Henry Mackenzie (1745-1831)  
Scottish poet, novelist and political writer
The Man of Feeling  (1771)
The Man of the World  1773)
Julia de Roubigne  (1777)

Letters of Brutus (April 1790) began to appear in the Edinburgh Herald
Letters of Brutus to Certain Celebrated Political Characters (1791)

The Letters of Brutus to Certain Celebrated Political Characters
was published in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The letters are addressed to particular anonymous characters (who can be identified by their actions and reputations within the letters) by an anonymous writer.   The letters critique and scold.  In the first, to Lieutenant General B***, Mackenzie reminds the General of his own past to curb his political activities and criticisms of others. 

The Mackenzie letters by coincidence or happenstance share the same pseudonym with letters written by Robert Yates in the United States during the same period.  Yates addressed his letters "To the citizens of the State of New-York" and wrote to espouse a strong anti-Federalist stance.  Yates' letters were published in the New York Journal from October 1787 to April 1788.  It is certainly possible that Mackenzie heard of them, even if he did not read them.  It is also possible that he had no knowledge of the "other" Brutus.

Marcus Junius Brutus Caepio (85 BC – 42 BC) was, of course, the protégé who helped to kill Caesar.  He can be seen as one who would betray trust, but he is also an icon of resisting strong centralized power.  He feared for the future of the Republic of Rome, as Caesar declared himself Emperor and worked to limit the powers of the Senate.  He was forced to flee Rome because those who had supported Caesar and his goals still held power.  Thus, he is also symbolic of those who must be careful as they feint and parry with words for fear of reprisal.  He has also lent another name to authors who write in fear -- Junius.  In the Advertisement for Letters of Brutus there is a reference to an earlier Junius (wrote 1767 through 1772), and during the World War I a Junius Pamphlet (written by Rosa Luxemburg while in prison) gave a vivid account of the abuse of power.  (see resources below).

Mackenzie probably didn't have to fear for his life when he wrote, but the open critiques which he leveled could certainly have been met with reprisals.  He was not one to mince words, he said of Thomas Paine, "He possesses that vulgar eloquence which a vigorous mind untutored by classical education, and unrestrained by delicacy or taste, has an advantage in exhibiting; and he derives credit from the very want of qualities which finer minds are at pains to cultivate . . ."  Like the Brutus in America at the time, Mackenzie was a conservative who mistrusted centralized power and mistrusted those who held either power or popularity.

The Letters of Brutus to Certain Celebrated Political Characters is only 91 pages long.  Below you will find the frontispiece of the first edition, as well as the Advertisement, table of contents and the first six letters.

The letters often end with a bang. 

Page 83, the last paragraph:

I cannot be allured by the hope of reward; and it can alarm none but bad men, to be told, that falsehood is the only danger I shall fear.


January 17th 1791.


The enlargements of the book are sufficient for easy reading -- they will be a slow download on a modem.  The photographs of the book by Mackenzie may be used freely on non-commercial sites (no advertisements) and for educational purposes.


Further Resources:

Brief summary of the Life and work of Henry Mackenzie  by Matsuoka, at Nagoya University

The text of  The Junius Pamphlet -- by Rosa Luxemburg, published 1916, commentary on the Nazi regime

The invectives of Junius --  an essay by A.G. Noorani giving an account of the Letters of Junius, 1769

Marcus Brutus by Plutarch, hypertext on the web at M.I.T.

Robert Yates background information from American Revolution

Robert Yates' Brutus letters in html by Jon Roland of the Constitution Society

 (c) Marilyn Shea, 2005