Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 235
Mackenzie’s The Man of Feeling was a Romantic novel written at the end of the sentimental era, although it was still extremely popular. Mackenzie, a literary lawyer in the 1700s, had difficulty getting his manuscript published and it remained unpublished for several years before he submitted it anonymously. The novel centers around Harley, a sensitive, kind man who puts others before himself and does his best to live a true and generous life. Although his parents died and Harley was raised by several people, he had some money to live on and he was comfortable, yet not wealthy. When his guardians suggested he undertake an attempt to get more money, he was reluctant but eventually gave in, in no small part because he was in love with Miss Walton and he felt that he would be able to offer her worthy life if he had more money.
Harley travels in an attempt to gain money and land, and he is met with obstacle after obstacle. In each of these situations, Harley chooses kindness and virtue, putting others’ needs before himself. However he was (especially by today’s standards), somewhat weak; although this weakness could also be viewed as an asset because of his generosity.
Mackenzie himself was not at all like Harley; he was an outgoing man who sought fortune in various ways. The Man of Feeling was his first and most famous novel.