Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

276 MEMOIRS OF R. B. SHERIDAN.
Elected conjointly with Mr. Monckton, to whose
interest and exertions he chiefly owed his success,
he took his seat in the new parliament which met
in the month of October;-and, from that mo-
inent giving himself up to the pursuit of politics,
bid adieu to the worship of the Dramatic Muse
for ever :

6. Comoedia luget;
Scena est deserta : hinc ludus risusque jocusque
Et numeri innumeri simul omnes collacrumarunt.
Comedy mourns—the Stage neglected sleeps-
Ev'n Mirth in tears his languid laughter steeps,
And Song, through all her various empire, weeps.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER VII.

UNFINISHED PLAYS AND POEMS.

BEFORE I enter upon the sketch of Mr. Sheridan's political life, I shall take this opportunity of laying before the reader such information with respect to his unfinished literary designs, both dramatic and poetic, as the papers in my possession enable me to communicate.

Some of his youthful attempts in literature have already been mentioned, and there is a dramatic sketch of his, founded on the Vicar of Wakefield, which, from a date on the manuscript (1768), appears to have been produced at a still earlier age, and when he was only in his seventeenth year. A scene of this piece will be sufficient to show how very soon his talent for lively dialogue displayed itself :

" SCENE II.

- THORNHILL and ARNOLD.

love me.

* Thornhill. Nay, prithee, Jack, no more of that if you

What, shall I stop short with the game in full view? Faith, I believe the fellow's turned puritan. What think you of turning methodist, Jack? You have a tolerable good canting countenance, and, if escaped VOL. I.

24

Here's a pretty

no

-as

being taken up for a Jesuit, you might make a fortune in Moor-fields.

Arnold. I was serious, Tom.
". Thorn. Spleuetic you mean.

Come, fill your glass, and a truce to your preaching. fellow has let his conscience sleep for these five years, and has now plucked morality from the leaves of his grandmother's bible, beginning to declaim against what he has practised half his life-time. Why, I tell you once more, my

schemes are all come to perfection. I am, now convinced Olivia loves meat our last conversation, she said she would rely wholly on my honour.

" Arn. And therefore you would deceive her.

os Thorn. Why -deceive her?-why-indeedto that-but-but, for God's sake, let me hear no more on this subject, for 'faith you make me sad, Jack. If you continue your admonitions, I shall begin to think you have yourself an eye on the girl. You have promised me your assistance, and when you came down into the country, were as hot on the scheme as myself : but, since you have been two or three times with me at Primrose's, you have fallen off strangely. No encroach-. ments, Jack, on my

little rosebud-if

you

have a mind to beat up game in this quarter, there's her sister-but no poaching

" Arn. I am not insensible to her sister's merit, but have no such views as you have. However, you have promised me that if you find in this lady that real virtue which you so firmly deny to exist in the sex, you will give up the pursuit, and, foregoing the low considerations of fortune, make atonement by marriage.

Thorn. Such is my serious resolution. “ Arn. I wish you'd forego the experiment. But, you

have been so much in raptures with your success, that I have, as yet, had no clear account how you came acquainted in the family.

Thorn. Oh, I'll tell you immediately. You know Lady Patchet?

Arn. What, is she here?

Thorn. It was by her I was first introduced. It seems that, last year, her ladyship’s reputation began to suffer a little; so that she thought it prudent to retire for a while, till people learned better manners or got worse memories. She soon became acquainted with this little family, and, as the wife is a prodigious admirer of quality, grew in a short time to be very intimate, and imagining that she may one day make her market of the girls, has much ingratiated herself with them. She introduced ne-I drank, and abused this degenerate age with the father-promised wonders to the mother for all her brats-praised her gooseberry wine, and ogled the daughters, by which means in three days I made the progress I related to you.

Arn. You have been expeditious indeed. I sear where that devil Lady Patchet is concerned there can be no good—but is there not a son?

Thorn. Oh! the most ridiculous creature in nature. He has been bred in the country, a bumpkin all his life, till within these six years, when he was sent to the University, but, ihe misfortunes that have reduced his father falling out, he is returned, the most ridiculous animal

you ever saw, a conceited disputing blockhead. So there is no great matter to fear from his But come, let us begone, and see this moral family, we shall meet them coming from the field,

and you

will

penetration.

see a man who was once in affluence, maintaining by hard labour a numerous family.

" Arn. Oh! Thornhill, can you wish to add infamy to their poverty?

[Exeunt." There Iso remain

among

his

papers three Acts of a Drama, without a name,-written evidently in haste, and with scarcely any correction,—the subject of which is so wild and unmanageable, that I should not have hesitated in referring it to the same early date, had not the introduction into one of the scenes of “ Dry be that tear, be hush'd that sigh," proved it to have been produced after that pretty song was written.

The chief personages upon whom the story turns are a band of outlaws, who, under the name and disguise of Devils, have taken up their residence in a gloomy wood, adjoining a village, the inhabitants of which they keep in perpetual alarm by their incursions and apparitions. In the same wood resides a hermit, secretly connected with this band, who keeps secluded within his cave the beautiful Reginilla, hid alike from the light of the sun and the eyes of men. She has, however,

, been indulged in her prison with a glimpse of a handsome young huntsman, whom she believes to be a phantom, and is encouraged in her belief by the hermit, by whose contrivance this huntsman (a prince in disguise) has been thus presented

« ПредишнаНапред »