The Later Sentimentalists
Sentimentalism is the dominant note of great mass of inferior fiction during the latter half of eighteenth century; so much so that in general usage it is to be taken for granted. The raw sentimentalism of Henry Mackenzie’s first novel, brought within control in The Man of the World, is in Julia de Roubigne neither mawkish, on whole, nor exaggerative. It is unfortunate that Mackenzie’s literary reputation has been so persistently judged by his exploitation of the sentimental vogue. Mackenzie’s claim to literary notice is more frail, resting as it does upon an almost undisciplined sentimentalism. Yet his work shows qualities that might have assured him of some importance as a novelist had he not maimed his talent by forcing it into sentimental mold. The Man of Feeling, it should be noted in further justice to Mackenzie, has at times peculiar grace of off-hand style, in passages sensitive to scene and associations, and often touched with the fragrance of reminiscence.