Home  »  Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men  »  Lord Macaulay

S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Lord Macaulay

  • [Thomas Babington Macaulay; born Oct. 25, 1800; educated at Cambridge; entered Parliament, 1830; member of the Supreme Council of India, 1835–38; member for Edinburgh, and secretary at war, on his return; paymaster-general, 1846; published his “History of England,” 1848–55; raised to the peerage, 1857; died Dec. 28, 1859.]
  • Exeter Hall sets up its bray.

  • In a speech in the House of Commons, April, 1845, on the second reading of the Maynooth College bill, Macaulay described the indignation of the ultra-Protestants at Sir Robert Peel’s proposal to endow a Roman-Catholic college. “The natural consequences,” he said, “follow such a course. The Orangeman raises his war-whoop; Exeter Hall [the scene of ‘May meetings,’ particularly of the Evangelical party] sets up its bray…. But what did you expect? Did you think, when, to serve your turn, you called the Devil up, that it was as easy to lay him as to raise him?” The expression was remembered at the general election of 1847, and Macaulay lost his seat. The gain to the world was the “History of England.”
  • It is not easy to make a simile go on all-fours.

  • A translation from Sir Edward Coke’s “Institutes:” “Nullum simile quatuor pedibus currit.”
  • The remark of Sydney Smith on Macaulay is well known: “His enemies might perhaps have said before (though I never did so), that he talks rather too much; but now he has occasional flashes of silence, that make his conversation perfectly delightful;” and he said at another time, “To take Macaulay out of literature and society, and put him in the House of Commons, is like taking the chief physician out of London during a pestilence.” On another occasion he called him “a book in breeches.” Being asked, during a severe illness, what sort of a night he had passed, Sydney Smith replied, “Oh, horrid, horrid! I dreamt I was chained to a rock, and being talked to death by Harriet Martineau and Macaulay.” William Windham once said, “I wish I was as sure of any thing as Macaulay is of every thing.”