Books: Great Memorizer

When Thomas Babington Macaulay was four, a maid at Lady Waldegrave's spilled a cup of hot tea on his legs. Swallowing his pain, he quickly picked up the thread of his comments on his hostess' art collection. When a few minutes later she asked how he felt, little Thomas answered: "Thank you, madam, the agony is abated." At eight he wrote his Compendium of Universal History, a record of leading events from creation to the current year (1808). Next followed a long heroic poem, part of which celebrated the career of his...

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