"I retire to the family of my own thoughts, and find them in weeds of sorrow."

— Mackenzie, Henry (1745-1831)

Place of Publication
W. Strahan, T. Cadell, W. Creech
"I retire to the family of my own thoughts, and find them in weeds of sorrow."
Metaphor in Context
I begin to suspect that the sensibility, of which young minds are proud, from which they look down with contempt on the unfeeling multitude of ordinary men, is less a blessing than an inconvenience. --Why cannot I be as happy as my uncle, as Dorville, as all the other good people around me? --I eat, and drink, and sing, nay I can be merry, like them; but they close the account, and set down this mirth for happiness; I retire to the family of my own thoughts, and find them in weeds of sorrow.

Herbert left this place yesterday! the only man besides thee, whom my soul can acknowledge as a friend. And him, perhaps, I shall see no more: And thee! my heart droops at this moment, and I could weep without knowing why. --Tell me, as soon as possible, that you are well and happy; there is, methinks, a languor in your last letter--or is it but the livery of my own imagination, which the objects around me are constrained to wear?

Herbert was a sort of proxy for my Beauvaris; he spoke from the feelings of a heart like his. To him I could unbosom mine, and be understood; for the speaking of a common language, is but one requisite towards the dearest intercourse of society. His sorrows gave him a sacredness in my regard, that made every endeavour to serve or oblige him, like the performance of a religious duty; there was a quiet satisfaction in it, which calmed the rufflings of a sometimes troubled spirit, and restored me to peace with myself.

He is sailed for England, whither some business, material to a friend of his muchloved Emily, obliges him to return. He yields to this, I perceive, as a duty he thinks himself bound to discharge, though the sight of his native country, spoiled as it is of those blessings which it once possessed for him, must be no easy trial of his fortitude. He talks of leaving it as soon as this affair will allow him, not to return to the West-Indies (for of his business there he is now independent), but to travel through some parts of Europe, which the employments of his younger years prevented him from visiting at an early period of life. If he goes to Paris, he has promised me to call on you. --Could I be with you! --What a thought is there!--but I shall not be forgotten at the interview.
(pp. 64-7)
HDIS (Prose)
11 entries in ESTC (1777, 1778, 1781, 1782, 1787, 1793, 1795, 1796).

Henry Mackenzie, Julia de Roubigné, A Tale in a Series of Letters. Published by The Author of The Man of Feeling, and The Man of The World, 2 vols. (London: W. Strahan, T. Cadell, W. Creech, 1777). <Link to ECCO>
Date of Entry
Date of Review

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.