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And here, oh, here I where yet, all young and warm,
But should there be to whom the fatal blight
Breasts to whom all the strength of feeling given,
Ye orators, whom yet our councils yield,
EXTRACT FROM LORD BYRON'S LETTERS.
“ WHATEVER Sheridan has done or chosen to do has been, par excellence, always the best of its kind. He has written the best comedy, "The School for Scandal ;' the best opera, 'The Duenna' (in my mind far before that St. Giles's lampoon, 'The Beggars' Opera'); the best farce, The Critic'-it is only too good for a farce; and the best address, the 'Monologue on
* Fox, Pitt, Burke.
Garrick ; and, to crown all, delivered the very best oration, the famous Begum speech, ever conceived or heard in this country.
“In society I have met Sheridan frequently. He had a sort of liking for me, and never attacked me, at least to my face, and he did everybody else—high names, and wits, and orators, some of them poets also. I have seen him cut up Whitbread, quiz Madame de Stael, annihilate Colman, and do little less by some others (whose names, as friends, I set not down) of good fame and ability,
“ The last time I met him was, I think, at Sir Gilbert Heathcote's, where he was as quick as ever ; no, it was not the last time—the last time was at Douglas Kinnaird's,
“I have met him in all places and parties-at Whitehall with the Melbournes, at the Marquis of Tavistock's, at Robins, the auctioneer's, at Sir Humphry Davy's, at Sam Rogers'; in short, in most kinds of company, and always found him very convivial and delightful. “I have seen Sheridan weep two or three times. It may
be he was maudlin, but this only renders it more impressive; for who would see
“ From Marlborough's eyes the tears of dotage flow,
And Swift expire a driveller and a show.' Once I saw him cry at Robins, the auctioneer's, after a splendid dinner, full of great names and high spirits ; I had the honour of sitting next to Sheridan. The occasion of his tears was some observation or other upon the subject of the sturdiness of the Whigs in resisting office and keeping to their principles. Sheridan turned round : “Sir, it is easy for my Lord G., or Earl G., or Marquis of B., or Lord H., with thousands upon thousands a year, some of it either presently derived or inherited, in sinecure or acquisitions from the public money, to boast of their patriotism and keep aloof from temptation, but they do not know from what temptation those have kept aloof who had equal pride, at least equal talents, and not unequal passions, and nevertheless knew not in the course of their lives what it
was to have a shilling of their own.'. And in saying this, he wept.
“I have more than once heard him say that he never had a shilling of his own.' To be sure he contrived to extract a great many of other people's.
“In 1815 I had occasion to visit my lawyer in Chancery Lane; he was with Sheridan. After mutual greetings, &c., Sheridan retired first. Before recurring to my own business, I could not help inquiring that of Sheridan. "Oh,' replied the attorney, the usual thing-to stave off an action from his wine-merchant, my client!' 'Well,' said I, and what do you mean to do?' 'Nothing at all for the present,' said he ; 'would you have us proceed against old Sherry? What would be the use of it?' And here he began laughing, and going over Sheridan's good gifts of conversation.
“Now, from personal experience, I can vouch that my attorney is by no means the tenderest of men, or particularly accessible to any kind of impression out of the statute or record, and yet Sheridan had in half an hour found the way to soften and seduce him in such a manner that I almost think he would have thrown his client (an honest man, with all the law and justice on his side) out of the window, had he come in at the moment.
“Such was Sheridan khe could soften an attorney! . There has been nothing like it since the days of Orpheus.
“One day I saw him take up his own Monody on Garrick. He lighted upon the dedication to the Dowager Lady Spencer. On seeing it he flew into a rage, and exclaimed that it must be a forgery—that he had never dedicated anything of his to such a d -d canting,' &c., &c.; and so he went on for at least half an hour, abusing his own dedication, at least the object of it. If all writers were equally sincere, it would be ludicrous.
“He told me that on the night of the grand success of his *School for Scandal,' he was knocked down and taken to the watch-house for making a row in the street and being found in. toxicated by the watchment."
DR. PARR'S EPITAPH ON THOMAS SHERIDAN.
Mr. Jarvis had once the intention of having a cenotaph raised to the memory of Mr. Sheridan's father, in the church of Margate.* With this view he applied to Dr. Parr for an inscription, and the following is the tribute to his old friend with which that learned and kind-hearted man supplied him :
“This monument, A.D. 1824, was, by subscription, erected to the memory of Thomas Sheridan, Esq., who died in the neighbouring parish of St. John, August 14, 1788, in the 69th year of his age, and, according to his own request
, was there buried. He was grandson to Dr. Thomas Sheridan, the brother of Dr. William, a conscientious non-juror, who, in 1691, was deprived of the Bishopric of Kilmore. He was the son of Dr. Thomas Sheridan, a profound scholar and eminent schoolmaster, intimately connected with Dean Swift and other illustrious writers in the reign of Queen Anne. He was husband to the ingenious and amiable author of Sidney Biddulph and several dramatic pieces favourably received. He was father of the celebrated orator and dramatist Richard Brinsley Sheridan. He had been the schoolfellow, and, through life, was the companion, of the amiable Archbishop Markham. He was the friend of the learned Dr. Sumner, master of Harrow School, and the well-known Dr. Parr. He took his first academical degree in the University of Dublin, about 1736.
He was honoured by the University of Oxford with the degree of A.M. in 1758, and in 1759 he obtained the same distinction at Cambridge. He, for many years, presided over the theatre of Dublin ; and, at Drury Lane, he in public estimation stood next to David Garrick. In the literary world he was distinguished by numerous and useful writings on the pronunciation of the English language. Through some of his opinions ran a vein of singularity, mingled with the rich ore of genius. In his manners there was dignified ease ;-in his spirit, invincible firmness ;-and in his habits and principles, unsullied integrity.”
* Though this idea was relinquished, a friend of Mr. Jarvis, with a zeal for the memory of talent highly honourable to him, caused a monument to Mr. Thomas Sheridan to be raised in the church of St. Peter.
BILLING AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, GUILDFORD.