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A poem upon Windsor Castle, half ludicrous and half solemn, appears, from the many experiments which he made upon it, to have cost him considerable trouble. The Castle,
“ Its base a mountain, and itself a rock,
In proud defiance of the tempests' rage,
The sturdy witness of a nobler age.”
“ A helmet on a Macaroni's head
Or like old Talbot, turn’d into a fop,
Some verses, of the same mixed character, on the short duration of life and the changes that death produces, thus begin :
« Of that same tree which gave the box,
Now rattling in the hand of FOX,
He then rambles into prose, as was his custom, on a sort of knight-errantry after thoughts and images :—“ The lawn thou hast chosen for thy bridal shift—thy shroud may be of the same piece. That flower thou hast bought to feed thy vanity-from the same tree thy corpse may be decked. Reynolds shall, like his colours, fly; and Brown, when mingled with the dust, manure the grounds he once laid out. Death is life's second childhood ; we return to the breast from whence we came, are weaned,
*." There are a few detached lines and couplets of a poem, intended to ridicule some fair invalid, who was much given to falling in love with her physicians :
“Who felt her pulse, obtained her heart." The following couplet, in which he characterises an amia
ble friend of his, Dr. Bain, with whom he did not become acquainted till the year 1792, proves these fragments to have been written after that period :
An“ Address to the Prince,” on the exposed style of women's dress, consists of little more than single lines, not yet wedded into couplets ; such as—“The more you show, the less we wish to see.”—“ And bare their bodies, as they mask their minds," &c. This poem, however, must have been undertaken many years after his entrance into Parliament, as the following curious political memorandum will prove :-" I like it no beter for being from France-whence all ills come—altar of liberty, begrimed at once with blood and mire.”
There are also some Anacreontics-lively, but boyish and extravagant. For instance, in expressing his love of bumpers :
“ Were mine a goblet that had room
For a whole vintage in its womb,
The following specimen is from one of those poems, whose length and completeness prove them to have been written at a time of life when he was more easily pleased, and had not yet arrived at that state of glory and torment for the poet, when
“ Toujours mécontent de ce qu'il vient de faire,
N plait à tout le monde et ne sçaurait se plaire :"
“ The Muses calld, the other morning,
On Phæbus, with a friendly warning
But Phæbus, possibly intending
A poem on the miseries of a literary drudge begins thus promisingly
“ Think ye how dear the sickly meal is bought,
By him who works at verse and trades in thought ?" The rest is hardly legible ; but there can be little doubt that he would have done this subject justice ;-for he had himself tasted of the bitterness with which the heart of a man of genius overflows, when forced by indigence to barter away (as it is here expressed) “ the reversion of his thoughts,” and
“ Forestall the blighted harvest of his brain."
It will be easily believed that, in looking over the remains, both dramatic and poetical, from which the foregoing specimens are taken, I have been frequently tempted to indulge in much ampler extracts. It appeared to me, however, more prudent, to rest satisfied with the selections here given; for, while less would have disappointed the curiosity of the reader, more might have done injustice to the memory of the author.
HIS FIRST SPEECHES IN PARLIAMENT.-ROCKINGHAM ADMINISTRATION.-C0
ALITION.-INDIA BILL.-XS-ELECTION FOR STAFFORD.
The period at which Mr. Sheridan entered upon his political career was, in every respect, remarkable. A persevere ing and vindictive war against America, with the folly and guilt of which the obstinacy of the Court and the acquiescence of the people are equally chargeable, was fast approaching that crisis, which every unbiassed spectator of the contest had long foreseen,-and at which, however humiliating to the haughty pretensions of England, every friend to the liberties of the human race rejoiced. It was, perhaps, as difficult for this country to have been long and virulently opposed to such principles as the Americans asserted in this contest, without being herself corrupted by the cause which she maintained, as it was for the French to have fought, in the same conflict, by the side of the oppressed, without catching a portion of that enthusiasm for liberty, which such an alliance was calculated to inspire. Accordingly, while the voice of Philosophy was heard along the neighbouring shores, speaking aloud those oracular warnings, which preceded the death of the Great Pan of Despotism, the courtiers and lawyers of Eng. land were, with an emulous spirit of servility, advising and sanctioning such strides of power, as would not have been unworthy of the most dark and slavish times.
When we review, indeed, the history of the late reign, and consider how invariably the arms and councils of Great Britain, in her Eastern wars, her conflict with America, and her efforts against revolutionary France, were directed to the establishment and perpetuation of despotic principles, it seems little less than a miracle that her own liberty should have escaped with life from the contagion. Never, indeed, can she be sufficiently grateful to the few patriot spirits of this period, to whose courage and eloquence she owes the high station of freedom yet left to her ;-never can her sons pay a homage too warm to the memory of such men as a Chatham, a Fox, and a Sheridan ; who, however much they may have sometimes sacrificed to false views of expediency, and, by compromise with friends and coalition with foes, too often weakened their hold upon public confidence ; however the attraction of the Court may have sometimes made them librate in their orbit, were yet the saving lights of Liberty in those times, and alone preserved the ark of the Constitution from foundering in the foul and troubled waters that encompassed it.
Not only were the public events, in which Mr. Sheridan was now called to take a part, of a nature more extraordinary and awful than had often been exhibited on the theatre of politics, but the leading actors in the scene were of that loftier order of intellect, which Nature seems to keep in reserve for the ennoblement of such great occasions. Two of these, Mr. Burke and Mr. Fox, were already in the full maturity of their fame and talent, while the third, Mr. Pitt, was just upon the point of entering, with the most auspicious promise, into the same splendid career ;
“ Nunc cuspide Patris Inclytus, Herculeas olim moture sagittas."
Though the administration of that day, like many other ministries of the same reign, was chosen more for the pliancy than the strength of its materials, yet Lord North himself was no ordinary man, and, in times of less difficulty and under less obstinate dictation, might have ranked as a useful and most popular minister. It is true, as the defenders of his measures state, that some of the worst aggressions upon the rights of the Colonies had been committed before he succeeded to power. But his readiness to follow in these rash footsteps, and to deepen every fatal impression which they had made ;-his insulting reservation of the Tea Duty, by which he contrived to embitter the only measure of concession that was wrung from him ;--the obsequiousness, with which he