1854 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Mackenzie

Leigh Hunt, in Selections from English Authors; Works (1854) 3:192-93.



The reader, perhaps, hardly requires to be told that Mackenzie, whose writings have been gathered into the British classics, was a Scottish gentleman, bred to the bar, who in his youth wrote the once popular novel called the Man of Feeling, and died not long ago at a reverend age, universally regretted. He was the editor and principal writer of the two periodical works called the Mirror and Lounger, to which several of the reigning Scottish wits contributed. He was not a very original or powerful writer, but was a very shrewd, elegant, and pleasing one, a happy offset from Addison; and he sometimes showed great pathos. His stories of La Roche and Louisa Venoni are among the most affecting in the world, and free from the somewhat morbid softness of his novel. We are the happier in being able to do this tardy, though very unnecessary justice to the merits of a good man and a graceful essayist, because in the petulance and presumption of youth we had mistaken our incompetence to judge them for the measure of their pretensions.