1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Temple

James Mackintosh, 8 February 1812; in Life of Sir James Mackintosh (1853) 2:204-05.



He seems to be the model of a negociator, uniting politeness and address to honesty. His merit, as a domestic politician, is also very great; in an age of extremes he was attached to liberty, and yet averse from endangering the public quiet. Perhaps diplomatic habits smoothed away his turbulence too much for such a government as England. Swift represents him as having brought English style to perfection. Hume, I think, mentions him; but of late he is not often spoken of as one of the reformers of our style — this, however, he certainly was. The structure of his style is perfectly modern; and I have not marked half a dozen words that are become obsolete. He has, indeed, several gallicisms, but they are chiefly in letters, written in Flanders and Holland, when he was every day speaking French.