Mohocks


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Mohocks

bullies terrorizing London streets in 18th century. [Br. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 720]
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Other contemporaries, including Jonathan Swift and Lord Chesterfield, doubted the existence of the Mohocks at all, believing the whole panic to be some kind of mass hysteria.
If the Mohocks, the London Monster and the Garotters are forgotten today, the Jack the Ripper mass hysteria has never died down.
On the Mohocks, see the articles by Daniel Statt, `The case of the Mohocks: rake violence in Augustan London', Victorian Studies 20 (1995): pp179-99 and Neil Guthrie, `"No truth or very little in the whole story"?
Attention in this century to Gay's dramatic oeuvre had previously been only spasmodic and tended to centre on The Beggars Opera, and so, offered more or less as a guide, and surveying all the plays from The Mohocks to The Distress'd Wife, Professor Winton's book is very welcome.
The Beggars Opera and Polly attract the most attention, but for the rest, Winton is content to generalize, albeit with his theatrical heart in the right place: The Mohocks is `a bold experiment'; to dismiss The Wife of Bath (1713) is a `mistake' since it is `a work of originality with some excellent farce scenes'; the revised Wife is merely `a sad come-down' (though no comparison of the two versions supports this pronouncement); The Distress'd Wife is `not successful' because `the world of realistic comedy was not [Gay's] world' - an assessment which begs many critical questions.