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the Third. The author's name was Sheridan-he is mentioned by the historians of that age as a man of uncommon abilities, very little improved by cultivation. His confidence in the resources of his own genius, and his aversion to any sort of labour, were so great that he could not be prevailed upon to learn either to read or write. He was, for a short time, Manager of one of the play-houses, and conceived the extraordinary and almost incredible project of composing a play extempore, which he was to recite in the Green-room to the actors, who were immediately to come on the stage and perform it. The players refusing to undertake their parts at so short a notice, and with so little preparation, he threw up the management in disgust.

“ He was a member of the last Parliaments that were summoned in England, and signalised himself on many occasions by his wit and eloquence, though he seldom came to the House till the debate was nearly concluded, and never spoke, unless he was drunk. He lived on a footing of great intimacy with the famous Fox, who is said to have concerted with him the audacious attempt which he made, about the year 1783, to seize the whole property of the East India Company, amounting at that time to above 12,000,000l. sterling, and then to declare himself Lord Protector of the realm by the title of Carlo Khan. This desperate scheme actually received the consent of the lower House of parliament the majorityof whom were bribed by Fox, or intimidated by his and Sheridan's threats and violence; and it is generally believed that the Revolution would have taken place, if the Lords of the King's Bedchamber had not in a body surrounded the throne, and shown the most determined resolution not to abandon their posts but with their lives. The

usurpation being defeated, Parliament was dissolved and loaded with infamy. Sheridan was one of the few meinbers of it who were re-elected : the Burgesses of Stafford, whom he had kept in a constant stale of intoxication for near three weeks, chose him again to represent them, which he was well qualified to do.

" Fox's Whig party being very much reduced, or rather almost annihilated, he and the rest of the conspirators remained quiet for some time; till, in the year 1788, the French, in conjunction with Tippoo Sultan, having suddenly seized and divided belween themselves the whole of the British possessions in India, the East India Company broke, and a national bankruptcy was apprehended. During this confusion Fox and his partizans assembled in large bodies, and made a violent attack in Parliament on Pitt, the King's first minister :-Sheridan supported and seconded him. Parliament seemed disposed to enquire into the cause of the calamity: the nation was almost in a state of actual rebellion; and it is impossible for us, at the distance of three hundred years, to form any judgment what dreadful consequences might have followed, if the King, by the advice of the Lords of the Bedchamber, had not dissolved the Parliament, and taken the administration of affairs into his own hands, and those of a few confidential servants, at the head of whom he was pleased to place one Mr. Atkinson, a merchant, who had acquired a handsome fortune in the Jamaica trade, and passed universally for a man of unblemished integrity. His Majesty having now no farther occasion for Pitt, and being desirous of rewarding him for his past services, and, at the same time, finding an adequate employment for his great talents, caused him to enter into holy orders, and presented him with the Deariery of Windsor, where he became an excellent preacher, and published several volumes of sermons, all of which are now lost.

" To return to Sheridan : - on the abrogation of Parliaments, he entered into a closer connection than ever with Fox and a few others of lesser note, forining 10gether as desperate and profligate a gang as ever disgraced a civilized country. They were guilty of every species of enormily, and went so far as even to commit robberies op the highway, with a degree of audacity that could be equalled only by the ingenuity with which they escaped conviction. Sheridan, not satisfied with eluding, determined to mock the justice of his country, and composed a Masque called • The Foresters,' containing a circumstantial account of some of the robberies he had commited, and a good deal of sarcasm on the pusillanimity of those whom he had robbed, and the inefficacy of the penal laws of the kingdom. This piece was acted at Drury-Lane Theatre with great applause, to the astonishment of all sober persons, and the scandal of the nation. His Majesty, who had long wished to curb the licentious. ness of the press and the theatres, thought this a good opportunity. He ordered the performers to be enlisted into the army, the play-house to be shut up, and all theatrical exhibitions to be forbid on pain of death. Drury-Lane play-house was soon after converted into a barrack for soldiers, which it has continued to be ever since. Sheridan was arrested, and, it was imagined would have suffered the rack, if he had not escaped from his guard by a stratagem, and gone over to Ireland in a balloon with which his friend Fox furnished him. Immediately on his arrival in Ireland, he put himself at the head of a party of the most violent Reformers, commanded a regiment of Voluuteers at the siege of Dublin in 1791, and was supposed to be the person who planned the scheme for tarring and feathering Mr. Jenkinson, the Lord Lieutenant, and forcing him in that condition to sign the capitulation of the Castle. The persons who were to execute this strange enterprize had actually got into the Lord Lieutenant's apartment at midnight, and would probably have succeeded in their project, if Sheridan, who was intoxicated with whiskey, a strong liquor much in vogue with the Volunteers, had not attempted to force open the door of Mrs. --'s bedchamber, and so given the alarm to the garrison, who instantly flew to arms, seized Sheridan and every one of his party, and confined them in the castle-dungeon. Sheridan was ordered for execution the next day, but had no sooner got his legs and arms at liberty, than he began capering, jumping, dancing, and making all sorts of antics, to the utter amazement of the spectators. When the chaplain endeavoured, by serious advice and admonition, to bring him to a proper sense of his dreadful situation, he grinned, made faces at him, tried to lickle him, and played a thousand other pranks with such astonishing drollery, that the gravest countenances became cheerful, and the saddest hearts glad. The soldiers who attended at the gallows were so delighted with his merriment, which they deemed magnanimity, that the sheriffs began to apprehend a rescue, and ordered the hangman instantly to do his duty. He went off in a loud horse-laugh, and cast a look towards the Castle, accompanied with a gesture expressive of no great respect.

6. Thus ended the life of this singular and unhappy inan—a melancholy instance of the calamities that attend

the misapplication of great and splendid ability. He was married to a very beautiful and amiable woman, for whom he is said to have entertained an unalterable affection. He had one son a boy of the most promising hopes, whom he would never suffer to be instructed in the first rudiments of literature. He amused himself, however with teaching the boy to draw portraits with his toes, in which he soon became so astonishing a proficient that he seldom failed to take a most exact likeness of

every person who sat to him,

• There are a few more plays by the same author, all of them excellent.

s. For further information concerning this strange man, vide - Macpherson's Moral History,' Art. ' Drunkenness.""

VOL. 11.


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