1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir James Mackintosh

John Herman Merivale, Diary Entry, 31 October 1824; Anna Wilhelmina Merivale, Family Memorials (1884) 253-54.



I went to Carshalton by the coach, at Denman's invitation, to meet Sir James Mackintosh, with whom I returned in his carriage on Wednesday morning. My time was spent most pleasantly, and in Sir James I found an incessant fund of criticism and anecdote of which it is in vain to attempt to detail the smallest part. He recites poetry, French, English, and Latin, with great fluency and animation, and though sometimes verbal and minute, is generally just and sound in his critical opinions. Dryden, Milton, Crabbe, Burke, were the English authors we most discussed.... Bonaparte he considers as one of the most blameless of usurpers and conquerors, but less estimable than Cromwell.... The reason why Walter Scott can never avow himself as the Author of the Novels is that, being unhandsomely pressed by the King, he denied himself somewhat too stoutly. Sir J. M. is a great reader too of novels — a special admirer of Miss Austen, and, next to her, of Miss Ferrier, the authoress of Marriage and Inheritance.... He has lately been at Paris and in Holland.... The tour of Holland is one of the most amusing and instructive of any in Europe, and may well be made in a fortnight.