Wotton vs. Temple
Thomas Babington Macaulay was not really fair to William Temple. In his forthright and partisan way, he drew his character. He thought that Temple was cold and selfish, cautious to a fault, even cowardly. The great man, it appeared, had betrayed the Whig cause at its decisive moment. From 1680, he had preferred his library and his orchard to the risks of opposition. "While the nation groaned under oppression, or resounded with the tumult and with the din of arms," Temple, he wrote, had amused himself "by writing memoirs and tying up apricots." Yet beneath Macaulay's contempt there lay a skulking admiration. Even he could not deny the successes of Temple's earlier career or his distinguished literary retirement. In an age of almost universal political corruption, Temple alone had kept his integrity. Somehow he was a more complex and a more admirable man than Macaulay was willing to allow.1
In some ways he was typical of his generation. He had been born in 1628, the grandson of a secretary to Philip Sidney, the son of an Irish____________________
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Publication information: Book title: The Battle of the Books:History and Literature in the Augustan Age. Contributors: Joseph M. Levine - Author. Publisher: Cornell University Press. Place of publication: Ithaca, NY. Publication year: 1991. Page number: 13.
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