics, all of a piece, with no sense of contradictory forces or an inner dynamic of growth or change. His focus was always on what constituted historical significance.34 ‘No one describes so well the spectacle of a character’, as Bagehot put it, but where were the ‘deep animated passions’ that drove men to act?35 Yet ‘deep animated passions’ live and breathe in Macaulay’s letters and journals: his love and hate, envy and fear, grief and triumphalism, jealousy and rage, ambition, aggression and loneliness. Those emotions were intimately connected to his personal life, yet were apparently contained by his history writing. How did this work? How might his family story illuminate a reading of the History and an understanding of liberal imperialism? My focus broadened out from Tom and became Macaulay and Son. The story of father and son and of generational conflict provided one way of grasping the relation between the psychic and the social, making sense of the emotional imperatives that informed particular kinds of politics, illuminating different moments in the formation of liberal imperialism and locating them both in inner and outer worlds. Macaulay senior was born in 1768 and died in 1838. A committed Evangelical from the age of twenty-one, his life spanned the War of Independence, the French Revolution, the trial of Warren Hastings, the French wars, the rise and fall of Napoleon, the revolution in San Domingue and the creation of Haiti, the terror trials and Peterloo, the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, and the Reform Act of 1832. He came from a family of twelve and had nine children himself. His living came from the empire – first as an official of the Sierra Leone Company and then in trade with West Africa. His passion was antislavery and he propagandised ceaselessly. He was happily married for 31 years. Macaulay junior was born in 1800 and died in 1859. His childhood was lived through the period of the French wars and Napoleon, with questions of the slave trade and slavery never off the home agenda; Peterloo shocked him, Catholic emancipation excited him, parliamentary reform galvanised him, slavery bored him, Ireland troubled him, India exercised him, history enthralled him. He loved two of his sisters, never married, and had no children. Most of his adult life was lived in an independent household, with servants who cared for him. His ‘competency’ came from the empire, the money he saved from his large salary in India and a legacy from his Uncle Colin, a general in the Indian army. His riches came from his writing.

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There are times of historical crisis, when conflicts on different social, political and cultural levels, driven from apparently different and autonomous forces, collide and fuse. These are moments of overdetermination, of rupture and change: a different moment follows. The early 1790s was one such time: ‘Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, and to be young was very heaven’, wrote Wordsworth. This was in the wake of the French Revolution, when British society was shaken to the core by radicalism and the antiJacobin reaction, when Paine was challenged by Burke and Burke by Wollstonecraft, when Napoleon threatened the island shores, and when ‘real religion’, a conservative Evangelicalism, seemed to some to offer a solution to the nation’s ills. This was Zachary Macaulay’s formative time, though he did not share Wordsworth’s sentiments. The period dated 1828–32 was another such moment, critical for Zachary’s son, when Ireland was on the verge of civil war and Britain seemed on the edge of revolution but order was restored and peace secured. The shifts from the 1790s to the 1830s are striking; changing times brought new questions, new perspectives, new political alliances. Zachary Macaulay was a conservative abolitionist, his son Tom a Whig/liberal. Yet for all the differences, between father and son there was ‘a likeness in unlikeness’.36 How formative was Zachary for Tom? What were the connections and disconnections between the two? Both men relied on their skills as wordsmiths for the impact they made in the public world – they were mental labourers at a time when education could provide a route into power. How did they differ in their politics and their forms of masculinity? What preoccupations about nation and empire did each of them have? How were the multiple sites of empire imagined ‘at home’, and how did this contribute to their ideas of England? What understanding of difference did each of them have? Differentiating the nation from the colonies, demarcating Africans and Indians, Anglo-Saxons and Celts, assuming that Indians were incapable of representative government, drawing boundaries between those people who were literate, those with histories and those without were all ways of distinguishing between ‘the imperial race’ and those they ruled. Campaigns against the slave trade and slavery, the practices of metropolitan and colonial governments, educational and legal systems, pamphlet, periodical and book writing were all sites for demarcating difference – and father and son were engaged in them all throughout their lives. Working on a father and son whose visions of nation and empire were both distinctly different and deeply connected seemed to be a way of exploring two key moments in the formation of imperial discourse – the moment of evangelicalism and the moment of liberal imperialism. Of course there are no neat boundaries connecting familial generations to historical generations, but the prism of a life can offer a way in.

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Macaulay and Son, however, is not a biographical study. Rather, aspects of the lives and writing of the two men provide lenses through which to explore the key themes of home, nation, empire and history writing. The title plays deliberately on the title of Dickens’s sensational novel Dombey and Son, which he published in 1846–48, just before the publication of the first two volumes of Macaulay’s History. Both were family sagas, crucially shaped by matters of life, death and inheritance. Both represented the new industrial nation for their readers and played their part in shaping the national imagination. Both shared a taste for melodrama and produced an extraordinary cast of characters, good and evil. Both had embedded assumptions as to the rightness of ‘separate spheres’ for men and women. Neither had time for sentimental abolitionists. But the History was dominated by the public world of men and was not a place to write about the intimacies of emotional life, while Dombey, a novel, moved between the city and the home and was rich in sentiment. Macaulay offered a complacent account of contemporary society, Dickens was far more critical. Dombey and Son is a compelling exposition of the destructive nature of patriarchal power and money in early Victorian society. ‘Girls’, Mr Dombey memorably said, ‘have nothing to do with Dombey and Son’.37 Yet Dickens makes him learn that indeed they did, that money could not buy happiness, and that without the moralising love of women home was an empty place. Like little Paul Dombey, Tom Macaulay was a ‘young gentleman’ who had ‘to accomplish a destiny’.38 The Macaulays, father and son, were a particular kind of family firm: their capital was cultural, their power lay with words, their capacity to read, write and speak, to articulate for themselves and others ways of being and belonging in a society that was being transformed. Like Dickens, who could critique patriarchal power yet exercised it himself in cruel ways, Tom Macaulay knew the potentially undermining power of the father, yet assumed it as natural in an ordered society. Women, Macaulay might have said, have nothing to do with History. Macaulay and Son shows that they do. For both Zachary and Tom, family was critical. It was the building block of nineteenth-century British society, but contemporary political history, like that of earlier periods, has paid it minimal attention. Women were not thought to be historical actors, men were. Yet women were historical actors, making and unmaking families, bearing and rearing children, maintaining and managing households, supplying domestic labour, providing a site for a moralised order that could balance market forces. In a man’s life familial and kin relations and the emotional worlds of dependence were quite as important as the vaunted independence of the autonomous individual. How were ideas of the family and ‘mother country’, of home and domesticity,

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configured in their mental and emotional worlds? What were their conceptions of femininity and how might these have affected their performances as public men? What was the place of the mother and the siblings in the Macaulay saga? ‘Home’ is a word densely connoted with meanings. It is domestic space, the private home of the family, weighted with associations of who belongs inside and who is outside. But domestic, suggests Amy Kaplan, ‘has a double meaning that links the space of the familial household to that of the nation, by imagining both in opposition to everything outside the geographic and conceptual borders of home’.39 As British power increased in the early nineteenth century and the empire expanded, domestic discourses multiplied and the metaphorical connections between domesticity, home and nation were powerfully contrasted with the unhomely character of empire.40 Being in the bosom of one’s family meant being at home in a place that was supposedly safe, a place of belonging. In reality, homes could be riven by conflict and violence. Precisely because of this, much discursive work attempted to hold it secure: ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’. It was to be a space of familiarity, a place where families, presided over by domesticated wives and mothers, could be protected from the harsh world of outside. As Ranajit Guha has suggested, it was hard for colonisers to be ‘at home’ in the empire, marked as an uncanny and disturbing place of difference.41 There were the ‘heimlich pleasures of the hearth, the unheimlich terror of the space or race of the Other’.42 Home was supposed to keep empire – with its strange peoples and landscapes, its flora and fauna, its languages, cultures and histories, its armies and military power – at a distance, geographically distinct, separated by land masses and seas. It was, in Balachandra Rajan’s evocative phrase, a ‘space of difference’.43 Jamaica, Sierra Leone and India were all unhomely places for Zachary and Tom and they both worked hard to create protected homes in England that would establish boundaries. Yet this could never be fully effective; there were so many cross-fertilisations and transpositions: the boundaries were porous; it was impossible to keep things quietly in place. Indeed, one of the reasons why Ireland was so profoundly disturbing was because of its geographical proximity and the white skin of its ‘aboriginal’ inhabitants: it was too close and too different. The only way to be ‘at home’ with the empire, to be comfortable about imperial power, to not feel too threatened, was to possess a geographical imagination that bifurcated the home from the space of colonised others. This imagined geography was built on pictures of religious households or island nations that were sufficient unto themselves: visions that both men in their different ways encouraged.

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‘For a nation to live’, writes Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, ‘its heterogeneous, often contentious, inhabitants must experience themselves as integral parts of a collective “We, the People”.’44 That sense of collectivity required active identification, a ‘daily plebiscite’ as Renan put it, signifying consent.45 It was the American Revolution and the French Revolution that brought new ideas of the nation into being. Monarchical dynasties blessed by God were no longer the only source of legitimacy; a new concept of man and of citizenship was born. Nations had to be created, but always with ‘the cultural materials at hand . . . cultures directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past’.46 In Britain there was no revolution, the monarchy was not jettisoned, but a new sense of the nation had to be crafted as society was transformed by social, political and economic change. This demanded a complicated dialectic of innovation and continuity, work especially suited to historians. If the architects of national identities – the politicians, cartographers, historians, and social statisticians, the novelists, poets and songsters – were to do their work of representing the nation in ways that would stabilise and fix, appear coherent, give the sense of a unified body politic and social body, then the disparate realities of heterogeneous social groups living in varied territories and regions had somehow to be overcome. We know what things are in part by knowing what they are not. Nations, of course, are always conglomerates of peoples of different ethnicities and languages, different religions, ages, genders and classes, with disparate and conflicting interests. It was only through the construction of others that the Englishman could know what Englishness was. And it was through the creation of boundaries that differences were marked, between them and us, home and away. It was this which allowed the contradictions to be held at bay, with exclusive belongings sustained. But those imagined others were constituting others, defining of the self and of Englishness/Britishness. They were lived internally, yet disavowed, known and not known. Those others, however, could become threatening material presences – the African American loyalists who were shipped to Sierra Leone in the 1790s, the enslaved in Jamaica who rebelled in 1831 and whose actions had terrifying consequences not only for themselves but for British missionaries, the Irish victims of the famine who deeply unsettled notions of what it meant to be white, the Indian sepoys in 1857, once believed to be the most loyal of subjects, who turned on their masters. They were the fearsome dreads, but there were also the desires for the other and their consequences in illegitimacy and mixed descent – the ‘Eurasian’ population of India, the ‘mulatto’ population of the Caribbean, Thackeray’s West Indian heiress Miss Swartz

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flaunting her rich woolly hair and diamonds as big as pigeons’ eggs in the heart of Vanity Fair – all potentially undermining notions of homogeneity and disrupting imagined geographies of wholeness, whether in an Evangelical or secular vein. Choosing to write about the Macaulays meant entering a well-populated field, but from a different angle. Zachary has attracted modest attention from historians of abolition and of Sierra Leone. His granddaughter produced his Life and Letters and a biography has just been published, hoping to rescue him from the more critical accounts of his time in Sierra Leone.47 Tom Macaulay’s letters and journals have been edited and published, his History, his essays and his poetry are widely available and he has always been a subject of contention, beloved by innumerable readers, berated by others. His legacy in India, where he was the law member of the GovernorGeneral’s council in the years 1834–8 is still a matter of great debate. He is roundly condemned by innumerable generations of Indian nationalists for his ‘Minute on Education’, which approved the use of English as the language of instruction for the Indian elite, and which was deeply contemptuous of indigenous culture. But he is celebrated by others for his bringing of India into the modern world through the medium of the English language. This aspect is remembered with the proposal that India should celebrate an ‘English Day’ on Macaulay’s birthday.48 His History is part of the English/British national story, a text associated with ‘the inescapable inheritance of Englishmen’.49 From the beginning it attracted great enthusiasm: its sales were astounding, its global reach spectacular. But the intellectual elite were more critical. For Arnold he was the great philistine, for John Stuart Mill ‘an intellectual dwarf ’.50 Gladstone was impressed by Macaulay’s ‘monarchy over the world of readers’: his ‘power upon the surface was rare and marvellous’, he wrote, but his serious flaw was a ‘want of depth’.51 For Harriet Martineau the History was nothing but a romance. Walter Bagehot thought it was a ‘marvellous book’ but regretted the author’s lack of ‘passionate self-questionings, indomitable fears’.52 John Morley appreciated his narrative genius, thought his writing as good as a library for the uneducated man who wanted to know about ‘great lives and great thoughts’.53 Leslie Stephen loved his manly style. For ‘the ordinary reader’ he was, ‘one of the two authorities for English history, the other being Shakespeare, while ‘the Whiggism whose peculiarities Macaulay reflected so faithfully represents some of the most deeply-seated tendencies of the national character’.54 His daughter, Virginia, aged fifteen celebrated ‘my beloved Macaulay’, a judgement which might have been

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more circumspect in her later life when she wrote new kinds of history.55 The professional historians of the late nineteenth century regarded him as far too literary, but his great-nephew, G. M. Trevelyan, held the banner high.56 Freud modelled his prose on Macaulay’s; Churchill’s History followed in his footsteps. Macaulay went out of fashion in the post-war world. Butterfield’s early critique of whig interpretations, defined as ‘the tendency in many historians to write on the side of Protestants and Whigs, to praise revolutions provided they have been successful, to emphasise certain principles in the past and to produce a story which is the ratification if not the glorification of the present’, was influential.57 The limited nature of his research and the lack of scholarly apparatus made him suspect to professional historians. Literary scholars, however, remained interested in his form and style and explored the relation between the novel and history writing. George Levine judged him ‘the perfect spokesman for the practical secular center of English opinion’, a writer who aimed at avoiding, not confronting mystery. An antiintellectual who constructed ‘a defense . . . against the pains of contemporary experience’.58 My work has been immensely facilitated by the existing historiography and my debts will be apparent throughout the text. All Macaulay scholars are deeply indebted to his nephew George Otto Trevelyan who published the first biography, to Thomas Pinney, who edited the marvellous collection of his letters revealing much of his personal and writing life, and to William Thomas who has more recently completed an edition of the journals, documenting a less crafted self.59 John Clive’s biography, which ends in 1838, is rich in research and interpretation, aware of its subject’s failings and admiring of his qualities. Clive drew attention to his energy, his rhetoric, his oratory, his loyalty to his particular brand of Whiggism, his power as a myth-maker, his battles as a parvenu, and his internal struggle with his father. ‘In more ways than one, Zachary had cast a long shadow’, a shadow of disapproval and lack, a father who could not be satisfied.60 But Clive shared Macaulay’s eurocentrism. Although he was critical of his underestimation of Indian culture and heritage, he was nevertheless uncritical of his belief that ‘the same forces of progress that had operated in Europe to bring general improvement to society as a whole . . . would also operate in India, once Western seed had taken root’.61 A few years later Joseph Hamburger attempted to prove that he was never really a Whig, rather a ‘classical trimmer’, a pragmatist whose greatest concern was how to avoid civil war and achieve balance and stability.62 J. W. Burrow provided an incisive account of his place in the construction of ‘a liberal descent’. ‘The impresario

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of the Whig version of the constitution’, he sees him as a modern Whig, flanked by Bacon and Burke, articulating an extended and inclusive form of Whiggism, requiring ‘only an acceptance of parliamentary government and a sense of the gravity of precedent’.63 Owen Dudley Edwards is an enthusiast for Macaulay, arguing that there was ‘a powerful basic harmony’ with Zachary Macaulay’s views and that the son was implacably ‘hostile to racial and religious barriers in public life’.64 William Thomas challenged the traditional reading of the History as Whig and argues that it was above party, ‘politically speaking neutral’. His interpretation depends on a distinction between the Whig party and the doctrine of progress associated with that tradition called ‘the whig interpretation of history’.65 More recent work has been attentive to questions of race and empire. Robert E. Sullivan’s biography sees Macaulay as a deeply malign influence, ‘a Janus-faced master of the universe’ with a ‘sinister vision of progress that foreshadowed twentiethcentury genocide’.66 Theodore Koditschek’s masterly study of imperialism and history writing has placed both father and son in the tradition of those who deployed the notion of progress ‘to explain and justify Britain’s imperial activity within a liberal framework’.67 Macaulay and Son opens with the question: What makes an imperial man? – a question that runs through the book. It follows Zachary Macaulay from his childhood in the Highlands to Glasgow, Jamaica and Sierra Leone. This younger son of the manse was in some respects an archetypal figure of the late eighteenth century, a Scot who made a name for himself in the colonies, then settled in London, one of the extensive diaspora of those whose education had enabled them to move south to the heart of the empire with its web of patronage and promise. But Zachary Macaulay was formed too by his encounter with Evangelicalism, a life-changing experience which determined the routes he would take. Chosen by his mentors in the Clapham Sect to play a leading part in the construction of a religious colony in Sierra Leone, he found himself locked in struggle with unruly black Nova Scotians, defending an authoritarian vision of empire. Chapter 2 explores Zachary Macaulay’s effort to lead a life of faith, one committed to making a Christian home, cleansing the nation from the sins which threatened to destroy it, and reconfiguring the empire. Driven by a profound sense of duty and responsibility and aiming always to build a virtuous world, he devoted his energies to the great cause of abolition, to the detriment of the family finances. His vision of a godly nation and empire, ordered by men such as himself, was a powerful legacy for his son. In Chapter 3 attention turns to the son, Thomas Babington Macaulay, his imperial childhood and his psychic formation. The patriarchal relation

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between father and son was clearly significant, but so too were his mother and two favourite siblings. How did Tom’s psychic world intersect with his public life? Trauma, I suggest, played a significant part in Tom’s emotional make-up: the loss of his mother and two sisters was a blow from which he never recovered. Reading and writing became his solace, his History became the child he never had. Chapter 4 considers Tom Macaulay, the reforming man and Whig politician. Ideas of manliness were changing and Tom was part of a new generation of public men, reformers both at home and in the nation. His formative moment was 1832, the moment he made history. His conviction that Irish Catholics and Jews could be Englishmen underpinned his conception of a multiethnic state, capable of incorporating difference. Yet his hope that Ireland could be assimilated to England in the way that he believed Scotland had been came under severe pressure throughout the 1830s and 1840s. His commitment to the Whig project of winning consent to the 1832 settlement never wavered, and in 1848 it seemed that reform had triumphed over revolution. While Chapter 4 considers the inclusions and exclusions of the nation, Chapter 5 concerns the empire. Tom Macaulay’s view of empire drew on his Evangelical childhood, yet was significantly different. His vision was of a liberal and reforming empire, with conquest forgotten and slavery abolished, one that over time would spread the benefits of civilisation to subject peoples. All men belonged to one human family and all British subjects had the right to the rule of law, but forms of government would necessarily differ for those still existing in an epoch of barbarism and those who had progressed to freedom: there was a ‘space of difference’ between colonisers and colonised. The final chapter considers Macaulay, the history man. Drawing on a range of traditions from Thucydides to Scott, he was able to construct a narrative that entranced generations of readers. His decision to devote himself to writing had its political and psychic components. The central task for the modern historian, he believed, was to chart the shift from barbarism to civilisation. In doing this he would contribute to the Whig project of governing for the people both at home and in the empire. His History of England charted the development of a multiethnic state in which some would be citizens, others subjects, but all bound together by the liberties won through their common history. His central task was to make England a safe home, free from danger: to establish boundaries, build up the bulwarks, and be defended against the torments of loss. A nation founded on gender, class and ethnic inclusions and exclusions; an empire of virtue yet with authoritarian rule at its heart; a universal family of man yet an assumption of cultural and racial hierarchies; a

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certainty that Western women’s status was an index of levels of development yet a blindness to the culture of strangers; an insistence that all British subjects had the right to the rule of law yet some had more right to it than others; a conviction that civilisation was worth waiting for yet some would wait for centuries – these were amongst the legacies of Macaulay and Son. They are worth exploring.

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Key sites for the Macaulays.

Kingston Spanish Town

Jamaica

A t l a n t i c

NOVA SC OTIA

O c e a n

SIERRA Freetown LEONE

KINGD OM

Inverary Edinburgh Leeds Dublin Cambridge UNITED London

I n d i a n

Madras

O c e a n

Ootacamund

I N D I A Calcutta

CH A P T E R O N E

†i¢

Zachary Macaulay The Making of an Abolitionist

T

he stories of Macaulay senior and junior cross nations and continents: their family was indeed an imperial family. Macaulay senior was born in Scotland, spent six years in Jamaica and eight years in Sierra Leone before settling in England. Three of his brothers spent time in India, including Colin who served at Seringapatam, was imprisoned by Haider Ali for four years and later became Wellington’s aide-de-camp in Indian campaigns. Another brother was a naval captain, while yet another was employed by the Sierra Leone Company. They came from a long line of Presbyterian ministers of very modest means, and like so many Scots found empire to be a very successful way of making a living or even a fortune.1 Numerous cousins and other relatives worked across the empire. Zachary Macaulay’s journey across the empire, from Scotland to the Caribbean and West Africa, was critical to his formation as a particular kind of man, an Evangelical and an abolitionist. His imperial encounters across place and time shaped his understanding of the world. From Scotland to Jamaica Zachary, the third of twelve children, was born in 1768 in the Western Highlands of Scotland at a time when much of that country was still seen by polite society as uncivilised. His father, the Rev. John Macaulay, was a Calvinist and the Church of Scotland minister in Inverary. His mother was a Campbell. The family moved to Cardross on the banks of the Clyde when Zachary was six, a place later described by him as ‘the wilds’.2 Scotland in the 1760s was far from its full economic and political transformation and its ‘assimilation’ into England, later to be so powerfully evoked by his son in the History. With twelve children the sons had to seek their fortunes, and

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Zachary’s older brothers, Colin and Aulay, went into the army and the Church. As the oldest boy left at home Zachary was involved in the education of his younger siblings, and as he said himself in the autobiographical fragment that he wrote when he was in Sierra Leone in 1797, this experience gave him habits of authority, self-confidence and impatience, not to speak of a dogmatic and magisterial style in writing and speaking.3 His account of the self was written with hindsight, from the perspective of a man of twentynine with extensive public responsibilities in an ‘infant colony’, one who had found a new meaning to life through Evangelical Christianity and who was conducting a courtship. He was both reinterpreting a past and imagining a future. Lines from John Newton, the reformed captain of a slave ship, provided his epitaph: Thou didst once a wretch behold In rebellion blindly bold Scorn Thy grace, Thy power defy That poor rebel, Lord, was I.4

Writing as a reformed ‘rebel’, a ‘wretch’ who had been born anew, he narrated his early life through the tropes of spiritual rebirth and antislavery sentiment. At nine a serious accident to his right arm had required many operations and together with his blindness in one eye meant that he was more bookish and adult centred than other children. His father, in the tradition of ministers of the Church of Scotland, had a good library, including Latin, Greek and French texts, and the boy loved to read, finding that he had an ‘insatiable appetite’ for books. At fourteen he became his ‘own master by being removed from the control of my Father and Mother’ and sent to Glasgow to pursue a mercantile career, a disappointment to him since he would have liked to have continued his education. Free from parental supervision, which also meant no kindly watchful eye, he ‘was continually laying the plan of wonderful adventure’, but managed to do well in his work. He mixed, however, with bad company, from the men at the counting house who drank wine, to the women who encouraged him to pore over ‘such abominable, but fascinating works as are to be found under the head of novels in the catalogue of every circulating library’.5 Then there were the students who were studying with Scottish Enlightenment thinkers and ‘made a cruel use of their influence’. Hume, the religious sceptic, became his oracle and ‘to profane the sacred name of God’ his pleasure.6 There was no family in Glasgow, he later regretfully remarked, especially no Christian women, to

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keep him on the straight and narrow. He got into ‘bad habits’ and realised he must extricate himself ‘from the Labyrinth in which I was involved’, a labyrinth the nature of which can only be imagined but which was presumably connected to adolescent desires.7 Meanwhile, however, he had learned much of the methods of a merchant house, lessons that were to stand him in good stead. He was intending to go to the East Indies, but a relative offered him patronage in Jamaica, an offer that came to nothing. Jamaica was a familiar spot for Glasgow merchants with their multiple connections to sugar and slavery and was widely regarded as a place for a Scot to do well. He set out for Jamaica at sixteen, and arrived without money or ‘single friend to whom I could turn for assistance’.8 Just as in Glasgow there was no alternative family, no replacement for the moral compass provided by the manse, only the drinking companions who encouraged different values and identifications. Jamaica in 1784 was enjoying great prosperity. Planters were accumulating huge fortunes; there had been no major rebellion of the enslaved since 1760; and the uncertainties associated with the American War of Independence had lessened. Jamaica was not yet identified, as it came to be, as the iconic site of Britain’s ‘national sin’: the slave trade and slavery. According to George Otto Trevelyan, Thomas Babington Macaulay’s nephew and first biographer, the Rev. John Macaulay, Zachary’s father, saw nothing to condemn in ‘an institution recognised by Scripture’ and Zachary himself was not predisposed against slavery on his arrival in the Caribbean.9 As yet there was no significant movement in the metropole against the trade which was widely seen as a major source of national wealth. He stayed there for six years working as a book-keeper, an under-manager on a plantation, one of the lowliest employees on an estate, supervising the enslaved in the fields, keeping the keys for the stores and attending the boiling house and distillery in the crop season. ‘The managerial hierarchy that developed in Jamaica was the basis of social order’, and the book-keeper ranked low amongst white colonists.10 The position was one which James Stephen, the man who was later to become one of Zachary’s closest associates and friends in the struggle against slavery, vividly described from his own observations in the Caribbean: The Overseers, as the subaltern white agents of the Sugar Planters are called in the Leeward Islands, or Bookkeepers as they are preposterously named in Jamaica, are, I think, of all human beings in point of employment the most to be compassionated or despised; compassionated if they cannot, and despised if they do not desire to abandon their odious situation. They are in the middle rank among the administrators of that cruel

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private despotism under which the poor negroes groan, being placed immediately above the black drivers, and below the Managers, called in Jamaica the Overseers. Over the former, they have the same unlimited power, practically at least unlimited, as the managers, or the Proprietor himself, when present, and of course also over the poor human herd who are driven to their labours: but they are servilely subordinate to the Managers; men whose minds for the most part are steeled against every humane and liberal feeling.11

They were the superintendents, he continued, of excessive labour and vile punishments. A strong constitution was essential for they had to be out in the sun, visit the sick house, be satisfied with coarse food. It was a position, he noted, ‘commonly filled by hardy young men from Scotland and Ireland taken from the ranks of life not much above the lowest and who are prepared by early habit to sustain well every physical hardship.’12 Zachary, writing his account of his young manhood after his conversion to Evangelicalism, represented Jamaica in what was already by the late 1790s the familiar language of abolitionism. Jamaica was a degraded society, Britons became corrupted by the excessive powers they wielded, enslaved Africans were passive victims of a cruel system. The sins were those of the white man. His own experience had been salutary. As a youth, scarcely a man, seeking employment on the island, he had been humiliated and rebuffed as a subordinate. But he already knew his own capacity for business. He recounted his problems with white superiors and the contempt he felt for many white West Indians. He felt ‘the miseries of dependence on the proud and unfeeling’, and frequently experienced ‘the stronger passions of indignation and resentment’ when treated coldly by men whom he thought his educational inferiors. His new life waged war with my taste and feelings, and was alien from all my former habits. My office was laborious, irksome, and degrading in a degree of which I could have no previous conception, and which none can imagine fully who, like me, have not experienced the vexatious, tyrannical, pitiless, and capricious conduct of a Jamaica overseer.13

His servile subordination to the overseer was painful but he had no choice, so ‘cheerfully submitted to all the severe toil and painful watchings which were required of me’. This humiliating subservience was bad enough. Far worse was the exposure to the everyday brutalities of the plantation, both the sight and ‘the practice of severities over others’, a horrifying experience

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for which nothing had prepared him. ‘The very recollection’ made his ‘blood run cold’. His mind had at first, he recorded, been ‘feelingly alive to the miseries of the poor slaves’. ‘I not only revolted at the thought of myself inflicting punishment upon them, but the very sight of punishment sickened me.’14 But this was an impossible position to maintain. In a society in which the enslaved had been commodified – constructed as objects to be bought and sold, men, women and children with black skin and bodies unlike those of their white masters and mistresses – feelings of pity or sympathy could not be tolerated. Macaulay found himself ‘bound, if I would not forfeit the regard of all who were disposed to serve me, even to give no vent to those feelings which would have seemed to reproach them with cruelty’. Feelings that were deemed inappropriate for a white man had to be controlled. He resolved ‘to get rid of my squeamishness’, and found that he succeeded beyond his expectations. He wrote to a friend at home: The air of this Island has some peculiar quality in it, for no sooner does a person set foot on it than his former ways of thinking are entirely changed. You would hardly know your friend, with whom you have spent so many hours in more peaceful, and more pleasant scenes, were you to view me in a field of canes, amidst perhaps a hundred of the sable race, cursing and bawling, while the noise of the whip resounding on their Shoulders, and the cries of the poor wretches, would make you imagine some unlucky accident had carried you to the doleful shades.15

Writing in the mid-1790s, at a time when he was fully committed to the struggle to abolish the slave trade and only too aware of the horrors of slavery, he reflected on the ‘terrible caprice and tyranny of one who, unawed by the fear of God, exercises an absolute dominion over his fellow-men’. Living in Jamaica, however, ‘as soon as I was master of my business, I began to like my situation’. His ‘outward conduct’ was rather sober and decorous in comparison with the vulgarity of the planters, but in substance his habits were the same. ‘I was quite assimilated to my neighbours’, he concluded, subject, like them, to base passion. ‘The contagion of a universal example must indeed have its effect’, he reasoned. He had been ‘assimilated’ to the culture of the West Indies.16 His innate capacities, as he later characterised them, those universal human attributes that allowed him to distinguish between good and evil, were blocked by his environment. Slavery was degrading both to the enslavers and the enslaved. In his discussion of abolitionist narratives, Marcus Wood has drawn attention to the focus on the sufferings of the feeling white man.17 Zachary’s

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sufferings were associated both with his own subordination to cruel white overseers and his exposure to their bestial treatment of ‘poor negro wretches’. Yet, he later reflected, he himself had been unable to reform the ‘mischievous habits’ of the enslaved.18 Shocked as he was by the cruelty of slavery, he had nevertheless felt it imperative to assimilate himself to its practices – to become a white man in the model of the white West Indian. His ‘habits and dispositions’ became fundamentally the same as theirs. Only his rather ‘sober and decorous’ manner retained the trace of his upbringing in the manse. Like John Newton, however, he had come to recognise his sin and must expiate it, the double sin of man’s original fall from grace: his own wretchedness as a ‘rebel’ who refused the gift of salvation, and the sin of having colluded with a system that denied others their position as sons of God. And there had been one saving grace – in Jamaica he had grasped that his education stood him in good stead. His capacity for reason gave him a confidence that enabled him to speak up on behalf of oppressed others – albeit young white inferiors – subject to the whims of their employers. This capacity to speak for others became a critical part of his identity as an abolitionist. ‘Real Religion’ In 1789, the year of the French Revolution, another relative offered Zachary a position ‘at home’ and he left Jamaica. Familiar only with Scotland, this was his first encounter with England. Both his parents had died and he went to stay with his older sister Jean who had married an enthusiastic Evangelical, Thomas Babington, a friend of William Wilberforce. Anglican Evangelicals were inspired by the absence of ‘real religion’; they sought a faith that informed everyday practice and would infuse political and social worlds with ethical values. Their sense of moral crisis, already profound in the 1780s, was to be greatly magnified by the French Revolution and the fears it generated of radicalism and revolution in England. Babington, from an old gentry family, and Wilberforce, the scion of a wealthy Hull mercantile dynasty who had established his place in national politics as a young man, were key figures in what came to be known as the Clapham Sect. Macaulay stepped into the heart of this network of Evangelical families and friends. They were to be his closest associates for the rest of his life. His new brother-in-law had inherited estates in Leicestershire which had been in his family since the sixteenth century and his home, Rothley Temple, was a ‘picturesque and interesting mansion of great antiquity’.19 He was a paternalistic landlord, guided first and foremost by religious and moral considerations, a man who impressed by his character rather than his

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achievements.20 Aulay Macaulay, Zachary’s older brother and a curate in Leicestershire, was a friend of Babington’s. They had travelled together to Scotland, visited the family manse, and Babington had been charmed by Aulay’s younger sister. Immediately after their marriage Jean had been dispatched for six months with Babington’s mother to stay with the Gisbornes, a leading Evangelical family. Babington, Gisborne and Wilber­ force had all been at St John’s, Cambridge together. Thomas Gisborne, married to Babington’s sister Mary, was a great admirer of Adam Smith, and the author of the influential manual Enquiry into the Duties of Men in the Higher and Middle Classes of Society, a handbook of Evangelical manhood. A few years later he published An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex, which stressed the natural differences between the sexes but combined this with an emphasis on the level of refinement appropriate to polite and domesticated societies.21 Jean, brought up in ‘the wilds’, was to be educated out of her ‘Scotticisms’, as they were called, and taught how to be the wife of an English gentleman. She was encouraged by her husband to ‘improve your pronunciation and manner of reading’ as well as her writing.22 The Enlightenment concept of ‘civilisation’ in a commercial society required women to be capable of participating in polite society and conversation. Jean needed to be prepared for her new life and after six months with the Gisbornes she was declared ‘capable of taking the head of her own house’.23 Rothley Temple, under the watchful eye of its benevolent patriarch, was to become an exemplary Evangelical household, widely believed to provide the model of domestic felicity in Hannah More’s immensely popular novel, Coelebs in Search of a Wife. It was the Rothley Temples of this world that were to act as bridgeheads for the moralisation of English society – a key part of the Anglican Evangelical project. If a Scottish background required re-education in the domestic practices of polite Christianity for a young woman, the effects of the West Indies on a young man were infinitely more damaging. On reaching England, Macaulay became uncomfortably aware of the uncivilised nature of his own behaviour. ‘I found’, he recorded, ‘that I had contracted a boorishness of manner, arising doubtless from the nature of my employments and associations, which proved indeed a dreadful mortification to my vanity, when I came to perceive it, as I soon did.’ Work on the plantations, the sound of the whip and the ‘poor wretches’ who had been his daily companions, not to speak of the homes of the planters with their irregular sexual relations, lives of luxury and excessive consumption, had not prepared him for polite company. ‘While absent from Europe’, he realised, ‘I had scarce seen a white lady’ – those Christian ladies that could moralise men – ‘and among men in

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the West Indies, whatever be their rank, there is a total emancipation not only from the trammels of ceremony, but, notwithstanding a great deal of hospitality and even kindness, from the more necessary forms of good breeding.’24 Babington took his wife’s brother under his wing and Zachary was deeply affected by his brother-in-law’s example of Christian manhood. Affection, sympathy and benevolence had not been part of his Jamaican sojourn. He experienced what his daughter Selina later described as ‘a change . . . so great that no expression except that of being “born again” is sufficiently strong to express it’.25 Babington’s aura affected all those around him and he became a key figure for his younger protégé, an exemplum of Christian manhood. ‘I never think of him but my thoughts are drawn to that Saviour with whom he first brought me acquainted’, Zachary wrote, and Rothley Temple figured for him as the place to which ‘I owe myself ’.26 He felt himself to be born anew, a new man, and henceforth devoted his life to religious duty. He cast off the Highlands boy, the Glasgow youth, the white West Indian young man, and became a soldier of his God. ‘The Christian life is a warfare’, as Newton put it, ‘much within us and much without us must be resisted.’27 He re-educated himself, and prepared himself to remake others. What he did not cast off was his early Presbyterian training in the self-discipline associated with reading, writing and study. Now, however, it was the Bible that became his most constant companion. Babington introduced him to other leading Evangelicals and he was adopted as a promising young man. Zachary, at twenty-one, had found a new kind of family. Having lost his father at fourteen he now had new guides, who took on the role of older siblings and mentors. His identification with Babington and the forms of Christian manliness that he represented, together with his love for Rothley Temple, provided him with a new sense of belonging: a home and a family. Henry Thornton, the prosperous banker whose large establishment in Clapham, Battersea Rise, was to become the centre of Evangelical activities, emerged as Zachary’s second alter ego. As Christopher Brown has remarked, it is hard to find the right tone in which to write about the Evangelicals.28 The Clapham Sect evoked both huge hostility and warm admiration in their own time and since. Their conservative politics, narrow-mindedness, and assumption that they knew best as to how people should live their lives have made them an easy target for radicals and secularists. Attempting to understand their beliefs and the states of mind they occupied is, however, critical to any understanding of Zachary Macaulay, and, indeed, of his son. Their impact was astonishing, given their small numbers, not least on patterns of British domestic life.29

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At the heart of Evangelical beliefs was the natural corruption of man and his potential redemption by Christ. All God’s creatures were in a state of natural depravity, weighed down by original sin. A deep awareness of personal sin went together with a faith in God’s grace through Christ’s atonement on the cross. Redemption, the quintessential blessing, was secured by the ‘atoning work of Christ’.30 A sharp distinction was drawn between this world and the next. Life was ‘an arena of moral trial in which all would be tempted, tested, judged’ and reach either eternal life or everlasting damnation.31 An experience of conversion, which could take many forms, was likely to be central in the struggle for redemption and would signal a transformation in daily life. Justification was through faith in atonement; good works would never be enough. Evangelicals were committed to a simple form of worship and were suspicious of too much enthusiasm. Religion was for them at the centre of life and ‘the ubiquity of the Divine presence’ provided ‘the only true support’.32 God had made the world and his providence determined its affairs. Yet individuals had to take responsibility for their lives. As Christopher Tolley has suggested, Evangelicals aimed to develop a fully understood faith which could be translated into practice. They spoke in an intelligible and confident manner, avoided mysticism, and saw religious maturity in terms of simplicity and certainty.33 In the words of the celebrated Hannah More, friend of the Clapham Sect, famed Evangelical writer, conservative polemicist, and protagonist of a reform of manners and morals, the best frame of mind for a Christian was ‘to be deeply impressed with a few fundamental truths, to digest them thoroughly, to meditate on them seriously, to get them deeply rooted in the heart’.34 Zachary’s firm belief, following in this spirit, was that it was God’s word alone that could give light and that Christians must follow the line prescribed for them in the Bible ‘with a simple dependency and a singly [sic] and unvarying purpose’.35 While individual faith was the key to moral regeneration, men must live in the world, women in the home; therefore Christians must attempt to transform the institutions of their daily lives. The primary setting for maintaining faith was a religious family and household and family life was central to individual and social reform.36 It was through families that the knowledge of God was handed down from generation to generation and families could hope to meet after death in the heavenly home. Family prayers were a way of signifying the place of religion in the earthly home and Henry Thornton’s Family Prayers went through numerous editions. The male head of household, who must be able to support and order his family, was assumed to have certain responsibilities and duties as laid out in the Bible. Evangelical Christian manhood had particular characteristics – at

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odds with other patterns of late-eighteenth-century upper-class masculinity. Evangelical men were morally serious, aware of their religious calling and possessed of a sensitivity to others, especially the weak and the dependent. Their manliness could be at risk of being judged effeminate and Christian men required new forms of authority, exemplified by Wilberforce with his aura of religious sensibility. A woman’s femininity was best expressed in her dependence: the new Christian woman was the godly wife and mother, always aware of her civil, though not spiritual, subordination to her husband. A woman’s profession was, as Hannah More put it, to be a wife and mother. Meek and passive virtues were ‘peculiarly Christian, and peculiarly feminine’.37 Women should act as moral improvers, with philanthropy as their only sphere of activity in ‘the world’. Love was central to family harmony but marital love should be not ‘an ungovernable impulse’ but the attachment of ‘persons . . . under the dominion of reason and religion’.38 Women ‘in their course of action’ would ‘describe a smaller circle than men; but the perfection of a circle’, argued More, ‘consists not in its dimensions, but in its correctness’.39 Furthermore, this ‘smaller circle’ was the women’s sphere of moral influence, their critical contribution to a regenerated world. In her Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education, More argued that ‘the general state of civilized society’ was more dependent on ‘the prevailing sentiments and habits of women’ and the ways in which they were valued, than was normally realised.40 British women had a feminine and patriotic duty to promote religious principle and public morality. Henry Thornton recorded in his diary his hope that Clapham might become a theatre for the exhibition of a modest and unaffected piety.41 All Christians needed to be accountable given the propensity to sin, but this particular group, walking in the public eye as they did, must be especially careful. There were serious tensions between a full engagement in ‘real religion’ and a public life, since ‘the world’ was a place of danger and vice. Wilberforce delighted in quiet reflection and had to bolster his sense of public responsibility, his belief that Providence had assigned him to business in the world.42 Evangelicals had much work to do: a lesson that Zachary fully absorbed and that chimed well with the Calvinist work ethic that he had grown up with. He particularly admired Thornton for his ‘uniform and abiding impression of his accountableness to God for every moment of his time, and for every word he utters’.43 This meant constant examination of the self to check on failings and inadequacies, to seek strength through prayer, and improve conduct and self-discipline, often with the aid of journal and diary writing. Furthermore, friends should be ready to correct faults. Babington and Thornton both took on the task of monitoring

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Zachary, guiding him through the pitfalls of life, emphasising the centrality of communion with God and religious duty. Thornton was Zachary’s ‘polar star’, his ‘presiding . . . better genius . . . What will Henry Thornton think of this, was with me a trying question on all occasions’.44 Notions of Providence, derived from the Latin provideo, looking forward, were central to Evangelicals. ‘A belief in providence as the moral government of the universe was general’, as Roger Anstey has shown.45 Bishop Berkeley, philosopher and antimaterialist, was devoted to proving the reality of a providential God, a God who overlooked all things. This belief in divine intent gave meaning and provided a foundation for practical morals. Berkeley’s influential vision was Of one wise, good and provident Spirit, which directs and rules and governs the world . . . not a Creator merely, but a provident Governor, actually and intimately present, and attentive to all our interests and motions, who watches over our conduct, and takes care of our minutest actions and designs throughout the whole course of our lives, informing, admonishing, and directing incessantly, in a most evident and sensible manner.46

Evangelicals assumed the presence of a providential God watching over all. This sense of a divine will, taking care of the minutest details of everyday lives, could be consoling as well as alarming. James Stephen, one of Macaulay’s closest associates in the years to come, wrote of ‘a superintending Providence watching over all the affairs of men and of nations, reserving and sustaining those that follow the way of the Divine will, dealing a just retribution, to individuals and nations alike, for persistent sin’.47 But the workings of providence did not mean that human beings were absolved from the need to act – far from it. They must struggle, both individually and collectively, to further the gospel of salvation and save themselves and their country from sinking into iniquity. The Evangelicalism of the Clapham Sect was profoundly conservative, both socially and politically. Wilberforce and Thornton were close allies of Pitt on most issues. The group’s commitment to the moralisation of English society, their attack on vice and their struggle to revitalise religious belief and practice, was strengthened by their reaction to the French Revolution and fears about the maintenance of order at home. The nation, they believed, was suffering from moral degeneracy and an anti-Jacobin campaign was essential. The problem was moral, not political: godliness and social stability went together. ‘How beautiful is the order of society’, Thornton

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maintained, ‘when every person adorns the station in which GOD has placed him; when the inferior pays willing honour to the superior; and when the superior is diligently occupied in the duties of his trust.’48 Events in France were a dramatic warning of what was to come if individuals, especially those in the upper ranks, did not inspire a revolution in manners and morals, a transformation which must begin with individual salvation. Hannah More’s series of Cheap Repository Tracts, written in simple language for the poor, was only one of the many weapons they employed in an effort to counter the dangerous ideas associated with Tom Paine and the radicalism of the 1790s. The Clapham Sect is well known for its commitment to the abolition of the slave trade and slavery; it had an equally strong commitment to inequality as a natural order. At the end of 1787, before the French Revolution and the Terror released the full flow of anti-Jacobinism, Wilberforce famously recorded in his diary, ‘God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners.’49 In taking up the issue of the slave trade, he was building on the work of other Evangelicals and Quakers. The initial impetus came from the small group of men and women gathered around Barham Court, associated with the Rev. James Ramsay. Ramsay, who was in the British West Indies in the 1770s, was disturbed by the impact of the American Revolution and the failings of imperial government, and wanted to increase the influence of the Church across the empire, hoping ‘to promote the reorganization of empire through the reform of slavery’.50 Ramsay was deeply influenced by Margaret, Lady Middleton, who was concerned about the moral and religious obligations of slaveholders and the benighted state of the enslaved, deprived as they were of religious teaching. The task was to take religion to them – and it was the immense difficulties in doing that, faced with the hostility of the plantocracy, that turned attention to the slave trade. By 1787, the idea that the slave trade was a national sin to be atoned was connected for Evangelicals with the conviction that the vice and immorality characterising contemporary English society required urgent reform. Religious reform was essential if Britain and its empire were to be saved from moral, political and social disorder, signs of God’s wrath. But it was the slave trade that provided the most vivid example of national guilt. Hannah More’s Slavery: A Poem, with its emotive appeal to notions of a shared humanity, provided a clarion call. All peoples were the children of God. ‘What’, she rhetorically asked, ‘does th’ immortal principle within/ Change with the casual colour of a skin?’ To which the response was, ‘In every nature every clime the same;/ In all, these feelings equal sway maintain’.51

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Urgent debates over the plantations and the Caribbean had been kickstarted by Ramsay’s critical Essay on the Treatment and Conversion of African Slaves in the British Sugar Colonies (1784), which was shockingly concrete in its depictions and connected the physical sufferings of the enslaved with questions of justice and humanity. Providentialist theology could interpret the terrible reports of cruelty on the plantations as indications of the nation’s sin – sin which might invoke divine punishment. For Evangelicals, the slave trade ‘abrogated God’s good order’. All men were sinners, capable of redemption. But victims of the Middle Passage were blocked from seeking God’s grace. ‘Slave traders fomented a kind of disorder which was characteristic of relations outside of God’s rule. Justice entailed bringing all relations within the ambit of divine order.’52 The question of difference In the Evangelical vision white slave traders persecuted and oppressed black Africans. But how did race figure in this and how was the African imagined? Evangelical thinking on questions of human similarity and difference was entwined and in debate with other conceptions of the nature of humankind. Such questions had been debated for centuries – human beings are always concerned with the differences between one another, whether in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or any other kind of marker. When difference is organised hierarchically, some seen as superior to others, and such differences are used as the basis for political, economic and social exclusions, then questions of racism arise. Race operates in two registers, as Stuart Hall and others have argued – the cultural and the biological – and ideas of religion, history, or descent can be quite as essentialising as those of skin, hair or bones.53 Conversations about human difference were not new; they had featured in ancient, medieval and early modern societies. ‘Ideologies of difference’, as Ania Loomba argues, ‘have always connected the body with belief systems, biology with culture, albeit in varying ways and to different effects’.54 Notions of Oriental despotism, African lechery, the dangers of Islam and Judaism were commonplace in early modern writings: religious, sexual and gender discourses intersected with notions of the body. The literature of the early modern period, building on medieval discourses of the connections between darkness and evil, blackness and monstrosity, began to encode fundamental divisions between Christians and non-Christians, Europeans and non-Europeans. Race was being made and remade in historically specific times and places, always connected to questions of power and

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inequality. Neither monogenesis nor the possibility of non-Christians being converted to Christianity appears to have prevented or retarded the construction of hierarchies between peoples.55 But eighteenth-century notions of race were flexible, mobile and, as a wealth of recent scholarship has demonstrated, embedded in British culture.56 Racial thinking was sedimented, older conceptions jostled alongside or coexisted, sometimes contradictorily, with newer ideas. Discourses of religion, community or descent could be just as pernicious and symbolically impassable as those of ‘scientific racism’ as Kathleen Wilson has convincingly demonstrated. ‘ “Race” as a line of descent or group’ in the eighteenth century, she argues, ‘was identified and signified through religion, custom, language, climate, aesthetics and historical time as much as physiognomy and skin colour.’ And by the end of the century ‘moral difference’ was increasingly seen ‘as both cause and effect of national difference, a difference that could be eradicated, if at all, only with glacial slowness’.57 In an age of imperial expansion, voyagers, travellers and explorers attempted to describe and explain the differences they observed amongst peoples of the world. Climate was often seen as a critical factor, as it was for Montesquieu: thus Macaulay’s conviction that the ‘very air’ of Jamaica had deeply affected him. Some environments were seen as preferable to others and more suited to enabling human beings to fulfil their potential. Excessive heat was thought to be damaging and dark-skinned people more inclined to indolence, northerners more active in mind and body. Rich soil, in warm and well-watered climates, made inhabitants lazy. Temperate climates meant labour was essential. Such beliefs fostered distinctions between the hardworking and productive peoples of the north and the lazy, dark-skinned peoples of hotter climes. Labour and civilisation, it was deduced, went hand in hand. An emerging idea of progress and civilisation, as George Stocking argues, was ‘closely linked with a heightened self-consciousness of European identity and cultural superiority’. ‘Civilisation’ was imagined to be singular, to have a clear geographical location, and ‘what separated man from civilized [sic] man was not a difference in inherent mental makeup so much as the progress of refinement and of civilisation itself ’.58 Stadial theory, a particular focus of the Scottish Enlightenment, became widely influential in Britain with its materialist account of the progress from savagery to civilisation. There were four distinct phases in the development of modes of subsistence, Adam Smith argued, associated with hunting, shepherding, settled agriculture and commerce. When hunters found it difficult to provide sufficient food for a growing population they tamed animals and managed flocks. The cultivation of land and division of labour involved new

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kinds of settlement while the exchange of commodities in time ushered in the age of commerce. As modes of subsistence became more complex, men more dependent on each other, and private property, significant in marking out inequalities, laws and government, necessarily developed.59 Smith was greatly admired by Gisborne, but Wilberforce criticised him as an apologist for scepticism and warned of the degeneracy of contemporary society. It was Christianity which provided security, social order and the means to stem political decay. John Millar, educated under Smith, extended the four-stages theory to an analysis of the organisation of the family, gender relations and manners. There was, he argued, ‘in human society, a natural progress from ignorance to knowledge, and from rude to civilized manners, the several stages of which are usually accompanied with particular laws and customs’.60 Huntergatherers operated in family groups; pastoralism encouraged tribes and villages of several families; settled farming meant that there were federations of smaller units or feudalism might be imposed from above; commerce and manufacture brought modern and polite society. The acquisition of settled property brought with it inequalities of rank, a higher status for some women, and as Jane Rendall argues, the development of romantic and imaginative attachments. Commercial society, with its divisions of labour, surplus productivity and sociability, required women’s skills in the organisation of the household. Only then did women become friends and companions. Women began as servants, slaves and drudges to men because of their lesser physical strength but in modern societies they were especially valued for their ability to acquire arts and graces.61 The idea that women’s status was an indicator of a society’s level of civilisation was shared by many Enlightenment writers.62 Felicity Nussbaum in her analysis of the links between climatic and stadial explanations of difference, suggests that a range of these writers also connected ‘climate and sexual desire to define a temperate, civilized Europe that possesses the sexual constraint necessary to engage in the work-discipline productive of political liberty and civic virtue, in marked contrast to the libidinous and indolent torrid zones’.63 Domesticity could best be enjoyed in the temperate North, an assumption that chimed comfortably with Evangelical thought and that Macaulay learned from experience. The proliferation of work by natural historians and comparative anatomists in the late eighteenth century, seeking to classify difference, brought an increasing focus on human variety and on the external differences between peoples. Both David Hume, the philosopher and historian, and Adam Ferguson, whose writing was significant in illuminating ‘the history of rude nations’ doubted the significance of climate in defining national character

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and argued that moral causes such as the type of government, the amount of national wealth and the habits of the people were more important.64 Lord Kames, another of Smith’s circle, was unusual in making polygenetic arguments and seeing Africans as a distinctive race. Yet Hume also argued that Africans were ‘naturally inferior’ to Europeans and that ‘there never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white’. Nature had made ‘an original distinction’ between ‘breeds of men’.65 New notions of the divisions of mankind, as in the thinking of Charles White, the Manchester physician, focused on the differences between Europeans, Asians, Americans and Africans, and ordered them hierarchically. While Scottish Enlightenment thinking is perceived by some as influential in secularising thinking about difference, and here Hume (the man who had become Macaulay’s oracle in Glasgow) would be the key example, Colin Kidd argues that many of the Scottish stadial thinkers successfully maintained a balance with biblical injunctions. William Robertson, for example, ‘combined stadialism, a naturalistic Humean account of the origins of pagan superstition and a providentialist account of mankind’s intellectual and religious progress’.66 He was confident that all the human race were descended from Adam and Eve and were commanded by God to multiply and replenish the earth. For Kidd, ‘despite the challenge of the Enlightenment, the Scots intelligentisia of the late eighteenth century remained unembarrassed by sacred history’.67 Most moral philosophers held to a vision of a universal human nature, but one affected by environmental and other forces. Most also held to an optimistic belief in the possibilities of progress, though fears of degeneration and decline were always present. Imperial expansion meant ever increasing encounters with otherness ‘at home’ as well as in the colonies. While seventeenth-century writers were preoccupied with the differences between Christianity and Islam, eighteenthcentury luminaries explored the peripheries of Britain as well as the exotica of the West Indies, Africa, the New World and the Pacific. Racial thinking was widely employed when characterising the Irish: whiteness had its hierarchies both in the metropole and in the empire.68 Dr Johnson’s celebrated tour of the Highlands in the mid-1770s, including two meetings with the Rev. John MacAulay, Zachary’s father, when the latter was chided by the great doctor for his lack of knowledge of human nature, was recorded in Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides.69 Johnson was investigating the ‘savage’ past of the Highlands to reflect on and celebrate the benefits of the Union, of English civilisation and forms of rule.70 He was convinced of the superiority of English culture to that of the Highlands and looked to assimilation as the key to Scottish progress. Commercial activity was vital, for it brought with it

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a refinement of language and development of literature. The savage clans of the Highlands were characterised by their peat fires, primitive manners, archaic modes of subsistence, Gaelic language and geographical isolation. The advance of commerce and consumption would enable a transformation. Language would be cleansed and Scotticisms disappear, writing and print culture would displace oral traditions, the commercialisation of agriculture would bring more prosperity and better manners, and the spread of Protestantism would reduce superstition. Johnson, while hostile to the enslavement of Africans and the violent subordination of indigenous peoples, saw Scottish assimilation to English cultural norms as the route to improvement, a key term for eighteenth-century thinkers and one that frequently carried racial connotations.71 Macaulay was familiar with this critique of Scottish backwardness, armed against it by his childhood education in the manse, his commitment to autodidacticism, sustained even in the hostile environment of the plantation, and his immersion in the domestic heartlands of Evangelicalism. His sister Jean had been improved, he himself was watched over by his mentors. Scots, it was widely assumed, could be civilised. But what of those increasing numbers of imperial subjects of widely differing religions and skin colours? Attitudes to empire and to its diverse peoples were changing, not least amongst the Clapham Sect. The period after the Seven Years War, with the vast increase in British territories and subjects, had seen an increasing recognition of the need for imperial reform. Metropolitan supremacy must be asserted, the British Empire properly defended, its wealth husbanded with trading regulations.72 The loss of the American colonies was a severe blow, but the British West Indies were safe. There was a new interest in other parts of the world, including West Africa, and from the 1780s the growing critique of the slave trade meant an increased focus on ‘the African’, necessarily bringing issues of skin colour more prominently into metropolitan minds. ‘Post 1783’, Philip Curtin suggests, ‘British publicists began to consider the African’s “place in nature” and its bearing on imperial policy.’73 Travellers, naturalists and biologists, writers and antislavery enthusiasts explored the relation between race, society and culture. From the 1780s there was an increasing emphasis on ‘the negro’, as opposed to individual Africans, particularly by those with a scientific bent. Antislavery writing, while emphasising the absence of ineradicable difference, was very negative about African culture. ‘Most humanitarians’, Curtin argues, ‘believed in the spiritual equality of all men before God. Perhaps a majority believed that Africans might achieve equality with the Europeans on this earth as well,

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but only a very few saw much value in African culture as it was.’74 Those for and against the slave trade shared common ground in terms of their intellectual and political preoccupations; a belief in the sanctity of property, in gradual amelioration and in subordination as essential to social order were common to the majority. Those defending the slave trade rarely used arguments of innate racial difference since monogenesis remained dominant, albeit racially inflected. Some adopted a version of stadial theory, emphasising that slavery was a civilising stage for barbaric Africans en route to progress.75 Abolitionists also utilised stadial theory, arguing that Africa had now reached the agricultural stage and needed commerce for any further advance to be possible. Olaudah Equiano, the leading black opponent of the trade, adopted this position, representing Africans as agricultural, living in a less polite society than Europeans. Increasing commercial activity and education would enable them to progress. His Narrative, published in 1789, one month before a crucial speech by Wilberforce against the trade, was written as an intervention in the debate, one of the few black voices to be heard. He wrote and spoke as both an African and a Briton, a claim that he could make because he had absorbed British values, been converted to Christianity.76 He was attempting to separate Britishness from whiteness, a distinction that was possible, as Roxann Wheeler argues, since whiteness was not yet essentialised and being polite, and, crucially, Christian, was what mattered. Christianity remained his most powerful argument for a common humanity. He represented himself as a consumer and a businessman, and Africans as ready to be like him, once the slave trade was abolished.77 Equiano asserted his moral equality with his readers and represented his own enslavement as a providential fall. ‘By the horrors of that trade’, he wrote, in his preface addressed to parliament, was I first torn away from all the tender connexions that were naturally dear to my heart; but these, through the mysterious ways of Providence, I ought to regard as infinitely more than compensated by the introduction I have thence obtained to the knowledge of the Christian religion, and of a nation which, by its liberal sentiments, its humanity, the glorious freedom of its government, and its proficiency in arts and sciences, has exalted the dignity of human nature.78

Hannah More was one of the original subscribers to Equiano’s Narrative. Thomas Clarkson also subscribed for two copies and knew Equiano from the 1770s, yet his History of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, published in

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1808, ignored the very significant part played by Equiano in the struggle for abolition.79 The erasure of African struggle, both in metropolitan and colonial contexts, and Clarkson’s representation of the winning of abolition as a triumph of white men, speaks volumes about abolitionist thinking on race, not to speak of gender.80 The preferred abolitionist representation of ‘the negro’ was of the passive and docile victim of white barbarism, most memorably portrayed in the Wedgwood cameo of the kneeling man raising his eyes to the heavens and asking, ‘Am I not a man and a brother?’ Enslaved Africans were to be pitied and rescued by their more civilised – and white – betters. The Evangelicals, including Macaulay, believed that all peoples were descended from Adam and Eve and belonged to the same human family, and the sources of this thinking were not only biblical. Macaulay had found Voltaire’s ‘poem on the equality of human conditions’ a resource in plantation Jamaica.81 But they participated in the common assumptions of their time: they drew on climatic, providential and stadial theories, the last rewritten to link the progress of civilisation with the spread of Christianity, and they assumed that they themselves occupied a more civilised, and by definition much better, society than the dark others they increasingly encountered.82 The differences between peoples were to do with the particular circumstances of life, not any ‘original faults in moral character’ or ‘natural inferiority in understanding’.83 At the same time they believed in natural order and hierarchy. All could be civilised, just as the Scottish Highlanders had been rescued from ‘barbarism’. In order to define the task which they saw themselves as needing to do, and for which they needed support of varied kinds from the mother country, they detailed the ‘barbarisms’ of Africa and other colonial sites on which they worked. In so doing they succeeded in fixing representations of African difference and inferiority and disseminating them more widely than ever before.84 They claimed universalism and their work was premised on the pressing need to rescue benighted souls, equal in the eyes of God. In practice, however, they understood the world in terms of racial hierarchies and contributed substantively to the constitution and reconstitution of such hierarchies, while fashioning themselves as white men, and sometimes women, with agency and power. Sierra Leone: the Evangelical experiment Zachary Macaulay had been hailed as a promising young man by the Clapham Sect. The right kind of young men were urgently needed, for the task of remoralising the world was an extensive one, and it did not just stop

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at home. Evangelical commitment to the abolition of the slave trade, born out of the conviction that the sale of men, women and children was immoral and un-Christian, necessarily involved them in matters imperial. In 1786 Thomas Clarkson’s powerful Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African had been published with its argument that there could not be property in humans.85 Clarkson argued that enslaving fellow creatures with God-given souls was an unjust and blasphemous use of power. It could drive men to madness and despair, provoke moral disorder with its dangerous concomitants, social and political unrest. The impact of Clarkson’s essay was critical to the establishment of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade in the following year. Clarkson’s second Essay on the Impolicy of the African Slave Trade, published in 1788, emphasised the huge costs of the trade in British as well as African lives and argued that Africa’s rich resources represented a plethora of commercial opportunities. By the time that Macaulay entered this elite Evangelical circle they were already addressing the question of the slave trade and Wilberforce had agreed to take on the work of presenting the issue in parliament. With pressure from a countrywide campaign building up, a parliamentary inquiry was established into the slave trade and the plantations. By 1791 Evangelical commitment to abolition expanded from their efforts at parliamentary reform and led to the creation of the Sierra Leone Company.86 A new geography of empire had been emerging, a shift from the empire of commerce and the seas to a more territorially based empire, one in which it was possible to imagine that free trade and free labour were more virtuous and more profitable than the old mercantilist order.87 The loss of the American colonies meant that traders were looking elsewhere: Africa, it seemed, might offer rich pickings. Travellers and explorers collected new data, associations were formed, and a number of expeditions planned. Sierra Leone, the inspiration of Granville Sharp, philanthropist and critic of slavery, had been established in 1787 on the west coast of Africa. Sharp had imagined it as a ‘Province of Freedom’, a place where freed Africans, particularly those poverty-stricken loyalists who had fled after the War of Independence and had become a cause of concern on the streets of London, could make a new life. The first attempt at settlement, however, had been a dismal failure. There had been no adequate preparation, no proper knowledge of the land or its potential. By the 1790s the influence of stadial thinking ensured that a strong association was being made between labour and civilisation. West Africa, defined as in a primitive agricultural stage, began to be seen as a possible site for the expansion of commerce. Clarkson’s emphasis on the fertility and mineral wealth of Africa struck chords. Commerce would enlarge ideas,

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encourage desires beyond those of subsistence, improve the intellectual faculties of those who engaged in it, and bring new disciplines and forms of productivity. While the West Indies was increasingly represented as a place of decadence by the opponents of the slave trade, West Africa seemed rich with possibilities for progress and improvement. In the wake of the failure of the first settlement, the new company was set up in 1791. Its aim was ‘the honourable office of introducing to a Vast Country long detained in Barbarism the Blessings of Industry and Civilisation’.88 Its objective: to establish a new model colony where freed Africans could live and work industriously. Henry Thornton was the chair and managed it alongside thirteen directors, including Clarkson, who were to be elected annually by shareholders. The purchase of shares in the Company was presented as a practical way of ameliorating wrongs, a form of atonement.89 Valuable evidence against the slave trade could be collected, it was hoped, in Sierra Leone. In 1792 there was a widespread expectation that the slave trade would be abolished very soon but the French Revolution, the wars that followed, and the revolution in San Domingue delayed successful legislation until 1807. The directors of the new company believed that the experiment in Sierra Leone might not ‘at once cut up by the roots this inhuman traffic’ but that it would tend to ‘divert the stream that waters it, and destroy the principles from which it derives its nutriment’.90 At the same time they hoped to develop alternative forms of commerce, establish local plantations with free labour, and introduce civilisation and Christianity. They aimed to make amends to Africa for European evils. ‘Those who feel for the wrongs of Africa’, they argued, could compensate for ‘injuries she has long been maintaining at our hands’.91 The Company arms comprised ‘a rigged sailing ship surmounted by a crowned lion . . . as supporters there were a European in tailcoat and breeches with a heap of parcels and an African in loincloth with an elephant’s trunk’. The coinage, struck at Boulton and Watt’s Soho foundry, featured an African and a lion on one side and black and white hands clasped together on the other.92 Wilberforce suggested that ‘It may have a good effect if all Blacks instead of being called Blacks or Negroes, were . . . called Africans, as a more respectable way of speaking of them, and as a means of removing the odium which every other name seems to carry with it.’93 There were debates within the Company as to quite what sort of settlement Sierra Leone was to be. It would certainly be a vantage point from which to civilise and Christianise Africa. Trade, Thornton believed, following in the footsteps of Adam Smith, was ‘the great engine by which towns are made to rise up, and industry excited in all civilised countries’.94

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Wilberforce hoped that a focus on raw materials rather than people trading would mean that ‘we shall find the rectitude of our conduct rewarded, by the benefits of a regular and growing commerce’.95 With its port, Freetown, its free settlers, its trade in commodities other than men, Sierra Leone was a new imperial experiment, a laboratory for the benevolent empire of God. A variety of commercial and agricultural schemes were mooted. Initially it was hoped that Company traders would be able to establish a monopoly on the Sierra Leone river. Clarkson was enthusiastic about sugar production with free labour plantations, others considered peasant cultivation more appropriate. Africa was imagined as having boundless possibilities and resources; there was a potential market on a grand scale, and a whole continent to be rescued. The Company would promote industry, discourage polygamy, set up schools and gradually introduce religious and moral instruction. The settlers in Sierra Leone would act as an example of the benign effects of emancipation on Africans; they would become good workers, ‘humble and contented, the friends of order, and the zealous promoters of peace’.96 Sharp’s initial dream of a self-governing ‘Province of Freedom’ had been reconfigured: it was now to be a colony ruled by a private company legitimated by government charter. All this was a fantasy dreamed up in London. Colonies were imagined spaces for the production of new societies, as well as places to deposit some of the problems of ‘the old country’, as in the case of Botany Bay.97 In 1791 the directors decided to send Zachary Macaulay, judged to be a most suitable choice given his religious enthusiasm and his knowledge of Africans and the plantation system, to Sierra Leone to report on the possibilities. Wilberforce told John Clarkson, Thomas’s brother and the naval lieutenant who was to act as the first superintendent, then governor of the new colony, of his ‘earnest zeal . . . for the success of our great enterprise’.98 Thornton, cognisant of Macaulay’s rather severe exterior, for he did not cut an elegant figure, introduced his young protégé to Clarkson in the following terms: As his appearance is not altogether the most favourable, it is the more necessary I should give you an Idea of his Character. He seems to me solid, well informed, very resolute, clearheaded and sensible – strong in body – used to the West India Climate and used to its fevers – well read and well instructed both in Sierra Leone matters and in all manner of Colonization subjects – He is also extremely zealous in the cause, a friend to the abolition of the Slave trade, and a man that has deeply considered these subjects – he is diligent, fond of research, and a man considering how disproportionate his opportunities have been of very considerable general knowledge . . .

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His failings were a lack of ‘conciliatory manners’, hardly surprising given his time on the plantations, but it was hoped that his desire to be of service would counteract this. Most importantly, he understood that ‘the point to be laboured is to make the Colony a religious Colony – I am even persuaded that he feels he is doing a duty to God in going out and risking his life if it be necessary in the Cause’.99 Sierra Leone was one part of the Cause, one building block, one site for the creation of God’s Temple in the project of evangelising the globe. Macaulay returned in 1792, enthusiastic about the possibilities for the future. ‘From this grain of mustard-seed’, More wrote to Macaulay, ‘may it please the Divine-Husbandman to raise up such a tree that all the sons and daughters of Africa may, in after ages, be refreshed under its shadow.’100 Emancipated African loyalists, survivors of the American Revolution, who had been resettled in Nova Scotia and were profoundly unhappy with the inadequacy of the provision made for them, were selected as the new settlers. They had been deeply disappointed both with the delays in receiving promised land grants and with the poor quality of the lands that they were granted, and had petitioned the British government for justice. The Company directors seized the initiative and suggested that Sierra Leone might provide a new opportunity. John Clarkson went to Nova Scotia to recruit and subsequently, in 1792, captained the journey of more than 1,200 men, women and children from the Northern Atlantic to Sierra Leone, and supervised the establishment of a new settlement. He became completely convinced of the legitimacy of the black settlers’ claims for land, an attitude which disturbed the directors. On his return to England because of ill health, he was effectively forced to resign. When leaving, he told the settlers that the happiness of every black man throughout the world depended on their success. From the beginning, however, there had been conflicts between the expectations of the Nova Scotians and those of the Company, for the settlers wanted land, independence and self-government, while the Company hoped to make Christian colonial subjects, labourers for the Company vineyard, rather than independent peasants or tradesmen. Clarkson’s approach was sympathetic and paternalistic. The new governor, William Dawes, who arrived after a stint of service in Botany Bay and was accustomed to an arbitrary system of government, took a rather different tack. In 1793 Macaulay returned to Sierra Leone, judged by the directors to be a much safer bet than the troublesome Clarkson, this time as second-in-command to Dawes. Babington wrote to tell him that he believed him to have been ‘selected by the Lord . . . as His instrument’ for the great work to be done.101 In 1794, aged twenty-six, he became the governor and stayed, apart from a period in

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England in 1795–6, until 1799. This was the initiation of his epistolary life: his extensive journal and letters, maintained as a record of his activities for his superiors and a check upon himself, have provided a striking source, enabling historians to reconstruct his time in Sierra Leone. And as Ellen Gibson Wilson has pointed out, Macaulay’s accounts were heavily utilised by Thornton for his published Company reports, thus ensuring that between them they were responsible for much of the representation of Sierra Leone.102 Sierra Leone was imagined as a new world, a society to be made from the beginning, a laboratory for how Africa might be reconfigured, how freed Africans might become new subjects of empire. It was to provide a contrast with the British West Indian islands and plantation slavery. But the early 1790s was a period of turmoil in British society and increasingly authoritarian forms of government were being adopted both at home and in the empire. Events in France and the fears of Jacobinism at home provoked a severe reaction, a sense of crisis, a clamping down on protest and persecution of radicals and freethinkers. The rising in San Domingue in 1791 meant further instability and severe anxieties in the Caribbean colonies in particular, legitimating authoritarian powers in the context of global war and slave insurrection. Imperial authority was at risk and this was no time for utopian visions of liberty. Sierra Leone was to be built on free labour – but under tight control. The territory itself presented very substantial difficulties. The settlement was an area of only twenty square miles along the West African trading coast. An estimated thirty-eight thousand enslaved Africans were taken from that coast each year and Sierra Leone was only a few miles from Bance Island, a major slave factory run by Scots. Gambia Island, a French slave factory, was about twenty miles away and the proximity of these two made for constant fears and difficulties. This was a place far from any established imperial terrain and exceedingly vulnerable to attack. It was a colonial frontier, intended as a bridgehead into Africa. With its spectacular mountainous terrain and excellent natural harbour it provided the most impressive landmark along the stretch of coast from Senegal to the Cameroons – but no work had been done to establish its suitability as a place that could potentially sustain itself. It satisfied romantic hopes of natural beauty and its high hills were seen as a sign of year-round health, but hopes for a pastoral economy had not taken the unsuitable terrain into account. The settlement was very dependent on the surrounding African kingdoms; it was uncomfortably situated in the heart of one of the most active slave-trading areas and slavers frequently came in close to Freetown, putting fear of

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re-enslavement into the hearts of the inhabitants. The settlers and the Company were often at odds; the French posed a serious threat during the wars and indeed attacked the colony in 1794, and there were problems with importing enough food for the population.103 Approximately a hundred Europeans were in Sierra Leone by 1792, the vast majority of them Company employees, relied upon to sustain the Company ethos. The directors expected it to act as a great experiment as well as a profitable venture and it was subject to close scrutiny. ‘The eyes of a great part of Europe’ were upon them, was Macaulay’s sense, the pro-slavers were watching their every move, there was much at stake and ‘our enemies are many’.104 The West India interest, the merchants and planters who were organising the defence of the trade, would be hoping for their failure. Macaulay established good relations with Governor Dawes, finding that they were in substantial agreement as to the governance of the colony. He was an excellent man, he reflected later, possessed of self-command, clear principles and a sweet disposition.105 The governor’s tasks were multiple: to report regularly to the directors, oversee the Company’s activities in the colony, provide a religious and moral example, dispense justice, maintain relations with the local powers, both African and slave traders, act as a commercial agent and paymaster, and ensure a food supply. There had already been conflicts over delays in providing land, the primary wish of the Nova Scotians. With Clarkson gone and Dawes in command, the tone shifted to one of firm government rather than persuasion – a policy that Macaulay entirely supported. Anna Maria Falconbridge, the young wife of Alexander Falconbridge, a commercial agent for the Company, found Dawes an unappealing character. ‘Mr. Dawes’, she recorded, ‘is a subaltern of Marines.’ The ‘prejudices of a rigid military education’, she surmised, had ‘been heightened by his having served some time at Botany Bay, where, no doubt, it is necessary for gentlemen to observe an awful severity in their looks and actions. Such behaviour’, she continued, ‘however suitable for a Colony wholly formed of Convicts, and governed by the iron rod of despotism, should be scrupulously guarded against in one like this, whose basis is Liberty and Equality.’106 But her spleen was not confined to Dawes. The police in Sierra Leone, she remarked, were drawn from ‘an ignorant populace’, the black settlers, who needed careful and temperate management. Macaulay’s arrival she saw as decidedly unpropitious. ‘I have not heard anything of Mr. McAulay’, she noted, except his lately being an overseer on an estate in Jamaica: Tis not to be questioned that the prejudices of such an education must impress him

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with sentiments favourable to the slave trade, and consequently I should not suppose him qualified for a member of Administration in a colony, formed mostly of blacks, founded on principles of freedom, and for the express purpose of abolishing the slave Trade.107

Falconbridge published her narrative in 1794 to counter the official Company account of the ‘infant colony’. It was also intended to challenge her late husband, Alexander Falconbridge, a drunken and abusive man who was celebrated for his searing account of the slave trade. Anna Maria came to see abolitionists as extremists and slavery as a necessary condition. She preferred the company of the flirtatious Scots at the slave factory, Bance Island, or local African rulers, to the dour Evangelicals, ‘hypocritical puritans’ and ‘canting parasites’ who clustered around Freetown’s ruling clique.108 From his arrival in Sierra Leone Macaulay was convinced that the right tone was one of authority. The image of partnership, promoted by the symbolism of the arms and coinage of the Company, together with the promise that Nova Scotians should have equal rights with Europeans, was belied by the form of rule. Power was concentrated in the hands of the appointed governor and council, all of whom were white, though the system of local government established by Sharp (with elected hundredors and tythingmen on account of his enthusiasm for Anglo-Saxon England) was revived. While at home, Macaulay was deferential to Thornton, Babington and Wilberforce, always aware of his inferior social position. In Freetown, the heart of the settlement, he became certain, perhaps drawing on his West Indian experience, that ‘strong language and a decided peremptory tone are absolutely necessary’.109 While he was severely critical of the behaviour of planters in the Caribbean and white traders and merchants in West Africa, he did not doubt that he was the commander and guide of ‘his’ family, as he construed it, regularly lecturing them in preacherly and patriarchal mode on their duty to the Company that had provided for them so generously. Revolution in France, radicalism in England, rebellion in the Caribbean, rejection of social hierarchy and constituted authority: these were evils to be dealt with. While a ‘new man’ himself, he had no time for what he interpreted as unreasonable claims from uppity black settlers. When he judged their expectations improper, he had no hesitation in using his authority to quash them. John Clarkson thought Macaulay guilty of ‘illiberality’, approving as he did of arbitrary power.110 The settlers were men, women and children whose experiences sharply diverged from those of white Europeans. Like Macaulay, mobility had been

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central to their lives, but they had been driven by oppression rather than opportunity. They had struggled to escape slavery in the Americas and were part of the vast diaspora set in motion by the American Revolution.111 They had faced great hardships in Nova Scotia, to the point where they had sent one of their number, Thomas Peters, to petition the British government about the unfair prejudice that they faced as people of colour. Even those who were acknowledged to be free did not have the rights and privileges of others, being unable to vote or serve on juries. They had left their lands and homes because of the impossibility of making a decent life in the harsh circumstances of Nova Scotia and their consequent disillusionment with what they saw as the betrayal of British promises. They dreamed of something better. They believed in their own rights and entitlements and many were unwilling to be told how to conduct themselves – in their working lives, their social and domestic responsibilities and indeed in their religious practices. A substantial proportion belonged to dissenting groups, particularly the Methodists, Baptists and Countess of Huntington’s Connexion. The decision to go to Sierra Leone, often orchestrated through their churches and chapels, was conceived as a return to Africa, to the promised land. On arrival in Sierra Leone they had been led ashore by their preachers singing the Wesleyan hymn: Wake! Every heart and every tongue To praise the saviour’s name The day of Jubilee is come Return ye ransomed sinners home.112

While the Nova Scotians saw themselves as partners in an enterprise with the Company (which in fact had no clear legal title until the charter was finally delivered in 1800), the directors and their employees were prone to treat them in a markedly unequal manner. Disputes escalated: over land distribution, racial discrimination, rents and religious practices. The settlers insisted to Dawes that Clarkson had promised them, before they left Nova Scotia, that ‘no distinction should be made here between us and white men; we now claim this promise, we are free British subjects, and expect to be treated as such; we will not tamely submit to be trampled on any longer’.113 When two of their number, Isaac Anderson and Cato Perkins, took a petition to London in 1793 detailing their grievances, Dawes and Macaulay wrote letters explaining away their issues. The petitioners were furious at the way they were treated in the metropole. ‘We did not come upon a childish errand, but to represent the grievances and sufferings of a thousand

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souls’, yet they were met, ‘as if WE WERE Slaves, come to tell our masters, of the cruelties and severe behaviour of an Overseer.’114 A settlement built on free labour in the heart of a slave-trading area, albeit dominated by one employer, the Company, which set the wage rates, inevitably provoked trouble. It offered a beacon of hope to the enslaved and an incitement to the traders. Macaulay’s opposition to the slave trade was unambiguous, but he also believed in the sanctity of private property. While the settlers would assist runaways and support the enslaved in their struggles for freedom, he felt constrained by the law. Dealing with slave traders was simply necessary. Bance Island he described as ‘a most unpleasant place’. While Tilley, the chief agent, was ‘a man of decency and propriety in his external conduct . . . the motley crew of traders, ship masters etc who to the number of about twenty usually infest the place render it a scene of continual dissipation and confusion. Their mode of living is licentious in the extreme . . .’115 Sierra Leone’s proximity to the trade in all its gruesome realities, and Macaulay’s powerlessness to do more than attempt to maintain a different kind of space inside the colony, meant that the disciplining of both himself and others became a crucial benchmark. In Jamaica he had found it necessary to accommodate himself to the planters: in Africa, he recorded, ‘if we mean to live and do good, we must suppress our emotions’, or ‘at least deny them vent’.116 In July 1793 he was faced with an extremely difficult situation. Some of the settlers brought ‘five natives, slaves of Mr. Horrocks’ to him, wanting him to provide protection. They had escaped from a schooner and the settlers had promised them support. The captain of the schooner complained vociferously that the five had been ‘enticed from the ship’. The settlers argued that they were acting in conformity with a proclamation from Clarkson, ‘purporting that the moment a man set his foot on the Co’s district, he became from that moment free and absolved from all obligations to serve his master’. Here were echoes of the Somersett judgment of 1772. In a case supported by Granville Sharp, Lord Mansfield had declared that an enslaved African, James Somersett, brought by his master to England, could not be compelled to return to another country where slavery was practised. This judgment was widely misunderstood and seen as a declaration that enslavement could not survive the free air of England. Macaulay and Dawes, horrified that Clarkson had given such a rash assurance, then endeavoured to convince them that tho Mr C was a man zealously affected in a good cause, yet in this instance that he had exceeded his knowledge, for he had made a proclamation which flew directly in the face

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of British Acts of Parliament; we shewed them that British subjects had a right to buy slaves, to hold slaves, that Africans had a right without our interference to order their internal policy, that African laws permitted the sale of slaves, that British laws gave a right to buy them, and regarded them in the sacred and inviolable light of property . . .

The act which incorporated the Company, they continued ‘had directly and explicitly prohibited them from injuring the rights of any British subject trading to Africa’. No one was ‘to be ill treated on their ground, nor to be seized and carried into slavery. But it would appear that the master who is deprived of his property is the man who is ill treated.’ The Company would protect the settlers from being reduced to slavery, but the colonists had no power to emancipate those already enslaved. ‘We had no more power to detain a slave’, Macaulay and Dawes insisted to the settlers, ‘than we had to detain a bale of goods. We supported our positions by different passages from Blackstone, and shewed them the Acts of Parliament.’ Property was indeed ‘sacred and inviolable’.117 The five who had escaped, however, refused to give themselves up and Macaulay was worried about the anger this would cause in Africa. ‘By an exertion of authority’, he reflected, ‘we might perhaps effect the forcible restitution of these people to Messrs. Horrocks and Co, but in doing so we should act a most barbarous part. It would be delivering up men to a certainty of punishment, slavery and transportation, whose only crime is an attempt to regain their liberty.’ He knew the horrors of the slave trade and it was a most painful situation to be caught in. Yet he must respect the law and listen to divine guidance. ‘What I bless God for above all’, he reflected, ‘is the collectedness of mind He has given me throughout the whole business; He made my way so clear, that I scarce felt an embarrassment.’118 It was this watchful and providential God who legitimated his actions and his sense of righteousness when faced with criticism. How different from Jamaica where he had been horrified at the ‘terrible caprice and tyranny of one who, unawed by the fear of God, exercises an absolute dominion over his fellow-men’.119 Eventually Macaulay was to be convinced by an ‘intelligent native’ that African law ensured that an escaped slave became the property of the headman with whom he had sought refuge: one property law was superimposed upon another.120 A year later another conflict over the slave trade erupted. A Captain Grierson of the slave ship Thomas was ‘insulted’ by a crowd of settlers and Macaulay, now the acting governor, decided that the leaders must be punished. In a letter to John Clarkson explaining their actions, Luke Jordan and Isaac Anderson recounted that the captain ‘began to threaten some of

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the people working at the wharf – saying in what manner he would use them if he had them in the West Indies’.121 They reacted violently and Grierson complained to the Council. Two black Company porters, Scipio Channel and Robert Keeling, were dismissed, provoking serious protests. Macaulay regarded this as highly reprehensible – no one had the right to censure the authority of the colonial officials on questions of Company service. There was uproar. A crowd gathered and threatened Macaulay, Company employees were summoned and armed and a cannon set up at the gate of his house. During the night supporters of the governor were attacked, the Company office plundered and troublemakers arrested. The next day Macaulay had a proclamation read in the churches addressing the settlers as ‘rational creatures . . . Fathers and Mothers . . . but above all Christians’, asking them to uphold the law. Appealing for unity, he described Company officials as ‘Friends to your dearest interests’, committed to remaining in an ‘unhealthy climate, and among a murmuring people’ on account of their concern for the welfare of all. He threatened his listeners, these self-same ‘murmuring people’, that the destruction of Company government would mean that they and their children would be destined ‘to drag out a miserable life under the smart of a West Indian whip’.122 The settlers still complained that the Company had not granted them the land they were owed but Macaulay maintained that the free schools, medical care, employment and rations that were provided more than made up for this. Eight of the ringleaders were sent to England for trial on the charge of instigating rebellion, others were dismissed from employment, and three women were sentenced to public whippings.123 Gradually the tensions subsided. Macaulay’s combination of strict government and a willingness to engage with the settlers, Suzanne Schwarz argues, may have brought some stability to the colony while ‘his authoritarian stance usually averted civil disorder’.124 As the published account of the Company report made clear, however, the official verdict on ‘the African’ remained ambiguous. A few of the settlers ‘afforded a most favourable specimen of the African character’. Christianity ‘appears to have had a most benign and happy influence’, they were ‘humble, contented, the friends of order’ as had been hoped. Others, however, were much less satisfactory, with their ‘symptoms of ambition’, disrespectful conduct and ‘absurd notions . . . concerning their rights as freemen’.125 Macaulay’s aim from the beginning had been ‘to make the colony a religious colony’. There was, he believed, an order sanctioned by God’s Providence, His plan for the world. God had designed a natural and moral order and the earthly order of things should attempt to express this. His own constant struggle was to live according to God’s word; prayer, self-reflection

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and admonition from others were central to this. Difficulties in life were part of God’s plan, to be learned from, not denied. His vision of the earthly order of things, however, was a very particular one and he had considerable difficulties in dealing with the visions and expectations of others. Evangelicals thought enslaved Africans were victims of the ‘circumstances’ of slavery. Once freed they would become new Christian subjects – grateful, obedient, industrious and domesticated. On the contrary, he found them full of demands and claims, and subscribing to dissenting practices which were almost as bad as African ‘barbarisms’. In the hostile environments of plantation slavery, the British army and Nova Scotia, chapel belonging had been central to the survival of the black loyalists. But their beliefs and forms of expression were very different from those of orthodox white Evangelicals. Anna Maria Falconbridge was astonished by the scale of their worship. ‘Among the Black Settlers’, she wrote, ‘are seven religious sects, and each sect has one or more preachers attached to it.’ Their pastors, in her account, preached alternately through the night, disturbing, no doubt, her restless slumbers. ‘I never met with, heard, or read of ’, she continued, ‘any set of people observing the same appearance of godliness; for I do not remember, ever since they first landed here, my ever awaking (and I have awoke at every hour of the night), without hearing preachings from some quarter or other.’126 She disapproved of the scale of these demonstrations of faith, thinking that in an ‘infant colony’ the inhabitants should be working industriously in the mornings, rather than praying. Dawes, anxious to promote religious orthodoxy and undermine the influence of the black preachers, decreed obligatory attendance at the Company chapel twice daily, an injunction that Falconbridge saw as excessive. With half the population of Freetown Methodists, and a group of powerful preachers encouraging notions of independence, Dawes and Macaulay saw dissent as a challenge. The Company chaplain, Rev. Melville Horne, encouraged obedience to authority. After the trouble over the five Africans who had escaped from the slave ship, for example, he preached ‘on the duty of servants under the yoke from St Paul’s epistle to Timothy’ and applied this ‘to the present circumstances of the colony’.127 A week later he preached on the centrality of the scriptures to a proper Christian life, an injunction that was obviously loaded in favour of the literate. His design was, recorded Macaulay, ‘to expose the reigning folly of the Methodists of this place, the accounting dreams, visions and the most ridiculous bodily sensations as incontestable proofs of their acceptance with God and of their being filled with the Holy Ghost’. When dreams were contrary to the word of God, however, ‘they might be considered as the suggestions of Satan

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transformed into an angel of light’. Christians should not rely on ‘visions and dreams’ but rather should test whether ‘they were indeed the children of God’ by checking their ‘purity of thought and intention, uprightness of conduct and lowliness of heart and life’.128 Macaulay added a personal anecdote to his journal demonstrating why such exhortation was entirely necessary. ‘A woman by no means remarkable for the unblameableness of her life and conversation’, he recounted, had mentioned to Mr Horne ‘that she was sure she had found acceptance with God, and being questioned as to the foundation of her hope observed “A fortnight ago, as I was in bed, the spirit of God came up into my nostrils as a warm steam, and since that time I have found peace of mind.” ’129 These were the signs of the unfortunate influence of African irrationalities on the settler population. Indigenous Africans were full of ‘superstitious idolatries’ to Macaulay’s mind, and he struggled to find rational interpretations for the religious beliefs that were to him totally incomprehensible. Some claimed to be Christians, but their Christianity could be ‘thrown over like one of the outer garments of this country more for show than use’.130 Similar struggles over the proper forms of religious practice and the syncretism of the adaptations of the colonised were to bedevil missionary attempts to convert and civilise the enslaved and the emancipated across the new world.131 Many of those who had found in Christianity a resource against the horrors of slavery experienced their faith primarily thorough feeling rather than as a matter of rational belief. Furthermore, the audience for these exhortations to obedience had, with immense courage, cast off those who sought entire dominion over them and were attempting to find an independent way of life. Horne’s calls for obedience to authority, therefore, provoked considerable resentment. A Methodist preacher, a Mr Beverhout, ‘a man of restless and turbulent spirit, and immoderately fond of popularity’, according to Macaulay, attempted to mobilise these resentments. He ‘endeavoured to restore to dreams and visions their ascendancy over the word of God’, inveighing against the government of the colony, comparing Dawes to the ‘Pharaoh whom the just judgement of God would sooner or later overtake; recommending to his hearers however patience under their sufferings . . . as God in his own good time would deliver Israel’.132 It would be very helpful, Dawes and Macaulay judged, if a senior Methodist such as Dr Coke could be encouraged to visit the colony and ‘establish some kind of discipline among the Methodists, for at present their government is a pure democracy’.133 This desire was intensified after hearing of the ‘wildest extravagances’ being committed amongst the Methodists of neighbouring Granville Town. People were ‘falling down as if dead and remaining in a trance for some

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time’. Others were ‘bellowing with all their might’, pretending ‘that the devil overpowered by the preaching of the Word’ was nevertheless holding on to them, ‘wrestling with their spirits’. ‘This violent enthusiastic spirit’ was truly alarming. Macaulay longed for an ‘authorized Methodist preacher . . . who might introduce more discipline and regularity among that sect’.134 Macaulay believed in religious toleration and was supportive of dissenting missionary ventures, but at the same time he was convinced of the necessary connections between the acceptance of divine and earthly authority. There were internal problems aplenty for Sierra Leone; externally the colony was caught in conflict between Britain and France. A devastating French attack in 1794, marked by indiscriminate violence and destruction of property, brought new troubles in its aftermath. Macaulay was anxious to reassert Company authority and attempted to claim back property salvaged from the assault and insist on new oaths of loyalty without which no employment, medical care or schooling for children would be permitted, not to speak of the right to vote. This provoked fury from the settlers. They had rescued property which otherwise would have been lost and now were being accused of theft. They were deeply offended by Macaulay’s punitive and disrespectful manner. ‘We wance did call it Free town’, wrote Moses Wilkinson and his fellow Methodists to John Clarkson: now ‘we have a Reason to call it a town of Slavery’.135 Finding his authority questioned, Macaulay reacted badly and lectured the settlers on their mistaken views as to their rights, complaining of the ‘malcontents’. When challenged as to why no black men had been appointed to offices and were paid less than whites, he declared that these were privileges to be won. ‘Write as well, figure as well, Act as well, think as well as they do & you shall have a preference. I have anxiously sought among you for men to fill offices, nor is there at this moment an office in the Colony filled by a White which a Black could fill.’136 His liberal principles and beliefs in the rights of Africans collapsed in the face of conflict: uneducated and unruly settlers were not equipped for official functions. Yet alongside these conflicts between a governor determined on maintaining the authority of the Company and settlers determined to defend the rights of Africans, there were other aspects of Macaulay’s regime, indicative of a commitment to a less hierarchical racial order. Only a year after his arrival in Sierra Leone virtually all the children were in schools, mostly taught by black teachers. Africans were being trained as apothecaries, artisans and trading agents, and Europeans were only employed if no qualified African was available. Africans were being sent to England so that they could train as missionaries and return to evangelise their continent. A printing press and library were established and on occasion Macaulay was

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willing to take heed of African advice from those he judged to be ‘intelligent natives’. Black juries were one of the legacies of the ‘Province of Freedom’, though the magistrates and judges were white. This was a far cry from Jamaica, where the Slave Code denied enslaved Africans the legal rights that were regarded as primordial British liberties. Macaulay’s determination to treat white and black as legally the same roused the ire of other Europeans. The idea of white men being punished for offences against black settlers was beyond the bounds of the imagination, as far as many ships’ captains were concerned. Anna Maria Falconbridge concurred with this sentiment. Three British soldiers had killed a duck and were tried not by their peers, ‘but by Judge McAulay, and a Jury of twelve blacks, who, without any evidence or defence from the prisoners, found them guilty of stealing and killing the duck’. One was sentenced to a whipping, two others were fined and imprisoned until the fines were paid. ‘Poor Jack was dreadfully mortified at being whipped by a black man’, she noted. The captain of the African Queen was furious and asked ‘by what authority they tried white men, the subjects of great Britain, by a Jury of blacks’.137 The captain forced Macaulay to release them, saying that the Company did not have the authority to constitute law courts – a moot point since the Charter of Incorporation had still not arrived. Both Dawes and Macaulay allowed the settlers to develop some legislation. So, for example, fixed ceilings were introduced on some prices and a law was passed on adultery, fining guilty men and flogging or jailing the women.138 In 1795, in a moment of optimism about relations between the Company and the settlers, he sketched out a constitution with a franchise based on a property qualification and including women, three-year terms of office, freedom of religion for all Christians and freedom from arbitrary arrest, a potentially far more representative system of government than existed in England. This was discussed but never implemented. Macaulay imagined the possibility of such a system of local government evolving into something like a House of Commons, able to ‘give laws to Africa’.139 In 1796 he established militias in the colony and white men had the hitherto unprecedented experience of serving under black officers, many of whom, unlike the Europeans, had already fought in the American War. All of these measures were indicators of his belief in African capacities, provided they were properly guided and disciplined. In 1795 Zachary was suffering from ill health and the directors called him back to London. He voyaged on a slave ship, the Ann Philippa of Liverpool, which had been collecting the enslaved on the Sierra Leone coast, from West Africa to Barbados, before returning to England. He wanted to know the Middle Passage for himself and to collect some statistics from the West

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Indian islands. One of the vessel’s owners was the brother of Colonel Banastre Tarleton, a leading supporter of the slave trade in parliament.140 An account published in the Christian Observer in 1804, which Macaulay edited, was thought by his granddaughter to be a scarcely modified version of his experience.141 The journey was horrific, with its evidence of the suicidal desperation and despair of two hundred and forty African men and women, the appalling conditions they suffered, the cruelty of their treatment and the rank hypocrisy of the captain. Macaulay’s hammock hung above the slave quarters and he kept a journal in Greek letters so that it could not be deciphered by the ship’s crew. The captain, well aware of the debates in parliament and the press, assured him that ‘a slave ship was a very different thing from what it had been represented’; indeed, ‘we should find the slaves rejoicing in their happy state’. Six of the crewmen died during the triangular voyage and eight of the enslaved while Macaulay was on board. The Christian Observer gave a grim picture of the abject misery of the enslaved Africans, Extended naked on the bare boards; fettered with irons; . . . unable when sick to reveal the cause of their complaints; strangers to any measure of that blessed and heart cheering hope which makes the slave a freeman; ignorant of the fate which awaited them; filled with fears either of a horrid death or a cruel servitude . . .142

And with no hopes of ever seeing again those from whom they had been forcibly torn. A sentimental antislavery rhetoric was employed, encouraging readers to identify with the suffering of ‘poor negroes’ in the hopes that this would provoke opposition.143 ‘It seems scarcely possible for the imagination to conceive a state of more unmitigated suffering than theirs. Their cup is full of pure, unmingled sorrow, the bitterness of which is unalloyed by almost a single ray of hope.’ The account evoked the horror of the voyage – the sights of cruel punishment, humiliation, and degradation, the terrible stench that enveloped the ship, the depths of grief and pain. The writer compared his own state of mind on this fearful journey, ‘possessed as I was of so many superior comforts’, the friends he would soon see, the materials for reading and writing, the consolations of religion, with that of the enslaved Africans with whom he had no means of communication. He noted too the brutality of the captain towards his crew, the violence of his ungoverned passions that was, he observed, more to blame than ‘a preconcerted system of tyranny and oppression’.144 This picture of African abjection and misery could not easily be reconciled with Macaulay’s experiences in Sierra Leone. There was a significant tension between his horror of the trade and the plantations, his

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deep recognition of the plight of the victims of slavery, and his encounters with free people in Sierra Leone. While in England he was surrounded by Evangelicals with their established understandings of ‘poor Africans’, victims of brutality and oppression on the one hand, and primitive ‘savages’ or ‘barbarians’ on the other, but perhaps such stereotyped representations jarred with the realities of his encounters in West Africa – whether with canny neighbouring kings or independently minded settlers. Macaulay arrived back in Sierra Leone in March 1796 to a welcome which touched him greatly. Good feeling, however, did not last long. He was determined to enforce religious orthodoxy and while in England had recruited a Scottish Presbyterian clergyman, John Clarke, as the new Company chaplain. Clarke was hardly an orthodox Anglican but was firmly committed to established forms of authority. His efforts were met with hostility and the settlers rebuffed his personal visitations, telling him that ‘We don’t want you . . . we are in Christ already and have been these last 22 years.’145 Tempers were already raised when Macaulay, trying to limit the independence of the dissenters, and in denial of the legislation in England that allowed dissenting clergy to perform marriages, announced a new law regulating marriage. This decreed that settlers could not be married by their own pastors but only by the governor or an ordained clergyman. Dissenters should not be able to make and dissolve marriages. This was not simply a matter of authority; it was also a conflict about the proper forms of marriage, family and sexuality. He had long been troubled by the irregular nature of sexual relations in the colony and noted that if he had an opportunity to complete his criminal code he would include a section on unfaithful husbands.146 Even preachers and schoolteachers were conducting illicit relations. Macaulay prosecuted where he could, with fines for the men and floggings for the women. Intervening on the regulation of marriage was part of a larger campaign to reform manners and morals, the counterpart to Evangelical efforts in the metropole. In Sierra Leone African women were working as seamstresses, laundresses, shopkeepers and traders, midwives, nurses and housekeepers – familiar forms of employment – but there were also women preachers. Almost all the Nova Scotian women had occupations and independent incomes and a very high percentage of settler families were headed by women.147 These were not women of the kind that he had come to know in England. Some of the women settlers were living with white men and when those men left the colony it was customary to give the women a life interest in their property, an interest that could be passed on to their children.148 This gave the women a degree of economic independence at odds with Evangelical notions. Macaulay had found the absence of white women in

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Jamaica one source for the collapse into decadence and brutality of that society. Women, he had come to believe, were the guardians of morality, the home the site of a proper religious household. But such a household was not possible in Sierra Leone. Through his connections with the Clapham Sect he had visited Hannah More and had met and fallen in love with Selina Mills, a favoured young protégée of More and her sisters, teaching at the Park Street school which they had established in Bristol. She was the daughter of a Quaker bookseller but an Evangelical herself. Despite the fierce opposition, particularly from a jealous Miss Patty More, Macaulay and Selina declared their love for each other and came to an understanding.149 Zachary hoped that Selina would follow him to Sierra Leone as a missionary and before leaving England he sent her a hymn book and a book of sermons. She, however, was not prepared for a life in Africa. She was perhaps well aware of the strictures of her mentor, Hannah More, that women should follow the path that Providence had marked out for them as ‘the lawful possessors of a lesser domestic territory’, rather than the ‘turbulent usurpers of a wider foreign empire’.150 Zachary duly accepted Babington’s advice: Selina should not be expected to share in ‘the unpleasantness of our unquiet and restless state’. The pleasures of domestic life were not something that he could enjoy in Africa; he must concentrate on doing his duty and wean himself from ideas of ‘permanent residence here in a family capacity’.151 The issue was not the climate, dangerous as that was for Europeans. Rather it was the culture and the politics, the dangers connected with the French and the settlers, the fears that this colonial frontier was no place for a well-brought-up young Englishwoman – and, indeed, he gradually abandoned the idea of permanent settlement for himself. Without her, however, there was the fear that he himself would lose his ‘politeness’, ‘forget how to converse with ladies’, a critical aspect of his reconfigured manhood. His face now had a ‘tropical colour’, and his hair was ‘close cropped’: ‘Neither the company of African princesses, nor the courts of African men’, he told his sister Jean, ‘exhibit any striking lessons of politeness and refinement.’152 And she knew how much he had had to learn on his return from Jamaica. The ‘absence of congenial minds’ meant that his letters home were vital to his efforts to sustain an Evangelical manliness.153 He needed to be in touch with the example of white Christian womanhood to sustain himself, and for the next two years the journal that he kept for Selina, sent off in instalments to England, provided a space for self-reflection and admonition, with his fiancée in the role of ‘tutelar Saint’. ‘Your smile shall cheer me’, he wrote to her, ‘your counsel shall guide me, your love shall lighten my labours, and your intercessions shall bring down on me the

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blessing of Heaven.’154 He and Selina could act as helpmeets to each other, recognising faults, providing sympathy and assistance in the face of the demanding faith in a providential God that they shared. Evangelical faith brought no inner peace – rather, deep anxiety about one’s self and one’s conduct. Zachary wrote at length about his own failings, never doubting that his judgements in relation to the settlers were correct, but critical of his own ‘disputatious turn of mind’, his ‘impatience of opposition or contradiction’, his ‘strong manner & imposing tone’, even his ‘unreasonable assumption of powers & authority which do not belong to me, at least exclusively’.155 He also revealed his fears, in response to an inquiry from Selina as to her dangerous habit of daydreaming, of his own tendency to let his imagination run riot. ‘I have knelt down’, he wrote, With, (as I thought), a strong resolution of keeping my mind fixed, and on rising have found to my mortification & sorrow that I had arranged the whole plan of an important trading expedition, drawn up an able reply to some objections that have been made to our proceedings, fought a battle with M. Renauds two privateers, & sunk one of them, or enjoyed the delights of a meeting with you in Park Street while I ought to have been employed in mourning over sin, pleading for pardon . . . or pouring out prayers and intercessions for all Men.156

In Sierra Leone none of the three white women who were living in the colony could possibly act as moral mentor to him. One, Miss Campbell, had opened a school but she had a terrible style of dress and manners, he informed Selina, ‘ill according with one educated in her humble sphere’. He had felt it necessary to talk to her and was relieved that she had dispensed with her ‘monstrous misshapen dress’. Mrs Campbell, meanwhile, was ‘a hard-featured woman, with a hideous Scotch twang, full as superstitious as any native of Africa’. Macaulay had learned to drop his own ‘Scotticisms’, and his Presbyterian background meant that there had never been a space for backward superstitions. But this was no place for Selina, who he was delighted to be able to compliment on her ‘very just taste’ in dress, though he quickly added that she should not think he cared greatly for physical appearance, except as an expression of an inner state of mind.157 And this was no place to make a proper Christian home. There would be other spheres of duty for him in the future. Meanwhile he must make the best of his domestic situation, despite the fact that it was by no means ideal. On his initial arrival he had set up house with Dawes, while the Company doctor and the chaplain lived next door. Together they formed ‘one family’ and Dawes managed it

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all.158 Once Dawes had left Macaulay felt himself rather alone. Clarke was a help and he had hopes for his brother Alexander who had joined him, but this younger sibling left a good deal to be desired and required constant criticism. Not surprisingly, he confided to Selina that Alexander would not speak freely to him on all ‘points of conduct’.159 Any hopes for his own version of Rothley Temple would have to wait for his return to England. Macaulay’s attempted intervention on the conduct of marriages left the Methodists aghast and they wrote a letter in opposition which Macaulay interpreted as seditious. ‘We are Dissenters’, they wrote, ‘and . . . as such we consider ourselves a perfect Church, having no need of the assistance of any worldly power to appoint or perform religious ceremonies for us . . . We cannot persuade ourselves that politics and religion have any connection, and therefore think it not right for a Governor of the one to be meddling with the other.’160 Macaulay argued that marriage was ‘the business of the makers of the Law & not of the preachers of the Gospel’.161 And in response to the Methodist letter he angrily reported that a religious body had been ‘erected into a kind of Jacobin club’ with a ‘Junto of preachers’.162 His intense dislike of the enthusiastic, to his mind over-emotional, forms of worship practised by the Dissenters was bad enough. But when religious and political claims became entwined it was a particularly dangerous combination. He was especially angry with Jacob Grigg, an English Baptist missionary. The Baptist Missionary Society, founded in 1792 with the aim of bringing the gospel to heathens across the world, was one of the first missionary organisations to send men to Sierra Leone. Andrew Fuller, one of the founding fathers, was politically conservative himself, deeply anxious to distance the Society from any associations with political radicalism, and convinced that saving heathen souls was its members’ sole duty. He was convinced of the scriptural ordinance of civil obedience and observed sharply that ‘those ministers who have been the most violent partizans for democratic liberty . . . are commonly not only cold hearted in religion, but the most imperious in their own churches’.163 But missionaries themselves, encountering enslaved and indigenous peoples on the ground, often had more radical sympathies than their metropolitan committees. Macaulay was generally very enthusiastic about missionary work in Sierra Leone and the surrounding areas, even when effected by nonconformists: it was part of the civilising work of empire. He was critical, however, of many of the missionaries – sometimes for their lack of commitment, seen, for example, in their reluctance to learn indigenous languages, sometimes for their actions. He regarded Grigg as a troublemaker, particularly for his vigorous protests on the marriage ban. White English Baptists should know better.

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Jacob Grigg, a staunch supporter of civil and religious liberties, had arrived in Sierra Leone in 1795. He had been warned off any political activity by his mentor at Bristol College, and indeed by Macaulay whom he had met before leaving England.164 He was soon in conflict with Macaulay over the issue of the defences that the governor was erecting in the expectation of a second French attack. Grigg was a pacifist and, according to Macaulay, claimed that those who took up the sword would perish by the sword. Macaulay pointed out to Grigg the impropriety of his words and asked him not to preach newfangled doctrines from the pulpit.165 They were also in conflict over a number of other issues, including the quit rent, and Macaulay was convinced that Grigg, along with another missionary, Jacob Garvin, was encouraging opposition to the payment of taxes. According to Macaulay, Grigg referred to the arguments made by American colonists before the War of Independence; that there should be no taxation without representation. John Clarke, meanwhile, preached on the text from Luke, ‘Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled’ (Luke 14.23) and this was interpreted by the dissidents as an attack on the independent churches and chapels. Macaulay wrote to the Baptist leader in Britain, John Rippon, complaining about Grigg, while Garvin wrote to Rev. Horne that ‘Macaulay is labouring here to unite Church and State’.166 Macaulay requested that Grigg should leave and the Baptist Missionary Society supported his expulsion, hoping that he would ‘learn the necessity of greater watchfulness, meekness, prudence, patience, and forbearance in his concerns with mankind’.167 Macaulay and the Baptist Missionary Society were at one in their belief that obedience to political authority was essential. Macaulay had previously regarded the Baptists as the supporters of established authority in the colony. Indeed, he saw David George, the leading Baptist pastor, as an ally. George was born in Essex County, Virginia, of African parents who had been captured and enslaved. According to his autobiographical account, his parents ‘had not the fear of God before their eyes’.168 As a boy he had run away into the South Carolina backcountry because of the cruelty of his master: his ‘greatest grief . . . was to see them whip my mother, and to hear her, on her knees begging for mercy’. He had been enslaved by Creek Indians and then the Natchez, who gave him to the Indian agent George Galphin. While working in the household for Galphin he married Phyllis and they had several children. During those years he met Cyrus, a black man from Charlestown, who warned him of the dangers of living without Christ. He began to recite the Lord’s Prayer over and over; his fears magnified that he would go to hell and there would be no salvation. He felt himself to be a ‘mass of sin. I could not read and had no scriptures. I did not think of Adam and Eve’s sin, but I was sin.’ He realised that he could only

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be saved by God’s mercy and then began to feel that the Lord had taken away his distress. He experienced ‘pleasure and joy in my soul – that no man could give me’. Soon after he heard George Liele, a Baptist preacher, who had himself heard the message of the gospel offering salvation to all, black or white, enslaved or free. Liele’s text on this occasion, ‘Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11.28) seemed to George to be providentially directed at him. He was baptised soon after and became part of a new local congregation, first learning the hymns, then being appointed as an Elder and then starting to preach. . . . Then I got a spelling book and began to read. The reading so ran in my mind, that I think I learned in my sleep as really as when I was awake; and I can now read the Bible, so that what I have in my heart, I can see again in the Scriptures.169

These words, G. A. Rawlyk argues, capture the heart of George’s beliefs. ‘Reading the word had merely confirmed what to David George was the miraculous moving of the spirit’; it was God who had converted him, and this was a felt experience.170 During the War of American Independence George’s master fled and he started working for the British, running a butcher’s stall in Savannah and supplying British troops. He took his family to Charleston in 1782 and was evacuated from there to Nova Scotia. There he established a number of Baptist churches, but was forced to move several times on account of the considerable hostility he met from white people, including magistrates, which culminated in a mob attack by disbanded soldiers. Together with the majority of his congregation he left Nova Scotia with John Clarkson in 1791, sailing for Sierra Leone. He established a good relation with Clarkson and travelled with him to England in 1793, with the help of Thornton, who became a mentor: ‘O what a blessed man is that! He is brother, father, every thing.’171 He met and studied with English Baptists returning to Sierra Leone in 1795. For the most part he supported the authorities which brought benefits in the form of Company patronage for his members, and a licence to run a tavern from his home for himself. But Macaulay’s determination in 1796 to enforce religious orthodoxy and his conviction that the Baptists were too lax in their habits began to put a strain on their relationship. George was enraged when Clarke appeared to be accusing the black preachers of being blasphemers and even more troubled by Macaulay’s new regulations on marriage. Wanting to demonstrate to George the error of his ways, Macaulay took him on a long walk up to the mountain farm he had established in the hills

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above Freetown. He took him to task about his beliefs and wrote it up in detail in his journal. He criticised George and the Baptists for being Antinomian, placing far too much stress on religious feeling coming directly from the Holy Spirit, not grasping the importance of Christian discipline and morality. George responded that he placed equal weight on the written word and the spirit within and when asked by Macaulay who he considered to be a Christian, his reply was, ‘those that have been converted’. But ‘what is conversion?’, Macaulay asked, and George responded that certainty only came through ‘inward feeling’. Macaulay, on the contrary, insisted that conversion ‘involved a turning from sin to holiness, and that every other mark of evidence was vain’. The notion of any voice from heaven, he maintained, was really ‘the delusive internal feelings of a corrupt imagination’. ‘What then’, George asked, ‘you wont allow feeling to have anything to do with religion?’, to which Macaulay replied, ‘So far as the Bible allow it. The feeling there said to belong to converted persons, were Love, joy, peace, meekness, gentleness &e, and where these were really felt, there was true conversion.’ He expressed particular criticism of ‘inexplicable mental impressions and bodily feelings’. George, however, argued that the Holy Spirit moved in mysterious ways. Conversion, he believed, was God’s work, prayers and instruction could not convey grace, and when God loves, he maintained, he loves to the end.172 But Macaulay was resolute. ‘The Antinomian scheme’, he insisted, ‘is a most seducing one: No means to be used no exertions to be made, no lusts to be crucified, no self denial to be practised’. George was defeated by this much younger and better-educated man. He had been preaching for twenty-five years yet was reduced to tears, and Macaulay told Selina that ‘Rivers of Waters ran down Davids eyes because men kept not Gods law’.173 Macaulay was confident in his power to interpret God’s law. It was anathema for him to link feeling, in the way that George did, with the moral codes that he saw as directly governed by God. His heart, he told Selina, was ‘deeply affected with the sight of people all around me, perishing for lack of knowledge, and arrogantly calling themselves by the name of Xt’.174 Yet at other moments he could be deeply self-critical – of his temper, his need for praise, his sensitivity to opposition, and his unkind manner – and drew up a set of forty-five resolutions for self-improvement, hoping to cultivate a more benign temper towards the settlers. All this, however, would depend on their acceptance of his standards. It was land which remained the most explosive issue between the Company and the settlers, particularly the payment of quit rent. The Nova Scotians were convinced Clarkson had promised them land free of this burden. No doubt strengthened by his contact with the directors while in England, Macaulay was now determined to enforce the quit rent. This infuriated the

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settlers and the elections for local officials in December of that year were extremely turbulent with denunciations, led by Ishmael York and Stephen Peter, of white influence in government. Their proposal that white men should not be allowed to stand for office provoked Macaulay to laughter; ‘there was something so unique in making a white face a civil disqualification’.175 After an argument with some of the settlers he commented on the ‘wayward humours, the perverse disputings, the absurd reasonings, the unaccountable prejudices, the everlasting jealousies, the presumptuous self conceit, the gross ignorance & the insatiable Demands of our Settlers’.176 He had attempted to convince the settlers of the advantages of electing whites with their ‘superior information’, but his advice went unheeded.177 No white men were elected and Macaulay was bitterly critical of the capacities of the new officials, complaining that ‘they are actually destitute, at least a great part of them, of the capacity of joining together two ideas or comprehending the simplest proposal’.178 He derided the fact that there was no single individual ‘capable of reading or writing a sentence distinctly, or of explaining or illustrating the simplest proposition’.179 His descriptions of those elected ranged from ‘a noisy factious fellow, exceedingly gripping and selfish’, ‘void of principle’, ‘plausible & specious among ignorant people’ to ‘a pestilent fellow . . . factious, noisy, busy, bold & blind’.180 Women householders, of whom there were a significant number, had been granted the vote in this election but this was now withdrawn and the constitution shelved. Some months later he returned to the struggle, insisting that quit rent must be paid. He gave a public address lecturing the settlers for their ingratitude to the Company, berating them for listening to ‘every selfish or base deceiver who . . . would abuse or revile your Governors’. ‘You have often been made to see the folly of acting thus’, he cautioned them, ‘and yet you still return like the sow, to flounder in the same dirty puddle’.181 In Macaulay’s opinion the settlers were fast sliding into ‘the wretched state of barbarism in which their African forefathers were sunk, and from which we had fondly hoped they had now been rescued’.182 In his mind the Methodists, his particular bugbear, dreamed of disposing of Company rule and replacing it with their own forms of governance, like that of the Africans who surrounded them. And he was prepared to withstand them come what may, even if it meant hanging some of the ringleaders, despite the absence of legal authority. He would act as judge and jury. Macaulay despaired of the ‘mutinous spirit’ of the settlers. It was their serious moral failings that were really at the root of the problem – not quit rent. The only hope was firm government if ‘barbarism’ were to be repelled.183 Between November 1797 and March 1798 he ruled alone, registering his decisions as those of the governor and Council.184

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Macaulay’s authoritarian paternalism – his sense of the colony as his family, and of Africans as children who should be corrected and disciplined – was exemplified in his account to Thornton of an episode with a local chief. Informing him of some success in his efforts to make the settlers recognise the difference between the rule of the Company and that of any slaver, he told him of the settlers’ ‘outward expression of thankfulness’ and deferential recognition that he and other white men could act as ‘the final arbiters of their differences’. He claimed that local natives, in place of their previous insolence, now treated him ‘with respect’ and addressed him as ‘My Father’. One local chief who had stabbed a settler in the arm even ‘bent himself down to the ground’ and appealed to Macaulay, explaining that he had been in a ‘drunken fit’. Macaulay fined him and then told him: He had not yet made me satisfaction for having stained our streets with blood. The punishment I should inflict upon him was, that whereas I had formerly regarded him as a headman & my friend, I should for the time to come regard him in no other light than as a Boy, until he had shewn by his conduct, in abstaining from liquor that he deserved again to be considered as a Gentleman.

This was indeed a display of mastery, one which naturalised racial subordination on the basis of white cultural superiority.185 One way to instil proper moral codes was through schooling, and from the beginning of his time in Sierra Leone Macaulay saw education as critical to the success of the settlement. He could play a vital role in this, acting as a moral guardian and educator, showing the way. He drew on his own experience, convinced that there were right kinds of knowledge, and that this was knowledge that must be taught, that would assist in the endeavour of marking off the boundaries of ‘civilisation’ and ‘barbarism’. His sense of difference from the white colonists he had met in Jamaica he understood as explained in part by their philistinism. Education civilised the man. After conversion he was certain that regular study of the Bible was central to proper religious practice. As he had insisted to David George, feeling was no substitute for study. His visit to Hannah More at Cowslip Green to see the Sunday Schools she had established, a matter of great controversy in the Anglican church on account of the dangers associated with educating the labouring poor to read and write, but celebrated by the Evangelicals, had been an inspiration.186 Macaulay developed a close relationship with More which extended over her lifetime. He drew on her thinking about the duties of parents and teachers. It was a religious responsibility, she insisted, to train children properly so that a

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few fundamental truths would be fully grasped – indeed internalised and fully rooted in the heart. Every lesson should concern moral qualities alongside specific branches of knowledge; reading and writing were about selfdiscipline, patience and obedience. Faced with the wickedness of white slave traders and plantation owners, the ‘barbarism’ of indigenous Africans and the ignorance, as he saw it, of the settlers, Macaulay’s belief in the central importance of education was strengthened. It was a way of civilising African children, and African adults were often represented in childlike ways, needing to learn from their elders and betters. If the sons of kings and chiefs became Christians then there was a hope that they would spread the blessings of a religious education to their people. One such beacon in Macaulay’s eyes was the eldest son of Naimbanna, one of the local kings, who was sent to England as a young man and taken into Henry Thornton’s house. He became a Christian and was baptised as John Henry Granville Naimbanna, with Granville Sharp and Henry Thornton as his godfathers. He returned to West Africa in 1793 as a result of the death of his father, intending to ‘teach Christianity to his people’, but to the distress of his family and the Company he died shortly before reaching home. Macaulay was deeply affected. It was only the steady conviction that God might have judged ‘that Africa would present temptations to him which might shake his good resolutions’, that could make sense of such a blow.187 The ways of providence were known only to the Almighty. Macaulay later published an improving tale, ‘The African Prince’, based on Naimbanna’s life. His death was explained as God’s judgement on the evil ways of his people, their false gods, warlike disposition, enslavement of others and propensity for polygamy. Naimbanna was represented as the perfect African convert. Having attended a debate in the House of Commons on the slave trade, Macaulay described how Naimbanna was enraged by the contemptuous way in which Africans were described by one speaker. He swore that he could not forgive him for ‘taking away the character of the people of his country’. ‘That man injures black people all over the world’, he was recorded as saying, ‘and when he has once taken away their character, there is nothing which he may not do to black people ever after.’ When told how wicked it was for Christians not to forgive, however, he became ‘calm as a lamb’ and no longer expressed anger.188 For Macaulay this African prince was an idealised construction of what the civilised African might become. In the hopes of civilising the children of the settlers, schools were set up and Macaulay kept a critical eye on them. On one examination he found ‘the black teachers are exceedingly negligent’ and needed more supervision.189 Even the white teachers could not be relied on. Miss Campbell, to his mind,

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left much to be desired. Macaulay, meanwhile, ran his own school dedicated to the creation of a new Christianised African elite. He took the sons and daughters of neighbouring African chiefs and headmen into his household without payment, naming them his ‘little family’. His housekeeper, responsible for the care and education of the African children, was Mary Perth, a black loyalist who had come from Nova Scotia.190 Enslaved in Norfolk, Virginia, as Cassandra Pybus has documented, she was converted to Methodism and joined the British, together with her three daughters, in 1776. She became part of a strong group of black Methodists in New York, who were then evacuated to Nova Scotia. Daddy Moses, a charismatic preacher, was a powerful figure in this community and he led his entire congregation to Sierra Leone. Perth originally ran a boarding house and chop house by the wharves and she obtained a licence to sell retail goods before becoming Macaulay’s housekeeper. Despite her Methodism she was admired by both John Clarke and Macaulay for her piety: she was a ‘militant saint’.191 Macaulay told Selina of the ‘good old woman’ and asked her to send some tracts, believing that Mary ‘has judgement enough to relish them’.192 Mary, in turn, sent gifts to Selina and Hannah More and planned to visit England. Some months later, however, Macaulay was less enthusiastic about her, reporting that she had become vain, arrogant, angry and revengeful, and she was stripped of her role in his household. This provided another indicator of the impossibility of sustaining a Christian household without a devout young white woman to act as its mother figure. Nevertheless, his authority over his ‘little family’ was undiminished. ‘I have them entirely under my eye’, he recorded, and this had the additional advantage of removing them from ‘the evils of that indiscriminate intercourse with other Children to which they were exposed in town’.193 At a time when the colony was in ferment over his policies he was able to report that ‘The most absolute peace reigns in my family . . . my will is generally the law to all within our pales’.194 Macaulay led them in prayers and weekly catechism.195 Whatever the cacophony of unwanted sound from settlers, traders and troublesome neighbours, the children that he was educating seemed to offer grounds of hope for the future. Their progress, as he saw it, compensated for some of the other ‘disquiet’ with which he had to deal, and which did not abate.196 It was this group of children that he took with him back to England in 1799, part of a continued experiment in civilisation. Discussions about such a plan had been going on for some time, for it was by no means only Anglican Evangelicals who were interested in this problem of freedom, and how to educate peoples, most importantly men, into western culture. The Rev. John Campbell, Secretary of the Edinburgh Missionary Society, knowing

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the difficulties of getting missionaries to work in Sierra Leone on account of the climate and levels of mortality, conceived the idea of ‘bringing Africa to England’.197 He contacted the Clapham Sect and Macaulay, and found a wellknown philanthropist in Edinburgh, Robert Haldane, who was prepared to support the project. An agreement was reached that Macaulay would bring a group of children with him when he returned to England. By 1799 Macaulay was weary of his struggles with the settlers, no longer confident of establishing order and stability, fearful for his own future and anxious to return to England, Selina and his friends. It was the ‘Poison of the age of Reason’, he believed, the awful influence of revolutionary ideas and improper dissenting claims, which had undermined his authority and endangered the Company’s plans for the colony.198 During his last weeks in Sierra Leone he was so anxious about the safety of his household and so frightened of attack by angry malcontents that he had to keep a loaded gun by his bed and a light burning through the night. His return to the homeland, however, was described by Thornton as ‘triumphal’, ‘with a train of twenty or thirty little black boys & girls at his heels, the Trophies which he brings with him from Africa’.199 Mary Perth had been restored to favour and travelled to England with them, staying for a period before her return to Sierra Leone. Macaulay himself wrote to Selina, ‘On Wednesday my black children got to Clapham in good health, and excited no small admiration among our friends, who account them a highly favourable specimen of African youth’. The children were expected in Edinburgh, but Macaulay had meanwhile become convinced that Haldane would not provide a properly Christian education given his dangerously ‘heretical or socialistic ideas’ and decided to keep them with him in Clapham.200 Wilberforce, Thornton, Babington and Hannah More all offered financial assistance. A Society for the Education of Africans was formed and a school set up under the supervision of the Anglican rector John Venn. The children were to be trained in industrious habits and prepared to take civilisation back to Africa. Many of the pupils were the sons of chiefs and it was argued that they were of that age at which they are most likely both to receive and to retain instruction. They are effectually separated from those evil examples, to which, at the intervening period between youth and manhood, they could hardly fail to be exposed in their own country. They are furnished with religious knowledge, and are trained to habits both of cleanliness and industry.201

It was hoped that this English education would preserve them from ‘degradation’ on their return to Africa. Meanwhile the girls were educated

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privately in the Thornton household, causing some trouble. ‘My African girls have been a plague to me’, Mrs Henry Thornton wrote to Hannah More. ‘I mean to send the worst back by the next ship’.202 Sadly the majority of the boys died in England in the subsequent years, some of them, as for example, John Macaulay Wilson, named after his patron, and recorded in the local parish records.203 The idea of a school for ‘negro boys’ was abandoned, but the schoolmaster, William Greaves, turned his attention to the children of the Clapham Sect including Thomas Babington Macaulay. At that stage two older African youths were still attending and acted as bandsmen in the martial exercises that were so popular during the war with France. They were the ones charged with enforcing military discipline by flogging and one of the pupils later recorded his amusement that William Wilberforce Junior (and presumably the young Macaulay) were getting ‘the lash’ from Africans while their fathers were engaged in rescuing ‘the negro from the similar usage of the white’.204 In 1800, soon after Macaulay’s departure from Sierra Leone, open rebellion against the authority of the Company broke out. ‘What stands out in examination of the record’, as Ellen Gibson Wilson puts it, ‘even though it is compiled almost entirely by the white rulers, is the settlers’ steady intent to build a viable community.’205 But they were not allowed to do it on their terms. In 1799 a resolution had been passed by the hundredors and tythingmen claiming the right to make their own laws. In response the Council had noted that from the present temper and disposition of the Settlers and their avowed antipathy to all white People it is evident that a principal object of the . . . Resolution is to exclude all Europeans from the colony in future – or if admitted, to with-hold from them all participation in the power of making laws and of administering justice.206

Shortly afterwards relations broke down completely and rebellion erupted, put down by a company of Maroons who had been deported from Jamaica because of their resistance to the British. The Maroons had initially been settled in Nova Scotia but found the cold intolerable and had been permitted to resettle close to Sierra Leone. Macaulay’s brother Alexander led the attack, which was completely successful. The rebels had their property forfeited and it went to the Maroons: thus one group of colonised subjects was privileged at the expense of another, a pattern that was central to the operation of the British Empire. That same year, the Charter confirming the powers of the Company on the same lines as the East India Company and

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effectively making Sierra Leone into another site of the empire finally arrived, and fifty European soldiers were sent to garrison and rebuild the fort. The published report of the Company in 1801 regretted the tragic failure of hopes for Africa and blamed the Africans for this failed imperial dream. Wilberforce wrote privately to Dundas that the Nova Scotians ‘have made the worst possible subjects, as thorough Jacobins as if they had been trained and educated in Paris’.207 Macaulay did not return to Africa, but the next thirty years of his life were focused on the struggle for the abolition of the slave trade and slavery. His experiences in Jamaica and Sierra Leone, combined with his religious faith, made him an unswerving opponent of slave traders and the plantocracy, one who was feared and hated by his antagonists. Sierra Leone was to provide the basis of a fortune made and lost in trade but he was happier to imagine it at a distance. The kneeling figure of the enslaved asking, ‘Am I not a man and a brother?’ was a more comfortable vision than the clamorous black settlers with their dissenting beliefs and political claims for equality with the white man. His Christian belief in the universal human condition, the possibilities of salvation and civilisation for all, rested on an idealised and fantasised fiction of sameness – ‘We are all God’s creatures’ – rather than any recognition of difference. The violence of his feelings, his rage and hostility, when faced with the messy and troubling realities of cultural difference, was associated with the collapse of his fabricated and imagined Others – Others who did not accept his authority or his definitions. Such rebellious subjects had necessitated the abrogation of the rule of law and the assertion of absolute power. In his mind he had encountered the barbarisms of empire – both black and white – in Jamaica and Sierra Leone. Enslaved Africans, white planters, African princes, white traders, black settlers – all came in for his criticism. These were worlds remote from the national and the domestic, from virtuous white women presiding over ‘home’, and an England where there was at least a band of Evangelicals struggling together against vice, irreligion and radicalism. The world was indeed a dangerous place and only ‘real religion’ and a constant attention to God’s presence, his Word, and his law held the unquenchable passions of man in check. He firmly believed in the potential of Africans to be civilised, but how might this be effected? What was clear was that until the slave trade and slavery were abolished there was no hope for Africa or Britain. His task, ordained by God, was to devote himself to this work.

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An Evangelical Culture

Z

achary returned to England in 1799 intent on leading a religious life and contributing to Evangelical projects at home and abroad. He was also anxious to marry as soon as possible. His time in Sierra Leone meant that he could provide eyewitness accounts of the day-to-day realities of the slave trade and this, together with his capacity to collate materials, edit and write, meant that he soon became an invaluable member of the Clapham group. For the rest of his life he was devoted to the cause of antislavery and to extending the kingdom of God in Britain, the empire and the wider world. Making a home England meant marriage and the establishment of a new Evangelical home and family. Zachary could now reconnect in a more everyday way with those mentors who had acted from a distance as epistolary figures of authority for him while he was in Sierra Leone. He wrote to Babington asking him to act as a ‘censor’ for him in his new life, especially with Selina. In response, Babington warned him that his main faults were his ‘impatience, selfconfidence, and a love of praise’, but acknowledged his ‘ardour of mind and firmness of character’, and concluded that he had improved in the last years. He reminded him of the need for a Christian sensibility, marked by meekness, humility, watchfulness and prayer. Advising on his forthcoming marriage, he remarked on the transition Zachary would need to make from colonial to metropolitan society. He had been ‘a grave and active African Governor, surrounded by business and difficulties and dangers, and enjoying little affectionate, and no female society’. Here Mary Perth and her compatriots and even the Miss Campbells were entirely erased, not ‘society’. He

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would need to adjust to a ‘pious, affectionate, and amiable wife’. Selina’s experiences were very different from his: she ‘has been entirely with females, and her companions have been her near relations and friends’. She would need to ‘assimilate herself to you, and you to her, without either of you departing from your proper sphere’.1 The language of ‘assimilation’ and of ‘proper spheres’ were conjoined to evoke ordered notions of Christian manliness and femininity – sexual difference could be yoked into complementarity and mutual dependence in a Christian marriage – essential to the reproduction of an Evangelical world. Zachary had struggled to make this language applicable in Sierra Leone. In England, he hoped, it would be easier. Zachary and Selina were married in Bristol in August 1799. They had engaged in a long epistolary courtship so that they had a considerable knowledge of each other. Zachary had been appointed as the Secretary of the Sierra Leone Company and the new husband and wife initially settled in rooms prepared for them at the Company premises in Birchin Lane, at the heart of the City, before moving to Lambeth. The directors already regarded him as a valuable authority. His indefatigable energy – he always rose at 4 a.m. and required little sleep – meant that he could deal not only with the Company business but also take on correspondence on multiple subjects, write pamphlets and reports, prepare briefings and send out materials, all in a day’s work. He was active in the management of the Church Missionary Society from its establishment in 1799, involved with the setting up of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804, busy with the Society for the Suppression of Vice and other activities. All this was what he was to describe to his son Tom as ‘our political programme’.2 In Glasgow he had learned the business of the counting house, in Jamaica the business of the plantation, in Sierra Leone the management of colonial affairs. Lists and censuses, log books and balance sheets, statistical data and reports – all these were deeply familiar. He was a valuable addition to the Evangelical camp, and a troublesome figure for his opponents. The first priority for a life of Christian struggle was to make a home and establish a family. This was God’s work, critical for a properly religious life. Family was the setting for most businesses, of whatever kind, in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century England. Separations between work and home were, as yet, relatively unusual amongst the middling ranks: merchants’ and bankers’ counting houses, manufacturers’ and retailers’ work places were intimately linked, as were the enterprises of professional men, lawyers, clergymen and doctors, and those who made their livings with their pens. Zachary’s work, both his familial work of providing for his new wife, and his public and political work, had to be rooted in a domestic

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setting. Marriages were partnerships: this was often the reality, though, of course, the wife’s contribution was ‘covered’ by her husband, her property legally his on marriage, her putative political and legal identity lost in his. Men were independent, the providers; women were dependent, the carers. This fiction of men’s independence was central to the newly emerging public world of the nineteenth century. Women’s capital, labour and reproductive powers – both literally as child bearers and as carers – were all locked into this historically specific understanding of family and marriage.3 Evangelicals were reconfiguring established patterns: giving serious Christian meanings to common-sense assumptions as to how men and women lived and reproduced themselves. Marriage, for both Zachary and Selina, was understood as a union in Christ. Their joint endeavour, as Zachary told his new father-in-law, was ‘an undeviating reliance on the grace of their Redeemer’ in the hope of ‘eternal life’. The Bible would be their guide: their aim, ‘to follow the line prescribed for Christians in the Bible with a . . . single and unvarying purpose’.4 Each of their actions should be with the intention of pleasing God and their motivating hope ‘to make ourselves in his hands instruments of further Good’.5 Why, Zachary reflected to Selina, in relation to the distressing illness of a friend, did they allow themselves to be troubled by the trials and tribulations of life? God had a plan for the world and they should trust in Him. ‘The life of faith’, he continued, lifts the soul above the accidents of time. It unites the soul to God, and puts it even now in possession of joys which are unspeakable. This is the life I would live, and which I would make it my daily prayer that you and I and all who are dear to us may live, till faith be lost in sight.6

There was critical work to be done in the world, but ‘this world will not last long, when it fades away we shall feel nothing to have been of any real intrinsic worth, which has not contributed with the divine helping towards our progress in attaining a fitness for heaven’.7 The family was believed to be the institution which could facilitate a Christian life and Christians should look to those ‘solid joys and lasting satisfaction which are to be deserved from cultivating and cherishing the kindliness of domestic affection and intercourse, “that only bliss which has survived the fall” ’.8 Macaulay was quoting Cowper, that most favoured of Evangelical poets, whose lines from The Task were constantly reproduced in letters, commonplace books and diaries of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Man’s ‘noblest claim’ for Cowper, as for Macaulay, was

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his spiritual claim to salvation: it was this which gave meaning to life above all else.9 He found ‘the kindliness of domestic affection’ in Selina, who had helped him through her love and affection to ‘soften down a few of the asperities of my rugged nature’.10 Their home was to be the family place, a sheltered place, protected from the dangers of the outside world, creating a setting for religious imperatives to be followed with the least impediments, where manners and morals could be properly regulated. Rothley Temple was Zachary’s model of Evangelical domesticity, watched over by the patriarchal figure whose authority was linked to that of the Father. This model had to be adapted to London life and to earning a living, whether in Birchin Lane or in Clapham. But the physical space of home, whether in the country or the city, was transformed by its associations with the home that was to come. ‘It is that idea of home attached to heaven which has always given me the most endearing impression of it’, Zachary wrote. ‘To go home to my Father’s house when I am sure of meeting his smile, and of mingling with the whole family of God; when I shall repose from my labours and hear only the voice of pure and unfeigned affection; when I may discourse without fear of evil and delight myself ’ in the bosom of domesticity, this was his conception of home.11 The earthly home was but a preparation for the ‘everlasting home’, where the family would meet in peace and joy after death. Home was the physical location of domesticity, and Christian marriage was at its emotional heart, providing, it was hoped, security, stability and order. ‘Home’ in Sierra Leone could never carry the meanings of a ‘proper’ family home. During their engagement Zachary had evoked for Selina the helpmeet he imagined. ‘Your smile’, he wrote, ‘shall cheer me, your counsel shall guide me, your example shall animate me, your love shall lighten my labours, and your intercession shall bring down on me the blessing of heaven.’12 On a wedding anniversary Zachary wrote to his wife, who was staying in Barley Wood, of his ‘great and growing happiness’ in their marriage. His only ‘painful regrets’ came from ‘a sense of one’s own defects’. He thanked God for ‘all the fond domestic enjoyment of which it has been productive, mixed as it has been with so little of domestic sorrow’. He thought of how blessed they were with their children, and the fond hopes they had for them, and regretted how external problems had clouded his brow and dejected his spirit. ‘Accept, my dear Selina’, he wrote, ‘my heartfelt acknowledgements of all your undeviating care and kindness, and forbearance and devotion, and rest assured of the undiminished warmth of my attachment, and of my increasing regard and affection.’ The children, he concluded, had been ‘clamorous’ in wanting him to return home to dinner and ‘I mean to indulge them’.13 This was the letter of a loving husband and father, albeit one who felt

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himself and those around him to be constantly judged by the highest of standards. ‘The Saints’, Zachary noted, had a ‘kind of graduated scale’ which they applied to all who came within their pale.14 The scale was probably at its most acute within the family circle, for those who were most precious were the most likely to be found wanting. And Zachary never spared himself: his most rigorous eye was reserved for his own failings. He loved Selina and thanked God ‘that I have ever known you – you have been a helpmeet for me. I owe you much, and I owe him much who gave you to me’. But his own conduct was always suspect: ‘I have not indeed done all I might and ought to have done to promote your comfort – you have had much, I know, at times to bear with – and your patience and forbearance have often been tried’. Even more seriously he had not done as much as he should have done to bring her attention and his own to God. ‘May we both feel daily more and more how entirely subordinate all things else should be to the great consideration of saving our own souls and the souls of those committed to our care’.15 Evangelical conceptions of femininity seem to have found a ready home in Selina’s heart and mind. She was content to be a wife and mother, dependent on her husband for her family’s economic well-being. She loved home and did not care for extensive sociability. There was always a place for ‘a moderate but ever willing hospitality’ but she had no relish for the constant interactions of the Clapham families.16 Christian parenting ideally required the complementary figures of both father and mother, helpmates with different paths to follow: The rougher path was his to tread; The mild domestic, hers.17

Zachary and Selina seem to have lived comfortably with this complementarity. Selina’s father had been a bookseller in Bristol and became a Quaker in later life. Her mother’s death left her with much responsibility for her brothers and sisters, and her widowed father ‘doted on her with all a father’s fondness’.18 Her time living with the More sisters, and working in their school, no doubt enhanced both her domestic and her educational skills. Her daughter Hannah later recorded how she had always been told that as a young woman her mother had been ‘extremely pretty & attractive’, which she could well believe, ‘for to the last she retained a most pleasing appearance’. ‘She had an excellent understanding well cultivated by reading’, she continued, ‘a lively affectionate nature & most sweet temper’. She was ‘completely wrapped up in her husband & children’, and really disliked society.19 The couple’s first child, Tom, was born in 1800.

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Sometime during the year 1802–3 the little family moved to Clapham Common, settling in a ‘roomy comfortable dwelling on the south side of the Common’, joining the established Evangelical circle.20 Presumably this move meant that Zachary was away from home considerably more, working as he did in the city. Henry Thornton had bought a large Queen Anne house, ‘Battersea Rise’, on Clapham Common in early 1792, then ‘a wild and marshy tract’, about five miles from London. Thornton and Wilberforce shared this ‘chummery’ for four years. Thornton enlarged it so that it had thirty-four bedrooms to accommodate his family and friends, and established an extensive garden, beyond which were fields with cows and horses, ‘all the amenities of a semi-countrified life.’21 He built two houses in the grounds, one of which Wilberforce moved into on his marriage; the other was let to Charles Grant, Chairman of the Court of Directors of the East India Company from 1805 and author of a celebrated pamphlet advocating missionary work in India. By the 1800s, as Thornton’s daughter Marianne recalled to her nephew E. M. Forster, Clapham ‘had become civilized, there was no longer danger from highwaymen, the merchants and politicians who were beginning to settle there could leave their families in safety when they drove the four or five miles up to Westminster, or to the City.’22 Thornton actively created an Evangelical community. He promoted John Venn, the son of Henry Venn, who had been very close to his father John Thornton, for the living of Holy Trinity on Clapham Common. Venn was soon to be one of the founders of the Church Missionary Society. In the cluster of new houses bordering the Common there was James Stephen, barrister, who had married Wilberforce’s widowed sister Sarah in 1800. John Shore, first Baron Teignmouth, Governor General of India for the period 1793–8, and first President of the British and Foreign Bible Society, moved to Clapham the same year as the Macaulays.23 These were men intimately connected to power – they were at the heart of government, of finance, of law, and of the East India Company. They had multiple connections with empire. They mixed with politicians, bankers, merchants, lawyers and the aristocracy, and they were making their reputations in a society in which land no longer counted for everything. They came themselves, for the most part, from the mercantile and financial sectors, but they had become part of the governing class. As Evangelicals they marked themselves off from the wider society, vetoing the theatre and other worldly amusements, yet they were also part of the London upper-middle class, living and worshipping cheek by jowl with their opponents. George Hibbert, for example, leading Jamaica merchant, Chairman of the West India Dock Company, and key supporter of the slave trade and slavery, also lived on the Common, and he, too, worshipped at Holy Trinity.24

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These Evangelicals, deeply affected by the French Revolution, conscious of the terrible dangers associated with Napoleon, conservative in their politics and determined to counter revolutionary thinking through a remoralising of society, were tireless in their efforts to improve and domesticate public and private life, teach rich and poor their proper place in the social order. Clapham was a self-conscious attempt to make a new kind of community, an Evangelical colony with a controlled and controllable environment for men, women and children. The men moved constantly between Clapham, Westminster and the City, relying on their wives to organise their households. While they occupied the public theatre of life, their wives, committed to the Evangelical vision, were to enjoy the smaller pleasures of home and pursue their philanthropic duties in organisations such as the Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor. Yet ‘home’ was also a semi-public space, for there were constant visitors, dinners and discussions in these households and the Clapham Sect families lived across and between each others’ houses, their children growing up in close proximity to one another. As Zachary’s granddaughter described it in her memoir, from pictures no doubt imbibed from her mother Hannah, ‘it was the custom of the circle, to consider every member of that coterie as forming part of a large united family’.25 They behaved in familial ways, walking in and out of each other’s homes, eating together, naming their children after each other, talking about the matters of the day, holidaying together, with Rothley Temple or Barley Wood, the home of Hannah More, as favourite venues, or in rented accommodation in Clapham seaside haunts. There were multiple connections by marriage: Thornton’s wife, Marianne Sykes, had been a friend of Wilberforce’s from childhood, like a sister; Babington introduced Wilberforce to his wifeto-be, Barbara Spooner.26 Marriage was a matter to be considered by the group, just as Zachary and Selina’s had been. The Clapham world was one full of family, kin and friends, of loving mothers and anxious fathers, of stories, fairy tales, songs and hide-and-seek, as well as Bible lessons and prayer.27 Wilberforce, with his joyous nature and intense charm, ‘the very sun of the Claphamic system’, as James Stephen’s eponymous son was to describe him in his famous account of ‘The Clapham Sect’, was at the heart of the group.28 Their most remarkable characteristic was their particular kind of Evangelical fervour, which gave them the character of a sect, their unending sense of duty and responsibility to the making of a different kind of society – one in which family and religion would be central. While scandal rocked the monarchy and aristocracy, they lived their domesticated lives in Clapham. The public world they sought was one that would be ordered and respectful. Many of them were second-generation

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Evangelicals who did not have the ‘blunt and uncompromising tone’ of their predecessors.29 The Clapham women varied in the extent to which they engaged with wider worlds. Selina appears to have been always centred on her family, kin and the Miss Mores, relying on her husband to deal with the external world. When Tom was two his sister Selina, named after her mother, was born. Parenting was a part of godly duties and seven more children survived after birth in the subsequent eleven years. Selina was either nursing or pregnant during 1800–14, like so many women of her class and generation. ‘With a child every 16 or 18 months’, as Zachary noted, ‘she cannot expect to be very robust’.30 In 1804 there was a second daughter, Jean, named after Zachary’s favourite sister, Mrs Babington. In 1805 John was born (perhaps named after John Venn); then Henry William in 1806, named after Henry Thornton and William Wilberforce; Frances in 1808; Hannah in 1810, after Hannah More; Margaret in 1812; and Charles in 1814. The Macaulays were in many respects a typical early nineteenth-century middle-class family, with father engaged in the public world of business and politics, mother at home with an ever growing family. Yet they were set apart by their Evangelical beliefs. Cleansing the nation Making a proper religious home was a central task for Evangelicals, a way of securing the hope of a daily life lived according to God’s will. Such a home would provide the base from which to cleanse the nation from sin and reconfigure the empire as one of freedom, not bondage. What was meant by freedom, however, was contentious. Their goals had to be pursued at many levels both at home and abroad, but a primary indicator of the grievous sinfulness of the nation was understood by the Evangelicals to be the slave trade. When Macaulay returned to England in 1799 he was immediately drawn into the agitation for abolition. Indeed, he was prevented from hurrying to join Selina at Rothley Temple on account of giving testimony to the House of Lords on the Slave Limitation Bill, insisting in his evidence that the major problem for the infant colony was the presence of the slave trade, the constant threat of re-enslavement and the hopes of freedom it offered to the enslaved. Coming as he had from Sierra Leone, where he had suffered all too frequent contact with the realities of the trade and knew its raw brutalities and everyday violence, he was shocked by the flippancy and the ‘impious and profane sarcasms’ of some of those speaking against abolition.31 He also recognised the weight of the opposition, particularly in the figure of the king’s brother, the Duke of Cumberland.

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For the moment, however, the powerful West India interest in the House of Lords presented an impassable barrier and the flurry of abolitionist activity in 1799 came to nothing. It had broken into a period of almost complete inactivity. The execution of the French King, the persecution of the French aristocracy and the shadow of the guillotine in Paris, the revolution in San Domingue, and the fears surrounding political activism in Britain, mobilised particularly around the trials of radicals, had taken the slave trade off the political agenda. Clarkson had retired to the Lake District, exhausted and disappointed, and only returned to the fray when the political atmosphere looked more hopeful.32 In 1804, Macaulay joined a reactivated committee alongside Henry Brougham, the powerful Whiggish lawyer, one of the founders of the newly influential Edinburgh Review, and James Stephen, who had spent years working as a lawyer in the Caribbean. The abolitionists once more turned their attention to parliament. Stephen and Macaulay were the two men who had direct experience of the slave trade and slavery, and their eyewitness knowledge was a vital counter to the claims of the pro-slavers. Their evangelical zeal on the issue owed much to the deeply felt sense of connection between the state of sin, from which they had been redeemed by Christ’s atonement, and the state of slavery. They drew on the Old Testament account of God’s liberation of the Hebrews in Exodus to reflect on the deep associations ‘between the physical slavery of “the captive” and “our hateful and ruinous bondage” and between “liberty to the captive” and “freedom in the service and favour of God” ’.33 In 1802 the Christian Observer was established by the Evangelicals as a periodical which would hope to ‘counteract the evils existing at present in the religious world, and at the same time recommend religion to the consciences of the world’.34 Well aware of the struggle over ideas in the wake of the French Revolution, fearful not only of radicalism but also of the prevalence of ‘vice’ and ‘immorality’, they recognised the significance of the new print media and resolved to develop their own monthly digest of news and comment. ‘The superior advantages of a Periodical Publication, for rendering the various departments of useful knowledge easy and accessible, and giving a more ready currency and a wider circulation to topics of general concern’, as the initial manifesto put it, ‘are sufficiently known, and have been confirmed by the testimony of long and unequivocal experience’. ‘At a period like this’, they opined, when dramatic Compositions, Novels, Tales, Newspapers, etc. etc. conducted by the patrons of vice and the advocates of infidelity, are disseminating doctrines subversive of all morality, and promoting tenets

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the most hostile to piety, order, and general happiness, some friends of civil government and revealed religion feel it incumbent upon them to manifest a well-regulated zeal, by opposing the progress of lawless opinions, stripping scepticism and imposture of their artful disguise, and, by displaying the true features of libertinism and impiety, expose them to the contempt and abhorrence of all good men.

The Christian Observer would publish nothing that might undermine the ‘essential truths’ of Christianity. It was intended for a very different audience from the Cheap Repository Tracts of the 1790s, an earlier Evangelical publishing venture designed to counter Jacobinism, specialising in simple tales of humble and industrious folk. The Christian Observer was for periodical readers, a vital new middle-class audience. It covered a wide range of topics including history, biography, literature, biblical and theological matters, as well as commenting on the state and progress of religion at home and abroad, reviewing public affairs and domestic occurrences.35 Much of the journal was written by Macaulay and he became the sole editor. From the beginning he published materials on the evils of the slave trade and slavery, urging readers to direct their attention to the issue, and emphasising the duties of ‘the Christian Observer’. A report on the state of Britain, written in December 1802 and presenting an audit of the year, reminded readers how thankful they should be given the prosperity and security of their nation with its growing empire. Napoleon was, of course, a danger, but was as nothing compared with the danger ‘from ourselves’. ‘National evils’ must be countered by a pure and mild religion . . . a religion, out of which subordination, order, and morality, grow as from their natural root . . . then, being strong in the favour of the Almighty, we shall be in little danger from our enemies.36

A nation’s strength derived from its religious practices and sensibilities – this was the only security in a providential world. Both Wilberforce and More valued the new periodical but were concerned at its somewhat unleavened tone. ‘It wants a little essential salt’, commented More, ‘a little sprinkling of manners as well as principles’, while Wilberforce admitted that ‘the truth is, it is heavy, and if it be not enlivened it will sink’.37 It survived, however, for many decades. By 1804 it was clear that times were more propitious for the abolitionists and there were sustained efforts to secure legislation against the slave trade. James Stephen was critical to the development of a new strategy, proposing

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partial abolition as in the national interest during the Napoleonic wars. Whereas previously abolition had been damagingly linked to radicalism and disorder, it was now re-articulated to patriotism and the humanitarian issues downplayed.38 Stopping the importation of slaves to Britain’s enemies would help the war effort. In May 1806 the Foreign Slave Trade Act was passed, stopping British traders from carrying enslaved Africans to the territories of other European powers. The death of Pitt and formation of a new ministry in 1806, led by Grenville and with Charles James Fox as foreign secretary, shifted the political ground since both were committed abolitionists. Despite Fox’s death in September the hard work of the abolitionists in securing majorities, not only in the House of Commons but also in the House of Lords, was rewarded. Abolitionist propaganda was critical in the struggle to win votes in both houses of parliament, putting pressure on MPs and peers and mobilising public opinion.39 In his 1807 pamphlet, The Dangers of the Country, Stephen framed his powerful appeal with providentialist arguments, stating that just as God punishes and rewards individuals, so too he dealt with nations. The slave trade was a terrible example of injustice and violence. Yet it was clear that Britain was suffering from divine wrath, evidenced in the danger of invasion by Napoleon. ‘We must’, he insisted, if this was to be understood, ‘look to Africa, and to the West Indies, for the causes of his wrath.’ Britain had been blessed with civil liberty and in return had enslaved others. ‘We cruelly reverse in our treatment of these unhappy brethren’, he argued, ‘all the gracious dealings of God towards ourselves.’ For our plenty we give them want; for our ease, intolerable toil; for our wealth, privation of the right of property; for our equal laws, unbridled violence and wrong. Science shines upon us, with her meridian beams; yet we keep these degraded fellow-creatures in the deepest shades of ignorance and barbarity.

Britain was distinguished from other European nations by her morals and manners, and had been blessed by the preaching of the Gospel. Yet she deprived others of these benefits. The ‘chastising hand of God’ was clear in the French wars.40 The nation must act or risk destruction. Wilberforce’s Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade provided another powerful statement of the abolitionist position. It laid out the basic arguments succinctly, in a ‘manly march of statement, reasoning and observation’, as the Christian Observer put it, insisting on ‘general truths’ and collating ‘important facts’.41 Reiterating the belief in a providential God,

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Wilberforce reminded his readers that ‘The Almighty Creator of the universe governs the world which he has made.’ ‘The sufferings of nations’, he continued, ‘are to be regarded as the punishment of national crimes.’ Now was the time to rid the nation of the wicked and cruel crime of the slave trade, to ‘lighten the vessel of the state . . . of its load of guilt and infamy’.42 Macaulay was heavily involved in the work leading up to the final abolition of the trade in 1807, meeting during the week at Wilberforce’s house in Westminster, at the weekends in Clapham, briefing members and preparing evidence for use in the debates. The final parliamentary success, eased by Grenville’s predominantly sympathetic ministry, was greeted by the Christian Observer as God’s doing.43 But thanks were due also to the patriots who had laboured for twenty years, and above all to ‘that distinguished individual’ who had devoted his talents to this and who now had his reward. ‘His grateful country will enrol him among her best benefactors. Africa will learn to recognize in him her deliverer from bondage, degradation, and blood’.44 The sanctification of Wilberforce had begun. Furthermore, the abolition of the trade was ‘a signal token of the kind intentions of heaven towards this nation’: Britain was indeed providentially blessed.45 Hannah More’s hopes in her poem Slavery might now truly be realised: Shall Britain, where the soul of Freedom reigns Forge chains for others she herself disdains? Forbid it, Heaven! O let the nations know The liberty she loves she will bestow; Not to herself the glorious gift confin’d, She spreads the blessing wide as humankind . . .46

Rebuilding the empire (i)  Africa If an empire of freedom, not of bondage, was now the hope, then there was much work to be done. Whereas the old empire had been mired in physical coercion and monopolies, the new empire would celebrate the rights of all British subjects to the rule of law, and the potential of free labour and free trade. Freedom would mean, above all, the freedom to receive Christian instruction. The Christian Observer looked forward to raising ‘the negroes’ from ‘darkness to light, and from the bondage of sin to the glorious liberty of the children of God; this is a work worthy of those who would claim the high title of benefactors of the human race’.47 Macaulay provided an account

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of what he saw as the possibilities for Africa in the new times that had come. The slave trade had had terrible effects; it was hard to imagine a society ‘more miserably dismembered’. Yet there was great potential too and now was the time to repay the debt. Africa’s wealth would necessarily be agricultural for the time being, but the people must be encouraged to enjoy the benefits of free labour and learn to consume. Innumerable blessings would follow. ‘If they can be taught to desire decent apparel, and comfortable habitations’, he wrote, drawing both on Adam Smith and on his own experience of Sierra Leone. ‘Habits of domestic virtue, order, and happiness, habits of self-estimation, a sense of character and propriety, a desire of knowledge, prospective industry, and all the lovely family of social charities which peace and contentment engender, will rapidly be diffused,’ he continued, perhaps forgetting the difficulties that had impeded such progress in his ‘little colony’. The example of British settlers would be immensely helpful in this process because ‘example works more rapidly than precept on all who are quick to perceive, but slow to reason; and such are children and uncultivated nations’. Schools were vital for ‘the young are much better subjects for civilization than the old’, and missionaries should be encouraged to spread the word of God.48 The future looked bright for Africa’s ‘uncultivated nations’ given the diffusion of British power. Yet British intervention, Macaulay acknowledged, raised difficult questions. Was empire the best way forward? There were clear advantages: ‘our customs, manners, and opinions would spread rapidly, from the power of example’. That ‘power of example’, spreading downwards, was central to Evangelical strategies, whether in relation to Sierra Leone or the manners and morals of the domestic population. ‘Pure justice’ and private property would, he believed, be secured by imperial power. There would be no fear of the revival of the slave trade at the end of the war if the territory was ‘reposing under the shade and shelter of the British Empire’. But there were great dangers too. It might be said that African princes had been deprived of their independence and the people of their liberty. And there were anxieties about the delivery of that ‘pure justice’ – indeed, there were dangers of injustice, fears for ‘the virtue’ of the nation. He pointed to the example of India, reminding his readers of the overmighty ambition and resulting crimes that had been exposed in the trial of Warren Hastings, indicted by Burke for his corruption and misuse of power in India, one of those moments when the everyday scandals of empire had erupted into metropolitan consciousness.49 ‘We dread lest the existence of similar temptations in another continent should lead to the perpetration of similar enormities’, he reflected.

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Should the same awful drama which has been performed in Hindostan, be repeated in Africa, Britain will indeed be chargeable with having passed a solemn mockery on mankind, by professing to abandon injustice in one form while determined to pursue it in another.

This, he trusted, was an unlikely outcome. ‘Africa would not witness a repetition of those crimes, which have disgraced us during two centuries in the East.’ Africa was geographically much closer to Britain, which meant surveillance was easier, African institutions were directly under the crown and parliament, and, furthermore, the continent was poor, hence providing less opportunities for greed. ‘It cannot be denied’, he concluded, now echoing Smith on the dangers of monopoly, ‘that exclusive companies are very favourable both to the encouragement and shelter of delinquency’.50 Indeed, much of the maladministration in India could be explained in this way. But public opinion, always led from above, was now strong enough to prevent such evils. It would provide a vital tool, the Evangelicals hoped, supporting them in their struggle to build a virtuous empire. It was these hopes for Africa, and for Africans in the West Indies, that informed the establishment of the African Institution in 1807, intended as a powerful interest group that would inform government policy. Macaulay with his knowledge of Sierra Leone and his continued position in the Company, was a prime mover and became the secretary. The Duke of Gloucester, a long-time friend to antislavery, served as patron, and Wilberforce, Clarkson, Brougham and James Stephen were all on the committee. For this initiative all hopes were pinned on men of influence. At the first public meeting profound regret was expressed for ‘the enormous wrongs which the natives of Africa have suffered’, and declarations of eagerness to ‘repair those wrongs’ and promote ‘civilization and happiness’.51 The Institution aimed to diffuse ‘useful knowledge’, encourage Africans to become industrious, and support legitimate commerce. It hoped to stimulate trade with Africa without direct involvement itself, improve farming methods, and act as a watchdog on the slave trade. It was a strictly hierarchical organisation with the status of members determined by the amount of their subscription, and there was no interest in appealing to a wider public. With their heavyweight support Macaulay had ‘no doubt’ that the government would be ‘disposed to adopt almost any plan which we propose to them’ regarding Africa and the slave trade, ‘provided we will but save them the trouble of thinking’.52 Much of this work of influencing policy was done privately, an indication of the close connections between these leading abolitionists and the government. The hope was that the African Institution would be able to

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have an impact across the empire, securing the fruits of abolition and extending schemes associated with ‘civilisation’. The key initial issues for the new association were the establishment and administration of a Vice-Admiralty court in Sierra Leone, the mechanism that was to enforce abolition by adjudicating the cases of slave ships seized on the high seas, and the naval suppression of the slave trade along the West African coast. But this was just the beginning. In George Stephen’s later vivid depiction there was an endless stream of work to be done in the wake of 1807: ‘liberated slaves by hundreds and thousands to be provided for, educated, and protected . . . abolition treaties to be suggested and supported; ambiguities to be explained, infractions to be exposed, and diplomatic perplexities to be answered and resolved’. Then there were ‘the insidious artifices of the West India committee . . . to be counteracted and defeated’. Macaulay and George Stephen’s father, James, were particularly engaged in work on the West Indies, which led in time to the development of a system of slave registration. Worst of all, ‘the foreign traffic remained a huge intolerable nuisance to be abated’: a deeply frustrating issue since its existence obstructed any hope of a global end to the slave trade.53 Much effort was put into persuading the British government to put heavy pressure on other governments, especially during the European Congresses, and Macaulay, with his excellent French, was a prime mover in this. But as Wayne Ackerson, the historian of the African Institution, concludes, the high hopes of the organisation were never matched by the money or energy put into it. Its greatest success was probably in keeping the issue of the slave trade and slavery somewhere in the government’s mind, and ensuring that abolitionist concerns did not entirely disappear between 1807 and 1823. Macaulay acted as secretary until 1812 and was thanked with a gift of plate, suitably inscribed. But as he told Tom, the gift was as nothing compared with the opportunity he had had to work with ‘great names’ in the ‘noble undertaking’ of ‘delivering half a world from bondage & blood, & pouring upon it light, liberty & civilization’.54 His inexhaustible commitment to the cause ranged from constant correspondence on African affairs to representing the interests of the Institution at the peace talks in Paris, where it was hoped that he would be able to represent the British case for the abolition of the slave trade by continental powers and stiffen the official negotiating position. He was well placed, with a good relationship with the Duke of Wellington, the British ambassador in Paris. Sierra Leone remained a key concern for the Evangelicals. As the site of the Admiralty Court it was crucial to the regulation of the trade. It was also the site of their experiment in free labour, a laboratory for the transition from slavery. Sierra Leone consequently became a prime site for the ‘war of

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representation’ over ‘the African’, his character and capacities.55 By 1800 the Company had come to the conclusion that the best solution for the colony would be to hand it over fully to the crown. The costs of maintenance were high and had necessitated large subsidies, the settlers, those ‘thorough Jacobins’, were troublesome, and government support had proved to be essential, not least in terms of direct military support. When it came to countering the pro-slavers and making statements in public, however, the Company message tended to be more upbeat, focusing on the colony’s status as ‘a humanitarian haven for freed slaves’.56 Africans were backward as a result of their environment; they did not ‘labour under . . . intellectual inferiority’, but were ‘capable of comprehending and fulfilling every civil and social obligation’ and felt the force of Christianity as powerfully as any other.57 These were the lessons of Sierra Leone, and as Henry Thornton put it, he blessed the colony for ‘teaching him to feel for the African race’.58 The African Institution Report of 1807 declared that ‘free Negroes are capable of being governed by mild laws, and require neither whips nor chains to enforce their submission to civil authority’.59 Yet Sierra Leone gave them trouble. Thomas Ludlam, who succeeded Macaulay, was faced with rebellion soon after his arrival, and handed over for a period to William Dawes who returned to deal with the rebels. One of Dawes’s first acts was to build new military barracks. Ludlam was a mild and conciliatory figure who saw how damaging the issue over quit rent had been but was unable to convince the Company of this. The Company Charter, when finally granted in 1800, brought Sierra Leone under the crown, but a full transfer of power and the demise of the Company did not take place until 1808. In the immediate aftermath of the abolition of the slave trade Macaulay prepared a memoir for the African Institution, which included a lengthy discussion about the possible apprenticeship of those rescued from slavery. This system was designed to provide a period of unfree labour, which would act as a transition from slavery to freedom. In correspondence with Ludlam, who was somewhat troubled by this development, Macaulay argued that such a system was appropriate in Sierra Leone. ‘While the Slave Trade lasted’, he wrote in May 1807, ‘I certainly felt very averse to the giving any direct encouragement to the purchasing Slaves with a view to the benefit of their labour for a certain given period’. But, he continued, he had always been convinced that once the trade was abolished, ‘the most likely means of promoting civilisation in that country would be by indenting the natives for a time, not exceeding seven years, or till they attained the age of twenty-one, under regulations which should be well-defined and rigidly enforced’.60 Granville Sharp had recommended something similar in 1788, suggesting

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that if those who had been enslaved were redeemed with cash payments, it would be reasonable to work out that cash price with a service of indenture. Macaulay insisted that he was never in favour of such a scheme while the British slave trade existed.61 Once ended, however, he saw it as part of a programme of measures to make Sierra Leone into ‘the medium of communicating civilization to the inhabitants of Africa’.62 Success would depend on increasing the ‘native African’ population in the colony, providing educational instruction and ‘just laws’.63 The confiscation of slave ships under the Act would mean some increase in population, and it might be decided ‘to permit the colonists, under clear and well-defined regulations, to ransom Africans from a state of slavery, on condition that the persons so ransomed should, for a limited time, serve the persons who redeemed them in the capacity of indentured servants’. The government would act as guardians of these apprentices and ensure their proper treatment; they would benefit greatly at the termination of their contract from all ‘the blessings of British law and British liberty’.64 Even in ‘this free country’, he noted, indenture necessitated some constraints, but the longterm benefits were clear. In time, especially if there were opportunities to educate the children of new settlers, it might be possible to look forward to ‘a people as far advanced as any peasantry in Europe’.65 In 1804 Wilberforce, drawing on the experience of Sierra Leone, had argued in the House of Commons that enslaved Africans were not ‘fit to receive freedom’ and that it would be ‘madness to attempt to give it to them’.66 He had reiterated this in his Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, arguing that discipline, training and education would be necessary if manly maturity were to be achieved.67 This did not in any way run counter to his belief that Africans were not ‘an inferior race of beings, and his assertion that a position so shameless, and so expressly contradicted by the Holy Scriptures, could not long be maintained in plain terms’.68 Yet they needed apprenticeships. The 1807 Act permitted apprenticeships of up to fourteen years for those who had been liberated by British navy vessels from foreign slavers, provided those enslaved were legally recognised as prize. Known as recaptives they could also be conscripted into the British army, part of the compromise negotiated around abolition. Wilberforce reiterated his support for a period of unfree labour the day after the abolition of the trade, when he spoke against the gradual abolition of slavery. Apprenticeship, which was to become such a source of division amongst antislavery supporters at the time of the abolition of slavery in 1833, was already well established in Clapham Sect thinking in 1807. It was a necessary staging post in the development of Africans from slavery, represented as a childish state, to freedom,

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represented as adult masculine maturity. Women were expected to remain dependent throughout. Notions of Evangelical femininity and public morality were deeply disturbed by the case of Saartjie Baartman, an African woman who had been brought to London from the Cape and was being exhibited in 1810. Presented in the press as the ‘Hottentot Venus’, a living demonstration of the differences between the European and the African, Baartman was exhibited to the public in Piccadilly. For members of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, theatres, dancing and novel reading were all decadent – the exhibition of human beings as freaks was worse. Macaulay was horrified and appealed to public opinion, writing to the Examiner: ‘To a contemplative and feeling man few things are so painful as to behold the degradation of his species: under whatever disguise the spectacle may be veiled, whether as an object of science or natural research, it is nevertheless a disgusting, afflictive and mortifying sight.’69 The African Institution was committed to protecting those whom they constructed as ignorant natives from the exploitative actions of slave traders or other adventurers. This was a case in point. This ‘wretched object’ was being advertised and publicly displayed for money. Macaulay went to see for himself and was shocked at this form of dehumanisation and sexual provocation, so at odds with a notion of all beings as God’s creatures. Under what circumstances, he asked, had she come to England; had she consented or been forced, was she a free agent or a slave? ‘This poor female’, he wrote, is made to walk, to dance, to shew herself, not for her own advantage, but for the profit of her master, [who] when she appeared tired, holds up a stick to her, like the wild beast keepers, to intimidate her into obedience. I think, Sir, I have read somewhere (but you will know better than me), that the air of the British Constitution is too pure to permit slavery to exist where its influence extends. If that be the case, why is this poor creature to live under the most palpable and abject slavery in the very heart of the metropolis, for I am sure you will easily discriminate between those beings who are sufficiently degraded to show themselves for their own immediate profit, and where they act from their own free will and this poor slave, who is obliged to shew herself, to dance, to be an object of the lowest ribaldry, by which her keeper is the only gainer.

Such a sight, he argued, was not only disgraceful, offensive to public decency and contrary ‘to every principle of morality or good order’, but also smacked of that most wicked institution ‘Slavery’.70

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Macaulay asked Babington and a Cape Dutch-speaking acquaintance to go to the exhibition and talk to Baartman, but her keeper, Hendrik Cesars, was present and she refused to answer. The African Institution focused on the question as to whether she had been brought illegally to England. Macaulay was persuaded that no English judge would refuse a habeus corpus asserting the right of humanity, and hoped to prove that Baartman had been forcibly brought to England and compelled to exhibit herself. He emphasised the disgrace of her dress and the salacious invitations that were offered to spectators: she was exhibited, like ‘any animal of the brute creation’.71 Slavery, he argued, was a matter of kind not legality: a potentially tricky argument to make given his own involvement in apprenticeship, which was soon to become an issue.72 The court case backed by the African Institution was unsuccessful, as Baartman signified her consent to the contract and agreed a wage. This undermined Macaulay’s claim that she was entirely under the control of her keeper and unable to assert her own will. Indeed, the idea of an African woman acting for herself in such a way disturbed abolitionist notions of the victimised female, passive object of the white man’s lust. Baartman, like the women settlers in Sierra Leone, belied Evangelical notions of femininity and Macaulay’s assumption that he could speak for her was undercut. In the end both Baartman and her keepers were a troubling example of the polluting forces at work, even in the heart of London. Macaulay may have been particularly anxious to take up Baartman’s case because of the charges that were being raised against him on the question of apprenticeship. In 1808, when Sierra Leone passed fully under crown control, Wilberforce successfully proposed that Thomas Perronet Thompson, the son of a close friend of his who was a banker in Hull, should be appointed as the new governor. Thompson was disturbed by the system of apprenticeship that he found in operation: in his mind it was another version of slavery. He wrote to his fiancée Nancy Barker in England, ‘You have heard me speak of Macaulay’s apprenticeships; and it is as I suspected, that these apprenticeships have . . . introduced actual slavery . . . Messrs Wilberforce, Thornton and Co. have at last become slave traders with a vengeance in their old age.’ If drastic remedies were not introduced the colony would ‘soon be little better than a slave-factory’.73 He wrote to Castlereagh expressing his grave concerns: ‘The occurrences of every day, my lord, convince me that apprenticeship in this colony neither is nor has been anything but a convenient vehicle for slavery.’74 It was the agents of the Company who were at fault, he believed, and not the directors. He was particularly concerned about Dawes, who had admitted to him that he had

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always thought slavery was necessary in Sierra Leone, and accused him of acting for slave traders on the coast. Thompson became increasingly convinced that apprenticeships were placing Africans in ‘a state not of freedom’. ‘I was sent here by the interest of the Sierra Leone Company and would have served them to the death in their professed and honest cause’, he wrote, ‘but I cannot be a partner in their shame’. The Clapham group had too many related interests. Macaulay, for example, had acted as secretary of the Company, was now secretary of the African Institution, and also wrote many of the pamphlets. ‘The Sierra Leone interest is the leaven which sets all in motion’ he complained, At the African Institution they impudently declare that they have no concern either with commerce or with missions; they step into their coaches and presto – they are the Sierra Leone Company – hey pass and they are the Society for Missions to Africa and to the East; another transformation makes them the Society for the Suppression of Vice, a fourth carries them to the India House, and a fifth lands them in the House of Commons. This marvellous property of being everywhere is not one of their least dangerous qualifications.75

The ‘marvellous property of being everywhere’ was, of course, precisely what the Evangelicals desired. It was certainly vital to them that they were able to be so close to the corridors of power. Thompson was recalled and was unsuccessful in his attempts to expose what he insisted was a version of slavery in Sierra Leone. The issue of apprenticeship, however, was to haunt Macaulay. Prior to the abolition of the trade he had established ‘some business as a Commission Agent and Insurance Broker’ and was making connections ‘both in the East and West Indies’.76 In preparation for abolition he was one of those who had proposed that Sierra Leone should be designated as the receiving depot for ships captured by the Royal Navy. By April 1807 he had purchased a ship which his brother Alexander was taking to Sierra Leone in pursuit of their business.77 With the Company abolished, and with it his employment as secretary, he started to act as agent for the captors of slave ships, taking a percentage of the prize money: £40 for a man, £30 for a woman and £10 for a child. These were the recaptives or liberated slaves, who were seized and then construed as contraband goods which could become the property of the crown and be sold into apprenticeships.78 Macaulay clearly made a substantial amount of money from the suppression of the slave trade.79 Abolition meant that the patterns of Anglo-African trade were permanently

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changed, reduced to a fraction of their previous value. Some of the slave traders turned to other possibilities in West Africa, especially palm oil; others shifted their interests elsewhere. Macaulay seized the new opportunities and established a trading firm dealing mainly with West Africa, taking into partnership Tom Gisborne Babington, the oldest son of his friend and mentor. Here were the familial connections once again in play: a second cousin, Kenneth Macaulay, was already active in Sierra Leone, brother Alexander was captaining the new ship and nephew Tom doing the paper work at home, all part of an extended family business, for relatives were the most common source of business associates and colonial families a key building block of empire. The new business established its premises in the old offices of the Sierra Leone Company in Birchin Lane. The firm imported stock for the retail trade and exported timber and gold. Its major profits, however, came from its public works, the contracts to provision the army and navy and the prize agencies it received. At a time when the doings of ‘Old Corruption’ were coming under scrutiny this potentially raised troubling issues of influence and patronage. In 1811 Brougham succeeded in getting a Slave Felony Act through Parliament that made possible prosecutions both against British slave traders and foreigners trading on British soil. Robert Thorpe had been appointed as Chief Justice to Sierra Leone in 1808 and after many delays sailed for the colony in 1811. His duties included the post of Vice-Admiralty Justice. He had previously served in Upper Canada and been reprimanded for his involvement in local politics in opposition to the colonial executive.80 This history did not, however, interfere with a new appointment in an equally complicated colonial context. In his attempts to combat the trade and those vested interests supporting it, he became convinced that the Company and the African Institution had been guilty of malpractice and he revived Thompson’s criticisms of Macaulay and others. A bitter pamphlet war ensued, with Macaulay responding to Thorpe in his Letter to the Duke of Gloucester, and Joseph Marryat, an MP and supporter of the West India Interest, weighing in.81 Hannah More was shocked by the way in which Macaulay had been singled out ‘as an object of the fiercest malignity and most extravagant abuse . . . every artifice of fiction, misrepresentation, and direct and shameless attack’ had been adopted. He was hated because he was feared, she correctly opined.82 Thorpe had accused Macaulay of attempting to reinstitute slavery, an accusation that he staunchly denied, while defending the system of apprenticeship as a necessary stage in the civilising of those who had been enslaved. Thorpe had also charged that Macaulay’s trading interests had benefited from his connections with the Company and the

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African Institution. ‘I positively affirm’, Macaulay insisted, that no board members had ever secured trade for him. ‘When the Sierra Leone Company had ceased to trade to the Colony’, he wrote, I then felt myself fully at liberty to export goods thither. I asked no permission to that effect; I solicited no help; I employed my own capital; and to this day I have never made the smallest effort to interest a single individual in this country, whether connected or not with the Sierra Leone Company, or with the African Institution, or I with the Government, in the promotion of my commercial views.83

Faced with constant ‘abuse and invectives’ in the press, his comfort, as he told Selina, lay in his deep conviction of the transitory nature of life.84 Part of the controversy was over the issue of recaptives. Thorpe believed that Macaulay’s relatives had benefited improperly from his patronage. The first superintendent for recaptives was Kenneth Macaulay, who had initially arrived in the colony in 1808, aged sixteen, as a government writer. He had charge of the recaptives while they were awaiting dispersal and many of them had been apprenticed. Thorpe exposed his careless accounting practices and in 1815 he was relieved of his duties. In his defence against the charge of nepotism, Zachary Macaulay insisted both that Kenneth Macaulay’s appointment had been entirely proper and that the claim that more of his relatives had been promoted unfairly was erroneous. The two government employees with his name, he pointed out, were both sons of African chiefs who had been ‘raised, by my care, from the ignorance and barbarism of savage life in which I found them, not only to a capacity of useful and meritorious exertion, but to an acquaintance with the motives and the hopes of Christianity’. They had been led ‘by feelings of grateful affection to add my name to their own’.85 Thorpe was removed from his position in 1815. He had become an embarrassment to the colonial office and received no pension. But Christopher Fyfe argues that his criticism of the African Institution and its key figures weakened reputations and left unanswered questions. Macaulay was clearly a canny businessman who acted as chief government advisor on Sierra Leone. He had tried privately to get the customs duties in Sierra Leone reduced and his firm did become the largest in the colony. Kenneth Macaulay returned to Sierra Leone as an agent for the firm of Macaulay and Babington, and took full advantage of whatever influence he could wield. By 1819 Zachary Macaulay had amassed a private fortune of £100,000 and the family were living in a fashionable part of London, close to other ex-Claphamites.86

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The persistence of the attacks from pro-slavers, further provoked by his antislavery activities in the 1820s, convinced Macaulay to take out libel proceedings against a particular offender, John Bull. This was a new proslavery weekly newspaper, committed to God and the king, and convinced that slave rebellions were the fault of meddling abolitionists. It had inveighed against ‘Zackmackery’ and ‘Saint Zachariah’, accused him of presiding over trials of whites in Sierra Leone with black juries, of feathering his own nest by importing gunpowder, taking bounties on captured slaves and monopolising trade – even that he had been dismissed in Jamaica for unnecessary severity.87 The case dragged on for some years before it was eventually dropped. ‘Personal abuse is now the only game of our adversaries’, Macaulay told Babington.88 And the personal abuse continued. He was the butt of much vindictive commentary from pro-slavers, who accused him, amongst other things, of brutal behaviour as an overseer in Jamaica, warning him to hesitate before ‘again accusing a West Indian planter of maltreating his Negroes’.89 The Clapham Sect were enthusiasts for the claim of Sierra Leone to be the main government base in West Africa. A further pamphlet war erupted in the mid 1820s, but this time it was cousin Kenneth Macaulay who took up the gauntlet. James MacQueen, a leading supporter of the pro-slavers, attacked the government funding of Sierra Leone. Both Sierra Leone and Haiti were regularly discussed in terms of the evidence they provided as to the success or otherwise of experiments with free labour. West Indian attacks on both places were designed to discredit the abolitionists, delaying emancipation as long as possible. MacQueen used material from Thompson and Thorpe and cited the immoral profits of Macaulay and his family. He represented the colony as a ‘white man’s grave’ and argued it was not suitable as a hub for activities against the slave trade. Kenneth Macaulay, in response, defended the colony.90 He himself had certainly benefited from his activities there, buying up extensive properties and being rumoured to have fathered a number of children with different African women – a far cry from his cousin Zachary. In 1826, in the absence of senior officials, Kenneth effectively took over the government, engaging in wars, annexations, and treaties that had not been approved in London, all of which increased his power and wealth while he became notorious for his inefficiency and corruption.91 By this time Zachary’s period of success as a merchant was over. The combination of Kenneth’s expansive schemes, Tom’s inadequate management and Zachary’s own inattention to matters of business had had serious consequences. Family finances had been squeezed, necessitating a move from their larger home to a more modest house in Great Ormond Street. The banking

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and commercial crisis of 1825 had detrimental effects on the firm, as on so many others. Henry Thornton’s bank collapsed, bringing the crisis very close to home, reminding Clapham friends of the transience and risk associated with mercantile money and the providential nature of business, like every other aspect of the world. In 1827 the failure of a Calcutta merchant house which Tom Babington had advanced money to was another serious blow, and the partnership had to be dissolved. Henry, Zachary and Selina’s third son, was sent to Sierra Leone in 1830 to clear up and close down the business. Henry’s older sister Selina worried greatly about him. ‘He is gone out to Sierra Leone to make himself acquainted with the state of affairs there’, she wrote, ‘which are I fear in a sadly entangled condition, & to take what measures he judges necessary . . . he is very young for such an undertaking.’92 Henry had been working in the Croppers’ merchant house in Liverpool, an abolitionist association which once again was also commercial, and was soon to be familial, when Margaret Macaulay, Henry’s younger sister, married Edward Cropper. Zachary’s mercantile activities were now over and for the last years of his life he was financially dependent, primarily on his son Tom. (ii)  India For Zachary, the slave trade and slavery, Africa and the Caribbean, were his central preoccupations. But Evangelical enthusiasm for imperial reform was by no means confined to this. Indeed, as James Stephen Junior later put it, ‘evangelical politics was rather cosmopolitan than national. Every human interest had its guardian, every region of the globe its representative’.93 Once abolition had been secured, the Clapham men were agreed that their attention must turn to Asia, where millions of heathens were perishing for want of sustenance. ‘No sooner was Africa disposed of ’, Zachary told Tom, ‘than Asia called for our exertions: & the very day after the meeting of the African Institution, I was obliged to take active measures for calling a meeting, wh shd [sic] prevent the blessed light of Christianity from continuing to be shut out of Asia, as it had hitherto been.’94 Not least because of the presence of Charles Grant, thrice chair of the directors of the East India Company and Teignmouth and Governor-General from 1793–8, Clapham eyes had frequently been directed to India. Macaulay’s elder brother Colin was in the army in India, so as a place it was familiar to him. General Macaulay was a well-known figure in Clapham circles, remembered by a child as bewitching ‘us all with his Indian tales of battles sieges captivities and escapes [sic]. He had been untold years in India and looked dried up but his mind and his talk were all alive.’95

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India talk was part of everyday life on the Common, and in 1805 Zachary’s friend Grant had suggested that the India Office might provide an excellent permanent position for him, but Grant had made clear that it would require all his time – and it was impossible for him to make this commitment.96 He sought Grant’s help on behalf of his nephew, another Kenneth, the son of his younger brother Hector, who had proved to be a rather unsatisfactory father. Zachary took on much of the responsibility for his young nephew and together with Selina assumed a parental role, trying to provide a familial experience mainly through letters. Kenneth was training as a medical man in Edinburgh and was later to secure a position as assistant surgeon in Madras. Grant recommended that Kenneth should lay ‘in a store of general as well as professional knowledge’, attending to natural and moral sciences as well as history.97 Zachary was keen for Kenneth to be in India while his Uncle Colin was still based there, and could give him some help. While Evangelical families were imagined as settled and domesticated, the reality of colonial families was that they were fractured and estranged, dealing with distance, mobility and change. Letters were critical to maintaining connections.98 Zachary was anxious about the great dangers that he was convinced Kenneth would face: sexual dangers no doubt, that Kenneth indeed later succumbed to, causing his uncle some grief.99 India, unlike ‘this favoured land’, provided poor soil for the ‘cultivation of these right views & good affections on which a true and lasting peace of mind can alone be built’, and Zachary regularly sent Kenneth copies of the Christian Observer, presumably in the hope that this would strengthen his moral fibres.100 The Clapham dream was of an empire of Christianity where free British subjects would enjoy the rule of law, not of military conquest, though their conceptions of the struggle between darkness and light produced many militaristic metaphors. ‘Military subjugation was no longer to be the purifying chastisement of Christendom’, as James Stephen put it, ‘but the religion of Christ was conquering and to conquer.’101 It was Christianity, they believed, that fitted Britain to be an imperial power – one that would be different from all those that had gone before. But this would require much effort, and India represented a particular challenge. The formation of the Church Missionary Society, campaigns for missionaries to be allowed into India, and agitation over sati, the practice of burning Hindu widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands, were amongst their many initiatives. Grant insisted that it was essential to take responsibility for the errors of British rule in the past. ‘The history of our rule in Bengal’, he wrote, ‘is in great part a history of our own errors, or of the abuses public and private of power derived from us.’102

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Grant, a Scot like Macaulay, had spent nearly twenty years in India as a senior official in the East India Company. While there he had become an Evangelical Christian, convinced that his own sinfulness had resulted in the deaths from smallpox of two baby daughters. He was a staunch protagonist of Company rule, believing that it was essential to the welfare of the people of India, and on his return to England was elected as a director of the East India Company in 1794. This was a position of much responsibility, for Company affairs, as Grant put it, ‘depended essentially upon the character and conduct of the gentlemen composing the directors’.103 He was determined to tackle corruption and was strongly in favour of the training of young company servants at home. ‘His great passion . . . was his mission to Christianize India, which he regarded as Britain’s moral and religious duty.’104 Living in ‘Glenelg’, named after his estate in Scotland, in the grounds of Battersea Rise, Grant was close to Wilberforce and Thornton and convinced them of the importance of this work. At the renewal of the Company’s Charter in 1793, however, they failed to win the case for the support of missionaries in India. Grant’s Observations on the State of Society among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain, penned in 1792, was reprinted when the Company’s charter was once more up for renewal in 1813. It was a classic statement of Evangelical thinking on empire and subject peoples. It argued that Britain must rethink its obligations in India. The Company owed its greatness to Providence, but it was now their bounden duty to introduce Christianity to ‘the dark portions of the world’. If they did not, then they could not expect to enjoy God’s approbation. The Company now ruled directly and indirectly, twenty-two million people. Their right to this power was ‘unquestionable’. But it should rest on moral superiority, and to spread the gospel of Christ would be ‘the noblest species of conquest’. Their model should be the Roman Empire, which had ‘civilized and improved the nations whom they subdued’. Britain was the fourth European nation to have an Indian empire. The Portuguese had been unsystematic and rapacious, the French vainly ambitious, the Dutch interested only in their commercial profits. It fell to the British to advance the state of their subject peoples and to do this by ‘pacific and rational means’.105 Grant dwelt extensively on the ‘extremely depraved’ state of India, and in particular Bengal. Its peoples were ‘abject’, displaying the ‘wildest fanaticism in politics and philosophy’. There was a ‘deficiency of natural affection’ between parents and children and husbands and wives. The women were held in ‘slavish subjection’.106 The enforced subservience of the women, cloistered together, poisoned relations and led to violence, both verbal and physical. Bengal exhibited a lack of all those qualities that Europeans held

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most dear – truth, honesty and good faith. Rather it was cheating, trickery, hypocrisy, intrigue and injustice that triumphed, all under the mask of servility and passivity. It was the ‘Hindoo’ religion that was mainly to blame for these corruptions, led by the ‘crafty and imperious priesthood’, the insufferably arrogant Brahmins. The pervasive immorality, Grant opined, was not a perversion of the system but rather ‘its very essence’. ‘Abject slavery and unparalleled depravity’ had become the ‘distinguishing characteristics of the Hindoos’. Degradation was universal, constituting a ‘general moral hue, between which, and the European moral complexion, there is a difference, analogous to the difference of the natural colour of the two races’.107 Here was the slippage, from the difference associated with morality to that of skin colour. Though he judged Mohammedans to be slightly more knowledgeable and trustworthy than ‘Hindoos’, the vices of both groups ‘are so homogenous’ that it was quite possible to describe them as one collective body. ‘The people of Hindostan were ‘a race of men lamentably degenerate and base’.108 ‘The man who is dependent on the will of another’, he concluded, perhaps including in some part of his mind the innumerable labouring poor of Britain of whom this was true, ‘thinks and acts as a degraded being.’109 All these perfidies, he was confident, had their origins in ‘the character of the people’ and were not physically fixed and unchangeable. Indeed, true to stadial theories, he reminded his readers that Britons had once fed on acorns and sacrificed victims in ‘Druidical graves’.110 Britain had advanced from ‘rudeness to refinement’, and so could the peoples of Bengal. It would take years, but experience demonstrated that they could learn. Christianity would undo the ‘fabric of error’, teach ‘the real history of man’, rather than the ‘imaginary and ridiculous’ myths and legends of the Hindus, encourage ‘lawful submission and good order’.111 Grant’s key question remained: what are the best means of perpetuating our empire?112 Britons needed to atone for the damage they had done and free themselves from guilt: Indians could not be left to their fate. The Company had ruled as if the well-being of the ‘natives’ was no concern of theirs: only the profits of their stockholders were to be considered. It must now enlighten its subject peoples and act in the long-term interests of imperial power. Unless ‘natives’ were content there would always be the fear of rebellion. Revolutionary France demonstrated the dangers: ‘we must bind the people under our rule to ourselves’. In the end an empire ruled by ‘a handful of foreigners’ depended upon ‘opinion’. The best strategy, in the face of millions with other religions and customs, would be ‘by assimilating our subjects to our modes of thinking’, creating a ‘common-bond’.113 This would never mean that distinctions between the two races would be lost. And Bengalis were not like Americans: they would

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not raise turbulent demands, for they were a passive people, with a ‘slavish disposition’. Like Macaulay in Sierra Leone, Grant saw assimilation as the key to a successful empire, and slipped between a conception of common humanity and an assumption of racial difference. John Shore, Lord Teignmouth, a great friend of Grant’s, was also in Clapham from 1798, having returned from India where he had served as Governor-General for five years after an earlier period of more than twenty years’ service in the East India Company. As Tom Macaulay later put it to his sister Fanny, ‘Lord Teignmouth governed India at Calcutta. Grant governed India in Leadenhall Street’.114 Shore was fully involved in the project of imperial state-building under the watchful eye of Dundas, President of the Board of Control of the East India Company, who took an enormous interest in India, not least because of the web of patronage it facilitated. He was well aware that it was a huge standing army, the ‘mass which forms the bulwark of our power’, that secured British control.115 But like his friends he hoped that the consent of the ‘natives’ would be won by a Christianising mission. His personal crusade was his work as President of the British and Foreign Bible Society, from its formation in 1804 to his death, and this he judged as of greater significance than any administrative reforms. Evangelicals were anxious to convince themselves of the providential nature of British rule in India. An article in The Christian Observer in 1809 brought these questions to the attention of their readers. What were Britain’s responsibilities in India, and was the nation fitted for the task? India had been conquered but Britain’s superior civilisation meant a different vision of empire was possible. Britain had no rival ‘in those arts . . . which tend to make a happy people’. ‘Hindoos’ would come to see the benefits of British rule, they would grasp the superiority of Britain’s advanced forms of life, and all this would lead to an embrace of Christianity. ‘Hindoos’ were accustomed to life at a low level of development: they had few machines, no understanding of the mechanics of constructing them and no division of labour. Trade and prosperity would effect more than military power ever could. ‘Let our people, as far as national security permits, beat their swords into ploughshears; let them go forth with the Bible in one hand, and the loom in the other . . .’ and ‘Hindoos’ will ‘conclude that the wisest people must have the best religion.’116 The Bible and the loom were the proper tools for winning ‘Hindoos’ to the empire and the faith. Grant, a great defender of the East India Company was its spokesman in the period leading up to Charter renewal in 1813. He defended the Company trading monopoly in face of a sustained attack led by northern manufacturers. Only a strict control of trade, he argued, could prevent the

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large-scale colonisation of India by potentially irresponsible Europeans, which would have the most unfortunate results. He was unsuccessful in stemming the advance of free trade, and the East India Company did lose its monopoly. The increased role of the state, particularly in a period of war, meant that the old trading mission could no longer be the driving force on the subcontinent.117 Grant was somewhat more successful on the issue of missionary access. Both he and Wilberforce had realised that it was unrealistic to hope, as they had done in 1793, for direct government support for missionaries. But they wanted to ensure that access, at least, would be possible. Their opponents argued that missionary activity would antagonise the people, who would see it as an attack on their religious beliefs. The Evangelicals organised an extensive petitioning campaign to counter these voices, hoping, quite rightly, that they could once again use the power of public opinion to sway parliament and an impressive number of petitions were submitted.118 Public knowledge about Company affairs had greatly increased in the last twenty years, with debates in parliament and the press, popular literature, public inquiries and the attack on the monopoly of the East India Company all ensuring greater interest, while religious groups were enthusiastic about missionary expansion. Macaulay worked hard on mobilising support. He was particularly pleased and proud, as he told Tom, that most Scottish parishes were expected to send petitions. This was a clear sign of the benefits of teaching ‘the labouring part of the community’ to write decently. ‘It wd [sic] never do you know to have people putting marks to such petitions’, and in England illiteracy meant that large sections of the community were prevented from petitioning.119 Wilberforce led the parliamentary campaign, accusing the whole nation of abusing its trust in India. Next to the slave trade, he argued, ‘the foulest blot on the moral character of the country was the willingness of the Parliament and the people to permit our fellow-subjects . . . in the East Indies to remain . . . under the grossest, the darkest and most degrading system of idolatrous superstition that almost ever existed upon earth’.120 Wilberforce was reproducing his friend’s vision of Indian depravity as well as his belief in Britain’s responsibilities to ‘fellow-subjects’, and for the first time ‘the picture of India as a land of darkness, waiting for the light, caught the imaginations of ordinary people’.121 Wilberforce’s speech in the House of Commons paid particular attention to the barbaric treatment of women, who were subjected to sati and polygamy, contrasting this with English civilities. ‘ “The evils of Hindostan” were “family, fireside evils” that both “pervade the whole mass of the population” and “embitter the domestic cup of almost every family.” ’122 Here the contrast was not between the tortured

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bodies of enslaved women and the comforts of the white middle-class family, as it had been in relation to the slave trade, but between the Hindu widow burning on the funeral pyre and what were called the ‘fireside enjoyments’ and ‘homeborn happiness’ of the Christian family.123 It was a ‘favourite opinion’ of Wilberforce’s that it was the institution of Christian marriage which secured the ‘superiority’ of Europeans over Asiatics.124 The image of the domesticated Christian family was at the heart of the campaign against sati and in support of missions in India, a campaign which mobilised Evangelical women, including Mrs Henry Thornton. Sati was not abolished until 1829, but the Charter included a clause ensuring that missionaries could legally enter British India. In addition provision was made for the Governor-General to spend up to £10,000 per annum on education from public funds. The question as to how this money was to be spent was to become a key debate in the years to come, dividing Orientalists, who favoured the teaching of the traditional Indian languages of Arabic and Sanskrit, from Anglicists, amongst whom Tom Macaulay, who had absorbed much of Clapham wisdom on India, became a leading exponent. The abolition of slavery Macaulay continued to agitate around issues associated with slavery, in partnership particularly with James Stephen. After 1807 the hope was that the abolition of the trade would lead to amelioration. The exposure of a number of instances of extreme cruelty, however, particularly one in Nevis in 1810 and one in Tortola in 1811, clarified the extent to which this was not the case. Stephen developed a plan to provide information on evasions of the slave trade legislation and on the demographics of colonial slavery through the official registration of the enslaved, a system that was initially introduced into the new crown colony of Trinidad. A serious revolt in Barbados in 1816 underlined both the horrors and the dangers of slave regimes and generated concern in the metropole. In January 1823 a meeting was called at the King’s Head Tavern in London to galvanise abolitionists once more. Macaulay, Wilberforce and a number of other antislavery stalwarts, with William Smith in the chair, agreed that, ‘deeply impressed’ as they were with the ‘magnitude and number of the evils attached to the system of slavery . . . a system opposed to the spirit and precept of Christianity as well as repugnant to every dictate of natural humanity and justice’, they would form an association to press for gradual emancipation.125 Their intentions at this stage were modest: to win measures to protect the enslaved from mistreatment and to develop a plan for gradual emancipation that would ultimately

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lead to complete freedom.126 They valued aristocratic support but were soon co-opting on to their committees provincial activists such as the Birmingham Quaker Joseph Sturge, whose politics were to become increasingly distinct from that of the older generation, who relied on their familiarity with the corridors of power. Macaulay had been instrumental in founding the new society and was probably its most committed member, regularly attending its meetings, chairing on many occasions, encouraging Clarkson to return to London to do organisational work, serving on its general committee and sub-committees, and reporting on developments, including parliamentary debates, writing pamphlets, preparing resolutions, drafting plans for emancipation and booking halls for public meetings.127 ‘It was his unwearied brain and his inflexible purpose’ which provided the ‘backbone and sinews’ of the abolition cause, judged one contemporary.128 This was the year that Macaulay handed over to Tom Babington the effective management of their business, choosing to devote himself to his antislavery work, a choice that was disastrous for the family finances. ‘My impression of him’, Smith’s daughter Julia, feminist and friend of Barbara Bodichon and Harriet Martineau, recorded later, was as ‘a sort of anti-slavery mill, beginning work at four always grinding out his reports’. He ‘used to work in the front parlour of Park Street Westminster while I was having my child’s one oclock dinner – there you may see the round headed window of that parlour on a level with the street door’. He ‘was a grave grey man said to be capable of any amount of work’, but, she feared, no play, unlike his son Tom. She was told that he ‘had gained his first knowledge of Slavery from his experience as a planter in the West Indies’. There was something more than ‘gravity in his face there was a deep settled sadness as if some bitter recollections had been burnt into him – some wrongs that he had devoted his life to right. It was very decidedly a Scotch face’, she concluded.129 One of the Society’s first decisions was to adopt Macaulay’s pamphlet on Negro Slavery, one of a number of new essays by Thomas Clarkson, James Cropper, the Liverpool Quaker, and others.130 This provided a series of succinct arguments, based on the evidence of eye witnesses, for the gradual abolition of slavery. It circulated widely. The pamphlet’s aim was ‘to expose the enormities of the evils of Negro slavery . . . excite the attention of the public’, and ensure a parliamentary hearing. ‘Friends of justice and humanity’, were charged with the responsibility of wiping out ‘this foul stain from the character of their country’, a stain which violated ‘the religion of Christ’.131 Most of the evidence focused on Jamaica, the place that Macaulay knew best. His was no sentimental vision, employing that favoured rhetoric of sensibility of the 1790s.132 His friend Wilberforce continued to make his case in

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the language of kindness, pity and tender concern, relying on sympathy, ‘that fellow feeling which is perhaps the foundation of all humanity’.133 For Wilberforce the ability to empathise with another’s pain was ‘the touchstone of sentiment’, and it was this, as Adam Smith had argued, which separated the human ‘from the brute or the savage’.134 But it was not the key for Macaulay. If Claphamite Evangelicalism was marked, as Boyd Hilton argues, by a dislike of enthusiasm but a commitment to both reason and feeling, then Wilberforce and Macaulay mark the two ends of the scale.135 Feeling, as Macaulay had so clearly told the Baptist preacher David George, was never enough. It was reason which triumphed for him. This is not to say that his religious experience was not deeply felt. Far from it, but feeling was not for the public world; its expression was confined to his private religious practices and the most intimate of domestic exchanges. Even to his Clapham friends, ‘he appeared a man possessed by one idea, and animated by one master passion’, the struggle against slavery.136 In Negro Slavery his emphasis was not on suffering individuals and the ability of readers to engage empathetically with the horrors of their punishments. Rather, he focused on the accumulation of the systemic wrongs of slavery. As contemporaries noted, Macaulay was not one of those ‘men of feeling’ of the Romantic era. He was a man ‘whose peculiarity it was to conceal as far as possible his interior life, under the veil of his outward appearance’.137 Glasgow may have taught him something of this. Jamaica, then Sierra Leone, confirmed the lesson. Survival in the colonies, everyday encounters with the enslaved, with free Africans, and with white colonists, was not a matter of sentiment; it required knowledge, reason and, above all, faith in a providential God. Macaulay’s contribution to the making of a new imperial order, one that could be celebrated by Evangelicals, an empire of freedom in their meaning of the term, was to use his mind, his formidable memory, statistical knowhow and indefatigable energy. He would collect data, check registers, write up reports and prepare speeches for others. When he spoke in public, he made an ‘ungraceful figure’, with an ‘ineloquent tongue’ and ‘tactiturn features’.138 Even his eldest daughter Selina, who loved and admired him, recorded ruefully in her journal that his reading of the report at an African Institution meeting she attended was quite inaudible and she ‘sat in fear’ that the audience would start coughing.139 His visage was ‘inanimate’, even ‘austere’; public tears or expressions of emotion were not for him, rather he would accumulate the facts, demonstrating his case with inexorable logic and demolishing one by one the arguments of his opponents. For his greatgrandson Charles Booth, he was the first of the social science investigators: ‘his method was principally by way of appeal to reason from ascertained

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facts’.140 George Stephen, writing with the benignity of hindsight, for he had not always been so admiring, described his extraordinary capacities. ‘He was endowed with industry that was marvellous. Blue books and state papers were child’s play to him, however dull or voluminous; he would attend half a dozen charitable committees in every quarter of the town, during the day, and refresh himself after dinner with a parliamentary folio that would have choked an alderman by the sight of it alone.’ His memory was extraordinary, as was his capacity to collate and analyse.141 And all this was in the name of his ‘immutable conviction’ that ‘God had called him into being’ to wage war with slavery.142 Negro Slavery utilised the evidence of the Rev. Thomas Cooper, who had spent time in Jamaica on the estate of Robert Hibbert, brother to that leading pro-slaver George Hibbert, a medical man who was in favour of slavery, and a bookkeeper, to expose the failure of amelioration and the ‘degrading and disgusting state of society . . . in our West India islands’. Select quotation from The Royal Gazette of Jamaica, evidence as it were from the horse’s mouth, drove home the case. Slavery, Macaulay insisted, was the ‘same revolting institution’ whether it was French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch or British. It damaged the enslavers, leaving them ‘dead alike to the feelings of tenderness and delicacy’ and prone to ‘indulging the worst passions of the human heart’. The ‘morals of nineteen out of twenty White men are ruined before they have been a month in the island’, Cooper had opined, declaring that he had never met a white man with any religious concerns. The white women, some of whom would stand and watch while their slaves were stripped and flogged, were an alarming indictment of white femininity. Slavery damaged the slavers, yet its effects on those enslaved were infinitely worse: the absence of religious teaching and of respect for the Sabbath; the reduction of men and women to chattels; the extreme and unregulated forms of violence and cruelty; the flogging of women; a labour discipline driven by fear of the whip; the pervasive presence of concubinage and promiscuity; the skin hierarchies of white, brown and black; the association of blackness with slavery; the lack of legal redress for the enslaved – all this amounted to a terrible indictment of ‘colonial bondage’. Here were the key concerns of the Evangelicals about what they saw as the scandals of empire. They sought to create an empire of God, with family and morality, law, order, industry and discipline at its heart, the key distinction being between the godly and the ungodly, not between black and white. Yet it was not only the planters who were to blame for the ‘state of oppression and degradation’, the ‘total absence of all intellectual or moral and religious culture’ amongst the enslaved. It was the responsibility of all who

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indulged ‘in the consumption of West India produce, or contribute in any way to the maintenance of the present order of things’: they should ‘bear their share of the blame’. Enough evidence existed, Macaulay argued, to ‘satisfy every reasonable man’ that this ‘fabric of iniquity’, sustained by public money, could not last. ‘Such a combination of impiety and licentiousness, of oppression and cruelty, of war with all human sympathies, and contempt for all divine laws’, he concluded, ‘cannot continue to meet with countenance and support in this country’. It only needed to be known to be reformed. Any other outcome would mean that we ‘should tremble for our country’, he argued, drawing on the familiar rhetoric of British liberties.143 The evidence was there, responsibility lay with all: accurate information, knowledge and reason were the keys. The new association provided the inspiration for Thomas Fowell Buxton’s proposals to the House of Commons for immediate improvements in the conditions of the enslaved in May 1823, a series of measures that were neatly sidestepped by Canning who suggested that responsibility for these measures should be left to the colonists. The Demerara rebellion that same year, and the widely publicised case of John Smith, the Wesleyan missionary held responsible by the planters for those events and left to die in prison, a martyr to the cause, brought the issue of slavery vividly into the public domain, provoking wide-scale press coverage, meetings and parliamentary debate. The Christian Observer was uncompromising in its critique of the conduct of the Demerara colonists and called upon every man in the kingdom ‘who has the fear of God before his eyes, and who has any regard for the obligations of humanity and justice’ to support parliamentary efforts to grant ‘rights and privileges which are enjoyed by other classes of his Majesty’s subjects’ as soon as was compatible with the well being of the slaves and the safety of the colonies.144 The debate over these events, argues Emilia Viotti da Costa, ‘helped to popularise a rhetoric that redefined the concepts of “humanity” and “citizenship” and enhanced national pride in “British wisdom” and “liberties” ’.145 Britain, Clarkson insisted, was a land of freedom and legality; slave laws were contrary to the British constitution. He emphasised, as had Macaulay in Negro Slavery, the lawlessness of the West Indian colonies and the appalling licence for unlimited brutality. It was slavery that had produced the insurrection. While the planters blamed the abolitionists for provoking rebellion, Macaulay wrote to Buxton, who was to take over the leadership of the antislavery cause from Wilberforce the following year, blaming government ministers for not properly enforcing ameliorative measures.146 In the aftermath of Demerara the abolitionists gradually became less fearful of resistance and more willing to see disorder

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as inevitable if the system remained in place. Indeed Brougham and the Anti-Slavery Society represented the claims of the rebels as comparable to English workers’ claims for better wages and conditions.147 From 1823 there was a flow of petitions and meetings, while tracts and pamphlets accumulated in an attempt to spread knowledge and tackle the ignorance of the British public as to conditions in the colonies. These came from the Anti-Slavery Society, local auxiliaries and women activists.148 Ladies’ committees multiplied from the mid-1820s and Macaulay, unlike Wilberforce, was supportive of them. Indeed his elder daughter Selina was involved with the formation of a London ladies’ association, joining the committee.149 The older generation of abolitionists were still focused on putting pressure on the powerful, but as support grew and the constituencies widened only a relatively loose framework of agreement could hold the disparate elements together. Quakers, Evangelicals, Unitarians and assorted others were all engaged in the struggle. The ideological framework remained, as it had been in the previous epoch, ‘the attainment of an ordered world consonant with divine laws’.150 This was again combined with a nationalist rhetoric and an emphasis on Britain’s peculiarly blessed state and responsibilities. The doctrines of classical political economy with their focus on the freeing of economic forces played a greater role from the 1820s. Cropper’s campaign for the superiority of free labour and the equalisation of East Indian sugar duties, strongly supported by Macaulay, who had East India Company shares, was one aspect of this. Macaulay’s pamphlet, East and West Indian Sugar, made a lucid economic case for the benefits of Bengali sugar, produced by free labour, in a country where there was an abundant supply of such labour, low capital costs, and great potential as a market for British manufacturers. Here was an instance of cross-imperial thinking. Bengal offered evidence that free labour could work, that sugar did not depend on slavery, as the West Indians insisted. Protective duties were opposed to ‘the sound principles of commercial economy’ and injurious to the peoples of both India and Britain.151 Cropper’s business interests in the East Indies were, however, well known.152 Once again a pamphlet war ensued, this time with Joseph Marryat, one of the most articulate of the pro-slavery MPs, and John Gladstone, who had invested heavily in Demerara, weighing in. In 1825 the Anti-Slavery Monthly Reporter was established, with Macaulay as its editor and writer-in-chief. The vast majority of the material published concerned the West Indies, with statistics, evidence drawn from government and colonial documents, reports of individual cases of cruelty, materials on the efforts to introduce ameliorative legislation in the different colonies and the hostile reactions to this, news of local meetings of

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antislavery societies, accounts of parliamentary debates, reviews of pamphlets, letters from correspondents, replies to pro-slavery writers and details of missionary activities. The strategy of publishing incriminating materials direct from the colonial press was favoured. The first edition included an indictment of the cruelties of the slave regime in Mauritius, which Macaulay’s ‘lynx eye’ had detected, but it was the West Indies which always occupied pride of place.153 Sometimes the editor would produce a special report. In 1826, for example, Macaulay published the material he had already collected to assess each island’s response to amelioration, drawing on documentary evidence to demonstrate the minimalist attempts and sustained hostility to change. The Anti-Slavery Monthly Reporter was undoubtedly a mine of information. Priced at between one and two pence it aimed for a wide circulation. Like the Christian Observer, however, its tone was uniformly serious and it offered nothing in the way of the witty and entertaining polemics of some of the pro-slavery writers.154 The slow pace of parliamentary response and the recognition that the winning of emancipation would involve serious conflict with the slave owners frustrated many of the younger antislavery enthusiasts. Any picture of harmony between the abolitionists would be misleading. There were sharp disagreements as to policy and practice – between the gradualists and those who came to be named as the immediatists, between the men and the women, between the capital and the provinces, between those who were inside parliament and those outside, between the generations. In George Stephen’s retrospective account, the Mauritius scandal, with which he was heavily involved in collecting evidence, and the Agency Committee took pride of place in mobilising public opinion. Buxton’s cautious resolutions, he recorded, were ‘too much for the patience of young Antislavery England’. The country was by now dominated by the question of parliamentary reform, and it was very difficult to do more than keep alive ‘the interest in the negro’s cause’. Societies in the country were languishing: Anti-Slavery Reporters, ‘valuable as they were to all who had the cause at heart, were not read; they were reduced to waste paper, and sold as such in barrowfuls. “Am I not a man and a brother?” tracts, though published and disseminated in thousands, kindled no spark of fraternal sympathy.’155 In June 1831 the Agency Committee was formed, with George Stephen as its leading light, and with financial backing from Joseph Sturge and the Croppers. It built on the decision already taken to employ lecturers to take responsibility for particular districts – thus taking the slavery question to the country.156 The fundamental doctrine of the new committee was that ‘to uphold slavery is a crime before God, and the condition must therefore be

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immediately abolished’.157 Initially the Agency Committee operated alongside the Anti-Slavery Society but tensions soon emerged over issues of control and the new organisation went independent.158 Macaulay had been cautiously supportive, though apprehensive, about the forms of activism. According to Stephen’s Recollections, Agency Committee lecturers were instructed to enthuse on the merits of the Anti-Slavery Reporter, a ‘work with which you cannot be too familiar, and which you cannot too carefully consult’.159 No mention here of the barrowfuls of unread material! Tensions were clearly considerable in the hectic months following the major rebellion in Jamaica in December 1831 and the news that began to flow in both of the brutal acts of suppression and of the persecution of missionaries. While the old Anti-Slavery Society had relied on political influence and Evangelical networks, the new men reached out, making connections between questions of the franchise and slavery, organising support at election times. It was only in the aftermath of the Jamaica rebellion that the Anti-Slavery Society finally abandoned its gradualist position and decided for immediate emancipation. Macaulay wrote to Brougham, who had acted as an important parliamentary avenue for him, first in the House of Commons and then in the House of Lords, about the dangers of further bloodshed and the need for immediate action.160 In May 1832 the resolution put forward by the committee for the next general meeting was to call for ‘immediate and total abolition of slavery . . . meaning by that term, not a release of the Slave from legal restraint, but the substitution of judicial for private and irresponsible authority’.161 The implication could not have been clearer: all British subjects should have access to the rule of law; law should regulate the meanings of freedom. Huge controversy was generated by the debates over the terms of emancipation, particularly in relation to substantial compensation for the slave owners and the issue of apprenticeship, both of which seriously divided the abolitionists. The Anti-Slavery Society was deeply concerned about the apprenticeship scheme but eventually the desire for a settlement that would satisfy the opposing factions meant that both Buxton and Brougham voted with the government. The compromises left the more radical wing of the movement deeply disappointed and Joseph Sturge was soon ready to take action again on the issue of apprenticeship. Macaulay’s view of Sturge, the Quaker man of the provinces, was unflattering; ‘he has always seemed to me an extremely stupid person’, he told Buxton a few years later.162 He was even more scathing about George Stephen, who he regarded as untrustworthy and self-interested, wanting to take ‘the whole credit of the Abolition to himself ’.163 The deep antagonisms between these men, however, were smoothed over in the retrospective accounts.

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Since Macaulay senior was not in the House of Commons he could only influence the debates on abolition from ‘outside’. By this time he was in ill health and no longer at the centre of action. Tom, however, now occupied a junior ministerial position – and this was his time. He had a powerful sense of duty to his father on the issue, but it was pre-eminently his father’s cause, and not his own. A providential world Evangelicals interpreted the sin of the slave trade and of slavery through a providential frame. Revolutions and wars in Europe were indications of divine wrath brought upon the nations because of their oppression of the African race. Britain had sinned greatly and public calamities were only a part of the punishments that might be expected from God. Yet God was merciful too, and a belief and knowledge of providential wisdom and mercy were matters of reason, revelation and experience. James Stephen’s autobiography, written for his children and grandchildren, was a narrative of the workings of providence in matters great and small, demonstrating his ‘certain knowledge from long experience, that . . . “there is a God who governs the world” ’, and whose chief interest was ‘the improvement of my moral state’. This was his optimistic conclusion at the end of a complicated life. Yet there was the ‘awful thought!’ He might ‘defeat those beneficent aims’ for his will was free. ‘Heavenly Father’, he prayed, ‘help me to fall in with thy gracious purposes’.164 A God who governed the world also governed history. Yet history was written as if this was not the case. The shocking fact for the Evangelicals was that historians, even when they were not irreligious, neglected religion. Historians should teach ‘the real history of man’, as Grant had put it: the history of salvation by Christ. They failed to apply the ‘infallible principles’ of which Stephen was so convinced, with the result that ‘God is left out of his own world’. The Christian Observer took up this question, troubled by the neglect of the divine in contemporary history writing. In comparing pagan with Christian histories, it was disturbing to discover in the latter that far from perceiving events with a clear religious light, ‘ordinary judgements, maxims, sentiments and prejudices’ were too easily adopted, encouraged by schoolboy reading, confirmed by history and strengthened by pamphleteers.165 Particular disapproval was reserved for newspaper writers whose habits of thought were relentlessly profane. ‘In tracing the course of human affairs’, it argued, ‘the Supreme Disposer of all human events seems to be forgotten.’ Historians were satisfied with

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secondary causes, seeing men as able to control their own fates. Historians were ‘lavish’ in praising ‘the wisdom and spirit’ of those who had made constitutions and established laws. They were ‘ardent’ in their admiration of the wisdom and vigilance of governors in developing power and resources. But all this missed the crucial point: no mention is made of HIM who awardeth at his pleasure, prosperity or misfortune, victory or defeat; who when he looks with favour on a nation, blesses her councils with wisdom, and her arms with victory; and when a people has incurred his displeasure, delivers them over to defeat in war; or in peace to faction and anarchy, or to corruption, to slavery, and ruin.

By all means give credit to those men who were the instruments of God’s work. ‘Let us gratefully commemorate their services, and liberally reward them.’166 But they were raised by God to do his bidding. It was in this spirit that the Christian Observer congratulated Wilberforce on his vital contribution to the abolition of the slave trade, while fully recognising that he was labouring in God’s vineyard.167 Serious Christians should ‘think and judge’ through the Bible, learn from its lessons. In Exodus I.11–13, ‘We see a numerous people sunk in wretchedness and slavery. They are degraded, depraved, despised’, perhaps they are ‘beings of an inferior nature, intended by the Creator to be the drudges and vassals of their haughty masters’. Suddenly the scene changes, ‘the slumbering wrath of the Almighty awakes . . . the captives are released from their bondage’. They are able to enjoy human, social and civil rights and happiness, and ‘become a flourishing and powerful people’. If written by a profane historian the narrative might focus on ‘turbulent vassals’ or the wrongs of a ‘subjugated and much injured people’. But there would be no remarks on prayer, intercession or the power and ‘retributive vengeance’ of God. Such, the Christian Observer concluded, ‘is the different strain of sacred and profane history’. It would be wrong to be too literal about drawing parallels (though the parallel with the slave trade and slavery was clear to see in this instance). But it was essential always to draw on knowledge of the Bible, of prayer and of penitence, whether dealing with past or present, with individual or collective concerns, ‘whether we meet with them in the page of history, or the volume of life’.168 This was the duty of a Christian observer. A review of Fox’s History of the Early Part of the Reign of James the Second provided an opportunity to drive home the lesson as to the profanity of contemporary historians. Charles James Fox, the iconic Whig of the late eighteenth century, was well known both for his belief in religious

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toleration, which was to him a natural right, and for his lack of religious beliefs. A gambler, drinker and womaniser in his young manhood, Fox believed that individuals should be free to act as they chose, and never accepted restraints on his own conduct. As a Whig he was made rather than born, with his antipathy to George III, initially associated with matters of family politics, growing into a conviction that the king was endangering parliamentary government and sought despotic powers. His formative political experience was the crisis of 1782–4 when the king made decisive use of his prerogative in dissolving parliament, an act which Fox regarded as overturning the balanced constitution. George III began to look dangerously akin to James II. And England had been saved from James’s tyranny by the events of 1688. Fox’s political vocabulary ‘never moved away from the conventional worship of the Glorious Revolution . . . English liberties were guaranteed by the metaphor of the balance, whereby the privileges of the Lords and Commons complemented the prerogatives of the Crown.’169 Fox was a steadfast opponent of the slave trade and slavery. His monument in Westminster Abbey, with the dying statesman dressed in a toga and lying on a couch in the arms of Liberty, with Peace at his feet, and an African with classical features and dressed in a loincloth, kneeling beside him, is the grandest antislavery sculpture in Westminster Abbey.170 Wilberforce recognised his contribution but was shocked by his morals. ‘Religion’, Fox believed, ‘was best understood when least talked of ’, a proposition that went down very badly with Evangelicals.171 Since Claphamites were also Tories (though by 1830 Zachary was prepared to support the Whigs if they were prepared to countenance abolition), they had very little sympathy with Fox’s politics, particularly his enthusiasm for France. His history writing was, therefore, unlikely to be to their taste. Fox’s intention was to highlight the dangers posed by over-mighty monarchs to English liberties: a theme for his own times. ‘Vigilant’ and ‘unremitting jealousy of the power of the crown’, he argued, was the only security for ‘those wise laws that have been provided for the benefit of the subject.’172 The responsibility of Whig historians was to celebrate English constitutional freedoms and the virtues of mixed government. The Edinburgh Review, not surprisingly, was enthusiastic, and Lord John Russell, who was later to write his own history of the period, was delighted with it.173 Wilberforce was more critical, applauding his sympathy with ‘the oppressed and injured’ and his ‘love of justice and truth’ but concerned about its hostility to the ‘spirit of Christianity’.174 His review was published in the Christian Observer, and expressed regret over its ‘strong democratical bias’, ‘dangerous doctrines’ and references to the historian’s ‘own times’, a lapse which meant that the work sank well below ‘the dignity

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of an historical composition’. Fox’s ‘irreligious . . . sceptical spirit’ and his ‘utter ignorance of the nature and effects of real Christianity’ meant that the work was deeply flawed.175 Its most ‘material defect’, immediately obvious to ‘a Christian Observer’, was ‘the entire absence of all admissions of an over-ruling Providence’. It was most unfortunate that this had now become the habit amongst historians. Furthermore, it was the case not just with avowed sceptics such as Hume and Gibbon, but even with clerical historians who were fearful of being pronounced dull. Even those, the review continued, with liberal or ‘relaxed . . . notions concerning providential agency, acknowledge its existence in the concerns of nations, and . . . fates of empires’. But it was wrong to distinguish between great and small events: all were subject to providential grace and ‘the course of human affairs exhibit certain general tendencies from which we may infer the rules according to which the Almighty commonly exercises his moral government of the world’.176 Christian historians ought to point out the great moral principles ‘in the advancement and decline of political communities’. Indeed, there was a need to interweave ‘proper religious and moral observations into some of our best histories, – into the works of Hume, of Robertson, of Ferguson, and Gibbon’. There was also a need to excise irreligious and dangerous sentiments from Hume and Gibbon. Fox’s aim of reviving the spirit of liberty was admirable, but the values of law and order were too rarely associated with those liberties, and they were crucial to the nation. Evangelicals were well aware of the blessings of 1688, but they were well aware too of the spirit of luxury, vanity and selfishness that was endangering the public spirit and public morals. There was a vital need to train and educate people in the principles of religion and morality, to teach them to be aware of their blessings ‘in this highly favoured country’. Furthermore, there was a need to inculcate deference to the established Church. The particular merit of Christianity was that it ‘liberalised the heart’. Christian principles made men zealous and active in their duties, ‘warm in attachments; modest and unassuming; grateful for the benefits they receive . . . sober and industrious, placing their chief temporal happiness in domestic and social pleasures; patient under sufferings; candid and forbearing both in judgement and acting towards others’.177 Fox’s proposals, in contrast, encouraged factious opposition, weakness at home and defeat abroad; a discontented, divided, and profligate people. Tom Macaulay’s comments on this piece, as he started to write his own history of England thirty years later, a history which celebrated liberty and the mixed constitution but was unquestionably profane, would have been most illuminating.

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*** Macaulay was a profound believer in his own sinfulness and his duty of atonement. His starting point was the reformation of self: it was then his godly duty to build a religious home, and work to cleanse both the nation and the empire from the sinful paths of depravity. His privileged position, able to reform both himself and others, was secured by a providential God. The ‘noble undertaking’ as he had told Tom, ‘of delivering half a world from bondage and blood, and pouring upon it light liberty and civilisation’ had been his life’s work. By 1830 his health was poor. The death of daughter Jean was a grievous blow and the unexpected death of Selina, who had devoted herself to caring for her sick husband, in May 1831, was shattering to the family. Zachary gave a moving account of his love for Selina in the wake of this unexpected death, in a letter written to his old friend Hannah More in the first days of mourning. Since his return from Sierra Leone and their marriage, he told her, they had been ‘the sharers of each others [sic] joys and sorrows and cares’. They had prayed together. Their children had formed ‘new links in the chain which bound us’. His frequent absences had meant that she had devoted her ‘time and thoughts’ to infant minds, ‘to the implantation from the earliest dawn of reason, of those principles of piety, truth, reverence, love, devotion, and all kindly affections’. Unfortunately, he reflected, ‘I could bear but a small part in the work’. Eight children had survived and bore witness to their mother’s ‘strength of understanding’. Her virtues were not those which shone ‘in the eyes of a vain and superficial observer’, but she was a woman full of ‘solid and useful knowledge, bent on forming men and women capable of fulfilling their duties to God and man’. A ‘prudent and careful manager’, she had been conscientious in her use of both time and money. It was only in death, he castigated himself, that he had fully understood all that she had been and done. A large family had inevitably brought with it sufferings and losses, but her ‘sunshine’ had shone upon them, lessening those pains. In the last difficult years, when they had had to deal with ‘narrowed circumstances’ and growing infirmity, her ‘courage and constancy’ had sustained him and her last month had been devoted to caring for him in his own illness.178 ‘A most close union it was’, recollected their fourth daughter Hannah, ‘and though in latter years he became most fearfully absorbed in his one great object and ceased to be the companion in a measure that he had been his love & deep trust & confidence in her never failed.’179 What is left unsaid here is how well Selina survived. She certainly worried about his constant load of work. ‘It is a poor compensation to me’, she wrote

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to him in 1823, ‘to be told by everybody that you do the work of four men’.180 The decline and eventual collapse of the family business in the 1820s meant that their expenses had to be severely reduced. They needed only a ‘competency’ she reminded him; great prosperity brought great anxiety and the greatest blessing for her would be that he should have his mind at ease. She marvelled at his ‘equanimity in the midst of trials’ and was convinced she would ‘have gone mad with so anxious a mind . . .’.181 Zachary’s last years were a struggle, with serious financial worries and ill health, necessitating time spent on the continent. He died in May 1838, when Tom and his sister Hannah were on the ship returning from their time in Calcutta. A subscription raised for a marble bust in Westminster Abbey recorded his ‘quiet perseverance’ on behalf of ‘the most injured and helpless of mankind’. For forty years he had devoted himself to rescuing the ‘British Empire from the guilt of the Slave Trade’ and the freeing of ‘eight hundred thousand slaves’. This inscription articulated the abolitionist conviction that it was their efforts that had secured emancipation, an understanding that was rapidly becoming the common sense of British society. The ‘injured’ and ‘helpless’ were not agents of history; history had to be made for them. All men were God’s creatures and Macaulay was a committed enemy to the slave trade and slavery, railing against a system which saw black skin as legitimating enslavement. Yet he played his own part in the making of racial hierarchies, whether in Sierra Leone, India or the metropole. The key distinction was between the godly and the ungodly, but immorality could elide with skin colour; the ungodly could be both infantilised and racialised, assumed to be in need of saving from themselves by those who knew better. Assimilation to the ways of an enlightened and Christianised world was seen as the only way forward: there was only one true civilisation, one way to be.

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CH A P T E R T H R E E

†i¢

A Family Story The Pains of Love and Loss

T

om Macaulay was marked from his earliest years as special: a remarkable child. Both his father, Zachary, and Hannah More, who was something of a second mother to him from his earliest years, believed he had the potential to achieve great things, and he was adored by his mother and sisters. Family was vital to Zachary and Selina’s understanding of a proper religious life, and the creation of a home a central part of their parental duty and pleasure. They aimed to bring up their children to lead good Christian lives. But as in all families the emotional dynamics were complicated, and Tom’s family story informed the man he became. So deep was his attachment to home and family that he was never able to separate fully from it; he neither married nor had children and, unlike his parents, religious beliefs were never central to him. Growing up in Clapham, where ordered hierarchies, slavery, benighted Africans and Indians living in darkness were part of the world-view, he was educated to be a public man, knowing his responsibilities to nation and empire. His traumatic experiences of separation, first from his mother, then re-enacted with his two beloved sisters, provided an emotional bedrock which was never worked through. Issues of loss and separation haunted his imagination, but were banished to an interior life in the triumphant national history that he was to write. In the family story, mother Selina and younger sisters Hannah and Margaret were central figures. In Tom’s History, women were only to be the backdrop, the necessary counterpoint to his tale of public men, but these women were critical to his own life history and provide insights into the psychic conditions of his work.

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The trauma of maternal loss Selina adored her firstborn son and was a deeply loving, and beloved, mother. Hannah, twelve years Tom’s junior, had a vivid recollection of being taken by him many times as a girl to the small city garden, the ‘only place baby could safely be taken for exercise’ that he had visited as a very small child with his mother, and that he remained attached to in later life. To Hannah, used by then to the trappings of a comfortably off uppermiddle-class family, it seemed ‘a miserable enclosed space with a leaden image in the middle’. For Tom it clearly had quite different meanings and he recounted to her how their mother ‘used to walk there in front of the maid carrying the child to ward off any danger’. She remembered too the family tale that ‘he used actually quite to cry for joy at seeing her after a few hours absence, & her power of exciting his feelings was often made an exhibition to her friends till it was stopped by my father’.1 Selina was the loving and possessive mother; Zachary the figure of masculine authority, who disapproved of excessive shows of emotion and perhaps experienced some jealousy. His Calvinist childhood and the harshnesses of Jamaica and Sierra Leone, times and places with no domestic affections, were deeply internalised. Combined with evangelical conceptions of paternal duty, they made him into an exacting father, particularly for his oldest son. When Tom was two his sister Selina, named after her mother, was born. He was partially displaced, forced to concede both that there was another baby in his mother’s affections and that there was an exclusive bond between his father and mother. He was no longer His Majesty the Baby, yet this was an identity which he was loath to relinquish. He could no longer have his mother entirely to himself: he had to learn to limit what he could have, internalise the inhibitions. Despite these harsh lessons he loved home and domesticity. And above all he loved his mother. Selina wrote to Zachary on one of their early visits to Barley Wood, telling him how ‘Tom has ingratiated himself with Miss Betty by his fondness for making bread and pastry with his sleeves tucked up and a white apron; and she says who would think that he knew so much about Virgil; . . . They admire his temper and disposition, and his duty to his mother above all.’ But she felt that while at Barley Wood she could not give him all the attention he needed, and this was a lesson to her to stay at home.2 She taught him his elementary ‘reading, arithmetic, geography and history, to say nothing of religious instruction’, and together they did some French and Latin grammar.3 The little boy’s extraordinary capacity with words was remarked on from his earliest years. Hannah recounted a family myth: ‘the day he first went to school his mother told

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him that he must not be calling for bread & butter constantly as he did at home to which he replied “No Mama industry shall be my bread and attention my butter.” ’4 This first physical separation from his mother, when he was sent to Mr Greaves’s school in Clapham around the age of five, provoked a harsh moment of recognition for him of the difference between maternal care and that of a schoolmaster. Tom had done Latin grammar with his mother, but, as Hannah recounted, ‘alas her pronunciation was not perfect & he long remembered the bitterness of feeling with which he heard the burst of laughter which greeted the words tibi and sibi which he pronounced long as he & his mother had agreed the other way sounded so silly’.5 Being shamed as a boy for mispronunciation on account of his mother’s inadequate mastery of Latin was a baptism of fire, a traumatic moment in the long process of learning to be masculine, and to separate from home. The time for bread and pastry making would be short lived. ‘School was always a misery to him’, Hannah recalled, ‘for his heart was in his home. My eldest sister has often told me it was a daily struggle to get him to afternoon school for he always returned home to dinner & his piteous entreaties to be allowed to remain at home made a great impression on her.’6 Part of his misery might have been his envy of his sister who was allowed to stay at home, for her training was to be a daughter, wife or mother and did not necessitate outside schooling. Selina was immensely proud of her talented child. When he was eight she remarked to his Uncle Colin in India on his ‘marks of uncommon genius’. ‘He gets on wonderfully in all branches of his education’, she enthused. He had taken it into his head to write a ‘compendium of Universal History’, which gave ‘a tolerably connected view of the leading events from the Creation to the present time’. He was also writing a paper to encourage the people of Travancore (where his uncle was the Resident) to embrace the Christian religion, which demonstrated a clear idea of the leading doctrines, and he was so excited by Scott that he was writing a poem in six cantos called the ‘Battle of Cheviot’, not to speak of the heroic poem about one ‘of his race who had exerted himself for the delivery of the wretched Africans’, and his innumerable hymns.7 All of which indicated the influences at work in this Evangelical household: conceptions of providential history, enthusiasm for missionary work in Asia, and a preoccupation with rescuing ‘wretched Africans’. Tom was the leader of the pack at home, the eldest in the family and a boy to boot. ‘When quite a child he would not play at childish games’, recalled his sister Margaret, ‘his playmates used to come crying to Mama saying, “Tom will play at Homer: I can’t play at Homer”; while he cast the play

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according to his pleasure. “I will be Achilles, and you shall be Agamemnon, and you shall be Hector” ’, he would instruct.8 He was also used to playing grand parts in games with the Clapham children. For one Twelfth Night occasion he appeared as Bonaparte, a man who would ‘stab all the little children in their beds’, he claimed, were he to succeed in invading England. ‘Tom as usual reigning King of the Mob’, wrote Marianne Thornton, one of the extended family group.9 His Majesty the Baby had found another leading role. If attendance at a day school was painful, the much more traumatic separation occurred at thirteen, when Tom was sent to board at the small private establishment near Cambridge of the Rev. Matthew Preston of the ‘ultra Evangelical’ persuasion. His letters from there were ‘constantly blistered with his tears’.10 Clapham parents were not enamoured of the large public schools, seeing them as insufficiently pious environments, and Wilberforce, Gisborne and Babington juniors were also entrusted to Mr Preston. Tom was horribly homesick, telling his ‘dear Mamma’ that he did not remember ‘ever being more gloomy in his life than when I first left Clapham’.11 ‘Do write to me sometimes’, he begged her, ‘for in the midst of the vexations which absence from home and the plagues of a school nothing would give me so much comfort.’12 Suddenly he had found himself ‘a child among young men . . . crying for my papa and mamma and sisters amon[g] hardened thorough bred schoolboys’.13 Only the thought of the holidays gave him comfort. Almost every night, he told her, he dreamt of home, ‘and every day I think of it. “Home is home, be it ever so homely.” ’14 Returning to school after the summer holidays was almost unbearable. He was ‘as lowspirited as can well be imagined’, he told her, ‘I cannot bear the thought of remaining so long from home’. I do not know how to comfort myself, or what to do. There is nobody here to pity me or to comfort me, and if I were to say I was sorry at being from home, I should be called a baby. When I am with the rest I am obliged to look pleasant, and to laugh at Wilberforce’s jokes, when I can hardly hide the tears in my eyes. So I have nothing to do but to sit and cry in my room, and think of home and wish for the holidays.15

He was locked in his misery, and two days later he was terribly disappointed not to have received a letter and told his mother that he cried every hour from homesickness. His dream was that he might be able to come home early: he longed for his father’s permission to have his birthday with them. He imagined his mother ‘sitting by papa just after his dinner, reading my

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letter, and turning to him, with an inquisitive glance at the end of this paragraph. I think too that I see his expressive shake of the head at it. O may I be mistaken.’16 But he was not: not only was such a visit out of the question because Mr Preston would disapprove, Zachary told him, it was also opposed to ‘all my own views of what is right and proper’.17 Weeks later Tom was upset that his mother was not writing as frequently as she had done in his first six months at school. ‘You have seven little creatures at home, besides papa, to make you happy’, he wrote jealously, but he had ‘nobody to supply the place of a mother or of a father here.’18 The only thing that kept him from ‘being melancholy’, and this was a cry that was to be reiterated many times, was ‘work in school and reading out of it’. He loved his own room, he told her a few days later – with its ‘monstrous oak door’ and ‘huge iron bolt’ he could safely shut himself away: ‘I am king here.’19 Selina’s own sense of loss with her boy away from home was acute. ‘I can truly say you are never 5 minutes absent from my mind’, she wrote in response to his ‘melancholy reflections’. ‘Your image is with me the last at night & the first in the morning. I also reckon the days & hours, & long for the moment of yr return, but I console myself with the idea, that our pleasure will be increased greatly, by the improvement you will have gained.’ She was anxious to know how he was doing in Latin and Greek and begged him to ‘Pour out all yr heart to me & yr dear Papa as often as you can spare ten minutes.’20 His letters were thrilling and she prayed for him frequently. A cheerful account from him was ‘delightful to the heart of a doting Mother’.21 Of course she had not forgotten him, and she told him of the pleasure it gave her and his father to talk and pray together about him. This may have been less than balm to Tom’s heart as he imagined the couple from which he was excluded. Selina encouraged him in his work, reminding him that excellence was never attained all at once, but that it took time. It was God’s will, she reminded him, that all should improve their faculties to the best of their abilities: this should be his aim. She wanted it to be said of him, ‘well done, oh good and faithful servant’. ‘You see how ambitious yr Mother is, she must have the wisdom of her son acknowledged before Angels & an assembled world. My wishes can soar no higher, & they can be content with nothing less for any of my children’.22 He should learn to emulate his father, never wasting a minute and varying employment so that he would never get bored, something of which she had heard him complain. His sister Selina was ‘never idle’ she pointed out to him, she possessed ‘great energy of mind’. She looked forward to the day when Tom and young Selina would be able to keep her company when their father was away.23 It was a vision that may have fed her son’s possessive desires for maternal space.

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Zachary’s tone was rather more admonitory. The key lesson for Tom to learn was that, ‘nothing is truly valuable in life but what serves to prepare us for that awful hour when we must close our eyes on all things here below to open them on eternity’.24 At the same time the child needed to learn that men were on earth to fulfil duties, he must be trained to employ his time from morning till night and give reports to his father on all his activities. Zachary’s own time for his paternal duties was constantly curtailed by his public responsibilities, his time for letter writing limited because he was occupied in ‘procuring evidence against some men who had been reducing some hundreds of their fellow creatures to slavery’ or because he had to go to the African Institution or work at persuading parliament to accept the introduction of Christianity into India. Thus he hoped to teach his son by example what was required of men in the world, their duties to nation and empire.25 Tom must go away to school so that he could ‘improve in useful knowledge’: it was his ‘duty cheerfully to acquiesce in the arrangement’. He would feel the separation, but ‘comfort yourself with thinking how much more deserving of our affections & how much more useful you may become’.26 For Zachary, his ‘best friend’ was always with him and watching over him, just as in Sierra Leone. His sense of communion with God was a daily and hourly reality. For Tom, however, this provided little comfort: he wanted his mother and his home. ‘Fathers have flinty hearts’, he was to observe much later.27 Evangelical fathers had very different expectations for their daughters. Home education was appropriate for them, and in Zachary’s eyes this was one of his wife’s major responsibilities. ‘Whatever credit’, he wrote to her in 1820, his daughters might enjoy for moral or intellectual improvement, ‘must be given to you’. ‘I have always been disposed’, he continued, to prefer private education for girls. Among the advantages, they enjoy a greater range of intellectual conversation and of varied reading. A library such as ours is of itself an immense advantage, an advantage perhaps which scarcely admits of calculation. Then consider the exercise which their faculties enjoy from merely listening to what passes around them in a family like ours, with the succession of well-informed and intelligent persons that is to be seen there.

Most important of all, Zachary believed, was ‘the course of regular and consistent discipline, applying chiefly to the state and temper of the mind, which it is in the power of parents to pursue; the affectionate but decisive check imposed upon bad dispositions; the vigilance, exercised as to all

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indications of bad humour shown by pouting, harsh tones, and quick and unkind replies’.28 There was no question here of girls’ education being unimportant or that they only needed the fashionable accomplishments that would capture a husband; that would have been unthinkable to an Evangelical. Their daughters were trained to read and think, to know how to listen and learn. Hannah More had written voluminously on this subject. Within the family circle they must be able to discuss books and sermons, but they were not expected to learn classical languages, to engage in competitive exams, speak in public or earn a living. They would remain dependants, whether in their family of origin or their family of marriage, and would be supported by their fathers, husbands or brothers. Only if things went wrong would they have to become governesses – a situation that Tom, in the years to come, was determined to avoid. An education that was entirely appropriate for girls was, of course, not right for boys who were going to have to make their way in the world. Competition was central to the ethic of Tom’s school and the boys were ranked in every subject. Being ‘top boy’, being ‘best’, was the way to be praised: making hierarchies was an everyday practice. Even the debating society was organised on those premises, discussing whether Wellington or Marlborough was the best general. Placing oneself, and being placed, in the academic pecking order meant that sibling rivalries were now partially displaced, confounded with powerful peer group pressures. This overconfident lad, who at home liked nothing better than to stand on a stool and preach to anyone who would listen, had to find a new place for himself in the unfamiliar setting of the new school. Days after arriving he found himself in the second class for Latin and Greek, he told his mother, ‘and I stand with W Wilberforce [Jr] as also in mathematics’.29 They did Latin exercises and Greek grammar before breakfast, sums, Euclid and Greek in the morning, Cicero and Horace in the afternoon, then preparation for the next day. After evening work was done they could amuse themselves; he was reading William Robertson’s History of Charles V, a demanding read for a thirteen-year-old! In March he was in high spirits as he had come top in a Greek examination for which he would receive a prize. He was longing for his return home, and hoping that it would be ‘triumphant; if I can get over my examination with credit it will: and that depends much on myself ’.30 This was a remarkably capable boy, internally driven to succeed and fearful of failure. A few months later he was telling her how he was positioned in every subject and then how he was frightened about the Greek exam. He had a ‘horrid dread’ of it and trembled when he thought about it, naming the boys who were likely to come top. Stainforth would be first in

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Latin verses and history and he had been very kind to him, acting as a big brother, looking over his verses and pointing out the faults. ‘He always takes my part when the boys plague me and though there are many older than he is, he has so much authority in the school that I am completely safe under his protection’, but this bookish boy did not escape persecution.31 More than a year later he was telling his mother about being ‘beaten and taunted . . . 10 times a day’.32 A fellow pupil later recalled him as possessing a ‘large head, pallid countenance, and stooping gait’, he was ‘indisposed to youthful sports’ and found ‘his principal amusement in penning or reciting verses’: the kind of boy who might have attracted the attentions of a bully.33 This remarkably able boy suffered from a loneliness that was only mitigated at home. Selina’s sense of her maternal duties was intimately linked to her faith, as was Zachary’s conception of fatherhood. His task was to bring up his children in the care and admonition of the Lord. Parents were the earthly representatives of godly authority and were owed obedience. While Selina could offer Tom love, food, and elementary tuition, Zachary’s role was to impose ‘restraints on the order of his mind’, and endeavour to give him habits ‘of self government, lessons which he is more backward in learning than any other to which he is put’.34 As Hannah noted, the faults that Zachary found most troubling in his oldest son, and which he rigorously attempted to correct, were precisely the faults which he regarded as his own worst characteristics, as he had expounded to Selina while in Sierra Leone: ‘a disputatious turn of mind . . . impatience of opposition . . . unreasonable assumption of powers and authority’.35 These were the faults that Babington had criticised in Zachary as a young man, and ones he struggled hard to control: the attacks of the ‘internal foe’.36 A manly Christian demeanour was one of meekness and humility, not of pride and arrogance. Yet Tom’s abilities encouraged arrogance and overconfidence, which Zachary saw himself as needing to correct. His son must be disciplined, just as he had tried to discipline his ‘family’ in Sierra Leone. Zachary regularly discussed Tom with Hannah More, who was very attached to him, this ‘jewel of a boy’.37 ‘His talents are very extraordinary and various’ she wrote to his father after a visit from the ten-year-old, ‘and his acquirements wonderful at his age’. She greatly enjoyed his vivacity but noted that his ‘excess of animal spirits’ (something which must have disturbed Zachary) made some study seem rather dry and dull. His ‘superiority of talents’ meant that he greatly needed competitors who would prevent him becoming too conceited.38 ‘Your boy’, she told Zachary, ‘is like the prince who refused to play with anything but kings’. This was hardly a picture of the boy ‘clothed with humility’ that Zachary longed for. She

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observed that his father was ‘quite his oracle’ and had a great influence on the pre-pubertal lad, which she hoped would always be the case.39 She herself delighted in his love of home and domesticity, and Zachary agreed, noting particularly his attachment to his ‘dear mother, in whom he takes a genuine delight’.40 ‘When you write you ought to take pains to do it well’, Zachary wrote to Tom aged seven. ‘I hope, my dear Tom’, he continued, ‘that you & dear Selina are very attentive to your dear Mama, that she has no occasion to repeat her orders twice, but that they are instantly, readily & cheerfully obeyed. I shall be glad to hear that you go to bed whenever you are bid; that you go to work at the moment you are desired to do it; that you are silent when required to be so, & that when spoken to, you are always ready to give an answer.’ He trusted that there were no complaints or grumblings when their mother thought they had had enough to eat. ‘Unless you are thus docile and obedient’, he concluded, ‘you cannot expect my dear children, that J. Christ should love you or give you his blessing . . . the eye of God, & he is a God of truth, is always over you, and be more afraid of provoking his anger than of any other evil that can happen to you’.41 This providential God knew all and watched over all, a frightening prospect perhaps for the child. Zachary certainly watched over him carefully during his schooldays. He requested detailed accounts as to how he was doing in each of his subjects, wondered about his French and Italian, and instructed him that to understand maths he must ‘thoroughly understand every link in the chain of reasoning. Without this all will be puzzle, confusion, & obscurity.’42 He was puzzled by his son’s trouble with decimals, finding them of great use in his own daily life: a reminder of his hours spent in the counting house. He was always pleased to hear that Tom was working hard, but hoped that the incentive was duty rather than a ‘desire for distinction’.43 Individual prayer each morning was vital, but this did not mean the repetition of a form of words. ‘Remember also’, he admonished him, ‘what I said on the subject of self examination – a few minutes every morning when you wake, given to the consideration of what may have been wrong on the preceding day’, would be ‘likely to be attended through the Divine Blessing with the best effects’.44 Zachary paid minute attention to detail – from Tom’s writing to the ways in which he folded his letters, sharply castigating him for some of his efforts, which ‘remind me of some ploughboy who has been pressed on board a man of war, & is writing home to his friends’.45 But he also expressed frequent concerns as to his son’s well-being, worried about the cold and pressed him to wear a second pair of stockings, not least because if he got a sore throat it would interrupt his studies. Especially warm worsted stockings were

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despatched as winter approached and prudent use of a flannel gown recommended. Outdoor exercise was essential for health but when it was time to come home he should have a place inside the coach, in case of rain. This was not a father lacking in affection, but one whose sense of duty was extreme and whose expectations both for himself and others could never be met. Hannah Macaulay remembered how Tom used ‘to say he could not recall an instance in which his father had ever praised him or shewn any sense of his abilities’, and years later, having re-read some letters from his father, he found them all ‘admonitory and rather severe’.46 She tempered this: there was no want of proof of the estimation in which his Father held him, writing to him from a very early age as to a man, conversing with him freely, & writing of him most fondly. But in the desire to keep down any conceit there was certainly in my Father a great outward shew of repression & depreciation . . . [his] faults were peculiarly those that my father had no patience with. Himself precise in his arrangements, writing a beautiful hand, & particular about neatness, very accurate & calm, detesting strong expressions, & remarkably self controlled, his eager impetuous boy careless of his dress, always forgetting to wash his hands & brush his hair, writing an execrable hand & folding his letters awkwardly with a great blotch for a seal was a constant care & irritation.47

Her own memory of her father was that despite his ‘upright disinterested firm perhaps stern’ exterior, ‘there was a love a benevolence a tenderness & a power of sympathy underlying the outer crust which made him beloved’.48 And the picture she imparted to her own daughter, who compiled the Life and Letters of her grandfather, was clearly a sympathetic one. But the demands of Zachary on his oldest son were very different from his expectations of his daughters. Zachary’s pride in his son was richly evident in a letter that he wrote to his nephew Kenneth. When only five Tom had already gone several times through his Latin grammar, and writes Latin exercises. He reads also a little French, and is a quick arithmetician. But his great happiness is general reading. He is much better acquainted with the historical part of the Bible than I am, and there is not a remarkable event in the History of England that he is not familiar with. His favourite books are Pope’s Homer & Dryden’s Virgil, Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Robinson Crusoe, the Pilgrim’s Progress, Rollins ancient history and More’s sacred Diaries. . . . He delights in them, quits in regret & returns with avidity.

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‘You will excuse my prattling so about Tom’, he concluded, obviously slightly embarrassed or troubled at the way in which he was lauding his son’s accomplishments.49 But this pride in his son’s achievements was not communicated to Tom, while the ‘repression and depreciation’ that Hannah noted and that Tom certainly resented in later life were frequently in evidence. Zachary boasted to others, but communicated to Tom that he was never good enough. On reception of one of Tom’s heartbroken letters to his mother about the pains of separation, Zachary remonstrated with him that he should follow Christ’s example: ‘It is the will of yr parents, therefore the will of God that you shd be placed where you are.’ Of course they would like to have him at home, but it would not be good for him. He should make the best of his situation and remember how lucky he was compared with poor Henry Venn, for example, who had lost both his parents.50 Zachary was an autodidact and had been prevented by economic constraints from continuing his formal education. He reminded his son: ‘in the midst of all the toil & the pleasure of learning’, surrounded by competitors and flushed with success, that this was all for God. Conceit was ‘disgusting to others’ and offensive to God, ‘who sees us as worms of the earth, whose every faculty is his, and who are less than nothing in his sight’.51 Zachary thoroughly disliked to hear any reports of Tom being overconfident, speaking in a loud or intrepid tone, or demonstrating any kind of excess. Rather, he longed for him to be ‘clothed with humility’. Hannah was convinced that her father ‘thoroughly appreciated his son’s abilities’, but that he felt ‘if he could only add his own morale, his unwearied industry, his power of concentration, his energies on the work in hand, his patient painstaking calmness to the genius & fervour which [his son] possessed, then a being might be formed who could regenerate the world’.52 This must have been a heavy burden to carry. ‘Your Uncle’, Hannah recorded for her children and her grandchildren, regarded his father’s memory with ‘love and reverence’. This was mingled with ‘a shade of bitterness that he had not met quite the encouragement & appreciation from him he received from others’. None of Tom’s writings suggest that he ever conceived of himself as a worm on the earth, but she was quick to add that he was never disrespectful in ‘word or look, always anxious to please and amuse, & at last he was the entire stay and support of his Father’s declining years’.53 For the most part Zachary relied on Selina to provide the ‘domestic news’, a classic role for the female letter-writers in middle-class families. It was Tom’s mother who told him, just over two weeks before she gave birth in 1813, that ‘We are now very soon expecting a little stranger’.54 They looked forward, if God willed, to introducing the baby to its big brother in

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December. It was Zachary who wrote with the news that his mother had been delivered of a healthy little boy – no storks here – and there was much discussion as to the name. Selina was in favour of Zachary, but ‘I say “why afflict the boy with such a name?” ’ There were varied other ideas, but perhaps Tom would be the umpire.55 Some recompense, maybe, for the fact that there would now be eight little ones to keep his mother company. After Hannah’s birth in 1810 he had been ‘very unhappy at losing his Mother’s society’, despite the fact that from the first he had felt a special affection for this sister ten years younger than him, but after moping around the house for a while he had found comfort in a book on modern philosophers. He ran to read it to a particular parlourmaid that he was fond of, one who was remembered in the family as being ‘a very clever woman’ to whom Tom loved to read as she cleaned the silver – one of those tiny glimpses into the significance of a servant to a child’s growing-up, and into the closed world of that particular parlourmaid.56 Books offered an imaginative world that provided recompense for the jealousies and envies of life both at home and at school, and servants, such as the unnamed parlourmaid, could be crucial figures in a child’s world. In addition to telling Tom about his work, Zachary also discussed political news in his letters, a pattern that was long established between them. While Tom was at day school they had spoken French together at breakfast, frequently discussing history and politics, in preparation for Tom’s adulthood. Zachary was something of an authority on French affairs, and with the country gripped by war there would be serious talk in the Macaulay house between the Clapham friends as to the state of the nation. The Rev. Venn and Henry Thornton frequently called in after the 5 o’clock dinner, to discuss the latest news and ‘gird up their loins for the coming troubles’. Tom could repeat, Hannah recalled, ‘the different discussions & conversations occasioned by all the startling events which crowded the years before 1814 & 15’.57 While away at school Zachary kept him up to date with the political dramas associated with these last years of Napoleon, who was, not surprisingly, a figure of significance in Tom’s fantasy world. His father’s accounts were always placed in a providentialist framework. ‘The impious hostility to religion wh [sic] was displayed by the Revolutionists of France & other countries’, he opined in 1814, would be suitably punished. Peace looked close in March, yet The Almighty has his purpose to fulfil, widely different probably from others. But whatever they are, whether they coincide with our wishes or oppose them, we may be satisfied that he does all things well.58

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In April he could report that Napoleon appeared to be defeated: ‘This hath God in his goodness wrought’.59 But as Tom wrote to his mother a few months later, in a letter focusing on human agency rather than any providential plan, ‘Was there ever such a man as Buonaparte? All my detestation of his crimes, all my horror at his conduct, is completely swallowed up in astonishment, awe, and admiration, at the more than human boldness of his present attempt.’60 Zachary’s trust in Providence, however, never meant shirking mental strife. Intellectual abilities were critical to life chances, and Tom was expected to have to make his way in the world: he needed both encouragement and admonishment in his studies, and was supplied with a constant flow of approved reading matter. Tom’s education was to prepare him for his future: mental ability was the key to Zachary’s success and would ensure Tom’s as well. Regular examinations and systems of classification meant that Zachary could monitor his progress with ease and Tom internalised the expectations. ‘Every half year we have an examination, in which the boys after being examined in everything that they learn are classed accordingly,’ Tom reported in one of his first letters to his father from his new school.61 Aware of his father’s interests and of his Scottish ancestry, he dutifully declared how pleased he was ‘that the nation seems to take such an interest in the Introduction of Christianity in India’, and that the Scottish parishes had responded so well to the call for petitions of support.62 He clearly sought his father’s approval: he would have writing lessons, not because of the kind reward promised to him, but because of his ‘real desire of giving pleasure to you, and Mamma’.63 Letters to both parents frequently discussed books read, and requested volumes from the library at home. But while his letters to his mother were easy and their correspondence was never one ‘of ceremony’, those to his father were much more deferential.64 He was well aware that his father’s opinion was ‘omnipotent’ with Mr Preston: a powerful external reinforcement for his internal monitors.65 A discussion on the relative merits of ancient and modern literatures concluded with his telling his father that these were a few of the ideas which he offered him for his ‘castigation’.66 This was quickly followed by a disquisition on the inadequacies of the greatly admired English historians, Hume and Gibbon, whose rejection of religion resulted in their descent from ‘an elevation which would have given them the greatest advantage in an attempt to rival the ancients’.67 Many of his formulations to his father appear dutiful rather than heartfelt, a pattern which continued into his adulthood. Zachary declared himself pleased with his ‘wakeful and unceasing anxiety to obtain his master’s approbation and ours’. ‘May he become equally intent to please his God!’, he prayed.68 That

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issue, the one that mattered most to his father, his son’s religious beliefs and spiritual life, was beyond paternal control. Evangelicals drew on a long history of Protestant thinking in relation to family and household, but gave it renewed emphases in the context of radicalism and revolution, and their reaction against ungodly and rebellious forms of living. Parenting, they believed, was a heavy responsibility, and children, in their turn, had responsibilities to their parents. The ‘peculiar blessing . . . of filial piety’ was much vaunted by the Evangelicals.69 The case of a young man known to the family who had abandoned all sense of duty to his mother and run away to be a soldier was commented on by both Zachary and Selina. Zachary was shocked at his behaviour, for after the great expense of his education and preparation for a ‘useful station’ he had acted from ‘mere pique and waywardness and not from any notion of duty’. Selina identified with his poor mother ‘for his going almost broke her heart’.70 Parents should act responsibly to their children, children to their parents, especially in their later years. This was part of the Evangelical conception of familial duty. Macaulay’s nephew Kenneth, for whom Zachary took a great deal of responsibility on account of an errant father, lost his mother in 1801. ‘In the midst of Life we are in Death’, Kenneth’s uncle wrote to him, but he also regretted that it deprived him ‘of an opportunity at some future time of evincing your filial affection by making a suitable provision for her wants’.71 Kenneth’s father was mainly absent, spent time in America, and provided an ‘unhappy example’ of the effects of living without religion.72 Yet when Kenneth was able to start supporting him financially, Zachary was pleased. ‘I have been in attentive observance of the course of God’s moral government of the world’, he told him, ‘and I recollect no instance in which the exercise of filial piety has failed to be accompanied with a reward seen in this life’. If by chance that was not the case, the reward would reside ‘in the consciousness of having performed a sacred duty’.73 Zachary took his responsibilities to his wider kin seriously. He worried about his sisters in Edinburgh and gave them financial help when necessary. He found employment opportunities for some of his brothers and cousins in Sierra Leone and India. He was in very close touch with his brother Colin once he returned from India. The Babingtons were extended family, as in-laws and cousins so frequently were in this period. The cousins spent long periods together in childhood and young adulthood, like siblings but not quite: special friends, potential marriage mates, male companions in the city, and, in the case of Tom Babington, a young business partner for his Uncle Zachary. But Evangelical families stretched beyond blood relations and kin, incorporating those with shared beliefs. Henry Thornton was ‘a

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father as well as a friend and guide’.74 And family, with its clear hierarchies of gendered authority and closely delineated sets of responsibilities, should provide the model for the wider society, just as Zachary had hoped that it would in Sierra Leone where he could act as father to ‘his children’. The organisation of marriage, household and schooling provided a particular setting for nineteenth-century historians and their distinctive historical narratives. As Bonnie G. Smith has argued, valuations of the national and the public, ‘took shape in the conditions of nineteenth century boyhood’ and ‘contributed key crucial material for gendering historiography by providing standards for the important and the unimportant, the brilliant and the derivative’.75 Acutely homesick and longing for the pleasures of domesticity, Tom escaped into his books as he had done at home when feeling deprived of other forms of intimacy, a pattern of escape that was to characterise his adulthood. In his voracious reading and writing, his endless fascination with words and language, he found himself gripped by ‘men and women, the camp, the court, the city and the senate’.76 Above all it was the doings of great men that entranced him: Caesar, Cicero, Pitt, Wellington. And it was in cities that such men congregated – whether Rome, Paris or London. Cities were the sites of great events, of political debate and drama, and were key sites of the literary imaginations that he admired. Wordsworth, with his love of the simple and the natural, was not for him. School was a place designed to separate boys from their families, demarcating between ‘the boy’s world of study and the domestic world of home’, inaugurating their training as men.77 Latin and Greek were the staples of Macaulay’s education, his accomplishment in classical languages the key to academic success. Competition was keen and performance at school critical to his status in his new community. Being the best academically was also a way of countering physical prowess – something that Tom never possessed. His fraternity was an intellectual one and his mastery of the classics marked him off from his sisters. His intellectual abilities fed a confidence and belief in self, yet this selfhood was fragile and Tom’s apparent certainty rested on insecure and vulnerable foundations: arrogance could act as defence. The performance and display of his masculinity (manliness in nineteenth-century parlance) as he grew from boy to man, was far from straightforward. Schooling had not succeeded in separating him from his attachment to home. In October 1817 he set off for Trinity College, a homosocial world which he enjoyed. Yet this ‘monastic life’ did not compensate for the ‘cheerful blaze of the domestic hearth’ and the pleasures of mixed company.78 Home was with him always; he told his father, ‘the highest pleasures are those which are

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purely domestic’. ‘Fondness for home’, he noted, ‘is the first thing which schoolboys are taught to think it manly to shake off ’.79 Even in Cambridge, however, he had not shaken it off. Provoked by hearing that his brother John had been ill he penned a passionate letter to his mother, proclaiming, ‘I am sure it is well worth while being sick to be nursed by a mother’ and remembering with acute pleasure the time when she had nursed him. He had been sick and weak when he heard that she had come, and experienced an ‘ecstasy of joy’ when he saw her face, the ‘smile which of itself seemed to give health and strength’. ‘The sound of your voice, the touch of your hand’, he told her, ‘are present to me now, and will be, I trust in God, to my last hour’. Any ambition or success was as nothing ‘compared with that affection’, which was at its most tender and precious at times of distress.80 Selina, in turn, loved to spoil him. A visitor to Barley Wood, at a time when they were enjoying one of their holidays there, remembered ‘his doting, indulgent mother’ whispering in his ear at breakfast, ‘ “My dear, give Tom good strong tea” ’.81 The monastic life of a Cambridge college had its charms, Tom wrote in his essay in support of the establishment of London University, but what could be better than combining university with family life?82 Their ‘happy fire side’ was ‘the centre of my hopes and affections’ and he pined for it, ‘like a schoolboy’, Tom told his father, even when he was aged thirty.83 Zachary and Selina, in their different ways, had succeeded in creating a home and a family life that was never to be ousted, never to fade or be replaced in the affections of their firstborn. The years at Cambridge, however, saw Tom’s dutiful and deferential relationship to his father under strain as he became more independent in his opinions. ‘When he went up to Cambridge his political views were very much those of his father and his set . . . very liberal Toryism’, recalled Hannah.84 That description, with its associations with Canning, Catholic emancipation and antislavery, seems somewhat mild for the conservatism of the Clapham group and their hatred of radicalism and disorder. One source of tension between father and son was over the events at Peterloo in 1819, when in the lean years of poverty and unemployment after the end of the war, a large, peaceful demonstration to be addressed by Orator Hunt on parliamentary reform ended violently with a cavalry charge, the death of fifteen and hundreds injured. Far from being shocked, as many middle-class observers were, by the attack on unarmed men and women, Zachary was horrified by the ‘criminal supineness of the Government in not having more vigilantly laboured to repress the host of seditious writers . . . grand germinal movers of sedition and rebellion’, as he described them, who were undermining social and political order with their challenges to authority.85

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Tom hastened to reassure his parents that whatever ‘crude views’ insufficiently condemnatory of radical protest he had expressed in a recent letter that had disturbed them, he was not ‘initiated into any democratical societies’. People around him were concerned about Peterloo, but he had made it a rule not to discuss politics. ‘Whatever the affectionate alarm of my dear mother may lead her to apprehend’, he continued, ‘I am not one of the “sons of Anarchy and Confusion”, with whom she classes me. My opinions, good or bad’, he reassured Zachary, were learnt not from Hunt . . . but from Cicero, from Tacitus, and from Milton.’ These were the great men whose ideas ‘redeemed human nature from the degradation of ages of superstition and slavery’. He ended this dutiful missive by identifying himself with his father’s struggles against oppression and piously hoping that one day he too would be associated with the ‘benevolent conquerors of West-Indian tyranny and inhumanity’.86 Hannah, however, noted that his encounter with utilitarian ideas in Cambridge and a new ‘disposition to question everything hitherto considered settled’ was a ‘great grief to his Mother and eldest sister’.87 On another occasion it was reported to Zachary that Tom was a novel reader, an accusation that was met with considerable annoyance. ‘I cannot afford to sacrifice a day every week in defence and explanation as to my habits of reading’, he responded waspishly.88 When Tom heard news, however, of the troubles besetting his father’s businesss, he hastened to assure him that his best inheritance was, ‘an unblemished name and a good education’.89 A university scholarship won in 1821 meant that he could become somewhat more independent of his family, an important moment in the process of separation and the struggle to find his own voice. He wanted to be free to write openly but feared correction. At the beginning of the following year, however, parental hopes that Tom would achieve the highest honours were crushed when he failed to complete the exams, having abandoned the Cambridge maths papers convinced that he would be beaten by his competitors. Hannah recalled this shocking event, the failure of the clever boy who had always succeeded academically, as ‘the first trial of my life’. Hannah was only aged ten but it was already recognised by the family that her ‘whole heart was wrapped up in him’. She remembered her mother taking her into her room for ‘it was thought necessary to break it to me. My only idea was, would Papa be displeased with him’. When Tom arrived ‘I remember my mother telling him he had better go at once into his Father’s room and get it over & I can see him now as he left the room’.90 A father’s disappointment was a heavy burden to carry. An even more serious issue for Zachary was Tom’s involvement with writing for Knight’s Quarterly Magazine, a new production from a group of

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clever and high-spirited young men whose offerings were to be of the ‘spicy curry and the glistening champagne’ variety.91 Zachary judged the publication to be ‘loose, low, coarse . . . with a strain of voluptuousness and even licentiousness which is quite intolerable’.92 Tom bowed to his edict but disassociated himself entirely from his father’s judgement. As he wrote to Charles Knight, the publisher, there were persons amongst his family connections of ‘rigidly religious sentiments’ and his father ‘entertained, in their utmost extent, what are denominated evangelical opinions’. He had been offended by some of the articles, an attitude which Tom did not support ‘in the slightest degree’. However, ‘gratitude, duty and prudence’, compelled him to respect his father’s prejudices.93 Zachary, however, soon withdrew his objections since the second edition was ‘very decorous’. Tom was now a young man and could not be admonished in the way that he had been as a boy. Hannah’s view was that her father, ‘never after he grew up interfered in any way to repress any expression of opinion’, despite the fact that he sometimes disapproved.94 By this stage external reproof was scarcely necessary, for Tom had selectively internalised his father’s standards, adopting some and expelling others. At twenty-four he was prepared to suggest to his mother that the changes that were taking place in family life required some adjustment. She had objected to some of his younger brother Henry’s activities in Liverpool, the place where he had gone to learn business. ‘Separation must involve independence’, Tom reflected, Our family is separating into different walks of life being dispersed to different places . . . The restraints which boys experience at home are compensated by the exercise of the domestic affections and the enjoyment of domestic comforts. But if those who are excluded from the blessings of the family circle are still to feel its restraints and hear only its reproofs – I tremble for the consequences.95

After Cambridge the decision was that Tom would study for the bar and he returned to the family home in London in 1824, where he stayed until moving into chambers in Gray’s Inn at the end of 1829. He was back inside ‘the blessings of the family circle’. These were the years when his father’s business collapsed, he himself established his fame as an essayist, and, as he became more financially independent and his father’s business was mired in debt, he increasingly saw himself as responsible for his parents and siblings. These were also the years when his relationship with his younger sisters, Hannah and Margaret, became so close. As Zachary’s patriarchal power declined and Tom became a public man in his own right, entering the House

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of Commons in 1831, he was more able to criticise him, though a powerful sense of duty constrained him outside of private correspondence with his sisters. On a visit to the Commons smoking room, he told Hannah, he had witnessed Buxton smoking. His father would not believe this. ‘He holds smoking, eating underdone meat, liking high game – lying late in a morning – and all things which give pleasure to others and none to himself to be absolute sins. Is not that an undutiful reflection?’, he concluded.96 This was a relationship of ambivalence, not simple rejection. The internalised father continued to censor Tom, ensuring both apparent compliance and evasion. His letters to his father, up to his death, expressed dutiful sentiments and told him things that he judged he wanted to hear. Though critical of, and resistant to, aspects of his father’s beliefs and practices, he never publicly or explicitly separated himself from them. In May 1831 Selina died very suddenly, to the horror of her family. She had been caring for Zachary, who had been ill for some months. Her eldest daughter, Selina herself, wrote movingly of the loss of her mother some months later in her journal. Her father had called on his wife constantly while she was nursing him in the rambling house in Great Ormond Street. When her mother fell ill the doctor was convinced that it was simply a case of exhaustion and that nothing was seriously wrong. Daughter Selina nursed her, while the other sisters cared for their father. She remembered their terrible ‘astonishment of grief ’ at the death, so unexpected and untimely. Her mother had been ‘the most tender disinterested parent & friend, to whom I had latterly in an especial manner been united by the strongest ties of affection & confidence, & whose society, & sympathy & affection formed the greatest enjoyment of my life’. The young Selina herself suffered from severe ill health and had been a semi-invalid for some years, ‘shut out . . . from the occupations and amusements of the rest of the family’. The loss of her mother, her ‘inseparable companion’ in whose love and sympathy she had found ‘rich consolation’, was a source of ‘loneliness and desolation of heart’ that she could only share with God.97 Selina recorded, and Hannah recollected years later, the horrifying experience that Tom had, returning to his chambers having just been elected as an MP in Calne, and learning from the newspaper that his mother had died. His public success coincided with his mother’s death, producing an unconscious anxiety that his triumph had a terrible underside. He had been unable to save her. He rushed to the house and ‘his first burst of grief was indeed overwhelming’, but he was gradually able to console his father and siblings.98 ‘I shall never forget the comfort & support he was to my Father’, recalled Hannah. ‘His extreme tenderness, his efforts to interest him & to draw him into

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conversation his soothing loving care of us all relieved the misery of that sad week.’99 Twenty-six years later Tom found himself on Great Ormond Street and, seeing that their old house, number fifty, was to let, went into it ‘with a strange mixture of feelings’ and saw his mother’s room for the first time since her death. He ‘went away sad to the Museum’.100 A hint of the closeness that had existed between Tom and his mother is carried in a letter he wrote to her from Edinburgh three years before. He had visited Jeffrey, the renowned editor of the Edinburgh Review, who had been very enthusiastic in support of this talented protégé. Tom was deeply impressed by the loving relationship between Jeffrey and his wife and daughters and the two large dinner parties he attended, which abounded in fine wines ‘but no dessert whatever not so much as an orange or a spunge [sic] cake’. Presumably very different from dinners at home. ‘Small traits of his conversation will come out, one by one,’ he told his mother, ‘as I talk over this visit with you’: offering a picture of the two of them sharing his experiences. He described the splendours of Edinburgh to her, knowing full well that she had been there, but attentive to the impossibility of ladies ever really seeing a town. ‘It is only by walking on foot on all kinds of crowded streets at all hours that a town can really be studied to good purpose’: something that no lady could attempt.101 He would give her what sense he could of it, evoke it for her, share it with her. This doting, devoted mother, in whose company, in conversation or in letters, his imagination flourished and his thoughts and feelings could be expressed, who had always been at the heart of the familial home, whom he had had to learn to share, was now gone. The first trauma of sibling loss Some living and historical sense of the city of London was something that Tom tried to give to his sisters Hannah and Margaret in these years, as the death of their mother brought them ever closer. The significance of sibling relationships has been greatly neglected by scholars across disciplines until recently. Even psychoanalysts, who might be expected to focus on the dynamics of all intimate relationships, have marginalised siblings and focused on the parent/child dyad, the Oedipal drama, as the central route to emotional growth.102 Juliet Mitchell has challenged what she sees as the severe neglect of sibling relationships, due in part to the patriarchal predispositions of psychoanalytic thought, and insists on the importance of lateral as well as vertical relationships, between siblings and peers as well as affinal kin. She argues that the birth of a sibling, the recognition of displacement connected to knowing that there are others who are the same as us, while also

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different and separate, can constitute what she describes as a strong trauma, one that forms part of the structure of unconscious life. The displaced child’s overwhelming sense of hatred and fear, the fear of being obliterated or annihilated by the other, is traumatic. It requires the same kind of attention, she argues, as is given to the traumatic break between the mother and child necessitated by the intervention of the father. ‘The sibling’, she writes, ‘is par excellence someone who threatens the subject’s uniqueness. The ecstasy of loving one who is like oneself is experienced at the same time as the trauma of being annihilated by one who stands in one’s place’.103 Sibling emotions can indeed be murderous: anyone who has seen the rage of a first child that has lost its pre-eminent place in its mother’s arms will be familiar with the often stated desire that the new baby can go now, it has been there long enough. But this can coexist with pride in the new baby, ‘my baby’, and pleasure in being a big sister or brother. Ambivalence might be the central sibling experience; love and hate, rather than hatred and fear always being the dominating emotions.104 Sibling relationships involve an intricate web of aggression and caring, desire and repulsion, engagement or withdrawal.105 ‘Siblings are the object of passionate feelings of love and hate’, as Margaret Rustin writes, ‘and this is not only in connection with the context of sibling rivalry for parental affection and attention, a part of the wider Oedipal drama, but also a site of our emotional lives with its own sources of energy.’106 Tom had returned to the family home (now at Great Ormond Street) from Cambridge at the end of 1824, when he was twenty-four and destined for the bar. He had been elected to a fellowship at Trinity, which gave him some financial independence, and was soon to publish his first article in the Edinburgh Review. The household at that time comprised Zachary and Selina; sister Selina, aged twenty-two, but already suffering from ill health; sister Jane, also with health problems; brother John, who had gone into his father’s counting house in 1823 but found it did not suit him and was destined for orders; Fanny, aged sixteen; Hannah, aged fourteen; Margaret, aged twelve; and Charles, who was eleven – plus, of course, the servants. Brother Henry, aged eighteen, had gone to work in James Cropper’s mercantile house in Liverpool. The Macaulay family was a long family, in demographic terms. Selina had been thirty-three on the birth of her first child, Zachary thirty-four. Their relatively late age of marriage was not at all unusual, for middle-class men needed to be able to support their wives, and Zachary’s period in Sierra Leone had necessitated a long courtship. When Selina’s youngest child Charles was born, she was forty-six. When she died at sixty-four, Charles was eighteen. Tom was thirteen years older than Charles, twelve years older than Margaret and ten years older than Hannah.

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He did not grow up with his younger siblings, because he was sent away to school when Hannah was three and Margaret a baby. Older siblings in these long families could occupy an intermediate position between parents and younger children, mixing the fraternal with the paternal, the sisterly with the maternal. Tom was always special, the big boy who came home for holidays. ‘My earliest recollections’, Hannah recalled, ‘speak of the intense happiness of the holidays, beginning with finding him in Papa’s room in the morning the awe of the idea of his having got home in the dark after we were in bed, the hugging & kissing which ensued, & then the saturnalia wh [sic] set in, no lessons, nothing but fun and merriment for the whole 6 weeks.’ The whole family worshipped him, except for his father, whose strictness was probably a good counterpoise. To us he was an object of passionate love and devotion. To us he could do no wrong. His love, his unruffled sweetness of temper, his unfailing flow of spirits, his amusing talk all made his presence so delightful that his wishes & tastes were our law. He hated strangers, his notion of perfect happiness was to see us all working round him, while he read aloud a novel. Then to walk all together on the Common, or if it rained to have a frightfully noisy game of hide & seek.

‘I have often wondered’, she concluded, ‘how our Mother could ever have endured our noise in the little house.’107 Yet this big boy was also ‘naturally unhelpful and awkward. A strange contrast to his Brothers.’ He was clumsy, could not pack or arrange things, found lighting a candle or a fire difficult. Physical activities – apart from walking, which was not competitive – were not his métier. Intellectually, on the other hand, he was always on top. His extraordinary facility in words and games and rhymes and play combined with lack of physical dexterity, and his passionate love for his family combined with hatred of strangers, may have made him particularly appealing to his younger sisters, who adored their extraordinarily clever yet emotionally needy older brother, a source of fun and freedom. Sibling intimacy was an established part of nineteenth-century culture. Brothers were expected to take on responsibility, especially for unmarried sisters, and sisters were required to be emotionally available to all members of the family, acting as the mother’s younger self. ‘In eighteenth-century fiction’, Ruth Perry writes, ‘only a brother could compete for the love of a woman with her husband: only a brother could arouse as powerful feelings as the hero in the sensible heart of a heroine’. And she cites Jane Austen, always a favourite author for Tom.108 Sibling intimacy featured in much

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contemporary writing, celebrated by the Romantics, for example, with their insistent theme of oneness, the closeness that could be enjoyed with a sibling, stemming from the ties of shared childhood. William and Dorothy Wordsworth are the best-known example of siblings who shared an intimacy that may have been sexual, while a friend of Charles and Mary Lamb wrote of their relationship, ‘Her heart and her intellect have been through life the counterpart of his own. The two have lived as one, in double singleness together. She has been, indeed, the supplement and completion of his existence.’109 The family name, the family traditions and resources, the understandings of masculinity and femininity learned in the daily rituals of home that acquired through repetition an apparent naturalness, the ebb and flow of family fortunes – all these were part of the shared inheritance of siblings. Because of their shared parentage, argues Leonore Davidoff, all siblings, whether of the same or different sex, seem to possess a special quality of unity in difference, a mirroring of the self, two parts of one whole split along the fault lines of ambivalence.110 ‘A like unlike’, as George Eliot put it in her poem ‘Brother and Sister’, ‘two flowers growing on one stem’.111 The particularly powerful identification between Tom, Hannah and Margaret was probably connected to the age gap between them, and the fact that Tom was away during most of their earliest years, returning when they were on the edge of adolescence. Havelock Ellis, discussing the issue of sibling incest in the late nineteenth century, a phenomenon about which there was great interest, remarked on the importance of having grown up separately as critical to the most intense forms of sibling attraction.112 Yet at the same time shared domestic experience was also important: the return of the beloved brother evoked by Hannah, the hugging and petting that ensued, the sense of holiday spirit that filled the family when Tom’s holidays came. He was never so absent as not to be vitally important, yet terribly special in the times that he was there. The size of the family meant that particular ties developed between groupings of siblings. Tom’s relationship with Selina and Fanny was of a quite different order from that of his bond with Hannah and Margaret, and possessed nothing of that intensity or passion. Selina, the sister who first displaced him, stayed at home with her parents when he was sent away to school. So the boys, especially Tom, who was the only child to be sent to boarding school, could act as ‘windows on the world’ for their sisters, bringing new ideas and knowledge and connections into the house, importing excitement and variety, while the girls lived their relatively quiet (domestic) lives with their mother and kin, a round of lessons, philanthropic activity, church on Sundays and visiting. Daughter Selina’s journal, started in 1826, provides a flavour of this. She had taken over the role of

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teaching the younger children from her mother, and Hannah and Margaret were taking up nearly all of her time, with standard exercises all morning and reading in the evening. She and Hannah started to teach at a local school for the poor on Gray’s Inn Road which was in a very bad situation and very disagreeable. ‘But I think it is our duty to overcome the repugnance . . .’, she recorded. ‘We have but very little money to spare; it is therefore more incumbent on us to spare some portion of our time, and the almost heathen ignorance of many of these poor children is a powerful claim upon the compassion of those who are possessed of religious advantages.’113 Selina, the first daughter, shared the religious beliefs of her parents and followed their axioms of watchful self-reflection. Dealing with frequent bouts of ill health that severely limited the relative freedoms she might have enjoyed, she found solace in prayer. Faced with the loss of the family money in 1828 she vowed to attempt always to ‘acquiesce with cheerfulness, & in the spirit of unfeigned submission to the will of our heavenly Father’.114 After a period of severe depression in 1829 she found consolation in her religious beliefs and achieved ‘a calmer serenity of mind’. ‘The world, the flesh & the devil’ were ‘formidable enemies’ but she would devote her life to God.115 As the oldest daughter her deep identification with her mother and profound love and respect for her father, who looked to her when his wife was not there, provided the roots for an Evangelical faith that her older brother never enjoyed. She was the dutiful daughter, taking notes for her father when his ‘high degree of nervousness and excitability’ made it difficult for him to write.116 If she had not become an invalid she would have been responsible for her father after her mother’s death. As it was, that duty devolved on Fanny, the next surviving daughter. Selina certainly shared the family admiration for Tom. In 1826 Tom, now a lawyer, had his first experience of electioneering, working for the Whig candidate in a hard-fought campaign in Leicester. Selina was staying at Rothley Temple nearby. She was thrilled with one of his election broadsides, ‘which I think must certainly be prettier than any election squib that ever appeared’, and delighted at how pleased her uncle Thomas Babington was with Tom’s spirited interventions.117 Her journal was full of Tom’s doings, the ‘window on the world’ that he provided for them as she watched the electoral dramas from the sidelines, heard the praise for his Edinburgh Review essays and saw him being invited to a new range of social events. There were the outings with him to hear particular preachers or to see the new palaces being built in St James Park, the great treat of him reading aloud to them in the evenings, sometimes from those selfsame essays in the Edinburgh Review, his witticisms and poems. His conversation, she was convinced, was unmatched.

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She was excited to meet Sir James Mackintosh when visiting with the Wilberforces, but he could not compete, if ‘sisterly partiality’ did not deceive her, with Tom, who had far more ‘native humour’.118 ‘Our dearest Tom’, the joy of the household, who was heading for a ‘distinguished part in public life’ and who she hoped would ‘be endowed with wisdom from above, and be enabled to devote his transcendant talents to the cause of religion and humanity’, was ‘by his strong affections and wonderful talents . . . the delight of our domestic party’.119 But this clever and arrogant young man, on whom she was to be financially dependent for much of her life, occupied a different place in her affections from her brother John, just a little younger than herself, a quieter and less powerful person altogether, destined for the Church, and one for whom she had especially tender feelings.120 Fanny and Selina were destined to form one dyad. They were never intimate in the way their younger sisters were, but stayed in the family home, as long as there was one, and lived together thereafter. Hannah and Margaret formed another. Only two years apart in age, they grew up together and were extremely close, united as sisters and bonded by their adoration of their big brother. According to Thomas Pinney, the scholar to whom we are indebted for the marvellous edition of Macaulay’s letters, ‘Hannah seems to have resembled her brother intellectually and personally more closely than anyone else in the family: she was a voracious reader, had a powerful memory, and something of Macaulay’s nervous susceptibility’, while Margaret was the universal family favourite, ‘attractive, sweet-tempered, with less of Hannah’s irritability and more of balanced good sense’.121 Hannah’s later depiction of the years of her adolescence, when Tom returned to live at home, was of a period of ‘intense happiness’. Her father was increasingly absorbed in antislavery work and gradually gave up ‘all society, my mother never could endure it’. They had family friends, of course, and visited frequently. In the mornings they studied. ‘In the afternoon’, Tom always took my sister Margaret & myself a long walk. We traversed every part of the City, Islington, Clerkenwell, the Parks, returning just in time for 6 oclock dinner. How he used to pour out anecdotes about every street & place, what jokes we had as we walked. There are many places I never pass without the tender sense of a day that is dead coming back to me. Then after dinner he always walked up & down the drawing room between us chatting till tea time. And oh the merriment of that tea time. Our noisy mirth, his wretched puns, so many a minute. Then we sang, none of us having any voices, he least of all but still the old nursery songs were set to music & chanted.

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She remembered her father sitting at his own table, no doubt doing antislavery work, looking up occasionally and pushing back his spectacles, ‘& I dare say’ wondering in his heart how we could so waste our time. After tea they would read together. Tom would walk ‘up & down the room, listening & commenting & drinking water. Then all to bed in good time.’ Sundays were rather trying for her vibrant elder brother. ‘My father’s habit was always to read a long sermon to us all in the afternoon & again after evening service. A long sermon was read at evening prayers to the servants. . . . Walking for walking’s sake was never allowed & even going to a distant church discouraged.’122 During the weeks Tom ‘was a late riser’. Hannah’s business ‘was to ascertain that he was up as I went down to prayers & then to fly up afterwards to hurry him down’. Her father ‘delighted in the talking over the news in the papers’ with his son, ‘I believe that was the pleasantest part of the day’ for him. ‘He greatly missed him when he moved out into chambers in 1830.’ Tom ‘generally dined with us till he entered Parliament yet my father was tired by the evening & slept a good deal, so that the breakfast hour was a grievous loss to him, as indeed it was to us all’. ‘Truly’, she concluded, ‘he was the sunshine of our home, & I believe no one who did not know him there, ever knew him in his most brilliant fertile & witty vein.’123 Margaret’s recollections of this period, penned in 1831 in Boswellian mode, convinced as she was of the genius of her brother, were equally idolising. He was her sunshine too. She had been a little frightened of him as a young girl and had ‘first become very fond of him’ when she was about aged twelve; since then her affection had steadily increased. He was her hero. He had time for her, took pleasure in amusing her with his punning and impromptu verses, was willing to listen to her criticisms of his writing, even making alterations when she questioned the severity of his judgements on others. It was good to know that ‘even great men . . . caressed their sisters, trifled, talked and wrote nonsense over their tea, and round the evening fire’.124 Tom loved ‘to domesticate’, talking poetry, playing games – these were their intensely shared pleasures. He had little time for fashionable women, and detested bluestockings, he assured the sisters, preferring ‘something more healthy in mind and body’. He loved to take them for long walks around the city, telling them stories of the past, building castles in the air. ‘History is in my mind soon constructed into romance’, he told Margaret, and from his childhood his mind and imagination had been fed by the study of history.125 He explained to his sisters why he preferred Scott, with his ‘healthful and animated nature’, to Byron, with his ‘diseased mind and imagination’; why, despite his father, he was bored and plagued by the antislavery question; why it was impossible to prove the existence of God; and

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why Margaret was quite wrong to defend the rights of man.126 There was an occasional hint that he was not perfect: he was not generous about others, yet ‘extremely pitiful’. He could not bear the sight of pain but was ‘a little too fond of reasoning himself out of feeling, and tries too much to forget unpleasant things’.127 Pity stood in for sympathy. He was perhaps over sensitive, deeply feeling anything that he understood as a slight. He could not be described as handsome, yet ‘the most marked expression in his face’ was power, while his ‘noble expanse of forehead’ marked his ‘great grasp of mind’.128 He was Margaret’s oracle, the man of the world, making his mark in the Commons, who thrilled her with his attention and was in turn entranced by her love and admiration. After their mother’s death Tom spoke to Margaret about what it would have meant to him if he had lost either her or Hannah. Mourning was pushed aside. His favourite sisters were there to take his mother’s place and they became his joy and solace. The rest of the family accompanied Zachary to Leamington, hoping he would convalesce; Margaret was left alone with Tom in London. She listened to him while he repeated his triumphant speeches on reform to her (sometimes she and Hannah were allowed to be ‘public tasters’, hearing the speeches before the event), and shared his hopes in November 1831 that he might be offered a position in the ministry that would enable Margaret and Hannah to set up house with him. ‘Can I possibly look forward’, she wrote, ‘to anything happier than living in such a manner as to draw us even closer than at present to one another. This would no doubt be the effect of that oneness of interest that would then exist between us.’129 Such a conception of a ‘oneness of interest’ that would draw them even closer, evokes that Romantic notion of ‘double singleness’ – siblings lost in each other’s identities, living as one. But the one would be him, with the sisters making his life possible. His public life as an independent man free to think his own thoughts, for he disliked the reins of party loyalty or electors’ expectations, depended on the emotional support of his sisters: the sense they gave him of unstinting love and support, of acceptance and pleasure in all that he did – the devotion that his mother had provided. At moments he had some grasp of this, of his abject dependence and annihilating desires. ‘I wish you two would hang yourselves’, Margaret recorded him as saying to them on one occasion, to their astonishment. ‘Because then I would be the most independent man in the world.’ But he did not want his liberty from this ‘sweet bondage’.130 Margaret could not imagine a life that would suit him better than with the two of them, enjoying ‘the pleasures of domestic life without its restraint’ and with plenty to interest him in his public life. And what were those

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‘restraints’ of domestic life in her mind; sexuality, children, financial responsibilities? Did she see the limitations of a life devoted to her brother for herself and Hannah? She had started collecting these notes as a kind of scrapbook, possibly, she noted, for some child in the future, an indication that marriage was clearly somewhere on her horizon. She pondered that she might in the future look back with sadness on these happy days. ‘But if my dearest, dearest, dearest Tom still loves me, and I am not separated from him, I feel now as if I could bear anything.’ ‘He has given me tastes which no other person can satisfy, he has for years been the object of my whole heart, every occupation has had him for its object and end in some manner, and without him would be void of interest.’131 This was a true love affair. She was thrilled by the glamour of his public successes, so different from her father’s quiet behind-the-scenes activities, and imagined the excitement of being present at one of his oratorical triumphs, hearing ‘the enthusiastic applause of all about me’, feeling that he who was exercising this mighty influence prized the happy tears of my proud, triumphant, devoted affection more than the compliments and applause of the first men of his country. And oh! how almost too happy that in that heart beating so high in the consciousness and the triumph of unrivalled powers – in his very heart of hearts – was reserved a place for me. Dearest, dearest, dearest, I feel as if I could not love him enough, and yet I feel I love him too much.132

The love was ‘too much’, the feeling of being valued by him almost overwhelming. Yet she could not ‘love him enough’. Was that a recognition of the limitations of a sisterly love that was not sexual? A recognition that full adult love meant babies and a new family? She knew that her love for Tom was to be broken, that a separation would take place. In November she recorded that she was looking round ‘our little drawing room, as if trying to impress every inch of it on my memory’. She would remember him, ‘lolling indolently on the old blue sofa’, or strolling round the ‘narrow confines of our room’, he ‘who was all the world to me’. In the ‘more stirring times’ that perhaps awaited her she would know that he had been enough for her in this moment of her quiet and secluded life.133 For her this love was a special time, an interlude between adolescence and marriage. Tom had moved into chambers by the beginning of 1830, though was still visiting the family daily when in London. His periods away, however, both on legal and increasingly political business, meant that he was in correspondence with both sisters, regularly complaining about the paucity of

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their efforts, threatening them with a rival, a Mrs T. B. Macaulay, if they did not exert themselves more. Like Margaret, Hannah was very well aware of her own passion for Tom. She described to a cousin the experience of hearing a beautiful sermon with the text, ‘But this I say brethren – the time is short’. ‘I felt it indeed most painfully applicable to me’, she confided, it seemed as if he read my thoughts, when one inference he drew from the text was, that as the time is short we should idolize nothing on earth – I felt there was one I idolized, one I loved more than God, one on whom I depended alone for happiness, & in one moment we might be separated for ever. And yet I cannot endure the thought of ever loving him less than I do at this moment, though I feel how criminal it is.134

It was precious to idolise him, to love him more than anyone, to depend on him for her happiness. Yet she too imagined the moment of separation. Tom, however, was convinced of the permanence of their feelings. His letters were amusing and entertaining, full of detail of his doings in the great literary and political worlds. He clearly enjoyed writing them, having an enthusiastic audience avid for his accounts of a world they did not know. Yet combined with this were his protestations of love and need for them. The unexpected death of their sister Jane in 1830, and of another young friend, found Tom declaring to Margaret that ‘I am sure that no change of situation or lapse of time can alter a love like that which I bear to you and you have always shewn to me’.135 There was an unknown irony here, for the young friend was Edward Cropper’s wife, and Margaret was to marry the widower two years later. For the moment, however, the love affair was secure. His letters to them both in 1831, while the debates raged over reform and he was heavily engaged in public political drama, were full of delight with their ‘sweet words’ as compared with the ‘bitter talk’ in the House of Commons.136 Much as he loved Margaret, he told Hannah, ‘do not think that she or anything in the world, is dearer to me than you, my darling’.137 Here was no need for jealousy: it was the two of them he adored, and the threesome that they made together, apparently unsullied by fears of sexual conflict. No one was left out here, no one excluded; it was not necessary to choose one over the other. ‘My dear dear girl, my sister – my darling – my own sweet friend’, he wrote to Hannah a few weeks later, amidst the ‘tempests of faction’ and the aristocratic circles in which he was moving, ‘I pine for your society, for your voice, for your caresses’. He wrote this, he declared, ‘with all the weakness of a woman in my heart and in my eyes’. He was weeping for her, his love was akin to a woman’s love, not marked by the masculine authority of a father

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but by the sensitivity of a mother. His profound identification with his sisters allowed him to explore his own femininity; he was like a woman in feeling – he was no hardened thoroughbred boy. He longed for nothing more than to have a home with her, he claimed, and to see her happy: ‘there is nothing on earth I love as I love you’.138 He knew her letters by heart, implicitly compared her virtues with the aristocrats he was now meeting, the bossy Lady Holland who presided at Holland House, the meeting place of the Whig elite, or the politically virulent ladies he encountered, the bluestockings he despised. After a triumphant speech on reform, met with innumerable compliments, he told Hannah that the greatest pleasure he got from this praise was the sense of the pleasure it would give to his father and sisters. It is striking that his father was mentioned here – that ever unsatisfied father who found it impossible to praise his sparkling son. Ambition, Tom maintained at this moment when his success seemed assured, that ‘fiercest and most devouring of all passions’, had been softened in his mind to ‘a kind of domestic feeling’. This was thanks to his dear mother, ‘and to the interest which she always took in my childish successes’. The withholding father had been made up for by the ever generous mother. ‘From my earliest years’, he believed, ‘the gratification of those whom I love has been associated with the gratification of my own thirst for fame, until the two have become inseparably joined in my mind.’139 His mother’s pride in him had become the incentive for success. Domestic affection and his own ‘thirst for fame’, he maintained, had become one, were inseparably linked in his mind. There was no conflict between them for him – the struggle for public recognition was welded to private gratification. Yet could the two really exist so harmoniously? What would happen if the loving sisters were not there to provide the praise? While Hannah was assured that he loved her above all else, Margaret was reassured too. ‘You cannot love me better than I love you’, he told her, Your happiness is my happiness, and I deserve no praise or thanks for promoting it. The affection which I bear to you and Hannah is the source of the greatest enjoyment that I have in the world. It is my strongest feeling. It is that which will determine the whole course of my life.

In the two years after their mother Selina’s death, it was always the three of them: they were as one, and if one was not there, still there were two. A love between siblings was the perfect love: dissipation ended only in disgust, vanity palled with repetition, ambition passed away, ‘But my love for my sweet sisters and friends becomes stronger and stronger from day to day and

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hour to hour.’ He had been a most restless and aspiring man. Now, however, ‘wealth, power, fame’ had become as nothing compared with ‘their most sweet and precious affection’.140 While the country was deeply divided over parliamentary reform and at times revolution seemed to threaten, it was especially vital to have people to love in private life. He risked quoting Byron, notorious for his incestuous relationship, to his sisters: ‘There yet are two things in my destiny, a world to roam through, – and a home with thee.’ A quiet home with the two of them, he maintained, looked to be almost in his reach: this was what mattered most.141 He was missing them both desperately and ‘could find it in my heart to whimper as I used to do when I went to school at twelve years old’.142 That memory of separation from his mother was still vivid in his mind. His sisters would save him from that desolation. After a violent electoral clash in Leeds, fraught with antagonism and conflict, where he was standing as a Whig candidate in the 1832 election, he reflected on the sweet and perfect love ‘of brothers and sisters when happy circumstances have brought it to full maturity’.143 But what did ‘full maturity’ mean to him? He wanted to be at one with them. When they were away he wanted full descriptions in their letters of everything they saw, what they were reading, everyone they met, especially anyone who looked at them ‘with an eye of partiality’: perhaps a hint that he had some sense of possible rivals.144 Whatever the dramas of Whig politics, that life, he assured them, did not satisfy him. He begged his ‘own little darlings’ to return from Liverpool where they were staying with the Croppers. ‘I do not know how love in a cottage may do with a wife’, he told them. ‘But I am sure that it would suit me with a sister.’145 He teased them, entertained them with tales of life in the Commons and in Holland House, made fun of sermonising and gave them political gossip, poured out his love to them. And then he got the news that Margaret was engaged. She was to marry Edward Cropper. His first letter to her combined an insistence that he loved her just as much with a powerful expression of his grief and jealousy. His ‘darling Margaret’ should not imagine that ‘any event could diminish the tender love which I feel for you’. He would suffer in losing her; it was true that the idea of separation brought ‘a flood of very bitter tears’. ‘But my love for you’, he rather self-deludingly wrote, ‘is not so selfish that I should repine at your decision’. He had so much more he wanted to say, yet could ‘scarcely see the paper for weeping’.146 Two days later he wrote to both sisters telling them he was ‘in tolerable spirits again’. ‘I do not think’, he continued, ‘that I ever felt any event so sharply as this separation.’ Despite his pleasure at the good match from the point of view of money and family connections, ‘it is impossible not to feel keenly the pain of parting from one whom I have loved

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so dearly, and of resigning to new claims that place which I had gained for myself in her affection’. He could no longer be the chosen one, the most beloved. His father spoke well of Edward and his ‘dear girl’ had good hopes of happiness. But, he warned her, she would be ‘fortunate indeed if she finds in any husband or in any children a love so tender and constant, so little subject to interruptions and overcloudings, so thoroughly proof to all changes which time and fortune can produce as mine has been and will be’.147 Margaret should take note: his love exceeded that of any potential rival. A much more bitter letter was penned on his way to the election in Leeds some weeks later. She would be married the next time he saw her and he had been unable to say goodbye to her given the desperation he felt at the separation. ‘I wished to spare you the pain’, he wrote, ‘of witnessing distress which you would, I know, feel acutely, and which you would not be able to relieve.’ He would bear his affliction alone, he told her, knowing that it was his responsibility. Yet his letter told her in graphic and punishing detail of his pain. He had no inhibitions in telling her; the self that was locked into the sisters knew no boundaries between them. He had believed that the love of a brother was enough, yet he should have known that this was to defy the law of nature, and ‘the great fundamental law of all society’. ‘The attachment between brothers and sisters’, he wrote, ‘blameless, amiable, and delightful as it is’ was almost bound to be superseded by another. But to me it has been in the place of a first love. During the years when the imagination is the most vivid and the heart most susceptible, my affection for my sisters has prevented me from forming any serious attachment. But for them I should be quite alone in the world. I have nothing else to love.

The rest of his family counted for nothing; his other sisters, Selina and Fanny, did not register emotionally. And Hannah and Margaret were to blame: his affection for them had ‘prevented’ him from forming another ‘serious attachment’. He should have known that this affection could be lost to him at any moment. History should have taught him, for it was ‘a law as ancient as the first records of the history of our race’ that women would leave their family of birth and form another. He knew that the exchange of women was a primordial fact, part of the bedrock of social order. It would be insane of him to resist it. He knew that he could not keep his sisters; he had had to learn to limit what he could have with his mother; now he must do it again. Yet now, if he thought of Hannah leaving him, his hopes of ‘domestic affection’ would be shattered and he would have nothing left in the world but ambition. And ambition, he had maintained, could only live

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in his mind in harness with domestic affection. So could it survive? He was relieved that he would be in Leeds for the election and would miss the wedding, glad that he would be able to ‘wreak all the bitterness of my heart on Michael Sadler’, his Tory opponent in Leeds. His parting with Margaret was ‘scarcely less solemn than that of a death bed’, he concluded, asking her not to show the letter to Hannah in case it should affect any decision that she might make in the future.148 This loss was felt by Tom Macaulay as an absolute loss. Margaret could not be shared; he could not tolerate her attachment to another. If she did not choose him, if he could not possess her, it was as if she were dead. A letter she wrote in response to this punishing missive left him deeply affected, he told her. He hoped that she was right and that since their love had been ‘such as the love of brothers and sisters had seldom been’, it might survive this separation, a separation that would normally extinguish such feeling.149 Such sentiments must have been hard for Margaret to bear: this powerful brother in such rage and despair with her. This was the man who had been ‘the object of her whole heart’, who had given her tastes which no one else could satisfy. Only a week after her wedding she told Fanny that she thought of him with ‘an earnestness and a love which are indescribable and feel as if absence and imagination only make him dearer to me’.150 She could live with the separation but it was the ‘bitterness of parting’ that continued to haunt him.151 The future was now tied to Hannah in his mind. His rage at Margaret’s abandonment was displaced on to Sadler, Tom’s Tory/radical opponent in the Leeds election, whom he mercilessly attacked. ‘I despise myself for feeling so bitterly towards this fellow as I do’, he confided to Hannah, now the only one to whom he could admit ‘almost everything’. He positively enjoyed his electoral victory over him, and ‘his impotent, envious, fury’. While Tom’s own impotence to prevent the marriage had to be in part contained, restrained by his recognition of ‘the law of nature’, aspects of his scarcely repressed fury with Margaret could be displaced on to his triumph over his beaten opponent. While he was lauded and congratulated as ‘the most affable and kind hearted of men’ by the Leeds electors, he felt a ‘fierceness and restlessness’ within himself that was ‘quite new and almost inexplicable’. Only Hannah would be able to sooth him with her ‘sweet tenderness’. He was envied for his success but it was all he could do ‘to hide my tears and command my voice’. ‘Dearest, dearest girl’, he wrote, ‘you alone, are now left to me. – Whom have I on earth but thee – and what is there in heaven that I desire in comparison of thee?’152 He tried to persuade her that ‘husbands and wives are not so happy and cannot be so happy as brothers and sisters’.153 But the loss of Margaret rankled terribly.

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Neither love of Hannah nor rage with Sadler dispelled the grief, and at the end of January Tom wrote a cruel letter to Margaret, now Mrs Cropper, telling her of a portrait that had been painted of him which he intended to give her. He had given her nothing at the time of the wedding, but now would offer this, not ‘as a wedding present but as a funeral relique – as a memorial of one who, though still living, is separated from you by a gulph like that which parts the living from the dead’. This was hatred laced with love: if he could not possess her he would kill her, or himself. The portrait would act as a ‘memorial of ties so close and dear, that though severed they can never be forgotten’.154 Not surprisingly, Margaret was deeply affected by this letter, and as she told Hannah, ‘Some sentences of it constantly run in my mind and call up unbidden tears.’ You will not know, she wrote to her sister, how much you love him until you are parted from him. ‘If ever you are tempted to leave him’, she warned, ‘be sure first that you know well what you are going to, and for whom you exchange him.’155 There was perhaps a hint here that exchanging Tom for the ex-Quaker widower that she had married was a difficult adjustment. The Cropper households were similiar in many respects to her family home – the concern with abolition, with books and reading, with philanthropic activities and family gatherings. But there was no brilliant Tom to entertain them and ‘Tom’s conversations in an intellectual way is my greatest loss’.156 She reminded Hannah of the Recollections that she had written. The book had been firmly closed since her engagement, she had not even wanted to look at it, but a few days before she had read some of it to Edward. He was ‘extremely interested’ in it, ‘but I began some passages I could not get through, and I felt almost as If I had broken faith, as if I were reading my love-letters to my first love’.157 Which indeed she was. The next months for Tom were dominated by intensive governmental business, especially over abolition and India. The political arena and his governmental responsibilities offered him a very different life from the domestic sphere. Hannah spent a long period with Margaret in Liverpool, partly to convalesce after an illness, and Tom wrote lengthy and amusing letters to her about the political world and its doings. He encouraged her in her plan to return to Liverpool later in the year, for Margaret was pregnant. ‘Much as I shall miss you, my own darling’, he wrote, he would not hesitate for a moment since he knew what comfort she would be able to give. ‘I see your affection for her with scarcely less pleasure than your affection for me’, he assured her. He loved and valued their friendship for each other, which was so different from the ‘nauseous, foolish, canting’ friendships between young ladies that he observed, and which were so ‘revolting to men of sense’.158 The intimacy between the sisters was critical to the trio: the two

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women took emotional responsibility for their brother. It was a shared task. When one was away, the other would be there. Margaret wanted Hannah to devote herself to Tom: she could not have a greater pleasure than in knowing that ‘the bonds of that affection’ were drawn ever tighter, believing that this would secure her own intimacy with him.159 Her love for him was undiminished by her marriage, it was ‘a feeling standing by itself within me and in which is concentrated all the little romance of which I am capable’, she told her sister.160 He was protected from the loss of the one by the presence of the other. Yet he had no compunction in separating them. Margaret had made the first break. Now he would make another. Sibling loss revisited A week later he was writing to Hannah, his ‘Nancy’ as he always called her, with news of his possible appointment in India. By now a junior minister in the Whig government Tom had successfully negotiated the new Charter Act for India, and learned that he was likely to be offered a post on ‘the Supreme Council which is to govern our Eastern empire, a post of the highest dignity and consideration’. The salary, as he told Hannah, was ten thousand per annum, and he had been assured that he could live in splendour in Calcutta for half of this, meaning that he could expect to return to England at thirty-nine in ‘the full vigour of life, with a fortune of thirty thousand pounds’. He had come to understand, all too clearly, ‘how necessary a competence is to a man who desires to be either great or useful’. A political life was impossible without an independent income. The financial prospects for their family were bleak; there were even fears that their father might be arrested for debt and their uncle turned out of Rothley Temple. Furthermore the Whig ministry was breaking up and riven by factions. If he were to be away for a while he could then return, and feel free to take his own line. He could thus save his family ‘from distress’, secure his own future, and while in India, ‘discharge duties not painfully laborious, and of the highest and most honourable kind’. Furthermore, he would not be gone so long that he would be forgotten by his friends or the public. Could he face such an exile, he asked, given his love of his country and his family? The answer depended on Hannah. He could scarcely write as the tears forced themselves into his eyes: would she go with him? Will you entrust to me for a few years the care of your happiness? I call to God to witness that it is as dear to me as my own – that I love the very ground that you tread on – that if I shrink from poverty it is more for your sake than for my own.

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‘I know’, he claimed, ‘what a sacrifice I ask of you’. He knew how many precious ties she would have to cast asunder. He knew that the Indian court and Calcutta’s ‘brilliant society’ would have no attractions for her and that he could only bribe her with the conviction that if she came he would love her even more, if that were possible, than he did now. He wished he could take Margaret too, and if he could then he wondered if he would ever return. This was a great crisis in his life and he asked her for proof, a ‘painful and arduous proof of her affection’. He begged her, with tears running down his cheeks, to put him first – to be willing to leave those others whom she loved for she was ‘necessary’ to his ‘happiness’. Tom had huge ambitions: he wanted to be a statesman, and that ambition could sit alongside domestic affection provided that Hannah complied. The sacrifice he asked her to make, he assured her, could not be more painful than it would be for him to part from her.161 Hannah was horrified. She ‘sent an agonised appeal to him entreating him to give it up’. India was a ‘region of disease and death’ and she ‘abhorred the idea’.162 It was terrible to think of him leaving England and she thought that he might take his chances, whatever the fate of the ministry and his post with it. It was frightful to imagine leaving her family, especially Margaret. He replied that she must decide, he would not go without her. If on ‘mature reflection’ he wrote, she decided that she could not leave England, then he would give it up.163 The pressure was too much for her, not least because of the anxieties for their father. The fear of ‘pecuniary distress’ and ‘the dread of leaving his children quite unprovided for’, Tom told her, had affected Zachary to such an extent that he could face the pain of separation with relative equanimity. He had felt ‘so acutely the constant humiliation and the constant anxieties of poverty’ that any relief was welcome. There are very few ‘sentimental horrors’, judged his son, ‘which pinch like the daily and hourly sense of penury’.164 And having travelled himself so much in his earlier life and with so many relatives across the empire, Zachary was not shocked by the prospect of distance. There were family discussions: Fanny had suggested that she might go with them. Tom assured Hannah that he had a ‘sincere affection’ for her but she was needed to look after her father.165 Selina was too unwell to take on that responsibility. One daughter would look after her father, the other her brother. Hannah bowed to the pressure, and ‘a most bitter parting it was’.166 Tom could imagine, he told her, how hard it would be for her to leave Margaret, especially since she had spent much of the last eighteen months with her. ‘I went through that misery a year ago’, he wrote. To me the bitterness of that death is past. Whether I am in London or at Calcutta, she is equally lost to me. Instead of wishing to be near

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her, I rather shrink from it. She is dead to me: and what I see is only her ghost.167

As Margaret had understood, this was a man who could not work through difficult feelings: the ‘violence of his emotions’ made him want to escape them.168 Yet he could not bury her. She was dead to him, yet her ghost came out of the grave and reproached him for his hatred of her. The terrors of Hamlet were perhaps in his mind, for Shakespeare was one of his passions and part of family life. He wanted to persuade himself he could bury her, but at some level knew he could not. Margaret, meanwhile, encouraged Hannah to go, retrospectively reflecting on whether this was because she could not bear for Tom to go alone and be unhappy. Before he left England Tom wrote to Margaret, telling her yet again of the pain she had caused him. He knew his feelings were selfish, yet could not stop himself from attacking her. It would be no new loss for him going to India, he told her, for he had already lost half his happiness. ‘The wound is still fresh’, he had expected that time would heal, yet ‘time passes in vain’. No one had occupied her place. He knew her marriage was ‘the ordinance of nature and society’. But it was unbearable that she was replacing him with new bonds and affections, new ties of husband and child, that the past would come to seem to her like a dream. For him it was not so. He remembered every detail of their time together, their precious walks. ‘My loss is all pure loss. Nothing springs up to fill the void.’ All that he could do was to cling to Hannah, who was still left to him. He would like to make her a short visit before leaving, but it would be short: ‘one day is enough for pain’.169 All his attention was now devoted to Hannah. His ‘dear, dear girl’ should remember ‘that you are now committed to the care of the person in all the world who loves you best, of one who has no prospect, no scheme of life, of which your happiness is not the chief part’.170 Much effort and money went into the preparations for the journey – questions as to the house they would live in, the furniture and fittings that would be required, the clothes and servants needed, the books to be bought. ‘It is now my duty to omit no opportunity of giving you wholesome advice’, wrote Tom, having bought a series of improving texts for her on women’s duties and warning her that she must take care not to become a brazen society woman. ‘I am your papa now’, he told Hannah, and with the help of Gisborne’s duties of women and other such works, ‘I hope to keep my responsibility in order on our voyage and in India’.171 He was teasing her, of course, but there was a bite here too. Zachary was no longer able to support her and Tom was to be father, brother and lover.

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Hannah wrote an agonised letter to Margaret after she had boarded the ship, waiting to depart. She was in pain. It was terrible that she had been called upon to make this sacrifice, she had had no conception of how hard it would be to leave those she loved. Why had no one stopped this happening? She had ‘no human soul to speak to’ and she needed to relieve ‘the dreadful oppression’. Tom had ‘no conception of what I am feeling’ and she tried to spare him as best she could.172 Tom must be protected: that was her role. The same day Margaret wrote, in the journal that she was keeping for Hannah, of her sadness at the way in which their family had been broken up. She felt it more strongly, she believed, since she had become a mother: this had given her a new sense of the suffering of another. ‘ “Man is born to sorrow”, there is not a truer word’, she wrote. She had some sense of Hannah’s aching heart. The ‘decaying nature’ of their once happy home was deeply sad: with Tom gone there was a void; Selina was descending into ‘aggravated old maidism’; she and Fanny were not getting on well; John was fussy and anxious. She could not recollect ‘a time of more sorrow, of a more constant depression’. She desperately wished ‘that I could hold you once more in my arms if it were only for one five minutes, and once again whisper words of comfort’.173 ‘All my love my heart is as it were within you and every fibre suffers in the wrench . . . It is just a heart-break, just a heart-break’, she told Hannah.174 These letters between the sisters, full of intense and passionate feeling and intimate exchanges, are seen by John Clive as associated with Evangelical fervour.175 But the language is redolent too of the female world of love and friendship that feminist historians have explored, and in Hannah and Margaret’s correspondence there is little to suggest that spiritual experience was central to either of them.176 A few days later Margaret heard that the ship was about to sail. The distance felt immense. She poured out her tender love and deep sympathy for her sister, her grief in losing her and longing for her return. ‘. . . I will not think of change or decay in your love’, she wrote, ‘Love her still, think of her still’. For Margaret, separation could be tolerated, love shared, pleasure taken in the intimacy of others. She was delighted to receive Hannah’s first letter and it gave her the greatest pleasure to hear you speak as you do of your intercourse with Tom. May every day that passes over your head unite you in the bonds of a closer attachment. You may love long and go far and never never meet with such love again.177

She was full of memories. Tom had kept some old Spectators for her and it was as if she had been in his little room again, ‘just as it was when he used

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to lie in bed with his unshorn face, you opposite the window with your feet up on the bed, working’. Hannah was never out of her mind for an hour, she told her. ‘Tell me all, everything. Believe that I will be to you another self.’178 Their separation was simply heartbreaking. She longed to know everything that Hannah was feeling and thinking; she longed for news. She was able to tell Hannah as the months passed of her growing attachment to her new family, her delight in her baby and growing appreciation of her husband. A married woman with a child, she gave her older sister advice as to her conduct in India. She must remember that she would be a great catch in Calcutta society where eligible young men abounded but where there were few white women. She warned her against becoming a flirt, aware that she had some tendencies in this direction. ‘Never tell me of an offer’ if she could not honestly tell her that she had behaved honourably, she admonished her. Clearly Hannah’s marriage was in Margaret’s mind. As she had said to her, marriage was ‘the natural and accustomed change’ for a young woman of her age.179 The restlessness that Hannah had experienced, the sense of dissatisfaction with her life that she had told her of, was probably associated with this. Margaret reported to Hannah an animated discussion with some women friends about marriage. One had ‘maintained all those doctrines you (naughty girl) used to maintain of the general indifference of married people and the disappointing and unsatisfactory nature of the married state. I challenged her to show that old maidism had less disastrous [effects] or greater pleasure.’180 She discussed friends and family, shared with her the difficulties between herself, Selina, and Fanny, regretting that they were so different and that she felt only ‘distant but kindly affection’ for her oldest sister.181 Above all she asked after Tom. ‘You do not tell me how you go on together’, she wrote, ‘whether you are constantly with him.’ ‘Oh you cannot tell the earnestness with which I desire his happiness . . . my heart is full full of love for him.’182 She wanted to hear that Hannah was cultivating ‘domestic life with him’, she must look after him, make a home for him, for he would not do it for himself.183 Yet how would this sit with a possible marriage? On arrival in India Tom and Hannah spent some time in Madras. Tom wrote vivid letters to Margaret depicting his first encounters with the place, the food, the people, describing daily life, and teaching her some relevant history. The memory of her still made him weep each day, he told her; the stroke which separated them had left a terrible wound. To their dismay, he and Hannah were separated soon after arrival. He was to join the colonial government in the hills at Ootacamund while Hannah went on to Calcutta, where she was to stay with the bishop. By November 1834 they were together again, established in a very large house on Chowringhee, the most

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select area of the city. Only a few weeks later Tom wrote to Margaret with the news that Hannah was to be married. This was, he maintained, with his ‘fullest and warmest approbation’. If he had had to search the whole of India he could not have found a better husband for her than Charles Trevelyan: he came from a good family, was a product of Charterhouse and Haileybury, and a bright young star of the East India Company. He had distinguished himself by his capacity to stand up to a superior who was accused of corruption, by his capacity for business and his reforming zeal. He was ‘at the head of that active party among the younger servants of the company who take the side of improvement’ and he was particularly enthusiastic on the subject of ‘native’ education. His reading was limited but he had a good mind and ardent, though not intolerant, religious feeling. His financial situation was very satisfactory. His faults were ones which ‘time, society, domestic life’ and a visit to England should correct. He had ‘no great tact or knowledge of the world’ but he was already improving under Nancy’s tuition.184 He had been in India since a young man, mostly in a remote province, and had had little exposure to European men, never mind ladies. He had no polish and no small talk. (But he looked on Macaulay, as Tom told his one close male friend, Thomas Flower Ellis, as little less than ‘an oracle of wisdom’.)185 Nancy had not taken to him initially, with his talk of ‘steam-navigation, the education of the natives, the equalisation of the sugar duties, the substitution of the Roman for the Arabic alphabet in the oriental languages’. So far Tom’s tone was very reasonable. But then it shifted, and reason and passion were at war with each other in his mind. He had realised before Hannah had that she was falling in love. He could have stopped it, he told Margaret, ‘But you will believe me . . . that no thought of such base selfishness ever passed through my mind.’ He knew ‘how painful a sacrifice I should have to make’. But he also knew that ‘nature made the two sexes for each other. It is the fundamental law on which the whole universe rests that they shall mutually attract each other.’ As he had with his mother, as he had with Margaret, he recognised the immutable natural laws which bound families, and societies, together. Nature could not be gainsaid. He found celibacy pitiful and he would ‘as soon have locked’ Hannah up in a nunnery ‘as have put the smallest obstacle in the way of her having a good husband’. ‘What I have myself suffered’, he continued, it is unnecessary to say. My parting from you almost broke my heart. But when I parted from you I had Nancy – I had all my other relations – I had my friends – I had my country. Now I have nothing except the resources

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of my own mind, the consciousness of having acted not ungenerously, and the contemplation of the happiness of others.186

Tom had made war on nature. He had formed ‘a scheme of happiness inconsistent with the general rules which govern the world’. He had been ‘under a strange delusion’. His sisters were everything to him and he had failed to see that their qualities, which were so endearing to him, would attract others to them. I did not reflect – and yet I well knew – that there are ties between man and woman dearer and closer than those of blood; – that I was suffering an indulgence to become necessary to me which I might lose in a moment – that I was giving up my whole soul to objects the very excellence of which was likely to deprive me of them. I have reaped as I sowed. At thirtyfour I am alone in the world. I have lost everything – and I have only myself to blame.

Hannah had been everything to him ‘since you left me’. He had loved and adored her. He had wanted wealth and fame for her sake. He had become an exile from his own country, he claimed in a striking piece of self-delusion, ‘for her sake far more than for my own’. She was everything to me: and I am to be henceforth nothing to her – the first place in her affections is gone. Every year some new object of love will push me lower in the scale of her regard till I am to her what our uncles and aunts were to our father and mother.

Not to come first was to be annihilated, to be ‘nothing’. And each year it would be worse as more babies came and the hierarchies of her affections were elaborated. To soften the blow Nancy had suggested that they should all live together, something which would be quite normal in India. He was not sure whether it was right to do this, or whether he should bear the pain of separation now rather than seeing ‘the gradual growth of new feelings, the multiplication of new objects of attachment, the progress of that inevitable estrangement which it will not be in the dear girl’s power to avert’. But he had not the strength to relinquish her now, in this strange country. He was trying not to let Nancy see his feelings but it was hard to control his voice or contain his tears. He had been doubtful about sending this letter to Margaret, but he needed her sympathy. ‘I have known poverty’, he claimed in a dramatic rhetorical passage, ‘I have known exile. But I never knew

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unhappiness before.’ Some ‘foolish lines’ which he had quoted to them once before, in happier times, told the story of his life: There were two birds that sate on a stone: One flew away, and then there was but one The other flew away and then there was none And the poor stone was left all alone.187

On Christmas Eve he wrote to Margaret again. Hannah and Charles had been married the day before. Once the decision had been made it was right not to delay. They had gone on their honeymoon and his soul, he wrote, quoting the Bible and identifying with Christ’s agony before the passion, was ‘exceedingly sorrowful even unto death’. His only comfort was that he had made her happy and he had paid the price. ‘Every thing is dark. The world is a desert before me. I have nothing to love – I have nothing to live for.’ She had wasted his affection, been prodigal with his love. Here was the rage and the hatred, the self-pity and the self-justification, the terrible loneliness. This was a ‘bitter lesson’ and it was all that he had ‘got in exchange for the blighted hopes and squandered affections of a life’. I am a changed man. My sense and my humanity will preserve me from misanthropy. My spirits will not easily be subdued by melancholy. But I feel that an alteration is taking place. My affections are shutting themselves up and withering.

His intellect, he sometimes thought, would ‘absorb the whole man’. He still felt a thirst for knowledge, his passion ‘for holding converse with the greatest minds of all ages and nations . . . of living with the past, the future, the distant, and the unreal’. Books ‘are becoming everything to me’. He would never feel again the love which he had felt for his two sisters, and which, after Margaret left him, he had felt with ‘concentrated strength’ for Nancy. ‘I now sit alone in the vast halls of my house’, in dreary exile, with no one to whom he could turn for consolation. Living together after the marriage would be daily torment: ‘Every day will remind me how little I am to her who was so much to me.’ He knew this letter would pain her, but ‘my feelings will govern my pen’. In fact Margaret never read the letter. It arrived after her untimely death from scarlet fever. Hannah was all too well aware of his torment. As she wrote years later, ‘Then came the great trial of his life. My marriage. This is a period I never could speak of or think of without exquisite pain.’ He had quite approved of

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her choice, ‘But strange to say he had never contemplated the possibility of my marrying & leaving him.’ Lady Bentinck, the Governor-General’s wife who had taken Hannah under her wing in Calcutta while her brother had joined Lord Bentinck in the hills, had seen how things were going and had written to her husband. When he raised it with Macaulay, however, the response was that his sister would never marry. It had simply been unthinkable to him. Charles Trevelyan was troubled by the ‘deep and strong feeling’ which agitated Tom, and made it clear to Hannah that ‘It will be my study now to make you both as happy as possible’.188 The account he wrote many years later was matter of fact, but drew attention to the common expectation of brothers that sisters lived for them alone. ‘Although his conduct on the occasion was generous and manly’, he recalled, ‘his sister’s marriage was a sharp wrench to Macaulay. Like so many other brothers he had taken too narrow a view of human nature, and believed that Hannah would love him to the end with the same undivided attention which he felt for her.’ Hannah recalled that Tom became more and more miserable, to the point that the Bentincks were seriously alarmed and insisted on the marriage taking place immediately in the hope that this would settle him: ‘But he never while we were in India recovered at all his spirits, nor do I think his former light hearted vivacity ever returned, a certain amount of depression remained, & to his last day there are entries in his journal referring to this unhealed wound which were exquisitely painful to me to read most of which I have erased’.189 After their marriage Hannah and Charles went to Barrackpore, the country residence of the Governor-General, for their honeymoon. The Bentincks had gone in the evening to visit Tom, Hannah vividly remembered, ‘& wrote to me begging us to return as soon as we could as they were frightened about him. I am sure that his mind was disturbed for he wrote me the most fearful letter of misery & reproach, followed the next day by one begging me to forgive it.’ But ‘before we met again a calamity had befallen us so terrible as to annihilate for a time all other thoughts’. News came ‘of the death of our darling Margaret. We instantly returned home, & oh I shall never forget our meeting. He felt his loss terribly, & we spent many months in great unhappiness. And it was curious to hear him say what since I have heard from another brother John Trevelyan that he thought death a less trial than the living death of marriage.’190 The double death of Margaret, what he had experienced as her death followed by the reality of her death, was a blow from which Tom never recovered. Guilt must have played a part in this: he had declared her dead to him on her marriage. And then she died. ‘She was as dear to me as one

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human being can be to another’, he told his friend Ellis. He could not ‘write about her without being altogether unmanned’ – losing his masculine authority, becoming dominated by feeling, like a woman. It was books which saved him, as they had saved him when his mother was preoccupied with other babies, as they saved him when desolate at school. ‘That I have not utterly sunk under this blow I owe chiefly to literature. What a blessing it is to love books as I love them, – to be able to converse with the dead and live amidst the unreal.’ In these months he had returned to the ancients and was finding solace in them, reading with ‘a passion quite astonishing’.191 These feelings were echoed in his essay on Bacon, written at this time and reflecting on ‘the great minds of former ages’. Communion with the dead, he wrote, was free from the dangers of everyday realities. The ‘silent converse’ with ‘the highest of human intellects’ was not subject to the vicissitudes of time or fortune, temper or interest. That placid intercourse is disturbed by no jealousies or resentments. These are the old friends who are never seen with new faces, who are the same in wealth and in poverty, in glory and in obscurity. With the dead there is no rivalry. In the dead there is no change. Plato is never sullen. Cervantes is never petulant. Demosthenes never comes unseasonably. Dante never stays too long. No difference of opinion can alienate Cicero.192

Five months later Tom was far from recovered, and wondered whether he would ever regain his spirits. But he found ‘the miracles of Art which Athens has bequeathed to us’ were soothing.193 His letters to Ellis were written, as Sullivan notes, as one man, one Trinity fellow to another, with none of the emotional excess that characterised his missives to his sisters. Discussion of the classics with his friend allowed a different kind of communion from that which had been possible with his sisters. Lines in Greek poetry quoted to Ellis allowed him both to evoke his despair and distance himself from it. The Muses had restored the gift of song to the poet as he sat silently with a grief-stricken heart.194 Selina and Fanny, however, received a rather more depressed account: ‘I find no relief. I have no new ties, no new hopes, to replace those which are gone.’195 His mind was his only resource but the mind was not enough. By the end of the year the birth of Hannah’s first child, Margaret, brought a new pleasure and amusement and he devoted himself to her. He was able to write to Ellis that he was beginning to recover his spirits. ‘The tremendous blow which fell on me at the beginning of this year has left marks behind it which I shall carry to my grave. Literature has saved my life and

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my reason.’ Even now, if not attending to business he never dared to be without a book in his hand. He was beginning to think that on his return to England he might leave politics and devote himself to history. ‘Brothers are to sisters what sisters can never be to brothers’ wrote Harriet Martineau, in the wake of her own bitter parting from her brother James.196 Sisters were subject to their brothers, expected to accept their authority, devote themselves to them when necessary, put them first. But in the case of the Macaulays the power relations had been partially overturned. Tom’s love for his sisters was an exclusive one – but their love for him was not. When George Otto Trevelyan’s biography of his uncle appeared, his aunt Fanny commented on how the book revealed Tom’s ‘singular devotion’ to his sisters. ‘He never was happy but with entire attention and self-devotion, and this he found he could have from his youngest sisters’, she wrote. ‘But it is curious to see how little their ideas corresponded with his, for the first men who asked them they accepted, whilst he imagined they would be his and his only forever.’ Fanny’s comment has a sharp edge – she was one of the old maids that he pitied, celibate like himself. She had devoted her life to her father, whom she believed had been overshadowed by ‘his brilliant and loveable son’, then to her invalid sister.197 She had had to rely on Tom for her livelihood and he had been dutiful but with none of the outpourings of love and generosity that he kept for Hannah and her children. But Hannah never left Tom. He was the third figure in her marriage. A third threesome – Tom and his parents; Tom and his sisters; Tom, his sister and her husband. Margaret was another matter. She was gone and it remained a terrible sore for him. He never married.198 ‘Mine is the world of thought, the world of dream, Mine all the past and all the future mine’, he wrote in his last poem.199 Years later he could not bear to write Margaret’s name in his journal. He cried for her ‘as if it were yesterday’ on finding some papers that reminded him of her.200 In 1858 he read a few sonnets of Petrarch which ‘wakened old feelings and drew forth tears’. There was one that he used to repeat ‘when I lost Margaret and Hannah at once’: You have taken from me O Death, my double treasure that Made me live glad and walk proudly: neither land nor empire Can restore it, nor orient gem, nor the power of gold. O our life which is so beautiful in prospect.201

Despite Hannah’s deep devotion to him, in his mind he had lost her – because she had chosen another. When she decided, years later, to return to India with her husband, he died before it happened.

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‘I am a changed man’, Macaulay had written in the wake of Hannah’s marriage and Margaret’s death. Zachary had already made his mark upon him, the powerful father whose authority was both internalised and denied. His ambition remained unbounded, but the loss of the three women – his mother and his two beloved sisters – marked him in ways that profoundly affected his subsequent life and his history writing. There had been a retreat into himself and his books, a closure in his emotional life, a battening down of the hatches against any further pain. Distress must be avoided, vulnerability guarded against, life kept in order. Writing his history, imagining a safer world where things could be put in place, was to become his solace. But the political world exercised a powerful pull. His understanding of the nation, which was to be fully articulated in his mature writing, was shaped by his experience of government and opposition in the 1830s and 1840s.

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Tom Macaulay Reforming Man

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acaulay’s love for his family and his ambition were indissolubly connected, as he knew himself. His identity as a public man, essayist, politician, colonial statesman and later great historian, were the identities which sustained him in the face of private vulnerabilities and pains. He was groomed for a public life, his extraordinary abilities seeming to mark him out. Zachary fondly believed that if he could only add ‘his own morale, his unwearied industry, his power of concentration, his energies on the work in hand, his patient painstaking calmness to the genius & fervour which [his son] possessed, then a being might be formed who could regenerate the world’.1 By the mid-1820s Tom was establishing himself as a successful essayist, and in 1830 he entered the House of Commons under the patronage of the Whig Lord Lansdowne. This was a time of great political upheaval, and his series of brilliant speeches in support of reform secured his reputation as an up-and-coming young politician. He was invited to represent Leeds for the Whigs in the first election after the 1832 Reform Act and was successful in defeating the Tory Radical Michael Sadler. His membership of the Board of Control, however, and his key role in drafting and presenting the 1833 Charter Act for India, led to his appointment to the GovernorGeneral’s Council and departure for India in 1834. Tom emerged in the early 1830s as a public man, a reforming man, a Whig. Reform was a central issue: reform of parliament and of other exclusive, corrupt and oppressive institutions – from the Church, the criminal law, prisons, high courts, to municipal corporations, the Bank of England and the East India Company. Reform was also, potentially, of the self. But Tom had little interest in this. While Zachary had been locked in a constant endeavour to reform himself, Tom was concerned with the outside, not the inside. The young Macaulay, like many of his generation, was preoccupied

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with national stability, a preoccupation that characterised his thinking for the rest of his life. While his father had been centrally concerned with cleansing the nation from the sins of the slave trade and slavery, Tom’s interest was in reforming the constitution, reinvigorating the state and the nation, ensuring that dangerous internal divisions were resolved and that order could be maintained. Critical to this reform were the questions as to who should govern, what was the role of the state, and who could claim political citizenship. Where should the lines on state responsibility be drawn? Who should be included and who excluded from the new historic settlement? Critical too was the status of the troubled ‘sister kingdom’ of Ireland and how it was to be governed. A part of the national family of the United Kingdom, like those other sisters, Hannah and Margaret, it was close, yet separate; unwilling to accede quietly to the brotherly will. With nation-states, as with families, there were insides and outsides, those who could be accommodated and those who could not, leaving dangerous sores on the body politic. Manliness and the public sphere By the mid-1820s Tom Macaulay, after more than a decade living away from home, was fashioning himself as a different kind of man from his father. Manliness, as John Tosh has argued, is a slippery concept, a term very widely used in the nineteenth century but one that has to be contextualised with care, since its meanings vary. There were connecting strands from eighteenth-century notions of Evangelical manliness to the more secular liberal versions of the early nineteenth century, the muscular Christianity of Arnold and Hughes, the mid-century visions of Benjamin Jowett or the later conceptions of Henry Fawcett or Leslie Stephen, but there were also particularities: manliness carried multiple and historically specific meanings.2 In its common-sense meaning, Tosh suggests, it evoked the physical characteristics of ‘manly vigour’, associated with energy, virility and strength, and the moral characteristics of decisiveness, courage and endurance. Its antitheses were often childlike, effeminate or sentimental, and bestial. The ideal was the ‘independent man’, standing on his own two feet and ruling his household.3 This was a status that could be claimed by working-class as well as middle-class men, but it is the middle-class connotations that are particularly relevant to Tom Macaulay. The independent man was a man who could act, was not subject to the will of another: notions connected with the transition from patronage and clientage to occupation as key to a man’s identity. Individuality, as Leonore Davidoff has demonstrated, emerged as a gendered

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concept, and implied mastery over things and people. ‘The subject who acts . . . needs a subject upon which to act, who was subjected to his authority. It is as if masculine self-fabricated subjecthood could only be attained at the cost of another – so often a feminine, or at least feminized, other’s subjection’.4 Manliness was always relational, defined by its multiple others, whether those others were men, women or peoples of other cultures. Yet this ‘independent man’ was himself dependent on those around him: a mother, wife or sister who managed the household and ensured his comfort, servants who did the work within the household, tended the garden and cared for children, and perhaps other employees. But the fiction of the ‘independent man’ was central to middle-class concepts of manliness. By the 1830s manliness had significant political purchase and had displaced gentlemanly politeness as a key virtue. While politeness had been a route to social status within the elite, providing a code of behaviour that was in theory open to all, ‘its place as a marker of social and political virtue was taken by “manliness” ’.5 Evangelical manliness had its own specific forms and was in many respects a challenge both to older forms of upperclass masculinity and ‘gentlemanly politeness’, since at its heart was religious belief. The manliness espoused by Tom Macaulay was different from that of his father and was honed in a different conjuncture, both personally and politically. Zachary had left home at fourteen, achieved his manhood in Jamaica and Sierra Leone, and had been transformed by the experience of religious conversion. Tom grew up in a comfortable, albeit deeply religious, middle-class household, was groomed for a great future, and up to his early twenties could have expected to have an independent income. The collapse of his father’s business, however, meant that he had to secure at least a ‘modest competence’, if he was to be able to pursue either a political or a literary career and support his elderly father and siblings. By the mid-1820s, when he returned to London to establish himself in the law or some other occupation, the political situation was more fluid than it had been for a long time. Tory dominance, associated with the revolutionary wars and fears of radicalism at home, was beginning to crack. The death of Liverpool and the establishment of a Liberal–Tory government under Canning shifted the political landscape. Catholic emancipation was a deeply divisive issue and the activities of the Catholic Association in Ireland, led by O’Connell, were provoking considerable anxiety. Antislavery activity had revived. Middle-class reformers, in part inspired by Bentham and his utilitarian critique, were making claims for change, while working-class organisations were increasingly vocal in their attacks on Old Corruption. This was a new conjuncture, when cultural, political and economic shifts condensed,

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resulting in a new historic settlement. For a young man like Tom Macaulay, well educated, well connected, ambitious and eloquent, there were many possibilities at such a time of making a mark, and of defining his own masculinity in the process. Making a mark required establishing his independence and distinguishing himself clearly from his father. A man must be free: freedom was the antithesis of slavery. As antislavery literature so abundantly demonstrated, the enslaved could not be men, for they were dependent on their masters, owning neither their own bodies nor their labour.6 Those who are enslaved, the young Macaulay maintained, reiterating antislavery truisms, are ‘sunk in intellectual and moral degradation’, not ‘capable of the rational and manly discontent of freemen’.7 Independence of mind, whether from his father, or in times to come from his patrons or electors, was a prerequisite of manhood, involving the freedom to think, hold opinions and act on them. Financial independence was also vital, and Tom slowly separated from dependence on his father with a Cambridge fellowship, tutoring, legal fees, and essay writing, followed by government appointments. ‘No food is so bitter as the bread of dependence’, he wrote, paraphrasing Dante, ‘no ascent so painful as the staircase of a patron.’8 Independence of mind and of body, it was believed, facilitated rational engagement with debate and discussion in civic life and the public sphere. It was in civil society that rational discussion and reasoned discourse and arguments, not status or traditions, became a test of a man’s abilities.9 And participation of this kind was coming to be associated with a capacity for political citizenship; the demand for middle-class men to be enfranchised. By the time Tom left Cambridge the Toryism of his parents’ circle had been displaced by a more questioning relation to politics. He was disturbed by Peterloo in 1819 and influenced particularly by the utilitarian thinking of his friend Charles Austin. A formative political experience was his involvement in the hotly contested Leicester election of 1826. Leicester was close to Rothley Temple, the Babington country home at which the Macaulay family spent so many holidays. William Evans, a radical cotton manufacturer who was sympathetic to abolition and Catholic emancipation, and critical of municipal corruption, was standing against two Tories. Babington was one of his nominators, abandoning his usual Tory commitment on abolitionist grounds. Zachary Macaulay by this time was also willing to support the Whigs, if they would act on slavery. Evans sought help for his candidature in an election at which the central issue at stake was the corrupt power of the old corporation, and Tom Macaulay, the young lawyer, went to his aid. The Catholic question became the chief battleground on which antagonisms

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were fought out, in a constituency with a wide franchise. The election was rowdy, with eleven days of polling involving serious rioting, the call-out of the militia and imprisonment of 128 people.10 There were election speeches every night and Tom produced a satirical paper which was greatly enjoyed and admired at Rothley Temple, where the ladies waited anxiously for news of the political fray. Tom and his uncle were in Leicester every day, campaigning on Evans’s behalf. Tom was enraged by the Corporation seeking unfair advantages and the attempt to stop some of Evans’s supporters from voting. When rioting broke out he was on the brink of getting involved himself but was stopped just in time. His uncle was very pleased with his behaviour, his sister Selina reported, for while many of the lawyers spoke in a ‘rude disrespectful manner’, Tom spoke with good humour and ‘effectually checked everything unpleasant’. Tom’s conduct distinguished his manliness. He was not part of the mob, shouting, hissing and yelling; he could use his wit in his clever election squibs, he was opposing religious intolerance and municipal corruption, and he was conducting himself in a frank and rational way – no disrespectful language, rather an attempt to check what was ‘unpleasant’, not least rescuing a poor woman who had been roughly handled.11 Evans was a critic of election bribery and corruption and had gained respect on this basis. ‘I . . . have always been firmly convinced’, Tom declared, when in discussion over his candidature in Leeds after the winning of the Reform Act, ‘that the confidence of the English people is to be obtained not by sycophancy, which degrades alike those who pay and those who receive it, but by rectitude and plain dealing.’12 Elections should be about principle and argument, not the provision of alcohol. A belief in ‘freedom of the human mind’, that cardinal value which Milton had championed, was a belief worth fighting for.13 MPs should be free to follow the dictates of their own consciences; once chosen they must be able to exercise their independence, not be subject to their electors any more than they should be subject to patrons or borough-mongers. A man must not be held in subjection to others. He would not ‘be the flatterer of the people’, he told his Leeds electors.14 This capacity for independence of mind meant an ability to recognise the need for change, to see that the world did not stand still and that what were appropriate forms of government at one time were not so at another. ‘A decent, a rational, a manly reverence to our ancestors’, was appropriate, but alongside a capacity to adapt and respond.15 The ‘great men of England’, he had argued in his essay on Milton, were characterised by ‘masculine and full-grown robustness of mind, that equally diffused intellectual health’. One such was Oliver Cromwell, ‘emphatically a man’ –

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able to exercise strength of mind and body, to be decisive in his actions.16 But that ‘robustness of mind’ should never slip into fanaticism, a condition that Tom heartily disliked, perhaps because of his exposure to Evangelicalism. It was moderation that he valued, as in his praise for the seventeenth-century critic of absolutism, Hampden, for his ‘good sense’, his temperate conduct, his sobriety, self-command and soundness of judgement, all of which might have saved England from the terrible factionalism into which it descended, but for his untimely death.17 Hampden was a patriot – another critical aspect of a conception of manliness – a lover of his own country, a ‘plain Buckingham Esquire’ who had calmly and unostentatiously defended the sacred rights of Englishmen, had defended liberty, security and toleration which were under attack by an ‘arbitrary government’, had stood ‘across the path of tyranny’ and committed himself to the service of his nation, worked for the ‘public good’.18 Hampden’s simple virtues were contrasted with James I’s feeble, childish and coarse vacillations, and his son’s ‘false, imperious, obstinate, narrow-minded’ conduct, a man who ‘was ignorant of the temper of his people, unobservant of the signs of the times’.19 Self-discipline, honesty and integrity – all these were significant, but manliness also connoted energy and vigour to Macaulay. He celebrated Cowper, the poet who challenged the sterility and conformity of late eighteenth-century poetry. His poetry was marked by great vigour of thought, warmth of feeling, sincerity and strong passion, and most importantly, ‘a manliness of taste which amounted to roughness’. Instead of writing about imaginary Chloës and Sylvias he ‘wrote of Mrs Unwin’s knitting needles’, of the domestic and the everyday.20 Dr Johnson, on the other hand, was attacked for pomposity, for the lack of ‘strong, plain words’ with their roots in the English language.21 Macaulay admired simplicity of language, valued an ‘agreeable, clear, manly’ style of writing, one which demonstrated ‘fairness and modesty’.22 Direct, honest and succinct speech were also to be valued, with their connotations of a frank and open form of address. Family and domesticity were central to a man’s being, the essential underpinning of a public life. Tom was delighted when he encountered domestic harmony, as, for example, when he visited Jeffrey, the editor of the Edinburgh Review, and found him full of affection for his wife and daughter. If particular forms of masculinity were to be celebrated, so too were particular forms of femininity. He was ambivalent about the aristocratic and society women he encountered. Lady Holland was very bossy, with an ‘imperial decisive manner’, but he approved of her not wearing rouge and dressing appropriately for her age.23 She could be horribly contemptuous, was violent, weak, imperious, and treated ‘poor Allen’, a constant companion at Holland

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House, ‘like a negro slave’.24 Fine as her dinners were, he would much rather, he declared, be at home with his sisters. For Lady Holland, a divorcee who was not received by the royal household, Holland House became her court, and she delighted in the company of clever and powerful men. Holland House in the 1830s, notes Peter Mandler, was like the committee rooms of the Whig party.25 There Lord Holland had kept alive the Foxite ideals of political responsibility and public service during the long years of Tory rule. ‘The people’, he believed, had entrusted the Whigs with the power to govern, and the party had a responsibility to vindicate that trust by means of good government. This was the political ethic which he encouraged in such young protégés as Lord Russell and Normanby, men who became a part of Macaulay’s life. Macaulay became a favourite with Lady Holland for a while, though she was outraged when he decided to leave her and go to India. The aristocratic women that Macaulay met expected to be part of the world of high politics, using their influence to secure votes in elections or critical debates, entertaining the great Whig families and their hangers-on in their London and country houses, circulating gossip, making and breaking reputations, maintaining networks through their correspondence and hoping to avoid accusations of ‘petticoat government’.26 These were a very different style of woman from Selina Macaulay or the circle of Evangelical women that Tom was so familiar with. While Zachary, unlike Wilberforce, had been supportive of ladies’ antislavery associations, that was a moral cause, very different from the political machinations of aristocratic Whig circles. Tom found Lady William Russell ‘bold and imperious . . . to a degree quite unfeminine’, her politeness more like that of a man than a woman, her reputation that of ‘a great blue stocking’, and a formidable manager of her household.27 Mrs Marcet, however, ‘a clever and not obtrusively a learned woman’, was quite acceptable.28 Lady Clanricarde was certainly a beauty, and they had talked a lot. She had shown ‘great cleverness and information’, he noted in a patronising manner, but ‘a little more of political violence than is quite beseeming in a pretty woman’.29 Mrs Thomas Gisborne Babington, upper class rather than aristocratic, came in for a much harsher judgement: ‘the woman was a pest to everybody connected with her’ and he was convinced that her husband ‘wished her dead’.30 Macaulay’s vision of femininity was that of an Evangelical, bar the religion.31 Some of Macaulay’s lessons in manliness were learned from the Edinburgh Review, the most successful of the political quarterlies by the 1830s. The journal had been founded in 1802 by a group of young intellectuals with backgrounds in the urban, professional middle class, men with Whiggish

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politics in Tory-dominated Edinburgh. The journal gave the anonymous Reviewers an ‘oracular’ and collective authority on a wide range of texts and topics.32 ‘In their identification with, and voluminous contribution to the journal’, Judith Newton argues, ‘its principal writers found a means of exercising vigorous institutional authority over texts, and, in an age that saw public written representation on an unprecedented scale, this was no insignificant avenue to social capital.’33 The Reviewers’ most overt claim to authority was their expertise in the science of political economy. They shared an aggressive tone, a commitment to stadial theory with its understanding of the development of civilisation as characterised by the shift from rude to refined societies, and an assumption that modern commercial society was more compatible with the material welfare of the majority and with political liberty than earlier forms of social organisation had been. They defended the principle of innovation and were sympathetic to abolition and Catholic Emancipation. The journal was an essential read for abolitionists such as Zachary Macaulay, despite its distance from Evangelicalism. The role of government was critical to the Reviewers and their theory of commercial society ‘gave to the project of parliamentary reform a quite specific historical, both social and economic, content’.34 They believed in the power of the press and public opinion, and the capacity of men such as themselves to educate the middle classes and prepare them for political citizenship. The Edinburgh Review celebrated ‘the reign of the domestic affections, and quiet home-born felicities of life’.35 A woman’s place was in the home; her focus on the practical and the physical, the management of the household and the reproduction and rearing of children. The world of public opinion was something quite other. The Reviewers themselves constituted a form of brotherhood, centred around Jeffrey (the editor), Brougham, and Sydney Smith. They practised, as Newton argues, an important gatekeeping role, especially in relation to the claims of women writers. Very occasionally there was recognition of a ‘woman of genius’, but such an exception only proved the rule of the general intellectual inferiority of ‘the sex’.36 While Harriet Martineau and Mrs Marcet might sometimes be congratulated on their efforts, these were seen as limited to the teaching of practical truths. When women’s writings were reviewed, constant attention was drawn to their womanhood; ‘men of science’ had more important tasks, as interpreters of history. The Reviewers constructed themselves as possessing dispassionate and disembodied authority, their manliness imagined as cerebral and theoretical, and superior to the masculinity of the entrepreneur – men who were, like women, associated with the physical and practical.

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They claimed objectivity and detached themselves from their own positionalities, occupying the position of the norm, common sense. Underpinning these claims, Newton suggests, were fears about the increasing power of women in the home and the potential displacement of men. The creation of a cerebral, non-physical masculinity, she argues, meant marking boundaries with women competitors, but also with other kinds of middle-class men, those in commerce and manufacture, who did not have the authority of objective scientific knowledge, yet who might well enjoy a more secure livelihood and were at the cutting edge of commercial society.37 Women’s increased power in the home, however, could raise anxieties for men about their place in a female-dominated world – one in which deep attachments were made to mothers and sisters, ties that could be hard to break. Leaving home was potentially difficult for sons, while daughters were not expected to, unless and until they married. Tom Macaulay did not leave the family home until he was thirty, and then he returned almost daily. He passionately loved that home, yet was struggling to establish himself in the outside world as an independent voice, a man whose power lay in his mind, his pen and his voice. This internal struggle may provide one clue to his hatred of ‘bluestockings’, women who were potentially rivals in what should be a man’s world. Women writers were making claims for a public voice – claims which many men were eager to scotch.38 Tom had little sympathy with such claims. He greatly admired a number of dead women novelists, especially Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen, but had little time for his contemporaries. He was astonished on one occasion to find that Priscilla Buxton, a family friend, had written an article published in the Edinburgh Review. This provoked ‘a beautiful epigram on the damsel’, which he offered to sister Hannah – an epigram the like of which he would not have offered to a man. No wonder that the Edinburgh Review In blue and yellow bound, has charms for you. For you are blue and yellow too, my fair. Blue are your stockings, yellow is your hair.39

The claim which these men were making for political authority came from their intellectual expertise, their capacity to explain to others what was going on in the world. Women did not and should not have equivalent powers. But mental power and the power of the pen could be troubling assets for a man. Provided they were lawyers, politicians or clergymen in addition to their writing, they possessed professional authority, but writing

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for money, depending on the marketplace, was potentially a dubious terrain for masculine authority.40 Macaulay, taken up by Brougham, the leading advocate of a less hidebound Whiggism, became the Young Turk amongst the Edinburgh Reviewers. In his essay on ‘Milton’ which established his literary reputation and connected him to radical Whiggism, he found a vivid historical voice which was to enchant his audience. The Whigs had been out of power for decades but hoped for political change in the context of the struggles over Catholic Emancipation and reform, and in his political essays of the late 1820s, as Jane Millgate notes, Macaulay played the role of the bright young man, attacking the enemies of the party with every weapon available, the Tories on the right and the Benthamites on the left.41 The criticism that he wrote of James Mill’s influential Essay on Government, with its profoundly negative tone and focus on the destruction of his enemy’s arguments, in particular the possibility of universal suffrage, was very successful. It was ‘the higher and middling orders’ who were ‘the natural representatives of the human race’, Macaulay argued. Mill was pilloried for his dependence on abstract theories and neglect of history and experience. ‘Man differs from man’, wrote Macaulay, ‘generation from generation; nation from nation. Education, station, sex, age, accidental associations, produce infinite shades of variety.’42 Interestingly, Mill was taken to task for his assumption that women’s interests could be subsumed in those of their menfolk. He had placidly dogmatised away, Macaulay wrote, ‘the interest of one half of the human race’. ‘If there be a word of truth in history’, he continued, women have always been, and still are, over the greater part of the globe, humble companions, playthings, captives, menials, beasts of burden. Except in a few happy and highly civilised communities, they are strictly in a state of personal slavery. Even in those countries where they are best treated, the laws are generally unfavourable to them, with respect to almost all the points in which they are most deeply interested. . . . If there be in this country an identity of interest between the two sexes, it cannot possibly arise from anything but the pleasure of being loved, and of communicating happiness.43

Here Macaulay was drawing on Scottish Enlightenment notions of civilisation as underpinned by domestic harmony, a vision which spoke directly to his own deep attachment to his mother and sisters. Such sentiments were never translated, however, into any sympathy for feminist claims. Women should certainly be decently educated, able to listen intelligently and engage

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when required with the men around them, but women were not the same as men. Properly regulated homes were essential to public order, and it was public opinion, Macaulay believed, which should be responsible for domestic happiness, not the state. ‘It is clear’, as he put it in his essay on Byron, ‘that those vices which destroy happiness ought to be as much as possible repressed.’44 But this was a matter for civil society. By the end of the 1820s, Tom had established a reputation as a young man of promise. In figure he was not impressive. Crabbe Robinson, having met him at dinner at James Stephens’s house, described him as ‘one of the most promising of the rising generation I have seen for a long time. He has a good face, not the delicate features of a man of genius and sensibility, but the strong lines and well-knit limbs of a man sturdy in body and mind. Very eloquent and cheerful. Overflowing in words and not poor in thought. Liberal in opinion, but no radical.’45 He was ‘a short manly figure’ in one depiction, ‘marvellously upright, with a bad neckcloth, and one hand in his waistcoat pocket. Of regular beauty he had little to boast; but in faces where there is an expression of great power, or of great good humour, or both, you do not regret its absence.’ He had a very large head, rather short and stout, and ‘dressed badly, but not cheaply’. He was ‘utterly destitute of bodily accomplishments’, and ‘could neither swim, nor row, nor drive, nor skate, nor shoot’. He loved to walk but disliked riding. Inclined to vehemence and apparently overconfident, perhaps as a defence, he liked nothing more than to argue. His stock of knowledge was vast as a result of his persistent and extensive reading from childhood and his prodigious memory. He could be very pugnacious in his quarrels and liked nothing more than to demolish his opponents.46 He had ‘beaten’ his great enemy, the Tory John Wilson Croker, ‘black and blue’ with his words, he reported triumphantly to Hannah on one occasion.47 Macaulay’s manliness was vigorous, assertive and competitive. It spoke of independence, of frank and open conduct, of reason, toleration, and moderation, not fanaticism, of respect for women, of love of one’s country, of a belief in a new generation – dependent on abilities not birth – that was impatient for change. It was critical of some aspects of established aristocratic power and of ‘the mob’, more comfortable in the domestic circle than the salon, distinctively middle class. Reforming man The years 1828–33 were a momentous period. New rights for Dissenters, Catholic Emancipation, parliamentary reform, the abolition of slavery and

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forms of government for India together marked a historic settlement. This conjuncture, to use Gramsci’s term, was associated with the emergence of social forces and the contradictions which this engendered – contradictions of class, of gender, of race and of ethnicity. It was a conjunctural moment in that it entailed a crisis across many levels and sites: in class and gender relations, in Ireland, and in the Caribbean. It was an overdetermined moment and only some of the contradictions thrown up by the new social forces – middle- and working-class men demanding political representation, Irish Catholics and Dissenters claiming civil and political rights, women mobilising against slavery, agricultural workers attacking machinery, the enslaved demanding freedom – were in any way resolved, and all re-emerged at other moments. But as Stuart Hall has argued in his commentary on Gramsci’s notion of conjuncture, a conjunctural analysis is ‘one in which the social formation is understood as composed of many, relatively autonomous, over-determined levels or practices, which can, at critical moments, produce ruptural fusion’.48 Between 1828 and 1833, a new hegemony was established, dependent on an alliance between the landed aristocracy and sections of the middle class, committed to the economic relations of the free market and a reforming state. This was not the liberalism of the 1850s, neither did it rest on an acceptance of political economy; rather this was the Whig compromise. Government was to be by consent (if possible) at home, reliant on force and dominion in the empire, and that included Ireland. This was a historic shift, and one with which Tom Macaulay was heavily identified. Toleration was critical to this new generation of men who welcomed the reduction of civil disabilities suffered by Dissenters in 1828, and Catholic Emancipation, finally acceded to by Wellington and Peel in 1829 in the hope of avoiding full civil war. Irish Catholics had demanded equal civil and political rights with Protestants, an end to the prohibition on Catholics holding positions in the government or the judiciary, and the right to sit in parliament at Westminster. ‘We are men’, they declared, ‘and deserve to be free.’49 The significance of admitting Disssenters and Catholics to full political citizenship, as Gauri Viswanathan has argued, was the creation of a new order of belonging on the criteria of legal rather than religious inclusion.50 The ‘Protestant Constitution’, as Lord Eldon and the Ultras bemoaned, had been destroyed, the union between Church and state undermined. Macaulay entered the House of Commons in February 1830, to the joy of his family, in the wake of this momentous change. Though Zachary had long been associated with the governing classes, it was from the particular position of a ‘Saint’, a Claphamite Evangelical, not part of either the Tory or the

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Whig elite: a ‘backroom boy’, never part of metropolitan salon life. ‘Canning’s accession to power then his death’, Hannah later recalled, ‘the repeal of the Test Act, the Catholic Emancipation’ filled Tom’s ‘heart & soul. He longed himself to be taking his part in parliament but with a very hopeless longing’. Without an independent income he could not hope to be elected. In February 1830, while she was staying with the Wilberforces, she received a letter from him enclosing a letter sent to him by Lord Lansdowne, offering him Calne and ‘saying how much he had been struck with his articles on Mill & finding that his character was as high as his talents were great he wished to be the means of first introducing him into the House of Commons’. This was a moment of joy and triumph. She remembered ‘flying into Mr Wilberforce’s study & putting the letter absolutely speechless into his hands. He read it with much emotion & returned it to me saying “Your Father has had many trials, obloquy bad health [sic], many anxieties and he must feel as if Tom were given him for a recompense”. ’ After a quiet moment ‘his mobile face lighted up’, as he evoked the excitement of his days in the Commons, and ‘he clapped his hands to his ears & said “Ah I hear that shout again ‘Hear Hear’ Ah what a life it was”. ’51 In the imagination of these men the Commons was the nation, the theatre of public power and parliamentary government was ‘government by speaking’.52 Decisions of the Commons, Macaulay believed, were decisions of the nation, and this was the place where reputations were made. It was the place for a young man with political ambitions to be. What was more, Calne was a pocket borough, which meant there would be no contested election to suffer, and, as sister Selina recorded, Lansdowne had promised Tom freedom from interference: he could act independently.53 The political nation was imagined as both masculine and metropolitan: with its heart at Westminster, its circles fanned out through the great political households, the clubs and coffee houses where political gossip circulated. And now Tom was joining it. In entering the House of Commons he was operating at a different level from his father, and with different priorities. Tom’s central preoccupation, formed in the uneasy decade after Peterloo, when it sometimes seemed that there might be civil war in Ireland and that British society was dangerously divided, was in ‘the reconciliation and knitting together of all the orders of the state’.54 Religious divisions, he believed, should not endanger national unity. Religious belonging, as he had argued in his essay on ‘The London University’, could be safely left to the home, and should not be the basis of educational provision.55 One of the lessons of the seventeenth century, he believed, was that religious intolerance and coercion had led to civil war.56 State intervention in religion was liable to lead to persecution, potentially

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undermining political stability. ‘The disputes of the seventeenth century showed clearly that the interest of religion and politics were best served when the two remained separate.’57 The entry of Dissenters and Catholics into British politics would not endanger the nation; rather it would strengthen it. Governments should confine themselves to their legitimate duties, ‘maintaining peace . . . defending property . . . diminishing the price of law . . . observing strict economy in every department of the state’: the great advances in English society were due not to a ‘omniscient and omnipotent state’ but to ‘the prudence and energy of the people’, alongside ‘the natural tendency of society to improvement’.58 Religion belonged to civil society and the private sphere and was not the business of governments. ‘The real security of Christianity’, he argued, was to be found in its ‘benevolent morality . . . exquisite adaptation to the human heart’ and its conviction of ‘the capacity of every human intellect’.59 It did not need the state. Tom’s distance from his father on this issue was clear; for Zachary, religion was the starting point for every aspect of daily life, and Church and state, as he attempted to ensure in Sierra Leone, should be intimately linked. He was, however, a strong supporter of Catholic Emancipation and of the non-sectarian London University, where Charles, Tom’s younger brother, was one of the first students. Tom’s maiden speech in the Commons was an argument for the removal of civil disabilities practised against the Jews, something that many Evangelicals were opposed to. He followed this up with an essay in the Edinburgh Review and a further speech in 1833. All men should have the right to practise their religious beliefs, he argued, and Jews could be brought into the nation, could be Englishmen. Indeed, they should be, for since they owned substantial property it was important that they should be patriots. ‘Where wealth is, there power must inevitably be’, he opined.60 There was nothing in the Jewish national character, he argued, indicating his belief in a Jewish race/nation, which meant that they were not fitted for citizenship. ‘Why not try what effect would be produced on the Jews by that tolerant policy which has made the English Roman Catholic a good Englishman, and the French Calvinist a good Frenchman?’61 This did not mean that he liked Jews (indeed in his correspondence he stereotyped Jews, from moneylenders to beauties), or identified with their suffering, but he believed that the responsibility of rulers was to make men patriotic. In a healthy society, patriotism developed naturally ‘in the minds of citizens who know that they owe all their comforts and pleasures to the bond which unites them in one community’.62 Reminding his listeners and readers of the effects of religious persecution on the Puritans, he argued that intolerance would never make

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men patriotic. Jews were no longer persecuted, but they were not treated equally with Dissenters. ‘If the Jews have not felt towards England like children,’ he argued, constructing England as a national family, ‘it is because she has treated them like a step-mother.’63 Like his father, Tom imagined society in a family idiom, but while for Zachary the test of belonging was religious, for his son it was nationalist. Both saw assimilation as the key to national growth and progress. But while Evangelicals laboured to convert Jews and many were opposed to Jewish emancipation, Tom believed the nation came before God. Jews, like Catholics, should be taken into the national family – for as much homogeneity as possible was crucial to his imagined nation. Sameness was what made the English English, and union meant sameness. England must assimilate, or at least incorporate and denationalise, her potentially wayward children; if treated as aliens, they would never have the sentiments of natives. Policies of exclusion on the basis of religion were not in the nation’s interests and it was the nation that must come first. Protestantism was not an essential key to national belonging.64 It was in the debates over the Reform Bill that Macaulay was really to make his name. ‘For a century and more’, wrote Gladstone, ‘perhaps no man in this country with the exception of Mr. Pitt and Lord Byron, had obtained at thirty-two the fame of Macaulay.’ Furthermore, he added, ‘his claims lay only in himself, and not in his descent, his rank or his possessions’.65 This was in part a fiction since family connections had profoundly shaped the life chances open to Macaulay, yet it was as an essayist and orator that he established a public reputation. By the end of the 1820s he was fascinated by ‘the noble science of politics’, and much more interested in the House of Commons than the Bar.66 Macaulay took his seat on 18 February 1830, a time when Wellington’s Tory government had been significantly weakened by the hostility of the Ultra-Tories who were enraged by the demise of the ‘Protestant Constitution’. By the summer the government was in terminal decline with the combination of divisions within the party and the fears evoked by the ‘Captain Swing’ agricultural riots in the South-East, named after the mythical or not so mythical leader. In the election of 1830, necessitated by the death of the king and the accession of William IV, the majority of Anglicans voted with the government, Dissenters with the opposition. The events of 1828–9, as Boyd Hilton notes, had done much to create a Tory–Anglican identity.67 The election of Brougham for the popular constituency of Yorkshire, signalled both the decline of landed influence and the support for his reform programme. By November, Wellington’s government had fallen, the end precipitated by his steadfast refusal to countenance any change. ‘Britain

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possessed a legislature’, he insisted, ‘which answered all the good purposes of legislation, and this to a greater degree than any Legislature ever had answered in any country whatsoever.’68 Brougham was about to propose a motion for parliamentary reform: ‘the country’, Wellington was convinced, ‘was in a state of insanity about Reform’.69 Tom Macaulay already had something of a reputation as an orator before he entered the Commons, a role for which his schooling had prepared him. Eloquence was an ancient art, understood as central to a well-functioning society. While the press was now recognised as critical to the formation of public opinion, public speech remained a vital political tool. He had now graduated to a different kind of audience from school or Cambridge, a debating chamber with a long history, peopled by an elite of landowners, financial and mercantile capitalists. The House of Commons was, he found, ‘the most peculiar audience in the world’ and it was impossible to predict how one would be received.70 But rhetoric remained a critical tool, and ‘the object of oratory . . . is not truth, but persuasion’, as he wrote in his article on ‘The Athenian Orators’.71 The argument for reform needed to be won in parliament; there was no majority in its favour. Leading Whigs were far from enthusiastic, while many Tories were committed against. As the debates continued over months, the ‘rage of faction’ became palpable. On one occasion Macaulay compared the hot and crowded atmosphere of the Commons with that of ‘John Newton’s pious slave ship’, the MPs ‘stowed together like negroes’, a comparison that Zachary, having experienced a slave ship, would not have made.72 It was a strange point of comparison – the slave ship the ultimate signifier of unfreedom, the House of Commons the ultimate signifier of freedom. Speeches in the House mattered: they were reported in the press and played a significant part in the formation of public opinion. ‘The gallery in which the reporters sit’, Tom maintained, ‘has become a fourth estate of the realm.’73 Macaulay entered the Commons convinced of the need for parliamentary reform. Two years previously he had sketched out what he saw as the unquiet times ahead, the difficult issues that needed to be faced when a government was no longer in accord with ‘the people’. This had happened in the seventeenth century, when parliament was ranged against the crown. In the nineteenth century the balance of power between crown, parliament and people was again lost and the feeling for reform was growing. The House of Commons had become ‘aristocratical in its temper and interest’. It was far from being ‘an illiberal and stupid oligarchy; but it is equally far from being an express image of the general feeling’. He claimed the right to interpret that feeling. A great statesman, he continued, might be able to reconcile

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‘the two great branches of the natural aristocracy, the capitalists and the landowners’, and win the support of ‘the whole of the middle class, that brave, honest and sound-hearted class, which is as anxious for the maintenance of order and the security of property as it is hostile to corruption and oppression’, thus averting serious conflict. ‘It will soon again be necessary’, as it had been in the seventeenth century, ‘to reform that we may preserve.’74 He hoped for ‘such a reform in the House of Commons as may render its votes the express image of the opinion of the middle orders of Britain’.75 The time was not yet ripe for universal suffrage. If the labouring classes had been prosperous and wages high, then enfranchisement might have been conceivable, but they were sometimes in great distress, their judgement blinded and their passions inflamed, making them subject to agitators. Universal suffrage would result in a ‘destructive revolution’. It was essential to ‘exclude those whom it is necessary to exclude . . . admit those whom it may be safe to admit’.76 His focus on a material definition of class was striking. He had learned what it meant to lose money. Poverty destroyed civility and he was fearful of the consequences. Macaulay’s speeches were carefully prepared, composed, revised and rehearsed in his head – never written, for that would formalise too much – and then practised in front of his sisters, always the primary audience both for his speeches and his writing.77 (He rewrote them for publication in 1853.) On 2 March 1831, his second contribution to the reform debates was a triumphant success. His sister Selina noted in her journal that ‘it seemed to have created a most extraordinary sensation’.78 Tom was congratulated by many, and compared with the great orators of old. He recalled this parliamentary speech years later as marking ‘an epoch in my life as well as in that of the nation’, illustrating his identification with the nation – indeed, his claim was to speak for and shape the nation.79 His presence may not have been magnetic, and his voice was small and tended to shrillness – it could even sound like screaming when he reached the heights of his perorations. Nevertheless, his orations thrilled. One eyewitness depicted ‘a little man of small voice, and affected utterance, clipping his words and hissing like a serpent’. But ‘the force of the argument, the depth of learning, the aptness of historical illustrations’ made up for all this; what Peel called ‘that wonderful flow of natural and beautiful language’, with its ‘rich freight of thought and fancy’.80 John Adolphus, one of his listeners in the Commons, recalled to a friend, One great speech of his on the Reform question I heard . . . The House was entranced, almost breathless: and I recollect that, when I overtook him the same night walking home, I could hardly believe that the little, draggled

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ordinary-looking man plodding by himself up the Strand was the same creature whom I had seen holding the House of Commons absorbed as the Opera house is by a first-rate singer . . .81

Macaulay’s speeches articulated powerful arguments for reform: they were not novel but they were eloquent. He spoke as a young middle-class Englishman, mobilising his interpretation of the distinctive character of English history to claim that this was the time for change, and that in legislating for reform the House would be carrying out its historic responsibility, bringing the government into line with the people. The times were dangerous, and Malthusian nightmares of overpopulation and want were part of the political landscape.82 The moment was, for Macaulay, profoundly historic, and he regularly drew on his wide historical knowledge to frame his arguments. His appeals to the precedence of 1688 calmed Whig fears that change could only result in revolution, as had happened in France in 1789. Macaulay had a powerful sense of the historic dramas that were being played out in the House, and his own critical place in them. Indeed, as Bagehot caustically commented later, he regarded English history as a process leading up to the debates in which he had taken part.83 ‘The spectacle’ over the division on the second reading of the Reform Bill, a moment of tremendous tension and excitement, was compared to ‘seeing Caesar stabbed in the Senate House, or Oliver taking the mace from the table – a sight to be seen only once and never to be forgotten’.84 Society had changed and the existing forms of government were no longer appropriate. ‘All history is full of revolutions’, he argued. A section of a community ‘which had been of no account expands and becomes strong. It demands a place in the system, suited, not to its former weakness, but to its present power.’ If this was granted he argued, drawing on Burke, all was well. But if change was refused, ‘then comes the struggle between the young energy of one class and the ancient privileges of another’. This was ‘the struggle which the middle classes in England’ were waging against an aristocracy clinging on to power.85 Decent, rational, men, those who could represent the ‘young energy’ of the new class, must defeat the representatives of ancient privileges. This was a historic struggle, on a par with those famous confrontations of plebeians and patricians in ancient Rome, of Britons and colonists in North America, of Catholics and Protestants in Ireland over Emancipation, and of free men of colour and the white plantocracy in Jamaica. In every instance those who represented the new, and understood the ‘signs of the times’, would be victorious. Attempts to stand against the tide would be doomed. The nation was constantly progressing and the history of England, in

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Macaulay’s vision, was ‘the history of a government constantly giving way, sometimes peaceably, sometimes after a violent struggle, but constantly giving way before a nation which has been constantly advancing’. ‘The great march of society’, he believed, ‘proceeds and must proceed’. Its signs were everywhere: in the wealth and population of the country, in its great cities, its machinery, its roads, its bridges, its factories, its railroads and houses, in the degree of man’s dominion over nature. ‘There is a change in society’, he insisted; ‘there must be a corresponding change in the government. We are not, we cannot, in the nature of things, be, what our fathers were.’86 ‘We are legislators, not antiquaries’, he declared.87 The English were ‘a great and happy people’ because, over ‘many generations, the constitution has moved onward with the nation’. Their history was ‘the history of a succession of timely reforms’.88 In the powerful peroration to his first major speech on reform he challenged the Commons to Renew the youth of the state. Save property, divided against itself. Save the multitude, endangered by its own ungovernable passions. Save the aristocracy, endangered by its own unpopular power . . . The danger is terrible. The time is short.89

Disorder threatened if the authorities did not act now, and the new class, middle-class men, were summoned up as the key to reform – a theme that was subsequently picked up by numerous speakers. Reform was essential to avoid violence and revolution; France and Ireland provided his most consistent exempla of the disasters which followed from a failure to confront the need for change. In France, in his account, the refusal of the aristocracy to listen to the third estate had resulted in their ruin. It was ‘because they had no sympathy with the people, no discernment of the signs of their times . . . because they refused all concession till the time had arrived when no concession would avail’ that their fates were sealed.90 Remember, he demanded of his audience again and again, how in Ireland, concessions too long delayed had wreaked havoc. The ‘spirit of liberty’ in Ireland, ‘debarred from its natural outlet’ had, Macaulay exhorted his listeners, utilising dangerous bodily metaphors, ‘found a vent by forbidden passages’. Catholics became rebels because they were refused the ‘liberties of subjects’.91 Catholic Emancipation, ‘that great boon which in 1801, in 1813, in 1825, would have won the hearts of millions, given too late, and given from fear, only produced new clamours and new dangers’.92 The spectre of an obdurate aristocracy preventing ‘the nation’ as represented by the Commons and by Macaulay himself, from righting the wrongs

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of an outdated form of government, became particularly pertinent after the rejection by the Lords of the Reform Bill in October 1831. Macaulay reminded the Commons that on key issues such as the slave trade and Catholic Emancipation, the Commons ‘was in the right and the House of Lords in the wrong’. The Commons must rise to the occasion, they must take the stand which the constitution had assigned to them and employ, ‘with becoming firmness and dignity, the powers which belong to us as trustees of the nation, and as advisers of the throne’.93 He feared that the same situation would arise as had arisen over emancipation: that the mob would be roused and the country put in danger. In Ireland in 1829 they had seen ‘agitators stronger than the magistrate, associations stronger than the law, a Government powerful enough to be hated and not powerful enough to be feared, a people bent on indemnifying themselves by legal excesses for the want of legal privileges’. The law in Ireland had been ineffective, given the popularity of the Catholic Association. And the law was ‘nothing but a piece of paper . . . till public opinion breathes the breath of life into the dead letter’.94 The choice became concession or civil war. In October 1831 the situation was dire. In its struggle with Irish Catholics, Britain had at its command money, armies and fleets. But who would support the government ‘in the struggle with the reformers of Great Britain?’ ‘I know only two ways in which societies can permanently be governed’, he declared, by public opinion, and by the sword. A Government, having at its command the armies, the fleets, and the revenues of Great Britain, might possibly hold Ireland by the sword. So Oliver Cromwell held Ireland; so William the Third held it; so Mr. Pitt held it; so the Duke of Wellington might perhaps have held it. But to govern Great Britain by the sword! So wild a thought has never, I will venture to say, occurred to any public man of any party . . .95

The government could only operate with consent, and that meant reform: the ‘whole people’ desired it.96 Macaulay represented his arguments as those of a plain, rational man who was dealing with pragmatic questions rather than any general theory of government. He was an ‘honest Englishman’ who could speak directly for ‘the nation’, know the wishes of ‘the people’.97 He was quite clear as to the limits of who ‘the people’ were. Property and order were at the heart of English civilisation and a ‘pecuniary qualification’ for the franchise was essential. It was the ownership of property that marked the civilised off from the savage. It was to ‘the great institution of property’ that we owe ‘all

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knowledge, all commerce, all industry, all civilisation, all that makes us differ from the tattooed savages of the Pacific Ocean . . .’.98 Those without property could not expect to be ‘rational men’: this was his argument with James Mill. ‘Bad men’ had taken advantage of the agitation around reform to promulgate dangerous doctrines at odds with law, order, property and civilisation, ‘all that makes us differ from Mohawks or Hottentots’. He did not blame working men for this; it was the agitators, the ‘illiterate, incapable, low-minded flatterers’ who were to blame, leading astray those who could not know better and suffered from ‘severe privations’. ‘These persons are what their situation has made them’, he believed – ‘ignorant from want of leisure, irritable from the sense of distress’.99 The country faced the danger of two extremes: ‘a narrow oligarchy above; an infuriated multitude below’. Between them was Macaulay’s imagined middle class, led by the ‘flower of the aristocracy’ and Whigs such as himself, a middle class that Macaulay saw as ready to accede to the judgement of those more educated than themselves. Coming up in the rear were ‘the flower of the working classes’. This was no mob, this was the nation, and ‘Woe to the government that cannot distinguish between a nation and a mob’.100 The beauty of the English constitution in Macaulay’s mind was that it bred thinking men. Reformers were accused of being ungrateful, not properly appreciative of the institutions they enjoyed. But it was precisely because of those institutions, Macaulay insisted, that reforming English men were rational and manly, able to choose their representatives well. They were accused of ‘being more discontented than the slaves of the Dey of Tripoli’, but slaves were incapable of manly and rational dissent. There were fears that the new representatives of a reformed House of Commons would be ‘Marats and Santerres, low, fierce, desperate men’ who would turn the House into a bear-garden, republicans, ‘mere agitators, without honour, without sense, without education, without the feelings or manners of gentlemen’. There was no basis to this fear: the proposal to incorporate £10 householders in the boroughs was a safe one. These were propertied men who could be relied on to elect leaders well suited to represent them. Indeed, the principle of representative government was ‘that men who do not judge well of public affairs may be quite competent to choose others who will judge better’.101 Macaulay invited the Commons to ‘Renew the youth of the state. Save property divided against itself. Save the multitude, endangered by its own ungovernable passions. Save the aristocracy, endangered by its own unpopular power.’102 This was a new historic settlement he summoned up, one in which a young generation would be able to reunite the nation around the propertied, contain the masses with their irrational predilections, and

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provide the aristocracy with another lease of life, engendered by new blood from its margins. This was a peculiarly English settlement, a historic compromise, made by rational men whose claim for political authority was based on their intellectual expertise, their political knowledge and judgement. As Gladstone said, Macaulay’s claim to fame ‘lay only in himself ’: he had made himself into the voice of the reforming nation. Here was an exemplum of the independent man – supposedly able to stand alone. ‘We cannot be what our fathers were’, Macaulay had insisted. This was a new time with new political imperatives: and new models of manliness were required. At the heart of the English exceptionalism that Macaulay constructed in 1831–2 were the seeds of the idea of the nation that he would develop in his History. His imagined nation was marked as the most civilised in the world, separated from the ‘tattooed savages of the Pacific’, from enslaved ‘negroes’, from ‘Mohawks and Hottentots’. It was also demarcated from those others deemed closer to its level of development, yet far from the rational world of English men – the backward Scots, the dangerous revolutionaries of France and the desperate insurgents of Ireland. England was simply ‘the greatest, and fairest, and most highly civilised community that ever existed’.103 English superiority was marked by a belief in property and stability and a capacity to renew the constitution. And this was done in a peculiarly English way: ‘without bloodshed, without violence, without rapine, all points freely debated, all the points of senatorial deliberation punctiliously observed, industry and trade not for a moment interrupted, the authority of law not for a moment suspended’.104 While revolutions produced by violence were often followed by a counterreaction, ‘the victories of reason, once gained, are gained for eternity’.105 The issue, he believed, as he told Hannah, had been ‘Reform or Revolution’.106 At the heart of Macaulay’s rhetoric was the belief that this new settlement would secure English ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ and that, ‘a liberal government makes a conservative people’.107 Reform would preserve order. Underpinning this order, and this masculine public world of government, was the safe space of the domestic. When Macaulay returned to the family home in Great Ormond Street after sessions in the Commons, or dinners at Holland House, he could be sure that his sisters would be there, waiting to listen to him, restore him and adore him. ‘A liberal government makes a conservative people’ The new Reform Act for England and Wales had increased the electorate by approximately 45 per cent and brought half a million new male electors into

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the political nation. The vote had been formally declared male for the first time. The Act was certainly not intended by its Whig creators to effect any revolutionary change, rather it was to secure the power of the landed interest and to reduce the number of Tories in the House of Commons by disfranchising 143 ‘rotten boroughs’. As Karl Marx commented twenty years later: The ejection of Wellington from office because he had declared against Reform; the French revolution of July; the threatening political unions formed by the middle and working classes at Birmingham, Manchester, London, and elsewhere; the rural war; the ‘bonfires’ all over the most fertile counties of England – all these circumstances absolutely compelled the Whigs to propose some measure of reform.

They tried as hard as they could to ‘shuffle out of the only liberal clauses of their own measure’, he continued, but were prevented ‘by the formidable attitude of the people’. Yet the victory was hollow. ‘Not only were the working classes altogether excluded from any political influence’, but the middle classes discovered that in Althorp’s words, ‘the Reform Act was the most aristocratic act ever offered to the nation’.108 Macaulay, however, did not come from an old Whig family and was not entirely sympathetic to the Whig aristocracy, and his rhetoric of reform as marking the political inclusion of the middle classes was adopted by many. He was able to articulate, John Clive suggests, ‘the sense that the middle class was not only respectable, but, like the aristocracy, had its own glorious historical traditions and achievements to sustain it’.109 The Reform Bill was widely understood, both by contemporaries and in retrospect, as a middle-class measure. It decisively shifted people’s conceptualisation of their society and ‘cemented the invention of the ever-rising middle class’.110 It had cleansed aristocratic power, as Earl Grey put it, and reconnected aristocracy and people: ‘It takes from [the peerage] a power which makes them odious, and substitutes for it an influence which connects them with the people.’111 The £10 householders who had been enfranchised in the boroughs were critical to this; middleclass urban men, Macaulay believed, would make the right choices on the basis of reason. They were clearly distinguishable from ‘the multitude’, who were endangered by ‘ungovernable passions’. Their commitment to private property and the rule of law ensured that they would conduct themselves as thinking men. Power would now work through the making of new political subjects, men who would experience themselves as exercising free will and rational autonomous agency in the electoral choices that they made, and who would be content for their elected representatives to rule in their

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name. The liberal subject he imagined was a responsible, independent man committed to improvement, a free market, free speech, the ending of slavery, religious toleration and the government of his own household, one who would have limited enthusiasm for intervention by the state. Macaulay, E. P. Thompson argues, ‘was one of the most complacent of the ideologists of the Reform Bill settlement, translating into new terms the Tory doctrine of virtual representation’.112 Not only were ‘the higher and the middling orders’, Macaulay believed, ‘the natural [my italics] representatives of the human race’. ‘Their interest’, he maintained, ‘may be opposed, in some things, to that of their poorer contemporaries, but it is identical with that of the generations which are to follow.’113 This was a reworking of Burke’s famous defence of the landed as those who were best able to secure the interests of future generations. Macaulay was convinced, not on the basis of experience but rather on a set of assumptions about manly and rational voters, that they would recognise the superior knowledge of those, such as himself, who knew how to govern and defend stability. The ‘safety’ and ‘wisdom’ of this enfranchisement was secured in the name of property and order; reform, not revolution. Working-class radicals, however, were only too well aware of the implications of the Whig bill: ‘We foresaw’, wrote Bronterre O’Brien, the Irish radical, that the effect, ‘would be to detach from the working classes a large proportion of the middle ranks, who were then more inclined to act with the people than with the aristocracy that excluded them’.114 In the words of Henry Hetherington’s Poor Man’s Guardian, the Reform Bill was the ‘most illiberal, the most tyrannical, the most hellish measure that ever could or can be proposed’.115 The election of 1832 was to be the first test of how the Act would operate. Macaulay was to test these waters in Leeds, a town of which he knew little. His familiar places were London, Cambridge and Rothley, but his work as a lawyer on the Northern Circuit during 1826–9 meant that he had spent some time in the West Riding. He had been visiting Rothley Temple in the autumn of 1830, when he first heard the news of the revolution in France. ‘This gives us reform’, he had told Hannah excitedly.116 A visit to Paris to see for himself made him very aware of the dangers: the army was discontented, the masses potentially so, underlining the importance of mobilising the middle classes to secure property and prevent ‘the worst scenes of the former revolution’.117 Rothley Temple aside, he had spent most of the turbulent months of the reform crisis in London. It was Westminster, ‘the tempests of faction’, the dramas over the readings of the bills, the recalcitrance of the Lords, and the interventions of the king, alongside his attempts to demolish his enemies, which had been at the centre of his political life.118

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He moved between the Commons, the clubs, Holland House, the family home and his chambers, wholly absorbed in that metropolitan world. In September 1831 he was greatly alarmed by ‘the violence of the people, the bigotry of the Lords, and the stupidity and weakness of the ministers’ and was prophesying to Hannah that blood would flow in the streets of London.119 It did flow as a result of riots in Bristol, Nottingham and Derby, after the Lords, with the support of all but two of the bishops, had voted down reform. During the rioting the bishops and Anglican clergy had been particular objects of opprobrium, with attacks on their greed, laziness and corruption. The break-up of ‘the Protestant Constitution’ had opened the door to serious questions as to the role of the established church in the politics of the nation. In Bristol the bishop’s palace and library were looted and burned to the ground. The Bishop of Peterborough had complained that not since the civil warfare of the 1640s had the clergy been ‘assailed with so much calumny and violence as they are at present’.120 But Macaulay had been somewhat distanced from that violence. Nor had he encountered the monster demonstrations of the political unions that had preceded the passing of the bill. He had heard of the myriad political associations, and no doubt looked at the radical press. (In later years he loved to read old copies of Cobbett’s Political Register, though he regarded Cobbett himself as anathema.) But he was unfamiliar with the great new industrial towns and their working populations. During the ‘Days of May’, those tempestuous days after Prime Minister Grey had demanded that the king create fifty new peers and the Duke of Wellington had once again tried to form a government that would head off reform, he was in London, and the tensions had been extreme. The radical Francis Place was placarding the city with ‘to stop the Duke go for Gold’ and large amounts of gold had been withdrawn from the Bank of England. The Birmingham Political Union had made scarcely veiled threats of revolution and the troops were sharpening their swords in readiness for any outbreak of violence. There were real fears of violence and disorder fuelling his rhetoric. The Reform Bill received the king’s assent on 7 June 1832. Days later Macaulay was re-elected at Calne, one of the pocket boroughs that had been saved from extinction. He was greeted, he told his sisters, as ‘the great patriot’.121 In his speech at the public dinner after his election, reported in the local press, he ‘contrasted the conduct of the English people with that of other countries . . . and observed, that in no other country was ever such a glorious triumph achieved . . . without one drop of blood having been spilt, or one existing law violated’.122 The narrative of a reform without conflict was being created. Yet the reality was that working-class men engaged

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in myriad political and industrial organisations, many of which had campaigned vigorously for reform, had been excluded, deemed unsuited to political citizenship. The question of women’s suffrage had never been taken seriously; it was indeed essential ‘to exclude those whom it is necessary to exclude’. Two days later Macaulay was in Leeds for a banquet to celebrate the Act. He had been courted by the Leeds Whigs for some months, invited to stand in their newly created constituency. There was a procession to the White Cloth Hall Yard, one of the focal points of the clothing industry in the town, and a crowd of thirty thousand was said to have gathered, some of whom were mounting a demonstration against Macaulay on the grounds that he was not local. On this occasion the Leeds Intelligencer, the town’s Tory paper, reported Macaulay as saying, ‘such scenes of confusion as this are not congenial to my mind. I have, I assure you, no need to join in such scenes of turmoil, and to subject myself to such inconvenience as this.’123 Encountering the artisans and textile workers of Leeds was a more troubling experience than Calne. But elections were key political rituals, ‘dramas of symbolic social levelling’, legitimating relations of power and stabilising the political system.124 Leeds had been a centre of political activity for some time. Built on the woollen trade it grew very rapidly at the end of the eighteenth century and had a population of one hundred and twenty thousand by the 1830s. It had been dominated by an elite of wealthy wool merchants, but the mechanisation of trade and the growth of the factory system brought in new men, many of whom were sympathetic to Whiggism, radicalism and dissent. The political control of Leeds was gradually wrested from the Anglican Tory mercantile elite and transferred to a liberal and dissenting interest.125 There were intense political rivalries, fought out at every level, including that of parliamentary politics.126 Competition over representation at Westminster between the great Yorkshire landowning families, Pittite, Tory and Whig, had been dramatically enacted on a number of occasions. Yorkshiremen had a reputation for independence and experimentation, and until 1832 Leeds electors had county votes. The county elections were frequently sites of great popular contests. Wilberforce had famously retained his seat in 1807 alongside the Whig Lord Milton, defeating Henry Lascelles, Earl of Harewood and scion of the Lascelles slaving dynasty, in a fierce contest in which both slavery and the wool trade featured.127 In the 1830 election, Edward Baines, editor of the influential Leeds Mercury and the leading voice for the mill owners and dissenting liberals, nominated Henry Brougham, occasioning another fierce contest, with the landed interests successfully defeated by Brougham on a platform of reform and antislavery.

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The period after 1825 in the West Riding was marked by a widespread sense of insecurity, and fears about the deterioration of working conditions in the textile industry. There were concerns over the introduction of power looms, and anxiety about the future of domestic manufacture and the employment of children in the factories. Women’s work was crucial to family survival strategies but, despite the visibility of their factory labour which undermined the position of the idealised male breadwinner, they were never conceptualised as equal. Male workers envisaged factory regulation, R. Q. Gray argues, in terms of ‘an equalisation of the balance between labour and capital, which would restore the independence and livelihood of working men’.128 Women were addressed as the mothers of children and the carriers of domestic virtue, just as in the political unions which focused on male claims and encouraged women to support their fathers, husbands and brothers. In the industrial and political struggles which dominated Leeds in the period 1830–2, the factory owners supported the Whigs and the vote for the £10 householder while the workers sought factory reform.129 Baines was the leading figure amongst the Leeds Whigs, celebrated by his son in later years as epitomising the spirit of improvement. His reputation amongst radicals was rather different, however, and Cobbett named him ‘the great liar of the north’.130 A strong supporter of the Whig proposals on reform, Baines had conducted an inquiry as to the effect of a potential £10 franchise. His canvassers, he reported in a letter to Russell, a key architect of the bill, ‘stated unanimously, that the £10 qualification did not admit to the exercise of the elective franchise a single person who might not safely and wisely be enfranchised . . . in the parts chiefly occupied by the working classes, not one householder in fifty would have a vote’.131 He later went on to calculate that of the 5,547 people who would have the vote, only 355 would be workmen and of these 143 would be ‘clerks, warehousemen, overlookers, etc.’. Indeed, he was concerned that many who were fitted to exercise the vote by virtue of their ‘station, intelligence and stake in society’ would be excluded.132 The Leeds Association for Promoting within the County of York the Free Return of Fit Representatives to Parliament, in which Baines was a prime mover along with other members of the urban Whig elite, supported the extension of the franchise, the secret ballot, free trade, and the abolition of slavery; they expected to lead opinion. They were influential in the establishment of the Leeds Political Union in November 1831, an organisation that was strongly in favour of class cooperation and distinguished between ‘middle-class’ and ‘operative’ members. Leeds Whigs had contacted Macaulay in September 1831, proposing that he should stand if reform was effected, offering to cover the costs of the election, and asking him to declare

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his position on key issues. ‘The seat is a most honourable one’, he told Hannah; it was a city ‘with vast wealth and vast influence’.133 He was formally invited to be a candidate and accepted in October when he laid out his principles; support for the Reform Bill, the abolition of slavery, reform of the law, free trade, especially in relation to the Corn Laws and the East, and hopes for improvements in ‘the moral and physical condition’ of the Irish.134 The most pressing issue in the Leeds election of 1832, however, was none of these: it was factory reform, a subject on which Macaulay was singularly ignorant. Leeds was granted two MPs in the Reform Act, something they had campaigned for many years, and approximately 6,683 £10 householders out of a population of about 123,393 could now vote.135 It was an election which provoked great interest, not only locally but nationally, not least because of the interventions of Richard Oastler, the Yorkshire Tory and Evangelical philanthropist. Oastler had been so deeply shocked by the plight of factory workers in 1830 that he had launched his critique of ‘Yorkshire slavery’. ‘Thousands of our fellow-creatures and fellow-subjects’, he argued, ‘both male and female, the miserable inhabitants of a Yorkshire town . . . are at this moment existing in a state of slavery, more horrid than are the victims of that hellish system ‘colonial slavery’.136 Oastler expected his friend Baines to publish the letter in the Leeds Mercury, but Baines was seriously concerned by the attack on his fellow liberal nonconformists. He published Oastler’s first letter after some delay, but it was soon apparent that he was not prepared to support him. Oastler saw the problem as a moral issue and believed that ‘the system which impoverishes, enslaves and brutalizes the labourer can never be advantageous to any country’. National strength and stability could only be built on the ‘solid basis of a contented and happy population’.137 The analogy that he and other factory reformers made with colonial slavery was ambiguous. The use of the term ‘white slavery’ was intended, at one and the same time, to produce outrage, with its suggestion that factory workers were akin to the enslaved in their conditions of work, and to mark a difference, for they were white and free, even if their freedom was denied. Short-timers, those seeking a reduction in factory hours, were frequently critical of what they saw as the hypocrisy of the abolitionists, with their focus on the oppression of those far distant and neglect of those at home. The campaign to limit the hours of labour gathered extensive support across the North from industrial communities experiencing severe distress. There were committees, petitions, parliamentary lobbying, strikes, mass pickets and crowd violence. A malign factory system came to stand ‘as a unifying metaphor for a range of problems’.138 At the election of 1831

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Oastler urged operatives to tackle candidates on the factory system and seek support for a ten-hour day. Michael Sadler, a resident Leeds businessman for thirty years, philanthropist, and member of the Corporation, opposed to both Catholic Emancipation and reform, supported Oastler, who suggested that he should lead the parliamentary cause and stand in Leeds. (He currently sat for the pocket borough of Aldborough.) Sadler had reaffirmed his support for ‘that class which alone creates the wealth and constitutes the strength of this great and powerful Empire’ and the radical leader Henry Hunt advised Leeds radicals to vote for him. He was, argued Hunt, ‘ten thousand times more disposed to assist the working class than Macaulay’.139 A Leeds Radical Political Union was established, led by James Mann and others, appealing specifically to operatives and rejecting a middle-class alliance, supporting universal suffrage, the secret ballot and annual parliaments. It defended the ‘artisan’ against the ‘capitalist’ and called for working-class representation as a way of challenging ‘degradation, misery and want’.140 The Tories, confident that Sadler would get radical support, invited him to be their candidate. He had introduced a bill in December 1831 proposing the protection of child labour (the hostility to any regulation for adults was seen as too great to challenge), but in the face of opposition from the masters a select committee was set up as a delaying tactic. Sadler chaired the committee which was used to provide a platform for supporters of the limitation of hours, and, most unusually, took evidence from workers, including twenty-six adult men, three women and nine male adolescents. The report provided a searing indictment of factory conditions, but Parliament was then dissolved owing to the reform crisis. In response, a great march to York took place. At the same time Leeds residents were very active in their support for parliamentary reform. Town meetings were held, petitions organised and 21,000 gathered during the ‘Days of May’. A public debate between Oastler and Baines in December 1831 allowed Oastler to demonstrate his considerable rhetorical skills. At the meeting in June 1832 to celebrate reform, Oastler questioned Macaulay and John Marshall, the local Whig candidate, a flax spinner who had previously been elected for Yorkshire, on their positions on factory reform. Marshall was open about his hostility to it, and Oastler thanked him for his ‘plain and manly answer’. Macaulay was more evasive.141 He had previously privately declared his support for the regulation of child labour on the grounds that children should be protected, as slaves were. Adults, however, were another matter. ‘The freeman’, he maintained, ‘cannot be forced to work to the ruin of his health. If he works over

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hours, it is because it is his own choice to do so. The law ought not to protect him; for he can protect himself.’142 It was attitudes such as this which enraged Oastler, who named Macaulay ‘Babby’, on the grounds that he knew nothing of the factory system and needed to be taught some first lessons. Deeply critical of the Reform Act, Oastler saw it as the triumph of the industrial capitalists: ‘It has given the poor into the hands of the highest and middle classes and shut out entirely the great mass, the wealth-producing class.’ ‘The people’, he argued, ‘do not live in £10 houses’.143 ‘I hate Whig politics with a most perfect hatred’, he proclaimed, because I believe the Whigs to be the enemies of my country and, if not stopped, that they will be the ruin of the nation. They are the great enemies of the Factory Bill, the great supporters of the factory system, which is fast destroying the Landed Interest and the Labouring classes . . . The time is come when all must join together against the political economists or this country cannot be saved.144

Oastler’s hope was to ‘unite the Aristocracy and the People, and thus to save them both’, and he invested himself with something of a messianic role.145 There was deep antipathy between Sadler and Macaulay before the election campaign even began. Sadler had published a refutation of Malthus, based on the argument that it was a contradiction of belief in the benevolence of God. Macaulay had responded violently in the Edinburgh Review, describing Sadler as one who ‘foams at the mouth with the love of truth, and vindicates the Divine benevolence with a most edifying heartiness of hatred’.146 It was clear to all that Marshall, the local Whig candidate and a leading industrialist, would be elected; the contest would be between Sadler and Macaulay. While Sadler was an old Leeds resident, Macaulay knew nothing of the town, nor of the men who had invited him to stand. He owed the invitation to his ‘public principles and character’ and ‘the distinguished services’ he had rendered to the cause of reform.147 The Leeds Mercury described him as ‘unquestionably the most eloquent and powerful speaker in the House of Commons’, while its rival, the Leeds Intelligencer was less generous, regarding him as ‘a child in law and a schoolboy in politics’.148 His supporters saw him as one of the brightest of the young Whigs, one of the great hopes of the party. He had just been appointed to the Board of Control for India with a generous salary, something of a thank you for his rhetorical contribution to reform. Arriving in Leeds for hustings in September, he stayed with George Rawson in his house in the centre of the town. His ‘leading friends’, he told

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Hannah, ‘whatever you may think of their refinement, are very honest substantial manufacturers’. They might not have had the finesse of the old merchant families, with their fine houses, French wines, Anglican and Evangelical leanings and cosmopolitan outlook, but they fed him on roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, plied him with porter, and provided ‘capital bed rooms’.149 These ‘substantial manufacturers’ were very different from the men that Macaulay was used to, and a busy textile town a very different setting from London, but these were the new men whose support was critical to the new political settlement and the theatre of the election provided an opportunity to perform the new face of politics, the virtuous and manly young Whig offering ‘the people’ responsible government. There was a public breakfast for him on the first morning, a splendid affair with over one hundred gentlemen, followed by a procession to the Cloth Hall where the hustings were to take place. Numerous flags and banners were on display, many in support of factory reform: ‘The Factory Bill – Union is Strength – Persevere and Conquer’; ‘Ten Hour Bill – the wish of the operatives is to live and let live’; ‘Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye’.150 All three candidates were on the platform, with a crowd of about fifteen thousand gathered to listen to them. Macaulay was introduced as a man of talent, and a ‘working man’, a description that met with cheers. He asked his audience to listen to everyone fairly. Interruption for the sake of interruption, he argued, only showed that the hecklers were ‘utterly unfit to exercise any deliberative or political function. If the opinions of men are reasonable’, he maintained, ‘discussion will show that they are founded in reason; if unreasonable, it ought to be the wish of every rational person to have them corrected by discussion.’151 Not all of his audience, however, had his trust in reason, and it proved to be a lively occasion. His previous visit to Leeds, a ‘very English occasion’, he flattered his listeners, had been to mark the passing of reform. They had celebrated ‘the triumph of English liberty, over good old English fare, and in a true English spirit’. But the Reform Bill, he argued, was only a starting point, its effect depended on ‘the wisdom and virtue of the constituent bodies which it calls into existence’. His role now was to hail those wise and virtuous voters, interpellate them as political citizens, and convince them that he would defend their liberties and freedoms. ‘I stand for civil and religious liberty, I am for personal freedom in every part of the globe’, he proclaimed, ‘freedom to the white and freedom to the negro’, religious freedom and freedom of trade, the best antidote to distress. He was opposed to illegal combinations (for they limited the freedom of the masters); legislation on child labour was

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necessary, he admitted, but he refused to discuss any details. ‘If there should be great expectations of relief from this measure by the lower orders’, he continued, before hastily stopping himself to exclaim on his use of ‘lower orders’, for they were lower ‘only because Providence has decreed that some of us’, asserting his identification with workers, ‘should earn our bread by the sweat of our brow’, then this was a delusion. (There were cheers, with a few hisses at this point.) Those who expected legislation to solve the problem were wrong, ‘confounding the symptoms of the disease with the disease itself. I believe the overworking of children, as far as it exists’, he maintained, parading his scepticism, ‘is not a cause but an effect of distress’.152 State intervention, in his view, was only necessary to protect children against cruelty and oppression.153 Oastler challenged Macaulay directly as to whether he would support the Ten Hour Bill. He refused to pledge support on the grounds that he did not know the details, but again insisted that there was no reason to protect free adults. ‘Do you not see’, he asked, ‘that however unpleasant it is to work, it is still more unpleasant to starve?’ He wanted the world to buy its goods from Leeds, not elsewhere; distress could be dealt with by economy and peace. The Factory Bill was a ‘quack medicine’.154 In the days that followed there were processions and speeches in the outer wards. The Whigs had chosen to address voters in this way, rather than soliciting votes door to door, arguing that this was a more open and frank way of proceeding; what mattered were political principles, not personal solicitation. Macaulay could not bear to humble himself, to be in the position of seeking favour. He was determined that if he were returned for Leeds it would be, ‘without having spent one shilling, without having begged one vote, without having flinched from one question, without having concealed or softened down one opinion, without deception, without corruption, without intimidation’.155 The crowds that gathered were mainly sympathetic; ‘the fools of Leeds’ as Cobbett named Macaulay’s adherents.156 Macaulay represented himself as ‘a Reformer’, and ‘the task of Reform was only begun’.157 But it must be a process; evils that had taken ‘deep root’ would have to be dealt with moderately though firmly, gradualism was the way.158 Challenged by a leading radical as to whether he would support household suffrage, he replied, ‘No, I will not’ and was met with a loud laugh and cheers. ‘If a householder has a vote, why not a servant? Why not a lodger? . . . there is no such thing as a natural right in every householder to vote.’ When pushed further on universal suffrage, Macaulay quipped in return, ‘Why not a woman?’ an answer which appears to have left his questioner floored.159 (John Marshall, asked about votes for unmarried women with

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property, responded that ‘He did not think it would be wise for them to be troubled with it, as they would be much better employed about their own homes.’160) The workers of Leeds, Macaulay told one of his audiences, those who had made its manufactures celebrated, had retained their buoyant spirits, the women their beauty. This confirmed his view that, ‘sympathy of feeling between the rich and the poor, which is the only sure cement of society’ had survived. ‘The interest of all classes’, he proclaimed, ‘are essentially the same . . . good government was the only security for property and industry . . . the capitalist and the labourer have the same interest.’ In Bramley, ‘a group of comely and healthy young women’, bearing a flag with an appropriately modest inscription, ‘We also would show our humble attachment to liberal principles’ was particularly applauded.161 Macaulay declared he could not but be struck by the ‘intelligence and activity of the population’ especially when compared with the ‘comparative stupidity’ that characterised the agricultural population with which he was familiar.162 Urban industrial life, he suggested, bred thinking men; agriculture made them sluggish. On Nomination Day, 10 December, there were innumerable standards and flags on display in support of the candidates. A view of the Messrs Marshall mill in Water Lane ‘in a snow storm on a winter’s morning, with several poor decrepid [sic] and half-naked factory children trudging in a shivering attitude through the snow’, with the words, ‘A Scene in Water-lane at five o’clock in the morning’ was one of the most dramatic in support of Sadler, alongside ‘Marshall and Macaulay and Starvation or Emigration for ever’ and ‘Sadler the Poor Man’s Friend’ in gold letters on blue silk. The Whig banners included ‘Purity of Election – By this shall freedom triumph’ alongside ‘William IV Marshall and Macaulay’ and ‘Freedom to Trade – Success to Commerce’.163 Macaulay had met serious and fierce opposition in the Commons, in particular from Croker who disputed his history and his politics. Oratory, not debate, was Tom’s forte; dialogue meant dealing with the thoughts of others. In Leeds he had to deal with a different kind of challenge, including that from angry and distressed workers whose conditions of work and livelihoods were at risk because of mechanisation. Contested elections were traditionally rowdy affairs and Leeds was no exception. The large crowds, the vast majority of whom had not received the vote, seized their opportunities to engage in vociferous heckling and demonstration. Macaulay found himself in a storm, making four or five speeches a day, involved in processions, dinners and much handshaking. Both sides surrounded themselves with ‘burly bodyguards’, both to ensure their own safety and to intimidate their opponents. Displaying ‘manly fortitude’ in the

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face of the indignities of a popular election was widely seen as a source of esteem.164 Election materials were voluminous and there were plenty of sharp squibs and jokes at Macaulay’s expense. His government income raised eyebrows and provoked hostile questions. Government service should be paid, he responded. If it were not, then only the rich could serve and ‘no avenue would be left by which men who spring from the people – and I spring from the people’, he told his listeners – could contribute. Such a policy would not be in the interests of liberty and democracy. His remuneration, he reminded his audience, came from the East India Company, and was charged to Indian subjects. Furthermore, in the coming year great decisions were to be made as to the future of India; decisions that were of great interest to ‘no place more than the town of Leeds’, whose residents hoped for cheaper tea as well as an ever expanding market for their textiles. The government incomes enjoyed by his father and brother also garnered much attention, since Mr Mackholy – ‘the Commander of the Vanguard of the March of Intellect’ or ‘the Ministerial Hercules’ as he was named by some – had not only secured a government pension as a Charity Commissioner for Zachary, but also a lucrative court appointment in Sierra Leone for his brother Henry.165 This smacked of Old Corruption, that metaphor for systematic political oppression, a parasitical political system that allowed an elite to accumulate ill-gotten spoils through sinecures, church patronage, government contracts, methods of indirect taxation, and commercial and financial policies that befitted the rich.166 ‘I beg of no man for a vote’, ran one verse, I always was timid and shy, I merely presume to denote That the ‘trust is most solemn and high’: But the ‘duty you have to perform’, Electors, ‘as the daylight is clear’, In my ‘snug little berth keep me warm’ To enjoy my TWELVE HUNDRED a year. I got a snug THOUSAND for Dad; With the saints he has still been a crony; TWO THOUSAND for Henry, poor lad, Who’s just off for Sierra Leone; Only think what a saving of pelf To the People of England is here: To get Harry, and Dad, and myself And all for FOUR THOUSAND a year!167

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The series of lectures on political economy delivered by Macaulay also provoked satire. ‘Mr. MACAULAY’S First Lecture’ ran one handbill, will shew the necessity of teaching the Labouring Classes, by means of Low Wages, Long Hours of Labour, abolishing Poor Laws, and other such salutary measures, the subordination due to their Superiors; and will also demonstrate the truth of the doctrine of MALTHUS, viz- ‘That human beings multiply too fast’ and consequently shew the necessity of adopting measures to prevent the increase of the working classes until they would themselves consume too great a portion of the FRUITS of their labour.168

Those without votes knew that they were ‘the rabble’ in Macaulay’s opinion; they were not ‘sensible electors’. It was manifest that Marshall and Macaulay were ‘THE ENEMIES OF THE POOR’.169 They believed that poverty was a crime and that ‘the superfluous’ should be left to die or be transported ‘to the swamps of Canada’.170 The two Whigs were burnt in effigy outside the Commercial Building where they were dining one night. Macaulay’s ‘obstinate refusal’ to speak about his religious beliefs provoked much adverse comment. ‘Is Leeds to have Christian or Infidel Representation?’ asked one poster. A Methodist questioner was met with an outraged response, ‘Gentleman, I am a Christian’; sacred subjects were not appropriate arenas for debate in public.171 One of his most vocal critics was Parson Bull, a strong supporter of both antislavery and factory reform. Bull had served as a teacher for the Church Missionary Society in Sierra Leone in the early 1820s. On his return he was ordained and settled near Bradford, soon discovering something of factory conditions. A Tory, he had little faith in parliamentary reform and in 1832 committed himself to the short-time movement, becoming involved in the election. Macaulay had caused great offence by likening Sadler to a ‘hyena who, when it wishes to decoy the unwary into its den, has a singular knack of imitating the cries of little children’.172 Bull wrote an open letter to Macaulay, criticising him for accusing Sadler of hypocrisy when his own family could be accused of the same fault. He recalled the time he had spent on ‘that blood stained coast, the western shore of Africa’. There he had encountered Kenneth Macaulay, trading in gunpowder, muskets, rum and tobacco with the local Africans, who then purchased slaves and shipped them off to Brazil. ‘Members of your family at home’, Bull charged, ‘who freighted the ships and shared the profits, were placed at the head of a cause which is dear to my heart – the cause of negro liberty – but which I will never plead again in connexion with those who rave at the mention of Africa’s wrongs, but can see a thousand redeeming

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qualities in White Infant Slavery.’ When as a missionary he had lain in bed, heard the hyena’s frightful howl and thought of home, he had never dreamed that a man who called himself a Christian would compare his competitor to a savage animal.173 Other election squibs employed ridicule rather than shame. Now Zachary had his comfortable pension, a trio composed for singing proposed, his interest in the oppressed overseas would have evaporated. ‘Hindoos, Burmese, and Maylays’, the recitative went, Widows’ Suttees now may blaze; Who cares, mid’st such blissful changes, What is done on Ind or Ganges? Dad no more than Bengal tiger Heeds whats going on at Niger. Leathern thongs on Negroes back, In the Caribees may crack, All is one to Daddy Zack.174

The poll itself provoked contentious and there were riotous scenes, with special constables being brought in to try and separate the factions. Standards were seized, tiles thrown from the roofs, people trampled underfoot. A regular battle was in progress. The polling lasted three days, a retrospective account recalled, ‘during which the borough was in a ferment of ill-feeling, drink and disorder. Ale and other liquors were to be had for the asking.’175 In the event there was a clear Whig victory: Marshall and Macaulay topped the poll and Sadler was beaten (he lost some Tory votes both because of his alliance with the radicals and because of his support for factory reform), an outcome which left Macaulay triumphant. ‘Sadler is mad with rage’, he told Napier, now editor of the Edinburgh Review, ‘His public life is, I think, over.’176 Macaulay’s own vengeful feelings towards Sadler were fuelled by familial as well as political emotions. When Macaulay first spoke in the new House of Commons, however, the class antagonisms of the Leeds election were forgotten, along with his deep annoyance that his election expenses had not in fact been paid. He was proud to represent ‘a new constituent body, one of the largest, most prosperous, and most enlightened towns in the kingdom’.177 The new manufacturers and £10 householders had made good, two Whigs had been elected, a devastating blow dealt to the Tory mercantile elite, the rabble defeated and order restored. A liberal government could indeed produce a conservative people.

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Ireland is not England Order had been successfully restored in England. But what of the ‘sister kingdom’? A liberal policy in Ireland had not delivered quite what had been hoped for and the state of that country threatened to be ‘incompatible with the existence of an administration wishing to act and being supported upon liberal principles’.178 The Whigs had always been in favour of Catholic Emancipation and hoped to strengthen the union through a commitment to a liberal constitution and religious pluralism. The king’s speech in 1833, however, sought stringent powers to maintain order in the face of widespread unrest, focused on the payment of tithes to the established Anglican Church, in a country where the vast majority of the population were Catholic. The government’s demand for extraordinary powers provoked a long response from O’Connell, ‘the Liberator’, arguing for redress, by which he meant repeal of the union. The union of 1801 had long been interpreted as annexation. Ireland might have a white population, be geographically proximate and politically united to Britain, but it was ruled as a ‘metro­ politan colony’, both inside and outside the United Kingdom. The administration was ‘distinctly colonial in both form and function’, with direct rule under a lord lieutenant, a remarkable degree of centralisation and inspection, and measures of repression and coercion that would have been unthinkable in Britain. Efficiency in government in Ireland ‘was valued above the liberty of the subject and the sanctity of property’.179 The quid pro quo for the ‘gift’ of Catholic Emancipation had been that 84,000 voters lost the franchise when 40-shilling freeholders were disqualified. Irish voters, it was believed in England – unlike their English counterparts, sturdy free-born Protestant men deemed worthy of political citizenship – were not yet fit for representative government. They could not be trusted to make independent judgements, for they followed the will of either their landlord or their priest. Irish Catholics were seen as less than complete men, for manliness connoted independence from the will of others. Ireland was not England, as Peel frequently reminded the House of Commons and the denigration and racialisation of the Irish, which had a long history, was part of English culture, not least in political circles. The Reform Act for Ireland left one in twenty men with a vote: in England it was one in seven. In 1833 the Whigs feared O’Connell’s enthusiasm for the spirit of revolutionary France. He had succeeded in transforming the demand for emancipation into a mass movement; might he now transform Catholic grievances about the payment of tithes into a movement against the established Church

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in Ireland and for repeal of the union? Repeal was out of the question; it would signal the ‘total eclipse of the power and glory of the British empire’.180 The government was split, however, on how to respond to the scale of disorder. The tithe war, with its wide-scale non-payment, was impoverishing the Church of Ireland, and confrontations between tenants and troops brought violence and drew attention to the abuses within that Church. ‘The Irish establishment had 22 well-paid bishops, which was only 4 fewer than the number of bishops in the Church of England. Yet, the Irish establishment ministered to only about 850,000 Irish Protestants, while the English establishment ministered to some 8,000,000 adherents.’181 Some Whig ministers were in support of a hard line. Others saw the problem as religious in origin and supported reform alongside coercion. Many thought that the Church of Ireland had failed in its duty of moral and religious instruction; education and civilisation were the necessary remedies. Assumptions as to the ‘physical wretchedness and moral ignorance’ of the Irish Catholic peasantry were widespread. To Sir James Graham, the Irish were an ‘unhappy and insane people’ and reconquest was the only solution; to Melbourne, they were, ‘persons, totally unfit . . . unable to speak English, and in short half or rather whole Barbarians’; while Russell deplored the influence of poorly trained Irish priests and thought that it provoked ‘sympathy for political violence and popular agitation’, particularly when combined with O’Connell’s inflammatory rhetoric.182 Macaulay was a strong supporter of Catholic Emancipation from the 1820s. Catholics, he firmly believed, could be Englishmen, religious affiliation superseded by national belonging. England did not have to be exclusively Protestant.183 But the Irish were not English yet. Tom’s sister Margaret recalled saying to him that she thought ‘the people of Ireland had as much right to dissolve the Union and have a Parliament of their own if they liked, as the people of England have a right to a reformed Parliament’. Tom attacked her as to what she meant by right and a discussion ‘ended in his saying that he thought right and might very much the same thing’. He ‘completely routed the rights of man, at least my feeble defence of them’, she wrote, and concluded that ‘it is impossible not to see that when looked into it is a mere cant phrase’.184 Tom may have had little difficulty defeating Margaret; convinced Irish repealers, however, were another matter. He recognised that the Church of Ireland required reform but believed that ‘strict respect should be paid to existing interests’: property was sacrosanct. Incumbents must not be turned out, this would be ‘robbery’ and ‘insecurity of property’ was, he was convinced, a ‘far greater evil than the heaviest of public burdens’.185 The

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‘swaggering’ gait and ‘bushels of dirty hair’ of one of O’Connell’s lieutenants in the Commons disgusted him, as did the ‘wretched poltrooneries and follies’ of ‘Irish patriots and heroes’.186 Irish fanatics, whether Catholic or Protestant, were anathema to him, a supporter of Orange processions described to his sisters as a ‘hairy, filthy, blackguard’.187 In 1833, he came out strongly in support of the government’s planned coercive measures, despite his concerns about the constitutional basis for them, which included the suspension of habeus corpus (the defence of which was a favoured Whig cause in the English context) and the substitution of courts-martial for ordinary courts in disturbed districts. He conceded that there were serious grievances to be addressed, as O’Connell had made clear, but repeal was no solution. He was challenged on his lack of consistency; how could he argue for reform in England but coercion in Ireland? He had never refused to support any government in ‘repressing disturbances’, he responded. Indeed, he had realised that the Captain Swing riots and the troubles in Bristol and Nottingham were occasioned by the refusal of the Lords to pass the Reform Bill, but he had never suggested that the offenders should not be punished. ‘I would act towards Ireland on the same principles on which I acted towards England’, he maintained. Faced with laws ‘insulted by a furious rabble . . . houses plundered and burned . . . my peaceable fellow-subjects butchered’, the only solution was coercion. The slaughter in Ireland, in his opinion, ‘had exceeded the slaughter of a pitched battle’ – a civil war was in fact taking place.188 In his speeches on reform, Macaulay had referred many times to the mistake that had been made in not conceding Catholic emancipation earlier; the effect of this error had been to stir up a level of agitation in Ireland that had almost reduced the country to breakdown. The great characteristic of the English, he had insisted, was the capacity to reform in a timely manner, to recognise the need for change and thus avoid revolution. This was the spirit that had marked the revolution of 1688 and the final successful passage of the 1832 Reform Act. The ability to read the signs of the times, to act with them rather than against them, distinguished the English from all other races and nations. Post-1832, the signs in Ireland were of Jacobinism and revolution: this necessitated forcible suppression. Ireland could be governed by the sword, he believed, as it had been under Cromwell, and as Wellington might have done. England, in his view was a far more advanced country, and could only be governed by popular opinion. His declaration of intent, that he would treat them the same, for they were indeed ‘fellow-subjects’, was undercut by his practice. They were not the same and he imagined Ireland differently from England. In his hierarchisation of races and peoples

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the Irish were inferior to the English and required different forms of governance. Ireland, he declared, was in danger of polluting the body politic. Cholera was preferable to the moral pestilence that had engulfed Ireland and he would rather live in ‘despotic Algiers’ than Kilkenny. Daniel O’Connell, the famed ‘Emancipator’ who now led the call for repeal of the union between Britain and Ireland, wanted a separate parliament for Ireland while insisting that he wished to maintain the connection between the two islands. For Macaulay, as for all the Whigs, this was an impossible demand. The ‘swaggering tone’ of Irish politicians was something he heartily disliked.189 He was cognisant, he claimed, of the effects of ‘many ages of misgovernment’ on Irish lives and morals.190 But O’Connell’s proposal was out of the question. He did not seek a local parliament as in Jamaica or Barbados or Antigua, one that recognised and bowed to imperial sovereignty. Rather, he wanted an independent legislature. But England and Ireland, Macaulay declared, were ‘parts of one empire. . . . I wish to see them joined as the limbs of a well-formed body are joined’. They must not be ‘like Siamese twins – where one is a constant plague to the other’.191 It was crystal clear, he maintained, that you could not have one executive power and two parliaments. ‘What I do say, and what common sense teaches, and what all history teaches’ was that this could not work. The Whigs had suffered ‘calumny, abuse, royal displeasure, popular fury, exclusion from office, exclusion from parliament’, all in ‘the name of emancipation’. ‘We were ready to endure them all’, to make men like O’Connell full British subjects: but they must not claim more.192 A few weeks later Greville noted in his diary Macaulay’s statement ‘that if he had had to legislate on Ireland, he would have suspended the laws there for five years, given the Lord Lieutenant’s proclamation the force of law, and put the Duke of Wellington in charge’.193 Jews and Irishmen were allowed to be political citizens providing they were patriots and conducted themselves like Englishmen; if they failed this test they must be dealt with accordingly. There were no ‘rights’ of men, that was ‘mere cant’. Macaulay’s appointment to the Governor-General’s Council and his departure for India in 1834 meant that he avoided the worst disputes in the government over Irish Church disestablishment. The news he received about Ireland while in India convinced him that much as he disliked Calcutta, Dublin was worse. A ‘provincial city on fire with factions political and religious, peopled by raving Orangemen and raving repealers’, fanatical Protestants and fanatical Catholics, was deeply unappealing.194 On his return to England, fresh from his encounter with a form of colonial governance that rested on military power, he finished an essay on the

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seventeenth-century statesman Sir William Temple. This was in part a reflection on the tensions between the life of a statesman and a literary man, tensions that he was exploring for himself, but it also included an uncompromising defence of Cromwell’s policy in Ireland. Macaulay had never been to Ireland, but in India, as we shall see, he had been a strong supporter of Anglicisation, believing that India should be ruled in an English idiom. Cromwell’s policy, he believed, had been ‘to make Ireland thoroughly English, to make Ireland another Yorkshire or Norfolk’, and his administration had been dauntless and unrelenting. Though brutal, he was right. ‘In no part of the empire’, he maintained, were ‘Cromwell’s abilities and the force of his character so signally displayed’. He had engaged in a holy war on ‘the aboriginal race’, ‘a band of malefactors and idolaters’, and vanquished them. On those who resisted he had no mercy: ‘Drogheda was as Jericho’.195 ‘The native race’, Macaulay opined, ‘was driven back before the advancing van of the Anglo-Saxon population’, just as American Indians had been in the New World or South African tribes were now in the face of white settlers. The words ‘extirpation’ and ‘eradication’ were often heard from English settlers, ‘cruel words, yet, in their cruelty, containing more mercy than much softer expressions’ now commonly used. ‘For it is in truth more merciful’, Macaulay concluded, ‘to extirpate a hundred thousand human beings at once, and to fill the void with a well governed population, than to misgovern millions through a long succession of generations.’196 Ireland was fast becoming English under Cromwell’s dispensation, but the policy lapsed and the opportunity was lost. Generations of misgovernment had followed. Such a defence of ‘extirpation’ was particularly striking in the context of the contemporaneous Select Committee on Aborigines. This was a powerful statement from the humanitarian lobby of the need to protect indigenous peoples from the depradations of white settlers. The Select Committee had been masterminded by Thomas Fowell Buxton, a close ally of Zachary’s in the struggle for emancipation, and the Buxtons were intimate family friends. Zachary had died just before Tom had returned to England from India which meant that there was no longer the pressure to subscribe to his favoured causes. Tom’s private criticisms of antislavery rhetoric became increasingly sharp as the years went by. This defence of ‘eradication’, however, in the context of Ireland, was strikingly violent. Tom clearly did not subscribe to humanitarian values. His consistent support for religious toleration sat alongside anti-Catholic sentiments. A visit to France and Italy following his return from India gave him opportunities to encounter Catholic practices. ‘It is a religion which furnishes its votaries with a great deal to see and a great deal to smell’, he

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recorded in his journal, ‘but nothing intelligible to hear.’197 He was astonished that ‘so many reasonable beings could come together to see a man bow, drink, bow again, wipe a cup, wrap up a napkin, spread his arms and gesticulate with his hands, and to hear a low muttering which they could not understand interrupted by the occasional jingling of a bell. The lowest field-preaching is respectable’, he judged, ‘compared with this mummery.’198 It was unreasonable to behave in such a way, to have a superstitious reverence for images and to believe in miracles. The spirit of the Church of Rome was ‘abominably servile’ and narrow, the Vatican administration was composed of ‘old women . . . liars and cheats’, the Pope himself abusing defenders of freedom of conscience with ‘miserable old woman’s reasons’: no manly conduct there.199 Yet at the same time he was overwhelmed by the grandeur of St Peter’s and ‘the immense antiquity of the papal dignity’ in the conduct of the Mass, linking together ‘the two great ages of human civilization’.200 But Northern Europe’s ‘great civilization and prosperity’ was owed to Protestantism, while ‘the decay of the Southern countries of Europe’ was mainly the responsibility of Catholicism.201 It was a church of ‘crucifixes and altarpieces’, addressing ‘the eye and the imagination rather than the understanding’.202 Here there was no conception that there might be different kinds of understanding, and the culture of strangers was dismissed. His sojourn in India had hardened his ideas about racial difference and confirmed his belief in a latitudinarian state. Not long after his return he published his critique of Gladstone’s High Anglican defence of the establishment. ‘The primary end of government’, for Macaulay, was purely temporal, ‘the protection of the persons and property of men’: the state was not ‘an institution for the propagation of religion’.203 No government should press religious instruction on the people ‘in such a manner as to excite . . . discontents dangerous to public order’. This was a lesson he had learned from India. It was certainly desirable that Christianity should be encouraged in that benighted country, for in no part of the world was ‘heathenism more cruel, more licentious, more fruitful of absurd rites and pernicious laws’. But the government was in no position to do this; if it tried, the effect would be ‘the dissolution of society’, ‘utter ruin’, the destruction of ‘our empire’.204 Christian instruction could only be given on a voluntary basis. Scotland provided an instructive example as to how a proper union could be effected; England and Scotland were one, Macaulay believed, ‘because the Churches are two’. The union resembled ‘the union of the limbs of one healthful and vigorous body, all moved by one will, all co-operating for common ends’: a well-functioning body politic. This contrasted with Ireland and the nightmare vision O’Connell’s scheme had represented, of ‘Siamese twins’, one a

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constant plague to the other. Scotland, having been one of ‘the rudest . . . poorest . . . and most turbulent countries in Europe’ had now become ‘one of the most highly civilized, one of the most flourishing, one of the most tranquil’.205 Ireland, on the other hand, required thousands of troops to quell the agitators, rioters and murderers. The effort to impose an established church on Ireland was a mistake: religion should be a matter of individual choice. England’s union with Scotland had worked: the two had become one, and that one was England. Macaulay had re-entered the Commons in 1839 as the MP for Edinburgh, and he was proud to represent such a ‘great and intelligent body of constituents’.206 He was perfectly well aware of his father’s Scottish roots, but he himself was a fully assimilated Englishman, born, as he was proud of reminding people, on St Crispin’s Day, the day of the battle of Agincourt, celebrated in Shakespeare’s great speech in Henry V. In his election speech in 1839 he referred to ‘that tie which attaches every man of Scottish blood to the ancient and renowned capital of our race’. Edinburgh, once a seat of empire, he recalled in an effort perhaps to flatter his electors, now derived from ‘poetry, philosophy, and eloquence a far higher distinction than empire can bestow’.207 His audience, his friend Adam Black recalled, was captivated by his ‘manly eloquence’.208 Yet Tom’s dream was that Britain’s empire could bestow just such distinction, and it was English literature that he cited as the key agent of civilisation. England and Scotland, he rejoiced to say, were now in a ‘sound state’. Ireland, however, was ‘the diseased part of the empire’.209 Just as in Leeds, Macaulay insisted to his Edinburgh electors on his independence as an MP. He would provide ‘reasonable, candid, and manly explanations’ for his actions, but he was a ‘free man’ and they were a ‘free people’.210 Not surprisingly, his opinions on religion provoked considerable trouble with some of his staunch Presbyterian constituents, and since the city was in the process of reconstituting itself as a symbol for Scotland his avowed Englishness may have raised eyebrows. The Church of Scotland was internally conflicted over the issue of who controlled the appointment of ministers. A Veto Act in 1834, designed to limit the power of patrons, had given ‘the parishioners – or rather the majority of male heads of family in communion with the church and living within the parish – the power to veto a candidate who had been presented for the ministry of the parish church by the patron’.211 This became a conflict between the civil courts, which ruled that the civil rights of patrons and their presentees had been infringed, and the Church, with Scottish evangelicals, especially Thomas Chalmers, determined to defend its autonomy. Chalmers refused

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any interference from the civil courts and insisted on spiritual independence. This conflict became a crisis and by 1841 it was clear that Church order was breaking down and disruption was imminent. Macaulay’s constituents, many of them staunch Presbyterians with powerful convictions on one side or the other, sought his views. ‘I do not agree with the High Churchmen’, he told Adam Black, ‘in thinking that the state is always bound to teach religious faith to the people’. But neither did he agree with ‘the Voluntaries in thinking that it is always wrong in a state to support a religious establishment’. The question for him was ‘a question of expediency’: what would work? What would have the best results? The veto question, he thought, ought to be decided within the Church, though this would not please the ‘violent men’ on either side.212 As always, fanaticism, political or religious, was much to be regretted, moderation to be desired. Edinburgh Dissenters could be too uncompromising in his opinion; they should remember that they were citizens too. ‘While the State and the Church are connected’, he believed, ‘the State must control the Church’.213 In Ireland, the problem was that the state had imposed a Church establishment which did not serve the needs of the vast majority of the people. If it were only possible to get rid of the Corn Laws and the Irish Church, he told Fanny, he might ‘begin to think of being a Conservative’.214 Whig efforts to improve the situation in Ireland in 1833–41 did have some success; Russell described the years of Melbourne’s administration as ‘that sweet sleep in which Irish agitation had slumbered’.215 O’Connell was partially prepared to cooperate, more Catholics were appointed as judges and magistrates, there were efforts to tackle the issue of tithes, and the extension of the New Poor Law to Ireland did not provoke huge resistance as it had in England. The return of a Conservative government in 1841 brought new hostilities and a major campaign on repeal, with monster meetings in 1843. Peel’s response was to introduce religious concessions, a policy which was deeply unpopular with many of his own party. At the height of O’Connell’s repeal campaign in 1844 Macaulay, now in opposition, spoke in support of Russell’s demand for a committee to investigate the state of Ireland. The situation was, he believed, very dangerous. Ireland equalled at least a quarter of the United Kingdom. In size and population it was superior probably in natural fertility to any area of equal size in Europe, possessed of natural facilities for trade such as can nowhere else be found in an equal extent of coast, an inexhaustible nursery of gallant soldiers, a country far more important to the prosperity, the strength, the dignity of this great empire than all our distant dependencies together, than the

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Canadas and the West Indies added to Southern Africa, to Australasia, to Ceylon, and to the vast dominions of the Moguls . . .

Yet it was agreed by all to be ‘ill affected and turbulent’. Ireland was crucial to England: it was not a ‘distant dependency’ but a ‘sister kingdom’, separated by only a narrow sea. Its soldiers fought in the British army, its inhabitants were white and Christian, albeit Catholic. Yet the government had admitted that it governed the island ‘not as you govern England or Scotland, but as you govern your new conquests in Scinde; not by means of the respect which people feel for the laws, but by means of bayonets, of artillery, of entrenched camps’.216 The reason for this lay in Ireland’s history and its subjection. It had suffered ‘the conquest of a race by a race, such a conquest as that which established the dominion of the Spaniard over the American Indian, or of the Mahratta over the peasant of Guzerat or Tanjore. . . . Of all forms of tyranny,’ he continued, ‘I believe that the worst is that of a nation over a nation.’ Here he had slipped from race to nation, equating the one, as he frequently did, with the other. There could be nothing like the bitterness, ‘the mutual enmity felt by populations which are locally intermingled, but which have never morally or politically amalgamated; and such were the Englishry and the Irishry’. England had in times gone by suffered the same problem but amalgamation had taken place: ‘here the Saxon had trampled on the Celt, the Dane on the Saxon, the Norman on Celt, Saxon, and Dane. Yet in the course of ages all the four races had been fused together to form the great English people.’ The problem in Ireland was that this had never happened. Oliver Cromwell had tried to make it happen. His policy had been, ‘wise, and strong, and straightforward, and cruel’. It was a policy of extirpation – ‘to make Ireland thoroughly Anglo-Saxon and Protestant’. (Here Macaulay was drawing on the arguments he had first made in the essay on Temple.) This was the only real hope. Instead, Irish Roman Catholics had been permitted to live, be fruitful, and replenish the earth. But they were doomed ‘to be what the Helots were in Sparta, what the Greeks were under the Ottoman, what the blacks now are at New York’; they were an inferior and subjugated people. Pitt had tried unsuccessfully to create real union. Catholic Emancipation had finally been granted because of turbulence, and this had taught the Irish that they could only get remedies that way. The current Tory government had treated the Irish like aliens: ‘you must not blame them’, Macaulay opined, ‘for feeling and acting like aliens’. Till ‘Ireland is tranquil’, he concluded, ‘England can never hold her proper place among the nations.’ She was the most powerful nation on earth, had dictated peace to China, ruled Caffraria and Australasia,

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dominated the oceans and guarded her vast Indian dominions, yet ‘there is one vulnerable spot near to the heart’.217 Ireland must be brought into the national family: no longer aliens but kin. Only Whig policies would effect this, for the Tories were hostile to timely concessions. The break-up of the union was not to be contemplated. The physical proximity of England to Ireland meant that the two countries, as he told Charles Gavan Duffy, one of the leaders of Young Ireland, the group of liberal cultural nationalists gathered around The Nation, ‘must always be either blessings or curses to each other’ and he chided him for ‘inflaming national animosity’.218 Duffy, years later, noted that ‘Mr. Macaulay seems always to have proceeded upon the assumption that justice is a luxury, like Bass’s beer and Holloway’s ointment, intended specially for British enjoyment’.219 The following year he supported the Maynooth grant, a state grant for the training of Catholic priests, rousing the ire of some of his Edinburgh constituents who were enraged at the idea of the state supporting the priesthood. ‘I have opposed myself manfully to a great popular delusion’, he told one of his correspondents.220 He knew he had offended, but ‘I cannot ask pardon for it. I cannot ask pardon for being in the right.’ He chided his opponents for their ‘rude and barbarous’ notions and trusted that the ‘malevolent prejudice worthy only of a dark age’ would not succeed. He deeply regretted the thought that he found such sentiments ‘in the liberal and enlightened city of Edinburgh in the nineteenth century’.221 In India, he told them, he had secured Roman Catholic priests for regiments in which Roman Catholics served, for if ‘men were to fight and bleed in the service of their country’ they should have the services of their own priests.222 Clearly there was a vital distinction between the Irish and Indians, between those who worshipped a Christian God and those who worshipped Juggernaut or Khalee. ‘It is much better that people should be without any religion than that they should believe in a religion which enjoins prostitution, suicide, robbery, assassination.’223 Government money should never support Hinduism, he maintained, though it had to tolerate its practices, but Catholicism was a different matter. He wished that the Irish were Protestants, but they were not. However, he would rather that they were Catholics than that they had no religion at all. In his view there had been a great injustice inflicted on Ireland: ‘to quarter a hostile church on a conquered people, as you would quarter a soldiery, is . . . the most absurd of mistakes’. Even in ‘those parts of the empire where the great body of the population is attached to absurd and immoral superstitions’, the folly had not been committed of making them pay for a church they did not want. The Established Church of Ireland was ‘an absurd

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institution’. ‘Who ever heard any of her advocates speak a manly and statesmanlike language?’, he demanded.224 India was ruled by the sword of necessity – but it was an anomaly in Ireland. The government must, he insisted, learn the lessons of experience and Scotland provided his favoured example. An attempt had been made there to force the Anglican Church on an unwilling population with disastrous results. When that had been abandoned and the Presbyterian Church accepted, full union had followed, and the angry feelings of the Scots had, in his account, died rapidly away. This had enabled England to become the great nation she now was. The strength of the English lay in their capacity to adapt and absorb: the ‘amalgamation’ of Normans and Saxons in the thirteenth century led to the emergence of the English, a homogeneous race. Just as revolution had been avoided by the extraordinary capacity of the constitution to reform, so this capacity to absorb was the unique quality of Englishness. Such absorption depended on a capacity to tolerate other forms of religion and propagate civil equality: but there were limits. Judaism and Catholicism could be tolerated inside the nation; Hindu gods belonged in a space of difference. The famine years marked a watershed in Irish politics. The ‘Irish question’, as it had come to be understood in England, already had a high profile by the mid-1840s. Between 1845 and 1850 the future of the country seemed to be at stake, and Macaulay was heavily involved in these debates, not least because of the critical role of his brother-in-law, Trevelyan, in delivering government policies from the Treasury. By the autumn of 1845 it was clear that there had been a major failure of the potato crop, and as early as December of the same year, ‘Ireland, we fear’, Macaulay wrote to Hannah, ‘is on the brink of something like a servile war’ – not because of O’Connell’s repeal campaign or the activities of Young Ireland, but on account of ‘the severe distress endured by the peasantry’. Policies for Ireland had long been a matter of dispute amongst the Whigs, as well as between the parties. Different groups occupied a variety of positions, Peter Gray argues, with ‘the moralists’, as he defines them, centred around Sir George Grey (Home Secretary in Russell’s government of 1846–52), and including Charles Wood (Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1846), Trevelyan (Assistant Secretary to the Treasury, 1840–59) and Macaulay, becoming increasingly vocal on the conditions of famine. They were convinced of the dangers of dependency and the liberating potential of free trade; the need was to create conditions in which individuals would be compelled to act in a progressive manner in their own, and others’, interests. They complied, he suggests, with Marx’s stereotype of Whigs as ‘the aristocratic representatives of the bourgeoisie’.225

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Russell, who had long been in favour of pursuing a policy of land reform, had a powerful sense of the ills under which Irish Catholics had suffered and was prepared for large-scale expenditure on relief, but ‘the moralists’ had considerable weight in the government of 1846. The blights, they believed, were providential. Short-term suffering might be necessary but would lead to an essential improvement in habits. ‘I think I see a bright light shining in the distance through the dark cloud which at present hangs over Ireland . . . God grant that we may rightly perform our part and not turn into a curse what was intended for a blessing’, Trevelyan wrote in October 1846.226 Macaulay saw the Trevelyans most days and in July 1847, when he addressed the electors of Edinburgh, he reflected on the terrible famine that had unexpectedly occurred in ‘the most civilised and the most opulent empire of the world’. No one had expected this, since famines of this kind had only happened previously in barbarous countries. Ireland was in no way prepared. It was a country, he maintained, whose social state was fearfully disorganised . . . where the proprietor and labourer were distinguished from each other by caste, race, religion, and almost language . . . a country where the great landowners might almost be considered as a species of foreign garrison quartered in the midst of a population of different blood from themselves, and in which the evil passions generated by ages of war and ages of misgovernment still exercised a formidable empire over the minds both of the ruling few and the subject many.227

Here were many of Macaulay’s characteristic concerns, concerns that were to be fully articulated in his History. There were two races, divided by religion and even language, Saxons and Celts, colonisers and colonised, sharing a history that had defined the miseries of the present. The government had made mistakes, though its members had devoted themselves to the problem, and he believed that they had managed to save the lives of one-and-a-half to two million ‘fellow subjects’. History, he was convinced, would confirm his view that Ireland was the most important issue facing the nation. Trevelyan was initially very reluctant to recognise the scale of want and need and ‘resorted to mechanisms of mental distancing’, with distress being blamed on deviations from ‘sound principles’ and the failures of individuals.228 Even when he recognised the existence of famine he remained convinced of the rightness of his policies: minimalist state intervention and a punitive system of relief, a trust in laissez-faire, and the transformation of

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subsistence peasants into wage labourers. It was the Irish who had brought this upon themselves, but they could save themselves provided they adopted the correct remedies. Famine was not a British or imperial responsibility. Yet the political situation was disturbing. The revival of the Orange Order after 1845, followed by the death of O’Connell in 1847 and the development of a more radical nationalism, particularly associated with Young Ireland, meant that tensions were high as successive crop failures made the scale of the famine increasingly terrible. With fears of ever more serious disturbance a Coercion Bill was passed in December 1847 and habeus corpus suspended in 1848, only to be followed by the abortive rising of July 1848. ‘What hope is there for a nation that lives on potatoes?’ Trevelyan asked in the essay he published in an attempt to explain to Britons how he saw the redemptive possibilities of the Irish crisis. Macaulay was one of the readers, indeed some thought he was the writer, of this essay, initially published in the Edinburgh Review and then reprinted as a long pamphlet. ‘The whole weight of the business of feeding Ireland and western Scotland’ fell on Trevelyan, Macaulay told his sister Fanny.229 And it certainly worried Trevelyan greatly: Irish affairs ‘are ten times as difficult to manage as Indian’ he wrote to one correspondent. ‘It is well that I served my apprenticeship in India, else I think I should not have been able to grapple with these Irish exigencies.’230 At the time the essay was written, Trevelyan mistakenly thought that the crisis was over and that the time of regeneration had come. His analysis was brutal: Irish society needed to be remade. A society built on potatoes could not survive in the modern age. Irish smallholders lived in a state of isolation, there were no farmers of a ‘superior class’ to emulate, ‘the domestic habits arising out of this mode of subsistence were of the lowest and most degrading kind’ and women developed no domestic skills. The only way forward was drastic change.231 The first object of relief activity, he believed, should be to teach people to live differently. ‘Posterity’, he confidently asserted, will trace up to that famine the commencement of a salutary revolution in the habits of a nation long singularly unfortunate, and will acknowledge that on this, as on many other occasions, Supreme Wisdom has educed permanent good out of transient evil.232

The best model, he was convinced, was one in which ‘the educated and enlightened proprietor, the substantial farmer, and the industrious labourer on regular wages, each performs his appropriate part’.233 Public relief, nationally funded, was a disastrous mistake. It was local landowners who

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should bear any burden of relief, which, moreover, should be ‘confined as much as possible to the infirm and helpless’, and ‘on the lowest scale necessary for subsistence’.234 The Irish were a ‘naturally intelligent and energetic people’, but they had been paralysed by the delusion that the government would provide for them. The lesson had to be learned that they could not depend on external assistance and that ‘independent exertion’ was the only solution.235 ‘Thank God’, that the potato blights, ‘a direct stroke of an all-wise and all-merciful Providence’ had exposed the deep roots of ‘social evil’ and facilitated a ‘sharp but effectual remedy’.236 This harsh analysis was a bestseller from the moment of publication and the remedies of ‘the moralists’ found ever more ready acceptance in the wake of the continental revolutions of spring 1848 and the easily crushed, but nevertheless deeply worrying, attempt by Irish nationalists in July to raise a rebellion. A further potato failure brought a desperate situation but public opinion in Britain was hostile to relief. There was widespread dismay amongst Irish public officials who were in daily contact with desperate hunger, especially in the west, but Trevelyan was adamant that a ‘gigantic remedy’ was what was needed, not government money for relief. Russell was deeply troubled but succumbed to ‘the moralists’. ‘The belief that the blight was a providential visitation, sent to bring Ireland into a higher state of social and moral organisation through a necessary measure of pain’, argues Gray, ‘shaped contemporary attitudes and subsequent apologetics.’237 Trevelyan, like Macaulay, was in favour of religious toleration and, unlike many other Evangelicals, was not anti-Catholic. In an 1840 pamphlet he had stressed the need for interdenominational cooperation and argued that British hostility to Catholics was partly a result of historical ignorance. ‘The most wholesale and protracted persecution on record’, he wrote, ‘is that of the Irish Catholics by the English Protestants’.238 He disliked bigotry and the blatant racism of The Times and proudly proclaimed his own assimilated Englishness, an educative process that his brother-in-law had been eager to contribute to. ‘I myself boast to be of Celtic origin’, Trevelyan wrote, ‘I have always regarded with peculiar interest the Celtic branch of our national family. However superior the German race may be in some points, I would not have Ireland Anglo-Saxon if I could.’239 But Celts had to be transformed, as he had been. Their ‘sluggishness and indolence’ were not natural. He was not a biological racist, but his assumptions of Anglo-Saxon superiority and Celtic degeneration slipped into forms of cultural racism. Highland Celts he found less disturbing: they were also facing famine, but were increasingly held up to the Irish as examples. They were not ‘turbulent or blood thirsty’, nor were they organising themselves into radical and revolutionary groups

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as had happened in Ireland.240 Trevelyan convinced his brother-in-law that there was more hope for the Highlands, and Macaulay rather congratulated himself on his generosity in having sent two contributions for agricultural improvements. As he told Ellis this was much preferable to sending it to Ireland, ‘where it would probably have been useless’, though the state of Ireland was indeed sorrowful.241 Emigration became Trevelyan’s preferred solution for the Highlands. ‘Our object’, he opined, ‘is to prevent the Celtic population from either starving at home or pouring over our manufacturing Districts where wages are already too much reduced by the competition of the Irish and to direct it to Australia where pastoral labour is extremely wanted and highly productive.’242 For Trevelyan this was a great experiment in social engineering. The ‘surplus population’ could become the labourers of the antipodes, and they would emigrate in their families, so as to provide the basis for a properly domesticated workforce. A national effort was required which would ‘rid our operatives of the swarming Irish and Scotch Celts’. Germans were preferable to Highland Scots and he contemplated with satisfaction ‘the prospects of flights of Germans settling here in increasing number – an orderly, moral, industrious and frugal people, less foreign to us than the Irish or Scotch Celt, a congenial element that will readily assimilate with our body politic’.243 Assimilation to the body politic was the necessity. On this point he and Macaulay could certainly agree. State and nation While in India Macaulay had been impatient with the Whig government, more inclined to the ‘Centre Gauche’, that group which were critical of the government but not aligned to the radicals.244 He had also avoided the divisive debates that had taken place, particularly over the Irish Church. He was ‘not fond of violent changes when it is possible to avoid them’, and preferred ‘to see abuses die out quietly’.245 On his return to England his party loyalty was to the Whigs but he was uninterested in minor office, thinking he might be able to wield more influence if he was independent. In his election speech in 1839, however, he was unequivocal: ‘I entered public life a Whig, and a Whig I am determined to remain’. He used that word, he insisted ‘in no narrow sense’: I mean by a Whig, not one who subscribes implicitly to the contents of any book, though that book may have been written by Locke; not one who approves the conduct of any statesman, though that statesman may have been Fox; not one who adopts the opinions in fashion in any circle, though that circle may be composed of the finest and noblest spirits of the age.

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It seemed to him, he continued, that looking back on ‘our history’, he saw a great party which had, ‘through many generations, preserved its identity; a party often depressed, never extinguished; a party which, though often tainted with the faults of the age, has always been in advance of the age; a party which, though guilty of many errors and sometimes crimes, has the glory of having established our civil and religious liberty on a firm foundation’.246 He was proud to be a member of that party. Whiggism for him was not tied to doctrinaire positions; he had abandoned Locke long ago, he told one of his correspondents.247 It was a style of politics that had evolved organically; its proudest claim in his view was its leadership on issues of civil and religious liberty. He was appointed as Secretary at War in Melbourne’s government of 1839–41, but was not sorry to return to writing when the Tories came into power. He had made the decision to write a history of England while in India, and started it soon after his return. He served again in the Whig government of 1846 as Paymaster General. The Whigs of the 1830s and 1840s, as Peter Mandler and Ian Newbould have argued, had a distinctive style and political agenda, and they prevented the full triumph of liberalism for two decades. Yet there were strong elements of what were to be the key principles of nineteenth-century liberalism in their politics: liberty under the rule of law, a government that was accountable to ‘the people’, the abolition of trade restrictions that favoured vested interests and arguments for moral improvement were part of their platform. But Whiggism was distinctive: Whig liberty was to be bestowed from above, it was a boon for which subordinates should be suitably grateful. It signified, as Abraham Kriegel argues, the freeing of individuals within a hierarchical society. Social and political inequalities were ‘natural’.248 The purpose of government was the protection of persons and property and it was the law which secured this: liberty and law were twinned together. ‘Rational liberty’ was sharply distinguished from the ‘impracticable liberty’ of radicals who had no respect for property.249 Whigs defended traditional aristocratic power which was to counterbalance the crown, and depended on paternalistic notions of rule for the people. They followed a programme of moderate reform of church and state to ensure the interests of property and prevent the spread of democracy. Their commitment to religious pluralism brought serious tensions. They ‘favoured a society which was hierarchic but not authoritarian; pluralist but not organic’.250 Confronted with poverty, disorder and class antagonisms, they were preoccupied with national cohesion and concerned to demonstrate that the state identified with the nation and would address its ills. The state had a responsibility to intervene in the national interest:

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social and economic ills would not regulate themselves and the reform government of 1832 was ‘the first to pass national legislation on a major scale’.251 Municipal reform offered middle-class urban men a training in local government, while undermining Tory power. Citizenship involved responsibilities and restraints, liberty meant the rule of law. The Whigs were also preoccupied with the character of the people and believed that churches, education and exemplary leadership could all encourage improvement. Lord Holland, in Macaulay’s view, was a leader to admire, one who had lived his whole public life, ‘in perfect harmony with the great principles of toleration and civil freedom’. He was, ‘the noble, who in every great crisis cast in his lot with the commons, . . . the planter, who made manful war on the slave trade, . . . the landowner, whose whole heart was in the struggle against the corn-laws’.252 There were liberal aspects to this Whig programme, as in their support for the repeal of the Corn Laws, but Russell, a key figure in all Whig ministries, was never sympathetic to political economy. He aimed above all to ensure that the people were ‘cemented and bound up with the institutions and welfare of the country’.253 Macaulay was part of this Whig political project. In the period before the Reform Act the Whigs believed that Parliament had been shorn of its powers which had been wrongly entrusted to vested interests, threatening the civil and religious liberties of the people. Parliament must have the power to challenge the executive and hold it to account. They emphasised national leadership and elite responsibility as the necessary framework for popular liberties. The Reform Act was to improve the governing classes, as J. P. Parry argues; the Municipal Corporations Act to revitalise local elites.254 France was the spectre in the Whig imagination; the revolution that must be avoided at all costs. ‘It is upon law and government’, as Russell argued, that ‘the prosperity and morality, the power and intelligence, of every nation depend’.255 The Whig reforms of the 1830s were to demonstrate the identification between state and nation. By tackling poverty, crime, ignorance and religious grievances, they would legitimate a strong, moralising government. They would defuse sectarian bitterness and educate all children. Good government should lead the people, strengthen their attachment to the state and shape individual character. Disseminating ruling ideas was vital to this. Authority could only do some of the work in a modern nation; opinion, as Russell put it, ‘could do the rest’.256 This was the remaking of both state and nation. There was a key distinction, however, between guiding the people and agreeing to any further extension of the franchise. The People’s Charter, first published in 1838, had provided a rallying point for unenfranchised

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workers. The Newport Rising in 1839 had led to significant bloodshed and was followed by serious disturbances in Sheffield and East London. The presentation in 1842 of a petition in support of the Charter, signed by thousands, gave Macaulay a chance to reiterate his absolute refusal of universal suffrage. If granted, he believed, ‘the country is lost’. Without security of property, it would not be possible ‘to prevent a nation from sinking into barbarism’.257 He was convinced that the majority of twenty-one-year-old men did not respect property. ‘If I trust them with power’, he frightened himself and his fellow MPs, ‘the first use which they will make of it will be to plunder every man in the kingdom who has a good coat on his back and a good roof over his head.’ He did not blame the ‘ignorant crowds’ who had signed the petition. Once again, as in the reform crisis, he pointed the finger at the ‘professional agitators’ who stirred up the rabble. It was not immediately obvious to all, he realised, why inequality was necessary ‘to the well-being of all classes’. But now labourers knew how they would suffer if anarchy ruled. His fearsome vision was of ‘trade gone; manufactures gone; credit gone . . . famine . . . pestilence’; with such a landscape military despotism might be the best outcome.258 Until the population was educated, he was convinced, universal suffrage was out of the question. But the economic depression of 1841–2 brought waves of strikes and arrests, and the Chartist challenge remained a serious threat. In the Whig view individuals were to become independent actors within a naturally hierarchical order. Education and factory reform were new sites of state intervention, while the new Poor Law ‘was a further step in ensuring the primacy of property over customary rights and enforcing individual self-responsibility’.259 At the same time changes in government and administrative systems, as Philip Corrigan and Derek Sayers have argued, were part and parcel of the reforms of the 1830s, fusing together new forms of rule with market society and disentangling the state from the interests that had characterised the workings of Old Corruption. The state came to represent, they suggest, a neutral and national set of institutionalised practices which successfully claimed the legitimate monopoly of national means of administration. Inspectors standardised knowledge across the country. Royal Commissions with set agendas, controlled membership, definite forms of inquiry and the gathered evidence providing the basis for the final reports and recommendations were a key instrument of centralisation. This was a system of national improvement, with a focus on statistics, education and sanitation. The authority of government in a representative system was to ‘embody the national will’, as Kay-Shuttleworth put it, but there were ‘certain objects too vast, or too complicated, or too important to be intrusted

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[sic] to voluntary associations; they need the assertion of power’.260 But the revolution in government was always going to be limited. There were political limits on the right of central government to tax, the emphasis on the need to reduce public expenditure from wartime limits and the dependence on local officials and local taxation.261 James Mill’s ‘grand discovery of modern times’, the system of representation, assumed that, once elected, government would act for the people.262 The education of ‘the common people’ was clearly vital, a conviction that Macaulay shared. This was a matter on ‘which the state ought to interfere’.263 Education was the best route to the security of persons and property. The Gordon Riots, involving terrible mob violence, were, he believed, the result of religious hostilities caused by ‘the ignorance of a population which had been suffered, in the neighbourhood of palaces, theatres, temples, to grow up as rude and stupid as any tribe of tattooed cannibals in New Zealand, I might say as any drove of beasts in Smithfield Market’.264 It was civilisation which marked man from beast, savage from polite. It was brute ignorance that was responsible for the violence of more recent events, such as ‘the riots of Nottingham, the sack of Bristol, all the outrages of Ludd, and Swing, and Rebecca, beautiful and costly machinery broken to pieces in Yorkshire, barns and haystacks blazing in Kent, fences and buildings pulled down in Wales’. Such outrages would not have happened if the minds of labourers had been opened and they had learned to revere God, ‘respect legitimate authority . . . seek the redress of real wrongs by peaceful and constitutional means’.265 Education, he was convinced, would reduce crime and unrest. The principle of free competition in schooling worked for the rich but not for the poor. He pointed to the example of Scotland, a ‘poor and barbarous nation’ in comparison to England’s opulent and highly civilised’ state. There the introduction of state-funded parochial schools had resulted in a disturbing truth: that the common people of Scotland had ‘passed’ those of England. Wherever the Scot went, he carried his superiority with him, in public office, in factories, in the army, and in the empire.266 The science of government was an experimental science; the lessons must be learned, the people educated. Adam Smith was cited by Macaulay, both in his defence of state-funded education and in his volte-face on factory regulation in 1846, the speech he himself regarded as his best, and which marked his conversion to the need for the regulation of factory hours. Smith had understood that government intervention was sometimes essential, despite his strong attachment to the principles of free trade. ‘Where the health of the community is concerned’, Macaulay argued, ‘it may be the duty of the state to interfere.’267 A regulated

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factory system, as R. Q. Gray has suggested, came to be seen as a necessary part of the politics of social conciliation, complementing the repeal of the Corn Laws and ensuring that England did not go down a revolutionary path.268 Macaulay had long been in favour of repeal of the Corn Laws, but only when the nation was ready for it. The loud voices of urban men, he believed, should not be confused with ‘the voice of the nation’.269 He would hold to his own principles with ‘manly rectitude’ until the time was ripe, even if it alienated his constituents.270 It was vital in a system of representative government to carry both parliament and the country on such a measure; it was vital also to be prepared to compromise, something his Edinburgh constituents did not relish. In the event, of course, it was Peel who introduced the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, splitting his party in the process and putting the Whigs back into power. A secure nation, Macaulay believed, depended not only on the inclusion of middle-class men into political citizenship but also respectable workingclass men into the family of the nation. This was a reconfigured national identity, one in which the moral and physical state of working people had a new significance. ‘The great body of the people should not live in a way which makes life wretched and short’, he argued, ‘which enfeebles the body and pollutes the mind.’271 The lessons of experience already demonstrated that the limiting of hours had not been disastrous: indeed, a prohibition on Sabbath labour had made the country more prosperous and civilised. A slaveholder who recognised his own interests did not treat his ‘human chattels exactly as . . . his horses and dogs’. Intense labour with no rest would produce a ‘feeble and ignoble race of men’. It was intelligence which made the difference between one country and another: ‘Hindoo’ cotton manufacturers could not compete with the English because of our machinery, ‘negroes’ would never better our devices for squeezing sugar cane. The United States had become rich because of its English stock. ‘Man, man is the great instrument that produces wealth’, he proclaimed. ‘Never will I believe’, he concluded, that what makes a population stronger, and healthier, and wiser, and better, can ultimately make it poorer . . . If ever we are forced to yield the foremost place among commercial nations, we shall yield it, not to a race of degenerate dwarfs, but to some people pre-eminently vigorous in body and in mind.272

Progress was now linked to the ‘people pre-eminently vigorous in body and mind’, not simply to the propertied. ‘Degenerate dwarfs’ would be unable to

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challenge England’s global power. State and nation must be sutured together for stability and order to be maintained. In 1846 Macaulay was re-elected in Edinburgh despite his differences with his constituents. A marble bust described in the Scotsman evokes the public face of the man at this time. ‘The general air or carriage of the shoulders and neck, the slight habitual elevation of the head, with the compressed lips, and the frank, fearless expression of the eye’, it opined, were ‘all indicative of the manly independence, the daring honesty, and the unflinching firmness of opinion’ which characterised him.273 He was the manly independent figure, the famed essayist, colonial legislator and statesman, the greatest orator of his day. But in private Macaulay regarded many of his constituents as ‘stupid fanatical brutes’, was contemptuous of their grievances, and thrilled to be in the heat of electoral battle again, ready to crush competitors and emerge triumphant.274 High-flown sentiments on cohering the nation came easily to him; constituency business, however, was another matter. In the election of 1847 he was defeated, both because of his unsatisfactory conduct as a constituency MP and for his position on Maynooth. He feigned indifference, articulated his annoyance at the ‘perverseness and stupidity’ with which he had had to deal, but was seriously shaken according to his sister Hannah.275 He was convinced of his own ‘manly rectitude’: as he put it in his farewell speech, ‘I cannot expect that you will at present admit my views to be correct; but the time will come when you will calmly review the history of my connection with Edinburgh. You will then, I am convinced acknowledge that if I incurred your displeasure, I incurred it by remaining faithful to the general interests of the empire, and to the fundamental principles of the constitution.’276 Perhaps the time had come, he thought, to retire from public life and devote himself to his writing. While his father had believed in the power of Christianity to transform men’s practices, he trusted in the progress of moral and intellectual knowledge. It was time to focus on the nation, on civilising subjects through his history, rather than the legislative practices of the state. The events of 1848 were to prove a powerful incentive. 1848 The news of the revolution in Paris in 1848 was enthusiastically received in Ireland, causing the British government serious anxiety. Young Ireland espoused a romantic liberal nationalism, and a commitment to forging the spiritual unity of the nation which could then provide the basis for a struggle for independence. Centred around a group of middle-class

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intellectuals who lacked direct political power, Young Ireland ‘inaugurated a cultural tradition that conceives the responsibility of literature, and of other cultural forms, to be the production and mediation of a sense of national identity’.277 Their models were derived from manly imperial narratives of cultural development, hence the importance to them of Thomas Carlyle and Macaulay. Carlyle’s ‘daring theories moved me like electric shocks’ recalled Charles Gavan Duffy, while a friend advised him ‘to read in the Edinburgh Review the articles of a young man named Macaulay, who had written brilliantly on some of the great men and great eras of English History’.278 Young Irelanders admired the British constitution and British economic success and hoped to create their own national myth, a history that would give their country unity and pride in itself. Duffy, the co-founder and first editor of the Nation, their immensely influential newspaper, sent Macaulay a copy of Spirit of the Nation, a collection of ballads celebrating Ireland’s history, and was reprimanded by Macaulay for ‘inflaming national animosity’ between Ireland and England.279 While Macaulay’s writing was designed to foster English nationalism, any nationalist inclinations amongst the Irish were a danger to the union. Irish assimilation, or at least incorporation, was his way forward. The Nation’s aim was ‘to create and foster public opinion in Ireland and make it racy of the soil’.280 The race was to be connected to its roots in the land, drawing nourishment from the spirit that was in the very soil of Ireland. Thomas Davis, the unofficial leader of the Young Irelanders until his untimely death in 1845, dreamed of a ‘historic nationality embracing the whole people of whatever creed or origin’.281 Literature and history were central to this dream. England had a history and ‘her history knits together all ranks and sects in England’.282 But a history had to be created for Ireland, one that would lift the veil from the past and make it possible to discover her forgotten heroes. It was a men’s story that was imagined, male heroes who were celebrated, despite the valiant efforts of women to be included in the nationalist struggle.283 Davis had a consciousness of the difficulties for subjugated peoples in recovering their histories: ‘Where are the annals of the conquered?’ he asked, ‘Who shall bring garlands to the nameless grave?284 The loss of the national language, seen as so critical by continental nationalists, was deeply troubling to Young Ireland. English was contaminating their culture. It was this which inspired the turn to ballads, a form which represented the original and primitive poetry of a people and would stir emotions. ‘We have our history to make’, as one article in the Nation put it, ‘and our writings must help us make it. We want strength, earnestness, passion, the song and ballad, all that fires and nerves the minds of men.’285

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Macaulay’s ballads were much admired, particularly Ivry. A Song of the Huguenots, which celebrated France’s warrior hero Henry of Navarre for his belief in a united nation of Protestants and Catholics. Young Ireland’s relations with O’Connell were tense in the famine years, particularly on the issue of moral versus physical force, and O’Connell eventually engineered their expulsion from the repeal movement, resulting in the formation of a new and more militant body, the Confederation, advocating separation from England and physical force. The Young Irelanders were deeply divided amongst themselves, some believing in a rising of the peasantry, others convinced that constitutional methods were the only way forward. The February revolution in Paris gave the nationalists hope, and Smith O’Brien, a member of the Confederation, went to Paris to present their congratulations. The Whig government was deeply concerned, facing threats both at home and in Ireland. Chartist activity had been sporadic in the mid-1840s but it had never disappeared. A revival of radicalism both inside and outside the House of Commons was apparent by 1848. Chartist activities, including debates over the relative merits of physical and moral force, were often concentrated in areas of heavy Irish settlement and this, together with the enthusiasm of the radical movement for the events in France, stirred fears. British domestic politics, as John Saville has argued, can only be understood within the triangle of revolutionary Paris, insurgent Ireland, and the revitalised Chartist movement, both in London and the industrial North. Russell was in close contact with Clarendon, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and in his mind the situations in France and Ireland were connected.286 There was acute economic depression and London trades were severely affected. The government debated how to deal with security while a Chartist Convention in London in April heightened public alarm and fears that property was under threat. Chartists were increasingly identified with rioters and Jacobins. The Whigs were well aware of the importance of hearts and minds and appealed to Macaulay for help. Trevelyan wrote to him saying that Sir George Grey, busy organising security from the Home Office, was ‘anxious to have some sound, striking, popular argument to counteract the Chartist poison which is everywhere placarded’. He should appeal to ‘old English feeling’ and Grey would get it printed by the police.287 The following day Trevelyan appealed to Macaulay again. It was ‘very important’ that he should make a powerful statement ‘such as you alone can make – of the duty of maintaining our Institutions and the dreadful misery – far worse than in France – which must follow the stoppages and breaking down of this wonderfully artificial and complicated fabric of society’. Trevelyan would

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have it inserted in The Times as a leading article, following another piece by Macaulay which the paper had published.288 Trevelyan then forwarded extracts from a letter appreciative of this piece, this blowing of ‘the trumpet to cheer us in our difficulties’, to his brother-in-law.289 The proposed Chartist demonstration at Kennington Common on 10 April and presentation of the petition provoked panic, following as it did on serious riots in London and Glasgow. Trevelyan wrote to Russell suggesting a solemn declaration in Parliament of the freedom, security and property enjoyed by the British people under the present constitution. ‘The stream of Chartists on Monday’, he proposed, should be turned off at a distance from the Houses of Parliament and the Public Offices, and the whole of Whitehall and Parliament should be filled with Special Constables. The head of the Chartist column should be met by a body of Special Constables, and the Chartists should be made to see that there is a power in the Society itself sufficient to put them down. It should be shown that as the disaffected are bandied and organised, so are the well-affected. The National Guards – the middle classes – can keep the upper hand if proper arrangements are made, but it would be difficult for them to recover their position if once the Chartists got the upper hand, and the end would be attained only through a fearful civil war.290

On 8 April, the Duke of Wellington called a cabinet to consult on the defence of the capital against the Chartists. Macaulay was there, and ‘considered it the most interesting spectacle he had ever witnessed, and that he should remember it to his dying day’.291 In the event, it was decided to allow a meeting on 10 April, but no procession. Reinforcements of 85,000 special constables, mainly middle-class, were sworn in, over 5,000 police were on duty, and over 7,000 troops were stationed at Millbank Penitentiary, while Whitehall, the Tower and the Bank of England were all defended. Public buildings were heavily guarded to prevent the establishment of revolutionary bases as had happened in Paris. Guns were brought from Woolwich, artillery was deployed near Buckingham Palace and Westminster Bridge and 1,231 armed pensioners guarded the Thames bridges. The Duke of Wellington, with memories of Waterloo, rode out at dawn to the Common to see the lay of the land. In the event, 150,000 met peaceably, the Chartist leaders declared their peaceful intentions and asked the crowd to disperse, heavy rain contributing to the collapse of the threat. The danger of revolution seemed to be over: ‘the middle classes were now prepared to ally themselves unreservedly with the ruling class against the threat of proletarian

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revolt’.292 Two weeks later Macaulay wrote to Russell, noting that ‘the events which have lately taken place on the continent and in this island have placed me and all of us in a new position’. On the question of parliamentary reform he recommended that ‘some concessions ought to be made with a good grace to the middle classes’, but, ‘at the same time, all innovations dangerous to order and property ought to be firmly resisted’.293 A year later he recorded in his journal, ‘Remembered this day last year. The great turning point – the triumph of order over anarchy.’294 The government had been fairly sanguine that they could manage the situation in Britain; successive governments had reduced indirect taxation to lessen burdens on the working classes and the panic of 10 April was short-lived. But this had been done, as Miles Taylor argues, at the expense of the empire where financial burdens had been increased and military resources downsized, ‘to allow for drastic government retrenchment at home, the single most important factor in ensuring the loyalty of the British taxpayer in 1848’.295 Not surprisingly the government was less sanguine about Ireland. Palmerston had been confident that the middle classes could be relied on in Britain, but Russell was very conscious of the absence of an Irish middle class, committed to order and the security of property. Clarendon was warning of the dangerous ‘temper of the public mind’ in a country which had been the scene of political agitation for years ‘in favour of an independent legislature and “nationality” as it was termed’. The revolution in France had provided a great shock, suggesting the possible realisation of the ‘wildest dreams’ of political agitators.296 Greater powers were needed, and were indeed granted, some of the leaders arrested and charged with seditious libel. At the end of June the defeat of the insurrection in Paris marked a turning point towards reaction. In Ireland an increased military presence, widespread use of spies and informers, arrests, transportations and the suspension of habeus corpus were all mobilised in an attempt to defuse the levels of agitation. An abortive rising in Ireland, led by Smith O’Brien, was quickly crushed. As John Mitchel, one of the Young Irelanders transported in the aftermath, put it, ‘England was saved from invasion; her institutions in Church and State from ruin; her game preserving-aristocracy from abolition . . . and India, Canada, Ireland were debarred of their freedom.’297 Demonstrations, disturbances and arrests continued in England, particularly in the industrial North, and imprisonment was used to destroy the Chartist leadership. The coercive and consensual powers of the state had triumphed.298 Macaulay was grateful for those coercive powers and had no hesitation in supporting their uses, both at home and in the empire. But his particular

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contribution was in building consensus. By the end of the year the troubles were over, with radicals and nationalists defeated. In December the first two volumes of his History were published. ‘I cannot tell you’, Lord Halifax wrote to him, ‘how grateful all lovers of truth, all lovers of liberty, all lovers of order and of civilised freedom, ought to be to you.’299 Its message of reform, not revolution, was indeed a timely one. Its emphasis on civilising subjects, teaching Englishmen their special history, seeing opinions and habits as critical to a nation’s strength, moulding character for new times, was profoundly in keeping with the new conjuncture post-1848.

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†i¢

Imperial Man and the Space of Difference

T

om Macaulay lived with particular ideas of the empire and its peoples, enslaved and free, from childhood. The idea of ethnic and racial difference was ever present, from his father’s Scottish descent, to his preoccupation with slavery and his stories of black Nova Scotians and degraded ‘Hindoos’. Evangelical notions of a universal human family hierarchised in relation to stadial theory, together with assumptions about imperial responsibility to those unable to govern themselves, were firmly imprinted on Tom’s mind. As a young man he developed his own thinking about empire, marked by his father’s generation but shaped by his distinctive commitment to liberal imperial reform with its doctrine of progress. But his universalism was always undercut by his nationalism. His experience in India of exile, trauma and racial difference shaped his understanding of the homely nation and its history. ‘A friend of humanity’ Knowledge of empire, a knowledge that rested on a selective gaze, was part of Macaulay familial lore. If the West Indies and slavery were ever present in family life, so too was India. Tom’s mind was replete with images of otherness. As a precocious eight-year-old he had thrilled his parents’ hearts by producing a plea to the people of Tranvancore to become Christians.1 He had grown up with the stories of the exploits of his Uncle Colin, a general in the Indian army, captured and imprisoned by the dreaded Haider Ali for four years, having distinguished himself in the siege of Seringapatam. Tom had welcomed him back to England in 1810 (after a less glorious episode in Travancore), with verses beginning:

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Now safe returned from Asia’s parching strand Welcome, thrice welcome, to thy native land.2

India had a place in Tom’s fertile imagination, one of the imperial sites with which he was deeply familiar from childhood, a place where uncles and cousins served as soldiers and medical men. As a child of the Clapham Sect, he heard many stories of India from his father’s friends, John Shore (Lord Teignmouth) and Charles Grant, author of the influential Observations on the State of Society among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain. His father, concerned about possible abuses of power in India, kept him informed of Evangelical efforts in 1813 surrounding the renewal of the East India Company Charter, to secure possibilities for a Christian establishment and missionary work which had hitherto been banned. As a fifteen-year-old he had been somewhat disturbed by the character of British military intervention in Nepal. ‘Eastern princes are as great wretches as the earth produces’, he admitted, but ‘if we abhor cruelty and feel a disgust at arbitrary power’, what was to be said of the ‘Heroes and Statesmen who have conquered and governed India in the name of Britain’?3 As a young man in the early 1820s and back at home in London, Tom joined the committee of the new Anti-Slavery Society of which his father was a prime mover. He scarcely attended its meetings but made a powerful impression with his first major public speech at their general meeting in 1824. This was held in the wake of the Demerara rebellion and the death of John Smith, and was an impressive gathering with ‘Members of Parliament, Lawyers, Ladies, as large & crowded an assembly as the Hall could hold’.4 Tom spoke in support of the Committee’s resolutions on the evils of slavery, the failure of amelioration and the need as Christians and as men to work for eventual emancipation. Naming himself ‘a friend of humanity’, he argued that his only claim to the attention of the meeting was that as a young man he could have a role in shaping an imperial future. Those who had ‘so gloriously begun’ the abolitionist work might not be able to complete it, but ‘fresh champions’, and if necessary ‘fresh martyrs’ were ready for the ‘good cause’. The Demerara rebellion, he argued, could not be blamed on abolitionists as the planters had maintained; its origins lay in the horrors of slavery – ‘physical evils’, ‘insults’, ‘the spoliation of the honest fruits of their industry’, and ‘the violation of the sacred ties of nature’. All this had driven men to madness: plough shears had been turned into swords, pruning hooks into spears. While in England the rights of property and person were properly protected; Cobbett and Hunt could do their utmost but law would prevail. It was the abandonment of proper legal process and the use of martial law in Demerara that was a scandal and that endangered social order.

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‘The character of the British people’, he believed, would ensure that such shocking persecution as that suffered by missionary Smith could not be tolerated. England had much to glory in: ‘her ancient laws . . . her magnificent literature . . . her long list of maritime and military triumphs . . . the vast extent and security of her empire’. But her ‘peculiar distinction’ was ‘not that she has conquered so splendidly – but that she has ruled only to bless, and conquered only to spare’. The English should glory in their ‘strong moral feeling’ and ‘hatred of injustice’.5 He looked forward to the time when the West Indian islands, blessed by the ‘bounty of Providence’, would be delivered from the ‘frantic rapacity of man’. Then, the peasant of the Antilles will no longer crawl in listless and trembling dejection round a plantation from whose fruits he must derive no advantage, and a hut whose door yields him no protection; but when his cheerful and voluntary labour is performed, he will return with the firm step, and erect brow, of a British citizen, from the field which is his freehold, to the house which is his castle.6

His picture of the listless and dejected slave was a standard trope of antislavery thinking, as was the contrast with the cheerful British citizen, with his ‘firm step and erect brow’, striding ‘from the field which is his freehold to the house which is his castle’. This was a portrayal of free labour which neither Cobbett nor the artisans and factory workers of Leeds would have recognised. The speech was ‘rapturously received’, recalled Hannah. Wilberforce, greatly moved, spoke of the ‘extraordinary display of youthful talent’ which more than repaid his dear friend Zachary for the ‘suffering . . . vile calumnies . . . detestable artifices’ that he had experienced as a result of his labours for the cause. It was ‘a striking dispensation of Providence’, Wilberforce believed, that his son should provide him with such gratification.7 ‘I can see my Father now’, Hannah remembered, ‘as he sat on the platform between Mr Wilberforce and Sir James Mackintosh, his eyes fixed on a piece of paper he held in his hand on which he seemed to be writing with a pencil. He never moved a muscle till Mr W shook hands with him afterwards. What an exciting day it was for us all.’8 Zachary, by all accounts, repressed any paternal pride in his son’s oratorical gifts, only reproaching him for speaking with folded arms when royalty were present.9 The rest of the family, however, immensely proud of their brilliant brother, wrote out copies of the speech to get them inserted into different newspapers.10 Tom, however, did not appear on an antislavery platform again. This was Zachary’s cause and never his own.

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Some of the themes of this speech were to feature again and again in Tom’s rhetoric: the ‘peculiar distinction’ of England, the centrality of the law to English conceptions of liberty, the glories of her empire residing in her morals and language rather than her military power, and the importance of the lessons to be drawn from history. Neither abolition nor Providence, however, were to rank highly in his political lexicon. Growing up in an abolitionist household had not made Tom into an enthusiastic abolitionist. Macaulay Junior liked to poke fun at his father’s pieties. No doubt the unremitting diet of the horrors of slavery and Zachary’s obsessional preoccupation with ‘the cause’ to the detriment of the family economy was hard to live with. Tom did not share his father’s Evangelical beliefs though he preferred not to be explicit about this. He did share his understanding of a universal human family and the centrality of culture, education and civilisation to stages of development. Colonising parents had to guide their colonised children, raise up their dependants in the hope that one day they would walk alone. In theory, like Zachary, he believed that assimilation should be possible: ‘they’ would develop the same desires as ‘us’ and learn to labour accordingly. But while for Zachary the route was Christianity, for Tom a secular notion of civilisation was his key concept. By the nineteenth century, civilisation was increasingly seen as the achievement of certain races and nations. The young Macaulay believed that England and the English had achieved it, though it was far from secure. Race and nation were used virtually interchangeably for much of the nineteenth century, and ‘race’ could carry a mix of cultural, religious, historical and physical connotations (including skin colour). Macaulay junior did not believe in theory that races were separate and distinct: universalist notions held sway in his mind. Yet in practice ‘they’, whether the listless peasant of the Antilles or those he came to identify as effeminate Bengalis, were strangers of different kinds, and the language of civilisational difference could slip into a harsher register of hierarchies. As an avid reader of Scott, Macaulay was deeply familiar with his account of the integration of Saxons and Normans, two hostile races, through a common language: race was invoked only to be sidestepped by an argument for cultural assimilation.11 This was a way of thinking that was to become common sense to Macaulay. A flattering request from Jeffrey to write for the Edinburgh Review led to Tom’s first publication there on West Indian slavery, explicitly to satisfy his father according to Hannah.12 Two years later he published ‘The Social and Industrial Capacities of Negroes’, which took issue with some pro-slavery material reporting on recaptives and argued that it was not blackness that was responsible for slavery: rather, colour became its mark. It also

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maintained that once slavery was abolished unions would take place between black and white and that in England this had already happened: ‘we have ourselves known several such instances’. It defended free labour and celebrated Toussaint L’Ouverture as ‘a man of great genius and unblemished integrity’ who had risen from slavery. It opined, following Adam Smith, that in Haiti the luxuries of one generation would become the necessities of another. As ‘new desires’ were awakened, greater industry would be required. Colonisers must foster and protect ‘the infant community through the period of helplessness’, bringing benefits meanwhile to the mercantile community and promising civilisation for the future. Colonies that were held under ‘a cruel and grinding system of oppression’ were both a waste of money and had no good effects.13 Nearly thirty years later Macaulay, rereading this article and not much liking it, noted in his journal how much it had pleased his father and how much he himself had changed.14 Public performances in speeches and articles of his antislavery credentials could sit alongside more contemptuous comments. His sister Selina noted in her diary that Tom had proposed one evening after dinner, given the dearth of good speakers for an African Institution meeting that was due to take place, that ‘the negroes who have lately been liberated from the French slave ship should appear on the platform, that the three who are alive should address the audience in their native language, & that the two who have died should be exhibited stuffed’.15 She failed to mention whether Zachary was present. Stories of his father’s difficult time in Sierra Leone had left significant negative traces. ‘Lord Macaulay had in his youth heard too much about negro preachers, and negro administrators’, his nephew recollected, ‘to permit him to entertain any very enthusiastic anticipations with regard to the future of the African race’.16 Tom’s friendship for humanity was strictly limited. Officer of empire By 1832 Macaulay had established his reputation both as an essayist and as a Whig politician. His first government appointment in June 1832, to the Board of Control, the body that supervised the activities of the East India Company, was speedily followed by becoming its secretary in December, a lucrative post worth £1,500 per annum. His superior was Charles Grant, ‘the only saint in the ministry’, albeit somewhat averse to hard work, and the son of his father’s old friend.17 Although he had not yet been to India, he served on the Select Committee set up in 1831 to inquire into the East India Company’s affairs in preparation for the new Charter, which was due in 1833. He had had to learn much about India, and was reading up madly on it, he told Hannah and

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Margaret. ‘Am I not in fair training to be as great a bore as if I had myself been in India?’, he asked them. ‘That is to say as great a bore as the greatest. I know no such pests as those curry-coloured old watering-place Nabobs.’18 These were the Anglo-Indian returnees, with whom Thackeray was to have such pleasure in Vanity Fair. He was due to hear an appeal about ‘Suttee’ argued before the Privy Council. Ladies had been forbidden by Lord Bentinck to burn themselves before their husbands, he told his sisters. ‘The ladies have in consequence appealed to Caesar – that is to the government here’, he wrote, adopting a joking tone that would have been unthinkable to his father.19 At that time he was reading the Evangelical Bishop Heber’s journal of his travels in India, including his accounts of sati, ‘like a good young man’.20 While Hannah and Margaret were in Liverpool in 1831–2, staying with the Croppers, he wrote to them constantly, reporting on his doings and keeping them amused with his stories of the political world. With Margaret married he wrote mostly to Hannah, telling her of the constant work associated with the Abolition bill and the renewal of the East India Company’s Charter, for both were in process. As a member of the government the negotiations over abolition were painful for him, as he was caught between his father’s principles and his own position in the ministry. Zachary strongly disapproved of some of the clauses in the government’s original bill, including the possibility that the enslaved might have to contribute to the costs of compensation to the slave owners. He was in poor health and living in very reduced circumstances, his once powerful position as patriarch and leading abolitionist eroded. Tom felt that he should support the government, and with the family finances in the parlous state they were, resignation, with the consequent loss of his salary, was an alarming prospect. He had become the breadwinner, his father and siblings dependent on him. His own feelings about ‘the black man’ were apparent in a letter to Margaret, telling her about the constant requests he now received for patronage, including from his father for antislavery employees: ‘a clerkship for Mr. Stokes, a place in the excise for Mr. Barnes . . . and he was going on to demand, I suppose, a partnership for the black man, when I stopped him by saying I had nothing to give’.21 ‘I am plagued out of my life’, he told Hannah, ‘between the Moguls and the Methodists, Rammohun Roy and the Antislavery Agency Society’, and he penned a quick poem for her including the lines: The Niggers in one hemisphere The Brahmins in the other Disturb my dinner and my sleep With ‘Ain’t I a man and a brother?’22

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Deep-seated feelings about racial difference could be shared as secrets with his beloved sisters.23 ‘Niggers’, a derogatory term his father, ‘the Governor’, would never have used, were in his mind those negroes without culture, unknown and nameless, locked in drudgery, to be rescued from ‘the foul blot of slavery’ and delivered into a society ruled by law.24 Brahmins and Moguls figured differently. Men such as Ram Mohan Roy were cultured in some respects; they could give evidence to parliamentary committees and be received in London drawing rooms, but they were still living in darkness and in need of colonial rule. The West Indies and India were different kinds of colonial spaces, in need of different forms of rule. Tom’s sense of duty to his father made him decide that he must stand out against the government’s proposals on apprenticeship which would have tied freed slaves to many years of labour. He was prepared to resign but was led to hope that the cabinet, sympathising with his position, would allow him a free vote. He spoke in support of the principle of abolition and the granting of compensation, which was strongly opposed by the more radical abolitionists, but against the term of apprenticeship, fearing that the effect of the twelve years proposed would be that ‘the whole negro population would become inactive, would sink into weak and dawdling inefficiency, and would be much less fit for liberty at the end of the period than at the commencement’.25 That evocation of ‘weak and dawdling inefficiency’ once again evoked a particular view of ‘the African’. In the event, Buxton won the vote, the government cut the term from twelve to seven years, and his resignation was not accepted.26 ‘It was extremely painful to me to speak against all my political friends’, he told Hannah.27 To his father he wrote that he had had the ‘singular good luck of having saved both my honour and my place, and of having given no just ground of offence either to the abolitionists or to my party friends’.28 ‘I cannot go counter to my father’, his nephew reports him as saying, ‘he has devoted his whole life to the question, and I cannot grieve him by giving way when he wishes me to stand firm.’29 To his sister Hannah he wrote in a different vein: ‘I am glad that you approve of my conduct about the Niggers. I expect, and indeed wish, to be abused by the fools of the Agency Society. My father is quite satisfied, and so are the best part of my Leeds friends.’30 James Mill’s History of British India had been published in 1818 and quickly became essential reading for those concerned with imperial rule. Despite his earlier attacks on Mill and his utilitarian principles, Macaulay was profoundly influenced by it. Mill was a caustic critic of empire on the grounds of classical political economy, believing that free trade was always preferable. But he combined this with a deep disdain for non-European societies, and a belief that it was Britain’s duty, though not in her interests, to

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rule India despotically.31 The Benthamite task of reforming England, especially its legal institutions, was always in Mill’s mind, so that India provided a counterpoint from which to view ‘home’ with more clarity. Nation and empire were interconnected and both required reform. Never having visited India, he believed that he could obtain more knowledge from written texts than others could gain in a lifetime on the ground. He was convinced that the policy of engraftment, slow adaptation to Western habits and learning, was a disaster. A break was essential. His particular target was Sir William Jones, a distinguished Orientalist who supported British rule but who argued for a recognition of the heritage of Hindu civilisation and the interconnections of Indo-European languages. Mill, on the contrary, believed that nothing could be learned from India’s past. It was now possible to compare societies accurately, utilising general laws and marking them on a scale of civilisation. In his work on India he was attempting, as Javed Majeed argues, to ‘define an idiom for the British Empire as a whole which would replace the dominant conservative one’.32 The work to be done on different sites of empire was necessarily varied. The task for Britain, Mill argued, was to free India from its own culture. While in the West Indies the task was to emancipate the enslaved, in India the problem was a stagnant society, fixed in timeless barbarism. Hindus were rude, superstitious and ignorant, their practices evidence of their irrationality. ‘The manners, institutions, and attainments of the Hindus have been stationary for many ages’, Mill argued, and ‘in beholding the Hindus of the present day we are beholding the Hindus of many ages past, and are carried back, as it were, into the deepest recesses of antiquity.’ Furthermore, ‘By conversing with the Hindus of the present day, we, in some measure, converse with the Chaldeans and Babylonians of the time of Cyrus; with the Persians and Egyptians of the time of Alexander.’33 But, as the history of England had demonstrated, ‘Every society may progress if it chooses, or can be shown how to do so, but it will then follow the same road which more advanced societies have taken before it and acquire the same features which everywhere distinguish barbarism from civilization.’34 The story of British India ruled in an Indian idiom, as told by Mill, was ‘a sorry story of stupidity and greed’. With a new system of rule that broke with custom and the past, it would be possible to redeem it.35 ‘There is nothing to be learned from subject peoples’ was the lesson of Mill’s History, as Balachandra Rajan argues. It was conversion that was required, and this rested on ‘the emphatic perception of unlikeness’. Whereas Jones had seen likeness, Mill saw only difference. There was a single line that all societies must travel, he believed, in the journey from barbarism to civilisation. In theory, otherness might give way to likeness with the right

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kind of educational and legal systems, but it was ‘the space of difference’ that he demarcated, and Mill enlarged that space ‘by making it historical as well as cultural and psychic’. India’s otherness was constructed ‘as everything that the European self has shed and that India must be taught to shed in its turn’.36 This powerful indictment of India, past and present, was the text that Macaulay admired so profoundly. July 1833 was a dramatic time in the Commons with both the West India and the East India bills going through, alongside the controversial Irish Church bill. Imperial issues were raising pressing questions as to what forms of rule were appropriate for different imperial sites. Was coercion right for Ireland? Would apprenticeship effectively train freed Africans for labour? Did India need despotic government? Macaulay was spending long mornings on the preparation of the new East India Company Charter and negotiating the detail of the bill with the directors of the Company. Since intervention in parliament on Indian affairs was generally confined to interested parties, an easy ride was expected. They were not challenging the continued patronage of the directors and there was general agreement as to the abandonment of the China trade monopoly, completing the move to free trade inaugurated in 1813. British power in India must now ensure ‘the necessary conditions of law and order by which the potentially vast Indian market could be conquered for British industry’.37 Macaulay took the lead in the Commons: as he later confided to Hannah, Grant’s ‘is a mind that cannot stand alone . . . a feminine mind. It turns, like ivy, to some support’.38 While Grant’s speech introducing the bill was brief on the first reading, Macaulay spoke at length on the second reading (taking Grant’s place because of illness), and made a tremendous impact despite a thin House of Commons. Like his speeches on reform, this was designed for both parliament and public, explaining British policy on India: why representative government was right for ‘home’, despotism for ‘away’. Macaulay told the story that he was to elaborate later in his essays on Clive and Hastings, of the extraordinary conquest of India by a ‘handful of adventurers from an island in the Atlantic’ who ‘subjugated a vast country’, had established order, but whose forms of governance must now be transformed to ‘enlightened and paternal despotism’.39 His reputation as a public orator had recently been secured and an appeal to history, understood as European history, was already established as a central part of his rhetoric. The events of 1688 had opened the way for 1832; the history of British India, possessively named in that way for the first time by James Mill, explained the necessity for change.40 Mill’s History, Macaulay instructed his audience, was ‘the greatest historical work which has appeared in our language since that of Gibbon’.41 Mill had demonstrated that India had

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no history in his meaning of the term, for history meant progress. It was, therefore, impossible to draw on notions of English history, precedence, or experience. A rupture was essential in India: a break from Orientalist forms of rule, with their preference for working with existing traditions. English history, Macaulay maintained, provided the necessary lessons in government for English society, and demonstrated the deep divide between nation and empire; it delineated the difference between then and now, here and there, ‘them’ and ‘us’. India had no history, in Mill’s or Macaulay’s understanding. It was locked in stagnation, a decomposed society, stuck in time. History, therefore, could provide no clues; ‘we interrogate the past in vain’, he argued, ‘general rules are wholly useless, where the past is one vast exception’. Utilising tropes that had been long established in British writing on India, Macaulay emphasised the darkness, the obscurity that had to be penetrated when ‘the light of political science and of history are withdrawn’.42 If Mill was a vital source for Macaulay, so too were Clapham sentiments as to the character of Indian peoples and the need for benevolent forms of imperial power. Many of Charles Grant senior’s thoughts and phrases from Observations were echoed in the speech that he made in July 1833. Grant’s account of the shift from a trading to a governing empire, from a rule characterised by corruption and abuses to one marked by benevolence and order, the conviction that hearts and minds must be transformed and that military rule, though essential, would never be enough, the assumptions as to the debased and needy nature of the population, the expectation that language was a powerful agent of change and that assimilation was essential to progress: all these were apparent in Macaulay’s thinking. What had been abandoned was the notion that Christianity provided the key. The British, argued Macaulay, had found India in a state of degradation. The nearest parallel, he suggested, drawing on the lessons of conjectural history with its assumption that primitive societies were a reflection of Europe’s barbarian past, was Europe in the fifth century. India was thus positioned as temporally far removed from Britain.43 It was badly administered, subject to barbarian invasions, and had only a mock sovereign in Delhi, ‘immured in a gorgeous state prison . . . suffered to indulge in every sensual pleasure . . . surrounded by . . . fawning eunuchs’. The people were ‘ground down to the dust by the oppressor without and the oppressor within’, by the evils of despotism and anarchy; they faced desolation and famine, all the glories of a once great civilisation gone: ‘Society was a chaos.’ Then the Company ‘commenced a great, a stupendous process, the reconstruction of a decomposed society’.44 A new empire arose, though ‘the founders . . . too often abused the strength which they derived from

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superior energy and superior knowledge . . . with some of the highest qualities of the race from which they sprang, they combined some of the worst defects of the race over which they ruled’. Men of humble background rose too fast, became ‘profuse and rapacious, imperious and corrupt’. The duties of government were neglected, abuses mushroomed and the burdens of taxation were excessive. The influence of Burke on Macaulay’s thinking was palpable: political power was a trust and rulers had responsibilities to those they governed. Burke’s speech at the trial of Warren Hastings, as he told Margaret, was ‘one of the finest speeches in the English language’.45 Yet times had changed. Marking the distance between past and present, there was much cause for hope: ‘we have established order where we found confusion’. Petty dynasties had been quelled, predatory tribes ‘quailed before the valour of a braver and sterner race’.46 Moderation and clemency had been established. The ‘doubtful splendour’ of Hastings and Clive had now been replaced by the ‘spotless glory of Elphinstone and Munro’. The government was ‘anxiously bent on the public good’; there was ‘a paternal feeling towards the great people committed to its charge.’ ‘Bloody and degrading superstitions’ were losing their power and ‘the public mind of India’ was expanding under the influence of European taste and morality.47 The lifting of restrictions on the numbers of Europeans entering India, one of the clauses of the Charter, meant that the government would have a particular responsibility to protect indigenous peoples from these newcomers who, ‘belonging to the ruling nation, resembling in colour, in language, in manners, those who hold supreme military and political power, and differing in all these respects from the great mass of the population, may consider themselves as a superior class’.48 ‘We must place the European under the same power which legislates for the Hindoo’, he argued. It was tyranny for a few individuals, in a country of millions, to have special privileges: the example of the West Indies made this clear. Just as after the fall of the Roman Empire, several systems of law were operating across India: there was, therefore, an urgent need for change. India needed a wholesale reform of the system of law.49 The new principle, Macaulay claimed, should be ‘uniformity where you can have it; diversity where you must have it; but in all cases certainty’, though respect would have to be paid to differences of religion, of nation and of caste.50 An ‘enlightened and paternal despotism’, he argued, echoing Bentham and Mill, was peculiarly well placed to produce a new legal code of this kind: something that could not be done in our own ‘free and highly civilised country’.51 The end of the trading monopoly meant that fundamental changes had to be made in the government of India. The Company had combined its commercial and imperial activities. Initially its political functions were

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auxiliary to commerce but gradually this had changed. The political character of the Company had been left deliberately disguised in the time of Clive and Hastings, Macaulay argued, with the Company ruling in the name of Indian princes under a policy known as nabobism. Now the position had to be further clarified, as it had been in 1784 with Pitt’s India Act. The Company and the government should continue to share power – but with the government playing a larger part. Since India was ‘a dependency of England . . . at war with our enemies . . . at peace with our allies’, defended by the British army and navy, then the king should have a share in the government.52 But while England was protected from absolute monarchy by the House of Commons, this, Macaulay believed, would not work for India. It was the Company that was in the best position to govern: they ‘knew’ India. It was plain for all to see that ‘in India you cannot have representative institutions’. Whereas in Europe ‘you have the materials of good government everywhere ready to your hands’, such a solution could not be in India. It was universally agreed, Macaulay declared, that we cannot introduce those institutions which all our habits, which all the reasonings of European philosophers, which all the history of our own part of the world would lead us to consider as the one great security for good government.

India was not England: it had different ‘habits’, no ‘reasonings’ and no ‘history’. The only proper form of government would be despotic: Britain must ‘engraft on despotism those blessings which are the natural fruit of liberty’.53 This was indeed a strange and anomalous arrangement, Macaulay acknowledged, but ‘our Indian Empire’ was an extraordinary phenomenon, a vast and distant territory ‘inhabited by men differing from us in race, colour, language, manners, morals, religion’.54 In this unprecedented situation new solutions had to be found: a single legislative and executive authority was essential. The Governor-General, together with the Legislative Council in India would have the power to make laws for all parts and all peoples of the Indian empire, subject only to the imperial Parliament. Macaulay was especially proud, he remarked, to introduce a ‘noble and benevolent clause’: that ‘no native of our Indian Empire shall, by reason of his colour, his descent, or his religion, be incapable of holding office’.55 But this would have to be effected by slow degrees. Just as he believed that enslaved Africans, once freed, might be able to ‘become men’, so Indians too might be educated into civilisation. He famously looked forward to a day when Indians might be self-governing, for ‘to trade with civilised men is

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infinitely more profitable than to govern savages’.56 ‘To have found a great people sunk in the lowest depths of slavery and superstition’, ‘a race debased by three thousand years of despotism and priestcraft’, ‘to have so ruled them as to make them desirous and capable of all the privileges of citizens, would indeed be a title to glory all our own’. The greatest gift that Britain could bestow – and here he marked his partial distance from both Grant senior and his own father – was ‘the empire of our arts and morals, our literature and our laws’.57 Christianity no longer held the key to civilisation via assimilation: his was a secular vision. ‘I made the best speech, by general agreement, that I ever made in my life’, he told Hannah, and was especially delighted to report that an old member had said to him ‘that having heard that speech may console the young people for never having heard Mr. Burke’.58 The speech marked a shift in government thinking about India. The notion of an Indian empire had emerged in British thought by the late eighteenth century, and by the 1820s there was a general acceptance of the rightness of the conquest of India and notions of law and property as providing the bulwarks of a sound administration.59 From 1813, the destruction of the East India Company’s monopoly had meant that ‘the state and armed force had replaced the old trading mission as the driving force on the sub-continent’; the Company was in effect a department of state.60 The constant state of warfare meant that India was a military society under civilian control, but, as Douglas Peers argues, military fiscalism was the rule.61 Between 1828 and 1857 the East India Company’s territorial empire was undergoing massive expansion by force. It was recognised that military spending must always come first and that authoritarian forms of governance were essential. The 1833 Act ‘formally defined South Asian society as a terrain for consistent British intervention’.62 As Thomas R. Metcalf argues, Macaulay’s thinking was on an ideological trajectory that moved from Orientalist to Anglicist to liberal notions of rule.63 He was signalling the need for new kinds of intervention: the provision of a system of law that would ensure more stability, which was required for the successful administration of a territorial empire. In Macaulay’s mind, as in Burke’s, the rule of law was critical to an ordered society, both in nation and empire. The rule of law meant providing standards for the limited exercise of power, in contrast to arbitrary and despotic methods. ‘Public power must be exercised through general and publicly announced rules . . . disputes both public and private must be resolved by impartial judges according to fair and settled procedures . . . legally determined personal and property rights must be respected.’64 The absence of a proper system of justice facilitated the horrors of slavery and encouraged rebellion. While in England ‘we could

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laugh at Political Unions and speeches’ and deal justly with rebels, in the West Indies dissidents would be subject to brutality.65 A more interventionist concept of British rule was coming into play, marking the dominance of universalist understandings of humanity, now underpinned by a policy of anglicisation and assimilation, but with no Christian imperative. India should not be left in darkness; rather it should be remodelled, brought into modern times. This was part of a major reconfiguration of empire at this time: anglicisation and assimilation were seen by the reformers as the key to a stable empire. But this required a powerful state, whether to tackle the plantocracy in the West Indies, the Brahmins in India, or the unruly Irish. Both nation and empire must be subject to the rule of law, but they required differentiated forms of government. The Reform Act had secured the nation by extending the franchise and ensuring the representation of middle-class men (others would have to wait), but subjects of empire required far more preparation for freedom, with particular timescales and forms of tutelage. The 1833 Charter Act articulated, as Jon Wilson argues, a ‘strong sense of the difference between British and colonial political culture’.66 The Governor-General in Council had autocratic powers at his disposal and metropolitan controls were at a distance. Colonial forms of government, with extensive powers, were being enacted in particular ways in both the West Indies and Ireland at exactly the same time. The backdrop to this was rebellion and unrest. In India there was a clear need for a stable form of government in a period of rapid expansion and change. As the heady years of 1829–33 made clear, nation and empire required new forms of settlement demarcating the spaces between them.67 Macaulay’s work on the 1833 Charter was his first major intervention on India, and he was very pleased with it. The government had thought of everything, discussed everything, so that when it came to parliament there was little debate: a great contrast with the West India bill that was going through at the same time. His major speech was replete with what Bagehot described as ‘vivid knowledge’ and ‘imaginative mastery’, drawn from ‘horrid Indian treatises’. This was before setting foot on Indian soil. For Bagehot there was no change before and after: Macaulay’s was an ‘inexperiencing nature’.68 But is this right? What can be said of the Indian experience of this man, who believed so profoundly in experience as embodied particularly in history, not abstract theories, as the best route to knowledge?69 Indian encounters In the wake of the success of the Charter Act, Macaulay was offered the newly created position of lay member of the Council that advised the

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Governor-General, Bentinck. He was the head lawmaker, with a seat on the Legislative Council. He knew that this appointment would secure his financial independence for life, and put him in a position to support his father and siblings. He was also attracted by the idea of acting as a lawmaker. At a dinner on the day that he was sworn in as fourth member of the Council he ‘rather gave himself the airs of a Lycurgus; and spoke as if he were about to bestow on the swarming millions of India the blessings of rudimentary legislation’.70 He could scarcely conceive, he wrote to Lord Lansdowne, ‘a nobler field than that which our Indian Empire now presents to a statesman’.71 He already had a sense of himself as someone with responsibility to Indian ‘natives’. He would protect them against the corruption of ‘native’ rulers, dishonest Company officials, and the greed of the new class of European settlers who, it was widely expected, would enter India now there were opportunities. To his electors in Leeds he wrote that ‘while legislating for a conquered race, to whom the blessings of our constitution cannot as yet be safely extended’, he would never forget that he had been ‘a legislator chosen by the unforced and uncorrupted voices of a free, an enlightened, and a Christian people’.72 A space of difference could not have been more clearly articulated: Indians were unfree, living in darkness and superstition, suited only to rule by others. The electors of Leeds, by contrast, could use their votes to make choices as to their own rule and that of colonised others. Much effort in the following weeks went into the preparation for departure: the purchase of clothes, furniture, glass, china and books, the appointment of a maid for Hannah and a manservant for himself, meetings with ‘India hands’ and with Mill, who had supported his appointment despite prior enmities. Mill had wanted ‘a man thoroughly versed in the philosophy of man and of government’ and saw Macaulay as the best choice.73 Then there were the painful farewells. The voyage was the transition, on the aptly named Asia, from one place to the other. Tom read insatiably, always focused on the European – Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, French and English. ‘I am in no danger of allowing my mind to rust in India’, he told Margaret.74 He was bored by the vulgar company, Hannah much more prepared to be sociable. A gun salute on arrival in Madras was a heady reminder both of his new status and of the centrality of military power to British India. His first encounters with ‘natives’ were shocking. Tom’s letters to Margaret over these weeks and months give a remarkable account of his experiences with unfamiliar landscape, peoples and cultures. These were his first reactions, not yet processed, not written for publication, but rather either for her

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eyes alone or to be passed around the extended family circle. In this epistolary family letters were nothing new. But the distance being negotiated was now immense and the letters a way of attempting to maintain intimacy, to act as a bridge between one place and one person and another. Letters took months to reach England from India so no speedy replies could be expected: this meant the character of the letters was inevitably less dialogic than in other circumstances; they served more as a journal than as an exchange. Yet the self revealed in letters was a writing self with a particular relationship to the recipient. Colonial correspondence was at one and the same time a link ‘to the mother country, a guarantee of national identity, and a kind of aidememoire for the affections’.75 In these particular letters Tom was writing to his beloved Margaret, who had pained him so deeply, but whom he still loved passionately. The letters served as an emblem of separation and of connection, reasserting his intimacy, sharing his experiences. ‘I can give you no idea’, he wrote, ‘of the bewildering effect’ of our introduction to a new world. Yet his point was, of course, to make her feel that bewilderment. Skin colour shocked. A ‘little black boatman beating the water with his paddle, and seeming as familiar to the element as a duck’, was his first glimpse ‘of the people among whom I am to live’. He ‘came on board with nothing on him but a pointed yellow cap, and walked among us with a selfpossession and civility which, coupled with his colour and his nakedness, nearly made me die of laughing’. A ‘rude boat’ provided their conveyance to the shore: ‘A dozen half-naked blacks, howling all the way the most dissonant song that you ever heard.’ On arrival at Government House a guard of sepoys presented arms and ‘a crowd of figures, with beards, turbans, and robes of white muslin came to receive us’. And then ‘the dark faces and bodies with white turbans and flowing robes, – the trees not our trees, – the very smell of the atmosphere like that of a hothouse, – the architecture as strange as the vegetation. I was quite stunned’.76 This first experience of a society peopled by those with black skins and dark faces startled him, evoking an overtly racialised discourse. As India came under British control, it was evaluated, as David Arnold has argued, ‘in ways that combined scenic delight and practical opportunity with a harsher appraisal of India as a land of death and disease, of desolation and deficiency’. The ‘traveller’s gaze’, which became one of the ways of articulating colonial knowledge, was an epistemological strategy, a way of knowing that was an exercise of power. It both made the new and exotic familiar, while simultaneously emphasising what was alien and in need of transformation and improvement.77 There was nothing particularly original about Macaulay’s commentary on what he saw; his responses were echoed in innumerable bundles of Anglo-Indian

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letters home, but those writers did not go on to become the most popular historian of their generation and beyond. It is what Macaulay did with his experience of India that is significant. He had read Heber’s Travels, which had almost immediately become a model of Romantic writing, and like Heber he gave detailed descriptions of the landscapes, peoples and dwellings. Sometimes the plains were dreary and uncultivated, at other times the beauties moved him almost to tears. There was always the impulse to make the unknown known, to compare India, this antique land, to England and yet to distinguish them. So, ‘the immense plain of Mysore’ and its ‘prodigious jungle – as old as the world, and planted by nature’ resembled the wonders of England’s landscape gardeners.78 Drives out from Madras in the days after first arrival were pleasant, with the sea breeze, and a chance to see the English villas, never very well kept since ‘no Englishman means to die in India’, thus dwellings never became family houses. Then there were the ‘innumerable swarm of natives . . . the people sleeping before their doors on the ground by hundreds’. ‘The rulers of India’, he reflected, ‘are pilgrims and sojourners in the land.’79 As he was transported in his palanquin from Madras to join the Governor-General in the hills at Ootacamund, his narrative of his journey was an attempt to capture and grasp the differences he encountered, but they could not always be comfortably contained. The journey was broken by visits to varied princes, reduced by British might to the status of powerless puppets. The Nawab of the Carnatic, a boy prince whose kingdom Wellesley had subjected, provoked some shame. Macaulay regarded Wellesley’s actions as having been ‘violent and arbitrary . . . but in substance right’; he was an imperial conqueror some of whose decisions were to be regretted. Severity had been necessary in the past; now was the time for reform. The Nawab’s ‘ragged regiments’, looking like scarecrows, were in cast-off clothes. He was educated only in the Koran, and had been covered in amulets, markers of superstition, by his mother and grandmother. ‘I really think that our government should have insisted, when his father died’, Tom told Margaret, ‘that his education should have been superintended by some Englishman.’ If he had become a gentleman and a scholar he would have been a useful agent for the British ‘in the great work of civilising the Carnatic’; as it was, ‘he will kill himself in all probability . . . by indulgence in every species of sensuality’.80 The effeminising effects of Indian forms of patriarchy, as Koditschek notes, were disturbing for Macaulay. 81 A visit to the Rajah of Mysore provoked further reflections on Britain’s troubling actions.

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The Rajah was, as he said, the child of the British. We were answerable for his bringing up. And we left him in the hands of the most superstitious and ignorant flatterers. . . . He has reached manhood without having acquired a taste for anything but toys, fine clothes, betel-nut, and dancing girls.

Wellesley had made a mistake. ‘Whatever power I have’, Tom told Margaret, ‘shall be exerted to prevent the repetition of such fatal errors in the future.’ The Rajah was like a child, showing him his crude coloured prints of the battle of Waterloo and the head of Wellington, taking him into his closet which ‘was not unlike the drawing-room of a rich, vulgar, Cockney cheesemonger’, parading his clothes and his horses. And then favouring him with ‘a sight of his gods’. ‘The principal deity was a fat man with a paunch . . . an elephant’s head and trunk, a dozen hands, and a serpent’s tail.’82 It was shocking to see what this man had become: an ignorant, superstitious, degraded figure. What a lesson it provided in terms of the need for a more progressive policy in relation to native princes and their education. The big brother taught his younger sister lessons of British India, ‘our’ victories and defeats, assuring her that if she took note she would be better educated than half the cabinet. He practised his narrative and descriptive skills on her, with family stories never far away. The tale of Hyder Ali, ‘the cleverest man by far that we have had to encounter in India’, featured the defeat and imprisonment of their Uncle Colin at Seringapatan, the scene of the greatest events in Indian history. It was the residence of the greatest of the Indian princes. From a child I used to hear it talked of every day. Our Uncle was imprisoned there for four years. He was afterwards distinguished at the siege. I remember that there was at a shop window in Clapham a daub of the taking of Seringapatan which, when I was a boy of ten, I used to stare at with the greatest interest.83

Here the distant was brought near and contained, in a shop window in Clapham where, as a child, he was able to contemplate the British victory from a safe distance. The fortress had survived but the palace was now in ruins and everything ‘silent and desolate’, the mausoleum of Haider and his son Tippoo Saib (sic), whom the British had eventually defeated, the only remains of a former world.84 Images of decline and decay abounded. Great kingdoms and their cities came and went, he reflected, an echo of his belief in the cyclical nature of history, the inevitability of imperial dominance leading to excess and decay. But perhaps now this cycle could be avoided, with lessons learned from Rome?

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Few ‘natives’ seem to have been encountered on this long journey: here was the sanctioned ignorance of the coloniser, the failure to see, the ‘well tended conditions of disregard’ which enabled colonial rule.85 Those whom he noted in the villages as his palanquin passed through only confirmed his sense of their backwardness. In a Mysore village he found himself accompanied by ‘the whole rabble of the place’. The village music led the way; a trumpet ‘sounded like a cat-call . . . a drum made a noise like a kettle beaten with a poker’. ‘The national music of India’, he concluded, ‘is deplorably bad’, and it was hard to say which was worse: the sounds of the boatmen or those of the bearers who carried his palanquin, making noises that were a cross between grunts and chants, and whom he imagined to be complaining of their fat burden.86 The Aboriginal population of the hills around Ootacamund was in ‘the lowest state of ignorance and barbarism’.87 The native towns, he was told, were ‘a maze of wretched huts’, no place for him to go.88 Neat cantonments, on the other hand, made an ‘agreeable scene’, with their low white houses, their villas for the officers, and the grass – an ordered picture. An episode that occurred four months after Macaulay’s arrival in India provides some sense of the unsettling strangeness he experienced and the racial tremors that it produced. Just before leaving the hill station at Ootacamund, where the Governor-General was based for the summer months, Macaulay had an encounter that captured something of the unhomeliness of empire. He recounted it to Margaret as a theatrical tale, a version of Othello, to give her some insight into the ‘state of laws, morals and manners among the natives’. Shakespeare was a totally familiar reference point for the siblings, part of their family knowledge. Tom had loved his mother to read the plays to him as a child. The story of Othello tells of the love between the Moor and Desdemona, the beautiful European woman, representing the harmony of difference, of black and white, only to be destroyed by the envy of Iago, who provokes jealousy, disorder and destruction.89 Macaulay’s use of Othello may have had another dimension of which he was scarcely aware, stirring up his feelings of disorder in relation to Margaret. ‘Excellent wretch!’, Othello says of Desdemona, ‘Perdition catch my soul/But I do love thee! and when I love thee not,/Chaos is come again.’90 The chaos in Macaulay’s emotional life could only too easily surface again, linked to the chaos of his colonial encounter. For the moment, his story concerned the latter. His manservant, never graced with a name, was an Indian Christian from Bangalore: ‘such a Christian’, he reported, ‘as the missionaries make in this part of the world’ – a drunk, ‘in addition to the other vices of the natives’. He had been mercilessly persecuted by other servants on account of his religion,

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and they had managed to stir up against him the jealous rage of one of the Governor-General’s under-cooks. A ‘glorious tragicomedy’ ensued, with the cook in the part of Othello, his wife, ‘an ugly impudent Pariah girl’, as Desdemona, Iago played by another servant, and his own man in the part of Cassio, substituting a small piece of sugar candy for the handkerchief, the symbol of betrayal. The evening before Macaulay’s departure for Calcutta his bungalow was besieged by a ‘mob of blackguards’ and a ‘native judge’ (under the control of the English authorities, of course), who was to hear the case against Macaulay’s servant. After ‘prodigious jabbering’ – none of which Macaulay could understand since he had not learned any indigenous languages – he called the judge, ‘who spoke tolerable English’, into his room and tried to ascertain the facts. He had a ‘poor opinion’ of his servant’s morals and of the veracity of the accusers – but since it would have been so inconvenient for him to travel without his manservant he offered money to the litigants to settle the grievance. Normally, he opined, this would have been accepted since ‘Hindoos of the lower castes’ had no delicacy on these subjects. But the persecutors were determined to bring their enemy to trial so that they could ‘have the pleasure of smearing him with filth, beating kettles before him, carrying him around the town on an ass with his face to the tail, and giving him a good flogging’ – a very English account of rough music. Macaulay tried gently to persuade them that the case should be heard at once (the judge told him that he had never heard a gentleman speaking in such ‘sweet words’ to the people), but they insisted on imprisonment and delay – the effect of which would have been that the servant lost his job. He soon saw that ‘the gentle and reasoning tone of my expostulations made them impudent. They are in truth’, he told Margaret, ‘a race so much accustomed to be trampled on by the strong, that they always consider humanity as a sign of weakness.’91 By now, however, Macaulay’s ‘sweet words’ were over and his blood was ‘beginning to boil’ at the display of hatred and injustice. He wrote a note to the commandant of the station, who instructed that the trial should take place immediately. The judge pronounced the servant not guilty but Macaulay learned subsequently that he had been bribed. The ‘beaten party’ was furious, and the following morning, no sooner had the servant left the house in preparation for the journey, than the same ‘gang of blackguards’ surrounded him, tore off his turban, stripped him and seemed ready to tear him to pieces. Macaulay seized a sword stick and weighed in, quite fearful for a moment for his own safety. ‘But this was a mistake’, he told Margaret. ‘Even in their rage, they retained a great respect for my race and station.’ He supported the poor victim, who ‘like most of his countrymen’ is a ‘chickenhearted fellow’, while the mob brayed around him. Fortunately his ‘honest

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barber, a fine old soldier in the Company’s army and a great admirer of me’ saw his plight and ran for help. A group of police officers then accompanied them all to the commandant’s office and the rioters were soon marched off to prison, the servant prostrating himself with gratitude. Macaulay was not convinced of his servant’s innocence – but was outraged by the ‘religious malignity’, and regarded the persecution, after he had been acquitted, as ‘a gross and intolerable outrage’. On repairing to the Governor-General’s establishment and recounting his tale, the entire party were horrified. ‘It is very seldom that such a thing happens in this country’, he told Margaret, ‘when an European functionary of high rank is concerned. But the rabble of Ootacamund is remarkable for profligacy, ferocity and impudence.’92 His account of the ‘rabble of Ootacamund’ drew liberally on established tropes: the low level of Hindoo morality, the lack of veracity, the religious intolerance, the assumptions of bribery and corruption, the lack of individuality (his nameless servant), the cowardice of ‘the race’, their expectation of being trampled upon by the strong, their fear when faced with authoritative Englishmen. But Macaulay also knew that he had not triumphed in this instance. He cast himself in the tragicomedy as ‘the foolish gentleman’ in Shakespeare’s play: Rodrigo, the one with money in his pocket but little sense, deceived by Iago and embroiled in a plot he does not understand, one that leads to his death. He had been deceived by the judge and had no certainty of his servant’s innocence. He ensured that the rioters were sent to prison, but had been out of his depth. He was the stranger, disordered by his encounter with India, failing to understand. He could invoke only coercion and race privilege to ensure his sway. Lurking not far behind the emphasis on Indian opacity and darkness, which was a commonplace of English thought, was an imagined dread of imminent insurrection. Macaulay knew very well that the English were aliens, subject to attack at any time by those they claimed to rule. ‘We are as one in two or three thousand to the natives. The higher classes whom we have deprived of their power would do anything to throw off our yoke’, he told Margaret. Every enemy was formidable; ‘We are strangers there.’93 Exile was painful and he likened himself to the wandering Ulysses, longing for Ithaca. There were only two ways of governing a society permanently, he had declared in the debates on reform: ‘by public opinion or by the sword’.94 India could not be ruled by public opinion, so it must be the sword. Yet this sat uncomfortably with the dream of a reforming empire. India was ruled by the sword, as he told Gladstone in later years, and no one should delude themselves that it was governed by consent. But he wanted that delusion. His authority, he hoped, derived from his Englishness; he was a member of the master race, a model of what

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Indians one day could become. But it also derived from his command of the courts, the police and the army. This was dominance without hegemony, as Ranajit Guha has argued, a rule which did not require or achieve consent from the subject population but was imposed by ‘an alien force’. It was this ‘irreducible and historically necessary otherness’ that made ‘imperialism uncanny for its protagonists in South Asia’.95 Macaulay’s first encounters strengthened his conviction that new forms of rule were required. His existing prejudices were confirmed: India needed to be saved from death and decay and British rule could be transformative. But his gaze remained metropolitan. His morning reading was the ancients, for European civilisations, he was convinced, were the only ones worth studying. Why not translate Herodotus, he asked his friend Ellis, rather than wasting his time on the kinds of ‘frivolous’ inquiries he had been occupying himself with: ‘Whether the Cherokees are the same race with the Chickasaws, – whether Van Dieman’s Land was peopled from New Holland or New Holland from Van Dieman’s Land, – what is the precise mode of appointing a headman in a village in Tombuctoo.’96 Such questions could not be taken seriously. How barbarous societies progressed: that was a question worth dealing with, and the one he was now addressing. The British had rightly replaced oppressive rulers; Muslims were preferable to Hindus, whose rituals and sacrifices were cruel and disgusting; peasants were ignorant and beggarly; the judiciary was corrupt and the law in dire need of reform, the country in need of a route towards civilisation. British policies had been necessarily severe but now it was time to take command in new ways, to Anglicise the elite in so far as this was possible. What was new was Macaulay’s sense of the fragility of British rule. He had now encountered the ‘opacity’ for himself, and found it impenetrable. Could India possibly be modern, be made English? Legislator for the millions Arrival in Calcutta meant sailing up the Hooghly, the banks of which were much prettier than he expected, though the river itself was ‘black and turbid’ with naked corpses flowing past his ship. In India, he told Margaret, ‘death and everything connected with it become familiar subjects of contemplation’ and habit ‘was a much better strengthener of the nerves than philosophy’, experience more useful than theory.97 But ‘habit’ had to be somewhat reconfigured in this new environment. Macaulay and Hannah settled in an enormous house, ‘said to be the best in Calcutta’, on the Chowringhee Road, later to become the Bengal Club. ‘The Esplanade, the Chowringhee Road,

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and the streets immediately adjoining are the May Fair or Faubourg St Germain of Calcutta’, he told Margaret, ‘They are the quarters of the English aristocracy.’ Behind the Esplanade was the Black Town, about three times the size of Liverpool, ‘with a population of nearly half a million of souls’, but this was not a place for him. While one of Macaulay’s greatest pleasures had been to walk the streets of London for hours at a time, preferably with Hannah and Margaret, in Calcutta his walks were confined to his large garden, a powerful metaphor for the defended boundaries of AngloIndian society. The fear of those millions of Indian subjects amongst whom the British were simply sojourners, ruling without consent, produced a defensive state of mind and a need for segregation, whether in the protected environment of the cantonment or the enclosed gardens of Calcutta’s white elite. India’s otherness, argues Balachandra Rajan, made it, ‘a place of exile where self-understanding is to be defended and not extended’.98 Such a defended state of mind was amplified in Macaulay’s case, I suggest, by his passionate love of home – both the family home and the homely nation – and his contempt for Anglo-Indian society, not a patch on his London world. His was a particularly acute sense of exile, soon to be amplified by the double traumas of Hannah’s marriage and Margaret’s death. The house was very grand, especially the dining room and drawing room, which were truly magnificent in his description, suited to the very large dinner parties they would be expected to entertain periodically. Hannah had taken a maid with her. She had been warned by Tom to take great care in her selection, since if an English servant were ‘ill-tempered and arrogant’ it could ruin the peace for their household of native servants, likely to number between sixty and seventy. If the maid was ‘weak and vain’ she would be in danger of forming connections that would ‘ruin her morals and her reputation’. He had a strong sense of responsibility ‘with respect to a poor girl, brought by us into the midst of temptations . . . which have turned many heads that might have been steady enough in a quiet nursery or kitchen in England’. And, he had told Hannah, he had ‘a still stronger sense of the duty which will lie upon me of protecting my native dependants against the insolence of my own [my italics] countrymen’.99 The use of ‘my’, the possessive pronoun, emphasises, as Uday Singh Mehta points out, ‘both familiarity and difference, responsibility and raw power’, the strangeness of the colonial world, the known-ness of England100 – and, one might add, his possession of his servants. The responsibility for these ‘native servants’ was in a different key from that for the ‘poor’ English girl who was in danger because of her white skin, a temptation to others. Once in Calcutta they employed an army of servants. Fans were pulled day and night by

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punkahwallahs in an effort to keep cool. There were no bells and the servants ‘always lie in the antechambers and passages within call’, a sharp contrast with their modest London home. ‘There is a dislike generally felt here’, he explained to Margaret, ‘towards native attendants who know our language . . . and it is pleasant to be able to say what you will at table without fearing the tongues of servants’, since, given that servants surrounded them, there would otherwise have been ‘constant restraint’.101 Hannah, meanwhile, was learning Hindustani and acted as his interpreter. Hannah’s marriage to Charles Trevelyan took place in December 1834. Macaulay was pleased that Hannah had chosen a man of reasonable substance, whose financial prospects looked good. We do not know whether he, or indeed Zachary, knew that some of the Trevelyan family wealth was derived from slavery and that Charles’s mother was receiving compensation for the enslaved men and women attached to their family estates in the wake of abolition. By 1820 the Trevelyan family were partners in seven Grenadian plantations, which ‘yielded great wealth’.102 According to the compensation records, produced to document all claims received and paid by the British state as compensation to slave owners who had lost ‘their property in persons’ at the time of emancipation, Harriet Trevelyan, Charles’s widowed mother, made six claims, alongside four Trevelyan male relatives and their partner John Hankey. The group received nearly £27,000. The Grenada plantations remained part of the Trevelyan estate and Charles was himself involved in business transactions in the 1830s and 1840s.103 Intimate connections between abolitionist families and slave owners were by no means unusual, but it is particularly fascinating to find that Zachary Macaulay apparently had no objections to this alliance. Tom certainly maintained the position that he heartily disliked slavery, but clearly saw no problem in his sister benefiting indirectly from it. Hannah and Charles moved in with Macaulay after their marriage and Tom preferred their company to any other. He could still keep his emotional life safe within the family, now extended to include Trevelyan. He was not part of the East India Company world and Anglo-Indian society left much to be desired: as he told Selina and Fanny, ‘my tastes are not oriental. And I long to find myself in some snug house . . . able to give a home to my family, and secure of a small competence . . .’.104 His Calcutta friends read little; his duties were ‘highly important’ but fortunately did not occupy all his time and he was able to maintain his own classical reading each day.105 He entirely avoided the miserable public entertainments, the bad acting and singing. The dinners, which he had to attend, he found extremely dull. ‘Macaulay lived in his library which had a separate communication with the garden’,

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Trevelyan later recalled. ‘He rose at daybreak and walked briskly in the garden until the sun compelled him to retire, always with a book in his hand which he seemed intensely to enjoy. He read to us aloud when we spent our evenings alone.’ He liked to assemble ‘around him a small host of men whose minds and interests had been formed, like his own, by English university and public life’. At large dinner parties the Anglo-Indian ‘company seemed to stand in awe of him and a general silence often prevailed while he poured forth the inexhaustible stores of his memory and imagination’.106 Just as he was unable to debate in parliament, so too he was no conversationalist: he held forth, his audience listened. ‘He is fond of talking’, recalled one diarist, ‘he is a short stout man; there can be no doubt of his abilities; but when you look at him first you would not take him to be the wisdom of the State.’107 Yet it was the ‘wisdom of the state’ that he aimed to represent, a state now committed to new forms of intervention in Indian affairs. The Charter Act of 1813 had secured some money for ‘the encouragement of the learned natives of India’ and for the introduction of Western science. Charles Grant senior, who saw the English language as a key route to assimilation, had been a significant influence on this, but so too were those in favour of supporting engraftment.108 All were agreed that Western learning was superior to that of the East, and that an educated native elite was necessary to facilitate collaboration with British rule. The question was how? By the 1820s there was a serious controversy amongst colonial officials as to how the available money should be spent. The dominant position remained that of engraftment. But there were pressures for reform, particularly from James Mill and his allies in London who argued for ‘useful learning’ and insisted that attempts to engraft modern science on to traditional curricula had been a failure. Mill himself had little faith in the efficacy of formal education, but looked to legal change and administrative reform. Meanwhile, significant numbers of elite Bengalis were absorbing British ideas and technologies to suit their own purposes, and were also engaged in this debate.109 Ram Mohan Roy, greatly admired by Trevelyan as the model of a ‘reformed teacher’, was the best known, with his celebrated visit to England, his openness to aspects of British ideas, his cautious support for British rule as the route to modernity, and his criticism of the existing use of government educational funds.110 Roy believed that a Sanskrit system of education would leave the country ‘in darkness’.111 In his 1833 speech Macaulay had proposed that Indians should be educated in European knowledge to prepare them for their futures. In early December 1834 Bentinck, who was hugely enthusiastic about Macaulay’s abilities, appointed him President of the Committee of Public Instruction, the site of the debates between so-called ‘Anglicists’ and ‘Orientalists’. The

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Anglicists, arguing for English as the medium of instruction for the native elite, were led by Trevelyan, who was ‘engaged in a furious contest against half a dozen of the oldest and most powerful men in India’, those who supported the established Orientalist methods of governing in an Indian idiom.112 Trevelyan was convinced the Hindu system of education had been ‘skilfully contrived for arresting the progress of the human mind’.113 Macaulay found him a little rash but essentially right, and threw all his influence behind him, inducing Bentinck to declare his support. ‘The question was’, he summed up for Margaret, ‘whether the twenty thousand pounds a year which Government appropriates to native education should be employed in teaching the natives Sanscrit and Arabic, as heretofore, or in teaching them English and thus opening to them the whole knowledge of the western world. You will not doubt on which side Trevelyan and I were found.’114 Trevelyan had been working on this issue for a decade and it was his pamphlet, On the Education of the People of India, that would introduce Macaulay’s ‘Minute on Education’ to the British public, in an attempt to explain the importance of educating Indians. Long before, Grant had argued in his Observations that assimilation must be the key principle of a successful Asian empire. Zachary Macaulay had made similar arguments in relation to freed Africans in Sierra Leone. Macaulay’s ‘Minute’ maintained something of the same position in relation to India. Faced with the problem that the colonial government had only a small sum to spend on education, the question was how best to contribute to the maintenance of British rule. One answer was to create a class of native interpreters, intermediaries who would know the English language and literature, and be assimilated, in so far as it was possible, to English values. Their responsibility would be to educate others and transmit imperial culture. Imperial pedagogy, argues Mehta, ‘operates in the malleable and concealed space behind the starkness of blood and color to reproduce the familiar, even if somatically refracted, category of being English’.115 Formulated in February 1835, the ‘Minute’ was a polemical statement as to the backward nature of Indian languages and learning, and a grandiose assertion of the superiority of English culture. It was written within a month of Macaulay’s hearing of Margaret’s death, when he was in the throes of grief. It was designed for India not England: for colonial officials and an Indian elite. Some of the contempt and anger in its tone may be connected to his state of mind: the culture of strangers was dismissed and expelled as barbarous. Only the familiar could be valued and was worth knowing, yet Margaret had left him. Just as he had vented his impotence and anger on Sadler in the wake of her engagement, now his intention was to destroy his

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rivals, the Orientalists, and he was explicit in his contempt for traditional Indian learning. The only way forward for Indians was to become brown Englishmen and he invited ambitious natives to join the project of colonial assimilation. Traditional elites could be sidestepped, Brahmin power undermined, and a new anglicised elite created. Existing government funds should be used to promote science, not superstition, the ‘Minute’ declared. Macaulay admitted that he had ‘no knowledge of either Sanskrit or Arabic’, despite his earlier conviction that the acquisition of foreign languages reduced the danger ‘of supposing that tastes and habits of thought . . . are inseparable from the nature of man’.116 But he had consulted with Oriental scholars and had ‘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 Arabic’.117 Oriental poetry could not compare with European, but when we pass from works of imagination to works in which facts are recorded and general principles investigated, the superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable. It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England. In every branch of Physical or Moral Philosophy the relative position of the two nations is nearly the same.118

Here Indian culture was constructed as homogeneous: their history, philosophy and science derided. It was English language and literature, he believed, which could be the starting point for the reform of India. The elite who would be educated were, as Trevelyan put it, ‘the leaders of the people’ and in time they could make Europe intelligible to the people of Asia.119 The object, in the long term, was ‘to raise the mind and elevate the character of a whole people’.120 English, for Macaulay, possessed civilising qualities. He had learned from the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers that language was an important marker of human advance, but Sanskrit and Arabic were condemned.121 English works of imagination could compete with those of Greece, its histories had rarely been surpassed, its sciences had contributed to progress. Whoever had access to English had access to ‘all the vast intellectual wealth which all the wisest nations of the earth have created and hoarded in the course of ninety generations’.122 English was now spoken by the ruling classes in India; it was likely to be the language of commerce across the East; and it was the language which would be most useful to native subjects. Language, he understood, was a powerful tool of empire.

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The West Indies, rarely mentioned by him, provided an example. ‘We’, the imperial ‘we’, men with responsibility for subordinate others, had given English to the West Indies, thus bringing them many centuries closer to civilisation than their countrymen in Africa. No mention here of the loss of African languages, for they were beyond Macaulay’s ken. Emancipation had not been Britain’s only gift: the colonisers had given their language. The West Indian dialect was a crude perversion, but emancipated negroes would eventually have access to English literature and this would be their salvation. Public money in India should not be used to teach ‘medical doctrines which would disgrace an English farrier, astrology which would move laughter in girls at an English boarding school, history abounding with kings thirty feet high and reigns thirty thousand years long, and geography made of seas of treacle and seas of butter’.123 ‘We’, imperial men, had experience to guide us. It was possible to appeal to history, just as he had done in the debates on reform. The history we knew provided examples of the ways in which new languages could shake and transform whole societies, as had happened with Greek and Latin in the Renaissance, and with the advent of Western European languages in Russia. It was clear that natives themselves wanted to learn English – they seized what possibilities there were – and the market was ‘the decisive test’. It would be irresponsible to leave natives to their ‘hereditary prejudices’. It was an imperial duty to encourage ‘useful knowledge’, not ‘monstrous superstitions . . . false history, false astronomy, false medicine’.124 To strengthen his case he quoted Roy’s letter to Lord Amherst on the errors of Vedantic doctrines. Our task, he concluded, should be ‘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’.125 Teaching these youths together, who were currently divided by caste and religion, would, Trevelyan believed, create ‘one people’. ‘Our subjects’, he wrote, ‘have set out on a new career of improvement: they are about to have a new character imprinted on them’. They should become more English than Hindu, and the peak of their ambition would be ‘to resemble us’.126 This would ensure the peaceful continuation of British rule, something that Trevelyan was particularly well aware, given his Indian experience, was endangered. Natives would not rise up against the British because they would recognise the benefits they had received.127 As many commentators have noted, Macaulay’s intervention on this issue was less important than was once thought, both because the arguments had been circulating for some years so that his intervention was a justification for the decision rather than its cause, and because the policy that was in fact implemented was a compromise. Furthermore, Indian voices were

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marginalised in much of the subsequent historiography, and were undoubtedly more influential than has been acknowledged. Yet the 1835 ‘Minute on Education’ still has iconic status. For John Clive it is one of Macaulay’s ‘most powerful productions’.128 Macaulay himself was very pleased with it. ‘There are very few things in my life’, he told James Mill, on which I look back with so much satisfaction as the part which I took in deciding this question.’129 Eighteen years later he noted in his journal that ‘it made a revolution.’130 The ‘Minute’ has, as Rajan argues, come to stand for British hegemony and imperial ideology. It puts the seal of approval on Englishing India rather than on reforming India’s institutions, it establishes an important prevarification supporting both the permanence and the withering away of empire.

India’s otherness is to be collapsed into likeness, but it ‘can also remain obdurately resistant to transformation’.131 Adopting English as the medium of instruction for the elite was ‘an overt act of alienation, widening difference into otherness and calling for conversion rather than cautious change’.132 The aim was to construct a link, a class of collaborators, between the millions and the British administration. But the insistence on the use of English was also a way of remaining separate, ensuring a gap between native culture and that of the rulers, the space of difference that was critical to colonial rule. This was the rule of colonial difference in Partha Chatterjee’s formulation, ‘the preservation of the alienness of the ruling group’.133 Mimic men could never be Englishmen.134 The ‘Minute’ ‘confirmed the permanence and even the desirability of an aloofness that would make evident to a subject people the distance it still had to travel’.135 Otherness would never become sameness, the space of difference never be overcome, so that imperial rule would remain essential: Indians would continue to be locked in the ‘waiting room of history’.136 Macaulay’s vision of brown Englishmen could only ever be a dream deferred, in the words of Langston Hughes: an almost but never quite complete project.137 For empire to remain, difference would have to be sustained. Brown Englishmen might ‘grow up’ in theory; in practice they never would. They were destined to subjecthood under the liberal rhetoric of legal equality. For Macaulay, English was to be a language that could override religious divisions. It was language, he came to believe, that had bound together the peoples of England, making them ‘one people’. The peoples of empire could be attached to colonial rule and the progress it offered through the medium of culture, not religion. An English education would destroy those beliefs

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that he saw as absurd and superstitious. While fully committed to religious toleration, as he was in Britain, Christianity and Hinduism could not be considered in the same frame. Hindu boys, he told his father, once enlightened, did not remain ‘sincerely attached’ to their faith. Some continued to profess it for political reasons; others embraced Christianity. Muslims were a different matter. ‘Hindoo religion’ was so ‘extravagantly absurd’ that Western rationality would speedily destroy it. Islam, however, came from a ‘better family’ and had much more in common with Christianity. ‘If our plans of education are followed up’, he told Zachary, entirely failing to grasp the place of religion in Indian society, ‘there will not be a single idolater among the respectable classes in Bengal in thirty years hence’.138 Young Brahmans would learn ‘to smile at the Hindoo theology’.139 ‘Impious and cruel superstitions’ would take flight confronted with the power of British literature.140 This would be a triumph of civilisation over barbarism. Hindus and Muslims could adopt English values, even if they could never become fully English. Trevelyan’s position was different. An enthusiastic Evangelical, he hoped that English would open the way to making India Christian. And India ‘was merely the stepping stone to the rest of Asia’.141 But religious texts could not be used in government-funded schools, as they were in England. English literature, as Viswanathan argues, had to do the work of making Indian subjects as English as they could be. The ‘Minute’, she suggests, paved the way to a transition from religion as the key educational impulse and a move to a secular use of literature, the disavowal of English literature’s association with Christianity.142 Both Macaulay and Trevelyan took an intense interest in the texts used in schools, but the celebration of literature brought with it ‘a relocation of cultural value from belief and dogma to language, experience, and history’: a shift that Macaulay was profoundly comfortable with, Trevelyan much less so.143 Macaulay’s enthusiasm had limits, however. He found prize-givings painful occasions and could ‘conceive nothing more grotesque than the scene from the Merchant of Venice, with Portia represented by a little black boy’.144 Shakespeare would civilise Indians, but he had no wish to see them perform it. In May 1835, five months after he had heard of the death of Margaret, Macaulay was appointed President of the Indian Law Commission. He was still in a state of deep melancholy but his Minutes on education and on the freedom of the press, in February and April, respectively, with their incisive language and absence of uncertainty or hesitation, indicate a capacity to split between private grief and public action. Some of his rage was no doubt deflected on to his arguments with the Orientalists and his determination to outflank reactionary Anglo-Indians. Fresh from the heady days of Whig

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reform and the critique of aristocratic privilege, he was quite ready to attack some white privileges. In India he was offended by both colonisers as oppressors and the colonised as the oppressed. He was a different kind of coloniser, a new, imperial man ready to limit some of the privileges of overmighty white subjects, just as his father had in Sierra Leone – and the law was a prime target. He had attacked and curtailed the exclusive privileges of the landed in England by parliamentary reform. Yet the circumstances were not the same, and he conjured up the space of difference as he reflected on his reactions to India, where ‘the patience of the oppressed invites the oppressor to repeat his injuries’, while in England ‘the spirit of the meanest rises up against the insolence or injustice of the richest or most powerful’.145 A strong believer in press freedom, whenever possible, he saw the freedom of the English press in India as presenting no possible dangers since there was no ‘public opinion’ in the English sense; there was no class ‘analogous to that vast body of labourers and artisans whose minds are rendered irritable by frequent distress and privation. And on whom, therefore, the sophistry and rhetoric of bad men often produce a tremendous effect.’146 His most provocative action from the perspective of Anglo-Indians, and one that made him the object of venomous attacks in Calcutta, was the ‘Black Act’, an attempt to limit the legal privileges of white Britons by introducing uniformity in the law. Reform of the franchise had successfully imposed some limits on aristocratic power in England. In India, ‘a small white aristocracy’, Macaulay averred, should not be allowed to ‘domineer over millions’.147 During 1836 he was working on his long essay on Lord Bacon, an aggressive defence of utility and progress. What India needed was a break with the past, and England in Bacon’s time was akin to India in the present. Bacon had been critical to England’s transformation. India needed a codified system of law; this was to be Macaulay’s specific task, and Bacon was a lawmaker, a moderniser in his own time. Ancient philosophies, Macaulay argued, had dealt with ‘words, and more words, and nothing but words’, while Bacon’s new philosophy had at its heart ‘the good of mankind’. ‘In Plato’s opinion’, he wrote, ‘man was made for philosophy; in Bacon’s opinion philosophy was made for man.’ Bacon had brought progress. His new philosophy had improved life, extinguished diseases, increased the fertility of the soil, discovered ‘new and useful truth’. His hope had been to maintain internal order, protect England against foreign enemies and establish ‘a judicial, financial, and commercial system, under which wealth may be rapidly accumulated and securely enjoyed’. And he was driven by common sense. Bacon was an imperfect man but his readers should ‘judge of the tree by its fruits’. ‘To make men perfect was no part of Bacon’s plan. His humble aim

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was to make imperfect men comfortable.’148 Macaulay’s enthusiasm for Bacon was probably heightened by his sense of communion with, and immersion in, this ‘great mind’, at a time when he recognised that the dead gave him more comfort than the living. As Macaulay had said in 1833, the codification of law was an enterprise ‘which specially belongs to a government like that of India: to an enlightened and paternal despotism’.149 While such a project was impossible in England, despite Bentham’s dreams, in India authoritarian government and the absence of a developed and contentious public opinion around questions of criminal law seemed propitious for ambitious lawmaking. He himself, trained as a barrister, was fitted for the task.150 British law, as Burke believed, had to be seen to be different from the arbitrary rule of oriental despots. Yet the blessings which were ‘the natural fruits of liberty’ had to be despotically engrafted. The coexistence of Muslim law, Hindu law and British law made for deep confusion and inequity. Macaulay’s belief in the rule of law as central to individual liberty was critical to his attempt to reform India. ‘British definitions of criminal liability’, as Radhika Singha argues, ‘conceptualized a realm of juridical power, founded, in theory at least, on a notion of indivisible sovereignty and its claims over an equal abstract and universal legal subject.’151 British subjects everywhere, as Burke had maintained, should be able to appeal to the law: legality was a signifier of state legitimacy and civilisation; the real rights of man were to live by the law.152 The state must challenge the claims of ‘tradition’, of family and caste. It was a second strand of Macaulay’s reformist plan, to remake British India and set it on the long road to civilisation. Authoritarian powers could be utilised against both imperious colonists and privileged natives. In England he preferred ‘to see abuses die out quietly’ and could trust to ‘time, to reason, and to the vast power which the middle classes had obtained’. But India needed rupture: precedence and history could be ignored in the colonial context.153 The Code, drafted by Macaulay and the Law Commission in 1837, was not implemented until 1860, after Macaulay’s death. But the system he devised, and it was indeed mainly his work, adds another dimension to his articulation of India as ‘a space of difference’. The Code was comprised of an Introductory Report, the actual clauses, illustrations and notes. The illustrations, which provided an original element, were to demonstrate to lay readers in intelligible and interesting ways what a crime was and how the law would work. The Code was to apply to the whole Indian empire, and aimed to suppress crime with the least possible suffering and ascertain the truth as clearly as possible.154 One of its intentions was to insist that legitimate violence was the sole prerogative of

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the state and ‘prevent European settlers from oppressing the Natives of the country’.155 White violence, as Elizabeth Kolsky has argued, has been ‘one of the empire’s most closely guarded secrets’.156 Physical violence was an intrinsic part of imperial rule and it was endemic rather than ephemeral in India. Planters, soldiers, masters and mistresses exercised it freely. The knowledge of this, and the fear that illegitimate violence would increase as numbers of unruly Britons came into India in the wake of the 1833 Act, was part of the reason for the Code. The government was responsible for its subjects; if progress were to be achieved it must now exercise paternal care. Unless natives were to be exposed to the ‘tyranny and insolence of every profligate adventurer’, Europeans must be placed under the same law as ‘the Hindoo’.157 In theory, British law should treat all subjects equally. In practice, whether in Jamaica, Ceylon, the Ionian Islands or India, this was not the case. The making of the law, Kolsky demonstrates, was part of the process of making race in India. Since special legal privileges were given to British subjects, the state was required to establish the boundaries of race. ‘Race’ was not already there, something fixed and understood. Rather, it had to be delineated, and the law was one site for that work.158 The intention of the Code, following Bentham, was for uniformity wherever possible, diversity if essential – in all instances certainty. Laws were to be defined more clearly, leaving no room for discretion: they should be clearly intelligible so as to reduce errors being made by inexperienced judicial officers. Natives should have a sense of legal rights. Both Bentham and Mill had argued that utilitarian principles worked everywhere, but local particularity would have to be considered. This was the route that Macaulay took, attempting to combine general principles – most importantly that British law should be accessible to all British subjects – with a recognition of local particularities, as, for example, in relation to punishment. The difference between ‘Europeans’ and ‘natives’, in Macaulay’s opinion, made uniformity impossible. ‘The physical difference which exists between the European and the native of India’ it was explained, ‘renders it impossible to subject them to the same system of prison discipline.’ Europeans simply would not survive without the ‘indulgences’ that made their lives tolerable. Subjecting Europeans to long periods of imprisonment in ‘a country in which existence is almost complete misery’ would be too cruel. Macaulay’s own feelings about India could not have been more clearly put. Furthermore, it was vital that ‘our national character should stand high in the estimation of the inhabitants of India’ and if Englishmen ‘of the worst description’ were degraded in the courts and the gaols, this could be disastrous.159 Englishmen needed to be able to stand apart, provide models of a ruling race.

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The idea of an Englishman should be associated with the idea of Government. Every Englishman participates in the power of Government, though he holds no office. His vices reflect disgrace on the Government, though the Government gives them no countenance.160

The correct punishment for white offenders would be to banish them from East India Company territories, for they damaged the imperial project. The issue of how to deal with Company officials who erred, Englishmen of a high class, raised other problems. They had to be seen as a special category, it was argued. Educated from a young age to exercise political power in India, spending years acquiring specialist knowledge that would be useless elsewhere, dismissal from the service would be a calamity, a life thrown away. They were English gentlemen for whom ‘the ruin of their fortunes is less terrible than the ruin of their characters’.161 They would have to be punished but this would have to be done with care. In both these instances the gap between European and other was demarcated; whites and natives distinguished. Yet, at the same time, all Company posts had been opened to natives and what had once seemed an ‘impassable interval’ between the Asiatic and the European, was now understood as ‘wide’ but perhaps not unbridgeable.162 Indians were both potentially the same and yet not: the key contradiction perpetuating and enabling British colonialism. Conceptions of religion and caste were central to definitions of difference. The principle of the Code must be that no man should insult the religion of another: the law must proceed on the basis of religious toleration, otherwise society would be at risk. ‘There is perhaps no country where the Government has so much to fear from religious excitement among the people.’ In India ‘the Christians are numerically a very small minority of the population, and in possession of all the highest posts in the Government, in the tribunals, and in the army’.163 Religious toleration, Macaulay was convinced, was essential to the stability of the English nation, but how much more so in India. Hindu gods might be absurd, laughed at in private, but in public they must be respected. Similarly, it would be impolitic to interfere on questions of caste. A person who ‘rudely thrust his head into the covered palanquin of a woman of rank’ might cause more violent anger than if he had inflicted a bodily hurt. ‘We are legislating for them’, as the Notes on the Code put it, ‘and though our notions and usages are different, ‘it is our duty, while their opinions and feelings remain unchanged’ (my italics) to respect them as if they were our own. But, of course, they were not ‘our own’, and in delineating the difference, the space between the two cultures was demarcated. ‘To legislate for such a country, as if the loss of caste or the exposure

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of a female face were not provocations of the highest order’, opined the legislators, ‘would, in our opinion, be unjust and unreasonable.’164 In a similar spirit, an English lady, abandoned in her palanquin on an Indian journey, would be placed at risk in a way that could never happen in England’s highly populated and well-regulated society. These places were not the same. India was well known to be a country with a low standard of morality. False evidence was commonplace, while in England a high standard of morality meant that evidence could be regarded as trustworthy. Nor were the peoples the same: familiar tropes of Indian passivity informed the lawmaking. These were not ‘bold and high-spirited people’. They were ‘too little disposed to help themselves’; they submitted patiently to ‘cruel depradations’ and ‘outrageous mischief ’ from criminals and ruffians. The imperial impulse should be ‘to rouse and encourage a manly spirit’, hence the leniency recommended on issues of self-defence.165 Indians needed to become more able to defend themselves, rather than submitting to the will of others: an ironic intervention from the colonisers. On marriage, also, the differences between England and India had to be recognised. ‘We well know’, as the Notes put it, ‘that the dearest interests of the human race are closely connected with the chastity of women and the sacredness of the nuptial contract.’ This may have been a painful sentence for Macaulay to write, given his feelings about his own siblings. But this was Macaulay in his public guise – fully recognising the ‘laws of nature’ and the reproductive responsibilities of women. The ‘peculiarities’ of this country, however, so unlike their own, meant that the ‘condition of women’ was unhappily very different from that in England or France. Indian women were married as children, neglected as wives, and had to share the attention of their husbands with rivals. Once again, ‘the custom of the country’ could not be gainsaid. The husband was granted an unlimited right of sexual access to his wife, whatever her age.166 Polygamy was ‘so deeply rooted in the manners of the people’ that it could not be dealt with by the law. It would have to be left to ‘the slow, but we trust the certain, operation of education and of time’.167 But at least adulterous women should be protected from criminal prosecution. As for homosexuality, ‘an odious class of offences respecting which it is desirable that as little as possible should be said’, the legislators wanted no excuse for public discussion on this ‘revolting topic’: a clear case of heads being buried in the sand.168 One of the motives for reforming the law was to reduce expense, a vital part of Bentinck’s driving policy of retrenchment. This meant utilising more native justices. For Trevelyan, ‘it was the subordinate Indian bureaucracy which seemed to offer the most accessible social field for generating a

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certain vision of colonial modernity’.169 Extending native agency combined utilitarian and liberal impulses, attacking monopoly in public office while cutting costs. There would have to be two classes of functionaries in the Mofussil, Macaulay declared in a Minute of 1835. Parliament had legislated that fitness alone was the criterion for appointment, not colour or creed. ‘Though no legal exclusion exists, the higher class must practically, for a long time, consist chiefly of Europeans, and the lower class chiefly of natives.’ The Englishman had energy, powers of general reasoning, extent of general information, integrity and humanity. On the other hand, the native had ‘an acquaintance with the language, the manners, the modes of thinking and feeling of his countrymen, such as the ablest and most experienced foreigner can scarcely ever acquire. . . . He is familiar with all the shifts to which dishonesty generally has recourse in this country.’ And native agency was far cheaper than that of Europeans. ‘In our judicial system, as in other parts of our Government, we should proceed on the principle of employing Native agency under European superintendence.’170 At the same time, both Europeans and natives were to be tried in these courts, for Macaulay was committed to the view that there should be a common penal code for Indian and British subjects, something which enraged many Anglo-Indians.171 ‘We may regret’ that native functionaries ‘have not the honourable feelings of English gentlemen’, he declared, ‘But what can we do? We cannot change the heart and mind of a nation in a day.’172 They must build on what was there, reform as best they could, look to the future when hearts and minds would be transformed, a task for the ‘great improving agency of history’.173 Slavery had not been abolished in India in the legislation of 1833 since it was defined differently from plantation slavery, the system for which Britain felt responsible. Abolitionists had raised questions about slavery in India for decades but the many forms of bondage and unfree labour, including the caste system, confused those who attempted classification. There was a tension between abolitionist impulses and fears of disturbing traditional practices. Furthermore, colonial governments routinely made use of forced labour, particularly for public works.174 The majority of the enslaved in India, of whom there were perhaps eight to nine million in East India Company territories in the 1840s, were women and children, many doing domestic work. They were positioned, as Margot Finn argues, at the intersection of family and market, facilitating a slippage between servant and slave.175 One of Macaulay’s key objections to slavery was that it operated outside of the law. This was tackled in the Code with a recommendation that offences ‘committed by a master against his slave’ should not be exempted from punishment.176 He hoped that this would effectively undermine

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slavery. As he wrote in optimistic vein to his father, ‘We shall . . . get rid indirectly of everything that can properly be called slavery in India.’177 His use of ‘properly called’ is telling: the presence of domestic slavery was routinely ignored in East India Company records, not being regarded as ‘real’ slavery.178 The implementation of the Code in 1861, combined with the India Slavery Act of 1843, was intended to deprive ‘slavery of all its legal incidents’ so that that it would wither away in time. The problem was, as Gyan Prakash observes, that colonial discourse both constituted India as an other and ‘had found in the opposition to that otherness the affirmation of its self – a self that professed its identity in freedom and was constituted in antagonism to the unfreedom that India was seen to cradle’.179 Macaulay believed that India was defined by ‘unchanging traditions, unfreedom, and unreason’. His project was to reform India, prepare it for modernity. Indians, despite their otherness, could be appropriated to the civilising project. Yet, at the very same time, they were marked by their difference and inferiority. Liberty and freedom, therefore, remained haunted by unfreedom. The institution of freedom had to be proclaimed repeatedly, because each proclamation was followed by an awareness of failure. Thus the 1843 abolition was followed by the discovery of new forms of unfreedom, such as debt bondage, requiring the enactment of new emancipator legislations, the last of which was passed by the postcolonial government in 1976.180

Macaulay was proud of the Code and once it was completed he prepared to return to England, with more than an adequate competency secured. As he told Ellis, ‘we shall lay before the Government a complete penal code for a hundred millions of people with a Commentary explaining and defending the provisions of the text’.181 He thought that it compared favourably with either the Napoleonic Code or English statute law. He also thought that it might have good effects for England. ‘Once the English people’, he wrote to James Mill, saw ‘the whole criminal law of a vast empire’ reduced to a small volume, ‘they will, I think, turn their minds to the subject of law-reform with a full determination to be at least as well off as their Hindoo vassals’: a prophecy that was not to be fulfilled.182 One of his major stated impulses had been to protect native subjects from unruly settlers, and to subject those same settlers to the strictures of the law. Both of these attempts were to meet with very limited success. Difference was evoked in the Code, though it was not a law that stood out for its provision of difference and exceptions. This was to be a temporary matter: over time these ‘peculiarities’ would disappear because of the policy of assimilation. The liberal project of empire was

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the making of colonial subjects, people ‘like us’, whose differences would, eventually, be eradicated. In naming and demarcating the ‘peculiarities’, however, the effect was, as Metcalf has argued, to disseminate notions of Indian difference ever more widely.183 Europeans and Indians were not the same. Would they – could they – ever be? Writing history/making difference Once the Code was finished Macaulay began to plan his return home. ‘It is really worth while to go into banishment for a few years’, he told Ellis, ‘for the pleasure of going home again.’184 How different India was from home. Its climate had execrable material effects: ‘Steel rusts; – pins become quite useless; – thread decays – clothes fall to pieces; – books moulder away and drop out of their bindings; – plaister cracks; – timber rots; – matting is in shreds’; the sun and the white ants create havoc.185 Their house had needed extensive repairs. They had been forced to move out for two months, ‘squeezed into a narrow hot dungeon, with no garden, surrounded by native huts, where we were deafened with the clang of native musical instruments and poisoned with the steams of native cookery’. It had been a relief to return to their newly painted palace and ‘the best air in Calcutta’.186 But he looked forward greatly to enjoying ‘in my own country health, ease, liberty, pecuniary independence, literature and friendship’. A legacy from Uncle Colin had secured his financial position and he would return ‘quite a rich man’, with more than enough for a bachelor, and ‘every day renders it more unlikely that I should marry’.187 His immersion in work, as always his remedy for dealing with unhappiness, had kept him occupied. His fondness for his little niece, Hannah’s daughter Margaret, known as Baba, a name commonly given by Indian ayahs to the children of their employers, had soothed his grief, he told Selina and Fanny, and helped him to keep his mind away from sad thoughts.188 Born at the end of 1835, she ‘cheered and amused him’; he was very devoted to her and she to him.189 Her English relatives would be astonished to see her, surrounded by ‘four or five old Musselmans with long beards and white turbans and as many Hindus wrapped up in shawls’, who smiled and chattered to her in ‘Hindustani and Bengalee’, a rare glimpse of some of the army of servants. His grief might have somewhat abated, but he could not wait to return to England. ‘I feel as if I could never be unhappy in my own country’, he told his father, presumably forgetting his desperation in the wake of Margaret’s engagement and marriage. England was home and ‘to exist on English ground and among English people, seeing the old familiar sights and

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hearing the sounds of my mother tongue would be enough for me.190 ‘I believe that nobody ever loved his country’, he told another friend, ‘as a place to live in with so exclusive a love as mine for England.’191 To his brother Charles he wrote of his longing to be home and reflected on how different his experience was from that of the young men who came out as Company servants and for whom ‘banishment is their emancipation’. They delighted in the power they could exercise and the luxuries they could enjoy in India: the hospitality, the mistresses, the servants ‘who bow to the ground every time’ they met and suffered kicking and abuse. For him ‘the case was very different’. He had not abandoned his independence, had refused help in dressing and ‘the thousand little offices which every man ought to be in the habit of performing for himself ’. There was something unmanly in the conduct of these spoilt Anglo-Indians. ‘I shall leave nothing that I shall ever remember with regret’, he declared categorically. ‘My acquirements such as they are fit me far better for Europe than for Asia.’ It was fortunate that Trevelyan was returning with him: ‘his habits and feelings’ were not yet unchangeably fixed and he could yet become ‘an Englishman’.192 This was an identity to be learned, not given. ‘I have no words to tell you how intensely bitter exile has been to me’, he told Selina and Fanny, or ‘how I pine for England. No person can judge of it who has not experienced it.’ Travelling in Europe did not count, for ‘Europe is to a great extent one country’.193 The experience of India facilitated his thinking on history, a preoccupation from his earliest years. In his first months there he had written his essay on ‘Sir James Mackintosh’s History of the Revolution’. Mackintosh provided instructive reading for Macaulay. There were many parallels in their lives and Tom, the much younger man, was very aware of his elder’s mistakes. Mackintosh was a habitué of Holland House; he made extensive use of his notes and the seat that he inherited at the Board of Control in writing his History. Mackintosh had failed to combine successfully the life of statesman and historian: Macaulay was determined that this would not happen to him. Mackintosh had spent years in Bombay as the Recorder, a period that he had experienced as an exile, and liked to compare himself with Cicero, banished from Rome. Profoundly influenced by the Scottish Enlightenment, he believed that the conquest of India displayed the power of European knowledge and that it demonstrated Britain’s capacity ‘to subject all other parts of the earth’.194 Conjectural history meant that comparisons could be made. It was now possible ‘to bring before us man in a lower state and more abject condition than any in which he was ever seen’, to ‘make human society pass in review before our mind, to observe the ‘meek and servile native of Hindostan . . . under the yoke of foreign tyrants’.195 The history of the

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English as a fair and free people was only intelligible when compared with the history of other nations. Mackintosh was operating within an established tradition of colonial writing in which history was critical.196 ‘Clio’, argues Sudipta Sen, ‘was the first handmaiden of colonial conquest.’ It was history writing that ‘upheld the value of liberty against the folly of tyranny and despotism and seemed to explain why Indians were unfree’.197 Since 1799 and the defeat of Tipu Sultan the vast new territories taken by the British had posed new problems. How was British rule to be legitimated on the new frontiers? What forms should it take and what modes of collaboration were possible or desirable with Indian elites?198 The key group of British historians of India, from Orme and Dow to Elphinstone, Malcolm and Munro, had been influenced by Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, with their conception of India as a form of society that Europe had left behind, and by Burke, with his emphasis on India as a place of potential decadence and corruption for the British, a place that put the imperial tradition on trial. There was always a tension: between the Enlightenment view of history writing, based on a vision of human history as essentially the same, and a conviction that India was something different, alien, truly other. India was represented as distant in both space and time: a despotic society with arbitrary rulers and helpless subjects. Orme was the first to make the distinction between ‘Moors’ as conquerors and ‘Gentoos’ as meek and effeminate: a trope that was to recur again and again. Alexander Dow stressed the way in which India had always been subject to conquest. Malcolm focused on the long histories of political instability and internal divisions which meant that British power and authority could hold sway. Elphinstone narrated the classic account of Hindu antiquity, the invasion of Islam and the intervention of Britain. None questioned the legitimacy of British rule, but together these histories constituted a series of arguments as to what forms it should take, what role there was for indigenous elites, for opinion and for authority. By the 1830s, when Macaulay was absorbing these materials, with Mill’s History of British India already clearly in his mind, there was an increasing awareness of the range and diversity of ‘India’ but widespread agreement as to the static and timeless quality of Indian society, the dominance of superstitious and abusive forms of religion, and the degraded and corrupt nature of Indian life. On his return with the Trevelyans in 1838, Macaulay’s intention was to start writing his history of England, a decision that he had made in Calcutta. He enjoyed an Italian tour, designed in part to act as an inspiration for his history writing. His essays on Sir William Temple, an exploration of the tension between a literary and political life, and on Gladstone’s work on

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Church and state were penned soon after his return. He entered the House of Commons again, this time as an MP for Edinburgh, and then Melbourne’s cabinet as Secretary at War. So he was once more an active Whig as he wrote his essay on Clive, one of the fruits of his Indian sojourn. Robert Clive was a key figure in Britain’s conquest of India, his success at the Battle of Plassey in 1757 constructed as the critical moment in the defeat of the French and the establishment of British dominance. A book by Sir John Malcolm provided an opportunity for Macaulay to tell his story: his review essays were always a chance to tell his own tales, with scant regard for the author. In this instance his neglect of Malcolm had a political dimension. While at the Board of Control Macaulay had contributed to the dismantling of the system of indirect rule favoured by Malcolm, Elphinstone and others. He preferred direct British rule which did not grant power to unreliable princes. Malcolm was a cautious traditionalist on Indian questions and had opposed the 1832 Reform Act.199 Macaulay, as always, was well aware of the political conjuncture in which he was writing, and had his political critics and rivals to deal with. In claiming Clive as a hero he was constructing an imperial history in his own particular way, breaking with Mill, who was harsh in his judgement of Clive, but also with Malcolm, who saw nothing to criticise in Clive’s practices. ‘The subject is a grand one’, he told Napier, the editor of the Edinburgh Review, and ‘admits of decorations and illustrations innumerable.’200 The essay opened with a lament over the state of ignorance in England as to the history of British India, a lament that seems somewhat overstated given the number of novels, poems, pamphlets and essays on India that had appeared, but one that marked Macaulay’s claim to produce a definitive account. His aim was to educate his readers in his version of the conquest of British India and its aftermath. This was an essay for a periodical audience, republished innumerable times over the rest of the century and beyond. It was simply and vividly written, laid out its arguments clearly, and assumed a powerful authorial voice, a ‘we’, that evoked judicious historians explaining the reasons why the conquest of India was a benevolent act, appropriate to a liberty-loving people. ‘Lord Clive’ can be read, argues Uma Satyavolu Rau, as a counterpart to the ‘Minute’, concerned to convince a domestic audience that Britain’s role was to bring progress to benighted Indians.201 India, that fabled, opaque and mysterious place, that space of darkness, was being made intelligible to English readers, processed and digested by Macaulay, who firmly placed conquest and corruption in the past but celebrated a tradition of good government inaugurated with Clive and reaching into the present and future. He was the national instructor, banishing his own fears of the unpalatibility of British rule to the millions, re-presenting a history to

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his domestic audience as one that had been successfully concluded, with a good outcome: paternal despotism for benighted others. A handful of Englishmen, he informed his readers, ‘separated from their home by an immense ocean, subjugated in the course of a few years, one of the greatest empires in the world’. While the Spanish in America had conquered savages, these men had subdued a people who were quite as civilised as the Spanish in the fifteenth century. This was a tale worth telling and so far it had not been well told: Mill’s History of India had great merits, but it was ‘not sufficiently animated and picturesque to attract those who read for amusement’, while Orme’s study was very tedious and Malcolm had not done justice to his material.202 Macaulay’s years in India had given him increased gravitas: he was now a colonial statesman and lawgiver. And the historian, he told Lord Mahon, should be like a judge; ‘he should be as unlike an orator or a party-pamphleteer as possible’. Thucydides, rediscovered during his unhappy months in India, would be his model, and ‘judicial gravity’ his aim.203 His essay on Clive was a gripping narrative, a historical romance full of detail and drama, telling the story of a great but flawed man, ‘the founder of the British Empire in India’.204 Born into an old English family that had fallen on hard times, Clive restored the family fortunes, defeated that most serious enemy, the French, established the political ascendancy of England in India, yet died a tragic death by his own hand. Macaulay’s tone was that of a judicious historian, taking the ‘wider view’.205 He would neither simply praise him nor condemn him. Clive was a man to be compared with Napoleon. Great rulers committed unjustifiable acts. Political expediency, Macaulay argued from his position in the Whig cabinet, would always be necessary. Clive had redeemed himself: in his last period in India he had laid the foundations for a new purity of imperial rule. He had opened the way for the benevolent empire that his nineteenth-century descendants would establish. The essay sparkled with powerful descriptions and vivid setpieces, from the ghastly story of the ‘Black Hole’ of Calcutta to Clive’s triumphant victory at Plassey. It moved between the high politics of England and India, demonstrating the intimate connections between the two. It opened with Clive’s childhood in Shropshire, then followed him to India as a young man in 1743, at the time of the decomposition of the Mogul empire from within, an administration ‘tainted with all the vices of Oriental despotism’ and of the ‘domination of race over race.’206 Initially a clerk, he soon entered the Company army, which suited ‘his audacious spirit’ and war with the French under the generalship of Dupleix gave him the opportunity to develop his military skills. By the time that he returned to England in 1754 he had made a fortune and a reputation, and was able to redeem the

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family estates. By 1755 he needed more money and war was expected again in India; he returned to Bengal and was appointed lieutenant colonel in the British army. Here he was to take revenge on ‘Surajah Dowlah’ [sic], the architect of the ‘Black Hole’. At Plassey, with a small force, Clive defeated an army of sixty thousand and established British rule in Bengal. Yet it was then that he acted in ways ‘that have left a stain on his moral character’, collapsing into the faults of orientals and committing perjury.207 Nevertheless he became the governor of Bengal and returned to England as a very wealthy man, praised for his military prowess. After his departure the government in Bengal exercised excessive greed, oppressing the people. There was deep anxiety in London and Clive once again returned: ‘he alone could save the empire which he had founded’.208 This time he came to reform, challenging the corruption of ‘abject natives’ and Company servants when necessary and establishing new systems of rule. By the time of his third return to England, however, the mood had changed in London, ‘nabobs’ were widely criticised for their excessive wealth and dishonour, and he was persecuted by the ‘whole crew of pilferers and oppressors from whom he had rescued Bengal’.209 Always subject to fits of melancholy, he took to opium and killed himself in 1774. Yet, the judicious historian reminds us, he had established the political ascendancy of the English, and ‘his faults, when weighed against his merits and viewed in connexion with his temptations, do not appear to us to deprive him of his right to an honourable place in the estimation of posterity’.210 He had begun the reform of Indian administration, opening the way for the transition from ‘public robbers’ to ‘integrity, disinterestedness and public spirit’. This ‘public spirit’ was now venerated by ‘the latest generation of Hindoos’ who ‘venerated’ the statue of Lord William Bentinck.211 The story was one of public men, of government, war and politics – in the classical tradition of history writing – with family providing a necessary backdrop. It was replete with heroes and villains, noble races of men and effeminate victims, colonisers and colonised. Clive was the hero, marked by his extraordinary bravery and audacity, his capacity to inspire devotion amongst his men, his courage in taking on the greed of Company servants, his ‘manful’ defence of himself when attacked in London, his grandeur in the face of the loneliness of great political responsibility, his capacity to act – that ultimate test of manhood – and his redemption of the family estate combined with his generosity to his sisters. ‘Our island, so fertile in heroes and statesmen, has scarcely ever produced a man more truly great either in arms or in council.’212 His flaw, and it was a serious one in Macaulay’s eyes, was occasioned by ‘going native’. As long as he was in England, he was bold, sincere and hearty, with no ‘propensity to cunning’. But he knew

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that the standard of morality among the natives of India differed widely from that established in England. He knew that he had to deal with men destitute in what in Europe is called honour, with men who would give any promise without hesitation and break any promise without shame, with men who would unscrupulously employ corruption, perjury, forgery to compass their ends. His letters show that the great difference between Asiatic and European morality was constantly in his thoughts.

This ‘honourable English gentleman and soldier, was no sooner matched against an Indian intriguer’ than he became convinced that truth was ineffective in this world and descended ‘to falsehood, to hypocritical caresses, to the substitution of documents, and to the counterfeiting of hands’.213 This was a catastrophic mistake, for the power of the English in India rested on their difference from the natives, their trustworthiness. As Macaulay had put it in relation to the Code, the rulers must always be distinguished, by their conduct and habits, from the ruled, and Clive had muddied the moralised lines of racial distinction. If Clive epitomised English manhood, though not in its fully civilised state, ‘Surajah Dowlah’ [sic] was the villain. A tyrant, exercising personal power, he was unbound by the rule of law. One of the worst specimens of his class, and Oriental despots were ‘perhaps the worst class of human beings’, he had been appallingly educated, loved to torture animals and people, was destroyed in body and mind by debauchery, and allowed his victims in the ‘Black Hole’ to suffer unmitigated cruelty. He ruled over a people ‘enervated by a soft climate and accustomed to peaceful employments’. The ‘Bengalees’ ‘bore the same relation to other Asiatics which the Asiatics generally bear to the bold and energetic children of Europe’. The ‘Hindoo’ talents were quickness, observation, tact, dexterity and perseverance: their vices servility, greediness and treachery. ‘Whatever the Bengalee does’, wrote Macaulay, reiterating the long-established trope of Bengalese passivity, he does languidly. His favourite pursuits are sedentary. He shrinks from bodily exertion; and, though voluble in dispute . . . he seldom engages in a personal conflict, and scarcely ever enlists as a soldier. . . . There never perhaps existed a people so thoroughly fitted by nature and by habit for a foreign yoke.214

The ‘timid, supple and parsimonious Hindoos’ had been easily dominated by ‘proud and ostentatious Mohammedans’, a stronger people from the north. ‘Surajah Dowlah’ drew his troops ‘not from the effeminate population

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of Bengal’ but from ‘the bolder race which inhabits the Northern provinces’. Here were Macaulay’s hierarchies of peoples and his map of civilisation: the intrepid adventurers of Northern Europe whose military prowess was unmatched, led by ‘men of English breed, the hereditary nobility of mankind’; the formidable races of Rajpoots, Sikhs and Mahrattas who had together broken up the Mogul empire and made possible European advances; the hardy races of the northern frontiers who could be trained and disciplined by a man such as Clive; and the ‘Bengalees’, suited only for conquest.215 It was in India that Macaulay came to understand, from experience as opposed to theory, the extent to which history was key to the relation between one part of the world and another – a relation articulated in his 1833 speech but elaborated, and felt, in the later essays. History made it possible to place different societies at their different stages of barbarism and civilisation, mapped in relation to European history. History, meaning the history of progress on the Western model, ‘was an agent of reform, a school of virtue’.216 Macaulay’s essays on India are global in their reach, rooted in the notion of a universal history, the parameters of which stretched from England, at the highest level of civilisation, to India, a society which had once been great, but had, like Europe after the Roman Empire and the Carolingian Empire, rotted and decayed. The death of the great Mogul emperor Aurungzebe had brought decline. As with the Carolingian Empire, ‘the corruption of death began to ferment into new forms of life’.217 India was thus brought into comparison with Europe, but at the very same moment relegated to the Dark Ages. It was both familiar and strange, intimate and distant. In similar vein, Clive was favourably compared with a Roman proconsul: a move which brought India under Western eyes, but made it temporally far removed, in the infancy of its social and political development. But while ‘Clive’ was an imperial romance, it encompassed too the familial and the national. Family, nation and empire were integrally interconnected through individual lives, enacted in the great dramas of history. ‘Warren Hastings’, Macaulay’s account of a second key figure in the establishment of British rule in India, one who became the subject of an impeachment on the grounds of his misrule, was finished the following year and published in 1841. Macaulay was ‘possessed by a characteristic tumultuous urgency’ to impart his historical knowledge of British India to his reading public.218 This was an opportunity for him, as with ‘Lord Clive’, to process his own thinking on India and digest it for others; it was part of his coming to terms with his Indian experience. English power, he wrote, had initially arrived in India

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unaccompanied by English morality. There was an interval between the time in which they became our subjects, and the time at which we began to reflect that we were bound to discharge towards them the duties of rulers.219

By representing the period of conquest and excessive greed to his readers as safely contained in the past, he was also quieting his own anxieties, reassuring himself that the transition to a benevolent empire had been achieved. The troubling knowledge that India could only be ruled with the sword could be forgotten. The essay was written in the same style as ‘Lord Clive’. Ostensibly a review, it was Macaulay’s own account, replete with corrections for the unfortunate author, the Rev. Gleig. Like ‘Clive’, it was a family as well as a national and an imperial romance. Hastings came from an ancient and illustrious family that had fallen on hard times, and the hero never lost sight of his dream – even when under a tropical sun and ruling ‘fifty millions of Asiatics’ – to regain the family estates at Daylesford. Like Clive, Hastings was a great but flawed man, his career a prelude to the reforming empire of the nineteenth century. Here too the narrative moved between England and India, structured by Hastings’s career, with the great set-pieces provided by the Rohillan War, the stories of the perfidious Nuncomar and the evil Supreme Court Judge Impey, and the events surrounding Cheyte Sing, Benares and Oudh, leading up to the impeachment of Hastings in Westminster Hall as the dramatic finale. The descriptions are breathtaking, the dramas scintillating, some of the details redolent of Macaulay’s day-today knowledge of what it meant for British officials to be thousands of miles from home. Once again the corruption of ‘Hindoos’ was almost matched by the nefarious actions of the English Judge Impey, who misused his power and thus damaged the British reputation for impartial justice. Hastings shone forth, judged lacking ‘in respect of the rights of others, and in sympathy for the suffering of others’, yet ‘he had preserved and extended an empire’.220 To compare the most celebrated European ministers to him, argued Macaulay, would be ‘as unjust as it would be to compare the best baker in London with Robinson Crusoe, who, before he could bake a single loaf, had to make his plough and his harrow, his fences and his scarecrows, his sickle and his flail, his mill and his oven’.211 Hastings had had to start from the base and build a new system of rule, and he was ‘far too enlightened a man to look on an empire merely as a buccaneer would look on a galleon’.222 Again, this was emphatically a man’s story: the gendering predominantly associated with varieties of masculinity, from effeminate Bengalis, warlike

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Rohillas and ferocious Mahrattas, to self-seeking colonial officials and manly heroes. Few women appeared: the married woman, Baroness Imhoff, whom Hastings fell in love with, resulting for a long period in a ménage à trois which Macaulay was clearly embarrassed by; the ladies who attended the impeachment in Westminster Hall and were cast into a state of ‘uncontrollable emotion’ by Burke’s great speech; and the unfortunate Begum of Oude, immortalised in that speech, the victim of Hastings’s rapacity and one of the causes of his downfall.223 Hastings, desperately in need of money to satisfy the greed of the Company stockholders, had made a deal with the ruler of Oude, ‘Nabob Asaph-ul-Dowlah’ [sic], a man whose life was divided between ‘torpid repose and the most odious forms of sensuality’. They agreed to plunder the Begum, the Nabob’s mother, of her rich treasure. This confiscation, judged Macaulay, was inconsistent with faith, justice, and ‘that great law of filial piety which, even in the wildest tribes of savages, even in those more degraded communities which wither under the influence of a corrupt half-civilisation, retains a certain authority over the human mind’.224 Hastings had committed a serious wrong. In disregarding familial duties he had breached one of the building blocks of any decent society, the family. Yet all his wrongs had to be understood in the context of the immense pressure he was under, from the greedy stockholders in London, to deliver huge sums of money to the mother country. The directors of the East India Company ‘never conceived the gross inconsistency of which they were guilty’. The ‘just and humane sentiments’ they evinced in their letters ‘being interpreted, mean simply, “Be the father and the oppressor of the people; be just and unjust, moderate and rapacious.” ’225 But now Macaulay’s generation of liberal and reforming imperialists could enact reform. The bad old days, the stain of which had still not been entirely effaced by many years of just government, had given way to the better times of the present. The abolition of sati, in particular, decreed by Bentinck, was a mark of British efforts to transform familial relations and raise ‘Hindoo’ women from the cruelty and degradation to which they were exposed by their men. If Hastings was one flawed hero of this essay, Burke was another, though his flaws were in a very minor key. Burke had voluminous knowledge of India and a mind both ‘philosophical and poetical’. He used his reason to digest the ‘huge bales of Indian information’ he consumed, while his imagination was able to animate and colour them. ‘He had in the highest degree’, wrote Macaulay, echoing his thinking about himself and his own survival in the face of trauma and despair, ‘that noble faculty whereby man is able to live in the past and in the future, in the distant and in the unreal’. ‘India and its inhabitants’, he continued, ‘were not to him, as to most Englishmen, mere

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names and abstractions, but a real country and a real people.’ India’s burning sun, strange vegetation, village crowds, mosques and idols, princes and palanquins, the colour and the spectacle, ‘all these were to him as the objects amidst which his own life had been passed’. ‘All India was present to the eye of his mind’ and ‘oppression in Bengal was to him the same thing as oppression in the streets of London’.226 Yet Burke’s imagination was too vivid, his sensibility too developed in Macaulay’s judgement. His reason became the ‘slave of feelings’ and ‘a great and a good man’ was ‘led into extravagance by a sensibility which domineered over all his faculties’.227 His attack on Hastings was too extreme and this weakened his case. In Macaulay’s estimation Burke was a man to be compared with Las Casas and Clarkson, one who ‘devoted years of intense labour to the service of a people with whom he had neither blood nor language, neither religion nor manners in common, and from whom no requital, no thanks, no applause could be expected’.228 But feelings must not be allowed to dominate over reason.229 While Burke’s emphasis on the rule of law was critical to Macaulay, his insistence on sympathy was not. Sympathy, that sentiment so valued by late eighteenth-century thinkers, but which Zachary was less attached to than Wilberforce, was not part of Macaulay’s repertoire. For Macaulay, Indians remained ‘abstractions’, not real men and women. Unfamiliarity was dismissed: in ‘Hastings’ he labelled and hierarchised the races. Effeminate ‘Bengalees’ were deemed the lowest. ‘The physical organisation of the Bengalee’, Macaulay instructed his readers, is feeble even to effeminacy. He lives in a constant vapour bath. His pursuits are sedentary, his limbs delicate, his movements languid. During many ages he has been trampled upon by men of bolder and more hardy breeds. Courage, independence, veracity, are qualities to which his constitution and situation are equally unfavourable. His mind bears a singular analogy to his body. It is weak even to helplessness, for purposes of manly resistance; but its suppleness and its tact move the children of sterner climates to admiration not unmingled with contempt.

‘All those arts which are the natural defence of the weak’, he continued, ‘are more familiar to this subtle race than to the Ioanian of the time of Juvenal, or to the Jew of the dark ages.’ The temporal distinction was underlined: the points of comparison with the Romans and the Dark Ages. And then the divisions were naturalised. ‘What the horns are to the buffalo, what the paw is to the tiger, what the sting is to the bee, what beauty is, according to the old Greek story, to woman, deceit is to the Bengalee.’230 If deceit was natural,

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then how could these people be assimilated to Englishness? These millions of men would never serve as sepoys for the Company, he concluded in his damning indictment, but ‘as usurers, as money-lenders, as sharp legal practitioners, no class of human beings can bear comparison with them’.231 In the early 1760s, a time to be ashamed of, when the Company misgoverned and exhibited ‘the most frightful of all spectacles, the strength of civilization without its mercy’, the superior energy and intelligence of the dominant class made their strength irresistible, a war between Bengalis and English would have been a war between ‘sheep and wolves’.232 Contrasting with these feeble ‘sheep’ were the warlike Rohillas from the northern borders of Afghanistan, Caucasians of a ‘peculiarly fair complexion’. They had established a prosperous agricultural land, remarkable not only for its commerce but also for its poetry. ‘Surajah Dowlah’, wanting to plunder them, but confident that only Company forces could defeat them, had made an alliance with Hastings, who desperately needed money. ‘It had been abundantly proved that neither tenfold odds, nor the martial ardour of the boldest Asiatic nations, could avail aught against English science and resolution.’233 This shameful act was made even more indefensible, in Macaulay’s eyes, by the Company troops ‘going native’ after their victory and unleashing the horrors of ‘Indian war on the fair valleys and cities of Rohilcund’. More than 100,000 fled, ‘to pestilential jungles, preferring famine, and fever, and the haunts of tigers, to the tyranny of him to whom an English and a Christian government had, for shameful lucre, sold their substance, and their blood, and the honour of their wives and daughters’. These events had still not been forgotten by ‘the injured nation’. ‘Even at this day, valour and self-respect, and a chivalrous feeling rare among Asiatics, and a bitter remembrance of the great crime of England, distinguish that noble Afghan race.’234 If the Rohillas were distinguished by their valour, the Mahrattas were described as energetic, ferocious and cunning. At first they ‘were only robbers’, but they ‘rose to the dignity of conquerors’.235 ‘Musselmen’ were characterised as ‘braver and less accustomed to submission than the Hindoos’.236 While the people of Benares, living in a land ‘far more favourable to the vigour of the human frame than the delta of the Ganges’ were good soldiers despite their city being the centre of ‘Brahminical superstition’.237 Once again this was a global story, set across human history as understood by Europeans. Benares was likened to post-Carolingian Europe; ‘Hindoo’ reactions to the hanging of Nuncomar, ‘the head of their race and religion’, were compared to those of devout Catholics in the Dark Ages ‘seeing a prelate of the highest dignity sent to the gallows by a secular tribunal’.238 The sense of the distance between past and present, East and

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West was most powerfully evoked at the impeachment of Hastings, when Westminster Hall was the site for a historic encounter. Here, ‘all the talents and all the accomplishments which are developed by liberty and civilisation’ were on display. The trial began in the spring of 1788 and Every step in the proceedings carried the mind either backward, through many troubled centuries, to the days when the foundations of our constitution were laid; or far away, over boundless seas and deserts, to dusky nations living under strange stars, worshipping strange gods, and writing strange characters from right to left. The High Court of Parliament was to sit, according to forms handed down from the days of the Plantaganets, on an Englishman accused of exercising tyranny over the lord of the holy city of Benares, and over the ladies of the princely house of Oude.239

Here Burke exercised his brilliance and Hastings was called to account: the demonstration of the will of the English to cleanse their empire of misrule. Here the timeless and strange nature of Indian society was contrasted with the heritage of English constitutionalism, a history which secured legal forms able to deal with over-mighty empire builders, whose exploits were yet to be condoned. True, the legal proceedings took too long, a mark of the need for legal reform, but the ethics of empire were debated on the national stage. Hastings was ruined, only to be restored and live his days out peacefully on the family estate that he had regained. Hastings’s story was a national, an imperial and a family romance. Imperial man Macaulay had whiled away many hours in India penning his Lays of Ancient Rome, another way of telling imperial tales. His tour of Italy, in the wake of returning from India, was in part to see the settings for his ballads, which were published in 1842. The Lays were inspired by Livy’s dramatic story of an empire hard-won.240 They were a sequence of four, ostensibly in the voices of different bards, which became immensely popular and a staple part of school curriculums in the decades to come. Macaulay was powerfully influenced by Scott’s romantic historical novels and praised his preservation of fragments of oral traditions. He also had some enthusiasm for Celtic ballads. Excited by Barthold Niebuhr’s theory that ballads were a universal tradition, he amused himself by imagining the Roman ballads that might have been. Ballads were ‘a species of composition’, he believed,

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common to every society ‘at a certain point in the progress towards refinement’.241 In his early essays he had explored the idea that simpler and more emotionally direct forms of poetry were characteristic of so-called ‘rude’ societies and that higher levels of civilisation meant more critical faculties but less emotionally powerful literary forms.242 The Lays were a form of pastiche, written as if they were the ballads of early republican Rome, a literature which had been lost to posterity but which evoked a time of romance and drama and supposedly represented an authentic national spirit. Their words and rhythm were rousing and emotionally stirring and they were enthusiastically received by a very wide audience: a hundred thousand copies had been sold by 1875. As David Amigoni has argued, the Lays were intended to draw their readers in: their power was affective rather than based on reason, a new genre for Macaulay to play with. Readers were invited to ‘enter into the Otherness they convey’, disrupting public and private conventions.243 The past was made present, the distant near; sentiments could be expressed which would have been more troubling in other forms. Macaulay distanced himself from the language by a variety of strategies.244 The prefaces describe the political contexts of the times at which the ballads could have been composed, as well as the times when the events were supposed to have happened, and he insisted that the Lays represented the voices of a number of different bards. Macaulay was able to use the Lays to explore feelings to which he was sympathetic but which sat uncomfortably with his public persona: they were best expressed in more literary forms.245 The essays on Clive and Hastings had allowed him to celebrate British military conquest at a distance. In the Lays, he could celebrate the military might of Rome while insisting on the reforming and benevolent project of the British Empire. ‘The Prophecy of Capys’, supposedly set in the time of Romulus, predicted Rome’s great future and her defeat of King Pyrrhus. Imperial rule would be Rome’s destiny, yet it might also eventually presage her decline, for empires could not be ruled by force alone. Thine, Roman, is the pilum:     Roman, the sword is thine, The even trench, the bristling mound,     The legion’s ordered line; And thine the wheels of triumph,     Which with their laurelled train Move slowly up the shouting streets     To Jove’s eternal fame.

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The ‘mighty name of Rome’, the Lay concluded, would arouse great fear in all who heard of it.246 This was a vision of empire which Macaulay preferred to put at a distance, whether in Rome or the eighteenth century, in favour of a more civilised and enlightened view. Yet it had its pull for him. The ‘old Romans’, as he put it in his Preface, ‘had some great virtues, fortitude, temperance, veracity, spirit to resist oppression, respect for legitimate authority, ardent patriotism; but Christian charity and chivalrous generosity were alike unknown to them’.247 These latter were the virtues of his own time. As William McKelvy argues, the Lays ‘blatantly promised imperial dividends for liberal reforms’.248 Macaulay was, as ever, preoccupied with reform and empire. It was reform of the body politic, the settlement of the conflict between patricians and plebeians, which had freed Rome for imperial expansion. The resolution of these conflicts was compared with England’s reforms of 1828–32 and the removal of religious and civil disabilities. ‘Macaulay had translated the historical rationale for the constitutional reforms of 1828–32 into a poetic text and addressed this text, the Lays, to England’s post-Reform readers, a book-buying public that was politically indebted to the historical rhetoric versified in the Lays.’249 At the same time, McKelvy suggests, the Lays could be read in another way, as part of Macaulay’s argument for a secular state – one in the mode of Cicero, committed to civic piety – a belief in the nation, rather than in any religious tenets. ‘The religions of historically prosperous nations, were based on popular traditions rather than revelations from above.’250 In ‘Horatius’, a paean of praise to those who defended Rome against its enemies, he paid tribute to the wondrous courage of this hero and his two companions, prepared to sacrifice their lives to defend the city they loved and the virtue of its female inhabitants: 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, And for the tender mother     Who dandled him to rest, And for the wife who nurses     His baby at her breast,

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And for the holy maidens     Who feed the eternal flame, To save them from false Sextus     That wrought the deed of shame?251

These were lines to thrill the hearts of patriots, and these were lines which generations of English schoolboys learned. The Lays glowed ‘with a feeling of popular patriotism, and a sense of the unity of Roman culture secured by wise laws and popular institutions’.252 Once again the national and the imperial could be intimately interlinked as Rome defeated its external foes and consolidated its own polity. As always, the national and the imperial were rooted in the familial, and the ballad form gave Macaulay licence to stray into uncharted waters since he fantasised about the intended rape of a virtuous maiden. ‘Virginia’ told the story of Appius Claudius, an odious patrician, whose eyes lit upon a beautiful and innocent plebeian schoolgirl. Determined to possess her, he had her seized and she was only saved from rape by death at the hand of her heartbroken father. This was an act which roused the people of Rome to resist their oppressors, for men must defend the honour of their women, their wives, sisters and daughters: Thou that would make our maidens slaves must first make slaves of men.

Macaulay evoked the love of the father for his daughter: The sweet, sweet love of daughter, of sister, and of wife, The gentle speech, the balm for all that his vexed soul endures, The kiss in which he half forgets even such a yoke as yours . . . Oh! how I loved my darling! Though stern I sometimes be, To thee thou knowst I was not so. Who could be so to thee? And how my darling loved me . . .253

Macaulay’s nephew was convinced that these lines were redolent of his love for Baba, Hannah’s child.254 Eliza Conybeare, who knew Baba, remembered Macaulay reciting it to them and breaking down ‘when he came to her father’s address to her before her death. He sobbed aloud.’ They knew that all his ‘passionate love’ for his niece had been ‘translated into that passage’.255 Virginia was the innocent Victorian heroine of melodrama. It was the threat to her that led to plebeian violence and demonstrated the intimate connection between public and private worlds.

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Once back in England, Macaulay could speak with new authority on imperial issues as an experienced colonial legislator. Any site of empire might require intervention from the imperial parliament. As Secretary at War, he was called upon to defend ministerial conduct in relation to the First Opium War with China in April 1840. His Indian experience was to the fore, reminding his listeners of the impossibility of ruling India or Canton from London; decisions had to be made on the ground. China was ‘covered by a veil’, far more opaque than India, and only the most general policy guidelines could be laid down in London. The issue had nothing to do, he insisted, with whether the opium trade was pernicious. The issue was that English men, women and children had been wrongfully persecuted according to the instructions of the Imperial Commissioner, a man ‘utterly ignorant of the relative position of his country and ours in the scale of power and civilisation’. An English gentleman had been ‘barbarously mutilated’, ‘Women with child, babies at the breast’ attacked, and ‘Our Lascars, people of a different colour from ours, but still our fellow-subjects were flung into the sea.’ This could not go unpunished. ‘The liberties and lives of Englishmen are at stake: and it is fit that all nations, civilised and uncivilised, should know that, wherever the Englishman may wander, he is followed by the eye and guarded by the power of England.’ In a patriotic peroration to the power of the British flag he reminded his audience of the great traditions of England, in humbling the Dey of Algiers, avenging the victims of the Black Hole, insisting that the ‘name of Englishman’ should be as ‘as much respected as ever had been the name of Roman citizen’.256 The rhetoric was powerful, though the reality for lascars, who knew that their black bodies could warrant different treatment from that meted out to white seamen, was that they knew only too well that they were not Englishmen. In March 1843, no longer in government, he made a vitriolic party political attack on the Tory Lord Ellenborough’s conduct as Governor-General of India. Ellenborough had ordered the restoration of the Gates of the Hindu Temple of Somnath, seized long before by Muslim invaders, which the British had captured in Afghanistan. Macaulay was outraged by the insult to Muslims, a minority in India, but ‘a united, a zealous, an ambitious, a warlike class’, whose importance, he insisted, was way out of proportion to their numbers.257 Hinduism, he declared, was a pernicious religion, dangerous to ‘the moral and intellectual health of our race’, all was ‘hideous, and grotesque and ignoble’. Their ‘odious theology’ encouraged superstition, prostitution and criminality.258 Without British intervention, widows would still be burnt. In an unusual panegyric to Christianity, speaking, as he said, ‘merely as a politician anxious for the morality and the temporal well-being

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of society’, he celebrated ‘that religion which has done so much to promote justice, and mercy, and freedom, and arts, and sciences, and good government, and domestic happiness, which has struck off the chains of the slave, which has mitigated the horrors of war, which has raised women from servants and playthings into companions and friends’. Reforming zeal had effected much. But the rule had always been that the temples should be left to the natives, and now Ellenborough had broken this rule, taking the gates from a ‘Mahometan mosque’ and solemnly offering them ‘as a gift to a pagan temple’. This was a serious political blunder, he maintained, made worse by Ellenborough’s ‘detestable rhetoric’ in his proclamation. ‘One might as well ask’, he continued, Why Lord Ellenborough should not sit cross-legged, why he should not let his beard grow to his waist, why he should not wear a turban, why he should not hang trinkets all about his person, why he should not ride about Calcutta on a horse jingling with bells and glittering with false pearls?

He contrasted this foolish aping of native princes with the sober conduct of Sir Charles Metcalfe (a former Acting Governor-General). ‘Our plain clothing’, he maintained, ‘commands far more reverence than all the jewels which the most tawdry zaminder wears’, just as ‘our plain language’ carried far more weight than ‘florid diction’. Plain language and plain clothing, he asserted, are inseparably associated in the minds of our subjects with superior knowledge, with superior energy, with superior veracity, with all the high and commanding qualities which erected, and which still uphold, our empire.259

The sahib must be clearly distinguished from the native: his clothing, his speech, his accommodation, his forms of domesticity, his conduct – all clarified the space between the ruler and the ruled. Ellenborough’s style, his emulation of Mughal emperors, was ‘an eccentric folly’, demonstrating that he was ‘quite unfit for public trust’.260 This was Macaulay the Whig politician, criticising Tory retreats from Anglicisation and a liberal reforming agenda. He knew India and could speak from experience. Macaulay admired Metcalfe, a moderate Whig and close ally of Bentinck, and wrote the inscription for the statue erected after his death in 1846. He had acted in the ‘three greatest dependencies of the British crown’, was held

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in ‘honourable remembrance’ in India, had calmed ‘evil passions’ in Jamaica and ‘reconciled contending factions’ in Canada.261 This was a career to be proud of in Macaulay’s book; he was a man who could be represented as having stabilised imperial power. Despite Metcalfe’s calming of ‘evil passions’ in Jamaica, however, the question of West Indian sugar duties remained highly controversial in the metropole. Long ago Zachary had argued against protection for West Indian sugar. In the wake of emancipation, however, abolitionist commitment to free trade was cut across by the desire to protect the sugar now produced by the emancipated from the slave-produced sugar of Brazil, Cuba and the US. The antislavery movement split on this issue. Macaulay was on the side of free trade. His speech in 1845 reasserted his antislavery credentials with an attack on the particularly horrible practices of the Southern states of the US, where slaves were being bred for sale. This was the slave trade in its worst form, to his mind, and it was ‘a trade as regular as the trade in pigs between Dublin and Liverpool, or as the trade in coals between the Tyne and the Thames’.262 Slavery in the US was peculiarly horrible, for it was rooted in ‘the antipathy of colour’. At the same time, however, he was defending the right to buy slave-grown sugar on free trade grounds. In Eric Williams’s judgement this was ‘perhaps the greatest single speech ever made on the slavery question . . . It was a masterpiece of clarity and lucidity, befitting a great historian. It had one defect: it was pro-slavery and not anti-slavery.’263 Richard Huzzey reads these sentiments differently. ‘A focus on the ways in which free traders incorporated anti-slavery concerns into their doctrine’, he suggests, ‘reveals new aspects of the moral dimensions to Victorian political economy.’ ‘Free traders by reducing or removing the disparity between foreign and West Indian sugar promised moral progress as well as cheaper sugar’, since both poor whites and the enslaved would be better off.264 Antislavery had become the orthodoxy for all. But that orthodoxy could mislead. Macaulay opposed distinctions based on colour, a position that he consistently maintained, but undermined on the basis of culture and history. The ‘gibberish of the negroes of Jamaica’ was a painful reminder of the differences between freed slaves and Englishmen, yet, as he had noted in the ‘Minute’, benighted West Indian negroes had access to English literature, access to civilisation.265 That civilising process might take many moons, but there was nothing to prevent it legally. The job of liberal reformers was to remove restraints on individual freedom and to ensure access to the rule of law. Inequalities of gender, of race, and of ethnicity were not their concern, for they were universalists. Exclusion and equality were wedded together in the liberal imperial state.266 Macaulay had

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felt himself bound in the past, as ‘a British legislator’, whatever the cost to himself and his constituents, ‘to remove a foul stain from the British laws, and to redress the wrongs endured by persons who, as British subjects, were placed under my guardianship’. But once slavery was ended in the British Empire he no longer felt the same responsibility. Now ‘the guardianship’ must be exercised in other ways. ‘As for the blacks in the United States, I feel for them, God knows’, but his first loyalty now must be to his countrymen, and preferential duties were not in their interests. Britain should not sit in judgement on the US, it was up to citizens there to press for abolition. ‘The great struggle for negro freedom’ had been won in Britain: the nation had indeed been cleansed. This was the legacy of his father’s generation and it had freed his generation. With slavery gone, race, in his mind, was a problem that belonged elsewhere. Race only came into play when equated with slavery, its marker skin colour. Yet he utilised the category of race frequently in relation to both Ireland and the empire, connoting cultures, nations, peoples and sometimes skin. He racialised difference. His assertion that the problem of race belonged elsewhere entailed an act of disavowal. In 1853 Macaulay amused himself by composing an April fool for Hannah. Harriet Beecher Stowe, the celebrated author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was visiting England. He had read the book and found it ‘powerful’ but ‘disagreeable’, ‘open to numerous objections when considered as a moral and political work’.267 Beecher Stowe was the subject of much sharp-edged hilarity for both him and the Trevelyans. ‘Wrote a letter to make H an April fool – how Mrs Beecher Stowe had come to my Chambers and invited herself to lunch tomorrow – how she had brought with her a parson – a man of colour – the Rev. Caesar Ugbark and his – wife etc etc’, he recorded.268 On seeing her at the Duchess of Sutherland’s grand reception in her honour, with ‘the superb Duchess most gracious to me’, he judged her ‘an ugly commonplace woman’, whose husband was ‘a charlatan’ and whose brother was ‘a bore’. She deserved praise, however, for not losing her head in the face of her celebrity.269 After meeting her at dinner a few days later, he was able to patronise her as ‘simple and sensible’.270 She, after all, was only a woman novelist, while he was a great historian. The following year he read her Sunny Memoirs of Foreign Lands and was enraged by her ‘foolish impertinent’ remarks about him. What a fool she must be, he reflected, to be taken in by Joseph Sturge, a dunce, one of the world’s ‘greatest asses’. He was sorry that he had ever met her.271 Sturge was a leading Birmingham Quaker abolitionist and radical, connected by marriage to the Croppers, and, therefore, the Macaulays. He was one of the ‘negrophiles’ that Macaulay could not

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abide, connected to the hated Exeter Hall, and back to his father. Sturge’s sins were numerous, his Quakerism and his Chartist sympathies aligning him with all that Macaulay detested. ‘I hate slavery from the bottom of my soul’, Macaulay recorded in his journal in 1858, ‘and yet I am made sick by the cant and the silly mock reasons of the Abolitionists . . . the nigger driver and the negrophile – are two odious things to me.’272 Like Dickens, who, he judged, ‘hated slavery as heartily as I do’, Macaulay hated slavery as an institution because it was the antithesis of the freedom he valued so highly.273 Yet, again like Dickens, he felt only contempt for Africans and their defenders.274 As John Stuart Mill ruefully observed in later years, the sons of abolitionists rarely shared the passions of their fathers.275 Zachary had devoted his life to the abolition of the slave trade and slavery. For Tom, slavery was a denial of human freedom and as such should be opposed, but freed slaves were not ‘like us’. The experience of empire was critical to both father and son. Both believed in a progressive imperial state, but one through the mediating power of Christianity, the other with a secular vision. They shared a conviction that the human family was descended from common stock, but racial hierarchies were in the order of things. Cultural differences could in theory be overcome, but delineating those differences opened up the scale of the heights to be climbed for those rescued from, or still locked in, barbarism. The liberal reforming vision of empire espoused by Tom rested on a contradiction: a formal and legalistic universalism was underpinned by an acceptance of inequality – whether of race, ethnicity, class or gender – as the necessary foundation for any stable society. Skin colour was irrelevant to appointments in the Indian Civil Service, yet Indians were never ready for these senior appointments. A legal code should provide access to the rule of law for all British subjects, but difference was evoked in the Code. European historians were writing a universal history, one which assumed colonial rule was the only route to modernity for ‘others’. ‘Indian history’ meant only British India. Representative government was for Britain; India should be ruled despotically in order to deliver liberties. In practice it continued to be ruled by the sword. Tom Macaulay’s multiple interventions in the politics of race and empire, from his personal practice amongst family and friends to his first speeches, his actions as a colonial legislator, a history man, a popular poet, and a Whig politician – all articulated the significance of the space of difference, the gap between imperial men and their colonised others. That space of difference structured the national history that he set out to write.

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†i¢

The History Man Making Up a Nation

M

acaulay began writing his history in 1839 but his engagement with politics throughout the 1840s meant that the first two volumes were not published until December 1848, the end of that momentous year. They were an extraordinary success, rivalling the works of Scott, Byron and Dickens, the bestsellers of Macaulay’s lifetime. The next two volumes were published in December 1855 and were again a phenomenon. The final volume only appeared posthumously. His experience in India had clarified his thinking on the differences between metropole and colony. In his years in government and opposition he was exercised by the challenges of Chartism and of Ireland – both of which threatened social and political stability and raised questions as to the relation between citizens and subjects. As MP for Edinburgh, issues of Scotland’s relation to Britain as a multiethnic kingdom inevitably surfaced: full assimilation was not possible; the Scots were not really English in the way he was. How was difference to be contained in a successful United Kingdom? Political incorporation alongside the domination of English cultural values might be a way forward. His emotional life was calmer with Hannah and her family securely in place, but much energy went into maintaining an ordered life which would enable him to keep troubling emotions at bay. He was safely in London – ‘at home’ in his bachelor chambers and his metropolitan ways of being. His writing was increasingly at the centre of his preoccupations – the contribution he could make to the Whig project of discerning and leading national feeling, governing with consent – as well as a way of sustaining himself. ‘We are not antiquaries’ ‘How strange a thing is literary immortality’, Tom, aged twenty-one, had written to Zachary; Buonaparte had done no more than ‘force the often

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reluctant service of a few thousand hands for ten or twelve years’. Yet Homer had ‘through six and twenty centuries . . . influenced the feelings, interested the sympathies, governed and fixed the standard of taste of vast and enlightened empires’.1 The chances of immortality were much greater as a literary man than as a politician and Macaulay’s aim, with his history writing, was indeed to secure immortality. ‘I have aimed high’, he wrote in his journal on 4 December, after the initial stunning success of the first two volumes of his History. ‘I have tried to do something that may be remembered; I have had the year 2000, and even the year 3000, often in my mind; I have sacrificed nothing to temporary fashions of thought and style . . .’.2 The ‘great men’ that Macaulay lived with in his imagination and hoped to emulate were the giants of West European culture. Homer, Herodotus and Thucydides, Tacitus, Livy and Cicero, Dante and Shakespeare, Milton and Burke: these were his ‘home boys’, his daily companions and points of reference. All men, and all dead white ‘men of genius’, it was their writings and their minds that occupied his thoughts and shaped his ambitions. His contemporaries, both on the continent and at home, were dismissed. Guizot was too abstract, Michelet shallow, Thiers was no good. The truth was, he confided to his journal, ‘that I admire no historians except Herodotus, Thucydides and Tacitus’. ‘There is good no doubt’, he continued, ‘in Hume, Robertson, Voltaire and Gibbon. Yet it is not the thing. I have a conception of history more just, I am confident, than theirs.’3 What, then, was his conception of history? As recent scholarship has stressed, classical understandings of history had been disrupted in the eighteenth century by commerce and the development of a middle-class reading public. Much attention has focused on the novel, but history writing was changing too, as historians expanded their remit and experimented with new forms. Politics and the military were no longer in undisputed command as writers, readers and publishers responded to the new interest in society and sentiment. As Mark Salber Phillips argues, ‘historical understanding structured and was in turn structured by a historically dynamic literary system’.4 At the same time the discontinuities associated with epochal changes – the American Revolution, the French Revolution, industrial and urban developments – brought a new historical consciousness into being, an awareness of the contrast between past and present. The historical and literary relativism that emerged at the end of the eighteenth century, associated particularly with Scott, depicted the past as another country, ‘a domain distinct in place and time shaped by its own social, cultural, and political stresses’.5 A huge appetite for history, manifest in the plethora of historical representations of every kind, bore witness to

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the ways in which historical imaginings could enable audiences to situate themselves more comfortably in the present, mourn the certainties of the past, and engage with the terrors associated with violent and rapid change.6 Histories were written in a variety of forms, from political narratives, discourses on manners and customs, literary histories and novels, to poetry, biography, antiquarian collections, family memoirs and works for children. They were written by men and women, and the genres, far from being fixed, were unstable and shifting, with authors paying constant attention to questions of audience and readership. The uncertain boundaries between history and fiction, the elite and the popular, the individual consumer and collective reading practices, were some of the unsettling yet exciting elements that characterised the literary marketplace in the early nineteenth century. Macaulay had been thinking historically from childhood, and throughout his life he wrote history in a variety of genres. The ‘Compendium of Universal History’ that the eight-year-old had penned, to his mother’s delight, was just one example of a historical consciousness born of an intimate knowledge of the King James Bible and his parents’ Evangelical providentialism, an awareness in a highly politicised household of the dramas of revolution and reaction that had convulsed Europe, and a classical education with its focus on rhetoric and oratory. From his childhood Tom was fascinated by great historical men: Cromwell, Caesar, Napoleon, Wellington. Reflections on the delights of nature were not for him: ‘Men and manners, the camp, the court, the city, and the senate’, he declared aged fifteen, ‘are the subjects which interest and enchant my vulgar taste.’7 Issues of war and politics, he had learned at school, were the things worth writing about – and it was men who engaged in them. But men and manners could exercise the imagination in varied ways and his early writerly efforts, from essays, fragments of Roman tales, imaginary dialogues between historical figures, to poetic epics, bore witness to the ways in which different genres could explore different aspects of the historical imagination. Macaulay learned to think historically. History was his medium, and living much of his life in the past and in books became a strategy for dealing with loss and pain. From his earliest years, retreating into the realm of the imagination was a form of avoidance as well as a source of pleasure. If his mother was too busy with another baby, or he was being bullied at school, he could be a king in his own room, with his books for company. As a young man his walks around London were peopled by figures of the past. ‘History is in my mind soon constructed into romance’, he told Margaret. From childhood his mind and imagination had been touched and filled by the study of history. ‘With a person of this turn of mind’, she recorded him as saying,

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the minute touches are of as great interest, and perhaps greater than the most important events . . . spending so much time as I do in solitude, my mind would have rusted in gazing vacantly at shop windows. As it is, I am no sooner in the streets than I am in Greece, in Rome, in the midst of the French Revolution.

It was vital to him to get the facts, the details, correct. ‘A slight fact, a sentence, a word, are of importance in my romance. Pepys’s Diary formed almost inexhaustible food for any imagination.’ He knew every inch of Whitehall, could weave tales of the revolution as he wandered around Paris.8 This was the daydreaming and castle-building that he later recognised as so central to his craft. But the daydreams must be rooted in verifiable truths. As Margaret noted, both she and Tom were ‘imaginative, not romantic’.9 In his early writings on history, Tom was the young polemicist, certain of what he thought, influenced by the Edinburgh Reviewers with their preoccupation with the social, and with manners and customs. The ancient historians continued to provide the benchmarks. The ‘simple and imaginative mind’ of Herodotus, ‘reminding us of a delightful child’, he wrote in 1828, could be distinguished from the ‘high, grave, impartial summing up of Thucydides’. ‘History proper’ was in danger of disappearing. Historians were neglecting the art of narration. They were too concerned with what they wrongly defined as the ‘dignity of history’, to deal with the changes of manners and morals, transitions from poverty to wealth, the vital events that took place in schools, churches and homes, the ‘noiseless revolutions’ that transformed a social world. Historians needed to look beyond ‘the surface of affairs’ and think of what was going on underneath, see ‘ordinary men as they appear in their ordinary business and their ordinary pleasures . . . mingle in the crowds of the exchange and the coffee-house . . . obtain admittance to the convivial table and the domestic hearth’. ‘The perfect historian’, he concluded, is he in whose work the character and spirit of an age is exhibited in miniature. He relates no fact, he attributes no expression to his character, which is not authenticated by sufficient testimony. But, by judicious selection, rejection and arrangement, he gives to truth those attractions which have been usurped by fiction . . . He shows us the court, the camp, and the senate. But he shows us also the nation.

A ‘truly great historian would reclaim those materials which the novelist has appropriated’ and feed both reason and imagination. Writing should be

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vivid and practical, ‘not merely traced on the mind but branded into it’. And Englishmen could be great historians, for England had its own characteristic history: ‘classical associations and great names of our own which we can confidently oppose to the most splendid of ancient times . . . Our liberty is neither Greek nor Roman; but essentially English.’10 By the 1840s ‘ordinary men’ and ‘the vital events’ taking place in ‘schools, churches and homes’ were to figure minimally in his History, driven out by high affairs of state and constitution, the preoccupations of the ancients, and by the emotional closures he had effected, the narrowing of his mind. But the judicious responsibilities of the historian, the balancing of reason and imagination, the importance of narration, the need to ‘brand on the mind’, the significance of ‘noiseless revolutions’, and the idea of history as central to the specificity of English national life, all informed his mature history writing. The classical historical vision was that of a universal human nature. Macaulay, writing at a critical moment in nineteenth-century European nation building, was emphatically an Englishman, whose nationalism sat uneasily with his universalism and who would write a national history for the English people that would be read globally.11 A second essay in 1828, and once again published in the Edinburgh Review, reviewed Henry Hallam’s Whig account of the English constitution in the long seventeenth century. The influence of Macaulay’s mentor, Francis Jeffrey, the editor of the Edinburgh Review, was apparent. Jeffrey believed that power rested with public opinion and that historians should consider not only public events, but the changes occurring in the character of the people. Commerce, manners, education, wealth, occupation, religion: all were important in shaping the character both of the nation and of individuals. Jeffrey saw memoirs, letters and diaries as providing significant insights, while literature could illuminate habits and manners.12 Macaulay was later to pride himself on his use of such sources, as well as ballads, broadsides and other ephemera. History should be ‘a compound of poetry and philosophy’, he argued, impressing ‘general truths’ by vivid representations of characters and incidents. ‘Good histories’, he declared, ‘we have not.’ There were ‘good historical romances’ and ‘good historical essays’, but a separation had taken place between imagination and reason, both of which were necessary elements to any ‘good history’. History had become too anatomical and driven by theory rather than facts. Historians should make the past present . . . bring the distant near . . . place us in the society of a great man or on the eminence which overlooks the field of a mighty battle . . . call up our ancestors before us with all their peculiarities of

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language, manners, and garb . . . show us over their houses . . . seat us at their tables . . . rummage their old-fashioned wardrobes . . .

‘These parts of the duty which properly belong to the historian have been appropriated by the historical novelist’, he argued. Yet history was not fiction, for the historian aimed also to tell the truth, to make judgements, ‘to trace the connexions of causes and effects’, and draw ‘general lessons of moral and political wisdom’.13 Historians needed to learn from Scott, with whose novels Macaulay was deeply familiar, and capture once again the art of narration. But, as he argued in his critique of Mill’s abstract theorising in his Essay on Government, evidence must be sifted, generalising done with care, theories always tested against facts rather than the other way around. It was experience that provided the key to understanding the world: what could be seen, heard and felt, verified by common sense. In Calcutta, despite long days spent on colonial governance, he wrote his essay on Mackintosh, again reflecting on the art of history writing. Comparing Mackintosh’s history of the revolution of 1688 with that of Fox, which Wilberforce long ago had reviewed in the Christian Observer, bemoaning its secular stance, Macaulay noted that the two men shared ‘one eminent qualification for writing history: they had spoken history, acted history, lived history’. ‘The turns of political fortune, the ebb and flow of popular feeling, the hidden mechanism by which parties are moved’: all these were the subject of their constant preoccupation.14 Gibbon had understood that his experience in the militia and in the House of Commons had contributed to his success as a historian. Macaulay welcomed Mackintosh’s comparative thinking which made it possible to see England anew, along with his calm and impartial judgements, but perhaps there was ‘too much disquisition and too little narrative’. ‘The diligence, the accuracy and the judgement of Hallam, united to the vivacity and colouring of Southey’ would make a wonderful combination. ‘A history of England’, he reflected, ‘written throughout in this manner, would be the most fascinating book in the language. It would be more in request at the circulating libraries than the last novel.’ It was not the business of the historian ‘to create new worlds, and to people them with new races of beings’. Rather, his task – and it was always a he – was to select from the plethora of evidence in such a way as to ‘produce the effect of the whole’, bring out ‘characteristic features’, throw ‘light and shade’ in such a way as to heighten effects. Here was Macaulay’s injunction to himself, to combine reason and imagination and capture the new reading public. Mackintosh and Mill together provided models of what history writing should be, for they saw the question of progress as central. Mill’s History of

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British India, lauded by Macaulay, had abandoned ‘synthetical arguments’ and ‘traced the progress of sound opinions from their embryo state to their full maturity’. For Mill there was one path which all nations followed on the journey to civilisation, and one standard of judgement: utility – one path, one history, a universal history. ‘Our creed’, Macaulay wrote, is that ‘the science of government is an experimental science’ and was ‘generally in a state of progression’. ‘We are wiser than our ancestors’, and we believe that our descendants will be wiser than ourselves. Men of the past should not be judged by the present, but the question should be whether they were going in the right direction. ‘Did they exert themselves to help onward the great movement of the human race, or to stop it?’ This was how history should be written, for ‘the history of England is emphatically the history of progress’.15 Writing from India, Macaulay was able to reflect on ‘home’ from the outside; he could interpret the space of difference that he saw between India and England, and the process whereby England had become what it was. At the beginning of the twelfth century English society had been ‘more miserable than the state in which the most degraded nations of the East now are’. But, ‘in the course of seven centuries the wretched and degraded race have become the greatest and most highly civilised people that ever the world saw, have spread their dominion over every quarter of the globe, have scattered the seeds of mighty empires and republics’; the English had exercised maritime power, developed the science of healing, excelled in mechanical arts, manufacture and literature, and had become ‘the acknowledged leaders of the human race’ on questions of political improvement. The history of England was ‘the history of this great change in the moral, intellectual, and physical state of the inhabitants of our own island’. This was a wonderful story, from Domesday Book to Magna Carta, the Civil War and the Revolution of 1688. ‘Each of these ever-memorable struggles’, he reflected, Saxon against Norman, Villein against Lord, Protestant against Papist, Roundhead against Cavalier, Dissenter against Churchman, Manchester against Old Sarum, was, in its order and season, a struggle, on the result of which were staked the dearest interests of the human race . . .16

This had become his conception of history: it was a tale of progress. Scottish Enlightenment historians profoundly influenced Tom Macaulay, as they had his father. The philosophical historians, most notably Hume, dealt with public affairs and public men and were recognisably in the classical narrative tradition, but they were also interested in the more systematic treatment of the social. They wanted to move towards general truths and

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methods, and ‘by appealing as far as possible to the most general causes, philosophical history constitute[d] itself as a kind of universal history, encompassing (potentially) not only the fullest chronologies and geographies, but also the widest range of human experience in society’.17 Hume believed that changes in society meant changes in government, for all government was founded on opinion, and consequently the history of the human mind was crucial. And Hume was ‘a felt presence for every subsequent historian of England’.18 He demonstrated the ways in which commerce and manufacture had gradually introduced order and good government, incorporated notions of progress and the value of constitutional innovation, characterised liberty as a modern phenomenon, and desired moderation and political stability. For him, the progress of civil society was a general European phenomenon. Similarly, William Robertson, the historian of Europe and the Americas, looked to the ‘common European frame of meaning’.19 Smith, John Millar and Mackintosh, Colin Kidd argues, were necessarily preoccupied with Scotland’s place in stadial thinking. They saw the assimilation of backward Scottish feudal institutions into those of modern England as part of a universal process of modernisation. Yet Hume ended up writing a history of England, not of Britain, for it was England which represented modernity and ‘Scotland’s “national” history was “provincialised” by her historical sociologists’.20 Conjectural and comparative history, with its investigation of the fundamental principles of human nature, had shaped Macaulay’s thinking from the 1820s. The division of labour was seen as the primary cause of social progress, defining the stages from a hunting, to a pastoral, then agricultural, then commercial economy and society. Comparative thinking on manners and morals were part of this approach, just as it had been for Zachary in Sierra Leone, including reflections on ‘rude’ as compared with ‘refined’ societies, and a focus on the status of women as an indicator of a society’s level of civilisation. The conjectural historians sought fundamental underlying principles in their wide-ranging investigations of the history of man. Dugald Stewart, a vital influence on the Edinburgh Reviewers and a teacher of Scottish social theory at the University of Edinburgh, was a key intermediary. His Edinburgh courses, ranging from the study of common-sense philosophy to political economy, included a description of conjectural history, the suggestion that ‘in the absence of evidence about the early states of society, conjecture might have to take its place, in speculating how men were likely to have proceeded’ given their nature and external circumstances.21 There were similarities between the practices and beliefs of contemporary primitive peoples and those recorded in the past. ‘History’,

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wrote Mackintosh, ‘is now a museum in which specimens of every variety of human nature may be studied’.22 Different societies at different times might be at essentially the same stage of social development, while societies coexisting in time might represent ‘rude’ or ‘refined’ stages, respectively. Stewart was less interested in conjectural history after 1800 and focused more on the novelty of the modern world, common-sense moral philosophy, and progress. The relativist aspects of conjectural history had a declining appeal as more fixed notions of the categories of race and gender, found in both Stewart and Jeffrey, became more prevalent.23 But one of the legacies of comparative and conjectural approaches for Macaulay, ways of thinking that became more entrenched and racialised through his Indian experience, was the way he frequently drew upon pejorative references to exemplify barbarism: Turks, Muslims, Hottentots, Mohawks and Malays were all employed to mark the differences between England, Scotland and Ireland. In characterising liberty as a modern phenomenon Hume had broken the notion of an ancient immemorial constitution. The Whigs needed to establish a new line of descent. John Millar’s An Historical View of the English Government, published posthumously in 1803, challenged Hume’s politics but shared much of his historiographical approach. Mill admired Millar, and for the subsequent generation, including Macaulay’s mentor Jeffrey, conjectural history could be combined with a respect for continuity and a Whiggish and reforming, but not revolutionary, politics. Fox, Hallam and Mackintosh, the three Whig historians who preceded Macaulay, were all preoccupied with the seventeenth century, and particularly 1688, the ‘Glorious Revolution’. This focus on 1688 was hardly surprising. If the settlement of 1688 was not to mark an ending, a final resolution of the struggles between the crown and parliament, then further change had to be legitimated. From the 1790s the Whigs periodically sought to reform parliament and extend the franchise. Scottish Enlightenment notions of progress, combined with Burke’s focus on tradition as change in continuity, became, as John Burrow puts it, ‘the woof and warp of all those nineteenth-century interpretations of history which . . . may safely, if loosely, be described as Whig interpretations’.24 A ‘Whig compromise’, in Burrow’s term, was developed, partly in response to the challenge of Hume and the cosmopolitanism of the Enlightenment historians, for the English Whig historians saw English history as exceptional, not part of a pan-European pattern. They developed a narrative of the rise of the constitution in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, initially imperfect but with its central features in place: a limited monarchy, kings unable to tax or legislate without parliament, and the sovereignty of the law. Constitutional progress was a matter of affirming

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and securing already existing liberties. Burke was significant for his belief that all great revolutions could have been avoided by compromise, and for his development of the English common law tradition, a sequence of precedents which marked a ‘flexible, creative and enriching process’.25 These were the interpretations upon which Macaulay built. The essay on Mackintosh was finished very shortly before Macaulay heard of Margaret’s death, having already suffered the trauma of Hannah’s marriage. In the months of terrible grief that followed, he reread the classics, finding comfort in the poetry and the tragedy. His much fingered copy of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, read in the four hours before breakfast, was spattered with his blood from his barber’s razor.26 ‘There never was a historian, ancient or modern, who could bear a comparison with Thucydides’s, he told Ellis. He had found himself enchanted by Tacitus’s History, but then, when he compared it with Thucydides, he saw how ‘tame’ it looked next to the ‘magnificent light and the terrible shade’ of the latter.27 Literature, as he had told Ellis, had saved his life and his reason. He had begun to recover his spirits, helped by the birth of his little niece who gave him new hope, but still, ‘in the intervals of business’, he was never without a book in his hand, some way of burying himself in another world to escape the terrors of the present. He was seriously thinking of abandoning politics and undertaking ‘some great historical work which may be at once the business and the amusement of my life’.28 Thucydides was a master of the history of men, of war and of politics. Macaulay both assimilated and distanced himself from the classical tradition in his History. Herodotus had articulated the great theme of Athenian liberty versus Eastern despotism, of frugality, hardihood and valour as against luxury and timidity, of soft countries breeding weak men and having to suffer conquest.29 He learned much from Thucydides’ tone of judicious authority, his certainty, his lucidity, his mastery of narrative, his dislike of fanaticism and belief in moderation in the exercise of power, his sense that his work was done to last for ever. From Livy there was the notion of a constitution, accreted over time, modified piecemeal over a long period, a process to be understood historically rather than as a single foundational moment. Livy’s arousal of patriotic emotion, his magnificent narration of Rome’s rise and fall, his contemplation of ‘the past with yearning’, his anxieties about the present, provided another inspiration.30 And then came Tacitus, with his sense of Germanic courage and dignity, the dire threat the northern tribes presented to Rome in its decline, his literary brilliance, ‘the greatest painter of antiquity’.31 The ancient historians were both scholars and artists, writing effectively and persuasively, their histories epic and

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tragic, concentrating, though with digressions, on the events of public life, inculcating virtue and castigating vice, sharing a sense of the centrality of history to national life. The French Revolution had brought a shift in historiographical models and a move away from philosophical and conjectural history, with its synthetic and comprehensive aspirations, its ambitious set of questions about the social, the economic, the political and the cultural. The authority of abstract reason had been undermined and there was a shift of attention from the general to the specific, a new focus on detail and particularity, emphasis on the concrete, the individual, diversity, uniqueness and the organic alongside the recognition of the legitimate place of the literary imagination in historical writing. Yet there was often an unstable and complex mix. Scott, strongly influenced by philosophical history, was on the side of rational and commercial improvement, while simultaneously romanticising the Borders and the Highlands.32 He could transfix his readers with his historical novels, tales of individual and national transformation, as in Waverley, or the racial and cultural conflict between Saxons and Normans, resolved in Ivanhoe. Thomas Arnold could construct the nation’s history as a biography; Carlyle could chart the cycles and seasons of the mind of mankind.33 The debates over history writing and the instabilities of the existing models of history, whether philosophical or conjectural, narrative, fictional, romantic or dry as dust, allowed a range of women writers some limited space to intervene, drawing on both the gender discourses that allowed women influence, and the idea that ‘manners and customs’ were central to an understanding of levels of social development.34 Few women, however, dared to write using the formal model of history, and those who did, such as Catherine Macaulay or Mary Wollstonecraft, were attacked on the basis of their sex.35 Women were far more likely to tell history through fiction, biography or poetry. Debates over what history could or should include were rife, kickstarted by Scott’s historical fictions that had so destabilised the genre. Facts were one kind of historical truth, but facts were not always the key to history, and the capacity to illuminate moral truths might belong as much to the novelist or the poet as to the historian. The urge to make the past live again, as Bann argues, was central to the historical poetics of the early nineteenth century.36 Macaulay, building on this new historical sensibility, aimed to make the past present and bring the distant near while firmly maintaining the gendered boundaries of his subject. In his essays written during the 1830s and early 1840s Macaulay tested out and developed many of his ideas about the writing of history. Most of these essays were focused around great men, either literary or historical, for

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the man, he believed, could give access to an historical moment. The essays gave him a certain freedom, written as they were for the periodical press and not intended to last. Ideas could be experimented with, thoughts tried out. In his 1838 essay on Sir William Temple he even played with the idea of the historical significance of relations between the sexes, despite his relentlessly classical training that had hammered home the message that home and family were not the stuff of history. Thinking, perhaps, of the significance of his own letters to Margaret and Hannah as windows on his own life, he defended the use of Dorothy Osborne’s letters to Temple during their seven-year courtship as an important source. ‘To us surely’, he wrote, it is as useful to know how the young ladies of England employed themselves a hundred and eighty years ago, how far their minds were cultivated, what were their favourite studies, as to know all about the seizure of Franche Comte and the Treaty of Nimeguen. The mutual relations of the two sexes seem to us to be at least as important as the mutual relations of any two governments in the world; and a series of letters written by a virtuous, amiable, and sensible girl, and intended for the eye of her lover alone, can scarcely fail to throw some light on the relations of the sexes . . .

It was perfectly possible, he continued, as all who had done any historical research could attest, ‘to read bale after bale of despatches and protocols, without catching one glimpse of light about the relations of governments’.37 Sadly, his perception that the relations between the sexes were as significant as those between governments did not inform his writing of national history. His scope, when he came to write the history that he believed would make his name, was narrow. Critics have evaluated him both as a transitional figure, drawn to the old and the new, and as an example of the shift from tolerant eighteenth-century cosmopolitanism to nineteenth-century chauvinism.38 The stadial theories of the Enlightenment historians, which involved four levels of development, were by the early nineteenth century, as Karen O’Brien has argued, replaced by a theory reduced to two stages: the binary of barbarism versus civilisation.39 It was this binary that preoccupied Macaulay. Despite his stated commitment to writing the history of the whole nation, his major focus in the History became political: a repudiation, P. R. Ghosh argues, of the Enlightenment legacy in favour of ‘a thoroughgoing Thucydidean classicism’.40 Yet perhaps it was not so thoroughgoing. Macaulay addressed the modern, that preoccupation of the Enlightenment, and structured his history not only through a political narrative but through the ordering of categories of difference, a reconfiguration of stadial thought.

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Who was civilised and who was barbaric? Who was inside and who was outside? Who was a citizen and who was a subject? How should the boundaries of inside and outside, of nation and empire, be drawn? The order of things The decision to write a history had long been in his mind. It was both to immortalise himself and to secure the stable ordered nation with its empire in place, for which he longed. The nation has to be understood, in Benedict Anderson’s influential formulation, as an ‘imagined community’, one made possible by shared language and print culture.41 This was something that Macaulay entirely understood. He would use the English language that he loved, and the medium of print that he so valued for its capacity to educate public opinion, to cement national belonging through the knowledge of a shared history. By the second half of the eighteenth century, loyalty to the nation was an important means of legitimating European states. As dynasties fell, religious divisions seemed destined to stay, and as class divisions became increasingly significant, new forms of identification with the nation were critical.42 The revolutionary and Napoleonic wars made national particularities and histories an important method of challenging French universalism. While the German Romantic Herder believed that it was poetry and language that best expressed the soul of a nation, providing inspiration for Young Ireland, Macaulay saw constitutional progress and the securing of liberties – liberties that clearly had to be rethought as times changed – as crucial to the English nation and the defining of English character. The nation was at the centre of his thinking, and the national home, England, his desired place of safety. He could play his part in the Whig project of winning consent for the new historic bloc: the alliance of the progressive aristocracy with the middle class. Macaulay’s emotional experience, the traumas of maternal and sibling loss, the unmanageable grief that could erupt with particular sights or memories, meant that the retreat into books and an imaginative world of the past was a way of fending off depression and ‘blue devils’, keeping the unmanageable present at bay.43 Hannah and her children became his protofamily, and provided him with companionship and love. This made it possible for him to devote himself to his History, labour which provoked quite as much anxiety and pleasure as any child. The History sustained him and troubled him for nearly twenty years; it was the centre of his life, his creativity, the source of his riches, the solace in face of all the difficulties that he attempted to marginalise and contain by his writing. The characters he

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wrote could never answer back, abandon him as he felt his sisters had. Writing the History was the unique contribution that he could make, both for the nation and for himself. It occupied him, sometimes to the exclusion of all else, and gave him an identity. He became the bestselling popular historian of England and knew himself as a ‘man of genius’.44 It made him more contented, able to envisage himself in his annual birthday audits as having a good life. The decision to write the History was made in India, a way, as Koditschek argues, to pursue ‘liberal imperial politics by other means’.45 By the time he returned to England he had a sufficient income to live comfortably and support needy siblings. He had saved much of his salary, and a legacy from Uncle Colin had secured a more than adequate ‘competence’ for an independent life. His father had died while he was on the ship returning from India, leaving him as undisputed head of the family, another aspect of his freedom. Now there was no further fear of disturbing Zachary’s different sensibility. The Trevelyans had returned with him in 1838, Charles taking the long leave due to him as a Company servant, while still young enough to lose the taint of Anglo-Indian life to become properly English.46 Macaulay dreaded the moment when the furlough would end; ‘his misery at the prospect of our return to India was the most painful and hourly trial’, Hannah recalled. He was immensely relieved when Trevelyan’s appointment at the Treasury was effected. ‘This made England our home for his life’, wrote Hannah, and ‘he could never speak of this without emotion’.47 Their almost daily contact, their holidays together, and Hannah’s unstinting support, were essential to his well-being. Every important decision was discussed with Hannah, but he knew it could never be an exclusive relationship: Trevelyan was always there. Hannah was his ideal woman: good-looking, well educated, intelligent, knowledgeable about political affairs, but primarily devoted to himself and her home and family; she was ‘very clever and plesant [sic]’, as he put it on one occasion.48 His other sisters, Selina and Fanny, paled in comparison. He did his duty by them, but felt little. Hannah cared for him when he was ill, acted as hostess for the breakfasts that he liked to have for his male friends, talked over any domestic problems, advised him on curtains, carpets and furnishings: her approval was crucial to him, her ‘excellent sense and . . . womanly tact’ invaluable.49 She was precious, but he knew he did not fully possess her. A very brief meeting at Bristol station as they crossed paths on one occasion made him weep: ‘I do love her’, he recorded, ‘but I tried to laugh.’50 He was terribly wounded if he ever felt any suggestion of neglect, terrified by any suggestions of illness, either in her or Baba; he worried when mother and daughter travelled

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together, suffered when they were away. The spectre of their near miss in a serious accident was ‘too horrible’; ‘I should have died or killed myself ’.51 As long as Hannah was there he felt safe. As the years went by he was relieved to feel more contented, but there was always the fear of abandonment and loss: ‘I feel painfully . . . there are lives on which my happiness depends’.52 And Margaret haunted him, his grief over her spilling forth when memories were evoked. Childhood remained a precious memory, an idealised time, recreated in his delight in his nieces and nephew. As Hannah recalled, ‘he was the only person I ever knew who never tired of their company’. When ‘they were quite little children . . . he would pass whole days . . . talking, joking, rhyming, capping verses . . . When absent he wrote to them constantly, often in large text hand, rhyming letters generally & never forgot to send a Valentine.’53 The children provided a safe place, though Baba’s marriage was painful. He knew he did not feel the loss as badly as Hannah. ‘I see that dear H suffers much,’ he recorded in his journal. ‘I pity her from my soul. I know what it is – I suffered as much or more. But nobody pitied me. What a scar that wound has left – unknown to anybody but myself.’54 But, of course, Hannah did know. She could never speak or think of the time of her marriage ‘without exquisite pain’. She knew he never recovered, that there was an ‘unhealed wound’.55 When they returned to England, they lived for the most part in separate establishments. ‘It was more easy for me to devote myself entirely to him when we were together than when we had one home & divided duties’, she recorded.56 This was what he needed: entire devotion. But this he could not entirely have. The children were Trevelyan’s, not his: he loved them as if they were his own, but they were not. As a beloved and generous, if taxing, uncle, he had many of the pleasures of paternity without the daily responsibilities. But it was Hannah’s devotion, and the presence of her family, which gave him the emotional stability to focus on the History. This emotional dependence on the woman who had not put him first had its other side – his misogyny. Macaulay had gone to India to get his independence, ‘and I have got it, and I will keep it’. He was ready to start writing, and the book was designed for ‘duration’. He could now write what he chose, his aim being to have ‘a considerable effect on the public mind’.57 On his visit to Rome in 1838, shortly after his return from India, he read Gibbon, hoping that the imperial city would inspire his history writing as it had inspired his great predecessor. He was ‘more and more in love’ with his subject and confident that ‘posterity will not willingly let my book die’.58 Roman antiquities provoked a passage in his Journal, rewritten for his essay on Ranke, in which he reflected on the

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cycles of imperial decline and wondered whether at some time in the future London would figure for some New Zealander (New Zealand was a place that had only recently entered the English imagination at this time) in the way that Rome now figured for him. He was struck by the beauty of the coast and wondered ‘how many great Romans, when Rome was what England is now’ would have loved to pass their holidays there. Britain’s imperial power was very present for him, structuring the distinction between ‘away’ and ‘at home’, providing the conditions for a distinctive nationhood, one which he would delineate in his history. Yet the disintegration of Roman civilisation was a vivid reminder of the fragility of apparently stable worlds. Was England’s dominance secure? Would order hold or anarchy threaten? His fears were rarely allowed to surface and much emotional work went into suppressing them: this was indeed part of the work of the History. Yet they would erupt: ‘All is quiet in appearance’, he recorded in his journal in 1850, ‘but yet I feel, I fear.’59 He knew his periodical writing had a ‘bold, dashing, scene-painting manner’ but now he aimed for something different. ‘The History’, (requiring a capital H), he told his friend Napier, the editor of the Edinburgh Review, was to cover the period from 1688 to 1832: ‘between the Revolution which brought the crown into harmony with the parliament and the revolution which brought the parliament into harmony with the nation’.60 (In the event, the History ended in 1701.) He was busy collecting materials on domestic life, he told Lady Holland, and he had found ‘more historical information in a small receipt-book than in a folio of diplomatic correspondence’. ‘I shall do my best’, he continued, ‘to place my readers in the England of the seventeenth century.’61 By July 1841, with the Whigs out of power and having comfortably settled in his bachelor quarters at the Albany, he reported to Ellis that he was delighted that he would now be able to get on with his writing.62 By November 1841 he had ‘at last begun my historical labours, I can hardly say with how much interest and delight. I really do not think there is in our literature so great a void as that which I am trying to supply.’ Even the educated, he was convinced, were ignorant of English history from 1688 to the French Revolution.63 ‘Literature is my vocation and not politics’, he wrote to Russell: his longings for political leadership were over.64 He had embarked on a life’s work and he hoped that within twelve to fifteen years he might be able to ‘produce something which I may not be afraid to exhibit side by side with the performances of the old masters’.65 This, however, would require a severe discipline. He must focus on the History alone, not risking the fate of ‘poor Mackintosh, who would have done something if he had concentrated his powers instead of frittering them away’.66

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At the time that he started his writing he was keeping a journal, a history of himself. The two projects sat side by side, two kinds of history writing. He kept the journals on and off between October 1838 and his death in December 1859. There are no entries between June 1840 and the end of 1848, a time when he was twice in the Whig cabinet and writing the first volumes of the History. There are long periods after that when he wrote little, either because he was preoccupied with his public life, or because his writerly imagination was totally absorbed in his History. In his earlier years, his letters to Hannah and Margaret had been his most intimate expressions of feeling. In the later years, long after the death of Margaret and when he was, for much of the time, in almost daily contact with Hannah, the journals provide the best insights we have into his states of mind. He loved to reread them to himself: ‘No kind of reading is so delightful, so fascinating’, he wrote, ‘as this minute history of a man’s self.’67 In November 1848, in the wake of the momentous events of that year, the first two volumes of the History were about to be published and he started to keep his journal again. He was in an optimistic frame of mind, greatly relieved at the failure of Chartist, Irish republican and continental revolutionary hopes, and convinced that his trust in reform as the antidote to revolution had once again been vindicated. But he was anxious as to what the reception of his work would be. He reread Herodotus and Thucydides, admiring the latter more and more: ‘He is the great historian’, he recorded. ‘The others one may hope to match – him never.’68 He enjoyed a dinner with his friend Ellis, of oysters, wild duck and macaroni, though it seems that lobster curry with champagne was possibly his favourite repast. Reading his own work alongside Thucydides was unnerving, but he comforted himself that only some of the books of the Greek historian were truly superior. As the praise started to flow in, he wondered whether he could trust it. The huge success of these first volumes, the prospect of riches, the ‘vehement and indiscriminate’ approbation, the fact that he could ‘remember no success so complete’, though he remembered the reception of ‘all Byron’s poems and all Scott’s novels’, in time brought its own anxieties.69 But as he began work on the next part of the history, he enjoyed his time in the British Museum, researching newspapers and tracts, finding his mind ‘transported back a century and a half ’, getting ‘familiar with the ways of thinking and the habits of a past generation’.70 The writing of these next volumes was not always enjoyable. He was anxious as to whether the second part could ever repeat the success of the first. Did ‘the subject admit of such vivid description and such exciting narrative’, he wondered.71 The triumph of 1688 was clear, but could the

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complex and fragmented narrative of court politics and war in the years that followed sustain the underlying claim that it was the late seventeenth century that had laid the foundations for current prosperity?72 His daydreams, ‘that strange habit’ to which he was convinced he owed much of his literary success, were critical to his historical imagination. They were associated with his long walks, then in later life sitting or standing by the fire.73 In periods of serious writing he decided it might be possible to cover two sheets of foolscap per day – this was his ‘task’. He was pleased with the Irish chapter, which he constructed after his visit there to explore the sites of his narrative, from Dublin to the battle of the Boyne. He read it to Hannah and her family, as he often did. Charles Trevelyan frequently fell asleep during these readings, a trying experience for the author. Fortunately Hannah and his favourite niece Margaret were always appreciative. A new book from the French historian Thiers provoked a triumphalist mood: Thiers was no good. But Macaulay’s anxious thoughts persisted: was he as good as he wanted to be? He recognised the privilege of his position – only writing when he felt like it and not needing the money – though he greatly enjoyed becoming a rich man and gleefully counted his riches. He knew that the ‘tangled events’ out of which he was trying to weave a narrative constituted ‘a work of time and thought’, and he did not despair.74 A ‘tough chapter’, involving events both on the continent and at home, provoked the reflection that ‘the art of transition’ was nearly as important to historians as to painters.75 He longed to make his book amusing, even when writing on such arcane subjects as the coinage. There were difficult days of ‘strange morbid inactivity’ when the only thing to do was to wait for a better frame of mind.76 He wanted glitter and emotional power in his writing, mirroring his own experience of great literature, as when the Iliad left him in tears on the Malvern Hills, ‘crying for Achilles cutting off his hair. Crying for Priam rolling on the ground in the courtyard of his house – mere imaginary beings, creatures of an old ballad maker who died near three thousand years ago.’77 His work should excite and move his readers, usually imagined as men, to whom he was teaching the lessons of history. As his health declined in the 1850s and he was often confined to home in the winters, his confidence in his capacities increasingly fluctuated: sometimes he was convinced that he was ‘the best’, at others he was fearful and apprehensive, his father’s critical eye deeply internalised. ‘What labour it is to make a tolerable book’, he wrote wearily on one occasion, and ‘how little readers know how much the ordering of the parts has cost the writer’.78 The History was both epic and romance. Macaulay’s historical writing was richly imaginative and had many of the qualities of fiction. ‘Instead of using

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facts of history to make fiction seem true, as a novelist does’, Firth argued, ‘he uses fiction to make historical events seem more real and less remote.’79 He wanted a form that ‘could enjoy the popularity of fiction and the dignity of truth’. Narrative, ‘the art of presenting pictures to the imagination’, was central to his work.80 There were plots and conspiracies, a cast of hundreds with numerous historical portraits, vivid scenes and stories, old-fashioned heroism and wicked villains, and great set-piece dramas – from Monmouth’s rebellion and the Bloody Assizes to the Siege of Londonderry [sic] and the Massacre of Glencoe. The range of tones, the emphatic rhythms of short sentences, the reiteration, the profusion of parallel clauses, the rhetorical questions and the constant antitheses, reminding readers that truth lay between extremes, were all distinctive aspects of Macaulay’s style.81 There were strong elements of melodrama, the play of good and evil, the promise that justice would triumph. At the same time the detail piled upon detail, the careful description of places, the use of footnotes to indicate sources, all contributed to the air of historical authenticity and verified the truth of the tales being told. For he aimed to place his readers inside the past, to recreate the experience. And history, after all, was ‘stranger than fiction’.82 His History, as William Thomas suggests, has affinities with Vanity Fair (which Macaulay liked): a great panoramic canvas, the process that made people ‘what they were’.83 But history was also intimately linked to politics and morality. Macaulay would guide his readers through the tangled thickets of his narrative – pointing to the morals, distinguishing between responsible and irresponsible actions, drawing lessons for the present. The effect was brilliant, a rhetorical triumph. How, then, was the History structured? What story did it tell? The structure was relatively simple, defined by a political chronology, yet mirroring the New Testament with its cycle of ‘the agony of the constitution followed by deliverance and partial renewal’.84 A grand introduction set the tone, announcing a great epic theme concerning the fate of the nation and providing a perspective from above.85 ‘I purpose to write . . . I shall recount the errors . . . I shall trace the course’: here was the authoritative voice of the historian placing himself in the centre of the frame, producing and delivering the narrative, telling his readers the history of ‘our country’. He would relate ‘the course of that revolution which terminated the long struggle between our sovereigns and their parliaments, and bound up together the rights of the people and the title of the reigning dynasty; and how, ‘under that settlement, the authority of law and the security of property were found to be compatible with a liberty of discussion and of individual action never before known’. It was from this ‘auspicious union of order and freedom’ that

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unparalleled prosperity sprang, and ‘our country, from a state of ignominious vassalage, rapidly rose to the place of umpire among European powers’. Her ‘opulence and her martial glory’ grew alongside the wonders of the Bank of England, a ‘gigantic commerce’ and maritime power. Scotland was united to England; the American colonies ‘became far mightier and wealthier’ than the Spanish; an empire as grand as that of Alexander was established in Asia. But the duty of the historian was to record disasters and ‘great national crimes’ as well as triumphs. Expansion brought abuses, ‘evils from which poor and rude societies are free’. In North America ‘imprudence and obstinacy . . . broke the ties to the parent state’. Ireland was ‘cursed by the domination of race over race and of religion over religion’. It ‘remained indeed a member of the empire, but a withered and distorted member, adding no strength to the body politic, and reproachfully pointed at by all who feared or envied the greatness of England’. Yet, he maintained, Unless I greatly deceive myself, the general effect of this chequered narrative will be to excite thankfulness in all religious minds, and hope in the breasts, of all patriots. For the history of our country during the last hundred and sixty years is eminently the history of physical, of moral, and of intellectual improvement.

He aimed to tell of battles and sieges, of parliament and kings, but also ‘the history of the people’, of art and religion, of manners and customs. He would ‘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’.86 Two introductory chapters provided the prehistory for 1688: the creation of the nation, the misuse of kingly power, the Civil War, the execution of Charles I, the Protectorate, the Restoration, the reign of Charles II. ‘Nothing in the early existence of Britain’, he began, ‘indicated the greatness which she was destined to attain.’87 Before the Great Charter, which heralded the beginnings of the history of the English nation, there were warring tribes at terrible odds with each other. ‘In no country’, he believed, ‘has the enmity of race been carried farther than in England. In no country has that enmity been more completely effaced . . . the hostile elements were melted down into one homogeneous mass.’ In the thirteenth century, ‘the origin of our freedom, our prosperity, and our glory’ were laid, ‘the great English people was formed’ with their peculiar national character, our fathers became ‘emphatically islanders’ with their constitution, their language and their literature. By the fourteenth century, ‘it was made manifest, by signs not to

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be mistaken, that a people inferior to none existing in the world had been formed by the mixture of three branches of the great Teutonic family with each other, and with the aboriginal Briton’. Then, for a century, the English, seized with a ‘passion of conquest’, tried to establish a great empire on the continent: ‘Every yeoman from Kent to Northumberland valued himself as a race born for victory and dominion’ and scorned the French.88 Meanwhile, two silent revolutions took place: the ending of the distinctions between Norman and Saxon, and those between master and slave, the villeinage of feudal society. The gradual development which was the mark of English history began: ‘no other society has yet succeeded in uniting revolution with prescription, progress with stability, the energy of youth with the majesty of immemorial antiquity’.89 Great constitutional principles limiting the power of the crown were established, making possible ‘the order of things under which we now live’.90 Then came the Reformation, with its significance for political and intellectual freedom. Catholicism had come to stunt the human mind: in Ireland, whoever passes ‘from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant county finds that he has passed from a lower to a higher grade of civilisation’.91 The Church of England marked a good compromise between Rome, with its attention to the senses and the imagination, and Geneva, with its focus on understanding. The accession of James VI and I was an important moment, for it was then ‘that both Scotland and Ireland became parts of the same empire with England’. Both were far behind England in wealth and civilisation: Scotland ‘kept back by the sterility of her soil’, while ‘the thick darkness of the middle ages still rested on Ireland’. The population of Scotland were of ‘the same blood’ as that of England, apart from the Celts in the Hebrides, while Ireland was Celtic. ‘In natural courage and intelligence’, he wrote, Both the nations which now became connected with England ranked high. In perseverance, in self-command, in forethought, in all the virtues which conduce to success in life, the Scots have never been surpassed. The Irish, on the other hand, were distinguished by qualities which tend to make men interesting rather than prosperous. They were an ardent and impetuous race, easily moved to tears or to laughter, to fury or to love.

‘In mental cultivation’, he opined, ‘Scotland had an indisputable superiority’ and in becoming part of England ‘preserved all her dignity’, though still treated in many respects as a ‘subject province’. Ireland, on the other hand, ‘was undisguisedly governed as a dependency won by the sword’ and the ‘new feud of Protestant and Papist inflamed the old feud of Saxon and Celt’.92

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Charles I’s violations of royal authority led to serious conflicts and the split in parliament between those anxious to preserve and those eager for reform. These were the groups that would become Tories and Whigs, and England needed both to ensure a balance. Charles I’s misuse of his power led to breakdown: he had to be ‘discarded’. While the severity of the Puritans was to be regretted, Cromwell made England great again, ‘the most formidable power in the world’, dictating peace to the Dutch, vanquishing the Spanish, ‘seizing one of the finest of the West Indian islands’, and ensuring she was supreme on the ocean, while his iron rule brought prosperity to Ireland.93 The restoration of Charles II in 1660 brought new problems. Puritan fanaticism was replaced by courtly licentiousness and frivolity. The king was shallow, sensual and indolent, hated business, and was always in want of money, hence his secret alliance with France which reduced him to the position of a dependant. His brother James, an avowed Catholic, was personally cruel and tyrannical. Tensions increased, an unsuccessful attempt was made to exclude James from the succession, and by the last years of Charles’s reign there were ‘signs not to be mistaken’: ‘the great conflict between the prerogatives of the crown and the privileges of the Parliament was about to be brought to a final issue’.94 This ‘great conflict’ was at the centre of the History. Chapter 3 told the story of the ‘Great Change’ in the state of England since 1685, summoning readers to reflect on their extraordinary good fortune in the present. The remaining twenty-one chapters narrated the period from the accession of James II, a man who ‘would have made a respectable clerk’ in a naval dockyard but was entirely unsuited to kingship, to the death of William III, Macaulay’s hero.95 A powerful build-up took the reader through a series of events that were ever more threatening to peace and stability. James, who became a ‘slave to France’, longed to be feared and respected abroad and an absolute monarch at home. ‘All was transition, conflict and disorder’ in England, with the king’s attacks on liberty, persecution of his enemies, and attempts to gain religious toleration for his fellow Catholics. A rebellion in Scotland was foiled, and Monmouth’s rebellion brutally suppressed by Judge Jeffreys. In Ireland, the tyrannical Tyrconnel put ‘the Protestant colonists under the feet of the Popish Celts’ while his king plotted an ‘insane attempt to subjugate England by means of Ireland’.96 James’s enemies increasingly turned to William of Orange, his son-in-law, married to his only child, the Protestant Mary. William, with his ‘pensive, severe and solemn aspect’, had been endowed by nature with the qualities of a great ruler and had learned politics from childhood. He was a decided Calvinist, but one who hated religious persecution, a statesman rather than a soldier,

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a man of immense fortitude, capable of the ‘most arduous enterprises’.97 Driven by enmity to Catholic France with its overmighty pretensions, he possessed a ‘European public spirit’, and while he never became an Englishman, ‘he saved England’.98 James’s attacks on the corporations and the judiciary provoked trouble, but then came the Declarations of Indulgence for non-Anglicans, provoking huge resistance from the clergy and the dramatic trial and acquittal of the Seven Bishops. Faced with this assault on the Church, the nation came together: ‘the coalition of 1688 was produced, and could be produced, only by tyranny which approached to insanity, and by danger which threatened at once all the great institutions of the country’.99 William was invited to England by a group of Whigs, who ‘saw that their time had come’, and he landed in Torbay with an army.100 Many Tories, despite their belief in the doctrine of passive obedience, had been deeply offended by James’s conduct. William, meanwhile, anxious not to claim the crown by right of conquest, showed great wisdom in his negotiations with all parties. James, in panic, fled to France, hoping that his ally, Louis XIV, would save his kingdom, provoking a final crisis. The danger had been extreme, just as it was again in England in the late 1840s, but in the end good sense had prevailed and England was saved. A group of peers and commoners asked William to take on the government provisionally and a convention was called. The Declaration of Right claimed that James had violated the ancient rights and liberties of England. There should be no taxation without the consent of parliament, no standing army in peacetime, subjects had the right to petition, electors had the right to choose their representatives freely, the legislature had the right to freedom of debate and the nation had the right to justice. ‘All these things the Convention claimed, as the undoubted inheritance of Englishmen.’ A resolution pronounced the throne vacant and ‘invited William and Mary to fill it’. This was the ‘peculiar character’ of the English Revolution, so different from those European revolutions of the last sixty years. ‘It was a revolution strictly defensive, and had prescription and legitimacy on its side.’ The main principles of government, including a limited monarchy and parliamentary institutions, had been established for centuries, and were ‘engraven on the hearts of Englishmen’. There was no need for a new constitution, but misgovernment necessitated reform. ‘Our revolution was a vindication of ancient rights . . . conducted with strict attention to ancient formalities.’101 ‘To us, who have lived in the year 1848’, wrote Macaulay, with the shadow of the continental revolutions and Chartism upon him, it might seem odd to call a proceeding ‘conducted with so much deliberation, with so much sobriety, and with such minute attention to prescriptive etiquette, by the

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terrible name of Revolution’. And yet this Revolution, ‘of all revolutions the least violent’, had been the most beneficial. A union had been made between crown and parliament which meant that ‘this was our last revolution’. There was no need amongst ‘wise and patriotic Englishmen’ for resistance to established government. ‘In all honest and reflective minds there is a conviction, daily strengthened by experience, that the means of effecting every improvement which the constitution requires may be found within the constitution itself.’ ‘Now if ever’, he continued, ‘we ought to be able to appreciate’ our forefathers’ stand ‘against the House of Stuart’. ‘All around us the world is convulsed by the agonies of great nations.’ Governments have been overthrown, capital cities of Western Europe ‘have streamed with blood’, ‘the antipathy of class to class, the antipathy of race to race have broken loose from the control of divine and human laws’. Industry had been paralysed, trade suspended, fear and anxiety had stalked millions, dangerous doctrines that ‘would make the fairest provinces of France and Germany as savage as Congo or Patagonia’ had been abroad: ‘Europe has been threatened with subjugation by barbarians.’ Meanwhile, in our fair island the regular course of government has never been for a day interrupted. The few bad men who longed for license and plunder have not had the courage to confront for one moment the strength of a loyal nation, rallied in firm array around a parental throne. And, if it be asked what has made us to differ from others, the answer is that we never lost what others are wildly and blindly seeking to regain. It is because we had a preserving revolution in the seventeenth century that we have not had a destroying revolution in the nineteenth century.102

William faced enemies at home and abroad yet the settlement made possible both union and expansion. The Toleration Act that was passed put an end to the religious persecution which had driven many ‘honest, diligent, and godfearing yeomen and artisans . . . the true strength of a nation’ to seek refuge ‘among the wigwams of Red Indians and the lair of panthers’.103 War was declared with France and there was major conflict in Ireland. This culminated in the Siege of Londonderry, ‘a contest . . . between nations’ when ‘the victory remained with the nation which, though inferior in number, was superior in civilisation, in capacity for self-government, and in stubbornness of resolution’.104 Events in Scotland, meanwhile, led in time to ‘her political and religious liberty, her prosperity, and her civilisation’.105 Disputes in parliament and amongst the clergy also occupied William, to the point where he considered returning to Holland, but was dissuaded.

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Preparations had to be made for a campaign in Ireland against James, supported by the French. This culminated in the Battle of the Boyne marking defeat for James, and a second flight to France, while the Irish took a last stand at Limerick. William was engaged in war both on the continent and in Ireland, while conspirators in England unsuccessfully plotted his fall. The excessive costs of the war led to the creation of a national debt, followed by that ‘great institution’, the Bank of England, ‘the greatest commercial institution that the world had ever seen’ and something of a balance in party terms to the Tory stronghold in the Church of England.106 Progress was marked also in the events that led to the freedom of the press and the appearance of newspapers, not something that had previously been commented on by historians, but ‘having as much interest for the present generation as any of those battles and sieges of which the most minute details have been carefully recorded’.107 Ministerial government was another ‘noiseless revolution’, one that was necessary for the proper workings of a parliamentary system. The East India Company laid the foundations for a great trading empire: conflicts over its monopoly were finally resolved in the emergence of a regulated company. England was a country suited for empire. Scotland, however, in its days of independence, was not, as Macaulay demonstrates in his tale of the disastrous attempt to colonise Darien. The Treaty of Ryswick which marked the end of the continental war was also the end of an era. England’s liberty and independence had been restored. She had ‘successfully defended the order of things established by the Bill of Rights against the mighty monarchy of France, against the aboriginal population of Ireland’, against traitors at home and abroad. War, treason, financial and commercial crisis had all seemed imminent but the dangers were now over. ‘The kingdom’, Macaulay wrote, After many years of ignominious vassalage, had resumed its ancient place in the first rank of European powers. Many signs justified the hope that the Revolution of 1688 would be our last Revolution. The ancient constitution was adapting itself, by a natural, a gradual, a peaceful development, to the wants of a modern society.

The currency had been restored, public credit established, trade revived, the exchequer overflowed. ‘There was a sense of relief every where’, he opined, ‘from the Royal Exchange to the most secluded hamlets among the mountains of Wales and the fens of Lincolnshire. The ploughmen, the shepherds, the miners of the Northumbrian coalpits, the artisans who toiled at the looms of Norwich and the anvils of Birmingham, felt the change, without

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understanding it.’ There was a ‘cheerful bustle’ in every seaport and market town. This was ‘the commencement of a happier age’.108 William was never popular, yet his policies both at home and abroad secured a stable government and economy, a relatively tolerant society, the integration of Scotland, and a sound basis for imperial expansion. England, the first modern nation, was set on its route to global dominance. This was ‘the order of things’. Civilising subjects Macaulay intended his History to be accessible to the nation. In telling his readers their story, their history, he was also inviting them into new identities, as citizens or subjects. The work must speak to the common reader, those readers who had multiplied so exponentially in the early decades of the nineteenth century and who made successful authors rich men. He had learnt from his experience with the Edinburgh Review that arguments should be presented as if they were plain common sense. A clear, simple style of writing was essential, a liberal critical style, rejecting ‘any ostentatious intellectualism’ and adopting ‘the sensible, balanced viewpoint of the common reader’.109 Macaulay was hailing, interpellating, as Althusser has put it, new English subjects in his History – subjects of the nation. While evincing very little interest in issues of labour and poverty, other than in terms of his fears of a disorderly mob, he was concerned to demonstrate that ‘progress’ potentially brought with it improvements for all. All men might belong to the nation, rejoice as subjects in their individual liberties and the security of their property. Those liberties included the freedom to worship, to speak and to read, to participate in differentiated ways in the public world as citizens and subjects. Not all were fit to vote, yet all who were worthy, were ‘civilised’, should benefit from England’s prosperity. It was important to counter the pessimists who saw the advances of commerce and industry as destructive, to welcome imperial modernity and its benefits. Chapter 3 addressed his readers directly, demarcating the extraordinary progress that England as a nation had enjoyed, ‘a change to which the history of the old world furnishes no parallel’.110 It demonstrated to his readers, and, of course, to himself, why they should marvel at the improvements that had been achieved in England in the present, celebrate the kindly and tolerant nation, and learn what kinds of men and women they should now aspire to be. Macaulay’s evocation of the past was dramatic. In 1685 the North had been particularly backward, and had remained so well into the eighteenth century. Scottish marauders, bad weather and poor soil had conspired to

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necessitate fortifications at night. Around the source of the Tyne, ‘a race scarcely less savage than the Indians of California’ were to be found. The women ‘half naked’ and ‘chaunting a wild measure, the men ‘with brandished dirks’ dancing ‘a war dance’.111 But England, unlike her neighbours, had been free from revolutions, insurrections, and ‘bloody and devastating wars’: property had been protected, the law maintained, civil and religious freedom enjoyed.112 This had made possible a transformation. Much of the country had once been ‘moor, forest and fen’, ‘many routes which now pass through an endless succession of orchards, hayfields and beanfields, then ran through nothing but heath, swamp and warren’. Wild animals roamed: foxes, red deer and badgers shared the territory with wild cats, fen eagles, bustards and ‘clouds of cranes’.113 Thanks to enclosure, ‘a fourth part of England has been, in the course of little more than a century, turned from a wild into a garden’. There was no trace here of the lost commons or the proletarianised labourers of his contemporary William Cobbett, a man whose writings he read voraciously despite the politics he execrated: a ‘hateful fellow’, he commented in his journal.114 Changes in agriculture meant the transformation of rural society. The vulgar country squires of the seventeenth century had become country gentlemen, liberally educated in schools and universities, familiar with travel abroad, comfortable with London life and the delights of their country houses, their books and pictures. Prosperity had brought refinement. Once these country squires had mixed with the locals, their ‘chief pleasures derived from field sports and from an unrefined sensuality’.115 Their coarse talk in dialect, the quantities of food and drink they consumed, their conduct at table, their ignorance of the great world beyond their land all marked them as unpolished. The country squire of the seventeenth century, Macaulay opined, hated Frenchman and Italians, Scotchmen and Irishmen, Papists and Presbyterians, Independents and Baptists, Quakers and Jews.116

In these days of religious toleration, by contrast, Englishmen could celebrate the civil liberties of Dissenters, congratulate themselves upon Catholic Emancipation, and even look forward to the ending of discrimination against the Jews. The old squires had dispensed rude patriarchal justice and possessed great family pride, but were narrow-minded, usually Tories, critical of the city and commercial life and deeply associated with the established Church, while neither knowing its doctrines nor maintaining its practices.

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Meanwhile, their wives and daughters were in tastes and acquirements below a housekeeper or a stillroom maid of the present day. They stitched and spun, brewed gooseberry wine, cured marigolds and made the crust for the venison pasty.117

In those days the low level of women’s education had been shameful. The ‘pure and graceful English which accomplished women now speak’ was nowhere to be heard. In court circles licentiousness ruled. The qualities which made women into ‘companions, advisers and confidential friends’ were nowhere valued.118 If the country had been transformed, so too had the towns and cities where wealth was created and accumulated. Once England had been barbarous – as India was now – but it had become a place of civilisation. Manchester was now a ‘wonderful emporium, Liverpool a centre of ‘gigantic trade’, Sheffield sent forth ‘its admirable knives, razors and lancets to the farthest ends of the world’, but it was the rebuilding of London that exemplified the changes. In 1685 there had been no sign of the great warehouses and docks, scarcely a stately building and none of the bridges reminiscent of Rome. In place of this splendour appropriate to an imperial power, there had been ‘a single line of irregular arches, overhung by piles of mean and crazy houses, and garnished, after a fashion worthy of the naked barbarians of Dahomey, with scores of mouldering heads’. Now city merchants recognised the charms of suburban domesticity, and left their merchant houses in the evenings to retreat to their ‘long avenues of villas, embowered in lilacs and laburnams’. ‘We’ – the imagined community of author and readers – would have been disgusted by the ‘squalid appearance’ and poisoned by the ‘noisesome atmosphere’ of even the fashionable parts of London in the past. In Covent Garden a ‘filthy and noisy market was held close to the dwellings of the great. Fruit women screamed, carters fought, cabbage stalks and rotten apples accumulated in heaps’ at the doorways of the great. In Lincoln’s Inn Fields ‘the rabble congregated every evening’ within yards of aristocratic establishments, ‘to hear mountebanks harangue, to see bears dance, and to set dogs at oxen’. Rubbish abounded, horses exercised, beggars importuned, crowds ‘hopped and crawled’, persecuting any unfortunate grandee who appeared. Only in the mid-eighteenth century were railings and palisades set up and pleasant gardens laid out – marking clear boundaries between one class and another. St James Square had been ‘the receptacle for all the offal and cinders, for all the dead dogs and dead cats of Westminster’.

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Thieves, robbers and dissolute young gentlemen swaggered by night about the town, ‘breaking windows, upsetting sedans, beating quiet men, and offering rude caresses to pretty women’. With no machinery for keeping the peace, the ‘outcasts of society’, ‘insolvents, knaves and libertines’ ruled the roost alongside women ‘more abandoned than themselves’. Cheats, false witnesses, forgers, highwaymen, ‘bullies with swords and cudgels and termagent hags with spits and broomsticks’, all ‘relics of the barbarism of the darkest ages’, terrorised the streets of London.119 All this was now changed. The city was safe, as 1848 had demonstrated. Parks were laid out, gardens had railings, the metropolitan police had secured order. In 1685 the gap between the country and the city had been unbridgeable. A Londoner ‘was a different being from a rustic Englishman’ and ‘a cockney, in a rural village, was stared at as much as if he had intruded into a kraal of Hottentots’. The chief cause, Macaulay opined, preventing ‘the fusion of the different elements of society’ had been the appalling state of the highways. Now ‘Reason’ had ‘triumphed over’ both prejudice and cupidity and ‘our island is . . . crossed in every direction by near thirty thousand miles of turnpike road’.120 ‘Those inventions which abridge distance have done most for the civilisation of our species’, wrote Macaulay, removing ‘national and provincial antipathies’ and making possible the binding together of ‘all the branches of the great human family’.121 The development of literacy and of the freedom of the press had also been critical to these civilising processes. While previously the only sources of knowledge in the provinces had been newsletters, equivalent to those now produced in India, now the mail and the newspapers together brought knowledge where once ignorance had reigned. The key to better days was not the material advances in themselves; capital and skill could not effect ‘the long progress from barbarism to the highest degrees of opulence and civilisation’.122 But they enabled people to think differently: there was a more humane national character, less physical violence and cruelty, more awareness of responsibilities, one to the other. Roads, railways, street lighting, markets and the press had all effected changes in thought. Once society had looked ‘with profound indifference’ on human misery. Now the state, ‘the legitimate protector of those who cannot protect themselves’, had legislated on children’s labour. In the course of ages the English had become ‘not only a wiser but a kinder people’. In the past Nowhere could be found that sensitive and restless compassion which has, in our time, extended a powerful protection to the factory child, to the Hindoo widow, to the negro slave, which pries into the stores and

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watercasks of every emigrant ship, which winces at every lash laid on the back of a drunken soldier, which will not suffer the thiefs in the hulks to be ill fed or overworked, and which has repeatedly endeavoured to save the life even of a murderer.123

Compassion must be constrained by reason, otherwise it could produce some ‘ridiculous and some deplorable effects’. Macaulay, as we have seen, had no sympathy with what he saw as the excesses of the abolitionist movement, and was in favour of capital punishment. But he rejoiced at the more merciful age, insisted that it was the ‘lower orders’ who had benefited most from the ‘mollifying influence of civilisation on the national character’. He warned against romanticising the past and insisted that it was the discontents of the present which ensured continual improvements. In future times, he concluded, people might look back on the Victorian age as the time when ‘England was truly merry England, when all classes were bound together by brotherly sympathy, when the rich did not grind the faces of the poor, and when the poor did not envy the splendour of the rich.’ 124 At varied junctures throughout the text, Macaulay paused to remind his readers of the transformations that had taken place and to give them instruction on the responsibilities of modern subjects. They needed to understand their society. Disquisitions on urban improvements, the significance of ministerial government, the connections between the party system and an effective civil service, the role of the House of Commons in a system of representative government where accountability to ‘the nation’ was crucial – all gave the ‘judicious historian’ opportunities to emphasise both the connections between past and present, and the progress that had been achieved. Macaulay was engaged in the making of a liberal subject – more especially a white liberal subject. English people now were not like the ‘savage Indians of California’, the ‘naked barbarians of Dahomey’, or Hottentots gathered around their kraal. He was constituting his readers as those cultivating a particular kind of self, a self that could value and practise freedom. His male readers were invited to identify with the values of responsibility and independence, manly virtues, while his female readers could identify with familial, domesticated, polite forms of femininity. These were not aristocratic values or those associated with the countryside; these were values for modern urban life. His audience were introduced to the history that had transformed them from rude and vulgar people, like those elsewhere in the world, to the civilised subjects that they were or aspired to be. Some, propertied men, could be political citizens; others would enjoy the benefits of cultural belonging.

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Particular forms of history writing, Hayden White suggests, engender reading subjects who identify with the moral universe of a nation-state engaged in an international system of production and exchange. History could have a ‘domesticating effect’ on its readers, as they were offered the position of the good citizen, and identified with the social system depicted. The act of reading required the subject to adopt a particular position, to acquiesce implicitly in the value and meaning of the reality that was represented. And since historical representation claims to deal with ‘the real’ rather than the imaginary, it is particularly well suited to the production of this subjectivity. ‘Historiography is’, he proposes, by its very nature, the representational practice best suited to the production of the ‘law-abiding’ citizen. This is not because it may deal in patriotism, nationalism, or explicit moralizing but because in its featuring of narrativity as a favoured representation practice, it is especially well suited to the production of notions of continuity, wholeness, closure and individuality that every ‘civilized’ society wishes to see itself as incarnating, against the chaos of a merely ‘natural’ way of life.125

Macaulay did deal in patriotism and was a passionate nationalist. But he also adopted a form that indeed fostered notions of continuity, wholeness, closure and individuality, all aspects of a civilised society. Nineteenthcentury historiographical classics, White argues, served as the paradigm of realistic discourse, subverting any other claims to reality. Macaulay’s History was one such text. Boundaries of the nation What are the questions that seem worth asking at any particular time, and what are the answers that seem worth having? In David Scott’s formulation this is a problem space, therefore a ‘context of dispute’ with rival views and contention over knowledge and power. ‘Within the terms of any given problem-space’, he notes, ‘what is in dispute, what the argument is effectively about, is not itself being argued over.’ Yet it is a site ‘of intervention’, and the questions are specific to the time.126 Macaulay’s problem space, we might say, just like that of his great contemporary, Karl Marx, was modernity. But unlike Marx, Macaulay was uninterested in new economic relations or processes of production. His vision was not that of a nascent industrial capitalist society centred on the new industrial towns of his own time – Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool: hives of

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manufacture and worker bees. These were places he avoided, passing through them if necessary, but finding little to please. Rather, despite living through the era of industrialisation and urbanisation, he articulated a vision characteristic of the Whig imagination.127 His England was dominated by an alliance of the landed, financial and commercial interests with new men such as himself and his father, his brothers and his brother-in-law, all of whose positions had been secured by their intellectual powers. It was the responsibility of this newly enriched elite to act for ‘the people’, rather than allowing ‘the people’ to act for themselves, to lead them and guide them, both at home and in the empire. Macaulay’s intervention was to win consent to the post-1832 settlement. Representative government of a strictly limited kind, he argued, was the proper system of government for a civilised and free people. A free market would enrich the nation. Liberty meant the freedom of the individual to read, think and believe, to be subject to the rule of law. Great nations had empires, which required different forms of rule. Being modern meant being urban, but it was London – an imperial city, home of the court, the aristocracy, parliament and the great merchants, financiers, and literary men, a centre of government, commerce and letters, a city to be compared with Rome – that featured in his narrative. His intervention was designed to scotch radical, feminist, Tory, humanitarian or anticolonial critiques. He was arguing with Cobbett, with his ‘terrible blunders’ (‘I hardly know a worse man’); Tom Paine, a ‘stupid, worthless, drunken, dirty beast’; Carlyle, ‘an empty-headed bombastic dunce’, whose ‘cant makes me sick’; Disraeli, ‘that confounded Jew’, ‘spiteful, false and a mountebank’; Young Ireland, deluded nationalists; Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s ‘trash’; and Martineau, ‘that hideous woman’, amongst many others.128 The form his intervention took was a history of the late seventeenth century, the era seen as providing the preconditions for modern prosperity. Though named as a history of England, the book was a history of Britain and its empire, with minimal space given to the latter. English values, Macaulay hoped, would be the dominant values, but the United Kingdom was a multiethnic, multifaith state, with an empire that included peoples of different races and varied beliefs. How were these disparate peoples to cohere? How was difference to be contained and ruled? What would stabilise the British state and how should the empire be governed? He was well aware of the most serious issue that faced the union – Ireland – and of Scotland. Wales, to his mind, was totally assimilated to England. Was it possible to construct a national culture while recognising that Scotland and Ireland would never be completely absorbed? What place should India have? How might his history contribute to the making of this new modern world?

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Historical narratives are manifestly ‘verbal fictions’, Hayden White argues, ‘the contents of which are as much invented as found and the forms of which have more in common with their counterparts in literature than they have with those in the sciences’.129 Drawing attention to the significance of the form, he suggests that it is only possible to construct comprehensible stories of the past by selection. Coherence is dependent on tailoring the facts; leaving out is quite as important as putting in. Events are made into a story by emplotment, encoding certain facts into a particular plot structure to give a particular interpretation: ‘this is essentially a literary, that is to say fiction-making operation’, effected in language, and the effect of this encoding is ‘to familiarize the unfamiliar’. In great history writing, he opined, we recognise ‘the forms by which consciousness both constitutes and colonises the world it seeks to inhabit comfortably’.130 Macaulay both constituted the nation – ‘our country’ – and its peoples, and colonised it, domesticated it, making it a homely place for those who belonged, inviting readers to be united by their history, secure in the possession of this story of improvement. ‘Our country’ and ‘our nation’ were constantly summoned up throughout the History, speaking with one voice, inviting identifications from the readers. This was their/our history. ‘The blood of the whole nation boiled at the thought’ [my italics] of Irish soldiers being employed by James to defeat his enemies at home.131 Macaulay, the authoritative historian, could discern and lead national feeling, speak for the people, render them homogeneous at critical moments. Contemporary England, a place of moderation, was possible precisely because of this history. Bitter religious wars were over. The Protestant constitution, that union of Church and state, could no longer provide the bedrock of English particularism: a pluralist vision was essential. Scots had rightly been allowed to be Presbyterians, and Irish could be Catholics: this would not endanger the liberal constitution. Dissenters must be taken into the fold, though he particularly disliked Quakers, perhaps in part because of their belief in an inner life and their capacity for silence. Macaulay himself had no interest in doctrinal disputes, believed that Christians must accept some degree of difference, and was always first and foremost an Erastian. In the History he castigated James II for his denial of religious liberty and enthused over William’s latitudinarianism. He celebrated 1689 as a vital moment en route to the full acceptance of principles of toleration: English Dissenters and Scottish Presbyterians were granted freedom of worship and would, in time, be accepted into the political nation. Macaulay expected, and got, ‘furious abuse both from the ultra Evangelicals and from the Tractarians’ for his religious pluralism, and was not ‘sorry to be so abused’.132

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None of his writing gives any indication of deep spiritual belief. He famously noted Middleton’s definition of being a Christian: ‘If to live and think freely; to practise what is moral and to believe what is rational, be consistent with the sincere profession of Christianity, then I shall acquit myself like one of its truest professors.’133 Macaulay’s church attendance was erratic and his commentary on it mostly concerned with the inadequacies of the sermons, not to speak of the discomfort of the seats. His distance from his father in this respect was immense: the one a deeply pious Evangelical, the other an Erastian patriot. Like his German contemporaries, many of whom came from ministerial families, ‘religious discourses became nationalised, nationalist discourses secularised . . . Nation became the new religion’.134 (i)  Class and gender But there were boundaries as to who belonged to this nation, and in what ways. Part of the work of the History was to invite those men and women who were excluded from full political participation in the nation to enjoy the benefits of subjecthood. They could share the history, bask in England’s greatness and prosperity. Macaulay had no sympathy with democratic aspirations. He had nothing but contempt for working-class poets, and ranting socialists were fools. ‘Supreme authority in a state’ should never be entrusted to the majority, ‘the poorest and most ignorant part of society’. Democratic institutions would destroy liberty and civilisation. Such devastation had nearly taken place in France, he told one American correspondent, who had written to him extolling the virtues of Jefferson. Fortunately this had been averted, but now France was ruled despotically: ‘Liberty is gone: but civilisation has been saved.’ He had ‘not the smallest doubt’ that if democratic government was introduced in England ‘Either the poor would plunder the rich, and civilisation would perish; or order and property would be saved by a strong military government, and liberty would perish.’ In England there were bad years, with grumbling and even a little rioting by agitators who stirred discontent. But ‘supreme power’ was in the hands of ‘a class, numerous indeed, but select, of an educated class, of a class which is, and knows itself to be, deeply interested in the security of property and the maintenance of order’. Malcontents were ‘firmly, yet gently, restrained’ and when prosperity returned, so too did ‘tranquillity and cheerfulness’.135 Macaulay had seen this cycle three or four times, and was confident of England’s stability. Yet he was not so confident that he did not have to do what he could to shore it up, especially as others were prone to endanger it.

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The Quaker radical John Bright’s proposed Reform Bill in 1859 was ‘trash’ and he was grieved to see Russell disgracing himself by canting about the poor hardworking honest man who ought to be enfranchised – It is below him to talk that Jacobin jargon – Why should a man be entrusted with the government of a state more than with the steering of a ship or the amputation of a limb because he is honest and industrious? Is he likely to do good or harm is the question – Not whether he works hard and means well.136

Macaulay trusted that ‘the good sense of the country will save us from the dangers into which men who ought to be wiser have brought us’.137 His work was to foster this ‘good sense’; indeed, to make it the common sense of the people. An inclusive nation figured as the hero in some of his great set-piece melodramas, as with James II’s trial of the Seven Bishops, scapegoated for their failure to read his Declaration of Indulgence in their churches. ‘The agitation spread to the farthest corners of the island’: from the gentry and clergy to the ‘common people’, those ‘of Cornwall, a fierce, bold and athletic race’, ‘the miners in their caverns’, and ‘the rustics in many parts of the country’ – all waited anxiously for the verdict.138 On the day that the bishops appeared before the king a huge crowd gathered. The king, deeply alarmed, ordered the garrison of the Tower to be doubled and soldiers to be brought into London, but ‘the force on which he relied . . . shared all the feelings of the people’. Excitement had reached fever pitch by the time the bishops were brought to trial – not only Londoners but ‘peasants, miners and rustics’ were determined against this tyrannical assault on English Protestant liberties. Despite the packing of the judges, the brave jury of freeborn Englishmen declared the bishops to be ‘not guilty’. Ten thousand persons in Westminster Hall called out a ‘loud huzza’. ‘The stern English nature, so little used to outward signs of emotion, gave way: thousands wept and sobbed for joy over ‘the victory of our Church and nation’.139 Bonfires and fireworks were lit, the Pope was burned in effigy, the king was humiliated and defeated. The story was told in a way that crossed boundaries of class; a national consciousness was both constituted and, as White argues, colonised. Working people had their place, but it was as subjects of the nation, not citizens. They could enjoy the liberties that had been secured for them, wonder at the power and prosperity of their country, glory in the shared history of Englishmen. The Great Exhibition of 1851 was a marvellous demonstration for Macaulay of the triumph of law and order. For weeks

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before it opened, the press had stirred up fears of the dangerous continental socialists and revolutionaries who were likely to gather in the city. But ‘I see none of the men of action with whom the Socialists have been threatening us. All the foreigners that I have fallen in with appear to be decent people’, he recorded.140 He was thrilled by the grand opening of the Crystal Palace, which he visited with Baba and family, especially noting ‘the temper of the multitude the best possible.’ Meeting an acquaintance who told him that the Princess Lieven, Wellington’s confidante, spoke of ‘this exhibition’ as ‘a bold – a rash experiment’, he pooh-poohed such fears. ‘She apprehends a terrible explosion . . . And this woman is thought a political oracle in some circles. There is just as much chance of a revolution in England at present’, he noted complacently, ‘as of the falling of the moon’. Walking home the people were ‘as good tempered and orderly as I ever saw them in my life’.141 Decent foreigners who knew their place, an orderly people who trusted their government to secure their interests, families able to enjoy the Exhibition in the knowledge that nothing untoward would occur: this was England as he wanted it to be – and this was how he constructed it in his History. The mob was banished, workers summoned up only occasionally to shout ‘huzzah’ or appreciate the political actions of their betters. ‘Vulgar’ rustics had known no better than to idolise Monmouth and support his rebellion, just as deluded mechanics had listened to Chartist agitators.142 But by the end of his narrative, ploughmen, shepherds, miners and artisans knew instinctively, without understanding why, that good times were coming. Englishmen were bound together, class divisions forgotten, united by the nation and its history. In 1832, in Leeds, Macaulay had encountered factory workers and artisans. He could not wait to be back in London. For the rest of his life he had minimal contact with this new urban working class or with industrial culture. An excursion to the naval dockyards at Portsmouth in 1851, while on one of his annual holidays with the Trevelyans, was enjoyable for the impression it gave him ‘of wonderful power and ingenuity’. They were able to visit Nelson’s Victory, and he appreciated ‘the cleanliness and order of the ship’, and ‘the plenty, comfort, and cleanliness visible throughout all ranks’.143 Trevelyan and George then went on to visit a biscuit manufactory, but he had no appetite for this, and preferred to return to the inn with the ladies and read Schiller with Baba. A chance encounter with a group of hop pickers marked one of the extremely rare appearances of working people in his journals. Going into a tavern when it was raining, hoping for a glass of ginger beer, ‘I found there a party of hop pickers come back from the neighbourhood of Farnham’, he recorded.

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They had had but a bad season, and were returning nearly walked off their legs. I liked their looks and thought their English remarkably good for their rank in life. . . . The poor people had a foaming pot before them, but as soon as they heard the price they rose and were going to leave it untested. They could not, they said, afford so much. It was but fourpence halfpenny. I laid the money down; and their delight and gratitude quite affected me. Two more of the party soon arrived. I ordered another pot, and when the rain was over left them, followed by more blessings than, I believe, were ever purchased for ninepence. To be sure the boon, though very small, was seasonable and I did my best to play the courteous host.144

These were working people as Macaulay liked to see them: hard working, deferential, grateful – a far cry from the factory workers of Leeds with their banners and lampoons. Living in the circle of home, parliament, his clubs and the households of the upper-class elite, his main contact with the working classes was through service. Since Macaulay never married, he had to organise the management of his own household, with help from Hannah. A couple, William and Elizabeth Williams, were the mainstay of his domestic life for many years. He had no conception of the degree of his dependence on them. Arriving home before them, as for example after a holiday, and finding no fire and no dinner ready, was deeply disturbing; everything should be in place. As long as they only made mistakes occasionally, it could be overlooked, but the smooth running of home was essential to his comfort. While uncomfortably aware of his emotional dependence on Hannah, servants were servants, there to serve. He liked to see himself as a good master, to reflect on his generosity. On a rainy day in Ireland, where he had gone to survey the places that he was writing about in his history, accompanied by the faithful William, he told him to change his outside place on the coach for one covered, ‘and thought very self complacently of my own good nature and consideration’.145 On William coming down with a very bad cold and chest a few days later, however, he was very annoyed and, ‘Hardly knew what to do’.146 William, who served as butler, manservant, payer of bills, and general factotum, easing Macaulay’s way in life, was ill again two months later, most inconveniently. The couple had originally worked for Zachary, and then cared for Tom until 1858, when they were pensioned off. ‘There is no vanity in saying I am a good master’, Macaulay reflected, on an occasion when he had paid for William to bring his father in a gig for a visit. ‘It is good to give pleasure to servants and to show sympathy with them.’147 William, as a freeholder in

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Herefordshire, had a vote, and again, inconveniently, needed time off to vote. But since he loyally voted Whig the inconvenience had to be borne. Macaulay liked to record his generosity, as when he permitted the couple to go to the Great Exhibition or to watch the Duke of Wellington’s funeral procession. But his sympathy was strictly limited. William’s more serious bout of illness in 1858 stretched his tolerance to the limit. He was worried about him and called in a second medical man, but he resolved to dispense with them. It was ‘absolutely necessary’ to his comfort; to keep them on would have been an ‘insupportable yoke’. Two painful scenes with William, which Macaulay had hoped very much to avoid since he hated turmoil, left him determined that they must go. ‘They seem to think that I am their property’, he noted, and he would not be bullied.148 He arranged an annuity for them and they retired to ‘Macaulay Villa’, along with their copy of the History that William had particularly requested. Their replacements, in the much grander household that Macaulay had established at Holly Lodge, in Campden Hill, proved very satisfactory: the new cook, with her ‘well boiled eggs’ and ‘first rate apple pie’ was a great improvement on Elizabeth. The master’s comfort was increased, the new servants were ‘attentive and respectful’, ‘quite satisfied apparently with their place’.149 Perhaps the ‘apparently’ was significant, indicating some fears of the troublesome feelings that might lurk under a surface of deference. Macaulay was delighted when he received recognition from working people of the merits of his History. A Unitarian minister near Manchester wrote to tell him how he had arranged Wednesday evening readings over several months at the local schoolhouse. ‘At the close of the last meeting one of the audience rose, and moved, in north-country fashion, a vote of thanks to Mr. Macaulay, “for having written a history which working men can understand”.’150 A ‘very acceptable letter’, Macaulay noted in his journal: ‘I really prize this vote’.151 But he had no patience with Mechanics Institutes and their interest in him. Workers should stay in their allotted places, providing all his creature comforts, serving in his favoured hostelries and pubs, cleaning clubs and government buildings, taking care of carriages, omnibuses and trains, acting deferentially when they encountered their betters. This was how he liked to imagine a society in which ‘all classes were bound together by brotherly sympathy’. Such a place was truly a home. If class tensions were banished from the History, gender differences were entirely naturalised. Indeed, the difference between the sexes was understood as the essential difference, so taken for granted that it did not need to be explained or explored. Men and women had their proper places, given by nature. ‘The great fundamental law of all society’, as he had told Margaret,

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was the exchange of women between men and the creation of new families.152 ‘Nature made the two sexes for each other’: this was a universal law. These were the laws of nature with which he castigated himself when both his beloved sisters chose to leave him and marry others. He should have known that they would not stay with him; this was ‘a law as ancient as the first records of the history of our race’.153 Marriage and the reproduction of the race were central to national well-being, but they happened naturally. Some of Macaulay’s most vituperative emotions were vented on a couple who defied these laws as he understood them and married improperly. The old family friend Henry Thornton, son of Zachary’s mentor, had lost his first wife and insisted on marrying her sister, defying the law that prevented such marriages. Macaulay was disgusted. It was ‘a mania’; she was an ‘abominable woman’, her mother ‘more abominable’, her sister ‘scarcely less’ – he positively hated her.154 He could not understand why Thornton was determined to pursue such a marriage, and indeed attempted to get new legislation passed that would legitimate such unions. No doubt part of Macaulay’s rage was associated with fury that Thornton could get what he had not been able to keep, a woman forbidden by primordial laws. The sisters of deceased wives were too close; like siblings, they should be taboo. Thornton had subjected himself to the ‘tyranny of passion’, a man who had seemed so ‘steady, grave and decorous’. This was an object lesson in the need for control and reason.155 ‘Fundamental laws’ must not be defied; social order rested on these laws. He had claimed to Margaret that celibacy was unnatural and expounded on the dangers to which it exposed the Catholic priesthood: men unanchored by family ties. Macaulay remained celibate himself, but the Trevelyans were his family. He doubted whether he could have loved any children of his own more than he loved Baba, George and Alice. He was greatly offended by any sexual improprieties. Vulgar, coarse and voluptuous women shocked him; indecent men were disgusting. A servants’ ball at Lord Lansdowne’s country house, Bowood, combining both class and gender transgressions, was disturbing: ‘a young fellow of rank pulling about a strapping buxom lady’s maid’ was not something that he liked to see.156 Respectability and civility were crucial to him; Victorian in his prudishness, he found indelicacy or ribaldry deeply disturbing. Sex was embarrassing, hence his discomfort when Baba asked whether their spaniel was a boy or a girl. Women’s bodily functions were best not thought about: the idea of ladies using appalling French privies was difficult to contemplate. He liked women to be beautiful, charming and pleasant, without violent opinions. He was dismayed by signs of ageing, and found old women unappealing. Women he disliked got very

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short shrift, as on the death of Diana Babington, when he noted that her husband used to beat her, ‘and she richly deserved it’.157 ‘I always am on the side of the sex and of a pretty face’, he recorded on one occasion: perhaps the latter was true.158 Macaulay knew that relations between the sexes were, to some extent, historically specific. One index of the transformation from barbarism to civilisation was a greater appreciation of women and their capacity to moralise. But women’s ability to bear children was natural, as were men’s capacities to hunt, farm and exchange. In the seventeenth century women had serviced men, just as they did in the present. They fulfilled those functions differently at different times: women at the court of Charles II were shockingly immoral, the wives and daughters of the gentry brewed gooseberry wine and baked venison pasties, and ‘termagent hags’ terrorised the streets. With the growth of a civilised, commercial, polite society women were now able to cultivate qualities that enabled them to be ‘companions, advisers and confidential friends’.159 But the fundamentals remained: men dealt with war, politics, land, money and power, women with home and family. The pattern of his own family was deeply internalised: Zachary in the public world, Selina at home. And home and family were not the subject of a national history. History, with a capital H, was ‘about the exercise and transmission of power in the realm of politics and economics, arenas in which the actors were men’.160 Only a certain kind of men would feature in such a history – those who made it. Workers, who were themselves never the agents of history, simply the passive recipients of historical changes made by other men, made occasional marginal appearances in Macaulay’s work. But these workers were always men – the artisans, the miners, the ploughmen, the soldiers. There was never a mention of domestic servants. Macaulay’s England was structured by gender. A set of unstated assumptions about the proper relations of men and women, so well understood that they did not have to be enunciated, underpinned social order. It was simply the way things were: men were the actors who made the public world what it was. These were fundamental values and Macaulay’s History constituted and confirmed them, reassuring the author and his audience that this arrangement was natural.161 He celebrated a range of masculine and feminine virtues associated with right living in his writing and criticised the ‘wrong’ kinds of men, those who were cruel, tyrannical or lazy, and those women who were licentious, manipulative, or who attempted to exercise ‘petticoat power’. All the women in the History were defined by their relation to others: as a wife, a widow, a mother, a daughter or a mistress. Their reproductive powers were vital: the absence of male heirs changed history.

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The accession of William and Mary was emblematic: a marriage at the heart of the new settlement. Mary was James II’s daughter, the key dynastic link in the claim to the throne. Their union had not at first promised much ‘domestic happiness’: it had been made for ‘political considerations’. He was twelve years older than her, with a chilling manner and a head ‘constantly occupied by public business or by field sports’. She was young and ignorant, educated only in embroidery and Protestant devotions. Furthermore, he already had a mistress, Elizabeth Villiers, who ‘though destitute of personal attractions, and with a hideous squint, possessed talents which well fitted her to partake his cares’. Mary was well aware that he was unfaithful, but her ‘meekness and patience’ gradually won her husband’s ‘esteem and gratitude’.162 William, fond as he was of authority, disliked the fact that it was his wife who had the claim to her father’s throne but she reassured him as to her subordination. While the laws of England might make her a queen, the laws of God ordered her to obey her husband. ‘I now promise you’, Macaulay has her say, ‘that you shall always bear rule: and, in return, I ask only this, that, as I shall enjoin the precept which enjoins wives to obey their husbands, you will observe that which enjoins husbands to love their wives.’163 So committed was she to her husband that she caused grave offence on her arrival in England in 1688 by behaving with extravagant joy, despite the fact that her father had just lost his kingdom. She later explained that William had asked her to look cheerful, so that all would know husband and wife were united in their actions. This was her signal instance, Macaulay commented, ‘of that perfect disinterestedness and selfdevotion [sic] of which man seems to be incapable, but which is sometimes found in woman’.164 Mary was the virtuous wife and queen, loyal, charitable, and discreet, never claiming an unwomanly authority. Once a daughter had left the family home, her duty to her father was subordinate to that to her husband. When in 1694 Mary learned that she had smallpox, she responded to the danger with ‘true greatness of soul’ and sent away all those servants, even the most menial, who had not had it. When told that she was dying she ‘submitted herself to the will of God . . . with that gentle womanly courage which so often puts our bravery to shame’.165 William was devastated at her loss and to his dying day wore next to his skin ‘a gold ring and a lock of the hair of Mary’.166 Her monument, the Seamen’s Hospital at Greenwich, a place Macaulay loved (for he especially enjoyed the whitebait at The Trafalgar), was ‘the most superb that was ever erected to any sovereign’.167 The king’s infidelity was sidelined, the sexual impropriety marginalised to depict a moralised monarchy. France provided a contrast: Madame de Maintenon, the Catholic wife of Louis XIV, exerted only a bad influence on

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her husband. A pious believer, she sympathised deeply with the Stuart cause and was a friend to the displaced queen. ‘An artful woman’, she encouraged Louis after the death of James II to recognise the Pretender and thus ensure that war and conflict would continue.168 If Mary represented an idealised femininity, her father was castigated for his lack of manliness. James, in Macaulay’s account, was diligent, methodical, narrow, obstinate and unforgiving: the opposite of his easy-going older brother with his lax and lascivious ways. James was proud, small-minded and obstinate: the stuff of whom tyrants are made. Given authority over Scotland, James’s administration was ‘marked by odious laws, by barbarous punishments, and by judgements to the iniquity of which even that age furnished no parallel’.169 Not only was he personally cruel, but he enjoyed the pain of others under torture. Once king he permitted the most terrible acts from his subordinates: most notably Judge Jeffreys and Tyrconnel. His ‘acts of Turkish tyranny’ eventually convinced the entire nation, in Macaulay’s narrative, that ‘the estate of a Protestant English freeholder under a Roman Catholic king must be as insecure as that of a Greek under Moslem dominion’.170 He took advice from flatterers and inferiors, his understanding was ‘dull and feeble’, he could be ‘the fiercest and most reckless of partisans’.171 He had no capacity to learn from experience, wanted to be feared and respected both at home and abroad, yet made himself a slave of France and drove away even his most ardent supporters by his actions. Faced with danger he was a coward, sinking to the dismal level of throwing the Great Seal into the Thames before escaping for France. His ‘womanish terrors and childish fancies’, his ‘pusillanimous anxiety about his personal safety’ and his abject superstitions unmanned him.172 He was enslaved by his dependence and effeminate in his actions. Monmouth, the bastard son of Charles II, tried unsuccessfully to displace James. The king’s army was rotten to the core, the officers despising their ‘negligent general’, indulging in wine, and being ready for ‘any excess of licentiousness and cruelty’. Their camp was ‘not a place where female innocence could be safe’; the rape of a young woman, loyal to the king, who tried to warn them of impending danger, was a shameful sign of corruption. But Monmouth was no better: he was craven in his fear when defeated, insensible to shame, attempting only to blame others, beseeching his implacable uncle with ‘womanish entreaties and lamentations’.173 William by contrast, was truly manly, ‘destined to save the United Provinces from slavery, to curb the power of France, and to establish the English constitution on a lasting foundation’.174 Having lost both his mother and his father he could not enjoy childhood and was never truly young, with a ‘pensive, severe and solemn

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aspect’.175 Endowed ‘by nature’ with the qualities of a great ruler he was always reserved and stoical in public, seeming cold but with strong passions underneath. While a statesman first and foremost, he was capable of great courage in the face of adversity in battle. His frail body was ruled with an iron will, he found ‘even the most hardy field sports of England effeminate’. His was a strength of mind, not body, his passions contained in the interests of his aim: that ‘the great community of nations;’ should not be threatened with subjugation by France.176 Hard-working and single-minded, he would never ‘reign in our hearts’, but Macaulay hailed him as ‘the deliverer’, stressing his grief at his wife’s death rather than dwelling on his infidelities, and passing over such aberrations as the Massacre of Glencoe with mild criticism for his neglect of Scottish affairs.177 William had rescued England from the tyranny of James and the danger of subjection to France; he had secured English freedom. Together, he and Mary cleansed the court of the excesses of the Restoration, and brought marital harmony back to the centre of public life. There was no place in this history for revolutionary women claiming their rights. Alice Lisle, an exemplary Protestant martyr, was awarded a bit part. Alice, the widow of John Lisle who had sat in the Long Parliament, is described as highly esteemed even by Tories, and related to respectable and noble families. It was widely known that she had wept at the execution of Charles I and regretted the violent acts her husband had been engaged in. When two rebels from the Monmouth rebellion sought refuge in her house, ‘the same womanly kindness, which had led her to befriend the Royalists in their time of trouble, would not suffer her to refuse a meal to the wretched men who had intreated [sic] her to protect them’.178 The prisoners were taken before the terrible Judge Jeffreys, who demanded her death by burning. A wise ruler, comments the ‘judicious historian’, would have dealt with this crime generously. There was a tradition in England and ‘to women especially has been granted, by a kind of tacit prescription, the right of indulging, in the midst of havoc and vengeance, that compassion which is the most endearing of all their charms’.179 But morality was all awry. Mary of Modena, James’s Italian queen, who had been ‘good natured’ when times were bad, had been driven to grief and rage by her husband’s passion for his ugly mistress. She turned into an ‘ungracious and haughty’ consort, her ‘unprincely greediness and her unwomanly cruelty’ a sorry sight, while the ladies of her household ‘distinguished themselves pre-eminently by rapacity and hard heartedness’. 180 Sexual disorder, Macaulay reminded his readers, meant social disorder. Macaulay’s authoritative style was in itself an expression of gender politics: only men could write in this way. Critics noted the honesty, independence

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and ‘good English values’, that shone through his narrative. ‘A thoroughly manly writer’, judged Leslie Stephen: ‘straightforward, says what he thinks, combative but never base’, with a spirit of justice and a strong moral compass.181 ‘I open a school for men: I teach the causes of national prosperity and decay’, Macaulay had written in response to one shocked father who felt that some of his detail was unsuitable reading matter for young girls, ‘I cannot admit that a book like mine is to be regarded as written for female boarding schools.’182 Yet the authoritative manly voice was not intended to detract from a female readership: rather it was part of the predominantly unconscious enterprise of demarcating male and female spheres. National histories were to be written by men who had the training and ability to educate others in serious matters of politics. But female readers were essential. Macaulay was fully aware of the female market. Hannah and Baba were his favoured listeners, and they were always appreciative, never falling asleep during his readings as Trevelyan was wont to do. His ‘school for men’ did not preclude women, rather it situated male and female readers in different ways. Understanding ‘the causes of national prosperity and decay’ might not be so essential to women but they too must know what was entailed in being a ‘civilised subject’: one who was ready to engage fully in her proper place in the world. As he told his sister Fanny, she need not be ashamed about her ignorance of the National Debt: ‘few ladies have studied this subject’, and, as he had the grace to add, he was ‘not deeply versed in it’ himself.183 He talked to Hannah about every detail of his personal life and plans, and to Trevelyan about India, Ireland and matters of politics. Macaulay had no close relationships with adult women outside of his family, and his ideal woman remained Hannah: well educated; an excellent wife, mother, and manager of her household; nearly always ready to support and assist him (though with terrible exceptions); and the editor of his works after his death. He talked to Baba about literature and played games with Alice, his younger niece, while he followed every step of his nephew George’s academic progress with acute anxiety and coached him in the classics. This division of labour was simply ordinary – the order of things. Histories of women became popular in the 1830s, many of them in biographical form, a lesser genre seen as more appropriate to the woman author. They emphasised the role of exemplary and pious women in demarcating a specifically Christian meaning to modern womanhood.184 Macaulay was too locked in competition to contemplate the value of other male historians: of women he was simply contemptuous. They were not saved, in his eyes, by their claim to feminine influence, publishing histories whose grand narrative was the advance of civilisation through the benevolent design of

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enlightened Christian women. In Macaulay’s eyes women should stick to fiction, an appropriate arena for their talents. He was unstinting in his praise for dead female authors, particularly his beloved Jane Austen. Northanger Abbey, in his eyes, was worth all of Dickens and Pliny put together.185 Living women novelists, however, were another matter: he would not bother to read Mrs Gaskell, for example. Agnes Strickland, the author of numerous royal biographies, was ‘a vulgar, mendacious, malicious scribbler’, but he would not review her work, out of ‘respect for her petticoats’.186 He recorded his encounter with her at an ‘odious party’ at the Duke of Somerset’s. The duchess made him take ‘Miss Strickland, whom I abominate as a detestable writer, and who abominates me, as a successful one’, in to dinner, and seated him between her and Lady Davy. ‘I never in my life was more disagreeably seated. . . . I hate the genus blue-stocking – and in the whole genus I hate no two women like those two. The stuff which they talked was incredible. I would have died with laughing but for vexation at my own place in so absurd a group’.187 Miss Strickland had her revenge in her account of the same dinner. She ‘was by no means impressed by his manners and appearance, for he seemed to her ugly, vulgar, and pompous – the merits of the popular historian being overlooked in the unprepossessing person of the man’. There was a handsome young man opposite and Macaulay launched into a tirade on the stupidity of handsome men. Agnes commented that ‘it was a consolation for ugly men to consider them so’, after which ‘the popular historian’ sulked.188 Lucy Aikin, who had complained of his harsh review of her Life of Joseph Addison, was just as bad. ‘Call such stuff history’, he expostulated. He would have saved her from exposing herself if only she had taken his advice; as it was, ‘I censured her more leniently . . . than so bad a book was ever censured by any critic of the smallest discernment’.189 His lenient censure depended on a patronising assumption that women writers deserved ‘courteous’ criticism, with less deadly swords than would be adopted for men. Since she was, he judged, capable of good writing, she should not be severely disciplined, merely reminded ‘by a gentle touch . . . that it is high time to wake’.190 There was, however, nothing courteous about his comments on ‘the hag’ Harriet Martineau.191 She returned the feelings in kind, finding that his chief defect was ‘that he wants heart’, a deficiency of which, she was convinced, he was not himself aware.192 Her affrontery in daring to write a popular national history was perhaps what particularly riled him. ‘I saw that hideous woman, if it be not an insult to the sweet sex to call her so’, Macaulay recorded of her on one occasion.193 Despite his jibes at those who were too preoccupied with the ‘dignity of history’, it was clear that women, in his view, could not write

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History proper. They should confine themselves to the lesser genres, those appropriate to their sphere. (ii)  Scotland and Ireland If class differences were resolved through deference and nationality and gender differences naturalised, what then of ethnicity? Macaulay’s narrative had to deal with the tortuous aftermath, in Scotland and Ireland, of this ‘preserving revolution’, this ‘least violent’ of all revolutions. Scotland, in his emplotment, represented the success story: despite battles and massacres, the outcome had been good, progress achieved. He knew that he was ‘grossly ignorant’ of Scottish history, except in so far as it connected with English and that he had much to learn.194 Both his father’s lineage and his Edinburgh constituency connected him to Scotland, and he was perfectly well aware of the specificity of Scottish interests and institutions. But he was a committed unionist and always thought of himself as an Englishman. His own family story was of successful assimilation, and the story of Scotland, as he wrote it, mirrored his own. The union had resulted in the civilisation of Scotland, but it was still a place with its own Church and legal and educational systems. He disliked the factionalism and rancour of the Scottish Presbyterians, the sermons he heard were execrable; Edinburgh was an impressive city but he felt no attachment to it. Despite his protestations he had been deeply shocked by his election defeat there in 1847 and only agreed to stand again after humble requests, treated by him with a ‘reserve and dignity approaching to haughtiness’.195 He had always insisted on his independence as an MP, just as he had done in Leeds, and this did not go down well with his constituents. He rarely visited the city, and only on the understanding that he was doing them a favour. ‘Edinburgh people’, he noted after his re-election in 1852, ‘think that they have got a slave . . . They will find themselves grievously mistaken, I can tell them’.196 He had visited Scotland with his parents in 1817, when Zachary had been delighted by his son’s enjoyment of the great historic scenes. He returned with Hannah and Baba in 1850, exploring the Highland sites he would depict. Travelling north, he was pleased to see that ‘the condition of the people has perceptibly improved . . . wretched huts had been replaced by comfortably slated houses’: his picture of a more prosperous country confirmed.197 He read some of the Scottish narrative aloud to Hannah and Fanny just before they set out on the trip. They approved but he was not satisfied: ‘It flags, I am afraid.’198 The story of the growth and expanding potential of the nation that he told was associated with the amalgamation of races and tribes, the creation of a

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united people. The ‘melting down’ of ‘hostile elements’ had begun in the thirteenth century but had taken a major step forward with the successful assimilation of the Scots. The accession of James I to the English throne brought Scotland into ‘the same empire with England’.199 For a century Scotland was treated in many respects as a subject province provoking deep hostilities: as a result a conservative revolution in England was a destructive revolution in Scotland. ‘There was only one way’, Macaulay made clear to his readers before they set out on the tangled skein of Scottish affairs of 1688–9, ‘in which Scotland could obtain a share of the commercial prosperity which England at that time enjoyed’, and ‘become one people with the English’. The merchants were keen to enjoy the benefits of larger connections, particularly with the West India trade, the politicians wanted the theatre of the court and Westminster, but the religious question was difficult. ‘The union accomplished in 1707’, Macaulay argued, ‘has indeed been a great blessing both to England and to Scotland’, though ‘in constituting one state, it left two Churches’. It was this acceptance of the Kirk, as he had insisted in his speeches on Ireland in the 1840s, that had made possible the amalgamation of the nation and the ‘marvellous improvements’ that had changed the face of Scotland. If the Anglican Church had been imposed the story might have been the same as in Ireland. ‘Plains now rich with harvests would have remained barren moors. Waterfalls which now turn the wheels of immense factories would have resounded in a wilderness. New Lanark would still have been a sheepwalk and Greenock a fishing hamlet.’200 Union had brought prosperity; its condition was religious toleration. Deep disenchantment with the Stuarts in 1689 ensured the proclamation of William and Mary. War then broke out in the Highlands, however, where the clans were loyal to the Catholic Stuarts and locked in their own internecine feuds. This was a region unknown in the South, for there was at that time no interest in ‘the Highland race’. The English in the seventeenth century, Macaulay instructed his readers, were ‘abundantly inquisitive about the manners of rude nations separated from our island by great continents and oceans’. They were fascinated by ‘the laws, the superstitions, the cabins, the repasts, the dresses, the marriages, the funerals of Laplanders and Hottentots, Mohawks and Malays . . . the usages of the black men of Africa and of the red men of America’. ‘The only barbarian about whom there was no wish to have any information was the Highlander.’201 Places now loved by tourists were at that time feared. Civilisation, he reminded them, exciting their romantic imaginations, had brought the law, the police, trade and industry: it had also facilitated a love of wild nature, only possible when nature had elsewhere been tamed. ‘It was not till roads had been cut out of

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the rocks, till bridges had been flung over the courses of the rivulets, till inns had succeeded to dens of robbers’, and the dangers of ‘being slain or plundered’ were over, that the lakes and the rainbows overhanging the waterfalls, even ‘the clouds and tempests which lowered on the mountain tops’ could bring pleasure.202 The clan system, in Macaulay’s account, was ‘widely different from that which is established in peaceful and prosperous societies’. Its acceptance of robbery, its dislike of steady industry, its expectation that the weaker sex would do the heaviest manual labour, all provided markers of its savage characteristics.203 Plundering the land of others was more acceptable than farming, and a mixture of Popery and paganism served as religion. Furniture, food and clothing were primitive, yet there was something ‘in the character and manners of this rude people which might well excite admiration and a good hope’.204 They had courage and an intense attachment to the patriarch and the tribe, heroic notions of hospitality, patrician virtues and vices, the arts of rhetoric and poetry. Their values were reminiscent of those heroic sixteenth-century Englishmen, Raleigh and Drake. Lochiel, one of the clan leaders, was painted as the Ulysses of the Highlands (a tribute indeed to link him to the Greeks). He was a generous master, a trusty ally, a terrible enemy, a great warrior and hunter. There was no reason to believe that the Celts suffered from ‘a natural inferiority’.205 With efficient policing, the Protestant religion and the English language they could expect ‘an immense accession of strength’.206 Yet the clans were doomed to defeat in 1689 for they were beset with petty squabbles and could not form a nation. There was no cooperation, only ‘a congress of petty kings’. The effects of their bravery and feats of arms were soon lost, for they behaved like spoilt brats. Eventually the English government learned that ‘the weapons by which the Celtic clans could be most easily subdued were the pickaxe and the spade’. ‘The Anglosaxon [sic] and the Celt have been reconciled in Scotland’, enthused Macaulay, and ‘in Scotland all the great actions of both races are thrown into a common stock, and are considered as making up the glory which belongs to the whole country.’207 The Massacre of Glencoe provided one of Macaulay’s great set-pieces in relation to Scotland, one of the dramatic stories that he trusted would capture his readers, with its romance and horror, reminiscent of Macbeth. ‘In the Gaelic tongue’, Macaulay claimed, Glencoe signifies the Glen of Weeping: and in truth that pass is the most dreary and melancholy of all the Scottish passes, the very Valley of the Shadow of Death. Mists and storms brood over it through the greater part

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of the finest summer; and even on those rare days when the sun is bright, and when there is no cloud in the sky, the impression made by the landscape is sad and awful. The path lies along a stream which issues from the most sullen and gloomy of mountain pools . . . Mile after mile the only sound that indicates life is the faint cry of a bird of prey from some storm beaten pinnacle of rock. The progress of civilisation, which has turned so many wastes into fields yellow with harvests or gay with apple blossoms, has only made Glencoe more desolate.208

By 1691 the Highlanders had been finally defeated and William and Mary offered a pardon to every rebel who swore allegiance. But Macdonald of Glencoe was locked in a deadly feud with the king’s agent, Breadalbane, who saw an opportunity, together with his ally Argyle, to destroy his enemy. Macdonald was late in taking the oath and this was used as an excuse. ‘Among all warlike barbarians’, claimed Macaulay, ‘revenge is esteemed the most sacred of duties and the most exquisite of pleasures; and so it had long been esteemed among the Highlanders.’ 209 The Master of Stair, a renowned statesman and scholar, also hated the Macdonalds and believed in ‘the pacification and civilisation of the Highlands . . . His object was no less than a complete dissolution and reconstruction of society.’ Highlanders were ‘enemies of law, of industry, and of trade’, and should be treated ‘like a pack of wolves, snared by any device, and slaughtered without mercy’.210 The king took little interest in Scottish business and the enemies of the Macdonalds had their way. The clan were horribly murdered and few escaped, many of those who did dying of hunger and cold. The news took a long time to filter south. To the Londoners of that day, ‘Appin was what Caffraria or Borneo is to us’.211 They were unmoved by hearing that Highland thieves had been killed; there might have been violence, but it had been in a land of violence. Yet the perpetrators did not go unpunished, suffering from ‘apprehensions’ and ‘spectres’. Only the Master of Stair suffered no remorse or fear: he believed, like Cromwell with his policy of extirpation, that he had committed a sacred duty. This time, however, Macaulay was not approving. The massacre was regrettable, a stain that had to be minimised in relation to his hero, the king. John Paget, a Lowland barrister, was so outraged by Macaulay’s representations of the Highlands that he took public issue with him. He admired his vivid imagination, but his work was ‘impassioned harangue’.212 His Gaelic was faulty, Glencoe was simply named after the stream which ran through it, and the conduct of the Highlanders had been peaceful and orderly. Paget was struck that Macaulay, descended from Highland and Quaker stock,

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seemed to hate those two groups with such venom. ‘No quarrel is so bitter as a family quarrel’, he wrote. ‘When a man takes to abusing his father or his mother, he does it with infinitely greater gusto than a mere stranger.’ His description of the Highlands was ‘so vituperative, so spiteful, so grotesque – it displays such command of the language of hatred, and such astounding power of abuse, that, coming as it does from a writer who challenges a place by the side of Hume and Gibbon, it takes the breath away’. His depiction was a ‘gross caricature’, a ‘shameless libel, by a son of the Highlands on the people and the land of his fathers . . . Lowlanders as we are, it moves our indignation. It is no history. . . .’213 He had misused the sources he claimed as authorities. His genius was much to be admired, but he had done great mischief, proclaiming falsehoods ‘to the whole civilised world’.214 Macaulay’s response to Paget’s criticisms of him were to dismiss them as trash. Paget could be contemptuously dismissed just as he had condemned the Highlands to ‘improvement’: they were part of his own heritage but a part that must be destroyed in the name of progress and his own secure identity as an Englishman. Macaulay’s final throw on Scotland was a second set-piece: the story of Darien, contrasting a failed Scottish enterprise with the greater success of their more careful neighbours. The story, he opined, had been badly told by writers with ‘strong national partiality’.215 He knew that he would enrage the Scots by telling the truth, he noted in his journal, ‘But n’importe. The truth shall be told . . . .’216 The ingenious speculator William Paterson, one of the brains behind the Bank of England, disappointed by his lack of recognition in England (probably, as Macaulay notes, in part because he was a Scot), returned to Scotland with a scheme for a new colony. Paterson was joined by Fletcher of Saltoun, a man whose ‘heart was ulcerated by the poverty, the feebleness, the political insignificance of Scotland’ and enraged by ‘the indignities which she had suffered at the hand of her powerful and opulent neighbour’. Together they proposed a glorious future for Scotland, as the new Venice or Amsterdam.217 The Scots had never been surpassed in commercial life; why should they not command an empire? Paterson proposed to colonise Darien, on the isthmus between North and South America. It would provide the key to a new trading universe, the link between East and West of which Columbus had dreamed. He had seen the place and it was a paradise. Scotland was seized as if by a mania. Paterson became an idol, appearing in public looking ‘like Atlas conscious that a world was on his shoulders’.218 All rushed to subscribe to the Company, formed in 1695 without thought for the Spanish (who had already claimed territorial rights). ‘The Scotch are a people eminently intelligent, wary, resolute and self possessed’, wrote the

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judicious historian, but they are also ‘peculiarly liable to dangerous fits of passion and delusions of the imagination’.219 The English, anxious that their own trading companies might suffer, and that they might be drawn into a war not of their own making, were deeply hostile to the scheme. But this only increased the determination of the proud Scots. A first fleet sailed in 1698, its stores full of periwigs, bales of Scottish wool that could never be worn in the tropics and hundreds of English-language Bibles that neither the Spaniards nor the Indians would be able to read. They anchored near Darien and took formal possession, naming the area Caledonia, and began to lay the foundations of New Edinburgh. They attempted to negotiate with local potentates. These ‘savage rulers’ Macaulay depicted as enacting a farcical pastiche of the power struggles of continental Europe. They were dressed, if at all, in strange combinations; they squabbled like children over their relative treatment at the hands of the Spanish, and played at being kings. ‘One mighty monarch’, Macaulay related, ‘wore with pride a cap of white reeds lined with red silk and adorned with an ostrich feather.’ He received the strangers hospitably, ‘in a palace built of canes and covered with palmetto royal, and regaled them with calabashes of a sort of ale brewed from Indian corn and potatoes’.220 But the colony was doomed. The Scots had to do for themselves ‘what English, French, Dutch, and Spanish colonists employed negroes and Indians to do for them’.221 They toiled in the pestilential swamps and mangroves, dying like flies. Those who survived soon determined to leave, and lost many more of their fellows to the sharks of the Atlantic. Meanwhile a second fleet had embarked, only to discover a wilderness – the castle of New Edinburgh in ruins, the huts burned, the Amsterdam that was to be overgrown with jungle. Many of the adventurers who had left home with dreams of wealth were glad to escape to Jamaica and hired themselves out to the planters there, relieved to find a colony established on a proper system of order. The Scottish effort to colonise outside of the protection of her mighty neighbour was over: Scotland could not go it alone. Her fate was tied to that of the imperial race. Scots could make their fortunes, as Zachary had, but only in the service of the British Empire. The aftermath of Culloden had effected much of what the Master of Stair had sought, and the famines of the 1840s and the efforts of Charles Trevelyan were completing the process, civilising the Celts. Scots could be incorporated, could belong to a liberal nation. They could have their kirks, their schools and universities, their literature; but their history had been made one with the English. Macaulay’s representation of a peaceful revolution was most clearly belied by events in Ireland. In the summer of 1849 he was preparing volume three,

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which was to cover the violent troubles in Ireland after William’s accession, and was planning to spend two weeks there, seeing the main sites that figured in his narrative. At the centre of his story were the siege of Londonderry, the Battle of the Boyne and the siege of Limerick. Trevelyan, still deeply involved with continuing problems of hunger and emigration, knew of his plans and once more saw an opportunity to engage his assistance. Trevelyan had a strong belief in the importance of history, and, while being painfully aware of the injustices that Irish Catholics had suffered, he racialised the Celts. A great admirer of his brother-in-law, a ‘universal genius’ in his estimation, he told him of the vast amount of good he could do ‘by placing on your national record just and liberal views of Irish history and policy’. ‘Nothing would have more influence’ in this time of great change ‘than a striking and truthful statement of Irish affairs in your history.’ He was arranging for Macaulay to meet key figures who attached great importance to his assistance.222 En route to Ireland Macaulay read ‘the lives of the Emperors from Manimim to Carinus inclusive’, more interested in Rome than in the country he was about to visit for the first time. On the voyage, unable to read, he went through in his head the half of Paradise Lost that he could remember, a striking example of his need to fill his mind with literature, perhaps in case unwelcome thoughts should sidle in.223 The dialogue between Satan and Gabriel reminded him of two men in Shakespeare; these were the figures that peopled his mind. As Gladstone noted, ‘he was always conversing, or recollecting, or reading, or composing; but reflecting, never’.224 He visited Dublin, the Boyne, Limerick, Killarney, Cork and Derry during this short and only foray to the ‘sister island’. Dublin was ‘a fine city’ and judged to be a society ‘well satisfied with its rulers’. He wished he had been there for the celebration of the lifting of the Siege of Londonderry on the 12th, with the Apprentice Boys’ procession, orange flags, guns firing and a sermon in the cathedral. At Dublin Castle, where he worked hard on archives relevant to his history, he saw the arms that had been seized in the ‘contemptible abortion of a rebellion’.225 But now times had changed: the police were everywhere, ‘political agitation . . . dead and buried’.226 The ‘marvellous delusion’ of repeal was over, ‘absolutely forgotten’.227 The Irish had recognised that their future lay with England. A visit to the Boyne allowed him to get a ‘tolerable notion’ of the scene of the battle. A dinner held in his honour, attended by large numbers of journalists, was less pleasurable. Their vulgarity jarred on him, reminding him of the looser morals of an earlier time in England; yet these men ‘were the hope of Ireland’. The comments he received about his book delighted him,

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confirming his sense that its popularity ‘will not be merely ephemeral’.228 As he travelled west with his faithful servant William, who saw to all the details of his comfort, there were more signs of the effects of the famine. The beggary was on a scale that he had never seen in Europe. Parts of Cork were ‘to the eye of an Englishman insupportable’.229 Killarney was horrifying: the juxtaposition of natural beauty with terrible poverty shocking. The people were ‘the most miserable people that I ever fell in with in any part of the world’, he told Hannah. He hated ‘the endless mendicant whine which follows you mile after mile’; the dozens of children who ran after him, begging and crying out about their dead mothers, were disturbing. It was hard, especially given their ‘strange appearance’, to know whether to laugh or to cry. ‘But what use is there in making oneself miserable?’ he asked rhetorically, and quickly turned his attention to pleasanter matters.230 This was the man who had wept over Florence’s grief at the death of her mother in Dombey and Son: fiction could be more affective than life.231 ‘I cannot mend this state of things’, he wrote to Ellis, and there is no use in breaking my heart about it. I am comforted by thinking that between the poorest English peasant and the Irish peasant there is ample room for ten or twelve well marked degrees of poverty.232

His visit to Derry provoked different responses: he walked round the walls four times, impressed by the zeal of the citizenry in preserving their monuments. Summing up his thoughts on his journey, he recorded, ‘I have got a large store of images and thoughts. I have not experienced one moment’s ennui. I have had no discomfort . . . Health good – spirits good. Yet I felt sometimes depressed by the pitiable the hopeless misery of the Munster peasantry.’233 The ‘hopeless misery’ was speedily banished. The situation in Ireland was satisfactory. A trip to France with Ellis confirmed him in his confidence that the revolutionary moment was over there too. In Paris, he told his niece Margaret, ‘every human being that I saw, high and low, was cursing the revolution’, breathing vengeance on the Reds. A conversation with a veteran of the violence of the previous June told him that they had been too lenient with the revolutionaries; they should have killed them all. ‘They want to rob, to burn, to murder’, and they would return; ‘then we will have no mercy . . . They shall be treated like dogs – like mad dogs.’ ‘I quite sympathised with him’, he reported to her, ‘I would have made such an example of the rabble . . . that the ears of all the world should have tingled.’234 With the political scene settled once more in England, Ireland and France, he could write his

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account of the past in a relatively sanguine frame of mind, and soon the writing was going well. His task in relation to Ireland was ‘peculiarly delicate’, for the seventeenth century had bequeathed ‘a fatal heritage of malignant passions’.235 He would do ‘to both parties the justice which neither has ever done to the other’, he wrote.236 Hannah had reported to a friend that ‘Tom has come back such a hot Orangeman, that he says if he had stayed in Ireland he should have joined an Orange Lodge’.237 He could not yet write on the Siege of Derry for he was too excited. By October he was on to ‘a difficult and ticklish subject – the character of dominant castes’, and found that he could write of ‘the exploits of the Enniskillen men and the Londonderry men – con amore’.238 Earlier in the 1840s Macaulay’s major emphasis had been on the religious schisms which divided the country. In the History, however, as his thinking on difference was elaborated, he had recourse to a notion of the war between races – the Saxons and the Celts.239 Celts had natural courage and intelligence, making them interesting but not prosperous. They were impetuous and emotional, had a ‘natural turn’ for acting and rhetoric, feared work more than danger, and lived at a different level of civilisation from Saxons. Saxons, for their part, had natural courage and intelligence. They were hardworking, ambitious, energetic and high-spirited, with a capacity for discipline, gravity, prudence and stoicism. ‘We Anglo-Saxons are not much given to expressing all that we feel’, he wrote. ‘We leave that to the Celts; who generally overdo the matter at least as much as we underdo it’.240 His identification was clearly with the Saxons. The struggle between the races had been made infinitely worse by the disastrous history of the two countries. Following the conquest of Elizabeth, ancient racial animosities had been magnified by the contest between Protestant and Catholic. Cromwell’s brutal attempt to make Ireland English was applauded by Macaulay: this, he believed, as he had argued before, was the only possible resolution of ‘the Irish problem’. If civilisation had taken root then, how different the history would have been. But Ireland was ‘cursed by the domination of race over race and of religion over religion’. It ‘remained indeed a member of the empire, but a withered and distorted member, adding no strength to the body politic, and reproachfully pointed at by all who feared or envied the greatness of England’.241 In the Ireland of the seventeenth century there were two populations: the English settlers, knowledgeable, energetic and capable of self-government; and the aboriginal peasantry, living in an almost savage state. ‘They never worked till they felt the sting of hunger. They were content with accommodation inferior to that which, in happier countries, was provided for domestic cattle.’ The

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Catholic was persecuted for being an Irishman: ‘the same lines of demarcation which separated religions separated races, and he was of the conquered, the subjugated, the degraded race’.242 These two populations were morally and politically sundered, living at widely different levels of civilisation. ‘There could not be equality between men who lived in houses and men who lived in sties, between men who were fed on bread, and men who were fed on potatoes.’243 Freemen and hereditary serfs were different branches of ‘the great human family’, and one was suited to colonising the other.244 There was the dominion of wealth over poverty, knowledge over ignorance, and civilisation over barbarism. The tree provided a familiar metaphor for the universal human family, but the emphasis was on the different branches, attached at the trunk, yet sundered from each other. James II and Tyrconnel had attempted to reverse this inequality and make the Catholics dominant. But those who had remained in Ireland were totally unsuited to rule, used as they were to despotic powers over ‘aboriginals’ in a tribal context. Those with ambition had left. Civil and military power were ‘transferred from the Saxon to the Celtic population’.245 Men who had previously been enslaved could now exercise absolute power over that minority which had previously persecuted them. Their conduct was barbaric, their violence, gluttony and rapacity compared by Macaulay to that of ‘Hottentots’.246 Celts, accustomed to eating potatoes, seized upon meat: ‘carcasses, half raw and half burned to cinders, sometimes still bleeding, sometimes in a state of loathsome decay, were torn to pieces, and swallowed without salt, bread, or herbs’. The Irish army, Macaulay likened to ‘unclean birds of prey which swarm wherever the scent of carrion is strong’. A fearful conflict of ‘races’ erupted and ‘great as have been the evils which Protestant ascendancy has produced in Ireland’, he opined, ‘the evils produced by Popish ascendancy would have been greater still’.247 James’s misguided policy in Ireland was compounded by his use of Irish troops in England when he grasped the danger to his crown. ‘Of all foreigners’, Macaulay claimed, as he depicted the difference between the English and the Irish in racial terms, they were the most hated and despised . . . they were our vanquished, enslaved and despoiled enemies . . . The blood of the whole nation boiled at the thought . . . To be conquered by Frenchmen or by Spaniards would have seemed comparatively a tolerable fate . . . But to be subjugated by an inferior caste was a degradation beyond all other degradation. The English felt as the white inhabitants of Charleston and New Orleans would feel if those towns were occupied by negro garrisons.248

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Having fled from England, James, with his ally Louis, made Ireland the centre of his struggle to survive. The end was predictable. In a dramatic reconstruction of the Siege of Londonderry, Macaulay depicted the union of Scots and English, their ‘friendship . . . explained by their common antipathy to the Irish race and the Popish religion’.249 Here was ‘the imperial race turned desperately to bay’.250 Like Spartans the Protestants of Ulster had developed peculiar qualities that might have remained dormant in the mother country. They had kept in subjection ‘a numerous and hostile population’ and had cultivated ‘the vices and virtues of masters, as opposed to the vices and virtues of slaves’. They had ‘all of the noblest virtues of a sovereign caste’, something of the tyrant as well as the hero.251 They were imperious and cruel, but their discipline, solidarity, stoicism in adversity and appeal to their God were manifest. The lead was given by the daring Apprentice lads, the city united across classes and genders in its determination to defend itself, the women supporting the men in the thick of the fire. The contest that ensued, the ‘most memorable siege in British history’, was ‘between nations’, but Ulster was besieged by ‘miserable serfs’. It was inevitable that victory would be ‘with the nation that though inferior in numbers was superior in civilisation, in capacity for self-government, and in stubbornness of resolution’.252 Violence was sanitised in Macaulay’s account. Despite having served as a Minister at War, Macaulay had little interest in the details of wars or warfare. He acknowledged, for example, his lack of interest in the Crimea: he lived too much in the past to be violently excited about the present.253 Lengthy military matters in a history bored him. Killing was made impersonal, graphic detail avoided, the horror and terror of war distanced. His account of the Battle of the Boyne focused on the site, the leaders, the peoples of the two armies, the movements of the troops, and the fact that William, despite being wounded, was constantly in action, driven on by the ‘energy of his spirit’.254 The battle was all ‘smoke, dust and din’; corpses fell, William was ‘wherever the peril was greatest’, leading on his men, and once victorious ordering that there should be no unnecessary bloodshed.255 This was war distantiated, made palatable to author and readers, with no sense of the personal loss and tragedies it involved, none of the Iliad’s dramas of grief and despair. Macaulay avoided pain, erected barriers against harsh realities, and drove away demons in his writing, as in his life. The old Ireland was doomed to conquest: ‘the otherness of Irish Catholicism . . . possessed an ineradicable ethinic component, being perceived as immersed in superstition, savagery and the general credulousness associated with primitive cultures or “doomed races” ’.256 Macaulay

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narrated a final desperate attempt by the Celts to free themselves from the Saxons at Limerick: ‘Patriotism, fanaticism, shame, revenge, despair . . . raised them above themselves’. They ‘fought vigorously’. Even ‘the very women of Limerick . . . stood firmly under the hottest fire, and flung stones and broken bottles at the enemy’.257 Finally Limerick fell. ‘The domination of the colonists was absolute . . . the native population was tranquil with the ghastly tranquillity of exhaustion and of despair.’258 ‘The iron had entered into the soul’ and the spirit of this ‘unhappy nation’ was cowed for generations. ‘A rising of the Irishry against the English was no more to be apprehended than a rising of the women and children against the men.’259 The final piteous vignette was of the evacuation of the defeated army: ‘Great numbers of women, many of them leading, carrying, suckling their infants, covered all the roads.’ The Irish general said that they would be allowed to accompany their men, but there was insufficient space on the ships. There remained on the water side a great multitude clamouring piteously to be taken on board. As the last boats put off there was a rush to the surf. Some women caught hold of the ropes, were dragged out of their depth, clung till their fingers were cut through, and perished in the waves. The ships began to move. A wild and terrible wail rose from the shore, and excited unwonted compassion in hearts steeled by hatred of the Irish race and of the Romish faith. Even the stern Cromwellian, now at length, after a desperate struggle of three years, left the undisputed lord of the bloodstained and devastated island, could not hear unmoved that bitter cry, in which was poured forth all the rage and sorrow of a conquered nation.260

Had Macaulay seen victims of the famine leaving for the US? Or did his evocation of women’s grief owe something to Homer or to Hannah More’s antislavery poetry? Was pity a way of softening his account of the barbarism of the ‘aboriginal Irish’? The only future for this ‘bloodstained and devastated island’ was with England, and he could only hope that at some point in the future the inhabitants of the British Isles would be ‘indissolubly blended into one people’.261 But the languages of difference – of race, religion, nation and civilisation – were deeply entangled in his account, disrupting the vision of one people on grounds of both racial and cultural difference. And while Macaulay regretted the pride and arrogance with which Londonderry remembered its triumph, as Hannah had noted, there was no question as to where his identifications belonged. The Ireland of the seventeenth century was conjured up in his account as boggy, swampy and unhomely.262 Outside Dublin travellers encountered

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‘the miserable burrows out of which squalid and half naked barbarians stared wildly’, alongside the native Irish gentlemen with their despotic behaviour and rude harems. English settlers had tried to plant civilisation, as in Kenmare, the enterprise of the ‘benevolent and enlightened’ Sir William Petty in 1670. Once ‘a horrible desert, a chaos of bogs, thickets and precipices, where the she wolf still littered, and where some half naked savages, who could not speak a word of English, made themselves burrows in the mud, and lived on roots and sour milk’. ‘Scarcely any village, built by an enterprising band of new Englanders, far from the dwellings of their countrymen, in the midst of the hunting grounds of the Red Indians, was more completely out of the pale of civilisation than Kenmare.’263 Yet it had been transformed into a place of cultivation and beauty with numerous cattle, tilled fields, successful iron works, buildings, boats, machines, granaries and dairies. The oil of seals lit the long nights by the fire in winter, facilitating family life. Nature had been tamed and domesticated, the land made fertile, the people civilised. Just as England had been transformed between the seventeenth century and the present, lifted from barbarism, so had pockets of Ireland by the efforts of English colonists. Such efforts were the only hope for the future. Ireland might be a ‘sister’, but she was a colony, not a nation. The ‘mother country’ had ‘paramount authority’ ‘over all colonies planted by her sons in all parts of the world’. Colonies were territories settled by white men and were offshoots of the mother country, subject to imperial power. ‘The doctrine that the parent state has supreme power over her colonies’, Macaulay taught his readers, ‘is not only borne out by authority and by precedent, but will appear, when examined, to be in entire accord with justice and with policy’.264 Yet when those colonies ‘grew up’, he argued, utilising the familiar trope of the family, their independence might have to be recognised. ‘During the feeble infancy of colonies’, he believed, independence would be pernicious, or rather fatal, to them. Undoubtedly as they grow stronger and stronger, it will be wise in the home government to be more and more indulgent. No sensible parent deals with a son of twenty as with a son of ten. . . . Nevertheless, there cannot really be more than one supreme power in a society.265

Consequently either complete incorporation or complete separation were the only possibilities. In the case of Ireland with its geographical proximity, always a potential base for invasion, only full incorporation was possible. During the eighteenth century Irish colonists had claimed the right to more

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independence, appealing to principles of liberty, but condemning the aboriginal inhabitants to ‘cruel and hopeless slavery’.266 The colonists owed everything to England: Twice . . . the natives had thrown off the alien yoke; twice the intruders had been in imminent danger of extirpation; twice England had come to the rescue, and had put down the Celtic population . . . Millions of English money had been expended in the struggle. English blood had flowed . . .

It was the sacrifices of the English people that allowed the ‘Saxon settlers’ to trample on ‘the children of the soil’. ‘The colony in Ireland was therefore emphatically a dependency; a dependency not merely by the common law of the realm, but by the nature of things.’267 And ‘the nature of things’, like ‘the order of things’ was determined by history. Incorporation must be the solution to the ‘problem’ of Ireland. As Burrow argues, part of what shaped Macaulay’s thinking on both Ireland and Scotland was his stadial vision, together with notions of conjectural history.268 But there is something else: his vision of what made a successful nation. England had become homogeneous in the thirteenth century: but once Ireland and Scotland were part of one empire, and religious differences had proliferated, full homogeneity could not be achieved. Incorporation, rather than assimilation, had to be sufficient criteria for belonging to the nation. Catholics and Jews could be Englishmen, so could Scots. But what about the Irish? He was preoccupied with difference, the differences of religion and the differences of what he called ‘race’ – not in this instance connoting skin colour, but indicating chasms between degrees of whiteness on a civilisational index. Though white in their skin colour, aboriginal Irish could never hope to be as white as true Englishmen. His usage of Irishry, Celts, aboriginals and Papists interchangeably signals confusions over race and nation and the fluidity of his racial thinking: racial difference was both fixed and mobile; race was invoked only to be sidestepped by cultural assimilation. It was possible to become fully English, as Trevelyan had, but that was accessible only to some. The perception of the Irish as racially different both provided legitimation for colonial rule and was an unfortunate barrier to full belonging. Though Macaulay did not simianise the Irish in the way that Punch did, he lived in a context in which Celts were frequently represented as irreducibly different from AngloSaxons. His liberal principles impelled him to separate himself from the most hostile representations of the Irish, yet his nationalism could push him in the opposite direction. Assumptions as to the natural ‘pusillanimity of the

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Irish race’, with an army that behaved like a ‘mob of cowstealers’ and ‘ran like sheep’, were misguided. There was good ‘raw material’, the problems arose from ‘poverty, ignorance and superstition’.269 English Jacobites, ‘like the great body of their countrymen, regarded the aboriginal Irish with very unjust contempt’.270 Such attitudes, he suggested, were things of the past. Enlightenment thinking had ‘purified English Whiggism from that deep taint of intolerance’.271 He recognised that there had been serious injustices that needed correction. But he did not doubt that English civilisation and culture were the answer to Ireland’s ‘backwardness’, and his liberal universalist framework and assumptions of distance between the attitudes of the past and the present jostled with his nationalism, his racialised language and potent sense of difference. The ‘ten or twelve well marked degrees of poverty between an English peasant and an Irish peasant’ as he had told his friend Ellis, or his points of comparison with ‘red Indians’ and Hottentots’, marked differences that might only be reduced over immensely long periods, if at all. The question of Ireland’s relation to the nation remained: were the Celts inassimilable? Were they inside or outside the nation? Macaulay’s account did not go unchallenged. Charles Gavan Duffy, a passionate advocate of Young Ireland, had hoped that after the debacle of 1848 the famine might open up possibilities of regeneration. He left his native country in 1856 for Australia, disillusioned of any hopes for a better future, and spent his last years in France, writing a history both of himself and of Ireland, taking issue with English historians. Carlyle and Macaulay loomed large for him. Irish nationalism, like all anti-colonial nationalisms, was forged in relation to British imperial power. As David Lloyd argues, ‘the power of nationalism lies in its countering of an imperial model of identity, for which the colonised people represent a primitive stage in a universal history of civilisation whose apex is the colonising power, with another, formally similar model that seeks to forge an oppositional identity from within’.272 Duffy’s imperial antagonists set the terms which he had to counter. Recovering a national history was a key project for Young Ireland: centuries of oppression had to be recast into a narrative of national survival with origins, heroes and continuities. Duffy had struck up a friendship with Carlyle in 1845 that survived a lifetime, despite the latter’s violently hostile depictions of the Irish, and he greatly admired Macaulay’s literary skills.273 The narrative he attempted to construct was of a nation with a long-established history, its national spirit forged by Christianity in the fifth century, beset by foreign invaders and subjugated by colonisers whose selfinterests were always paramount. Across the British Empire, he maintained,

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‘the dependent state, only existed for the benefit of the paramount state’.274 The vaunted ‘British liberties’, so dear to Macaulay, had a different meaning for the Irish. Duffy defended Tyrconnel, a monstrous tyrant in Macaulay’s account, and proposed a very different reading of the years 1685–9. England had suspended ‘the laws of public morality’ in the case of Ireland. ‘To trouble a foreign invader in England was meritorious’ for Macaulay; when it came to the Irish, however, their resistance to foreign domination was seen as the ‘turbulence and discontent native to the Celtic race’.275 Duffy hoped to puncture Macaulay, the ‘liberal rhetorician’, who both in his political practice and in his history writing was quite prepared to appeal to brute force when it came to the Irish. Nations had the right to determine their own futures, he insisted, But the mass of the English people have never been able to recognise any equity which countervails their interests, or alarms their pride. And this blind doltish obstinacy, Mr. Macaulay clothed in the vesture of rhetoric and eloquence.276

Duffy’s history, however, failed to unseat Macaulay’s hegemony. (iii)  Empire Ireland and the Irish were deeply problematic for Macaulay, disturbing his optimistic account of progress and a homely nation. But what of the empire? How did that figure in his national history? The space of difference, for Macaulay, was the gap between civilised men and their colonised others: a gap that could be closed in theory, but in practice was not. History, the story of progress, belonged to the colonisers. Once other societies had progressed, they would have a history too. As he had said to his friend Ellis, why waste time thinking about the Cherokees when he could be addressing the important question: how did barbarous societies progress? In Macaulay’s mind the Cherokees were presumably a ‘doomed race’ – not part of the future. Whig thinking on empire had been shaped by the traumas associated with the War of Independence. The demands of the American colonists in the 1770s, it was believed, had been badly dealt with by Lord North’s government. A negotiated settlement should have been possible, for the colonists were Englishmen. While Rockingham and Burke had argued for recognition of the new nation and peace, Chatham could not bear ‘the dismemberment of the Empire’ and pursued a war which would be lost.277 Once a young colony matured there were only two possibilities – full

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incorporation or separation. In the case of the North American colonies, separation was inevitable, but it had happened in the wrong way: there should have been a peaceful transition. When it came to colonies of white settlement, the model of empire with which Macaulay worked was clear. During his years in politics, Australia, New Zealand and Canada all claimed forms of responsible government, and this, to his mind, was entirely appropriate. They could not be incorporated. They were far from the metropole and their significant populations were Anglo-Saxon – Englishmen – valuing their liberties. Unlike his father’s friends he had no interest in the protection of indigenous peoples. As in the US, separation had to occur. The idea of an imperial parliament which would include representatives from those farflung territories, an idea espoused at one point by Disraeli, had no appeal for him either.278 Ireland, however, was a quite different case: the union was sacrosanct. But these colonies of white settlement were not part of the seventeenthcentury history that Macaulay was writing. England’s early modern empire comprised Ireland, the colonies of the Caribbean and North America. Yet in the History only Ireland, that anomalous place that had been both metropolitan and colonial since the Act of Union, was deemed worthy of inclusion. Macaulay ignored the acquisition of the Atlantic empire and its central importance to trade and war. The empire was assumed, a backdrop to the nation, a necessary part of England’s expanding naval and commercial power. Its peoples – the savage Indians of the New World, the enslaved Africans of the Caribbean – marked the outer peripheries, the absent presences of the History. Their central place in the story of the transformation from barbarism to civilisation remained untold. For Firth, it is Macaulay’s insularity which explains this marginality: ‘whenever colonial matters are mentioned they are subordinated altogether to English politics’, he notes.279 This is certainly the case, but furthermore, in Macaulay’s mind there was nothing significant to be said about the Caribbean: those colonies were not yet History, they were locked in the waiting room, possibly seeking entry at some future date. The ‘great experiment’ of emancipation was increasingly problematic: free labour provided no simple solutions for African peoples, the Caribbean islands no longer dominated sugar production and were increasingly irrelevant to global economics and politics. There was no story of progress there. And the North American colonies were no longer part of the empire – they had gone their own way. Macaulay’s history was of the making of the multiethnic nation named England, an example of the route to modernity, laying out a path which others could follow. His underlying assumption, rooted in his ethnocentrism, was that it was the route, since, as

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Mill had argued, there was only one route. In that sense it was a universal history. Despite his father’s lifelong preoccupation with Africa and the Caribbean, they were banished to the uttermost margins of his volumes. Their peoples and politics were irrelevant to his history, as was the huge flow of wealth from Caribbean slavery and Atlantic trade. Despite the development of the Royal Africa Company under Charles II and James II, there was no discussion of the slave trade or of plantation slavery, the ‘great national crime’ that had occupied most of Zachary Macaulay’s waking hours. This was a startling silence from the son. Sugar and slavery were becoming central to England’s wealth and power by the late seventeenth century. But slavery was a system that Macaulay preferred to forget. It was the abolition of the slave trade and slavery that should be memorialised. This was a process that had begun in 1808, with the publication of Thomas Clarkson’s history that celebrated the actions of a group of humanitarian white men on both sides of the Atlantic: it was they who had effected abolition.280 The Wilberforce brothers’ hagiographic account of their father’s life confirmed this way of constructing England’s role: it was humanitarianism that was to be remembered, not the country’s investment in the slave trade and slavery.281 Macaulay never chose to write a biography of his father – far from it. He preferred to distance himself from all that his father had most valued: Evangelicalism and the struggle against slavery. ‘Nobody who has lived with our high Evangelicals’, he wrote feelingly at the end of his life, ‘can doubt that they consider faith as a thing which a man is to be urged to get, and chidden for not having.’282 He delighted in the fact that his nephew George admired him, though he did not live to see George’s defection to Carlyle, whom he hated. Generational conflict, he might have reminded himself, is endemic. We cannot think, as he had once proclaimed, as our fathers do. Rereading some of his father’s letters to him, he was struck by their ‘admonitory’ and ‘severe’ tone.283 Now his father was no longer there to admonish him, though he had been internalised as a powerfully critical figure whose expectations could never be met. Macaulay’s disavowal of the significance of the slave trade and slavery to his nation’s history could be read as the most potent rejection of his father’s legacy. Abolition had been effected: in its wake he had no time for ‘impracticable, uncompromising reformers’, who never did good and led ‘miserable lives’, and he hated ‘negrophiles’ as much as ‘nigger drivers’.284 He disliked the whole subject of slavery; he did not want to talk, think, or write about it, and refused to act as the Vice-President of the Edinburgh Antislavery Society. It was a relief when the subject was avoided, as at a dinner with Sumner: ‘We had no talk about slavery, to my

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great joy.’285 Avoiding subjects, blocking off difficulties, making the world in his own image: these were some of his strategies for keeping trouble at bay. Macaulay had fulfilled his filial duty in those difficult days when the terms of abolition were being negotiated. The supreme authority of the ‘parent state’ had been enacted with the abolition of slavery in 1833 by the imperial parliament, in the face of opposition from the colonial assemblies. England had done its duty and so had he. Now he could put it aside. But putting it aside meant deliberately avoiding and forgetting: disavowal. Macaulay was well aware of the extent to which the slave trade and slavery had sustained the economy and society. He was a member of the government that had negotiated compensation to the slave owners: he knew what the payment of twenty million pounds meant in terms of the government’s overall expenditure. But he preferred not to think about it. In one telling entry in his journal, he noted how he respected Baba ‘more than any other human being, more, I am sure, tha[n] I ever respected my father’.286 The West Indies rarely crossed his mind, peopled as they were by ‘stupid ungrateful gangs of negroes’.287 He paid lip service to the abolitionists, but Africa and the Caribbean were effectively excluded from his history. Improvement, progress, freedom, liberty, prosperity, law and order, these were his watchwords. Yet what of the underside of that narrative – the unfreedoms on which white freedom was built? In the thousands of pages that document the period from 1685–1701 he wrote only one paragraph about Jamaica – a description of the earthquake that destroyed Port Royal. ‘An earthquake of terrible violence laid waste in less than three minutes’, he wrote, the flourishing colony of Jamaica. Whole plantations changed their places. Whole villages were swallowed up. Port Royal, the fairest and wealthiest city which the English had yet built in the New World, renowned for its quays, for its warehouses, and for its stately streets . . . was turned into a mass of ruins.288

In her wonderful essay Playing in the Dark, Toni Morrison excavates the raci