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master into a Dean, became at least dignified when he ceased to be serviceable to society :-that, bred at Westminster and Dublin for the church, he chose what he thought a betier market for his attainments, and went upon the stage:—that he managed in Dublin, and afterwards was at Drury Lane, and Covent-Garden,-are facts every body have in their possession.
The incident which drove him from Dublin, on a scrupulosity for punctilio, in not repeating a few lines trom Mahomet, is attributed by most people to that pertinacity which partakes of obstinacy rather than proper firmness.-In a theatre, as in other situations of human intercourse, incessant allowance must be made for popular insanity. Sheridan's example will form no precedent for those who follow him.- What the people like, they may, perhaps without offence, like to have again. Nor will, nor should any casual construction of dramatic despotism, over-rule a popular wish, to mount any passage that can carry double, and thus mark it, as morally improving, poetically potent, or politically true. The decorum of the French theatre is not the less proverbial, because Voltaire's Zaire was encored from the first scene to the last.
Sheridan thinking otherwise, certainly did right in abiding by what he thought-but he could abide no longer in Ireland. He came to London, and played both with Rich and Garrick–His highest salary was
To find a city brick, and to leave it marble, was an imperial work, and worthy of imperial praise.-Sheridan's merit is similar, in the proportion that the Dublip theatre bore to all the structures of Rome.
He found the theatre in beggary, because fitted only for the resort of those who are worse than beggars the dissolute and the ignorant. He reformed it altogether. He gave it discipline. The feats of a Bear-Garden and a Puppet-show gave way at once to proper objects, intellectual and moral.-Garrick, Woffington, and Barry, were with him in his second season, on his stage together.' And thus, by fair provocations of the popular pleasure, by conspicuous subservience to popular use, he was enabled to aggrandise the establishment, to the mutual profit of himself and the public.
The receipts of the Dublin theatre, before his time,
4001. a year.
were from 20001. to 30001. and 40001. a year. And he further told the writer of this account, that in the second season above-mentioned, his annual charges, on different engagements, exceeded 11,0001.-With the public, such as we find it, there is no surer hope than the operation of public spirit.
His conduct in the management, is remembered by something even better than magnificence. They who are in the way of hearing anecdotes of this sort, always mentioned Mr. Sheridan as punctilious to his promise, in the true and liberal performance.
It is for this, and other personal qualities of good account, that his memorial is thought worth preserving.
In the great relative duties of a husband and a father, he had no blame, and much praise. The preference of his family to himself, was always exemplary. It is posia tively true, that at one period, led merely by a vague idea, that foreign air, and foreign language, might be serviceable to his family, he quitted the stage, and every other view of gain in Great Britain, and went with his wife and four children to France. They lived above eighteen months at Biois.
If labour can be estimated by its effects, he must have had skill in forming the minds of children, as well as the power of making large sacrifices to their support--for how else, sine re, et sine spe, could he have made one son Secretary at War, and the other, such a parlia-. mentary leader, as to be a candidate for any office that he pleases, ia the land !
To increase this wonder, and to shew how some men can make much out of little, Sheridan stinted none of the exterior claims of a gentleman :-His dress, his habitation, his hospitality, when he exercised it, were all rather above than below expectation, at par. He for many years thought riding was among the necessaries of life; and if Swift could be seen “ in dirty shoes” at Lord Oxford's table, it was what Sheridan never was at dinner time.
The resources from which he did all this, for he was top well principled to run in debt, was management, indeed—but something more. He was very active, patient, undisdaining of small expedients, and persevering in the use of them. Not Johnson, Watts, nor Milton, could be more magnificently just on the condescensions
of literature. When his profession no longer was productive, he was reading, or he wrote. With a bravery of temper that much became him, and with a fair parade, he contrived to aggrandise little things, and make of much moment what in itself was not momentous. Of the seven and forty years he had to live on his wits, and his wits were not the most thriving in the world, it is well known how short a time he was on the stage. His pension he had about twenty years--the nominal value of it was but 2001. a year after the deductions of land-tax and the sixpenny duty, but 1601. remained !--The rest of his supply came froin the miscellaneous aids just mentioned, and surely therefore to be mentioned with incessant praise!
Sheridan was not a little sought after as a companion; though he was far from excellently companionable ; though he was at times talkative til, he was almost troublesome, and tenacious till he was rude: though he was more remarkable perhaps for hiding ignorance than shewing knowledge. His forte was anecdote; his foible, its undue repetition.
His professional merits, if no more is said about them than they deserved, will lie in a small compass-Such is the magic of fine writing, it can make us think almost as it pleases. Churchill had given Sheridan some current praise, and so people were contented to take him. But that was soon over: for what has neither lustre nor weight, cannot long possibly pass.
As an actor, he might have occasional energy, and more frequently an air of science about him. But through the entire conduct of a drama, that science and that energy were neither characteristic nor consequential. He was not very fertile in original resources, nor happy in applying the resources of other people. He was not to be huddled in the common mob, who may be actors on mechanism and tradition : but as ambitious of firstrate rank, he was to be dismissed as aukward, indiscriminating, cold, and unprevailing.
Sapientia prima est, "' Stultitiâ caruisse, . Discretion and decorum in general, he wanted not ; though in a particular instance or two, he was absurd beyond all example. It was in Romeo and Juliet-his part was Romeo : and not having quite so good an opinion of the other actors as himself, he despoiled Mercuiio.
of his gay speech upon the effects of the imagination in dreams, and spoke it as Romeo, then love-sick and all forlorn, " proverb'd” with a grandsire phrase, and “ not able to pitch a bound above dull woe."
Sheridan, among other praise-worthy parts of his temper, had formed himself into a perfect indifference to time and chance. Whatever cross casually came, found hiin contented and open to cheering considerations; though sometimes, Rochefoucault would say, these perhaps he owed to vanity, no less than to resignation. As, when his benefit failed, to such a degree that there was but twenty pounds in the house, he stili vaunted his attractions, and said, with enviable fatuity, -". In regard to that point, the account was astonishing! there is one universal snow! and on the face of God's earth, he did not think there was another man whose benefit would have brought as many shillings.” .
The small irreverence, just mentioned, was the only habitual error in his talk.
As a reader also, Sheridan was elaborate; and much of his labour was in vain. He had no prismatic power, to break up the constituent splendors before him-che bad po focus-like point to draw them together again. He was luminous in no sense neither to dazzle nor inflame. He had little analysis, or combination ; his energy was noisy, his art super-serviceable; he was merely sonorous, varying, though coarsely, in his tones; and by prescrip- · tion, imposing.
Yet he pointed right; though he could not bit the mark he shewed a proper object, when he shewed to what uses reading might be applied. Lord Loughborough and Bishop Woodward were among his pupils. And the two clergyınen who are supposed to be the best readers in England, have been heard to say of Sheridan's book on the liturgy, “ that erroneous as the book is, they should never have began the study without it!"
Lord Loughborough, then Mr. Wedderburne, got through Lord Bute, the pension for Sheridan. This was one chief recompence he had for his labours: it was a recompence far better, that he survived to see the friumphs of his son !
As a writer, Sheridan had that praise, which is now for him of best account, the praise of tendency. That he might do good, was his expectation and his wish. To nobody, except his publisher, could his works do any harm.
THE LONDON THEATRES.
DRURY LANE. MAY
28. Haunted Tower. Millers. Weathercock, Sneer, Mr. Penley.
30. (Signora STORACE's last night, and last appearance on the stage.) Cabinet. Sweet echo by Mrs. Ashe. An Italian Cantata, in which Signor NALDI appeared. Love laughs at Locksmiths. · Toterton, Mr. Penley ; Vigil, Mr. Chapman (from Covent Garden) JUNE
[Benefit of Messrs. Russell and GIBBON.) MYSTERIOUS BRIDE. Characters by Messrs. Patman, Siddons, Raymond, Eyre, Palmer, De Camp, Gibbon, Cooke, Maddocks; Mrs. H. Siddons, Mrs. Harlowe, Mrs. Sparks, Mrs. Bland. The Prologue by Mr. Puta nàm; Epilogue by Mr. Russell. ---Edgar and Emmeline. Florimond. Nr. Řussell.-Mayor of Garrat.
2. West Indian. Louisa Dudley (first time) Miss Lacy. ---Blue Devils. Annette; Miss Lacy.-Ella Rosenberg.
3. [Miss Lyon's benefit.] Duenna Clara, Miss Lyon-Sultan, Ismena, Miss Lyon.
6. [Benefit of Mr. JOHNSTON, machinist.] Mysterious Bride. Caractacus.
7. (Benefit of Messrs. Wewitzer, Eyre, and Cooke.] John Bull. Peregrine, Mr. Eyre; (Dan (for that night only) Mr. Dowton; Frank Rochdale, Mr. Putnam; Lady Caroline, Mrs. Eyre. .
9. [Benefit of Mrs. Harlowe, Miss Ray and Mr. Fisher.] Deaf and Dumb. Julio, Miss Ray; St. Alme, Mr. Putnam ; Franval, Mr. Ray; De L'Epee, Mr. Siddons; Madame Franval, Miss Pope. Lovers Quarrels.-Ella Rossenberg:
9. [Mr. DIGNUM's night.] Soldier's Daughter Mrs. Wiggins. Poor Soldier. Patrick, Mrs. Mountain.
10. Country Girl. Sylvester Daggerwood. Shipwreck.
11. Mountaineers. Octavian, Mr. Raymond ; Virolet, Mr. Putnam; Bulcazio Muley, Mr. Eyre. Zorayda (first time) Mrs. H. Siddons; Floranthe, Miss Boyce...Weathercock.
13. Mr. Kelly's night.] Madame Catalini in the Ghost Scena, Semiramide. Ways and Means. Irishman in Londou. Grand Ballet of the Marriage Secret, with Opera Dancers.
14. Mysterious Bride-Sylvester Daggerwood.-Ella Rosenberg. • 15. Bold Stroke for a Wife. Mrs. Prim, Mrs Sparks.-Rosina. William, Miss Kelly.
26. Love in a Village.--Mayor of Garrat.
17. (Last night.] Belle's Stratagem. Doricourt, Mr. Russell. No Song no Supper. Margaritta, Miss Kelly. * 19. (Benefit of Mr. Lacy; free grant from the Proprietors.] Trip to Scarborough. Purse. Rosina.
- May 30. Madame Storace retired from Drury Lane, and from the stage altogether on this evening, after playing her favourite