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main stationary is to seem, in the eyes of voice of philosophy was heard along the the spectators, to fall. He had, indeed, neighbouring shores, speaking aloud those enjoyed only the triumphs of talent, and dracular warnings which preceded the without eren descending to those ovations, death of the great Pan of despotism, the or minor triumphs, wbich in general are

courtiers and lawyers of England were, little more than celebrations of escape with an emulous spirit of servility, adfrom defeat, and to which they, who gur- vising and sanctioning such strides of powpass all but themselves, are often caprici. er as would not have been unworthy of the ously reduced. It is questionable, too, most dark and slavish times. whether, in any other walk of literature, 'Not only were the public events, in he would have sustained the high reputa. which Mr. Sheridan was now called 10 tion which he acquired by the drama. take a part, of a nature more extraordinary Very rarely have dramatic writers, even and awful than had often been exhibited on of the first rank, exhibited powers of equal the theatre of politics, but the leading rate, wlaen out of the precincts of their actors in the scene were of that loftier own art; while, on the other hand, poets order of intellect which Nature seems to of a more general range, whether epic, keep in reserve for the ennoblement of lyric, or satiric, have as rarely succeeded such great occasions. Two of these, Mr. on the stage. There is, indeed, hardly Burke and Mr. Fox, were already in the one of our celebrated dramatic authors full maturity of their fame and talent,-(and the remark might be extended to while the third, Mr. Pilt, was just upon the other countries) who has leti works worthy point of entering, with the most auspicious of bis reputation in any other line : and promise, into the same splendid career :Mr. Sheridan, perhaps, might only have

«« Nunc cuspide pairis been saved from adding to the list of Inclytus, Herculeas olim moture sagittas.” failures, by such a degree of prudence or His first speech was a failure. of indolence as would have prevented him • It was on this night, as Woodfall used from making the attempt.

He may, there

to relate, that Mr. Sheridan, after he had fore, be said to have closed his account spoken, came up to him in the gallery, with literature, when not only the glory of and asked, with much anxiety, what he his past successes, but the hopes of all that thought of his first attempt. The answer he might yet lave achieved, were set of Woodfall, as he had tlie courage afterdown fully, and without any risk of for- wards to ,own, was, “I am sorry to say I feiture, tv his credit; and, instead of being do not think that this is your line-you left, like Alexander, to sigh for new worlds had much better bave stuck to your to vanquish, no sooner were his triumphis former pursuits ;” on hearing which, Shein one sphere of action complete than ridan rested his hcad upon bis hand for a another opened to invite him to new con- few minutes, and then veleniently exquests.'—P. 203,4.

claimed, " It is in me, however, and, by The period of Sheridan's political G-, it shall come out!” debut, in 1780, is thus eloquently pic- • It appears, indeed, that upon many tured by his biographer:

persons, besides Mr. Woodsall, the im• The period at which Mr. Sheridan en- pression produced by this first essay of his tered upou his political career was, in every oratory was far from answerable to the respect, remarkable. A persevering and expectations that had been formed. The vindictive war against America, with the chief detect remarked in him was a thick folly and guilt of which the obstinacy of and indistinct mode of delivery, which, the couri and the acquiescence of the though he afterwards greatly corrected people are equally chargeable, was fast it, was never entirely removed.' approaching that crisis which every un- Not only,' says our author, ' were the , biassed spectator of the contest had long occasions very few and select, on which sureseen, and at which, however humi- he offered himself to the attention of the liating to the haughty pretensions of Eng. House, at this period, but, whenever he land, every friend to the liberties of the did speak, it was concisely and unpretend. human race rejoiced. It was, perhaps, as ingly, with the manner of a person who difficult for this country to have been long came to learn a new road to fame, --not of and virulently opposed to such principles one who laid claim to notice upon the creas the Americans asserted in this contest, dit of the glory he brought with hini. without being herself corrupted by the Mr. Fox used to say that he considered cause which she maintained, as it was for bois conduct in this respect as a most strike the French to have fought in the same con- ing proof of his sagacity and good taste ;flict, by the side of the oppressed, without such rare and unassuming displays of his catching a portion of that enthusiasm for talents being the only effectual mode he liberty which such an alliance was calcu- could have adopted, to win on the attenlated to inspire. Accordingly, wliile the tion of his audience and gradually establish himself in their favour. He had, gislative power could have been expected indeed, many difficulties and disadvan- from Ireland in that proud moment, when tages to encounter, of which his own her new-born Independencewas but just beprevious reputation was not the least. ginning to smile in her lap, the acceptance Not only did he risk a perilous comparison of the terms then proffered by the Minis. between his powers as a speaker and his ter might have averted much of the evils fame as a writer, but he had also to con- of which she was afterwards the victiın. tend with that feeling of monopoly, which The proposed plan being, in itself, (as Mr. pervades the more worldly classes of ta- Grattan called it) « an incipient and lent, and which would lead politicians to creeping Union,” would have prepared regard as an intruder upon their craft, a the way less violently for the completion man of genius thus aspiring to a station of that fated measure, and spared at least among them, without the usual qualifica- the corruption and the blood which were tions of either birth or apprenticeship to the preliminaries of its perpetration at last. entitle him to it.* In an assembly too, But the pride, so natural and honourable whose deference for rank and property is to the Irish-had fate but placed them in such as to render it lucky that these in- a situation to assert it with any permanent struments of influence are so often united effect-repelled the idea of being bound with honesty and talent, the son of an even by the commercial regulations of actor and proprietor of a theatre had, it England. The wonderful eloquence of must be owned, most fearful odds against Grattan, which, like an eagle guarding her him, in entering into competition with the young, rose grandly in defence of the sons of Lord Holland and Lord Chatham.

freedom to which itself had given birth, • With the same discretion that led him would alone have been sufficient to deterto obtrude himself but seldomi on the mine a whole nation to his will. AccordHouse, he never spoke at this period but ingly, such demonstrations of resistance after careful and even verbal preparation. were made both by people and parliament, Like most of our great orators at the com- that the Commercial Propositions were mencement of their careers, he was in the given up by the minister, and this apparihabit of writing out his speeches before he tion of a Union withdrawn from the eyes delivered them; and, though subsequently of Ireland for the present-merely to he scribbled these preparatory sketches come again, in another shape, with many upon detached sheets, I find that he be

a “ mortal murder on its crown, and push gan by using for this purpose the same her from her stool.” Mr. Sheridan took a sort of copy-books, which he had employ- strong interest in this question, and spoke ed in the first rough draughts of his at some length on every occasion when plays.'—P. 266,7.

it was brought before the House.'-În 1785, however, Sheridan became P. 307. a more frequent speaker; and one occasion on which he exerted his elo- • Early as was the age at which quence is introduced by the patriotic Sheridan had been transplanted from pen of his biographer.

Irelandt-never to set foot upon his • If the surrender of any part of her le- native land again-the feeling of na

1

There is an anecdoté strongly illustrative of this observation, quoted by Lord John Russell in his able and lively work “On the Affairs of Europe frunx the Peace of Utrecht."--Mr. Steele (in alluding to Sir Thomas Hanmer's opposition to the Commercial Treaty in 1714) said, “ I rise to do him honour"-on which many members who had before tried to interrupt him, called out “Tatler, Tatler;' and, as he went down the House, several said • It is not so easy a thing to speak in the House;" He fancies, because he can scribble, &c. &c.'-Slight circumstances, indeed, (adds Lord John,) but which show at once the indisposition of the House to the Whig party, and the natural envy of mankind, long ago remarked by Ciccro, towards all who aitempt to gain more than one kind of pre-eminence." !

+ In 1787 he exerted himself so much on Irish questions that he was tauntingly designated the 'Self-appointed Representative of Ireland.'

Perhaps we cannot do better than give here a short extract from this memoir, in which the author expresses his own attachment to the land of his birth.

I am aware that, on the subject of Ireland and her wrongs, I can ill trust myself with the task of expressing what I feel, or preserve that moderate historical tone, which it has been my wish to maintain through the political opinions of this work. On every other point, my homage to the high character of England, and of her institutions, is prompt and cordial ;-on this topic alone my feelings towards her have been taught to wear“ the barge of bitterness." . As a citizen of the world I would point to England as ils brightest ornament;-but as a disfranchised Irishman, I blush to belong to her.'

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tionality remained with him warmly • In some points, the breach, that through life, and he was, to the last, now took place between the Prince both fond and proud of his country. and the King, bore a close resemThe zeal with which he entered, at blance to that which had disturbed this period, into Irish politics, may the preceding reign. In both cases, be judged of from some letters, the Royal parents were harsh and addressed to him in the year 1785, by obstinate—in both cases, money was Mr. Isaac Corry, who was at that the chief source of dissension-and time a member of the Irish opposi- in both cases, the genius, wit, and tion, and combated the Commercial accomplishments of those with whom Propositions as vigorously as he af- the Heir Apparent connected himself, terwards, when Chancellor of the threw a splendour round the political Exchequer, defended their “ con- bond between them, which prevented summate flower," the Union.' even themselves from perceiving its

During the four months of the looseness and fragility. Rockingham administration, in 1782, In the late question of Mr. Fox's Sheridan was appointed Secretary of India Bill, the Prince of Wales had the Treasury; which he lost, of voted with his political friends in the course, on the discomfiture of his first division. But, upon finding party. • The Whigs,' says Mr. afterwards the King was hostile to the Moore, 'who had now every reason measure, his Royal Highness took the to be convinced of the aversion with prudent step (and with Mr. Fox's which they were regarded at court, full concurrence) of absenting himself had lately been, in some degree, com- entirely from the second discussion, pensated for this misfortune by the when the Bill, as it is known, was accession to their party of the Heir finally defeated. This circumstance, Apparent, who had, since the year occurring thus early in their inter1783, been in the enjoyment of a se- course, might have proved to each of parate establishment, and taken his the parties in this ill-sorted alliance, seat in the House of Peers, as Duke how difficult it was for them to reof Cornwall. That a young prince main long and creditably united. On fond of pleasure, and impatient of the one side, there was a character to restraint, should have thrown him- be maintained with the people, which self into the arms of those who were a too complacent toleration of the most likely to be indulgent to his errors of royalty might-and, as it errors, is nothing surprising, either happened didacompromise ; while, in politics or ethics. But that ma- on the other side, there were the ob ture and enlightened statesmen, with ligations of filial duty, which, as in the lessons of all history before their this instance of the India Bill, made eyes, should have been equally ready desertion decorous, at a time when to embrace such a rash alliance, or co-operation would have been most should count upon it as any more friendly and desirable. There was than a temporary instrument of fac- also the perpetual consciousness of tion, is, to say the least of it, one of being destined to a higher station, in those self-delusions of the wise, which which, while duty would perhaps deshow how vainly the voice of the Past mand an independence of all party may speak amid the loud appeals and whatever, convenience would certaintemptations of the Present. The last ly dictate a release from the restraints Prince of Wales, it is true, by whom of Whiggism.' the popular cause was espoused, had • The calm security into which Mr. left the lesson imperfect, by dying Pitt's administration had settled, after the before he came to the throne. “But victory which the Tory alliance of king this deficiency has since been amply and people had gained for him, left but made up; and future Whigs, who little to excite the activity of party-spirit,

or to call forth - those grand explosions of may be placed in similar circumstances, will have, at least, one histo. eloquence, which a more electric state of rical warning before their eyes, of Opposition might soon have been re

the political world produces. The orators which ought to be enough to satisfy duced, like Philoctetes wasting his arrows the most unreflecting and credu- 'upon geese at Leninos, to expend the lous.

armoury of their wit upon the Grahams

and Rolles of the Treasury bench. But a that he whom the first statesinan of subject now presented itself—the impeach- the age thus lauded, had but lately ment of Warren Hastings—which, by em. descended among them from a inore bodying the cause of a whole country in aerial region of intellect, bringing one individual, and thus combining the ex- trophies falsely supposed to be intent and grandeur of a national question compatible with political prowesspersonal attack, opened as wide a field for it is impossible to imagine a moment display as the most versatile talents could of more entire and intoxicating trirequire, and to Mr. Sheridan, in particular, umph. The only alloy that could afforded one of those precious opportuni- mingle with such complete success ties, of which, if Fortune but rarely offers must be the fear that it was too perthem to genius, it is genius alone that fect ever to come again ; that his can fully and triumphantly avail itself.'— fame had then reached the meridian P. 317.

point, and from that consummate It arose from a variety of circum- moment must date its decline. stances that the prosecution of Mr. • Of this remarkable speech there Hastings, even after the accession of exists no report; for it would be abthe minister, excited but a slight and surd to dignify with that appellation wavering interest; and, without some the meagre and lifeless sketch, the extraordiuary appeal to the sympa- “ Tenuem sine viribus ucubram thies of the House and the country, In faciem {Eneæ,” soine startling touch to the chord of public feeling, it was questionable

which is given in the Annual Regiswhether the inquiry would not end as its fame, therefore, remains like an

ters and Parliamentary Debates. abortively as all the other Indian

empty shrine-a inquests that had preceded it.

cenotaph still . In this state of the proceeding, crowned and honoured, though the Mr. Sheridan brought forward, on

inmate is wanting.' the 7th of February, in the House of

His subsequent speech on the trial Commons, the charge relative to the of Hastings was equally as feliciBegum Princesses of Oude, and deli- tous ;* and it is delightful to read the vered that celebrated speech, whose testimonies which Mr. Moore has effect upon its hearers has no parallel given of the pride which all the memin the annals of ancient or imodern bers of his family took in his eloquence. When we recollect the triumph. men by whom the House of Com- • Taking into account all the various cirmons was at that day adorned, and cumstances that concurred to glorify this the conflict of high passions and in- period of Sheridan's life, we may allow terests in which they had been so ourselves, I think, to pause upon ii as the lately engaged—when we see them apex of the pyramid, and, whether we conall, of all parties, brought (as Mr. sider bis fame, bis talents

, or his happiPitt expressed it) “ under the wand ness, may safely say, “ Here is their highof the enchanter," and only vying

est point.” with each other in their description triumphs in eloquence had added to a re

• The new splendour which his recent of the fascination by which they were putation already so illustrious, the power bound—when we call to mind, too, which he seemed to have acquired over

Mr. Moore has the following singular remark, at page 374,5. • It is also, I think, a mistake, however flattering to my country, to call the school of oratory, to which Burke belongs, Irish. That Irishmen are naturally more gifted with those stores of fancy, from which the illumination of this high order of the art must be supplied, the names of Burke, Gratlan, Sheridan, Curran, Canning, and Plunkett, abundantly testify. Yet had Lord Chatham, before any of these great speakers were heard, led the way, in the same animated and figured strain of oratory; while another Englishman, Lord Bacon, by making Fancy the handmaid of Philosophy, bàd long since set an example of that union of the imaginative and the solid, which, both in writing and in speaking, forms the characteristic distinction of this school.'

Mr. Moore is, we think, unfortunate in adducing Bacon as an example; and, if Chatham's speeches are examined, it will be found that they have less claim to Irish than the speeches of Henley, in America. A solitary exception, however, proves little or nothing, even were it unexceptionable; and the peculiarities of Irish oratory are to be found in Irish speeches long before Chatham was born.

the future destinies of the country, by his ous part. Mr. Moore at first attriacknowledged influence in the councils of butes the Prince's celebrated letter the heir apparent,--and the tribute paid to

to Mr. Pitt, to him; but is subsehim, by the avowal both of friends and quently obliged to give the honour of foes, that he had used this influence, in the that composition to Burke. He allate trying crisis of the regency, with a judgment and delicacy that proved him lows his former opinion to stand worthy of it, all these advantages, both as a proof of uncertainty in similar brilliant and solid, which subsequent cit.

cases. It is, however, now made cumstances but too much tended to weaken, manifest that the Prince was not the at this moment surrounded him in their author of any public document at this newest lustre and promise.

time. Mr. Sheridan has the honour He was just now, too, in the first en- of having written most of them. joyment of a feeling, of which habit must The conduct of Mr. Sheridan on the have afterwards dulled the zest, namely, breaking out of the mutiny at the Nore is the proud consciousness of having sur- too well known and appreciated to require mounted the disadvantages of birth and any illustration here. It is placed to his station, and placed himself on a level with credit on the page of history, and was one the highest and noblest of the land. This of the happiest impulses of good feeling footing in the society of the great he could and good sense combined, that ever public only have attained by parliamentary emi. man acted upon in a situation demanding nence ;-as a mere writer, with all his so much of both. The patriotic promptigenius, he never would have been thus tude of his interference was even more admitted ad eundem among them. Talents, striking than it appears in the record of his in literature or science, unassisted by the parliamentary labours; for, as I have advantages of birth, may lead to associa. heard at but one remove from his own aution with the great, but rarely to equality; thority, while the ministry were yet hesi. ityis a passport through the well-guarded tating as to the steps they should take, be frontier, but no title to naturalization with- went to Mr. Dundas and said, "My in. By him, who has not been born advice is that you cut the buoys on the among them, this can only be achieved by river-send Sir Charles Grey down to the politics. In that arena, which they look coast, and set a price on Parker's head. upon as their own, the legislature of the If the administration take this advice inland, let a man of genius, like Sheridan, stantly, they will save the country-if not, but assert his supremacy, at once all they will lose it; and, on their refusal, I these barriers of reserve and pride give will impeach them in the House of Com way, and he takes, by storm, a station at mons this very evening.". their side, which a Shakspeare or a New- • Without dwelling on the contrast which ton would but have enjoyed by cour- is so often drawn-less with a view to tcsy.

elevate Sheridan than to depreciate his * In fixing upon this period of Sheri- party—between the conduct of himself and dan's life, as the most shining æra of his his friends at this fearful crisis, it is impostalents as well as his fame, it is not meant sible not to concede that, on the scale of to be denied that in his subsequent warfare public spirit, he rose as far superior to with the minister, during the stormy time them as the great claims of the general of the French Revolution, he exhibited a safety transcend all personal consideraprowess of oratory no less suited to that tions and all party ties. It was, indeed, a actual service, than his eloquence on the rare triumph of temper and sagacity. With trial of Hastings had been to such lighter less temper, he would have seen in this tilts and tournaments of peace. But the awful peril but an occasion of triumph over effect of his talents was far less striking; the minister whom he had so.

. long been -the current of feeling through England struggling to overturn-and, with less was against him ;-and, however greatly sagacily, he would have thrown away the this added to the merit of his efforts, it de- golden opportunity of establishing himself prived him of that echo from the public for ever in the affections and the memoheart, by which the voice of the orator is ries of Englishmen, as one whose heart endued with a sort of multiplied life, and, was in the common-weal, whatever might as it were, survives itself. In the panic, be his opinions, and who, in the moment too, that followed the French Revolution, of peril, could sink the partisan in the all eloquence, but that from the lips of patriot.:-P. 569, 70. Power, was disregarded, and the voice of

. The only question upon which he him at the helm was the only one listened spoke this year (1800)) was the important to in the storm.'-P. 434-6.

measure of the Union, which he strenuously During the Regency question, in and at great length opposed. Like every 1789, Mr. Sheridan acted a conspicu- other measure, professing to be for the VOL. I.-No.9.

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