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ridan had furnished it, considered as a miserable attempt on the part of the author to mimic the manner of that great comic writer, and probably conduced much to the failure of the piece. When Sheridan was told of the mischief which his slight contribution had effected, he replied with infinite coolness, " It's the very thing I wished: the farce was so replete with absurdities, that I thought there was no harm in hazarding one absurdity
Bill Linley has a good situation in the Company's service—why does he not go back to India? If his dd farce had succeeded, we should have had him here for the rest of his life, scratching his head in a garret, or twiddling his thumbs in the green-room, instead of saving rupees enough to come back, and loll in his carriage."
In all probability, Sheridan, whose dramatic reading (limited as his range of reading had been in other branches of literature), had met with something resembling this epigrammatic description of the blunders of a lacquey, and clapped it into his dramatic note-book, where it was to lie snugly till an occasion offered for making use of it, when it was to receive the necessary polish, and to be brightened into wit. In an indolent mood, however, he probably transferred it into Linley's farce, without giving himself any trouble in improving it ; for he had, as Moore has justly remarked, a most astonishing talent of working up the raw material of inferior intellects into a manufacture not unworthy of his own. His biographer has traced many of his happiest sallies in the House of Commons to very ordinary archetypes. I would undertake to assert, that a very great part of the most striking passages in his speeches might be pursued to sources whence it would hardly be suspected that he had condescended to borrow, what his genius enabled him afterwards to repay so usuriously. One instance of this, which Moore has overlooked, is observable in that part of his celebrated speech on the trial of Hastings, where he describes the devastation of the province of Oude_a passage that has been highly extolled for its eloquence.
If we could suppose a person to have come suddenly into the country, unacquainted with the circumstances that had passed since the days of Sujah Ul Dowlah, he would naturally ask-What cruel hand had wrought this wide desolation ?What barbarian foe had invaded the once smiling province, ravaged its fields, and depopulated its villages ?-He would ask, what disputed succession, what military rage, what civil phrenzy, had induced the inhabitants to rise in savage hostility to the commands of Providence, and the works of man? He would ask what religious zeal, what unbridled fanaticism, had aggravated the black despair, and licentious havoc of war ?"
It will be perceived, that he had consulted Sir John Denham's poem called Cowper's Hill, and found there the first rude sketch of that thought, which he afterwards so finely amplified in the lines, where the poet beautifully deplores the ruin and spoliation of the religious houses by Henry the Eighth.
“Who sees these dismal heaps, but would demand
What barbarous invader sacked the land ?
The two first lines seem to have suggested the sentence of the speech which I have quoted; and the next couplet to have supplied the passage immediately following: “But when he was told, that it was not foreign barbarism that had spread so wide a calamity ;—that no disputed succession had deluged the land with blood ;-that it was not religious fury that had lighted up the flames of war ;—but the protecting hand of the British government,” &c. &c.
We must return, however, to the Beef-Steaks. -And it were unkind to pass by in our enumeration of its worthies, our excellent brother, Dick Wilson, whose volcanic complexion has for many years been assuming deeper and deeper tints of carnation over the Port-wine of the Society. Dick is a wealthy solicitor, of considerable emi. nence, and many years the secretary to the late Lord Chancellor Eldon. He is in many respects an original. It is true, that through every scene of his life, which has been a truly fortunate one, he has been sufficiently alive to his own interests; but he has not, on the other hand, been cold or insensible to others. His large stock of worldly wisdom, not more the gradual accumulations of long experience, and of acute observation, than the result of a natural constitutional aptitude for
thrift and advancement, is not sullenly expended upon himself, nor exclusively applied to the furtherance of his own schemes of emolument. He is a zealous, active friend. There are upon record many honourable manifestations of his kind heart. edness. He is also hospitable in a certain way; that is, by inviting as many guests as his table will hold, and quite as many as his table will supply, or rather double that number, without paying the least attention to the classing and assorting his company. So that if you dine with Dick, you may think yourself peculiarly well off, if you are not elbowed by the identical person whom you would most wish at the devil; and the whole party would be egregiously lucky, if their festivity was not completely overlaid by some wet blanket of above at least thirty years standing, who, for that long period, has been proscribed from all human association, and whose dinner at Dick's comes in as a sort of parenthesis to the daily tenor of his existence. I remember dining with Dick during an election-week for Westminster, when party feelings ran very high. Before the company were fully assembled, the