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fixed upon a basis which it may now be fairly pronounced impossible to shake, is not more true than that there are others which facts, sufficiently numerous and certain, have not yet been collected to establish. In the mean time, let us be content with what we have; and let us hope that the measures which in this country are now in progress to attest those principles of the science that have been oftenest and most fully proved may not be impeded, either by the extravagant and pettish fondness of their advocates, or by the excited prejudices of some who have not studied, and therefore, and therefore only, do not understand them.
Art. X. Sheridaniana'; or, Anecdotes of the Life of Richard Brinsley
Sheridan; his Table-Talk, and Bon Mots. 8vo. pp. 334. London.
Colburn. 1826. In our review of Moore's “ Life of Sheridan *" we entered so fully into the character of that extraordinary and unfortunate individual, that we shall offer no more than a few remarks on the work before us: indeed, our chief object in noticing it at all is to avail ourselves of the opportunity which it affords us of correcting one or two errors into which we were led by the authority of a biographer who seemed to have had ample means of acquiring the most authentic information upon every part of his subject.
Towards the decline of Sheridan's life (1812), Mr. Moore says that the Prince-Regent offered to bring him into Parliament, but that not choosing to bear “the royal owner's mark, he declined the offer.” It is due to the distinguished person, on whom this obseryation is intended to reflect, that since the publication of Mr. Moore's work it has been publicly stated, and not contradicted, that the Prince-Regent and his friends offered Mr. Sheridan all their support if he would stand for Westminster on his own principles; that this project was defeated chiefly by his own indolence; that the Prince then supplied bim, through a common friend, with four thousand pounds, for the purpose of purchasing a Whig seat; and that in consequence of a disappointment in that quarter a negociation was opened for Wooton Basset, which was also rendered ineffectual by Sheridan's indolence, or perhaps by a real reluctance to appear again in Parliament. The worst part of this transaction is, that Sheridan appropriated the money to his own purposes without the Prince's permission, and indeed, as it would seem, against his express desire.
With respect to the conduct of the Prince towards Sheridan, when the latter was in the last stage of his existence, Mr. Moore appears also to have been without sufficient information, and in the absence of it, to have imputed to His Royal Highness the coldest
* See vol. cviii. of the former Series of the Monthly Review, p. 149.
indifference to the wretched condition of his unfortunate friend. Facts which have since come to light fully exonerate the Prince from the censure which is here cast upon him. As soon as he learned Sheridan's situation, he directed that any sum or sums necessary for his relief should be conveyed to him in the most expeditious and delicate manner. The relief, indeed, was late, for Sheridan was on his death-bed; and from the circumstance of the only sum (2001.) that was accepted having been soon returned again to Mr. Taylor Vaughan the agent employed by the Prince on that occasion, we are bound to infer that there was something in Mr. Vaughan's mode of conducting this delicate transaction which wounded Sheridan's pride to a degree too painful to be borne. Perhaps, after all, the refusal of the Prince's bounty originated in the irritable temper of a patient, who saw himself, at the close of a long, and, during some portion of it, a brilliant public life, doomed to descend into the grave disappointed in all his ambitious projects, and overwhelmed by pecuniary embarrassments of a most distressing nature.
The anecdotes and bon mots in the volume before us are professedly taken from the works of Mr. Moore, Dr. Watkins, and other more perishable records of the day. We are rather surprised that if Mr. Moore was acquainted with its existence he did not make use of the long and very frank and interesting letter, written by Miss Linley before her public marriage to Sheridan, which the reader will find transferred to this publication from the ninety-fifth volume of The Gentleman's Magazine. It gives an account of the state of her heart, and indeed of the character of her life previous to her marriage, very different from that which Mr. Moore has preferred. He represents her as perfectly steeled against the addresses of Mr. Mathews, to whom she never gave the slightest encouragement, and from whose persecution she fled to the arms of Sheridan, to 6 whose love she became devoted.” Her letter places the whole of this story in a point of view not reconcilable with Mr. Moore's statement of it. As the topic is a tender one, we must permit the lady to speak for herself. For three years,' she says, he (Mathews) never ceased his assiduities to me,' those three being the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth years of her age; "he made me, instead of flying from him, not only pity him, but promise him my friendship. The · friendship’ of a young lady is nearly allied to a more ardent feeling. She soon found herself wretchedly involved in an unhappy passion for a man whom yet it was criminal in her even to think of. She disclosed her sentiments to her mother, but that good lady laughed at her uneasiness;' for Mathews, being a man of wealth, had considerable influence over the theatrical speculations of the family at Bath, and the mother thought it was not for their interest to displease so powerful a friend.
de me instiendship.. feeling
sion for disclosed her
. I could not fly from the danger; after my first reproof, I was ashamed to mention it again to my mother, and I had every thing to fear from my father's violent temper. For another year we went on in the same manner; till at last, finding it impossible to conquer my inclinations, he soon brought me to a confession of my weakness, which has been the cause of all my distress. That obstacle removed, many others fell of course, and the next season he prevailed on me to meet him at the house of a friend, as we were not permitted to talk together in public.
This passage, we think, is sufficient to show that Mr. Mathews was not quite so indifferent to Miss Linley as Mr. Moore seems to have imagined. Her next suitor was a Mr. Long, an old gentle man of considerable fortune in Wiltshire, who proposed to marry her, and was accepted. Mr. Moore states, that this affair was frustrated, in consequence of Miss Linley secretly representing to her accepted lover, that she never could be happy as his wife,' whereupon ‘he generously took upon himself the whole blame of breaking off the alliance, and even indemnified the father, who was proceeding to bring the transaction into court, by settling 30001. upon his daughter. Her own version of the matter is scarcely consistent with this representation of it.
. About this time,' she observes, without telling her friend to whom she addressed the letter the reason, my marriage with Mr. Long broke off, and my father went to London to commence a law-suit. During the time he was absent, I went on a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Norton. She had been informed by undoubted authority, that my father would not only lose his suit, but that I should be exposed in the public court; as Mr. Long had been informed of my meeting Mathews, and intended to make use of that as a plea in court. This being told me suddenly, and at a time when my spirits were greatly distressed, flung me into a high fever. I lost my senses some time, and when I recovered was so weak, and had such strong symptoms of a rapid decline, that when my father returned, I was sent to the Wells to drink the waters. While I was there, I was told that Mathews, during my illness, had spoken disrespectfully of me in public, and had boasted it was owing to my love for him I was so ill.'
She resented this conduct on the part of Mathews: she lost no time in turning her attention' to a certain Mr. R., who all at once wanted her to marry him privately, and to go off with him to any part of the world, till his father died. This proposal made her very angry, and she refused to see Mr. R. until Mathews played off some more of his boasts, when she once more resolved to encourage Mr. R.,' and, though she could not go off with him, she told him that when it was in his power she would marry him. This gentleman, however, turned out to be a mere male coquette, and ultimately “jilted' her. While she was suffering under the effects of Mr. R.'s desertion, Mathews returned; and it seems, that, after all that had passed, “his engaging behaviour soon regained him that love which had never been quite extinguished ! Her father, however, forbade all further intercourse between the parties ; and it was at this time that she took Sheridan into her confidence, and rendered him the medium of her communications with Mathews. It is clear, from her own narrative, that she looked on Sheridan as a good-natured friend, whose services she stood in need of in order to keep up her correspondence with Mathews. This consummate Lothario wrote to her to say, that he would destroy himself if she did not indulge him with ten minutes' conversation. She yielded, and at this interview he swore that if she would not bind herself to see him again, he would shoot himself before her face. This threat so alarmed her, that she resolved on suicide, and took a bottle of laudanum, which the doctors had some difficulty in removing from her stomach. Mathews next threatened that he would take her away from her family by force.
Mr. Sheridan then asked me what I designed to do. I told him my mind was in such a state of distraction between anger, remorse, and fear, that I did not know what I should do; but as Mathews had declared he would ruin my reputation, I was resolved never to stay in Bath,
She was then easily prevailed on by Sheridan to accompany him to France; a step that so completely committed her, that their union was the necessary result, though it is very clear that she had not contemplated any such thing. She was flying from danger, by the assistance of a friend of her family, whom she had treated almost as a brother. He effected his object in a manner highly creditable to his dramatic talents. The whole letter is a curious piece of autobiography; and the view which it gives of this important incident in Sheridan's early life is altogether so much at variance with that which Mr. Moore exhibits of it, that we must presume this epistle escaped his attention. In addition to this interesting document, the reader will find here several extracts from Sheridan's best parliamentary speeches, and, as the editor happily expresses it, such fragments of wit and eloquence as could, without injury to their lustre, bear, as it were, a separate setting. He merely claims the praise of a discriminating compiler. We must do him the justice to add, that he has performed his task successfully, and that he has produced an agreeable and instructive volume.
ART. XI. Molech ; or, the Approach of the Deluge. A sacred Drama.
By the Rev. William Bassett, M. A. 8vo. pp. 157. London. Hatchard
and Son. 1826. An antediluvian drama is not likely, we fear, to attract many readers in the present day. A pretty considerable portion of the public are unfortunately very prone to suspect, that of the nations that existed before the Flood, of their manners, and the general appearance of this globe of ours, until it was reformed by that great revolu
tion, little is, or ever can be known, with any degree of certainty. They are therefore inclined to suppose, without giving themselves the trouble of much examination, that every attempt to represent human passion or employment before that epoch must necessarily be a failure; and, in nine cases out of ten, they would be right. The “ Death of Abel" is the only tolerable fiction connected with antediluvian times with which we are acquainted. We regret that the draina before us does not admit of an exception in its favour.
The plot supposes the inhabited world to have been nearly over· run by a great conqueror named Molech, who, in the insolence of his power, compelled his subjects to worship him as a god. Vices of the most revolting character prevail under his reign, and are encouraged by his own example. He denies the existence of any being superior to himself, and he collects an army for the purpose of attacking and destroying the ark of Noah, which had been long prepared by him in expectation of the Deluge. On his march, the Acodgates of Heaven are opened, and he and his depraved disciples are soon buried beneath the waters. The author endeavours to diversify his subject by the introduction of some sentimental episodes, but the subject is altogether beyond the calibre of his genius.
There is very little beauty in the composition to atone for the innate defects of the theme. The lines indeed contain in general the due number of syllables, but they want almost every other characteristic of poetry. What does the reader think of the following specimen of blank verse from the pen of a Master of Arts ?
· I am not covetous to govern sheep,
As Noah might once have done! We cannot commend either the subject or the manner in which it is treated; and unless the Rev. Mr. Bassett improve his style very considerably, and borrow froin some spring, sacred or profane, a copious draught of inspiration, we would advise him to limit his literary career to the composition of his sermons.