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Liverpool were constantly there. grand display of eloquence, somewhat, indeed, too measured, and monotonous, for Mackintosh was rhetor plusquam oratore. His style was disciplined in the school of Robertson and Gilbert Stuart, who, by too cold a correctness, and too religious an adherence to the laws of propriety, had converted English into an almost foreign language. It was unidiomatic English, and, the want of idiom (for idiom constitutes the muscular strength of our tongue), emasculated their compositions. The lectures, however, manifested most unlimited reading, and overflowed with every kind of learning. They embraced an immeasurable field. They almost began with the creation; and the cardinal principles of natural logic, and an inquiry into the history of man's intellectual powers, borrowed, perhaps, from Cudworth, occupied at least six lectures. Mackintosh delighted his class, also, by the embellishments which he threw over these abstruse and uninviting inquiries. He ascribed the doctrine of the association of ideas to Hobbes, as its discoverer ; forgetting that Hobbes had it directly
from Aristotle. Coleridge, after his lecture was finished, set him right, and Mackintosh had the candour to acknowledge his error to the class. His hearers were amused with delightful quotations from the Roman classics, which were flowers scattered over the severe subject of jurisprudence, that made it at once fascinating and impressive. In this, he addicted himself to the plan of Grotius, who embellished every page of his De Jure, with citations from the Greek and Latin writers, poets, tragedians, and philosophers; and he professed, in this respect, to have imitated that eminent writer, upon whom, in his introductory lecture,* there is the finest panegyric that was ever spoken, or committed to paper.
But yet there was something that was felt to be wanting.--It was discourse, but not logic. He did not seem to stand upon a sound and secure basis of ratiocination. Had his doctrines been submitted to the perusal of the class, instead of being confined to the slight and transient impression of the ear, these defects would have been more apparent. The happiest topics, upon which the lecture touched, were, I think, the masterly disquisitions on the theory of Mr. Godwin. Indeed, propositions, which laid the axe to the root of so many old and still prevalent opinions, were regarded with general distrust, and the refutations of the lecturer were, therefore, favourably received.
* See Discourse on the Law of Nature and Nations, as an Introduction to a Course of Lectures, &c. &c. &c. By James Mackintosh, Esq. Cadell, 1801.
About the period of these lectures, Mackintosh 'was on the circuit. He had left his wife-near her accouchement. But that accouchement produced a most portentous augmentation of his domestic bliss, or rather his domestic inquietudes. It was as important an omen to his fortunes, which at that time were not prosperous, as the litter of the sow of imperial augury, "triginta circum ubera natos,” was to the future fortunes of Rome. He was anxiously looking for letters at Bedford. At Huntingdon, he received one, congratulating him upon the birth of a fine boy. The next circuit town is Cambridge. There he found another dispatch at the post-office, announcing the birth of a second. It was with a grave smile that he received the congratulations of the circuit-table, upon the coming of another Marcellus. But he had scarcely arrived at Bury, when a third boy was announced to him by letter. The letters had indeed been written after the birth of each of this extraordinary progeny. But the first only was in time for the post; the second and third were written after the respective births they related, but, by some fatality, were not forwarded by one post. This monstrous fit of parturiency, was enough to sadden any man's visage, but he bore it with great philosophy; nor did George Wilson, the amiable and respectable leader of the Norfolk circuit, in the slightest. manner discompose him, when, in sly allusion to his Lectures on the Law of Nature and Nations, he proposed, with great gravity, the health of Mrs. Mackintosh, and her three sons-Grotius, Puffendorf, and Vattel.
On this circuit, Mackintosh obtained a certain share of business. The principal part of it fell to the lot of a Mr. Nathaniel Best, generally distinguished at the bar, from the present ChiefJustice of the Common-Pleas, by the appellation of second Best. But Mackintosh fired over their heads. He had not the faculty (an invaluable one) of stating any thing with conciseness, or epigrammatic neatness. From the dry merits of a case, a certain centrifugal quality in his genius, for ever kept him widely aloof. In short, Nisi-Prius pleading was by no means his element. He wanted a wider sea to disport his leviathan length, and to play his gigantic gambols. Had his juridical progeny-Grotius, Puffendorf, and Vattel, arrived at manhood (these birds of jurisprudence were nipt by an untimely fate), they might, perhaps, have been disciplined to the strict trammels of Westminster-Hall; but Nature had not been consulted, when Mackintosh chose the bar for the exercise of his rare and extraordinary talents. When he had an uphill case, he had not the art of concealing his perplexity, and often had recourse to a long speech, in the wanderings of which, he lost sight of the point at issue; or to laborious and clumsy efforts at being jocose, a turn of mind which belonged least to Mackintosh than to any man living. With law, too, as a technical science, or with what is usually