15 Macaulay

15 Macaulay - Thomas Macaulay, Minute on Education,...

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Thomas Macaulay, Minute on Education , February 2, 1835 Macaulay (1800-1859) was a prominent English historian, poet, and liberal politician. He was appointed (not elected) to a seat in Parliament in 1830. His first speech at Westminster argued to removing restrictions on Jews in British public life, and he made his reputation by campaigning for the extension of the franchise. After the success of the Great Reform Act of 1832 he gave up the parliamentary seat to which he had been appointed and instead won election to a newly formed seat representing the booming industrial city of Leeds. Macaulay spent 1834-38 in India, serving on the Governor General’s Council. This Minute was written as a report to the Governor General. After returning to Britain, Macaulay was appointed Secretary of War in 1839, and was the Prime Minister’s chief advisor during the First Opium War against China (1839-42). … Now we come to the gist of the matter. We have a fund to be employed as Government shall direct for the intellectual improvement of the people of this country. The simple question is, what is the most useful way of employing it? All parties seem to be agreed on one point, that the dialects commonly spoken among the natives of this part of India contain neither literary nor scientific information, and are moreover so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to translate any valuable work into them. It seems to be admitted on all sides, that the intellectual improvement of those classes of the people who have the means of pursuing higher studies can at present be affected only by means of some language not vernacular among them. What then shall that language be? One half of the committee maintains that it should be English. The other half strongly recommends the Arabic and Sanskrit. The whole question seems to me to be—which language is the best worth knowing? I have no knowledge of either Sanskrit or Arabic. But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have read the most celebrated Arabic and Sanskrit works. I have conversed, both here and at home, with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern tongues. I am quite ready to take the oriental learning at the valuation of the orientalists themselves. I have 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 Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully
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This note was uploaded on 03/06/2012 for the course IHUM 69B taught by Professor Morris during the Spring '11 term at Stanford.

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15 Macaulay - Thomas Macaulay, Minute on Education,...

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