1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

James Mackintosh, 1808; Life of Sir James Mackintosh (1853) 1:441-42.



If ever there was a writer whose wisdom is made to be useful in the time of need, it is Mrs. Barbauld. Nor moralist has ever more exactly touched the point of the greatest practicable purity, without it being lost in exaggeration, or sinking into meanness. She has cultivated a philosophy which will raise and animate her, without refining it to that degree, when it is no longer applicable to the gross purposes of human life, and when it is too apt to evaporate in hypocrisy and ostentation. Her observations on the moral of [Samuel Richardson's] Clarissa are as fine a piece of mitigated and rational stoicism as our language can boast of: and she who has so beautifully taught us the folly of inconsistent expectations and complaints, can never want practical wisdom under the sharpest calamities.