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Macaulay: Language

Macaulay's florid writing style, with long sentences and plenty of allusions to other events ('battles, sieges, and confiscations', 'bloody and devastating wars'), was typical of the period. Macaulay is here adopting something of the style of a teacher: the passage opens 'If we would study with profit the history of our ancestors', rather as if he were delivering a lecture. He also makes much use of abstract nouns and concepts – 'a tendency towards perfection', 'ordinary misfortune', 'of maladministration, of extravagance, of public bankruptcy'; there are very few references to actual events. This gives the impression that Macaulay can survey the whole breadth of English history, indeed of human experience, rather than getting tied down to one particular period or example. This style lends him an air of academic authority for his really very dubious and sweeping statements.

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