MacFlecknoe to Macrobii

MacFlecknoe, in Dryden’s satire so called, is meant for Thomas Shadwell, who was promoted to the office of poetlaureate. The design of Dryden’s poem is to represent the inauguration of one dullard as successor of another in the monarchy of nonsense. R. Flecknoe was an Irish priest and hackney poet of no reputation, and Mac is Celtic for son; “MacFlecknoe” means the son of the poetaster so named. Flecknoe, seeking for a successor to his own dulness, selects Shadwell to bear his mantle.

Shadwell alone my perfect image bears,
Mature in dulness from his tender years;…
The rest to some faint meaning make pretence,
But Shadwell never deviates into sense.

   —Dryden: MacFlecknoe (a satire, 1682).

An ordinary reader would scarcely suppose that Shadwell, who is here meant by MacFlecknoe, was worth being chastised; and that Dryden, descending to such game, was like an eagle stooping to catch flies. But the truth is, that Shadwell at one time held divided reputation with this great poet. Every age produces its fashionable dunces, who…supply talkative ignorance with materials for conversation.—Goldsmith: Beauties of English Poets (1767).

MacGrainer (Master), a dissenting minister at Kippletringan.—Sir W. Scott: Guy Mannering (time, George II.).

MacGregor (Rob Roy) or Robert Campbell, the outlaw. He was a Highland freebooter.

Helen M’Gregor, Rob Roy’s wife.

Hamish and Robert Oig, the sons of Rob Roy.—Sir W. Scott: Rob Roy (time, George I.).

MacGregor, or Robin Oig M’Combich, a Highland drover, who stabbed Harry Wakefield at an ale-house. Being tried at Carlisle for the murder, he was found guilty and condemned.—Sir W. Scott: The Two Drovers (time, George III.).

MacGruther (Sandie), a beggar imprisoned by Mr. Godfrey Bertram laird of Ellangowan.—Sir W. Scott: Guy Mannering (time, George II.).

MacGuffog (David), keeper of Portanferry prison.

Mrs. M’Guffog, David’s wife.—Sir W. Scott: Guy Mannering (time, George II.).

Macham (Robert), the discoverer of Madeira Island, to which he was driven while eloping with his lady- love (A. D. 1344). The lady soon died, and the mariners made off with the ship. Macham, after his mourning was over, made a rude boat out of a tree, and, with two or three men, putting forth to sea, landed on the shores of Africa. The Rev. W. L. Bowles has made the marvellous adventures of Robert Macham the subject of a poem; and Drayton, in his Polyolbion, xix., has devoted twenty-two lines to the same subject.

Macheath (Captain), captain of a gang of highwaymen; a fine, bold-faced ruffian, “game” to the very last. He is married to Polly Peachum, but finds himself dreadfully embarrassed between Polly his wife, and Lucy to whom he has promised marriage. Being betrayed by eight women at a drinking bout, the captain is lodged in Newgate, but Lucy effects his escape. He is recaptured, tried, and condemned to death; but being reprieved, acknowledges Polly to be his wife, and promises to remain constant to her for the future.—Gay: The Beggar’s Opera (1727).

Men will not become highwaymen because Macheath is acquitted on the stage.—Dr. Johnson.

(T. Walker was the original “Macheath,” but Charles Hulet (1701–1736) was allowed to excel him. O’Keefe says West Digges (1720–1786) was the best “Macheath” he ever saw in person, song, and manners. Incledon (1764–1826) performed the part well, and in 1821 Miss Blake delighted play-goers by her pretty imitation of the highwayman.)

  By PanEris using Melati.

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