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Doctor, because we are acquainted with no professional than who enjoyed so many personal opportunities of ac quiring an accurate knowledge of the sentiments of Mr. Aunter, and because the luminous exposition of his own ideas in writing, was not among the attainments of that indefatigable and ingenious physiologist. Profundity is sometimes obscure if * Shallows are always clear.”
N. Hailes, sum floribus ILLIPS, Erichard Bring
Aør. IV. A Garland for the Grave of Richard Brinsley
Sheridan. By CHARLES PHILLIPS, Esq. Barrister a - Law. “ Sepulcrum floribus ornare." Cic. London, 1 for N. Hailes, 1816. 8vo. pp. 15. ..
* * This little pamphlet is by Mr. Phillips, the Irish Orator, as he is termed in this country, and whose claim to the title is derived from a speech or two, delivered at the Dublin bar, and printed in London. It is not necessary here to dwell much on the distinction between an orator and an Trish orator, more especially as the regretted subject of the poem before us, and his panegyrist, will aptly illustrate the difference, Mr. Sheridan was an Orator and an Irish man, and Mr. Phillips is an Irish Orator. When, therefore, the latter gentleman receives the appellation of an Irish Orator, it must not be understood that those who do him the favour (if indeed it be any) to apply it, are raising him to a level with the numerous eloquent men the sister island has produced; on the contrary, it is obvious that they are rather paying him a bad compliment, and imply ing that his qualifications (or, more properly, his disquali, fications) are such as to preclude the possibility of his ever making even a distant approach to their acknowledged ex cellence.
W !*CUT Certain it is, that Mr. Phillips is not looked upon as a prophet in his own country, half so much as he is consi dered an oracle in this; for his sixpenny speeches, distributed so freely in England, have attracted but little attention in Ireland, The truth is, that there, not only all the advocates are speech-makers, but they are so because all have the opportunity of making speeches; for by the practice in Ire land, even at Nisi-prius, more than one counsel is heard
upon each side of a cause, and they have besides the privi. * " I have practising in all the courts, both of law and equity.
that comparatively few of these addresses are at all, and still fewer exported to England; but
bas found that speeches are à very merchante
able commodity, and he has speculated as extensively as his capital would allow the value of the article is of little consequence to him, as long as it pleases his buyers, and, like those who trade to the Guinea coast, he barters, his
beads, looking-glasses, and gewgaws, for ingots and gold| duşt. We would not be understood as denying that he has
some talent, but it is of the cominonest school-boy sort, and, like most men of his stamp, he takes all imaginable pains to convince people that he has a great deal more than be really possesses. We do not blame him for so doing, but we say, that, that circunstance alone is demonstrative of the true estimation in which he ought to be held : cona scium ecasi diem has been, and always will be, the motto of true genius.
Mr. Phillips seems to set his opinion in opposition to the ! often-quoted authority of the ancient orator, who said, that į action was to his art what life is to the body, for Mr. Phillips 1 places his great reliance upon words; they are the first, second, | third, fourth, and fifth requisites of his speeches; ideas are | quite of secondary importance. Irish oratory (or we should į rather 'gay, the oratory of Irishmen) has generally been i distinguished for a gaudy superabundance of flowers, an | oppressive load of metaphors, and a cataract of language, 1 as endless as it was violent: its strength and weight often 1 defeat themselves, as Arthur overcame his huge antagonist, ! because the giant struck his massive club so deep into the
ground that he could not again lift it. But Mr. Phillips is not in reality an orator even of this class, forming our opibion from what he has published: it is true that he affects all the freedom and all the faults of the eloquence usually attributed to his countrymen, but we are much mistaken if he possess any one of them as spontaneous ebullitions, Those who examine even superficially the figures be introduces with so much preparation, cannot fail to remark, that they are laborious and highly-wrought productions ; like polished steel, fabricated from the rude and shapeless masses of ore, not like native gold, dug from a rich mine in all its brightness and beauty, to which the operations of low mechanics can only add impurity and alloy. Mr. Phil. lips is most frequently verbose without energy, and pondere ous without force-vis, nec verbis nec rebus inest, and be possesses no discretion lest
“ Impediat verbis lassas onerantibus aures," but he goes on, sentence after sentence, heaping Pelion CRIT, Rsv. VOL. IV. Nov. 1816.
upon Ossa,--not thereby ascending one step nearer heaven, but hy the weight of his masses sinking deeper towards the bathos of its antipode. Such a style must be always ac. quired and artificial, at least in the first instance; and Mr. Phillips has yet to learn, that simplicity forms a most important part of eloquence, and that its place cannot be supplied bullatis nugis.
- We have made these remarks, partly because what we have said of bis speeches applies in a degree to Mr. Phillips's poetry, and partly because we have heard from good authority that he intends to try his talents at the English bar; for, as we said before, his countrymen do not hold him in the same estimation as some of that class in England who áre in the habit of reading the sixpenny pamphlets of trials at the Old Bailey, and productions of a similar price and quality. We cannot flatter him with much hope of success in this experiment: he can only practise in the King's Bench; and we think we see Lord Ellenborough, while Mr. Phillips is delivering one of his unmeaning got-by-heart flourishes, (that insult a jury by an avowed attempt to mislead them, without power on the part of the orator to move any thing but his own arms,) fidgetting from side to sidefirst half-smiling in derision, then rising from his seat, and looking down in mingled compassion and anger; and at length, the latter prevailing, bursting out upon the selfdeluded advocate, (to employ an expression of his Lordship's own,) “ Really such people should not venture to be metaphorical."?.
This “ Garland for the Grave of Sheridan," is introduced by an address to the reader, in which the author gays, that “the attempt, in his own eyes exceedingly im. potent, has been obtruded on the public by the importunate partiality of friends ;” an ordinary expedient, and as ordinary an affectation of diffidence. Some ingenious authors have employed themselves in pointing out under what cir. cumstances a certain modification of falsehood, vulgarly called a white lie, may he pardoned; and one situation they have fixed upon is that of an author, and especially a young one, who is allowed to assign a false reason that his work is “ obtruded upon the public.” If in truth “ the attempt be in his own eyes exceedingly impotent,” his obligations for inportunate and unfortunate partiality are not very heavy; and without the illiberal construction of the French satirist, that
Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l'admire, : *
1 it generally happens that a writer thinks so well of his own | labours, that he mistakes the kind forbearance for the kim
portunate partiality of friends." Mr. Phillips had, how ever, another, and we apprehend, a more powerful and prudent inducement, for an explanation of which we referi to his publisher. Before we proceed to enable our readers to judge of what flowers this garland is composed, we will quote a passage from the prose introduction, the band by which they are united.
** The death of Mr. Sheridan bas naturally enough excited na ordinary interest in the country which he had selected as the sphere of his action. Few meni, perhaps, can ever excite so much, and the reason is obvious: there are very few gifted with such a variety of powers, and of course capable of creating such varied and universal enjoyment. In some individual talent he might have been excelled by many, but whoever possessed so transcendant a combie nation? What scene did not his life illumine! What circle has not bis loss eclipsed! Another Burke may chain the senate---another Shakspeare crowd the theatre--another Curran fascinate the board -apother Moore enchant the fancy, or another Hampden vindicate the land--but where shall we beliold their bright varieties again combined, concentrating, as it were, their several lights in one refulgent orb, that left no cloud untinged-no charm uncreated ? Far am I from the vauity of conveying that the simple wreath whieh I have woven to his memory can do any justice either to his merits, or even to my own feelings: it is the offering rather of affection than of justice; culled from the wild mountains of the uphappy island which seeemed to give him at once both his birth and his character. Who is there that has studied Sheridan without recognizing the hůman epitome of Ireland? Who is there that has not traced the same strange and peculiar characteristics ?--the careless magnificence the burning passion--the enchanting eloquence—the ready wit—the generous devotion-the prompt and thoughtless prodigality of self, that iing their alternate shade and sunshine over the incultured loveliness of her landscape. Alas! too strikingly has the resemblance closed; and to the indelible disgrace of those who have deserted both, the noble heart that offered all its treasures at the shrine of friendship, bas been suffered to perish in unpitied penury. But this is a subject from which I must pass away: I cannot write on it without danger, for, thank God, I cannot think on it without indignation. ';,,; .. - This is the merest rant that ever was penned, though intended by the author as a specimen of that “ enchanting eloquence, burning passion, generous devotion," &c. &e. wbich he would attribute to his own country, to the exclu. sion of all the rest of the world Such is the mode adopted by Irish orators, like Mr. Phillips, to ring out a panegyric on themselves ;" for all the time they are exclaiming, " Oh, Ireland ! my green isle! land of my fathers ! land of generosity, benignity, eloquence !" &c. they are in truth silently imputing to themselves individually all these fine qualities. Then, as to the author's indignation that Sheridan had been 6 suffered to perish in unpitied poverty," is it not stuff and affectation, unless indeed he be indignant that a man who might have lived and died in affluence, squandered away his substance in riot and luxury. We do not wish to de. tract an iota from all the great merits of Sheridan : we allow him wit, eloquence, poetry, and almost every delightful accomplishment; but we do not allow that he was the best man that ever lived; on the contrary, his life and its termination will again exemplify the old saw on which Dr. Johnson has so much enlarged, that without moral virtue, mental power is more than a vain, it is a dangerous gift ; and the more 80, when by undiscriminating eulogists it is held up to unbounded admiration. If Sheridan died poor, he has only himself to blame; and if he died friendless, it was not be. cause his friends neglected him, but because he forsook his friends : Mr. Phillips's indignation, therefore, (if indeed he feel it) may be somewhat cooled by an attention to facts, which will instruct him, in this case at least, not to libel the living for the sake of excusing the dead.
The first flower of this Garland is common enough, and may be found in every field of poetry, the more plentifully sprinkled in proportion to the poverty of the soil; and as no names are given to these flowers, we shall entitle some of thein as we proceed: the first we call the king.cup. } “ Nomshed not a tear upon Sheridan's tomb, dues ropo The moment for sorrow is o'er; ; :
* Pale Poverty's cloud, or lngratitude's gloom, aliyoi
Can darken that Spirit no more! 1. He is gone to the Augels that lent him their lyre;
me. He is gone to the world whence he borrow'd his fire; : , And the brightest and best of the heavenly choir ins. The welcome of Paradise pour." ;
This is very complimentary, but quite as contradictory s the more cause we have for sorrow, the less we are to grieve-"the moment for sorrow is o'er.” To talk of “in gratitude's gloom,” is absolute cant, unless it rnean Sheri, dan's ingratitude to Heaven in " laying waste his powers," Next we have the passion flower in full bloom. It is very
ne of Paradise pour." ',