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Sheridan was a remarkable instance of hereditary genius. His father, Thomas Sheridan (who was born at Quilca, in Cavan, in 1721, the descendant of the sept of O'Sheridan of Cavan), was the author of the well-known 'Dictionary,' and of the Life of Swift,' whose collected works he edited. He was an M.A. of Trinity College, Dublin ; took to the stage, making his first appearance at the theatre in Smock Alley, Dublin ; taught elocution ; became manager of Drury Lane; obtained a pension of £200 a year from Lord Bute. He married Frances, the authoress of 'Sidney Biddulph:—a novel much admired by Dr. Johnson—and other less known works. Thomas Sheridan was the son of Dr. Thomas Sheridan, who forfeited his appointment of Vice-regal Chaplain by preaching on the day of the anniversary of the succession of the House of Hanover from the text 'Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. He once had a great school in Dublin; was the intimate friend of Dean Swift; was slovenly, indigent, cheerful, good-natured, improvident; a punster, and a fiddler-a parson and schoolmaster by turns-a joker and fiddler always. He died in great poverty in Dublin, in 1738. The descendants of Richard Brinsley Sheridan-two of whom, Lady Dufferin and Hon. Mrs. Norton, we refer to subsequently—are living proofs of hereditary genius.
Sheridan's songs are full of beauty and tenderness, of gaiety and élan. Some of them are unsurpassed in lyric literature. The celebrated song-in 'The School for Scandal'—'Here's to the Maiden of Bashful Fifteen,' is evidently suggested by and framed on the song "A Health to the Nut-brown Lass' in Suckling's play of "The Goblins.' But all he touched he adorned in a manner solely his own. "He ran through each mode of
the lyre, and was master of all.' A just and delicate estimate of his genius will be found in Hazlitt; his songs speak for themselves.
There is one episode in Sheridan's life which his biographers overlook-his nomination as joint candidate with Mr. Colclough, of Tintern Abbey, for the representation of the county Wexford, at the general election of 1808. The facts of that contest, the mortal duel between Colclough and Alcock the rival candidate, are to be found in Barrington's "Sketches.' Needless to say that Colclough being killed, Sheridan was not elected
One final word: whatever the opinions may be of Sheridan's character, founded on his imprudence, extravagance, embarrassments, and unprincipledness, there can be but one opinion of his magnificent genius, and of the works that he has left as the perpetual delight of every generation. Yet Ireland has never done anything for his memory-no statue in a street, not even a tablet in a church. During his lifetime Ireland did something for him. “My old friend,' said Dr. Johnson, speaking of him, 'had been honoured with extraordinary attention in his own country by having had an exception made in his favour in an Irish Act of Parliament concerning Insolvent Debtors. Thus to be singled out by the Legislature as an object of public consideration and kindness is a proof of no common merit.' We will not dispute the attention, the consideration and kindness thus once shown him by his countrymen : we will merely observe that public money is yearly spent in Ireland on objects and projects far less creditable and honourable than that of erecting a public memorial to the greatest and most versatile Irishman of his day—the man of most varied, brilliant, and manifold gifts which Ireland has yet produced.
RICHARD ALFRED MILLIKEN, attorney-at-law, painter and musician from all of which pursuits he derived neither profit nor fame—wrote ‘The Groves of Blarney,' and brought to himself renown. The genesis of this celebrated and popular song is worth recording. At a gathering at a country seat, Castlehyde, in county Cork, an ambitious production of a local 'poet'-one of those strolling versifiers and ballad-singers who were peculiar to Ireland a century or so ago—was read and talked over after dinner. It was absurd in its expressions, confused in its ideas, and floundering in its facts; and Milliken undertook to write a song equal to it or excelling it in absurdity; and he wrote the famous 'Groves of Blarney.' He was a genial, jovial soul. Lysaght was ‘Pleasant Ned Lysaght' with his companions : Milliken was 'Honest Dick Milliken.' He was born in 1767 at Castle Martyr, in Cork; was an attorney, and tried to practise, but the business was not congenial, and so he spent his life in rhyming and painting and playing music, and delighting the social circles of Cork. He tried blank verse with indifferent success, and edited a monthly journalThe Casket—which disappeared in the troubles of 1798. He died the 16th of December, 1815, was buried at Douglas, near Cork, and was justly lamented as one of the many
brilliant men that Cork has contributed to the wit and literature of the kingdom.
CURRAN is remembered as the greatest forensic orator of a day when eloquent advocates were more plentiful than at present; and as a great wit, amongst great wits, rather than as a song-writer. He was Master of the Rolls in Ireland, but was no lawyer; he was a conspicuous member of the Irish Parliament, but no statesman. He was the most brilliant ornament in Irish society, the most popular man at the Irish Bar; a fearless advocate, a true patriot; and his last years were overclouded with domestic sorrow; his great genius drooped into a melancholy, and, hopeless and depressed, he saw his beloved Ireland 'like a bastinadoed elephant kneeling to receive the paltry rider.' Before he was forty years of age he was offered a judgeship and a peerage if he would take the Government side in the Regency Debate in the Irish Parliament, but resolutely refused to sell himself, his principles, and his honour. Throughout his life he was honest and uncorruptible amongst the corrupt and dishonest, and his last speech in Parliament, in 1797, was devcted to an endeavour to effect some reform in the Administration, and to stay the flood of venality, intrigue, and jobbery that so soon debauched the Irish Legislature. His speeches at the Bar are familiar to most readers; his jokes and witticisms are daily recounted, as fresh at present as when they were uttered. We have already quoted Byron's opinion of Sheridan; his opinion of Curran is likewise superlative in its laudation : 'Curran's the man who struck me most. Such imagination ! There never was anything like it that ever I saw or heard of. His published lise, his published speeches, give you no idea of the man-none at all. He was wonderful even to me, who had seen many remarkable men of the time. The riches of his Irish imagination were exhaustless. I heard him speak more poetry than I have ever seen written. I saw him presented to Madame de Staël, and they were both so ugly that I could not help wondering how the best intellects of France and Ireland could have taken up respectively such residences.' 'His imagination was infinite, his fancy boundless, his wit indefatigable,' says one who had a long and close intimacy with him, “and his person was mean and decrepit, very slight, very shapeless-spindle limbs, a shambling gait, one hand imperfect, and a face yellow and furrowed, rather flat, and thoroughly ordinary ; yet,' continues the writer, Sir Jonah Barrington, 'I never was so happy in the company of any man as in Curran's for many years.'
Personal defects amounting to deformity were no depreciation to the meteoric eloquence and marvellous wit. The flat yellow face was redeemed by his wondrous dark lustrous eyes.
But it is not as a master of eloquence or wit—as barrister or politician—that he here finds a place, but as a song-writer. He was not much of a poet, though his eloquence was all poetic, and though he wrote a most tender song, ‘Let us be merry before we go'—'The Deserter's Meditation, as he styled it—one that gave Byron the cue for one of his best songs.
He once asked Godwin what he thought of a certain jury-speech, not a brilliant one, he had made at the Carlow Assizes, and Godwin said, 'I never did hear anything so bad as your prose, Curran, except your poetry; a harsh misjudgment of both. He was not a splendid success in every species of literary and intellectual labour he engaged in: his songs are not extraordinarily good, but they