Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Harley’s home

Harley’s home. Village in which Harley’s home is situated; it lies some way beyond a stagecoach terminus, though not as far north of London as the border of author Henry Mackenzie’s native Scotland. The only detail confided to the reader is that Harley’s aunt lives with him and looks after him. Harley is not the local squire but has an estate that includes a few tenant farms, one of which he eventually lets to Edwards.


*London. Capital of Great Britain, to which Harley journeys in the hope of obtaining the lease of Bancroft Manor. The “great man” whom he goes to see for help lives in Grosvenor Square in Mayfair, London’s richest district. While awaiting his reception, Harley spends a good deal of time in and around Hyde Park, on Mayfair’s western boundary. While there he attempts to exercise his supposed skill in the science of physiognomy (reading character in the facial features), but a typical misjudgment leads him to a taproom where he loses a considerable sum of money playing piquet; it is his fellow victim of that deception who informs him, after a chance meeting, that the lease has been dishonestly awarded, after which he resolves to go home.

Among the excursions Harley takes during his fruitless wait is one to Bedlam, a notorious hospital for the insane then located in Moorfields. Although Harley disapproves of making a spectacle out of suffering, he goes with a party to witness the anguish of the enchained patients deemed incurably mad and the silly projects of patients not deemed dangerous; he hears tales of woe...

(The entire section is 664 words.)

The Man of Feeling Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Baker, Ernest A. The History of the English Novel. Vol. 5 in The Novel of Sentiment and the Gothic Romance. London: H. F. & G. Witherby, 1934. Baker’s ten-volume history of the novel is now dated in some of its opinions, but it remains unsurpassed in its scope and is still very helpful on Mackenzie.

Crane, R. S. “Suggestions Toward a Genealogy of The Man of Feeling.” English Literary History 1, no. 3 (1934): 205-230. This famous essay, often reprinted, explains the intellectual origins of the eighteenth century’s belief in the “moral sense.”

Foster, James R. History of the Pre-Romantic Novel in England. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1949. An important study that relates “sensibility” to deism, discusses examples from both French and English literature, and comments usefully on all three of Mackenzie’s novels.

Thompson, Harold W., ed. The Anecdotes and Egotisms of Henry Mackenzie, 1745-1831. London: Oxford University Press, 1927. A very useful collection of autobiographical scraps.

Thompson, Harold W. A Scottish Man of Feeling. London: Oxford University Press, 1931. The standard biography of Mackenzie. Presents reliable information about his life, but must be supplemented by Mackenzie’s more recently published Letters to Elizabeth Ross of Kilravock (1967).