- Purchase/rental options available:
This article reads Catharine Macaulay's politicized account of sympathy to re-examine the uses of sentiment in eighteenth-century history writing. Macaulay's History of England sharply challenges David Hume's focus on the sufferings of the great, arguing for a broader recognition of all suffering while highlighting sympathy's potential to be manipulated. In addition to exploring the emotive argument of her strikingly unsentimental depiction of Charles I's death, the article examines Macaulay's 1781 preface and its articulation of the historian's sympathetic responsibilities. It concludes by tracing continuity between Macaulay's History and her later ethical and political writings, reading their consistently republican argument against sympathetic hierarchy to highlight the thematic importance of sympathy across her multi-generic oeuvre.