1771 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Mackenzie

Gilbert Stuart, Review of Mackenzie, Man of Feeling; Monthly Review 44 (May 1771) 418.



This performance is written after the manner of Sterne; but it follows at a prodigious distance the steps of that ingenious and sentimental writer. It is not however totally destitute of merit; and the Reader, who weeps not over some of the scenes it describes, has no sensibility of mind. But it is to be observed, that the knowledge of men it contains, appears to be rather gathered from books than experience; and that, with regard to composition, it is careless, and abounds in provincial and Scottish idioms. It is probably a first work; and from the specimen it affords of the talents of its Author, we should not be disposed to think that he will ever attain to any great eminence in literature. He may amuse himself at the foot of Parnassus; but to ascend the steeps of the mountain must be the task of those on whom their benignant stars have bestowed the rare gifts of true genius.