LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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My Friends and Acquaintance
R & T Sheridan VII

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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The third and last of these posthumous dramas of Richard Brinsley Sheridan is what was called, at the period of its composition, “A Musical Afterpiece;” and is entirely in the most recent handwriting of its author, as also are all the numerous alterations, emendations, &c., that it has undergone. From this circumstance, and this alone, I judge it to be the most recent production of the three.

The merit of this drama consists in the perfect skill with which a few simple and natural incidents are worked up into a plot of singular interest and completeness; and in the consummate knowledge of stage business and effect, exhibited in numerous little touches, dropped here and there in the early portion of the dialogue, which are not
intended to be noticed, but only to be felt, by the audience, so as imperceptibly to prepare the way for what follows. Everything is kept subservient, first to this gradual impression of the plot on the minds of the spectator; and, afterwards, to its gradual development; and the whole is effected with a perfect preservation of the unities of Time, Place, and Action.

The opening and only scene of this capital little drama is thus elaborately described, in the stage directions by its author. I of course copy verbatim et literatim from the M.S. I give this description because it forms, and seems intended to form, a sort of overture to the action that is to follow—every point and particular of it being turned to account in the course of the piece, and much of the action depending entirely on these preconcerted arrangements.


The Scene is in a house situated on the ramparts of a garrison town. The theatre represents a room, with everything necessary for drawing and music. On the K side is a chim-
ney with a fire in it—the furniture of the fireplace—poker, tongs, &c. Two girandoles with lighted candles. It is placed between two doors; the one nearest the orchestra leads to Laura’s apartment, the other to a closet. This last is behind a large screen that shades that side of the chimney. The two doors are answered by two others on the opposite side of the stage—one leads to the Governor’s apartment—the other is only for the symmetry of the room. Each of the doors has a round window above it to give light within, and opens inward. Towards the end of the stage is a window which looks out into the country, and near it, in the middle of the scene, a glass door. It has an iron grate without. Against the screen a great chair: a table with books; everything proper for writing, some music, a guitar, a pallet and paint brushes. Near is a stand, and a picture on it covered with a green baize. Near the front of the stage, on the P side, a harp. When the curtain draws up Laura is accompanying herself on it, or else drawing, and singing the following couplets. The stage has only the depth of this scene, the proper entrances of which are closed on each side by the chimney, the door leading to the
Governor’s room, the window, and the glass door. Both sides of the stage should be lighted with girandole branches, and the actors go in and out only through the different doors.”

This drama is in two acts, and it opens with a song by the heroine, which, to those who are familiar with the corresponding compositions by Sheridan in The Duenna, The Stranger, Pizarro, &c., would stamp the piece as from his pen, even if there were no other evidence of the fact. Small as may be the poetical value attached in our own day to compositions so artificial as this, it was rarely that anything so tender in feeling and so graceful in thought and diction was met with, either on the stage or elsewhere, when (as at the probable date of this drama) the Della Cruscan School was rampant.


“Melancholy, friend to grief,
Ever o’er my bosom reign;
To my sorrows bring relief,
And thyself inspire my strain.

* This is the song given in fac-simile as a frontispiece to the present volume.

“When thy sadness can impart
All its healing, soft’ning powers,
Then thy tears are to the heart
Like the falling dew to flowers.
“Happy he whose peaceful day
In retirement gently flows!
From the busy world away,
All thy balmy calm he knows;
“Then he hopes alone in thee
Some relief from care to find,
Seeking no society
But his memory and mind.”

There are five or six of these songs, and ten duets and concerted pieces—the chief business and action of the drama being conducted to music. The prose dialogue is the perfection of colloquial simplicity, scarcely a phrase or word being capable of improvement, after a lapse of at least fifty years from its composition.

Perhaps this latter is the most characteristic feature of Sheridan’s style in all his known pieces, and is probably one reason why they have retained their place upon our stage after almost all other contemporary works of a similar kind have dropped away from it. There is probably not one among
all the dramas of the latter half or quarter of the eighteenth century, that could be put upon the stage now, without being first very considerably modernised, except Sheridan’s; whereas
The School for Scandal, The Rivals, The Duenna, and The Critic defy this process, and both read and act as if they had been written yesterday. And precisely the same may be said of the two musical dramas just described. With regard to the burlesque it is different, and the difference is perhaps inherent in the nature of that class of composition—a fact which may account for the absence of any indication on the face of the MS. of any intention of putting it on the stage; while on the other two MSS. there are ample proofs that at one period they were on the point of being produced before the public. As I cannot doubt that this will ultimately be their fate, I abstain from giving any further details of their plots respectively, merely adding that they display a degree of constructive skill that has not been surpassed in any existing dramas of a similar kind with which I am acquainted.


Since the above was written a fact has come to my knowledge, which, had I been acquainted with it sooner, might have spared the reader much of the foregoing details of the discovery of these Sheridan Papers, but which ought not, I think, to occasion the cancelling of those details, because I cannot doubt of their being read with interest for the sake of the singularly curious and interesting MSS. to which they relate.

In making my investigations into the authenticity of these dramas of R. B. Sheridan, and the question of whether or not they had ever been acted, I had, of course, examined (duly and carefully, as I thought) the work possessing the most authority on these points—“Moore’s Life of Sheridan.” But neither from that source nor from any other had I been able to trace either of the dramas—those of Richard Brinsiey or his son—to any more specific personal connection with their authors respectively than that indicated by the handwriting of each, as discovered by myself, and their former possession by Sheridan the father, as stated to me by my deceased friend. When, how-
ever, only about two months before these Memorials were put to press, I had made up my mind that a description of these Sheridan Papers should form part of them, I determined once more (before I related the details of their discovery) to go through “Moore’s Life of Sheridan,” upon the chance of finding something that distinctly might apply to the question before me. I had at least twice during my former investigations read this work through (carefully, as I thought), and had at least half a dozen times turned over and glanced at all that portion of its pages which (as I supposed) related to the literary life of Sheridan. It so happened, however, that on all these occasions but the last I had, on account of its heading (“Sheridan’s Boyhood, &c.”), knowingly passed over with a mere glance the first chapter of
Moore’s work. My researches on this matter being in every instance made as a matter of business, and under the pressure of other business of even more temporary importance, I did not care to learn anything about a time which, as I took for granted, did not connect itself with the object of my inquiry. But on the last occasion to which
I have alluded,* I (without any special reason for so doing) began my search with the neglected chapter. The reader may judge of my mingled surprise and satisfaction at finding that Mr. Moore not merely alludes in this chapter to a “fragment” of a “farce or play” (so he calls it), entitled “Jupiter” written by Sheridan in conjunction with a schoolfellow! on leaving Harrow, at the age of eighteen, but gives two or three brief extracts from the rhymed portion of it, which extracts the reader will find embodied, verbatim et literatim, in the specimens I have given of the burlesque burletta entitled Ixion, and described in the foregoing pages.

Moore’s account of and extract from this “farce” of Jupiter show it to have been a sort of crude and indigested anticipation of “The Critic; or, a Tragedy Rehearsed,” and nine-tenths of it seem to have been in prose. The rhymed portions of it, as given by Moore, are mere scraps, brought in “by the head and shoulders,” as the phrase is, like

* Only a few weeks from the date at which I am writing, May, 1854.

Halhed, afterwards the celebrated Orientalist.

those of the “Tragedy” in the Critic, and are confined to the lines beginning “’Fore George, at loggerheads,” &c, and ending with “Ixion flogs the world to tatters!” as given in the foregoing specimens; and the first three lines of Jupiter’s song in the subsequent scene, as given at p. 293, &c, beginning—
“Ye dogs, I’m Jupiter imperial,” &c.

It would be superfluous to say more here than that the facts I have now stated fix the avowed authorship of this piece on Sheridan. But the incomparable dramatic tact that produced The Rivals at the age of one or two and twenty, could not fail speedily to convince Sheridan that the subject his boyish taste had chosen for his ante-type of the Critic, was in no way adapted to that object, but admirably suited to that to which he afterwards applied it, in the expanded and homogeneous form of a burlesque burletta, of the Midas class, under the title of Ixion; a production which, there can be little doubt, will hereafter be regarded as possessing more freshness and originality of
conception (in its details, I mean); more subtlety of wit, and more breadth of humour, than any of Sheridan’s subsequent productions.

It is important to remark, that Moore was evidently quite ignorant of the existence of Ixion, and he describes the burlesque portion of the piece he calls Jupiter as beginning at “’Fore George, at loggerheads,” &c., which is somewhere about the middle of Ixion. “Here,” says the extract in Moore, “the curtain rises.”

It appears that, in the sketch referred to by Moore, the mere mortals had ludicrous prefixes to their names,—such as Sir Richard Ixion, Major Amphitryon, &c.