페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

against the Ministry for laying what he termed the war-tax upon malt. Most of the company agreed with him, but Sheridan could not resist a hit at the brewer himself. On the back of a letter he wrote, in pencil, the following lines, and handed them across the table to Mr. Whitbread :

They've raised the price of table drink :
What is the reason, do you think?
The tax on malt's the cause, I hear;
But what has malt to do with beer ?

JUDAS ISCARIOT. A MISERLY parson, who seldom gave his mite to charities, was prevailed upon to attend a sermon in Westminster. After the sermon the plate was handed round the vestry. Fox and Sheridan were present.—“The doctor has absolutely given his pound,” said Fox.-" Then,” said Sheridan, “he must absolutely think he is going to die.”—“Pooh !" replied Fox; "even Judas threw away twice the money.”—“Yes,” said Sheridan, “but how long was it before he was hanged ?"

SHERIDAN AND THE LAWYER. ONCE, when a lawyer, of the name of Clifford, had made strong comments upon Sheridan's political conduct, he replied, “As to the lawyer who has honoured me with so much abuse, I do not know how to answer him, as I am no proficient in the language or manners of St. Giles's. But one thing I can say of him, and it is in his favour; I hardly expect you will believe me—the thing is incredible, but I pledge my word to the fact, that once, if not twice, but once most assuredly, I did meet him in the company of gentlemen."

THE UNBROKEN PLATES. SHERIDAN was dining at Mr. Peter Moore's, with his son Tom, who was in a nervous, debilitated state. One of the servants, in passing quickly between the guests and the fire-place, struck down the plate-warmer. This made a great rattle, and caused Tom Sheridan to start and tremble. Peter Moore, provoked

at this, rebuked the servant, and said, “I suppose you have broken all the plates ?"_“No, sir," said the servant; "not one.”—“No?" exclaimed Sheridan; “then, damn it! you have made all that noise for nothing."

LIFE IN DEATH. He preserved his pleasantry and keen perception of the ridiculous almost as long as his life lasted. A solicitor, Mr. R. W., who had been much favoured in wills, waited on Sheridan: after he left the room, another friend came in, to whom Sheridan said, “My friends have been very kind in calling upon me, and offering their services in their respective ways ; Dick W. has just been here with his will-making face.

OPERATIONS. DURING his last illness, the medical attendants apprehending that they would be obliged to perform an operation on him, asked him “if he had ever undergone one.” “Never,” replied Sheridan, "except when sitting for my picture, or having my hair cut."

"THE GLORIOUS FIRST OF JUNE.” WHEN this piece was produced Kelly entreated Sheridan to make his part as short as possible. He had a song to sing which was to be introduced by some lines. Kelly received his part on the night of performance, the stage directions were that he was to gaze earnestly for some moments at the cottage in the distance, and to proceed thus: “Here stands my Louisa's cottage, and she must be either in it or out of it.” It is needless to say that this line brought down a yell of laughter; and that Sheridan afterwards complimented Kelly upon the marvellous manner in which he had played the part at so short a notice.

SHERIDAN'S OPINION OF THE PRESS. HE dreaded the newspapers and always courted their favour. He used often to say, “ Let me but have the periodical press on my side, and there should be nothing in this country which I would not accomplish."

MRS. SIDDONS. MR. ROGERS once said to him, “Your admiration of Mrs. Siddons is so high, that I wonder you never made open tove to her.” To her!" said Sheridan, “to that magnificent and appalling creature ; I should as soon think of making love to the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

SHERIDAN AND GEORGE ROSE. SHERIDAN, lounging towards Whitehall, met George Rose coming out of St. Margaret's. “Any mischief on foot, George, that

you have been at church?” “No, I have been getting my son christened; I have called him William Pitt.” “William Pitt!

A rose By any other name would smell as sweet,' said Sheridan.

SHERIDAN'S HOAX ON THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. LORD BELGRAVE (afterwards the Earl of Grosvenor) having clenched a speech in the House with a long Greek quotation, Sheridan in reply admitted the force of the quotation so far as it went, “but,” said he," had the noble lord proceeded a little further and completed the passage he would have seen that it applied the other way." Sheridan then spouted something, ore rotundo, which had all the ais, ois, ous, kon, and kos, that give the wonted assurance of a Greek quotation ; upon which Lord Belgrave very promptly and handsomely complimented the honourable member on his readiness of recollection, and frankly admitted that the continuation of the passage had the tendency ascribed to it by Mr. Sheridan, and that he had overlooked it when he gave the quotation. On the breaking up of the House Fox, who piqued himself on having some Greek, went up to Sheridan and asked him, “Sheridan, how came you, so ready with that passage? It is certainly as you say, but I was not aware of it before you quoted it.” It is unnecessary to say that there is no Greek at all in Sheridan's impromptu.

SHERIDAN AND HIS WILL. SHERIDAN wished his son to marry a young lady of large fortune who was enamoured of him, but knew that Miss Callander had won his heart.

One day, when talking on the subject, Sheridan grew warm, and expatiating on the folly of his son, exclaimed, “ Tom, if you marry Caroline Callander I'll cut you off with a shilling !" Tom could not resist the opportunity of replying, and looking archly at his father, said: “Then, sir, you must borrow it.” Sheridan was tickled at the wit and dropped the subject. The future proved how correctly Tom had judged.

LORD THURLOW. SHERIDAN was dining with the black-browed Chancellor, when he produced some admirable Constantia, which had been sent him from the Cape of Good Hope; the wine tickled the palate of the connoisseur, who saw the bottle emptied with uncommon regret, and set his wits to work to get another. The old Chancellor was not to be easily induced to produce his curious Cape in such profusion, and foiled all Sheridan's attempts to get another glass. Sheridan being piqued, and seeing the inutility of persecuting the immovable pillar of the law, turned towards a gentleman sitting farther down, and said, “Sir, pass me up that decanter, for I must return to Madeira since I cannot double the Cape."

AMBITION AND AVARICE. Being asked, “Why do we honour ambition and despise avarice, while they are both but the desire of possessing ?" “Because," said Sheridan, "the one is natural, the other artificial, the one the sign of mental health, the other of mental decay; the one appetite, the other disease."

ANOTHER BULL. ANOTHER bull that Sheridan invented for Micbel Kelly was as follows:-Michael was looking through a role in the curtain when the theatre was crowded to excess. John Kemble asked

him how the house looked. Sheridan said that Kelly replied, “By J-s, you can't stick a pin's head in any part of it, it is literally chuck full ; but how much fuller it will be to-morrow night when the king comes !"

MR. PITT'S SINKING FUND. THOUGH, from the prosperous state of the revenue at the time of the institution of this fund, the absurdity was not yet committed of borrowing money to maintain it, we may perceive by the following acute pleasantry of Mr. Sheridan (who denied the existence of the alleged surplus of income), that he already had a keen insight into the fallacy of the plan of redemption afterwards followed :—"At present,” he said, “it was clear there was no surplus, and the only means which suggested themselves to him were a loan of a million for the special purpose, for the right hon. gentleman might say, with the person in the comedy, If you won't lend me the money how can I pay you ?'

SHERIDAN AND PALMER. The return of Palmer, the original Joseph Surface, to Drury Lane, was a subject of infinite importance, in a theatrical point of view, both to himself and Sheridan. The meeting between these men of address was, therefore, expected to produce something remarkable. Palmer made quite a scene of it. After his profound bow, he approached the author of the “School for Scandal,” with an air of penitent humility, his head declined, the whites of his eyes turned upwards, his hands clasped together, and his whole air exactly that of Joseph Surface before Sir Peter Teazle. He began thus :-My dear Mr. Sheridan, if you could but know what I feel at this moment HERE (laying his hand upon his heart). Sheridan, with inimitable readiness stopped him.

“Why, Jack ! you forget I wrote it."

Palmer in telling this story himself, added that the manager's wit cost him su 'mething; “for," said he, “I made him add three pounds er week to the salary I had before my desertion.”

« 이전계속 »