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Through the Long Day
Or Memorials of a Literary Life during half a century by Charles MacKay LL.D. (1887)


An autobiography is of necessity egotistical, but the egotism need not be aggressive or over-weening. I have striven in the following pages to avoid falling into the error of making too much of myself, and have rather chosen to consider my own personality as a mere shelf in a book-case on which I might range the volumes of my experience, and the records of my intercourse with the once celebrated people who, in their day, ranked among the lights of the age in which my lot and theirs was cast. I have, as far as possible, avoided speaking of the living.

The work may be looked upon as a supplement to another, written nearly eleven years ago, entitled, Forty Years' Recollection of Life, Literature, and Politics, breaking new ground and going over the old ground, with fuller details of events than at that time would have been either judicious r profitable. It forms a faithful record of a literary career that has yielded me enjoyment in the pursuit, and, I am fain to hope, the respect of ray contemporaries, without securing to me the worldly advantages which might have been mine, if I had been prudent enough in my youth to devote my energies to a more lucrative, though I will not say a more honourable profession. I leave my works —such as they are—and my reputation—such as it is—to the charitable judgment of posterity, if my name should reach it, as I cannot help hoping that it may.

December, 1886.

Contents of Volume 1

Chapter I.—My Childhood and Youth
Chapter II.—The "Morning Chronicle" and the Newspaper Press Half a Century ago
Chapter III.—The Eglinton Tournament — Ascent of Goatfell, in Arran
Chapter IV.—A Charqe of Plagarism
Chapter V.—Old London Life and Manners
Chapter VI.—Musical Epidemics in London
Chapter VII.—The Scott Monument at Edinburgh
Chapter VIII.—The Doubleday Theory of Population
Chapter IX.—Breakfasts with Samuel Rogers Part A
Chapter IX.—Breakfasts with Samuel Rogers Part B
Chapter IX.—Breakfasts with Samuel Rogers Part C
Chapter X.—A Case of Arbitration.
Chapter XI.—Patric Park and Celebrated Modern Sculptors.
Chapter XII.—Theodore von Holst [Note: we were unable to scan this chapter due to damage to the pages]

Contents of Volume 2

Chapter I - A once noted clairvoyant
Chapter II - Liverpool in 1830
Chapter III - The "Star and Garter". Little dinners at Richmond.
Chapter IV - The Garrick Club 1858
Chapter V - Earl Russell - Vienna in 1855
Chapter VI - Visits to America
Chapter VII - The "London" Review
Chapter VIII - New York During the Civil War
Chapter IX - Assassination of President Lincoln
Chapter X - Canada in 1865
Chapter XI - An Adventure in Montreal
Chapter XII - Mr Jefferson Davis
Chapter XIII - Closing Labours


Charles Mackay, who lived most of his life in southern England, was born in Perth on the 27th of March, 1814 and was educated in the Caledonian Asylum. Glasgow University capped him LLD in 1846. He was a journalist, poet and writer of popular songs who became Sub-Editor of the Morning Chronicle; Editor of the Glasgow Argus; Editor of the Illustrated London News, and Editor of the London Revue. He was also the Special Correspondent of "The Times" at New York from 1862 until 1865. During the Civil War in America his poem "There's a good time coming", when set to music, sold 400,000 copies - surely quite a performance for his day and generation. He was a prolific prose and poetic writer on many topics, literary, biographical, historical and geographical. His autobiography, comprising around 1000 pages, was published in 1886. He died in London on the 24th of December, 1889.

Poems by Charles MacKay

To My Old Highland Plaid
Strathnaver No More
The Canadian Highlander
My Heart's in the Highlands

The Scottish Language and its Literary History
By Charles MacKay

Part 1  |  Part 2 |  Part 3 | Part 4

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