The Quarrel of Macaulay and Croker: Politics and History in the Age of Reform

Hardcover | October 1, 2000

byWilliam Thomas

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This is the story of one of the great literary rows of the nineteenth century, between one of its greatest historians and one of its sharpest critics. The quarrel began in the House of Commons during the debates of 1831-2 on parliamentary reform and was continued in the quarterly reviews. Evenin a political setting, it had a historical dimension. Croker taunted Macaulay for being ignorant of the French Revolution. Macaulay replied by pouring scorn on Croker's accuracy as editor of Boswell's Johnson. The bitterness of the clash made subsequent compromise impossible. Sixteen years later,Croker wrote a long damning review of the first two volumes of Macaulay's History of England. Posterity admires success, and as Macaulay's writings have eclipsed Croker's it has usually been assumed that Croker was moved by mere political spite. In this highly readable study, William Thomas shows that this verdict is unfair, that Croker's political opinions were both less rancorous and more interesting, and that Macaulay's own scholarship was far from faultless. He also considers each man's historical writing alongside his politics andargues that, while Croker's critical method was sharpened by his politics, Macaulay's political opinions were much more independent of party, and that he is not the typical Whig historian of legend. William Thomas illustrates how the two men actually had many ideas in common, and the commentatorswho have seen only political dislike have missed the real purpose of the History of England and what made it the most successful historical work in English literature.

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This is the story of one of the great literary rows of the nineteenth century, between one of its greatest historians and one of its sharpest critics. The quarrel began in the House of Commons during the debates of 1831-2 on parliamentary reform and was continued in the quarterly reviews. Evenin a political setting, it had a historical...

William Thomas is a Student and Senior Tutor in Modern History at Christ Church, Oxford.

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Format:HardcoverPublished:October 1, 2000Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198208642

ISBN - 13:9780198208648

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`In this vivid book, William Thomas shows how the two main players both lived up to and often defied their stereotypes.'Andrew Lycett, Spectator