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MACARTNEY—MACAULAY

MACARTNEY, GEORGE MACARTNEY, Earl (1737–1806), was descended from an old Scottish family, the Macartneys of Auchinleck, who had settled in 1649 at Lissanoure, Antrim, Ireland, where he was born on the 14th of May 1737. After graduating at Trinity College, Dublin, in 1759, he became a student of the Temple, London. Through Stephen Fox, elder brother of C. J. Fox, he was taken up by Lord Holland. Appointed envoy extraordinary to Russia in 1764, he succeeded in negotiating an alliance between England and that country. After occupying a seat in the English parliament, he was in 1769 returned for Antrim in the Irish parliament, in order to discharge the duties of chief secretary for Ireland. On resigning this office he was knighted. In 1775 he became governor of the Caribbee Islands (being created an Irish baron in 1776), and in 1780 governor of Madras, but he declined the governor-generalship of India, and returned to England in 1786. After being created Earl Macartney in the Irish peerage (1792), he was appointed the first envoy of Britain to China. On his return from a confidential mission to Italy (1795) he was raised to the English peerage as a baron in 1796, and in the end of the same year was appointed governor of the newly acquired territory of the Cape of Good Hope, where he remained till ill health compelled him to resign in November 1798. He died at Chiswick, Middlesex, on the 31st of May 1806, the title becoming extinct, and his property, after the death of his widow (daughter of the 3rd earl of Bute), going to his niece, whose son took the name.

An account of Macartney’s embassy to China, by Sir George Staunton, was published in 1797, and has been frequently reprinted. The Life and Writings of Lord Macartney, by Sir John Barrow, appeared in 1807. See Mrs Helen Macartney Robbins’s biography, The First English Ambassador to China (1908), based on previously unpublished materials in possession of the family.


MACASSAR (Makassar, Mangkasar), the capital of a district of the same name in the island of Celebes, Dutch East Indies, and the chief town of the Dutch government of Celebes. Pop. 17,925 (940 Europeans, 2618 Chinese, 168 Arabs). It stands on the west coast of the southern peninsula of the island, near the southern extremity of the Macassar Strait, which separates Celebes from Borneo. Macassar consists of the Dutch town and port, known as Vlaardingen, and the Malay town which lies inland. Macassar’s trade amounts to about £1,250,000 annually, and consists mainly of coffee, trepang, copra, gums, spices and valuable timber.

For the Macassar people and for the Strait, see Celebes. “Macassar oil” is a trade name, not geographical: see Antimacassar.


MACAULAY, THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY, Baron (1800–1859), English historian, essayist and politician, was born at Rothley Temple, Leicestershire, on the 25th of October 1800. His father, Zachary Macaulay (1768–1838), had been governor of Sierra Leone, and was in 1800 secretary to the chartered company which had founded that colony; an ardent philanthropist, he did much to secure the abolition of the slave trade, and he edited the abolitionist organ, the Christian Observer, for many years. Happy in his home, the son at a very early age gave proof of a determined bent towards literature. Before he was eight years of age he had written a Compendium of Universal History, which gave a tolerably connected view of the leading events from the creation to 1800, and a romance in the style of Scott, in three cantos, called The Battle of Cheviot. A little later he composed a long poem on the history of Olaus Magnus, and a vast pile of blank verse entitled Fingal, a Poem in Twelve Books. After being at a private school, in October 1818 young Macaulay went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he afterwards became a fellow. He gained in 1824 a college prize for an essay on the character of William III. He also won a prize for Latin declamation and a Craven scholarship, and wrote the prize poems of 1819 and 1821.

In 1826 Macaulay was called to the bar and joined the northern circuit. But he soon gave up even the pretence of reading law, and spent many more hours under the gallery of the house of commons than in the court. His first attempt at a public speech, made at an anti-slavery meeting in 1824, was described by the Edinburgh Review as “a display of eloquence of rare and matured excellence.” His first considerable appearance in print was in No. 1 of Knight’s Quarterly Magazine, a periodical which enjoyed a short but brilliant existence, and which was largely supported by Eton and Cambridge. In August 1825 began Macaulay’s connexion with the periodical which was to prove the field of his literary reputation. The Edinburgh Review was at this time at the height of its power, not only as an organ of the growing opinion which, leant towards reform, but as a literary tribunal from which there was no appeal. His essay on Milton (Aug. 1825), so crude that the author afterwards said that “it contained scarcely a paragraph such as his matured judgment approved,” created for him at once a literary reputation which suffered no diminution to the last, a reputation which he established and confirmed, but which it would have been hardly possible to make more conspicuous. The publisher John Murray declared that it would be worth the copyright of Childe Harold to have Macaulay on the staff of the Quarterly Review, and Robert Hall, the orator, writhing with pain, and wellnigh worn out with disease, was discovered lying on the floor employed in learning by aid of grammar and dictionary enough Italian to enable him to verify the parallel between Milton and Dante.

This sudden blaze of popularity, kindled by a single essay, is partly to be explained by the dearth of literary criticism in England at that epoch. For, though a higher note had already been sounded by Hazlitt and Coleridge, it had not yet taken hold of the public mind, which was still satisfied with the feeble appreciations of the Retrospective Review, or the dashing and damnatory improvisation of Wilson in Blackwood or Jeffrey in the Edinburgh. Still, allowance being made for the barbarous partisanship of the established critical tribunals of the period, it seems surprising that a social success so signal should have been the consequence of a single article. The explanation is that the writer of the article on Milton was, unlike most authors, also a brilliant conversationalist. There has never been a period when an amusing talker has not been in great demand at London tables; but when Macaulay made his début witty conversation was studied and cultivated as it has ceased to be in the more busy age which has succeeded. At the university Macaulay had been recognized as pre-eminent for inexhaustible talk and genial companionship among a circle of such brilliant young men as Charles Austin, Romilly, Praed and Villiers. He now displayed these gifts on a wider theatre. Launched on the best that London had to give in the way of society, Macaulay accepted and enjoyed with all the zest of youth and a vigorous nature the opportunities opened for him. He was courted and admired by the most distinguished personages of the day. He was admitted at Holland House, where Lady Holland listened to him with deference, and scolded him with a circumspection which was in itself a compliment. Samuel Rogers spoke of him with friendliness and to him with affection. He was treated with almost fatherly kindness by “Conversation” Sharp.

Thus distinguished, and justifiably conscious of his great powers, Macaulay began to aspire to a political career. But the shadow of pecuniary trouble early began to fall upon his path. When he went to college his father believed himself to be worth £100,000. But commercial disaster overtook the house of Babington & Macaulay, and the son now saw himself compelled to work for his livelihood. His Trinity fellowship of £300 a year became of great consequence to him, but it expired in 1831; he could make at most £200 a year by writing; and a commissionership of bankruptcy, which was given him by Lord Lyndhurst in 1828, and which brought him in about £400 a year, was swept away, without compensation, by the ministry which came into power in 1830. Macaulay was reduced to such straits that he had to sell his Cambridge gold medal.

In February 1830 the doors of the House of Commons were opened to him through what was then called a “pocket borough.” Lord Lansdowne, who had been struck by two articles on James Mill and the Utilitarians, which appeared in the Edinburgh Review in 1829, offered the author the seat at Calne. The offer was accompanied by the express assurance that the patron