LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
R & T Sheridan III

Vol I Contents
Charles Lamb I
Charles Lamb II
Charles Lamb III
Charles Lamb IV
Charles Lamb V
Charles Lamb VI
Charles Lamb VII
Charles Lamb VIII
Charles Lamb IX
Charles Lamb X
Thomas Campbell I
Thomas Campbell II
Thomas Campbell III
Thomas Campbell IV
Thomas Campbell V
Thomas Campbell VI
Thomas Campbell VII
Lady Blessington I
Lady Blessington II
Lady Blessington III
Lady Blessington IV
Lady Blessington V
R. Plumer Ward I
R. Plumer Ward II
R. Plumer Ward III
R. Plumer Ward IV
R. Plumer Ward V
R. Plumer Ward VI
Appendix vol I
Vol II Contents
R. Plumer Ward VII
R. Plumer Ward VIII
R. Plumer Ward IX
R. Plumer Ward X
R. Plumer Ward XI
R. Plumer Ward XII
R. Plumer Ward XIII
R. Plumer Ward XIV
R. Plumer Ward XV
R. Plumer Ward XVI
R. Plumer Ward XVII
R. Plumer Ward XVIII
R. Plumer Ward XIX
R. Plumer Ward XX
R. Plumer Ward XXI
R. Plumer Ward XXII
R. Plumer Ward XXIII
Horace & James Smith I
Horace & James Smith II
William Hazlitt I
William Hazlitt II
William Hazlitt III
William Hazlitt IV
William Hazlitt V
William Hazlitt VI
William Hazlitt VII
William Hazlitt VIII
Appendix vol II
Vol III Contents
William Hazlitt IX
William Hazlitt X
William Hazlitt XI
William Hazlitt XII
William Hazlitt XIII
William Hazlitt XIV
William Hazlitt XV
William Hazlitt XVI
William Hazlitt XVII
William Hazlitt XVIII
William Hazlitt XIX
William Hazlitt XX
William Hazlitt XXI
William Hazlitt XXII
William Hazlitt XXIII
William Hazlitt XXIV
William Hazlitt XXV
William Hazlitt XXVI
Laman Blanchard I
Laman Blanchard II
Laman Blanchard III
Laman Blanchard IV
Laman Blanchard V
Laman Blanchard VI
Laman Blanchard VII
Laman Blanchard VIII
R & T Sheridan I
R & T Sheridan II
‣ R & T Sheridan III
R & T Sheridan IV
R & T Sheridan V
R & T Sheridan VI
R & T Sheridan VII
R & T Sheridan VIII
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Before proceeding to give a description of the three dramas above referred to, and specimens of their several styles and characters respectively, it may be well for me to say a few words as to the question of what is called “internal evidence,” as applying to their authenticity. Not, I imagine, that it will for a moment be contended that, in the present case, any such evidence is needed; or, even that, where existing, it strengthens the proofs—the almost self-evident proofs—that are forthcoming in the present instance. The identity of the handwriting on which the authenticity rests being beyond the reach of question or cavil, there would, evidently, be something absurd upon the face of it, in supposing that a manuscript drama, entirely the autograph of a man in Sheridan’s position as regards the dramatic
world at the period now in question, should be the production of any one but himself; and the absurdity becomes almost too glaring for statement, when we suppose (as is the case in the present instance), that the said MS. is covered with many hundreds of alterations, additions, erasures, private notifications, &c., every one of which is in the same hand.

Again; to suppose (as is the case of another of these manuscripts), that Sheridan should take up a MS. of great length (one hundred and twenty closely-written foolscap pages), in the handwriting of an ignorant copyist, but with many hundreds of blank spaces left in it, of all lengths, from the space of a single word to that of several lines, and should fill in every one of these blanks with his own hand, together with many hundreds of corrections, additions, &c., and that he should find time and inclination to do all this at a period of his life (as indicated by several features of the MS.), when he was manager of a great theatre, a member of the House of Commons, in almost daily intercourse with the heir
apparent to the throne, and one of the ”observed of all observers” in the society in which he moved,—that he should, I say, do this in the case of any one’s production but his own, is a supposition simply absurd.

Lastly; in regard to the third and most remarkable of all these remarkable works. Though the handwriting of the first rough copy belongs evidently to an early period of Sheridan’s life, in this case, as in all the others, numerous and elaborate corrections, alterations, interlineations, &c., are in the ordinary and unmistakable hand of Sheridan; and to one of the songs which form so remarkable a feature of this drama (that song itself being in the earlier hand), is appended a foot-note in the later hand of Sheridan, written in the first person, and sportively addressed to some friend, in whose hands he was, probably, about to place the drama for business purposes, after this his latest revision of it.* The following is a copy of that note:—

“We will now show them that we can

* That person, I have no doubt, was his favourite son “Tom,” who was, at the period in question, the “reader” and literary manager of Drury Lane Theatre.

make words stand alone as well as the best of them. This I call my noun-substantive song.”

The allusion is evidently to the famous song in Midas, beginning “Round about the Maypole,” &c., of which many of the lines consist of single words,—as they do in the case of the song above referred to.

Byron said of Sheridan, with little, if any exaggeration, that whatever he (Sheridan) had set himself seriously to do, he had done better than it was ever done before or since; that he had produced the best existing comedy, The School for Scandal; the best comic opera, The Duenna; the best melodrama, Pizarro; the best farce, The Critic; and the best parliamentary oration, The Begum Speech. It maybe safely added, that nothing so good in their way as any one of these things has been done since the above was said of them; and I confidently believe that, to complete the triumph of Sheridan’s dramatic genius, it will hereafter be admitted, by all persons competent to decide the point, that the same may be said of the three dramas now to be introduced to public notice, that no other English writer has produced
so good a Fairy Opera, so admirable a Burlesque, and so perfect a little Piece of Action and Incident.

Having (so at least, I trust) set the question of authenticity beyond the reach of doubt or cavil, I proceed to give a brief descriptive notice of each of these remarkable Curiosities of Dramatic Literature; illustrating my descriptions by specimens of the execution of each drama; but avoiding, so far as I conveniently can, all comments or opinions of my own.