The Man of Feeling

by Henry Mackenzie

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 335

The main character, and the man of feeling mentioned in the title, is Harley. The narrator describes Harley as a "bashful animal." His heart is open to everyone, friends and foes alike, and he is virtuous almost to a fault. Most interestingly, he doesn't possess the greed and will to succeed that the author claims the "world supposes every man to have."

Harley did not want for some monitors of this sort. He was frequently told of men, whose fortunes enabled them to command all the luxuries of life, whose fortunes were of their acquirement... Harley was apt to hear those friends with indifference.

It is a surprise, then, that his friends manage to persuade him to leave the elderly aunt who had instilled in him so many of his virtues and go to London to claim land from his "paternal estate."

It is just before he leaves that he meets again the love of his life, Miss Walton. Miss Walton is the daughter of Mr. Walton, a well-connected man who offers to write Harley an introductory letter. At this point, Miss Walton has no interest in Harley whatsoever, but Harley's "romantic imagination" always keeps him interested in her.

Blocked from seeing the Baronet for the first few weeks, he sets out into the city, where the harsh urban environment often exposes his good nature. His problem is that he wants to help everyone he sees and he can't turn anyone down. This results in people conning Harley over and over again. He does help a prostitute, Miss Atkins, return to her family, and in the end, he finds that one of the people he met, a procurer for rich people, has claimed his land before him.

On his way home, he meets Mr. Edwards, an old acquaintance who has lost land due to the enclosure acts. Harley offers him a farm on his estate, and Mr. Edwards soon becomes a good friend. He is one of the people at Harley's bedside when he dies.

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