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“I then to'd Captain Paumier it would friends, Mr. and Mrs. Parker of Parmnot do to wait for those punctilios (or hill, in Essex. Here he continued till words to that effect), and desired he would the following spring, under circum. assist me in taking them up. Mr. Ma- stances which must be easily apprethews most readily acquiesced, first de- ciated by all who have ever had their siring me to see Mr. Sheridan was dis- affections tortured by suspense and abarmed. I desired him to give me the sence. His were not, however, the tuck, which he readily did, as did Mr. ordinary trials which disturb this most Sheridan the broken part of his sword to anxious and exciting period of youthful Captain Paumier.
Mr. Sheridan and life. In addition to the alarming ob Mr. Mathews both got up, the former stacles, with which the reader is acwas helped into one of the chaises, and
quainted, there was the aggravation drove off for Bath, and Mr. Mathews of a lively fancy and a jealous heart
, made the best of his way for London."
and the painful sense that his doubts We cannot afford space to give the and fears were to some extent justified details of the correspondence on the oc. by the exceeding popularity of his casion of these two duels. The intel- young wife, and the notion so natnral ligence reached Oxford while the io the lover, that she must be as much performance was going on ; but was the object of love to every one else as sedulously kept fiom Miss Linley, from to binself. Considering the secret tie, the fear that it night incapacitate he could not of course have entertained her from performing. Neither her a sober suspicion of her constancy, father or Sheridan's yet knew of their There is a very common refinement of warr age ; and as they were both jealousy, which is surprisingly little equally hostile to it, it was now to be allowed for by those who are not actufeared that a prinature discovery ally under its influence. The lover, might take place, in the result of which while he feels the utmost reliance on they could bave had no difficulty in the truth of the object of his affections, breaking it. Sheridan had repeatedly and while he is just in judging of her guarded her against this risk. It was conduct towards others, is often ready how much increased.
to resent the construction which they On her way back to Bath, she was may put on her smiles and courtesies, met by a considerate friend of her in the common intercourse of the world. family, who took every precaution to In affection there is a proud and exclubreak the account of her lover's danger sive spirit that cannot brook a moment's in the gentlest way. Notwithstanding appropriation, even in a rival's fancy, of the utmost care, the shock was too that it would wholly engross. And serious to admit of her standing upon there is with this a resentment of the those cautions and reserves, for which mortifying imputation which fancy inthere was su strong a need. In the agi- · volves in such a wrong: neither can a tation of the moment, the affecting ex- lover bear that his idol should be clamation, My husband !” escaped, thought an inconstant. We take the opand disclosed the secret of her heart. portunity to make this remark, because
The words were, of course, repeated, we have more than once seen fatal and the fears and suspicions of both misunderstandings arise from the deg. fathers strongly excited. Every effort lect to allow for this infirmity. We
now made to ensnare either of cannot pretend to analyze the sufferthe parties into a confession, in orderings of Sheridan during this long pe that, if suspicion should be con- riod of trial. Mr. Moore mentions firmed, the marriage might be bro- certain letters, written during this ken. They, however, still eluded period, as strongly exhibiting the strug. every snare ; and the suspicious excla- gles of his mind.' We much regret the mation was explained by the alarm seal of secrecy which has withheld and agitation which the sudden ac- them from the public, while, at the count of her lover's dauger occasioned. same time, we have no doubt as to the
Sheridan's danger had probably been soundness and just discretion of the much exaggerated; four or five days were motive. sufficient to set the fears of his friends During this anxious interval, Sheriat rest on this score. Nor was it long dan made no small progress in that before his father, anxious to remove him laborious self-education which is ever froin the vicinity of the Linleys, was the real foundation of all genuine fame. enabled to send him to the care of his Mr. Moore reflects upon the state of
• This is from a letter to Mr. Knight, the second of Mr. Mathews.
his feelings as unfavorable to study. casily healed by the kind offices of Mr. We think and have felt the contrary. Ewart, a common friend. Transient excitement must have the Mr. Linley at last became coneffect of dissipating attention, and en- vinced of the inutility of continuing to grossing the thoughts too exclusively for thwart affections which thus withstood study. But this is a state which cannot all trials, and appeared too firm and continue for many days in a sane mind. enduring for such resistance as he There is a self-preserving effort which could long contrive to interpose, and every one understands, the impulse of gave his consent to their marriage. It which is to seek diversion in pleasure, or took place, by license, on the 13th absorption in study. And thongh in the April, 1773. midst of these the haunting care will The first act of Sheridan's, at this return, or the pang of wounded feeling period which is to be regarded as the rise into agony ; yet will the sufferer, outset of his life, indicates unequivoif he has the strength and spirit of a cally the high line of action and posisound mind, struggle sedulously on tion, he had thus early marked out for with the “oblivious antidote." Nor himself. The son of a player; without can ambition and taste, or the curiosity independent means; married to the of intellectual pursuit be long absent daughter of one in the same class ; disfrom a mind, by nature so framed to connected by the circumstance with feel them, as Sheridan's. In his re- his father; and nearly thrown on the tirement, his time was laboriously de resources of his own mind for subsistvoted to history and its kindred studies. ence: he did not yet hesitate to reject Mr. Moore mentions an abstract of the splendid avenue to wealth which English history (found by him among his wife's professional talents laid open. his papers), • nearly filling a small To appreciate fully the extent of this quarto volume of more than a hundred sacrifice to a respectable pride, and pages closely written;" as also “a col- perhaps affection, the reader must dislection of remarks on Sir William miss the idea of his subsequent posiTemple's works.” Mr. Moore observes, tion in the world. And thus may be that this latter was "confined chiefly discerned the same self-dependence, to verbal criticism,” and that his re- the same delicary of sentiment, and the marks tend to prove that he had not same romance, which seem to have yet arrived at that taste for “idiomatic run like veins of some brilliant ore, English, which was afterwards one of through all the conduct of his younger the great charms of his own dramatic days. An engagement had been constyle."
cluded for Mrs. Sheridan, some months Early in the spring of 1773, Miss before her marriage, for the musical Linley was engaged at Covent Garden, meeting at Worcester; and further enin the oratorios. Sheridan, who was gagements were at the same time in at the same time near London, did not treaty. Sheridan at once declared his neglect the opportunity to make fre- direct denial against the fulfilment of quent efforts to obtain an interview these engagements. And though his with ber. The severe vigilance of Mr. wife's talents were at this time the subLinley made this difficult, and he was ject of universal popularity, he yet obliged to have recourse to contrivance resisted the most urgent entreaties, and dexterity. “Among other strata- strongly backed by influence, in high gems," writes Mr. Moore, “which he quarters. He depended on his own contrived for the purpose of exchange powers, and his dependence was not in ing a few words with her, he more than vain. A few months amply vindicated once disguised himself as a hackney his right to reject a source of affluence coachman, and drove her home from inconsistent with his pride and affecthe theatre."
tions. And yet it may be an illustraFrom the same authority we learn tion of the aspiring views which he that a serious misunderstanding was must have entertained, to mention that near arising between them at this considerably after, when he had actime, owing to the varied rumors and quired the reputation of his firstrate public reports, occasioned by the ge- dramatic works, the Duehess of Deneral admiration which she excited. vonshire is said to have hesitated to These, though all in the highest degree invite to her parties, persons of a rank flattering and wholly free from the taint so equivocal. of slanderous imputation, could not fail to excile the jealousy of long exaspe “Her grace," writes Mr. Moore, “ was rated passion. But the breach was reminded of these scruples some years
after, when the player's son' had become The comedies of Sheridan are so the admiration of the proudest and fairest; well known—their place has been so and when a house, provided for the duchess long awarded by the public, and coo. herself at Bath, was left two months uo- firmed by the critic, that we can bave occupied, in consequence of the social at- no motive for entering, at any length, tractions of Sheridan, which prevented a into the consideration of their merits. party then assembled at Chatsworth from Their singularly felicitous union of separating. These are triumphs which, simplicity and pointed elegance—the for the sake of all humbly born heirs of incessant play of wit—the fine and genius, deserve to be commemorated."
subtle edge, and aly malice of the saImmediately after his marriage, She tire, have been lauded in every form ridan removed with his wife to a small of critical eulogy. They exhibit, in cottage at East Burnham, from which, the highest degree, all the genuine in the ensuing winter, they changed powers of Sheridan-- the keen and into London lodgings. The year after, watchful insight into the sources of they took a house in Orchard-street, human action and feeling, and the des. Portman-square; the furniture of which terous tact that seizes on the promiwas supplied by the liberality and nences of manner and character. Nor kindness of Mr. Linley. “ During the will this praise lose by the considerasummer of 1774, they passed some tion, that, many of the characters, time at Mr. Canning's and at Lord and chiefly in the Rivals, have in them Coventry's ; but so little did these the exaggerations of caricature. This visits interfere with the literary indus- is, in truth. the nature of satire. A try of Sheridan, that he had not only little consideration shews, that to picat that time finished his play of the ture human absurdities, they must be Rivals, but was on the point of sending enlarged and accumulated ; the follies a book to the press."
of life are, in the absurdest Character, In the winter of this year the few and far between, and lose them. comedy of the Rivals was brought selves in the mass of common occurout. By Sheridan's account, in a rences. Nor is it supposed that the letter to Mr. Linley, it was the satire is the representation of the man, work of but six weeks. This pre- but of the folly. It is an infirmity cipitancy, so little to be reconciled to made graphic by investing it broadly the general caution of his writings, is in the features of huinanity. Coward to be accounted for by the fact, which ice in a living man might excite dis. he also mentions, that he wrote in gust ; in Bob Acres it amuses; and yet consequence of a special invitation from the humour of this laughable sketch is Harris, the manager of Covent Garden. in its substantial truth; mere absurdity, It is also illustrated by the event; without this, were dull. We shall have the first reception of the play was not presently, to add a few further reflecas favourable as might be inferred either tions on the subject of Sueridan's drafrom its merits or subsequent popularity. matic writing, when we come to It is said to have been four hours in notice his more finished and elaborate ! the acting ; this, with other defects of effort, “ The School for Scandal." We minor moment, chilled its reception. concurso entirely in the criticism which The ready resource of the author was accompanies Mr. Moore's account of proved by the quick tact, and rapid the Rivals, the history of which we have dexterity, with which he corrected (it is just to say) partly stated from these faults. And, upon a second trial, . other authority, that we shall, for the it took that distinguished place as a benefit of our readers, extract it in stock-piece, which it has so long pre a note.* From his authority we add, served in the British Drama.
that the notoriety attendant on the
• « To enter into a regular analysis of this lively play, the best comment on which is to be found in the many smiling faces that are lighted up around whereever it appears, is a task of criticism that will hardly be thought necessary. With much less wit, it exhibits perhaps more humour than The School for Scandal, and the dialogue, though by no means so pointed or sparkling, is, in this respect, more natural, as coming nearer the current coin of ordinary conversation; whereas, the circulating medium of The School for Scandal is diamonds. The characters of The Rivals, on the contrary, are not such as occur very commonly in the world; and, instead of producing striking effects with natural and obvious materials, which is the great art and difficulty of a painter of human life, he has here overcharged most of his persons with whims and absurdities, for which the circumstances they
romantic history of Sheridan's recent served by Mr. Moore, a shrewd remark adventures in love and war" was of his, which strikes us, as affording a beightened by the success of this deep insight into his actual character, comedy. His social powers – the and a topic for instructive comment, beauty and singular accomplishments of which we shall not here neglect the of his wife, may well be conceived to use. He is commenting on the letters have heightened and improved the of Lord Chesterfieldeffect; and they were quickly launched • " His frequent directions for constant into that gay circle of excitement and employment are entirely ill-founded:-attraction, which, in few instances, wise man is formed more by the action of his confers happiness or true respectability own thoughts than by continually feeding on those whose admission to it solely it. · Hurry,' he says, • from play to depends on their powers to add to the study; never be doing nothing.' - I say, pleasures of the great.
• frequently be unemployed; sit and think: Sheridan's intellect may, at this There are on every subject but a few leadperiod, be regarded as having attained ing and fixed ideas ; their tracks may be its maturity. His school was the world, traced by your own genius, as well as by not books; and, such as it was, bis reading :-a man of deep thought, who education began earlier than that of most shall have accustomed himself to support men. Whatever may have been his or attack all he has read, will soon find native powers, it is empirical to talk of nothing new.' men otherwise thau as we can trace
6. These last few sentences,” says Mr. them in fact. His intellect revolved Moore, “ contain the secret of Sheridan's within a narrow compass--he was no
confidence in his own powers.” philosopher—but what he knew was This is true : but they contain much distinct. Of the facts to be collected more. They exhibit much of the from society—from self-experience— power, and illustrate much of the defrom the labour of composition—and fects of his mind. One of the secrets from the occasional reflection of a very of the higher class of intellects is, sagacious mind-he was master. But the tendency to systematize acquisition there is, among the memoranda pre- by reference to principle ; and thus are engaged in afford but a very disproportionate vent. Accordingly, for our insight into their characters, we are indebted rather to their confessions than their actions Lydia Languish, in proclaiming the extravagance of her own romantic notions, prepares us for events much more ludicrous and eccentric, than those in which the plot allows her to be concerned ; and the young lady herself is scarcely more disappointed than we are, at the tameness with which her amour concludes. Among the various ingredients supposed to be mixed up in the composition of Sir Lucius O'Trigger, his love of fighting is the only one whose favour is very strongly brought out; and the wayward, captious jealousy of Falkland, though so highly coloured in his own representation of it, is productive of no incident answerable to such an announcement ;—the imposture which he practices upon Julia being perhaps weakened in its effect, by our recollection of the same device in the Nut-brown Maid and Peregrine Pickle.
« The character of Sir Anthony Absolute is, perhaps, the best sustained and most natural of any, and the scenes between him and Captain Absolute are richly, genuinely dramatic. His surprise at the apathy with which his son receives the glowing picture which he draws of the charms of his destined bride, and the effect of the question, . And which is to be mine, sir--the piece or the aunt ?' are in the truest style of humour. Mrs. Malaprop's mistakes, in what she herself calls orthodoxy,' have often been objected to as improbable from a woman in her rank of life; but, though some of them, it must be owned, are extravagant and farcical, they are almost all amusing, and the luckiness of her simile, as beadstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile,' will be acknowledged as long as there are writers to be run away with, by the wilfulness of this truly headstrong' species of composition.
“Of the faults of Sheridan, both in his witty and serious styles-the occasional effort of the one, and the too frequent false finery of the other."
“ But, notwithstanding such blemishes, and it is easy for the microscopic eye of criticism to discover gaps and inequalities in the finest edge of genius—this play, from the liveliness of its plot, the variety and whimsicality of its characters, and the exquisite humour of its dialogue, is one of the most amusing in the whole range of the drama; and even, without the aid of its more splendid successor, The School for Scandal would have placed Sheridan in the first rank of comic writers."
truly, as Sheridan's profound observa- principles of this and every other tion suggests—the mind matured by nation, ancient and modern, is as impos. long-continued habits of deep thinking, sible as to explain the functions and may be said to arrive at those central structure of the human body, without points in the maze of things, from having studied anatomy. But, in prowhich all subjects may be more readily portion as a science becomes popnlar, apprehended. It is thus (to seize on it becomes involved in error-the pasthe most distinct illustration) that a sions of the crowd, the designs of the single theorem in mathematics may ambitious, and, generally, the preju. contain a score of propositions sepa- dices of opinion, acquire solidity, and rately difficult to the tyro, while the the specious appearance of principle. adept can solve them all by a simple Oft repetition gives currency to fallareference to its general principle. But, cies, and truth itself is made to involve this attainment is to be derived precisely error, by simply omitting the true prinfrom that extensive and laborious ac- ciple of its application. Thus may quisition of knowledge, for which this the clever and ingenious sciolist easily remark of Sheridan's would make it the flatter himself into the notion, that he substitute. We beseech the attention of has found wisdom on the royal road our youthful reader (to no other can of ignorance. The character is comthese remarks be of practical avail) mon, and it is this makes the to these truths, on which we speak “as above remarks important. It is easy one having authority." There is, we to find among the distinguished grant, an extensive surface of valuable characters of every age, some who knowledge to be derived from self- without appearing to have any fixed study, observation and general reading; principles, yet exhibit extraordinary but it reaches no further than the pure power and dexterity in the advocacy poses of preparation. It cannot sup- of every question that may offer. ply, and never has supplied, the defici. They are quicker at finding or making ency of knowledge amassed by long reasons, than decided in opinion. To and diligent labour. For there is an the truly wise, they must ever seem error in assuming that practical first flippant and superficial, but will have principles, such as Sheridan describes, not the less weight in the councils and are to be arrived at otherwise than opinions of men. If it be asked, on through the medium of the very details what principle they think, the answer which he would reach by beginning is, that they think according to the inwith them. His error consists in un- pulse they receive from connections consciously reversing the inductive or interesis. It is their distinction process ; and he was led into it by the to take their opinions from others, nature of his peculiar study—the ela- and support them with such reasons as boration of his own powers. Methods they can easily invent. Such wisdom of expression, of reasoning, and of has illustration enough. We could thinking, were his pursuit—not true easily wind up this comment with a and deep views. Thus he was a rhe- list of famous names in every party, torician, not a philosopher or a states men dexterous in the cause of truth or
The depths of his acquired error, but always right or wrong by philosophy lay in composition—his wit, contingency. fancy and taste were his talents-his To understand human character, it observation, and the sympathies of a requires to make refined distinctions ; mind alive to all that concerns the hu- and the distinction here intended to be man breast, supplied his real knowledge; applied to Sheridan, is between that the rest was but the polish and the de- knowledge which is to be attained by coration. The same was, in some study from books ; and that which is measure, applicable to Goldsmith, who the result of quickened observation, was, like Sheridan, a great master of and the rapid intuition which is unstyle, and a shrewd observer of man; derstood by the term “tact." Though but who knew little, and had arrived at superficial as a statesman, and not very no fixed principles. To understand profound as a thinker, he was admithe nature of social workings, and the rably versed in the volume of life. principles of legislation, without an He was a wit, a poet, a dramatist, and extensive, deep, and intimate acquaint- an orator. He was rapid in percep, ance with history, as well as with the tion and sagacious in comment, as well precedents of experience, the elemen- as brilliant in the play of fancy. If tary reasonings of jurists and econo
he was no more, it may be that he did mists, and the laws and constitutional not pursue the only means. We have,