Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/144

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511 HENRY MACKENZIE.


emotion of his moral sense. In the Man of the World, he exhibited, on the contrary, a person rushing headlong into misery and ruin, and spreading misery all around him, by pursuing a happiness which he expected to obtain in defi- ance of the moral sense. His next production was Julia de Roubigne, a novel in a series of letters, designed, in its turn, as a counterpart to the Man of the World. " A friend of the author," says Sir Walter Scott, " the cele- brated Lord Kames, we believe, had represented to Mr Mackenzie, in how many poems, plays, and novels, the distress of the piece is made to turn upon the designing villany of some one of the dramatis personee. On considering his observations, the author undertook, as a task fit for his genius, the composi- tion of a story, in which the characters should be all naturally virtuous, and where the calamities of the catastrophe should arise, as frequently happens in actual life, not out of schemes of premeditated villany, but from the excess and over-indulgence of passions and feelings in themselves blameless, nay, praise- worthy, but which, encouraged to a morbid excess, and coming into fatal and fortuitous concourse with each other, lead to the most disastrous consequences. Mr Mackenzie executed his purpose ; and as the plan fell in most happily with the views of a writer, whose object was less to describe external objects, than to read a lesson to the human heart, he has produced one of the most heart-wring- ing histories which has ever been written. The very circumstances which pal- liate the errors of the sufferers, in whose distress we interest ourselves, point out to the reader that there is neither hope, remedy, nor revenge."

In 1777 or 1778, a number of young men of literary taste, chiefly connected with the Scottish bar, formed themselves into an association for the prosecution of their favourite studies, which came to bear the name of the Mirror Club. An account of this fraternity, of its members, and of the way in which they conducted their meetings, has already been given under the article " WILLIAM CRAIG," being derived from the oral information of Sir William Macleod Ban- natyne, the latest survivor of the society. 5 Of the Mirror Club, Mr Mackenzie was readily acknowledged chief; and, accordingly, when it was resolved to issue their literary essays in a small weekly paper, resembling the Spectator, he was appointed to undertake the duties connected with the publi- cation. The Mirror was commenced on the 2Sd of January, 1779, in the shape of a small folio sheet, price three halfpence, and terminated on the 27th of May, 1780 ; having latterly been issued twice a-week. Of the one hundred and ten papers to which the Mirror extended, forty-two were contributed by Mr Mackenzie, including La Roche, and several others of the most admired of his minor pieces. The sale, during the progress of the publication, never ex-

5 Sir William Macleod Bamratyne was born, January 26, 1743, O. S., and died November 30, 1833, in his ninety-first year. He was the son of Mr Roderick Macleod, W. S., whose sister, lady Clanranald, for protecting Prince Charles in his wander- ings, was made prisoner, and kept for some time in confinement in London. The " young Clanranald," who led out his clan in 1745, and took the town of Dundee, was therefore eousin-german to Sir William. The venerable subject of this note, passed advo- cate, January 22, 1765, and was the intimate friend of the first lord Melville, when at the bar, and of several other eminent persons in that profession, with whom he used to meet re- gularly for mutual improvement in forensic and legal business. His contributions to the Mirror were five papers, which are pointed out in the latest edition. On the resignation of lord Swinton, in 1799, he was raised to the bench, where he performed the duties of a judge till 1823. On his retirement, he received the honour of knighthood. The remainder of his life was spent by Sir William in a cheerful and hospitable leisure at his residence in Whiteford House, near the bottom of the Canongate, where he was for many years the only surviving spe- cimen of the old town gentleman. Sir William was full of anecdote and information respecting the political history of Scotland during the last century, and showed, in conversation with the present writer, as intimate an acquaintance, and as lively a recollection of the secrets of the VValpole and Bute administrations, as could be displayed by any living man, respecting tliat of Mr Canning or the Duke of Wellington.