Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Macaulay, James

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1531287Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, Volume 2 — Macaulay, James1912Gerald le Grys Norgate

MACAULAY, JAMES (1817–1902), author, born in Edinburgh on 22 May 1817, was eldest son of Alexander Macaulay (1783–1868), M.D. and F.R.C.S. Edinburgh, who in his later years removed from Edinburgh to practise in London, and was author of a 'Dictionary of Medicine designed for Popular Use' (Edinburgh, 1828; 14th edit. 1858). James was educated at the Edinburgh Academy; A. C. Tait [q. v.], the future archbishop, was among his schoolfellows. He then proceeded to Edinburgh University, where after taking the arts course, he devoted himself to medicine. With his fellow-student and lifelong friend, Edward Forbes [q. v.], he went to Paris in 1837-8, and witnessed François Majendie's experiments on animals. Both, according to Macaulay, left the room 'disgusted less by the cruelty of the professor than by the heartlessness of the spectators.' He was thenceforth a strenuous opponent of vivisection. Macaulay graduated both M.A. and M.D. at Edinburgh in 1838, and next year published 'An Essay on Cruelty to Animals,' which he followed up in later life with 'A Plea for Mercy to Animals' (1875; new edit. 1889) and 'Vivisection: is it scientifically useful or morally justifiable?' (1881); both questions were answered in the negative.

On leaving the university, Macaulay travelled as a tutor in Italy and Spain, and spent some months in Madeira, contributing careful 'Notes on the Physical Geography, Geology and Climate' of the island to the 'Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal' for Oct. 1840. He supplied the letterpress to 'Madeira, illustrated by A. Picken,' and edited 'The Stranger' (Funchal), both published in the same year. Macaulay was elected F.R.C.S. Edinburgh on 7 July 1862; but meanwhile he had abandoned medicine for literature and journalism. Settling in London, he joined the staff of the 'Literary Gazette' in 1850. In 1858 he became editor of two weekly periodicals, the 'Leisure Hour' (founded in 1852) and 'Sunday at Home' (founded in 1864), and held the posts till 1895. Both papers had moral and religious aims, and long enjoyed a wide circulation among young readers. Macaulay's contributors to the 'Leisure Hour,' who were usually anonymous, included at the outset Archbishop Whately [q. v.], and afterwards Frank Buckland [q. v.], Canon Rawlinson [q. v. Suppl. II], and Arminius Vambery. Macaulay was also for many years general editor of the Religious Tract Society. The 'Boy's Own Paper' and the 'Girl's Own Paper' were founded in 1879 and edited under his direction.

In 1871 Macaulay travelled through the United States of America, and wrote a series of roseate articles in the 'Leisure Hour,' called 'First Impressions of America,' which were collected as 'Across the Ferry' (1871; 3rd edit. 1884). A visit to Ireland next year produced 'Ireland in 1872: a Tour of Observation, with Remarks on Irish Public Opinion' (1873; new edit. 1876). The author advocated a restricted home rule.

Macaulay's independent publications were thenceforth chiefly narratives of adventure for boys and girls; a series of anecdotes of great men, Gordon, Luther, Livingstone, Whitefield, and Cromwell, proved popular. He died at 41 Wynnstay Gardens, Kensington, on 18 June 1902. He married in 1860 a daughter of the Rev. G. Stokes, vicar of Hope, Hanley.

Besides the works mentioned and many other collections of tales of adventure, Macaulay published:

  1. 'What Great Englishmen have said concerning the Papacy,' 1878 (reissued as 'Witness of Great Englishmen,' 1900).
  2. 'All True: Records of Peril and Adventure by Sea,' 1879 (new edit. 1880).
  3. 'Sea Pictures drawn with Pen and Pencil,' 1882 (new edit. 1884), a work praised highly by Ruskin.
  4. 'Gray Hawk: Life and Adventures among the Red Indians,' 1883 (reissued 1909), a story founded on fact.
  5. 'Stirring Stories of Peace and War by Land and Sea,' 1885 (new edit, illustrated in colour by George Soper, 1910).
  6. 'Victoria, R.I.: Her Life and Reign,' 1887 (5 portraits).
  7. 'From Middy to Admiral of the Fleet: the Story of Commodore Anson retold,' 1891.

He also edited 'Speeches and Addresses of the Prince of Wales [Edward VII]' (1889).

[Men of the Time, 1899; Lists of Edinburgh medical graduates and fellows of Roy. Coll. Surg. Edinb.; Daily News, 20 June 1902; British Weekly, 25 June; The Times, 19 Feb. 1868; Literary World (Boston, Mass.), 1885, p. 348; Seed Time and Harvest (R.T.S.), Aug. 1902; Introd. to Index vol. of Leisure Hour, 1852-76; Allibone's Diet. Eng. Lit. vol. ii and Suppl.; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. Le G. N.