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character. He translated, in company with an intimate friend, Halled, some parts of Theocritus into verse; and afterwards began, with the same companion for his coadjutor, a dramatic piece in three acts, entitled Jupiter,' but after many attempts to get it received by one of the managers of the great theatres, they were obliged to forego the hopes of the profit and fame, which they ardently expected from its success. The circumstance most worthy of notice in this early dramatic essay of Sheridan, is that it laid the groundwork of his admirable piece the Critic. The next undertaking of the friends was a periodical publication, under the title of Herman's Miscellany, which followed the fate of the drama; and they finally set down to the translation of Aristænetus, which was published, but produced them but a very small portion of the reward they expected from their labours.
At length the literary speculalions and anxieties of Sheridan and his companion gave way to others of a more agilating and a more dangerous kind. The father of the former had left London and gone to reside in Bath, where was resident at that time, the family of the Linley's of great musical celebrity. Miss Linley, whothough only sixteen, was a deservedly popular favourite, was as conspicuous for her almost incomparable beauty as her professional accomplishments. From a similarity of occupations an intimacy soon look place between the two families, and Sheridan's brother, himself, and his friend Halled, exposed to the fascinations of Miss Linley, became all three deeply enamoured. Richard, however, proceeding in the affair with more circumspection than his usual character appeared to promise, was unknown as the rival of the other two suitors, till after a courtship carried on in almost perfect secrecy, the lovers eloped, and were married by a Calholic priest at a village near Calais. The truubles, however, of the young couple were not all to end thus. Sheridan had to fight two duels with a person of the name of Williams, who had ventured to take unwarranted freedoms with Miss Linley's character; and what was still worse, on their return, not daring to inform their friends of their mariage, the bride was forbidden by her father to see Sheridan, and the latter was sent by his own to Waltham Abbey, that he might be out of the influence of Miss Linley's attractions. The professed cause of the lady's elopement, was her desire to escape the importunities of Williams, and a dislike to her profession. For a time, however, she was again compelled to appear in public, til her father finding it impossible to prevent the approaches of her lover, they were again married, and she bid adieu to the stage.
Sheridan had entered the Temple with the idea of studying the law, but, as it has occurred with most literary men, he soon gave up all views of advancement in this line of exertion, and he retired with his wife to a cottage in the country, to pursue employments more fitted to his inclinations. Here he resumed his dramatic labours, and produced his comedy of “The Rivals.' This piece was brought out at Covent Garden, Jan. 17,1775.--It was at first unsuccessful, but as the disapprobation of the audience was mainly attributable to the bad acting of some of the performers, it was again presented to the public, and obtained signal success"The Rivals’ was followed by the laughable farce of ‘St. Patrick's Day, or the Scheming Lieutenant,' which was also successful. But amid these lighter pursuits, Sheridan's mind appears to have been bent upon the attainment of a higher kind of reputation than was to be purchased by these employments. His attention was early turned to the study of politics, and there are some passages remaining of an unpublished pamphlet written about this time, in which he boldly attacks the opinions of Dr. Johnson on one of the popular questions of the time. But his present and substantial hopes depended upon the success of his dramatic exertions; and in November 1775, the Opera of the “Duenna' was brought out at Covent Garden, and such was its unprecedented success that it had a run of seventy five nighls.
It was about this period that he entered upon a negotiation, which makes an important figure in the
circumstances of his life. Garrick, who was one of the two patenlees of Drury Lane, was then fast declining in strength, and had come to the determination of disposing of his share in the theatre. Sheridan, in company with Mr. Linley and Dr. Ford, entered into a treaty with him on the subject, and concluded in purchasing that half of the patent which belonged to the celebrated actor. Sheridan's share amounted to ten thousand pounds, but how he raised it, or had become possessed of it, was never known to his most intimate acquaintances. Soon after the conclusion of this business he produced a Comedy,adapted from Vanburgh’s ‘Relapse, called, "A Trip to Scarborough.' It was acted for the first time Feb.24, 1777, without adding to the repulation of the author. But of all his efforts in this mode of exertion, and that which will continue to preserve his name in greatest repute as a dramatic writer, was his production of “The School for Scandal,' a comedy, in the composition of which he employed all the resources with which the stores of his wit both natural and acquired, furnished him. The manner in which this play was brought to its final state of perfection, curiously exemplifies the mode in which the mind of its gifted author usually wrought. It was formed out of the fragments of two distinct plans; and the bright and sparkling vest of humour in which it is clothed from beginning to end, appears to have been made by knitting together the thousand splendid fragments which lay scattered about the writer's litterary store-house. The success of this piece was equal to ils merits, and Sheridan was universally regarded as the first dramatist of his day. “The School for Scandal was brought out May 8, 1777, and may still be regarded as one of the most popular standing dramas in the English language.
On the death of Garrick, which took place in the year 1779, Sheridan wrote a monody to his memory, and in the same year produced the admirable and sarcastic piece 'The Critic. This was the last of his regular dramatic productions, the Stranger and Pizarro hardly deserving to be called original works, or meriling a place by the side of those above enumeraled.
Ambition was now about to open to the aspiring but satisfied dramatist, a field sown with honours more important in valuc, and requiring for their allainment talents of a niore solid nature. Sheridan's attachment to the study of politics has been already mentioned ; and the connexions which his literary popularity had enabled him to form, gave a new spur to his wishes on this subject. He had become acquainted with Fox, Burke, Windham, and the other great men who were then figuring on the arena of politics, and having been once recognized as one of their parly, he was not long before he determined on bringing his abilities into active play. His first esforls were employed on “The Englishman,' a periodical publication set up and intended by the Whigs to advocate the views of that party. From want, however, of regular allention it soon ceased, and at the dissolution of parliament in 1780, Sheridan obtained the great object of his ambition, a seat in the House of Commons. The time he entered iulo public life was well calculated to afford him opportunities of distinguishing himself, but he does not appear to have at first answered the high expectations which had been formed from his known abilily. On the change, however, of Ministry, be obtained the office of Under Secretary of State, which he resigned on Lord Shelburn's being placed at the head of the administralion; and when another administerial change took place, he was made Secretary of the Treasury.
But it was not the official rank which Sheridan was thus obtaining that was likely to satisfy a mind cast like his, por do we think he was possessed of that kind of abilily which was likely lo make him eminently distinguished as a stalesman. Filled for display rather than long and sober exertion, his lalents had neither been malured by study nor strengthened by active application; and ii musi have been long before he could have acquired those habils of business and silent devo tion to a particular object, which are so necessary to a man in office. But there are occasions in which such
a mind as that of Sheridan, is enabled to manifest by the impulse of the moment a gigantic force; and an occasion of this kind was offered him at the impeachment of Governor Hastings. From the beginning to end of this extraordinary trial, his genius shone ont with a splendour that dazzled minds not apt to be moved by such displays; and his speeches in parliament and in Westminster-Hall on the occasion, 'are said to have obtained the highest triumphs which it is in the power of eloquence to achieve. It was soon after the commencement of these splendid exertions, that his father died; and, to his honour be it spoken, neither the bustle of a public life, its attendant anxieties, nor the pride of reputation, had dulled his feelings of filial tenderness and respect; and he performed the last duties of a son with an attention that did credit to his heart. While these circumstances were occuring, he continued to make advances well calculated to fill an ambilious mind with the most brillant hopes. Upon the question concerning the regency being debated, he was received by the prince into his particular confidence, was made the medium of communication on many important discussions, and was regarded by his friends as destined to obtain a considerable advancement in case the premeditated changes look place.
But unfortunately for Sheridan, his prudence was not equal to his genius, nor the allention he paid to his private concerns equal in any degree to the perceverance with which he advanced his political interests. In the midst of his enjoyment of the highest reputation he could have hoped to possess, he began to be harassed by the distresses into which an uncalculating love of pleasure and magnificence had hurried him. Though he had no reason to dream that poverty would scowl at him on his deathbed, or that the grave and the prison would at last quarrel for his emaciated frame, yet a moderate altention to the real state of his affairs at this time would have convinced him of errors which it cost him an old age of poverly and desertion to expiate. But he had advanced to a point from which it is difficult