William Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 6

By Brian Vickers | Go to book overview

those which had fallen into disuse. If therefore it be necessary to amend this passage I should chuse to read, ‘at this dull season,’ rather than ‘this dull steven,’ as an expression that would more naturally occur either to Shakespeare or to Roderigo. (400)


284.

Thomas Whately, Richard III and Macbeth compared

1785

From Remarks on Some of the Characters of Shakespeare (1785); this text is from the second edition (Oxford, 1808).

Thomas Whately (d. 1772) was an M.P. from 1761 to his death, and was closely associated with George Grenville, and subsequently with Lord North, holding various political posts. In addition to several works on trade and finance, he was best known to his contemporaries as the author of Observations on Modern Gardening (1770). His brother, Joseph Whately, issued the Shakespeare volume, explaining that it was ‘a Fragment only of a greater work’, since Whately had ‘intended to have gone through eight or ten of the principal characters of Shakespeare in the same manner’, but left off (presumably in 1768-9) to work on his gardening project. In 1811 Whately’s book attracted the attention of Charles Knight, and ultimately led to his edition of Shakespeare. The third edition, in 1839, was issued by his nephew Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin. In 1786 Horace Walpole wrote that ‘the best comment on the marvellous powers of [Shakespeare’s] genius in drawing and discriminating characters is contained in Mr. Whately’s Remarks…. It ought to be prefixed to every edition of Shakespeare as a preface, and will tend more to give a just idea of that matchless genius than all the notes and criticisms on his works. It would teach men

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