A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Mackintosh, Sir James

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

Mackintosh, Sir James (1765-1832). -- Philosopher and historian, was b. at Aldowrie, Inverness-shire, s. of an officer in the army and landowner, ed. at Aberdeen, whence he proceeded to Edinburgh to study medicine, in which he grad. in 1787. In the following year he went to London, where he wrote for the press and studied law, and in 1791 he pub. Vindiciæ Gallicæ in answer to Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution, which was well received by those who, in its earlier stages, sympathised with the Revolution, and procured for him the friendship of Fox, Sheridan, and other Whigs. Called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1795, he delivered before that society in 1799 a brilliant course of lectures on The Law of Nature and Nations, which greatly increased his reputation. In 1804 he went out to India as Recorder of Bombay, and two years later was appointed a Judge of the Admiralty Court. He remained in India until 1811, discharging his official duties with great efficiency. After his return he entered Parliament in 1813 as member for Nairnshire, and attained a considerable reputation as a forcible and informing speaker on questions of criminal law and general politics. On the accession of the Whigs in 1830 he was made a member of the Board of Control for India. He also held from 1818-24 the Professorship of Law and General Politics at Haileybury. His true vocation, however, was to literature, and it is to be regretted that so much of his time and strength was withdrawn from it, his writings being confined to a Dissertation on the Progress of Ethical Philosophy in the Encyclopædia Britannica, a sketch of the History of England for Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopædia, a Life of Sir Thomas More for the same, a fragment of a projected History of the Revolution of 1688, and some articles in the Edinburgh Review.