Moli re and Sheridan a Thesis for the Doctorate Presented to the Faculty of Letters (Classic Reprint)by James Mathewson Milne
Moore in his "Memoirs of Sheridan" writes: - "It would be a task not uninteresting to enter into a detailed comparison of the characteristics and merits of Mr. Sheridan, as a dramatic writer, with those of the other great masters of the art, and to consider
Excerpt from Moliére and Sheridan a Thesis for the Doctorate Presented to the Faculty of Letters
Moore in his "Memoirs of Sheridan" writes: - "It would be a task not uninteresting to enter into a detailed comparison of the characteristics and merits of Mr. Sheridan, as a dramatic writer, with those of the other great masters of the art, and to consider how far they differed or agreed with each other in the structure of their plots and management of their dialogue - in the mode of laying the train of their repartee, or pointing the artillery of their wit." It has been our endeavour in the following pages to trace such a comparison between Moliere and Sheridan, and also to show what direct influence the one can be said to have exercised on the other.
We are struck, in the first place, by the difference in the bulk of work done by the two men; but that is easily explained. Moliere was actor and dramatist all his life, "dying in harness," as the saying is. The stage was his profession from beginning to end, and latterly he was acting under singularly propitious conditions which favoured the production of a large amount of work in short time. The career of Sheridan as dramatist, on the other hand, ended at the very early age of twenty-nine. He wrote nothing for the stage after that, save his single tragedy, "Pizarro," but gave himself up to political life, where he shone with as great brilliance as he did as a dramatist. He was, indeed, connected with the stage to the end, being first part, and latterly whole, proprietor of Drury Lane Theatre. But he wrote nothing after the age of twenty-nine. His works are, therefore, exceedingly few compared with those of Moliere. Indeed, if we discard his tragedy and "A Trip to Scarborough," which is but a purified version of Vanbrugh's " Relapse," we are left with but five comedies to consider. The quantity may be small, but the quality is of the highest, and these five comedies will perpetuate the name of Sheridan in English literature as that of Moliere is perpetuated in French literature.
Moliere found in his surroundings all the materials required for his comedies. In the words of Meredith - "Politically, it is accounted a misfortune for France that her nobles thronged to the Court of Louis XIV. It was a boon to the comic poet.
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