Lord Macaulay writes a devastating review of Southey’s Colloquies in which the Poet Laureate’s ignorance of the real condition of the working class in England is exposed (1830)

Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay

Lord Macaulay writes a devastating review of Southey’s Colloquies (1830) in which the Poet Laureate’s ignorance of the real condition of the working class in England is exposed:

[T]he labouring classes of this island, though they have their grievances and distresses, some produced by their own improvidence, some by the errors of their rulers, are on the whole better off as to physical comforts than the inhabitants of any equally extensive district of the old world. For this very reason, suffering is more acutely felt and more loudly bewailed here than elsewhere. We must take into the account the liberty of discussion, and the strong interest which the opponents of a ministry always have to exaggerate the extent of the public disasters.

The opening paragraphs of Macaulay’s review of the Poet Laureate, Southey’s, Colloquies is one of the funniest and most devastating reviews ever penned. He raises the interesting point about the wisdom of people who are experts in one area of human endeavour, say poetry or rock music, making serious pronouncements in areas where they have no expertise, say the economic well-being of ordinary working people or global warming. Macaulay argues very strongly in favour of seeing the health and economic condition of the working class in Britain to be better then (1830) than at any time in human history.