Henry Mackenzie


The Scottish Man of Feeling

"I sometimes visit his grave; I sit in the hollow of the tree. It is worth a thousand homilies: every noble feeling rises within me! every beat of my heart awakens a virtue!--but it will make you hate the world--No! there is such an air of gentleness around, that I can hate nothing; but as to the world--I pity the men of it." (The Ghost, narrator of The Man of Feeling, 1771)

Table of Contents

More Mackenzie-Related Quotes

An Index of Tears
"Harley kissed off her tears as they flowed, and wept between every kiss."
"There was a tear in her eye,--the sick man kissed it off in its bud, smiling through the dimness of its own."
"In Edwards's eyes was a beamy moisure."
"He dropped one tear and no more."
Mackenzie on Thomas Paine:
"He possesses that vulgar eloquence which a vigorous mind untutored by classical education, and unrestrained by delicacy or taste, has an advantage in exhibiting; and he derives credit from the very want of qualities which finer minds are at pains to cultivate . . ."
Mackenzie on The People:
"The people, though always right in sentiment, are not always right in opinion."
Mackenzie on Abolition, many years after his abolitionist sentimental novel, Julia de Roubigne:
". . . the momentary ebullition of romantic humanity"
The Ghost, narrator of The Man of Feeling, on narrativity:
"We would attempt to describe the joy which Harley felt on this occasion, did it not occur to us, that one half of the world could not understand it though we did; and the other half will, by this time, have understood it without any description at all."
A professor on my committee on the protagonist of The Man of Feeling
"This is a Harley without a crotch rocket."


Henry Mackenzie born August 6 (n.s.) in Edinburgh, son of a prominent physician.
Entered Edinburgh High School.
Entered Edinburgh University.
Death of mother, Margaret Rose of Kuravock.
Articled as clerk for five years to George Inglis, King's Attorney in Exchequer.
"Happiness," first published poem, in the Scots Magazine.
Ballad of "Duncan" published in the Scots Magazine
Ballad of "Kenneth" published in the Scots Magazine. Admitted attorney in Court of Exchequer of Scotland; went to London to study English law.
Returned to Edinburgh. Became partner of George Inglis.
Virginia; or The Roman Father, unpublished tragedy, completed.
April, The Man of Feeling published. May, The Pursuits of Happiness, a semi-satirical poem, published.
February, The Man of the World, novel, published. March 8, first performance of The Prince of Tunis, tragedy, in Edinburgh. Purchased Crown practice in Court of Exchequer from his partner, George Inglis.
January 6, married Penuel Grant; has fourteen children [not all in this year].
April, Julia de Roubigne, epistolary novel, published.
January 23, Mirror began publication.
May 27, Mirror ceased publication.
February 10, The Shipwreck, adaptation of Lillo's Fatal Curiosity; one performance at Covent Garden.
February 5, Lounger began publication.
January 6, Lounger ceased publication.
April 21, "Account of the German Theatre" read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
December 5, The Force of Fashion, comedy; one performance at Covent Garden.
April, Letters of Brutus began to be published in the Edinburgh Herald.
Letters of Brutus to Certain Celebrated Political Characters, first series, published in collected form.
Publication of Review of the Principal Proceedings of the Parliament of 1784.
Letters of Brutus, second series, published in collected form. "Some Account of the Life and Writings of Dr. Blacklock" prefixed to a new edition of Blacklock's works.
December 7, death of John Mackenzie, his youngest son, at age of six.
Appointed Comptroller of Taxes for Scotland.
February 18, death of Dr. Joshua Mackenzie, his father, at age of eighty-six.
Publication of Report of the Committee of the Highland Society of Scotland, appointed to inquire into the nature and authenticity of the poems of Ossian. Drawn up by Henry Mackenzie, Esq., its convener or chairman.
Authorized edition of Works published.
Sir Walter Scott dedicated Waverley to Mackenzie, "Our Scottish Addison."
Account of the Life and Writings of John Home published.
Began to write his Anecdotes and Egotisms, reminiscences first published in 1927.
Died on January 14. Buried in old Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh.

Selected Bibliography of Mackenzie-related works

Barker, Gerard A. Henry Mackenzie. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1975.
The second-best biography, to my knowledge.
Benedict, Barbara. Framing Feeling: Sentiment and Style in English Prose Fiction, 1745-1800.New York: AMS Press, 1994.
An excellent rhetorical study of sentiment, with a few chapters on Mackenzie.
Brissenden, P.F. Virtue in Distress. Bristol: Macmillan, 1974.
Very fine work on sentiment with political analysis and wide scope.
Dwyer, John. Virtuous Discourse: Sensibility and Community in Late Eighteenth-Century Scotland. Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers, 1987.
Introduction promises a Foucauldian take but doesn't quite follow through. Good historicizing nonetheless.
Harkin, Maureen. "Mackenzie's Man of Feeling: Embalming Sensibility." ELH 61 (1994): 317-340.
Very smart but unfocused article. Argues cogently that the novel is ironic.
Jones, Chris. "Radical Sensibility in the 1790s." Reflections of Revolution: Images of Romanticism. Eds. Alison Yarrington and Kelvin Everest. London: Routledge, 1993.
Persuasively classifies Mackenzie as an ironic conservative.
Mullan, John. Sentiment and Sociabilty. [pub info].
An important book on sentiment with much material on Mack.
Sheriff, John K. The Good-Natured Man: The Evolution of a Moral Ideal, 1660-1800. University, Alabama: U of Alabama P, 1982.
Early recognition of irony in Mack.
Thompson, Harold William. A Scottish Man of Feeling: Some Account of Henry Mackenzie, Esq. of Edinburgh and of the Golden Age of Burns and Scott. London: Oxford UP, 1931.
Very rich and very troubling biography.

Page under development--more to come.