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lawyer at this very moment. Nor was it only on my first setting out in life that I availed myself of a connection with you, though, perhaps, I never reaped such signal advantages from it as at that critical period. I have frequently since stood in need of your admonitions, and have always found you ready to assist me — though you were frequently brought by your zeal for me into new and awkward situations, and such as you were at first, naturally enough, unwilling to appear in. Amongst innumerable other instances, I cannot omit two, where you afforded me considerable and unexpected relief, and, in fact, converted employments usually attended by dry and disgusting business, into scenes of perpetual merriment and recreation. I allude, as you will easily imagine, to those cheerful hours which I spent in the Secretary of State's office and the Treasury, during all which time you were my inseparable companion, and showed me such a preference over the rest of my colleagues, as excited at once their envy and admiration. Indeed, it was very natural for them to repine at your having taught me a way of doing business, which it was impossible for them to follow —it was both original and inimitable.
"If I were to say here all that I think of your excellences, I might be suspected of flattery; but I beg leave to refer you for the test
of my sincerity to the constant tenor of my life CHAP. and actions; and shall conclude with a sentiment of which no one can dispute the truth, nor mistake the application, that those persons usually deserve most of their friends who expect least of them.
"I am, &c. &c. &c.
"R. B. SHERIDAN."
The celebrity which Sheridan had acquired, as the chivalrous lover of Miss Linley, was, of course, considerably increased by the success of The Rivals; and, gifted as he and his beautiful wife were with all that forms the magnetism of society, the power to attract, and the disposition to be attracted, their life, as may easily be supposed, was one of gaiety both at home and abroad. Though little able to cope with the entertainments of their wealthy acquaintance, her music and the good company which his talents drew around him, were an ample repayment for the more solid hospitalities which they received. Among the families visited by them was that of Mr. Coote (Purden), at whose musical parties Mrs. Sheridan frequently sung, accompanied occasionally by the two little daughters of Mr. Coote, who were the originals of the
The charm of her singing, as well as her fondness for children, are interestingly described in a letter to my friend Mr. Rogers, from one of the most tasteful writers of the
CHAP. children introduced into Sir Joshua Reynolds's portrait of Mrs. Sheridan as St. Cecilia. It was here that the Duchess of Devonshire first met Sheridan; and, as I have been told, long hesitated as to the propriety of inviting to her house two persons of such equivocal rank in society, as he and his wife were at that time considered. Her Grace was reminded of these scruples some years after, when "the player's son" had become the admiration of the proudest and fairest; and when a house, provided for the Duchess herself at Bath, was left two months unoccupied, in consequence of the social attractions of Sheridan, which prevented a party then assembled at Chatsworth from separating. These are triumphs which, for the sake of all humbly born heirs of genius, deserve to be commemorated.
In gratitude, it is said, to Clinch, the actor, for the seasonable reinforcements which he had brought to The Rivals, Mr. Sheridan produced this year a farce called "St. Patrick's Day, or the Scheming Lieutenant," which was acted on the 2d of May, and had considerable success.
present day :- "Hers was truly a voice as of the cherub choir,' and she was always ready to sing without any pressing. She sung here a great deal, and to my infinite delight; but what had a peculiar charm was, that she used to take my daughter, then a child, on her lap, and sing a number of childish songs with such a playfulness of manner, and such a sweetness of look and voice, as was quite enchanting."
Though we must not look for the usual point CHAP. of Sheridan in this piece, where the hits of pleasantry are performed with the broad end or mace of his wit, there is yet a quick circulation of humour through the dialogue, — and laughter, the great end of farce, is abundantly achieved by it. The moralizing of Doctor Rosy, and the dispute between the justice's wife and her daughter, as to the respective merits of militia-men and regulars, are highly comic:
"Psha, you know, mamma, I hate militia officers; a set of dunghill cocks with spurs on heroes scratch'd off a church-door. No, give me the bold upright youth, who makes love to-day, and has his head shot off toDear! to think how the sweet fellows sleep on the ground, and fight in silk stockings and lace ruffles.
"Mother. Oh barbarous ! to want a husband that may wed you to-day, and be sent the Lord knows where before night; then in a twelvemonth, perhaps, to have him come like a Colossus, with one leg at New York and the other at Chelsea Hospital."
Sometimes, too, there occurs a phrase or sentence, which might be sworn to, as from the pen of Sheridan, any where. Thus, in the very
"1st Soldier. I say you are wrong; we should all speak together, each for himself, and all at once, that we may be heard the better.
"2d Soldier. Right, Jack, we'll argue in platoons."
Notwithstanding the great success of his first attempts in the drama, we find politics this year renewing its claims upon his attention, and tempting him to enter into the lists with no less an antagonist than Dr. Johnson. That eminent man had just published his pamphlet on the American question, entitled "Taxation no Tyranny ; "—a work, whose pompous sarcasms on the Congress of Philadelphia, when compared with what has happened since, dwindle into puerilities, and show what straws upon the great tide of events are even the mightiest intellects of this world. Some notes and fragments, found among the papers of Mr. Sheridan, prove that he had it in contemplation to answer this pamphlet; and, however inferior he might have been in style to his practised adversary, he would at least have had the advantage of a good cause, and of those durable materials of truth and justice, which outlive the mere workmanship, however splendid, of talent. Such arguments as the following, which Johnson did not scruple to use, are, by the haughtiness of their tone and thought, only fit for the lips of autocrats:
"When they apply to our compassion, by telling us that they are to be carried from their own country to be tried for certain offences, we are not so ready to pity them, as to advise them not to offend. While they are innocent, they are safe.