William Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 6

By Brian Vickers | Go to book overview

283.

John Monck Mason, on editing Shakespeare

1785

From Comments on the Last Edition of Shakespeare’s Plays (1785).

John Monck Mason (1726-1809) was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and sat in the Irish House of Commons for much of the time between 1761 and 1798, holding various government offices. He published a four-volume edition of Massinger in 1779 (an undistinguished piece of editing), and had planned to produce an edition of Shakespeare, only to find that the Johnson-Steevens-Reed edition of 1785 included most of his ‘amendments and explanations’. So he issued his Comments separately, and reissued them as Comments on the Several Editions of Shakespeare’s Plays, extended to those of Malone andSteevens (Dublin, 1807); he also published Comments on the Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher; with an Appendix containing some further Observations on Shakespeare (1798).

[1] [On Coriolanus, 4.7.48ff.]

The obvious objection to Johnson’s and Warburton’s explanations of these passages arises from the peculiar temper of Coriolanus, which renders them totally inapplicable to him in the sense which they give them; for he was so far from boasting of his exploits himself that he could not bear to hear them extolled by others; but, as he says himself,


Would rather have his wounds to heal again,
Than hear say how he got them,
And had rather have one scratch his head in the sun,
When the alarm were struck, than idly sit
To hear his nothings monster’d.

-403-

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