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

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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I shall describe these dramas in the order in which, both from the handwriting and from internal evidence, they seem to have been written.

At present the burlesque burletta (as it is called) of Midas stands alone in our dramatic literature; for though the Tom Thumb of Fielding, the Bombastes Furioso, and even the pleasant and elegant extravaganzas of Planché, and the inelegant and un-pleasant ones of other people, may be said to belong to the same family, they have scarcely any characteristic features in common with the glorious old original of the uproarious Irish humourist, Kane O’Hara. But should the extraordinary drama now to be partially introduced to the reader ever see the light in its entirety, it will certainly offer no exception to Byron’s saying about the supremacy of Sheridan over all other men in all that he
had ever seriously set himself to do. Midas will retain, or rather it will claim, the new merit of having been the prototype of Ixion; but the scholar (as is the case in so many other instances in all the arts) will be found to have fairly eclipsed the master.

And this leads me to remark of Sheridan’s genius (if indeed genius can be predicated in such a case), that it was not what is called an “original” one; that is to say, he has in no case done anything for which there was not a previous model existing. Yet he unquestionably fulfilled the main condition of genius—that of doing what no other man had previously done or could have done. Whether (Midas notwithstanding) this will be admitted of him by those who shall hereafter read Ixion, remains to be seen. In the meantime, as genius is as perfectly indicated in small things as in great ones, the critical reader is asked to say whether anything short of original genius could have produced the following couplets, which form one of a score of similar effusions in the remarkable work about to be described in detail. They consist of a duet between Mercury and Nubilis
(the waiting-maid of Juno), between whom certain love-passages are going on, subservient to Ixion’s flirtation with the Queen of Heaven, during the absence on earth (with similar designs) of her mighty lord and master. The lovers have had a little tiff, in consequence of some jealous suspicions on the part of the lady, and this duet signalises their reconciliation:

Mercury and Nubilis.

Merc.   The sun at Tyburn shall be hung—
Nub.   The man i’ th’ moon grow sick—
Merc.   The stars like bugles shall be strung—
Both.   Ere I my sweetheart trick.
Nub.   The ox shall carve the butcher up—
Merc.   The whitebait eat the trout;—
Nub.   And sparrows spawn, and fishes pup,—
Both.   Ere we will once fall out.”

If there is anything else in our language, within the same compass, that, for perfect originality of conception, startling strangeness of imagery, and breadth of humorous comicality, equals this, I have not met with it in a pretty extensive reading of such matters.


As will be guessed from what has been said in introducing the above verses, this piece turns on the well-known propensity of the Father of the Gods to occasionally disport himself (in flirtations and something worse) among the mere flesh-and-blood divinities of earth; and the fact (which had better be stated plainly at the outset) that it contains not a few passages, not merely of equivocal morality, but disfigured by a coarseness of expression not at present tolerated by “ears polite,” would alone be sufficient to prove that it belongs to a very early period of Sheridan’s literary career; for all his other works—even those which must have been written before he was one-and-twenty—are remarkably free from any offence in either of these particulars, and his great works—the two comedies—most so of all.* The charac-

* Whether, in “stripping vice of its coarseness,” and thus “depriving it of half its deformity,” Sheridan diminished either its prevalence or its danger, may be doubted. As a matter of taste merely, the school of dramatic writing to which the “School for Scandal” belongs, and of which it is incomparably the best specimen, was a vast improvement on that which preceded it. But those who are old enough to remember the atrocious system of

teristics that I have here noted will also be amply sufficient to account for this piece never having been brought upon the stage; for they are so inextricably interwoven with the structure of the work as to defy excision.

inuendo and double-entendre which marked so profusely all the successful specimens of the later era of that school, will scarcely dispute that, of the two, the open profligacy of Congreve and Wycherley was less dangerous to the social morality of the times respectively, and even less offensive to their good taste: for the brilliant seductions of the one might be guarded against or avoided; but the insidious approach and blighting influence of the other were more or less fatal wherever they penetrated.