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The Quarrel of Macaulay and CrokerPolitics and History in the Age of Reform$
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William Thomas

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208648

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208648.001.0001

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Macaulay's Craftsmanship: Opening up the Narrative

Macaulay's Craftsmanship: Opening up the Narrative

Chapter:
(p.210) 7 Macaulay's Craftsmanship: Opening up the Narrative
Source:
The Quarrel of Macaulay and Croker
Author(s):

William Thomas

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208648.003.0008

This chapter considers Macaulay's youthful conception of the historian's task and examines how much of it survived from his political experiences. Macaulay's political career both sustained and threatened this ideal. In one sense his reputation was political. It gave him the respectability and the contacts which he valued. Macaulay's later essays were in large part exercises in narrative technique. Political experience may well have increased his scepticism about the primacy of social history, as it impressed upon his mind the impact of political institutions and the forms by which decisions which affect large numbers of people are actually made. He judged his own work against his original aims, and realized he had fallen short of them. But that does not mean that those aims had fundamentally changed. In the event, most critics succumbed to the popular enthusiasm in his History of England. The major exception was John Wilson Croker.

Keywords:   History of England, social history, English History, political career

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