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"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 her 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 if she was plaistered with lime and hair, let me perish."

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 copyright 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.

The School for Scandal has been translated into most of the languages of Europe, and, among the French particularly, has undergone a variety of inetamorphoses. 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 imprimée 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,"

etc. etc.

* Among the corrections in this copy (which are in his own hand-writing, and but few in number), there is one which shows not only the retentiveness of his memory, but the minute attention which he paid to the structure of his sentences. Lady Teazle, in her scene with Sir Peter in the Second Act, says, "That's very true, indeed, Sir Peter; and after having 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, 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."

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 names :-" Les Portraits de Famille," "Valsain et Florville," and, at the Théâtre Français, under the title of the "Tartuffe de Mours." 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'École du Scandale."

CHAPTER VI.

FURTHER PURCHASE OF THEATRICAL PROPERTY.MONODY TO THE MEMORY OF GARRICK.-ESSAY ON METRE.-THE CRITIC.-ESSAY ON ABSENTEES. -POLITICAL CONNECTIONS.—THE ENGLISHMAN."-ELECTED FOR STAFFORD.

66

THE document in Mr. Sheridan's hand-writing, 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 45,000l.: 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.

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