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consistently acted upon the principles, which the first Lord Holland used playfully to impress upon his son:—“Never do today what you can possibly put off till to-morrow, nor ever do, yourself, what you can get any one else to do for you.’” The details respecting Mr. Sheridan's dramatic compositions are of extreme literary curiosity, and will be read with great interest not only as showing the process of the author's mind, but exhibiting much of the character of the man. One of the singularities most obvious, is his habit of repeating the same ideas. Noting Lord Chesterfield's letters, he has jotted down: “The selfish vanity of the father appears in all these letters—his sending the copy of a letter for his sister. His object was the praise of his own mode of education. How much more noble the affection of Morni in Ossian: ‘Oh, that the name of Morni, &c. &c.— Oh that the name of Morni were forgot among the people! that the heroes would only say, ‘Behold the father of Gaul " Sheridan applied this, more than thirty years after, in talking of his own son, on the hustings of Westminster, and said that, in like manner, he would ask no greater distinction than for men to point at him and say, ‘There goes the father of Tom Sheridan!’” Other instances are frequent, as for example—speaking of the beautiful song, Ah cruel maid, how hast thou changed The temper of my mind? Mr. M. goes on to state— “In comparing this poem with the original words of the air to which it is adapted, (Parnell's
pretty lines, ‘My days have been.
so wondrous free,') it will be felt, at once, how wide is the difference between the cold and graceful effusions of taste, and the fervid bursts of real genius—between the delicate product of the conservatory, and the rich child of the sunshine. “I am the more confirmed in the idea that this song was written previously to the opera, and from personal feeling, by finding among his earlier pieces the originals of two other songs—‘I ne'er could any lustre see,' and ‘What bard, Oh Time, discover.' The thought, upon which the latter turns, is taken from a poem already cited, addressed by him to Mrs. Sheridan in 1773; and the following is the passage which supplied the material :— ‘Alas! thou hast no wings, Oh Time, It was some thoughtless lover's rhyme, Who, writing in his Chloe's view, Paid her the compliment through you. For, had he, if he truly lov'd, But once the pangs of absence prov'd, He'd cropt thy wings, and, in their stead, Have painted thee with heels of lead.” “It will be seen presently, that this poem was again despoiled of some of its lines, for an epilogue which he began a few years after, upon a very different subject. There is something, it must be owned, not very sentimental in this conversion of the poetry of affection to other and less sacred uses—as if, like the ornaments of a passing pageant, it might be broken up after the show was over, and applied to more useful purposes. That the young poet should be guilty of such sacrilege to love, and thus steal back his golden offerings from the altar, to melt them down into utensils of worldly display, can only be excused by that demand upon the the riches of his fancy, which the rapidity of his present career in the service of the dramatic muse occasioned. “Among his habits, it may not be uninteresting to know that his hours of composition, as long as he continued to be an author, were at night, and that he required a profusion of lights around him while he wrote. Wine, too, was one of his favourite helps to inspiration:—‘If the thought (he would say) is slow to come, a glass of good wine encourages it, and, when it does come, a glass of good wine rewards it.” Of the poetical part of The Foresters, an unfinished operatic sketch, Mr. M. observes, “The only specimens he has left are a skeleton of a chorus, beginning “Bold Foresters we are,’ and the following song, which, for grace and tenderness, is not unworthy of the hand that produced The Duenna:— “We two, each other's only pride, Each other's bliss, each other's guide, Far from the world's unhallowed noise, Its coarse delights and tainted joys, Through wilds will roam and deserts
rude— For, Love, thy home is solitude.
There shall no vain pretender be,
With fond respect and tender awe,
He adds, “But, of all Mr. Sheridan's unfinished designs, the comedy which he meditated on the subject of affectation, is that of which the abandonment is most to be regretted. To a satirist who would not confine his ridicule to
the mere outward demonstrations of this folly, but would follow and detect it through all its windings and disguises, there could hardly perhaps be a more fertile theme. Affectation, merely of - manner, being itself a sort of acting, does not easily admit of any additional colouring on the stage, without degenerating into farce; and, accordingly, fops and fine ladies— with very few exceptions — are about as silly and tiresome in representation as in reality. But the aim of the dramatist, in this comedy, would have been far more important and extensive; — and how anxious he was to keep before his mind's eye the whole wide horizon of folly which his subject opened upon him, will appear from the following list of the various species of affectation, which I have found written by him, exactly as I give it, on the inside cover of the memorandum-book, that contains the only remaining vestiges of this play: “An affectation of business— of accomplishments—of love and letters and wit—music—of intrigue—of sensibility—of vivacity —of silence and importance—of modesty—of profligacy—of moroseness.” “In this projected comedy he does not seem to have advanced as far as even the invention of the plot or the composition of a single scene. The memorandumbook alluded to—on the first leaf of which he had written in his neatest hand (as if to encourage himself to begin) “affectation"— contains, besides the names of three of the intended personages, Sir Babble Bore, Sir Peregrine Paradox, and Feignwit, nothing but unembodied sketches of character,
racter, and scattered particles of wit, which seem waiting, like the imperfect forms and seeds in chaos, for the brooding of genius to nurse them into system and beauty. “Character—Mr. Bustle. “A man who delights in hurry and interruption—will take any one's business for them—leaves the world where, all his plagues may follow him—governor of all hospitals, &c.—share in Ranelagh —speaker every where, from the vestry to the house of commons —‘ I am not at home— gad, now he has heard me, and I must be at home.”—“Here am I so plagued, and there is nothing I love so much as retirement and quiet.”—“You never sent after me."—Let servants call in to him such a message as ‘'Tis nothing but the window-tax,’ he hiding in a room that communicates.— A young man tells him some important business in the middle of
fifty trivial interruptions, and the *
calling in of idlers; such as fiddlers, wild-beast men, foreigners with recommendatory letters, &c. –answers notes on his knee, “and so your uncle died ?–for your obliging enquiries—and left you an o to cards in the evening.’ “Can't bear to be doing nothing.—‘Can I do any thing for any body any where 2'-‘Have been to the secretary—written to the treasury.”—“Must proceed to meet the commissioners, and write Mr. Price's little boy's exercise.' The most active idler and laborious trifler. “He does not in reality love business—only the appearance of it. ‘ Ha! has did my lord say that I was always very busy — What, plagued to death?’ “Keeps all his letters and co
pies—'Mem. to meet the hackneycoach commissioners—to arbitrate between, &c. &c.’ “Contrast with the man of indolence, his brother.—“So, brother, just up! and I have been, &c. &c."—one will give his money from indolent generosity, the other his time from restlessness—‘’Twill be shorter to pay the bill than look for the receipt.”—Files letters, answered and unanswered—“Why, , here are more unopened than answered ?’ “He regulates every action by a love for fashion—will grant annuities though he doesn't want money—appear to intrigue, though constant; to drink, though sober —has some fashionable vices— affects to be distressed in his circumstances, and, when his new vis-a-vis comes out, procures a judgment to be entered against him—wants to lose, but by ill luck wins five thousand pounds. “One who changes sides in all arguments the moment any one, agrees with him. “An irresolute arguer, to whom it is a great misfortune that there are not three sides to a question —a libertine in argument; conviction, like enjoyment, palls him, . and his rakish understanding is soon satiated with truth—more capable of being faithful to a paradox– “I love truth as I do my wife; but sophistry and paradoxes are my mistresses—I have a strong domestic respect for her, but for the other the passion due to a mistress.' “One, who agrees with every one, for the pleasure of speaking their sentiments for them—so fond of talking that he does not contradict only because he can't wait to hear people out. “A pretty
“A pretty woman studying looks and endeavouring to recollect an ogle, like Lady , who has learned to play her eyelids like Venetian blinds. “An old woman endeavouring to put herself back to a girl. “A true trained wit lays his plan like a general—foresees the circumstances of the conversation —surveys the ground and contingencies—detaches a question to draw you into the palpable ambuscade of his ready-made joke. “A man intriguing, only for the reputation of it—to his confidential servant: “Who am I in love with now !"—" The newspapers give you so and so—you are laying close siege to Lady L. in the Morning Post, and have succeeded with Lady G. in the Herald—Sir F. is very jealous of you in the Gazetteer.”—“Remember to-morrow, the first thing you do, to put me in love with Mrs.
“I forgot to forget the billetdoux at Brooks's.'—‘By the bye, an’t I in love with you?”—“Lady L. has promised to meet me in her carriage to-morrow—where is the most public place 2' “You are rude to her l’—“Oh no, upon my soul, I made love to her directly.' “An old man, who affects intrigue, and writes his own reproaches in the Morning Post, trying to scandalize himself into the reputation of being young, as if he could obscure his age by blotting his character — though never so little candid as when he's abusing himself. “Shall you be at Lady 's 2 —I’m told the Bramin is to be there, and the new French philosopher.”—“No-it will be plea
santer at Lady ——'s conversazione—the cow with two heads will be there.” “‘ I shall order the valet to shoot me the very first thing he does in the morning.’ “A fat woman trundling into a room on castors—in sitting can only lean against her chair—rings on her fingers, and her fat arms strangled with bracelets, which belt them like corded brawn— rolling and heaving when she laughs with the rattles in her throat, and a most apoplectic ogle —you wish to draw her out, as you would an opera-glass. “The loadstone of true beauty draws the heaviest substances— not like the fat dowager, who frets herself into warmth to get the notice of a few papier mâche fops, as you rub Dutch sealing-wax to draw paper. “If I were inclined to flatter, I would say that, as you are unlike other women, you ought not to be won as they are. Every woman can be gained by time, therefore you ought to be by a sudden impulse. Sighs, devotion, attention, weigh with others; but they are so much your due, that no one should claim merit from them. . . . “You should not be swayed by common motives—how heroic to form a marriage for which no human being can guess the inducement—what a glorious unaccountableness' All the world will wonder what the devil you could see in me; and, if you should doubt your singularity, I pledge myself to you that I never yet was endured by woman; so that I should owe every thing to the effect of your bounty, and not by my own superfluous deserts make it a debt, and so lessen both the obligation obligation and my gratitude. In short, every other woman follows her inclination, but you, above all things, should take me, if you do not like me. You will, besides, have the satisfaction of knowing that we are decidedly the worst match in the kingdom—a match, too, that must be all your own work, in which fate could have no hand, and which no foresight could foresee. “ Lady Clio.—“What am I reading 2'-' have I drawn nothing lately 2—is the work-bag finished? —how accomplished I am l—has the man been to untune the harpsichord 7—does it look as if I had been playing on it ! “‘Shall I be ill to-day ?—shall I be nervous 7'-' your la'ship was nervous yesterday.'—‘ Was I ?—then I'll have a cold— I haven't had a cold this fortnight— a cold is becoming—no— I'll not have a cough ; that's fatiguing— I'll be quite well.”—“You become sickness—yourla'ship always looks vastly well when you're ill.' “‘Leave the book half read and the rose half finished—you know I love to be caught in the fact.” “‘One who knows that no credit is ever given to his assertions has the more right to contradict his words.’ “He goes the western circuit, to pick up small fees and impudence. “The rough sketches and fragments of poems, which Mr. Sheridan left behind him, are numerous; but those among them that are sufficiently finished to be cited, bear the marks of having been written when he was very young, and would not much interest the reader—while of the rest it is
difficult to find four consecutive lines, that have undergone enough of the toilette of composition to be presentable in print. It was his usual practice, when he undertook any subject in verse, to write down his thoughts first in a sort of poetical prose, with, here and there, a rhyme or a metrical line, as they might occur —and then, afterwards to reduce, with much labour, this anomalous compound to regular poetry. The birth of his prose being, as we have already F. so difficult, it may be imagined how painful was the travail of his verse. Indeed, the number of tasks which he left unfinished are all so many proofs of that despair of perfection, which those best qualified to attain it are always the most likely to feel. “ Richardson was remarkable for his love of disputation; and Tickell, when hard pressed by him in argument, used often, as a last resource, to assume the voice and manner of Mr. Fox, which he had the power of mimicking so exactly, that Richardson confessed he sometimes stood awed and silenced by the resemblance. “ This disputatious humour of Richardson was once turned to account by Sheridan in a very characteristic manner. Having had a hackney-coach in his employ for five or six hours, and not being provided with the means of paying it, he happened to espy Richardson in the street, and proposed to take him in the coach some part of his way. The offer being accepted, Sheridan lost no time in starting a subject of conversation, on which he knew his companion was sure to become argumentative