Author: Henry Mackenzie
Release Date: February, 2004 [EBook #5083] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on April 18, 2002] [Most recently updated: April 18, 2002]
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*** Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK, the man of feeling ***
Transcribed by David Price, email email@example.com, from the 1886 Cassell & Company edition.
Henry Mackenzie, the son of an Edinburgh physician, was born in August, 1745. After education in the University of Edinburgh he went to London in 1765, at the age of twenty, for law studies, returned to Edinburgh, and became Crown Attorney in the Scottish Court of Exchequer. When Mackenzie was in London, Sterne’s “Tristram Shandy” was in course of publication. The first two volumes had appeared in 1759, and the ninth appeared in 1767, followed in 1768, the year of Sterne’s death, by “The Sentimental Journey.” Young Mackenzie had a strong bent towards literature, and while studying law in London, he read Sterne, and falling in with the tone of sentiment which Sterne himself caught from the spirit of the time and the example of Rousseau, he wrote “The Man of Feeling.” This book was published, without author’s name, in 1771. It was so popular that a young clergyman made a copy of it popular with imagined passages of erasure and correction, on the strength of which he claimed to be its author, and obliged Henry Mackenzie to declare himself. In 1773 Mackenzie published a second novel, “The Man of the World,” and in 1777 a third, “Julia de Roubigne.” An essay-reading society in Edinburgh, of which he was a leader, started in January, 1779, a weekly paper called The Mirror, which he edited until May, 1780. Its writers afterwards joined in producing The Lounger, which lasted from February, 1785, to January, 1787. Henry Mackenzie contributed forty-two papers to The Mirror and fifty-seven to The Lounger. When the Royal Society of Edinburgh was founded Henry Mackenzie was active as one of its first members. He was also one of the founders of the Highland Society.
Although his “Man of Feeling” was a serious reflection of the false sentiment of the Revolution, Mackenzie joined afterwards in writing tracts to dissuade the people from faith in the doctrines of the Revolutionists. Mackenzie wrote also a tragedy, “The Prince of Tunis,” which was acted with success at Edinburgh, and a comedy, “The White Hypocrite,” which was acted once only at Covent garden. He died at the age of eighty-six, on the 13th June, 1831, having for many years been regarded as an elder friend of their own craft by the men of letters who in his days gave dignity to Edinburgh society, and caused the town to be called the Modern Athens.