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is by no means unlikely to have suggested the doggerel of Sir Benjamin Backbite ; and the scandalous conversation in this scene, though far inferior in delicacy and ingenuity to that of Sheridan, has somewhat, as the reader will see, of a parental resemblance to it:
" Lord Froth. Hee, hee, my dear ; have you done? Won't you join with us? We were laughing at my lady Whifler and Mr. Sneer.
"Lady F. Ay, my dear, were you ? Oh filthy Mr. Sneer ! he is a nauseous figure, a most fulsamick fop. He spent two days together in going about Covent Garden to suit the lining of his coach with his complexion.
"Ld. F. Oh, silly ! yet bis aunt is as fond of him, as if she bad brought the ape into the world herself.
“ Brisk. Who ? my Lady Toothless ? Oh, she is a mortifying spectacle ; she's always chewing the cud like an old ewe.
" Ld. F. Then she's always ready to laugh, when Sneer offers to speak; and sits in expectation of his no jest, with her gums bare, and her mouth open
“ Brisk. Like an oyster at low ebb, egad—ha, ha, ha! “ Cynthia. (Aside.) Well, I find there are no fools so inconsiderable themselves, but they can render other people contemptible by exposing
“Lady F. Then that t'other great strapping Lady—I can't hit off her name ; the old fat fool, that paints so exorbitantly.
“ Brisk. I know whom you mean—but, deuce take her, I can't hit off ber name either-paints
, d'ye say? Why she lays it on with a trowel. Then she has a great beard that bristles through it, and makes her look as
plastered with lime and hair, let me perish."
if she was
It would be a task not uninteresting, to enter into a detailed comparison of the characteristics and merits of Mr. Sheridan, as a dramatic writer, with those of the other great masters of the art; and to consider how far they differed or agreed with each other, in the structure of their plots and management of their dialogue-in the mode of laying the train of their repartee, or pointing the artillery of their wit. But I have already devoted to this part of my subject a much ampler space, than to some of my readers will appear either necessary or agreeable ;—though by others, more interested in such topics, my diffuseness will, I trust, be readily pardoned. In tracking Mr. Sheridan through his two distinct careers of literature and of politics, it is on the highest point of his elevation in each that the eye naturally rests, and the School for Scandal in one, and the Begum speeches in the other, are the two grand heights—the “summa biverticis umbra Parnassi," —from which he will stand out to after times, and round which, therefore, his biographer may be excused for lingering with most fondness and delay.
It appears singular that, during the life of Mr. Sheridan, no authorized or correct edition of this play should have been published in England. He had, at one time, disposed of the copy-right to Mr. Ridgway of Piccadilly, but, after repeated applications from the latter for the manuscript, he was told by Mr. Sheridan, as an excuse for keeping it back, that he had been nineteen years endeavouring to satisfy himself with the style of the School for Scandal, but had not yet succeeded. Mr. Ridgway, upon this, ceased to give him any further trouble on the subject.
The edition printed in Dublin is, with the exception of a few unimportant omissions and verbal differences, perfectly correct. It appears that, after the success of the comedy in London, he presented a copy of it to his eldest sister, Mrs. Lefanu, to be disposed of, for her own advantage, to the manager of the Dublin Theatre. The sum of a hundred guineas, and free admissions for her family, were the terms upon which Ryder, the manager at that period, purchased from this lady the right of acting the play ; and it was from the copy thus procured that the edition afterwards published in Dublin was printed. I have collated this edition with the copy given by Mr. Sheridan to Lady Crewe (the last, I believe, ever revised by himself)* and find it, with the few exceptions already mentioned, correct throughout.
Among the corrections in this copy (which are in his own hand-wri. ting, and but few in number), there is one which shows not only the reten. tiveness of his memory, but the minute attention which he paid to the structure of his sentences. Lady Teazle, in ber scene with Sir Peter in the Second Act, says: “That's very true, indeed, Sir Peter; and, after baving married you, I should never pretend to taste again, I allow." It was thus that the passage stood at first in Lady Crewe's copy,--as it does still, too, in the Dublin edition, and in that given in the Collection of his works, --but in his final revision of this copy, the original reading of the sentence,
The School for Scandal has been translated into most of the languages of Europe, and, among the French particularly, has undergone a variety of metamorphoses. A translation, undertaken, it appears, with the permission of Sheridan himself, was published in London, in the year 1789, by a Mons". Bunell Delille, who, in a dedication to“ Milord Macdonald,” gives the following account of the origin of his task: “Vous savez, Milord, de quelle manière mystérieuse cette pièce, qui n'a jamais été imprimé que furtivement, se trouva l'été dernier sur ma table, en manuscrit, in-folio ; et, si vous daignez vous le rappeler, après vous avoir fait part de l'aventure, je courus chez Monsieur Sheridan pour lui demander la permission,” &c. &c.
The scenes of the Auction and the Screen were introduced, for the first time, I believe, on the French stage, in a little piece called, “ Les Deux Neveux," acted in the year 1788, by the young comedians of the Comte de Beaujolais. Since then, the story has been reproduced under various shapes and Dames :-“ Les Portraits de Famille," " Valsain et Florville," and, at the Théâtre Français, under the title of the “Tartuffe de Mæurs.” Lately, too, the taste for the subject has revived. The Vaudeville has founded upon it a successful piece, called “ Les Deux Cousins ;” and there is even a melodrame at the Porte St. Martin, entitled “L'Ecole du Scandale."
such as I find it in all his earlier manuscripts of the play, is restored:"That's very true, indeed, Sir Peter; and, after having married you, I am sure I should never pretend to taste again."
FORTITER PURCHASE OF THEATRICAL PROPERTY.-MONODT TO THE MEMORT
OF GARRICK.-ESSAY ON METRE.THE CRITIC.-ESSAY 08 ABSENTEES,
The document in Mr. Sheridan's handwriting, already mentioned, from which I have stated the sums paid in 1776 by him, Dr. Ford, and Mr. Linley, for Garrick's moiety of the Drury Lane Theatre, thus mentions the new purchase, by which he extended his interest in this property in the year 1778 :-“ Mr. Sheridan afterwards was obliged to buy Mr. Lacy's moiety at a price exceeding 45,0001.: this was in the year 1778.” He then adds-what it may be as well to cite, while I have the paper before me, though relating to subsequent changes in the property :—“In order to enable Mr. S. to complete this purpose, he afterwards consented to divide his original share between Dr. Ford and Mr. Linley, so as to make up each of theirs a quarter. But the price at which they purchased from Mr. Sheridan was not at the rate which he bought from Lacy, though at an advance on the price paid to Garrick. Mr. S. has since purchased Dr. Ford's quarter for the sum of 17,0001., subject to the increased incumbrance of the additional renters."
By what spell all these thousands were conjured up, it would be difficult accurately to ascertain. That happy artin which the people of this country are such adepts of putting the future in pawn for the supply of the present, must have been the chief resource of Mr. Sheridan in all these later purchases.
Among the visible signs of his increased influence in the affairs of the theatre, was the appointment, this year, of his father to be manager ;-a reconciliation having taken place between them, which was facilitated, no doubt, by the bright
ening prospects of the son, and by the generous confidence which his prosperity gave him in making the first advances towards such a reunion.
One of the novelties of the year was a musical entertainment called The Camp, which was falsely attributed to Mr. Sheridan at the time, and has since been inconsiderately admitted into the Collection of his works. This unworthy trifle (as appears from a rough copy of it in my possession) was the production of Tickell, and the patience with which his friend submitted to the imputation of having written it was a sort of “ martyrdom of fame” which few but himself could afford.
At the beginning of the year 1770 Garrick died, and Sheridan, as chief mourner, followed him to the grave. He also wrote a Monody to his memory, which was delivered by Mrs. Yates, after the play of the West Indian, in the month of March following. During the interment of Garrick in Poets' Corner, Mr. Burke had remarked that the statue of Shakspeare seemed to point to the grave where the great actor of his works was laid. This hint did not fall idly on the ear of Sheridan, as the following fixation of the thought, in the verses which he afterwards wrote, proved :
“The throng that mourn'd, as their dead favourite pass'd,
This Monody, which was the longest flight ever sustained by its author in verse, is more remarkable, perhaps, for refinement and elegance, than for either novelty of thought or depth of sentiment. There is, however, a fine burst of poetical eloquence in the lines beginning “Superior hopes the poet's bosom fire ;” and this passage, accordingly, as being the best in the poem, was, by the gossipping critics of the day, attributed to Tickell,—from the same laudable motives that had induced them to attribute Tickell's bad farce to Sheridan. There is no end to the variety of these small missiles