1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Mackenzie

David Rivers, in Literary Memoirs of Living Authors (1798) 2:6-7.



A native of Scotland, and a gentleman, whose elegance as a writer has justly entitled him to the name of the Addison of the North. The first character which he assumed as an author, was that of a sentimental and pathetic writer, in which he met with considerable success. The Man of Feeling, a novel, his first publication, made its appearance in 1771, and was very favourably received. In the same year he published, The Pursuits of Happiness, a poem; and two years afterward, The Man of the World, a novel, in two duodecimo volumes. The Novel of Julia de Roubigne, in two volumes, duodecimo, is also, we believe, to be attributed to his pen. In the dramatic line of composition, he has produced the Prince of Tunis, a tragedy, acted at Edinburgh, in 1773, and we believe he altered the Fatal Curiosity of Lillo, as it was represented at the Hay Market Theatre. Mr. Mackenzie edited, in 1793, a quarto volume of Poems by the late Rev. Dr. Thomas Blacklock, together, with an Essay on the Education of the Blind, to which he prefixed a most interesting and elegant Account of the Author's Life and Writings. He announced, at the same time, the intended publication of some Sermons and other prose works, by Dr. Blacklock, which, we believe, have not yet appeared. In the year 1779, when a society of literary gentlemen at Edinburgh, came to the resolution of publishing a Periodical Paper, Mr. Mackenzie, then of the Exchequer in that City, was entrusted with the conduct of the work. His numerous Papers in the Mirror, the first production of that Society, have been particularly distinguished for their elegance and neatness. To the Lounger, a periodical paper, afterwards published by the same Society, he likewise contributed some very distinguished Essays. Indeed, we are of opinion, that without the attraction of Mr. Mackenzie's performances, neither of these publications would have ranked very highly in the class of Periodical Papers. But possessed of these, they may boast a saving principle, and a sterling excellence in their conformation, which gives them a durable value and will insure them a lasting estimation among the works of taste.