About the Motley Coat

On 28 February 1974, Professor J Kenyon Mason delivered his Inaugural Lecture at the University of Edinburgh, entitled "Ambitions for a Motley Coat."

In describing the meaning of his title, he said:

It stems, almost as a matter of course, from a Shakespearean quotation. Its use does not indicate any erudition on my part but simply the fact that, some 40 years ago, I took the part of Jacques in the school production of "As You Like It" and it obviously left its mark.

You may remember that Jacques, a melancholy man, strayed into the forest and there met a jester, Touchstone, who obviously impressed him. So much so that Jacques returned to his friends and extolled Touchstone saying:

"And in his brain,
which is a dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, 
he has strange places crammed with observation,
the which he vents in mangle form."

"Oh!" said Jacque, "oh! that I were a fool; I am ambitious for a motley coat."

He spoke of his desire to transform "...the rather monochrome, unvarying cloth of traditional forensic medicine into...a fresh, multi-coloured and multi-directional motley coat of community service, resting on a broad base of service to the community in general and the police in particular, fed intellectually by contact with students of many disciplines and extending arms which genuinely welcome and are anxious to provide a full service of co-operation."

Today, we strive to reflect the openness of spirit and mind exemplified by Prof Mason, and to contribute to academia, public life, and the wider society through ground-breaking research and teaching. 

And in this space we hope to build our own motley coat of thoughts, opinions, and ideas at the forefront of medicine, the life sciences and the law.

Visit the Mason Institute website for further details on our research, events, and opportunities.