1825 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Mason

Joseph Cradock, 1825 ca.; Literary and Miscellaneous Memoirs (1828) 4:226-28.



I knew less of Mason than of any of the Warburtonian junto. Indeed, nothing; except that I sat not far from Gray and him when Foote very handsomely sent them an offer of a side-box, on their having applied for places at his theatre. Mr. Mason was very nice, and rather fastidious, as allowed by his friend Mr. Professor Mainwaring, whom, in his Discourses, Mason certainly at least condescended to imitate; but I here mean only to mention a lack of that "courtesy" so strongly inculcated by the learned Professor, in reply to a lady travelling through York. Mrs. Montagu, so much courted in London, on her way to Scarborough, ventured to send a note, offering to pay her respects to the poetical Residentiary of the Cathedral; to which Mr. Mason only condescended to reply, "that he was not acquainted with the lady." When Mr. Mason brought out Caractacus, at Covent Garden theatre, a certain actor, who, in many respects, however, had great merit, unfortunately had a strong burr in his throat, when the letter R occurred, and it was his lot to give the following speech one would have almost thought it was laid as a trap for him.

CHORUS.
Kingdoms, empires, worlds,
Melt in the general blaze; when lo! from high
Andraste darting, catches from the wreck
The roll of fame, claps her ascending plumes
And stamps on orient stars each patriot's name
Round her eternal dome.

CARACTACUS.
Speak ever thus,
And I will hear thee till attention faint
In heedless ecstacy.

Stopping at Garrick's house afterwards, I found a dramatic circle, and repeating the foregoing extracts, the company seemed amused, and Garrick, laughing, said: "I am sure I can mend it. Now do repeat it without the burr, and I will accompany you;" which he did, by seeming to grind all the time on his knee, like a knife-ginder, which produced a most ludicrous effect, and gave double propriety to

Speak ever thus,
And I will hear thee till attention faint
In heedless ecstacy.