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Full text of "Memoirs of the life of the Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan"

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COLLECTION 

OF 
ANCIENT AND MODERN 

BRITISH AUTHORS 



VOL. LXXIX. 



MEMOIRS OF THE LIFE 



OF THE RIGHT HONOURABLE 



RICHARD RRINSLEY SHERIDAN 



PRINTED BY CBAPELET, 9, HUE I)E VAUGIRARD. 



MEMOIRS OF THE LIFE 



OF THE RIGHT HONOURABLE 



RICHARD BRINSLEY 



SHERIDAN, 



THOMAS MOORE. 




PARIS, 

BAUDRY'S EUROPEAN LIBRARY, 

M I DC COQ, HEAR TBE LOUVRE. 

SOLD ALSO BY AMYOT, RUE DK LA PA!X ; TRUCHY, BOULEVARD DBS ITAL1ENS 

TIIKOPIIILE BARROIS, UN., RUE DE RICHELIEU ; LIBRAIR1E DES STRANGERS, 

55, RUE NEUVE SAIiYT-AUGUSTIN , AND FRENCH AND ENGLISH LIBRARY, 

RUE VWKNNB. 

1835. 



CONTENTS. 



'V 

PREFACE , Page i 

CHAPTER I. 
Birth and education of Mr. Sheridan. His first attempts in Literature. 5 

CHAPTER II. 
Duels with Mr. Mathews. Marriage with Miss Linley 5i 

CHAPTER HI. 

Domestic circumstances Fragments of Essays found among his papers. 
Comedy of " the Rivals." Answer to "Taxation no tyranny." 
Farce of " St. Patrick's day." 55 

CHAPTER IV. 

The Duenna. Purchase of Drury-Lane Theatre. The Trip to Scarbo- 
rough. Poetical Correspondence with Mrs. Sheridan 74 

CHAPTER V. 

The School for Scandal 99 

CHAPTER VI. 

Further Purchase of Theatrical property. Monody to the Memory of 
Garrick. Essay on metre The Critic. Essay on Absentees. Poli- 
tical Connections. The " Englishman. "-Elected for Staftbrd. . ia(i 

CHAPTER VII. 

Unfinished Plays and Poems i4(i 

CHAPTER VIII. 

His first Speeches in Parliament. Rockingham Administration. Coali- 
tion. India Bill. Re-elected for Stafford iGS 

CHAPTER IX. 

The Prince of Wales. Financial Measures. Mr. Pitt's East India Rill. 
Irish commercial Propositions. Plan of the Duke of Richmond. 
Sinking Fund ' ig5 



2OG0940 



VJ CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER X. 

Charges against Mr. Hastings. Commercial Treaty with France. Debts 
of the Prince of Wales ........ ............... 2i5 

CHAPTER XI. 

Impeachment of Mr. Hastings ..................... u5i 

CHAPTER XII. 

Death of Mr. Sheridan's Father. Verses by Mrs. Sheridan on the Death 
of her Sister, Mrs. Tickell ...................... 262 

CHAPTER XIII. 
Illness of the King. Regency. Private Life of Mr. Sheridan .... 270 

CHAPTER XIV. 

French Revolution. -Mr. Burke. His Breach with Mr. Sheridan. 
Dissolution of Parliament. Mr. Burke and Mr. Fox. Russian arma- 
ment. Royal Scotch Boroughs ................... 5o5 

CHAPTER XV. 

Death of Mrs. Sheridan ......................... 5a5 



CHAPTER XVI. 

Drury-Lane Theatre. Society of " the Friends of the People." Madame 
de Genlis. \\ ar with France. Whig Seceders Speeches in Par- 
liament. Death of Tickell ...................... 34i 

CHAPTER XVII. 

Speech in answer to Lord Mornington. Coalition of the Whig Seceders 
with Mr. Pitt. Mr. Canning. Evidence on the Trial of Home 
Tooke. The " Glorious First of June." Marriage of Mr. Sheridan. 
Pamphlet of Mr. Reeves. Debts of the Prince of Wales. -Shakspeare 
Manuscripts Trial of Stone. Mutiny at the Nore. Secession of 
Mr. Fox from Parliament ...................... 5(>7 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

Play of " The Stranger." Speeches inParliament. Pizarro. Ministry of 
Mr.Addington. French Institute. Negotiations with Mr Kemble. 58; 

CHAPTER XIX. 

Slate of Parties. Offer of a Place to Mr. T. Sheridan Receivership of 
the Duchy of Cornwall bestowed upon Mr. Sheridan. Return of 
Mr. Pitt to Power. Catholic question. Administration of Lord 
GrenvillcaudMr. Fox. Death of Mr. Fox. Representation of West- 
minster. Dismission of the Ministry. Theatrical Negotiation. 
Spanish Question. Letter to the Prince .............. 44 



CONTENTS. vij 

CHAPTER XX. 

Destruction of the Theatre of Drury-Lane by Fire. Mr. Whitbread. 
Plan for a Third Theatre. Illness of the King. Regency. Lord Grey 
.ind Lord Grenville. Conduct of Mr. Sheridan. His Vindication of 
himself. 43o 

CHAPTER XXI. 

Affairs of the new Theatre. Mr. Whitbread Negociations with Lord 
Grey and Lord Grenville. Conduct of Mr. Sheridan relative to the 
Household. His last Words in Parliament. Failure at Stafford. 
Correspondence with Mr. Whitbread. Lord Byron. Distresses of 
Sheridan. Illness. Death and Funeral. General Remarks. . . 44g 



PREFACE. 



THE first four Chapters of this work were written 
nearly seven years ago. My task was then suspended 
during a long absence from England ; and it was only in 
the course of the last year that I applied myself seriously 
to the completion of it. 

To my friend, Mr. Charles Sheridan, whose talents 
and character reflect honour upon a name already so 
distinguished , I am indebted for the chief part of the 
materials upon which the following Memoirs of his father 
are founded. I have to thank hjm, not only for this mark 
of confidence, but for the delicacy with which, though 
so deeply interested in the subject of my task , he has 
refrained from all interference with the execution of it; 
neither he, nor any other person, beyond the Printing- 
office , having ever read a single sentence of the work. 

I mention this, in order that the responsibility of any 
erroneous views or indiscreet disclosures, with which I 
shall be thought chargeable in the course of these pages, 
may not be extended to others, but rest solely with 
myself. 

The details of Mr. Sheridan's early life were obligingly 



* PREFACE. 

communicated to me by his younger sister Mrs. Lefanu , 
to whom, and to her highly gift d daughter, I offer my 
best thanks for the assistance which they have afforded 
me. 

The obligations, of a similar nature, which I owe to 
the kindness of Mr. William Linley, Doctor Bain , Mr. Bur- 
gess, and others, are acknowledged with due gratitude, 
in my remarks on their respective communications. 






MEMOIRS OF THE LIFE 

OF 

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE 

RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. 



CHAPTER I. 

Birth and education of Mr. Sheridan. His first attempts in Literature. 

RICHARD BRINSLEY ' SHERIDAN was born in the month of Sep- 
tember, 1751 , at No. 12, Dorset Street, Dublin , and baptised in 
St. Mary's Church , as appears by the register of the parish , on 
the fourth of the following month. His grandfather, Dr. Sheridan , 
and his father , Mr. Thomas Sheridan , have attained a celebrity , 
independent of that which he has conferred on them , by the friend- 
ship and correspondence with which the former was honoured by 
Swift , and the competition and even rivalry which the latter so long 
maintained with Garrick. His mother, too , was a woman of consi- 
derable talents, and affords one of the few instances that have occur- 
red, of a female indebted for a husband to her literature; as it was a 
pamphlet she wrote concerning the Dublin theatre that first attracted 
to her the notice of Mr. Thomas Sheridan. Her affecting novel , 
Sidney Riddulph , could boast among its warm panegyrists Mr. Fox 
and Lord North , and in the Tale of Nourjahad she has employed 
the graces of Eastern fiction to inculcate a grave and important 
moral , putting on a fairy disguise , like her own Mandane , to 
deceive her readers into a taste for happiness and virtue. Besides 
her two plays , The Discovery and the Dupe , the former of which 
Garrick pronounced to be " one of the best comedies he ever read," 
she wrote a comedy also , called the Trip to Bath , which was 
never either acted or published, but which has been supposed by 
some of those sagacious persons , who love to look for flaws in Hie 

' He was christened al&o Ly ihe name of Butler, after the Earl of Lanesborongli. 



4 MEMOIRS 

lilies of fame, to have passed, with her other papers , into the posses- 
sion of her son , and after a transforming sleep, like that of the chry- 
salis, in his hands, to have taken wing at lenglh in the brilliant 
form of The Rivals. The literary labours of her husband were less 
fanciful, but not, perhaps, less useful, and are chiefly upon sub- 
jects connected with cducalion , lo Ihe study and profession of which 
he devoted the latter part of his life. Such dignity, indeed, did his 
favourite pursuit assume in his own eyes, thai he is represented 
(on the authority, however, of one who was himself a schoolmaster) 
to have declared, that "he would rather see his two sons al the head 
of respectable academies , than one of them prime minister of Eng- 
land , and the other at the head of affairs in Ireland. 1 ' 

At the age of seven years , Richard Brinsley Sheridan was , with 
his elder brother, Charles Francis, placed under the tuition of 
Mr. Samuel Whyte, of Graflon Street , Dublin , an amiable and 
respectable man , who , for near fifty years after, continued at the 
head of his profession in that metropolis. To remember our school- 
days wilh gratitude and pleasure , is a tribule al once lo Ihe zeal 
and genllencss of our master, which none ever deserved more Iruly 
from his pupils than Mr. Whyle , and which the writer of these 
pages , who owes to lhal excellenl person all the instructions in 
English literature he has ever received , is happy to take this oppor- 
tunity of paying. The young Sheridans, however, were little more 
than a year under his care and it may be consoling to parents who 
are in the first crisis of impatience, at the sorl of hopeless slupidily 
which some children exhibil, lo know, lhat the dawn of Sheridan's 
intellect was as dull and unpromising as its meridian day was bright; 
nnd lhal in Ihe year 1759, he who, in less lhan Ihirty years after- 
wards , held senales enchained by his eloquence and audiences fas- 
cinated by his wil, was, by common consenl both of parent and pre- 
replor, pronounced lo be " a mosl impenetrable dunce." 

From Mr. Whyte's school Ihe boys were removed to England , 
where Mr. and Mrs. Sheridan had lately gone to reside , and in the 
year 1762 Richard was sent to Harrow Charles being kept al home 
as a filter subject for the inslruclions of his father, who, by another 
of Ihose calculations of poor human foresight , which the deity , 
called Evenlus by Ihe Romans , lakes such wanlon pleasure in fal- 
sifying , considered his elder son as deslined lo be Ihe brighter of 
Ihe Iwo stars. At Harrow, Richard was remarkable only as a very 
idle , careless, but, at the same time, engaging boy, who conlrived 
to win Ihe affeclion , and even admiralion , of Ihe whole school , 
both masters and pupils , by Ihe mere charm of his frank and genial 
manners, and by Ihe occasional gleams of superior inlellecl , which 
broke Ihrough all the indolence and indifference of his character. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 6 

Harrow , at this time , possessed some peculiar advantages , of 
which a youth like Sheridan might have powerfully availed himself. 
At the head of the school was Doctor Robert Sumner, a man of fine 
talents, but unfortunately one of those who have passed away with- 
out leaving any trace behind, except in the admiring recollection of 
their contemporaries. His taste is said to have been of a purity al- 
most perfect, combining what are seldom seen together, that critical 
judgment which is alive to the errors of genius , with the warm sen- 
sibility that deeply feels its beauties. At the same period, the distin- 
guished scholar, Dr. Parr, who, to the massy erudition of a former 
age , joined all the free and enlightened intelligence of the present , 
was one of the under-masters of the school-, and both he and 
Dr. Sumner endeavoured , by every method they could devise , to 
awaken in Sheridan a consciousness of those powers which , under 
all the disadvantages of indolence and carelessness, it was manifest 
to them that he possessed. But remonstrance and encouragement 
were equally thrown away upon the good-humoured but immove- 
able indifference of their pupil-, and though there exist among 
Mr. Sheridan's papers some curious proofs of an industry in study 
for which few have ever given him credit, they are probably but 
the desultory efforts of a later period of his life , to recover the loss 
of that first precious time , whose susceptibility of instruction , as 
well as of pleasure , never comes again. 

One of the most valuable acquisitions he derived from Harrow 
was that friendship, which lasted throughout his life, with Dr. Parr, 
which mutual admiration very early began , and the " idem sen- 
tire de re publicd ," of course , not a little strengthened. 

As this learned and estimable man has , within the last few weeks , 
left a void in the world which will not be easily filled up, I feel that 
it would be unjust to my readers not to give, in his own words, the 
particulars of Sheridan's school-days , with which he had the kind- 
ness to favour me , and to which his name gives an authenticity and 
interest too valuable on such a subject to be withheld : 

" DEAR SIR , * Hatton , August 3 , 1818. 

" With the aid of a scribe I sit down to fulfil my promise about Mr. 
Sheridan. There \vas little in his boyhood worth communication. He was 
inferior to many of his school-fellows in the ordinary business of a school, 
and I do not remember any one instance in which he distinguished him- 
self by Latin or English composition , in prose or verse '. Nathaniel Hal- 
hed , one of his school-fellows, wrote well in Latin and Greek. Richard 
Archdall, another school - fellow , excelled in English verse. Richard- 

1 li \\ill be been , however, though Dr. Pan was not aware of the circumstance, 
''.it Sheridan did try his talent at English verse before he left Harrow. 



6 MEMOIRS 

Sheridan aspired to no rivalry with either of them. He was at the upper- 
most part of the fifth form , but he never reached the sixth , and if 1 
mistake not, he had no opportunity of attending the most difficult, and 
the most honourable of school business, when the Greek plays were taught 
and it was the custom at Harrow to teach these at least every year. He 
went through his lessons in Horace, and Virgil, and Homer well enough 
for a time. But in the absence of the upper master, Doctor Sunmer , it 
once fell in my way to instruct the two upper forms , and upon calling 
up Dick Sheridan , I louud him not only slovenly in construing , but unu- 
sually defective in his Greek grammar. Knowing him to be a clever fel- 
low, I did not fail to probe and to teaze him. I stated his case with great 
good-humour to the upper master, who was one of the best tempered 
men in the world ; and it was agreed between us , that Richard should be 
called oftener and worked more severely. The varlet was not suffered to 
stand up in his place ; but was summoned to take his station near the 
master's table , where the voice of no prompter could reach him ; add , in 
this defenceless condition he was so harassed , that he at last gathered up 
some grammatical rules , and prepared himself for his lessons. While this 
tormenting process was inflicted upon him, I now and then upbraided 
him. But you will take notice that he did not incur any corporal punish- 
ment for his idleness : his industry was just sufficient to protect him from 
disgrace. All the while Sumner and I saw in him vestiges of a superior 
intellect. His eye, his countenance, his general manner, were striking. 
His answers to any common question were prompt and acute. We knew 
the esteem, and even admiration which, somehow or other, all his 
school- fellows felt for him. He was mischievous enough , but his pranks 
were accompanied by a sort of vivacity and cheerfulness, which delighted 
Sumner and myself. I had much talk with him about his apple-loft, for 
the supply of which all the gardens in the neighbourhood were taxed , 
and some of the lower boys were employed to furnish it. I threatened , 
but without asperity, to trace the depredators, through his associates, up 
to their leader. He with perfect good-humour set me at defiance, and 
I never could bring the charge home to him. All boys and all masters 
were pleased with him. I often praised him as a lad of great talents, 
often exhorted him to use them well ; i>ut my exhortations were fruit- 
less. I take for granted that his taste was silently improved, and that 
he knew well the little which he did know. He was removed from school 
loo soon by his father, who was the intimate friend of Sumner, and 
whom I often met at his house. Sumner had a fine voice, fine ear, fine 
taste, and, therefore, pronunciation was frequently the favourite subject 
between him and Tom Sheridan. I was present at many of their discus- 
sions and disputes; and sometimes took a very active part in them , but 
Richard was not present. The father, you know, was a wrong-headed, 
whimsical man , and, perhaps, his scanty circumstances were one of the 
reasons which prevented him from sending Richard to the University. 
He must have been aware, as Sumner and I were, that Richard's mind 
was not cast in any ordinary mould. I ought to have told you that Richard 
when a boy was a great reader of English poetry ; but his exercises afford- 
ed no proof of his proficiency. In truth, he , as a boy, was quite careless 
about literary fame. I should suppose that his father, without any re- 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 7 

gular system, polished his taste, and supplied his memory with anecdotes 
about our best writers in our Augustan age. The grandfather, you 
know, lived familiarly with Swift. I have heard of him, as an excellent 
scholar. His boys in Ireland once performed a Greek play, and when Sir 
William Jones and 1 were talking over this event, I determined to make 
the experiment in England. I selected some of my best boys, and they 
performed the OEdipus Tyrannus, and the Trachinians of Sophocles. I 
\vrote some Greek Iambics to vindicate myself from the imputation of 
singularity, and grieved I am that I did not keep a copy of them. Milton, 
you may remember, recommends what I attempted. 

'* I saw much of Sheridan's father after the death of Sumner, and after 
my own removal from Harrow to Stanmer. I respected him, he really 
liked me, and did me some important services, but I never met him and 
Richard together. I often enquired about Richard , and , from the fa- 
ther's answers , found they were not upon good terms , but neither he 
nor I ever spoke of his son's talents but in terms of the highest praise." 

In a subsequent letter Dr. Parr says : 

" I referred you to a passage in the Gentleman's Magazine, where I 
am represented as discovering and encouraging in Richard Sheridan 
those intellectual powers, which had not been discovered and encouraged 
by Sumner. But the statement is incorrect. We both of us discovered 
talents, which neither of us could bring into action while Sheridan was 
a school-boy. He gave us few opportunities of praise in the course of his 
school-business, and yet he was well aware that we thought highly of 
him, and anxiously wished more to+e done by him than he was dis- 
posed to do. 

" I once or twice met his mother, she was quite celestial. Both her 
virtues and her genius were highly esteemed by Robert Sumner. I know 
not whether Tom Sheridan found Richard tractable in the art of speak- 
ing, and, upon such a subject, indolence or indifference would have 
been resented by the father as crimes quite inexpiable. One of Richard's 
sisters now and then visited Harrow, and well do I remember that, in 
the house where I lodged, she triumphantly repeated Dryden's Ode upon 
St. Cecilia's Day, according to the instruction given to her by her father. 
Take a sample : 

None but the brave , 
None but the brave , 
None but the brave deserve the fair. " 

Whatever may have been the zeal or the proficiency of the sister, naughty 
Richard, like Gallio, seemed to care nought for these things. 

" In the later periods of his life Richard did not cast behind him clas- 
sical reading. He spoke copiously and powerfully about Cicero. He had 
read, and he had understood, the four orations of Demosthenes read and 
taught in our public schools. He was at home in Virgil and in Horace. I 
cannot speak positively about Homer, but I am very sure that he read 
the Iliad now and then; not as a professed scholar would do, critically, 
but with all the strong sympathies of a poet reading a poet '. Richard 

1 II was not oue of the least of the liiunij>hs of Sheridan's talent, to hav* been 



8 MEMOIRS 

did not , and could not forget what he once knew, but his path to know- 
ledge was his own , his steps were noiseless, his progress was scarcely 
felt by himself, his movements were rapid but irregular. 

" Let me assure you that Richard, when a boy, was by no means vi- 
cions. The sources of his infirmities were a scanty and precarious allow- 
ance from the father, the want of a regular plan for some profession , 
and, above all, the act of throwing him upon the town, when he ought 
to have been pursuing his studies at the University. He would have done 
little among mathematicians at Cambridge ; he would have been a rake, 
or an idler, or a trifler, at Dublin ; but I am inclined to think that at 
Oxford he would have become an excellent scholar. 

"I have now told you all that I know, and it amounts to very little. 1 
am very solicitous for justice to be done to Robert Sumner. He is one of 
the six or seven persons among my own acquaintance , whose taste I am 
accustomed to consider perfect, and were he living, his admiration * 



During the greater part of Richard's stay at Harrow, his father 
had been compelled by the embarrassment of his affairs to reside 
with the remainder of the family in France , and it was at Blois , in 
the September of 1766, that Mrs. Sheridan died leaving behind 
her that best kind of fame , which results from a life of usefulness 
and purity, and which it requires not the aid of art or eloquence to 
blazon. She appears to have been one of those rare women, who , 
united to men of more prelAsions but less real intellect than 
themselves , meekly conceal this superiority even from their own 
hearts , and pass their lives , without a remonstrance or murmur, 
in gently endeavouring to repair those evils which the indiscretion 
or vanity of their partners has brought upon them. 

As a supplement to (he interesting communication of Doctor 
Parr, I shall here subjoin an extract from a letter, which the eldest 
sister of Sheridan , Mrs. E. Lefanu , wrote a few months after his 
death to Mrs. Sheridan , in consequence of a wish expressed by the 
tatter, that Mrs. Lefanu would communicate such particulars as she 
remembered of his early days. It will show, too, the feeling which 
his natural good qualities , in spite of the errors by which they were 
obscured and weakened , kept alive to the last , in the hearts of 
those connected with him, that sort of retrospective affection, 
which , when those whom we have loved become altered , whether 
in mind or person, brings the recollection of what they once were, 
to mingle with and soften our impression of what they are. 

able to persuade so acute a scholar as Dr. Parr, that the extent of his classical 
acquirements was so great as is here represented , and to have thus impressed with* 
the idea of his remembering so much, the person who best knew how lillle he 
had learned. 

1 The remainder of ihe letter relates to other subjects. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN 

After giving an account of the residence of the family in France , 
she continues : 

" We returned to England, when I may say I first became acquainted 
with my brother for faint and imperfect were my recollections of him, 
as might be expected from my age. I saw him; and my childish attach- 
ment revived with double force. He was handsome, not merely in the 
eyes of a partial sister, but generally allowed to be so. His cheeks had the 
glow of health, his eyes the finest in the world the brilliancy of ge- 
nius, and were soft as a tender and affectionate heart could render them. 
The same playful fancy, the same sterling and innoxious wit, that was 
shown afterward! in his writings, cheered and delighted the family circle. 
I admired I almost adored him. I would most willingly have sacri- 
ficed my life for him, as I, in some measure, proved to him at Bath, 
where we resided for some time, and where events that you must have 
heard of engaged him in a duel. My father's displeasure threatened to 
involve me in the denunciations against him, for committing what he 
considered as a crime. Yet I risked everything, and in tine event was 
made happy by obtaining forgiveness for my brother. * * * * You may 
perceive , dear sister, that very little indeed have I to say on a subject so 
near your heart, and near mine also. That for years I lost sight of a 
brother whom I loved with unabated affection a love that neither ab- 
sence or neglect could chill, Lafways consider as a great misfortune." 



On his leaving Harrow, where he continued till near his eighteenth 
year, he was brought home by his father, who, with the elder son , 
Charles, had lately returned from France, and taken a house in 
London. Here the two brothers for some time received private tui- 
tion from Mr. Lewis Ker , an Irish gentleman , who had formerly 
practised as a physician , but having , by loss of health , been obliged 
to give up his profession , supported himself by giving lessons in 
Latin and Mathematics. They attended also the fencing and riding- 
schools of Mr. Angelo , and received instructions from their father 
in English grammar and oratory. Of this advantage , however, it is 
probable, only the elder son availed himself, as Richard, who seems 
to have been determined to owe all his excellence to nature alone, 
was found as impracticable a pupil at home as at school. But, how- 
ever inattentive to his studies he may have been at Harrow, it ap- 
pears, from one of the letters of his school-fellow, Mr. Halhed, 
that , in poetry, which is usually the first exercise in which these 
young alhleta3 of intellect try their strength , he had already distin- 
guished himself and , in conjunction with his friend Halhed , had 
translated the seventh Idyl, and many of the lesser poems of Theo- 
critus. This literary partnership was resumed soon after their de- 
parture from Harrow. In the year 1770, when Halhed was at Oxford, 
and Sheridan residing with his father at Bath , Ihey entered into a 
< orrespondence (of which unluckily only Halhed's share remains), 



10 MEMOIRS 

and , with all the hope and spirit of young adventurers , began and 
prosecuted a variety of works together, of which none but their 
translation of Aristaenetus ever saw the light. 

There is something in the aUiance between these boys peculiarly 
interesting. Their united ages , as Halhed boasts in one of his let- 
ters, did not amount to thirty-eight. They were both abounding in 
wit and spirits , and as sanguine as the consciousness of talent and 
youth could make them ; both inspired with a taste for pleasure , 
and thrown upon their own resources for the means of gratifying it ; 
both carelessly embarking, without rivalry or reserve , their venture 
of fame in the same bottom, and both, as Halhed discovered at last, 
passionately in love with the same woman. 

It would have given me great pleasure to have been enabled to 
enliven my pages with even a few extracts from that portion of their 
correspondence , which , as I have just mentioned , has fallen into 
my hands. There is in the letters of Mr. Halhed a fresh youthfulness 
of style , and an unaffected vivacity of thought , which I question 
whether even his witty correspondent could have surpassed. As I 
do not, however, feel authorised to lay these letters before the world, 
1 must only avail myself of the afll which their contents supply , 
towards tracing the progress of his wlrary partnership with Sheri- 
dan , and throwing light on a period so full of interest in the life of 
the latter. 

Their first joint production was a farce , or rather play , in three 
acts, called "Jupiter," written in imitation of the burletla of 
Midas , whose popularity seems to have tempted into its wake a 
number of these musical parodies upon heathen fable. The amour 
of Jupiter with Major Amphitryon's wife, and Sir Richard Ixion's 
courtship of Juno, who substitutes Miss Peggy Nubilis in her 
place , form the subject of this ludicrous little drama , of which 
Halhed furnished the burlesque scenes , while the form of a re- 
hearsal , into which the whole is thrown , and which , as an antici- 
pation of "The Critic," is highly curious, was suggested and 
managed entirely fay Sheridan. The following extracts will give 
some idea of the humour of this trifle ; and in the character of Simile 
the reader will at once discover a sort of dim and shadowy prc- 
cxistence of Puff : 

" Simile. Sir, you are very ignorant on the subject, it is the method 
most in vogue. 

" O'Cul. What! to .make the music first, and then make the sense lo 
it afterwards ! 

" Sim. Just so. 

" Monop. What Mr, Simile says is very true , gentlemen ; and there is 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. II 

nothing surprising in it, if we consider now the general method of wri- 
ting plays to scenes. 

" O'Cul. Writing plays to scenes ! oh , you are joking. 

" Monop. Not I, upon my word. Mr. Simile knows that I have fre- 
quently a complete set of scenes from Italy, and then I have nothing to 
do but to get some ingenious hand to write a play to them. 

" Sim. I am your witness, Sir. Gentlemen, you perceive you know 
nothing about these matters. 

" O'Cul. Why, Mr. Simile , I don't pretend to know much relating 
to these affairs ; but what I think is this , that in this method , according 
to your principles , you must often commit blunders. 

" Sim. Blunders ! to be sure I must, but I always could get myself out 
of them again. Why, I'll tell you an instance of it. You must know I 
was once a journeyman sonnet- writer to Signer Squallini. Now, his me- 
thod , when seized with the furor harmonicas was constantly to make me 
sit by his side , while he was thrumming on his harpsichord , in order 
to make extempore verses to whatever air he should beat out to his liking. 
I remember , one morning , as he was in this situation , thrum, thrum , 
thrum, (moving his fingers as if beating on the harpsichord], striking out 
something prodigiously great, as he thought , ' Hah ! ' said he , 'hah ! 
Mr. Simile , thrum , thrum j thrum, by gar, here is vary fine, thrum , 
thrum , thrum , write me some words directly.' I durst not interrupt 
him to ask on what subject, so instantly began to describe a fine morning. 

" 'Calm was the laud aud calm the seas , 

And calm the heaven's dome serene, 
Husb'd was the gale and hush'dthe breeze; 
And not a vapour to be seen.' " 

I sang it to his notes.' Hah ! ' upon my word vary pritt, thrum, thrum, 
thrum, slay, stay, thrum, thrum. Hoa! upon my word, here it must 
be an adagio, thrum, thrum, oh ! let it be an Ode to Melancholy. 

" Monop. The Devil! there you were puzzled sure. 

** Sim. Not in the least , I brought in a cloud in the next stanza, and 
matters, you see, came about at once. 

" Monop. An excellent transition ! 

" O'Cul. Vastly ingenious indeed! 

" Sim. Was it not? hey ! it required a little command , a little pre- 
sence of mind, but I believe we had better proceed. 

" Monop. The sooner the better, come, gentlemen, resume your 
seats. 

" Sim. Now for it. Draw up the curtain, and (looking at his book) enter 
Sir Richard Ixion, but stay, zounds , Sir Richard ought to over-hear 
Jupiter and his wife quarrelling, but, never mind, these accidents have 
spoilt the division of my piece. So enter Sir Richard , and look as 
cunning as if you had overheard them. Now for it, gentlemen, you 
can't be too attentive. 

Enter Sir RICHARD IXION, completely dressed, with bag , sword, etc. 

" Ix. 'Fore George, at logger-heads, a lucky minute , 
i'on honour, 1 may make my market in it. 



12 MEMOIRS 

Dem it, my air, address , and mien must toucli her , 

JNow out of sorts with him, less God than butcher. 

O rat the fellow, where can all his sense lie, 

To gallify the lady so immensely ? 

Ah ! le grand bete qu'il eat ! how rude the bear is ! 

The world to two-pence he was ne'er at Paris. 

Perdition stap my vitals, now or never 

I'll niggle snugly into Juno's favour. 

Let's see, (looking in a glass) my 'face, toll loll 'twill work upon hci 

My person oh, immense, upon my honour. 

My eyes, oh fie, the naughty glass it flatters, 

Courage, Ixion flogs the world to tatters. [ Exit Ixion. 

" Sim. There is a fine gentleman for you, in the very pink of the 
mode, with not a single article about him his own, his words pilfered 
from Magazines , his address from French valets, and his clothes not paid 
for. 

" Macd. But pray, Mr. Simile, how did Ixion get into heaven? 

" Sim. Why, Sir, what's that to any body ? perhaps by Salrnoneus's 
Brazen Bridge, or the Giant's Mountain, or the Tower of Babel, or on 
Theobald's bull-dogs, or who the devil -cares how? he is there and 
that's enough." 



Song by JUPITER. 
" You dogs , I'm Jupiter Imperial , 
Kiug, Emperor, and Pope aetherial , 
Master of tli' Ordnance of the sky. 

" Sim. 'L ds , where's the ordnance? Have you forgot the pistol ? 
( to the Orchestra. } 

" Orchestra (to some oncbclund the. scenes}. Tom, are you not pre- 
pared ? 

" Tom (from behind the .-scenes). Yes, sir, but I flash'd in the pan a little 
out of time, and had I staid to prime, I should have shot a bar too late. 

" Sim. Oil then, Jupiter, begin the song again. We must not lose 
our ordnance. 

" You dogs, I'm Jupiter Imperial, 
Kiug, Emperor, and Pope aetherial , 

Master of th' Ordnaoceof the sky; etc., etc. 

[ Here a pistol or cracker is fired from behind the scenes. 

11 Sim. This hint I took from Handel. Well , how do you think we 
go on ? 

" O'Cul. With vast spirit, the plot begins to thicken. 

" Sim. Thicken! aye, 'twill be as thick as the calf of your leg pre- 
sently. Well, now for the real, original, patentee Amphitryon. What, 
ho, Amphitryon! Amphitryon ! 'tis Simile calls. Why^ where the devil 
is he? 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. n 

^ Enter SERVANT. 

Tom, \vherc is Amphitryon? 
" Sim. Zounds, he's not arrested too, is he? 

" Sen>. No, Sir ; hut there was but one black eye in the house , and 
lie is waiting to get it from Jupiter. 

" Sim. To geta black eye from Jupiter, -oh, this will never do. "Why, 
when they meet, they ought to match like two beef-eaters." 

According to their original plan for the conclusion of this farce , 
all things were at last to be compromised between Jupiter and Juno 
Amphitryon was to be comforted in the birft of so mighty a son ; 
Ixion , for his presumption , instead of being fixed to a torturing 
wheel , was to have been fixed to a vagrant monotroche , as knife- 
grinder, and a grand chorus of deities (intermixed with " knives , 
scissors, pen-knives to grind, 1 ' set to music as nearly as possible 
to the natural cry ,) would have concluded the whole. 

That habit of dilatoriness , which is too often attendant upon 
genius, and which is for ever making it, like the pistol in the 
scene just quoted, " shoot a bar too late," was, through life, re- 
markable in the character of Mr. Sheridan , and we have here an 
early instance of its influence over him. Though it was in August, 
1770, that he received the sketch of this piece from his friend, 
and though they both looked forward most sanguinely to its suc- 
cess , as likely to realize many a dream of fame and profit, it was 
not till the month of May in the subsequent year , as appears by a 
letter from Mr. Ker to Sheridan , that the probability of the arrival 
of the manuscript was announced to Mr. Foote. " I have dispatched 
a card, as from H. H., at Owen's Coffee-house, to Mr. Foote, to 
inform him that he may expect to see your dramatic piece about 
the 25th instant." 

Their hopes and fears in this theatrical speculation are very na- 
turally and livelily expressed throughout Halhed's letters, sometimes 
with a degree of humorous pathos , which is interesting as charac- 
teristic of both the writers \ " The thoughts ," he says , " of 200/. 
shared between us are enough to bring the tears into one's eyes." 

Sometimes , he sets more moderate limits to their ambition , and 
hopes that they will, at least, get the freedom of the play-house by 
it. But at all times he chides, with good-humoured impatience, the 
tardiness of his fellow-labourer in applying to the managers. Fears 
are expressed that Foote may have made other engagements , and 
that a piece , called " Dido," on the same mythological plan , which 
had lately been produced with but little success , might prove an 
obstacle to the reception of theirs. At Drury Lane , too , they had 
little hopes of a favourable hearing , as Dibdin was one of the prin- 
cipal butts of their ridicule. 



H MEMOIRS 

The summer season , however, was suffered to pas^away without 
an effort; and in October, 1771 , we flnd Mr. Halhed flattering 
himself with hopes from a negotiation with Mr. Garrick. It does 
not appear , however , that Sheridan ever actually presented this 
piece to any of the managers 5 and indeed it is probable , from the 
following fragment of a scene found among his papers , that he soon 
abandoned the ground- work of Halhed altogether , and transferred 
his plan of a rehearsal to some other subject, of his own invention 
and , therefore , more worthy of his wit. It will be perceived that 
the puffing author wdfe here intended to be a Scotchman. 

" M. Sir, I have read your comedy, and I think it has infinite merit ; 
but, pray, don't you think it rather grave? 

** S. Sir, you say true ; it is a grave comedy. I follow the opinion of 
Longinus who says comedy ought always to be sentimental. Sir, I value , 
a sentiment of six lines in my piece no more than a nabob does a rupee. I 
hate those dirty, paltry equivocations, which go by the name of puns, and 
pieces of wit. No, Sir, it ever was my opinion that the stage should be a 
place of rational entertainment ; instead of which, I am very sorry to say, 
most people go there for their diversion : accordingly, I have formed my 
comedy so that it is no laughing, giggling piece of work. He must be 
a very light man that shall discompose his muscles from the beginning to 
the end. 

" M. But don't you think it may be too grave ? 

" S. O never fear ; and as for hissing, mon, they might as well hiss 
the common prayer-book; for there is the viciousness of vice and the 
virtuousness of virtue in every third line. 

" M. I confess there is a great deal of moral in it ; but, Sir, I should 
imagine if you tried your hand at tragedy 

" S. No, mon , there you are out, and I'll relate to you what put me 
first on writing a comedy. You must know I had composed a very fine 
tragedy about the valiant Bruce. I showed it my Laird of Mackintosh, and 
he was a very candid mon , and he said my genius did not lie in tragedy : 
I took the hint, and, as soon as I got home, began my comedy. " 

We have here some of the very thoughts and words that afterwards 
contributed to the fortune of Puff ; and it is amusing to observe how 
long this subject was played with by the current of Sheridan's fancy , 
till at last, like " a stone of lustre from the brook," it came forth 
with all that smoothness and polish which it wears in his inimitable 
farce , The Critic. Thus it is , too , and but little to the glory of 
what are called our years of discretion , that the life of the man is 
chiefly employed in giving effect to the wishes and plans of the boy. 

Another of their projects was a Periodical Miscellany , the idea of 
which originated with Sheridan, and whose first embryo movements 
we trace in a letter to him from Mr. Lewis Ker , who undertook 
with much good nature the negotiation of the young author's literary 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. IS 

concerns in London. The leller is dated 30lh of October, 1770. 
" As ID your intended periodical paper, if it meets \vith success , 
there is no doubt of profit accruing, as I have already engaged a 
publisher of established reputation to undertake it for the account of 
I he authors. But I am to indemnify him in case it should not sell, 
;md to advance part of the first expense , all which I can do without 
applying to Mr. Ewart." " I would be glad to know what stock 
of papers you have already written , as there ought to be ten or a 
dozen at least finished before you print any , in order to have time 
to prepare the subsequent numbers , and ensure a continuance of 
I lie work. As to the coffee-houses , you must not depend on their 
taking it in at first, except you go on the plan of the Taller, and 
give the news of the week. For the first two or three weeks the 
expense of advertising will certainly prevent any profit being made. 
But when that is over , if a thousand are sold weakly , you may 
reckon on receiving 5Z. clear. One paper a-week will do belter than 
two. Pray say no more as to our accounts." 

The litle intended by Sheridan for this paper was " Hernan's 
Miscellany ," to which his friend Halhed objected , and suggested 
"The Reformer," as a newer and more significant name. But, 
though Halhed appears to have sought among his Oxford friends 
for an auxiliary or two in their weekly labours, this meditated 
Miscellany never proceeded beyond the first number , which was 
written by Sheridan , and which I have found among his papers. 
It is loo diffuse and pointless to be 'given entire; but an extract or 
two from it will not be unwelcome to those who love to trace even 
the first , feeblest beginnings of genius. 

HERNAN'S MISCELLANY. 

No. I. 

" I will sit down and write for the good of the people for (said I to 
myself, pulling off my spectacles, and drinking up the remainder of my 
sixpen'worth ) it cannot be but people must be sick of these same rascally 
politics. All last winter nothing but God defend me! 'tis tiresone to 
think of it.' I immediately flung the pamphlet down on the table, and 
raking my hat and cane walked out of the coffee-house. 

" I kept up as smart a pace as I could all the way home, for 1 felt 
mj self full of something, and enjoyed my own thoughts so much , thai 
I was afraid of digesting them , lest any should escape me. At last I 
knocked at my own door. ' So!' said Itothe niaid who opened it (for 1 
never would keep a man ; not, but what I could afford it bowever, the 
reason is not material now, ) 'So ! ' said I with an unusual smile upon my 
lace, and immediately sent her for a quire of paper and half a hundred 
>f pens the only thing 1 had absolutely determined on in mv \vnv from 
the coffee-house. I had now got seated in my arm-chair, I am an infirm 



16 MEMOIRS 

old man, and I live on a second floor, when I began to ruminate on my 
project. The first thing that occurred to me ( and certainly a very natural 
one) was to examine my common-place book. So I went to my desk and 
took out my old faithful red-leather companion, who had long discharged 
the office of treasurer to all my best hints and memorandums : but, 
how was I surprised when one of the first things that struck my eyes was 
the following memorandum legibly written, and on one of my best sheets 
of vellum : ' Mem. Oct. 2O//1 , 1769, left the Grecian, after having 

read 's Poems , with a determined resolution tn write a Periodical 

Paper, in order io reform the vitiated taste of the age; but coming home 
and finding my fire out, and my maid gone abroad , was obliged to 
defer the execution of my plan to another opportunity.' Now though 
this event had absolutely slipped my memory, 1 now recollected it perfect- 
ly, ay, so my fire.wa,y out indeed, and my maid did go abroad sure 
enough. 'Good Heavens ! ' said I, 'how great events depend upon little 
circumstances ! ' However , I looked upon this as a mernent? for me no 
longer to trifle away my time and resolution, and thus I began to reason, 
I mean , I would have reasoned, had I not been interrupted by a noise 
of some one coming up stairs. By the alternate thump upon the steps, I 
soon discovered it must be my old and intimate friend Rudliche. 

"But, to return, in walked Rudliche. 'So, Fred.' 'So, Bob.' 
'Were you at the Grecian to-day?'-' I just stepped in.' ' Well, 
any news?' No, no, there was no news.' Now, as Bob and I saw one 
another almost every day, we seldom abounded in conversation; so, 
having settled one material point, he sat in his usual posture, looking at 
the fire and beating the dust out of his wooden leg, when I perceived he 
was going to touch upon the other subject; but, having by chance cast 
his eve ou my face, and finding ( I suppose) something extraordinary in 
my countenance, he immediately dropped all concern for the weather, 
and putting his hand into his pocket ( as if he meant to find what he was 
going to say, under pretence of feeling for his tobacco-box), ' Hernan! 
(be began) why, man, you look for all the world as if you had been 
thinking of something.' ' Yes/ replied I, smiling ( that is, not actually 
smiling, but with a conscious something in my face) , ' I have, indeed , 
been thinking a little.' ' What, is't a secret?' 'Oh, nothing very 
material.' Here ensued a pause, which I employed in considering whether 
I should reveal my scheme to Bob; and Bob in trying to disengage his 
thumb from the string of his cane, as if he were preparing to take his 
leave. This latter action , with the great desire I had of disburdening 
myself, made me instantly resolve to lay my whole plan before him. ' Bob, 
said I ( he immediately quitted his thumb) , you remarked that I looked 
as if I had been thinking of something, your remark is just , and I'll tell 
you the subject of my thought. You know, Bob, that I always had a strong 
passion for literature : you have often seen my collection of books , not 
very large indeed ; however I believe I have read every volume of it twice 

over ( excepting '.? Divine Legation of Moses , and '.? Lives of the 

most notorious Malefactors'), and I am now determined to profit by 
them.' I concluded with a very significant nod; but, good heavens! 
how mortified was I to find both my speech and my nod thrown away, 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 17 

when lUulliche calmly replied , \\ith the true phlegm of ignorance^, ' My 
dear friend , 1 think your resolution in regard to your books a very pru- 
dent one ; hut I do not perfectly conceive your plan as to the profit ; for , 
I .hough your volumes may be very curious, yet you know they are most 
of them second-hand.' 1 was so vexed with the fellow's stupidity that I 
had a great mind to punish him by not disclosing a syllable more. 
However , at last my vanity got the better of my resentment , and I ex- 
plained to him the whole matter. *****.** 
" In examining the beginning of the Spectators, etc. I find they are all 
written by a society. Now I profess tV> write all myself, though I ac- 
knowledge that , on account of a weakness in my eyes , I have got some 
under-strappers who are to write the poetry, etc. ... In order to find 
the different merits of these my subalterns, I stipulated with them that, 
they should let me feed them as I would. This they consented to do , and 
it is surprising to thirik what different effects diet has on the writers. The 
same who, after having been fed two days upon artichokes, produced as 
pretty a copy of verses as ever I saw , on beef was as dull as ditchwater. 



" It is a characteristic of fools ," says some one , " to be always 
beginning," and this is not the only point in which folly and 
genius resemble each other. So chillingly indeed do the difficulties 
of execution succeed to the first ardour of conception , that it is 
only wonderful there should exist so many finished monuments of 
genius , or that men of fancy should not oflener have contented 
themselves with those first , vague sketches, in the production of 
which the chief luxury of intellectual creation lies. Among the many 
literary works shadowed out by Sheridan at this lime , were a Col- 
lection of Occasional Poems , and a volume of Crazy Tales , to the 
former of which Halhed suggests, that " the old things they did at 
Harrow out of Theocritus " might , with a litlle pruning , form a 
useful contribution. The loss of the volume of Crazy Tales is little 
to be regretted , as from its title we may conclude it was written in 
imitation of the clever, but licentious productions of John Hall 
Stephenson. If the same kind oblivion had closed over the levities 
of oilier young authors , who , in the season of folly and the pas- 
sions , have made their pages the transcript of their lives , it would 
have been equally fortunate for themselves and the world. 

But , whatever may have been the industry of Ihese youthful au- 
thors , the translation of Arislaenetus , as I have already slated , was 
the only fruit of their literary alliance that ever arrived at sufficient 
malurily for publicalion. In November, 1770, Halhed had com- 
pleted and forwarded to Balh his share of the work , and in ihe 
following month we find Sheridan preparing , with the assistance 
of a Greek grammar, lo complete the task. ' u The 29lh nil. (says 
Mr. Ker, in a letter to him from London, dated DIM . 4, 1770) . I 



IS MEMOIRS 

was favoured with yours , and have since been hunting for Arislee- 
netus, whom I found this day, and therefore send to you, together 
wilh a Greek grammar. I might have dispatched at the same lime 
sbme numbers of the Dictionary, but not having got the two last 
numbers, was not willing to send any without the whole of what is 
published , and still less willing to delay Arislaenelus's journey by 
wailing for them." The work alluded to here is the Dictionary of 
Arts and Sciences, to which Sheridan had subscribed, with the view, 
no doubt, of informing himself upon subjects of which he was as 
yet wholly ignorant ; having left school, like most other young men 
at his age, as little furnished with the knowledge that is wanted in 
the world , as a person w ould be for the demands of a market , who 
went into it with nothing but a few ancient coius in his pocket. 

The passion , however, that now began to take possession of his 
heart was little favourable to his advancement in any serious studies ; 
and it may easily be imagined that , in the neighborhood of Miss 
Linley, the Arts and Sciences were suffered to sleep quietly on their 
shelves. Even the translation of Aristsenelus, though a task more 
suited , from its amatory nature , to the existing temperature of his 
heart , was proceeded in but slowly ; and it appears from one of 
Halhed's letters that this impatient ally was already counting upon 
the spolia opima of the campaign , before Sheridan had fairly 
brought his Greek grammar into the field. The great object of the 
former was a visit to Bath ; and he had set his heart still more 
anxiously upon it after a second meeting wilh Miss Linley at Oxford. 
But the profits expected from their literary undertakings were the 
only means to w hich he looked for the realising of this dream , and 
he accordingly implores his friend, with the most comic piteousness, 
to drive the farce on the stage by main force , and to make Aristffi- 
netus sell whether he will or not. In the November of this year we 
find them discussing the propriety of prefixing their names to the 
work Sheridan evidently not disinclined to venture , but Halhed 
recommending that they should wait to hear how " Sumner and 
Ihe wise few of their acquaintance " would talk of the book , before 
they risked any thing more than their initials. In answer to Sheri- 
dan's enquiries as to the extent of sale they may expect in Oxford, he 
confesses that , after three coffee-houses had bought one a-piece . 
not two more would be sold. 

That poverty is the best nurse of talent has long been a most hu- 
miliating truism ; and the fountain of the Muses , bursting from a 
barren rock, is but too apt an emblem of the hard source from which 
much of the genius of this world has issued. How strongly the 
young translators of Aristrenetus were under the influence of this 
sort of inspiration appears from every paragraph of Halhed's letters, 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. in 

and might easily, indeed , be concluded of Sheridan from the very 
limited circumstances of his father who had nothing beside the 
pension of 200/. a-year, conferred upon him in consideration of 
his literary merits, and the little profits he derived from his lectures 
in Bath, to support with decency himself and his family. The pros- 
pects of Halhed were much more golden , but he was far too gay 
and mercurial to be prudent 5 and from the very scanty supplies 
which his father allowed him , had quite as little of " le superflu , 
chose si necessaire," as his friend. But whatever were his other desires 
and pursuits , a visit to Bath , to that place which contained the 
two persons he most valued in friendship and in love , was the 
grand object of all his financial speculations , and among other ways 
and means that , in the delay of the expected resources from Aris- 
Uenetus , presented themselves , was an exhibition of 20Z. a-year, 
which the college had lately given him , and with five pounds of 
which he thought he might venture " adire Corinthum." 

Though Sheridan had informed his friend that the translation was 
put to press some time in March, 1771, it does not appear to have 
been given into the hands of Wilkie, the publisher, till the beginning 
of May, when Mr. Ker writes thus to Bath : " Your Arista3nelus 
is in the hands of Mr. Wilkie , in St. Paul's Church-yard , and to 
put you out of suspense at once, will certainly make his appearance 
about the 1st of June next, in the form of a neat volume , price 3s. 
or 3s. &d., as may best suit his 'size, etc., which cannot be more 
nearly determined at present. I have undertaken the task of cor- 
recting for the press.... Some of the Epistles that I have perused 
seem to me elegant and poetical , in others I could not observe 
equal beauty, and here and there I could wish there were some 
little amendment. You will pardon this liberty I take , and set it 
down to the account of old-fashioned friendship. "Mr. Ker, to judge 
from his letters ( which , in addition to their other laudable points , 
are dated with a precision truly exemplary), was a very kind, 
useful , and sensible person , and in the sober hue of his intellect 
exhibited a striking contrast, to the sparkling vivacity of the two 
sanguine and impatient young wits , whose affairs he so good-na- 
turedly undertook to negotiate. 

At length in August , 1771, AristaBnetus made its appearance ' 
contrary to the advice of the bookseller, and of Mr. Ker, who re- 
presented to Sheridan the unpropitiousness of the season, parti- 
cularly for a first experiment in authorship , and advised the post- 
ponement of the publication till October. But the translators \\m> 
loo eager for the rich harvest of emolument they had promised 
'hrmselves , and too full of that pleasing but often fatal delusion 
thai calenture , under the influence of which young voyagers to the 



SO MEMOIRS 

shores of Fame imagine they already see her green fields and groves 
in the treacherous waves around them to listen to the suggestions 
of mere calculating men of business. The first account they heard of 
the reception of the work was flattering enough to prolong awhile 
this dream of vanity. " It begins (writes Mr. Ker, in about a fort- 
night after the publication , ) to make some noise , and is fathered 
on Mr. Johnson , author of the English Dictionary, etc. See to- 
day's Gazetteer. The critics are admirable in discovering a concealed 
author by his style, manner, etc." 

Their disappointment at the ultimate failure of the book was 
proportioned , we may suppose , to the sanguineness of their first 
expectations. But the reluctance , with which an author yields to the 
sad certainty of being unread , is apparent in the eagerness with 
which Halhed avails himself of every encouragement for a rally of 
his hopes. The Critical Reviewers , it seems , had given the work a 
tolerable character, and quoted the first Epistle l . The Weekly Re- 
view in the Public Ledger had also spoken well of it, and cited a spe- 
cimen. The Oxford Magazine had transcribed two whole Epistles , 
without mentioning from whence they were taken. Every body, he 
says , seemed to have read the book , and one of those hawking 
booksellers, who attend the coffee-houses, assured him it was 
written by Dr. Armstrong , author of the OEconomy of Love. On 
the strength of all this he recommends that another volume of the 
Epistles should be published immediately being of opinion that 
the readers of the first volume would be sure to purchase the second, 
and that the publication of the second would put it in the heads of 
others to buy the first. Under a sentence containing one of these 
sanguine anticipations , there is written , in Sheridan's hand , the 
word " Quixote!" 

They were never, of course , called upon for the second part , 
and, whether we consider the merits of the original or of the 
translation , the world has but little to regret in the loss. ArisUenetus 
is one of those weak , florid sophists who flourished in the decline 
and degradation of ancient literature, and strewed their gaudy 
flowers of rhetoric over the dead muse of Greece. He is evidently 
of a much later period than Alciphron , to whom he is also very 
inferior in purity of diction, variety of subject, and playfulness of 
irony. But neither of them ever deserved to be wakened from that 

1 In one of the Pieviews I have seen it is thus spoken of: '' No such writer as 
Aristaenetus ever existed in the classic aera ; nor did even the unhappy schools, after 
the destruction of the Eastern empire, produce such a writer. It was left to the 
latter times of monkish imposition to give snch trash as this, on which the transla- 
tor has ill spent his time. We have been as idly employed in reading it, and our 
readers will in proportion lose their time in perusing this article." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 21 

sleep, in which the commentaries of Bergler, De Pauw, and a few 
more such industrious scholars have shrouded them. 

The translators of Aristaenetus , in rendering his flowery prose 
nilo verse, might have found a precedent and model for their task 
in Ben Jonson, whose popular song, " Drink to me only with thine 
eyes ," is, as Mr. Cumberland first remarked, but a piece of fan- 
ciful mosaic , collected out of the love-letters of the sophist Philos- 
tralus. But many of the narrations in Aristffinelus are incapable of 
being elevated into poetry; and, unluckily, these familiar parts 
seem chiefly to*have fallen to the department of Halhed , yfio was 
far less gifted than his coadjutor with that artist-like touch , which 
polishes away the mark of vulgarity, and gives an air of elegance 
even to poverty. As the volume is not in many hands , the follow- 
ing extract from one of the Epistles may be acceptable as well 
from the singularity of the scene described , as from the specimen 
it affords of the merits of the translation : 

" Listen another pleasure I display, 
That help'd delightfully the time away. 
From distant vales, where bubbles from its source 
A crystal rill , they dug a winding course : . 
See ! thro' the grove a narrow lake extends , 
Crosses each plot , to each plantation bends ; 
And while the fount iu new meanders glides, 
The forest brightens with refreshing tides. 
Tow'rds us they taught the new-boru stream to flow, 
Tow'rds us it crept, irresolute and slow : 
Scarce had the infant current trickled by , 
When lo ! a wondrous fleet attracts our eye; 
Laden with draughts might greet a monarch's tongue f 
The mimic navigation swam aloug. 

Hasten, ye ship-like goblets, down the vale , f 

' Your freight a flagon, and a leaf your sail. 

<) may no envious rush thy course impede, 

Or floating apple stop thy tide-borne speed. 
His mildest breath a gentle zephyr gave ; 

The little vessels trimly stemm'd the wave : 

Their precious merchandise to laud they boie, 

And one by one resign'd the balmy store. 

Stretch but a hand , we boarded them , and quaft 

"With native luxury the teinper'd draught. 

For where they loaded the uectareous fleet. 

The goblet glow'd with too intense a heat ; 

Cool'd by degrees in these convivial ships , 

With nicest taste it met our thirsty lips." 

" In the original, tbi.s luxurious image is, pursued so far that the very leaf, 
nhi, h is represented as the sail of the vessel, is particularised as of a medicinal 
uiiiure, r.-.pable of preventing any ill effects the wine might prodiu-c." Not* 
kr the Translator. 



9 
22 MEMOIRS 

As a scholar such as Halhed could hardly have been led into Uie 
mistake of supposing r Mutt** <pr f OAA to mean k ' a leaf of a 
medicinal nature," we may perhaps, from this circumstance not 
less than from the superior workmanship of the verses , attribute 
the whole of this Epistle and notes to Sheridan. 

There is another Epistle , the 12th , as evidently from the pen of 
his friend , the greater part of which is original , and shows , by its 
raciness and vigour, what difference there is between " the first 
sprightly runnings " of an author's own mind , and his cold , vapid 
transfusion of the thoughts of another. From stanza 10th to the end 
is all added by the translator, and all spirited though full of a bold , 
defying libertinism , as unlike as possible to the effeminate lubricity 
of the poor sophist , upon whom , in a grave , treacherous note , the 
responsibility of the whole is laid. But by far the most interesting 
part of the volume is the last Epistle of the book , " From a Lover 
resigning his Mistress to his Friend ," in which Halhed has con- 
trived to extract from the unmeaningness of the original a direct 
allusion to his own fate ; and, forgetting Aristffinetus and his dull 
personages , thinks only of himself, and Sheridan , and Miss Linley. 

" Thee, then, my friend, if yet a wretch may claim 
A last attention by that once dear name, 
Thee I address : the cause you must approve ; 
I yield you what I cannot cease to love. 
Be thine the blissful lot , the nymph be thine : 
I yield my love, sure, friendship may be mine. 
Yet must no thought of me torment thy breast; 
Forget me, if my griefs disturb thy rest, 
Whilst still I'll pray that thou may'st never know 
The pangs of baffled love , or feel my woe. 
But sure to tliee, dear , charming fatal maid ! 
( For me thou'st charm'd, and me thou hast betray'd,J 
This last request I need not recommend 
Forget the lover thon , as he the friend. 
Bootless such charge ! for ne'er did pity move 
A heart that mock'd the suit of humble love. 
Yet , in some thonghtful hour if such can be , 
Where love , Timocrates , is join'd with thee 
In some lone pause of joy , when pleasures pall , 
And fancy broods o'er joys it can't recall, 
Haply a thought of me ( for thou , my friend , 
May'st then have taught that stubborn heart to bend), 
A thought of him , whose passion was not weak, 
May dash one transient blush upon her cheek; 
Haply a tear ( for I shall surely then 
Be past all power to raise her scorn again ) 
Haply, I say , one self-dried tear may fall : 
One tear she'll give , for whom I yielded all ! 



OF R. H. SHERIDAN. 

My life lias lost it* ;iim ! iliat fatal fair 
U .,s iill it* object all It-, hope or care : 



She was the goal 

Where every wish 

A secret influence 

Each look, attract 

Concentred these, I liv'd for her aloue; 

To make her glad aud to be blest was one. 



winch my course was beut , 
where every thought was sent; 
Parted from her yes , 
ou , and herself the prize. 



Adieu , my friend, nor blame this sad adieu , 
Though sorrow guides my pen , it blames not you. 
Forget me 'tis my prayer ; nor seek to know 
The fate of him whose portion must be woe , 
Till the cold earth outstretch her friendly arms. 
Aud Deatli convince me that he can have charms." 

But Halhed's was not the only heart, that sighed deeply and 
hopelessly for the young Maid of Bath , who appears , indeed , to 
have spread her gentle conquests to an extent almost unparalleled 
in the annals of beauty. Her personal charms , the exquisiteness of 
her musical talents , and the full light of publicity which her profes- 
sion threw upon both, naturally attracted round her a crowd of ad- 
mirers, in whom the sympathy of a common pursuit soon kindled 
into rivalry, till she became at length an object of vanity as well as 
of love. Her extreme youth, too, for she was little more than 
sixteen when Sheridan first met her, must have removed , ven 
from minds the most fastidious and delicate , that repugnance they 
might justly have felt to her profession, if she had lived much longer 
under its tarnishing influence > or lost, by frequent exhibitions be- 
fore the public , that fine gloss of feminine modesty, for whose ab- 
sence not all the talents and accomplishments of the whole sex can 
atone. 

She had been , even at this early age , on the point of marriage 
with Mr. Long , an old gentleman of considerable fortune in Wilt- 
shire , who proved the reality of his attachment to her in a way 
which few young lovers would be romantic enough to imitate. On 
her secretly representing to him that she never could be happy as 
his wife, he generously took upon himself the whole blame of break- 
ing off the alliance , and even indemnified the father, who was pro- 
ceeding to bring the transaction into court, by settling 3000/. upon 
his daughter. Mr. Sheridan , who owed to this liberal conduct not 
only the possession of the woman he loved , but the means of sup- 
porting her during the first years of their marriage , spoke invaria- 
bly of Mr. Long , who lived to a very advanced age , with all the 
kindness and respect which such a disinterested character merilrd. 

II was about the middle of the year 1770 that the Shcridans look 



24 MEMOIRS 

up their residence in King's Mead ' Street , Bath , where an ac- 
quaintance commenced between them and Mr. Linley's family , 
which the kindred tastes of the young people soon ripened into in- 
timacy. It was notto be expected, though parents, in general, 
are as blind to the first approach of these dangers, as they are rigid 
and unreasonable after they have happened , that such youthful 
poets and musicians 2 should come together, without Love very soon 
making one Of the party. Accordingly, the two brothers became 
deeply enamoured of Miss Linley. Her heart, however, was not so 
wholly unpreoccupied , as to yield at once to the passion which her 
destiny had in store for her. One of those transient preferences , 
which in early youth are mistaken for love , had already taken lively 
possession of her imagination , and to this the following lines, writ- 
ten at that time by Mr. Sheridan , allude : 

To the Recording Angel. 

Cherub of Heaveu , that from thy secret stand 

Dost uote the follies of each mortal here, 
Oli ! if Eliza's steps employ tliy hand, 

Ulot the sad legend with a mortal tear. 
Nor, when she errs , through passion's wild extreme, 

Mark then her course, nor heed each trifling wrong ; 
Nor, wheii her sad attachment is her theme, 

Note down the transports of her erring tongue. 
Knt, when she sighs for sorrows not her owu , 

Let that dear sigh to Mercy's cause be given ; 
And bear that tear to her Creator's throne 

Which glistens in the eye upraised to Heaven? 

But in love , as in every thin : else j the power of a mind like She- 
ridan's must have made itself felt through all obstacles and difficul- 
ties. He was not long in winning the entire affections of the young 
" Syren ," though the number and wealth of his rivals, the ambi- 
tious views of her father, and the temptations to which she herself 
was hourly exposed, kept his jealousies and fears perpetually on the 
watch. He is supposed, indeed , to have been indebted to self-ob- 
servation for that portrait of a wayward and morbidly sensitive lover, 
which he has drawn so strikingly in the character of Falkland. 

With a mind in this stale of feverish wakefulness, it is remarkable 
that he should so long have succeeded in concealing his attachment 
from the eyes of those most interested in discovering it. Even his 

' They also lived , fluring a part of their stay at Bath, in New King-Street, 
1 Dr. Barney, in his Biographical Sketch of Mr. Linley, written for Rees's 
Cyclopaedia, calls the Linley family 'a uest of nightingales." The only surviving 
member of this accomplished family is Mr. William Linley, whose taste and 
talent, both in poetry and music, most worthily sustain the reparation of the 
name tbat he bears. 



OF R. H. SHEAIDAN( ?5 

brother Charles was for some lime wholly unaware of Iheir rivalry, 
and went on securely indulging in a passion which it was hardly 
possible , with such opportunities of intercourse , to resist , and 
which survived long after Miss Linley's selection of another had ex- 
tinguished every hope in his heart but that of seeing her happy. 
Halhed , too , who at that period corresponded constantly with She- 
ridan , and confided to him the love with which he also had been 
inspired by this enchantress , was for a length oT time left in the 
same darkness upon the subject , and without the slightest suspicion 
that the epidemic had reached his friend whose only mode of 
evading the many tender enquiries and messages , with which Hal- 
hed's letters abounded , was by referring to answers which had , by 
some strange fatality, miscarried , and which we may conclude , 
without much uncharitableness , had never been written. 

Miss Linley went frequently to Oxford , to perform at the orato- 
rios and concerts , and it may easily be imagined that the ancient 
allegory of the Muses throwing chains over Cupid was here reversed, 
and the quiet shades of learning not a little disturbed by the splen- 
dour of these " angel visits. "The letters of Halhed give a lively idea, 
not only of his own intoxication , but of the sort of contagious deli- 
rium , like that at Abdera described by Lucian , with which the 
young men of Oxford were affected by this beautiful girl. In describ- 
ing her singing he quotes part of a Latin letter, which he himself 
had written to a friend upon first hearing her ; and it is a curious 
proof of the readiness of Sheridan , notwithstanding his own fertility, 
to avail himself of the thoughts of others , that we find in this ex- 
tract , word for word , the same extravagant comparison of the ef- 
fects of music to the process of Egyptian embalmment " extract- 
ing the brain through the ears" which was afterwards transplanted 
into the dialogue of the Duenna: " Mortuum quendam ante 
jfZgypti inedici quam pollincirent cerebella de auribus unco 
quodam liamo solebant extrahere , sic de meis auribus non 
cerebrum, sed cor ipsum exhausit lusciniola , etc., etc." He 
mentions , as the rivals most dreaded by her admirers , Norris , the 
singer, whose musical talents, it was thought, recommended him 
to her, and Mr. Walls , a gentleman-commoner, of very large for- 
tune. 

While all hearts and tongues were thus occupied about Miss Lin- 
ley, it is not wonderful that rumours of matrimony and elopement 
should , from lime lo lime , circulate among her apprehensive ad- 
mirers ; or that the usual ill-compliment should be paid to her sex 
of supposing that wealth must be the winner of the prize. It was at 
"ne moment currently reported at Oxford that she had gone off to 
Scotland with a young man of 3000/. a-year, and the panic which 



2(5 MEMOIRS 

the intelligence spread is described in one of these letters lo Sheri- 
dan ( who no doubt shared in it) as producing " long faces" every 
where. Not only, indeed, among her numerous lovers, but among 
all who delighted in her public performances, an alarm would na- 
turally be fell at the prospect of her becoming private property ; 

" Tejtiga Taygeti, posito te Mtenala Jlebunt 
fenatu, mcestoque Jin lugebr.re Cynlho. 
Deli>hica*qutneliamfratris delubra tacebuni '." 

Thee, thee, when hurried from our eyes away, 
Lacouia's liills shall tnunru for inanv a day 
The Arcadian hunter shall forget his chace , 
And turn aside , to think upon that face; 
While many an hour Apollo's songless shriue 
Shall wait in silence for a voice like thine! 

But, to the honour of her sex , which is , in general , more disin- 
terested than the other , it was found that neither rank nor wealth 
had influenced her heart in its election , and Halhed , who , like 
others , had estimated the strength of his rivals by their rent-rolls , 
discovered at last that his unpretending friend, Sheridan (whose 
advances in courtship and in knowledge seem to have been equally 
noiseless and triumphant ) , was the chosen favourite of her at whose 
feet so many fortunes lay. Like that Saint , Cecilia , by whose name 
she was always called , she had long welcomed to her soul a secret 
visitant % whose gifts were of a higher and more radiant kind, than 
the mere wealthy and lordly of this world can proffer. A letter, writ- 
ten by Halhed on the prospect of his departure for India- 3 , alludes 
so delicately to this discovery, and describes the stale of his own 
heart so mournfully, that I must again , in parting with him and 
his correspondence , express the strong regret thai I feel , at not 
being able to indulge the reader with a perusal of these letters. Nol 
only as a record of the first short flights of Sheridan's genius , but as 
a picture , from the life , of the various feelings of youth , its desires 
and fears , its feverish hopes and fanciful melancholy, they could not 
have failed to be read with Ihe deepesl interest. 

To this period of Mr. Sheridan's life we are indebled for most of 
those elegant love-verses , which are so well known and so often 
quoted. The lines " Uncouth is Ihis moss-covered grolto of stone," 

1 Claudian. De Rapt. Proserp. Lib. ii. v. 244. 

J " The youth, found in her chamber, had in his hand two crowns or wreaths, 
the one of lilies, the other of roses, which he had brought from Paradise." 
Legend of St. Cecilia. 

3 The letter is evidently in answer to one which he had just received from 
Sheridan, in which Miss Linley had written a few words, expressive of her wishes 
for his health and happiness. Mr. Halhed -sailed for India about ihe latter end of 
this year. 



OF R. 15- SHERIDAN. ?7 

were addressed to Miss Linley , after having offended her by one of 
those lectures upon decorum of conduct , which jealous lovers so 
frequently inflict upon their mistresses , and the grotto , immorta- 
lized by their quarrel , is supposed to have been in Spring Gardens , 
then the fashionable place of resort in Bath. 

I have elsewhere remarked that the conceit in the following stanza 
resembles a thought in some verses of Angerianus : 

Aud thou , stony grot , in thy arch inay'st preserve 
Two lingering drops of the night-fallen dew , 

Let them fall on her bosom of snow, and they'll serve- 
As tears of my sorrow entrusted to you. 

At quum per niveam cervicem injliixerit humor 
Dicite non roris sed pluvia ha;c lacrimce, 

Whether Sheridan was likely to have been a reader of Ange- 
rianus is , I think , doubtful at all events the coincidence is cu- 
rious. 

" Dry be that tear, my gentlest love ," is supposed to have been 
written at a later period; fulfil was most probably produced at the 
time of his courtship, for he wrote but few love-verses after his mar- 
riage like the nigtingale (as a French editor of Bonefonious says, 
in remarking a similar circumstance of that poet) " qui developpe 
le charme de sa voix tant qu'il veut plaire a sa compagne sont-ils 
unis? il se tait, il n'a plus le besoin de lui plaire. "This song having 
been hitherto printed incorrectly, I shall give it here, as it is in the 
copies preserved by his relations. 

Dry be that tear, my gentlest love ' , 

Be hush'd that struggling sigh , 
Nor seasons , day , nor fate shall prove 

Morefix'd, more true than I. 
Hush'd be that sigh , be dry that tear , 
Cease boding doubt , cease anxious fear. 
Dry be that tear. 

Ask'st thou how long my love will stay , 

When all that 's new is past ? 
How long, ah Delia , can I say 

How long my life will last ? 
Dry be that tear, be hush'd that sigh , 
At least I'll love thee till I die. 
Hush'd be that sigh. 

And does that thought affect thee too , 

The thought of Sylvio's death, 
Tbat he who only breath'd for you , 

Must yield fliat faithful breath ? 

1 Au Elegy by Halhed , transcribed in one of his letters to Sheridan , begins 

thus: 

" Dry l that tear, be hush'd that struggling sigh." 



28 , MEMOIRS 

Husli'd be that sigh , be dry that tear , 
]Nor let us lose our Heaveu here. 
Dry be that tear. 

There is in the second stanza here a close resemblance to one of 
the madrigals of Monlreuil , a French poet , to whom Sir J. Moore 
was indebted for the point of his well known verses, " If in that 
breast, so good, so pure *." Mr. Sheridan, however, knew nothing 
of French, and neglected every opportunity oflearning it , till, by a 
very natural process , his ignorance of the language grew into hatred 
of it. Besides, we have the immediate source from which he de- 
rived the thought of this stanza , in one of the Essays of Hume, who, 
being a reader of foreign literature, most probably found it in Mon- 
trcuil a . The passage in Hume (which Sheridan has done little more 
than versify) is as follows : " Why so often ask me, How long 
my love shall yet endure? Alas, my Cselia, can I resolve the 
question ? Do I know how long my life shallyct endure 3 ? 

The pretty lines, " Mark'd you her cheek of rosy hue?" were 
written, not upon Miss Linley as has been generally stated , but upon 
lady Margaret Fordice, and form part of a poem which he published 
in 1771, descriptive of the principal beauties of Bath, entitled 
" Clio's Protest, or the Picture Varnished ," being an answer to 
some verses by Mr. Miles Peter Andrews , called " The Bath Pic- 
ture ," in which Lady Margaret was thus introduced: 

" Remark too the dimpling , sweet smile 
Lady Marg'ret's fine countenance wears." 

The following is the passage in Mr. Sheridan's poem , entire ; and 
the beauty of the six favourite lines shines out so conspicuously, that 

The grief, that on ray quiet preys, 

That rends my heart and checks my tougue , 
I fear will last me all my days , 
Aud feel it will not last me loug. 

It is thus iu Montreuil : 

C'est uu nial que j'aurai tout le temps de ma vie; 
Mais je ne I'aurai pas long -temps. 

3 Or in an Italian song of Menage, from which Moutieuil , who was accustomed 
to such thefts, most probably stole it. The point in the Italian is , as far as I can 
remember it , expressed thus : 

In van , o Filli , tu chiedi 

Se lungamente durera 1'ardore 

Chi lo potrebbe dire? 
lucerta, o Filli , e I' ora del morire. 

- The Epicurean. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 20 

we cannot wonder at their having heen so soon detached , like ill set 
gems, from the loose and clumsy workmanship around them. 

" But, hark! did not our bard repeat 
The love-boru name of M-rg-r-t? 
Attention seizes every ear ; 

We paut for the description here : 

' If ever dnlness left.thy brow, 

' Pindar , ' we say, ' 'twill leave thee now.' 

But O I old Duluess' son anointed 

His mother never disappointed! 

And here we all were left to seek . 

A dimple in F-rd-ce's cheek ! 

"And could you really discover, 

In gazing those sweet beauties over, 
No other charm , no winning grace , 
Adorning either inind or face. 
But one poor dimple, to express 
The quintessence of loveliness? 
.... Mark'd you her cheek of rosy hue? 
Mark'J you her eye of sparkling blue? 
That eye , in liquid circles moving ; 
That cheek abash'd at Man's approving; 
The one, Love's arrows darting round; 
The other, blushing at the wound : 
Did she not speak , did she iiot move, 
Now Pallas now the Queen of Love! " 

There is little else in this poem worth being extracted, though it 
consists of about four hundred lines ; except , perhaps , his picture 
of a good country house-wife , which affords an early specimen of 
that neat poinledness of phrase , which gave his humour, both poe- 
tic and dramatic , such a peculiar edge and polish : 

' We see the Dame , in rustic pride , 
A hunch of keys to grace her side. 
Stalking across the well-swept entry , 
To hold her council in the pantry ; 
Or , with prophetic soul, foretelling 
The peas will boil well by the shelling; 
Or, bustling in her private closet, 
Prepare her lord his morning posset ; 
And, while the hallow'd mixture thickens, 
Signing death-warrants for the chickens : 
Klse , greatly pensive , poring o'er 
Accounts her cook had thumb'd before; 
One eye cast up upon that great book , 
Yclep'd The Family Receipt Book ; 
By which she's rul'd in all her courses, 
From stewing Cgs to drtuchiug horses. 
Then pans and pickling skillets rise, 
In dreadful lustre to our eyes. 



30 MEMOIRS 

With store of sweetmeats ranged iu order , 
Aud potted nothings on the border ; 
While salves and caudle-cups between , 
With squalliug children, close the scene." 

We find here, too, the source of one of those familiar lines, which 
so many quote without knowing whence they come 5 one of those 
stray fragments , whose parentage is doubtful , but to which ( as the 
law says of illegitimate children) " pater est populus." 

" You write with ease , to show your breeding, 
But easy writing's curst hard reading." 

In the following passage , with more of the tact of a man of the 
world than the ardour of a poet , he dismisses the object nearest his 
heart with the mere passing gallantry of a compliment : 

" O! should your geuius ever rise, 
And make you Laureate in the skies, 
I'd hold my life , in twenty years , 
You'd spoil the music of the spheres. 
Nay , should the rapture-breathing Nine 
In one celestial concert join , 
Their sovereign's power to rehearse, 
Were you to furnish them with verse, 
By Jove, I'd fly the heavenly throng, 
Tho' Phccbus play'd and LMey sung. " 

On the opening of the New Assembly Rooms at Bath , which 
commenced with a ridotto, Sept. 30, 1771, he wrote a humorous 
description of the entertainment, called " An Epistle from Timo- 
thy Screw to his Brother Henry , Waiter at Almack's," which ap- 
peared first in the Bath Chronicle, and was so eagerly sought after, 
that Crulwell , the editor , was induced to publish it in a separate 
form. The allusions in this trifle have, of course, lost their zest by 
time ; and a specimen or two of its humour will be all that is neces- 
sary here. 

" Two rooms were first opened the long and the round one , 
( These Hogstyegon names only serve to confound one , ) 
Both splendidly lit with the new chandeliers , 
With drops hanging down like the bobs at Peg's ears : 
While jewels of paste reflected the rays, 
Aud Bristol stone diamonds gave strength to the blaze : 
So that it was doubtful , to view the bright clusters , 
Which sent the most light out, the ear-rings or lustres. 

Nor less among you was the medley, ye fair ! 

I believe there were some beside quality there: 

Miss Spiggot , Miss Brussels , Miss Tape, and Miss Socket , 

Miss Trinket , and aunt, with her leathern pocket, 

With good Mrs. Soaker, who made her old chin go , 

For hours, hobnobbing with Mrs. Syringo : 

Had Tib staid at home , I b'lieve none would have miss'd her , 

Or pretty I'eg Runt, with her tight little sister, " etc. etc. 



OF K. B. SHERIDAN. :>j 

CHAPTER II. 

Duels with Mr. Mathews. Marriage with Miss Linlcy. 

TOWARDS the close of the year 1771 , the elder Mr. Sheridan 
went lo Dublin , to perform at the theatre of that city, leaving his 
young and lively family at Bath, with nothing but their hearts and 
imaginations to direct them. 

The following letters, which passed between him and his son 
Richard during his absence, though possessing little other interest 
lhan that of having been written at such a period, will not, perhaps, 
be unwelcome to the reader : 

" MY DEAR RICHARD, Dublin, Dec. jlh, 1771. 

" How could you be so wrong-headed as to commence cold bathing at 
such a seasou of the year , and I suppose without any preparation too ? 
You have paid sufficiently for your folly,, but I hope the ill effects of it 
have been long since over. You and your brother are fond of quacking , 
a most dangerous disposition with regard to health Let slight things pass 
away of themselves ; in a case that requires assistance do nothing without, 
advice. Mr. Crook is a very able man in his way Should a physician be at 
any time wauling, apply to Dr. Nesbitt, and tell him that at leaving 
Bath I recommended you all to his care. This indeed 1 intended to have 
mentioned to him, but it slipped my memory. I forgot Mr. Crooke's lull, 
too, but desire I may have the amount by the ne*xt letter. Pray what is 
the meaning of my hearing so seldom from Bath? Six weeks here, and 
but two letters ! You were very tardy, what are your sisters about? I shall 
not easily forgive any future omissions. I suppose Charles received my 
answer to his, and the "2ol. bill from Whately. I shall order another to 
be sent at Christmas for the rent and other necessaries. I have not time 
at present to enter upon the subject of English authors, etc. but shall 
write to you upon that head when I get a little leisure. Nothing can be 
conceived in a more deplorable state than the stage of Dublin. I found 
two miserable companies opposing and starving each other. I chose; tin- 
least bad of them ; and, wretched as they are, it has had no effect on my 
nights, numbers having been turned away every time I played , and the 
receipts have been larger than when I had Barry, his wife, and Mrs. Fitz- 
Henry to play with me. However, I shall not be able to continue it long, 
as there is no possibility of getting up a sufficient number of plays \\illi 
such poor materials. I purpose to have done the week after next , and 
apply vigorously to the material point which brought me over. I find 
all ranks and parlies vcrv zealous for forwarding my scheme, and hav<- 
rcason to believe it will be carried in parliament after ihe recess, without 
opposition. It was in vain to have attempted it before, for never was party 
\ioletice' carried to such a height as in this sessions; ihc House seldom 

lli'' money bill , brought forward tbis year under Lord Townsend's adim- 
niMralion , encountered violent opposition, and was dually rejected. 



3* MEMOIRS 

breaking up till eleven or twelve at night. From those contests, the desire 
of improving in the article of elocution is become very general. There 
are no less than five persons of rank and fortune now waiting my leisure 
to become my pupils. Remember me to all friends , particularly to our 
good landlord and landlady. I am , with love and blessing to you all , 
" Your affectionate father , 

" THOMAS SHERIDAN. 

" P. S. Tell your sisters I shall send the poplins as soon as I can get 
an opportunity. " 

" DRAR FATHER, 

" We have been for some time in hopes of receiving a letter, that we 
might know that you had acquitted us of neglect in writing. At the same 
time we imagine that the time is not far when writing will be unnecessary ; 
and we cannot help wishing to know the posture of the affairs, which, as 
you have not talked of returning, seem probable to detain you longer 
than you intended. I am perpetually asked when Mr. Sheridan is to have 
his patent for the theatre, which all the Irish here take for granted, and 
I often receive a great deal of information from them on the subject. Yet 
I cannot help being vexed when I see in the Dublin papers such bustling 
accounts of the proceedings of your House of Commons , as I remember 
it was your argument against attempting any thing from parliamentary 
authority in England. However, the folks here regret you, as one that 
is to be fixed in another kingdom, and will scarcely believe that you will 
ever visit Bath at all ; and we are often asked if we have not received the 
letter which is to call us over. 

" I could scarcely have conceived that the winter was so near depart- 
ing, were I not now writing after dinner by day-light. Indeed the first 
winter season is not, yet over at Bath. They have balls , concerts, etc. , at 
the rooms, from the old subscription still, and the spring ones are imme- 
diately to succeed them. They are likewise going to perform oratorios 
here. Mr. Linley and his whole family, down to the seven year olds, are 
to support one set at the new rooms , and a band of singers from London 
another at the old. Our weather here, or the effects of it, have been so 
uninviting to all kinds of birds , that tlu:re has not been the smallest 
excuse to take a gun into the fields this winter-, a point niore to the 
regret of Charles than myself. 

" We are all now in dolefuls for the Princess Dowager ; but as there 
was no necessity for our being dressed or weeping mourners , we were 
easily provided. Our acquaintances stand pretty much the same as when 
you left us , only that I think in general we are less intimate, by which 
I believe you will not think us great losers. Indeed, excepting Mr. Wynd- 
ham , I have not met with one person with whom I would wish to he 
intimate ; though there was a Mr. Lutterel, ( brother to the Colonel , ) 
who was some months ago introduced to me by an old Harrow acquaint- 
ance , who made me many professions at parting , and wanted me vastly 
to name some way in which he could be useful to me; but the relying on 
acquaintances , or seeking of friendships , is a fault which I think I shal I 
always have prudence to avoid. 



OF R. B. SHERIDA1N. S3 

" Lissy begins to be tormented again with the toothache ; otherwise, 

we are all well. 

" I am , Sir, your sincerely dutiful and affectionate son , 

" Friday, Feb. 29. " R. B. SHERIDAN. 

' I beg you will not judge of my attention to the improvement of my 

hand-Writing by this letter, as I am out of the way of a better pen. " 

Charles Sheridan , now one-and-twenty , the oldest and gravest 
of the party, finding his passion for Miss Linley increase every day, 
and conscious of the imprudence of yielding to it any further, wisely 
determined to fly from the struggle altogether. Having taken a so- 
lemn farewell of her in a letter, which his youngest sister delivered, 
he withdrew to a farm-house about seven or eight miles from Bath, 
little suspecting that he left his brother in full possession of that 
heart , of which he thus reluctantly and hopelessly raised the siege. 
Nor would this secret perhaps have been discovered for some time , 
had not another lover, of a less legitimate kind than either, by the 
alarming importunity of his courtship, made an explanation on all 
sides necessary. 

Captain Malhews , a married man and intimate with Miss Linley's 
family, presuming upon the innocent familiarity which her youth 
and his own station permitted between them , had for some time 
not only rendered her remarkable by his indiscreet attentions in pub- 
lic , but had even persecuted her in private with those unlawful 
addresses and proposals , which a timid female will sometimes rather 
endure , than encounter that share of the shame which may be re- 
flected upon herself by their disclosure. To the threat of self-destruc- 
tion , often tried with effect in these cases , he is said to have added 
the still more unmanly menace of ruining , at least , her reputation, 
if he could not undermine her virtue. Terrified by his perseverance, 
and dreading the consequences of her father's temper, if this viola- 
tion of his confidence and hospitality were exposed to him , she at 
length confided her distresses to Richard Sheridan , who , having 
consulted with his sister, and , for the first time, disclosed to her Uje 
slate of his heart with respect to Miss Linley, lost no time in expos- 
tulating with Malhews, upon the cruelty, libertinism, and fruil- 
lessness of his pursuit. Such a remonstrance, however, was but little 
calculated to conciliate the forbearance of this professed man of gal- 
lantry, who, it appears by the following allusion to him under the 
name of Lothario , in a poem written by Sheridan at the lime , still 
counted upon the possibility o'f gaining his object, or, at least, 
blighting the fruit which he could not reach : 

Nor spare the flirting Cassoc' d rogue , 
Nor auticnt Culliu's poKsh'd brogue; 
Nor {,'ay Lothario's nobler name, 
That Nimrod to all female fame. 

3 



34 MEMOIRS 

In consequence of this persecution, and an increasing dislike (< 
her profession , which made her shrink more and more from the 
gaze of the many, in proportion as she became devoted to the love 
of one, she adopted, early in 1772, the romantic resolution of 
flying secretly to France , and taking refuge in a convent , intend-- 
ing, at the same time, to indemnify her father, to whom she was 
bound till the age of -21 , by the surrender to him of part of the sum 
which Mr. Long had settled upon her. Sheridan, who, it is pro- 
bable , had been the chief adviser of her flight , was , of course , not 
slow in offering to be the parlner of it. His sister, whom he seems 
to have persuaded that his conduct in this affair arose solely from a 
wish to serve Miss Linley, as a friend , without any design or desire 
to lake advantage of her elopement , as a lover, not only assisted 
Ihcm with money out of her little fund for house-expenses, but 
gave them letters of introduction to a family with whom she had 
been acquainted at St. Quentin. On the evening appointed for their 
departure, while Mr. Linley, his eldest son, and Miss Maria 
Linley, were engaged at a concert, from which the young Cecilia 
herself had been , on a plea of illness , excused , she was conveyed 
by Sheridan in a sedan-chair from her father's house in the Cres- 
cent , to a post-chaise which waited for them on the London road , 
and in which she found a woman whom her lover had hired , as a 
sort of protecting Minerva , to accompany them in their flight. 

It will be recollected that Sheridan was at this time little more 
than twenty, and his companion just entering her eighteenth year. 
On their arrival in London , with an adroitness which was , at least , 
very dramatic , he introduced her to an old friend of his family 
(Mr. Ewart , a respectable brandy-merchant in the city), as a rich 
heiress who had consented to elope with him to the Continent 5 
in consequence of which the old gentleman , with many commen- 
dations of his wisdom, for having given up the imprudent pursuit 
of Miss Linley, not only accommodated the fugitives with a passage 
oo board a ship , which he had ready to sail from the port of London 
lo Dunkirk , but gave them letters of recommendation to his corres- 
pondents at that place , who with the same zeal and dispatch facili- 
tated their journey to Lisle. 

On their leaving Dunkirk , as was natural to expect , the chival- 
rous and disinterested protector degenerated into a mere selfish 
lover. It was represented by him , with arguments which seemed 
to appeal lo prudence as well as feeling , that after the step which 
they had taken , she could not possibly appear in England again but 
as his wife. He was, therefore, he said, resolved not to deposit 
her in a convent, till she had consented, by the ceremony of a 
marriage, lo confirm to him that right of protecting her. which he 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 35 

had now but temporarily assumed. It did not, we may suppose , 
require much eloquence , to convince her heart of the truth of this 
reasoning; and, accordingly, at a little village, not far from Calais , 
i hey were married about the latter end of March, 1772, by a priest 
well known for his services on such occasions. 

They thence immediately proceeded to Lisle , where Miss Linley, 
as she must still be called , giving up her intention of going on to 
St. Quenlin, procured an apartment in a convent, with the deter- 
mination of remaining there , till Sheridan should have the means 
of supporting her as his acknowledged wife. A letter which he 
wrote to his brother from this place, dated April 15, though it 
throws but little additional light on the narrative, is too interesting 
an illustration of it to be omitted here. 

" DEAR BROTHER, 

" Most probably you will have thought me very inexcusable for not 
having writ to you. You will be surprized, too, to be told that, except 
vour letter jusf, after we arrived , we have never received one line from 
Bath. We suppose for certain that there are letters somewhere , in which 
case we shall have sent to every place almost but the right, whither, I 
hope , I have now sent also. You will soon see me in England. Every 
thing on our side has at last succeeded. Miss L is now fixing in a con- 
vent, where she has been entered some time. This has been a much more 
difficult point than you could have imagined , and we have , I find, been 
extremely fortunate. Sbe has been ill , but is now recovered ; this , too , 
lias delayed me. We would have wrote, but have been kept in the most 
tormenting expectation, from day to day, of receiving your letters : but, 
as every thing is now so happily settled here, I will delay no longer 
giving you that information , though probably I shall set out for England, 
without knowing a syllable of what has happened with you. All is well 
1 hope , and I hope , too , that though you may have been ignorant for 
some time, of our proceedings, you never could have been uneasy lest 
any thing should tempt me to depart, even in a thought, from the honour 

and consistency which engaged me at first. I wrote 'to M ' above a 

week ago, which I think was necessary and right. I hope he has acted tbe 
one proper part which was left him ; and, to speak from my feelings , I 
cannot but say that I shall be very happy to find no further disagreeable 
consequence pursuing him; for, as Brutus says of Caesar, etc. if I delay 
one moment longer, I lose the post. 

" I have writ now, too, to Mr. Adams, and should apologize to you 
for having writ to him first and lost my time for you. Love to my sisters, 
Miss L to all 

" Ever, Charles, your affec*. Brother, 

" R. B. SHERIDAN. 

" I need not tell you that we altered quite our route." 

The illness of Miss Linley, to which he alludes, and which had 
been occasioned by fatigue and agitation of mind , came on some 

1 Mathews. 



20 MEMOIRS 

days after her retirement to the convent j but an English physician/ 
Dr. Dolman of York , who happened to be resident in Lisle at the 
time, was called in to attend her; and in order that she might be 
more directly under his care, he and Mrs. Dolman invited her to 
their house , where she was found by Mr. Linley, on his arrival 
in pursuit of her. After a few words of private explanation from 
Sheridan , which had the effect of reconciling him to his truant 
daughter, Mr. Linley insisted upon her returning with him imme- 
diately to England , in order to fulfil some engagements which he 
had entered into on her account ; and , a promise being given that , 
as soon as these engagements were accomplished , she should be 
allowed to resume her plan of retirement at Lisle , the whole party 
set off amicably together for England. 

On the first discovery of the elopement, the landlord of the 
house in which the Sheridans resided had , from a feeling of pity 
for the situation of the young ladies , now left without the pro- 
tection of either father or brother, gone off, at br&k of day, to 
the retreat of Charles Sheridan , and informed him of the event 
which had just occurred. Poor Charles, wholly ignorant till then 
of his brother's attachment to Miss Linley, felt all that a man may 
be supposed to feel , who had but too much reason to think himself 
betrayed, as well as disappointed. He hastened to Bath, where he 
found a still more furious lover, Mr. Malhews , enquiring al the 
house every particular of the affair, and almost avowing, in the 
impotence of his rage, the unprincipled design which this summary 
step had frustrated. In the course of their conversation , Charles 
Sheridan let fall some unguarded expressions of anger against his 
brother, which this gentleman , who seems to have been eminently 
qualified fora certain line of characters indispensable in all romances, 
treasured up in his memory, and, as it will appear, afterwards availed 
himself of them. For the four or five weeks during which the young 
couple were absent, he never ceased to haunt the Sheridan family, 
with enquiries , rumours , and other disturbing visitations ; and, at 
length , urged on by the restlessness of revenge , inserted the fol- 
lowing violent advertisement in the Bath Chronicle : 

" Wednesday, April 8lh, 1772. 

"Mr. Richard S******* having attempted, in a letter left behind him 
for that purpose, to account for his scandalous method of running a\v;n 
from this place, by insinuations derogating from my character, and tluit 
of a young lady, innocent as far as relates to me, or my knowledge; 
since which he has neither taken any notice of letters , or even informed 
his own family of the place where he has hid himself; I can no longer 
think he deserves the treatment of a gentleman, and therefore shall 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 37 

trouble myself no lurthci about him than , in this public method, to post 
in in as a L* * and a treacherous S*** ***, 

" And as I am convinced there have been many malevolent incendiaries 
oncerned in the propagation of his infamous lie , if any of them , unpro- 
tected by age, infirmities , or profession, will dare to acknowledge the 
part they have acted, and affirm to what they have said o/"me, they may 
depend on receiving the proper reward of their villainy, in the most pub- 
lic manner. The world will be candid enough to judge properly ( I 
make no doubt) of any private abuse on this subject for the future; as 
nobody can defend himself from an accusation he is ignorant of. 

" THOMAS MATHEWS." 

On a remonstrance from Miss Sheridan upon this outrageous 
proceeding , he did not hesitate to assert that her brother Charles 
was privy to it 5 a charge which the latter with indignation repel- 
led , and was only prevented by the sudden departure of Malhews 
to London from calling him to a more serious account for the false- 
hood. 

At this period the party from the Continent arrived ; and as a de- 
tail of the circumstances which immediately followed has been found 
in Mr. Sheridan's own hand-writing, drawn up hastily, it appears, 
at the Parade Coffee-house , Bath , the evening before his second duel 
with Mr. Malhews , it would be little better than profanation to 
communicate them in any other words. 

" It has ever been esteemed impertinent to appeal to the public in con- 
cerns entirely private ; but there now and then occurs a private incident 
which, by being explained , may be productive of public advantage. This 
consideration, and the precedent of a public appeal in this same affair, are 
my only apologies for the following lines : 

" Mr. T. Mathews thought himself essentially injured by Mr. R. She- 
ridan's having co-operated in the virtuous efforts of a young lady to es- 
cape the snares of vice and dissimulation. He wrote several most abusive 
threats to Mr. S , then in France. He laboured, with a cruel industry, 
to vilify his character in England. He publicly posted him as a scoundrel 
and a liar. Mr. S. answered him from France (hurried and surprized) , 
that he would never sleep in England till he had thanked him as he de- 
served. 

" Mr. S- arrived in London at 9 o'clock at night. At 10 he is informed , 
by Mr. S. Ewart, that Mr. M- is in town. Mr. S. had sat up at Canterbury, 
to keep his idle promise to Mr. M. He resolved to call on him that 
night , as , in case he had not found him in town , he had called on Mr. 
Ewart to accompany him to Bath , being bound by Mr. Linley not to let 
any thing pass between him and Mr. M. till he had arrived thither. Mr. 
S. came to Mr. Cochlin's, in Crutchcd Friars, (where Mr. M. was 
lodged , ) about half after twelve. The key of Mr. C.'s door was lost; 
Mr. S. was denied admittance. By two o'clock he got in. Mr. M. had been 
previously down to the door, and told Mr. S. he should be admitted, and 
had retired to bed again. He dressed, complained of the cold, 



38 MEMOIRS 

voured to get heat into him , called Mr. S. his dear friend, and forced him 
to sit down. 

Mr. S. had been informed that Mr. M. had sworn his death that Mr. 
M. had, in numberless companies , produced bills on France, whither he 
meant to retire , on the completion of his revenge. Mr. M. had warned 
Mr. Ewart to advise his friend not even to come in his way without a 
sword, as he could not answer for the consequence 

" Mr. M. had left two letters for Mr. S., in which he declares he is to 
be met with at any hour, and begs Mr. S. will not "deprive himself of 
so much sleep, or stand on any ceremony." Mr. S. called on him at the 
hour mentioned. Mr. S. was admitted with the difficulty mentioned. Mr. 
S. declares that , on Mr. M.'s perceiving that he came to answer then to 
his challenge, he does not remember ever to have seeu a man behave so 
perfectly dastardly. Mr. M. detained Mr. S. till seven o'clock the next 
morning. He (Mr. M. ) said he never meant to quarrel with Mr. S. He 
convinced Mr. S. that his enmity ought to be directed solely against his 
brother and another gentleman at Bath. Mr. S. went to Bath '." ****** 

On his arrival in Bath ( whither he travelled with Miss Linley and 
her Father ) , Sheridan lost not a moment in ascertaining the false- 
hood of the charge against his brother. While Charles, however, 
indignantly denied the flagitious conduct imputed to him by Ma- 
thews , he expressed his opinion of the step which Sheridan and 
Miss Linley had taken in terms of considerable warmth , which were 
overheard by some of the family. As soon as the young ladies had 
retired to bed, the two brothers, without any announcement of 
their intention , set off post together for London, Sheridan having 
previously written the following letter to Mr. Wade , the Master of 
the Ceremonies. 

" SIR , 

" I ought to apologize to you for troubling you again on a subject 
which should concern so few. 

" I find Mr. Mathews's bahaviour to have been such that I cannot be 
satisfied with his concession, as a consequence of an explanation from me. 
I called on Mr. Mathews last Wednesday night at Mr. Cochlin's , without 
the smallest expectation of coming to any -verbal explanation with him. A 
proposal of a pacific meeting the next day was the consequence, which 
ended in those advertisements and the letter to you. As for Mr. Mathews's 
honour or spirit in this whole affair, I shall only add that a few hours 
may possibly give some proof of the latter; while, in my own justifi- 
cation I affirm, that it was far from being my fault that this point now 
remains to be determined. 

" On discovering Mr. Mathews's benevolent interposition in my own 
family, I have counterordered the advertisements that were agreed on , 
as I think even an explanation would now misbecome me ; an agree- 

' The remainder of this paper is omitted, as only briefly referring to circum- 
stances, which will be found more minutely detailed in another document. 



OF R. R. SHERIDAN. 3!) 

nient to them was the effect more of mere charity' than judgment. As 1 
find it necessary to make aH my sentiments as public as possible, your 
declaring this will greatly oblige, 

" Your very humble Servant, 

" R. B. SHERIDAN." 
" Sat. 12 o'clock, May sd, 1772. 
" To William Wade, Esq." 

On the following day (Sunday), when the young gentlemen did 
not appear, the alarm of their sisters was not a little increased , by 
hearing that high words had been exchanged the evening before, 
and that it was feared a duel between the brothers would be the 
consequence. Though unable to credit this dreadful surmise , yet 
full of the various apprehensions which such mystery was calculated 
to inspire , they had instant recourse to Miss Linley, the fair Helen 
of all this strife , as the person most likely to be acquainted with 
their brother Richard's designs , and to relieve them from the sus- 
pense under which they laboured. She . however, was as ignorant 
of the transaction as themselves , and their mutual distress being 
heightened by sympathy, a scene of tears and fainting-fits ensued , 
of which no less remarkable a person than Doctor Priestley, who 
lodged in Mr. Linley's house at the time , happened to be a witness. 

On the arrival of the brothers in town , Richard Sheridan in- 
stantly called Mathews out. His second on the occasion was 
Mr. Ewart, and the particulars of the duel are thus stated by 
himself, in a letter which he addressed to Captain Knight, the 
second of Mathews , soon after the subsequent duel in Bath. 

", I. ;.- *;:-. Hbiun oa Jni,j.{ V 
"SIR, 

" On the evening preceding my last meeting with Mr. Mathews , 
Mr. Barnett ' produced a paper to me, written by Mr. Mathews, con- 
taining an account of our former meetings in London. As I had before 
frequently heard of Mr. Mathews's relation of that affair, without inte- 
resting myself much in contradicting it, I should certainly have treated 
this in the same manner, had it not been seemingly authenticated by Mr. 
Knight's name being subscribed to it. My asserting that the paper con- 
tains much misrepresentation, equivocation, and falsity, might make it 
appear strange that I should apply to you in this manner for information 
on the subject: but, as it likewise contradicts what I have been told 
were Mr. Knight's sentiments and assertions on that affair, I think I 
owe it to his credit, as well as my own justification, first, to be satisfied 
from himself whether he really subscribed and will support the truth 
to the account shown by Mr. Mathews. Give me leave previously to re- 
late what / have affirmed to have been a real state of our meeting in 
London , and which I am now ready to support on my honour, or my 

' The friend ofMathcws in llie second duel. 



40 MEMOIRS 

oath , as the best account I can give of Mr. Mathews's relation is, that it is 
almost directly opposite to mine. 

" Mr. Ewart accompanied me to Hyde Park, about six in the evening, 

where wemetyou andMr. Mathews, and we walked together to the ring 

Mr. Mathews refusing to makeany other acknowledgment than lie had done, 
I observed that we were come to the ground : Mr. Mathews objected to the 
spot, and appealed to you. We proceeded to the back of a building on the 
other side of the ring, the ground was there perfectly level. I called on him, 
and drew my sword (he having previously declined pistols). Mr. Ewart ob- 
served a sentinel on the other side of the building ; we advanced to another 
part of the park I stopped again at a seemingly convenient place : Mr. Ma- 
thews objected to the observation of some people at a great distance, and 
proposed to retire to the Hercules ' Pillars till the park should be clear : we 
did so. In a little time we returned. I again drew my sword ; Mr. Ma- 
thews again objected to the observation of a person who seemed to watch 
us. Mr. Ewart observed that the chance was equal, and engaged that no one 
should stop him, should it be necessary for him to retire to the gate, where 
we had a chaise and four, which was equally at his service. Mr. Mathews 
declared thit he would not engage while any one was within sight, and 
proposed to defer it till next morning. I turned to you , and said that 
* this was trifling work ,' that I could not admit of any delay, and enga- 
ged to remove the gentleman (who proved to be an officer, and who, 
on my going up to him , and assuring him that any interposition 
would be ill timed, politely retired). Mr. Mathews, in the meantime, 
had returned towards the gate ; Mr. Ewart and I called to you , and 
followed. We returned to the Hercules' Pillars, and went from thence, 
by agreement to the Bedford Coffee House, where, the master being 
alarmed, you came and conducted us to Mr. Mathews at the Castle 
Tavern, Henrietta Street. Mr. Ewart took lights up in his hand, and 
almost immediately on our entering the room we engaged. I struck 
Mr. Mathews's point so much out of the line , that I stepped up and 
caught hold of his wrist, or the hilt of his sword, while the point of 
mine was at his breast. You ran in and caught hold of my arm, exclaim- 
ing, ' don't kill him.'' I struggled to disengage my arm, and said his 
sword w?s in my power. Mr. Mathews called out twice or thrice , 
' / beg my life.' We were parted. You immediately said , ' there , he has 
begged his life, and now there is an end of it;' and Mr. Ewart's saying 
that , when his sword was in my power, as I attempted no more , you 
should not have interfered, you replied that you were wrongful that you 
had done it hastily, and to prevent mischief or words to that effect. 
Mr. Mathews then hinted that I was rather obliged to your interposition 
for the advantage : you declared that ' before you did so , both the swords 
were in Mr. Sheridan's power.' Mr. Mathews still seemed resolved to 
give it another turn , and observed that he had never quitted his sword. 
Provoked at this, I then swore, with too much heat perhaps, that he 
should either give up his sword and I would break it, or go to his guard 
again. He refused but, on my persisting, ^either gave it into my hand, 
or flung it on the table, or the ground (which, I will not. absolutely affirm). 
I broke it , and flung the hilt to the other end of the room. He exclaimed 
at this. I took a mourning sword from Mr. Ewart, and presenting him 



OF K. R. SHERIDAN. 41 

with mine, gave my honour that what had passed should never be men- 
tioned by me, and lie might now right himself again. He replied that 
he * would never draw a sword against the man who had given him 
his life ; ' but, on his still exclaiming against the indignity of breaking 
his sword (which he had brought upon himself), Mr. Ewart offered him 
the pistols, and some altercation passed between them. Mr. Mathews 
said, that he could never show his face, if it were known how his sword 
-was broke that such a thing had never been done that it cancelled 
all obligations , etc. etc. You seemed to think it was wrong, and we 
both proposed , that if he never misrepresented the affair, it should not 
be mentioned by us. This was settled. I then asked Mr. Mathews, whe- 
ther (as he had expressed himself sensible of, and shocked at the injustice 
and indignity he had done me in his advertisement) it did not occur to 
him that he owed me another satisfaction ; and that, as it was now in his 
power to do it without discredit, I supposed, he would not hesitate. This 
he absolutely refused, unless conditionally; I insisted on it, and said I 
would not leave the room till it was settled. After much altercation, and 
iv i th much ill-grace, he gave the apology, which afterwards appeared. 
W 7 e parted, and I returned immediately to Bath. I, theret, to Colonel 
Gould , Captain Wade, Mr. Greaser, and others , mentioned the affair to 
Mr. Mathews's credit said that chance having given me the advantage , 
Mr. Mathews had consented to that apology, and mentioned nothing of 
the sword. Mr. Mathews came down, and in two days I found the whole 
affair had been stated in a different light, and insinuations given out to 
the same purpose as in the paper, which has occasioned this trouble. 1 
had undoubted authority that these accounts proceeded from Mr. Ma- 
thews , and likewise that Mr Knight had never had any share in them. I 
then thought I no longer owed Mr. Mathews the compliment to conceal 
any circumstance , and I related the affair to several gentlemen exactly 
as above. 

" Now, sir, as I have put down nothing in this account but upon the 
most assured recollection, and, as Mr. Mathews's paper either directly 
or equivocally contradicts almost every article of it, and as your name 
is subscribed to that paper, I flatter myself that I have a right to expect 
your answer to the following questions : First, 

" Is there any falsity or misrepresentation in what I have advanced 
above ? 

" With regard to Mr. Mathews's paper did I, in the park, seem in the 
smallest article inclined to enter into conversation with Mr. Mathews? 
He insinuates that I did. 

" Did Mr. Mathews not beg his life? He affirms he did not. 

"Did I break his sword without warning ? He affirms I did it with- 
out warning , on his laying it on the table. 

"Did I not offer him mine? He omits it. 

" Did Mr. Mathews give me the apology as a point of generosity, on my 
desisting f demand it? He affirms he did. 

" I shall now give my reasons for doubting your having authenticated 
this paper. 

" i . Because I think it full of falsehood and misrepresentation, and Mr. 
Knight has the character of a man of truth and honour. 



4i MEMOIRS 

" a. When you were at Bath , I was informed that you had never ex 
pressed any such sentiments. 

"3. I have been told that, in Wales, Mr. Mathews never told hi* 
story in the presence of Mr Knight, who had never there insinuated 
anything to my disadvantage. 

" 4- The paper shown me by Mr. Barnett contains (if my memory does 
not deceive me) three separate sheets of writing-paper. Mr. Knight's 
evidence is annexed to the last, which contains chiefly a copy of our 
first proposed advertisements , which Mr. Mathews had, in Mr. Knight's 
presence, agreed should be destroyed as totally void; and which (in a 
letter to Colonel Gould, by whom I had insisted on it) he declared 
upon his honour he knew nothing about , nor should ever make the 
least use of. 

" These, sir, are my reasons for applying to yourself, in preference 
to any appeal to Mr. Ewart, my second on that occasion , which is what 
I would wish to avoid. As for Mr. Mathews's assertions, I shall never be 
concerned at them. I have ever avoided any verbal altercation with that 
gentleman, and he has now secured himself from any other. 

" I am your very humble servant , 
" R. B SHERIDAN." 

It was not till Tuesday morning that the young ladies at Bath 
were relieved from their suspense by the return of the two brothers , 
who entered evidently much fatigued , not having been in bed since 
they left home , and produced the apology of Mr. Mathews , which 
was instantly sent to Crulwcll for insertion. It was in the following 
terms : 

" Being convinced that the expressions I made use of to Mr. Sheri- 
dan's disadvantage were the effects of passion and misrepresentation, I 
retract what I have said to that gentleman's disadvantage, and parti- 
cularly beg his pardon for my advertisement in the Bath Chronicle. 

"THOMAS MATHEWS '." 

With the odour of this transaction fresh about him , Mr. Mathews 
retired to his estate in Wales, and, as he might have expected, 
found himself universally shunned. An apology may be, according 
to circumstances , either the noblest effort of manliness or the last 
resource of fear, and it was evident, from the reception which this 
gentleman experienced every where, that the former, at least, was 
not the class to which his late retraction had been referred. In this 
crisis of his character, a Mr. Barnett, who had but lately come to 
reside in his neighbourhood , observing with pain the mortifications 

1 This appeared in the Bath Chronicle of May 7th. In another part of the same 
paper there is the following paragraph: "We can with anthority contradict the 
account iu the London Evening Post of last night, of a duelbetween Mr. M t ws 
and Mr. S r n, as to the time and event of their meeting, Mr. S. having heen 
at this place on Saturday, and both these gentlemen heing here at present." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 4:5 

to which he was exposed, and perhaps thinking them , in some de- 
gree , unmerited , took upon him to urge earnestly the necessity 
of a second meeting with Sheridan , as the only means of removing 
(he stigma left by the first 5 and , with a degree of Irish friendliness , 
not forgotten in the portrait of Sir Lucius OTrigger, offered him- 
self to be the bearer of the challenge. The desperation of persons 
in Mr. Mattiews's circumstances , is in general much more formid- 
able than the most acknowledged valour $ and we may easily believe 
that it was with no ordinary eagerness he accepted the proposal 
of his new ally, and proceeded with him , full of vengeance , to 
Bath. 

The elder Mr. Sheridan , who had but just returned from Ireland, 
and been with some little difficulty induced to forgive Ins son for 
the wild achievements he had been engaged in during his absence , 
was at this lime in London , making arrangements for the de- 
parture of his favourite , Charles , who , through the interest of 
Mr. Wheatley, an old friend of the family, had been appointed 
Secretary to the Embassy in Sweden. Miss Linley wife and no 
wife , obliged to conceal from the world what her heart would 
have been most proud to avow, was also absent from Bath, being 
engaged at the Oxford music-meeting. The letter containing the 
preliminaries of the challenge was delivered by Mr. jtarnett , with 
rather unnecessary cruelty, into the hands of Miss Sheridan , under 
the pretext , however, that it was a note of invitation for her bro- 
ther, and on the following morning , before it was quite daylight , 
the parties met at Kingsdown Mr. Mathews, attended by his neigh- 
bour Mr. Barnetl, and Sheridan by a gentleman of the name of 
Paumier, nearly as young as himself, and but little qualified for a 
trust of such importance and delicacy. 

The account of the duel , which I shall here subjoin, was drawn 
up some months after, by the second of Mr. Malhews , and depo- 
sited in the hands of Captain Wade, the master of the ceremonies. 
Though somewhat partially coloured , and (according to Mr. Sheri- 
dan's remarks upon it, which shall be noticed presently) incorrect 
in some particulars , it is , upon the whole , perhaps as accurate a 
statement as could be expected , and received , as appears by the 
following letter from Mr. Brcrcton (another of Mr. Sheridan's in- 
timate friends), all the sanction that Captain Paumier's concurrence 
in the truth of its most material facts could furnish. 

" DEAR SIR , 

" In consequence of some reports spread to the disadvantage of Mr. 
M. (thews, it seems lie obtained from Mr. Baructt an impartial relation 
"! ihc last allair ^vitli Mi . Sheridan, directed to you. This account Mr. 



44 MEMOIRS 

Panniicr has seen , and 1 , at Mr. Malhews's desire , inquired from him if 
he thought it true and impartial : he says it differs , in a few immaterial 
circumstances only, from his opinion, and lias given me authority to de 
clare this to you. 

"I am, dear Sir, 
"Your most humble and obedient servant, 

(Signed) "WILLIAM BHERETOU." 
"Bath, Oct. 24. 1772. 

Copy of a paper left by Mr. Burnett in the Hands of Captain Willuim 
Wnde , Master of the Ceremonies at Bath. 

" On quitting our chaises at the top of Kingsdown , I entered into a 
conversation with Captain Paumier, relative to some preliminaries I 
thought ought to be settled in an affair which was likely to end very se- 
riously; particularly the method of using their pistols, which Mr. Ma- 
thews had repeatedly signified his desire to use prior to swords , from a 
conviction that Mr. Sheridan would run in on him , and an ungentle- 
manlike scuffle probably be the consequence. This, however, was re- 
fused by Mr. Sheridan , declaring he had no pistols : Captain Paumier 
replied he had a brace (which I know were loaded). By my advice, 
Mr. Mathews's were not loaded, as I imagined it was always customary 
to load on the field , which I mentioned to Captain Paumier at the White- 
Hart , before we went out , and desired he would draw his pistols. He 
replied, as the*y were already loaded, and they going on a public road 
at that time of the morning, he might as well let them remain so, till we 
got to the place appointed , when he would on his honour draw them , 
which I am convinced he would have done had there been time; but 
Mr. Sheridan immediately drew his sword, and, in a vaunting manner, 
desired Mr. Mathews to draw (their ground was very uneven, and near 
the post-chaise). Mr. Mathews drew; Mr. Sheridan advanced on him 
at first ; Mr. Mathews in turn advanced fast on Mr. Sheridan ; upon which 
he retreated, till he very suddenly ran in upon Mr. Mathews, laying 
himself exceedingly open , and endeavouring to get hold of Mr. Mathews's 
sword; Mr. Mathews received him on his point, and, I believe, disen- 
gaged his sword from 3Ir. Sheridan's body, and gave him another wound; 
which , I suppose , must have been either against one of his ribs , or his 
breast-bone, as his sword broke, which I imagine happened from the 
resistance it met with from one of those parts , but whether it was broke 
by that, or on the closing, I cannot aver. 

" Mr. Mathews, I think, on finding his sword broke, laid hold of Mr. 
Sheridan's sword-arm, and tripped up his heels : they both fell ; Mr. Ma- 
thews was uppermost, with the hilt of his sword in his hand, having 
about six or seven inches of the blade to it, with which I saw him give 
Mr. Sheridan, as I imagined, a skin-wound or two in the neck ; for it 
could be no more, the remaining part of the sword being broad and 
blunt ; he also beat him in the face either with his fist or the hilt of his 
sword. Upon this I turned from them, and asked Captain Paumier if we 
should not take them up ; but I cannot say whether he heard me or not, 
as there was a good deal of noise; however, he made no reply. I again 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 45 

turned to the combatants , who were much in the same situation : I found 
Mr. Sheridan's sword was bent, and he slipped his hand up the small 
part of it, and gave Mr. Mathews a slight wound in the left part of his 
belly : I that instant turned again to Captain Paumier, and proposed 
again our taking them up. He in the same moment called out , ' Oh ! he 
is killed , he is killed ! ' I as quick as possible turned again , and found 
Mr. Mathews had recovered the point of his sword , that was before on 
the ground, with which he had wounded Mr. Sheridan in the belly : 1 
saw him drawing the point out of the wound. By this time Mr. Sheri- 
dan's sword was broke, which he told us. Captain Paumier called out 
to him , ' My dear Sheridan , beg your life, and I will be yours for ever.' 
I also desired him to ask his life : he replied, 'No, by God , I won't.' I 
then told Captain Paumier it would not do to wait for those punctilios 
( or words to that effect ) , and desired he would assist me in taking them 
up. Mr. Mathews most readily acquiesced first, desiring me to see Mr. 
Sheridan was disarmed. I desired him to give me the tuck, which he 
readily did, as did Mr. Sheridan the broken part of his sword to Captain 
Paumier. Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Mathews both got up, the former was 
helped into one of the chaises, and drove off for Bath, and Mr. Mathews 
made the best of his way for London. 

" The whole of this narrative I declare , on the word and honour of a 
gentleman , to be exactly true ; and that Mr. Mathews discovered as much 
genuine , cool, and intrepid resolution as man could do. 

" I think I may be allowed to be an impartial relater of facts, as my 
motive for accompanying Mr. Mathews was no personal friendship, (not 
having any previous intimacy, or being barely acquainted with him, ) 
but from a great desire of clearing up so ambiguous an affair, without 
prejudice to either parly, which a stranger was judged the most proper 
to do, particularly as Mr. Mathews had been blamed before for taking 
a relation with him on a similar occasion. 

( Signed ) " WILLIAM BARNKTT." 
" October, 1772. 

1 The following account is given as an ''fextract of a Letter from Bath," in 
the St. James's Chronicle, July 4 : "Young Sheridan and Captain Mathevvs of 
this town, who lately had a rencontre in a tavern in London, upon account of 
the maid of Bath, Miss Liiiley, have had another this morning upon Kingsdown , 
about four miles hence. Sheridan is much wounded , but whether niortally or not 
is yet uncertain. Both their swords breaking upon the first lunge, they threw each 
other down, and with the broken pieces hacked at each other rolling upon the 
ground, the seconds standing by, quiet spectators. Mathews is but slightly 
wounded, and is since gone off." The Bath Chronicle, on the day after the dnel 
(July 2d), gives the particulars thus: "This morning about three o'clock, a 
second duel was fought with swords between Captain Mathews and Mr. R. She 
ridan , on Kiugsdown , near this city, in consequence of their former dispute 
respecting an amiable young lady, which Mr. M. considered as improperly adjust- 
ed; Mr. S. having since their first rencontre, declared his sentiments respecting 
Mr. M. in a manner that the former thought required satisfaction. Mr. Sheridan 
received three or four wounds in his breast and sides, and now lies very ill- 
Mr. M. was only slightly wounded, and left this city soon after the affair was 
over." 



4C, MEMOIRS 

The comments which Mr. Sheridan thought it necessary to make 
upon this narrative have been found in an unfinished state among his 
papers ; and though they do not , as far as they go , disprove any 
thing material in its statements, (except, perhaps, with respect to 
the nature of the wounds which he received,) yet, as containing 
some curious touches of character , and as a document which he 
himself thought worth preserving , it is here inserted. 

" To William Barnetl , Esq. 

"SIR, 

" It has always appeared to me so impertinent for individuals to 
appeal to the public on transactions merely private, that I own the 
most apparent necessity does not prevent my entering into such a 
dispute without an awkward consciousness of its impropriety. Indeed, I 
am not without some apprehension, that I may have no right to plead 
your having led the way in my excuse ; as it appears not improbable that 
some ill-wisher to you, Sir, and the cause you have been engaged in , 
betrayed you first into this exact narrative , and then exposed it to the 
public eye, under pretence of vindicating your friend. However, as it is 
l he opinion of some of my friends , that I ought not to suffer these papers 
(o pass wholly unnoticed , I shall make a few observations on them , with 
that moderation which becomes one who is highly conscious of the im- 
propriety of staking his single assertion against tbe apparent testimony 
of three. This, I say, wouldbe an impropriety, as I am supposed to write to 
those who are not acquainted with tbe parties. I had some time ago a copy 
of these papers from Captain "Wade, who informed me that tbey were 
lodged in bis hands, to be made public only by judicial authority. I wrote 
to you, Sir, on tbe subject, to have from yourself an avowal tbat the ac- 
count was yours ; but as I received no answer, I have reason to compli- 
ment you with tbe supposition that you are not tbe author of it. How- 
ever, as tbe name William Barnctt is subscribed to it , you must accept 
my apologies for making use of that as the ostensible signature of 
tbe writer. Mr. Paumier likewise (the gentleman who went out with 
me on that occasion in the character of a second ) having assented to 
every thing material in it, I sball suppose the wbole account likewise to 
be bis ; and *s there are some circumstances which could come from no 
one but Mr. Matbews, I sball (without meaning to take from its autho- 
rity ) suppose it to be Mr. Matbews's also. 

As it is highly indifferent to me whether the account I am to observe 
on be considered as accurately true or not, and I believe it is of very 
little consequence to any one else, I shall make tbose observations just 
in tbe same manner as I conceive any indifferent person of common sense, 
wbo should think it worth his while to peruse the matter with any de- 
gree of attention. In this light, the truth of the articles which are as- 
serted under Mr. Barnett's name is what I have no business to meddle 
with; but, if it should appear that this accurate narrative frequently 
contradicts itself as well as all probability, and tbat there are some posi- 
tive facts against it, which do not depend upon any one's assertion, I 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. '? 

I7iust repeat that I shall either compliment Mr. Barnett's judgment, in 
supposing it not liis, or his humanity in proving the narrative to par- 
take of that confusion and uncertainty, which his well-wishers will plead 
to have possessed him in the transaction. On this account, what I shall 
say on the subject need he no further addressed to you ; and , indeed, it 
is idle, in my opinion, to address even the publisher of a newspaper on 
a point that can concern so few, and ought to have been forgotten by 
them. This you must take as my excuse for having neglected the matter 
so long. 

" The first point in Mr. Barnctt's narrative that is of the least conse- 
quence to take notice of, is, where Mr. M. is represented as having re- 
peatedly signified his desire to use pistols prior to swords from a convic- 
tion that Mr. Sheridan would run in upon him , and an ungentlemanlike 
scuffle probably be the consequence. This is one of those articles which 
evidently must be given to Mr. Mathews : for, as Mr. B.'s part is simply to 
relate a matter of fact, of which he was an eye-witness, he is by no 
means to answer for Mr. Mathews's private convictions. As this insinua- 
tion bears an obscure allusion to a past transaction of Mr. M.'s, 1 doubt 
not. but he will be surprized at my indifference in not taking the trouble 
even to explain it. However, I cannot forbear to observe here that had I T 
at the period which this passage alludes to , known what was the theory 
which Mr. M. held of gentemanly scuffle, I might , possibly, have been 
so unhappy as to have put it out of his power ever to have brought it 
into practice. 

"Mr. B. now charges me with having cut short a number of pretty 
preliminaries, concerning which he was treating with Captain Paumier , 
by drawing my sword, and, in a vaunting manner, desiring Mr. M. to 
draw. Though I acknowledge (with deference to these gentlemen) the 
full right of interference which seconds have on such occasions , yet I may 
remind Mr. B. that he was acquainted with my determination with regard 
to pistols before we went on the Down , nor could I have expected it to 
have been proposed. 'Mr. M. drew; Mr. S. advanced, etc. :' here let 
me remind Mr. B. of a circumstance, which I am convinced his memory 
\vill at once acknowledge." 

This paper ends here : but in a rougher draught of the same 
letter (for he appears to have studied and corrected it with no com- 
mon care) the remarks are continued, in a hand not very legible, 
thus: 

" But Mr. B. here represents me as drawing my sword in a vaunting 
manner. This I take to be a reflection ; and can only say, that a person's 
demeanour is generally regulated by their idea of their antagonist, and 
for what I know, 1 may now be writing in a vaunting style. Here let me 
remind Mr. B. of an omission, which, I am convinced, nothing but 
want of recollection could occasion , yet which is a material point in an 
xact account of such an affair, nor does it reflect in the least on Mr. M. 
Mr. M. could not possibly have drawn his sword on my calling to him as 

It is impossible to make any connected sense of the passage that follows, 



48 MEMOIRS 

" Mr. B.'s account proceeds, that I 'advanced first on Mr. M.,' etc. ; 
which , ( says Mr. B. ) I imagine , happened from the resistance it met 
with from one of those parts ; but whether it was broke by that or on the 
closing, I cannot aver.' How strange is the confusion here! First, it 
certainly broke; whether it broke against rib or no, doubtful; then, 
indeed, whether it broke at all, uncertain. * * * * But of all times 
Mr. B. could not have chosen a worse than this for Mr. M.'s s\vord to 
break ; for the relating of the action unfortunately carries a contradiction 
with it; since if, on closing, Mr. M. received me on his point , it is not 
possible for him to have made a lunge of such a nature as to break his 
sword against a rib-bone But as the time chosen is unfortunate, so is the 
place on which it is said to have broke, as Mr. B. might have been in- 
formed , by inquiring of the surgeons , that I had no wounds on my breast 
or rib with the point of a sword, they being the marks of the jagged 
and blunted part." 

He was driven from the ground to the While-Hart , where Ditcher 
and Sharpe , the most eminent surgeons of Bath , attended and 
dressed his wounds , and , on the following day , at the request of 
his sisters, he was carefully removed to his own home. The news- 
papers, which contained the account of the affair, and even stated that 
Sheridan's life was in danger, reached the Linleys at Oxford, during 
the performance , but were anxiously concealed from Miss Linley by 
her father , who knew that the intelligence would totally disable her 
from appearing. Some persons, who were witnesses of the per- 
formance that day , still talk of the touching effect which her beauty 
and singing produced upon all present, aware, as they were, 
that a heavy calamity had befallen her , of which she herself was 
perhaps the only one in the assembly ignorant. 

In her way back to Bath , she was met at some miles from the 
town by a Mr. Panton , a clergyman , long intimate with the family , 
who , taking her from her father's chaise into his own , employed 
the rest of the journey in cautiously breaking to her the particulars 
of the alarming event that had occurred. Notwithstanding this pre- 
caution, her feelings were so taken by surprise, that, in the distress 
of the moment, she let the secret of her heart escape, and passionately 
exclaimed, "My husband! my husband!" demanding to see him, 
and insisting upon her right as his wife to be near him , and watch over 
him day and night. Her entreaties , however, could not be complied 
with ; for the elder Mr. Sheridan , on his return from town , incensed 
and grieved at the catastrophe to which his son's imprudent passion 
had led , refused for some lime even to see him , and strictly forbade 
all intercourse between his daughlers and the Linley family. But 
the appealing looks of a brother, lying wounded and unhappy, had 
more power over their hearts than the commands of a father , and 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 4(T 

Ihey , accordingly , contrived to communicate intelligence of the 
lovers to each other. 

In flic following letter . addressed to him by Charles at this time , 
\\c can trace (hat difference between the dispositions of the brothers, 
which, with every one except their father, rendered Richard, in 
>pile of all his faults, by far the most popular and beloved of the 

two. 

. 

London, July "5d. 1772. 
"DEAR DICK, 

"It was with the deepest concern 1 received the late accounts of you, 
though it was somewhat softened by the assurance of your not being in 
the least danger. You cannot conceive the uneasiness it occasioned to my 
father. Both he and I were resolved to believe the best, and to suppose 
you safe, but then we neither of us could approve of the cause in which 
you suffer. All your friends here condemned you. You risked every thing, 
where you had nothing to gain, to give your antagonist the thing he 
wished , a chance for recovering his reputation. Your courage was past 
dispute :- he wanted to get rid of the contemptible opinion he was held 
in , and you were good-natured enough to let him do it at your expense. 
It is not now a time to scold, but all your friends were of opinion, you 
could, with the greatest propriety, have refused to meet him. For my 
part, I shall suspend my judgment till better informed, only I cannot 
forgive your preferring swords. 

" I am exceedingly unhappy at the situation 1 leave you in with res- 
pect to money matters , the more so as it is totally out of my power to be 
of any use to you. Ewart was greatly vexed at the manner of your draw- 
ing for the last 2o/. I own, I think with some reason. 

" As to old Ewart, what you were talking about is absolutely impos- 
sible; he is already surprized at Mr. Linley's long delay, and, indeed, I 
think the latter much to blame in this respect. I did intend to give you 
some account of myself since my arrival here , but you cannot conceive 
how I have been hurried , even much pressed for time at this present 
writing. I must therefore conclude, with wishing you speedily restored 
to health, and that if I could make your purse as whole as that will short- 
ly be , I hope , it would make me exceedingly happy. 

" I am , dear Dick , yours sincerely, 
" C. F. SHERIDAN." 

Finding that the suspicion of their marriage , which Miss Linley's 
unguarded exclamation had suggested , was gaining ground in the 
mind of both fathers , who seemed equally determined to break the 
tie, if they could arrive at some positive proof of its existence, 
Sheridan wrote frequently to his young wife , (who passed most of 
this iinxious period with her relations at Wells,) cautioning her 
against being led into any acknowledgment, which might further 
the views c.f the elders against their happiness. Many methods \\eiv 

4 



50 MEMOIRS 

tried upon both sides, to ensnare them into a confession of this na- 
ture ; but they eluded every effort, and persisted in attributing the 
avowal which had escaped from Miss Linley before Mr. Pan ton and 
others, to the natural agitation and bewilderment into which her 
mind was thrown at the instant. 

As soon as Sheridan was sufficiently recovered of his wounds ', 
his father , in order to detach him , as much as possible , from the 
dangerous recollections which continually presented themselves in 
Bath , sent him to pass some months at Waltham Abbey , in Essex , 
under the care of Mr. and Mrs. Parker of Farm Hill, his most 
particular friends. In this retirement, where he continued, with 
but few and short intervals of absence , from August or September, 
1772, till the spring of the following year , it is probable that, not- 
withstanding the ferment in which his -heart was kept , he occa- 
sionally and desultorily occupies his hours in study. Among other 
proofs of industry , which I have found among his manuscripts , 
and which may possibly be referred to this period , is an abstract of 
the History of England nearly filling a small quarto volume of 
more than a hundred pages , closely written. I have also found in 
his early hand-writing (for there was a considerable change in his 
writing afterwards) a collection of remarks on Sir William Temple's 
works , which may likewise have been among the fruits of his 
reading at Waltham Abbey. 

These remarks are confined chiefly to verbal criticism, and prove, 
in many instances , that he had not yet quite formed his taste to that 
idiomatic English , which was afterwards one of the great charms 
of his own dramatic style. For instance , he objects to the following 
phrases : " Then I fell to my task again." " These things come, 
with time, to be habitual." " By which these people come to be 
either scattered or destroyed." "Which alone could pretend to 
contest it with them :" (upon which phrase he remarks, " It refers 
to nothing here :") and the following graceful idiom in some verses 
by Temple : 

" Thy busy bead can find no gentle rest 
For thinking ou the events ," etc. etc. 

Some of his observations , however , are just and tasteful. Upon 
the Essay " Of Popular Discontents,' 1 after remarking that "Sir 
W. T. opens all his Essays with something as foreign to the pur- 
pose as possible," he has the following criticism : "Page 260. 

' The Bath Chronicle of the 9th of Jnly has the following paragraph: "It is 
with great pleasure we inform onr readers that Mr. Sheridan is declared by his 
surgeon to b out of danger." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 51 

' Represent misfortunes for faults, and mole-hills for mountains? 
Hie metaphorical and literal expression too often coupled. P. 262. 
* Upon these four wheels the chariot of stale may in all appearance 
drive easy and safe, or at least not be too much shaken by the 
usual roughness of ways, unequal humouj's of men , or any com- 
mon accidents, 'another instance of the confusion of the meta- 
phorical and literal expression." 

Among the passages he quotes from Temple's verses , as faulty , 
is the following : 

" tliat we may see 
Thwi art indeed the empress of the tea." 

It is curious enough , that he himself was afterwards guilty of 
nearly as illicit a rhyme in his song " When 'tis night," and always* 
defended it : 

" But wheu the Cglit's begun , 
Kacli serving at his gun.' 

Whatever grounds there may be for referring these labours of 
Sheridan to the period of his retirement at Waltham Abbey , there 
are certainly but few other intervals in his life that could be selected 
as likely to have afforded him opportunities of reading. Even here , 
however , the fears and anxieties that beset him were too many and 
incessant to leave much leisure for the pursuits of scholarship. 
However a stale of excitement may be favourable to the develop- 
ment of genius which is often of the nalure of Ihose seas, thai 
become more luminous the more they are agitated , (jpr a student 
a far different mood is necessary ; and in order ot reflect with clear- 
ness the images thai study presents, the mind should have its surface 
level and unruffled. 

The situation , indeed , of Sheridan was at this time particularly 
perplexing. He had won the heart , and even hand, of the woman 
he loved , yet saw his hopes of possessing her farther off than ever. 
He had twice risked his life against an unworthy antagonist , yet 
found the vindication of his honour still incomplete , from the mis- 
representations of enemies , and the yet more mischievous testimony 
of friends. He felt within himself all the proud consciousness 
of genius, yet, thrown on the world without even a. profession, 
looked in vain for a channel through which to direct its energies. 
Even the precarious hope which his father's favour held out, had 
been purchased by an act of duplicity whirh his conscience could 
not approve ; for he had been induced , with the view , perhaps, of 
blinding his father's vigilance , not only to promise that he would 
instantly give up a pursuit so unpleasing to him , but to take lt an 
oalh equivocal " that he never would marry Miss Linley. 



MEMOIRS 

The pressure of these various anxieties upon so young and so 
ardent a mind , and their effects in alternately kindling and damp- 
ing its spirit , could only have been worthily described by him who 
felt them ; and there still exist some letters , which he wrote during 
this time , to a gentleman well known as one of his earliest and latest 
friends. I had hoped that such a picture , as these letters must 
exhibit, of his feelings at that most interesting period , of his pri- 
vate life , would not have been lost to the present work. But scru- 
ples over-delicate , perhaps , but respectable , as founded upon a 
systematic objection to the exposure of any papers received under 
the seal of private frienship forbid the publication of these precious 
documents. The reader must , therefore , be satisfied with the few 
distant glimpses of their contents , which are afforded by the an- 
swers of his correspondent, found among the papers entrusted to 
me. From these it appears, that through all his letters the same strain 
of sadness and despondency prevailed , sometimes breaking out 
into aspirings of ambition, and sometimes rising into a tone of cheer- 
fulness , which bill ill concealed the melancholy under it. It is evi- 
dent also, and not a little remarkable, that in none of these over- 
flow ings of his confidence had he as yet suffered the secret of his 
French marriage with Miss Linley to escape -, and that his friend 
accordingly knew but half the wretched peculiarities of his situation. 
Like most lovers , too , imagining that every one who approached 
his mistress must be equally intoxicated with her beauty as himself, 
he seems anxiously to have cautioned his young correspondent (who 
occasionally saw her at Oxford and at Bath) against the danger that 
lay in suchlrresistible charms. From another letter, where the wri- 
ter refers to some message , which Sheridan had requested him to 
deliver to Miss Linley, we learn, that she was at this time so strictly 
watched , as to be unable to achieve what to an ingenious woman 
is seldom difficult an answer to a letter which her lover had con- 
trived to convey to her. 

It was at first the intention of the elder Mr. Sheridan to send his 
daughters , in the course of this autumn , under the care of their 
brother Richard, to France. But, fearing to entrust them to a guar- 
dian, who seemed himself so much in need of direction, he altered 
his plan, and, about the beginning of October, having formed an 
engagement for the ensuing winter with the manager of the Dublin 
theatre , gave up his house in Bath , and set out with his daughters 
for Ireland. At the same time Mr. Grenville (afterwards Marquis of 
Buckingham), who had passed a great part of this and the preceding 
summer at Bath , for the purpose of receiving instruction from 
Mr. Sheridan in elocution, went also to Dublin on a short visit , ac- 
companied by Mr. Cleaver, and by his brother Mr. Thomas Grcn- 



OF R. B. SHKHIDAN. 53 

ville between whom and Richard Sheridan an intimacy had al this 
period commenced , which continued with uninterrupted cordiality 
ever after. 

Some lime previous to the departure of the elder Mr. Sheridan 
for Ireland , having taken before a magistrate the depositions of the 
postilions who were witnesses of the duel at Kingsdown , he had. 
earnestly entreated of his son to join him in a prosecution against 
Mathews, whose conduct on the occasion he and others considered 
as by no means that of a fair and honourable antagonist. It was in 
contemplation of a measure of this nature, that the account of the 
meeting already given was drawn up by Mr. Barnett, and deposited 
in the hands' of Captain Wade. Though Sheridan refused to join in 
legal proceedings from an unwillingness , perhaps , to keep Miss 
Linley's name any longer ailoat upon public conversation yet this 
revival of the subject , and the conflicting statements to which it gave 
rise , produced naturally in both parties a relapse of angry feelings, 
which was very near ending in a third duel between them. The au- 
thenticity given by Captain Paurnier's name fo a narrative which 
Sheridan considered false and injurious , was for some time a source 
of considerable mortification to him ; and it must be owned , that 
the helpless irresolution of this gentleman during the duel , and his 
weak acquiescenee in these misrepresentations afterwards , showed 
him as unfit to be trusted with the life as with the character of his 
friend. 

How nearly this new train of misunderstanding had led to ano- 
ther explosion , appears from one of the letters already referred to , 
written in December, and directed to Sheridan at the Bedford Coffee- 
house , Covent-Garden , in which the writer expresses the most 
friendly and anxious alarm at the intelligence which he has just re- 
ceived, implores of Sheridan to moderate his rage ., and reminds 
him how often he had resolved never to have any concern with Ma- 
thews again. Some explanation , however, took place , as we collect 
from a letter dated a few days later ; and the world was thus spared 
not only such an instance of inveteracy, as three duels between the 
same two men would have exhibited , but , perhaps , the premature 
loss of a life to which we are indebted, for an example as noble in its 
excitements , and a lesson as useful in its warnings , as ever genius 
and its errors have bequeathed to mankind. 

The following Lent Miss Linley appeared in the oratorios at Co- 
vent-Garden ; and Sheridan, who, from the nearness of his retreat to 
London , (to use a phrase of his own , repeated in one of his friund's 
letters,) " trod upon the heels of perilous probabilities," though 
prevented by the vigilance of her father from a private interview, had 
frequent opportunities of seeing her in public. Among many other 



5i MEiMOIRS 

stratagems which he contrived, for the purpose of exchanging a few 
words with her, he more than once disguised himself as a hackney- 
coachman , and drove her home from the theatre. 

It appears, however, that a serious misunderstanding at this lime 
occurred between them , originating probably in some of those 
paroxysms of jealousy, into which a lover like Sheridan must have 
been continually thrown , by the numerous admirers and pursuers 
of all kinds, which the beauty and celebrity of his mistress attracted. 
Among various alliances invented for her by the public at this pe- 
riod , it was rumoured that she was about to be married to Sir Tho- 
mas Clarges ; and in the Bath Chronicle of April, 1273 , a corres- 
pondence is given as authentic between her and " Lord Grosvenor," 
which , though pretty evidently a fabrication , yet proves the high 
opinion entertained of the purity of her character. The correspond- 
ence is thus introduced , in a letter to the editor : "The following 

letters are confidently said to have passed between Lord G r and 

the celebrated English syren , Miss L y. I send them to you for 

publication , not with any view to encrease the volume of literary 
scandal, which lam sorry to say, at present needs no assistance, but 
with the most laudable intent of setting an example for our modern 
belles , by holding out the character of a young woman , who , not- 
withstanding the solicitations of her profession , and the flattering 
example of higher ranks , has added incorwptible virtue to a 
number of the most elegant qualifications." 

Whatever may have caused the misunderstanding between her 
and her lover, a reconcilement was with no great difficulty effected, 
by the mediation of Sheridan's young friend , Mr. Ewart; and, at 
length, after a series of stratagems and scenes, which convinced 
Mr. Linley that it was impossible much longer to keep them asunder, 
he consented to their union, and on the 13lh of April, 1773, they 
were married by license ' Mr. Ewart being at the same time wed- 
ded to a young lady with whom he also had eloped clandestinely to 
France , but was now enabled , by the forgiveness of his father, to 
complete this double triumph of friendship and love. 

A curious instance of the indolence and procrastinating habits of 
Sheridan used to be related by Woodfall , as having occurred about 
this time. A statement of his conduct in the duels having appeared 
in one of the Bath papers , so false and calumnious as to require an 
immediate answer, he called upon Woodfall to request that his paper 
might be the medium of it. But wishing, as he said , that the pub- 
lic should have the whole matter fairly before them , he thought it 

1 Thus announced in the Gentleman's Magazine: "Mr. Sheridan of the 
Temple to the celebrated Miss Linley of Bath." 



OF R. B SHERIDAN. 56 

right that the offensive statement should first be inserted , and in a 
day or two after be followed by his answer, which would thus come 
wilh more relevancy and effect. In compliance with his wish, Wood- 
fall lost not a moment in transcribing the calumnious article into 
his columns not doubting , of course , that the refutation of it 
would be furnished with still greater eagerness. Day after day, how- 
ever, elapsed , and , notwithstanding frequent applications on the 
one side , and promises on the other, not a Hne of the answer was 
ever sent by Sheridan , who , having expended all his activity in 
assisting the circulation of the poison , had not industry enough left 
4o supply the antidote. Throughout his whole life, indeed, he but 
too consistently acted upon the principles which the first Lord Hol- 
land used playfully to impress upon his son : "Never do to-day \ 
what you can possibly put off till to-morrow , nor ever do, yourself, j 
what you can get any one else to do for you." 

CHAPTER III. 

Domestic circumstances Fragments of Essays found among his papers. 
Comedy of " the Rivals." Answer to " Taxation no tyranny." 
Farce of " St. Patrick's day." 

A FEW weeks previous to his marriage, Sheridan had been entered 
a student of the Middle Temple. It was not , however, to be ex- 
pected that talents like his, so sure of a quick return of fame and 
emolument , would wait for the distant and dearly -earned emolu- 
ments, which a life of labour in this profession promises. Nor, in- 
deed, did his circumstances admit of any such patient speculation. 
A part of the sum which Mr. Long had settled upon Miss Linley, 
and occasional assistance from her father (his own having withdrawn 
all countenance from him), were now the only resources, beside his 
own talents, left him. The celebrity of Mrs. Sheridan as a singer 
was , it is true , a ready source of wealth ; and offers of the most ad- 
vantageous kind were pressed upon them , by managers of concerts 
both in town and country. But with a pride and delicacy, which 
received the tribute of Dr. Johnson's praise, he rejected at once all 
thoughts of allowing her to re-appear in public ; and, instead of pro- 
filing by the display of his wife's talents , adopted the manlier reso- 
lution of seeking an independence by his own. An engagement 
had been made for her some months before by her father, to per- 
form at the music-meeting that was to lake place at Worcester this 
summer. But Sheridan, who considered that his own claims upon 
her superseded all others, would not suffer her to keep this engage- 
ment. 

How decided his mind was upon the subject will appear from the 



M MEMOIRS 

following letter, written by him to Mr. Linley about a month after 
his marriage , and containing some other interesting particulars , 
that show the temptations with which his pride had , at this time , to 
struggle : 

East Buriiham, May 12, ijyS. 
" DEAR SIR , 

" I purposely deferred writing to you till I should have settled all mat- 
ters in London, and in some degree settled ourselves at our little home. 
Some unforeseen delays prevented my finishing with Swale till Thursday 
last, when every thing was concluded. I likewise settled with him for his 
own account, as he brought it to me, and, for a friendly bill, it is pretty 
decent. Yours of the 3d instant did not reach me till yesterday, by rea- 
son of its missing us at Mordcn. As to the principal point it treats of, I 
had given my answer some days ago to Mr. Isaac of Worcester. He had 
inclosed a letter to Storace for my wife, in which he dwells much on the 
nature of the agreement you had made for her eight months ago, and 
adds, that ' as this is no new application , but a request that you (Mr. S.) 
will fulfil a positive engagement, the breach of which would prove of 
fatal consequence to our Meeting, 1 hope Mr. Sheridan will think his 
honour in some degree concerned in fulfilling it. 'Mr. Storace, in or- 
der to enforce Mr. Isaac's argument, showed me bis letter on the same 
subject to him , which begins with saying , ' We must have Mrs. Sheri- 
dan , somehow or other, if possible ! ' the plain English of which is that, 
if her husband is not willing to let her perform, we will persuade him 
that he acts dislionnurablr in preventing her from fulfilling a positive 
engagement. This I conceive to be the very worst mode of application 
that could have been taken ; as there really is not common sense in the 
idea that my honour can be concerned in my wife's fulfilling an engage- 
ment, which it is impossible she should ever have made. Nor (as I 
wrote to Mr. Isaac) can you, who gave the promise, whatever it was , be 
in the least charged with the breach of it, as your daughter's marriage 
was an event which must always have been looked to by them as quite as 
natural a period to your right over her as her death. And, in my opinion, 
it would have been just as reasonable to have applied to you to fulfil your 
engagement in the latter case as in the former. As to the imprudence of 
declining this engagement , I do not think , even were we to suppose 
that my wife should ever on any occasion appear again in public , there 
would be the least at present. For instance, I have had a gentleman with 
me from Oxford ( where they do not claim the least right as from an en- 
gagement) , who has endeavoured to place the idea of my complimenting 
the University with Betsey's performance in the strongest light of advan- 
tage to me. This he said, on my declining to let. her perform on any 
agreement. He likewise informed me , that he had just left Lord North 
( the Chancellor), who , he assured me, would look upon it as the highest 
compliment , and had expressed himself so to him. Now, should it be a 
point of inclination or convenience to me to break my resolution with re- 
gard to Betsey's performing, there surely would be more sense in obli- 
ging Lord North (and probably from his own application) and the Uni- 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN- 67 

vcrsity, than Lord Coventry and Mr. Isaac. For, were she to sing at 
Worcester, there would not be the least compliment in her performing 
at Oxford. Indeed, they would have a right to claim it particularly, as 
that is the mode of application they have chosen from Worcester. I have 
mentioned the Oxford matter merely as an argument, that I can have no 
kind of inducement to accept of the proposal from Worcester. And, 
as I have written fully on the subject to Mr. Isaac, I think there will 
be no occasion for you to give any further reasons to Lord Coventry 
only that I am sorry I cannot accept of his proposal , civilities , etc. , 
and refer him for my motives to Mr. Isaac , as what I have said to you 
on the subject I mean for you only, and, if more remains to be argued 
on the subject in general, we must defer it till we meet, which you 
have given us reason to hope will not be long first. 

"As this is a letter of business chiefly, I shall say little of our situa- 
tion and arrangement of affairs, but that I think we are as happy as 
those who wish us best could desire. There is but one thing that has 
the least weight upon me, though it is one I was prepared for. But 
time, while it strengthens the other blessings we possess, will, I hope , 
add that to the number. You will know that I speak with regard to my 
father. Betsey informs me you have written to him again have you heard 
from him ?******* * 

" I should hope to hear from you very soon , and 1 assure you, you 
shall now find me a very exact correspondent ; though I hope you 
will not give me leave to confirm my character in that respect before we 
meet. 

" As there is with this a letter for Polly and you , I shall only charge 
you with mine and Betsey's best love to her, mother, and Tom , etc. etc. 
and believe me your sincere friend, and affectionate son , 

" R. B. SHERIDAN." 

At East Burnham , from whence this letter is dated , they were 
now living in a small cottage , to which they had retired imme- 
diately on their marriage, and to which they often looked back with a 
sigh in after-times , when they were more prosperous , but less 
happy. It w r as during a very short absence from this cottage, thai 
the following lines were written by him : 

" Teach me , kiud Hymeu , teach for thou 
Must be my only tutor now , 
Teach me some innocent employ , 
That shall the hateful thought destroy , 
Thai I this whole long night must pass 
In exile from my love's embrace. 
Alas , thou hast no wings, oh Time ' ! 
It wa some thoughtless lover's rhyme , 
Who, writing in his Cloe's view, 
Paid her the compliment through you. 
For had he, if he truly lov'd, 
But once the pangs of absence prov'd , 

It will be perceived that the right following lines are the foundation of the 
'iig "What hard, O h Time," iu the Uneuna. 



.'. MEMOIRS 

He'd cropt thy wings , and , in their stead , 

Have painted thee with heels of lead. 

But 'tis the temper of the mind , 

Where we thy regulator find. 

Still o'er the gay and o'er the yonug 

With nnfelt steps you flit along , 

As Virgil's nymph o'er ripeu'd corn , 

With such etherial haste wa borne , 

That every stock , with upright head , 

Denied the pressure of her tread. 

Bnt o'er the wretched , oh , how *iow 

And heavy sweeps thy scythe of \voe t 

Oppress'd beneath each stroke they bow , 

Thy course engraven on their brow : 

A day of absence shall consume 

The glow of youth and manhood's bloom , 

And one short night of anxious fear 

Shall leave the wrinkles of a year. 

For me who , when I'm happy , owe 

No thanks to fortune that I'm so , 

Who long have learned to look at one 

Dear object , and at one alone , 

For all the joy, or all the sorrow, 

That gilds the day , or threats the morrow , 

I never felt thy footsteps light , 

But when sweet love did aid thy flight , 

And , banish'd from his blest dominion, 

I cared not for thy borrowed pinion. 

True, she is mine , and , since she's mine , 
At trifles I should not repine ; 
But oh, the miser's real pleasure 
Is not in knowing he has treasure ; 
H must behold his golden store, 
And feel, and count his riches o'er. 
Thus I , of one dear gem possest , 
And in that treasure only blest , 
There every day would seek delight , 
And clasp the casket every night. 

Towards the winter they went to lodge for a short time with Sto- 
race, the intimate friend of Mr. Linley, and in the following year 
attained that first step of independence , a house to themselves , 
Mr. Linley having kindly supplied the furniture of their new resi- 
dence, which was in Orchard-Street, Porlman-Square. During the 
summer of 1774, they passed some time al Mr. Canning's and Lord 
Coventry's ; but , so little did these visits interfere with the literary 
industry of Sheridan , that , as appears 'from the following letter 
written to Mr. Linley in November, he had not only at that lime 
finished his play of the Rivals , but was on the point of " sending 
a book to the press :" 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 59 

" DKAR SIR, Nov. i7th, 1774. 

" If I \vere to attempt to make as many apologies as my long omission 
in \vritingto you requires, I should have no room for any other subject. 
One excuse only I shall bring forward , which is , that T have been ex- 
ceedingly employed , and I believe very profitably. However, before I 
explain how, I must ease my mind on a subject that much more nearly 
concerns me than any point of business or profit. I must premise to you 
that Betsey is now very well , before I tell you abruptly that she has en- 
countered another disappointment, and consequent indisposition.* * * * 
However she is now getting entirely over it , and she shall never take any 
journey of the kind again. I inform you of this now, that you may not be 
alarmed by any accounts from some other quarter, which might lead you 
to fear she was going to have such an illness as last year, of which I 
assure you, upon my honour, there is not the least apprehension. If I did 
not write now, Betsey would write herself, and in a day she will make 
you quite easy on this head. 

" I have bee^ very seriously at work on a book , which I am just now 
sending to the press, and which I think will do me some credit, if it 
leads to nothing else. However, the profitable affair is of another nature. 
There will be a Comedy of mine in rehearsal at Covent-Garclen within a 
few days. I did not set to work on it till within a few days of my setting 
out for Crome , so you may think I have not , for these last six weeks , 
been very idle. I have done it at Mr. Harris's ( the manager's) own re- 
quest ; it is now complete in his hands , and pi-eparing for the stage. He, 
and some of his friends , also who have heard it , assure me in the most 
flattering terms that there is not a doubt of its success. It will be very 
well played, and Harris tells me that the least shilling I shall get (if it 
succeeds) will be six hundred pounds. I shall make no secret of it towards 
the time of representation, that it may not lose any support my friends 
can give it. I had not written a line of it two months ago , except a 
scene or two, which I believe you have seen in an odd act of a little farce. 
" Mr, Stanley was with me a day or two ago on the subject of the 
oratorios. I find Mr. Smith has declined, and is retiring to Bath. 
Mr. Stanley informed me that on his applying to the King for the conti- 
nuance of his favour, he was desired by His Majesty to make me an offer 
of Mr. Smith's situation and partnership in them , and that he should 
continue his protection, etc. I declined the matter very civilly and very 
peremptorily. I should imagine that Mr. Stanley would apply to you ; 
J started the subject to him , and said you had twenty Mrs. Sheridans 
more. However, he said very little : if he does , and you wish to make 
an alteration in your system at once, I should think you may stand in 
Smith's place. I would not listen to him on any other terms, and I should 
think the King might be made to signify his pleasure for such an arrange- 
ment. On this you will reflect, and if any way strikes you that I can 
move in it, I need not add how happy I shall be in its success. * 

" I hope you will let me have the pleasure to hear from you soon , as I 
shall think any delay unfair, unless you can plead that you are writing 
an opera , and a folio on music beside. Accept Betsey's love and duty. 
" Your sincere and affectionate 
" II. B. SHERIDAK ' 



Gfl MEMOIRS 

Whal the book here alluded to was , I cannot with any accuracy 
ascertain. Besides a few sketches of plays and poems, of which 1 
shall give some account in a subsequent Chapter, there exist 
among his papers several fragments of Essays and Letters , all of 
which including the unfinished plays and poems must have been 
written by him in the interval between 1769, when he left Harrow, 
and the present year ; though at what precise dates during that pe- 
riod there are no means of judging. 

Among these are a few political Letters , evidently designed for 
the newspapers; some of them but half copied out, and probably 
never sent. One of this description , which must have been written 
immediately on his leaving school , is a piece of irony against tho 
Duke of Grafton , giving reasons why that nobleman should not lose 
his head , and , under the semblance of a defence, exaggerating all 
the popular charges against him. 

The first argument ( he says) of the Duke's adversaries "is found- 
ed on the regard which ought to be paid to justice, and on the good 
effects which , they affirm , such an example would have , in sup- 
pressing the ambition of any future minister. But , if I can prove 

that his might be made a much greater example of by being 

suffered to live, I think I may without vanity affirm that their whole 
argument will fall to the ground. By pursuing the methods which 
they propose, viz. chopping off his 's head, I allow the impres- 
sion would be stronger at first , but we should consider how soon 

that wears off. If, indeed , his 's crimes were of such a nature , 

as to entitle his head to a place on Temple-Bar, I should allow sonic 
weight to their argument. But , in the present case , we should re- 
flect how apt mankind are to relent after they have inflicted punish- 
ment; so that, perhaps, the same men who would have detested 
the noble Lord while alive and in prosperity, pointing him as a 
scare-crow to their children , might , after being witnesses to the 
miserable fate that had overtaken him , begin in their hearts to pity 
him-, and from the fickleness so common to human nature, perhaps, 
byway of compensation, acquit him of part of his crimes , insinuate, 
that he was dealt hardly with , and thus , by the remembrance of 
their compassion on this occasion, be led to show more indulgence 
to any future offender in the same circumstances. "There is a clear- 
ness of thought and style here very remarkable in so young a writer. 

In affecting to defend the Duke against the charge of fickleness 
and unpunctuality, he says, "I think I could bring several instances 
which should seem lo promise the greatest steadiness and reso- 
lution. I have known him make the Council wait , on the business 
of the whole nation, when he has had an appointment to Newmarket. 
Surely, this is an instance of the greatest honour -, and , if we see 



OF R. H. SHFR1DAN a 

him so punctual in private appointments, must we nol conclude 

that he is infinitely more so in greater matters ? Nay, when W 's ' 

fame over, is it not notorious that the late Lord Mayor went to His 
('.race on that evening, proposing a scheme which, by securing this 
lire-brand, might have put an end to all the troubles he has caused. But 
his Grace did not see him ; no, he was a man of too much honour ; 
lie had promised that evening to attend Nancy Parsons to Ranelagh, 
and he would not disappoint her, but made three thousand people 
witnesses of his punctuality." 

There is another Letter, which happens to be dated ( 1770), ad- 
dressed to " Novus," some writer in Woodfall's Public Advertiser, 
and appearing to be one of a series to the same correspondent. 
From Hie few political allusions introduced in this letter, (which is 
occupied chiefly in an attack upon the literary style of " Novus,") 
we can collect that the object of 'Sheridan was to defend the new 
ministry of Lord North , who had , in the beginning of that year, 
succeeded the Duke of Grafton. Junius was just then in the height 
of his power and reputation; and, as in English literature, one 
great voice always produces a multitude of echoes, it was thought 
at that time indispensable to every letter-writer in a newspaper, to 
be a close copyist of the style of Junius : of course , our young po- 
litical tyro followed this "mould of form" as well as the rest. Thus, 
in addressing his correspondent : "That gloomy seriousness in 
your style , that seeming consciousness of superiority, together 
with the consideration of the infinite pains it must have cost you to 
have been so elaborately wrong , will not suffer me to attribute 
such numerous errors to any thing but real ignorance , joined with 
most consummate vanity." The following is a specimen of his acute- 
ness in criticising the absurd style of his adversary : " You leave 
it rather dubious whether you were most pleased with the glorious 
opposition to Charles I, or the dangerous designs of that monarch , 
which you emphatically call ' the arbitrary projects of a Stuart's na- 
ture. 1 What do you mean by the projects of a man's nature"? A 
man's natural disposition may urge him to the commission of some 
actions ; Nature may instigate and encourage , but I believe you 
arc the first that ever made her a projector." 

It is amusing to observe , that , while he thus criticises the style 
and language of his correspondent, his own spelling, in every se- 
cond line, convicts him of deficiency in at least one common branch 
of literary acquirement : we find t/ting always spelt think ; whe- 
ther, where , and which turned into wether, were , and wich ; 
and double ra'sand s's almost invariably reduced to " single blessed- 
ness." This sign of a neglected education remained with him to a 

1 Wilkcs. 



62 MEMOIRS 

very late period, and, in his hasty writing, or scribbling, wonkl 
occasionally recur to the last. 

From these Essays for the newspapers it may be seen how early 
was the bias of his mind towards politics. It was , indeed , the rival 
of literature in his affections during all the early part of his life ; 
and, at length, whether luckily for himself or not it is difficult to 
say, gained the mastery. 

There are also among his manuscripts some commencements of 
Periodical Papers , under various names , " The Detector," " The 
Dramatic Censor," etc. $ none of them, apparently, carried beyond 
the middle of the first number. Bui one of the most curious of these 
youthful productions is a Letter to the Queen, recommending the 
establishment of an Institution , for the instruction and maintenance 
of young females in the belter classes of life , who, from either the 
loss of their parents or from poverty , are without the means of 
being brought up suitably to their station. He refers to the asylum 
founded by Madame de Maintenon , at St. Cyr, as a model , and 
proposes that the establishment should be placed under the patron- 
age of Her Majesty, and entitled " The Royal Sanctuary." The read- 
er, however, has to arrive at the practical part of the plan, through 
long and flowery windings of panegyric, on the beauty, genius, 
and virtue of women, and their transcendent superiority, in every 
respect, over men. 

The following sentence will give some idea of the sort of elo- 
quence, with which he prefaces this grave proposal to Her Majesty: 
"The dispute about the proper sphere of women is idle. That men 
should have altempted to draw a line for their orbit , shows that God 
meant them for cornels , and above our jurisdiction. With them the 
enthusiasm of poetry and the idolatry of love is the simple voice of 
nature." There are, indeed, many passages of this boyish compo- 
sition , a good deal resembling in their style those ambitious apos- 
trophes , with which he afterwards ornamented his speeches on the 
trial of Hastings. 

He next proceeds to remark to Her Majesty, that in those coun- 
tries where " man is scarce better than a brute, he shows his dege- 
neracy by his treatment of women ," and again falls into metaphor, 
not very clearly made out : " The influence that women have over 
us is as the medium through which the finer Arts act upon us. The 
incense of our love and respect for them creates the atmosphere of 
our souls , which corrects and meliorates the beams of knowledge." 

The following is in a belter style : " However in savage coun- 
tries , where the pride of man has not fixed the first diclates of igno- 
rance into law, we see the real effects of nature. The wild Huron 
shall , to the object of his love , become gentle as his weary rein- 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 01 

. he shall present to her the spoil of his bow on his knee; 
shall watch without reward the cave where she sleeps; he shall 
rob the birds for feathers for her hair, and dive for pearls for her 
neck ; her look shall be his law , and her beauties his worship ! " 
lie then endavours to prove that , as it is the destiny of man to be 
ruled by woman , he ought , for his own sake , to render her as lit 
for that task as possible : *' How can we be better employed than 
in perfecting that which governs us? The brighter they are, the 
more we shall be illumined. Were the minds of all women culti- 
vated by inspiration, men would become wise of course. They are 
a sort of pentagraphs with which nature writes on the heart of man ; 
what s/ie delineates on the original map will appear on the 
copy." 

In showing how much less women are able to struggle against 
adversity than men , he says, " As for us , we are born in a slate 
of warfare with poverty and distress. The sea of adversity is our 
natural element, and he that will not buffet with the billows deserves 
lo sink. But you , oh you, by nature formed of gentler kind, can 
you endure the biting storm ? shall you be turned to the nipping 
blast, and not a door be open lo give you shelter?" 

After describing , with evident seriousness , the nature of the 
institutions of Madame de Maintenon, at St. Cyr, he adds the fol- 
lowing strange romantic allusion : " Had such a charity as I have 
been speaking of existed here , the mild Parthenia and my poor 
Laura would not bave fallen into untimely graves." 

The practical details of his plan, in which it is equally evident that 
he means to be serious, exhibit the same flightiness of language 
and notions. The King , he supposes , would have no objection to 
" grant Hampton-Court, or some other palace, for the purpose ;" 
and " as it is (he continues, still addressing the Queen, ) to be imme- 
diately under Your Majesty's patronage , so should Your Majesty 
be the first member of it. Let the conslilution of it be like that of a 
university, Your Majesty, Chancellor; some of the first ladies in the 
kingdom sub-chancellors ; whose care it shall be to provide instruc- 
tors of real merit. The classes are to be distinguished by age, 
none by degree. For, as their qualification should be gentility, they 
are all on a level. The instructors should be women, except for 
the languages. Lalin and Greek should not be learned ; the 
frown of pedantry destroys the blush of humility. The practical part 
of the sciences , as of astronomy, etc. should be taught. In history 
they would find that there are other passions in man than love. As 
for novels , there are some I would strongly recommend ; but ro- 
mances infinitely more. The one is a representation of the effects of 
the passions as they should be, though extravagant; the other, as 



C4 MEMOIRS 

they are. The latter is falsely called nature , and is a picture of de- 
praved and corrupted society , the other is the glow of nature. I 
would therefore exclude all novels that show human nature depraved : 
however well executed, the design will disgust." 

He concludes by enumerating the various good effects, which 
the examples of female virtue , sent forth from such an institution , 
would produce upon the manners and morals of the other sex , and 
in describing , among other kinds of coxcombs , the cold , courtly 
man of the world , uses the following strong figure : " They are 
so clipped , and rubbed , and polished , that God's image and in- 
scription is worn from them , and when He calls in his coin , He 
will no longer know them for his own." 

There is still another Essay, or rather a small fragment of an Es- 
say, on the Letters of Lord Chesterfield , which , I am inclined to 
think , may have formed a part of the rough copy of the book an- 
nounced by him to Mr. Linley as ready in the November of this 
year. Lord Chesterfield's Letters appeared for the first time in 1774, 
and the sensation they produced was exactly such as would tempt a 
writer in quest of popular subjects to avail himself of it. As the few 
pages which I have found, and which contain merely scattered hints 
of thoughts, are numbered as high as 232, it is possible that the 
preceding part of the work may have been sufficiently complete to 
go into the printer's hands , and that there, like so many more of 
his " unshelled brood ," it died without ever taking wing. A few of 
the memorandums will, I have no doubt, be acceptable to the 
reader. 

" Lord C.'s whole system in no one article calculated to make a great 
man. A noble youth should be ignorant of the things he wishes him to 
know ; such a one as he wants would be too soon a man. 

" Emulation is a dangerous passion to encourage, in some points, in 
young men ; it is so linked with envy : if you reproach your son for not 
surpassing his school-fellows, he will hate those who are before him. 
Emulation not to be encouraged even in virtue. True virtue will, like the 
Athenian, rejoice in being surpassed; a friendly emulation cannot exist 
in two minds; one must hate tbe perfections in which he is eclipsed by 
the other; thus, from hating the quality in his competitor, be loses the 
respect for it in himself: a young man by himself better educated than 
two. A Roman's emulation was not to excel bis countrymen, but to 
make bis country excel : tbis is tbe true, the other selfisb. Epaminondas, 
who reflected on tbe pleasure his success would give bis father, most 
glorious ; an emulation for that purpose, true. 

" The selfisb vanity of the father appears in all these letters his 
sending the copy of a letter for his sister. His object was the praise of 
his own mode of education.- How much more noble the aflection of 
Morni in Ossian ; ' Oh , that the name of Moral,' etc. etc. ' 

' "Oh that the name of Alortii were forgot among the people! that the heroes 



OF ft. B. SHERIDAN. C5 

" His frequent directions for constant employment entirely ill founded : 
a wise man is formed more by the action of his own thoughts than hy ^ 
continually feeding it. 'Hurry,' he says, ' from play to study; never be 
doing nothing' I say, 'Frequently be unemployed; sit and think.' 
There are on every subject but a few leading and fixed ideas ; their 
tcacks may be traced by your own genius, as well as by reading . a 
man of deep thought, who shall have accustomed himself to support or 
attack all he has read, will soon find nothing new -.thought is -exercise, 
and the mind like the body must not be wearied." 

These last few sentences contain the secret of Sheridan's confi- 
dence in his own powers. His subsequent success bore him out in 
the opinions he thus early expressed, and might even have per- 
suaded him that it was in consequence , not in spite, of his want of 
cultivation that he succeeded. 

On the 17th of January, 1775, the comedy of The Rivals was 
brought out at Covent-Garden, and the following was the cast of the 
characters on the first night : 

Sir Anthony Absolute Mr. Shuter. 

Captain Absolute Mr. Woodward. 

Falkland Mr. Lewis. 

Acres . . . : Mr. Quick. 

Sir Lucius O'Trigger^ Mr. Lee. 

Fag . -.-. .**'. Mr. Lee Lewes. 

David ..-..!. Mr. Dunstal. 

Coachman Mi\ Fearon. 

Mrs. Malaprop Mrs. Green. 

Lydia Languish . . '. Miss. Barsanti. 

Julia Mrs. Bulkley. 

Lucy . . . , . . . Mrs. Lessingham. 

This comedy , as is well known , failed on its first representa- 
tion , chiefly from the bad acting of Mr. Lee in Sir Lucius O'Trig- 
ger. Another actor, however, Mr. Clinch , was substituted in his 
place, and the play being lightened of this and some other incum- 
brances , rose at once into that high region of public favour, where 
it has continued to float so buoyantly and gracefully ever since. 

The following extracts from letters written at that time by Miss 
Linley (afterwards Mrs.Tickell) to her sister, Mrs. Sheridan, though 
containing nothing remarkable , yet , as warm with the feelings of 
a moment so interesting in Sheridan's literary life, will be read, 
perhaps , with some degree of pleasure. The slightest outline of a 
celebrated place , taken on the spot , has often a charm beyond the 
most elaborate picture finished at a distance. 

would only say, 'Behold the father of Gaul!"' Sheridan applied this, more than 
il'i'tyycars after, in talking of his ovm son , ou the hustings of Westminster, and 
"<! that, in like manner, ht would ask no greater distinction than for men to point 
' him and say, There goes the father of Tom Sheridan." 

6 



G6 MEMOIRS 

" MY DKABKST ELIZA , Bath. 

" We are all in the greatest anxiety about Sheridan's play, though 1 
do not think there is the least doubt of its succeeding. 1 was told last 
night that it was his own story, and therefore called " The Rivals ; " but 
T do not give any credit to this intelligence.* ****** 
"I am told he will get at least ^oo/. for his play " 

" Bath , January, iJjS. 

" It is impossible to tell you what pleasure we felt at the receipt, of 
Sheridan's last letter, which confirmed what we had seen in the news- 
papers of the success of his play. The knowing ones were very much 
disappointed, as they had so very bad an opinion of its success. After the 
first night we were indeed all very fearful that the audience would go very 
much prejudiced against it. But now , there can be no doubt of its success, 
as it has certainly got through more difliculties than any comedy which 
has not met its doom the first night. I know you have been very busy in 
writing for Sheridan, I don't mean copying, but composing, it's 
true, indeed; you must not contradict me when I say you wrote the 
much-admired epilogue to the Rivals. How I long to read it ! What 
makes it more certain is, that my father guessed it was yours the first 
time he saw it praised in the paper." 

This statement respecting the epilogue would , if true , deprive 
Sheridan of one of the fairest leaves of his poetic crown. It appears , 
however, to be but a conjecture hazarded at the moment, and proves 
only the high idea entertained of Mrs. Sheridan's talents by her own 
family. The cast of the play at Bath , and its success there and else- 
where , are thus mentioned in these letters of Miss Linley : 

" Bath, February 18, 1775. 

" What shall I say of The Rivals! a compliment must naturally be 
expected ; but really it goes so far beyond any thing I can say in its praise, 
that I am afraid my modesty must keep me silent. When you and I meet 
I shall he better able to explain myself, and tell you how much I am 
delighted with it. We expect to have it here very soon : it is now in 
rehearsal. You pretty well know the merits of our principal performers : 
I'll show you how it is cast. 

Sir Anthony Mr. Edwin. 

Captain Absolute Mr. Didier. 

Falkland Mr. Dimond. 

( A new actor of great merit , and a sweet figure. ) 

Sir Lucius . . . , Mr. Jackson. 

Acres Mr. Kea.'ibcrry. 

Fag ; Mr. Brunsdon. 

Mrs. Malaprop Mrs. Wheeler. 

Miss Lydia Miss Wheeler. 

( Literally, a very pretty, romantic girl, of seventeen.; 

Julia Mrs. Didier. . 

Lucv Mrs. Brett 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 67 

" There, Madam, do not you think we shall do your Rivals some 
justice? I'm convinced it won't be done better any where out of London. 
1 don't think Mrs. Mattocks can do Julia very well." 

" Bath, March g, 1775. 

" You will know by what you see enclosed in this frank my reason for 
not answering your letter sooner was , that I waited the success of 
Sheridan's play in Bath ; for, let me tell you , I look upon our theatrical 
tribunal, though not in quantity , in quality as good as yours, and I do 
not believe there was a critic in the whole city that was not there. But, 
in my life, 1 never saw any thing go off with such uncommon applause. 
I must first of all inform you that there was a very full house : the play 
was performed inimitably well; nor did I hear, for the honor of our 
Bath actors , one single prompt the whole night ; but I suppose the poor 
creatures never acted with such shouts of applause in their lives , so that 
they were incited by that to do their best. They lost many of Malaprop's 
good sayings by the applause : in short, I never saw or heard anything 
like it -.before the actors spoke , they began their clapping. There was 
a new scene of the N. Parade, painted by Mr. Davis, and a most delightful 
one it is, I assure you. Every body says, Bowes in particular, that 
yours in town is not so good. Most of the dresses were entirely new, and 
very handsome On the whole , I think Sheridan is vastly obliged to 
poor dear Keasberry for getting it up so well. We only wanted a good 
Julia to have made it quite complete. You must know that it was entirely 
out of Mrs. Didier's style of playing : but I never saw better acting than 
Keasberry's, so all the critics agreed." 

Bath, August 22d, 1775. 

" Tell Sheridan his play has been acted at Southampton above a 
hundred people were turned away the first night. They say there never 
was any thing so universally liked. They have very good success at Bristol, 
and have played The Rivals several times : Miss Barsanti , Lydia , and 
Mrs. Canning , Julia." 

To enter inlo a regular analysis of this lively play, the best com- 
ment on which is to be found in the many smiling faces that are 
lighted up around wherever it appears , is a task of criticism that 
will hardly be thought necessary. With much less wit, it exhibits 
perhaps more humour than The School for Scandal , and the dia- 
logue, though by no means so pointed or sparkling, is, in this res- 
pect, more natural, as coming nearer the current coin of ordinary 
conversation , whereas , Ihe circulating medium of The School for 
Scandal is diamonds. The characters of The Rivals, on the contrary, 
are not such as occur very commonly in the world ; and , instead of 
producing striking effects with natural and obvious materials, which 
is the great art and difficulty of a painter of human life, he has here 
overcharged most of his persons with whims and absurdities , for 
which the circumstances they are engaged in afford but a very dis- 
proportionate vent. Accordingly , for our insight into their charac- 



G8 MEMOIRS 

lers, we arc indebted rather to their confessions than their actions, 
Lydia Languish , in proclaiming the extravagance of her own ro- 
mantic notions , prepares us for events much more ludicrous and 
eccentric , than those in which the plot allows her to be concerned , 
and the young lady herself is scarcely more disappointed than wo 
are , at the tamcncss with which her amour concludes. Among the 
various ingredients supposed to be mixed up in the composition of 
Sir Lucius O Trigger, his love of fighting is the only one whose fla- 
vour is very strongly brought out , and the Sway ward , captious 
jealousy of Falkland , though so highly coloured in his own repre- 
sentation of it , is productive of no incident answerable to such an 
announcement : the imposture which he practises upon Julia being 
perhaps weakened in its effect, by our recollection of the same de- 
vice in the Nut-brown Maid and Peregrine Pickle. 

The character of Sir Anthony Absolute is , perhaps , the best sus- 
tained and most natural of any, and the scenes between him and 
Captain Absolute are richly , genuinely dramatic. His surprise at 
the apathy with which his son receives the glowing picture which 
he draws of the charms of his destined bride , and the effect of the 
question, "And which is to be mine , Sir, the niece or the aunt?" 
are in the truest style of humour. Mrs. Malaprop's mistakes, in what 
she herself calls " orthodoxy." have been often objected to as irn- 
- probable from a woman in her rank of life 5 but, though some of 
them, it must be owned, are extravagant and farcical, they are al- 
most all amusing, and the luckiness of her simile, " as head- 
strong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile," will be acknowledged 
as long as there are writers to be run away with, by the wilfulness 
of this truly " headstrong" species of composition. 

Of the faults of Sheridan both in his willy and serious styles 
the occasional effort of the one , and the too frequent false finery of 
the other some examples may be cited from the dialogue of this 
play. Among the former kind is the following elaborate conceit: 

" Falk. Has Lydia changed her mind ? I should have thought her duty 
and inclination \vould now have pointed to the same object. 

" Abs. Av, just as the eyes of a person who squints : when her love- 
eye was fixed on me, t'other her eye of duly was finely obliqued : but 
when puty bade her point that the same way , off turned t'other on a 
swivel , and secured its retreat with a frown." 

This , though ingenious, is far too laboured and of that false taste 
by which sometimes, in his graver style, he was seduced into the 
display of second-rate ornament, the following speeches of Julia af- 
ford specimens : 

' Then on the bosom of your wedded Julia, YOU may lull your keen 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 6 

regret lo slumbering ; while virtuous love , with a cherub's hand, shall 
smooth l he brow of upbraiding thought, and pluck the thorn from com- 
punction. " 

Again; "When hearts deserving happiness would unite their fortunes, 
virtue would crown them with an unfading garland of modest hurlless 
1 lowers ; but ill-judging passion will force the gaudier rose into the wreath, 
whose thorn offends them when its leaves are dropt." 

But, notwithstanding such blemishes, and it is easy for the mi- 
croscopic eye of criticism to discover gaps and inequalities in the 
finest edge of genius, this play, from the liveliness of its plot , 
the variety and whimsicality of its characters , and the exquisite 
humour of its dialogue , is one of the most amusing in the whole 
range of the drama ; and even without the aid of its more splendid 
successor, The School for Scandal , would have placed Sheridan in 
the first rank of comic writers. 

A copy of The Rivals has fallen into my hands, which once be- 
longed to Tickell , the friend and brother-in-law of Sheridan , and 
on the margin of which I find written by him in many places his 
opinion of particular parts of the dialogue x . He has also prefixed to 
it, as coming from Sheridan, the following humorous dedication , 
which , I take for granted , has never before met the light , and 
which the reader will perceive , by the allusions in it to the two 
Whig ministries, could not have been written before the year 
1784 : 

DEDICATION TO IDLENESS. 
" MY DEAR FRIEND , 

" If it were necessary to make any apology for this freedom, I know 
you would think it a sufficient one , that I shall find it easier to dedicate 
my play to you than to any other person. There is likewise a propriety in pre- 
fixing your name to a work begun entirely at your suggestion, and finished 
under your auspices ; and I should think myself wanting in gratitude to 
you, ifl diduottake an early opportunity of acknowledging the obligations 
which I owe you. There was a time though it is so long ago that I now 
scarcely remember it, and cannot mention it without compunction but 
there was a time , when the importunity of parents, and the example of a 
few injudicious young men of my acquaintance, had almost prevailed on me 
to tli wart my genius , and prostitute my abilities by an application to 
serious pursuits. And if you had not opened my eyes to the absurdity 

1 These opinions are generally expressed in two or three words, and are, for the 
most part , judicious. Upon Mrs. Malaprop's quotation from Shakspeare, " Hespe- 
rian carls," etc. he writes, " overdone fitter for farce than comedy." Acres's 
classification of oaths, "This we call the oath referential ," etc. he pronounces to 
be " very pood , but above the speaker's capacity." Of Julia's speech , " Oh womnn, 
how trne should be your judgment, when your resolution is so weak ! " he remarks 
"On the contrary, it seems to be of little consequence whether any person's jt'r- 
nicnt be weak or not, who^wants resolution to act according to it." 



70 MEMOIRS 

and profligacy of such a perversion of the best gifts of nature , I am by 
no means clear that I might not have been a wealthy merchant or an 
eminent lawyer at this very moment. Nor was it only on my first setting 
out in life that I availed myself of a connection with you , though perhaps 
I never reaped such signal advantages from it as at that critical period. I 
have frequently since stood in need of your admonitions, and have always 
found you ready to assist me though you were frequently brought by 
your zeal for me into new and awkward situations, and such as you were 
at first, naturally enough, unwilling to appear in. Amongst innumerable 
other instances , I cannot omit two, where you afforded me considerable 
and unexpected relief, and in fact converted employments usually attended 
by dry and disgusting business, into scenes of perpetual meriment and 
recreation. I allude, as you will easily imagine, to those cheerful hours 
which I spent in the Secretary of State's office and the Treasury, during 
all which time you were my inseparable companion , and showed me 
such a preference over the rest of my colleagues, as excited at once their 
envy and admiration. Indeed, it was very natural for them to repine at 
your having taught me a way of doing business , which it was impossible 
for them to follow it was both original and inimitable. 

" If I were to say here all that I think of your excellences, I might be 
suspected of flattery ; but I beg leave to refer you for the test of my 
sincerity to the constant tenor of my life and actions; and shall conclude 
with a sentiment of which no one can dispute the truth , nor mistake the 
application that those persons usually deserve most of their friends who 
expect least of them. 

" I am, etc. etc. etc. 
" R. B. SHERIDAN." 

The celebrity which Sheridan had acquired, as the chivalrous 
lover of Miss Linley , was of course considerably increased by the 
success of The Rivals 5 and , gifted as he and his beautiful wife 
were with all that forms the magnetism of society, the power to 
attract, and the disposition to be attracted, their life, as may easily be 
supposed, was one of gaiety both at home and abroad. Though little 
able to cope with the entertainments of their wealthy acquaintance , 
her music and the good company which his talents drew around him, 
were an ample repayment for the more solid hospitalities which they 
received. Among the families visited by them , was that of Mr. Coote 
(Purden), at whose musical parties Mrs. Sheridan frequently sung , 
accompanied occasionally by the two little daughters ' of Mr. Coote 
who were the originals of the children introduced into Sir Joshua 

1 The charm of her singing, a.s well as her fondness for children, are interest- 
ingly described in a letter toiuy friend Mr. Rogers, from one of the most tasteful 
writers of the present day: "Hers was truly 'a voice as of xhe chernb choir,' and 
she was always ready to sing without any pressing. She sung here a great deal, 
and to my infinite delight ; bat what had a peculiar charm was, that she used to 
take my daughter, then a child, on her lap, and siug a number of childish soDgs 
with such a playfulness of manner, and such a sweetness ot look and voice, as wa; 
qnite enchanting." 



OF . B. SHERIDAN. 71 

Reynolds s portrait of Mrs. Sheridan as St. Cecilia. It was here that 
the Duchess of Devonshire lirsl met Sheridan ; and, as 1 have been 
told, long hesitated as to the propriety of inviting to her house two 
persons of such equivocal rank in society , as he and his wife were 
at that time considered. Her Grace was reminded of these scruples 
some years after, when " the player's son" had become the admi- 
ration of the proudest and fairest ; and when a house , provided for 
the Duchess herself at Bath , was left two months unoccupied , in 
consequence of the social attractions of Sheridan , which prevented 
a parly then assembled at Chats worth from separating. These are 
triumphs which, for the sake of all humbly born heirs of genius, 
deserves to be commemorated. 

In gratitude, it is said, to Clinch, the actor, for the seasonable 
reinforcement which he had brought to The Rivals , Mr. Sheridan 
produced this year a farce called " St. Patrick's Day, or the Sche- 
ming Lieutenant," which was acted on the 2d of May, and had con- 
siderable success. 

Though we must not look for the usual point of Sheridan in this 
piece , where the hints of pleasantry are performed with the broad 
end or mace of his wit , there is yet a quick circulation of humour 
through the dialogue , and laughter , the great end of farce , is 
abundantly achieved by it. The moralizing of Doctor Rosy, and the 
dispute between the justice's wife and her daughter, as to the res- 
pective merits of militia-men and regulars , are highly comic : 

" Psha, you know, Mamma, I hate militia officers ; a set of dunghill 
cocks with spurs on heroes scratch'd off a church-door. No/give me 
the hold upright youth who makes love to-day, and has his head shot off 
to-morrow. Dear ! to think how the sweet fellows sleep on the ground, 
and fight in silk stockings and lace ruffles. 

" Mother. Oh harharous ! to want a husband that may wed you to-day, 
and he sent the Lord knows where hefore night ; then in a twelvemonth, 
perhaps, to have him come like a Colossus, with one leg at New- York 
and the other at Chelsea Hospital. " 

Sometimes, too, there occurs a phrase or sentence , which might 
be sworn to , as from the pen of Sheridan , any where. Thus , in 
the very opening : 

" i st Soldier. I say you are wrong ; we should all speak together, each 
for himself, and all at once , that we may he heard the better. 
" -2(1 Soldier. Right, Jack, we'll argue in platoons." 

Notwithstanding the great success of his first attempts in the 
drama , we find politics this year renewing its claims upon his at- 
tention , and tempting him to enter into the lists with no less an 
Antagonist than Dr. Johnson. That eminent man had just published 



72 MEMOIRS 

his pamphlet on the American question, entitled " Taxation no ty- 
ranny ; " a work, whose pompous sarcasm on the Congress of Phi- 
ladelphia, when compared with what has happened since , dwindle 
into puerilities , and show what straws upon the great tide of events 
are even the mightiest intellects of this world. Some notes and frag- 
ments, found among the papers of Mr. Sheridan, prove that he had 
it in contemplation to answer this pamphlet , and , however inferior 
he might have been in style to his practised adversary , he would 
at least have had the advantage of a good cause, and of those durable 
materials of truth and justice , which outlive the mere workmanship, 
however splendid, of talent. Such arguments as the following, 
which Johnson did not scruple to use, are, by the haughtiness of 
their tone and thought, only fit for the lips of autocrats : 

" When they apply to our compassion, by telling us that they are to be 
carried from their own country to be tried for certain offences, we are 
not so ready to pity them, as to advise them not to offend. "While they are 
innocent , they are safe. 

" If they are condemned unheard, it is because there is no need of a 
trial. The crime is manifest and notorious," etc. etc. 

It appears from the fragments of the projected answer, that 
Johnson's pension was one of the points , upon which Mr. Sheridan 
intended to assail him. The prospect of being able to neutralize the 
effects of his zeal , by exposing fhe nature of the chief incentive 
from which it sprung , was so templing , perhaps , as to over-rule 
any feelings of delicacy, that might otherwhise have suggested the 
illiberality of such an attack. The following are a few of the stray 
hints for this part of his subject : 



politician. Such pamphlets will be as trifling and insincere as the venal 
quit-rent of a birth-day ode '. 

" Dr. J.'s other works, his learning and infirmities, fully entitled him 
to such a mark of distinction. There was no call on him to become 
politician The easy quit-rent of refined panegyric, and a few grateful 
rhymes or flowery dedications to the intermediate benefactor. ***** 

" The man of letters is rarely drawn from obscurity by the inquisitive 
eye of a sovereign : it is enough for Royalty to gild the laurelled brow , 
not explore the garret or the cellar. In this case, the return will gene- 
rally be ungrateful the patron is most possibly disgraced or in opposi- 
tion if he ( the author ) follow s the dictates of gratitude , he must speak 
his patron's language, but he may lose his pension but to be a standing 
supporter of ministry , is probably to take advantage of that competence 

' On another scrap of paper I find "the miserable quit-rent of an annual pam- 
phlet."' It was bis custom iu composition (as will be seen by many otb,er instances) 
thus to try the same thought in a variety of forms and combinations, iu order to 
see iu which it would yield the greatest produce of wit. ' 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 73 

agaiust his benefactor. When it happens that there is great experience 
and political knowledge, this is more excusable ; but it is truly unfortu- 
nate where the fame of far different abilities adds weight to the attempts 
of rashness. * 

He then adds this very striking remark : " Men seldom think 
deeply on subjects on which they have no choice of opinion : they 
are fearful of encountering obstacles to their faith (as in religion), 
and so are content with the surface." 

Dr. Johnson says , in one part of his pamphlet , "As all are 
born the subjects of some stale or other, we maybe said to have been 
all born consenting to some system of government." On this Sheri- 
dan remarks : "This is the most slavish doctrine that ever was 
inculcated. If by our birth we gave a tacit bond for our acquies- 
cence in that form of government under which we were born, there 
never would have been an alteration of the first modes of govern- 
ment no Revolution in England." 

Upon the argument derived from the right of conquest he observes : 
" This is the worst doctrine that can be with respect to America. 
If America is ours by conquest, it is the conquerors who settled 
there that are lo claim these powers." 

He expresses strong indignation at the " arrogance," with which 
such a man as Montesquieu is described as "the fanciful Montes- 
quieu," by " an eleemosynary politician, who writes on the subject 
merely because he has been rewarded for writing otherwise all his 
lifetime." 

In answer to the argument against the claims of the Americans , 
founded on the small proportion of the population that is really re- 
presented even in England , he has the following desultory memo- 
randums : " In fact every man in England is represented every 
man can influence people, so as to get a vote, and even in an elec- 
tion votes arc divided , each candidate is supposed equally worthy 
as in lots fight Ajax or Agamemnon ' . This an American cannot 
do in any way whatever. 

" The votes in England are perpetually shifting : were it an object, 
few could be excluded. Wherever there is any one ambitious of assisting 
the empire , he need not put himself to much inconvenience. If the 
Doctor indulged his studies in Cricklade or Old Sarum, he might vote : 
the dressing meat, the simplest proof of existence, begets a title. His pam- 
phlet shows that he thinks he can influence some one ; not an anonymous 
writer in the paper but contributes his mite to the general tenor of opi- 
nion. At the eve of an election, his Patriot a was meant to influence more 

1 He means to compare an election of this sort to the casting of lots between 
tin; Grecian chiefs in the 7lh book of the Iliad. 

I IK; IKUIIC of a short pamphlet, published by Dr. Johnson, on the dissolutiou 
of jMiliaiuent in 177 i 



74 MEMOIRS 

than the single voice of a rustic. Even the mob, in shouting, give voles 
where there is not corruption. " 

It is not to be regretted that this pamphlet was left unfinished. 
Men of a high order of genius , such as Johnson and Sheridan , 
should never enter into warfare with each other, but, like the gods 
in Homer, leave the strife to inferior spirits. The publication of 
this pamphlet would most probably have precluded its author from 
the distinction and pleasure which he afterwards enjoyed in the so- 
ciety and conversation of the eloquent moralist who , in the follow- 
ing year, proposed him as a member of the Literary Club, and 
always spoke of his character and genius with praise. Nor was She- 
ridan wanting on his part with corresponding tributes; for, in a 
prologue which he wrote about this time to the play of Sir Thomas 
Ovcrbury, he thus alludes to Johnson's Life of its unfortunate au- 
thor : 

" So pleads the tale, that gives to future times, 
The sou's misfortunes, and the pareut's crimes; 
There shall his fame , if own'd to-night, survive, 
Fix'd by the hand that bids our language live." 

CHAPTER IV. 

The Duenna. Purchase of Drury Lane theatre. The Trip to Scarbor- 
ough. Poetical Correspondence with Mrs. Sheridan. 

MR. SHERIDAN had now got into a current of dramatic fancy , 
of whose prosperous flow he continued to avail himself actively. 
The summer recess was employed in writing the Duenna ; and his 
father-in-law, Mr. Linley, assisted in selecting and composing the 
music for it. As every thing connected w ith the progress of a work , 
which is destined to be long the delight of English ears, must na- 
turally have a charm for English readers , I feel happy in being 
enabled to give , from letters written at the time by Mr. Sheridan 
himself to Mr. Linley, some details relating to their joint adaptation 
of the music , which , judging from my own feelings , I cannot doubt 
will be interesting to others. 

Mr. Linley was at this time at Bath, and the following letter to him 
is dated in October, 1775, about a month or five weeks before the 
opera was brought out : 

" DEAR SIR , 

"We received your songs to-day, with which we are exceedingly pleased. 
I shall profit by our proposed alterations ; but I'd have you to know that 
we are much too chaste in London to admit such strains as your Bath 
spring inspires. We dare not propose a peep beyond thc^ancle on any 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 75 

account ; for the critics in the pit at a new play are much greater prudes 
than the ladies in the boxes. Betsey intended to have troubled you with 
some music for correction and 1 with some stanzas, but an interview with 
Harris to-day has put me from the thoughts of it, and bent me upon a 
much more important petition. You may easily suppose it is nothing else 
than what I said I would not ask in my last. But, in short, unless you can 
give us three days in town , I fear our opera will stand a chance to be 
ruined. Harris is extravagantly sanguine of its success as to plot and dia- 
logue , which is to be rehearsed next Wednesday at the theatre. They 
will exert themselves to the utmost in the scenery, etc. , but I never saw 
any one so disconcerted as he was at the idea of there being no one to put 
them in the right way as to music. They have no one there whom he has 
any opinion of as to Fisher ( one of the managers) he don't choose he 
should meddle with it. He entreated me in the most pressing terms to 
write instantly to you, and wanted, if he thought it could be of any weight, 
to write himself. Is it impossible to contrive this? could'ntyou leave Tom' 
to superintend the concert fora few days ? If you can manage it, you will 
really do me the greatest service in the world. As to the state of the music, 
1 want but three more airs, but there are some glees and quintets in the 
last act, that will be inevitably ruined, if we have no one to set the per- 
formers at least in the right way. Harris has set his heart so much on my 
succeeding in this application, that he still flatters himself we may have a 
rehearsal of the music in Orchard Street to-morrow se'nnight. Every 
hour's delay is a material injury both to the opera and the theatre', so 
that if you can come and relieve us from this perplexity, the return of the 
post must only forerun your arrival ; or ( what will make us much happier) 
might it not bring you ? I shall say nothing at present about the lady 
' with the soft look and manner,' because I am full of more than hopes 
of seeing you. For the same reason I shall delay to speak about G ;' only 
this much I will say, that I am more than ever positive I could make good 
my part of the matter ; but that I still remain an infidel as to G.'s retiring, 
or parting with his share, though I confess he seems to come closer to the 
point in naming his price. 

"Your ever sincere and affectionate, 

" R. B. SHERIDAN. " 

On the opposite leaf of this letter is written, in Mrs. S.'s hand-writing, 
" Dearest Father, I shall have no spirits or hopes of the opera , unless 
we see you. 

" ELIZA ANN SHERIDAN " 

In answer to these pressing demands , Mr. Linley, as appears by 
the following letter, signified his intention of being in town as soon 
as the music should be put in rehearsal. In the instructions here 
given fay the poet to the musician , we may perceive that he some- 
what apprehended, even in the tasteful hands of Mr. Linley, that pre- 
dominance of harmony over melody, and of noise over both , which 
is so talal to poetry and song , in their perilous alliance with an 

' Mis. Shuiidan's eldc.it brother. 

' (tilt-rick. _ 



76 MEMOIRS 

orchestra. Indeed , those elephants of old , lhal used to tread down 
the ranks they were brought to assist , were but a type of the havoc 
that is sometimes made both of ntelody and meaning by the over- 
laying aid of accompaniments. 

" DEAR SIR , 

" Mr. Harris wishes so much for us to get you to town , that I could 
not at first convince him that your proposal of not coming till the music 
was in rehearsal , was certainly the best as you could stay but so short a 
time. The truth is that what you mention of my getting a master to teach 
the performers is the very point where the matter sticks, there being no 
such person as a master among them. Harris is sensible there ought to be 
such a person ; however, at present , every body sings there according to 
their own ideas, or what chance instruction they can come at. We are, 
however, to follow your plan in the matter ; but can at no rate relinquish 
the hopes of seeing you in eight or ten days from the date of this ; when 
the music (by the specimen of expedition you have given me) will be 
advanced asfar asyou mention. The parts are all writ out and doubled, etc. 
as we go on, as I have assistance from the theatre with me. 

" My intention was to have closed the first act with a song, but I find 
it is not thought so well. Hence I trust you with one of the inclosed papers; 
and, at the same time , you must excuse my impertinence in adding an 
idea of the cast- 1 would wish the music to have, as I think I have heard 
you say you never heard Leoni 1 , and I cannot briefly explain to you the 
character and situation of the persons on the stage with him. The first 
( a dialogue between Quick and Mrs. 3Iattocks, ) J I would wish to be a 
pert, sprightly air ; for, though some of the words mayn't seem suited to 
it, I should mention that they are neither of them in earnest in what they 
say. Leoni takes it up seriously, and I want him to show himself advanta- 
geously in the six lines, beginning ' Gentle maid.' I should tell you, that 
he sings nothing well but in a plaintive or pastoral style; and his voice is 
such as appears to me always to be hurt by much accompaniment. I have 
observed , too, that he never gets so much applause as when he makes a 
cadence. Therefore my idea is, that he should make a flourish at ' Shall 
I grieve thee ?' and return to ' Gentle maid ,' and so sing that part of the 
tune again. 3 After that, the two last lines, sung by the three, with the 
persons only varied, may get them off with as much spirit as possible. 
The second act ends with a slow glee , therefore I should think the two 
last lines in question had better be brisk , especially as Quick and Mrs. 
Mattocks are concerned in it. 

" The other is a song of Wilson's in the third act. I have written it to 
your tune, which you put some words to, beginning 'Prithee, prithee, 
pretty man ! ' I think it w ill do vastly well for the words : Don Jerome 
sings them when he is in particular spirits ; therefore the tune is not too 
Jight, though it might seem so by the last stanza but he does not mean 

1 Leoni played Don Carlos. 

2 Isaac and Donna Louisa. 

3 It will be perceived , Ly a reference to the music of the opera , that Mr. Linley 
followed these instructions implicitly and successfully. 



OF K. B. SHERIDAN. 77 

to be grave there , and I like particularly the returning to * O the clays 
when 1 \\as young! ' We have mislaid the notes, but Tom remembers it. 
If you don't like it for words , will you give us one ? but it must go back 
to ' O the days,' and be funny. I have not done troubling you yet, but 
must wait till Monday." 

A subsequent letter contains further particulars of their pro- 



" DEAR SIR, 

" Sunday evening next is fixed for our first musical rehearsal, and I 
was in great hopes we might have completed the score. The songs you 
have sent up of ' Banna's Banks,' and ' Deil take the wars,' I had made 
words for before they arrived, which answer excessively well ; and this 
was my reason for wishing for the next in the same manner, as ft saves 
so much time. They are to sing ' Wind, gentle evergreen ,' just as you 
sing it (only with other words) , and I wanted only such support from 
the instruments , or such joining in , as you should think would help to 
set off and assist the effort. I inclose the words I had made for ' Wind, 
gentle evergreen ,' which will be sung , as a catch , by Mrs. Mattocks , 
Dubellamy ', and Leoni. I don't mind the words not fitting the notes so 
well as the original ones. ' How merrily we live ,' and ' Let's drink and 
let's sing,' are to be sung by a company tf. friars over their wine. a The 
words will be parodied, and the chief effect I expect from them must arise 
from their being known ; for the joke will be much less for these jolly 
fathers to sing any thing new, than to give what the audience are used 
to annex the idea of jollity to. For the other things Betsey mentioned, I 
only wish to have them with such accompaniment as you would put to 
their present words, and I shall have got words to my liking for them by 
the time they reach me. 

" My immediate wish at present is to give the performers their parts in 
the music ( which they expect on Sunday night) , and for any assistance 
the orchestra can give to help the effect of the glees , etc. , that may be 
judged of and added at a rehearsal, or, as you say, on inquiring how they 
have been done ; though I don't think it follows that what Dr. Arne's 
method is must be the best. If it were possible for Saturday and Sunday's 
post to bring us what we asked for in our last letters , and what I now 
enclose, we should still go through it on Sunday , and the performers 
should have their parts complete by Monday night. We have had our 
rehearsal of the speaking part, and are to have another on Saturday. I 
want Dr. Harrington's catch, but, as the sense must be the same, I am 
at a loss how to put other words. Can't the under part ( 'A smoky house, etc.') 
be sung by one person and the other two change? The situation is 
Quick and Dubellamy, two lovers, carrying away Father Paul (Reinold) 
in great raptures, to marry them : the Friar has before warned them of 
the ills of a married life, and they break out into this. The catch is parti- 
cularly calculated for a stage effect^ but I don't like to take another per- 

: Don Antonio. 

* For these was afterwards substituted Mr. Linlcy's lively glee, "This bottk-'s 
tliesnnof our table." 



78 MEMOIRS 

son's words, and I don't see how I can put others, keeping the same idea, 
( ' of seven squalling brats, etc.' ) in which the whole affair lies. However, 
I shall be glad of the notes, with Reinold's part, if it is possible , as I 
mentioned ' . 

" I have literally and really not had time to write the words of any 
thing more first and then send them to you, and this obliges me to use 
this apparently awkward way. ******** 

-' My father was astonishingly well received on Saturday night in 
Cato : I think it will not be many days before we are reconciled. 

" The inclosed are the words for ' Wind, gentle evergreen ; ' a passio- 
nate song for Mattocks 3 , and another for Miss Brown 3 , which solicit to 
be clothed with melody by you, and are all I want. Mattocks's I could 
wish to be a broken , passionate affair, and the first two lines may be 
recitative, or what you please, uncommon. Miss Brown sings hers in a 
joyful mood : we want her to show in it as much execution as she is 
capable of, which is prette well ; and for variety, we want Mr. Simpson's 
hautboy to cut a figure , with replying passages , etc. , in the way of 
Fisher's ' M'ami, ilbel idol mio,' to abet which I have Itjgged in ' Echo,' 
who is always allowed to play her part. I have not a moment more. Yours 
ever sincerely." 

The next and last extract I shall give at present is from a letter , 
dated Nov. 2, 1775, about three weeks before the first representation 
of the opera. 

" Our music is now all finished and rehearsing, but we are greatly im- 
patient to see you. We hold your coming to' be necessary beyond con- 
ception. You say you are at our service after Tuesday next ; then ' I 
conjure you by that you do possess,' in which I include all the powers 
that preside over harmony , to come next Thursday night ( this day 
se'nnight), and we will fix a rehearsal for Friday morning. From what 
I see of their rehearsing at present , I am become still more anxious to 
see you. 

" We have received all your songs, and are vastly pleased with them. 
You misunderstood me as to the hautboy song; I had not the least in- 
tention to fix on ' Bel idol mio? However, I think it is particularly well 
adapted, and, I doubt not, will have a great effect." * * ' 

An allusion which occurs in these letters to the prospect of a re- 
conciliation with his father gives me an opportunity of mentioning 
a circumstance , connected with their difference , for the knowledge 

1 This.5dea was afterwards relinqnished. 

1 The words of this song, in compqsing which the directions here given were 
exactly followed, are to be found in scarce any of the editions of the Duenna. 
They are as follows : 

Sharp is the woe , that wounds the jealon|(inind, 
When treachery two fond hearts would rend ; 
But oil ! how keener far the pang to figd 
That traitor in a bosom friend. 

i " Adieu, thon dreary pile." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 70 

ol which 1 am indebted to one of the persons most interested in 
remembering it , and which, as a proof of the natural tendency of 
Sheridan's heart to let all its sensibilities flow in the right channel, 
ought not to be forgotten. During the run of one of his pieces, hav- 
ing received information from an old family servant that his father 
who still refused to have any intercourse with him) meant to attend, 
wilh his daughters , at the representation of the piece , Sheridan 
took up his station by one of the side scenes , opposite to the box 
where they sat , and there continued , unobserved , to look at them 
during the greater part of the night. On his return home , he was 
so affected by the various recollections that came upon him , that 
he burst into tears , and , being questioned as to the cause of his 
agitation by Mrs. Sheridan , to whom it was new to see him return- 
ing thus saddened from the scene of his triumph , he owned how 
deeply it had gone to his heart " to think that there sat his father 
and his sisters before him , and yet that he alone was not permitted to 
go near them or speak to them." 

On the 21st of November, 1775, The Duenna was performed at 
Covent-Garden , and the following is the original cast of the cha- 
racters , as given in the collection of Mr. Sheridan' s Dramatic. 
Works : 

Don Ferdinand . ".''".' . . Mr. Mattocks. 

Isaac Mendoza . . : . . . Mr. Quick. 

Don Jerome . . * ' 1 . . Mr. Wilson. 

Don Antonio ..!.-. . Mr. Dubellamy. 

Father Paul ,; ." u*. .-; Mr. Wewitzer. 

Lopez . ... ..,._* Mr. Watson. 

Don Carlos Mr. Leoni. 

Francis ........ Mr. Fox. 

Lay Brother Mr. Baker. 

Donna Louisa Mrs. Mattocks. 

Donna Clara . ..':;. Mrs. Cargill'. 

The Duenna ...... Mrs . Green. 

The run of this opera has , I believe, no parallel in the annals of 
the drama. Sixty-three nights was the career of the Beggar's Opera ; 
but the Duenna was acted no less than seventy-five times during 
the season , the only intermissions being a few days at Christmas , 
and the Fridays in every week ; the latter on account of Leoni , 
who, being a Jew, could not act on those nights. 

In order to counteract this great success of the rival house, Garrick 
found it necessary to bring forward all the weight of his own best 
< haracters ; and even had recourse to the expedient of playing off 

1 This is incorrect : it was Miss Brown that played Donna Clara for the Grst 
I' w nights. 



80 MEMOIRS 

the mother against the son , by reviving Mrs. Frances Sheridan's 
comedy of The Discovery, and acting the principal part in it him- 
self. In allusion to the increased fatigue which this competition 
with The Duenna brought upon Garrick , who was then entering 
on his sixtieth year, it was said , by an actor of the day , that " the 
old woman would be the death of the old man." 

The Duenna is one of the very few operas in our language, 
which combine the merits of legitimate comedy with the attractions 
of poetry and song 5 that divorce between sense and sound , to 
which Dr. Brown and others trace the cessation of the early mira- 
cles of music , being no where more remarkable than in the operas 
of the English stage. The "Sovereign of the willing soul" (as 
Gray calls Music) always loses by being made exclusive sovereign, 
and the division of her empire with poetry and wit , as in the 
instance of The Duenna , doubles her real power. 

The intrigue of this piece (which is mainly founded upon an 
incident borrowed from the "Country Wife" of Wycherley) is 
constructed and managed with considerable adroitness , having just 
material enough to be wound out into three acts, without being 
encumbered by too much intricacy, or weakened by too much ex- 
tension. It does not appear, from the rough copy in my possession, 
that any material change was made in the plan of the work , as it 
proceeded. Carlos was originally meant to be a Jew, and is called 
" Cousin Moses " by Isaac in the first sketch of the dialogue 5 but, 
possibly from the consideration that this would apply too personally 
to Lconi , who was to perform the character , its designation was 
altered. The scene in the second act, where Carlos is introduced by 
Isaac to the Duenna , stood , in its original state , as follows : 

' Isaac. Moses, sweet coz,'I thrive, I prosper. 

" Moses. "Where is your mistress? 

" Isaac. There, you booby, there she stands. 

" Moses. Why she's damn'd ugly. 

*' Isaac. Hush! (stops his mouth.) 

" Duenna. What is your friend saying, Dou? 

" Isaac. Oh, Ma'am, he's expressing his raptures at such charms as 
he never saw before. 

" Moses. Aye, such as I never saw before indeed ( aside ). 

" Duenna. You are very obliging, gentlemen; but, I dare say, Sir, 
your friend is no stranger to the influence of beauty, I doubt not but he 
is a lover himself. 

' Moses. Alas! Madam, there is now but one woman living, whom 1 
have any love for, and truly, Ma'am, you resemble her wonderfully. 

" Duenna. Well, Sir, 1 wish she may give you her band as speedily 
as I shall mine to your friend. 

" Moses. Me her hand !- O Lord, Ma'am she is the last woman in 
the world I could think of marrying. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 8 , 

" Duenna. What then, Sir, are you comparing me to some wanton- 
some courtezan ? 

" Isaac. Zounds! he durstn't. 

" Moses. O not I, upon my soul. 

" Duenna. Yes, he meant some young harlot some 

" Moses. Oh, dear Madam, no it was my mother I meant, as 1 hope 
to be saved. 

" Isaac. Oh the blundering villain! (aside.) 

" Duenna. How, Sir am I so like your mother? 

" Isaac. Stay , dear Madam my friend meant that you put him in 
mind of what his mother was when a girl didn't you, Moses? 

" Moses. Oh yes, Madam, my mother was formerly a great beauty, a 
great toast, I assure you ; and when she married my father about thirty 
years ago , as you may perhaps remember, Ma'am 

" Duenna. I, Sir! I remember thirty years ago! 

" Isaac. Oh, to be sure not, Ma'am thirty years! no, no it was 
thirty months he said, Ma'am wasn't it, Moses? 

" Moses. Yes, yes, Ma'am thirty months ago, on her marriage with my 
father, she was, as I was saying, a great beauty; but catching cold, 
the year afterwards , in child-bed of your humble servant 

" Duenna. Of you, Sir! -and married within these thirty months! 

'''Isaac. Oh the devil! he has made himself out but a year old! 
Come, Moses, hold your tongue. You must excuse \\\m 9 Ma'am he 
means to be civil but he is a poor, simple fellow an't you, Moses? 

" Moses. 'Tis true, indeed, Ma'am," etc. etc. etc. 

The greater part of the humour of Moses here was afterwards 
transferred to the character of Isaac , and it will be perceived that a 
few of the points are still retained by him. 

The wit of the dialogue , except in one or two instances , is of 
that accessible kind which lies near the surface which may be 
enjoyed without wonder, and rather plays than shines. He had not 
yet searched his fancy for those curious fossils of thought, which 
make The School for Scandal such a rich museum of wit. Of this 
precious kind, however, is the description of Isaac's neutrality in 
religion " like the blank leaf between the Old and New Testa- 
ment." As an instance, too, of the occasional abuse of this research, 
which led him to mistake laboured conceits for fancies , may be 
mentioned the far-fetched comparison of serenaders to Egyptian 
embalmers " extracting the brain through the ears." For this, 
however, his taste, not his invention , is responsible, as we have 
already seen that the thought was borrowed from a letter of his 
friend Halhed. 

In the speech of Lopez , the servant , with which the opera opens , 
there are , in the original copy, some humorous points , which ap- 
pear to have fallen under the pruning knife , but which are not un- 
worthy of being gathered up here : 



82 MEMOIRS 

" A plague on these haughty damsels , say J : when they play their 
airs on their whining gallants, they ought to consider that we are the- 
chief sufferers, we have all their ill-humours at second-hand. Donna 
Louisa's cruelty to my master usually converts itself into blows, by the 
time it gets to me : she can frown me black and blue at any time, and 
1 shall carry the marks of the last box on the ear she gave him to my 
grave. Nay, if she smiles on any one else, I am the sufferer for it : if she 
says a civil word to a rival , I am a rogue and a scoundrel ; and , if she 
sends him a letter, my back is sure to pay the postage." 

In the scene between Ferdinand and Jerome (act. ii. scene 3.) 
the following lively speech of the latter was , I know not why, left 
out : 

" Ferdin.... but he has never sullied his honour, which, with his title, 
has outlived his means. 

' v Jerome. Have they? More shame for them ! 'What business have 
honour or titles to survive, when property is extinct? Nobility is but as 
a helpmate to a good fortune, and like a Japanese wife, should perish on 
the funeral pile of the estate ! " 

In the iirst act , too, (scene 3.) where Jerome abuses the Duenna , 
there is an equally unaccountable omission of a sentence , in which 
he comparot the old lady's face to " parchment , on which Time and 
Deformity have engrossed their titles." 

Though some of the poetry of this opera is not much above that 
ordinary kind , to which music js so often doomed to be wedded 
making up by her own sweetness for the dulness of her helpmate 
by far the greater number of the songs are full of beauty, and some 
of them may rank among the best models of lyric writing. The 
verses, " Had I a heart for falsehood framed," notwithstanding the 
stiffness of this word " framed," and one or two other slight ble- 
mishes, are not unworthy of living in recollection with the matchless 
air to which they are adapted. 

There is another song, less known, from being connected with 
less popular music , which , for deep, impassioned feeling , and na- 
tural eloquence , has not , perhaps , its rival , through the whole 
range of lyric poetry. As these verses, though contained in the 
common editions of The Duenna , are not to be found in the 
opera, as printed in the British Theatre, and still more strangely, 
are omitted in the late Collection of Mr. Sheridan's Works ' , I 
should feel myself abundantly authorized in citing them here , 
even if their beauty were not a sufficient excuse for recalling them, 
under any circumstances, to the recollection of the reader : 

1 For this Edition of his Works I am no further responsible than in having 
communicated to it a few prefatory pages, to account and apologize for the ilelay 
of the Life, 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN *r, 

Ah, cruel maid, how hast ttioti cliang'd 

The temper of iny mind? 
My heart , by thee from love estrang'd , 
Becomes , like tbee , unkind. 

" By fortune favour 'd , clear in fame , 

I once ambitious was; 
And friends I bad who fanu'd the flame , 
And gave my youth applause. 

" But now my weakness all accuse , 

Yet vain their taunts on me ; 
Friends , fortune , fame itself I'd lose 
To gain one smile from thee. 

" And only thou should'st not despise 

My weakness or iny woe; 
If I am mad in others' eyes, 
'Tis thon bast made me so. 

" But days, like this , with doubting curst , 

I will not long endure 
Am I disdained I know the worst 
And likewise know my cure. 

" If, false, her vows she dare renounce, 

That instant ends my pain ; 
For, oh ! the heart must break at once, 
That cannot bate again." 

It is impossible to believe that such verses as these had no deeper 
inspiration than the imaginary loves of an opera. They bear, burnt 
into every line , the marks of personal feeling , and must have been 
thrown off in one of those passionate moods of the heart, with which 
the poet's own youthful love had made him acquainted, and under 
the impression or vivid recollection of which these lines were 
written. 

In comparing this poem with the original words of the air to 
which it is adapted (Parnell's pretty lines , " My days have been so 
wondrous free " ) , it will be felt , at once , how wide is the difference 
between the cold and graceful effusions of taste, and the fervid bursts 
of real genius between the delicate product of the conservatory , 
and the rich child of the sunshine. 

I am the more confirmed in the idea that this song was written 
previously to the opera , and from personal feeling , by finding 
among his earlier pieces the originals of two other songs "I ne'er 
could any lustre see, " and " What bard , oh Time, discover." The 
thought , upon which the latter turns , is taken from a poem already 
cited , addressed by him to Mrs. Sheridan in 1773 ; and the follow- 
ing is the passage that supplied the material : 

" Alas , thou hast no wings , oh Time, 
It was some thoughtless lover's rhyme , 



84 MEMOIRS 

Who , writing in his Cloe's view , 

Paid her the compliment through yon. 

For, had he, if he truly lov'd, 

But once the pangs of absence prov'd , 

He'd cropt thy wings , and, in their stead , 

Have painted thee with heels of lead." 

It will be seen presently, that this poem was again despoiled of 
some of its lines , for an epilogue which he began a few years after, 
upon a very different subject. There is something , it must be owned, 
not very sentimental in this conversion of the poetry of affection to 
other and less sacred uses as if, like the ornaments of a passing 
pageant , it might be broken up after the show was over, and applied 
to more useful purposes. That the young poet should be guilty of 
such sacrilege to love , and thus steal back his golden offerings from 
the altar, to melt them down into utensils of worldly display, can 
only be excused by that demand upon the riches of his fancy, which 
the rapidity of his present career in the service of the dramatic muse 
occasioned. 

There is not the same objection to the appropriation of the other 
song , which , it will be seen , is a selection of the best parts of the 
following Anacreontic verses : 

" I ne'er could any lustre see ' 
In eyes that would not look on we : 
When a glance aversion hints , 
I always think the-lady squints. 
I ne'er saw nectar on a lip , 
But where my own did hope to sip. 
No pearly teeth rejoice my view , 
Unless a "yes" displays their hue 
The prudish lip , that noes me back, 
Convinces ine the teeth are black. 
To me the cheek displays no roses , 
Like that th' assenting blush discloses'; 
But when with proud disdain 'tis spread , 
To me 'tis but a scurvy red. 
Would she have me praise her hair ? 
Let her place my garland there. 
Is her hand so white and pure ? 
I must press it to be sure; 
Nor can I be certain then, 
Till it grateful press again. 
Must I praise her melody? 
Let her sing of love and me. 
If she choose another theme , 

1 Another mode of beginning this song in the MS : 
" Go tell the maid who seeks to move 
My lyre to praise , my heart to love , 
No rose upon her cheek can live , 
Like those assenting blushes give." 



OF R. B. SHERIDATN. 85 

I'd rather hear a peacock scream. 
Must I, with attentive eye, 
' Watch her lieaviug bosom sigh? 

I will do so, when I see 
That heaving bosom sigh for me. 
None but bigots will iu vaiii 
Adore a heav'a they cannot gain. 
If I must religious prove 
To the mighty God of Love , 
Sure I am it is but fair 
He, at least, should hear my grayer. 
But by each joy of- his I've kuowu, 
And all I yet shall make my own , 
Never will I , with humble speech , 
Pray to a heav'n I cannot reach." 

Iii the song, beginning " Friendship is Ihe bond of reason," the 
third verse was originally thus : 

" And, should I cheat the world and thee , 

One smile from her I love to win , 
Such breach of human faith would be 
A sacrifice , and not a sin." 

To the song " Give Isaac the nymph ," there were at first two 
more verses , which,- merely to show how judicious was the omis- 
sion of them , I shall here transcribe. Next to the advantage of 
knowing what to put into our writings , is that of knowing what to 
leave out : 

* To one thus accomplish'd I durst speak my mind, 
And flattery doubtless would soou make her kind ; 
For the man that should praise her she needs must adore . 
Who ne'er in her life received praises before. 

" But the frowns of a beauty iu hopes to remove , 
Should I prate of her charms, and tell of my love ; 
No thanks wait the praise which she knows to be true, 

Nor smiles for the homage she takes as her due." 

Among literary piracies or impostures, there are few more auda- 
cious than the Dublin edition of the Duenna , in which , though 
the songs are given accurately, an entirely. new dialogue is substi- 
tuted for that of Sheridan, and his gold, as in the barter of Glaucus, 
exchanged for such copper as the following : 

" Duen. Well, Sir, I don't want to stay in your house ; hut I must go 
and lock up my wardrobe. 

" Isaac. Your wardrobe! when you came into my house you could 
carry your wardrobe in your combcase, you could, you old dragon." 

Another specimen : 

" Isaac. Her voice too, you told me, was like a Virginian nightin^.ili' , 
why, it is like a cracked warming-pan : and as for dimples ! to be sure, 
-lie has the devil's own dimples. Yes ! and you told me she had a lovely 



so, MEMOIRS 

down upon her cliin , like the down of a peach ; but, damn me if ever I 
saw such down upon any creaturein my life, except once upon an old goat.'" 

These jokes-; I need not add, are all the gratuitous contributions 
of the editor. 

Towards the close of the year 1775, it was understood that Gar- 
rick meant to part with' his moiety of the patent of Drury-Lane 
Theatre and retire from the stage. He was Uien in the sixtieth year 
of his age , and might possibly have been influenced by the natural 
feeling , so beautifully expressed for a great actor of our own lime 
by our greatest living writer : 

" Higher duties crave 

Some space between the theatre ami the grave , 
That, like the Roman in the Capitol, 
I may adjust my mautle , ere I fall '." 

The progress of the negotiation between him and Mr. Sheridan , 
which ended in making the latter patentee and manager, cannot 
better be traced than in Sheridan's own letters , addressed at the time 
to Mr. Linley, and most kindly placed at my disposal by my friend , 
Mr. William Linley. 

" DEAR SIR, Sunday, Dec.'$\,\']'j'5. 

" I was always one of the slowest letter-writers in the world, though I 
have had more excuses than usual for my delay in this instance. The 
principal matter of business, on which I was to have written to you , 
related to our embryo negotiation with Garrick, of which I will now 
give you an account. 

" Since you left town, Mrs. Ewart has been so ill, as to continue near 
three weeks at the point of death. This, of course, has prevented Mr. E. 
from seeing any body on business, or from accompanying me toGarrick's. 
However, about ten days ago, I talked the matter over with him by myself, 
and the result was, appointing Thursday evening last to meet him, and to 
bring Ewart, which I did accordingly. On the whole of our conversation 
that evening, I began ( for the first time ) to think him really serious in 
the business. He still , however, kept the reserve of giving the refusal to 
Colman, though at the same time he did not hesitate to assert his confi- 
dence that CoUnan would decline it. 1 was determined to push him on this 
point ( as it was really farcical for us to treat with him under such an 
evasion ), and at last he promised to put the question to Colman, and to 
give me a decisive answer by the ensuing Sunday (to-day). Accordingly, 
within this hour, I have received a note from him which ( as I meant to 
show it my father ) I here transcribe for you. 

<" Mr. Garrick presents his compliments to Mr. Sheridan, and as he 
is obliged to go into the country for three days, he should be gfad to sc.c 
him upon his return to town , either on Wednesday about 6 or 7 o'clock 
or whenever he pleases. The parly has no objection to the whole , but 

1 Kcroble's Farewell Address on taking leave of the Edinburgh stage, written 
J>y Sir Walter Scott. 



OK R. B. SHERIDAN. 87 

f/Wr.v no partner but Mr. G. Not a word of this yet. Mr. G. sent a 
messenger on purpose (i.e. to Co/man). He would call upon Mr. S. , 
?>i,t he is confined at home. Four name is upon our list.' 

" This decisu'e. answer may be taken two ways. However as Mr.' G. 
informed Mr- Ewartand me , that he had no authority or pretensions to 
treat for the whole, it appears to me that Mr. Garrick's meaning in this 
note is, that Mr. Colman declines the purchase of Mr. Garrick's share., 
which is the point in debate, and the only part at present to be sold. I shall, 
therefore, wait on G. at the time mentioned, and if J understand him right, 
we shall certainly without delay appoint two men of business and the law 
to meet on the matter, and come to a conclusion without further delay. 

" -According to his demand, the whole is valued at ^o,ooo/. He appears 
very shy of letting his books be looked into, as the test of the profits on 
this sum, but says it must be , in its nature, a purchase on speculation. 
However, he has promised me a rough estimate, of his own, of the entire 
receipts for the last seven years. But, after all, it must certainly be a put- 
cha.se on speculation , without money's worth being made out. One point 
he solemnly avers, which is, that he will never part with it under the 
price above mentioned. 

" This is all I can say on the subject till Wednesday, though 1 can't 
help adding, that I think we might safely give five thousand pounds more 
on this purchase than richer people. The whole valued at yo,ooo/., the 
annual interest is 5,5oo/ , while this is cleared, the proprietors are safe, 
but I think it must be infernal management indeed that does not 
double it. 

" I suppose Mr. Stanley has written to you relative to your oratorio 
orchestra. The demand, I reckon, will be diminished one-third , and the 
appearance remain very handsome , which , if the other affair takes place , 
you will find your account in ; and , if you discontinue your partnership 
with Stanley at Drury-Lane, the orchestra may revert to whichever wants 
it, on the other's paying his proportion for the use of it this year. This 
is Mr. Garrick's idea, and, as he says, might in that case be settled by 
arbitration. 

" You have heard of our losing Miss Brown; however, we have missed 
her so little in theDucnna,that the managers have not tried to regain her, 
\% hich I believe they might have done. I have had some books of the music 
these many days to send you down. I wanted to put Tom's name in the 
new music, and begged Mrs. L. to ask you , and let me have a line on her 
arrival , for which purpose I kept back the index of the songs. If you or 
he have no objection, pray, let me know. I'll send the music to-morrow. 

" I am finishing a two act comedy for Covent-Garden , which will be 
in rehearsal in a week. We have given the Duenna a respite this Christ- 
inas, but nothing else at present brings money. We have every place in 
the house taken for the three next nights, and shall, at least, play it fifty 
nights, with only the Friday's intermission. 

" My best love and the compliments of rhe* season to all your fire-side. 

" Your grandson is a very magnificent fellow '. 

" Yours ever sincerely , 

" R. B. SlIERIPAS." 
Sliciidan'g first child, Thomas, born in the preceding ><ar. 



88 MEMOIRS 

"DEAR SIR, January^, 1776. 

" I left Garrick last night too late to write to you. He has offered Col- 
man the refusal, and showed me his answer; which was (as in the note) 
that he was willing to purchase the whole, but would have no partner 
but Garrick. On this, Mr. Garrick appointed a meeting with his part- 
ner, young Lacy, and, in presence of their solicitor, treasurer, etc., de- 
clared to him that he was absolutely on the point of settling , and, if he 
was willing , he might have the same price for his share ; but that if he 
(Lacy) would not sell, Mr. Garrick would, instantly, to another party. 
The result was, Lacy's declaring his intention of not parting with his 
share. Of this Garrick again informed Colman, who immediately gave 
up the whole matter. 

" Garrick was extremely explicit, and, in short, we came to a final 
resolutiou. So that, if the necessary matters are made out to all our 
satisfactions , we may sign and seal a previous agreement within a 
fortnight. 

" I meet him again to-morrow evening, when we are to name a day 
for a conveyancer on our side , to meet his solicitor, Wallace. I have 
pitched on a Mr. Phips, at the recommendation and by the advice of 
Dr. Ford. The three first steps to be taken are these, our lawyer is to 
look into the titles, tenures, etc. of the house and adjoining estate, the 
extent and limitations of the patent, etc. "We should then employ a 
builder (I think , Mr. Collins), to survey the state and repair in which 
the whole premises are, to which G. entirely assents. Mr. G. will then 
give us a fair and attested estimate from his books of what the profits 
have been , at an average , for these last seven years' . This he has shown 
me in rough, and valuing the property at 70,000^, the interest has ex- 
ceeded ten per cent. 

"We should, after this, certainly, make an interest to get the King's 
promise, that, while the theatre is well conducted, etc he will grant no 
patent for a third, - though G. seems confident that he never will. If 
there is any truth in profession and appearances, G. seems likely always 
to continue our friend, and to give every assistance in his power. 

"The method of our sharing the purchase, I should think, may be 
thus, Ewart, to take io,ooo/, you, io,ooo/., and I, io,ooo/. Dr. 
Ford agrees , with the greatest pleasure , to embark the other five; and, 
if you do not choose to venture so much, will, I dare say, share it with 
you. Ewart is preparing his money, and I have a certainty of my part. We 
shall have a very useful ally in Doctor Ford ; and my father offers his ser- 
vices on our own terms We cannot unite Garrick to our interests too 
firmly ; and I am convinced his influence will bring Lacy to our terms, if 
he should be ill-advised enough to desire to interfere in what he is to- 
tally unqualified for. 

"I'll write to you to-morrow, relative to Lacy's mortgage ( which 
Garrick has, and advises us to take), and many other particulars. When 
matters are in a certain train (which I hope will be in a week), 1 sup- 

1 These accounts were found among Mr. Sheridan's papers. Garrkk's income 
from the theatre for the year 1775-6 , is thus stated : " Author, 400/., salary, 
800/., manager, 500/." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 89 

pose you will not hesitate to come to town for a day or two. Garrick 
proposes, when we are satisfied with the bargain, to sign a previous ar- 
ticle , with a penalty of ten thousand pounds on the parlies who break 
from fulfilling the purchase. When we are once satisfied and determined 
in the business ( which , I own, is my case) , the sooner that is done the 
better. I must urge it particularly, as my confidential connexion with the 
other house is peculiarly distressing , till I can with prudence reveal my 
situation, and such a treaty (however prudently managed) cannot long 
be kept secret, especially as Lacy is now convinced of Garrick's reso- 
lution. 

"lam exceedingly hurried at present, so, excuse omissions, and do 
not flag, when we come to the point. I'll answer for it, we shall see 
many golden campaigns. 

" Yours ever, 

"R. B. SHERIDAN." 

" You have heard, I suppose, that Foote is likely never to show his 
face again." 

"DEAR SIR, January 5ist, 1776. 

" I am glad you have found a person who will let you have the money at 
4 per cent. The security will be very clear; but, as there is some degree 
of risk, as in case of fire, I think 4 per cent, uncommonly reasonable. 
It will scarcely be any advantage to pay it off, for your houses and chapel, 
I suppose, bring in much more. Therefore, while you can raise money at 4 
per cent, on the security of your theatrical share only, you will be 
right to alter, as little as you can, the present disposition of your pro- 
perty. 

" As to your quitting Bath , I cannot see why you should doubt a mo- 
ment about it Surely, the undertaking in which you embark such a sum 
as io,ooo/. ought to be the chief object of your attention and , suppo- 
sing you did not chuse to give up all your time to the theatre, you may 
certainly employ yourself more profitably in London than in Bath. But, 
if you are willing ( as I suppose you will be ) to make the theatre the 
great object of your attention, rely on it you may lay aside every doubt 
of not finding your account in it; for the fact is, we shall have nothing 
but our own equity to consult in making and obtaining any demand for 
exclusive trouble. Lacy is utterly unequal to any department in the 
theatre. He has an opinion of me, and is very willing to let the whole bur- 
then and ostensibility be taken off his shoulders. But I certainly should 
not give up my time and labour (for his superior advantage, having so 
much greater a share) without some exclusive advantage. Yet, I should 
by no means make the demand till I had shown myself equal to the task. 
My father purposes to be with us but one year; and that only to give me 
what advantage he can from his experience. He certainly must be paid 
for his trouble , and so certainly must you. You have experience and 
character equal to the line you would undertake; and it never can 
enter into any body's head that you were to give your time or am p.uf 
of your attention gratis, because you had a share in the theatre. I have 
spoke on this subject both to Garrick and Lacy , and you will find no 



T.O MEMOIRS 

demur on any side to your gaining a certain income from the theatre 
greater, I think , than you could make oat of it and in this the theatre 
will he acting ;only for its own advantage. At the same time you mav 
always make leisure for a few select scholars, whose interest may also 
serve the greater cause of your patentee-ship. 

" I have had a young man with me who wants to appear as a singer 
in plays or oratorios. I think you'll find him likely to he serviceable in 
cither. He is not one-and-twenty , and has no conceit. He has a good 
tenor voice very good ear, and a great deal of execution, of the right 
kind. He reads notes very quick, and can accompany himself. This is 
Betsey's verdict, who sat in judgment on him on Sunday last. I have 
given him no answer, but engaged him to wait till you come to town. 

" You must not regard the reports in the paper about a third theatre; 
that's all nonsense. 

" Betsey's and my love to all. Your grandson astonishes every body by 
his vivacity, his talents for music and poetry, and the most perfect inte- 
grity of mind. 

" Yours most sincerely, 

"R. B. SHERIDAN." 

Tn the following June the contract with Garrick was perfected; 
and, in a paper drawn up by Mr Sheridan many years after, I find 
the shares of the respective purchasers thus staled : 

Mr. Sheridan, two fourteenths of the whole io,ooo/. 
Mr. Linley, ditto io,ooo/. 

Dr. Ford, 3 ditto i5,ooo/. 

Mr. Ewart, it will be perceived, though originally mentioned 
as one of the parties , had no concern in lire final arrangement. 

Though the letters, just cited , furnish a more detailed account 
than has yet been given to the public of this transaction by which 
Mr. Sheridan became possessed of his theatrical property, they still 
leave us in the dark with respect to the source, from which his 
own means of completing the purchase were derived. Not even to 
Mr. Linley, while entering into all other details, does he hint at the 
fountain-head from which this supply is to come ; 

" gentes maluit ortus 
niirari, quam nosse tuos." 

There was, indeed , something mysterious and miraculous about 
all his acquisitions, whether in love, in learning, in wit or in 
wealth. How or when his stock of knowledge was laid in, nobody 
knew it was as much a matter of marvel to those who never saw 
him read , as the existence of the chameleon has been to those who 
fancied it never eat. His advances in the heart of his mislress were . 
as we have seen , equally trackless and inaudible . and his triumph 
was the first that even rivals knew of his love. In like manner, the 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 01 

productions of his wit.took the world by surprize, being perfected 
in secret , till ready for display, and then seeming to break from 
under the cloud of his indolence in full maturity of splendour. His 
financial resources had no less an air of magic about them ; and the 
mode by which he conjured up, at this time, the money 'for his 
tirsl purchase into the theatre , remains , as far as I can learn , still 
a mystery. It has been said that Mr. Garrick supplied him with the 
means but a perusal of the above letters musj set that notion to rest. 
There was evidently at this lime no such confidential understanding 
between them as an act of friendship of so signal a nature would im- 
ply; and it appears lhat Sheridan had the purchase money ready, even 
before the terms upon which Garrick would sell were ascertained. 
That Doctor Ford should have advanced the money is not less im- 
probable; for the share of which, contrary to his first intention , he 
ultimately became proprietor, absorbed, there is every reason to 
think , the whole of his disposable means. He was afterwards a 
sufferer by the concern to such an extent, as to be obliged, in 
consequence of his embarrassments, to absent himself for a con- 
siderable lime from England 5 and Ihere are among the papers of 
Mr. Sheridan , several letters of remonstrance addressed to him by 
the son of Dr. Ford , in which some allusion to such a friendly 
service, had it ever occurred , would hardly have been omitted. 

About the end of this year some dissenlions arose between the 
new patentees and Mr. Lacy, in consequence of the expressed in- 
tention of the latter to introduce two other partners into Ihe establish- 
ment , by the disposal of his share to captain Thomson and a 
Mr. Langford. By an account of this Iransaclion , which appears in 
a Periodical Paper published at the time ', and which, from its cor- 
rectness in other particulars, I ralher Ihink may be depended on, it 
would seem thai Sheridan, in his opposition to Lacy, had proceeded 
to the extremity of seceding from his own duties at the theatre , and 
inducing the principal actors to adopt the same line of conduct.* 

" Does not the rage (asks this writer) of the new managers, all directed 
against the innocent and justifiable conduct of Mr. Lacy, look as if they 
meant to rule a theatre , of which they have only a moiety among them, 
and feared the additional weight and influence which would be given to 
.Mr. Lacy by the assistance of Captain Thomson and Mr. Langford? If 
their intentions were right, why should they fear to have their power 
balanced , and their conduct examined ? Is there a precedent in the an- 
nals of the theatre , where the acting manager deserted the general pro- 
perty, left the house, and seduced the actors from their duties why i' 
forsooth, because he was angry. Is not such conduct actionable? In any 
< oncern of common property, Lord Mansfield would make it so. And, 

' The Selector. 



92 MEMOIRS 

what an insult to the public , from whose indulgence and favour this 
conceited young man , with his wife and family, are to receive their daily 
bread ! Because Mr. Lacy, in his opinion , had used him ill his patrons 
and benefactors might go to the devil ! Mr. Lacy acted with great temper and 
moderation; and, in order that. the public might not be wholly disap- 
pointed, he brought on old stock-plays his brother-manager having 
robbed him of the means and instruments to do otherwise, by taking 
away the performers." 

It is also intimated in the same publication that Mr. Garrick had 
on this occasion " given Mr. Sheridan credit on his banker for 
20,000/. for law expenses or for the purchase of Messrs. Langford 
and Thomson's shares." 

The dispute, however, was adjusted amicably. Mr. Lacy was 
prevailed upon to write an apology to the public , and the design 
of disposing of his share in the theatre was for the present relin- 
quished. 

There is an allusion to this reconciliation in the following cha- 
racteristic letter, addressed by Sheridan to Mr. Linley in the spring 
of the following year. 

' ; DEAR SIR, 

" You \vrite to me though you tell me you have nothing to say now, 
1 have reversed the case , and have not wrote to you, because I have had 
so much to say. However, I fmd I have delayed too long to attempt now 
to transmit you a long detail of our theatrical manoeuvres ; but you must 
not attribute my not writing to idleness, but on the contrary to my 
no/. having been idle. 

" You represent your situation of mind between hopes anAJears. I am 
afraid I should argue in vain ( as I have often on this point before) were 
I to tell you , that it is always better to encourage the former than the 
latter. It may be very prudent to mix a littleyear by way of alloy with a 
good solid mass of hope ; but you , oh the contrary, always deal in ap- 
prc^icnsion by the.pound, and take confidence by the grain , and spread 
as thin as leaf gold. In fact, though a metaphor mayn't explain it, the 
truth is, that, in all undertakings which depend principally on our- 
selves , the surest way not to fail is to determine to succeed. 

" It would be endless to say more at present about theatrical matters, 
only, that every thing is going on very well. Lacy promised me to write 
to you, which I suppose, however, he has not done. At our first meet- 
ing after you left town, he cleared away all my doubts about his since- 
rity ; and I dare swear we shall never have the least misunderstanding 
again, nor do I believe he will ever take any distinct council in future. 
Relative to your affair he has not the shade of an objection remaining , 
and is only anxious that you may not take amiss his boggling at first. We 
have, by and with the advice of the privy council, concluded to have No- 
verre over, and there is a species of pantomime to be shortly put on foot , 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 93 

which is to draw all the human kind to Drury '. This is become abso- 
lutely necessary on account of a marvellous preparation of the kind which 
is making at Covent-Garden. 

'* Touching the tragedies you mention, if you speak of them merely 
as certain tragedies that maj be had, I should think it impossible we 
could Gnd the least room , as you know Garrick saddles us with one 
which we must bring out. But, if you have any particular desire that 
one of them should be done, it is another affair, and I should be glad to 
see them. Otherwise, I would much rather you would save me the dis- 
agreeableness of giving my opinion to a fresh tragic bard, being already 
in disgrace with about nine of that irascible fraternity. 

" Betsey has been alarmed about Tom, but without reason. He is in 
my opinion better than when you left him, at least to appearance, and 
the cold he caught is gone. We sent to see him at Battersea, and would 
have persuaded him to remove to Orchard Street; but he thinks the air 
does him good, and he seems with people where he is at home, and may 
divert himself, which, perhaps, will do him more good than the air, 
but he is to be with us soon. 

" Ormsby has sent me a silver branch on the score of the Duenna. 
This will cost me , what of all things I am least free of, a letter : and it 
should have been a poetical one , too , if the present had been any piece 
of plate , but a candlestick ! I believe I must melt it into a bowl to make 
verses on it, for there is no possibility of bringing candle, candlestick 
or snuffers, into metre. However, as the gift was owing to the muse, and 
the manner of it very friendly, I believe I shall try to jingle a little on the 
occasion ; at least, a few such stanzas as might gain a cup of tea from the 
urn at Bath-Easton. 

"Betsey is very well, and on the point of giving Tom up to feed like 
a Christian and a gentleman, or, in other words, of weaning, waining , 
or weening him. As for the young gentleman himself, his progress is so 
rapid , that one may plainly see the astonishment the sun is in of a morn- 
ing , at the improvement of the night. Our loves to all. 

" Yours ever, and truly, 
" R. B. SHERIDAN." 

The first contribution which the dramatic talent of the new ma- 
nager furnished to the stock of the theatre , was an alteration of 
Vanbrugh's comedy, The Relapse, which was brought out on 
the 24th of February, 1777, under the title of" A Trip to Scar- 
borough." 

In reading the original play, we are struck with surprise, that 
Sheridan should ever have hoped to be able to defecate such dia- 
logue, and yet leave any of the wit , whose whole spirit is in the 
lees , behind. The very life of such characters as Berinthia is their 
licentiousness, and it is with them, as with objects that are luminous 
from putrescence, to remove their taint is to extinguish their 

I find that the pantomime at Drnry-Lane this year was a revival of " Harle- 
quin's Invasion," and that at Covent-Garden "Harlequin's Frolics." 



9i MEMOIRS 

light. If Sheridan, indeed, had substituted some of his own wit for 
that which he took away, the inanition that followed the operation 
would have been much less sensibly felt. But to be so liberal of a 
treasure so precious, and for the enrichment of the work of another, 
could hardly have been expected from him. Besides, it may be 
doubted whether the subject had not already yielded its utmost to 
Vanbrugh , and whether, even in the hands of Sheridan, it could 
have been brought to bear a second crop of wit. Here and there 
through the dialogue, there are some touches from his pen more, 
however, in the style of his farce than his comedy. For instance , 
that speech of Lord Foppington , where , directing the hosier not 
" to thicken the calves of his stockings so much," he says, " You 
should always remember, Mr. Hosier, that if you make a nobleman's 
spring legs as robust as his autumnal calves, you commit a mon- 
strous impropriety, and make no allowance for the fatigues of the 
winter. 1 ' Again, the following dialogue : 

"Jeweller. Ihope, my lord, those buckles have had the unspeakable 
satisfaction of being honoured with your lordship's approbation ? 

" Lord F. Why, they are of a pretty fancy ; but don't you think them 
rather of the smallest ? 

' ' Jeweller. My lord , they could not well be larger, to keep on your 
lordship's shoe. 

" LordF. My good sir, you forget that these matters are not as they 
used to be : formerly, indeed, the buckle was a sort of machine , intended 
to keep on the shoe; but the case is now quite reversed, and the shoe is 
of no earthly use , but to keep on the buckle." 

About this time Mrs. Sheridan went to pass a few weeks with her 
father and mother at Bath, while Sheridan himself remained in 
town, to superintend the concerns of the theatre. During this in- 
terval he addressed to her the following verses , which I quote , less 
from their own peculiar merit , than as a proof how little his heart 
had yet lost of those first feelings of love and gallantry which loo 
often expire in matrimony, as Faith and Hope do in heaven , and 
from thetsame causes 

" One lost in certainty , and one in joy." 
" To Laura. 

" Near Avon's ridgy bank there grows 

A willow of no vulgar size , 
That tree first heard poor Silvio's woes, 
And heard how bright were Laura's eyes. 

Its boughs were shade from heat or show'r, 

Its roots a moss-grown seat became 5 
Its leaves would strew the maiden's bow'r , 

Its bark was shatter'd with her name ! 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN 95 



i nice 011 a blossom-crowned day 
Of mirth-inspiring May 

Silvio , beneath tiiis willow's sober shade 
lu sullen contemplation laid , 

Did mock the mearlow's flowery pride , 
Rail'd at the dance and sportive ring; 

The tabor's call he did deride , 
And said , it was not Spring, 

He sconr'd the sky of azure blue, 
He scorn'd whate'er could mirth bespeak ; 

He cliid the beam that drank the dew, 

And chid the gale that fauu'd his glowing cheek. 

Unpaid the season's wonted lay , 

For still he sigh'd, and said, it was not May. 

" Ah , why should the glittering stream 

" Reflect thus delusive the scene ? 
" Ah , why does a rosy-ting'd beam , 

" Thus vainly enamel the green ? 
" To me nor joy nor light they bring 
" I tell thee , Phoebus , 'tis not Spring. 

' Sweet tut'ress of music and love , 
" Sweet bird, if 'tis thee that I hear, 

' ' Why left you so early tfie grove , 
" To lavish your melody here ? 

" Cease, then, mistaken thus to sing , 

j^Sweet nightingale ! it is not Spring. 

" The gale courts my locks but to tease , 
" And , Zephyr , I call'd not on thee ; 

" Thy fragrance no longer cau please , 
** Then rob not the blossoms for me : 

" But hence unload thy balmy wing, 

" Believe me, Zephyr , 'tis not Spring. 

" Yet the lily has drank of the show'r , 
" And the rose 'gins to peep on the day ; 

" And yon bee seems to search for a flow'r , 
'* As busy as if it were May : 

' In vain , thou senseless flutt'ring thing, 

" My heart informs tne, 'tis not Spring." 

May pois'd her roseate wings , for she had heard 
The mourner, as she pass'd the vales along; 

And, silencing her own indignant bird. 
She thus repjov'd poor Silvio's song. 

' How false is the sight of a lover; 
" How ready his spleen to discover 

" What reason would never allow i 
" Why , Silvio, my sunshine and show'rs, 
" My blossoms , my birds , and my flow'rs , 

" Were never more perfect than now. 

*' The water's reflection is true, 
" The green is enamell'd to view , 



9(i MEMOIRS 

" And Pliilomel sings <) the spray; 
" The gale is the breathingW spring , 
" 'Tis fragrance it bears on its wing , 

" And the bee is assar'd it is May" 

" Pardon (said Silvio with a gushing tear ) , 

" 'Tis spring, sweet nymph, but Laura is not here." 

In sending these verses to Mrs. Skeridan, he had also written 
her a description of some splendid party, at which he had lately 
been present , where all the finest women of the world of fashion 
were assembled. His praises of their beauty, as well as his account 
of their flattering attentions to himself, awakened a feeling of at 
least poetical jealousy in Mrs. Sheridan , which she expressed in 
the following answer to his verses taking occasion , at the same 
time , to pay some generous compliments to the most brilliant 
among his new fashionable friends. Though her verses are of that 
kind which we read more with interest than admiration , they have 
quite enough of talent for the gentle themes to which she aspired ; 
and there is, besides, a charm about them, as coming from 
Mrs. Sheridan , to which far better poetry could not pretend. 

" To SUvio. 

" Soft flow'd the lay by Avon's sedgy side. 

While o'er its streams the drooping willow hung , 
Beneathwliose shadow Silvio fondly tried 

To check the opening roses as they sprung. 
In vain he bade them cease to court the gale, 

That wanton'd balmy on the zephyr's wing ; 
In vain , wheu Pliilomel renew'd her tale, 

He chid her song, and said, " It was not Spring." 
For still they bloom'd, tho' Silvio's heart was sad, 

Nor did sweet Philomel neglect to sing ; 
The zephyrs scorn'd them not , tho' Silvio had , 

For love and iiature told them it was Spring ' . 



To other scenes doth Silvio now repair, 

To nobler themes his daring Muse aspires; 
Around him throng the gay, the young, the fair, 

His lively wit the list'uiug crowd admires. 
And see , where radiant Beanty smiling stands , 

With gentle voice and soft beseeching eyes , 
To gain the laurel from his willing hands , 

Her every art the fond enchantress tries. 

What various charms the admiring youth surround, 

How shall he sing, or how attempt to praise? 
So lovely all where shall the bard be found , 

Who can to one alone attune his lays ? 

1 As the poem altogether would be too long ', I have here omitted fire or six 
stanzas. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 97 

Behold with graceful step and smile serene, 
Majestic Stella ' moves to claim the prize ; 
" 'Tis thine," he cries, "for thou art beauty's queen." 

Mistaken youth and seest thou Myra's a eyes? 
With beaming lustre see they dart at thee , 

Ah! dread their vengeance yet withhold thy hand , 
That deep'ning blush upbraids thy rash decree 5 

Her's is the wreath obey the just demand. 
" Pardon, bright nymph " (the wond'ring Silvio cries) , 

" And oh , receive the wreath thy beauty's due " 
His voice awards what still his hand denies , 

For beauteous Amoret 3 now his eyes pursue. 
With gentle step and hesitating grace, 

Unconscious of her pow'r, the fair one came : 
If, while he view'd the glories of that face, 

Poor Silvio doubted , who shall dare to blame ? 

A rosy blush his ardent gaze reprov'd , 

The offer'd wreath she modestly declined; 
" If sprightly wit and dimpled smiles are lov'd, 

" My brow ," said Flavia 4 , " shall that garland bind. 
With wanton gaiety the prize she seized 

Silvio in vain her snowy hand repell'd ; 
The fickle youth unwillingly was pleas'd; 

Reluctantly the wreath he yet withheld. 
But Jessie's 5 all seducing form appears , 

Nor more the playful Flavia could delight ; 
Lovely in smiles , more lovely still in tears , 

Her every glance shone eloquently bright. 

Those radiant eyes in safety none could view, 

Did not those fringed lids their brightness shade 
Mistaken youths ! their beams , too late ye knew , 

Are by that soft, defence more fatal made. 
" O God of Love ! " with transport Silvio cries , 

" Assist me thou , this contest to decide : 
" And since to one I cannot yield the prize , 

"Permit thy slave the garland to divide. 

" On Myra's breast the opening rose shall blow, 

" Reflecting from her cheek a livelier bloom ; 
" For Stella shall the bright carnation glow 

" Beneath her eyes' bright radiance meet its doom.* 

" Smart pinks and daffodils shall Flavia grace, 

" The modest eglantine and violet blue 
" On gentle Amoret's placid brow I'll place 

" Of elegance and love an emblem true. " 

1 According to the Key which has been given me, the name of Stella was meant 
to designate the Dachess of Rutland. 
1 The Dnchess of Devonshire. 
1 Mrs. (afterwards Lady) Crewe. 
4 Lady Craven, afterwards Margravine of Anspach. 
' The late Countess of Jersey. 



9S MEMOIRS 

In gardens oft a beanleous flow'r there grows , 

By vulgar eyes unnotic'd and unseen ; 
In sweet security it I nimbly blows , 

And rears its purple bead to deck the green. 

This flower, as nature's poet sweetly sings , 

Was once milk-white , and fieart's-ease was its name j 

Till wanton Cupid pois'd his roseate wings , 
A vestal's sacred bosom to inflame. 

With treacherous aim the god bis arrow drew , 
Which she with icy coldness did repel ; 

Rebounding thence with feathery speed it flew, 
Till on this louely flow'r at last it fell. 

Heart's-ease no more the wandering shepherds found, 
No more the nymphs its snowy form possess , 

Its white now chang'd to purple by Love's wound , 
Heart's-ease no more , 'tis " Love in Idleness." 

" This flow'r, with sweet-brier joiu'd , shall thee adorn , 
" Sweet Jessie , fairest mid ten thousand fair ! 

" But guard thy gentle bosom from the thorn, 

" Which, tlio' conceal'd , the sweet-brier still must bear 

" And place not Love , tho' idle , in thy breast, 
" Tho' bright its hues , it boasts no other charm 

" So may thy future days be ever blest , 

" And friendship's calmer joys thy bosom warm ! " 

But where does Laura pass her lonely hours? 

Does she still haunt the grot and willow-tree? 
Shall Silvio from his wreath of various flow'rs 

Neglect to cull one simple sweet for thee ? 

"Ah Laura, no," the constant Silvio cries, 
" For thee an ever-fading wreath I'll twine; 

" Though bright the rose , its bloom too swiftly flies , 
" No emblem meet for love so true as mine. 

" For thee, my love , the myrtle , ever-green, 
" Shall every year its blossom sweet disclose, 

" Which , when our spring of youth no more is seen , 
" Shall still appear more lovely than the rose. " 

" Forgive, dear youth," the happy Laura said, 
" Forgive each doubt , each fondly anxious fear , 

" Which from my heart for ever now is fled 

" Thy love and truth , thus tried, are doubly dear. 

" With pain I mark'd the various passions rise , 
" When beauty so divine before thee mov'd; 

" With trembling doubt beheld thy wandering eyes, 
" For still I fear'd ; alas ! because I lov'd. 

" Each anxious doubt shall Laura now forego, 
" No more regret those joys so lately known , 

" Conscious , that tho' thy breast to all may glow , 
" Thy faithful heart shall beat for her alone. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN 99 

" Then, Silvio, seize again thy tuneful lyre, 

" Nor yet sweet Beauty's power forbear to praise , 
" Again let charms divine thy strains inspire , 

" And Laura's voice shall aid the poet's lays. " 

CHAPTER V. 

The School for Scandal. 

MR. Sheridan was now approaching the summit of his dramatic 
fame ; he had already produced the best opera in the language , 
and there now remained for him the glory of writing also the best 
comedy. As this species of composition seems, more perhaps than 
any olher, to require that knowledge of human nature and the world 
which experience alone can give , it seems not a little extraordinary 
that nearly all our first-rate comedies should have been the produc- 
tions of very young men. Those of Congreve were all written be- 
fore he was five-and-twenty. Farquhar produced the Constant Couple 
in his two-and-twentieth year, and died at thirty. Vanbrugh was a 
young ensign when he sketched out the Relapse and the Provoked 
Wife ; and Sheridan crowned his reputation with the School for 
Scandal at six-and-lwenly. 

It is , perhaps , still more remarkable to find , as in the instance 
before us , that works which , at this period of life , we might sup- 
pose to have been the rapid offspring of a careless , but vigorous 
fancy, anticipating the results of experience by a sort of second- 
sight inspiration, should, on the contrary, have been the slow 
result of many and doubtful experiments , gradually unfolding beau- 
ties unforeseen even by him who produced them , and arriving at 
length , step by step, at perfection. That such was the tardy process 
by which the School for Scandal was produced , will appear from 
the first sketches of its plan and dialogue , which I am here enabled 
to lay before the reader, and which cannot fail to interest deeply all 
those who take delight in tracing the alchemy of genius, and in 
watching the first slow workings of the menstruum , out of which 
its finest transmutations arise. 

"Genius," says Buffon, "is Patience;" or (as another French 
writer has explained his thought) "La Patience cherche , et le 
Genie trouve ; " and there is little doubt that to the co-operation of 
Ihesc two powers all the brightest inventions of this world are owing ; 

that Patience must first explore the depths where the pearl lies 

hid , before Genius boldly dives and brings it up full into light. There 
are , it is true , some striking exceptions to this rule ; and our own 
limes have witnessed more than one extraordinary intellect, whose 
depth has not prevented their treasures from lying ever ready within 



ioo MEMOIRS 

reach. But the records of Immortality furnish few such instances 
and all we know of the works that she has hitherto marked with her 
seal, sufficiently authorise the general position, that nothing great 
and durable has ever been produced with ease , and that Labour 
is the parent of all the lasting wonders of this world , w hclher in 
verse or stone , whether poetry or pyramids. 

The first Sketch of the School for Scandal that occurs was writ- 
ten , I am inclined to think , before the Rivals , or at least very soon 
after it; and that it was his original intention to satirise some of 
the gossips of Bath appears from the title under which I find noted 
down, as follows, the very first hints, probably, that suggested 
themselves for the dialogue. 

" TJIE SLANDERERS. A Pump-Room Scene. 

"Friendly caution to the newspapers. 

"It is whispered 

" Sbe is a constant attendant at church, and very frequently takes 
Dr. M'Brawn home with her. 

"Mr. Worthy is very good to the girl; for my part, I dare swear 
lie has no ill intention-. 

"What! Major Wesley's Miss Montague? 

"Lud, ma'am, the match is certainly broke no creature knows the 
cause; some say a flaw in the lady's character, and others, in the gentle- 
men's fortune. 

" To be sure thev do say- - 

"I bate to repeat what I hear. 

" She was inclined to be a little too plump before she went. 

"The most intrepid blush; I've known her complexion stand fire for 
an hour together. 

" 'Sbe bad twins.' How ill-natured ! as I hope to be saved, ma'am , 
she bad but one; and that a little starved brat not worth mentioning." 

The following is the opening scene of his first Sketch , from which 
it will be perceived that the original plot was wholly different from 
what it is at present, Sir Peter and Lady Teazle being at that time 
not yet in existence. 

"LADY SNEERWKLL and SPATTER." 

"Lady S. The paragraphs, you say, were all inserted. 

" Spat. They were, madam. 

"Lady S. Did you circulate the report of Lady Brittle's intrigue with 
Captain Boastall ? 

"Spat. Madam, by this Lady Brittle is the talk of half the town ; and 
in a week will be treated as a demirep. 

"Lady S. What have you done as to the inucndo of Miss INiceley's 
fondness for her own footman ? 

"Spat. 'Tis in a fair train, ma'am. 1 told it to my hair-dresser, lie 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 101 

cqurts a milliner's girl in Pall Mall, whose mistress has a first cousin who 
is waiting-woman to Lady Clackit. I think in ahout fourteen hours it 
must reach Lady Clackit, and then you know the business is done. 
''Lady S. But is that sufficient, do you think ? 

" Spat. O Lud, ma'am, I'll undertaketo ruin the character of the primest 
I nude in London with half as much. Ha! ha! Did your ladyship never hear 
how poor Miss Shepherd lost her lover and her character last summer at 
Scarborough ? this was the whole of it. One evening at Lady 's, the 
conversation happened to turn on the difficulty of breeding Nova Scotia 

sheep in England. 'I have known instances,' says Miss ,'for last 

spring , a friend of mine, Miss Shepherd of Ramsgate , had a Nova Scotia 
sheep that produced her twins.' 'What!' cries the old deaf dowager 
Lady Bowlwell, 'has Miss Shepherd of Ramsgate been brought to bed 
of twins ?' This mistake, as you may suppose, set the company a-laugh- 
ing. However, the next day, Miss Verjuice Amarilla Lonely, who had 
been of the party, talking of Lady BowlweU's deafness, began to tell 
what had happened; but, unluckily, forgetting to say a word of the 
sheep, it was understood by the company, and, in every circle, many 
believed, that Miss Shepherd of Ramsgate had actually been brought to 
bed of a One boy and a girl; and, in less than a fortnight, there were 
people who could name the father, and the farm-house where the babies 
were put out to nurse. 

^ Lady S. Ha! ha! well, for a stroke of luck, it was a very good 
one. I suppose you find no difficulty in spreading the report on the cen- 
sorious Miss ? 

" Spat. None in the world, she has always been so prudent and 
reserved, that every body was sure there was some, reason for it at 
bottom. 

'''Lady S. Yes , a tale of scandal is as fatal to the credit of a prude as 
a fever to those of the strongest constitutions ; but there is a sort of sickly- 
reputation that outlives hundreds of the robuster character of a prude. 

" Spat. True, ma'am, there are valetudinarians in reputation as in 
constitutions ; and both are cautious from their appreciation and con- 
sciousness of their weak side , and avoid the least breath of air ' . 

''Lady S. But, Spatter, I have something of greater confidence now 
to entrust you with. I think I have some claim to your gratitude. 

" Spat. Have I ever shown myself one moment unconscious of what I 
owe you ? 

" Lady S. I do not charge you with it, but this is an affair of import- 
ance. You are acquainted with my situation, but not all my weaknesses. 
I was hurt, in the early part of my life, by the envenomed tongue of 
scandal, and ever since, I own, have no joy but in sullying the fame of 
others. In this I have found you an apt tool : you have often been the 
instrument of my revenge, but you must now assist me in a softer pas- 
sion. A young widow with a little beauty and easy fortune is seldom 

1 This is one of the many instances, whpre the improving effect of revision 
may be traced. The passage at present stands thus : " There are valetudinarians 
in repntation as well as constitution; who , heing conscious of their weak part , 
avoid the least breath of air, and supply the want of stamina by care and cir- 
cumspection. 



102 MEMOIRS 

driven to sue, yet is that my case. Of the many you have seen Here, 
have you ever observed me , secretly, to favour one ? 

''Spat. Egad! I never was more posed : I'm sure you cannot mean 
that ridiculous old knight , Sir Christopher Crab ? 

''Lady S. A wretch ! his assiduities are my torment. 

" Spat. Perhaps his nephew, the baronet, Sir Benjamin Backbite, is 
the happy man ? 

" Lady S. No , though he has ill-nature and a good person on his 
side , he is not to my taste. What think you of Clerimont ' ? 

" Spat. How! the professed lover of your ward , Maria ; between whom, 
too , there is a mutual affection. 

''Lady S. Yes, that insensible, that doater on an idiot, is the man. 

" Spat. But how can you hope to succeed? 

Lady S. By poisoning both with jealousy of the other, till the credul- 
ous fool , in a pique, shall be entangled in my snare. 

"Spat. Have you taken any measure for it? 

"Lady S. I have. Maria has made me the confidente of Clerimont's 
love for her : in return , I pretended to entrust her with my affection for 
Sir Benjamin ; who is her warm admirer. By strong representation of my 
passion , I prevailed on her not to refuse to see Sir Benjamin, which she 
once promised Clerimont to do. I entreated her to plead my cause, and 
even drew her in to answer Sir Benjamin's letters with the same intent. 
Of this 1 have made Clerimont suspicious ; but 'tis you must inflame 
him to the pitch I want. 

" Spat. But will not Maria, on the least unkindness of Clerimont, in- 
stantly come to an explanation ? 

"Lady S. This is what we must prevent by blinding "**** 

The scene lhat follows , between Lady Sneerwell and Maria , gives 
some insight into the use that was to be made of this intricate ground- 
work a $ and it was , no doubt , the difficulty of managing such an 
involvement of his personages dramatically, that drove him, luckily 
for the world , to the construction of a simpler, and , at the same 
lime, more comprehensive plan. He might also, possibly, have 
been influenced by the consideration , lhat the chief movement of 
this plot must depend upon the jealousy of the lover, a spring of 
interest which he had already brought sufficiently into play in the 
Rivals. 

" Lady Sneerwell. Well, my love, have you seen Clerimont to-day? 

" Maria. I have not, nor does he come as often as he used. Indeed, 

madam , I fear what I have done to serve you has by some means come to 

1 Afterwards called Florival. 

* The following is his own arrangement of the Scenes af the Second Act. 

"Act. II. Scene 1st. All. 2nd. Lady S. and Mrs. C. 3d. Lady S. * * and Em. 
and Mrs. C. listening. 4th. L. S. and Flor. shows him into the room , bids 
him retnrn the other way. L. S, and Emma. Emma and Florival ; fits, 
maid. Emma fainting and sohhing: 'Death, don't expose me!' enter maid, 
will call out all come in with raids and siuclliug-Lottles.'' 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 103 

is knowledge, and injured nw; in his opinion. I promised him faithfully 
never to see Sir Benjamin. What confidence can he ever have in me, if 
he once finds I have broken my word to him? 

" Lady S. Nay, you are too grave. If he should suspect any thing , it 
will always he in my power to undeceive him. 

"Mar. Well, you have involved me in deceit, and I must trust to 
you to extricate me. 

'''Lady S. Have you answered Sir Benjamin's last letter in the manner 
I wished? I . 

"Mar. I have written exactly as you desired me ; but I wish you would 
give me leave to tell the whole truth to Clerimont at once. There is a 
coldness in his manner of late, which I can no ways account for. 

" Lady S. (aside) I'm glad to find I have worked on him so far; fie, 
Maria , have you so little regard for me ? would you put me to the shame 
of heing known to love a man who disregards me ? Had you entrusted me 
with such a secret , not a husband's power should have forced it from me. 
But, do as you please. Go, forget the affection I have shown you : forget 
that I have been as a mother to you, whom I found an orphan. Go, 
break through all ties of gratitude, and expose me to the world's deri- 
sion , to avoid one sullen hour from a moody lover. 

''Mar. Indeed, madam, you wrong me; and you who know the' ap- 
prehension of love should make allowance for its weakness. My love for 
Clerimout is so great 

''Lady S. Peace ; it cannot exceed mine. 

tl Mar. For Sir Benjamin, perhaps not, ma'am -and, I am sure, 

Clerimont has as sincere an affection for me. 

** Lady S. Would to heaven I could say the same! 

"Mar. Of Sir Benjamin : I wish so too , ma'am. But I am sure you 
would be extremely hurt, if, in gaining your wishes , you were to injure 
me in the opinion of Clerimont. 

"Lady S. Undoubtedly ; I would not for the world Simple fool 
(aside)] But my wishes, my happiness depend on you for I doat so 
on the insensible, that it kills me to see him so attached to you. Give 
me but Clerimont , and 

"Mar. Clerimont! 

"Lady S. Sir Benjamin, you know, I mean. Is he not attached to 
you? am I not slighted for you? Yet, do I bear any enmity to you, as 
my rival? I only request your friendly intercession, and you are so un- 
grateful , you would deny me that. - f( ^ 

"Mar. Nay, madam, have I not done every thing you wished? For 
you , I have departed from truth , and contaminated my mind with 
falsehood what could I do more to serve you ? 

"Lady S. Well, forgive me , I was too warm, I know you would not 
betray me. I expect Sir Benjamin and his uncle this morning why, 
Maria, do you always leave our little parties? 

"Mar. I own, madam, I have no pleasure in their conversation. I 
have myself no gratification in uttering detraction , and therefore none 
in hearing it. 

"Lady S. Oh fie, you arc serious ' tis only a little harmless raillery. 



104 MEMOIRS 

" Mar. I never can think that harmless which hurts the peace of youth, 
draws tears from beauty, and gives many a pang to the innocent. 

" Lady S. Nay, you must allow that many people of sense and'wit 
have this foible Sir Benjamin Backbite , for instance. 

"Mar. He may, but I confess I never can perceive wit where I see 
malice. 

"Lady S. Fie , Maria , you have the most unpolished way of thinking! 
It is absolutely impossible to be witty without being a little ill-natured. 
The malice of a good thing is the barb that makes it stick. I protest now 
when I say an ill-natured thing, I have not the least malice againt the 
person ; and, indeed, it may be of one whom I never saw in my life ; for 
I hate to abuse a friend but I take it for granted , they all speak as ill- 
naturedly of me. 

"Mar. Then you are, very probably, conscious you deserve it for 
my part, I shall only suppose myself ill-spoken of when I am conscious 
I deserve it. 

Enter Servant. 

"Ser. Mrs. Candour. 

"Mar. Well, I'll leave you. 

"Lady S. No, no , you have no reason to avoid her, she is good na- 
ture itself. 

"Mar. Yes , with an artful affectation of candour, she does more injury 
than the worst backbiter of them all. 

Enter MRS. CANDOUR. 

"Mrs. Cand. So, Lady Sneerwell, how d'ye do? Maria , child, how 
dost ? Well, who is't you are to marry at last ? Sir Benjamin or Clerimont. 
The town talks of nothing else." 

Through the remainder of this scene the only difference in the 
speeches of Mrs. Candour is , that they abound more than at present 
in ludicrous names and anecdotes , and occasionally straggle into 
that loose wordiness , which , knowing how much it weakens the sap 
of wit, the good taste of Sheridan was always sure to lop away. The 
same may be said of the greater part of that scene of scandal , which 
at present occurs in the second Act , and in which all that is now 
spoken by Lady Teazle , was originally put into the mouths of Sir 
Christopher Crab and others the caustic remarks of Sir Peter Teazle 
being , as well as himself, an after-creation. 

It is chiefly, however, in Clerimont, the embryo of Charles Sur- 
face , that we perceive how imperfect may be the first lineaments 
that Time and Taste contrive to mould gradually into beauty. The 
following is the scene that introduces him to the audience , and no 
one ought to be disheartened by the failure of a first attempt after 
reading it. The spiritless language the awkward introduction of 
the sister into the plot the antiquated expedient ' of dropping the 

1 This objection seems to have occurred to himself; for one of his inemoi.'iuduuu, 
is "Not to drop the letter, bat take it from the maid." 



OF R. B. SHFRIDAN. 105 

lelter all, in short, is of the most undramatic and most unpro- 
mising description , and as little like what it afterwards turned to as 
the block is to the statue , or the grub to the butterfly. 

" Sir B. This Clerimont is , to be sure, the drollest mortal ! he is one 
of your moral fellows, who does unto others as he would they should do 
unto him. 

"Lady Sneer. Yet he is sometimes entertaining. 

" Sir B. Oh hang him , no he has too much good nature to say a 
witty thing himself, and is too ill-natured to praise wit in others. 

Enter CLERIMONT. 

" Sir B. So , Clerimont we were just wishing for you to enliven us 
with your wit and agreeable vein. 

" Cler. No, Sir Benjamin, I cannot join you. 

" Sir B. Why, man, you look as grave as a young lover the first time 
he is jilted. 

*' Cler. I have some cause to be grave , Sir Benjamin. A word with you 
all. I have just received a letter from the country, in which I understand 
that my sister has suddenly left my uncle's house, and has not since been 
heard of. : \ .'. 

''Lady S. Indeed! and on what provocation? 

'''Cler. It seems they were urging her a little too hastily to marry 
some country squire that was not to her taste. 

" Sir B. Positively I love her for her spirit. 

" Lady S. And so do I , and would protect her, if I knew where she 
was. 

" Cler. Sir Benjamin, a word with you (takes him apart). I think, 
sir, we have lived for some years on what the world calls the footing of 
friends. 

" Sir B. To my great honour, sir. Well , my dear friend? 

" Cler. You know that you once paid your addresses to my sister. My 
uncle disliked you ; but I have reason to think 3 6u were not indifferent 
to her. 

" Sir B. I believe you are pretty right there; but what follows? 

" Cler. Then I think I have a right to expect an implicit answer from 
you, whether you are in any respect privy to her elopement? 

''Sir B. Why, you certainly have a right to ask the question, and I 
will answer you as sincerely which is , that though I make no doubt 
but that she would have gone with me to the world's end , I am at pre- 
sent entirely ignorant of the whole affair. This I declare to you upon my 
honour and , what is more , I assure you my devotions are at present 
paid to another lady one of your acquaintance , too. 

" Cler. (aside). Now , who can this other be whom he alludes to? I 
have sometimes thought I perceived a kind of mystery between him and 
Maria but I rely on her promise, though, of late, her conduct to me has 
l>eeu strangely reserved. 

" Lady S. Why, Clerimont, you seem quite thoughtful. Come with 
us; we are going to kill an hour at ombre your mistress will join us. 
" Cler. Madam , I attend you. 



106 MEMOIRS 

"Lady S. ( Taking Sir B. aside). Sir Benjamin, I see Maria is now 
coming to join us do you detain her awhile , and 1 will contrive that 
Clerimont should see you, and then drop this lelter. [Exeunt all but 
Sir B. 

Enter MARIA. 

"Mar. I thought the company were here, and Clerimont 

" Sir JB. One , more your slave than Clerimont, is here. 

"A/rtr. Dear Sir Benjamin, I thought you promised me to drop this 
suhject. If 1 have really any power over you, you will oblige me 

"Sir B. Power over me ! What is there you could not command me 
in ? Have you not wrought on me to proffer my love to Lady Sneerwell ? 
Yet though you gain this from me, you will not give me the smallest, 
token of gratitude. 

Enter CLERIMONT behind. 

"Mar. How can I believe your love sincere, when you continue still 
to importune me ? 

" Sir B. I ask but for your friendship, your esteem. 

li Mar. That you shall ever be entitled to then I may depend upon 
your honour ? 

" Sir B. Eternally dispose of my heart as you please. 

''Mar. Depend upon it I shall study nothing but its happiness. I need 
not repeat my caution as to Clerimont? 

" Sir B. No, no, he suspects nothing as yet. 

"Mar. For, within these few days, I almost believed that he sus- 
pects me. 

" Sir B. Never fear, he does not love well enough to be quick sighted ; 
for just now he taxed me with eloping with his sister. 

"Mar. Well, we had now best join the company. [Exeunt. 

" Cler. So , now who can ever have faith in woman ? D d deceitful 
wanton ! why did she not fairly tell me that she was weary of my ad- 
dresses? that woman, like her mind, was changed, and another fool 
succeeded. 

Enter LADY SNEERWELL. 

" Lady S. Clerimont, why do you leave us? Think of my losing this 
hand (Cler. She has no heart.)-^-five mate (Cler. Deceitful wanton!) 
spadille. 

" Cler. Oh yes, ma'am 'twas very hard. 

''Lady S. But you seem disturbed; and where are Maria and Sir 
Benjamin ? I vow I shall be jealous of Sir Benjamin. 

" Cler. I dare swear they are together very happy but, Lady Sneer- 
well you may perhaps often have perceived tbat I am discontented with 
Maria. I ask you to tell me sincerely have you ever perceived it? 

"Lady S. I wish you would excuse me. 

" Cler. Nay, you have perceived it I know you hate deceit." 

I have said that the other Sketch , in which Sir Peter and Lady 
Teazle arc made the leading personages, was written subsequently to 
lhat of which I have just given specimens. Of this, however, I cannot 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 107 

produce any positive proof. There is no date on the manuscripts, 
nor any other certain clue , to assist in deciding the precedency of 
time between them. In addition to this , the two plans are entirely 
distinct, Lady Sneerwell and her associates being as wholly ex- 
cluded from the one , as Sir Peter and Lady Teazle are from the 
other; so that it is difficult to say, with certainty, which existed 
lirst, or at what time the happy thought occurred of blending all 
mat was best in each into one. 
The following are the Dramatis Person of the second plan : 

Sir Rowland Harpur. 

Plausible. 

Capt Harry Plausible. 

Freeman. 

Old Teazle ' . ( Left off trade . ) 

Mrs. Teazle. 

Maria. 

From this list of the personages we may conclude that the quar- 
rels of Old Teazle and his wife, the attachment between Maria 
and one of the Plausibles , and the intrigue of Mrs. Teazle with 
the other, formed the sole materials of the piece, as then con- 
structed 7 . There is reason too to believe, from the following me- 
morandum , which occurs in various shapes through these manu- 
scripts , that the device of the screen was not yet thought of , and 
that the discovery was to be effected in a very different manner 

" Making love to aunt and niece meeting wrong in the dark some 
one coming locks up the aunt, thinking it to be the niece." 

I shall now give a scene or two from the Second Sketch which 
shows , perhaps , even more strikingly than the other, the volatil- 
ising and condensing process which his wit must have gone through, 
before it attained its present proof and flavour. i*: 

" ACT I. SCENE I. 
OLD TEAZLE , alone. 
"In the year 44, I married iny first wife ; the wedding was at the end 

1 The first intention was, as appears from his introductory speech, to give Old 
Teazle the Christian name of Solomon. Sheridan was, indeed, most fastidiously 
changeful in his names. The present Charles Surface was at first Clerimont , then 
Florival, then Captain Harry Plausible, then Harry Pliant or Pliable, then 
Young Harrier, and then Frank while his elder brother was successively Plau- 
sible, Pliable, Young Pliant, Tom , and , lastly, Joseph Surface. Trip was origin- 
<<lly called Spnnge; the name of Snake was, in the earlier sketch, Spatter, and, 
i-ven after the union of the two plots into one, all the business of the opening 
scene with Lady Sneerwell, at present transacted by Snake, was given to a 
character, afterwards wholly omitted, Misu Verjuice. 

' This was most probably (he " two act Comedy," which ha announced to 
Mr. I.inlcy as preparing for representation in 1776. 



108 MEMOIRS 

of the year aye, 'twas in December; yet, before Ann. Dom. 45, I re- 
peiited. A month before , we swore we preferred each other to the whole 
world perhaps we spoke truth; but when we came to promise to love 
each other till death, there I am sure we lied. Well, Fortune owed me 
a good turn ; in 48 she died. Ah , silly Solomon , in 5a I find thee mar- 
ried again ! Here, too, is a catalogue of ills Thomas, born Februaiy 
12; Jane, born. Jan. 6; so they go 6n to the number of five. However, 
by death I stand credited but by one. Well, Margery, rest her soul ! was 
a queer creature ; when she was gone, I felt awkward at first, and being 
sensible that wishes availed nothing , I often wished for her return. For 
ten years more I kept my senses and lived single. Oh, blockhead, dolt 
Solomon! within this twelvemonth thou art married again married to 
a woman thirty years younger than thyself ; a fashionable woman. Yet I 
took her with caution; she had been educated in the country; but now 
she has more extravagance than the daughter of an Earl, more levity than 
a Countess. What a defect it is in our laws , that a man who has once 
been branded in the forehead should be hanged for the second oll'euce. 
Enter JAKVIS. 

" Teaz. Who's there? Well, Jarvis? 

"Jarv. Sir, there are a number of my mistress's tradesmen without, 
clamorous for their money. 

" Teaz. Are those their bills in your hand? 

"Jaw. Something about a twentieth part, sir. 

" Teaz. What ! have you expended the hundred pounds I gave you for 
her use? 

" Jarv. Long ago , sir, as you may judge by some of the items : 'Paid 
the coach-maker for lowering the front seat of the coach.' 

" Teaz. What the deuce was the matter with the seat ? 

" Jarv. Oh lord, the carriage was too low for her by a foot when she 
was dressed so that it must have been so , or have had a tub at top like 
a hat-case on a travelling trunk. Well , sir (reads} ' Paid her two footmen 
half a year's wages, 5o/.' 

"Teaz. 'Sdeath and fury! does she give her footmen a hundred 
a-year ? 

''Jarv. Yes, sir, and I think, indeed, she has rather made a good 
bargain , for they find their own bags and bouquets. 

" Teaz. Bags and bouquets for footmen ! halters and bastinadoes ' ! 

" Jarv. ' Paid for my lady's own nosegays, 5o/.' 

" Teaz. Fifty pounds for flowers ! enough to turn the Pantheon into a 
green-house , and give a Fete Champetre at Christmas. 

" * Lady Teaz. Lord , Sir Peter, I wonder you should grudge me the 
most innocent articles in dress and then, for the expense flowers 
cannot be cheaper in winter you should find fault with the climate, and 
not with me. I am sure I wish with all my heart, that it was Spring all 
the year round , and that roses grew under one's feet. 

1 Transferred afterwards to Trip and Sir Oliver. 

3 We observe here a change in his plan, with respect both to the titles of Old 
Teazle and his wife , and the presence of the latter during this scene , which was 
evidently not at first intended. 

From the following skeleton of the scenes of this piece, it would appear that 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 109 

" Sir P.' Nay> but, madam, then you would not wear them ; but try 
snow-balls, and icicles. But tell me, madam, how can you feel any satis- 
faction in wearing these , when you might reflect that one of the rose- 
buds would have furnished a poor family with a dinner ? 

" Lady T. Upon my word, Sir Peter , begging your pardon , that is 
a very absurd way of arguing. By that rule , why do you indulge in the 
least superfluity ? I dare swear a beggar might dine tolerably on your 
great-coat, or sup oft' your laced waistcoat nay, I dare say, he wouldn't 
eat your gold-headed cane in a week. Indeed, if you would reserve no- 
thing but necessaries , you should give the first poor man you meet your 
wig , and walk the streets in your night-cap, which , you know, becomes 
you very much. 

" Sir P. Well , go on to the articles. 

"Jarv. (Hearting). 'Fruit for my lady's monkey ,*5J. per week.' 

" Sir P. Five pounds for the monkey ! Why 'tis a dessert for an al- 
derman ! 

" Lady T. Why, Sir Peter, would you starve the poor animal ? I dare 
swear he lives as reasonably as other monkeys do. 

"&V P. Well, well, goon. 

" Jarv. ' China for ditto .' 

" Sir P. What , does he eat out of china? 

"Lady T. Repairing china that he breaks and I am sure no monkey 
breaks less. 

11 Jarv- 'Paid Mr. Warren for perfumes milk of roses, 3o/.' 

"Lady T. Very reasonable. 

" Sir P. 'Sdeath, madam , if you had been born to these expenses , I 
should not have been so much amazed; but I took you, in.nl;nn , an ho- 
nest country squire's daughter 

" Lady T. Oh, filthy; don't name it. Well , heaven forgive my mo- 
ther, but I do believe my father must have been a man of quality. 

" Sir P. Yes , madam , when first I saw you, you were drest in a pretty 
figured linen gown , with a bunch of keys by your side ; your occupa- 
tions , madam, to superintend the poultry; your accomplishments, a 
complete knowledge of the family receipt-book then you sat in a room 
hung round with fruit in worsted of your own working; your amuse- 
ments were to play country-dances on an old spinet to your father while 
he went asleep after a fox-chase to read Tillotson's sermons to your 
aunt Deborah. These, madam, were your recreations , and these the 
accomplishments that captivated me. Now, forsooth , you must have two 
footmen to your chair, and a pair of white dogs in a phaeton ; you forget 

( Inconsisteutly, in some degree, with my notion of its beirig the two act Comedy 
announced in 1775) he had an idea of extending the plot through five acts. 

"Act 1st, Scene 1st, Sir Peter and Steward 2d, Sir P. and Lady then Young 
Pliable. 

" Act 2d, Sir P. and Lady Yonng Harrier Sir P. and Sir Rowland, and Old 
Jeremy Sir R. and daughter Y. P. and Y. H. 

" Act 3d, Sir R., Sir P. and O. J. 2d, Y. P. and Company, Y. R. O. R. 3d , 
V H. and Maria Y. H., O. R. and Young Harrier, to borrow. 

" Act 4th, Y. P. and Maria , to borrow his money ; gets away what he had 
received from bis uncle. Y. P. Old Jer. and tradesmen. P. and Lady T." etc. etc. 



1 10 MEMOIRS 

when you used to ride double behind the butler oa a docked bay coach- 
horse Now you must have a French hair-dresser; do you 

think you did not look as well when you had your hair combed smooth 

over a roller ? Then you could be content to sit with me , or 

walk by the side of the Ha! Ha ! 

"Lady T. True, I did; and when you asked me if I could love an 
old fellow, who wonld deny me nothing, I simpered and said -'Till 
death.' 

" Sir P. Why did you say so ? 

" Lady T. Shall I tell you the truth? 

" Sir P. If it is not too great a favour. 

" Lady T. Why, then, the truth is I was heartily tired of all these 
agreeable recreations you have so well remembered, and having a spirit 
to spend and enjoy fortune, I was determined to marry the Grst fool I 

should meet with You made me a wife , for which I am much 

obliged to you , and , if you have a wish to make me more grateful still, 
make me a widow '." * * 

" Sir P. Then , you never had a desire to please me, or add to my 
happiness ? 

''Lady T. Sincerely, I never thought about you; did you imagine 
that age was catching? I think you have been overpaid for all you could 
liestow on me. Here am I surrounded by half a hundred lovers , not one 
of whom but would buy a single smile by a thousand such baubles as you 
grudge me. 

" Sir P. Then you wish me dead ? 

''Lady T. You know I do not, for you have made no settlement 
on me s 

" Sir P. I am but middle-aged. 

" Lady T. There's the misfortune ; put yourself on , or back , twenty 
years, and either way I should like you the better. 

Yes, sir, and then your behaviour top was different; you would dress, 
and smile , and bow ; fly to fetch me any thing I wanted ; praise every 
thing I did or said ; fatigue your stiff' face with an eternal grin ; nay, 
you even committed poetry, and muffled your harsh tones into a lover's 
whisper to singit yourself, so that even my mother said you were thesmart- 
est old bachelor she ever saw a billet-doux engrossed on buckram 2 !!!!!! 

Let girls take my advice , and never marry an old bachelor. He must be 
so either because he could find nothing to love in women, or because 
women could find nothing to love in him." 

The greater part of this dialogue is evidently experimental, and 
the play of repartee protracted with no other view , than to take the 

chance of a trump of wit or humour turning up. 

. 

1 The speeches which I have omitted consist merely of repetitions of the same 
thoughts with but very little variation of the language. 

* These notes of admiration are in the original, and seem meant to express the 
surprise of the author at the extravagance of his own joke. 



OFR. B. SHERIDAN. Ill 

In comparing the two characters in this sketch with what they 
are at present , it is impossible not to be struck by the signal change 
that thej have undergone. The transformation of Sir Peter into a 
gentleman has refined , without weakening , the ridicule of his 
situation ; and there is an interest created by the respectability, and 
amiableness of his sentiments , which , contrary to the effect pro- 
duced in general by elderly gentlemen so circumstanced , makes us 
rejoice , at the end , that he has his young wife all to himself. The 
improvement in the character of Lady Teazle is still more marked 
and successful. Instead of an ill-bred young shrew, whose readiness 
to do wrong leaves the mind in but little uncertainty as to her fate , 
we have a lively and innocent , though imprudent country girl , 
transplanted into the midst of all that can bewilder and endanger 
her, but with still enough of the purity of rural life about her heart, 
to keep the blight of the world from settling upon it permanently. 

There is , indeed , in the original draught a degree of glare and 
coarseness , which proves the eye of the artist to have been fresh 
from the study of Wycherley and Vanbrugh ; and this want of 
delicacy is particularly observable in the subsequent scene between 
Lady Teazle and Surface the chastening down of which to its 
present tone is not the least of those triumphs of taste and skill , 
which every step in the eloboration of this fine Comedy exhibits. 

" Scene ' YOUNG PLIANT'S Room. 

" Young P. I wonder her ladyship is not here : she promised me to 
call this morning. I have a hard game to play here , to pursue my designs 
on Maria. I have brought myself into a scrape with the mother-in-law. 
However, I think we have taken care to ruin my brother's character 
with my uncle, should he come to-morrow. Frank has not an ill quality 
in his nature ; yet, a neglect of forms, and of the opinion of the world , 
has hurt him in the estimation of all his graver friends. I have profited by 
his errors , and contrived to gain a character, which now serves me as a 
mask to lie under. 

" Enter LADY TEAZLE. 

*' Lady T. What, musing, or thinking of me ? 

" Young P. I was thinking unkindly of you; do you know now that 
you must repay me for this delay, or I must be coaxed into good humour ? 

*' Lady T. Nay, in faith you should pity me this old curmudgeon of 
late is grown so jealous , that I dare scarce go out , till I know he is se- 
cure for some time. 

" Young P. I am afraid the insinuations we have had spread about 
Frank have operated too strongly on him we meant only to direct his 
suspicions to a wrong object. 

' The Third of the fourth Act in the present form of the Comedy. This scene 
underwent many changes afterwards , and was oftener pnt hack into the crucible 
than any other part of the play. .:> 



112 MEMOIRS 

" Lady T. Oh , hang him ! I have told him plainly that if he conti- 
nues to be so suspicious , I'll leave him entirely, and make him allow me 
a separate maintenance. 

" Young P. But , my charmer , if ever that should be the case , you see 
before you the man who will ever he attached to you. But you must not 
let nutters come to extremities; you can never be revenged so well by 
leaving him, as by living with him, and let my sincere affection make 
amends for his brutality. 

" Lady T. But how shall I be sure now that you are sincere ? I have 
sometimes suspected , that you loved my niece ' . 

" Young P. Oh , hang her , a puling idiot , without sense or spirit. 

" Lady T. But what proofs have I of your love to me, for I have still 
so much of my country prejudices left, that if I were to do a foolish 
thing (and I think I can't promise ) , it shall be for a man who would risk 
every thing for me alone. How shall I be sure you love me ? 

" Young P. I have dreamed of you every night this week past. 

" Lady T. That's a sign you have slept every night for this week past; 
for my part , I would not give a pin for a lower who could not wake for a 
month in absence- 

" Young P. I have written verses on you out of number. 

" Lady T. I never saw any. 

" Young P. No they did not please me , and so I tore them. 

" Lady T. Then it seems you wrote them only to divert yourself. 

" Young P. Am I doomed for ever to suspense ? 

"Lady T. I don't know if I was convinced 

" Young P. Then let me on my knees 

" Lady T. Nay , nay, I will have no raptures either. This much I can 
tell you , that if I am to be seduced to do wrong , I am not to be taken by 
storm , but by deliberate capitulation , and that only where my reason or 
my heart is convinced. 

" Young P. Then , to say it at once the world gives itself liberties 

" Lady T. Nay, I am sure without cause; for I am as yet unconscious 
of any ill , though I know not what I may be forced to. 

" Young P. The fact is , my dear Lady Teazle, that your extreme in- 
nocence is the very cause of your danger ; it is the integrity of your heart 
that makes you run into a thousand imprudences , which a full conscious- 
ness of error would make you guard against. Now , in that case , you can't 
conceive how much more circumspect you would be. 

" Lady T. Do you think so ? 

" Young P. Most certainly. Your character is like a person in a ple- 
thora, absolutely dying of too much health. 

" Lady T. So then you would have me sin in my own defence , and 
part with my virtue to preserve my reputation a . 

" Young P. Exactly so , upon my credit , ma'am." 



1 He had not yet decided whether to make Maria the daughter-in-law or niece 
of Lady Teazle. 

1 This sentence seems to have hannted him I find it written in every direction, 
and without any material change in its form, over the pages of his different me- 
morandum- books . 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. in 

It will be observed, from all I have cited, that much of the ori- 
ginal material is still preserved throughout; but that, like the ivory 
melting in the hands of Pygmalion, it has lost all its first rigidity 
and roughness, and, assuming at every touch some variety of aspect, 
seems to have gained new grace by every change. 

" Mollescit eburf posituque rigore 
Subsidit digitii, , ceditque ut Hymetiia sole 
Cera remollescit, tractataque pollice multas 
Flectitur in Jades , ipsoquejit utilis usu." 

Where'er his fingers move, his eye can trace 
The once rude ivory softening into grace 
Pliant as wax that , on Hymettus" hill , 
Melts in the sunbeam, it obeys his skill ; 
At every touch some different aspect shows , 
And still, the oftener touch'd, the lovelier grows. 

1 need not , I think , apologise for the length of the extracts I 
have given , as they cannot be otherwise than interesting to all 
lovers of literary history. To trace even the mechanism of an au- 
thor's slyle through the erasures and alterations of his rough copy, 
is, in itself, no ordinary gratification of curiosity ; and the brouillon 
of Rousseau's Heloise , in the library of the Chamber of Deputies 
at Paris , affords a study in which more than the mere " auceps syl- 
labarum" might delight. But it is still more interesting to follow 
Ihus the course of a writer's thoughts to watch the kindling of 
new fancies as he goes to accompany him in his change of plans , 
and see the various vistas that open upon him at every step. It is , 
indeed , like being admitted by some magical power, to witness the 
mysterious processeof the natural world to see the crystal form- 
ing by degrees round its primitive nucleus , or observe the slow 
ripening of 

" the imperfect ore, 
" And know it will be gold another day! " 

In respect of mere style, too, the workmanship of so pure a 
writer of English as Sheridan is well worth the attention of all who 
would learn the difficult art of combining ease with polish , and 
being , at the same time, idiomatic and elegant. There is not a page 
of these manuscripts that does not bear testimony to the fastidious 
care with which he selected, arranged , and moulded his language , 
so as to form it into that transparent channel of his thoughts, which 
it is at present. 

His chief objects in correcting were to condense and simplify 
to get rid of all unnecessary phrases and epithets , and , in short , (<> 
>lrip away from the thyrsus of his wit every leaf that could render 
it loss light and portable. One instance out of hiany will show the 



fli MEMOIRS 

improving effect of Ihese operations '. The following is the original 
form of a speech of Sir Peter's : 

" People, who utter a tale of scandal, knowing it to be forged , de- 
serve the pillory more than for a forged bank-note. They can't pass the lie 
without putting their names on the back of it. You say no person has a 
right to come on 3 on because you didn't invent it ; but you should know 
that, if the drawer of the lie is out of the way, the injured party has a 
right to come on any of the indorsers." 

When this is compared with the form in which the same thought 
is put at present , it will be perceived how much the wit has gained 
in lightness and effect by the change : 

" Mrs. -Candour. But sure yon would not be quite so severe on those 
\vho only report what they hear ? 

" Sir P. Yes , madam , 1 would have Law-merchant for them too, and 
in all cases of slander currency % whenever the drawer of the lie was 
not to be found, the injured party should have a right to come on any of 
the indorsers." 

Another great source of the felicities of his style, and to which he 
attended most anxiously in revision , was the choice of epithets ; in 
which he has the happy art of making these accessary words not 
only minister to the clearness of his meaning, but bring out new 
effects in his wit by the collateral lights which they strike upon it 
and even where the principal idea has but little significance , he 
contrives to enliven it into point by thc'quaintness or contrast of his 
epithets. 

Among the many rejected scraps of dialogue that lie about , like 
the chippings of a Phidias, in this work-shop of wit , there are some 
precious enough to be preserved, at least, as relics. For instance, 
" She is one of those , who convey a libel in a frown , and wink 
a reputation down/ 1 The following touch of costume , too, in Sir 
Peter's description of the ruslic dress of Lady Teazle before he 
married her : " You forget when a little wire and gauze , with a 
few beads, made you a fly-cap not much bigger than a blue-bottle." 

The specimen which Sir Benjamin Backbite gives of his poetical 
talents was taken , it will be seen , from the following verses, which 

1 In. one or - two sentences he has left a degree of stiffness in the style, not so 
much from inadvertence, as from the sacrifice of ease to point. Thus, in the follow 
ing example , he has been tempted by an antithesis into an inversion of phrase l>y 
no means idiomatic. "The plain state of the matter is this I am an extravagant 
vonng fellow who want money to borrow ; you I take to he a prudent old fellow, 
who have got money to lend." 

In the Collection of his Works this phrase is given differently hut without 
authority from any of the manuscript copies. 

3 There is another siiuik- among his memorandums of the same mercantile 
kind : "A sort of broker in scandal, who transfers lies without fees." 



OF ft. B. SHERIDATN. 116 

I find in Mr. Sheridan's hand-writingone of those trifles, per- 
haps , with which he and is friend Tickell were in the constant 
habit of amusing themselves , and written apparently with the in- 
tention of ridiculing some woman of fashion. 

" Then , behind , all my hair is done up in a plat , 
And so , like a cornet's , tuck'd under my hat. 
Then I mount on my palfrey as gay as a lark, 
And, follow'd by John , take the dust ' in High Park. 
In the way I am met by some smart macaroni , 
Who rides by my side on a little bay pony 
No sturdy Hibernian , with shoulders so wide , 
Ihit as taper and slim as the ponies they ride j 
Their legs are as slim , and their shoulders no wider, 
Dear sweet little creatures , both pony and rider! 

Bat sometimes , when hotter, I order my chaise , 
And manage, myself, my two little greys. 
Sure never were seen two such sweet little ponies , 
Oilier horses are clowns, and these macaronies , 
And to give them this title, I'm sure isn't wrong , 
Their legs are so slim , and their tails are so long. 

In Kensington Gardens* to stroll up and down, 
You know was the fashion before you left town , 
The thing's well enough , when allowance is made 
For the size of the trees and the depth of the shade , 
But the spread of their leaves such a shelter affords 
To those noisy, impertinent creatures called birds , 
"Whose ridiculous chirruping ruins the scene , 
Brings the country before me , and gives me the spleen. 

Yet, tho' 'tis too rural to come near the mark, 
We all herd in one walk , and that , nearest the Park , 
There with ease we may see , as we pass by the wicket, 
The chimneys of Kmghtsbridge and footmen at cricket , 
I must tho', in justice, declare that the grass, 
Which , worn by our feet, is diminished apace, 
In a little time more will be brown and as flat 
As the sand at Vauxhall or as Ranelagh mat. 
Improving thus fast, perhaps, by degrees , 
We may see rolls and butter spread under the trees , 
With a small pretty band in each seat of the walk , 
To play little tunes and enliven our talk." 

Though Mr. Sheridan appears to have made more easy progress , 
after he had .incorporated his two first plots into one, yet, even in 
the details of the new plan , considerable alterations were subse- 
quently made whole scenes suppressed or transposed, and the 
dialogue of some entirely re-written. In the third Act, for instance, 
as it originally stood , there was a long scene , in which Rowley, 

1 This phrase is made use of in the dialogue :" As Lady Betty Curricle wan 
faking the dust in Hyde Park." 



,, G MEMOIRS 

by a minute examination of Snake , drew from him , in the pre- 
sence of Sir OliTer and Sir Peter, a full confession of his designs 
against the reputation of Lady Teazle. Nothing could be more ill- 
placed and heavy ; it was accordingly cancelled , and the confession 
of Snake postponed to its natural situation, the conclusion. The 
scene, too, where Sir Oliver, as Old Stanley, comes to ask pecuniary 
aid of Joseph, was at first wholly different from what it is at present ; 
and in some parts approached much nearer to the confines of 
caricature than the watchful taste of Mr. Sheridan would permit. 
For example , Joseph is represented in it as giving the old suitor 
only half-a-guinea , which the latter indignantly returns, and leaves 
him ; upon which Joseph , looking at the half-guinea , exclaims , 
" Well , let him starve this will do for the opera." 

It was the fate of Mr. Sheridan , through life , and , in a great 
degree , perhaps his policy , to gain credit for excessive indolence 
and carlessness, while few persons, with so much natural brilliancy 
of talents , ever employed more art and circumspection in their dis- 
play. This was the case, remarkably, in the instance before us. 
Notwithstanding the labour which he bestowed upon this comedy , 
(or we should rather, perhaps, say in consequence of that labour,) 
the first representation of the piece was announced before the whole 
of the copy was in the hands of the actors. The manuscript, indeedT 
of the five last scenes bears evident marks of this haste in finishing , 
there being but one rough draught of them, scribbled upon de- 
tached pieces of paper-, while, of all the preceding acts, there are 
numerous scripts , scattered promiscuously through six or seven 
books, with new interlineations and memorandums to each. On the 
last leaf of all , which exists just as we may suppose it to have been 
despatched by him to the copyist , there is the following curious 
specimen of doxology , written hastily , in the hand-writing of the 
respective parties , at the bottom : 

"Finished at last, Thank God ! 

" R. B. SHERIDAN." 
" Amen! 

" W.HOPKINS" '. 

The cast of the play, on the first night of representation (May 8, 
1777) , was as follows : 

Sir Peter Teazle. . Mr. Xing. 

Sir Oliver Surface. . . Mr. Fates. 

Joseph Surface. . . . Mr. Palmer. 

Charles. . . . .Mr. Smith. 

Crabtree. ... . Mr. Parson f, 

' The Prompter. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 117 

Sir Benjamin Backbite. . . Mr. Dodd. 

Rowley Mr. Aickin. 

Moses. Mr. Baddelcy. 

Trip Mr. Lamash. 

Snake Mr. Packer. 

Careless. . - .'' . . . Mr. Farren 

Sir Harry Bumper. .... Mr. Gawdry. 

Lady Teazle. . .... Mrs. Abington. 

Maria Miss P. Hopkins. 

Lady Sneenvell Miss Sherry. 

Mrs. Candour. . *'-.. t. . Miss Pope. 

The success of such a play, so acted, could not be doubtful. 
Long after its first uninterrupted run , it continued to be played re- 
gularly two or three times a-week ; and a comparison of the receipts 
of the first twelve nights , with those of a later period , will show 
how little the attraction of the piece had abated by repetition : 

May 8th, 1777. L. s. d. 

School for Scandal .... 225 9 o 

Ditto 195 6 o 

Ditto A. B. (Author's night) j5 10 o (Expenses) 

Ditto 257 46 

Ditto . a43 oo 

Ditto A. B. ...... a3 10 o 

Committee , . 65 66 

School for Scandal. . . . 262 19 6 

Ditto 263 i3 6 

Ditto A. B 73 10 o 

Ditto K.( the King). ... 272 96 

Ditto. 247 i5 o 

Ditto. . . , , . . ,. . 255 14 o 

* 

The following extracts are taken at hazard from ah account of the 
weekly receipts of the Theatre , for the year 1778 , kept with exem- 
plary neatness and care^by Mrs. Sheridan herself 1 :-< 

January, 1778. L. s. d. 

3d. Twelfth JNigbt. . . Queen Mab. . . 1% 14 6 . 

5th. Macbeth Queen Mab. . . 212 19 o 

6th. Tempest Queen Mab. . . 107 i5 6 

7th. School for Scandal. . Comus. . . . 292 16 o 

8th. School for Fathers. . Queen Mab. . . 181 10 6 

9th. School for Scandal. . Padlock. ... 281 60 
March 

1 4th. School for Scandal. . Deserter. . . . a65 18 6 

1 6th. Venice Preserved. . Belphegor (New). i^5 3 6 

1 7th. Hamlet Belphegor. . . 160 19 o 

i gth. School for Scandal. . Befphegor. . . 261 10 o 

' It appears from a letter of Holcrofl to Mrs. Sheridan, (given in hi Mcrooin , 



118 MEMOIRS 

Such , indeed , was the predominant attraction of this comedy 
during the two years subsequent to its first appearance, that, in the 
official account of receipts for 1779, we flnd the following remark 
subjoined by the Treasurer : " School for Scandal damped the new 
pieces." I have traced it by the same unequivocal marks of success 
through the years 1780 and 1781 , and find the nights of its repre- 
sentation always rivalling those on which the King went to the 
theatre , in the magnitude of their receipts. 

The following note from Garrick ' to the author, dated May 12 
(four days after the first appearance of the comedy), will be read with 
interest by all those for whom the great names of the drama have 
any charm : 

" MR. GARRICR'S best wishes and compliments to Mr. Sheridan. 

" How is the Saint to-day ? A gentleman who is as mad as myself about 
y e School remark'd , that the characters upon the stage at y" falling of 
the screen stand too long before they speak; I thought so too y e first 
night : he said it was the same on y c 2nd , and was remark'd by others ; 
tho' they should be astonish'd, and a little petrify'd , yet it may be 
carry'd to too great a length. All praise at Lord Lucan's last night." 

The beauties of (his comedy are so universally known and felt , 
that criticism may be spared the trouble of dwelling upon them 
very minutely. With but little interest in the plot , with no very 
profound or ingenious development of character , and with a group 
of personages , not one of whom has any legitimate claims upon 
either our affection or esteem , it yet , by the admirable skill with 
which its materials are managed , the happy contrivance of the 
situations , at once both natural and striking , the fine feeling of 
the ridiculous that smiles throughout, and that perpetual play of wit 
which never tires, but seems, like running water, to be kept fresh 
by its own flow , by all this general animation and effect, combined 
with a finish of the details, almost faultless ^ it unites the suffrages, 
at once , of the refined and the simple , and is not less successful 
in ministering to the natural enjoyment of the latter , than in sa- 
tisfying and delighting the most fastidious tastes among the former. 
And this is the true triumph of genius in all the arts, whether in 

vol. i. p. 275.) that she was also in the hahit of reading for Sheridan the new 
pieces sent in by dramatic candidates: " Mrs. Crewe (he says) has spoken to 
Mr. Sheridan concerning it ( the Shepherdess of the Alps) as he informed me last 
night, desiring me at the same time to send it to you, who, he said, would not 
only read it yourself, bnt remind him of it." 

1 Mnrphy tells us, that Mr. Garrick attended the rehearsals, and "was never 
known on any former occasion to be- more anxious for a favourite piece. He was 
prond of the new manager; and in a triumphant manner boasted of the genius to 
whom he had consigned the conduct of the theatre.'' Life uj Garrick. 



01 11. B. SHERIDAN. 11!> 

painting, sculpture, music, or literature, those works which have 
pleased the greatest number of people of all classes , for the longest 
space of lime, may without hesitation be pronounced the best , and , 
however mediocrity may enshrine itself in the admiration of the 
select few , the palm of excellence can only be awarded by the many. 
The defects of The School for Scandal , if they can be allowed 
lo amount to defects , are , in a great measure , traceable to that 
amalgamation of two distinct plots ,. out of which , as I have already 
shown , the piece was formed. From this cause, like an accumu- 
lation of wealth from the union of two rich families , has devolved 
that excessive opulence of wit, walh which, as some critics think, 
the dialogue is overloaded ; and which , Mr. Sheridan himself used 
often to mention, as a fault of which he was conscious in his work. 
That he had no such scruple, however, in writing it, appears evident 
from the pains which he took to string upon his new plot every 
bright thought and fancy which he had brought together for the 
two others $ and it is not a little curious , in turning over his ma- 
nuscript , to see how the outstanding jokes are kept in recollection 
upon the margin , till he can find some opportunity of funding them 
to advantage in the text. The consequence of all this is, that the 
dialogue , from beginning to end , is a continued sparkling of polish 
and point : and the whole of the Dramatis Personae might be com- 
prised under one common designation of Wits, Even Trip , the 
servant , is as pointed and shining as the rest , and has his master's 
wit, as he has his birth-day clothes, u with the gloss on *." The 
only personage among them that shows any 'Hemperance in jesting," 
is old Rowley , and he , too , in the original , had his share in the 
general largess of bons mots, one of the liveliest in the piece 2 being 
at first given to him , though afterwards transferred, with somewhat 
more fitness , to Sir Oliver. In short , the entire Comedy is a sort of 
El-Dorado of wit , where the precious metal is thrown about by all 
classes , as carelessly as if they had not the least idea of its value. 

Another blemish that hypercriticism has noticed , and which may 
likewise be traced to the original conformation of the play , is the 
uselcssncss of some of the characters to the action or business of it 
almost the whole of the " Scandalous College " being but, as it 
were, excrescences, through which none of the life-blood of the 
plot circulates. The cause of this is evident : Sir Benjamin Backbite, 

1 This la one of the phrases that seein to have perplexed the taste of Sheridan * 
and upon so minute a point, as, whether it should be " with the gloss on," or, 
" \\itli the gloss on them." After various trials of it in hotli ways, he decided, as 
might be expected from his love of idiom , for the former. 

1 The answer to the remark, that " charity hrgius at home," " a ad his, I 
jnesuiiie, is of that domestic soil which ne\ei stirs abroad at all." 



130 MEMOIRS 

in the first plot to which he belonged , was a principal personage ; 
but , being transplanted from thence into one with which he has no 
connection, not only he, but his uncle Crabtree, and Mrs. Candour, 
though contributing abundantly to the animation of the dialogue , 
have hardly any thing to do with the advancement of the story ; and, 
like the accessories in a Greek drama, are but as a sort of Chorus of 
Scandal throughout. That this defect, or rather peculiarity , should 
have been observed at first , when criticism was freshly on the watch 
for food , is easily conceivable ; and I have been told by a friend , 
who was in the pit on the first night of performance , that a person , 
who sat near him , said impatiently , during the famous scene at Lady 
Sneerwell's, in the Second Act , " I wish these people would have 
done talking, and let the play begin." 

It has of ten been remarked as singular, that the lovers, Charles and 
Maria, should never be -brought in presence of each other till the 
last scene ; and Mr. Sheridan used to say , that he was aware , in 
writing the Comedy , of the apparent want of dramatic management 
w hich such an omission would betray ; but that neither of the ac- 
tors , for whom he had destined those characters , was such as he 
could safely trust with a love-scene. There might , perhaps , too , 
have been , in addition to this motive , a little consciousness , on his 
own part , of not being exactly in his element in that tender style of 
writing , which such a scene , to make it worthy of the rest , would 
have required , and of which the specimens left us in the serious 
parts of The Rivals are certainly not among his most felicitous ef- 
forts. 

By some critics the incident of the screen has been censured, as 
a contrivance unworthy of the dignity of comedy. 1 But in real life, 
of which comedy must condescend to be the copy , events of far 
greater importance are brought about by accidents as trivial ; and 
in a world like ours , where the falling of an apple has led to the 
discovery of the laws of gravitation , it is surely too fastidious to 
deny to the dramatist the discovery of an intrigue by the falling of 
a screen. There is another objection as to the manner of employing 
this machine , which , though less grave , is perhaps less easily 
answered. Joseph , at the commencement of the scene , desires his 
servant to draw the screen before the window , because " his oppo- 
site neighbour is a maiden lady of so anxious a temper ;" yet, after- 
wards , by placing Lady Teazle between the screen and the window, 

1 " In the old comedy, the catastrophe is occasioned, in general, by a change 
in the mind of some principal character, artfnlly prepared and cautiously conduct- 
ed; in the modern, the unfolding of the plot is effected by the overturning of a 
screen, the opening of a door, or some other equally dignified machine." GIFFORD, 
Essay on the Writing! of Massinger; 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. I? I 

he enables this inquisitive lady to indulge her curiosity at leisure. 
It might be said , indeed , that Joseph , with the alternative of ex- 
posure to either the husband or neighbour, chooses the lesser evil , 
but the oversight hardly requires a defence. 

From the trifling nature of these objections to the dramatic merits 
of the School for Scandal, it will be seen that, like the criticism of 
Momus on the creaking of Venus's shoes , they only show how per- 
fect must be the work in which no greater faults can 'be found. But 
a more serious charge has been brought against it on the score of 
morality , and the gay charm thrown around the irregularities of 
Charles is pronounced to be dangerous to the interest of honesty and 
virtue. There is no doubt that in- this character only the fairer side 
of libertinism is presented , that the merits of being in debt are 
rather too fondly insisted upon , and with a grace and spirit that 
might seduce even creditors into admiration. It was , indeed, play- 
fully said , that no tradesman who applauded Charles could possibly 
have the face to dun the author afterwards. In looking , however, to 
the race of rakes that had previously held possession of the stage , 
we cannot help considering our release from the contagion of so 
much coarseness and selfishness to be worth even the increased risk 
of seduction that may have succeeded to it ; and the remark of Burke, 
however questionable in strict ethics , is , at least , true on the stage , 
that " vice loses half its evil by losing all its grossness." 

It should be recollected, too , that, in other respects , the author 
applies the lash of moral satire very successfully. That group of 
slanderers who , like the Chorus of the Eumenides , go searching 
about for their prey with " eyes that drop poison ," represent a class 
of persons in society who richly deserve such ridicule, and who 
like their prototypes in jEschylus trembling before the shafts of 
Apollo are here made to feel the full force of the archery of wit. 
It is indeed a proof of the effect and use of such satire, that the 
name of " Mrs. Candour" has become one of those formidable bye- 
words, which have more power in putting folly and ill-nature out 
of countenance , than whole volumes of the wisest remonstrance and 
reasoning. 

The poetical justice exercised upon the Tartuffe of sentiment, 
Joseph , is another service to the cause of morals , which should 
more than atone for any dangerous embellishment of wrong that 
the portraiture of the younger brother may exhibit. Indeed , though 
both these characters are such as the moralist must visit with his 
censure , there can be little doubt to which we should , in real life, 
give the preference 5 the levities and errors of the one , arising 
from warmth of heart and of youth , may be merely like those mists 
that exhale from summer streams , obscuring them awhile to the 



122 MEMOIRS 

eye , without affecting the native purity of their waters ; while the 
hypocrisy of the other is like the mirage of the desert , shining 
with promise on the surface , but all false and barren beneath. 

In a late work , professing to be the Memoirs of Mr. Sheridan , 
there are some wise doubts expressed as to his being really the author 
of the School for Scandal , to which , except for the purpose of ex- 
posing absurdity, I should not have thought it worth while to al- 
lude. It is an old trick of Detraction , and one, of which it never 
tires , to father the works of eminent writers upon others ; or , at 
least , while it kindly leaves an author the credit of his worst per- 
formances, to find some one in the back-ground to ease him of the 
fame of his best. When this sort of charge is brought against a 
conlemporary, the motive is intelligible ; but, such an abstract plea- 
sure have some persons in merely unsettling the crowns of Fame , 
that a worthy German has written an elaborate book to pwve, that the 
Iliad was written , not by that particular Homer the world supposes , 
but by someone/- Homer! Indeed, if mankind were to be influenced 
by those Qui temerities, who have, from lime to lime, in the course of 
the history of literature, exhibited informations of plagiarism against 
great authors , the property of fame would pass from its present 
holders into the hands of persons with whom the world is but little 
acquainted. Aristotle must refund to one Ocellus Lucanus Virgil 
must make a ccssio bonorum in favour of Pisander the Meta- 
morphoses of Ovid must be credited to the account of Parthenius of 
Nicaea , and (to come to a modern instance) Mr. Sheridan must , 
according to his biographer , Dr. Watkins , surrender the glory of 
having written the School for Scandal to a certain anonymous young 
lady , who died of a consumption in Thames Street ! 

To pass , however , to less hardy assailants of the originality of this 
comedy, it is said that the characters of Joseph and Charles were sug- 
gested by those of Blifil and Tom Jones; that the accident of the arrival 
of Sir Oliver from India is copied from that of the return of Warner 
in Sidney Biddulph; and that the hint of the famous scandal scene at 
Lady Sneerwell's is borrowed from a comedy of Moliere. 

Mr. Shendan , it is true , like all men of genius , had , in addition 
to the resources of his own wit, a quick apprehension of what suited 
his purpose in the wit of others , and a power of enriching whatever 
he adopted from them with such new grace , as gave him a sort of 
claim of paternity over it, and made it all his own. "C'cst mon 
bien," said Moliere, when accused of borrowing, " et je le reprends 
partout oii je le trouve;" and next, indeed, to creation, the re- 
production , in a new and more perfect form , of materials already 
existing, or the full development of thoughts that had but half 
blown in the hands of others, are the noblest miracles tor which we. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 153 

look lo Ihc hand of genius. It is not my intention therefore to 
defend Mr. Sheridan from this kind of plagiarism , of which he was 
guilty in common with the rest of his fellow-descendants from 
Prometheus , who all steal the spark wherever they can find it. But 
the instances , just alleged , of his obligations to others , are too 
questionable and trivial to be taken into any serious account. Con- 
trasts of character, such as Charles and Joseph exhibit , are as com- 
mon as the lights and shadows of a landscape, and belong neither 
to Fielding or Sheridan , but to nature. It is in the manner of trans- 
ferring them to the canvas that the whole difference between the 
master and the copyist lies; and Charles and Joseph 'would, no 
doubt , have been what they are , if Tom Jones had never existed. 
With respect to the hint supposed to be taken from the novel 6T 
his mother, he at least had a right to consider any aid from that 
quarter as " son bien " talent being the only patrimony to which 
he had succeeded. But the use made of the return of a relation in 
the play is wholly different from that to which the same incident is 
applied in the novel. Besides, in those golden times of Indian delin- 
quency, the arrival of a wealthy relative from the East was no very 
unobvious ingredient in a story. 

The imitation of Moliere (if, as I take for granted, the Misan- 
thrope be the play, in which the origin of the famous scandal scene 
is said lo be found ) is equally faint and remote , and , except in the 
common point of scandal , untraceable. Nothing , indeed , can be 
more unlike than the manner in which the two scenes are managed. 
Celimene , in Moljere , bears the whole/raw of the conversation 5 
and this female La Bruyere's tedious and solitary dissections of cha- 
racter would be as little borne on the English stage , as the quick 
and dazzling movement of so many lancets of wit as operate in the 
School for Scandal would be tolerated on that of the French. 

It is frequently said that Mr. Sheridan was a good deal indebted 
to Wycherley $ and he himself gave , in some degree , a colour to 
the charge , by the suspicious impatience which he betrayed when- 
ever any allusion was made lo it. He went so far, indeed, it is said, 
as to deny having ever read a line of Wycherley ( though of Van- 
brugh's dialogue he always spoke with the warmest admiration) ; 
and this assertion , as well as some others equally remarkable , such 
as , thai he never saw Garrick on the stage , that he never had 
seen a play throughout in his life , however strange and startling 
they may appear, are , at least , too curious and characteristic not 
to be put upon record. His acquaintance with Wycherley was pos- 
sibly but at second-hand, and confined, perhaps, lo Garrick's 
.illcrulinn of the Country Wife, in which the incident, already 
mentioned as having been borrowed for the Duenna , is preserved. 



124 MEMOIRS 

There is, however, a scene in the Plain Dealer (Act. II.), where 
Nevil and Olivia attack the characters of the persons with whom 
Nevil had dined , of which it is difficult to believe that Mr. Sheri- 
dan was ignorant ; as it seems to contain much of that Hyle , or 
First Matter , out of which his own more perfect creations were 
formed. 

In Congreve's Double Dealer , loo , ( Act. III. Scene 10. ) there 
is much which may, at least , have mixed itself with the recollec- 
tions of Sheridan , and influenced the course of his fancy it being 
often found that the images with which the memory is furnished , 
like those pictures hung up before the eyes of pregnant women at 
Sparta , produce insensibly a likeness to themselves in the offspring 
which the imagination brings forth. The admirable drollery in Con- 
greve about Lady Froth's verses on her coachman 

"For as the snn shines every day, 
So of our Coachmau I may say" 

is by no means unlikely to have suggested the doggerel of Sir Ben- 
jamin Backbite-, and the scandalous conversation in this scene, 
though far inferior in delicacy and ingenuity to that of Sheridan , 
has somewhat , as the reader will see , of a parental resemblance to 
it : 

" Lord Froth. Hee, hee, my dear; have you done? Won't you join 
with us? We were laughing at my Lady Whifler and Mr. Sneer. 

" Lady F. Ay, my dear, were you? Oh filthy Mr. Sneer! he is a 
nauseous figure, a most fulsamick fop. He spent two days together in 
going ahout Covent-Garden to suit the lining of his coach with his com- 
plexion. 

" Ld. F. Oh , silly ! yet his aunt is as fond of him , as if she had brought 
the ape into the world herself. 

" Brink. Who ? my lady Toothless? Oh, she is a mortifying spectacle ; 
she's always chewing the cud like an old ewe. 

" Ld. F. Then she's always ready to laugh , when Sneer offers to 
speak ; and sits in expectation of his no jest> with her gums bare, and 
her mouth open 

" Brisk. Like, an oyster at low ebb, egad ha, ha, ha! 

" Cynthia. (Aside.} Well, I find there are no fools so inconsiderable 
themselves, but they can render other people contemptible by exposing 
their infirmities. 

''Lady. F. Then that t'other great strapping Lady I can't hit oil 
her name ; the old fat fool, that paints so exorbitantly. 

" Brisk. I know whom you mean but, deuce take her, I can't hit off 
her name either paints, d'ye say ? Why she lays it on with a Iron el. 
Then she has a great beard that bristles through it, and makes her look 
as if she was plaistercd with lime and hair, let me perish." 

It would be a task not uninteresting , to enter into a detailed 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 1?;, 

comparison of the characteristics and merits of Mr. Sheridan , as u 
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 ar- 
lillery of their wit. But I have already devoted to this part of my 
subject a much ampler space , than to some of my readers will ap- 
pear either necessary or agreeable- though by others, more in- 
terested in such topics, my diffuseness will, I trust, be readily 
pardoned. In tracking Mr. Sheridan through his two distinct careers 
of literature and of politics , it is on the highest point of his eleva- 
tion in each that the eye naturally rests ; and the School for Scandal 
in one , and the Begum speeches in the other, are the two grand 
heights the " summa biverticis umbra Parmassi" from which 
he will stand out to after times , and round which , therefore , his 
biographer may be excused for lingering with most fondness and 
delay. 

It appears singular that , during the life of Mr. Sheridan , no 
authorized or correct edition of this play should have been published 
in England. He had, at one time, disposed of the copyright to 
Mr. Ridgway of Piccadilly, but , after repeated applications from 
the latter for the manuscript, he was told by Mr. Sheridan, as an 
excuse for keeping it back , that he had been nineteen years endea- 
vouring to satisfy himself with the style of the School for Scandal , 
but had not yet succeeded. Mr. Ridgway, upon this , ceased to give 
him any further trouble on the subject. 

The edition printed in Dublin is, with the exception of a few 
unimportant omissions and verbal differences , perfectly correct. 
It appears that, after the success of the comedy in London, he 
presented a copy of it to his eldest sister, Mrs. Lefanu , to be dis- 
posed of, for her own advantage r to the manager of the Dublin 
Theatre. The sum of a hundred guineas, and free admissions for 
her family, were the terms upon which Ryder, the manager at that 
period , purchased from this lady the right of acting the play ; and 
it was from the copy thus procured that the edition afterwards pub- 
lished in Dublin was printed. I have collated this edition with the 
copy given by Mr. Sheridan to Lady Crewe (the last, I believe , ever 
revised by himself) ' and find it, with the few exceptions already 
mentioned , correct throughout. 

1 Among the corrections in this copy (which are in his own hand -writing, ami 
lint few iu number), there is one which shows not only the reteutiveness of hi 
memory, bnt the minute attention which he paid to the structure of his sentences. 
Lady Teazle, in her scene with Sir Peter in the Second Act, says, "That's very 
true, indeed, Sir Peter; and after having married you, I should never pretend U 



12C MEMOIRS 

The School for Scandal has been translated into most of the 
languages of Europe, and, among the French particularly, has 
undergone a variety of metamorphoses. A translation, undertaken, 
it appears , with the permission of Sheridan himself, was published 
in London, in the year 1789, by a Mons r . Bunell Dclille , who , in 
a Dedication to "Milord Macdonald ," gives the following account 
of the origin of his task : " Vous savez , Milord , de quelle maniere 
mysterieuse cette piece , qui n'a jamais etc imprim6e que furtive- 
ment, se trouva Fet6 dernier sur ma table, en manuscrit in-folio ; 
ct , si vous daignez vous le rappeler , apres vous avoir fait part de 
Taventure , je courus chez Monsieur Sheridan pour lui demander 
la permission," etc. etc. 

The scenes of the Auction and the Screen were introduced , for 
the first time , I believe , on the French stage , in a little piece called 
"Zes Deux Neveiix" acted in the year 1788, by the young 
comedians of the Comte de Beaujolais. Since then , the story has 
been reproduced under various shapes and names : " Les Por- 
traits de Famille," " Yalsain et Florville," and, at the Theatre 
Francais, under the title of the " Tartuffe de Mo3urs." Lately, too, 
the taste for the subject has revived. The Vaudeville has founded 
upon it a successful piece, called "Lcs Deux Cousins;' 1 and there 
is even a melodrame at the Porte St. Martin, entitled "L'Ecole 
du Scandale. " 

CHAPTER VI. 

Further Purchase of Theatrical property. Monody to the Memory of 
Gar-rick. Essay on metre. The Critic. Essay on Absentees. Poli- 
tical Conneclions. The " Englishman." Elected for Stafford. 

THE document in Mr. Sheridan's hand-writing, already men- 
tioned, from which I have stated the sums paid in 1776 by him, 
Dr. Ford , and Mr. Linley, for Garrick's moiety of the Drury-Lane 
Theatre, thus mentions the new purchase, by which he extended 
his interest in this property in the year 1778 : "Mr. Sheridan 
afterwards was obliged to buy Mr. Lacy's moiety at a price ex- 
ceeding 45,000/. : this was in the year 1778." He then adds 
what it may be as well to cite , while I have the paper before me , 
though relating to subsequent changes in the property: "In 
order to enable Mr. S. to complete this purpose , he afterwards 

taste again, I allow." It was thus that the passage stood at first in Lady Crewc's 
copy, as it does still, too, in the Dnhlin edition , and in that given in ihe Col- 
lection of his Works: bat in his final revision of this copy, the original reading 
of the sentence , snch as I find it in all his earlier mannscript of the play, is res- 
tored :" That's very true, indeed, Sir Peter: and, after having married yon, I 
am sure I should never pretend to ta tc again." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 137 

consented to divide his original share between Dr. Ford and 
Mr. Linlcy, so as to make up each of theirs a quarter. But the 
price at which they purchased from Mr. Sheridan was not at the 
rale which he bought from Lacy, though at an advance on the 
1 trice paid to Garrick. Mr. S. has since purchased Dr. Ford's quarter 
lor the sum of 17,0007. , subject to the increased incumbrance of the 
additional renters." 

By what spell an these thousands were conjured up, it would be 
difficult accurately to ascertain. That happy art in which the 
people of this country are such adepts of putting the future in 
pawn for the supply of the present, must have been the chief re- 
source of Mr. Sheridan in all these later purchases. 

Among the visible signs of his increased influence in the affairs 
of the theatre , was the appointment , this year, of his father to be 
manager; a reconciliation having taken place between them, 
which was facilitated, no doubt, by the brightening prospects of the 
son, and by the generous confidence which his prosperity gave him 
in making the first advances towards such a reunion. 

One of the novelties of the year was a musical entertainment 
called The Camp , which was falsely attributed to Mr. Sheridan at 
the time, and has since been inconsiderately admitted into the 
Collection of his Works. This unworthy trifle ( as appears from a 
rough copy of it in my possession) was the production of Tickell , 
and the patience with which his friend submitted to the imputation 
of having written it was a sort of " martyrdom of fame " which few 
but himself could afford. 

At the beginning of the year 1779 Garrick died, and Sheridan , 
as chief mourner, followed him to the grave. He also wrote a 
Monody to his memory, which was delivered by Mrs. Yates , after 
the play of the West Indian , in the month of March following. 
During the interment of Garrick in Poets' Corner, Mr. Burke had 
remarked that the statue of Shakspeare seemed to point to the grave 
where the great actor of his works was laid. This hint did not fall 
idly on the ear of Sheridan, as the tottovting fixation of the thought, 
in the verses which he afterwards wrote, proved : 

41 The throng that mourn'd , as their dead favourite pass'd , 
The grac'd respect that claim'd him to the last; 
While Shak.'pcnrc's image, from its hallow'd base . 
Seem'd to prescribe the grave and point the place." 

This Monody, which was the longest flight ever sustained by 
i?s author .in verse, is more remarkable, perhaps, for refinement 
and elegance , than for cither novelty of thought or depth of sen- 
timent. There is , however, a fine burst of poetical eloquence in 



1 28 MEMOIRS 

llic lines beginning "Superior hopes the poet's bosom fire; 1 ' and 
this passage, accordingly, as being the best in the poem, was, by 
the gossiping critics of the day, attributed to Tickell, from the 
same laudable motives that had induced them to attribute Tickets 
bad farce to Sheridan. There is no end to the variety of these small 
missiles of malice , with which the Gullivers of the world of litera- 
ture are assailed by the Lilliputians around them. 

The chief thought which pervades this poem, namely, the 
fleeting nature of the actor's art and fame , had already been more 
simply expressed by Garrick himself in his Prologue to The Clan- 
destine Marriage : 

" The painter's dead, yet still he charms the eye, 
While England lives, his fame can never die ; 
But he, who struts his hour upon the stage . 
Can scarce protract his fame through half an age; 
Nor pen nor pencil can the actor save; 
The art and artist hare one common grave." 

Colley Cibber, too , in his portrait (if I remember right) of Bet- 
ferton, breaks off into the same reflection, in the following graceful 
passage , which is one of those instances , where prose could not be 
exchanged fqr poetry without loss < " Pity it is that the momentary 
beauties, flowing from an harmonious elocution, cannot, like those 
of poetry, be their own record ; that the animated graces of the 
player can live no longer than the instant breath and motion that 
presents them , or, at best , can but faintly glimmer through the 
memory of a few surviving spectators." 

With respect to the style and versification of the Monody, the 
heroic couplet in which it is written has long been a sort of Ulysses' 
bow , at which Poetry tries her suitors , and at which they almost 
all fail. Redundancy of epithet and monotony of cadence are the 
inseparable companions of this metre in ordinary hands ; nor could 
all the taste and skill of Sheridan keep it wholly free from these 
defects in his own. To the subject of metre , he had , nevertheless , 
paid great attention. There are among his papers some fragments 
of an Essay ' which he had commenced on the nature of poetical 

* Or rather memorandums collected, as was his custom, with a view to the 
composition of sach an Essay. He had been reading the writings of Dr. Foster, 
Webb, etc. on this subject, with the intention, apparently, of publishing an 
answer to them. The following ( which is one of the few consecutive passages I 
can find in these notes) will show how little reverence he entertained for that 
ancient prosody, upon which, in the system of English education, so large and 
precious a portion of human life is wasted : " I never desire a stronger proof 
that an author is on a wrong scent on these subjects , than to see Quintiliau , 
Aristotle, etc. qnoted on a point where they have not the least business. All poetry 
is made by the ear. which must be the sole judge it is a sort of musical rhythm- 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 129 

accent and emphasis ; and the adaptation of his verses to the airs in 
the Duenna even allowing for the aid which he received from 
Mrs. Sheridan shows a degree of musical feeling , from which a 
much greater variety of cadence might be expected , than we find 
throughout the versification of this poern. The taste of the lime, 
however, jsvas not prepared for any great variation in the music of 
the couplet. The regular foot-fall, established so long, had yet been 
but little disturbed ; and the only licence of this kind hazarded 
through the poem " All perishable" was objected toby some of 
the author's critical friends , who suggested , that it would be belter 
thus : " All doom'd to perish." 

Whatever, in more important points , may be the inferiority of 
the present school of poetry to that which preceded it , in the music 
of versification there can be but little doubt of its improvement ; nor 
has criticism , perhaps , ever rendered a greater service to the art , 
than in helping to unseal the ears of its worshippers to that true 
spheric harmony of the elders of song, which, during a long 
period of our literature , was as unheard as if it never existed. 

ns. If then we want to reduce oar practical harmony to rales, every man, with 
a knowledge ofhisown language and a good ear, is at once competent to the nnder- 
taking. Let him trace it to music if he has no knowledge, let him inqnire. 

"We have lost all notion of the ancient accent; we have lost their pronun- 
ciation ; all puzzling about it is ridiculous, and trying to find out the melody 
of onr own verse by theirs is still worse. We shoold have had all our own metres, 
if we nev<r had heard a word of their language, this I affirm. Every nation 
finds out for itself a national melody; and we may say of it, as of religion, no 
place has been discovered without music. A people, likewise, as their language 
improves, will introduce a music into their poetry, which is simply (that is to 
say, the numerical part of poetry, which must be distinguished from (he imagin- 
ary) the transferring the time of melody into speaking. What then have the 
Greeks or Romans to do with our umsic? It is plain that onr admiration of their 
verse is mere pedantry, because we could not adopt it. Sir Philip Sidney failed. If 
it had been melody we should have had it; our language is just as well calculated 
for it. 

"It is astonishing that the excessive ridiculousness of a Gradns or Prosodial 
Dictionary has never struck onr scholars. The idea of looking into a book to see 
whether the sound of a syllable be short or long, is absolutely as ranch a bull of 
Pceotian pedantry as ever disgraced Ireland." He then adds, with reference to 
some mistakes which Dr. Foster had appeared to him to have committed in his 
accentuation of English words: "\Vhat strange effects has this system brought 
about! It has so corrupted the ear that absolutely our scholars cannot tell an 
English long syllable from a short one. If a boy were to make the a in " cano" or 
"amo" long, Dr. Foster would no doubt feel his ear hurt, and yet * * *." 

Of the style in which some of his observations are committed to paper, the follow- 
ing is a curious specimen: " Dr. Foster says that short syllables, when infl.ited 
with that emphasis which the sense demands, swell in height, length and breadth 
beyond their natural size. The devil they do ! Here is a most omnipotent power 
in emphasis. Quantity and accent may iu vain toil to produce a little effect, but 
emphasis comes at once and monopolizes the power of them both." 

9 



130 MEMOIRS 

The Monody does not seem to have kept the stage more than five 
or six nights : nor is this surprising. The recitation of a long , 
serious address must always be , to a certain degree , ineffective on 
the stage ; and though this subject contained within it many strong 
sources of interest , as well personal as dramatic , they were not , 
perhaps , turned lo account by the poet with sufficient warmth and 
earnestness on his own part , to excite a very ready response of 
sympathy in others. Feeling never wanders into generalities it is 
only by concentrating his rays upon one point that even Genius can 
kindle strong emotion ; and , in order to produce any such effect in 
the present instance upon the audience , Garrick himself ought to 
have been kept prominently and individually before their eyes in 
almost every line. Instead of this, however, the man is soon foi;- 
gotten in his Art , which is then deliberately compared with other 
Arls , and the attention , through the greater part of the poem , is 
diffused over the transitoriness of actors in general , instead of being 
brought strongly to a focus upon the particular loss just sustained. 
Even in those parts , which apply most directly to Garrick , the 
feeling is a good deal diluted by this tendency lo the abstract; and , 
sometimes, by a false taste of personification , like that in the very 
first line, 

" If dyiug excellence deserves a tear," 

where the substitution of a quality of the man for the man himself ' 
puts the mind , as it were , one remove farther from the substantial 
object of its interest, and disturbs that sense of reality, on which the 
operations even of Fancy itself ought to be founded. 

But it is very easy to play the critic so easy as to be a task of but 
little glory. For one person who could produce such a poem as 
this , how many thousands exist and have existed , who could shine 
in the exposition of its faults ? Though insufficient , perhaps , in 
itself, to create a reputation for an author, yet, as a " Stella Co- 
ronas" one of the stars in that various crown , which marks the 
place of Sheridan in the firmament of Fame , it not only well sus- 
tains its own part in the lustre , but draws new light from the host 
of brilliancy around it. 

It was in the course of this same year that he produced the 
entertainment of the Critic his last legitimate offering on the 
shrine of the Dramatic Muse. In this admirable farce we have a 

1 Another instance of this fault occars in his song " \VHien sable night : " 

" As some fond mother, o'er her babe deploring , 
Wakes its beauty with a tear ; " 

where the clearness and reality of the picture are spoiled by the affectation of re- 
presenting the benuty of the child as waked, instead of the child itself. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. ,31 

striking instance of that privilege which , as I have already said , 
Genius assumes, of taking up subjects that had passed through 
other hands, and giving them a new value and currency by his 
stamp. The plan of a Rehearsal was first adopted, for the purpose 
of ridiculing Dryden , by the Duke of Buckingham ; but , though 
there is much laughable humour in some of the dialogue between 
Hayes and his friends , the salt of the satire altogether was not of a 
very conservative nature , and the piece continued to be served up 
to the public long after it had lost its relish. Fielding tried the same 
plan in a variety of pieces in his Pasquin, his Historical Register, 
his Author's Farce, his Eurydice, etc., but without much success, 
except in the comedy of Pasquin , which had , I believe , at first a 
prosperous career, though it has since , except with the few that 
still read it for its fine tone of pleasantry, fallen into oblivion. It 
was reserved for Sheridan to give vitality to this form of dramatic 
humour, and ta invest even his satirical portraits as in the in- 
stance of Sir Fretful Plagiary , which , it is well known , was 
designed for Cumberland with a generic character, which , with- 
out weakening the particular resemblance , makes them representa- 
tives for ever of the whole class to which the original belonged. 
Bayes , on the contrary, i.s a caricature made up of little more 
than personal peculiarities, which may amuse as long as reference 
can be had to the prototype , but like those supplemental features 
furnished from the living subject by Taliacotius , fall lifeless the 
moment the individual that supplied them is defunct. 

It is evident , however, that Bayes was not forgotten in the com- 
position of The Critic. His speech , where the two Kings of Brent- 
ford are singing in the clouds, may be considered as the exemplar 
which Sheridan had before him in writing some of the rehearsal- 
scenes of Puff : 

" Smith. Well , but methinks the sense of this song is not very plain. 

" Hayes. Plain! w,hy did you ever hear any people in the clouds sing 
plain? They must be aU for flight of fancy at its fullest range, without 
the least check or controul upon it. When once you tie up spirits and 
people in clouds to speak plain, you spoil all." 

There are particular instances of imitation still more direct. Thus, 
in The Critic: 

" Enter SIR WALTER RALEIGH and SIR CHRISTOPHER HATTON. 

" Sir Christ. H. True, gallant Raleigh 

" Dangle. What, they had been talking before? 

" Puff. Oh yes, all the way as they came along. 

In the same manner in The Rehearsal, where the Physician aru| 
Usher of the two Kings enter : r 



M2 MEMOIRS 

" Phys. Sir, to conclude 
" Smith. What, before he hegins? 

" Bayes. No , Sir ; you must know they had been talking of this a pretty 
\vhile without. 

" Smith. Where? in the tyring room? 
"Baye.i. Why, ay, Sir. He's so dull." 

Bayes, at the opening of the Fifth Act, says, " Now, gentle- 
men, I will be bold to say, I'll show you the greatest scene that 
England ever saw ; I mean not for words , for those I don't value , 
but for state, show, and magnificence." Puff announces his grand 
scene in much the same manner : "Now then for my magnifi- 
cence ! my battle ! my noise ! and my procession ! " 

In Fielding, too, we find numerous hints or germs, that have 
come to. their full growth of wit in the Critic. For instance, in 
Trapwit (a character in " Pasquin") there are the rudiments of 
Sir Fretful as well as of Puff : 

" Sneerwell. Yes, faith, -I think I would cut that last speech. 

" Trapwit. Sir, I'll sooner cut off an ear or two; Sir, that's the very 
best thing in the whole play. ******** 

Trapwit. Now, Mr. Sneerwell, we shall begin my third and last act; 
and I believe I may defy all the poets who have ever writ, or ever will 
write , to produce its equal : it is, Sir, so cranim'd with drums and trum- 
pets, thunder and lightning, battles and ghosts, that I believe the au- 
dience will want no entertainment after it." 

The manager, Marplay, in " The Author's Farce," like him of 
Drury-Lane in the Critic , " does the town the honour of writing 
himself; " and the following incident in " The Historical Register" 
suggested possibly the humorous scene of Lord Burleigh : 

" Enter Four Patriots from different Doors , who meet in the centre 
and shake Hands. 

" Sour-wit. These patriots seem to equal your greatest politicians in 
their silence. 

" Medley. Sir, what they think now cannot MipH be spoke; but you 
may conjecture a good deal from their shakingtheir heads." 

Such coincidences , whether accidental or designed , are at least 
curious , and the following is another of somewhat a different kind : 
" Steal! (says Sir Fretful) to be sure they may; and egad, serve 
your best thoughts as gipsies do stolen children, disfigure them, to 
make 'em pass for their own V Churchill has the same idea in 
nearly the same language : 

1 This simile was again made use of by him in a speech upon Mr. Pitt's India 
Bill, which he declared lo be "nothing more than a bad plagiarism on Mr. Fox's, 
disfigured, indeed, as gipsies do stolen children, in order to make them pass for 
iheir own.'' 



OF R. B SHERIDAN 133 

Still pilfers wretched plans <ind makes them worse, 
Like gipsies, lest the stolen brat be known, 
Defacing first , then claiming for their own." 

The character of Puff, as I have already shown, was our au- 
thor's first dramatic attempt -, and , having left it unfinished in the 
porch as he entered the Temple of Comedy, he now, we see , made 
it worthy of being his farewell oblation in quitting it. Like Eve's 
flowers , it was his 

" Early visitation , and his last." 

We must not, however, forget a lively Epilogue which he wrote 
this year, for Miss Hannah More's tragedy of Fatal Falsehood , in 
which there is a description of a blue-stocking lady , executed with 
all his happiest point. Of this dense, epigrammatic style , in which 
every line is a cartridge of wit in itself , Sheridan was , both in prose 
and verse , a consummate master ; and if any one could hope to 
succeed, after Pope, in a Mock Epic, founded upon fashionable 
life, it would have been, we should think, the writer of this 
epilogue. There are some verses, written on the "Immortelle 
Emilie " of Voltaire , in which her employments , as a savante and 
a woman of the world , are thus contrasted : 

*' Tout lui plait, tout convient a son vaste genie, 
Les livres, les bijoux , les compos, les pompons, 
Les vers , les diamans , les biribis , I'optique , 
L'algebre , les soupers , le latin , les jupons , 
L'opera, lesproces, le bal et la physique." 

How powerfully has Sheridan, in bringing out the same con- 
trasts , shown the difference between the raw material of a thought , 
and the fine fabric as it comes from the hands of a workman : 

" What motley cares Corilla's mind perplex , 
Whom maids and metaphors conspire to vex! 
In studious deshabille behold her sit , 
A letter'd gossip and a housewife wit : 
At once invoking , though for different views, 
Her gods , her cook, her milliner, and muse. 
Round her strew'd room a frippery chaos lies, 
A chequer'd wreck of notable and wise. 
Bills , books , caps , couplets , combs , a varied mass , 
Oppress the toilet and obscure the glass ; 
IJnliiiisli'd here an epigram is laid , 
And there a mantua-maker's bill unpaid. 
There new-born plays foretaste the town's applause , 
There dormant patterns pine for future gauze. 
A Moral essay now is all her care, 
A satire next , and then a bill of fare. 
A scene she now projects , and imw a dish , 
flere Act the First , and here ' Remove with Fish,' 



13* MEMOIRS 

Now , while this eye iu a fine freuzy rolls , 

That soberly casts up a bill for coals 5 

Black pins and daggers in one leaf she sticks, 

And tears , and thre'ads , and bowls , and thimbles mix." 

We must now prepare to follow the subject of this Memoir into a 
field of display, altogether different, where he was in turn to become 
an actor before the public himself, and where, instead of inditing 
lively speeches for others , he was to deliver the dictates of his elo- 
quence and wit from his own lips. However the lovers of the drama 
may lament this diversion of his talents and doubt whether even 
the chance of another School for Scandal were not worth more than 
all his subsequent career, yet to the individual himself, full of 
ambition and conscious of versatility of powers , such an opening 
into a new course of action and fame, must have been like one of 
those sudden turnings of the road in a beautiful country, which 
dazzle the eyes of the traveller with new glories, and invite him on 
to untried paths of fertility and sunshine. 

It has been before remarked how early, in a majority of instances, 

the dramatic talent has come to its fullest maturity. Mr. Sheridan 

would possibly never have exceeded what he had already done , and 

his celebrity had now reached that point of elevation , where , by a 

sort of optical deception in the atmosphere of fame, to remain 

stationary is to seem , in the eyes of the spectators , to fall. He had , 

indeed, enjoyed only the triumph of talent, and without even 

descending to those ovations , or minor triumphs , which in general 

are little more than celebrations of escape from defeat , and to which 

they who surpass all but themselves, are often capriciously reduced. 

It is questionable, too, whether, in any other walk of literature, 

he would have sustained the high reputation which he acquired by 

the dftfma. Tory rarely have dramatic writers, even of the first 

rank , exhibited powers of equal rate , when out of the precincts of 

their own art , while , on the other hand , poets of a more general 

range , whether epic , lyric , or satiric , have as rarely succeeded on 

the stage. There is, indeed, hardly one of our celebrated dramatic 

authors (and the remark might be extended to other countries) who 

has left works worthy of his reputation in any other line; and 

Mr. Sheridan, perhaps, might Only have been saved from adding 

to the list of failures , by such a degree of prudence or of indolence 

as would have prevented him from making the attempt. He may, 

therefore , be said to have closed his account with literature , when 

not only the glory of his past successes , but the hopes of all that he 

might yet have achieved, were set down fully and without any 

risk of forfeiture , to his credit $ and , instead of being left , like 

Alexander, to sigh for new worlds to vanquish , no sooner were his 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 135 

triumphs in one sphere of action complete , than another opened to 
invite him to new conquests. 

We have already seen that Politics, from the very commencement 
of his career, had held divided empire with Literature in the tastes 
and studies of Mr. Sheridan; and, even in his fullest enjoyment of 
the smiles of the Comic Muse, while he stood without a rival in her 
affections, the "Musa severior" of politics was estranging the 
constancy of his 

" Te tenet, absentee alios suspirat amores* 
" Ev'n while perfection lies within his arms, 
He strays in thought, and sighs for other charms." 

Among his manuscripts there are some sheets of an Essay on 
Absentees , which , from the allusions it contains to the measures 
Ihen in contemplation for Ireland , must have been written , I ra- 
ther think, about the year 1778 when the School for Scandal was 
in its first career of success , and the Critic preparing , at no very 
long interval, to partake its triumph. It is obvious, from some ex- 
pressions used in this pamphlet, that his intention was, if not to 
publish it in Ireland , at least to give it the appearance of having 
been written there and, except the pure unmixed motive of ren- 
dering a service to his country, by the discussion of a subject so 
closely connected with her interests , it is difficult to conceive what 
inducement he could have had to select at that moment such a topic 
for his pen. The plain, unpretending style of the greater part of the 
composition sufficiently proves that literary display was not the ob- 
ject of it ; while the absence of all criminatory matter against the 
government precludes the idea of its having originated in party zeal. 

As it is curious to observe how soberly his genius could yoke it- 
self to grave matter of fact , after the winged excursions in which it 
had been indulging , I shall here lay some paragraphs of this pam- 
phlet before the reader. 

In describing the effects of the prevailing system of pasturage 
one of the evils attributed by him to Absentees he thus , with occa- 
sional irradiations of eloquence and ingenuity, expresses himself: 

" Now it must ever he the interest of the Absentee to place his state in 
tho hands of as few tenants as pSssible, by which means there will be less 
difficulty or hazard in collecting his rents, and less intrusted to an agent, 
if bis rstate require one. The easiest method of effecting this is by laying 
the land out for pasturage , and letting it in gross to tbose who deal only 
iu ' a fatal living crop ' whose produce we are not allowed a market 
for when manufactured, while we want art , honesty and encouragement 
to fit it for home consumption. Thus the indolent extravagance of the 
lord becomes subservient to the interest of a few mercenary graziers 
shepherds of most unpastoral principles -while the veteran husbandman 



136 MEMOIRS 

may lean on the shattered, unused plough, and view himself surrounded 
with flocks that furnish raiment without food. Or, if his honesty be not 
proof against the hard assaults of penury, he may he led to revenge him- 
self on these dumb innovators of his little Geld then learn too late that 
some portion of the soil is reserved for a crop more fatal even than that 
which tempted and destroyed him. 

" Without duelling on the particular ill effects of non-residence in this 
case, I shall conclude with representing that principal and supreme pre- 
rogative which the Absentee foregoes the prerogative of mercy, of cha- 
rity. The estated resident is invested with a kind of relieving providence 
a power to heal the wounds of undeserved misfortune to break the blows 
of adverse fortune , and leave chance no power to undo the hopes of ho- 
nest, persevering industry. There cannot surely be a more-happy station 
than that wherein prosperity and worldly interest are to be best forwarded 
by an exertion of the most endearing offices of humanity. This is his situa- 
tion who lives on the soil which furnishes him with means to live It is his 
interest to watch the devastation of the storm, the ravage of the flood 
to mark the pernicious extremes of the elements, and by a judicious in- 
dulgence and assistance, to convert the sorrows and repinings of the suf- 
ferer into blessings on his humanity- By such a conduct he saves his people 
from the sin of unrighteous murmurs, and makes Heaven his debtor for 
their resignation. 

"It will be said that the residing in another kingdom will never erase 
from humane minds the duty and attention which they owe to those 
whom they have left to cultivate their demesnes. I will not say that ab- 
sence lessens their humanity, or that the superior dissipation which they 
enjoy in it contracts their feelings to coarser enjoyments without this, 
we know that agents and stewards are seldom intrusted with full powers 
of aiding and remitting. In some, compassion would be injustice. They 
are, in general, content with the virtue of justice and punctuality towards 
their employer ; part of which they conceive to be a rigorous exaction of 
his rents, and, where difficulty occurs , their process is simply to distrain 
and to eject a rigour that must ever be prejudicial to an estate, and 
which, practised frequently, betrays either an original negligence, or 
want of judgment in choosing tenants, or au extreme inhumanity towards 
their incidental miscarriages. 

"But, granting an undiminished benevolence to exist on the part both 
of the landlord and the agent , yet can we expect any great exertion of 
pathetic eloquence to proceed from the latter to palliate any deficiency 
of the tenants? or, if there were, do we not know how much lighter an 
impression is made by distresses related to us than by those which are 
' oculix subjecla fidelibus?"" The heart, $he seat of charity and compas- 
sion , is more accessible to the senses than the understanding. Many, who 
would be unmoved by any address to the latter, would melt into charity 
at the eloquent persuasion of silent sorrow. When he sees the widow's 
tear, and hears the orphan's sigh, every one will act with a sudden uni- 
form rectitude , because he acts from the divine impulse of ' free love dealt 
equally to all.' " 

The blind selfishness of those commercial laws which England so 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 137 

long imposed upon Ireland , like ligatures to check Ihe circulation 
of the empire's life-blood, is thus adverted to : 

" Though I have mentioned the decay of trade in Ireland as insufficient 
to occasion the great increase of emigration, yet is it to be considered as 
an important ill effect, arising from the same cause. It may be said that 
trade is now in higher repute in Ireland, and that the exports and im- 
ports (which are always supposed the test of it) are daily increasing. This 
may be admitted to be true , yet cannot it be said that the trade of the 
kingdom flourishes. The trade of a kingdom should increase in exact pro- 
portion to its luxuries, and those of the nations connected with it. There- 
fore it is no argument to say, that, on examining the accounts of customs 
fifty years back, they appear to be trebled now; for England, by some 
sudden stroke, might lose such a proportion of its trade, as would ruin 
it as a commercial nation, yet the amount of what remained might be 
tenfold of what it enjoyed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Trade , pro- 
perly speaking, is the commutations of the product of each country 
this extends itself to the exchange of commodities in which art has fixed 
a price. Where a nation hath free power to export the works of its indus- 
try, the balance in such articles will certainly be in its favour. Thus, had 
we in Ireland power to export our manufactured silks, stuffs, and wool- 
lens , we should be assured that it would be bur interest to import and 
cultivate their materials. But, as this is not the case, the gain of indivi- 
duals is no proof that the nation is benefited by such commerce. For in- 
stance, the exportation of unwrought wool may be very advantageous to 
the dealer, and, through his hands, bring money, or a beneficial return 
of commodities into the kingdom ; but trace the ill effects of depopula- 
ting such tracts of land as are necessary for the support of flocks to supply 
this branch, and number those who are deprived of supports and employ- 
ment by it , and so become a dead weight on the community we shall 
find that the nation in fact will be the poorer for this apparent advan- 
tage. This would be remedied were we allowed to export it manufactured; 
because the husbandman might get his bread as a manufacturer. 

* Another principal cause that the trade may increase, without propor- 
tionally benefiting the nation, is that a great part of the stock which car- 
ries on the foreign trade of Ireland belongs to those who reside out of 
the country thus the ultimate and material profits on it are' withdrawn 
to another kingdom. It is likewise to be observed, that, though the ex- 
portations may appear to exceed the importations , yet may this in part 
arise from the accounts of the former being of a more certain nature, and 
those of the latter very conjectural , and always falling short of the fact." 

Though Mr. Sheridan afterwards opposed a Union with Ireland, 
the train of reasoning which he pursued in this pamphlet naturally 
led him to look forward to such an arrangement between the two 
countries , as , perhaps , the only chance of solving the long-existing 
problem of their relationship to each other. 

"It is the state (he continues), the luxury, and fashions of the wealthy, 
that give life to the artificers of elegance and taste; it is their numerous 

* 



138 MEMOIRS 

train that sends the rapid shuttle through the loom, and, when they 
leave their country, they not only beggar these dependents, but the tribes 
that lived by clothing them. 

" An extravagant passion for luxuries hath been in all nations a symp- 
tom of an approaching dissolution. HoweVer in commercial states, while 
it predominates only among the higher ranks , it brings with it the conci- 
liating advantage of being greatly beneficial to trade and manufactures. 
But, how singularly unfortunate is that kingdom, where the luxurious 
passions of the great beggar those who should be supported by them, a 
kingdom, whose wealthy members keep equal pace with their numbers 
in the dissipated and fantastical pursuits of life , without suffering the 
lower class to glean even the dregs of their vices! While this is the case 
with Ireland , the prosperity of her trade must be all forced and unnatu- 
ral ; and if, in the absence of its wealthy and estated members, the state 
already feels all the disadvantages of a Union , it cannot do better than 
endeavour at a free trade by effecting it in reality." 

Having demonstrated, at some length, the general evil of absentee- 
ism , he thus proceeds to enquire into the most eligible remedy for 
it: 

"The evil complained of is simply the absence of the proprietors of a 
certain portion of the landed property. This is an evil unprovided against 
by the legislature ; therefore , we are not to consider whether it might 
not with propriety have been guarded against, but whether a remedy or 
alleviation of it can now be attempted consistently with the spirit of the 
Constitution. On examining all the most obvious methods of attempting 
this, I believe there will appear but two practicable. The First will be 
by enacting a law for the frequent summoning the proprietors of landed 
property to appear de facto at stated times. The Second will be the voting 
a supply to be raised from the estates of such as do never reside in the 
kingdom. 

" The First, -it is obvious, would be an obligation of no use, without 
a penalty was affixed to the breach of it, amounting to the actual forfeiture 
of the estate of the recusant. This, we are informed, was once the case 
in Ireland. But at present , whatever advantage the kingdom might reap 
by it , it could not possibly be reconciled to the genius of the Constitution : 
and, if the fine were trifling, it would prove the same as the second me- 
thod , with the disadvantage of appearing to treat as an act of delinquency 
what in no way infringes the municipal law of the kingdom. 

" In the Second method the legislature is, in no respect, to be sup- 
posed to regard the person of the Absentee. It prescribes no place of 
residence to him, nor attempts to summon or detain him. The light 
it takes up the point in is this that the welfare of the whole is 
injured by the produce of a certain portion of the soil being sent out 
of the kingdom. * * * It will be said that the produce of 1 he 
soil is not exported by being carried to our own markets : but if the value 
received in exchange for it, whatever it be, whether money or commodi- 
ties, be exported, it is exactly the same in its ultimate effects as if the 
grain, flocks, etc. were literally sent to England. In this light, then, if 
the state is found to suffer by such an exportation , its deducting a small 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 139 

part from the produce is simply a reimbursing the public, and putting 
the loss of the public ( to whose welfare the interest of individuals is 
always to be subservient ) upon those very members who occasioned 
that loss. 

" This is only to be effected by a tax." 

Though to a political economist of the present day much of what 
is so loosely expressed in these extracts will appear but the crudities 
of a tyro in the science , yet , at the time when they were written , 
when both Mr. Fox and Mr. Burke could expatiate on the state 
of Ireland , without a single attempt to develope or enforce those 
simple, but wise principles of commercial policy, every one of 
which had been violated in the restrictions on her industry, it was 
no small merit in Mr. Sheridan to have advanced even thus far in a 
branch of knowledge so rare and so important. 

In addition to hjs own early taste for politics, the intimacies 
which he had now formed with some of the most eminent public 
men of the day must have considerably tended to turn his ambition 
in that direction. At what time he first became acquainted with 
Mr. Fox I have no means of ascertaining exactly. Among the let- 
ters addressed to him by that statesman , there is one which , from 
the formality of its style , must have been written at the very com- 
mencement of their acquaintance but , unluckily, it is not dated. 
Lord John Townshend , who first had the happiness of bringing 
Iwo such men together, had given the following interesting account 
of their meeting, and of the impressions which they left upon the 
minds of each other. His Lordship, however, has not specified the 
period of this introduction : 

" I made the first dinner-party at which they met, having told Fox 
that all the notions he might have conceived of Sheridan's talents and' 
genius from the comedy of The Rivals, etc. would fall infinitely short 
of the admiration of his astonishing powers, which I was sure he would 
entertain at the first interview. The first interview between them( there 
were very few present, only Tickell and myself, and one or two more, ) 
I shall never forget. Fox told me, after breaking .up from dinner, that 
he had always thought Hare , after my uncle , Charles Townshend , the 
wittiest man he ever met with , but that Sheridan surpassed them both 
infinitely ; and Sheridan told me next day that he was quite lost in admi- 
ration of Fox , and that it was a puzzle to him to say what he admired 
most, his commanding superiority of talent and universal knowledge, or 
his playful fancy, artless manners, and benevolence of heart, which 
showed itself in every word he uttered." 

With Burke Mr. Sheridan became acquainted at the celebrated 
Turk's Head Club, and , if any incentive was wanting to his new 
passion for political distinction , the station to which he saw his elo- 
quent fellow-countryman exalted, with no greater claims from birth 



110 MEMOIRS 

or connection than his own , oould not have failed to furnish it. His 
intimacy with Mr. Windham began , as we have seen , very early at 
Bath , and the following letter, addressed to him by that gentleman 
from Norfolk , in the year 1778, is a curious record not only of the 
first political movements of a person so celebrated as Mr. Windham, 
but of the interest with which Sheridan then entered into the public 
measures of the day : 

" Jan. 5 , 1778. 

" I fear my letter will greatly disappoint your hopes '. I have no ac- 
count to send you of my answering Lord Townshend of hard-fought 
contests spirited resolves ballads, nrobs, cockades, and Lord North 
Lurnt in effigy- We have had a bloodless campaign, but not from back- 
wardness in our troops, but for thu most creditable reason that can be 
want of resolution in the enemy to encounter us. When I got down here 
early this morning, expecting to find a room prepared, a chair set for 
the president, and nothing wanting but that the orators should begin, 
I was surprised to learn that no advertisement had appeared on the other 
part ; but that Lord T. having dined at a meeting , where the proposal 
was received very coldly , had taken fright, and for the time at least had 
dropped the proposal. It had appeared , therefore , to those whom I ap- 
plied to ( and I think very rightly ), that till an advertisement was insert- 
ed by them, or was known for certain to be intended, it would not be 
proper for any thing to be done by us. In this state, therefore , it rests. 
The advertisement which we agreed upon is left at the pi-inter 's, ready 
to be inserted upon the appearance of one from them. We lie upon our 
arms, and shall begin to act upon any motion of the enemy. I am very 
sorry that things have taken this turn, as I came down in full confidence 
of being able toaccomplish something distinguished. I had drawn up, as I 
came along, a tolerably good paper , to be distributed to-morrow in the 
streets, and settled pretty well in my head the terms of a protest besides 
some pretty smart pieces of oratoiy, delivered upon Newmarket Heath. I 
never felt so much disposition to exert myself before I hope from my never 
having before so fair a prospect of doing it with success. When the coach 
comes in, I hope I shall receive a packet from you, which shall not be 
lost , though it may not be used immediately. 

" I must leave off writing, for I have got some other letters to send by 
to-night's post. Writing in this ink is like speaking with respect to the 
utter annihilation of what is past ; by the time it gets to you, perhaps , it 
may have become legible, but I have no chance of reading over my letter 
myself. 

" I shall not suffer this occasion to pass over entirely without benefit. 
" Believe me yours most truly , 

" W. WINDHAM." 

1 Mr. Windham had gone down to Norfolk , in consequence of a proposed 
meeting in that county, under the auspices of Lord Townshend, for the purpose 
of raising a subscription in aid of government , to be applied towards carrying 
on the war with the American colonies. In about three weeks after the date of this 
letter, the meeting was held, and Mr. Windham, in a spirited answer to Lord; 
TownsheuJ , made the first essay of his eloquence in public. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 141 

" Tell Mrs Sheridan that 1 hope she will have a closet ready , where I 
may remain till the heat of the pursuit is over. My friends in France have 
promised to have a vessel ready upon the coast. 
" Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Esq. 
Queen- Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields." 

The firsl political service rendered by Mr. Sheridan to the party 
wilh whom he now closely connected himself, was the active share 
which he look in a periodical paper called The Englishman , set up 
by the Whigs for the purpose of seconding, out of parliament , the 
crimination and invective of which they kept up such a brisk fire 
within. The intention, as announced by Sheridan in the first num- 
ber % was , like Swift in the Drapier's Letters , to accommodate the 
style of the publication to the comprehension of persons in "that 
class of the community, who are commonly called the honest and 
industrious.'" But this plan, which not even Swift , independent as 
was his humour of the artifices of style, could adhere to, was soon 
abandoned, and there is in most of Sheridan's own papers a finesse 
and ingenuity of allusion , which only the most cultivated part of 
his readers could fully enjoy. For instance, in exposing the incon- 
sistency of Lord North, who had lately consented in a Committee of 
the whole House, to a motion which he had violently opposed in 
the House itself, thus, "making (says Sheridan ) that respectable 
assembly disobey its own orders , and the members reject with con- 
tempt, under the form of a Chairman , the resolutions they had im- 
posed on themselves under the authority of a Speaker ; " he pro- 
ceeds in a strain of refined raillery, as little suited to the "honest 
and industrious " class of the community, as Swift's references to 
Locke , Molyneux , and Sydney, were to the readers for whom he 
also professed to write : 

" The burlesque of any plan, I know, is rather a recommendation of 
it to Your Lordship ; and the ridicule you might throw on this assembly, 
by continuing to support this Athanasian distinction of powersin the unity 
of an apparently corporate body, might in the end compensate to you for 
ihe discredit you have incurred in the attempt. 

"A deliberative body of so uncommon a form, would probably be 
deemed a kind of STATE MONSTER by the ignorant and the vulgar. This might 
at first increase their awe for it, and so far counteract Your Lordship's in- 
tentions. They would probably approach it with as much reverence as Ste- 
phano does the monster in the Tempest : 'What, one body and two voi- 
cesa most delicate monster ! 'However, they would soon grow familiari- 
sed to it , and probably hold it in as little' respect as they were wished to 
do. They would find it on many occa'sions, a very shallow monster, ' and 
particularly, a most poor credulous monster, while Your Lordship as 
\\oiild enjoy every advantage and profit that could he made of it. 

PnMished 13th of March , 1779. 



142 MEMOIRS 

You would have the benefit of the two voices, which would be the MON- 
STER'S greal excellencies, and would be peculiarly serviceable to Your Lord- 
ship. With ' the forward voice' you would aptly promulgate those vigorous 
schemes aud productive resources, in which Your Lordship's fancy is so 
pregnant; while ' the backward voice' might be kept solely for recantation. 
The MONSTER, to maintain its character, must appear no novice in the 
science of flattery or in the talents of servility, and while it could never 
scruple to bear any burdens Your Lordship should please to lay on it , you 
would always, on the approach of a storm,fmd a shelter under its gabardine." 

The most celebrated of these papers was the attack upon Lord 
George Germaine , written also by Mr. Sheridan , a composition 
which, for unaffected strength of style and earnestness of feeling , 
may claim a high rank among the models of political vituperation. 
To every generation its own contemporary press seems always more 
licentious than any that had preceded it ; but it may be questioned, 
whether the boldness of modern libel has ever gone beyond the di- 
rect and undisguised personality, with which one cabinet minister 
was called a liar and another a coward , in this and other writings 
of the popular parly at that period. The following is the concluding 
paragraph of this paper against Lord George Germaine , which is 
in the form of a Letter to the Freeholders of England : 

" It would be presuming too much on your attention, at present, to 
enter into an investigation of the measures and system of war which this 
minister has pursued, these shall certainly be the subject of a future pa- 
per. At present I shall only observe that, however mortifying it may be to 
reflect on the ignominy and disasters which this inauspicious character 
has brought on his countty, yet there are consoling circumstances to be 
drawu even from his ill success. The calamities which may be laid to his 
account are certainly great ; but , had the case been otherwise , it may 
fairly be questioned whether the example of a degraded and reprobated 
officer ( preposterously elevated to one of the first stations of honour and 
confidence iu the state) directing the military enterprizes of this country 
with unlooked-for prosperity, might not ultimately be the cause of more 
extensive evils than even those , great as they are , which we at present 
experience : whether from so fatal a precedent we might not be led to 
introduce characters under similar disqualifications into every department: 
! 'to appoint Atheists to the mitre, Jews to the exchequer, to select a 
treasury-bench from the Justilia , to place Brown Dignam on the wool- 
pack , and Sir Hugh Palliser at the head of the admiralty." 

The Englishman , as might be expected from the pursuits and 
habits of those concerned in it , was not very punctually conducted, 
and , after many apologies from the publisher for its not appearing 
at the stated limes (Wednesdays), ceased altogether on the 2d of 
June. From an imperfect sketch of a new Number, found among 
Mr. Sheridan's manuscripts ., it appears that there was an intention 
of reviving it a short time after probatly towards the autumn of 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. H3 

Hie same year, from the following allusion to Mr. Gibbon , whose 
acceptance of a seat at the Board of Trade took place, if I recollect 
right, in the summer of 1/70 : 

" This policy is very evident among the majority in both houses, who, 
though they make no scruple in private to acknowledge the total inca- 
pacity of ministers, yet, in public, speak and vote as if they believed 
them to have every virtue under heaven ; and , on this principle , some 
gentlemen, as Mr. Gibbon, for instance, -while, in private, they 
indulge their opinion pretty freely, will yet, in their zeal for the public 
good , even condescend to accept a place , in order to give a colour to 
their confidence in the wisdom of the government." 

It is needless to say that Mr. Sheridan had been for some lime 
among the most welcome guests at Devonshire House that rendez- 
vous of all the wits and beauties of fashionable life , where Politics 
was taught to wear its most attractive form , and sat enthroned, like 
Virtue among the Epicureans , with all the graces and pleasures for 
handmaids. 

Without any disparagement of the manly and useful talents , 
which are at present no where more conspicuous than in the upper 
ranks of society, it may be owned that for wit , social powers , and 
literary accomplishements , the political men of the period under 
consideration formed such an assemblage as it would be flattery to 
say that our own times can parallel. The natural tendency of the ex- 
cesses of the French Revolution was to produce in the higher 
classes of England an increased reserve of manner, and, of course, a 
proportionate restraint on all within their circle , which have been 
fatal to conviviality and humour, and not very propitious to wit 
subduing both manners and conversation to a sort of polished level, 
to rise above which is often thought almost as vulgar as to sink be^ 
low it. Of the greater ease of manners that existed some forty or 
fifty years ago , one trifling, but not me less significant , indication 
was the habit, then prevalent among men of high station-, of call- 
ing each other by such familiar names as Dick, Jack, Tom, etc. ' 
a mode of address , that brings with it, in its very sound, the notion 
of conviviality and playfulness , and, however unrefined, implies 
at least, that ease and sea-room, in which wit spreads its canvas 
most fearlessly. 

With respect to literary accomplishments , loo , in one branch 
of which, poetry, almost all the leading politicians of that day dis^ 
linguished Ihemselves the change that has taken place in the times, 
independently of any want of such talent , will fully account for the 
difference that we witness , in this respect , at present. As the public 

1 Dick Sheridan , Ned Burke, Jack Townshend , Tom GrenviUe , etc. etc. 



H4 MEMOIRS 

mind becomes more intelligent and watchful , statesmen can the 
less afford to trifle with their talents , or to bring suspicion upon 
their fitness for their own vocation , by the failures which they risk 
in deviating into others. Besides, in poetry, the temptation of dis- 
tinction no longer exists the commonness of that talent in the 
market , at present , being such as to reduce the value of an elegant 
copy of verses, very far below the price it was at, when Mr. Hayley 
enjoyed an almost exclusive monopoly of the article. 

In the clever Epistle , by Tickell , " from the Hon. Charles Fox , 
partridge-shooting, to the Hon. John Townshend, cruising, " some 
of the most shining persons in that assemblage of wits and statesmen, 
who gave a lustre to Brooks's Club-House at the period of which 
we are speaking, are thus agreeably grouped : 

*' Soon as to Brooks's ' thence thy footsteps bend , 
What gratulations thy approacli attend! 
See Gibbon rap his box auspicious sign 
That classic compliment and wit combine ; 
See Beauclerk's cheek a tinge of red surprize, 
Aud friendship give what cruel health denies; 



Ou that auspicious night, supremely grac'd 
With chosen guests, the pride of liberal taste, 
Not in contentious heat, nor madd'ning strife, 
Not with the busy ills, nor cares of life, 
We'll waste the fleeting hours far happier themes 
Shall claim each thought and chase ambition's dreams. 
Each beauty that sublimity can boast 
He best shall tell, who still unites them most. 
Of wit , of taste , of fancy we'll debate , 
If Sheridan , for once, be not too late : 
But scarce a thought on politics, we'll spare. 
Unless on Polish politics , with Hare. 
Good-natur'd Devon ! oft shall then appear 
The cool complacence of thy friendly sneer : 
' Oft shall Fitzpatrick's wit and Stanhope's ease 
And Burgoyne's manly sense unite to please. 
And while each guest attends our varied feats 
Of scattered covies and retreating fleets, 
Me shall they wish some better sport to gain , 
And Thee more glory, from the next campaign." 

In the society of such men the destiny of Mr. Sheridan could not 

1 The well-known lines on Brooks himself are perhaps the perfection of this 
drawing-room .style of humour: 

" And know, I've bought the best champagne from Brooks; 
From liberal Brooks , whose speculative skill 
Is hasty credit, and a distant bill; 
Who, nurs'd in clubs, disdains a vulgar trade , 
Exults to trust , and blushes to be paid." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 145 

be long in fixing On the one side, his own keen thirst for dis- 
tinction , and , on the other, a quick and sanguine appreliation of 
the service that such talents might render in the warfare of party, 
could not fail to hasten the result that both desired. 

His first appearance before the public as a political character was 
in conjunction with Mr. Fox, at the beginning of the year 1780, 
when the famous Resolutions on the State of the Representation , 
signed by Mr. Fox as chairman of the Westminster Committee, 
together with a Report on the same subject from the Sub-Committee) 
signed fay Sheridan , were laid before the public. Annual Parliaments 
and Universal Suffrage were the professed objects of this meeting 5 
and the first of the Resolutions , subscribed by Mr. Fox , stated that 
"-Annual Parliaments are the undoubted right of the people of 
England. " 

Notwithstanding this strong declaration, it may be doubted whether 
Sheridan was, any more than Mr. Fox, a very sincere friend to the prin- 
ciple of Reform ; and the manner in which he masked his disincli- 
nation or indifference to it was strongly characteristic both of his 
humour and his tact. Aware that the wild scheme of Cartwright and 
others , which these Resolutions recommended , was wholly imprac- 
ticable , he always took refuge in it when pressed upon the subject, 
and would laughingly advise his political friends to do the same : 
" Whenever any one , " he would say, " proposes to you a specific 
plan of Reform , always answer that you are for nothing short of 
Annual Parliaments and Universal Suffrage there you are safe. " 
He also had evident delight , when talking on this question , in re- 
ferring to a jest of Burke , who said that there had arisen a new 
parly of Reformers, still more orthodox than the rest, who thought 
Annual Parliaments far from being sufficiently frequent, and who, 
founding themselves upon the latter words of the statute of Ed- 
ward III. , that " a parliament shall be holden every year once, 
and more often if need be ," were known by the denomination of 
the Oftener-if-need-bes. "For my part, " he would add, in re- 
lating this , " I am an Oftener-if-need-be. " Even when most serious 
on the subject (for to the last, he professed himself a warm friend 
to Reform) , his arguments had the air of being ironical and insi- 
dious. To Annual Parliaments and Universal Suffrage, he would 
say, the principles of representation naturally and necessarily led , 
any less extensive proposition was a base compromise and a de- 
reliction of right ; and the first encroachment on the people was 
the act of Henry VI. , which limited the power of election to forty- 
shilling freeholders within the county, whereas the real right was 
in the " outrageous and excessive' 1 number of people, by whom 

10 



,40 MEMOIRS 

the preamble reciles ' thai the choice had been made of late. 
Such were the arguments by which he affected to support his cause , 
and it is not difficult to detect the eyes of the snake glistening from 
under them. 

The dissolution of parliament that took place in the autumn of 
this year ( 1 780 ) afforded at length the opportunity to which his 
ambition had so eagerly looked forward. It has been said , I know 
not with what accuracy, that he first tried his chance of election 
at Honiton but Stafford was the place destined to have the honour 
of first choosing him for its representative ; and it must have been 
no small gratification to his independent spirit, that, unfurnished 
as he was with claims from past political services , he appeared in 
parliament , not as the nominee of any aristocratic patron , but as 
member for a borough, which, whatever might be its purity in 
other respects , at least enjoyed the freedom of choice. Elected con- 
jointly with Mr. Monckton , to whose interest and exertions he 
chiefly owed his success , he took his seat in the new parliament 
which met in the month of October ; and , from that moment giving 
himself up to the pursuit of politics , bid adieu to the worship of the 
Dramatic Muse for ever : 

" Comcedia luget , 

Srena est deserta : hincludus risusque jocusque 
l numeriinnumeri simulomnes collacrumarunt." 

Comedy mourns the Stage neglected sleeps 
F.v'u Mirth in tears his languid laughter steeps, 
And Song , through all her various empire, weeps. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Unfinished Plays and Poems. 

BEFORE I enter upon the sketch of Mr. Sheridan's political life , 
I shall take this opportunity of laying before the reader such in- 
formation with respect to his unfinished literary designs, both 
dramatic and poetic , as the papers in my possession enable me to 
communicate. 

Some of his youthful attempts in literature have already been 
mentioned , and there is a dramatic sketch of his , founded on the 
Vicar of Wakefield , which , from a dale on the manuscript ( 1768), 
appears to have been produced at a still earlier age , and when 
he was only in his seventeenth year. A scene of this piece will be 

1 "Elections of knights of shires have now of late been made by very grent 
outrageous and excessive number of people, dwelling within the same counties, 
of the which most part was people of small sabstance and of no value." 8H. G. c, 7. 



OF 1\. B SHERIDAN, 1 ',7 

sufficient to show how very soon his talent for lively dialogue 
displayed itself: 

" SCENE II. 

" TIIORNHILL and ABNOID. 

" Thornhill. Nay, prithee, Jack, no more of that if you love me. What, 
shall I stop short with the game in full view? Faith, I helieve the 
fellow's turned puritan. "What think you of turning methodist , Jack ? 
You have a tolerable good canting countenance , and, if escaped being 
taken up for a Jesuit, you might make a fortune in Moor-fields. 

" Arnold. I was serious , Tom. 

" Thorn. Splenetic you mean. Come , fill your glass , and a truce to 
your preaching. Here's a pretty fellow has let his conscience" sleep for 
these five years, and has now plucked morality from the leaves of his 
grandmother's bible, beginning to declaim against what he has practised 
half his life-time. Why, I tell you once more, my schemes are all come 
to perfection. I am now convinced Olivia loves me at our last conversa- 
tion , she said she would rely wholly on my honour. . 

" Arn. And therefore you would deceive her. 

" Thorn. Why no deceive her ? why indeed as to that but 
hut, for God's sake, let me hear no more on this subject , for 'faith you 
make me sad, Jack. If you continue your admonitions, I shall begin to 
think you have yourself an eye on the girl. You have promised me your 
assistance, and when you came down into the country, were as hot on 
the scheme as myself : but, since you have been two or three times with 
me at Primrose's , you have fallen off strangely. No encroachments, Jack, 
on my little rosebud if you have a mind to beat up game in this quarter, 
there's her sister but no poaching. 

''Arn. I am not insensible to her sister's merit, but have no such 
views as you have. However , you have promised me that if you find in 
this lady that real virtue which you so firmly deny to exist in the sex, you 
will give up the pursuit, and, foregoing the low considerations of for- 
tune , make atonement by marriage. 

" Thorn. Such is my serious resolution. 

" Arn. I wish you'd forego the experiment. But, you have been so 
much in raptures with your success, that I have, as yet, had no clear 
account how you came acquainted in the family. 

" Thorn. Oh , I'll tell you immediately. You know Lady Patchet? 

" Arn. What, is she here? 

" Thorn. It was by her I was first introduced. It seems that, last year , 
her ladyship's reputation began to suffer a little ; so that she thought it 
prudent to retire for a while, till people learned better manners or got 
worse memories. She soon became acquainted with this little family, and, 
as the wife is a prodigious admirer of quality , grew in a short time to be 
very intimate, and imagining that she may one day make her market of 
the girls, lias much ingratiated herself with them. She introduced me-- 
1 drank, and abused this degenerate age with the father promised 
\\onders to the mother for all her brats praised her gooseberry wine , 



148 MEMOIRS 

and ogled the daughters, by which means in three days I made the pro- 
gress I related to you. 

^/vz. You have been expeditious indeed. I fear where that devil Lady 
Patchet is concerned there can be no good but is there not a son ? 

" Thorn. Oh! the most ridiculous creature in nature. He has been 
bred in the country, a bumpkin all his life , till within these six years , 
when he was sent to the University, but, the misfortunes that have re- 
duced his father falling out, he is returned, the most ridiculous animal 
you ever saw, a conceited disputing blockhead. So there is no great matter 
to fear from his penetration. But come, let us begone, and see this moral 
family , we shall meet them coming from the field , and you will see a 
man who was once in affluence, maintaining by hard labour a numerous 
family. 

" Am. Oh ! Thornhill, can you wish to add infamy to their poverty ? 

{Exeunt. " 

There also remain among his papers three Acls of a Drama , 
without a name, written evidently in haste , and with scarcely any 
correction , the subject of which is so wild and unmanageable , 
that I should not have hesitated in referring it to the same early 
date, had not the introduction into one of the scenes of "Dry be 
that tear, be hush'd that sigh," proved it to have been produced 
after that pretty song was written. 

The chief personages upon whom the story turns are a band of 
outlaws, who, under the name and disguise of Devils , have taken 
up their residence in a gloomy wood, adjoining a village, the 
inhabitants of which they keep in perpetual alarm by their in- 
cursions and apparitions. In the same wood resides a hermit, 
secretly connected with this band, who keeps secluded within his 
cave the beautiful Reginilla , hid alike from the light of the sun and 
the eyes of men. She has , however, been indulged in her prison 
with a glimpse of a handsome young-huntsman, whom she believes 
to be a phantom , and is encouraged in her belief by the hermit , 
by whose contrivance this huntsman ( a prince in disguise ) has 
been thus presented to her. The following is as well as I can 
make it out from a manuscript not easily decipherable the scene 
that takes place between the fair recluse and her visitant. The style, 
where style is attempted , shows , as the reader will perceive , a 
taste yet immature and unchastened : 

" Scene draws, and discovers REGIKILLA asleep in the Cave. 

"nterPf.\imR and other Devils, with the HUNTSMAN unbind him, and 
exeunt. 

" Hunts. Ha ! Where am I now ? Is it indeed the dread abode of guilt, 
or refuge of a band of thieves ? it cannot be a dream. ( sees REGINILLA.) 
Ha ! if this be so , and I do dream , may I never wake it is my beating 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 149 

heart acknowledges my dear , gentle Reginilla. I'll not wake her, lest, if 
it be a phantom, it should vanish. Oh , balmy breath ! but for thy soft 
sighs that come to tell me it is no image, I should believe. . . . ( bends 
down towards her.) a sigh from her heart ! thus let me arrest thee on 
thy way. (kisses her.) A deeper blush has flushed her cheek sweet mo- 
desty ! that even in sleep is conscious and resentful. She will not wake , 
and yet some fancy calls up those frequent sighs how her heart beats in 
its ivory cage, like an imprisoned bird or as if to reprove the hand that 
dares approach its sanctuary ! Oh , would she but wake , and bless this 
gloom with her bright eyes! Soft, here's a lute perhaps her soul will 
hear the call of harmony. 

' " Oh yield , fair lids , the treasures of my heart , 

Release those beams that make this mansion bright ; 
From her sweet sense , Slumber, tlio' sweet thou art , 
Begone , aud give the air she breathes in light. 

" Or while, oh Sleep, thou dost those glances hide, 

Let rosy slumbers still around her play, 
Sweet as the cherub Innocence enjoy'd , 

When iu thy lap , new born , in smiles lie lay. 

" Aud thou , oh Dream , that com'st her sleep to cheer, 

Oh take my .shape , and play a lover's part; 
Kiss her from me , and whisper in her ear, 

Till her eyes shine, 'tis night within my heart. 

' ' Reg. ( waking. ) The phantom , father , ( seizes his hand. ) ah , do not, 
do not wake me then, (rises.) 

44 Hunts, (kneeling to her. ) Thou beauteous sun of this dark world , 
that mak'st a place, so like the cave of death, a heaven to me, instruct 
me how I may approach thee how address thee and not offend. 

" Reg. Oh how my soul would hang upon those lips! speak on and 
yet , methinks , he should not kneel so why are you afraid , Sir ? indeed, 
1 cannot hurt you. 

" Hunts. Sweet innocence , I'm sure thou would'st not. 

" Jieg. Art thou not he to whom I told my name, and didst thou not 
say thine was 

''Hunts. Oh blessed be the name that then thou told'st it has been 
ever since my charm, and kept me from distraction. But, may I ask how 
such sweet excellence as thine could be hid in such a place ? 

" Jteg. Alas, I know not for such as thou I never saw before, nor 
any like myself. 

44 Hunts. Nor like thee ever shall but would'st thou leave this place , 
and live with such as I am ? 

" Jteg. Why may not you live here with such as I? 

" Hunts. Yes but I would cany thee where all above an azure canopy 
extends, at night bedropt with gems, and one more glorious lamp, that 

1 I have taken ihe liberty here of supplying a few rhymes and words that are 
wanting in the original copy of the song. The last line of all runs thns in the 
manuscript : ( 

" Till her eye shiues , I live iu darkest night." 
which, not rhyming as it onght, I have ventured to ahcc as above. 

I 



I&O MEMOIRS 

yields such bashful light as love enjoys while underneath , a carpet shall 
be spread of flowers to court the pressure of thy step , with such sweet 
whispered invitations from the leaves of shady groves or murmuring of 
silver streams , that thou shalt think thou art in Paradise. 

" Meg. Indeed ! 

"Hunts. Ay, and I'll watch and wait on thee all day, and cull the 
choicest flowers, which while thou bind'st in the mysterious knot of love, 
I'll tune for thee no vulgar lays , or tell thee tales shall make thee weep 
yet please thee while thus I press thy hand, and warm it thus with 
kisses. 

" Reg. I doubt thee not but then my Governor has told me many a 
tale of faithless men , who court a lady but to steal her peace and fame , 
and then to leave her. 

"Hunts. Oh never such as thou art witness all 

" Reg. Then wherefore couldst thou not live here? For I do feel, tho' 
tenfold darkness did surround this spot , T could be blest, would you but 
stay here; and, if it made you sad to be imprison'd thus, I'd sing and 
play for thee, and dress thee sweetest fruits , and, though you chid me , 
would kiss thy tear away and hide my blushing face upon thy bosom 
indeed, I would. Then what avails the gaudy day and all the evil things 
I'm told inhabit there , to those who have within themselves all that 
delight and love and heaven can give. 

" Hunts. My angel, thou hast indeed the soul of love. 

" Reg. It is no ill thing , is it? 

" Hunts. Oh most divine it is the immediate gift of heaven , which 
steals into our breast * * 

'tis that which makes me sigh thus , look thus fear and tremble for thee. 
" Reg. Sure I should learn it too, if you would teach me. 

(Sound of horn without Huntsman starts. 

" Reg. You must not go this is but a dance preparing for my amuse- 
mentoh we have, indeed, some pleasures here come, I will sing for 
you the while. 



" Wilt thou then leave me ? canst thou go from me , 

To woo the fair that love the gaudy day ? 
Yet, ev'n among those joys, thou'lt find that she, 

Who dwells in darkness , loves thee more than they. 
For these poor hands, and these unpractised eyes , 
And this poor heart , is thine without disguise . 

" But , if thou'lt stay with me , my only care 

Shall be to please and make thee love to stay, 
With music , song , and dance * * * 

But , if you go , nor music , song , nor dance , 



" If thon art studious, I will read 
Thee tales of pleasing woe 



OF R. R. SHKHIDAN. 151 

If thou art tad , I'll k is- away 
The tears ..... that flow. 

" If thou would'st play, I'll kiss thec till 1 blush, 

Tlieu hide that blush upon thy breast , 
If thou would'st sleep ............ 

Shall rock thy achiug head to rest. 

Hunts. My soul's wonder, I will never leave thee. 

" ( The dance. Allemande by two Bears.) 



" Pcv. So fond, so soon! 1 cannot bear to see it. What ho, wilhin 
( Devils enter.) secure him. 

( Seize and bind 'the Huntsman." 

The Duke or sovereign of the country, where these events are 
supposed to take place, arrives at the head of a military force, for 
the purpose of investing the haunted wood , and putting down , as 
he says , those " lawless renegades , who , in infernal masquerade , 
make a hell around him. " He is also desirous of consulting the 
holy hermit of the wood , and availing himself of his pious con- 
solations and prayers being haunted with remorse for having 
criminally gained possession of the crown by contriving the ship- 
wreck of the rightful heir, and then banishing from the court his 
most virtuous counsellors. In addition to these causes of dis- 
quietude, he has lately lost, in a mysterious manner, his only 
son , who , he supposes , has fallen a victim to these Satanic out- 
laws, but who, on the contrary, it appears, has voluntarily become 
an associate of their band , and is amusing himself, heedless of his 
noble father's sorrow, by making love, in the disguise of a dancing 
bear, to a young village coquette of the name of Mopsa. A short 
specimen of the manner, in which this last farcical incident is 
managed, will show how wide even Sheridan was, at first, of that 
true vein of comedy, which, on searching deeper into the mine, 
he so soon afterwards found : 

" SCENE. The Inside of the Cottage. MOPSA, LUBIN ( her father), and 
COLIN ( her lover) discovered. 

" Enter PEVIDOR, leading the Bear, and singing. 

" And he dances, dances, dances, 

And goes upright like a Christian swaiu , 
And he shows you pretty fancies, 
Nor ever tries to shake off his chain. 

" Lubin. Servant, master. Now, Mopsa, you are happy- -it is, indeed, 
.1 handsome creature. What country does your bear come from ? 

" Pev. Dis bear , please your worship , is of de race of dat bear of 
St. Antony, who was de first convert he made in de woods. St. Antony 



152 MEMOIRS 

bade him never more meddle with man, and de bear observed de com 
mand to his dying day. 

"Lub. Wonderful! 

" Pev. Dis generation be all de sarne-r-all born widout toots. 

" Colin. What, can't he bite? (puts his Jinger to the Bear's mouth , 
who bites him.} Oh Lord, no toots! why you 

" Pev. Oh dat be only his gum. 

(Mopsa laughs. 

" Col. For shame, 31opsa now, I say, Maister Lubin, mustn't she 
give me a kiss to make it well ? 

"Lub. Ay , kiss her, kiss her , Colin. 

" Col. Come, Miss. 

(Mopsa runs to the Bear , who kisses her.) 

The following scene of the Devils , drinking in their subterran- 
eous dwelling, though cleverly imagined, is such as, perhaps, no 
cookery of style could render palateable to an English audience. 

"SCENE. The Devil's Cave. 

" isl Dev. Come, Urial, here's to our resurrection. 

" zd Dev. It is a toast I'd scarcely pledge by my life, I think we're 
happier here. 

" 5<f Dev . Why , so think I by Jove , I would despise the man , who 
could but wish to rise again to earth , unless we were to lord there. What? 
sneaking pitiful in bondage, among vile money-scrapers, treacherous 
friends, fawning flatterers or, still worse, deceitful mistresses. Shall we, 
who reign lords here, again lend ourselves to swell the train of tyranny 
and usurpation? By my old father's memory, I'd rather be the blindest 
mole that ever skulked in darkness, the lord of one poor hole where he 
might say ' I'm master here.' 

" id Dev. You are too hot where shall concord be found, if even the 
devils disagree? Come, fill the glass, and add thy harmony while we 
have wine to enlighten us, the san be hanged ! I never thought he gave 
so fine a light, for my part and then, there are such vile inconveniences 
high winds and storms, rains , etc. oh hang it! living on the outside 
of the earth is like sleeping on deck, when one might, like us, have a 
snug birth in the cabin. 

" ist Dev. True , true ,Helial , where is thy catch? 

" In the earth's centre let me lire, 

There, like a rabbit will I thrive, 

Nor care if fools should call my life infernal ; 

While men on earth crawl lazily about, 

Like snails upon the surface of the nut , 

We are , like maggots , feasting in the kernel. 

'' ist Dev. Bravo, by this glass; Meli , what say you? 
" "5d Dev. Come, here's to my Mina I used to toast her in the uppep 
regions. 

". i yt Dev. Ay , we miss them here. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 153 



' What's a woman good for? 
Rat me, sir, if I know. 

s She's a savour to the glass , 

An excuse to make it pass. 

" i st Dcv. I fear we are like the wits above , who abuse women only 
because they can't get them , and after all , it must be owned they are a 
pretty kind of creatures. 

"All. Yes, yes. 

" Catch. 
" 'Tis woman after all 

Is the blessiug of this ball, 
'Tis she keeps the balance of it even. 
We are devils , it is true , 
But had we women too , 
Our Tartarus would turn to a Heaven ! " 

A scene in the Third Act, where these devils bring the prisoners 
whom they have captured to trial , is an overcharged imitation of 
the satire of Fielding , and must have been written , I think , after 
a perusal of that author's Satirical Romance , "A Journey from this 
World to the Next ," the first half of which contains as much 
genuine humour and fancy as are to be found in any other pro- 
duction of the kind. The interrogatories of Minos in that work 
suggested , I suspect , the following scene : 

" Enter a number of Devils. Others bring in Luuovico.j 
" ixt Dev. Just taken , in the wood , sir , with two more. 

" Chorus of Devils. 
" Welcome , welcome * * 

Pev. What art thoa? 

Ludov. I went for a man in the other world. 

Pev. What sort of man ? 

Ludov. A soldier, at your service. 

Pev. Wast thou in the battle of ? 

i ' Ludov. Truly I was. 

' Pev. What was the quarrel ? 

' Ludov. I never had time to ask. The children of peace , who make 
our quarrels, must be Your Worship's informants there. 

" Pev. And art thou not ashamed to draw the sword for thou know'st 
not what and to be the victim and food of others' folly ? 
"Ludov. Vastly. 

" Pev. (to the Devils.) Well, take him for to-day, and only score his 
skin and pepper it with powder then chain him to a cannon, and let the 
Devils practise at hishcad his be the reward who hits it with a single ball. 



' VI MEMOIRS 

" Ludo\>. Oh mercy , mercy ! 
"Pev. Bring Savodi. 

(A Devil brings in SAVODI.) 

' ' Chorus as before. 
" Welcome, welcome, etc. 
" Pev. Who art thou ? 
" Sav. A courtier, at Your Grace's service. 
" Pev . Your name ? 

''Sav. Savodi, an' please Your Highnesses. 
" -Pev. Your use? 

" Sav. A foolish utensil of state a clock kept in the waiting-chamber, 
to count the hours. 

" Pev . Are you not one of those who fawn and lie , and cringe like spa- 
niels to those a little higher, and take revenge by tyranny on all beneath ? 
" Sav. Most true , Your Highnesses. 

" Pev. Is't not thy trade to promise what thou canst not do, to gull 
the credulous of money, to shut the royal door on unassuming merit to 

catch the scandal for thy master's ear, and stop the people's voice 

" Sav. Exactly , an' please Your Highnesses' Worship. 
" Pev . Thou dost not now deny it ? 
" Sav. Oh no , no , no. 

" Pev. Here baths of flaming sulphur ! quick stir up the cauldron 
of boiling lead this crime deserves it. 

" ist Dev. Great Judge of this infernal place, allow him but the meres 
of the court. 

" Sav . Oh kind Devil! yes, Great Judge, allow. 

" \sl Dev. The punishment is undergone already truth from him is 
something. 

" Sav . Oh , most unusual sweet devil ! 

" ist Dev. Then , he is tender , and might not be able to endure 
" Sav. Endure ! I shall be annihilated by the thoughts of it dear devil. 
" \st Dev Then let him, I beseech you, in scalding brimstone be first 
soaked a little , to inure and prepare him for the other. 
" Sav. Oh hear me, hear me! 
" Pev. Well, be it so. 

(Devils take him out and bring in PAMPHILES.)"! 

" Pev. This is he we rescued from the ladies a dainty one, I warrant. 

" Pamphil. (affectedly ) This is Hell, certainly by the smell. 

" Pev. What , art thou a soldier too? 

u Pamphil. No, on my life a Colonel, but no soldier innocent even 
of a review , as I exist. 

" Pev. How rose you then ? come , come the truth. 

" Pamphil. Nay, be not angry, sir if I was preferred it was not 1113 
fault upon my soul, 1 never did any thing to incur preferment. 

' Pev. Indeed ! what was thy employment then , friend ? 

' Pamphil. Hunting 

" Pev. 'Tis false. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 1.S5 

" Ptiinpliil Hunting women's reputations. 

" Pev. What , thou wert amorous ? 

" Pamphil. No, on my honour, sir, but vain, confounded vain the 
character of bringing down my game was all I wished , and, like a true 
sportsman, I would have given my birds to my pointers. 

" Pev . This crime is new what shall we do with him ?" etc. etc. 

This singular Drama does not appear to have been ever finished. 
With respect to the winding up of the story, the hermit, we may 
conclude , would have turned out to be the banished counsellor, 
and the devils, his followers 5 while the young huntsman would 
most probably have proved to be the rightful heir of the dukedom. 

In a more crude and unfinished state are the fragments that 
remain of his projected opera "The Foresters. " To this piece, 
( which appears to have been undertaken at a later period than the 
preceding one , ) Mr. Sheridan often alluded in conversation , par- 
ticularly when any regret was expressed at his having ceased to 
assist Old Drury with his pen, "wait (he would say smiling) 
till I bring out my Foresters." The plot , as far as can be judged 
from the few meagre scenes that exist , was intended to be an 
improvement upon that of the Drama just described the Devils 
being transformed into Foresters , and the action commencing, 
not with the loss of a son but the recovery of a daughter, who 
had fallen by accident into the hands of these free-boolers. At 
the opening of the piece the young lady has just been restored 
to her father by the heroic Captain of the Foresters , with no other 
loss than that of her heart, which she is supected of having left with 
her preserver. The list of the Dramatis Persona? ( to which however 
he did not afterwards adhere ) is as follows : 

Old Oscar. 

Young Oscar. 

Colona. 

Morven. 

Harold. 

Nico. 

Miza. 

Malvina. 

Allanda. 

Dorcas. 

Emma. 

To this strange medley of nomenclature is appended a me- 
morandum" fide Petrarch for names." 

The first scene represents the numerous lovers of Malvina 
rejoicing at her return , and celebrating it by a chorus ; after which 
Oscar, her father, holds the following dialogue with one of them : 



1&6 MEMOIRS 

" Osc. I thought, son , you would have been among the first and most 
eager to see Malvina upon her return. 

" Colin. Oh , father, I would give half my flock to think that my pre- 
sence would be welcome to her. 

" Osc. I am sure you have never seen her prefer any one else. 

" Colin. There's the torment of it were I but once sure that she 
loved another better, I think I should be content at least she should 
not know but that I was so. My love is not of that jealous sort that 1 
should pine to see her happy with another nay, I could even regard the 
man that would make her so. 

" Osc. Haven't you spoke with her since her return? 

" Colin. Yes, and I think she is colder to me than ever. My professions 
of love used formerly to make her laugh , but now they make her wee]) 
formerly she seemed wholly insensible ; now, alas, she seems to feel but 
as if addressed by the wrong person." etc. etc. 

In a following scene are introduced two brothers , both equally 
enamoured of the fair Malvina , yet preserving their affection un- 
altered towards each other. With the recollection of Sheridan's own 
story fresh in our minds , we might suppose that he meant some 
reference to it in this incident, were it not for the exceeding 
niaiserie that he has thrown into the dialogue. For instance : 

Osc. But we are interrupted here are two more of her lovers bro- 
thers , and rivals , but friends. 

" Enter Nico and LUBIN. 

" So , Nico, how comes it you are so late in your enquiries after your 
mistress ? 

" Nico. I should have been sooner; but Lubin would stay to make 
himself fine though he knows he has no chance of appearing so to 
Malvina. 

" Lubin. No, in truth Nico says right I have no more chance than 
himself. 

" Osc. However, I am glad to see you reconciled, and that you live 
together, as brothers should do. 

" Nico. Yes, ever since we found your daughter cared for neither of 
us, we grew to care for one another. There is a fellowship in adversity 
that is consoling ; and it is something to think that Lubin is as unfortunate 
as myself. 

" Lubin. Yes , we are well matched I think Malvina dislikes him , if 
possible more than me, and that's a great comfort. 

" Nico. We often sit together, and play such woeful tunes on our 
pipes , that the very sheep are moved at it. 

Osc. But why don't you rouse yourselves , and since you can meet 
with no requital of your passion, return the proud maid scorn for scorn. 

" Nico. Oh mercy, no we find a great comfort in our sorrow don'f 
we , Lubin ? 

" Lubin. Yes, if I meet no crosses, I shall be undone in another 
twelvemonth I let all go to wreck and ruin. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 157 

H Osc. But suppose Malvina should be brought to give you encou- 
ragement. 

" Nico. Heaven forbid ! that would spoil all. 

" Lubin. Truly, I was almost assured within this fortnight that she 
was going to relax. 

' ' Nico. Ay, I shall never forget how alarmed we were at the appear- 
ance of a smile one day," etc. etc. 

Of the poetical part of this opera , the only specimens he has left 
are a skeleton of a chorus, beginning "Bold Foresters we are," 
and the following song, which, for grace and tenderness, is not 
unworthy of the hand that produced The Duenna : 

" We two , each other's only pride, 
Each other's bliss , each other's guide , 
Far from the world's unhallow'd noise , 
Its coarse delights and tainted joys , 
Through wilds will roam and deserts rude 
For, Love , thy home is solitude. 

" There shall no vain pretender be, 
To court thy smile and torture me , 
No proud superior there be seen , 
But nature's voice shall hail thee, queen. 

" With fond respect and tender awe , 
I will receive thy gentle law, 
Obey thy looks , and serve thee still , 
Prevent thy wish , foresee thy will , 
And , added to a lover's care , 
Be all that friends and parents are." 

But, of all Mr. Sheridan's unfinished designs, the Comedy which 
he meditated on the subject of Affectation. is that of which the 
abandonment is most to be regretted. To a satirist , who would not 
confine his ridicule to the mere outward demonstrations of this 
folly, but would follow and detect it through all its windings and 
disguises, there could hardly perhaps be a more fertile theme. 
Affectation, merely of manner, being itself a sort of acting, does 
not easily admit of any additional colouring on the stage, without 
degenerating into farce j and, accordingly, fops and fine ladies 
with very few exceptions are about as silly and tiresome in repre- 
sentation as in reality. But the aim of the dramatist, in this comedy, 
would have been far more important and extensive-, and how 
anxious he was to keep before his mind's eye the whole wide 
horizon of folly which his subject opened upon him , will appear 
from the following list of the various species of Affectation , which 
I have found written by him , exactly as I give it , on the inside 
cover of the memorandum-book , that contains the only remaining 
vestiges of this play : 



I .>* MEMOIRS 

' An Affectation of Business. 

of Accomplishments. 

of Love of Letters and Wit. 

Music, 
of Intrigue, 
of Sensibility, 
of Vivacity. 

of Silence and Importance, 
of Modesty, 
of Profligacy, 
of Moroseness." 

In this projected comedy he does not seem to have advanced as 
far as even the invention of the plot or the composition of a single 
scene. The memorandum-book alluded to on the first leaf of which 
he had written in his neatest hand ( as if to encourage himself to 
begin) "Affectation" contains, besides the names of three of the 
intended personages, Sir Babble Bore, Sir Peregrine Paradox, 
and Feignwit, nothing but unembodied sketches of character, and 
scattered particles of wit, which seem waiting, like the imperfect 
forms and seeds in chaos , for the brooding of genius to nurse them 
into system and beauty. 

The reader will not, I think, be displeased at seeing some of 
these curious materials here. They will show that in this work , as 
well as in the School for Scandal , he was desirous of making the 
vintage of his wit as rich as possible, by distilling into it every drop 
that the collected fruits of his thought and fancy could supply. 
Some of the jests are far-fetched , and others , perhaps , abortive 
but it is pleasant to track him in his pursuit of a point , even when 
he misses. The very failures of a man of real wit are often more 
delightful than the best successes of others the quick-silver, even 
in escaping from his grasp, shines; "it still eludes him, but it 
glitters still." 

I shall give the memorandums as I find them , with no other 
difference , than that of classing together those that haw relation to 
the same thought or subject. 

" Character. Mr. BUSTLE. 

"A man who delights in hurry and interruption will take any one's 
business for them leaves word where all his plagues may follow him 
governor of all hospitals , etc. share in Ranelagh speaker every where , 
from the Vestry to the House of Commons 'I am not at home -gad, 
now he has heard me and I must be at home.'' Here am I so plagued, 
and there is nothing I love so much as retirement and quiet.' '^ ou never 
sent after me.' Let servants call in to him such a message as ' Tis nothing 
but the window-tax , ' the hiding in a room that communicates. A young 
man tells him some important business in the middle of fifty trivial inter- 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. if.fl 

ruptions , and the calling in of idlers; such as fidlers, wild-beast men, 
foreigners with recommendatory letters, etc. answers notes on his 
knee, ' and so your uncle died? for your obliging enquiries and left 
you an orphan to cards in the evening.' 

" Can't bear to be doing nothing. 'Can I do any thing for any body 
anywhere?' 'Have been to the Secretary written to the Treasury.' 
' Must proceed to meet the Commissioners, and write Mr. Price's little 
l><n's exercise.' The most active idler and laborious trifler. 

"He does not in reality lovfc business only the appearance of it. 'Ha [ 
lia! did my Lord say that I was always very busy ? What, plagued to 
death?' 

"Keeps all his letters and copies 'Mem. to meet the Hackney coach 
Commissioners to arbitrate between, etc., etc.' 

" Contrast with the man of indolence, his brother. 'So, brother, 
just up ! and I have been, etc., etc.' one will give his money from indo- 
lent generosity, the other his time from restlessness "Twill be shorter 
to pay the bill than look for the receipt.' Files letters , answered and 
unanswered 'Why, here are more unopened than answered! ' 



" He regulates every action by a love for fashion will grant annuities 
though he doesn't want money appear to intrigue, though constant, 
to drink, though sober has some fashionable vices affects to be dis- 
tressed in his circumstances, and, when his new vis-a-vis comes out, 
procures a judgment to be entered against him wants to lose, but by 
ill-luck wins five thousand pounds. 



"One who changes sides in all arguments the moment any one agrees 
with him. 

" An irresolute arguer, to whom it is a great misfortune that there are 
not three sides to a question a libertine in argument; conviction, like 
enjoyment, palls him, and his rakish understanding is soon satiated with 
truth more capable of being faithful to a paradox 'I love truth as I do 
my wife ; but sophistry and paradoxes are my mistresses I have a strong 
domestic respect for her, but for the other the passion due to a mistress. 

" One, who agrees with every one for the pleasure of speaking their 
sentiments for them so fond of talking that he does not contradict only 
because he can't wait to hear people out. 

"A tripping casuist, who veers by others' breath, and gets on to in- 
formation by tacking between the two sides like a hoy, not made to go 
straight before the wind. 

" The more he talks, the farther he is off the argument, like a bowl 
on a wrong bias. 



" What are the affectations you chiefly dislike? 

" There are many in this company, so I'll mention others. To see two- 
people: affecting intrigue, having their assignations in public places only : 
lie, affecting a warm pursuit, and the lady, acting the hesitation of re- 



160 MEMOIRS 

treating virtue 'Pray, ma'am, don't you think, etc.' while neither 
party have words between 'em to conduct the preliminaries of gallantry, 
nor passion to pursue the object of it. 

"A plan of public flirtation not to get beyond a profile. 



" Then I hate to see one, to whom heaven has given real beauty, set- 
tling her features at the glass of fashion, while she speaks not thinking 
so much of what she says as how she looks, and more careful of the action 
of her lips than of what shall come from them. 

"A pretty woman studying looks and endeavouring to recollect an ogle, 
like Lady , who has learned to play her eyelids like Venetian blinds ' . 

"An old woman endeavouring to put herself back to a girl. 



"A true trained wit lays his plan like a general foresees the circum- 
stances of the conversation surveys the ground and contingencies de- 
taches a question to draw you into the palpable ambuscade of his ready- 
made joke. 

"A man intriguing, only for the reputation of it to his confidential 
servant : 'Who am I in love with now?' The newspapers give you so 
and so you are laying close siege to Lady L. in the Morning Post, and 
have succeeded with Lady G. in the Herald Sir F. is very jealous of 
you in the Gazetteer.' 'Remember to-morrow, the first thing you do, 
to put me in love with Mrs. C.' 

" 'I forgot to forget the billet-doux at Brooks's.' 'By the bye, an't I 
in love with you?' ' Lady L. has promised to meet me in her carriage 
to-morrow where is the most public place?' 

" ' You were rude to her! ' ' Oh no, upon my soul , I made love to 
her directly.' 

"An old man , who affects intrigue , and writes his own reproaches in 
the Morning Post, trying to scandalise himself into the reputation of 
being young, as if he could obscure his age by blotting his character 
though never so little candid as when he's abusing himself. 



" 'Shall you be at Lady 's? I'm told the Bramin is to be there, 

and the new French philosopher.' 'No it will be pleasanter at Lady 
's conversazione the cow with two heads will be there.' 



" 'I shall order my valet to shoot me the very first thing he does in 
the morning.' 



1 This simile is repeated in various shapes through his manuscripts "She 
moves her eyes up and down like "Venetian blinds" " Her eyelids play like a 
Venetian blind ," etc. etc. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 161 

" 'You arc yourself affected and don't know it you would pass for 
morose.' 

" He merely wanted to be singular, and happened to find the character 
of moroseness unoccupied in the society he lived with. 

" He certainly has a great deal of fancy and a very good memory ; but 
with a perverse ingenuity he employs these qualities as no other person 
doos for he employs his fancy in his narratives , and keeps his recollec- 
tions for his wit when he makes his jokes , yon applaud the accuracy of 
liis memory, and 'tis only when he states his facts, that you admire the 
flights of his imagination '. 



"A fat woman trundling into a room on castors in sitting can onlv 
lean agains't her chair rings on her fingers, and her fat arms strangled 
with bracelets, which belt them like corded brawn rolling and heaving 
when she laughs with the rattles in her throat, and a most apoplectic ogle 
you wish to draw her out , as you would" an opera-glass. 



"A long lean man, with all his limbs rambling no way to i*educc 
him to compass, unless you could double him like a pocket rule with 
his arms spread, he'd lie on the bed of Ware like a cross on a Good Fri- 
day bun standing still , he is a pilaster without a base he appears rolled 
out or run up against a wall so thin, that his front face is but the moiety 
of a profile if he stands cross-legged , he looks like a caduceus, and put 
him in a fencing attitude, you would take him for a piece of chevaux- 
de-frise to make any use of him, it must be as a spontoon or a fishing- 
rod when his wife's by, he follows like a note of admiration see them 
together, one's a mast, and the other all hulk she's a dome and he's built 
like a glass-house when they part, you wonder to see the steeple sepa- 
rate from the chancel , and we're they to embrace , he must hang round 
her neck like a skein of thread on a lace-maker's bolstei to sing her 
praise you should choose a rondeau, and to celebrate him you must write 
all Alexandrines. 



" I wouldn't give a pin to make fine men in love with me every co- 
quette can do that, and the pain you give these creatures is veiy trifling. 
I love out-of-the-way conquests; and as I think my attractions are sin- 
gular, I would draw singular objects. 

" The loadstone of true beauty draws the heaviest substances not like 
Hie fat dowager, who frets herself into warmth to get the notice of a lew 
papier macfie fops , as you rub Dutch sealing-wax to draw paper. 



"If I were inclined to flatter, I would say that, as you are unlike other 
women , you ought not to be won as they are. Every woman can be 
gained by time, therefore you ought to l>c by a sudden impulse. Sighs, 
devotion, attention weigh with others ; but they are so much your due, 
i hat no one should claim merit from them. . . . 

1 The reader will find how much lliis thonght was improved upon afrcrwaals. 

II 



162 MEMOIRS 



" You should not be swayed by common motives how heroic to form 
a marriage for which no human being can guess the inducement what 
a glorious unaccountableness ! All the world will wonder what the devil 
you could see in me; and, if you should doubt your singularity, I pledge 
invself to you that I never yet was indured by woman ; so that I should 
owe every thing to the effect of your bounty, and not by my own super- 
fluous deserts make it a debt, and so lessen both the obligation and my 
gratitude. lu short, every other woman follows her inclination, but you, 
above all things, should take me, if you do not like me. You will, be- 
sides, have the satisfaction of knowing that we are decidedly the worst 
match in the kingdom a match , too, that must be all your own work, 
in which fate could have no hand, and which no foresight could foresee. 



"A lady who affects poetry. 'I made regular approaches to her bv 
sonnets and rebusses a rondeau of circumvallation her pride sapped 
bv an elegy, and her reserve surprised by an impromptu proceeding to 
storm with Pindarics, she, at last, saved the further effusion of ink by 
a capitulalion.' 

"Her prudish frowns and resentful looks areas ridiculous as 'twould 
be to see a board with notice of spring-guns set in a highway, or of 
steel-traps in a common because they imply an insinuation that there 
is something worth plundering where one would not, in the least, sus- 
pect it. 

''The expression of her face is at once a denial of all love-suit, and a 
confession that she never was asked the sourness of it arises not so much 
from her aversion to the passion , as from her never having had an op- 
portunity to show it. Her features are so unfortunately formed that she 
could never dissemble or put on sweetness enough lo induce any one to 
give her occasion to show her bitterness. I never saw a woman to whom 
you would more readily give credit for perfect chastity. 



"Lady Clio. 'What am I reading? ' ' have I drawn nothing latelv? 
is the work-bag finished? how accomplished I am! has the man 
been to untune the harpsichord? does it look as if I had been playing 
on it? 

" 'Shall I be ill to-day ? shall I be nervous?' 'Your La'ship was 
nervous yesterday.' 'Was I? then I'll have a cold I haven't had a 
cold this fortnight a cold is becoming no I'll not have a cough ; that's 
fatiguing I'll be quite well.' 'You become sickness your La'ship 
always looks vastly well when you're ill.' 

" 'Leave the book half read and the rose half finished you know I 
love to be caught in the fact.' 



"One who knows that no credit is ever given to his assertions, has 
the more right to contradict his words. 

" He goes the western circuit , to pick up small fees and impudence. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN 163 

fc ' A new wooden leg for Sir Ch?rles Easy. 



" An ornament which proud peers wear all the year round chimney- 
sweepers only on the first of May. 



"In marriage if you possess any thing very good, it makes you eager 
to get every thing else good of the same sort. 



"The critic when he gets out of his carriage should always recollect, 
that his footman behind is gone up to judge as well as himself. 



"She might have escaped in her own clothes, but I suppose she 
thought it more romantic to put on her brother's regimentals." 

The rough sketches and fragments of poems , which Mr. Sheri- 
dan left behind him , are numerous ^ but those among them that are 
sufficiently finished to be cited , bear the marks of having been writ- 
ten when he was very young , and would not much interest the 
reader while of the rest it is difficult to find four consecu- 
tive lines , that have undergone enough of the toilette of com- 
position to be presentable in print. It was his usual practice, when 
he undertook any subject in verse , to write down his thoughts first 
in a sort of poetical prose , with , here and there, a rhyme or a 
metrical line, as they might occur and then, afterwards to reduce, 
with much labour, this anomalous compound to regular poetry. The 
birth of his prose being , as we have already seen , so difficult , it may 
be imagined how painful was the travail of his verse. Indeed, the 
number of tasks which he left unfinished are all so many proofs of 
that despair of perfection , which those best qualified to attain it are 
always the most likely to feel. 

There are some fragments of an Epilogue , apparently intended to 
be spoken in the character of a woman of fashion , which give a 
lively notion of what the poem would have been, when complete. 
The high carriages , that had just then come into fashion , are thus 
adverted to : 

" My carriage stared at ! none so high or fine 
Palmer's mail-coach shall be a sledge to mine. 

No longer now the youths beside us stand, 
And talking lean, and leaning press the hand ; 
But , ogling upward , as aloft we sit , 
Straining , poor things, their ancles and their wit, 



J64 MEMOIRS 

And , inucli too short the inside to explore, 
Hang like supporters half way up l ''e door." 

The approach of a "veteran husband," to disturb these flirtations 
and chase away the lovers , is then hinted at : 

" To persecuted virtue yield assistance, 

And for one hour teach younger men their distance, 
Make them , in very spite , appear discreet , 
And mar the public mysteries of the street." 

The affectation of appearing to make love , while talking on in- 
different matters , is illustrated by the following simile :' 

" So when dramatic statesmen talk apart , 
With practised gesture and heroic start, 
The plot's their theme, the gaping galleries guess , 
While Hull and Fearon think of nothing less." 

The following lines seem to belong to the same Epilogue . 

" The Campus Martius of St. James's Street , 
Where the beau's cavalry pace to and fro , 
Before they take the field in Rotten ttow ; 
Where Brooks's Blues and Weltze's Light Dragoons 
Dismount in files, and ogle in platoons." 

He had also begun another Epilogue, directed against female 
gamesters, of which he himself repealed a couplet or two to Mr. Ko~ 
gersa short time before his death , and of which there remain some 
few scattered traces among his papers : 

" A night of fretful passion may consume 
All that thou hast of beauty's gentle bloom , 
And one distemper' d hour of sordid fear 
Print on thy brow the wrinkles of a year'. 

Great figure loses , little figure wins. 

Ungrateful blushes and disorder'd sighs, 
Which love disclaims, nor even shame supplies. 

Gay smiles, which once belong'd to mirth alone, 
And starting tears , which pity dares not own." 

The following stray couplet would seem to have been intended 
for his description of Gorilla : 

" A crayon Cupid , redd'ning into shape, 
Betrays her talents to design and scrape." 

The Epilogue, which I am about to give , though apparently ti- 

1 These four lines, as I have already remarked, are taken with little change 
of the words, but a total alteration of the sentiineut from the verses which he 
addressed to Mrs. Sheridan in the year 1773. Seu page 67 



OF K. 15. SHKK1UAW. li> 

nished, has not, as far as I can learn, yet appeared in print , nor am 
I at all aware for what occasion it was intended. 

In tills gay month when , through the sultry Lour, 
The vernal suu denies the wonted shower, 
When youthful Spring usurps maturer sway, 
And pallid April steals the blush of May, 
How joys the rustic tribe, to view display'd 
The liberal blossom aud the early shade ! 
But ah! far other air our soil delights ; 
Here ' charming weather' is the worst of blights. 
No genial beams rejoice our rustic train , 
Their harvest's still the better for the raiu. 
To summer suus our groves no tribute owe, 
They thrive iu frost , and flourish best in snow. 
When other woods resound the feather'd throng , 
Our groves, our woods , are destitute of song. 
The thrush , the lark , all leave our mimic vale , 
-N<> more we boast our Christmas nightingale ; 
Poor Rosignol the wonder of bis day, 
Sung through the winter but is mute in May. 
Tben bashful spring , that gilds fair nature's scene , 
O'crcasts our lawns , and deadens every green ; 
Obscures our sky, embrowns the wooden shade , 
And dries the channel of each tin cascade! 
Oh hapless we , whom such ill fate betides , 

Hurt by the beam which cheers the world besides 
Who love the liug'riug frost, nice chilling showers, 

While Nature's Benefit is death to ours ; 

Who, witch-like , best iu noxious mists perform , 

Thrive in the tempest , aud enjoy the storm. 

O hapless we unless your generous care 

Bids us no more lament that Spriug is fair, 

But plenteous glean from the dramatic soil , 

The vernal harvest of our winter's toil. 

For, April suns to u no pleasure bring 

Your presence here is all we feel of Spring; 

May's riper beauties here no bloom display 

Your fostering snlile alone proclaims it May. 

A poem upon Windsor Castle, half ludicrous and half solemn , 
appears , from the many experiments which he made upon it , \lo 
have cost him considerable trouble. The Castle , he says , 

" Its base a mountain , aud itself a rock , 

In proud defiance of the tempests' rage, 
Like au old grey-hair'd veteran stands each shock 
The sturdy witness of a nobler age." 

He then alludes to the " cockney 1 ' improvements that had lately 
taken place , among which the venerable castle appears , like 

' A helmet on a Macaroni's head 
Or like old Talbot, turn'd into a fop, 
With r.>at rinhroidcr'd and scratch wig at top." 



1 MEMOIRS 

Some verses , of the same mixed character, on the short duration 
of life and the changes that death produces, thus begin : 

" Of that same tree which gave the box , 
Now rattling in the hand of FOX, 
Perhaps his coffin shall be made." 

He then rambles into prose , as was his custom , on a sort of 
knight-errantry after thoughts and images : " The lawn thou hast 
chosen for thy bridal shift thy shroud may be of the same piece. 
That flower thou hast bought to feed thy vanity from the same tree 
thy corpse may be decked. Reynolds shall , like his colours , fly ; 
and Brown , when mingled with the dust , manure the grounds he 
once laid out. Death is life's second childhood ; we return to the 
breast from whence we came , are weaned, * * *" 

There are a few detached lines and couplets of a poem , intended 
to ridicule some fair invalid , who was much given to falling in love 
with her physicians : 

" Who felt her pulse, obtained her heart." 

The following couplet, in which he characterises an amiable 
friend of his, Dr. Bain, with whom h'e did not become acquainted 
till the year 1792, proves these fragments to have been written after 
that period : 

" Not savage * * * nor gentle BAIN 
She was in love with Warwick Lane." 

An " Address to the Prince," on the exposed style of women's 
dress, consists of little more than single lines , not yet wedded into 
couplets j such as " The more you show, the less we wish too see." 
"And bare their bodies, as they mask their minds," etc. This 
poem , however, must have been undertaken many years after his 
entrance into Parliament , as the following curious political memo- 
randum will prove : " I like it no belter for being from France 
whence all ills come altar of liberty, begrimed at once with blood 
and mire." 

There are also some Anacreontics lively, but boyish and extra- 
vagant. For instance, in expressing his love of bumpers : 

" Were mine a goblet that had room 
For a whole vintage in its womb, 
I still would have the liquor swim 
An inch or two above the brim." 

The following specimen is from one of those poems , whose 
length and completeness prove them to have been written at a time 
of life when he was more easily pleased , and had not yet arrived at 
that state of glory and torment for the poet , when 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 167 

*' Toujburs mecontent de ce qu'il vient de faire , 
11 plait a tout le monde , et ne saurait se plaire.'" 

" The Muses call'd , the other morning , 

On Phoebus , with a friendly warning 
- That invocations came so fast, 

They must give up their trade at last , 
And if he meant to' assist them all , 
The aid of Nine would be too small. ^ 

Me then , as clerk , the Council chose , 
To tell this truth in humble prose. 

But Phoebus , possibly intending 
To show what all their hopes must end in , 
To give the scribbling youths a sample , 
And frighten them by my examplff, 
Bade me ascend the poet's throne , 
And give them verse much like their own. 

" Who has not heard each poet sing 
The powers of Heliconian spring ? 
Its noble virtues we are told 
By all the rhyming crew of old. 
Drink but a little of its well , 
And straight you could both write and spell , 
While such rhyme-giving pow'rs run through it, 
A quart would make an epic poet." etc. etc. 

A poem on the miseries of a literary drudge begins thus promis- 
ingly : 

" Think ye how dear the sickly meal is bought, 
By him who works at verse and trades in thought ? " 

The rest is hardly legible ; but there can be little doubt that he 
would have done this subject justice ; for he had himself tasted of 
the bitterness with which the heart of a man of genius overflows, 
when forced by indigence to barter away ( as it is here expressed ) 
" the reversion of his thoughts," and 

" Forestall the blighted harvest of his braiii." 

It will be easily believed that , in looking over the remains, both 
dramatic and poetical, from which the foregoing specimens are taken, 
I have been frequently tempted to indulge in much ampler extracts. 
It appeared to me , however, more prudent , to rest satisfied with 
the selections here given ; for , while less would have disappointed 
the curiosity of the reader, more might have done injustice to the 
memory of the author. 



' MEMOIRS 

CHAPTER VIII. 

His first speeches in Parliament. Rockiugham administralion. 
Coalition. India Bill. 

THE period at which Mr. Sheridan entered upon his political 
career was , in every respect , remarkable. A persevering and vin- 
dictive war against America, with the folly and guilt of which the 
obstinacy of the Court and the acquiescence of the people are equally 
chargeable, was fast approaching that crisis , which every unbias- 
sed spectator of the contest had long foreseen , and at which , 
however humiliating to the Haughty pretensions of England, every 
friend to the liberties of the human race rejoiced. It was , perhaps , 
as difficult for this country to have been long and virulently op- 
posed to such principles as the Americans asserted in this contest, 
without being herself corrupted by the cause which she maintained. 
;;s it was for the French to have fought, in the same conflict, by 
(he side of the oppressed, without catching a portion of that en- 
Uiusiasm for liberty, which such an alliance was calculated to in- 
spire. Accordingly , while the voice of Philosophy was heard 
along the neighbouring shores, speaking aloud those oracular 
warnings , which preceded the death of the Great Pan of Despotism, 
Ihe courtiers and lawyers of England were, with an emulous spirit 
f servility, advising and sanctioning such strides of power, as 
would not have been unworthy of the most dark and slavish times. 

When we reviews indeed , the history of .the late reign , and con- 
sider how invariably the arms and councils of Great Britain, in her 
Eastern wars , her conflict with America , and her efforts against 
revolutionary France , were directed to the establishment and per- 
uetualion of despotic principles , it seems little less than a miracle 
I hat her own liberty should have escaped with life from the conta- 
gion. Never, indeed , can she be sufficiently grateful to the few 
patriot spirits of this period, to whose courage and eloquence she 
owes the high station of freedom yet left to her; never can her 
sons pay a homage too warm to the memory of such men as a 
Chatham, a Fox, and a Sheridan 5 who, however much they may 
have sometimes sacrificed to false views of expediency, and, by 
compromise with friends and coalition with foes , too often weak- 
ened their hold upon public confidence ; however the attraction 
of the Court may have sometimes made them librate in their orbit , 
were yet the saving lights of liberty in those times , and alone pre- 
served the ark of the Constitution from foundering in the foul and 
troubled waters that encompassed it. 

Not only were the public events, in which Mr. Sheridan was 



01* 11. ]]. SHERIDAN. t ICO 

uo\\ called to lake a part, of a nature more extraordinary and awful 
than had often been exhibited on the theatre of politics , but the 
leading actors in the scene were of that loftier order of intellect , 
which \alurc seems to keep in reserve for the ennoblement of such 
tircat occasions. Two of these , Mr. Burke- and Mr. Fox , were al- 
ready in the full maturity of their fame and talent , while the third, 
Mr. Pitt, was just upon the point of entering , with the most auspi- 
cious promise, into the same splendid career; 

' ~ ' . ' 't Nunc cuspide Patris 
Inclytus , Herculeas olirn mature sagittas, " 

Though the administration of that day, like many other ministries 
of the same reign , was chosen more for the pliancy than the strength 
of its materials , yet Lord North himself was no ordinary man , and, 
in times of less difficulty and under less obstinate dictation , might 
have ranked as a useful and most popular minister. It is true, as 
the defenders of his measures state , that some of the worst aggres- 
sions upon the rights of the Colonies had been committed before he 
succeeded to power. But his readiness to follow in these rash foot- 
steps , and to deepen every fatal impression which they had made ; 
his insulting reservation of the Tea Duty, by which he contrived 
to embitter the only measure of concession that was wrung from 
him ; the obsequiousness , with which he made himself the chan- 
nel of the vindictive feelings of the court, in that memorable de- 
claration (rendered so truly mock heroic, by the event) that " a total 
repeal of the Port duties could not be thought of, till America was 
prostrate at the feet of England ; " all deeply involve him in the 
shame of that disastrous period, and identify his name with measures 
as arbitrary and headstrong , as have ever disgraced the annals of 
the English monarchy. 

The playful wit and unvarying good-humour of this nobleman 
formed a striking contrast to the harsh and precipitate policy, which 
it was his lot , during twelve stormy years , to enforce : and , if 
his career was as headlong as the torrent near its fall, it may also 
be said to have been as shining and as smooth. These attractive 
qualities secured to him a considerable share of personal popularity; 
and . had fortune ultimately smiled on his councils , success would, 
as usual , have reconciled the people of England to any means , 
however arbitrary, by which it had been attained. But the calamities, 
and , at last , the hopelessness of the cdnflict , inclined them to mo- 
ralise upon its causes and character. The hour of Lord North's 
ascendant was now passing rapidly away, and Mr. Sheridan could 
not have joined the Opposition at a -conjuncture more favourable lo 
the excitement of his powers , or more bright in the views which it 
opened upon his ambition. 



170 MEMOIRS 

He made his first speech in Parliament on the 20th of November, 
1780, when a petition was presented to the House, complaining of 
the undue election of the sitting members (himself andMr.Monckton) 
for Stafford. It was rather lucky for him that the occasion was one 
in which he felt personally interested, as it took away much of that 
appearance of anxiety for display , which might have attended his 
first exhibition upon any general subject. The fame, however, which 
he had already acquired by his literary talents , was sufficient , even 
on this question , to awaken all the curiosity and expectation of his 
audience ; and, accordingly , we are told in the report of his speech, 
that " he was heard with particular attention, the House being un- 
commonly still while he was speaking." The indignation, which 
he expressed on this occasion at the charges brought by the petition 
against the electors of Stafford , was coolly turned into ridicule by 
Mr. Rigby, Paymaster of the forces. But Mr. Fox , whose eloquence 
was always ready at the call of good-nature , and , like the shield 
of Ajax, had " ample room and verge enough, to protect not only 
himself but his friends, came promptly to the aid of the young 
orator-, and, in reply to Mr. Rigby, observed , that " though those 
ministerial members , who chiefly robbed and plundered their con- 
stituents , might afterwards affect to despise them , yet gentlemen , 
who felt properly the nature of the trust allotted to- them, would 
always treat them and speak of them with respect." 

It was on this night, as Woodfall used to relate, that Mr. Sheri- 
dan , after he had spoken , came up to him in the gallery, and asked, 
with much anxiety, what he thought of his first attempt. The answer 
of Woodfall , as he had the courage afterwards to own, was , " I am 
sorry to say I do not think that this is your line you had much 
belter have stuck to your former pursuits." On hearing which, She- 
ridan rested his head upon his hand for a few minutes , and then 
vehernenlly exclaimed, " It is in me, however, and, by G , it 
shall come out." 

It appears , indeed , that upon many persons besides Mr. Wood- 
fall the impression produced by this first essay of his oratory was far 
from answerable to the expectations that had been formed. The 
chief defect remarked in him was a thick and indistinct mode of 
delivery, which, though he afterwards greatly corrected it, was 
never entirely removed. 

It is not a little amusing to find him in one of his early speeches , 
gravely rebuking Mr. Rigby and Mr. Courtenay 1 for the levity 
and raillery with which they treated the subject before the House, 

. . -. i. .,: \ 

1 Feb. 26. On the second reading of the Bill for the hetter regulation of His 
Majesty's Civil List Revenue. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 171 

Ihus condemning the use of that weapon in other hands . 
which soon after became so formidable in his own. The remarks 
fay which Mr. Courlenay ( a gentleman , whose lively wit found 
afterwards a more congenial air on the benches of Opposition ) pro- 
voked the reprimand of the new senator for Stafford, are too humor- 
ous to be passed over without, at least, a specimen of their spirit. 
In ridiculing the conduct of the opposition , he observed : 

" Oh liberty! Oh virtue! Oh my country! had been the pathetic, 
though fallacious cry of former Oppositions; but the present he was sure 
acted on purer motives. They wept over their bleeding country, he had 
no doubt. Yet the patriot "eye in a fine frenzy rolling" sometimes 
deigned to cast a wishful squint on the riches and honours enjoyed by the 
minister and his venal supporters. If he were not apprehensive of hazard- 
ing a ludicrous allusion ( which he knew was always improper on a se- 
rious subject) , he would compare their conduct to that of the sentimental 
alderman in one of Hogarth's prints, who, when his daughter is expi- 
ring, wears indeed a parental face of grkf and solicitude, but it is to 
secure her diamond ring which he is dfawmg gently from her finger." 

" Mr. Sheridan ( says the report ) rose and reprehended Mr. Courtenay 
for turning every thing that passed into ridicule ; for having introduced 
into the House a style of reasoning, in his opinion , every way unsuitable 
to the gravity and importance of the subjects that came under their dis- 
cussion. If they would not act with dignity , he thought they might , at 
least, debate with decency. He would not attempt to answer Mr. Cour- 
tenay's arguments , for it was impossible seriously to reply to what , in 
every part, had an infusion of ridicule in it. Two of the honourable gentle- 
man's similes , however, he must take notice of. The one was his having 
insinuated that Opposition was envious of those who basked in court 
sunshine ; and desirous merely to get into their places. He begged leave to 
remind the honourable gentleman that, though the sun afforded a genial 
warmth, it also occasioned an intemperate heat, that tainted and infected 
every thing it reflected on. That this excessive heat tended to corrupt as 
well as to cherish; to putrefy as well as to animate; to dry and soak up 
the wholesome juices Of the body politic, and turn the whole of it into 
one mass of corruption. If those, therefore, who sat near him did not 
enjoy so genial a warmth as the honourable gentleman , and those who 
like him kept close to the noble Lord in the blue ribbon , he was certain 
they breathed a purer air, an air less infected and less corrupt." 

This florid style, in which Mr. Sheridan was not very happy, he 
but rarely used in his speeches afterwards. 

The first important subject that drew forth any thing like a dis- 
play of his oratory was a motion which he made on the 5lh of 
March, 1781 , " For the better regulation of the Police' of West- 
minster/' The chief object of the motion was to expose the un- 
constitutional exercise of the prerogative that had been assumed , 
in employing the military to suppress the late riots , without wait- 
ing for the authority of the civil power. These disgraceful riots. 



17* MEMOIRS 

which proved to what Chrislianly consequences Ihe cry of " No 
Popery" may lead, had the effect, which follows all tumultuary 
movements of the people , of arming the Government with new 
powers, and giving birth to doctrines and precedents permanently 
dangerous to liberty. It is a little remarkable that the policy of 
blending the army with the people, and considering soldiers as citi- 
zens , which both Montesquieu and Blackstone recommend as fa- 
vourable lo freedom , should , as applied by Lord Mansfield on this 
occasion , be pronounced , and perhaps with more justice , hostile 
to it; the tendency of such a practice being, it was said, lo 
weaken lhat salutary jealousy, with which the citizens of a free slate 
should ever regard a soldier, and thus familiarise theuseoflhis 
dangerous machine , in every possible service lo which capricious 
power may apply il. The opposition did not deny that (he measure 
of ordering out Ihe military , and empowering their officers to act 
at discretion without any reference to the civil magistrate, was, 
however unconstitutional not o0y justifiable but wise, in a moment 
of such danger. But the refusal of Ihe Minisler lo acknowledge Ihe 
illegality of the proceeding by applying to the House for an Act of 
Indemnity, and the transmission of Ihe same discrelionary orders lo 
Ihe soldiery Ihroughoul the country where no such imminent neces- 
sity called for it, were the points upon which the conduct of the 
Government was strongly, and nol unjustly, censured. 

Indeed , the manifest design of the Ministry, at this crisis, lo avail 
themselves of the impression produced by Ihe riols , as a means of 
extending the frontier of their power, and fortifying Ihe doctrines by 
which they defended il , spread an alarm among Ihe friends of consli- 
lulional principles , which the language of some of the advocates of 
the Court was by no means calculaled lo allay. Among others, a Noble 
Earl , one of those awkward worshippers of power, who bring ri- 
dicule alike upon their idol and themselves, had the foolish effron- 
tery, in the House of Lords, to eulogise the moderalion which His 
Majesty had displayed, in not following the recent example of the 
king of Sweden, and employing the sword , with which the hour of 
difficulty had armed him, for the subversion of Ihe Constitution and 
the eslablishmenl of despotic power. Though this was the mere 
ebullition of an absurd individual , yet the bubble on Ihe surface 
often proves the strength of the spirit underneath, and the public 
were justified by a combination of circumstances , in attributing 
designs of the mosl arbitrary nature to such a Court and such an 
Administration. Meetings were accordingly held in some of the prin- 
cipal counties , and resolutions passed, condemning the late un- 
constitutional employment of Ihe military. Mr. Fox had adverted to 
il strongly at the opening of the Session, and it is a proof oftho 



OF II. B. SHKR1DAN. 17-1 

L-slimation in whichMr. Sheridan already stood with his parly , lhat 
he was the person selected to faring forward a motion, upon a sub- 
ject in which the feelings of the public were so much interested. In 
Hie course of his speech he said : 

."If this doctrine was to be laid down, that the Crown could give 
orders to the military to interfere , when , where, and for what length of 
lime it pleases, then we might bid farewell to freedom. If this was tlic 
l;i\\ , we should then be reduced to a military government of the very 
worst species, in which we should have all the evils of a despotic state , 
without the discipline or the security- But we were given to understand , 
that we had the best protection against this evil , in the virtue , the mode- 
ration , and the constitutional principles of the sovereign. IS'o man upon 
earth thought with more reverence than himself of the virtues and mo- 
deration of the sovereign ; but this was a species of liberty which he 
trusted would never disgrace an English soil. The liberty that rested on 
the virtuous inclinations of any one man , was but suspended despotism ; 
the sword was not indeed upon their necks, but it hung by the small 
and brittle thread of human will." 

The following passage of this speech affords an example of that 
sort of antithesis of epithet , which , as has been already remarked , 
was one of the most favourite contrivances of his style : 

" Was not the conduct of that man or men criminal , who had permit- 
ted those Justices to continue in the commission ? Men of tried inability 
and convicted deficiency I Had no attempt been made to establish some 
more effectual system of police, in oi'der that we might still depend upon 
the remedy of the bayonet, and that the military power might be called 
in to the aid of contrived weakness and deliberate inattention ? " 

One of the few inslances in which he ever differed with his friend , 
Mr. Fox, occurred during this session , upon the subject of a Bill 
which the latter introduced for the Repeal of the Marriage Act , and 
which he prefaced by a speech as characteristic of the ardour, the 
simplicity, the benevolence and fearlessness of his disposition , as 
any ever pronounced by him in public. Some parts , indeed , of this 
remarkable speech are in a strain of feeling so youthful and roman- 
tic , that they seem more fit to be addressed to one of those Parlia- 
ments of Love , which were held during the times of Chivalry, than 
to a grave assembly employed about the sober realities of life , and 
legislating with a view to the infirmities of human- nature. 

The hostility of Mr. Fox to the Marriage Act was hereditary, as 
it had been opposed with eqifal vehemence by his father, on its first 
introduction in 1753, when a debate not less memorable took place, 
and when Sir Dudley Ryder, the Attorney general of the day, did 
not hesitate to advance, as one of his arguments in favour of the 
I Jill, that it would lend to keep the aristocracy of the country pure, 



174 MEMOIRS 

and prevent their mixture by intermarriage with the mass of the 
people. However this anxiety for the "streams select " of noble 
blood , or views , equally questionable , for the accumulation of pro- 
perty in great families, may have influenced many of those with 
whom the Bill originated , however cruel , too , and mischievous , 
some of its enactments may be deemed, yet the general effect which 
the measure was intended to produce , of diminishing as much as 
possible the number of imprudent marriages , by allowing the pilo- 
tage of parental authority to continue till the first quicksands of 
youth are passed, is, by the majority of the civilised world, acknow- 
ledged to be desirable and beneficial. Mr. Fox, however, thought 
otherwise , and though " bowing ," as he said , " to the prejudices 
of mankind," he consented to fix the. age at which young people 
should be marriageable without the consent of parents , at sixteen 
years for the woman and eighteen for the man , his own opinion 
was decidedly for removing all restriction whatever, and for leaving 
the " heart of youth ," which , in these cases, was " wiser lhan the 
head of age," without limit or controul, to the choice which its own 
desires dictated. 

He was opposed in his arguments , not only by Mr. . Sheridan , 
but by Mr. Burke , whose speech on this occasion was found among 
his manuscripts after his death , and is enriched , though short , by 
some of those golden sentences , which he " scattered from his urn " 
upon every subject that came before him '. Mr. Sheridan , for whose 
opinions upon this subject the well-known history of his own mar- 
riage must have secured no ordinary degree of attention, remarked 
that 

"His honourable friend, who brought in the Bill, appeared not to be 
aware that, if he carried the clause enabling girls to marry at sixteen, he 
would do an injury to that liberty of which he had always shown himself 
the friend , and promote domestic tyranny, which he could consider only 
as little less intolerable than public tyranny. If girls were allowed to marry 
at sixteen , they would , he conceived , be abridged of that happy free- 
dom of intercourse , which modern custom had introduced between the 
youth of both sexes ; and which was, in his opinion , the best nursery of 
happy marriages. Guardians would, in I hat case, look on their wards 
with a jealous eye , from a fear that footmen and those about them might 

1 la alluding to Mr. Fox's too favourable estimate of the capability of very 
young persons to choose for themselves, he pays the following tribute to his 
powers: "He is led into it by a natural and to him inevitable and real mistake, 
that the ordinary race of mankind advance as fast towards maturity of judgment 
and understanding as he has done." His concluding words are : " Have mercy on 
the yon th of both sexes; protect them from their ignorance and 'inexperience; 
protect one part of life by the wisdom of another; protect them by the wisdom 
of laws and the care of nature." 



OF R- B. SHERIDA1N. m 

take advantage of their tender years and immature judgment , and per- 
suade them into marriage , as soon as they attained the age of sixteen." 

It seems somewhat extraordinary that , during the very busy in- 
terval which passed between Mr. Sheridan's first appearance in Par- 
liament and his appointment under Lord Rockingham's administra- 
tion in 1782, he should so rarely* have taken a part in the debates 
that occurred interesting as they were , not only from the import- 
ance of the topics discussed , but from the more than usual anima- 
tion now infused into the warfare of parties , by the last desperate 
struggles of the Ministry and the anticipated triumph of the Oppo- 
sition. Among the subjects , upon which he appears to have been 
rather unaccountably silent , was the renewal of Mr. Burke's Bill 
for the Regulation 'of the Civil List, an occasion memorable as 
having brought forth the maiden speech of Mr. Pitt , and witnessed 
the first accents of that eloquence , which was destined , ere long , 
to sound , like the shell of Misenus, through Europe, and call kings 
and nations to battle by its note. The debate upon the legality of 
petitions from delegated bodies , in which Mr. Dunning sustained 
his high and rare character of a patriot lawyer ; the bold proposal 
of Mr. Thomas Pitt, that the Commons should withhold the> sup- 
plies , till pledges of amendment in the administration of public af- 
fairs should be given ; the Bill for the exclusion of Excise Officers 
and Contractors from Parliament, which it was reserved for a Whig 
Administration to pass ; these and other great constitutional ques- 
tions , through which Mr. Burke and Mr. Fox fought , side by side , 
lavishing at every step the inexhaustible ammunition of their intel- 
lect, seem to have passed away without once calling into action the 
powers of their new and brilliant auxiliary, Sheridan. 

The affairs of Ireland , too , had assumed at this period , under 
the auspices of. Mr. G rattan and the example of America , a character 
of grandeur, as passing & it was bright , but which will long be 
remembered with melancholy pride by her sons , and as long recall 
the memory of that admirable man , to whose patriotism she owed 
her brief day of freedom , and upon whose name that momentary 
sunshine of her sad history rests. An opportunity of adverting to the 
events , which had lately taken place in Ireland , was afforded by 
Mr. Fox in" a motion for the re-commitment of the Mutiny Bill; 
and on this subject , perhaps , the silence of Mr. Sheridan may be 
accounted for, from his reluctance to share the unpopularity at- 
tached by his countrymen to those high notions of the supremacy 
of England , which , on the great question of the independence of 
the Irish Parliament, bo^thMr. Fox and Mr. Burke were known to 
entertain '. 

1 As the few benntiful sentences spoken by Burke On this occasion, in support 



17<i MEMOIRS 

Even .on the subject of the American war, which was now the 
important point that called forth all the resources of attack and de- 
fence on both sides , the co-operation of Mr. Sheridan appears lo 
have beefl but rare and casual. The only occasions , indeed , con- 
nected with this topic upon which I can trace him as having spoken 
at any length , were the charges brought forward by Mr. Fox against 
the Admiralty, for their mismanagement of the naval affoirs of 1781 , 
and the Resolution of censure on His Majesty's Ministers moved by 
Lord John Cavendish. His remarks in the latter debate upon the two 
different sets of opinions , by which ( as by the double soul , ima- 
gined in Xenophon ) the speaking and the voting of Mr. Rigby were 
actuated , are very happy : 

" The Right Hon. Gentleman , however, had acted in this day's debate 
with perfect consistency. He had assured the House that he thought the 
Noble Lord ought to resign his office ; and yet he would give his vote for 
his remaining in it. In the same manner he had long declared, that he 
thought the American war ought to be abandoned ; yet had uniformly 
given his vole for its continuance He did not mean, however, to insi- 
nuate any motives for such conduct ; he believed the Right Hon. Gentle- 
man to have been sincere; he believed that, as a member of Parliament, 
as a Privy Counsellor , as a private gentleman , he had always detested tin- 
American war as much as any man; but that he had never been able lo 
persuade the Paymaster that it was a bad war; and unfortunately, in 
whatever character he spoke, it was the Paymaster who always voted in 
that House." 

The infrequency of Mr. Sheridan's exertions upon the American 
question combines with other circumstances to throw some doubts 
upon an anecdote , which has been , however, communicated to me 
as coming from an authority, worthy in every respect of the most 
implicit belief. He is said to have received, towards the close of 
this war, a letter from one of the leading^persons of the American 
Government , expressing high admiration of his talents and political 
principles , and informing hjm that the sum of twenty thousand 
pounds had been deposited for him in the hands of a certain banker, 

of his friend's motion, have been somewhat strangely omitted in the professed 
Collection of all his Speeches, I shall give them here as they are reported in the 
Parliamentary History: " Mr. Burke said, so many and such great revolutions 
had happened of late, that he was not much surprised to hear the Right Hon. 
Gentleman (Mr. Jeukinson) treat the loss of the supremacy of this country over 
Ireland as a matter of very little consequence. Thus, one star, and that the 
brightest ornament of our orrery, having been suffered to be lost, those who 
were accustomed to inspect and watch our political heaven ought not to wonder 
that it should be followed by the loss of another. 

So star would -follow star, and light light , 
Till all was darkness and eternal night." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 177 

as a mark of the value which the American people attached to his 
services in the cause of liberty. To this Mr. S. returned an answer 
( which, as well as the letter, was seen, it is said , by the person 
with whom the anecdote originated ) full of the most respectful gra- 
titude for the opinion entertained of his services, but begging leave 
to decline a gift under such circumstances. That this would have 
been the nature of his answer, had any such proposal occurred , 
tlie generally high tone of his political conduct forbids us to feel any 
doubt , but, with respect to the credibility of the transaction allo- 
getheV, it is far less easy to believe that the Americans had so much 
money to give , than that Mr. Sheridan should have been sufficiently 
high-minded to refuse it. 

Not only were the occasions very few and select , on which he 
offered himself to the attention of the House at this period, but, 
whenever he did speak , it was concisely and unpretendingly, with 
the manner of a person who came to learn a new road to fame, 
not of one who laid claim to notice upon the credit of the glory he 
brought with him. Mr. Fox used to say that he considered his con- 
duct in this respect as a most striking proof of his sagacity and good 
taste-, such rare and unassuming displays of his talents being the 
only effectual mode he could have adopted , to win on the attention 
of his audience and gradually establish himself in their favour. He 
had , indeed , many difficulties and disadvantages to encounter, of 
which his own previous reputation was not the least. Not only did 
he risk a perilous comparison between his powers as a speaker and 
his fame as a writer, but he had also to contend with that feeling of 
monopoly, which pervades the more worldly classes of talent , and 
which would lead politicians to regard as an intruder upon their 
craft , a man of genius thus aspiring to a station among them , with- 
out the usual qualifications of either birth or apprenticeship to entitle 
him to it ' . In an assembly too, whose deference for rank and pro- 
perly is such as to render it lucky that these instruments of influence 
are so often united with honesty and talent, the son of an actor and 
proprietor of a theatre had , it must be owned , most fearful odds 

1 There is an anecdote strongly illustrative of this observation , quoted by 
Lord John Rnssel in his able and lively work "On the affairs of Earope from the 
Peace of Utrecht." Mr. Stecle (in alluding to Sir Thomas Hantner's opposition 
to the Commercial Tre:ily in 1714) said, "I rise to do him honour" on which 
many members who had before tried to interrupt him, called ont 'Taller, Taller;' 
and , as he went down the Hon.se, several said ' It is not so easy a thing to speak 
in the House;' 'He fancies, because he can scribble, etc. etc.' Slight circum- 
stances, indeed, (adds Lord John,) but which show at once the indisposition of 
the House to the Whig party, and the natural envy of mankind, long ago re- 
marked bv Cicero, towards all who attempt to gain more than one kind of pre- 
eminence. 

12 



178 MEMOIRS 

against him , in entering into competition with the sons of Lord Hol- 
land and Lord Chatham. 

With the same discretion that led him to obtrude himself but 
seldom on the House, he never spoke at this period but after careful 



and even verbal preparation. Like most of our great orators at the 
commencement of their careers , he was in the habit of writing out 
his speeches before he delivered them ; and , though subsequently 
he scribbled these preparatory sketches upon detached sheets , I 
find that he began by using for this purpose the same sort of copy- 
books, which he had employed in the first rough draughts of his 
plays. 

However ill the affairs of the country were managed by Lord 
North, in the management of Parliament few ministers have been 
more smoothly dexterous ; and through the whole course of those 
infatuated measures, which are now delivered over, without appeal , 
to the condemnation of History, he was cheered along by as full and 
triumphant majorities , as ever followed in the wake of ministerial 
power. At length , however, the spirit of the people , that last and 
only resource against the venality of parliaments and the obstinacy 
of kings, was roused from its long and dangerous sleep by the un- 
paralleled exertions of the Opposition leaders, and spoke out with 
a voice, always awfully intelligible, against the men and the mea- 
sures that had brought England lo the brink of ruin. The effect of 
'his popular fooling soon showed itself in the upper regions. The 
country-genllemen , those birds of political omen, whose migra- 
tions are so portentous of a change of weather, began to flock in 
numbers lo the brightening quarter of Opposition ; and, at last, Lord 
North , after one or two signal defeats ( in spite even of which the 
Court for some lime clung to him , as the only hope of its baffled , 
but persevering revenge ) , resigned Hie seals of office in the month 
of March, 1782, and an entirely new administration was formed 
under the promising auspices of the Marquis of Rockingham. 

Mr. Sheridan, as might be expected, shared in the triumph of his 
party, by being appointed one of the Under Secretaries of State ; 
and, no doubt, looked forward to a long and improving tenure of 
that footing in office which his talents had thus early procured for 
him. But , however prosperous on the surface the complexion of tho 
ministry might be , its intestine state was such as did not promise a 
very long existence. Whiggism is a sort of political Protestantism , 
and pays a similar tax for the freedom of its creed , in the multipli- 
city of opinions which thai very freedom engenders while true 
Toryism , like Popery, holding her children together by the one 
common doctrine of the infallibility of the Throne, takes care to 
repress any schism inconvenient to their general interest . and keeps 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 179 

them . at least for all intents and purposes of place-holding , unani- 
mous. 

Between the two branches of Opposition that composed the pre- 
sent administration there were some very important , if not essential , 
differences of opinion. Lord Shelburne, the pupil and friend of Lord 
Chatham , held the same high but unwise opinions, with respect to 
the recognition of American independence , which " the swan-like 
end " of that great man has consecrated in our imagination , how- 
ever much our reason may condemn them. "Whenever," said Lord 
Shelburne, " the Parliament of Great Britain shall acknowledge the 
independence of America, from that moment the sun of England is 
set for ever." With regard to the affairs of India , too , and the pu- 
nishment of those who were accused of mismanaging them , the 
views of the noble Lord wholly differed from those of Mr. Fox and his 
followers as appeared from the decided part in favour of Mr. Hast- 
ings, which he took in the subsequent measure of the Impeachment. 
In addition to these fertile seeds of disunion , the retention in the 
cabinet of a person like Lord Thurlow, whose views of the Constitu- 
tion were all through the wrong end of the telescope, and who did 
not even affect to conceal his hostility to the principles of his col- 
leagues , seemed such a provision , at starting , for the embarrass- 
ment of the Ministry, as gave but very little hope of its union or 
stability. 

The only Speech, of which any record remains, as having been 
delivered by Mr. Sheridan during his short official career., was upon 
a motion made by Mr. Eden, the late Secretary for Ireland, " to 
repeal so much of the Act of George I. as asserted a right in the King 
and Parliament of Great Britain , to make laws to bind the Kingdom 
of Ireland." This motion was intended to perplex the new ministers, 
who , it was evident from the speech of Mr.Fox on the subject, had 
not yet made up their minds to that surrender of the Legislative Su- 
premacy of Great Britain , which Ireland now, with arms in her 
hands , demanded '. Mr. Sheridan concurred with the Honourable 
Secretary in deprecating such a hasty and insidious agitation of the 
question, but at the same lime expressed, in a much more unhesitat- 
ing manner, his opinion of that Law of Subjection from which Ire- 
land now rose to release herself: 

1 Mr. Fox, in his speech upon the Commercial Propositions of 1785, acknow- 
ledged the reluctance thai was felt ai ihis period, in surrendering the power of 
external or commercial legislation over Ireland: "a power," he said, "which, 
in their struggles for independence, the Irish had imprudently insisted on having 
abolished, and which be had himself given up in compliance with ihe strong 
pii-jndices of that nation, though with a reluctance that nothing but irresistible 
necessity could have overcome." 



ISO MEMOIRS 

"If lie declared himself ( he said) so decided an enemy to the principle 
of the Declaratory Law in question, which he had always regarded as a 
tyrannous usurpation in this country, he yet could not but reprohate the 
motives which influenced the present mover for its repeal but, if the 
House divided on it , he should vote with him." 

The general sense of the House being against the motion , it was 
withdrawn. But the spirit of the Irish nation had advanced too Tar 
on its march, to be called back even by the most friendly voice. AH 
that now remained for the ministers was to yield, with a confiding 
frankness , what the rash measures of their predecessors and the 
weakness of England had put it out of their power with safety to 
refuse. This policy, so congenial to the disposition of Mr. Fox, was 
adopted. His momentary hesitation was succeeded by such a prompt 
and generous acquiescence in the full demands of the Irish Parlia- 
ment , as gave all the grace of a favour to what necessity would , at 
all events, have extorted and , in the spirited assertion of the rights 
of freemen on one side , and the cordial and entire recognition of 
them on the other, the names of Grattan and Fox, in that memor- 
able moment , reflected a lustre on each other which associates them 
in its glory for ever. 

Another occasion upon which Mr. Sheridan spoke while in office, 
though no report of his Speech has been preserved was a motion 
for a Committee to examine into the State of the Representation , 
brought forward by the youthful reformer, Mr. William Pitt, whose 
/eal in the cause of freedom was at (hat time, perhaps , sincere, and 
who little dreamed of the war he was destined to wage with it after- 
wards. Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan spoke strongly in favour of (he 
motion , while , in compliance with the request of the former , 
Mr. Burke absented himself from the discussion giving the cause 
of Reform , for once , a respite from the thunders of his eloquence, 
like the sleep of Jove in Homer, which leaves the Greeks for the mo- 
ment masters of the field * 



Notwithstanding all this , however, the question was lost by a majo- 
rity of 161 to 141. 

Immediately on his accession to office , 31 r. Sheridan received the 
following letter from his brother Charles Francis , who had been 
called to the Irish bar in 1778 or 9, but was at this time practising as 
a Special Pleader : 

" DEAR DICK , Dublin, March 17 , 1787. 

" T am much obliged to you foryour early intelligence concerning tlie 

1 " And , while the moment lasts of Jove's repose , 

Make victory theirs." COWI-ER. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 181 

fate of the Ministry, and give you joy on the occasion, notwithstanding 
your sorro\V for the departure of the good Opposition. I understand very 
well what you mean by this sorrow hut as you may be now in a situa- 
tion in which you may obtain some substantial advantage for yourself, 
for God's sake improve the opportunity to the utmost, and don't let 
dreams of empty fame (of which you have had enough in conscience) 
curn you away from your solid interests. 

" I return you many thanks for Fox's letter. I mean for your intention 
to make him write one for as your good intentions always satisfy your 
conscience , and that you seem to think the carrying them into execution 
to be a mere trifling ceremony , as well omitted as not, your friends must 
always take the will for the deed. I will forgive you, however, on con- 
dition that you will for once in your life consider, that though the will 
alone may perfectly satisfy yourself, your friends would be a little more 
gratified if they were sometimes to see it accompanied by the deed -and 
let me be I he first upon whom you try the experiment. If the people here 
are not to share the fate of their patrons, but are suffered to continue in 
the government of this country, 1 believe you will have it in your power, 
as I am certain it will be in your inclination, to fortify my claims upon 
them by recommendations from your side of the water, in such a manner 
as to insure to me what I have a right to expect from them , but of which 
I can have no certainty without that assistance. 1 wish the present people 
may continue here, because I certainly have claims upon them , and con- 
sidering the footing that Lord C and Charles Fox are on , a recom- 
mendation from the latter would now have every weight, it would be 
draw ing a bill upon Government here, payable at sight, which they dare 
not protest. So , dear Dick, I shall rely upon you that will really be done : 
and , to confess the truth, unless it be done and that speedily, 1 shall 
be completely ruined , for this damned annuity , payable to my uncle , 
plays the devil with me. If there is any intention of recalling the people 
here, I beg you will let me know it as soon as possible, that I may take 
my measures accordingly, and I think I may rely upon you also that. 

whoever comes ovej here as Lord I. 1, I shall not be forgot among 

the number of those who shall be recommended to them. 

" As to our politics here, I send you a newspaper, read the resolu- 
tions of the volunteers, and you will be enabled to form some idea of the 
spirit which at present pervades this country. A declaration of the inde- 
pendency of our Parliament upon yours will certainly pass our House of 
Commons immediately after the recess ; government here dare not , 
cannot oppose it ; you will see the volunteers have pledged their lives and 
fortunes in support of the measure. The grand juries of every county have 
followed their example, and Some of the staunchest friends of govern- 
ment have been , much against their inclinations , compelled to sign the 
most spirited Resolutions. 

" A call of the House is ordered for the first Tuesday after the recess, 
and circular letters from the Speaker worded in this remarkable manner, 
" that the members do attend on that day as they tender the rights of 
Ireland. " In short, nothing will satisfy the people but the most unequi- 
vocal assertion of the total independence of the Irish legislatun Tlnv 
Hame has been raised within this six weeks , and is entirely owing cithi-i 



l2 MEMOIRS 

to the insidious design or unpardonable inattention of the late adininis r 
tration , in including , or suffering to ,be included , the name of Ireland in 
no less than five British statutes passed last sessions. People here were 
ignorant of this till Grattan produced the five Acts to the House of Corn 
inons , one of which Eden had been so imprudent as to publish in the 
Dublin Gazette. Previous to this the general sense of the country was, 
that the mere question of right should be suffered to sleep, provided the 
exercise of the power claimed under it should never again be resorted to 
in a single instance. 

The sooner you repeal the tkh of G. I, the better; for, believe me, 
nothing short of that can now preserve union and cordiality between the 
two countries. 

I hope my father and you are very good friends by this. I shall not be 
able to send you the remaining 5o/. till October, as I have been disap- 
pointed as to the time of payment of the money I expected to receive this 
month. Let me entreat you to write to me shortly a feu words. I beg 
my love to Mrs. S. and Tom. 

" I am , dear Dick , 

" Your very affectionate brother, 

" C. F. SHERIDAN." 

The expectations of the writer of this letter were not disappointed. 
The influence of Mr. Sheridan , added to his own claims , procured 
for him the office of Secretary of War in Ireland , a situation , 
which the greater pliancy of his political principles contrived to 
render a more permanent benefit to him than any that his Whig 
brother was ever able to secure for himself. 

The death of the Marquis of Rockingham broke up this short- 
lived Ministry, which , during the four months of its existence, did 
more perhaps for the principles of the Constitution, than any one 
administration that England had seen since the Revolution. They 
were betrayed , it is true , into a few awkward overflowings of 
loyalty, which the rare access of Whigs to the throne may at once 
account for and excuse : and Burke , in particular , has left us a 
specimen of his taste for extremes, in that burst of optimism with 
which he described the King's message, as "the best of messages 
lo the best of people from the best of kings. 1 ' But these first effects of 
the atmosphere of a court , upon heads unaccustomed to it , are na- 
tural and harmless Awhile the measures that passed during that 
brief interval, directed against the sources of Parliamentary corrup- 
tion , and confirmatory of the best principles of the Constitution 
must ever be remembered to the honour of the party from which 
they emanated. The exclusion of contractors from the House of 
Commons the disqualifications of revenue-officers from voting at 
elections the disfranchisement of corrupt voters at Cricklade , by 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 183 

which a second precedent ' N\;IS furnished towards thai plan of gra- 
dual Reform, which has, in our own lime , been so forcibly re- 
commended by Lord John Russel the diminution of Iho patronage 
of the Crown. b> Mr. lUnke s celebrated Bill* the return to the 
old constitutional practice 3 of making the revenues of UK- Crown 
pa\ olT their own incumbrances , which salutary principle was again 
lost in the hands of Mr. Pitt the atonement at last made to the vio- 
lated rights of electors, by the rescinding of the Resolutions relative 
to'Wilkes the frank and cordial understanding entered into with 
Ireland , which identiiies the memory of Mr. Fox and this ministry 
w'Hh the only oasis in the whole desert of Irish history so many 
and such important recognitions of the best principles of Whiggism, 
followed up, as they were, by the Resolutions of Lord John Ca- 
vendish at the close of the Session , pledging the ministers to a per- 
severance in the same task of purificntion and retrenchment, give 
an aspect to this short period of the annals of the late reign , to 
which the eye turns for relief from the arbitrary complexion of the 
rest \ and furnish us with , at least , one consoling instance , where 
the principles professed by statesmen when in opposition , were re- 
tained and sincerely acted upon by them in power. 

On the death of the Marquis of Rockingham , Lord Shelburne , 
without, as it appears, consulting any of the persons attached to 
that nobleman , accepted the office of first Lord of the Treasury ; in 
consequence of which Mr. Fox , and the greater number of his 
friends among whom were Mr. Burke and Mr. Sheridan sent in 
their resignations-, while General Cohway, the Duke of Richmond, 
and one or two other old allies of the parly, remained in office. 

To a disposition so social as that of Mr. Fox , the frequent inter- 
ruptibn arid even loss of friendships, which he had to sustain in the 
course of his political career, must have been a sad alloy to its plea- 
sure and its pride. The fable of the sheep that leaves its fleece on the 
bramble bush is but loo apt an illustration of the fate of him, who 
thus sees himself stripped of the comforts of friendship by the tena- 
cious and thorny hold of politics. On the present occasion, how- 
ever, the desertion of his standard by a few 'who had followed Him 
cordially in his ascent to power, but did not show the same alacrity 
in accompanying his voluntary fall , was amply made up to him by 
the ready devotion , with which the rest of the party shared his for- 

1 The first was that of (he borough of Shoreham in 1771. 
* This Kill, though its circle of retrenchment was, as might be expected v con 
sileralih nan-ownl, when the Treasury ttench became the centre from which he 
<le.icril>rd it, wa.-> yet eminently useful , as an acknowledgment from ininisli-i i;l 
nnli,, riiy of ihe necessity of such occasional curtailment* of the Koyal inflaeiioe. 
1 Kirst clvparted from in 17(i!). Sec liurke\s powerful exposure of llu- mitc-hief* 
'-I this innovation, in his "Thoughts ou the Cause* <>l tin- PH-MMI' Di.-conlculs,' 



184 MEMOIRS 

tunes. The disinterestedness of Sheridan was the more meritorious , 
if , as there is every reason to believe , be considered the step of 
resignation at such a moment to be, at least, hasty, if not wholly 
wrong. In this light it was, indeed , viewed by many judicious per- 
sons at the time , and the assurances given by the Duke of Rich- 
mond and General Conway, of the continued adherence of the ca- 
binet to the same principles and measures, to which they were 
pledged at the first formation of the ministry, would seem to confirm 
the justice of the opinion. So much temper, however, had , during 
the few months of their union, been fermenting between the two 
great masses of which the administration was composed , that it 
would have been difficult , if not impossible , for the Rockingham 
party to rally, with any cordiality, round Lord Shelburne, as a 
leader however they might still have been contented to co-operate 
with him , had he remained in the humble station which he himself 
had originally selected. That noble Lord , loo, who felt that the sa- 
crifice which he had considerately made , in giving up the supre- 
macy of station to Lord Rockingham , had , so far from being duly 
appreciated by his colleagues , been repaid only with increased alie- 
nation and distrust , could hardly be expected to make a second 
surrender of his advantages, in favour of persons \vho had, he 
thought , so ungraciously requited him for the first. In the mean 
lime the Court, to which the Rockingham parly was odious, had, 
with its usual policy, hollowed the ground beneath them , so as to 
render their footing neither agreeable nor safe. The favourite object 
in that quarter being to compose a ministry of those convenient in- 
gredients , called ^ King's friends," Lord Shelburne was but made 
use of as a temporary inslrumenl , to clear away, in the first place, 
the chief obstacles to such an arrangement , and then , in his turn , 
be sacrificed himself as soon as a more subservient system could be 
organised. It was , indeed , only upon a strong representation from 
his Lordship of the impossibility of carrying on his government 
against such an Opposition , without the infusion of fresh and po- 
pular talent , that the royal consent was obtained to the appointment 
of 3Ir. Pitt the memory of whose uncompromising father, as well 
as the first achievements on his own youthful shield , rendered him 
no very promising accession to such a scheme of government , as 
was evidently then contemplated by the Court. 

In this slate of affairs , the resignation of Mr. Fox and his friends 
was but a prompt and spirited anticipation of what must inevitably 
have taken place , under circumstances much less redounding to the 
credit of their independence and disinterestedness. There is little 
doubt, indeed, that with the great majority of the nation , Mr. Fox 
by this step considerably added to his popularity and , if ^e w ere 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN 18. r 

desired to point out the meridian moment of his fame , we should fix 
it perhaps at (his splendid epoch , before the ill-fated Coalition had 
damped the confidence of his friends , or the ascendancy of his great 
rival had multiplied the number of his enemies. 

There is an anecdote of Mr. Burke , connected with this period , 
the credibility of which must be left to the reader's own judgment. 
11 is said that, immediately upon the retirement of Mr. Fox, while 
Lord John Cavendish ( whose resignation was for a short lime de- 
layed by the despatch of some official business), was still a minister, 
Mr. Burke , with a retrospect to the sweets of office which showed 
that he had not wholly left hopfc behind , endeavoured to open a ne- 
gotiation through the medium of Lord John , for the purpose of pro- 
curing , by some arrangement , either for himself or his son , a Tel- 
lership then in the possession of a relative of LordOrford. It is but 
fair to add, that this curious anecdote rests chiefly upon the autho- 
rity of the latter nobleman *. The degree of faith it receives will, 
therefore , depend upon the balance that may be struck in our com- 
parative estimate between the disinterestedness of Burke and the ve- 
racity of Lord Or ford. 

At the commencement of the following session that extraordinary 
Coalition was declared, which had the ill-luck attributed to the con- 
junction of certain planets , and has shed an unfavourable influence 
over the political world ever since. Little is, I believe, known. of 
the private negotiations that led to this ill-assorted union of parties ; 
but, from whichever side the first advances may have come, the 
affair seems to have been despatched with the rapidity of a Siamese 
courtship-, and while to Mr. Eden (afterwards Lord Auckland) is 
attributed the credit of having gained Lord North's consent to the 
union , Mr. Burke is generally supposed to have been the person 
who sung the." Hymen, oh Hymena3e," in the ears of Mr. Fox. 

With that sagacity, which in general directed his political views, 
Mr. Sheridan foresaw all the consequences of such a defiance of 
public opinion , and exerted , it is said , the whole power of his per- 
suasion and reasoning , to turn aside his sanguine and uncalculating 
friend from a measure so likely to embarrass his future career. 
Unfortunately, however, the advice was not taken , and a person , 
who witnessed the close of a conversation , in which Sheridan had 
been making a last effort to convince Mr. Fox of the imprudence of 
the step he was about to lake , heard the latter, at parting , express 
liis final resolution in the following decisive words : " II is as 
fixed as the Hanover succession." 

To the general principle of Coalitions , and the expediency and 

1 Unpublished I'apcts. 



I8fi MEMOIRS 

even duty of forming them , in conjunclures that require and justify 
such a sacrifice oflhe distinctions of party, no objection, it appears to 
me, can rationally be made by those who are satisfied with the manner 
in which the Constitution has worked, since the new modification 
of its machinery introduced at the Revolution. The Revolution 
itself was, indeed, brought about by a Coalition , in which Tories, 
surrendering their doctrines of submission , arrayed themselves by 
the side of Whigs , in defence of their common liberties. Another 
Coalition , less important in its object and effects, but still attended 
with results most glorious to the country, was that which look place 
in the year 1757, when , by a union of parties from whose dis- 
sension much mischief had flowed, the interests of both king and 
people were reconciled, and the good genius of England triumphed 
at home and abroad. 

On occasions like these , when the public liberty or safety is in 
peril , it is the duty of every honest statesman to say, with the Roman , 
" JVon me impedient privates offensiories , quo minus pro reipu- 
bliccc , salute ctiani cum inimicissimo consentiam." Such cases, 
however, but rarely occur ; and they have been in this respect , 
among others , distinguished from the ordinary occasions, on which 
the ambition or selfishness of politicians resorts to such unions, that 
the voice of the people has called aloud for them in the name of the 
public weal ; and that the cause round which they have rallied has 
be-on sufficiently general , to merge al! party titles in the one un- 
dislinguishing name of Englishman. By neither of these tests can the 
junction between Lord North and Mr. Fox be justified. The people 
at large , so far from calling for this ill-omened alliance , would on 
the contrary to use the language of Mr. Pill have '" forbid the 
banns ; " and . though it is unfair to suppose that the interests of the 
public did not enter into the calculations of the united leaders , yet . 
if Ihe real watchword of their union were to be demanded of them 
in " the Palace of Truth ,"' there can be little doubt that the answer 
of each would be, distinctly and unhesitatingly, " Ambition. 1 ' 

One of the most specious allegations in defence of the measure 
is , thai the extraordinary favour which Lord Shelburne enjoyed at 
courl, and the arbitrary tendencies known to prevail in that quarter, 
portended just then such an overflow of Royal influence , as il was 
necessary to counteract by this double embankment of party. In the 
first place , however, il is by no means so certain that the noble 
minister al Ihis period did actually enjoy such favour. On the con- 
trary, there is every reason to believe that his possession of the Royal 
confidence did not long survive that important service , to which he 
was made instrumental , of clearing the cabinet of the Whigs } and 
that, like the bees of Virgil , he had left the soul of his own power in 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. li|7 

the wound which he had been the means of inflicting upon that of 
others. In the second place, whatever might have been the designs 
of the Court , and of ils encroaching spirit no doubt can be enter- 
tained , Lord Shelburne had assuredly given no grounds for ap- 
prehending , that he would ever, like one of the chiefs of this com- 
bination against him , be brought to lend himself precipitately or 
mischievously to ils views. Though differing from Mr. Fox on some 
important points of policy, and following the example of his friend , 
Lord Chatham , in keeping himself independent of Whig confedera- 
cies , he was not Hie less attached to the true principles of that 
parly, and , throughout his whole political career, invariably main- 
tained them. This argument, therefore , the only plausible one in 
defence of the Coalition , fails in the two chief assumptions on 
which it is founded. 

It has been truly said of Coalitions , considered abstractedly, that 
such a union of parties, when the public good requires it, is to be 
justified on the same grounds on which party itself is vindicated. 
But the more we feel inclined to acknowledge the utility of party, 
the more we must dread and deprecate any unnecessary compromise, 
by which a suspicion of unsoimdness may be brought upon the 
agency of so useful a principle the more we should discourage , as 
a matter of policy, any facility in surrendering those badges of opi- 
nion , on which the eyes of followers are fondly fixed, and by which 
their confidence and spirit are chiefly kept alive the more, too, 
we must lament that a great popular leader, like Mr. Fox, should 
ever have lightly concurred in such a confusion of the boundaries 
of opinion , and , like that mighty river, the Mississippi , whose 
waters lose their own colour in mixing with those of the Missouri , 
have sacrificed the distinctive hue of his own political creed , to this 
confluence of interests with a party so totally opposed to it. 

" Court and country," says Hume ', "which are the genuine 
offspring of the British government , are a kind of mixed parties , 
and are influenced both by principle and by interest. The heads of 
the factions arc commonly most governed by the latter motive \ the 
inferior members of them by the former." Whether this be altogether 
true or not, it will , at least , without much difficulty, be conceded , 
that the lower we descend in the atmosphere of party, the more 
quick and inflammable we find the feeling that circulates through it. 
Accordingly , actions and professions , which , in that region of in- 
difference , high life , may be forgotten as soon as done or uttered , 
become recorded as pledges and standards of conduct , among |,hc 
lower and more earnest adherents of the cause \ and many a question , 

K.ssay "OH the P.-srties of Great Britain." 



188 MEMOIRS 

lhat has ceased to furnish even a jest in the drawing-rooms of the 
great, may be still agitated, as of vital importance, among the 
humbler and less initiated disputants of the party. Such being the 
tenacious nature of partisanship, and such the watch kept upon 
every movement of the higher political bodies , we can well imagine 
what a portent it must appear to distant and unprepared observers , 
when the stars to which they trusted for guidance are seen to " shoot 
madly from their spheres," and not only lose themselves for the 
time in another system , but unsettle all calculations with respect 
to their movements for the future. 

The steps by which , in general , the principals in such transac- 
tions are gradually reconciled to their own inconsistency the ne- 
gotiations that precede and soften down the most salient difficulties 
the value of the advantages gained , in return for opinions sacri- 
ficedthe new points of contact brought out by a change of cir- 
cumstances , and the abatement or extinction of former differences , 
by the remission or removal of the causes lhat provoked them , all 
these conciliatory gradations and balancing adjustments , which to 
those who are in the secret may account for, and more or less 
justify, the alliance of statesmen who differ in their general views of 
politics , are with difficulty, if at all , to be explained to the remote 
multitude of the party, whose habit it is to judge and feel in the 
gross , and who , as in the case of Lord North and Mr. Fox , can see 
only the broad and but too intelligible fact, that the leaders for whom 
both parties had sacrificed so much those on one side their interest, 
and those on the other, perhaps , their consciences had deserted 
them to patch up a suspicious alliance with each other, the only 
open and visible motive to which was the spoil that it enabled them 
to partition between them. 

If, indeed , in lhat barter of opinions and interests , which must 
necessarily lake place in Coalitions between the partisans of Ihe 
People and of Ihc Throne , Ihe former had any thing like an equality 
of chance, the mere probability of gaining thus any concessions in 
favour of freedom might justify to sanguine minds the occasional 
risk of the compromise. But it is evident thai Ihe result of such 
bargains must generally be to the advanlage of the Crown the al- 
luvions of power all naturally tend towards lhat shore. Besides , 
w here there are places as well as principles to be surrendered on one 
side, there must in return be so much more of principles given up 
on the other, as will constitute an equivalent to this double sacrifice. 
The centre of gravity will be sure to lie in that body which contains 
within it the source of emoluments and honours, and the oilier will 
be forced to revolve implicitly round it. 

The only occasion at this period on which Mr. Sheridan seems to 



Ol R. B. SHERIDAN. 189 

have alluded to the Coalition , was during a speech of some length 
on the consideration of the Preliminary Articles of Peace. Finding 
himself obliged to advert to the subject, he chose rather to recri- 
minate on the opposite party for the anomaly of their own alliances, 
than to vindicate that which his distinguished friend had just formed, 
and which, in his heart , as has been already stated, he wholly dis- 
approved. The inconsistency of the Tory Lord Advocate (Dundas) 
in connecting himself with the patron of Equal Representation , 
Mr. Pitt, and his support of that full recognition of American in- 
dependence , against which, under the banners of Lord North , he 
had so obstinately combated , afforded to Sheridan's powers of rail- 
lery an opportunity of display , of which , there is no doubt , he 
\\ilh his accustomed felicity availed himself. The reporter of the 
s[>eech , however, has , as usual , contrived , with an art near akin 
to that of reducing diamonds to charcoal : to turn all the brilliancy 
of his wit into dull and opake verbiage. 

It was during this same debate , that he produced that happy re- 
tort upon Mr. Pitt, which, for good-humoured point and season- 
ableness , has seldom , if ever, been equalled. 

"Mr. Pitt (say the Parliamentary Reports) was pointedly severe on 
the gentlemen who had spoken against the Address, and particularly on 
Mr. Sheridan. ' No man admired more than he did the abilities of that 
Right Honourable Gentleman, the elegant sallies of his thought, the 
gay effusions of his fancy , his dramatic turns and his epigrammatic point ; 
and if they were reserved for the proper stage, they would, no doubt, 
receive, what the Honourable Gentleman's abilities always. did receive, 
tlie plaudits of the audience; and it would be his fortune ' sui plausu 
^audcre tlieatri? But this was not the proper scene for the exhibition of 
I hose elegancies.' Mr. Sheridan, in rising to explain, said that ' On the 
particular sort of personality wbich the Right Honourable Gentleman had 
thought 'proper to make use of, he need not make any comment. The 
propriety, the taste, the gentlemanly point of it, must have been obvious 
to the House. But , said Mr. Sheridan, let me assure the Right Honour- 
able Gentleman, that I do now, and will at any time he chooses to re- 
peat this sort of allusion , meet it with the most sincere good-humour 
Nay, I will say more flattered and encouraged by the Right Honourable 
Gentleman's panegyric on my talents, if ever I again engage in tbe com- 
positions he alludes to , I may be tempted to an act of presumption to 
attempt an improvement on one of Ben Jonson's best characters, tbe 
character of the Angry Boy in the Alchymist. '" 

Mr. Sheridan's connection with the stage , though one of the 
most permanent sources of his glory, was. also a point, upon which, 
al the commencement of his political career , his pride was most 
easily awakened and alarmed. He, himself, used to tell of the fre- 
quent mortifications which he had suffered , when at school , from 



190 MEMOIRS 

taunting allusions lo his father's profession being called by some 
of his school-fellows " the player-boy," etc. Mr. Pitt had therefore 
selected the most sensitive spot for his sarcasm ; and the good tem- 
per as well as keenness, with which the thrust was returned, must 
have been felt even through all that pride of youth and talent, in 
which the new Chancellor of the Exchequer was trvin enveloped. 
There could hardly, indeed, havebeen a much greater service ren- 
dered lo a person in the situation of Mr. Sheridan, than thus afford- 
ing him an opportunity of silencing, once for all, a battery to 
which this weak point of his pride was exposed , and by which he 
might otherwise have been kept in continual alarm. This gentleman- 
like retort, combined with the recollection of his duel, tended to 
place him for the future in perfect security against any indiscreet 
lamperings with his personal history J . 

In the administration , that was now forced upon the court by 
the Coalition, Mr. Sheridan held the office of Secretary of the Trea- 
sury the other Secretary being Mr. Richard Burke, the brother of 
the orator. His exertions in the House , while he held this office , 
Avere chiefly confined to financial subjects , for which he , perhaps , 
at this lime, acquired the tasle, that tempted him afterwards, upon 
most occasions , to bring his arithmetic into the iield against Mr. Pitt. 
His defence of the Receipt Tax, which , like all other long-lived 
taxes , was born with difficulty, appears, as far as we can judge of 
it from the Report, to have been highly amusing. Some country- 
gentleman having recommended a lax upon grave-stones as a substi- 
tute for it, Sheridan replied that 

1 The following /e.7 d'csprit, written by Sheridan himself, upon this occur- 
rence, has been found among his manuscripts : 

" ADVERTISEMENT EXTRAORDINARY. 

" We hear that, in consequence of ahint, lately given in the House of Com- 
mons, the Play of the Alchytnist is certainly to be performed by a set of Gentle- 
men for our diversion, in a private apartment of Buckingham House. 

" The Characters, thus described in the old editions >f Ben Jonson, are to be 
represented in the following manner the old practice of men's playing the female 
parts being adopted : 

" SUBTLE ( the Alchfmist) Lord Sh Ib e. 

FACE (the House-keeper) The Lord Ch 11 or. 

DOLL COMMON (their Colleague}. . The L d Adv c te. 

DRUGGER (a Tobacco- man ). .... Lord Eff ng m. 

EPICURE MAMMON Mr. R gby. 

TRtncLATtON ' Dr J nk s n. 

ANANIAS (a little Pastor) . Mr. H 11. 

K ASTRII.I, ( the Angry Hoy) Mr. W- P tt. 

DAME PLIANT Gen. C nw y. 

and 

SURLY His ." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 19 1 

" Such a t:i\ , in. 1ml , \\as not easily evaded, and could not lie deemed 
oppressive , as il would onlv he once paid; hut so great was the spirit of 
clamour against any tax on receipts, that he should not wonder if it 
extended to them ; and that it should he asserted, that persons having 
paid the last deht, the deht of nature, government.had resolved they 
should pay a receipt-tax, and have it stamped over their grave. Nay, 
with so extraordinary a degree of inveteracy were some Committees in 
the city, and elsewhere, actuated, that if a receipt-tax of the nature in 
question was enacted , he should not he greatly surprised if it were soon 
after puhlished, that such Committees had unanimously resolved that 
they would never he buried, in order to avoid paying the tax; hut had 
determined to lie above ground, or have their ashes consigned to family- 
urns, in the manner of the ancients." 

Ho also look an active share in Ihe discussions relative to the res- 
toration of Powell and Bembridge to their office by Mr. Burke : 
a transaction which , without fixing any direct stigma upon that 
eminent man , subjected him , at least , to the unlucky suspicion of 
being less scrupulous in his notions of official purity, than became 
the party which he .espoused or the principles of Reform, that he 
inculcated. 

Little as the Court was disposed, during the lale reign, to retain 
Whigs in its service any longer than was absolutely necessary, it 
must be owned that neither did the latter, in general, lake very cour- 
ier-like modes of continuing their connection with Royally, but 
rather chose to meet the hostility of the Crown halfway, by some 
overt act of imprudence or courage , which at once brought the 
matter to an issue between them. Of this hardihood the India Bill 
of Mr. pox was a remarkable example and he was himself fully 
aware of the risk which he ran in proposing it. " He knew, " he 
said, in his speech upon first bringing forward Jhe question, " that 
the task he had that day set himself was extremely arduous and dif- 
ficult ; he knew that he had considerable risk in it ; but when he took 
upon himself an office of responsibility , he had made up his mind 
In the situation and the danger of it." 

Without agreeing w ith those who impute to Mr. Fox the extra- 
vagant design of investing himself, by means of this Bill, with a 
sort of perpetual Whig Dictatorship, independent of the will of the 
Crown . it must nevertheless be allowed that , together with the inte- 
rests of India , which were the main object of this decisive measure, 
the future interest and influence of his own party were in no small 
di-finr provided for ; and that a foundation was laid by it for their 
attainment of a more steady footing in power than , from the indis- 
position of the Court towards them , they had yet been able la ac- 
complish, Regardingas he well might, after so long an experience 
of Tory misrule a government upon Whig principles as essential 



192 MEMOIRS 

lo the true interests of England , and hopeless of seeing the experiment 
at all fairly tried, as long as the political existence of the servants of the 
Crown was left dependent upon the caprice or treachery of their mas- 
ter, he would naturally welcome such an accession lo Ihe influence of 
the parly, as might strengthen Iheir claims to power when out of office, 
and render their possession of it, when in, more secure and useful. 
These objects the Bill in question would have , no doubt , effected. 
By turning the Pactolus of Indian patronage into the territories of 
Whiggism , it would have attracted new swarms of settlers to that 
region the Court would have found itself outbid in the market , 
and, however the principles of the party might eventually have 
fared , the party itself would have been so far triumphant. It was 
indeed, probably, the despair of ever obtaining admission for Whig- 
gism , in its unalloyed state , into the councils of the sovereign, that 
reconciled Mr. Fox to the rash step of debasing it down to the 
Court standard by the Coalition and, having once gained posses- 
sion of power by these means , he saw, in the splendid provisions of 
the India Bill , a chance of being able to transmit it as an heir-loom 
to his parly, which , though conscious of the hazard , he was deter- 
mined lo try. If his intention, therefore, was , as his enemies say, 
to establish a Dictatorship in his own person , it was , at the worst , 
such a Dictatorship as the Romans sometimes created , for the pur- 
pose of averting Ihe plague and would have been directed merely 
against that pestilence of Toryism, under which the prosperity of 
England had , he thought , languished so long. 

It was hardly, however, lo be expected of Royalty, even after 
the double humiliation which it had suffered , in being vanquished 
by rebels under one branch of the Coalition , and brow-beaten into 
acknowledging Iheir independence by the other that it would 
tamely submit to such an undisguised invasion of its sanctuary ; par- 
ticularly when the intruders had contrived their operations so ill , 
as to array the people in hostility against them, as well as the 
Throne. Never was there an outcry against a ministry so general 
and decisive. Dismissed insultingly by the King on one side , they 
had to encounter the indignation of the people on the other 5 and , 
though the House of Commons , with a fidelity to fallen ministers 
sufficiently rare , stood by them for a time in a desperate struggle 
with their successors , the voice of the Royal Prerogative , like Ihe 
horn of Astolpho, soon scattered the whole body in consternation 
among their constituents, " di qua , di la, di su , di #m," and 
the result was a complete and long-enjoyed triumph to the Throne 
and Mr. Pitt. 

Though the name of Mr. Fox is indissolubly connected with this 
Bill , and though he bore it aloft , as fondly as Caesar did his own 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 193 

Commentaries, through all this troubled sea of opposition , it is to 
Mr. Burke that the first daring outline of the plan , as well as the 
chief materials for filling it up, are to be attributed, whilst to Sir 
Arlhur Pigofs able hand was entrusted the legal task of drawing the 
Kill. The intense interest which Burke took in the affairs of India 
had led him to lay in such stores of information on the subject , as 
naturally gave him the lead in all deliberations connected with it. 
His labours for the Select Committee , the Ninth Report of which is 
pregnant with his mighty mind , may be considered as the source 
and foundation of this Bill while of the under-plot , which had in 
view the strengthening of the Whig interest , we find the germ in 
his "Thoughts on the present Discontents," where, in pointing 
out the advantage to England of being ruled by such a confederacy, 
he says , " in one of the most fortunate periods of our history, this 
country was governed by a connection ; 1 mean the great connection 
of Whigs in the reign of Queen Anne." 

Burke was , indeed, at this lime the actuating spirit of the party 
as he must have been of any party to which he attached himself. 
Keeping , as he did , the double engines of his genius and his indus- 
Iry incessantly in play over the minds of his more indolent collea- 
gues, with an intentness of purpose that nothing could divert, and 
an impetuosity of temper that nothing could resist , it is not wonder- 
ful that he should have gained such an entire mastery over their 
wills, or that the party who obeyed him should so long have exhi- 
bited the mark of his rash spirit imprinted upon their measures. 
The yielding temper of Mr. Fox, together with his unbounded ad- 
miration of Burke led him easily, in the first instance, to acquiesce 
in the views of his friend, and then the ardour of his own nature , 
and the self-kindling power of his eloquence , threw an earnestness 
and fire into his public enforcement of those views, which made 
even himself forget that they were but adopted from another, and 
impressed upon his hearers the conviction that they were all, and 
from the first, his own. 

We read his speeches in defence of the India Bill with a sort of 
breathless anxiety, which no other political discourses , except those, 
perhaps, of Demosthenes , could produce. The importance of the 
stake which he risks the boldness of his plan the gallantry with 
which he flings himself into the struggle , and the frankness of 
personal feeling that breathes throughout all throw around him 
an interest , like that which encircles a hero of romance ; nor could 
the most candid autobiography that ever was written exhibit the 
whole character of the man more transparently through it. 

The death of this ill-fated Ministry was worthy of its birth. Ori- 
ginating in a Coalition of Whigs and Tories, which compromised 

13 



194 MEMOIRS 

the principles of freedom , it was destroyed by a Coalition of King 
and People, which is even , perhaps, more dangerous to its prac- 
tice '. The conduct, indeed, of all estates and parties , during this 
short interval , was any thing but laudable. The leaven of the un- 
lucky alliance with Lord North was but too visible in many of the 
measures of the Ministry in the jobbing terms of the loan , the 
resistance to Mr. Pitt's plan of retrenchment , and the dimi- 
nished numbers on the side of Parliamentary Reform 2 . On the 
other hand, Mr. Pitt and his party, in their eagerness for place, 
did not hesitate to avail themselves of the ambidexterous and un- 
worthy trick of representing the India Bill to the people , as a Tory 
plan for the increase of Royal influence , and to the King , as a 
Whig conspiracy for the curtailment of it. The King, himself, in 
his arbitrary interference with the deliberations of the Lords , and 
the Lords , in the prompt servility with which so many of them 
obeyed his bidding , gave specimens of their respective branches of 
the Constitution , by no means creditable while , finally , the peo- 
ple , by the unanimous outcry with which they rose , in defence of 
the monopoly of Leacfenhall Street and the sovereign will of the 
Court, proved how little of the " vox Dei" there may sometimes 
be in such clamour. 

Mr. Sheridan seems to have spoken but once during the discus- 
sions on the India Bill , and that was on the third reading , when it 
was carried so triumphantly through the House of Commons. The 
report of his speech is introduced with the usual tantalising epithets, 
'" witty," "entertaining," etc. etc.; but, as usual, entails disappoint- 
ment in the perusal ' 4 at cum intraveris, Dii Deceque , quain 
Tiihil in medio im>enies! a " There is only one of the announced 

1 " This assumption ( says Burke) of the Tribnnitian power by the Sovereign 
was truly alarming. \Vhen Augustus Caesar modestly consented to become the 
Tribune of the people, Rome gave up into ihe hands of that prince the only 
remaining shield she had lo protect her liberty. The Tribunitian power in this 
country, as in ancient Rome, was wisely kept distinct and separate from the 
executive power : in this government it was constitutionally lodged , where it was 
naturally to be lodged, in the House of Commons; and to that House the people 
ought first to carry their complaints, even when they were directed against the 
measures of the House itself : but now the people were taught to pass by the door 
of the House of Commons, and supplicate the throne for the protection of their 
liberties.'' Speech on moving his Representation to the King, in June, 1784. 

3 The consequences of this alloy were still more visible in Ireland. "The Coali- 
tion Ministry," says Mr. Hardy, " displayed itself in various employments but 
there was no harmony. The old emu-tiers hated the new, and being more dex- 
terous, were more successful." In stating that Lord Chailemont was but coldly 
received by the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Northington , Mr. Hardy adds, " It is to 
be presumed that some of the old Court, who, in consequent of the Coalition, 
had crept once more into favour, influenced his conduct in this particular." 
: < Pliny. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 105 

pleasantries forth-coming, in any shape, through the speech. 
Mr. Scott (the present Lord Eldon) had , in the course of the debate, 
indulged in a licence of Scriptural parody, which he would himself, 
no doubt , be among the first to stigmatise as blasphemy in others , 
and had affected to discover the rudiments of the India Bill in a 
Chapter of the Book of Revelations, Babylon being the East India 
Company, Mr. Fox and his seven Commissioners the Beast with the 
seven heads , and the marks on the hand and forehead , imprinted 
by the Beast upon those around him , meaning, evidently, he said, 
the peerages , pensions , and places distributed by the minister. In 
answering this strange sally of forensic wit , Mr. Sheridan quoted 
other passages from the same Sacred Book , which (as the Reporter 
gravely assures us) " told strongly for the Bill ," and which proved 
that Lord Filzwilliam and his fellow-commissioners , instead of being 
the seven heads of the^Beast, were seven Angels clothed in pure and 
white linen ! " 

CHAPTER IX. 

The Prince of Wales. Financial Measures. Mr. Pitt's East India Bill. 
Re-elected for Stafford. Irish commercial Propositions. Plan of 
the Duke of Richmond. Sinking Fund. 

THE Whigs , who had now every reason to be convinced of the 
aversion with which they were regarded at court , had lately been , 
in some degree , compensated for this misfortune by the accession 
to their party of the Heir Apparent, who had, since the year 1783 , 
been in the enjoyment of a separate establishment , and taken his seat 
in the House of Peers as Duke of Cornwall. That a young prince, fond 
of pleasure and impatient of restraint , should have thrown himself 
into the arms of those who were most likely to be indulgent to his 
errors, is nothing surprising, either in politics or ethics. But that 
mature and enlightened statesmen , with the lessons of all history 
before their eyes , should have been equally ready to embrace such a 
rash alliance , or should count upon it as any more than a temporary 
instrument of faction , is , to say the least of it , one of those self- 
delusions of the wise , which show how vainly the voice of the Past 
may speak amid the loud appeals and temptations of the Present. 
The last Prince of Wales , it is true , by whom the popular cause was 
espoused, had left the lesson imperfect, by dying before he came to 
the throne. But this deficiency has since been amply made up , and 
future Whigs , who may be placed in similar circumstances , will 
have, at least, one historical warning before their eyes , which ought 
to be enough to satisfy the most unreflecting and credulous. 

In some points, the breach that now took place between the 
Prince and the King , bore a close resemblance to thai which had 



1% MEMOIRS 

disturbed the preceding reign. In both cases, the Royal parents 
were harsh and obstinate in both cases, money was the chief source 
of dissension and in both cases, the genius, wit, and accomplish- 
ments of those with whom the Heir Apparent connected himself, 
threw a splendour round the political bond between them , which 
prevented even themselves from perceiving its looseness and fragility 
In the late question of Mr. Fox's India Bill, the Prince of Wales 
had voted with his political friends in the first division. But, upon 
finding afterwards that the King was hostile to the measure, his 
Royal Highness took the prudent step (and with Mr. Fox's full con- 
currence) of absenting himself entirely from the second discussion , 
when the Bill, as it is known, was finally defeated. This circum- 
stance, occurring thus early in their intercourse, might have proved 
to each of the parlies in this ill-sorted alliance , how ditlicult it was 
for them to remain long and creditably united '. On the one side, 
Iherc was a character to be maintained with the people , which a too 
complacent toleration of the errors of royalty might, and, as it 
happened ,did compromise ; while , on the other side , there were 
the obligations of filial duty, which , as in this instance of the India 
Bill , made desertion decorous , at a time when co-operation would 
have been most friendly and desirable. There was also the perpetual 
consciousness of being destined to a higher station , in which , while 
duty would perhaps demand an independence of all party whatever, 

' The following sensible remarks npon this first interruption of the political con- 
nection between the Heir Apparent and the Opposition, are from an unfinished 
Life of Mr. Sheridan now in iny possession written by one whose boyhood 
was passed in the society of the great men whom he undertook to commemorate, 
and whose station and talents would have given to such a work an authenticity 
and value, that would have rendered the humble memorial, which I have attempt- 
ed , unnecessaiy : 

"His Royal Highness acted npon this occasion by Mr. Fox's advice, and with 
perfect propriety. At the same time the necessity under which he found himself of 
so acting, may serve as a general warning to Princes of the Blood in this country, 
to abstain from connecting themselves with party, and engaging either as active 
supporters or opponents of the administration of the day- The ties of family, the 
obligations of their situation, the feelings of the public, assuredly will condemn 
them, at some time or other, as in the present instance, to desert their own 
public acts, to fail in their private professions, and to leave their friends at the 
very moment in which service and support are the most imperiously required. 

" Princes are always suspected proselytes to the popular side. Conscious of this 
suspicion, they strive to do it away by exaggerated professions, and by bringing 
to the party which they espouse more violent opinions and more unmeasured 
language than any which they find. These mighty promises they soon find it 
unreasonable, impossible, inconvenient to fulfil. Their dereliction of their prin- 
ciples becomes manifest and indefensible, in proportion to the vehemence with 
which they have pledged themselves always to maintain them ; and the contempt 
and indignation which accompanies their retreat is equivalent to the expectations 
excited by the boldness and determination of their advance." 



OF R. B. SHERIDATN. 107 

convenience would certainly dictate a release from the restraints of 
Whiggism. 

It \vas most fortunate for Mr. Sheridan, on the rout of his party that 
nisiu'd , to find himself safe in his seat for Stafford once more , and 
the following document, connected with his election, is sufficiently 
( urious , in more respects than one , to be laid before the reader : 

R. B. Sheridan, Esq. Expenses at the Borough of Stafford for Election, 
Anno 1784. 

248 Burgesses, paid L. 5 5 o each. . '.; ' / : .' . . . L. 1,002 o o 
Yearly Expenses since. 
L. s. d. 

House-rent and taxes 23 6 6 

Servant at 6.y. per week, board wages. i5 12 o 
Ditto, yearly wages. ......880 

Coals, etc. . . 10 o o 

5 7 6 6 

Expenses for Election continued. 

Brought forward L. 5j 6 6 i,3o2 o o 

Ale tickets L. 4o o o 

Half the members' plate 25 o o 

Swearing young burgesses 10 o o 

Subscription to the InGrmary. ... 5 5 o 

Ditto clergymen's widows 220 

Ringers. . . . - 44 



One year i43 X 7 6 

Multiplied by years . ''." )l : ir v" : " 6 

863 5 o 

Total expense of six years' parliament , exclusive of expense 

incurred during the time of election, and your own ; 

annual expenses. . . . . , t '. ... ... . ^ , 2, i65 5 o 

The followers of the Coalition had been defeated in almost all 
directions , and it was computed that no less than 160 of them had 
been left upon the field , with no other consolation than what their 
own wit afforded them , in the title which they bestowed upon them- 
selves of " Fox's Martyrs." 

This reduction in the ranks of his enemies, at the very commence- 
ment of his career, left an open space for the youthful minister, 
which was most favourable to the free display of his energies. He 
had , indeed , been indebted , throughout the whole struggle , full 
is much to a lucky concurrence of circumstances as to his talents 
and name for the supremacy to which he so rapidly rose. All the 



198 MEMOIRS 

other eminent persons of the day had either deeply entangled them- 
selves in parly ties , or taken the gloss off their reputations by some 
unsuccessful or unpopular measures ; and as he was the only man 
independent enough of the House of Commons to be employed by 
the King as a weapon against it , so was he the only one sufficiently 
untried in public life , to be able to draw unlimitedly on the con- 
fidence of the people, and array them , as he did , in all the enthu- 
siasm of ignorance , on his side. Without these two advantages , 
which he owed to his youth and inexperience , even loftier talents 
than his would have fallen far short of his triumph. 

The financial affairs of the country, which the war had consi- 
derably deranged, and which none of the ministries that ensued felt 
sure enough of themselves to attend to, were, of course, among the 
first and most anxious objects of his administration ; and the w isdom 
of the measures which he brought forward for their amelioration 
was not only candidly acknowledged by his opponents at the time , 
but forms at present the least disputable ground upon which his 
claim to reputation as a finance-minister rests. Having found , on 
his accession to power, an annual deficiency of several millions in 
the revenue, he, in the course of two years, raised the income of 
the country so high as to afford a surplus for the establishment of 
his Sinking Fund. Nor did his merit lie only in the mere increase 
of income, but in the generally sound principles of the taxation 
by which he accomplished il , in the improvements introduced into 
the collection of the revenue , and the reform effected in the offices 
connected with it, by the simplification of the mode of keeping public 
accounts. 

Though 3Ir. Sheridan delivered his opinion upon many of the 
taxes proposed , his objections were rather to the details than the 
general object of the measures ; and it may be reckoned , indeed , a 
partof the good fortune ofthe minister, that the financial department 
of Opposition at this time was not assumed by any more adven- 
turous calculator, who might have perplexed him , at least , by 
ingenious cavils , however he might have failed to defeat him by 
argument. As it was, he had the field almost entirely to himself, 
for Sheridan , though acute , was not industrious enough to be 
formidable, and Mr. Fox, from a struggle, perhaps, between 
candour and party-feeling , absented himself almost entirely from 
the discussion ofthe new taxes '. 

1 "He had. absented himself," he said, "upon principle, that, though he 
might not be able to approve of the measures which had been adopted, he did 
not at the same time think himself authorised to condemn them , or to give them 
opposition , unless he had beeu leady to suggest others les distressing lo the; 
subject." Speech on Navr Bills , etc. etc. 



OF R. B. SHEfUDAlS. 199 

The only question, in which the angry spirit of the late conflict still 
survived, were the Westminster Scrutiny and Mr. Pitt's East India 
Kill. The conduct of the minister in the former transaction showed that 
his victory had not brought with it those generous feelings towards 
the vanquished, which, in the higher order of minds, follows as na- 
i urally as the calm after a tempest. There must , indeed, ha\e been 
something peculiarly harsh and unjust in the proceedings against 
his great rival on this occasion , which could induce so many of 
the friends of the minister then in the fulness of his popularity 
and power to leave him in a minority, and vote against the con- 
tinuance of the Scrutiny. To this persecution, however, we are 
indebted for a speech of Mr. Fox , which is ( as he , himself, in his 
opening, pronounced it would be) one of his best and noblest-, and 
which is reported , loo , with such evident fidelity, as well as spirit , 
(hat we seem to hear, while we read , the " Demosthenem ipsum" 
uttering it. 

Sheridan had , it appears , written a letter, about this time , to 
his brother Charles , in which , after expressing the feelings of 
himself and his brother Whigs , at the late unconstitutional victory 
over their party, he added, " But you are all so void of principle, 
in Ireland, that you cannot enter into our situation. "Charles She- 
ridan , who , in the late changes , had not thought it necessary to 
pay his principles the compliment of sacrificing his place to them, 
considered himself, of course, as included in this stigma; and the 
defence of lime-serving politics which he has set up in bis answer, 
if not so eloquent as that of the great Roman master of this art in 
his letter to Lentulus , is , at least, as self-conscious and laboured, 
and betrays altogether a feeling but too worthy of the political 
meridian from which it issued. 

" MY DEAR DICK, Dublin Castle, loth March, 1784. 

" 1 am much obliged to von for the letter you sent me by Ordc ; I'be- 
gan to think you had forgot I was in existence, but I forgive your past 
silence on account of your recent kind attention. The new Irish adminis- 
tration have come with the olive branch in their hand , and very wisely, 
I think ; the system, the circumstances, and the manners of the two 
countries arc so totally different, that I can assure you nothing could be 
so absurd as any attempt to extend the party-distinctions which prevail 
on your side of the water , to this. Nothing, I will venture to assert , can 
possibly preserve the connexion between England and Ireland , but a per- 
manent government here-> acting upon fixed principles, and pursuing 
systematic measures For this reason a change of Chief Governor ought 
to be nothing more than a simple transfer of government, and by no 
means to make any change in that political system respecting this country 
"liich England must adopt, let who will he the minister and whichever 



200 MEMOIRS 

party may acquire the ascendancy , if she means to preserve Ireland as a 
part of the British empire. 

" You will say that this is a very good plan for .people in place, as it 
tends to secure them against all contingencies; but this, I give you my 
word, is not my reason for thinking as I do. I must , in the first place , 
acquaint you that there never can be hereafter in this country any such 
thing as party connections founded upon political principles : we have 
obtained all the great objects for which Ireland had contended for many 
years , and there docs not now remain one national object of sufficient 
importance to unite men in the same pursuit. Nothing but such objects 
ever did unite men in this kingdom , and that not from principle , but 
because the spirit of the people was so far roused with respect to points 
in which the pride, the interest, the commerce, and the prosperity of 
the nation at large was so materially concerned , that the House of Com- 
mons, if they had not the virtue to forward, at least wanted the courage 
to oppose , the general and determined wish of the whole kingdom. 
They therefore made a virtue of necessity, joined the standard of a very 
small popular party ; both I?is and Outs voted equally against government, 
the latter of course, and the former because each individual thought 
himself safe in the number who followed his example. 

" This is the only instance, I believe, in the history of Irish politics , 
where a party even appeared to act upon public principle ; and as the 
cause of this singular instance has been removed by the attainment of 
the only objects which could have united men in one pursuit, it is not 
probable that we shall in future furnish any other example that will do 
honour to our public spirit. If you reflect an instant, you will perceive 
that our subordinate situation necessarily prevents the formation of any 
party among us, like those you have in England, composed of persons 
acting upon certain principles , and pledged to support each other. I am 
willing to allow you that your exertions are directed by public spirit ; 
but if those exertions did not lead to power, you must acknowledge 
that it is probable they would not be made, or if made, that they 
would not be of much use. The object of a party in England is either to 
obtain power for themselves , or to take it from those who are in posses- 
sion of it they may do this from the purest motives, and with the truest 
regard for the public good , but still you must allow that power is a very 
tempting object, the hopes of obtaining it no small incentive to their 
exertions, and the consequences of success to the individuals of which 
the party is composed, no small strengthening to the bands which unite 
them together. ISow, if you were to expect similar parties to be formed 
in Ireland, you would exact of us more virtue than is necessary for 
yourselves. From the peculiar situation of this- country , it is impossible 
that the exertions of any party here can ever lead to power. Here then 
is one very tempting object placed out of our reach, and, with it, all 
those looked-for consequences to individuals which , with you , induce 
them to pledge themselves to each other; so that nothing but poor public 
spirit would be left to keep our Irish party together, and consequently a 
greater degree of disinterestedness would be necessary in them , than is 
requisite in one of your English parties. 

" That no party exertion here can ever lead to power is obvious when 



OK R. B. SHERIDAN. SOI 

you reflect, .that we have in fact no Irish government; all power here 
being lodged in a branch of the English government, we have no cabinet, 
no administration of our own , no great offices of state ; every office we 
have is merely ministerial, it confers no power but that of giving advice , 
which may or may not be followed by the Chief Governor. As all 
power , therefore , is lodged solely in the English government , of which 
the Irish is only a branch, it necessarily follows that no exertion of any 
party here could ever lead to power, unless they overturned the English 
government in this country, or unless the efforts of such a party in the 
Irish House of Commons could overturn the British administration in 
England, and the leaders of it get into their places ; the first, you will 
allow , would not be a very wise object, and the latter you must acknow- 
ledge to be impossible. 

" Upon the same principle, it would be found very difficult to form a 
party in this country which should co-operate with any particular party 
in England, and consent to stand or fall with them. The great leading 
interests in this kingdom are of course strongly averse to forming any such 
connections on your side of the water, as it would tend to create a fluc- 
tuation in the affairs of this country that would destroy all their conse- 
quence ; and , as to the personal friends which a party in England may 
possibly have in this country , they must in the nature of things be few 
in number, and consequently could only injure themselves by following 
the fortunes of a party in England , without being able to render that 
party the smallest service. And , at all events , to such persons this could 
be nothing but a losing game. It would be , to refuse to avail themselves 
of their connections or talents in order to obtain office or honours , and 
to rest all their pretensions upon the success of a party in another king- 
dom , to which success they could not in the smallest degree contribute. 
You will admit that to a party in England, no friends on this side of the 
water would be worth having who did not possess connections or talents ; 
and if they did possess these, they must of course force themselves into 
station , let the government of this country be in whose hands it. may , 
and that upon a much more permanent footing than if they were con- 
nected with a party in England. What therefore could they gain by 
such a connection ? nothing but the virtue of self-denial , in continuing 
out of office as long as their friends were so , the chance of coming 
in, when their friends attained power, and only the chance, for there 
are interests in this country which must not be offended ; and the cer- 
tainty of going out whenever their friends in England should be dismissed. 
So that they would exchange the certainty of station upon a permanent 
footing acquired by their own efforts, connections, or talents, for the 
chance of statjon upon a most precarious footing, in which they would 
be placed in the insignificant predicament of doing nothing for them- 
selves, and resting their hopes and ambition upon the labours of others. 
" In addition to what I have said respecting the consequences of the 
subordinate situation of this country, you are to take into consideration 
how peculiarly its inhabitants are circumstanced. Two out of three mil- 
linns are Roman Catholics I believe the proportion is still larger and 
i -.\'> -thirds of the remainder are violent rank Presbyterians, who have 
always been, but most particularly of late, strongly averse to all govern 



202 MEMOIRS 

ineut placed in the hands of the members of the church of England ; nine- 
tenths of theproperty, the landed property of the country I mean, is in 
the possession of the latter. You will readily conceive how much these 
circumstances must give persons of property in this kingdom a leaning 
towards government ; how necessarily they must make them apprehensive 
for themselves, placed between such potent enemies; and how naturally 
it must make them look up to English government, in whatever hands it 
may be , for that strength and support, which the smallness of their num- 
bers prevents their finding among themselves, and consequently you will 
equally perceive that those political or party principles which create such 
serious difl'erences among you in England, are matters of small import- 
ance lo the persons of lauded property in this country, when compared 
with the necessity of their having the constant support of an English 
government. Here, my dear Dick , is a very long answer to a very lew 
lines in your postscript. But I could not avoid boring you on the subject, 
when you say , ' that we are all so void of principle that we cannot enter 
into your situation.' 

" 1 have received with the greatest pleasure the accounts of the very 
considerable figure you have made this sessions in the House of Com- 
mons. As I have no doubt but that your Parliament will be dissolved , 
Crod send you success a second time at Stafford, and the same to your 
friend at \Vestminster. I will not forgive you if you do not give me the 
first intelligence of both those events. I shall say nothing to you on the 
subject of your English politics, only that I feel myself much more partial 
to one side of the question than, in my present situation , it would be of 
any use to me to avow. I am the happiest domestic man in the world, 
and am in daily expectation of an addition to that happiness , and own 
that a home, which I never leave without regret, nor return to without 
delight, has somewhat abated my passion for politics, and that warmth 
I once felt about puhlic questions. But it has not abated the warmth of 
my private friendships; it has not abated my regard for Fitzpatrick , my 
anxiety for >ou, and the warmth of my wishes for the success of your 
friends, considering them as such. I beg my love to Mrs. Sheridan and 
Tom , and am, dear Dick, 

"Most affectionately yours , 

"C. F. SHERIDAN." 

With respect lo the Bill for the better government of India , 
which Mr. Pitt substituted for that of his defeated rival , its pro- 
visions are now, from long experience, so familiarly known, that 
it would be superiluous to dwell upon either their merits or defects 1 . 
The two important points in which it differed from the measure of 
Mr. Fox were, in leaving the management of their commercial 
concerns still in the hands of the Company, arid in making the 
Crown the virtual depositary of Indian patronage a , instead of 

' Three of ihe principal provisions were copied from the Propositions of Lord 
North in 1781 in allusion to which Mr. Powys said of the measure, that "it was 
the voice of Jacoh, hut the hand of Esau." 

" "Mr. Pitt's Pill continues the form of the Company's government, and 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 203 

suffering it to be diverted into the channels of the Whig interest , 
never, perhaps, to find its way back again. In which of these 
directions such an accession of power might , with least mischief 
to the Constitution , be bestowed , having the experience only of the 
use made of it on one side, we cannot, with any certainty, pretend 
to determine. One obvious result of this transfer of India to the 
Crown has been that smoothness so remarkable in the movements 
of the system ever since that easy and noiseless play of its machinery, 
which the lubricating contact of Influence alone could give , and 
which was wholly unknown in Indian policy, till brought thus by 
Mr. Pitt under ministerial controul. When we consider the stormy 
course of Eastern politics before that period the enquiries, the ex- 
posures, the arraignments that took place the constant hunt 
after Indian delinquency, in which Ministers joined no less keenly 
than the Opposition and then compare all this with the tranquillity 
that has reigned , since the halcyon incubation of the Board of Con- 
troul over the waters, though we may allow the full share that 
actual reform and a better system of government may claim in this 
change, there is still but loo much of it to be attributed to causes of a 
less elevated nature, to the natural abatement of the watchfulness of 
the minister over affairs no longer in the hands of others, and to that 
power of Influence which , both at home and abroad , is the great 
and ensuring bond of tranquillity, and , like the Chain of Silence 
mentioned in old Irish poetry, binds all that come within its reach 
in the same hushing spell of compromise and repose. 

It was about this time that, in the course of an altercation \vith 
Mr. Rolle , the member for Devonshire, Mr. Sheridan took the op- 
portunity of disavowing any share in the political satires then circu- 
lating, under the titles of "The Rolliad" and the "Probationary 
Odes." " He was aware," he said , " that the Honourable Gentle- 
man had suspected that he was either the author of those composi- 
tions, or some way or other concerned in them 5 but he assured 

professes to leave ibe patronage nnder certain conditions, and the commence 
without condition, in the hands of the Company; but places all matters relat- 
ing to the civil and military government and revenues in the hands of six 
Commissioners , to he nominated and appointed by His Majesty, under the litle 
of Commissioners of the Affairs of India ," which Board of Commissioners is 
invested with the 'superintendence and controul over all the British territorial 
possessions in the East Indies, and over the affairs of the United Company of 
Merchants trading thereto.'" Comparative Statement of the Two Dills, read from 
his place by Mr. Sheridan , on the Discussion of the Declaratory Acts in 1788 , and 
afterwards published. 

In another part of this Statement he says, "The present Board of Contronl 
have, nnder Mr. Pitt's Bill, usurped those very imperial prerogatives from the 
Crown, which were falsely said to have been given to the new Board of Directors 
nnder Mr. Fox's Bill." 



304 MEMOIRS 

him, upon his honour, he was not nor had he ever seen a line of 
them lill they were in print in the newspaper/' 

Mr. Rolle , the hero of The Rolliad , was one of those unlucky 
persons , whose destiny it is to be immortalised by ridicule , and to 
whom the world owes the same sort of gratitude for the wit of which 
they were the butts , as the merchants did , in Sinbad's story, to 
those pieces of meat to which diamonds adhered. The chief offence , 
besides his political obnoxiousness , by which he provoked this sa- 
tirical warfare, (whose plan of attack was all arranged at a club 
held at Beckel's , ) was the lead which he took in a sort of conspi- 
racy, formed on the ministerial benches, to interrupt, by coughing, 
hawking , and other unseemly noises , the speeches of Mr. Burke. 
The chief writers of these lively productions were Tickell , General 
Filzpalrick ', Lord John Townshend % Richardson , George Ellis , 
and Dr. Lawrence 3 . There were also a few minor contributions 
from the pens of Bale Dudley, Mr. CTBeirne (afterwards Bishop of 
Meath ) , and Sheridan's friend , Read. In two of the writers . 
Mr. Ellis and Dr. Lawrence , we have a proof of the changeful na- 
ture of those atoms, whose concourse for the time constitutes Party, 
and of the volatility with which , like the motes in the sunbeam , 
described by Lucretius , they can 

" Commutare viam , relroque repulsn reverti 

Nunc hue, nunc illuc , in cunctas denique partes ." 
Change their light course, as fickle chance may guide, 
Now here , now there , aud shoot from side to side. 

Doctor Lawrence was afterwards a violent supporter of Mr. Pitt, 
and Mr. Ellis * showed the versatility of his wit , as well as of his 

' To general Fitzpatrick some of the happiest pleasantries are to be attributed ; 
among others , the verses on Brooke Watson, those on the Marquis of Graham , 
and "The Liars." 

1 Lord John Townshend, the only survivor, at present, of ibis confederacy of 
wits, was the author, in conjunction with Tickell, of the admirable Salire, eu 
titled " Jekyll," Tickell having contributed only the lines parodied from Pop<-. 
To the exquisite humour of Lord John we owe also the Probationary Ode for 
Major Scott , and the playful parody on "Donee grains eram tibi." 

3 By Doctor Lawrence the somewhat ponderous irony of the prosaic depart- 
ment was chiefly managed. In allusion to the personal appearance of this eminent 
civilian, one of the wits of the day thus parodied a passage of Virgil: 

" Quo tetrior alter 
Nonfuit, excepto Lanreutis corpore Tumi." 

* It is related that, on one occasion , when Mr. Ellis was dining with Mr. Pitt . 
and embarrassed naturally by the recollection of, what he had been guilty of 
towards his host in The Rolliad, some of his brother' wits, to amuse themselves 
at his expensi-, endeavoured to lead the conversation to tke subject of this work, 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. * ?05 

politics , by becoming one of the most brilliant contributors to the 
A nli jacobin. 

The Rolliad and The Antijacobin may, on their respective sides 
of the question , be considered as models of that style of political 
salire ', whose lightness and vivacity give it the appearance of pro- 
ceeding rather from the wantonness of wit than of ill-nature , and 
whose very malice , from the fancy with which it is mixed up , like 
certain kinds of fireworks, explodes in sparkles. They, however, 
who are most inclined to forgive, in consideration of its polish and 
playfulness, the personality in which the writers of both these works 
indulged , will also readily admit that by no less shining powers can 
a licence so questionable be either assumed or palliated , and that 
nothing but the lively effervescence of the draught can make us 
forget the bitterness infused into it. At no time was this truth ever 
more strikingly exemplified than at present , when a separation 
seems to have taken place between salire and wit, which leaves the 
former like the toad, without the "jewel in its head -, " and when 
the hands , into which the weapon of personality has chiefly fallen , 
have brought upon it a stain and disrepute , that will long keep 
such writers as those of the Rolliad and Antijacobin from touching 
it again. 

hy asking him various questions as to its authors, etc. which Mr. Pitt overhear- 
ing, from the upper end of the table, leaned kindly towards Ellis , and said, 
" Irnmo age , et a prima , die , hospes , origine nobis" 

The word " hospes " applied to the new convert, was happy, and the "erroresqxe 
tnas, n that follows, was, perhaps, left to be implied. 

1 The following just observations upon The Rolliad and Probationary Odes 
occur in the manuscript Life of Sheridan which I have already cited : They are , 
in most instances, specimens of the powers of men, who, giving themselves np 
to ease and pleasure, neither improved their minds with great industry, nor 
exerted them with much activity; and have therefore left no very considerable 
nor durable memorials of the happy and vigorous abilities with which nature 
had certainly endowed them. The effusions themselves are full of fortunate allu- 
sions, Indicrous terms, artful panegyric, and well-aimed satire. The verses are at 
times far superior to the occasion , and the whole is distinguished by a taste, both 
in language and matter, perfectly pure and classical j but they are mere occasional 
productions. They will sleep with the papers of the Craftsman, so vaunted Iri 
their own time, but which are never now raked up , except by the curiosity of 
the historian and the man of literature. 

"Wit, beiug generally founded upon the manners and characters of its own 
day, is crowned iu that day, beyond all other exertions of the mind, with splen- 
did and immediate success. But there is always something that equalizes. In return, 
more than any other production , it suffers suddenly and irretrieTablv from the 
band of Time. It receives a character the most opposite to its own. From being 
i lie most generally understood and perceived, it becomes of all writing the most 
diflionli ami t lie most obscure. Satires, whose meaning was open to the multitude, 
defy the erudition of the scholar; and comedies, of which every line was f<-!t .> 
MIUII as it WHS spoken , require the hibocr of ail antiquary to explain ilirm * 



200 MEMOIRS 

Among other important questions that occupied the attention of 
Mr. Sheridan at this period , was the measure brought forward un- 
der the title of " Irish Commercial Propositions/' for the purpose 
of regulating and finally adjusting the commercial intercourse be- 
tween England and Ireland. The line taken by him and Mr. Fox in 
their opposition to this plan was such as to accord , at once , with 
the prejudices of the English manufacturers and the feelings of the 
Irish patriots , the former regarding the measure as fatal to their 
interests , and the latter rejecting with indignation the boon which 
it offered , as coupled with a condition for the surrender of the le- 
gislative independence of their country. 

In correct views of political economy, the advantage throughout 
this discussion was wholly on the side of the minister ; and , in a 
speech of Mr. Jenkinson , we find (advanced , indeed, but incident- 
ally, and treated by Mr. Fox as no more than amusing theories , ) 
some of those liberal principles of trade which have since been more 
fully developed , and by which the views of all practical statesmen 
are, at the present day, directed. The little interest attached by 
Mr. Fox to the science of Political Economy so remarkably proved 
by the fact of his never having read the work of Adam Smith on the 
subject is, in some degree, accounted for by the scepticism of 
the following passage , which occurs in one of his animated speeches 
on this very question. Mr. Pitt having asserted, in answer to !hose 
who feared the competition of Ireland in the market from her low 
prices of labour, that " great capital would in all cases overbalance 
cheapness of labour, 11 Mr. Fox questions the abstract truth of this 
position, and adds , " General positions of all kinds ought to be 
very cautiously admitted ; indeed , on subjects so infinitely complex 
and mutable as politics and commerce , a wise man hesitates at giv- 
ing too implicit a credit to any general maxim of any denomina- 
tion. " 

If the surrender of any part of her legislative power could have 
been expected from Ireland in that proud moment , when her new 
born Independence was but just beginning to smile in her lap , the 
acceptance of the terms then proffered by the Minister might have 
averted much of the evils , of which she was afterwards the victim. 
The proposed plan being , in itself (as Mr. Grattan called it) , " an 
incipient and creeping Union ," would have prepared the way less 
violently for the completion of that fated measure , and spared at 
least the corruption, and the blood which were the preliminaries of 
its perpetration at last. Hut the pride , so natural and honourable to 
the Irish had fate but placed them in a situation to assert it with 
any permanent effect repelled the idea of being bound even by the 
commercial regulations of England. The wonderful eloquence of 



OF R. B- SHERIDAN. ?07 

G rattan, which, like an eagle guarding her young, rose grandly 
in defence of the freedom to which itself had given birth , would 
alone have been sufficient to determine a whole nation to his will. 
Accordingly, such demonstrations of resistance were made both by 
people and parliament, that the Commercial Propositions were given 
up by the minister, and this apparition of a Union withdrawn from 
the eyes of Ireland for the present merely to come again , in ano- 
ther shape , with many a " mortal murder on its crown , and push 
her from her stool." 

As Mr. Sheridan took a strong interest in this question , and spoke 
at some length on every occasion when it was brought before the 
House , I will , in order to enable the reader to judge of his manner 
of treating it , give a few passages from his speech on the discussion 
of that Resolution , which stipulated for England a controul over the 
external legislation of Ireland : 

" Upon this view, it would be an imposition on common sense to 
pretend , that Ireland could in future have the exercise of free will or 
discretion upon any of those subjects of legislation , on which she now 
stipulated to follow the edicts of Great Britain ; and it was a miserable so- 
phistry to contend, that her being permitted the ceremony of placing 
those laws upon her own Statute-book , as a form of promulgating them , 
was an argument, that it was not the British but the Irish Statutes that 
bound the people of Ireland. For his part, if he were a member of the 
Irish Parliament, he should prefer the measure enacting by one decisive 
vote, that all British laws, to the purposes stipulated, should have im- 
mediate operation in Ireland as in Great Britain ; choosing rather to avoid 
the mockery of enacting without deliberation, and deciding where they 
had no power to dissent. Where fetters were to be worn , it was a 
wretched ambition to contend for the distinction of fastening our cum 
shackles." 

" All had been delusion , trick , and fallacy : a new scheme o'f commer- 
cial arrangement is proposed to the Irish as a boon ; and the surrender 
of their Constitution is tacked to it as a mercantile regulation. Ireland , 
newly escaped from harsh trammels and severe discipline , is treated like 
a high-mettled horse, hard to catch; and the Irish Secretary is to IT turn 
to the field, soothing and coaxing him, with a sieve of provender in one 
hand, but with a bridle in the other, ready to slip over his head while 
lie is snuffling at the food. But this political jockeyship, he was con- 
vinced, would not succeed." 

. 

In defending the policy, as well as generosity of the concessions 
made to Ireland by Mr. Fox in 1782 , he says , 

" Fortunately for the peace and future union of the two kingdoms, no 
such miserable and narrow policy entered into the mind of his Right 
Honourable friend ; he disdained the injustice of bargaining with Ireland 
on such a subject; nor would Ireland have listened to him if he had at- 



208 MEMOIRS 

tempted it. She had not applied to purchase a Constitution ; and if a tri- 
bute or contribution had been demanded in return for what was than 
granted, those patriotic spirits who were at that time leading the op- 
pressed people of that insulted country to the attainment of their just 
rights, would have pointed to other modes of acquiring them ; would 
have called to them in the words of Camillus arma aptnre ahfiicferro non 
nuro pulria.ni ct lib er latent recuperfire." 

The following passage is a curious proof of the short-sighted views 
which prevailed at that period , even among the shrewdest men , on 
the subject of trade : 

" There was one point, however, in which he most completely agreed 
with the manufacturers of this country; namely, in their assertion , that 
if the Irish trader should be enabled to meet the British merchant and 
manufacturer in the British market, the gain of Ireland must be the loss 
of England '. This was a fact not to be controverted on any principle of 
common sense or reasonable argument. The pomp of general declamation 
and waste of fine words, which had on so many occasions been employed 
to disguise and perplex this plain simple truth , or, still more fallaciously 
to endeavour to prove , that Great Britain would find her balance in the 
Irish market , had only tended to show the weakness and inconsistency 
of the doctrine they were meant to support. The truth of the argument 
was with the manufacturers ; and this formed in Mr. Sheridan's mind, a 
ground of one of the most vehement objections he had to the present 
plan. " 

It was upon the clamour, raised at this time by the English manu- 
facturers , at the prospect of the privileges about to be granted to the 
trade of Ireland , that Tickell , whose wit was always on the watch 
for such opportunities , w rote the following fragment , found among 
liiQ papers of Mr. Sheridan : 

" A VISION. 

" After supping on a few Colchester oysters and a small Welsh rabbit, 
I went to bed last Tuesday night at a quarter before eleven o'clock. I 
slept quietly for near two hours ; at the expiration of which period , my 
slumber was indeed greatly disturbed by the oddest train of images 1 
ever experienced. I thought that every individual article of my usual dress 
and furniture was suddenly gifted with the powers of speech, and all at 
once united to assail me with clamorous reproaches , for my unpar- 
donable neglect of their common interests , in the great question of sur- 
rendering our British commerce to Ireland. My hat, my coat, and every 
button on it, my Manchester waistcoat, my silk breeches, my Birmingham 
buckles, my shirt-buttons, my shoes, my stockings, my garters, and, 
what was more troublesome, my night-cap, all joined in a dissonant 
volley of petitions and remonstrances which , as I found it impossible 
to wholly suppress , I thought it most prudent to moderate , by soliciting 

1 Mr. Fox also said, "Ireland cannot make a single acquisition but to the 
proportionate loss of England." 



OF K. B. SHERIDAN. ->OU 

them lo communicate their ideas individually. It was \vith some difficulty 
they consented to even this proposal , which they considered as a device 
to extinguish their general ardour, and to break the force of their united 
eflbrts; nor would they hy any means accede to it, till I had repeatedly 
assured them, that, as soon as I heard them separately, I would appoint 
an early hour for receiving them in a joint body. Accordingly, having 
fixed these preliminaries, my Night-cap thought proper to slip up im- 
mediately over my ears, and, disengaging itself from my temples, called 
upon my Waistcoat, who was rather carelessly reclining on a chair, to 
attend him immediately at the foot of the bed. My Sheets and Pillow- 
cases , being all of Irish extraction , stuck close to me, however, which 
was uncommonly fortunate , for, not only my Curtains had drawn offto 
the foot of the bed , but my Blankets also had the audacity to associate 
themselves with others of the woollen fraternity, at the first outset of this 
household meeting. Both my Towels attended as evidences at the bar , 
but my Pocket-handkerchief , notwithstanding his uncommon forward- 
ness to hold forth the banner of sedition , was thought to be a character 
of so mixed a complexion , as rendered it more decent for him to reserve 
his interference till my Snuff-box could be heard which was settled 
accordingly. 

"At length, to my inconceivable astonishment, my Night-cap, at- 
tended as I have mentioned, addressed me in the following terms : " 



Early as was the age at which Sheridan had been transplanted 
from Ireland never to set foot upon his native land again the feel- 
ing of nationality remained with him warmly through life , and he 
was , to the last, both fond and proud of his country. The zeal with 
which he entered , at this period , into Irish politics , may be judged 
of from some letters, addressed to him in the year 1785, by Mr. Isaac 
Corry, who was at that time a member of the Irish Opposition , and 
combated the Commercial Propositions as vigorously as he after- 
wards, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, defended their "con- 
summate flower," the Union. A few extracts from these letters will 
give some idea of the interest attached to this question by the popular 
party in both countries. 

The following , dated August 5, 1785, was written during the ad- 
journment of ten days , that preceded Mr. Ode's introduction of 
the Propositions : 

" Your most welcome letter, after hunting me some days through the 
country , has at length reached me. I wish you had sent some notes of 
your most excellent speech ; but such as we have must be given to the 
public admirable commentary upon Mr. Pitt's apology to the People of 
In land , which must also be published in the manner fitting it. The ad- 
- were sent round to all the towns in the kingdom, in onlrr > 
give runvncv to the humbug. Being lipon the spot, I ha\c inv lumps in 
perfect order, and am ready at a moment's warning, for ;in\ mameuvre 



510 MEMOIRS 

which may, when we meet in Dublin previous to the next sitting, be 
thought necessary to follow the petitions for postponing. 

" We hear astonishing accounts of your greatness in particular. Paddy 
will, I suppose , some beau jonr be voting you another 5o,ooo ' , if you 
go on as you have done. 

" I send to-day down to my friend, O'Neill, who wails for a signal only, 
and we shall go up together. Brovvnhxw is just beside me, and I shall 

ride over this morning to get him up to consultation in town 

We mu&t get our Whig friends in England to engraft a few slips of 
Whiggism here till that is done, there will be neither Constitution for 
the people nor stability for the government. 

" Cliarlemont and I were of opinion that we should not make the 
volunteers speak upon the present business; so I left it out in the Reso- 
lutions at our late review. They are as tractable as we could desire, and 
w;e can manage them completely. We inculcate all moderation were we 
to slacken in that, they would instantly step forward." 

The date of the following letter is August lOlh two days before 
Mr. Orde brought forward the Propositions. 

" We have got the Bill entire, sent about by Orde. The more it is read, 
the less it is liked. I made notable use of the clause you sent me before 
the whole arrived. We had a select meeting to-day of the D. of Leinster, 
Charlemont, Conolly, Grattan, Forbes, and myself. We think of moving 
an address to postpone to-morrow till the iath of January, and have also 
some Resolutions ready pro re iiata, as we don't yet know what shape 
they will put the business into; Conolly to move. To-morrow morning 
we settle the Address and Resolutions, and after that, to-morrow, meet 
more at large at Leinster House. All our troops muster pretty well 
Mountmorris is here, and to be with us to-morrow morning. We 
reckon on something like a hundred, and some are sanguine enough to 
add near a score above it that is too much. The report of to-night is 
that Orde is not yet ready for us , and will beg a respite of a few days 
Beresford is not yet arrived, and that is said to be the cause. Mornington 
and Poole are come their muster is as strict as ours. If we divide any- 
thing like a hundred, they will not dare to take a victory over us. Adieu , 
yours most truly. 

" I.C." 

The motion for bringing in the bill was carried only by a majority 
of nineteen , which is thus announced to Mr. Sheridan by his cor- 
respondent : 

" I congratulate with you on 108 minority against 127. The business 
never can go op? They were astonished, and looked the sorriest devils 
you can imagine. Orde's exhibition was pitiful indeed the support of his 
party weak and open to attack the debate on their part really poor. On 
ours, Conolly, O'Neill, and the other country gentlemen, strong and of 
great weight Grattan able and eloquent in an uncommon degree every 

' Alluding to ihe recent vote of that sain to Mr. Grattan. 



OT R. B. SHERIDAN. . fft 

body in high spirits, and altogether a force that was irresistible. We 
divided at. nine this morning, on leave to bring in a Bill for the 
settlement. The x ground fought upon was the Fourth Resolution, and 
the principleof that in the others. The commercial detail did not belong 
accurately to the debate, though some went over it in a cursory way. 
('.rattan, two hours and a half Flood as much the former brilliant, 
well attended to , and much admired the latter tedious from detail ; of 
course, not so well heard, and answered by Foster in detail to refutation. 
" The Attorney General defended the constitutional safety under the 
Fourth Resolution principle. Orde mentioned the Opposition in England 
twice in his opening speech , with imputations, or insinuations at least, 
not very favourable. You were not left undefended. Forbes exerted his 
warm attachment to you with great effect Burgh, the flag-ship of the 
Leinstcr squadron, gave a well supported fire pointed against Pitt, and 
covering you. Hardy (the Bishop of Down's friend), in a very elegant 
speech, gave you due honour; and I had the satisfaction of a slight 
skirmish, which called up the Attorney General, etc " 

On the 15th of August Mr. Orde withdrew his Bill , and Mr. Corry 
writes " I wish you joy a thousand times of our complete victory. 
Orde has offered the Bill moved its being printed for his own justi- 
fication to the country, and no more of it this session. We have the 
effects of a complete victory." 

Another question of much less importance , but more calculated 
to call forth Sheridan's various powers, was the Plan of the Duke of 
Richmond for the fortification of dock-yards, which Mr. Pitt brought 
forward ( it was said , with much reluctance,) in the session of 1786, 
and which Sheridan must have felt the greater pleasure in attacking , 
from the renegade conduct of its noble author in politics. In speak- 
ing of the Report of a Board of General Officers , which had been 
appointed to examine into the merits of this plan , and of which the 
Duke himself was President , he thus ingeniously plays with the 
terms of the art in question , and fires off his wit, as it were, en ri- 
cochet, making it bound lightly from sentence to sentence : 

" Yet the Noble Duke deserved the warmest panegyrics for the striking 
proofs he had given of his genius as an engineer; which appeared even in 
the planning and construction of the paper in his hand ! The professional 
ability of the Master general shone as conspicuously there , as it could 
upon our coasts. He had made it an argument of posts; and conducted 
his reasoning upon principles of trigonometry as well aslogic. There were 
certain detached data, like advanced works, to keep the enemy at a distance 
from the main object in debate. Strong provisions covered the flanks of 
liis assertions. His very queries were in casements. No impression, there- 
fore, was to be made on this fortress of sophistry by desultory observ ations; 
and 'it was necessary to sit down before it, and assail it by regular 
approaches. It was fortunate, however, to observe , that notwithstanding 
all the skill "employed by the noble and literary engineer, his mode of 



*1 j MEMOIRS 

defence on paper was open to the same objection \vliich had been urged 
against his other fortifications ; that if his adversary got possession of one* 
of his posts, it became strength against him, and the means of subduing 
the whole line of his argument." 

He also spoke, at considerable length, upon the Plan brought 
forward by Mr. Pitt for the Redemption of the National Debt that 
grand object of the calculator and the financier, and equally likely, it 
should seem , to be attained by the dreams of the one as by the ex- 
periments of the other. Mr. Pitt himself seemed to dread the suspi- 
cion of such a partnership , by the care with which he avoided any 
acknowledgment to Dr. Price, whom he had nevertheless personally 
consulted on the subject , and upon whose visions of compound in- 
terest this fabric of finance was founded. 

In opening the Plan of his new Sinking Fund to the House , 
Mr. Pitt , it is well known , pronounced it to be " a firm column , 
upon which he was proud to flatter himself his name might be in- 
scribed." Tycho Brahe would have said the same of his Astronomy, 
and Descartes of his Physics ; but these baseless columns have 
long passed away, and the Plan of paying debt with borrowed money 
well deserves to follow them. The delusion, indeed, of which this 
Fund was made the instrument, during the war with France, is now 
pretty generally acknowledged ; and the only question is , whether 
Mr. Pitt was so much the dupe of his own juggle , as to persuade 
himself that thus playing with a debt , from one hand to the other, 
was paying it or whether, aware of the inefficacy of his plan for 
any other purpose than that of keeping up a blind confidence in the 
money-market, he yet gravely went on, as a sort of High Priest of 
Finance , profiting by a miracle in which he did not himself believe , 
and , in addition to the responsibility of the uses to which he ap- 
plied the money, incurring that of the fiscal imposture by which he 
raised it. 

Though from the prosperous state of the revenue at the time of 
the institution of this Fund , the absurdity was not yet committed of 
borrowing money to maintain it , we may perceive by the following 
acute pleasantry of Mr. Sheridan ( who denied the existence of the 
alleged surplus of income) , that he already had a keen insight into 
the fallacy of that Plan of Redemption afterwards followed : " At 
present ," he said , " it was clear there was no surplus ; and the only 
means which suggested themselves to him were , a loan of a million 
for the especial purpose for the Right Honourable gentleman 
might say, with the person in the comedy, ' If you won't lend me 
t/ie money, how can 1 pay you?' '" 



I OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 5t3 

CHAPTER X. 

Charges .against Mr. Hastings. Commercial treaty with France. 
Debts of the Prince of Wales. 

THE calm security into which Mr. Pitt's administration had 
,i -I lied , after the victory which the Tory alliance of King and people 
had gained for him, left but little to excite the activity of party-spirit, 
or to call forth those grand explosions of eloquence , which a more 
electric state of the political world produces. The orators of Opposi- 
tion might soon have been reduced , like Philoctetes wasting his ar- 
rows upon geese at Lemnos ', to expend the armoury of their wit 
upon the Grahams and Holies of the Treasury bench. But a subject 
now presented itself the Impeachment of Warren Hastings 
which , by embodying the cause of a whole country in one indivi- 
dual, and thus combining the extent and grandeur of a national ques- 
tion with the direct aim and singleness of a personal attack , opened 
as wide a field for display as the most versatile talents could require , 
and to Mr. Sheridan , in particular, afforded one of those precious 
opportunities , of which , if Fortune but rarely offers them to ge- 
nius , it is genius alone that can fully and triumphantly avail itself. 

The history of 'the rise and progress of British power in India of 
that strange and rapid vicissitude , by which the ancient Empire of 
the Moguls was transferred into the hands of a Company of Mer- 
chants in Leadenhall Street furnishes matter, perhaps , more than 
any other that could be mentioned, for those strong contrasts and 
startling associations , to which eloquence and wit often owe their 
most striking effects. The descendants of a Throne , once the loftiest 
in the world , reduced to stipulate with the servants of traders for 
subsistence the dethronement of Princes converted into a commer- 
cial transaction , and a ledger-account kept of the profits of Revolu- 
tions the sanctity of Zenanas violated by search-warrants , and the 
chicaneries of English Law transplanted , in their most mischievous 
luxuriance, into the holy and peaceful shades of the Bramins, such 
events as these, in which the poetry and the prose of life , its pom- 
pous illusions and mean realities, are mingled up so sadly and fan- 
tastically together, were of a nature, particularly when recent, to 
lay hold of the imagination as well as the feelings , and to furnish 
eloquence with those strong lights and shadows , of which her most 
animated pictures are composed. 

It is not wonderful , therefore, that the warm faucy of Mr. Burke 



in corporc tela, cxcrccnntiir."--.lcci<i<, <if>. Ciccron. 



214 MEMOIRS 

should have been early and strongly excited by the scenes of which 
India was the theatre , or that they should have ( to use his own 
words) " constantly preyed upon his peace, and by night and day 
dwelt on his imagination." His imagination , indeed, as will natu- 
rally happen, where this faculty is restrained by. a sense of truth 
was always most livelily called into play by events of which he had 
not himself been a witness ; and , accordingly, the sufferings of 
India and the horrors of revolutionary Frahce were the two sub- 
jects upon which it has most unrestrainedly indulged itself. In the 
year 1780 he had been a member of the Select Committee, which 
was appointed by the House of Commons to take the affairs of India 
into consideration , and through some of whose luminous Reports 
we trace that powerful intellect, which " stamped an image of it- 
self" on every subject that it embraced. Though the reign of Clive 
had been sufficiently fertile in enormities, and the treachery prac- 
tised towards Omichund seemed hardly to admit of any parallel , yet 
the loftier and more prominent iniquities of Mr. Hastings's govern- 
ment were supposed to have thrown even these into shadow. Against 
him, therefore, now rendered a still nobler object of attack by 
the haughty spirit with which he defied his accusers, the whole 
studies and energies of Mr. Burke's mind were directed. 

It has already been remarked that to the impetuous zeal with 
which Burke at this period rushed into Indian politics , and to that 
ascendancy over his party by which he so often compelled them to 
u swell with their tributary urns his flood," the ill-fated East India 
Bill of Mr. Fox in a considerable degree owed its origin. In truth, 
the disposition and talents of this extraordinary man made him at 
least as dangerous as useful to any party with which he connected 
himself. Liable as he was to be hurried into unsafe extremes , im- 
patient of contradiction, and with a sort* of feudal turn of mind , 
which exacted the unconditional a service of his followers, it required, 
even at that time , but little penetration to foresee the violent schism 
that ensued some years after, or to pronounce that, whenever he 
should be unable to command his party, he would desert it. 

The materials which he had been collecting on the subject of 
India, and the indignation with which these details of delinquency 
had filled him , at length burst forth ( like that mighty cloud , 
described fay himself as " pouring its whole contents over the 
plains of the Carnatic") in his wonderful speech on the Nabob of 
Arcot's debts') a speech, whose only rivals perhaps in all the 

1 Isocrates, in his Encomium upon Helen, dwells much on the advantage to 
an orator of speaking upon subjects from which but little eloquence is expected 
7rfi TV ^ai/*a< xai Ta^rsivav. There is b'ttle doubt, indeed, that surprise mnst 
have considerable share iu the pleasure which we derive from eloquence on such 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 515 

records of oratory, arc to b found among three or four others of 
his own , winch , like those poems of Petrarch called Sorelle 
from their kindred excellence , may be regarded as sisters in beauty, 
and equalled only by each other. 

Though the charges against Mr. Hastings had long been threat- 
ened \ : it was not till the present year that Mr. Burke brought them 
formally forward. He had been, indeed , defied to this issue by the 
friends of the Governor General , whose reliance , however, upon 
the sympathy and support of UAftninislry (accorded , as a matter of 
course , to most Slate delinquents, ) was , in this instance , contrary 
to all calculation, disappointed. Mr. Pitt, at the commencement 
of the proceedings , had shown strong indications of an intention 
to take the cause of the Governor General under his protection. 
Mr. Dundas , too , had exhibited one of those convenient changes 
of opinion , by which such statesmen can accommodate themselves 
to the passing hue of the Treasury -bench , as naturally as the 
Eastern insect does to the colour of the leaf on which it feeds. 
Though one of the earliest and most active denouncers of Indian 
mis-government , and even the mover of those strong Resolutions 
in 1782 ' on which some of the chief charges of the present pro- 
secution were founded , he now, throughout the whole of the open- 
ing scenes of the Impeachment , did not scruple to stand forth as 
the warm eulogist of Mr. Hastings, and to endeavour by a display 
of the successes of his administration to dazzle away attention from 
its violence and injustice. 

This tone, however, did not long continue : in the midst of 
the anticipated triumph of Mr. Hastings , the Minister suddenly 
" changed his mind, and checked his pride." On the occasion of 
the Benares Charge, brought forward in the House of Commons by 
Mr. Fox , a majority was , for the first time , thrown into the scale 
of the accusation ; and the abuse that was in consequence showered 
upon Mr. Pitt and Mr. Dundas, through every channel of the 
press , by the 1 friends of Mr. Hastings , showed how wholly unex- 
pected, as well as mortifying, was the desertion, 

As but little credit was allowed to conviction in this change, it 
being difficult to believe that a Minister should come to the dis- 
cussion of such a question so lightly ballasted 'with opinions of his 

unpromising topics as have inspired three of the most masterly speeches that can 
be selected from modern oratory that of Burke on the Nabob of Arcot's debts, 
of Grattan on Tithes, and of Mr. Fox on the Westminster Scrutiny. 

' In introducing the Resolutions , he said, that "he was urged to take this 
step by an account , which had lately arrived from India , of an act of >the most 
(lagrant violence and oppression, and of the grossest breach of faith, committed 
1'v Mr. Hastings against Cheyt Sing, the Raja of Benares." 






216 MEMOIRS 

own as to be thrown from his equilibrium by the first wave of 
argument he encountered, various statements and conjectures 
were , at the time , brought forward to account for it. Jealousy of 
the great and increasing influence of Mr. Hastings at court was, in 
general, the motive assigned for the conduct of the Minister. It 
was even believed that a wish expressed by the King, to have his 
new favourite appointed President of the Board of Control , was 
what decided Mr. Pitt to extinguish , by co-operating with the 
Opposition , every chance of a rivaJf y, which might prove trouble- 
some , if not dangerous , to his power. -There is no doubt that the 
arraigned ruler of India was honoured at this period with the dis- 
tinguished notice of the Court, partly, perhaps , from admiration 
of his proficiency in that mode of governing , to which all Courts 
are, more or less , instinctively inclined ; and partly from a strong 
distaste to (hose who were his accusers ; which would have been 
sufficient to recommend any person or measure to which they 
were opposed. 

But w hether Mr. Pitt , in the part which he now took , was ac- 
tuated merely by personal motives , or (as his eulogists represent; 
by a strong sense of impartiality and justice, he must at all events 
have considered the whole proceeding , at this moment , as a most 
seasonable diversion of the attacks' of the Opposition , from his own 
person and government to an object so lillle connected with either. 
The many restless and powerful spirits now opposed to him would 
soon have found, or made, some vent for their energies, more 
likely to endanger the stability of his power -, and, as an expedient 
for drawing off some of that perilous lightning, which flashed around 
him from the lips of a Burke, a Fox, and a Sheridan , the prose- 
cution of a great criminal like Mr. Hastings furnished as efficient a 
conductor as could be desired. 

Still, however, notwithstanding the accession of the Minister, and 
the impulse given by the majorities which he commanded , the 
projected Impeachment was but tardy and feeble in its*movements , 
and neither the House nor the public went cordially along with it. 
Great talents, united to great power: even when, as in the instance 
of Mr. Hastings, abused is a combination before which men are 
inclined to bow implicitly. The iniquities, too, of Indian rulers 
were of that gigantic kind , which seemed to outgrow censure , and 
even, in some degree, challenge admiration. In addition to all 
this, Mr. Hastings had been successful ; and success but too often 
throws a charm round injustice , like the dazzle of the necromancer's 
shield in Arioslo, before which every one falls 

"* ' -K>, 

" Con gli oalii alibadnati, e senza maiteC' 



OF R- B. -SHERIDAN. JIT 

The feelings , therefore , of the public were, at the outset of the 
prosecution , rather for than against the supposed delinquent. Nor 
was Ihis tendency counteracted by any very partial leaning towards 
his accusers. Mr. Fox had hardly yet recovered his defeat on the 
India Mill, or what had been still more fatal to him his victory 
in the Coalition. Mr. Burke , in spite of his great talents and zeal , 
was by no means popular. There was a tone of dictatorship in his 
public demeanour against which men naturally rebelled ; and the 
impetuosity and passion with which he flung himself into every 
favourite subject , showed a want of self-government but little cal- 
culated to inspire respect. Even his eloquence , various and splendid 
as it was , failed in general to win or command the attention of his 
hearers, and, in this great essential of public speaking, must be 
considered inferior to that ordinary , but practical , kind of oratory ' , 
which reaps its harvest at the moment of delivery, and is afterwards 
remembered less for itself than its effects. There was a something 
which those who have but read him can with difficulty conceive 
that marred the impression of his most sublime and glowing dis- 
plays. In vain did his genius put forth its superb plumage, glittering 
all over with the hundred eyes of fancy the gait of the bird was 
heavy and awkward, and its voice seemed rather to scare than at- 
tract. Accordingly , many of those masterly discourses , which , in 
their present form , may proudly challenge comparison with all the 
written eloquence upon record, were, at the time when they Were 
pronounced , either coldly listened to , or only welcomed as a signal 
and excuse for not listening at all. To such a length was this indif- 
ference carried , that , on the evening when he delivered his great 
Speech on the Nabob of Arcot's debts, so faint was the impression 
it produced upon the House , that Mr. Pitt and Lord Grenville , as 
I have heard , not only consulted with each other as to whether it 
was necessary they should take the trouble of answering it , but 
decided in the negative. Yet doubtless, at the present moment, if 
Lord Grenville master as he is of all the knowledge that belongs 
to a statesman and a scholar were asked to point out from the stores 
of his reading the few models of oratorical composition , to the 
perusal of which he could most frequently , and with unwearied 
admiration, return, this slighted and unanswered speech would be 
among the number. 

From all these combining circumstances it aVose that the prose- 
cution of Mr. Hastings, even after the accession of the Minister, 
'veiled but a slight and wavering interest; and, without some ex- 

\V hoevi.-r, upon comparison, is deemed by a common audience the greatest 
orator, ought most certainly to be pronounced such by intn of science and erudi 
lion." Ilium-, Kvay 13. 



3J8 MEMOIRS 

traordinary appeal to the sympathies of the House and the country 
some startling touch to the chord of public feeling it was question- 
able whether the enquiry would not end as abortively as all the 
other Indian inquests ' that had preceded it. 

In this state of the proceeding , Mr. Sheridan brought forward , 
on the 7th of February in the House of Commons, the charge relative 
to the Begum Princesses of Oude , and delivered that celebrated 
Speech 2 , whose effect upon its hearers has no parallel in the annals 
of ancient or modern eloquence. When we recollect the men by 
whom the House of Commons was at that day adorned , and the con- 
flict of high passions and interests in which they had been so lately 
engaged; when we see them all , of all parties, brought (as Mr. 
Pitt expressed il) " under the wand of the enchanter," and only 
vying with each other in their description of the fascination by which 
they were bound ; when we call to mind , too , that he , whom the 
first statesmen of the age thus lauded , had but lately descended 
among them from a more aerial region of intellect, bringing trophies 
falsely supposed to be incompatible with political, prowess -, it is 
impossible to imagine a moment of more entire and intoxicating 
triumph. The only alloy that could mingle with such complete 
success must be the fear that it was too perfect ever to come again ; 
that his fame had then reached the meridian point, and from that 
consummate moment must date its decline. 

Of this remarkable Speech there exists no Report , for it would 

1 Namely, the fruitless prosecution of Lord Clive by General Burgoyne, the 
trifling verdict upou the persons who had imprisoned Lord Pigot, and the Bill of 
Pains anil Penalties against Sir Thomas Rumhold, finally withdrawn. 

3 Mr. Burke declared it to be " the most astonishing effort of eloquence , argu- 
ment, and \vit united, of which there was any record or tradition." Mr. Fox said, 
"All that he had ever heard, all that he had ever read, when compared with it, 
dwindled into nothing, and vanished like vapour before the snn;" and Mr. Pitt 
acknowledged "that it surpassed all the eloquence of ancient and modern times, 
and possessed every thing that genius or art could furnish, to agitate and controul 
the human mind." 

There were several other tributes, of a less distinguished kind, of which I find 
the following account in the Annual Register: 

'' Sir William Dolben immediately moved an adjournment of the debate, con- 
fessing that, in the state of mind in which Mr. Sheridan's speech had left him , it 
was impossible for him to give a determinate opinion. Mr. Stanhope seconded the 
motion. When he had entered the House, he was not ashamed to acknowledge that 
his opinion inclined to the side of Mr. Hastings. But such had been the wonderful 
efficacy of Mr. Sheridan's convincing detail of facts, an'd irresistible eloquence, 
thai he could not but say that his sentiments were materially changed. Nothing, 
indeed, hat information almost equal to a miracle, could determine him not to 
vote for the charge; hut he had just felt the influence of such a miracle, and ho 
could not bnt ardently desire to avoid an immediate decision. Mr. Matthew Mou- 
tasne confessed that he had felt a similar revolution of sentiment." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 21!) 

bo absurd to dignify with that appellation the meagre and lifeless 
sketch , the 

Tenuem sine i>iribu& urnbram 
Infaciem ^Knece, 

which is given in the Annual Registers and Parliamentary Debates. 
Us fame, therefore, remains like an empty shrine a cenotaph still 
crowned and honoured, though the inmate is wanting. Mr. Sheridan 
was frequently urged to furnish a Report himself, and from his 
habit of preparing and writing out his speeches , there is little doubt 
that he could have accomplished such a task without much difficulty. 
But, whether from indolence or design, he contented himself with 
leaving to imagination, which , in most cases , he knew , transcends 
reality, the task of justifying his eulogists, and perpetuating the 
tradition of their praise. Nor, in doing thus , did he act perhaps 
unwisely for his fame. We may now indulge in dreams of the elo- 
quence that could produce such effects 1 , as we do of the music of 
the ancients and the miraculous powers attributed to it, with as 
little risk of having our fancies chilled by the perusal of the one , 
as there is of our faith being disenchanted by hearing a single strain 
of the other. 

After saying thus much , it may seem a sort of wilful profanation , 
to turn to the spiritless abstract of this speech , which is to be found 
in all the professed reports of Parliamentary oratory , and which 
stands , like one of those half-clothed mummies in the Sicilian vaults, 
with , here and there , a fragment of rhetorical drapery , to give an 
appearance of life to its marrowless frame. There is, however, one 
passage so strongly marked with the characteristics of Mr. Sheridan's 
talent of his vigorous use of the edge of the blade , with his too 
frequent display of the glitter of the point that it may be looked 
upon as a pretty faithful representation of what he spoke , and claim 
a place among the authentic specimens of his oratory. Adverting 
to some of those admirers of Mr. Hastings , who were not so implicit 
in their partiality as tg give unqualified applause to his crimes., but 
found an excuse for their atrocity in the greatness of his mind , he 
thus proceeds : 

* The following anecdote is given as a proof of the irresistible power of this 
speech in a note upon Mr. ilisset's History of the Reign of George III. : 

"The late Mr. Logan, well known fpr his literary efforts, and author of a most 
masterly defence of Mr. Hastings, went that day to the House of Commons, 
prepossessed for the accused and against his accuser. At the expiration of the first 
liourhe said to a friend, ' All this is declamatory assertion without proof :' when 
the second was finished, This is a most wonderful oration :' at the close of the 
third, 'Mr. Hastings has acted very unjustifiably;' the fourth , 'Mr. Hastings is. 
a most atrocious criminal;' and, at last, ' Of all monsters of iniqnity the iuo.<t 
cnormons is NVaricn HasjiDjjs! ' " 



820 MEMOIRS 

" To estimate the solidity of such a defence, it would be sufficient merely 
to consider in what consisted this prepossessing distinction, this captivating 
characteristic of greatness of mind. Is it not solely to be traced in great 
actions directed to great ends? In them, and them alone, we are to search 
for true estimable magnanimity. To them only can \ve justly affix the 
splendid title and honours of real greatness. There was indeed another 
species of greatness, which displayed itself in boldly conceiving a bad 
measure, and undauntedly pursuing it to its accomplishment. But had 
Mr. Hastings the merit of exhibiting either of these descriptions of 
greatness, even of the latter? He saw nothing great -nothing magna- 
nimous nothing open - nothing direct in his measures or in his mind. 
On the contrary, he had too often pursued the worst objects by the worst 
means. His course was an eternal deviation from rectitude. He either 
tvraunised or deceived; and was by turns a Dionysius and a Scapin '. As 
well might the writhing obliquity of the serpent be compared to the swift 
directness of the arrow, as the duplicity of Mr. Hastings's ambition to the 
simple steadiness of genuine magnanimity- In his mind all was shulfling, 
ambiguous, dark, insidious, and little : nothing simple, nothing unmixed: 
all affected plainness, and actual dissimulation; a heterogenous mass of 
contradictory qualities; with nothing great but his crimes; and even 
those contrasted bv the littleness of his motives, which at once denoted 
both his baseness and his meanness, and marked him for a traitor and a 
trickster. Nay, in his style and writing there was the same mixture of 
vicious contrarieties ; the most grovelling ideas were conveyed in the 
most inflated language, giving mock consequence to low cavils, and 
uttering quibbles in heroics ; so that his compositions disgusted the mind's 
taste, as much as his actions excited the soul's abhorrence. Indeed this 
mixture of character seemed by some unaccountable, but inherent quality, 
to be appropriated, though in inferior degrees, to every thing that 
concerned his employers. He remembered to have heard an honourable 
and learned gentleman (Mr. Dundas) remark, that there was something 
in the first frame and constitution of the Company, which extended the 
sordid principles of their origin over all their successive operations; 
connecting with their civil policy, and even with their boldest achieve- 
ments, the meanness of a pedlar and the profligacy of pirates. Alike in 
the political and the military line could be observed auctioneering ambas- 
sadors and trading generals; and thus we saw a revolution brought 
about by affidavits ; an army employed in executing an arrest; a town 
besieged on a note of hand; a prince dethroned for the balance of nil 
account. Thus it was they exhibited a government which united the mock 
majesty of a bloody sceptre, and the little traffic of a merchant's counting- 
house, wielding a truncheon with one hand, and picking a pocket with 
the other." 

The effect of this speech , added to the line taken by the Minister, 

turned the balance against Hastings , and decided the Impeachment. 

Congratulations on his success poured in upon Mr. Sheridan, as 

1 The spirit of I his observation has been \\ellcomlensed in lh compound n;unc 
given by the Abbe dc Piadt to Napoleon " Jupiter-Scapiu." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 231 

hiay be supposed , from all quarters -, and the letters that he received 
from his own family on the occasion were preserved by him care- 
fully and fondly through life. The following extract from one written 
by Charles Sheridan is highly honourable to both brothers . 

" Mv DEAR DICK, Dublin Castle, i"5th February, 1787. 

''Could I for a moment forget you were my brother, I should, merely as 
an Irishman, think myself bound to thank you, for the high credit you have 
done your country. You may be assured, therefore, that the sense of national 
pride, which I in common with all your countrymen on this side of the water 
must feel on this splendid occasion, acquires no small increase of personal 
satisfaction, when I reflect to whom Ireland is indebted, for a display of 
ability so unequalled, that the honour derived from it seems too extensive 
to be concentered in an individual, but ought to give, and I am persuaded 
will give, anew respect for the name of Irishman. I have heard and read the 
accounts of your speech, and of the astonishing impression it made, with 
tears of exultation : but what will flatter you more I can solemnly de- 
clare it to be a fact, that I have, since the news reached us, seen good 
honest Irish pride, national pride I mean, bring tears into the eyes of 
many persons, on this occasion, who never saw you. I need not, after 
what I have stated, assure you, that it is with the most heart-felt satis- 
faction that I offer you my warmest congratulations. " * * * 

The following is from his eldest sister, Mrs. Joseph Lefanu : 

" MY DEAR BROTHER, \Qth February, 1787. 

" The day before yesterday I received the account of your glorious 
speech. Mr. Crauford was so good as to write a more particular and satis- 
factory one to Mr. Lefanu than we could have received from the papers. 
I have watched the first interval of ease from a cruel and almost inces- 
sant head-ache to give vent to my feelings, and tell you how much I 
rejoice in your success. May it be entire! May the God who fashioned 
you , and gave you powers to sway the hearts of men and controul their 
way ward wills , be equally favourable to you in all your undertakings, 
and make your reward here and hereafter! Amen , from the bottom of 
my soul ! My affection for you has been ever ' passing the love of women.' 
Adverse circumstances have deprived me of the pleasure of your society, 
but have had no effect in weakening my regard for you. I know your 
heart too well to suppose that regard is indifferent to you, and soothingly 
sweet to me is the idea that, in some pause of thought from the im- 
portant matters that occupy your mind, your earliest friend is sometimes 
recollected by you. 

" I know you are much above the little vanity that seeks its gratifica- 
tion in the praises of the million, but you must be pleased with the ap- 
plause of the discerning, with the tribute I may say of affection paid to 
the goodness of your heart. People love your character as much as they 
admire your talents. My father is, in a degree that I did not expect, gra- 
tified with the general attention you have excited here : he seems truly 
pleased that men should say, 'There goes the father of Gaul.' If your 



MEMOIRS 

fame has shed a ray of brightness over all so distinguished as to be con- 
nected with you, 1 am sure I may say it has infused a ray of gladness into 
my heart, deprest as it has been with ill health and long confinement." 

There is also another letter from this lady , of the same date, to 
Mrs. Sheridan , which begins thus enthusiastically : 

" MY DEAR SHERI. 

" Nothing but death could keep me silent on such an occasion as this. 
I wish you joy I am sure you feel it: 'oh moments worth whole ages 
past, and all that are to come.' You may laugh at my enthusiasm if you 
please I glory in it." ' 

In the month of April following, Mr. Sheridan opened the Seventh 
Charge , which accused Hastings of corruption , in receiving bribes 
and presents. The orator was here again lucky in having a branch 
of the case allotted to him, which, though by no means so susceptible 
of the ornaments of eloquence as the former , had the advantage of 
being equally borne out by testimony , and formed one of the most 
decided features of the cause. The avidity, indeed, with which 
Hastings exacted presents , and then concealed them as long as 
there was a chance of his being able to appropriate them to himself, 
gave a mean and ordinary air to iniquities , whose magnitude would 
otherwise have rendered them imposing, if not grand. 

The circumstances , under which the present from Cheyte Sing 
was exlorled , shall be related when I come to speak of the great 
Speech in Westminster Hall. The other strong cases of corruption , 
on which Mr. Sheridan now dwelt, were the sums given by the 
Munny Begum (in return for her appointment to a trust for which , 
it appears , she was unfit,) both to Hastings himself and his useful 
agent, Middlelon. This charge, as far as regards the latter, was 
never denied and the suspicious lengths to which the Governor 
General went , in not only refusing all enquiry into his own share 
of the transaction , but having his accuser, Nuncomar, silenced by 
an unjust sentence of death , render his acquittal on this charge such 
a stretch of charity, as nothing but a total ignorance of the evidence 
and all its bearings can justify. 

The following passage, with which Sheridan wound up his Speech 
on this occasion , is as strong an example as can be adduced of that 
worst sort of florid style, which prolongs metaphor into allegory, 
and , instead of giving in a single sentence me essence of many 
flowers , spreads the flowers themselves , in crude heaps , over a 
whole paragraph : 

" In conclusion, (he observed,) that, although within this rank , but 
infinitely too fruitful wilderness of iniquities within this dismal and 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. m 

unhallowed labyrinth it was most natural lo cast an eye of indignation 
and concern o\er the wide and towering forest of enormities all rising 
in the dusky magnificence of guilt ; and to fix the dreadfully-excited at- 
tention upon ihe huge trunks of revenge , rapine, tyranny, and oppres- 
sion ; \ et it became not less necessary to trace out the poisonous weeds, 
Ihc baleful brushwood, and all the little, creeping, deadly plants, which 
were, in quantity and extent, if possible, more noxious. The whole range 
of this far- spreading calamity was sown in the hot-bed of corruption ; 
:ind had risen, by rapid and mature growth, into every species of illegal 
;uid atrocious violence " 

At the commencement of the proceedings against Hastings , an 
occurrence immediately connected with them, had brought Sheridan 
and his early friend Halhed together, under circumstances as dif- 
ferent as well can be imagined from those under which they had 
parted , as boys. The distance , indeed , that had separated them in 
the interval was hardly greater than the divergence that had taken 
place in their pursuits , for, while Sheridan had been converted into 
a senator and statesman , the lively Halhed had become an East 
Indian Judge , and a learned commentator on the Gentoo Laws. 
Upon the subject , too , on which they now met , their views and 
interests were wholly opposite, Sheridan being the accuser of 
Hastings, and Halhed his friend v The following are the public cir- 
cumstances that led to their interview : 

In one of the earliest debates on the Charges against the Governor 
General, Major Scott having asserted that, when Mr. Fox was 
preparing his India Bill, overtures of accommodation had been 
made, by his authority, to Mr. Hastings, added that he (Major 
Scott) "entertained no doubt that, had Mr. Hastings then come 
home , he would have heard nothing of all this calumny, and all 
these serious accusations." Mr. Fox , whom this charge evidently 
took by surprise , replied that he was wholly ignorant of any such 
overtures, and that " whoever made, or even hinted, at such an 
offer, as coming from him , did it without the smallest shadow of 
authority.' 1 By an explanation, a few days after, from Mr. Sheridan , 
it appeared that he was the person who had taken the step alluded 
to by Major Scott. His interference , however, he said , was solely 
founded upon an opinion which he had himself formed with respect 
lo the India Bill , namely, that it would be wiser, on grounds of 
expediency, not lo make it retrospective in any of its clauses. In 
consequence of this opinion , he had certainly commissioned a friend 
lo enquire of Major Scott, whether, if Mr. Hastings were recalled , 
lit 1 would come home,- but " thai there had been the most distant 
idea of bartering with Mr. Hastings for his suppoil of the Indian 
Hill, he utterly denied." In conclusion, he referred, for Hie Irulli 
of what he had now staled, lo Major Scolt, who , instantly rising , 



52* MEMOIRS 

acknowledged thai , from enquiries which he had since made of ihc 
gentleman deputed to him by Mr. Sheridan on the occasion , he was 
ready to bear testimony to the fairness of the statement just sub- 
mitted to the House , and to admit his own mistake in the interpre- 
tation which he had put on the transaction. 

It was in relation to this misunderstanding that the interview took 
place in the year 1786 between Sheridan and Halhed the others 
present being Major Scott and Doctor Parr, from whom I heard the 
circumstance. The feelings of this venerable scholar "towards " iste 
Scotus " (as he calls Major Scott in his Preface to Bellendenus) were 
not, it is well known, of the most favourable kind 5 and he took 
the opportunity of this interview to tell that gentleman fully what he 
thought of him : " For ten minutes ," said the Doctor, in des- 
cribing his aggression, " I poured out upon him hot, scalding abuse 
'twas lava , Sir ! " 

Among the other questions that occupied the attention of Mr. She- 
ridan during this session , the most important were the Commercial 
Treaty with France , and the Debts of the Prince of Wales. 

The same erroneous views , by which the opposition to the Irish 
Commercial Propositions was directed, still continued to actuate 
Mr. Fox and his friends in their pertinacious resistance to the 
Treaty with France : a measure which reflects high honour upon 
the memory of Mr. Pilt , as one of the first efforts of a sound and 
liberal policy to break through that system of restriction and inter- 
ference , which had so long embarrassed the flow of international 
commerce. 

The wisdom of leaving trade to find its own way into those chan- 
nels which the reciprocity of wants established among mankind 
opens to it , is one of those obvious truths that have lain long on the 
highways of knowledge , before practical statesmen would condes- 
cend to pick them up. It has been shown , indeed , that the sound 
principles of commerce , which have at last forced their way from 
the pages of thinking men into the councils of legislators, were more 
than a hundred years since promulgated by Sir Dudley North ' , 
and in the Querist of Bishop Berkeley may be found the outlines of all 
that the best friends not only of free trade but of free religion would 
recommend to her rulers of Ireland at the present day . Thus frequently 
does Truth , before the drowsy world is prepared for her, like 

" The nice Morn ou the Indian steep, 
From her cabin'd loophole peep." 

Though Mr. Sheridan spoke frequently in the course of the dis- 
cussions , he does not appear to have , at any time , encountered the 
main body of the question , but to have confined himself chiefly 

' M'Cullocli's Leclnres on Political Economy. 



OF R. B. SHERIDA1N. 92i 

to a consideration <>!' the eflecls . which the treaty would have upon 
the interests of Ireland ; a point which he urged with so much 
earnestness , as to draw down upon him from one of the speakers the 
taunting designation of" Self-appointed Representative of Ireland." 

Mr. Fox was the most active antagonist of the Treaty ; and his 
speeches on the subject may be counted among those feats of prowess, 
\\ilh which the chivalry of Genius sometimes adorns the cause of 
Krror. In founding , as he did , his chief argument against com- 
mercial intercourse upon the " natural enmity " between the two 
countries , he might have referred , it is true , to high Whig au- 
thority : " The late Lord Oxford told me ," says LordBolingbroke, 
" that my Lord Somers being pressed, I know not on what occasion 
or by whom , on the unnecessary and ruinous continuation of the 
war, instead of giving reasons to show the necessity of it , contented 
himself to reply that he had been bred 'up in a hatred to France." 
But no authority, however high , can promote a prejudice into a 
reason , or conciliate any respect for this sort of vague , traditional 
hostility, which is often obliged to seek its own justification in the 
very mischiefs which itself produces. If Mr. Fox ever happened to 
peruse the praises , which his Antigollican sentiments on this oc- 
casion procured for him , from the tedious biographer of his rival, 
Mr. Gifford , he would have suspected , like Phocion , that he must 
have spoken something unworthy of himself, to have drawn down 
upon his head a panegyric from such a quarter. 

Another of Mr. Fox's arguments against entering into commer- 
cial relations with France , was the danger lest English merchants , 
by investing their capital in foreign speculations , should become so 
entangled with the interests of another country as to render them less 
jealous than they ought to be of the honour of their own , and less 
ready to rise in its defence , when wronged or insulted. But , as- 
suredly, a want of pugnacity is not the evil to be dreaded among 
nations still less between two , whom the orator had just repre- 
sented as inspired by a " natural enmity " against each other. He 
ought rather, upon this assumption , to have welcomed the prospect 
of a connection , which , by transfusing and blending their com- 
mercial interests , and giving each a stake in the prosperity of the 
other, would not only soften away the animal antipathy attributed 
to them , but , by enlisting selfishness on the side of peace and amity, 
afford the best guarantee against wanton warfare , that the wisdom 
of statesmen or philosophers has yet devised. 

Mr. Burke , in affecting to consider the question in an enlarged 
point of view , fell equally short of its real dimensions ; and even 
tlescended to the weakness of ridiculing such commercial arrange- 
iniMils, as unworthy altogether of the conlcmplalioft of the higher 



22f, MEMOIRS 

order of statesmen. " The Right Honourable gentleman ," he said , 
" had talked of the treaty as if it were the affair of two little counting- 
houses , and not of two great countries. He seemed to consider it as 
a contention between the sign of the Fleur-de-lis , and the sign of 
the Red Lion , which house should obtain the best custom. Such 
paltry considerations were below his notice." 

In such terms could Burke, from temper or waywardness of judg- 
ment , attempt to depreciate a speech which may be said to have con- 
tained the first luminous statement of the principles of commerce, 
with the most judicious views of their application to details , that 
had ever, at that period , been presented to the House. 

The wise and enlightened opinions of Mr. Pitt , both with res- 
pect to Trade , and another very different subject of legislation , 
Religion , would have been far more worthy of the imitation of some 
of his self-styled followers , than those errors which they are so glad 
to shelter under the sanction of his name. For encroachments upon 
the property and liberty of the subject , for financial waste and un- 
constitutional severity, they have the precedent of their great master 
ever ready on their lips. But , in all that would require wisdom and 
liberality in his copyists in the repugnance he felt to restrictions 
and exclusions , affecting either the worldly commerce of man with 
man, or the spiritual intercourse of man with his God, in all this, 
like the Indian that quarrels with his idol, these pretended followers 
not only dissent from their prototype themselves, but violently de- 
nounce , as mischievous, his opinions when adopted by others. 

In attributing to party feelings the wrong views entertained by the 
Opposition on this question, we should but defend their sagacity 
at the expense of their candour ; and the cordiality, indeed , with 
which they came forward this year to praise the spirited part taken 
fay the Minister in the affairs of Holland even allowing that it 
would be difficult for Whigs not to concur in a measure so national 
sufficiently acquits them of any such perverse spirit of party, as 
would , for the mere sake of opposition , go wrong because the Mi- 
nister was right. To the sincerity of one of their objections to the 
Treaty namely, that it was a design , on the part of France , to 
detach England , by the temptation of a mercantile advantage, from 
her ancient alliance with Holland and her other continental con- 
nections Mr. Burke bore testimony, as far as himself was concern- 
ed , by repeating the same opinions , after an interval of ten years, 
in his testamentary work , the " Letters on a Regicide Peace. 1 ' 

The other important question which I have mentioned as enga- 
ging , during the session of 1787, the attention of Mr. Sheridan , 
was the application to Parliament for the payment of the Prince of 
Wales's debts. The embarrassments of the Heir-Apparent were but;* 



OF H. B. SHERIDAN. }Jt 

natural consequence of his situation ; and a little more graciousness 
and promptitude on the part of the King , in interposing to relieve 
His Royal Highness from the difficulties under which he laboured, 
would have afforded a chance of detaching him from his new poli- 
tical associates, of which , however the affection of the Royal parent 
may have slumbered , it is strange that his sagacity did not hasten 
to avail itself. A contrary system , however , was adopted. The 
haughty indifference both of the monarch and his minister threw 
the Prince entirely on the sympathy of the Opposition. Mr. Pitt 
identified himself with the obstinacy of the father, while Mr. Fox 
and the Opposition committed themselves with the irregularities of 
the son ; and the proceedings of both parties were such as might 
have been expected from their respective connections the Royal 
mark was but too visible upon each. 

One evil consequence , that was on the point of resulting from the 
embarrassed situalion in which the prince newfound himself, was 
his acceptance of a loan which the Duke of Orleans had proffered 
him , and which would have had the perilous tendency of placing 
the future So vereign of England in a slate of dependence , as cre- 
ditor, on a Prince of France. That the negociations in this extraordi- 
nary transaction had proceeded farther than is generally supposed , 
will appear from the following letters of the Duke of Portland to 
Sheridan : 

" DEAR SHERIDAN , Sunday noon , ID Dec. 

*' Since I saw you I have received a confirmation of the intelligence 
which was the subject of our conversation. The particulars varied in no 
respect from those I related to you except in the addition of a pension , 
which is to take place immediately on the event which entitles the cre- 
ditors to payment , and is to be granted for life to a nominee of the D. of 

O s. The loan was mentioned in a mixed company by two of the 

French-women and a Frenchman (none of whose names I know) in 
Calonne's presence, who interrupted them, by asking, how they came 
to know any thing of the matter, then set them right in two or three 
particulars which they had misstated, and afterwards begged them , for 
God's sake , not to talk of it, because it might be their complete ruin. 

*' I am going to Bulstrode but will return at a moment's notice, if I 
can be of the least use in getting rid of this odious engagement , or pre- 
venting its being entered into, if it should not be yet completed. 

.".Yours ever, 

"P." 
" DEAR SHERIDAN, 

" I think myself much obliged to you for what you have done. I hope 
I am not too sanguine in looking to a good conclusion of this bad business. 
1 will certainly be in town by two o'clock. 

" B 'id* t rode , Monday , i4 Dec. " Yours ever, 

9 A. M. t " p. " 



?>s MEMOIRS 

Mr. Sheridan , who was now high in the confidence of the Prince . 
had twice , in the course of the year 1786, taken occasion to allude 
publicly to the embarrassments of His Royal Highness. Indeed , the 
decisive measure which this Illustrious Person himself had adopted , 
in reducing his establishment , and devoting a part of his income to 
Ihe discharge of his debts , sufficiently proclaimed the (rue state of 
affairs to the public. Still, however, the strange policy was perse- 
vered in , of adding the discontent of the Heir-Apparent to the other 
weapons in the hands of the Opposition ; and , as might be expect- 
ed , Ihey were not tardy in turning it to account. In the spring of 
1787, the embarrassed state of His Royal Highness's affairs was 
brought formally under the notice of parliament by Alderman 
Newenham. 

During one of the discussions to which the subject gave rise , 
Mr. Rolle, the member for Devonshire, a strong adherent of the 
ministry, in deprecating the question about to be agitated , affirmed 
that " it went immediately to affect our Constitution in Church and 
Stale." In these solemn words it was well understood, that he al- 
luded to a report at that time generally believed , and , indeed , 
acted upon by many in the etiquette of private life , that a marriage 
had been solemnized between the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Filz- 
licrbcrt a lady of the Roman Catholic persuasion , who , with more 
danger to her own peace than to that of either Church or State , had 
for some time been the distinguished object of His Royal Highness's 
affection. 

Even had an alliance of this description taken place, the provisions 
of the Royal Marriage Act would have nullified it into a mere 
ceremony, inefficient, as it was supposed, for any other purpose 
than that of satisfying the scruples of one of the parties. But that 
dread of Popery, which in England starts at its own shadow, took 
alarm at the consequences of an intercourse so heterodox; and it 
became necessary, in the opinion of the Prince and his friends , 
to put an end to the apprehensions that were abroad on the subject. 

Nor can it be denied that , in the minds of those who believed 
that the marriage had been actually solemnized ', there were, in one 
point of view , very sufficient grounds of alarm. By the Statute of 
William and Mary, commonly called the Bill of Rights, it is enacted, 
among other causes of exclusion from the throne, that " every 
person who shall marry a Papist shall be excluded, and for ever be 
incapable to inherit the crown of this realm. "In such cases (adds 
this truly revolutionary Act) " the people of these realms shall be 
and are hereby absolved of their allegiance. " Under this Act, 

' Home Tooke, in his insidious pamphlet on the subject, presumed so far on 
this belief as to call Mrs. Fitzherbert "Her Royal Highness." 



01 15. D. SHERIDAN 2J9 

\vhich was confirmed fay the Act of Settlement, it is evident that the 
Heir Apparent would , by such a marriage as was now attributed to 
him , have forfeited his right of succession to the throne. From so 
serious a penalty, however, it was generally supposed, he would 
have been exempted by the operation of the Royal marriage Act 
(12 George III.) 5 which rendered null and void any marriage 
>nfracted by any descendant of George II. without the previous 
consent of the King, or a twelvemonth's notice given to the Privy 
Council. 

That this Act would have nullified the alleged marriage of the 
Prince of Wales there is , of course, no doubt; but that it would 
have also exempted him from the forfeiture incurred by marriage 
with a Papist, is a point which, in the minds of many, still remains 
a question. There are, it is well known, analogous cases in Law, 
where the nullity of an illegal transaction does not do away the 
penalty attached to it x . To persons, therefore, who believed that the 
actual solemnization of the marriage could be proved by witnesses 
present at the ceremony , this view of the case , which seemed to 
promise an interruption of the Succession , could not fail to suggest 
some disquieting apprehensions and speculations , which nothing 
short, it was thought, of a public and authentic disavowal of the 
marriage altogether would be able effectually to allay. 

If in politics Princes are unsafe allies, in connections of a tenderer 
nature they are still more perilous partners ; and a triumph over a 
Koyal lover is dearly bought by the various risks and humiliations 
which accompany it. Not only is a lower standard of constancy 
applied to persons of that rank, but when once love-affairs are 
converted into matters of state , there is an end to all the delicacy 
and mystery that ought to encircle them. The disavowal of a Royal 
marriage in the Gazette would have been no novelty in English 
history 3 ; and the disclaimer, on the present occasion, though 
intrusted to a less official medium, was equally public, strong, and 
unceremonious. 

Mr. Fox , who had not been present in the House of Commons 
when the member for Devonshire alluded to the circumstance, took 

' Thus a man , by contracting a second marriage pending the first marriage , 
commits a felony; and the crime, according to its legal description, consists iu 
marrying, or contracting a marriage though what he does is no more a marriage 
than that of the Heir Apparent wonld be nnder the circumstances in question. 

The same principle, it appears, runs through the whole Law of Entails, both 
in England and Scotland ; and a variety of cases might he cited, in which , though 
tfip act done is void , yet the doing of it creates a forfeiture. 

See in Kllis's Lettcis of History, vol. iii, the declarations of Charles M. with 
respect to his marriage with "one Mrs. Walters," signed by himself, and published 
in The London Gazette. 



530 MEMOIRS 

occasion , on the next discussion of the question, and as he declared, 
with the immediate authority of the Prince, to contradict the report 
of the marriage in the fullest and most unqualified terms : it was, 
he said, " a miserable calumny, a low malicious falsehood, which 
had been propagated without doors, and made the wanton sport of 
the vulgar; a tale, tit only to impose upon the lowest orders , a 
monstrous invention, a report of a fact which had not the smallest 
degree of foundation , actually impossible to have happened. " To 
an observation from Mr. Rolle, that " they all knew there was an 
Act of Parliament which forbade such a marriage; but that, though 
it could not be done under the formal sanction of the law , there 
were ways in which it might have taken place , and in which that 
law, in the minds of some persons , might have been satisfactorily 
evaded, " Mr. Fox replied, that "he did not deny the calumny in 
question merely with regard to certain existing laws , but that he 
denied it in toto , in point of fact as well as of law. it not only 
never could have happened legally, but it never did happen in any 
way whatsoever, and had from the beginning been a base and 
malicious falsehood. :: 

Though Mr. Rolle, from either obstinacy or real distrust, refused, 
in spite of the repeated calls of Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Grey, to declare 
himself satisfied with this declaration , it was felt by the minister to 
be at least sufficiently explicit and decisive, to leave him no further 
pretext , in the eyes of the public , for refusing the relief which the 
situation of the Prince required. Accordingly, a message from the 
Crown on the subject of His Royal Highnesses debts was followed 
by an addition to his income of 10,000/. yearly out of the Civil List; 
an issue of 161,000/. from the same source, for the discharge of his 
debts; and 20,000/. on account of the works at Carlton House. 

In the same proportion that this authorised declaration was 
successful in satisfying the public mind, it must naturally have been 
painful and humiliating to the person whose honour was involved 
in it. The immediate consequence of this feeling was a breach 
between that person and Mr. Fox, which, notwithstanding the 
continuance , for so many years after , of the attachment of both to 
the same illustrious object , remained'it is understood, unreconciled 
to the last. 

If, in the first movement of sympathy with the pain excited in that 
quarter, a retractation of this public disavowal was thought of, the 
impossibility of finding any creditable medium through which to 
convey it must soon have suggested itself to check the intention. 
Some middle course , however, it was thought might be adopted ., 
which, without going the full length of retracting, might lend at least 
to unsettle the impression left upon the public, and. in some degree, 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. i 

retrieve that loss of station, which a disclaimer, coining in such an 
authentic shape, had entailed. To ask Mr. Fox to discredit his own 
statement was impossible. An application was, therefore, made to a 
young member of the parly, who was then fast rising into the 
eminence which he has since so nobly sustained, and whose answer 
to the proposal is said to have betrayed some of that unaccommodating 
liijih-mindedness which, in more than one collision with Royalty, 
has proved him but an unfit adjunct to a Court. The reply to his 
refusal was, " Then, I must get Sheridan to say something; " and 
hence , it seems was the origin of those few dexterously unmeaning 
compliments, with which the latter, when the motion of Alderman 
Newenham was withdrawn , endeavoured, without in the least degree 
weakening the declaration of Mr. Fox, to restore that equilibrium 
of temper and self-esteem , which such a sacrifice of gallantry to 
expediency had naturally disturbed. In alluding to the offer of the 
Prince, through Mr. Fox, to answer any questions upon the subject 
of his reported marriage, which it might be thought proper to put 
to him in the House, Mr. Sheridan said, " That no such idea had 
been pursued , and no such enquiry had been adopted, was a point 
which did credit to the decorum, the feelings, and the dignity of 
Parliament. But whilst His Royal Highness's feelings had no doubt 
been considered on this occasion, he must take the liberty of saying , 
however some might think it a subordinate consideration, that there 
was another person entitled , in every delicate and honourable mind, 
to the same attention ; one , whom he would not otherwise venture 
to describe or allude to, but by saying it was a name, which malice 
or ignorance alone could attempt to injure , and whose character and 
conduct claimed and were entitled to the truest respect. 1 ' 

CHAPTER XI. 

Impeachment of Mr. Hastings. 

THE motion of Mr. Burke on the 10th of May, 1787, "That 
Warren Hastings, Esq., be impeached," having been carried with- 
out a division, Mr. Sheridan was appointed one of the Managers, 
" to make good the Articles" of the Impeachment ; and, on the 3d 
of June in the following year, brought forward the same Charge in 
Westminster Hall which he had already enforced with such wonder- 
ful talent in the House of Commons. 

To be called upon for a second great effort of eloquence , on a 
subject of which all the facts and the bearings remained the same , 
^;s, it must be acknowledged, no ordinary trial to even the most 
fertile genius ; and Mr. Fox , it is said , hopeless of any second flight 



232 MEMOIRS 

ever rising toihe grand elevation of the tirst , advised that the former 
Speech should be , with very little change , repealed. But such a 
plan, however welcome it might be to the indolence of his friend, 
would have looked too like an acknowledgment of exhaustion on the 
subject , to be submitted to by one so justly confident in the resources 
both of his reason and fancy. Accordingly , he had the glory of 
again opening , in the very same field , a new and abundant spring 
of eloquence, which, during four days, diffused its enchantment 
among an assembly of the most illustrious persons of the land , and 
of which Mr. Burke pronounced at its conclusion, that " of all the 
various species of oratory , of every kind of eloquence that had been 
heard , either in ancient or modern limes ; whatever Ihe acuteness 
of the bar, the dignity of Ihe senate , or Ihe morality of Ihe pulpil, 
could furnish , had nol been equal lo what that House had that day 
heard in Westminsler Hall. No holy religionist, no man of any 
description as a lilerary character, could have come up, in the one 
instance, to the pure senlimenls of morality , or in Ihe other , to the 
varicly of knowledge , force of imaginalion , propriely and vivacity 
of allusion , beauty and elegance of diction , and strength of ex- 
pression , lo which they had that day listened. From poetry up lo 
eloquence there was not a species of composition of which a com- 
plete and perfect specimen might not have been culled, from one 
part or the other of Ihe speech to which he alluded, and which , he 
was persuaded , had left too strong an impression on the minds of 
that House to be easily obliterated." 

As some atonement to the world for the loss of the Speech in the 
House of Commons , this second masler-piece of eloquence on the 
same subject has been preserved to us in a Report , from the short- 
hand notes of Mr. Gurney , which was for some time in the pos- 
session of the late Duke of Norfolk , but was afterwards restored lo 
Mr. Sheridan , and is now in my hands. 

In order to enable the reader fully to understand the extracts from 
this Report which I am about to give, it will be necessary to detail 
briefly the history of the Iransaclion, on which the charge brought 
forward in the Speech was founded. 

Among the native Princes who , on the transfer of the sceptre of 
Tamerlane to the East India Company , became tributaries or rather 
slaves to that Honourable body , none seems to have been treated 
with more capricious cruelty than Cheyte Sing, the Rajah of Benares. 
In defiance of a solemn treaty , entered into between him and the 
government of Mr. Hastings , by which it was stipulated that, be- 
sides his fixed tribute , no further demands of any kind , should be 
made upon him , new exactions were every year enforced ; while 
Ihe humble remonstrances of the Rajah against such gross injustice 



01- it. H. SHERIDAN. 333 

were not only treated with slight, hut punished b\ jirhilrary and 
enormous tines. Even the proffer of a bribe succeeded only in being 
accepted ' the exactions which it was intended to avert being con- 
tinued as rigorously as before. At length , in the year 1781 , Mr. 
Hastings, who invariably, among the objects of his government, 
placed the interests of Leadenhall-Slreet first on the list, and those 
oi justice and humanity longo inlervallo after , finding the trea- 
sury of the Company in a very exhausted state, resolved to sacrifice 
this unlucky Rajah to their replenishment ; and having , as a pre- 
liminary step, imposed upon him a mulct of 500,0007., set out 
immediately for his capital, Benares, to compel the payment of it. 
Here , after rejecting with insult the suppliant advances of the 
Prince , he put him under arrest , and imprisoned him in his own 
palace. This violation of the rights and the roof of their sovereign 
drove the people of the whole province into a sudden burst of re- 
bellion, of which Mr. Hastings himself was near being the victim. 
The usual triumph , however , of might over right ensued , the Ra- 
jah's castle was plundered of all its treasures, and his mother, who 
had taken refuge in the fort , and only surrendered it on the express 
stipulation that she and the other princesses should pass out safe from 
the dishonour of search , was , in violation of this condition , and at 
the base suggestion of Mr. Hastings himself 3 , rudely examined and 
despoiled of all her effects. The Governor-General , however , in 
this one instance, incurred the full odium of iniquity without reap- 
ing any of its reward. The treasures found in the castle of the Rajah 
were inconsiderable , and the soldiers , who had shown themselves 
so docile in receiving the lessons of plunder , were found inflexibly 
obstinate in refusing to admit their instructor to a share. Disap- 
pointed, therefore, in the primary object of his expedition, the 
Governor-General looked round for some richer harvest of rapine, 
and the Begums of Oude presented themselves as the most convenient 
victims. These Princesses, the mother and grandmother of the 

1 This was the transaction that formed one of the principal grounds of the 
Seventh Charge brought forward in the House of Commons by Mr. Sheridan. The 
tuspicioQs circumstances attending this present are thus summed up by Mr. Mill : 

"At first, perfect concealment of the transaction such measures, however, 
taken as may, if afterwards necessary, appear to imply a de.sign of future disclo- 
sure; when concealment becomes difficult and hazardous, then disclosure is made." 

History of 'British India 

* In his letter to the Commanding Officer at Bidgegur, The following are the 
terms in which he conveys the hint : I apprehend that she will contrive to 
defraud the captors of a considerable part of the booty, by heiug suffered to retire 
without examination. But this is your consideration, and not mine. I should !> 
\ery sorry that your officers and soldiers lost any part of the reward to which 
they are so well entitled; but I cannot make any objection , as yon must be the 
best judge of the expediency of the promised indulgence to the Rannee." 



2J4 MEMOIRS 

reigning Nabob of Oude , had been left by the late sovereign in 
possession of certain government-estates , orjaghires, as well as of 
all the treasure that was in his hands at the time of his death , and 
which the orientalized imaginations of the English exaggerated to 
an enormous sum. The present Nabob had evidently looked with an 
eye of cupidity on this wealth , and had been guilty of some acts of 
extortion towards his female relatives , in consequence of which the 
English government had interfered between them , and had even 
guaranteed to the mother of the Nabob the safe possession of her 
property, without any further encroachment whatever. Guarantees 
and treaties, however, were but cobwebs in the way of Mr. Hastings ; 
and on his failure at Benares , he lost no time in concluding an 
agreement with the Nabob , by which (in consideration of certain 
measures of relief to his dominions) this Prince was bound to plunder 
his mother and grandmother of all their property , and place it at the 
disposal of the Governor-General. In order to give a colour of 
justice to this proceeding , it was ' pretended that these Princesses 
had taken advantage of the late insurrection at Benares , to excite a 
similar spirit of revolt in Oude against the reigning Nabob and the 
English government. As Law is but too often , in such cases , the 
ready accomplice of Tyranny , the services of the Chief Justice, Sir 
Elijah Impey , were called in to suslain the accusations ; and the 
wretched mockery was exhibited of a Judge travelling about in 
search of evidence % for the express purpose of proving a charge, 
upon which judgment had been pronounced and punishment decreed 
already. 

The Nabob himself, though sufficiently ready to make the wealth 
of those venerable ladies occasionally minister to his wants , yet 
shrunk back, with natural reluctance, from the summary task now 

1 It was the practice of Mr. Hastings (says Bnrke, in his flue Speech on Mi- 
Pitt's India Bill, March 22, 1786,) to examine the country, and wherever he 
found money to affix guilt. A more dreadful fault could not he alleged against a 
native than that he was rich." 

' Thisjonruey of the Chief Justice in search of evidence is thus happily describ- 
ed hy Sheridan in the Speech : " When , on the 28th of November, he was 
busied at Lucknow on that honourable business , and when , three days after, he 
was found at Chunar, at the distance of 200 miles, still searching for affidavits, 
and, like Hamlet's ghost, exclaiming 'Swear!' his progress on that occasion was 
so whimsically rapid , compared with the gravity of his employ, that an observer 
would be templed to quote again from the same scene, 'Ha! Old 1 ruepeuny, 
canst thoa mole so fast J' the ground?' Here, however, the comparison ceased; 
for, when Sir Elijah made his visit to Lucknow ' to wh^et the almost blunted pur- 
pose 1 of the Nabob, his language was wholly different from thai of the poet, 
for it would have been totally against his purpose to have said , 

Taint uot thy mind , nor let tliy soul contrive 
Agaiust thy mother anght.'" 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. S3S 

imposed upon him ; and it was not till after repeated and peremptory 
remonstrances from Mr. Hastings, that he could be induced to pul 
himself at the head of a body of English troops , and take possession , 
by unrcsisted force , of the town and palace of these Princesses. As 
Hie treasure, however, was still secure in the apartments of the 
women, that circle, within which even the spirit of English 
rapine did not venture , an expedient was adopted to get over this 
inconvenient delicacy. Two aged eunuchs of high rank and distinc- 
tion , the confidential agents of the Begums , were thrown into 
prison , and subjected to a course of starvation and torture , by 
which it was hoped that the feelings of their mistresses might be 
worked upon, and a more speedy surrender of their treasure wrung 
from them. The plan succeeded : upwards of 500,000/. was pro- 
cured to recruit the finances of the Company : and thus, according 
to the usual course of British power in India , rapacity but levied its 
contributions in one quarter, to enable war to pursue its desolating 
career in another. 

To crown all , one of the chief articles of the treaty , by which 
the Nabob was reluctantly induced to concur in these atrocious 
measures , was , as soon as the object had been gained , infringed 
by Mr. Hastings, who, in a letter to his colleagues in the govern- 
ment, honestly confesses that the concession of that article was only 
a fraudulent artifice of diplomacy , and never intended to be carried 
into effect. 

Such is an outline of the case , which , with all its aggravating 
details , Mr. Sheridan had to state in these two memorable Speeches 5 
and it was certainly most fortunate for the display of his peculiar 
powers , that this should be the Charge confided to his management. 
For , not only was it the strongest , and susceptible of the highest 
charge of colouring , but it had also the advantage of grouping to- 
gether all the principal delinquents of the trial , and affording a 
gradation of hue , from the showy and prominent enormities of the 
Governor-General and Sir Elijah Impey in the front of the picture , 
to the subordinate and half-tint iniquity of the Middletons and 
Bristows in the back-ground. 

Mr. Burke, it appears, had at first reserved this grand part in 
the drama of the Impeachment for himself 5 but, finding that She- 
ridan had also fixed his mind upon it , he , without hesitation , re- 
signed it into his hands ; thus proving the sincerity of his zeal in the 
cause 1 , by sacrificing even the vanity of talent to its success. 

1 Of the lengths to which this zeal could sometimes carry his fancy and lau- 
i;ua{;e, rather, perhaps, than his actual feelings, the following anecdote is a 

i-'-markable proof. On one of the days of the trial, Lord , who was then a boy, 

having been introduced by a relative into the Manager's box,Ruike said to him, 



23G MEMOIRS 

The following letters from him, relative to the Impeachment , 
will be read with interest. The first is addressed to Mrs. Sheridan , 
and was written, I think, early in the proceedings ; the second is to 
Sheridan himself : 

" MADAM, 

" I am sure you will have the goodness to excuse the liberty I tako 
\vith you, when you consider the interest which I have and which the 
Public have (the said Public being, at least, half an inch a taller person 
than I am,) in the use of Mr. Sheridan's abilities. I know that his mind 
is seldom unemployed; but then , like all such great and vigorous minds, 
it takes an eagle flight by itself, and \ve can hardly bring it to rustle 
along the ground, with us birds of meaner wing, in coveys. I only beg 
that you will prevail on Mr. Sheridan to be with us this day , at hall 
after three , in the Committee. Mr. Wombell , the Paymaster of Oude , 
is to be examined there to-day. Oude is Mr. Sheridan's particular pro- 
vince ; and I do most seriously ask that he would favour us with bis as- 
sistance. What will come of the examination I know not; but, without 
him, I do not expect a great deal from it; with him, I fancy we may get 
out something material. Once more let me intreat your interest with 
Mr. Sheridan and your forgiveness for being troublesome to you, and to 
do me the justice to believe me, with the most sincere respect, 
" Madam, your most obedient 

" and faithful humble Servant , 
" Thursday , 9 o'clock. " EI>M. BURKE." 

" MY DEAR SIR, 

" You have only to wish to be excused to succeed in your wishes; 
for, indeed, he must be a great enemy to himself who can consent , on 
account of a momentary ill-humour, to keep himself at a distance 
from you. 

" Well, all will turn out. right, and half of you , or a quarter, is 
worth five other men. I think that this cause, which was originally 
yours, will be recognized by you, and that you will again possess your- 
self of it. The owner's mark is on it, and all our docking and cropping 
cannot hinder its being known and cherished by its original master. My 
most humble respects to Mrs. Sheridan. I am happy to find that she takes 
in good part the liberty I presumed to take with her. Grey has done mucb 
and will do every thing. It is a pity that he is not always toned to the 
full extent of his talents. 

"Most truly yours, 
kt Monday. " EDM. BUKKK. 

" I feel a little sickish at the approaching day. I have read much ton 

"I am glad to see yon here I shall be still gladder to see you there (pointing 
to the Peers' seats) I hope you will be in at the death I should like to blood 
vou." 



OF R. B. SHF.RIDAN. ?17 

much, perhaps, ami, in 1 nil h, am but poorly prepared. Many tilings, 
too, have broken in. upon me '." 

Though a Report , however accurate, must always do injustice to 
that effective kind of oratory which is intended rather to be heard 
than read, and, though frequently, the passages, that most roused 
and interested the hearer, are those that seem afterwards the tritest 
and least animating for the reader 2 , yet , with all this disadvantage, 
the celebrated oration in question so well sustains its reputation in 
the perusal , that it would be injustice, having an authentic Report 
in my possession , not to produce some specimens of its style and 
spirit. 

In the course of thfe exordium , after dwelling upon the great 
importance of the enquiry in which they were engaged, and dis- 
claiming for himself and his brother-managers any feeling of per- 
s< mal malice against thedefendanl, or any motive but that of retrieving 
(he honour of the British name in India , and bringing down pu- 
nishment upon those whose inhumanity and injustice had disgraced 
it, he thus proceeds to conciliate the Court by a warm tribute to 
the purity of English justice : 

"However, when I have said this, I trust Your Lordships will not 
believe that, because something is necessary to retrieve the British cha- 
racter, we call for an example to be made, without due and solid proof 
of the guilt of the person whom we pursue: no, my Lords, we know 
well that it is the glory of this Constitution , that not the general fame 
or character of any man not the weight or power of any prosecutor no 
plea of moral or political expediency not even the secret consciousness of 
guilt , which may live in the bosom of the Judge , can justify any British 
Court in passing any sentence , to touch a hair of the head, or an atom , 
in any respect, of the property , of the fame, of the liberty of the poorest 
or meanest subject that breathes the air of this just and free land. We 
know, my Lords, that there can be no legal guilt without legal proof, 
and that the rule which defines the evidence is as much the law of the 
land as that which creates the crime. It is upon that ground we mean to 
stand." 

Among those ready equivocations and disavowals , to which 
Mr. Hastings had recourse upon every emergency, and in which 
practice seems to have rendered him as shameless as expert , the 
step which he took with regard to his own defence during the trial 
was not the least remarkable for promptness and audacity. He had, 

1 For this letter, as well as some other valuable communications, I am indebted 
tn the kindness of Mr. Burgess, the Solicitor and friend of Sheridan during the 
last twenty years of his life. 

1 The converse assertion is almost equally true. Mr. Fox ned to ask of a 
printed speech, 'Does it read well?" and if answered in the affirmative, said, 
" Then it was a bad speech." 



23S MEMOIRS 

at the commencement of the prosecution , delivered at the bar of 
the House of Commons , as his own , a written refutation of the 
charges then pending against him in that House, declaring , at the 
same time , that " if truth could tend to convict him , he was con- 
tent to be, himself, the channel to convey it." Afterwards, however, 
on finding that he had committed himself rather imprudently in this 
defence , he came forward to disclaim it at the bar of the House of 
Lords , and brought his friend Major Scott to prove that it had been 
drawn up by Messrs. Shore, Middle ton , etc. etc. that he him- 
self had not even seen it, and therefore ought not to be held 
accountable for its contents. In adverting to this extraordinary eva- 
sion , Mr. Sheridan thus shrewdly and playfully exposes all the 
persons concerned in it : 

" Major Scott conies to your bar describes the shortness of time re- 
presents Mr. Hastings as it were contracting for A character putting his 
memory into commission making departments for his conscience. A 
number of friends meet together , and he, knowing (no doubt) that the 
accusation of the Commons had been drawn up by a Committee, thought 
it necessary, as a point of punctilio, to answer it by a Committee also. 
One furnishes the raw material of fact , the second spins the argument , 
and the third twines up the conclusion; while Mr. Hastings, with a 
master's eye, is cheering and looking over this loom. He says to one, 
' You have got my good faith in your hands you, my veracity to ma- 
nage. Mr. Shore, I hope you will make me a good financier Mr. Mid- 
dleton, you have my humanity in commission.' When it is done, he 
brings it to the House of Commons , and says, ' I was equal to the task. 
I knew the difficulties, but I scorn them : here is the truth, and if the 
truth will convict me, I am content myself to be the channel of it.' His 
friends bold up their heads, and say, 'What noble magnanimity! This 
must be the effect of conscious and real innocence.' Well, it is so received, 
it is so argued upon, but it fails of its effect 

*' Then says Mr. Hastings, ' That my defence ! no, mere journeyman- 
work, good enough for the Commons, but not fit for Your Lordships' 
consideration.' He then calls upon his Counsel to save him : ' I fear 
none of my accuser's witnesses I know some of them well I know 
the weakness of their memory , and the strength of their attachment I 
fear no testimony but my own save me from the peril of my own pane- 
gyric preserve me from that, and I shall be safe.' Then is this plea 
brought to Your Lordships' bar, and Major Scott gravely asserts, that 
Mr. Hastings did, at the bar of the House of Commons, vouch for facts 
of which he was ignorant , and for arguments which he had never read. 

" After such an attempt, we certainly are left in doubt to decide, to 
which set of his friends Mr. Hastings is the least obliged, those who as- 
sisted him in making his defence, or those who advised him to deny it." 

He thus describes the feelings of the people of the East with 
respect to the unapproachable sanctity of their Zenanas ; 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 539 

" It is too much, I am afraid , the case, that persons, used to Euro- 
pean manners do not take up these sort of considerations at first with 
the seriousness that is necessary. For Your Lordships cannot even learn 
the right nature of those people's feelings and prejudices from any his- 
tory oi oilier Mahometan countries, not even from that of the Turks , 
for they are a mean and degraded race in comparison with many of these 
great families, who, inheriting from their Persian ancestors, preserve a 
purer style of prejudice and a loftier superstition. Women there are not 
as in Turkey they neither go to the mosque nor to the bath it is not 
the thin veil alone that hides them but in the inmost recesses of their 
Zenana they are kept from public view by those reverenced and protected 
walls, which, as Mr. Hastings and Sir Elijah Impey admit, are held 
sacred even by the ruffian hand of war, or by the more uncourteous hand 
of the law. But, in this situation , they are not confined from a mean and 
selfish policy of man not from a coarse and sensual jealousy enshrined, 
rather than immur. d, their habitation and retreat is a sanctuary, not a 
prison their jealousy is their own a jealousy of their own honour, 
that leads them to regard liberty as a degradation, and the gaze of even 
admiring eyes as inexpiable pollution to the purity of their fame and the 
sanctity of their honour. 

" Such being the general opinion, (or prejudices, let them be called,) 
of this country, Your Lordships will find, that whatever treasures were 
given or lodged in a Zenana of this description must, upon the evidence 
of the thing itself, be placed beyond the reach of resumption. To dispute 
with the Counsel about the original right to those treasures to talk of a 
title to them by the Mahometan law ! their title to them is the title of 
a Saint to the relics upon an altar, placed there by Piety ' , guarded by 
holy Superstition, and to be snatched from thence only by Sacrilege." 

In showing lhat the Nabob was driven to this robbery of his 
relatives by other considerations than those of the pretended re- 
bellion, which was afterwards conjured up by Mr. Hastings to 
justify it, " he says, 

" The fact is, that through all his defences through all his various 
false suggestions through all these various rebellions and disaffections , 
Mr. Hastings never once lets go this plea of tinextinguishable right in 
the Nabob. He constantly represents the seizing the treasures as a re- 
sumption of a right which he could not part with ; as if there were lite- 
rally something in the Koran , that made it criminal in a true Mussulman 
to keep his engagements with his relations, and impious in a son to 
abstain from plundering his mother. I do gravely assure Your Lordships 

1 This metaphor was rather roughly handled afterwards (1794) by Mr. Law, 
one of the adverse Counsel , who asked , how could the Regain be considered as 
''a Saint," or how were the camels, which formed part of the treasure, to be 
" placed upon the altar?" Sheridan, in reply, said, " It was the first time in hi 
life he had ever heard of special pleading on a metaphor, or a bill of indictment 
.i-.iinst a trope. But such was the tarn of the Learned Counsel's miud , that, when 
he attempted to be humorous, no jest could be found, and, when serious, no 
fact was risible." 



540 MEMOIRS 

that there is no such doctrine in the Koran, and no such principle 
makes a part in the civil or municipal jurisprudence of that country. 
Even after these Princesses had been endeavouring to dethrone the Nahob 
and to extirpate the English, the only plea the Nahob ever makes, is his 
right under the Mahomedan law; and the truth is, he appears never to 
have heard any other reason, and I pledge myself to make it appear to 
Your Lordships, however extraordinary it may be , that not only had the 
Nabob never heard of the rebellion till the moment of seizing the palace, 
but, still further, that he never heard of it at all; that this extraor- 
dinary rebellion , which was as notorious as the rebellion of ij$ in Lon- 
don, was carefully concealed from those two parties the Begums who 
plotted it, and the Nabob who was to be the victim of it. 

" The existence of this rebellion was not the secret, but the notoriety 
of it was the secret ; it was a rebellion which had for its object the 
destruction of no human creature but those who planned it; it was a 
rebellion which, according to Mr. Middleton's expression, no man, 
either horse or foot, ever marched to quell. The Chief Justice was the 
only man who took the field against it, the force against which it was 
raised, instantly withdrew to give it elbow-room, and, even then, it 
was a rebellion which perversely showed itself in acts of hospitality to 
the Nabob whom it was to dethrone , and to the English whom it was to 
extirpate ; it was a rebellion plotted by two feeble old women , headed 
by two eunuchs , and suppressed by an affidavit." 

The acceptance , or rather exaction , of the private present 
of 100,000/. is thus animadverted upon : 

" My Lords, such was the distressed situation of the Nabob about a 
twelvemonth before Mr. Hastings met him at Chunar. It was a twelve- 
month , I say , after this miserable scene a mighty period in the progress 
of British rapacity it was ( if the Counsel will) after some natural cala- 
mities had aided the superior rigour of British violence and rapacity it 
was after the country had felt other calamities besides the English it 
was after the angry dispensations of Providence had, with a progressive 
severity of chastisement, visited the land with a famine one year, and 
with a Col. Hannay the next it was after he, this Hannay, had returned 
to retrace the steps of his former ravages it was after he and his voracious 
crew had come to plunder ruins which himself had made, and to glean 
from desolation the little that famine had spared , or rapine overlooked ; 
then it was that this miserable , bankrupt Prince marching, through 
his country, besieged by the clamours of his starving subjects, who cried 
to him for protection through their cages meeting the curses of some 
of his subjects, and the prayers of others with famine at his heels, and 
reproach following him, then it was that this Prince is represented as 
exercising this act of prodigal bounty to the very man whom he here 
reproaches to the very man whose policy had extinguished his power, 
and whose creatures had desolated his country. To talk of a free-will gift ! 
it is audacious and ridiculous to name the supposition. It was not a free- 
will gift. What was it then ? was it a bribe ? or was it extortion ? I shall 
prove it was both it was an act of gross bribery and of rank extortion." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 8*1 

Again he thus adverts to this present : 

" The first, thing he does , is to leave Calcutta, in order to go to the 
relief of the distressed Nabob. The second thing, is to take ioo,ooo/. from 
that distressed Nabob on account of the distressed Company. And the 
third tiling is to ask of the distressed company this very same sum, on 
account of the distresses of Mr. Hastings. There never were three dis- 
tresses that seemed so little reconcileable with one another." 

Anticipating the plea of slate-necessity, which might possibly be 
set up in defence of the measures of the Governor-General , he 
breaks out into the following rhetorical passage : 

"State necessity! no, my Lords; that imperial tyrant, State-Neces- 
sity, is yet a generous despot, bold is his demeanour, rapid his deci- 
sions, and terrible his grasp. But what he does, my Lords, he dares 
avow, and, avowing, scorns any other justification, than the great mo- 
tives that placed the iron sceptre in his hand. But a quibbling, pilfering, 
prevaricating State-Necessity , that tries to skulk behind the skirts of 
Justice; a State-Necessity that tries to steal a pitiful justification from 
whispered accusations and fabricated rumours; No, my Lords, that is 
no State-Necessity; tear off the mask, and you see coarse, vulgar ava- 
rice, you see peculation, lurking under the gaudy disguise, and adding 
the guilt of libelling the public honour toils own private fraud. 

" My Lords , I say this, because I am sure the Managers would make 
every allowance that state-necessity could claim upon any great emer- 
gency. If any great man in bearing the arms of this country; if any 
Admiral, bearing the vengeance and the glory of Britain to distant coasts, 
should be compelled to some rash acts of violence, in order, perhaps , to 
give food to those who are shedding their blood for Britain ; if any great 
General, defending some fortress, barren itself, perhaps, but a pledge 
of the pride, and, with the pride, of the power of Britain ; if such a man 
were to * * * while he himself was * * at the top, like an eagle 
besieged in its imperial nest ' ; would the Commons of England come 
to accuse or to arraign such acts of state-necessity ? No." 

In describing that swarm of English pensioners and placemen , 
who were still , in violation of the late purchased treaty, left to 
prey on the finances of the Nabob , he says , 

"Here we find they were left, as heavy a weight upon the Nabob as 
over, left there with as keen an appetite, though not so clamorous. 
They were reclining on the roots and shades of that spacious tree, which 
their predecessors had stripped, branch and bough watching with 
eager eyes the first budding of a future prosperity, and of the opening 
karvest which they considered as the prey of their perseverance and 
rapacity." 

We have, in the close of the following passage, a specimen of 

1 The Reporter, at many of these passages, seems to have thrown aside his pea 
in despair. 

16 



242 MEMOIRS 

lhal lofty style, in which, as if under the influence of Eastern 
associations , almost all the Managers of this Trial occasionally in- 
dulged ' . 

" I do not mean to say that Mr. Middleton had direct instructions from 
Mr. Hastings, thathetold him to go, and give that fallacious assurance to 
the Nabob, that he had that order under his hand. No hut in looking 
attentively over Mr. Middleton's correspondence, you will find him say, 
upon a more important occasion, ' I don't expect your public authority 
for this; it is enough if you hut hint your pleasure.' He knew him well ; 
he could interpret every nod and motion of that head ; he understood the 
glances of that eye which sealed the perdition of nations, and at whose 
llirone Princes waited, in pale expectation , for their fortune or their 
doom." 

The following is one of those laboured passages , of which the 
orator himself ,was perhaps most proud , but in which Ihe effort 
to be eloquent is too visible, and the effect, accordingly, falls short 
of the pretension : 

" You see how Truth empowered hy that will which gives a giant's 
nerve to an infant's arm has hurst the monstrous mass of fraud that has 
endeavoured to suppress it calls now to Your Lordships, in the weak 
but clear tone of that Cherub, Innocence, whose voice is more persuasive 
than eloquence , more convincing than argument , whose look is suppli- 
cation, whose tone is conviction, it calls upon you for redress, it calls 
upon you for vengeance upon the oppressor, and points its heaven-di- 
rected hand to the detested, but unrepenting author of its wrongs !" 

His description of the desolation brought upon some provinces 
ofOudc by the misgovernment of Colonel Hannay, and of the in- 
surrection at Goruckporc against that officer in consequence, is, 
perhaps, the most masterly porlion of the whole speech : 

" If we could suppose 9 person to have come suddenly into the country, 
unacquinted with any circumstances that had passed since the days of Sujah 
ulDowlah, he would naturally ask what cruel hand has wrought this wide 
desolation, what barbarian foe has invaded the country, has desolated its 
fields, depopulated its villages ? He would ask , what disputed succession 

' Much of this, however, is to be set down to the gratuitous bombast of the 
Reporter. Mr. Fox, for instance, is made to say, "\es, my Lords, happy is it for 
the world, that the penetrating gaze of Providence searches after man, and in the 
dark den where he has stifled the remonstrances of conscience, darts his compnl- 
satory ray, that, bursting the secrecy of guilt, drives the criminal frantic to con- 
fession and expiation." History of the Trial. Even one of the Counsel , Mr. Dallas, 
is represented as having caught this Oriental contagion , to such a degree as to 
express himself in the following manner: "We are now, however, (said the 
Counsel) advancing from the star-light of Circumstance to the day light of 
Discovery; the sun of Certainty is melting the darkness, aad we are arrived at 
facts adm itted hy both parlies '. " 



OF R. B SHERIDAN. 5*3 

civil rage, or frenzy of the inhabitants, had induced them to act in hosti- 
lity to the words of God, and the beauteous works of man? He would 
ask , what religious zeal or frenzy had added to the mad despair and 
horrors of war? The ruin is unlike any thing that appears recorded in 
any age; it looks like neither the barbarities of men, nor the judgments 
of vindictive heaven. There is a waste of desolation, as if caused by fell 
destroyers, never meaning to return, and making but a short period, of 
I heir rapacity. It looks as if some fabled monster had made its passage 
through the country, whose pestiferous breath had blasted more than its 
voracious appetite could devour. 

" If there had been any men in the country, who had not their hearts 
and souls so subdued by fear, as to refuse to speak the truth at all upon 
such a subject, they would have told him there had been no war since 
the time of Sujah ul Dowlah, tyrant, indeed, as he was, but then deeply 
regretted by his subjects that no hostile blow of auy enemy had been 
struck in that land that there had been no disputed succession no civil 
war no religious frenzy. But that these were the tokens of British 
friendship, the marks left by the embraces of British allies ^more dread- 
ful than the blows of the bitterest enemy. They would tell him that these 
allies had converted a prince into a slave , to make him the principal in 
the extortion upon his subjects ; that their rapacity increased in propor- 
tion as the means of supplying their avarice diminished; that they made 
the sovereign pay as if they had a right to an increased price, because the 
labour of extortion and plunder increased. To such causes, they would 
tell him , these calamities were owing. 

" Need I refer Your Lordships to the strong testimony of Major Naylor 
when he rescued Colonel Hannay from their hands where you see that 
this people, born to submission and bent to most abject subjection that 
even they, in whose meek hearts injury had never yet begot resentment, 
nor even despair bred courage that their hatred, their abhorrence of 
Colonel Hannay was such that they clung round him by thousands and 
thousands ; that when Major Naylor rescued him, they refused life from 
the hand that could rescue Hannay ; that they nourished this desperate 
consolation, that by their death they should at least thin the number of 
wretches who suffered by his devastation and extortion. He says that, 
when he crossed the river, he found the poor wretches quivering upon 
the parched banks of the polluted river encouraging their blood to flow , 
and consoling themselves with the thought, that it would not sink into 
the earth, but rise to the common God of humanity, and cry aloud for 
vengeance on their destroyers ! This warm description which is no de- 
clamation of mine , but founded in actual fact , and in fair, clear proof 
before Your Lordships speaks powerfully what the cause of these oppres- 
sions were, and the perfect justness of those feelings that were occasioned 
by them. And yet, my Lords, I am asked to prove why these people arose in 
such concert : * there must have been machinations forsooth, and the Be- 
gums' machinations to produce all this!' Why did they rise! Because 
they were people in human shape; because patience under the detested ty- 
ranny of man is rebellion to the sovereignty ofGod; because allegiance to that 
Power that gives us {he forms of men commands us to maintain the rights 
of men . And never yet was th is truth dismissed from the human heart never 



344 MEMOIRS 

in any time, in any age never in any clime, where rude man ever had any- 
social feeling, or where corrupt refinement had suhdued all feelings, never 
\vasthis one unextinguishable truth destroyed from the heart of man, placed 
as it is, in the core and centre of it hy his Maker, that man was not 
made the properly of man ; that human power is a trust for human be- 
nefit ; and that when it is abused, revenge becomes justice , if not the 
bounden duty of the injured. These, my Lords, were the causes why 
these people rose." 

Another passage in the second day's Speech is remarkable, as 
exhibiting a sort of tourney of intellect between Sheridan and Burke, 
and in that field of abstract speculation , which was the favourite 
arena of the latter. Mr. Burke had , in opening the prosecution , 
remarked , that prudence is a quality incompatible with vice , and 
can never be effectively enlisted in its cause : ' I never (he said) 
knew a man who was bad fit for service that was good. There is 
always some disqualifying ingredient , mixing and spoiling the 
compound. The man seems paralytic on that side, bis muscles 
there have lost their very tone and character they cannot move . 
In short , the accomplishment of any tiling good is a physical impos- 
sibility for such a man. There is decrepitude as well as distortion : 
be could not if he would , is not more certain than that he would 
not if be could." To this sentiment the allusions in the following 
passage refer : 

" I am perfectly convinced that there is one idea which must arise in 
Your Lordships' minds as a subject of wonder, how a person of Mr. Has- 
tings's reputed abilities can furnish such matter of accusation against him- 
self. For, it must he admitted that never was there a person who seems 
to go so rashly to work, with such an arrogant appearance of contempt 
for all conclusions, that may be deduced from what he advances upon 
the subject. \Vhen he seems most earnest and laborious to defend himself, 
it appears as if he had but one idea uppermost in his mind a determi- 
nation not to care what he says, provided lie keeps clear of fact. He knows 
that truth must convict him , and concludes, a converso , that falsehood 
will acquit him ; forgetting that there must be some connexion , some 
system, some co-operation, or, otherwise, his host of falsities fall without 
an enemy, self-discomfited and destroyed. But of this he never seems to 
have had the slightest apprehension. He falls to work , an artificer of 
fraud , against all the rules of architecture ; he lays his ornamental 
work first, and his mas*y foundation at the top of it ; and thus his whole 
building tumbles upon his head. Other people look well to their ground , 
choose their position, and watch whether they are likely to be surprised 
there; but he, as if in the ostentation of his heart, builds upon a preci- 
pice, and encamps upon a mine, from choice. He seems to have no one 
actuating principle, but a steady, persevering resolution not to speak the 
truth or to tell the fact. 

" It is impossible almost to treat conduct of this kind with perfect 
seriousness ; yet I am aware that it ought to be more seriously accounted 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN . 245 

for because I am sure it has been a sort of paradox, which must have 
struck Your Lordships, how any person having so many motives to 
conceal having so many reasons to dread detection should yet go to 
work so clumsily upon the subject. It is possible , indeed , that it may 
raise this doubt whether such a person is of sound mind enough to be a 
proper object of punishment ; or at least it may give a kind of confused 
notion, that the guilt cannot be of so deep and black a grain, over which 
such a thin veil was thrown, and so little trouble taken to avoid detection. 
1 am aware that, to account, for this seeming paradox, historians, poets, 
and even philosophers at least of ancient times -have adopted the su- 
perstitious solution of the vulgar, and said that the gods deprive men of 
reason whom they devote to destruction or to punishment. But to unas- 
suming or unprejudiced reason, there is no need to resort to any supposed 
supernatural interference; for the solution will be found in the eternal 
rules that formed the mind of man, and gave a quality and nature to 
every passion that inhabits in it. 

" An Honourable friend of mine, who is now, I believe, near 
me a gentleman , to whom I never can on any occasion refer with- 
out feelings of respect, and, on this subject without feelings of the 
most grateful homage; a gentleman, whose abilities upon this occa- 
sion , as upon some former ones, happily for the glory of the age in 
which we live, are not entrusted merely to the perishable eloquence of 
the day, but will live to be the admiration of that hour when all of us are 
mute, and most of us forgotten ; that honourable gentleman has told you 
that Prudence, the first of virtues, never can be used in the cause of vice. 
IT, reluctant and diffident, I might take such a liberty^! should express 
a doubt, whether experience, observation, or history, will warrant us in 
fully assenting to this observation. It is a noble and a lovely sentiment, 
my Lords, worthy the mind of him who uttered it, worthy that proud 
disdain, that generous scorn of the means and instruments of vice, which 
virtue and genius must ever feel. But I should doubt whether we can read 
the history of a Philip of Macedon, a Caesar, or a Cromwell, without con- 
fessing, that there have been evil purposes, baneful to the peace and to 
the rights of men conducted if I may not say, with prudence or with 
wisdom yet with awful craft, and most successful and commanding 
subtlety. If, however, I might make a distinction , I should say that it is 
the proud attempt to mix a variety of lordly crimes, that unsettles the 
prudence of the mind, and breeds this distraction of the brain. One 
master-passion, domineering in the breast, may win the faculties of the 
understanding to advance its purpose, and to direct to that object every 
thing that thought or human knowledge can affect; but, to succeed, it 
must maintain a solitary despotism in the mind; each rival profligacy 
must stand aloof, or wait in abject vassalage upon its throne. For, the 
Power that has not forbad the entrance of evil passions into man's mind ^ 
has at least forbad their union ; if they meet, they defeat their object , 
and their conquest or their attempt at it is tumult. Turn to the Virtues 
how different the decree! Formed to connect, to blend, to associate, 
and to co-operate; bearing the same course, with kindred energies and 
harmonious sympathy, each perfect in its own lovely sphere, each moving 
in its wider or more contracted orbit, with different but concentering 



24G MEMOIRS 

powers, guided by the same influence of reason , and endeavouring at 
the same blessed end the happiness of the individual, the harmony of 
the species, and the glory of the Creator. In the Vices, on the other hand, 
it is the discord that insures the defeat each clamours to be heard in its 
own barbarous language; each claims the exclusive cunning of the brain; 
each thwarts and reproaches the other; and even while their fell rage 
assails with common hate the peace and virtue of the world, the civil 
war among their own tumultuous legions defeats the purpose of the foul 
conspiracy. These are the Furies of the mind, my Lords, that unsettle 
the understanding; these are the Furies, that destroy the virtue, Pru- 
dence, while the distracted brain and shivered intellect proclaim the' 
tumult that is within, and bear their testimonies, from the mouth of God 
himself, to the foul condition of the heart." 

The part of the Speech which occupied the Third Day (and 
which was interrupted by the sudden indisposition of Mr. She- 
ridan) consists chiefly of comments upon the affidavits taken before 
Sir Elijah Impcy, in which the irrelevance and inconsistency of 
these documents is shrewdly exposed, and the dryness of detail, 
inseparable from such a task , enlivened by those light touches of 
conversational humour, and all that by-play of eloquence of which 
Mr. Sheridan was such a consummate master. But it was on the 
Fourth Day of the oration that he rose into his most ambitious 
(lights , and produced some of those dazzling bursts of declama- 
tion , of which the traditional fame is most vividly preserved. 
Among the audience of that day was Gibbon , and the mention of 
his name in the following passage not only produced its effect at 
(he moment, but, as connected with literary anecdote, will make 
the passage ilself long memorable. Politics are of the day, but 
Literature is of all time and , though it was in the power of the 
orator, in his brief moment of triumph , to throw a lustre over the 
historian by a passing epithet 1 , the name of the latter will, at the 
long run , pay back the honour with interest. Having reprobated 
the violence and perfidy of the Governor-General, in forcing the 
Nabob to plunder his own relatives and friends, he adds : 

" I do say, that if you search the history of the world, you will not find 
an act of tyranny and fraud to surpass this; if you read all past histories, 
peruse the Annals of Tacitus, read the luminous page of Gibbon , and all 
the ancient or modern writers that have searched into the depravity of 

1 Gibbon himself thought it an event worthy of record in his Memoirs. " Before 
my departure from England ( he says) , I was present at the august spectacle of 
Mr. Hastings's trial in Westminster Hall. It is not my province to absolve or 
condemn the Governor of India; but Mr. Sheridan's eloquence demanded my 
applause; nor could I hear without emotion the personal compliment which he 
paid me in the presence of the British nation. From this display of genius, which 
blazed four successive days ," etc. etc. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 24 7 

former ages to draw a lesson for the present, you will not find an act of 
treacherous, deliberate, cool cruelty that could exceed this." 

On being asked by some honest brother Whig, at the conclusion 
of the Speech , how he came to compliment Gibbon with the epithet 
" luminous," Sheridan answered, in a half whisper, " I said ' vo- 
luminous.'" 

It is well known that the simile of the vulture and the lamb, which 
occurs in the address of Holla to the Peruvians , had been pre- 
viously employed by Mr. Sheridan , in this Speech 5 and it showed 
a degree of indifference to criticism, which criticism, it must 
be owned, not unfrcquently deserves, to reproduce before the 
public an image , so notorious both from its application and its 
success. But , called upon , as he was , to levy, for the use of that 
Drama , a hasty conscription of phrases and images , all of a certain 
allilude and pomp, this veteran simile, he thought, might be 
pressed into the service among the rest. The passage of the Speech 
in which it occurs is left imperfect in the Report ; 

" This is the character of all the protection ever afforded to the allies of 
Hritain under the government of Mr. Hastings. They send their troops to 
drain the produce of industry, to seize all the treasures, wealth, and pros- 
perity of the country, and then they call it Protection! it is the protec- 
tion of the vulture to the lamb.* ********** 

The following is his celebrated delineation of Filial Affection , to 
which reference is more frequently made than to any other part of 
the Speech ; though the gross inaccuracy of the printed Report 
has done its utmost to belie the reputation of the original passage , 
or rather has substituted a changeling to inherit its fame. 

*' When I see in many of these letters the infirmities of age made a 
subject of mockery and ridicule ; when I see the feelings of a son treated 
l\y Mr. Middleton as puerile and contemptible; when 1 see an order given 
from Mr. Hastings to harden that son's heart, to choke the struggling 
nature in his bosom ; when I see them pointing to the son's name' and to 
his standard, while marching to oppress the mother, as to a banner that 
gives dignity, that gives a h6ly sanction and a reverence to their enter- 
prise; when I see and hear these things done when I hear them brought 
into three deliberate Defenses set up against the Charges of the Commons 
my Lords, 1 own I grow puzzled and confounded, and almost begin to 
doubt whether, where such a defence can be offered, it may not be 
tolerated. 

" And yet, my Lords, how can I support the claim of filial love by 
argument much less the affection of a son to a mother where love loses 
its awe, and veneration is mixed with tenderness? What can I say upon 
such a subject, what can I do but repeat the ready truths which, with 
the quick impulse of the mind , must spring to the lips of every man on 
such a theme ? Filial Love ! the morality of instinct , the sacrament of 



248 MEMOIRS 

nature and duty, or rather let me say, it is miscalled a duty, for it flows 
from the heart without effort, and is its delight, its indulgence, its en- 
joyment. It is guided not hy the slow dictates of reason; it awaits not 
encouragement from reflection or from thought ; it asks no aid of me- 
mory ; it is an innate, but active, consciousness of having b en the object 
of a thousand tender solicitudes , a thousand waking watchful cares , of 
meek anxiety and patient sacrifices, unremarked and unrequited hy the 
object. It is a gratitude founded upon a conviction of obligations, not re- 
membered; but the more binding because not remembered, because con- 
ferred before the tender reason could acknowledge, or the infant memory 
record them a gratitude and affection, which no circumstances should sub- 
due, and which few can strengthen; a gratitude, in which even injury from 
the object, though it may blend regret, should never breed resentment; an 
affection which can be increased only by the decay of those to whom we owe 
it, and which is then most fervent when the tremulous voice of age, re- 
sistless in its feebleness, enquires for the natural protector of its cold decline. 
" If these are the general sentiments of man, what must be their de- 
pravity, what must be their degeneracy, who can blot out and erase from 
the bosom the virtue that is deepest rooted in the human heart, and 
twined within the cords of life itself aliens from nature, apostates from 
humanity! And yet, if there is a crime more fell, more foul if there is 
any thing worse than a wilful persecutor of his mother it is to see a deli- 
berate, reasoning instigator and abettor to the deed; this it is that 
shocks , disgusts, and appals the mind more than the other to view, 
not a wilful parricide, but a parricide by compulsion, a miserable wretch, 
not actuated by the stubborn evils of his own worthless heart , not driven 
by the fury of his own distracted brain, but lending his sacrilegious hand , 
without anv malice of his own, to answer the abandoned purposes of the 
human fiends that have subdued his will! To condemn crimes like 
these, we need not talk of laws or of human rules their foulness , their 
deformity does not depend upon local constitutions, upon human insti- 
tutes or religious creeds : they are crimes -and the persons who per- 
petuate them are monsters who violate the primitive condition , upon 
which the earth was given to man they are guilty by the general verdict 
of human kind." 

In some of the sarcasms we are reminded of the quaint contrasts 
of his dramatic style. Thus : 

" I must also do credit to them whenever I see any thing like lenity in 
Mr. Middleton or his agent: -they do seem to admit here, that it was 
not worth while to commit a massacre for the discount of a small note 
of hand , and to put two thousand women and children to death , in order 
to procure prompt payment." 

Of the length to which the language of crimination was carried , 
as well by Mr. Sheridan as by Mr. Burke, one example, out of 
many, will suffice. It cannot fail, however, to be remarked that, 
while the denunciations and invectives of Burke are filled throughout 
with a passionate earnestness, which leaves no doubt as to the sin- 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 249 

eerily of the hate and anger professed by him , in Sheridan , 
whose nature was of a much gentler cast, the vehemence is evi- 
dently more in the words than in the feeling, the tone of indignation 
is theatrical and assumed , and the brightness of the flash seems to 
be more considered than the deslrucliveness of the fire : 

" It is this circumstance of deliberation and consciousness of his guilt 
it is this that inflames the minds of those who watch his transactions , 
and roots out all pity for a person who could act under such an influence. 
We conceive of such tyrants as Caligula and Nero, bred up to tyranny 
and oppression, having bad no equals to controul them no moment for 
reflection we conceive that, if it could have been possible to seize the 
guilty profligates for a moment, you migbt bring conviction to their 
hearts and repentance to their minds. But when you see a cool , reason- 
ing , deliberate tyrant one who was not born and bred to arrogance, 
who has been nursed in a mercantile line who has been used to look 
round among liis fellow-subjects to transact business with his equals to 
account for conduct to his master , and , by that wise system of the Com- 
pany, to detail all bis transactions who never could fly one moment 
from himself, but must be obliged every night to sit down and hold up a 
glass to bis own soul who could never be blind to his deformity; and 
who must have brought his conscience not only to connive at but to ap- 
prove of it this it is that distinguishes it from the worst cruelties, the 
worst enormities of those who, born to tyranny, and Gnding no supe- 
rior, no adviser, have gone to the last presumption that there were none 
above to controul them hereafter. This is a circumstance that aggravates 
the whole of the guilt of the unfortunate gentleman we are now arraign- 
ing at your bar. " 

We now come to the Peroration , in which , skilfully and without 
appearance of design , it is conlrived lhat the same sort of appeal 
to the purity of British justice, with which the oration opened, 
should , like the repetition of a solemn strain of music, recur at its 
close, leaving in the minds of the Judges a composed and con- 
centrated feeling of the great public duty they had to perform , in 
deciding upon the arraignment of guilt brought before them. The 
Court of Directors, it appeared, had ordered an enquiry into the 
conduct of the Begums, with a view to the restitution of their pro- 
perty, if it should appear lhat the charges against them were un- 
founded 5 but to this proceeding Mr. Hastings objected, on the 
ground that the Begums themselves had not called for such inter- 
ference in their favour, and that it was inconsistent with the "Ma- 
jesty of Justice" to condescend to volunteer her services. The pomp- 
ous and Jesuitical style in which this singular doctrine ' is expressed , 
in a letter addressed by the Governor-General to Mr. Macpherson , 

1 "If nothing ( says Mr. Mill ) remained to stain the reputation of Mr. Hastings 
but the principles avowed in this singular pleading, his character, amoug the friends 
of justice, would be sufficiently determined." 



550 MEMOIRS 

is thus ingeniously turned to account by the orator, in winding up 
his masterly statement to a close : 

"And now before I come to the last magnificent paragraph , let me call 
the attention of those who , possibly, think themselves capable of judging 
of the dignity and character of justice in this country ; let me call the at- 
tention of those who, arrogantly perhaps presume that they understand 
\vhat the features , what the duties of justice are here and in India ; let 
them learn a lesson from this great statesman, this enlarged , this liberal 
philosopher : 'I hope I shall not depart from the simplicity of official 
language in saying, that the Majesty of Justice ought to be approached 
with solicitation , not descend to provoke or invite it , much less to debase 
itself by the suggestion of wrongs and the promise of redress, with the 
denunciation of punishment before trial, and even before accusation.' 
This is the exhortation which Mr. Hastings makes to his Counsel. This 
is the character which he gives of British justice. 

" But I will ask Your Lordships, do you approve this representation ? 
Do you feel that this is the true image of justice! Is this the character of 
British Justice? yVre these her features? Is this her countenance? Is this 
her gait or her mien? No, I think even now I hear you calling upon me 
to turn from this vile libel, this base caricature, this Indian pagod , 
formed by the hand of guilty and knavish tyranny, to dupe the heart of 
ignorance, to turn from this deformed idol to the true Majesty of Jus- 
tice here. Here , indeed, I see a different form, enthroned by the sove- 
reign hand of Freedom, awful without severity commanding without 
pride vigilant and active without restlessness or suspicion searching 
and inquisitive without meanness or debasement not arrogantly scorn- 
ing to stoop to the voice of afflicted innocence , and in its loveliest attitude 
when bending to uplift the suppliant at its feet. 

" It is by the majesty , by the form of that Justice, that I do conjure 
and implore Your Lordships to give your minds to this great business ; 
that I exhort you to look , not so much to words which may be denied or 
quibbled away, but to the plain facts, to weigh and consider the testi- 
mony in your own minds : we know the result must be inevitable. Let 
the truth appear and our cause is gained. It is this, I conjure Your 
Lordships, for your own honour, for the honour of the nation, for the 
honour of human nature, now entrusted to your care, it is this duty 
that, the Commons of England, speaking through us, claims at your hands. 
" They exhort you to it by every thing that calls sublimely upon the 
heart of man , by the Majesty of that Justice which this bold man has 
libelled, by the wide fame of your own tribunal, by the sacred pledge 
by which you swear in the solemn hour of decision , knowing that that 
decision will then bring you the highest reward that ever blessed the 
heart of man , the consciousness of having done the greatest act of mercy 
for the world , that the earth has ever yet received from any hand but 
Heaven. My Lords, I have done." 

Though I 'have selected some of the most remarkable passages of 
this Speech ', it would be unfair to judge of it even from these spe- 

' I had selected many more, bnt most confess that they appeared to me, when 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 251 

cimens. A Report , verbatim , of any effective speech must always 
appear diffuse and ungraceful in the perusal. The very repetitions , 
the redundancy, the accumulation of epithets , which gave force 
and momentum in the career of delivery, but weaken and encumber 
the march of the style, when read. There is, indeed, the same sort of 
difference between a faithful short-hand Report , and those abridged 
and polished records* which Burke has left us of his speeches , as 
(here is between a cast taken directly from the face , (where every 
line is accurately preserved , but all the blemishes and excrescences 
are in rigid preservation also , ) and a model , over which the cor- 
recting hand has passed , and all that was minute or superfluous is 
generalised and softened away. 

Neither was it in such rhetorical passages as abound , perhaps , 
rather lavishly, in this Speech , that the chief strength of Mr. She- 
ridan's talent lay. Good sense and wit were the great weapons of 
his oratory shrewdness in detecting the weak points of an adver- 
sary, and infinite powers of raillery in exposing it. These were fa- 
culties which he possessed in a greater degree than any of his con- 
temporaries , and so well did he himself know the strong hold of 
his powers , that it was but rarely, after this display in Westminster 
Hall , that he was tempted to leave it for the higher flights of ora- 
tory, or to wander after Sense into that region of metaphor, where 
loo often , like Angelica in the enchanted palace of Atlante , she is 
sought for in vain '. His attempts, indeed, at the florid orfigura- 
live style , whether in his speeches or his writings , were seldom 
very successful. That luxuriance of fancy, which in Burke was na- 
tural and indigenous , was in him rather a forced and exotic growth. 
It is a remarkable proof of this difference between them , that while , 
in the memorandums of speeches left behind by Burke , we find , 
that the points of argument and business were those which he pre- 
pared , trusting to the ever ready wardrobe of his fancy for their 

in print, so little worthy of the reputation of the Speech, that I thought, it 
would be, on the whole i more prudent to omit them. Even of the passages here 
cited, I speak rather from my imagination of what they mast have been, than 
from my actual feeling of what they are. The character given of such Reports by 
Lord Loughborongh , is, no doubt, but too just. On a motion made by Lord 
Stanhope, (April 29, 1794,) that the short-hand writers employed on Hastings's 
trial, should be summoned to the bar of the House, to read their minntes, Lord 
Longhborough , in the coarse of his observations on the motion said, " God forbid 
that ever their Lordships should call on the short-hand writers to publish their 
notes : for, of all people , short -hand writers were ever the farthest from correct- 
ness, and there were no man's words they ever heard that they again returned. 
They were in general ignorant, as acting mechanically^ and by not considering 
'he antecedent, and catching the sound, and not the sense, they perverted the 
sense of the speaker, and made him appear as ignorant as themselves." 

1 Curran used to say laughingly, " When I can't talk sense , I talk metaphor." 



252 MEMOIRS 

adornment, in Mr. Sheridan's notes it is chiefly the decorative 
passages , that are worked up beforehand to their full polish ; while 
on the resources of his good sense, ingenuity, and temper, he 
seems to have relied for the management of his reasonings and facts. 
Hence naturally it arises that the images of Burke, being called up 
on the instant , like spirits , to perform the bidding of his argument , 
minister to it throughout , with an almost co-ordinate agency ; while 
the figurative fancies of Sheridan , already prepared for the occa- 
sion , and brought forth to adorn , not assist , the business of the 
discourse , resemble rather those sprites which the magicians used 
to keep inclosed in phials , to be produced for a momentary en- 
chantment , and then shut up again. 

In truth , the similes and illustrations of Burke form such an in- 
timate , and often essential , part of his reasoning, that if the whole 
strength of the Samson does not lie in those luxuriant locks , it 
would ill least be considerably diminished by their loss. Whereas , 
in the Speech of Mr. Sheridan , which we have just been consider- 
ing , there is hardly one of the rhetorical ornaments that might not 
be detached , without , in any great degree , injuring the force of 
the general statement. Another consequence of this difference be- 
tween them is observable in their respective modes of transition , 
from what may be called the business of a speech to its more ge- 
neralised and rhetorical parts. When Sheridan rises , his elevation 
is not sufficiently prepared 5 he starts abruptly and at once from the 
level of his statement , and sinks down into it again with the same 
suddenness. But Burke , whose imagination never allows even bu- 
siness to subside into mere prose, sustains a pitch throughout which 
accustoms the mind to wonder, and , while it prepares us to accom- 
pany him in his boldest flights , makes us , even when he walks , still 
feel that he has wings : 

" Meme quand I'oiseau marche , on sent qu'il a des ailes." 

The sincerity of the praises bestowed by Burke on the Speech of 
his brother 3Ianager has sometimes been questioned , but upon no 
sufficient grounds. His zeal for the success of the Impeachment , 
no doubt , had a considerable share in the enthusiasm with which 
this great effort in its favour filled him. It may be granted, too , 
thai , in admiring the apostrophes that variegate this speech , he 
was , in some degree , enamoured of a reflection of himself; 

" Cuiictaque miratur, quibus est mirabilis ipse." 

He sees reflected there , in faiuter light , 

All that combines to make himself so bright. 

But whatever mixture of other motives there may have been in 



OF R. B SHERIDAN. 553 

Ihc feeling, it is certain that his admiration of the Speech was real 
and unbounded. He is said to have exclaimed to Mr. Fox , during 
the delivery of some passages of it, "There, that is the true 
style ; something between poetry and prose , and better than 
either. 11 The severer taste of Mr. Fox dissented , as might be ex- 
I )oi led, from this remark. He replied, that " he thought such a 
mixture was for the advantage of neither as producing poetic 
prose, or, still worse, prosaic poetry." It was, indeed, the opi- 
nion of Mr. Fox , that the impression made upon Burke by these 
somewhat too theatrical tirades is observable in the change that 
subsequently look place in his own style of writing; and. that the 
florid and less chastened taste , which some persons discover in his 
later productions , may all be traced to the example of this speech. 
However this may be , or whether there is really much difference , 
as to taste , between the youthful and sparkling vision of the Queen 
of France in 1792 , and the interview between the Angel and Lord 
Bathurst in 1775 , it is surely a most unjust disparagement of the 
eloquence of Burke , to apply to it , at any time of his life , the 
epithet "flowery, 11 a designation only applicable to that ordi- 
nary ambition of style, whose chief display, by necessity, consists 
of ornament without thought, and pomp without substance. A suc- 
cession of bright images, clothed in simple , transparent language, 
even when, as in Burke, they "crowd upon the aching sense 1 ' 
loo dazzlingly, '-should never be confounded with that mere verbal 
opulence of style , which mistakes the glare of words for the glitter 
of ideas , and , like the Helen of the sculptor Lysippus , makes 
finery supply the place of beauty. The figurative definition of elo- 
quence in the Book of Proverbs " Apples of gold in a net-work of 
silver 51 is peculiarly applicable to that enshrinement of rich , solid 
thoughts in clear and shining language , which is the triumph of 
the imaginative class of writers and orators , - while , perhaps , the 
network , without the gold inclosed , is a type equally significant 
of what is called " flowery " eloquence. 

It is also , I think , a mistake , however flattering to my country, 
to call the School of Oratory, to which Burke belongs, Irish. That 
Irishmen are naturally more gifted with those stores of fancy, from 
which the illumination of this high order of the art must be sup- 
plied , the names of Burke , Grallan , Sheridan , Curran , Canning , 
andPlunkett, abundantly testify. Yetliad Lord Chatham, before 
any of these great speakers were heard , led the way, in the same 
animated and figured strain of oratory ' ; while another Englishman, 

' His few noble sentences on the privilege of.the poor man's cottage are nni- 
\crsahy known. There is also bis f.mciful allusion to the conflnence of the Saone 
am! tl.c Rhone, the traditional reports of which vary, both as to the exact term* 



254 MEMOIRS 

Lord Bacon , by making Fancy the handmaid of Philosophy, had 
long since set an example of that union of the imaginative and the 
solid , which , both in writing and in speaking , forms the charac- 
teristic distinction of this school. 

The Speech of Mr. Sheridan in Westminster Hall , though so 
much inferior, in the opinion of Mr. Fox and others , to that which 
he had delivered on the same subject in the House of Commons, 
seems to have produced , at the time , even a more lively and ge- 
neral sensation ; possibly from the nature and numerousness of the 
assembly before which it was spoken , and which counted among 
its multitude a number of that sex. whose lips are in general found 
to be the most rapid conductors of fame. But there was one of this 
sex, more immediately interested in his glory, who seems to have 
felt it, as women alone can feel. " I have delayed writing ," says 
Mrs. Sheridan , in a letter to her sister-in-law, dated four days after 
the termination of the Speech , " till I could gratify myself and you 
by sending you the news of our dear Dick's triumph ! of our 
triumph I may call it ; for, surely, no one , in the slightest degree 
connected with him , but must feel proud and happy. It is impos- 
sible , my dear woman , to convey to you the delight, the astonish- 
ment, the adoration, he has excited in the breasts of every class of 
people ! Every party-prejudice has been overcome by a display of 
genius, eloquence, and goodness, which no one, with any thing 
like a heart about them , could have listened to , without being (he 
wiser and the better for the rest of Iheir lives. What must my feel- 
ings be? you only can imagine. To tell you the truth, it is with 
some difficulty that I can ' let down my mind ,' as Mr. Burke said 
afterwards, to talk or think on any other subject. But pleasure, loo 
exquisite , becomes pain , and I am at this moment suffering for 
the delightful anxieties of last week." 

It is a most happy combination when the wife of a man of genius 
unites intellect enough to appreciate the talents of her husband , 
with the quick , feminine sensibility that can thus passionately feel 
his success. Pliny tells us , that his Calpurnia , whenever he pleaded 
an important cause , had messengers ready to report to her every 
murmur of applause that he received ; and the poet Stalius , in al- 
luding to his own victories at the Albanian Games , mentions the 

in which it was expressed, and the persons to whom he applied it. Even Lord 
Orford does not seem to have ascertained the latter point. To these may be added 
the following specimen: 'I don't inquire from what quarter the wind coineth. 
Lut whither it goeth; and , if any measure that comes from the Right Hoiiourahle 
Gentleman tends to the public good, ray bark is ready." Of a different kind is 
/ that grand passage, "America, they tell me, has resisted I rejoice to hear it," 
which Mr. Grattau used to pronounce Gner than any thing in Demosthenes. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 255 

CL breathless kisses with which his wife, Claudia, used 16 cover 
the triumphal garlands' he brought home. Mrs. Sheridan may well 
lake her place beside these Roman wives ; and she had another 
resemblance to one of them , which was no less womanly and attrac- 
tive. Not only did Calpurnia sympathise with the glory of her hus- 
band abroad , but she could also , like Mrs. Sheridan , add a charm 
to his talents at home , by selling his verses to music and singing 
them to her harp , " with no instructor,' 1 adds Pliny, " but Love, 
who is , after all , the best master." 
This loiter of Mrs. Sheridan thus proceeds : 

" You were perhaps alarmed by the accounts of S.'s illness in the pa- 
pers -. but I have the pleasure to assure you he is now perfectly well, and 
1 hope bv next week we shall be quietly settled in the country, and suf- 
fered to repose, in every sense of the word; for iudeed we have , both of 
us , been in a constant state of agitation , of one kind or another, for some 
time back. 

" T am very glad to hear your father continues so well. Surely he must 
feel happy and proud of such a son. I take it for granted you see the news- 
papers : I assure you the accounts in them are not exaggerated, and only 
echo the exclamation of admiration that is in every body's mouth. I make 
no excuse for dwelling on this subject : I know you will not find it te- 
dious. God bless you : I am an invalid at present, and not able to write 
long letters " 

The agitation and want of repose , which Mrs. Sheridan here com- 
plains of, arose not only from the anxiety which she so deeply felt, 
for the success of this great public effort of her husband , but from 
the share which she herself had taken, in the labour and attention 
necessary to prepare him for it. The mind of Sheridan being , from 
the circumstances of his education and life , but scantily informed 
upon all subjects for which reading is necessary, required, of 
course , considerable training and feeding , before it could venture 
to grapple with any new or important task. He has been known to 
say frankly to his political friends, when invited to take part in some 
question that depended upon authorities, " You know I'm an igno- 
ramus but here I am instruct me^ and I'll do my best." It is said, 
that the stock of numerical lore , upon which he ventured to set up 
as the Aristarchus of Mr. Pitt's financial plans, was the result of three 
weeks' hard study of arithmetic, to which he doomed himself, in the 
early part of his Parliamentary career, on the chance of being ap- 
pointed, some lime or other, Chancellor of the Exchequer. For 
financial display it must be owned lhat this was rather a crude pre- 
paration. But there arc other subjects of oratory, on which the out- 
pourings of information , newly acquired , may have a freshness and 
vivacity which it would be vain to expect, in the communication of 
knowledge lhat has lain long in the mind , and lost in circumstantial 



?5fi MEMOIRS 

spirit what it has gained in general mellowness. They, indeed , who 
have been regularly disciplined in learning , may be not only too fa- 
miliar with what they know to communicate it with much liveliness 
to others , but too apt also to rely upon the resources of the memory, 
and upon those cold outlines which it retains of knowledge whose 
details are faded. The natural consequence of all this is that persons , 
the best furnished with general information , are often the most 
vague and unimpressive on particular subjects ; while , on the con- 
trary, an uninstructed man of genius, like Sheridan, who approaches 
a topic of importance for the first lime , has not only the stimulus of 
ambition and curiosity to aid him in mastering its details , but the 
novelty of first impressions to brighten his general "views of it and, 
with a fancy thus freshly excited , himself, is most sure to touch and 
rouse the imaginations of others. 

This was particularly the situation of Mr. Sheridan with respect 
to the history of Indian affairs ; and there remain among his papers 
numerous proofs of the labour which his preparation for this arduous 
task cost not only himself but Mrs. Sheridan. Among others , there 
is a large pamphlet of Mr. Hastings , consisting of more than two 
hundred pages , copied out neatly in her writing , with some assist- 
ance from another female hand. The industry, indeed , of all around 
him was put in requisition for this great occasion some , busy with 
the pen and scissors , making extracts some, pasting and stitching 
his scattered memorandums in their places. So that there was hardly 
a single member of the family that could not boast of having contri- 
buted his share , to the mechanical construction of this speech. The 
pride of its success was . of course , equally participated ; and Ed- 
wards, a favourite servant of Mr. Sheridan, who lived with him 
many years , was long celebrated for his professed imitation of the 
manner in which his master delivered (what seems to have struck 
Edwards as the finest part of the speech) his closing words, "My 
Lords , I have done ! " 

The Impeachment of Warren Hastings is one of those pageants in 
the drama of public life , which show how fleeting are the labours 
and triumphs of politicians "what shadows they are, and what 
shadows they pursue." When we consider the importance which the 
great actors in that scene attached to it, the grandeur with which 
their eloquence invested the cause , as one in which the liberties and 
rights of the whole human race were interested , and then think 
how all that splendid array of Law and of talent has dwindled away, 
in the view of most persons at present, into an unworthy and harass- 
ing persecution of a meritorious and successful statesman ; how 
those passionate appeals to justice, those vehement denunciations of 
crime, which made the halls of Westminster and St. Stephen's ring 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. ?57 

with their echoes, are now coldly judged, through the medium oT 
disfiguring Reports, and regarded, at the best , but as rhetorical ef- 
fusions , indebted to temper for their warmth , and to fancy for their 
details ; while so little was the reputation of the delinquent himself 
even scorched by the bolts of eloquence thus launched at him, that a 
subsequent House of Commons thought themselves honoured by his 
presence, and welcomed him with such cheers ' as should reward 
only the friends and benefactors of freedom; when we reflect on 
this thankless result of so much labour and talent , it seems wonder- 
ful that there should still be found high and gifted spirits , to waste 
themselves away in such temporary struggles , and , like that spend- 
thrift of genius , Sheridan , to discount their immortality, for the 
payment of fame in h?ind which these triumphs of the day secure to 
(hem. 

For this direction , however, which the current of opinion has 
taken , with regard to Mr. Hastings and his eloquent accusers , there 
are many very obvious reasons to be assigned. Success , as I have 
already remarked , was the dazzling talisman , which he waved in 
the eyes of his adversaries from the first , and which his friends have 
made use of to throw a splendour over his tyranny and injustice ever 
since 7 . Too often , in the moral logic of this world, it matters but 
lidle what the premises of conduct may be , so the conclusion turns 
out showy and prosperous. There is also , it must be owned , among 
the English ( as perhaps , among all frqe people ) , a strong taste for 
the arbitrary, when they themselves are not to be the victims of it, 
which invariably secures to such accomplished despotisms as that of 
Lord Stratford in Ireland, and Hastings in India, even a larger 
share of their admiration than they are , themselves , always willing 
to allow. 

The rhetorical exaggerations , in which the Managers of the pro- 
secution indulged , Mr. Sheridan , from imagination , luxuriating 
in its own display, and Burke from the same cause , added to his 
overpowering autocracy of temper were but too much calculated 
lo throw suspicion on the cause in which they were employed , and 

1 When called as a witness before the Honse, in 1813, on the subject of the 
renewal of the East India Company's Charter. 

2 In the important article of Finance, however, for which he made so many 
sacrifices of hnmauiiy, even the justification of success, was wanting to his measures. 
The following is the account given by the Select Committee of the House of Com- 
mons in 18 10, of the state in which India was left by his administration: "The 
revenues had been absoibed; the pay and allowances of both the civil and inili- 
tary branches of the service were greatly in anear; the credit of the Company 
wa.< extremely depressed; and, added to all, the whole system had fallen into 
Mi.h irregularity and confusion, that the real state of affairs could not be tucff- 
tained till the conclnsion of the year 1785-6." Third Report. 

n 



248 MEMOIRS 

to produce a re-aclion in favour of the person whom they were 
meant to overwhelm. " Rogo vos , Judiccs /' Mr. Hastings 
might well have said , " si iste disertus est , idea me damnari 
oportet l ? " 

There are also , without doubt , considerable allowances to be 
made , for the difficult situations in which Mr. Hastings was placed, 
and those impulses to wrong which acted upon him from all sides 
allowances which will have more or less weight with the judg- 
ment, according as it may be more or less fastidiously disposed, in 
letting excuses for rapine and oppression pass muster. The incessant 
and urgent demands of the Directors upon him for money may pal- 
liate . perhaps , the violence of those methods which he took to 
procure it for them ; and the obstruction to his policy which would 
have arisen from a strict observance of Treaties , may be admitted, 
by the same gentle casuistry, as an apology for his frequent infrac- 
tions of them. 

Another consideration to be taken into account , in our estimate 
of the character of Mr. Hastings as a ruler, is that strong light of 
publicity, which the practice in India of carrying on the business 
of government by written documents threw on all the machinery of 
his measures , deliberative as \\ell as executive. These Minutes , in- 
deed , form a record of fluctuation and inconsistency not only on 
the part of the Governor-General , but of all the members of the go- 
vernment a sort of weather-cock diary of opinions and principles, 
shifting with the interests or convenience of the moment % which 
entirely takes away our respect even for success , when issuing out 
of such a chaos of self-contradiction and shuffling. It cannot be de- 
nied, however, that such a system of exposure submitted, as it 
was in this case, to still further scrutiny, under the bold , denuding 
hands of a Burke and a Sheridan was a test to which the councils 
of few rulers could with impunity be brought. Where , indeed , is 

' Seneca, Controvers. lib. iii. c. 19. 

J Instances of this, on the part of Mr. Hastings, are numberless. In remarking 
upon his corrupt transfer of the management of the Nabob's household in 1778 , 
the Directors say, "It is with equal surprise and concern that we observe this 
request introduced , and the Nabob's ostensible rights so solemnly asserted at this 
period by our Governor-General; because, on a late occasion, lo serve a ver\ 
different purpose, he has not scrupled to declare it as visible as the light of the 
sun, that the Nabob is a mere pageant, and without even the shadow of autho- 
rity." On another transaction in 1781, Mr. Mill remarks; "It is a curious moral 
spectacle to compare'the minutes and letters of the Governor-General, when , at 
the beginning of the" year 1780, maintaining the propriety of condemning the 
Nabob to sustain the -whole of the burden imposed npon him, and his minutes 
and letters maintaining the propriely of relieving him from those burthens in 
1781. The arguments and facts adduced on the one occasion , as well as the con- 
clusion , are a flat contradiction to those exhibited on the other." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 559 

the statesman that could bear to have his obliquities thus chronicled? 
or where is the Cabinet that would not shrink from such an inroad of 
light into its recesses? 

The undefined nature , too , of that power which the Company 
exercised in India , and the uncertain state of Law vibrating between 
the English and Hindoo codes , left such tempting openings for in- 
justice as it was hardly possible to resist. With no public opinion to 
warn off authority from encroachment , and with the precedents set 
up by former rulers , all pointing the wrong way , it would have 
been difficult , perhaps , for even more moderate men than Hast- 
ings , not occasionally to break bounds and go continually astray. 

To all these considerations in his favour is to be added the appa- 
rently triumphant fact , that his government was popular among 
the natives of India, and that his name is still remembered by them 
with gratitude and respect. 

Allowing Mr. Hastings , however, the full advantage of these and 
other strong pleas in his defence, it is yet impossible, for any real 
lover of justice and humanity, to read the plainest and least exag- 
gerated history of his government ', without feeling deep indigna- 
tion excited at almost every page of it. His predecessors had , it is 
true , been guilty of wrongs as glaring the treachery of Lord Clive 
to Omichund in 1757, and the abandonment of Ramnarain to Meer 
Causim under the administration of Mr. Vansittart, are stains upon 
the British character which no talents or glory can do away. There 
are precedents , indeed , to be found , through the annals of our In- 
dian empire , for the formation of the most perfect code of tyranny, 
in every department, legislative , judicial , and executive, that ever 
entered into the dreams of intoxicated power. But , while the prac- 
tice of Mr. Hastings was , at least , as tyrannical as that of his pre- 
decessors , the principles upon which he founded that practice were 
still more odious and unpardonable. In his manner, indeed , of de- 
fending himself he is his own worst accuser as there is no outrage 
of power, no violation of faith, that might not be justified by the 
versatile and ambidextrous doctrines , the lessons of deceit and rules 

1 Nothing can be more partial and misleading than the colouring given to these 
transactions by Mr. Nioholls and other apologists of Hastings. For the view which 
I have myself taken of the whole case I am chiefly indebted to the able History 
of British India }>y Mr. Mill whose indastrions research and clear analytical state- 
ments make him the most valuable authority that can be consulted on thesnbject. 

The mood of mind in which Mr. Nicholls listened to the proceedings of the 
!MI[,, ;u linn.-iit may be judged from the following declaration, which he has had 
iht; courage to promulgate to the public : " On this Charge (the Begum Charge) 
Mi Sheridan made a speech which both side* of the House professed greatly to 
.idmire for Mr. Pitt now opeuly approved of the Impeachment. I will acknow- 
ledge , (hat I did not ^admire this speech of Mr. Sheridan. 1 " 



SCO MEMOIRS 

of rapine, which he so ably illustrated by his measures , and has so 
shamelessly recorded with his pen. 

Nothing but an early and deep initiation in the corrupting school 
of Indian politics could have produced the facility with which , as 
occasion required, he could belie his own recorded assertions, turn 
hostilely round upon his own expressed opinions , disclaim the 
proxies which he himself had delegated, and , in short, get rid of 
all the inconveniences of personal identity, by never acknowledging 
himself to be bound by any engagement or opinion which himself 
had formed. To select the worst features of his Administration is no 
very easy task ; but the calculating cruelty with which he abetted 
the extermination of the Rohillas his unjust and precipitate exe- 
cution of Nuncomar, who had stood forth as his accuser, and , there- 
fore , became his victim , his violent aggression upon the Rajah 
of Benares , and that combination of public and private rapacity, 
which is exhibited in the details of his conduct to the royal family 
of Oude ; these are acts, proved by the testimony of himself and 
his accomplices , from the disgrace of which no formal acquittal 
upon points of law can absolve him , and whose guilt the allowances 
of charily may extenuate, but never can remove. That the perpe- 
trator of such deeds should have been popular among the natives of 
India only proves how low was the standard of justice, to which 
the entire tenor of our policy had accustomed them , but that a 
ruler of this character should be held up to admiration in England, 
is one of those anomalies with which England, more than any other 
nation , abounds , and only inclines us to wonder that the true wor- 
ship of Liberty should so long have continued to flourish in a conn-- 
fry, where such heresies to her sacred cause are found. 

J have dwelt so long upon the circumstances and nature of this 
Trial , not only on account of the conspicuous place which it occu- 
pies in Hie fore-ground of Mr. Sheridan's life, but because of that 
general interest which an observer of our Institutions must lake in 
it, from the clearness with which it brought into view some of their 
best and worst features. While , on one side, we perceive the weight 
of the popular scale , in the lead taken , upon an occasion of such 
solemnity and importance, by two persons brought forward from 
(he middle ranks of society into the very van of political distinction 
and influence , on the other hand , in the sympathy and favour ex- 
tended by the Court to the practical assertor of despotic principles , 
we trace the prevalence of that feeling which , since the commence- 
ment of the late King's reign, has made the Throne the rallying point 
of all that arc unfriendly to the cause of freedom. Again , in consi- 
dering the conduct of the Crown Lawyers during the Trial the- 
narrow and irrational rules of evidence which they sought to esla- 



OF R B. SHERIDAN. 2CI 

blish the unconstitutional control assumed by the Judges , over the 
decisions of Ihe Iribunal before which the cause was tried , and the 
refusal to communicate the reasons upon which those decisions were 
founded above all , loo , the legal opinions expressed on the great 
question relative to the abatement of an Impeachment by Dissolu- 
tion , in which almost the whole body of lawyers ' took the wrong , 
the pedantic , and the unstatesman-like side of the question ; 
while in all these indications of the spirit of that profession, and of 
its propensity to lie down the giant, Truth > with its small Ihreads 
of technicality and precedent , we perceive the danger to be appre- 
hended from the interference of such a spirit in politics ; on the 
other side , arrayed against these petty taclics of the Forum , we see- 
the broad banner of Constitutional Law, upheld alike by a Fox and 
a Pitt , a Sheridan and a Dundas , and find truth and good sense 
taking refuge from the equivocalions of lawyers, in such consoling 
documents as the Report upon the Abuses of the Trial by Burke 
a document which , if ever a reform of the English law should be 
attempted, \sill sland as a greal guiding light to the adventurers 
in that heroic entreprise. 

It has been frequently asserted, that on the evening of Mr. She- 
ridan's grand display in the House of Commons , The School for 
Scandal and The Duenna were acted at Covent-Garden and Drury- 
Lane , and thus three greal audiences were at the, same moment 
amused, agitated, and, as it were, wielded by the intellect of one 
man. As this triple triumph of talent this manifestation of the power 
of Genius to multiply itself, like an Indian god was, in the in- 
stance of Sheridan , not only possible , but within the scope of a very 
easy arrangement , it is to be lamented that no stich coincidence did 
actually lake place , and th it Ihe ability to have achieved the miracle 
is all that can be with Iruth attributed to him. From a careful exa- 
mination of the play-bills of the different theatres during this period , 
I have ascertained , ,with regret , that neither on the evening of Ihe 
speech in Ihe House of Commons , nor on any of the days of the 
oration in Westminster Hall , was there either at Covent-Garden , 
Drury-Lane, or Haymarket theatres, any piece whatever of Mr. She- 
ridan's acted. 

The following passages of a letter from Miss Sheridan to her sister 
in Ireland , written while on a visit with her brother in London , 

1 Among the rest , Lord lirskint, who allowed his profession, on this occasion, 
to stand in the light of his judgment. "As to a Nisi-prins lawyer (said Burke) 
prving an opinion on the duration of an Impeachment as well might a rabbit, 
that breeds six times a year, pretend to know any thing of the gestation of an 
-elephant!" 



2<J2 MEMOIRS 

though referring lo a laler period of the Trial . may without impro- 
priety be inserted here . 

"Just as I received 3 our letter yesterday , I was setting out for the trial 
with Mrs. Crewe and Mrs. Dixon. I was fortunate in my day, as I heard 
all the principal speakers Mr. Burke I admired the least Mr. Fox very 
much indeed. The subject, in itself, was not particularly interesting, as 
the debate turned merely on a point of law, but the earnestness of his 
manner and the amazing precision with which he conveys his ideas is 
truly delightful. And last, not least, I heard my brother ! I cannot express 
to you the sensation of pleasure and pride that filled my heart at the mo- 
ment he rose. Had I never seen him or heard his name before, I should 
have conceived him the firstman among them at once. There is a dignity 
and grace in his countenance and deportment, very striking at the same 
time that one cannottrace the smallest degree of conscious superiority in 
his manner. His voice, too, appeared to me extremely fine. The speech 
itself was not much calculated to display the talents of an orator, as of 
course it related only to dry matter. You may suppose 1 am not so lavish 
of praises before indifferent persons , but I am sure you will acquit me of 
partiality in what I have said. "U hen they left the Hall we walked about 
some time , and were joined by several of the managers among the rest 
bv Mr. Burke, whom we set down at his own house. They seem now to 
have better hopes of the business than they have had for some time; as 
the point urged with so much force and apparent success relates to very 
material evidence which the Lords have refused to hear, but which, 
once produced, must prove strongly against Mr. Hastings ; and from what 
passed yesterday they think their Lordships must yield. We sat in the 
King's box, " etc, 

CHAPTER XII. 

Death of Mr. Sheridan's Father. Verses by Mrs. Sheridan on the death 
of her sister, Mrs. Tickell. 

IJN the summer of this year the father of Mr. Sheridan died. He 
had been recommended lo fry the air of Lisbon for his health , and 
had left Dublin for that purpose, accompanied by his younger daugh- 
ter. But the rapid increase of his malady prevented him from pro- 
ceeding farther than Margate , where he died about the beginning 
of August , attended in his last moments by his son Richard. 

We have seen with what harshness , to use no stronger term , 
Mr. Sheridan was for many years treated by his father, and how 
persevering and affectionate were the efforts, in spite of many 
capricious repulses , that he made to be restored to forgiveness 
and favour. In his happiest moments , both of love and fame , the 
Ihought of being excluded from the paternal roof came across him 
with a chill that seemed to sadden all his triumph ' . When it is 

1 See the letter written by him immediately after Lis marriage, page 50 , and the 
auecdotein page 78 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 26* 

considered, loo , thai the father, to whom he felt thus amiably, had 
never distinguished him by any particular kindness , but , on the 
contrary, had always shown a marked preference for the dispo- 
sition and abilities of his brother Charles it is impossible not to 
acknowledge , in such true filial affection, a proof that talent was 
not the only ornament of Sheridan , and that , however unfa- 
vorably to moral culture was the life that he led , Nature in form- 
ing his mind, had implanted there virtue as well as genius. 

Of the tender attention which he paid to his father on his death- 
bed , I am enabled to lay before the reader no less a testimony 
than the letters written at the time by Miss Sheridan, who as I 
have already said , accompanied the old gentleman from Ireland , 
and now shared with her brother the, task of comforting his last 
moments. And here it is difficult even for contempt to keep dawn 
the indignation, that one cannot but feel at those slanderers, 
under the name of biographers , who , calling in malice to the 
aid of their ignorance , have not scrupled to assert that the father 
of Sheridan died unattended by any of his nearest relatives ! 
Such are ever the marks that Dulness leaves behind, in its Gothic 
irruptions into the sanctuary of departed Genius defacing wl\at it 
cannot understand, polluting what it has not the soul to reverence, 
and taking revenge for its own darkness by the wanton profanation 
of all that is sacred in the eyes of others. 

Immediately on the death of their falher, Sheridan removed his 
sister to Deepden a seat of the Duke of Norfolk in Surrey, which 
His Grace had lately lent him and then returned, himself, to 
Margate , to pay the last tribute to his father's remains. The lellers 
of Miss Sheridan are addressed lo her elder sister in Ireland , and 
the first , which I shall give entire , was written a day or two after 
her arrival at Deepden. 

" MY DEAR LOVE , Dibden , August 18. 

*' Though you have ever been uppermost in my thoughts, yet it has 
not been in my power to write since the few lines I sent from Margate. 1 
hope this will find yon , in some degree , recovered from the shock you 
must have experienced from the late melancholy event. I trust to your 
own piety and the tenderness of your worthy husband, for procuring you 
such a degree of calmness of mind as may secure your health from injury. 
In the midst of what I have suffered I have been thankful that you- did 
not share a scene of distress which yon could not have relieved. I have 
supported myself, but I am sure, had we been together, we should have 
nHfered more. 

" With regard to my brother's kindness, I can scarcely express to you 
how great it has been. He saw my father while he was still sensible, and 
never quitted him till the awful moment was past. I will not now dwell 



26i MEMOIRS 

on particulars. My mind is not sufficiently recovered to enter on the sub- 
ject, and you could only be distressed by it. He returns soon to Margate 
to pay tbe last duties in the manner desired by my father. His feelings 
have been severely tried, and earnestly I pray he may not suffer from 
that cause, or from the fatigue he has endured. His tenderness to me I 
never can forget. I had so little claim on him, that I still feel a degree of 
surprise mixed with my gratitude. Mrs. Sheridan's reception of me was 
truly affectionate. They leave me to myself now as much as I please , as I 
had gone through so much fatigue of body and mind that I require some 
rest. 1 have not, as you may suppose, looked much beyond the present 
hour , but I begin to be more composed. I could now enjoy your society, 
and I wish for it hourly. I should think I may hope to see you sooner in 
England than you had intended ; but you will write to me very soon, and 
let me know every thing that concerns you. I know not whether you will 
feel like me a melancholy pleasure in the reflection that my father re- 
ceived the last kind offices from my brother Richard ' , whose conduct 
on tins occasion must convince every one of the goodness of his heart and 
tbe truth of his filial affection. One more reflection of consolation is, that 
nothing was omitted that could have prolonged his life or eased his latter 
hours. God bless and preserve you , my dear love. I shall soon write more 
to you, but shall for a short time suspend my journal, as still too many 
painful thoughts will crowd upon me to suffer me to regain such a frame 
of mind as I should wish when I write to you. 

"Ever affectionately your 

" E. SHERIDAN." 

In another letter, dated a few days after, she gives an account oi 
the domestic life of Mrs. Sheridan , which , like every thing that is 
related of that most interesting woman , excites a feeling towards her 
memory little short of love. 

" MY DEAF, LOVE, Dibdcn, Friday, 22. 

" I shall endeavour to resume my journal , though my anxiety to heai 
from vou occupies my mind in a way that unfits me for writing. I have 
been here almost a week in perfect quiet. While there was company in the 
house, I stayed in my room, and since my brother's leaving us to go to 
Margate, I have sat at times with Mrs. Sheridan, who is kind and con- 
siderate ; so that 1 have entire liberty. Her poor sister's * children are all 
with her. The girl gives her constant employment, and seems to profit 
by being under so good an instructor. Their father was here for some 
days , but 1 did not see him. Last night Mrs. S. showed me a picture oi 

1 In a letter, from which I have given an extract ill the early part of this work, 
written by the elder sister of Sheridau a short time after his death, in referring to 
the differences that existed between him and his father, she says" and yet it was 
that son , and not the object of his partial fondness, who at last closed his eyes." 
It generally happens that the injustice of such partialities is revenged by the ingra- 
titude of those who are the objects of them; and the present instance, as there is 
J)ut too much reason to believe, was Hot altogether an exception to the lemaik 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 265 

Mrs. Tickell , which she wears round her neck. The thing was misre- 
presented to you : it was not done after her death , but a short time be- 
fore it. Thesketch was taken while she slept, by a painter atBristol. This 
Mrs. Sheridan got copied by Cosway, who has softened down the traces 
of illness in such a way that the picture conveys no gloomy idea. It re- 
presents her in a sweet sleep, which must have been soothing to he/ 
friend, after seeing her for a length of time in a state of constant suffering. 
"My brother left us Wednesday morning, and we do not expect him 
to return for some days. He meant only to stay at Margate long enough 
to attend the last melancholy office, which it was my poor father's ex- 
press desire should be performed hi whatever parish he died. 



" Sunday. 

" Dick is still in town, and we do not expect him for some time. 
Mrs. Sheridan seems now quite reconciled to these little absences, which 
she knows are unavoidable. I never saw any one so constant in employing 
every moment of her time, and to that I attribute, in a great measure, 
the recovery of her health and spirits. The education of her niece , her 
music, books , and work, occupy every minute of the day. After dinner, 
the children , who call her " Mamma-aunt , " spend some time with us , 
and her manner to them is truly delightful. The girl, you know, is the 
eldest. Thej eldest boy is about five years old, very like his father, but 
extremely gentle in his manners. The youngest is past three. The whole 
set then retire to the music-room. As yet I cannot enjoy their parties; 
a song from Mrs. Sheridan affected me last night in a most painful man- 
ner. 1 shall not try the experiment soon again. Mrs. S. blamed herself for 
putting me to the 1 trial , and , after tea , got a book , which she read to us 
till supper. This , I find , is the general way of passing the evening. 

" They are now at their music , and I have retired to add a few lines. 
This day has been more gloomy than we have been for some days past ; 
it is the first day of ouy getting into mourning. All the servants in deep 
mourning made a melancholy appearance, and I found it very difficult 
to sit out the dinner. But, as I have dined below since there has been 
only Mrs. Sheridan and Miss Linley here , I would not suffer a circum- 
stance, to which I must accustom myself, to break in on their comfort. 1 ' 

These children , to whom Mrs. Sheridan thus wholly devoted 
herself, and continued to do so for the remainder of her life , had 
lost their mother, Mrs. Tickell , in the year 1787, by the same 
complaint that afterwards proved fatal to their aunt. The passionate 
attachment of Mrs. Sheridan to this sister, arid the deep grief with 
which she mourned her loss , are expressed in a poem of her own 
so louchingly, thai , to those who love the language of real feeling , 
I need not apologise for their introduction here. Poetry, in general , 
is but a cold interpreter of sorrow ; and the more it displays its 
skill , as an art , the less is it likely to do justice to nature. In writ- 
ing these verses , however, the workmanship was forgotten in the 



566 MEMOIRS 

subject 5 and the crilic , to feel them as he ought , should forget his 
own craft in reading them. 

" Written in the Spring of the Year 1788. 

" The hours and days pass on; sweet Spring returns , 
And whispers comfort to the heart that monrns; 
But not to mine , whose dear and cherish'd grief 
Asks for indulgence , but ne'er hopes relief. 
For, ah ! can changing seasons e'er restore 
The lov'd companion I must still deplore? 
Shall all the wisdom of the world combin'd 
Erase thy image , Mary, from my mind , 
Or bid me hope from others to receive 
The fond affection thou alone couldst give? 

Ah, no, my best belov'd , thou still shall be "** '. 

My friend , my sister, all the world to me. 

" \Vith tender woe sad memory woos back time , 
And paints the scenes when youth was in its prime ; 
The craggy hill, where rocks, with wild flow'rs crowu'd , 
Burst from the hazle copse or verdant ground j 
Where sportive Nature every form assumes, 
Aud , gaily lavish , wastes a thousand blooms ; 
Where oft we heard the echoing hills repeat 
Our untaught straius and rural ditties sweet, 
Till purpling clouds proclaiiu'd the closing day, 
While distant streams detain'd the parting ray. 
Then , on some mossy stone we'd sit us down , 
And watch the changing sky aud shadows brown , 
That swiftly glided o'er the mead below , 
Or in some fancied form descended slow. 
How oft , well pleas'd each other to adoru , 
We stripp'd the blossoms from the fragrant thorn , 
Or caught the violet where , in humble bed , 
Asham'd of its own sweets it hung its head. 
But, oh, what rapture Mary's eyes would speak, 
Through her dark hair how rosy glow'd her cheek, 
If, in her playful search, she saw appear 
The first-blown cowslip of the opening year. 
Thy gales, oh Spring, then whisper'd life and joy ; 
Now mera'ry wakes thy pleasures to destroy, 
Aud all thy beauties serve but to renew 
Regrets , too keen for reason to subdue. 
Ah me ! while tender recollections rise, 
The ready tears obscure my sadden'd eyes , 
And, while surrounding objects they conceal , 
Her form belov'd the trembling drops reveal. 

" Sometimes the lovely, blooming girl I view, 
My youth's companion , friend for ever true, 
W r hose looks , the sweet expressions of a heart 
So gaily innocent , so void of art , 
With soft attraction whisper'd blessings drew 
From all who stopp'd , her beauteous face to view 1 . 
Then in the dear domestic scene I mourn, 
And weep past pleasures never to return ! 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN 267 

There where each gentle virtue lov'd to rest, 
In the pure mansion of my Mary's breast. 
The days of social happiness are o'er, 
The voice of harmony is heard no more j 
No more her graceful tenderness shall prove 
The wife's fond duty or the parent's love. 
Those eyes , which bright'ned with maternal pride , 
As her sweet infants wanton'd by her side , 
'Twas my sad fate to see for ever close 
On life, on love , the world, and all its woes; 
To watch the slow disease, with liopeless care , 
And veil in painful smiles my heart's despair ; 
To see her droop , with restless languor weak , 
While fatal beauty mantled in her cheek, 
Like fresh flow'rs , springing from some mouldering clay, 
Cherish'd by death , and blooming from, decay. 
Yet , tho' oppress'd by ever-varying pain , 
The gentle sufferer scarcely would complain, 
Hid every sigh , each trembling doubt leprov'd , 
To spare a pang to those.fond hearts she lov'd,. 
And often , in short intervals of ease, 
Her kind aud cheerful spirit strove to please; 
Whilst we , alas , unable to refuse 
The sad delight we were so soon to lose, 
Treasuf'd each word, each kind expression claim'd, 
* 'Twas me she look'd at ,' * it was me she nain'd.' 
Thus fondly soothing grief, too great to bear, 
With mournful eagerness aud jealous care. 

" But soon, alas, from hearts with sorrow worn 
Ev'n this last coinfort was for ever torn : 
That mind, the seat of wisdom , genius, taste, 
The cruel hand of sickness now laid waste; 
Subdued with pain , it sliar'd the common lot, 
All, all its lovely energies forgot ! 
The husband, parent, sister, knelt in vain, 
One recollecting look alone to gain : 
The shades of night her beaming eyes obscur'd , 
And Nature, vanquish'd, no sharp paiu endur'd ; 
Calm and serene till the last trembling breath 
Wafted an angel from the bed of death! 

" Ob , if the soul, released from mortal cares , 
Views the sad scene, the voice of mourning hears, 
Then, dearest saint, didst thou thy heav'u forego, 
Lingering on earth in pity to our woe. 
'Twas thy kind influence sooth'd our minds to peace. 
And bade our vain and selfish murmurs cease ; 
'Twas thy soft smile, that gave the worshipp'd clay 
Of thy bright essence one celestial ray, 
Making e'en death so beautiful , that we, 
Gazing on it, forgot our misery. 
I I. i-ii pleasing thought! ere to the realms of light 
Thy frauchis'd spirit took its happy flight , 
With foud regard, perhaps, thou saw'st me bcud 
O'er the cold relics of my heart's best friend. 



568 MEMOIRS 

And heard'st me swear, while her dear hand I prest 

And tears of agony bedew'd my breast, 

For her lov'd sake to act the mother's part , 

Aud take her darling infants to my heart, 

With tenderest care their youthful minds improve , 

And guard her treasure with protecting love. 

Once more look down , blest creature, aud behold 

These arms the precious innocents enfold; 

Assist my erring nature to fulfil t 

The sacred trust , and ward off every ill ! 

And , oh ! let her, who is my dearest care , 

Thy blest regard and heavenly influence share ; 

Teach me to form her pure and artless mind , 

Like thine, as true, as innocent , as kind , 

That when some future day my hopes shall bless , 

And every voice her virtue shall confess. 

When my fond heart delighted hears her praise, 

As with uucouscious loveliness she strays, 

' Such, let me say, with tears of joy the while, 

' Such was the softness of my Mary's smile ; 

' Such was her youth, so blithe, so rosy sweet, 

' Aud sucl) lierm'ind , nnpractis'd in deceit ; 

' With artless elegance , unstudied grace , 

' Thus did she gain in every heart a place ! ' 

" Then, while the dear remembrance I behold, 
Time shall steal on , nor tell me I am old , 
Till, nature wearied, each fond duty o'er, 
I join my Augel Friend to part no more ! " 

To the conduct of Mr. Sheridan , during the last moments of his 
father, a further testimony has been kindly communicated to me 
by Mr. Jarvis, a medical gentleman of Margate, who attended 
Mr. Thomas Sheridan on that occasion , and whose interesting com- 
munication I shall here give in his own words : 

" On the loth of August, 1788, I was first called on to visit Mr. She- 
ridan, wuo was then fast declining at his lodgings in this place, where 
he was in the care of his daughter. On the next day Mr. R. B. Sheridan 
arrived here from town , having brought with him Dr. Morris , of Par- 
liament Street. I was in the bed-room with Mr. Sheridan when the son 
arrived, and witnessed an interview in which the father showed himself 
to he strongly impressed by his son's attention , saying , with consider- 
able emotion, 'Oh Dick, I give you a great deal of trouble!' and seem- 
ing to imply by his manner, that his son had been less to blame than 
himself, for any previous want of cordiality between them. 

" On my making my last call for the evening, Mr. R. B. Sheridan, 
with delicacy, but much earnestness, expressed his fear that the nurse 
in attendance on his father, might not be so competent as myself to the 
requisite attentions , and his hope that I would consent to remain in the 
room for a few of the first hours of the night; as he himself, having 
been travelling the preceding night, required some short repose. I com- 
plied with his request, and remained at the father's bedside till relieved 
I->y the son, about three o'clock in the morning ; he then insisted on 



OF ft. D. SHERIDAN. JG9 

taking my place. From this time he never quitted, the house till his 
lather's death; on the day after which he wrote me a letter, now before 
me , of which the annexed is an exact copy : 

" SIR , Friday Morning. 

" 1 wished to see you this morning before I went, to thank you for 
your attention and trouble. You will be so good to give the account to 
Mr. Thompson, who will settle it ; and I must further beg your accept- 
;mcc of the inclosed from myself. 

"I am, Sir, 

" Your obedient Servant, 
" R. B. SHERIDAN." 

" I have explained to Dr. Morris (who has informed me that you will 
recommend a proper person), that it is my desire to have the hearse, 
and the manner of coming to town , as respectful as possible." 

" The inclosure, referred to in this letter, was a bank-note of,ten 
pounds , a most liberal remuneration. Mr. R. B. Sheridan left Margate, 
intending that his father should be buried in London ; but he there 
ascertained that it had been his father's expressed wish , that he should 
be buried in the parish next to that in which he should happen to die. 
He then , consequently, returned to Margate , accompanied by his bro- 
ther-in-law, Mr. Tickell, with whom, and Mr. Thompson and myself, 
lie followed his father's remains to the burial-place, which was not in 
Margate church-yard, but in the north aisle of the church at St. Peter's." 

Mr. Jarvis , the writer of the letter from which I have given this 
extract , had once , as he informs me , the intention of having a 
cenotaph raised , to the memory of Mr. Sheridan's father, in the 
church of Margate ' . With this view he applied to Dr. Parr for an 
Inscription , and the following is the tribute to his old friend with 
which that learned and kind-hearted man supplied him: 

"This monument, A. D. 1824, was, by subscription, erected to the 
memory of Thomas Sheridan , Esq., who died in the neighbouring parish 
of St. John, August 14, 1788, in the 6gth year of his age, and, accord- 
ing to his own request, was there buried. He was grandson to Dr. Tho- 
mas Sheridan, the brother of Dr. William, a conscientious non-juror, 
who, in 1691 , was deprived of the Bishopric of Kilmore. He was the son 
of Dr. Thomas Sheridan , a profound scholar and eminent schoolmaster, 
intimately connected with Dean Swift and other illustrious writers in the 
reign of Queen Anne. He was husband to the ingenious and amiable 
author of Sidney Biddulph , and several dramatic pieces favourably re- 
ceived. He was father of the celebrated orator and dramatist, Richard 
Urinsley Sheridan. He had been the school-fellow, and, through life, 

1 Thongh this idea was relinquished, it appears that a friend of Mr. Jarvis, 
^'ili a zeal for the memory of talent highly honourable to him , has recently 
< atised a monument to Mr. Thomas Sheridan to he raised in the church of St. 
Peter, 



270 MEMOIRS 

was the companion, of the amiable Archbishop Markham. He was the 
friend of the learned Dr. Sumner, master of Harrow School, and the 
well-known Dr. Parr. He took his first academical degree in the Univer- 
sity of Dublin, about 1706. He was honoured by the University of 
Oxford with the degree of A. M. in 1768, and in 1709 he obtained the 
same distinction at Cambridge. He, for many years, presided over the 
theatre of Dublin ; and , at Drury-Lane , he in public estimation stood 
next to David Garrick. Tn the literary world he was distinguished by 
numerous and useful writings on the pronunciation of the English lan- 
guage. Through some of his opinions ran a vein of singularity, mingled 
with the rich ore of genius. In his manners there was dignified ease ; 
in his spirit, invincible firmness; and in his habits and principles, un- 
sullied integrity." 

CHAPTER XIII. 

Illness of the King. Regency. Private life of Mr. Sheridan. 

Mr. SHERIDAN had assuredly no reason to complain of any defi- 
ciency of excitement in the new career to which he now devoted 
himself. A succession of great questions, both foreign and domestic, 
came , one after the other, like the waves described by the poet , 

" And one no sooner touch'd the shore, and died , 
Than a new follower rose, and swell'd as proudly." 

Scarcely had the impulse which his own genius had given to the 
prosecution of Hastings, begun to abate , when the indisposition of 
the King opened another tield , not only for the display of all his 
various powprs , but for the fondest speculations of his interest and 
ambition. 

The robust health and temperate habits of the Monarch, while 
they held out the temptation of a long lease of power to those who 
either enjoyed or were inclined to speculate in his favour, gave 
proportionably the grace of disinterestedness to the followers of an 
Heir-Apparent , whose means of rewarding their devotion were , 
from the same causes, uncertain and remote. The alarming illness 
of the Monarch , however, gave a new turn to the prospect : 
Hope was now seen , like the winged Victory of the ancients , to 
change sides ; and both the expectations of those who looked for- 
ward to the reign of the Prince , as the great and happy millenium 
of Whiggism , and the apprehensions of the far greater number, to 
whom the morals of His Royal Highness and his friends were not 
less formidable than their politics , seemed now on the very eve of 
being realised. 

On the first meeting of Parliament , after the illness of His Ma- 
jesty was known , it was resolved , from considerations of delicacy, 



OP R. B. SHERIDAN. 571 

that the House should adjourn for a fortnight 5 at the end of which 
period it was expected that another short adjournment would be 
proposed by the Minister. In this interval, the following judicious 
letter was addressed to the Prince of Wales by Mr. Sheridan : 

" SIR, 

" From the intelligence of to-day we are led to think that Pitt will 
make something more t>f a speech , in moving to adjourn on Thursday, 
than was at first imagined. In this case we presume Your Royal Highness 
will he of opinion that we must not he wholly silent I possessed Payne 
yesterday with my sentiments on the line of conduct which appeared to 
me best to he adopted on this occasion, that they might he submitted to 
Your Royal Ilighness's consideration , and 1 take the liberty of repeating 
my firm conviction, that it will greatly advance Your Royal Highness's 
credit, and, in case of events, lay the strongest grounds to baffle every 
attempt at opposition to Your Royal Highness's just claims and right, 
that the language of those who may be, in any sort, suspected of knowing 
Your Royal Ilighness's wishes and feelings, should be that of great 
moderation in disclaiming all party views, and. avowing the utmost 
readiness to acquiesce in any reasonable delay. At the same time, I am 
perfectly aware of the arts which will be practised, and the advantages 
which some people will attempt to gain by time : but I am equally 
convinced that we should advance their evil views by showing the least 
impatience or suspicion at present ; and I am also convinced that a third 
party will soon appear, whose efforts may, in the most decisive manner, 
prevent this sort of situation and proceeding from continuing long. Payne 
will probably have submitted to Your Royal Highness more fully my 
idea on this subject, towards which I have already taken some successful 
steps'. Your Royal Highness will. I am sure, have the goodness to pardon 
the freedom with which I give my opinion; after which I have only to 
add, that whatever Your Royal Highness's judgment decides, shall be 
the guide of my conduct, and will undoubtedly be so to others." 

Captain (afterwards Admiral) Payne, of whom mention is-made 
in this letter, held the situation of Comptroller of the Household of 
the Prince of Wales, and was in attendance upon His Royal High- 
ness during the early part of the King's illness, at Windsor. The 
following letters , addressed by him to Mr. Sheridan at this period , 
contain some curious particulars , both with respect to the Royal 
patient himself, and the feelings of those about him, which., 
however secret and confidential they were at the time , may now, 
without scruple , be made matters of history : 

" MY DEAR SHERIDAN , Half-past ten at night. 

*' I arrived here about three quarters of an hour after Pitt had left it. 
I inclose you the copy of a letter the Prince has just written to the 
Chancellor, and sent by express, which will give you the outline of the 

I Ms must allude to the negotiation with Lord Tharlow. 



272 MEMOIRS 

conversation with the Prince, as well as the situation of the King's health. 
1 think it an advisahle measure', as it is a sword that cuts both ways, 
without being unfit to be shewn to whom he pleases, but which he 
will, I think, understand best himself. Pitt desired the longest delay that 
could be granted with propriety, previous to the declaration of the present 
calamity. The Duke of York, who is looking over me, and is just come 
out of the King's room, bids me add, that His Majesty's situation is every 
moment becoming worse. His pulse is weaker and weaker ; arid the 
Doctors say it is impossible to survive it long, if his situation does not take 
some extraordinary change in a few hours. 

" So far I had got when your servant came, meaning to send this by 
the express that carried the Chancellor's letter ; in addition to which , 
the Prince has desired Doctor Warren to write an account to him, which 
he is now doing. His letter says, if an amendment does not take place 
in twenty-four hours , it is impossible for the King to support it : he 
adds to me, he will answer for his never living to be declared a lunatic. I 
say all this to you in confidence, (though I will not answer for being 
intelligible, ) as it goes by your own servant; but I need not add, your 
own discretion will remind you how necessary it is that neither my name 
nor those 1 use should be quoted even to many of our best friends , 
whose repetition, without any ill intention, might frustrate views they do 
not see. 

" With respect to the papers, the Prince thinks you had better leave 
them to themselves , as we cannot authorise any report , nor can he 
contradict the worst ; a few hours must , every individual says , 
terminate our suspense, and, therefore, all precaution must be needless : 
however, do what you think best. His Royal Highness would write to 
you himself; the agitation he is in will not permit it. Since this letter 
was begun, all articulation even seems to be at an end with the poor King; 
but for the two hours preceding , lie was in a most determined frenzy. 
In short, I am myself in so violent a state of agitation, from participating 
in the feelings of those about me, that if 1 am intelligible to you, 'tis 
more than I am to myself. Cataplasms are on His Majesty's feet , and 
strong fomentations have been used without effect : but let me quit so 
painful a subject. The Prince was much pleased with my conversation 
with Lord Loughborough, to whom I do not write, as I conceive 'tis the 
same, writing to you. 

" The Archbishop has written a very handsome letter, expressive of 
his duty and offer of service ; but he is not required to come down , it 
being thought too late. 

" Good night. I.will write upon every occasion that information may 
be useful. 

" Ever yours, most sincerely, 

"J. W. PAYNE." 

" I have been much pleased with the Duke's zeal since my return, 
especially in this communication to you." 

" DEAR SHERIDAN, Twelve o'clock, noon. 

" The King last night about twelve o'clock, being then in a situation 
1 Meaning, the communication to the Chancellor. 



OF K. B. SHERIDAN. 2T3 

he could not Jong have survived, by the effect of James's powder, had a 
profuse stool, after which a strong perspiration appeared, and he fell into 
a profound sleep. We were in hopes this was the crisis of his disorder, 
although the doctors were fearful it was so only with respect to one 
part of his disorder. However, these hopes continued not above an hour, 
when he awoke, with a well-conditioned skin, no extraordinary degree 
of fi'ver, but with the exact state he was in .before, with all the gestures 
and ravings of the most confirmed maniac, and a new noise , in imitation 
ot the howling of a dog; in this situation he was this morning at one 
o'clock, \vhe.n_we came to bed. The Duke of York, who has been twice in 
my room in the course of the night, immediately from, the King's ap^rt- 
ment, says there has not, been one moment of lucid interval during 
the whole night, which, I must observe to you, is the concurring, as well 
as fatal testi mony of all about him, from the first moment of His Majesty's 
confinement. The doctors have since had their consultation , and find 
His Majesty calmer, and his pulse tolerably good and much reduced, but 
the most decided symptoms 'of insanity. His theme has been all this day 
on the subject of religion, and of his l>eing inspired, from which his 
physicians draw the worst consequences, as to any hopes of amendment. 
In this situation His Majesty remains at the present moment, which I 
give you at length, to prevent your giving credit to the thousand ridiculous 
reports that we hear, even "upon the spot. Tmth is not easily got at in 
palaces,, and so 1 find here; and time only slowly brings it to one's 
know Jedge. One hears a little bit every day from sqmebody, that has been 
reserved with great costiveness, or purposely forgotten; and by all such 
accounts I find that the present distemper has been very palpable for some 
time past, previous to any confinement from sickness; and So apprehen- 
sive have the people about him been of giving offence by interruption, that 
the two days (viz. yesterday se'nnight and the Monday following) that he 
was five hours each on horseback, he was in a confirmed frenzy. On the 
Monday at his return he burst out into tears to the Duke of York , and 
said , l He wished to God he might die , for he was going to be mad ; ' 
and the Queen , who sent to Dr. Warren , on his arrival, privatelv com"- 
municatcii her know ledge of his. situation for some time past , and the 
melancholy event as it stood exposed. I am prolix upon all these diflereni 
reports, that you may be completely master of the subject as it stands, 
and which I shall continue to. advertise you of HI all its variations. 
Warren, who is the living principle in this business, (for poor Baker is 
half crazed himself,) and who I see every half hour, is extremely atten- 
tive to the King's disorder. The various fluctuations of his ravings, as well 
as general situation of his health, are accurately written down through- 
out the day, and this we have got signed by the Physicians everyday, 
and all proper enquiry invited; for I think it necessary to do every thing 
that may prevent tlicir making use hereafter of any thin like jealousy, 
suspicion y or mystery, to create' public distrust; and, therefore, the 
best and most unequivocal moans of satisfaction shall be always attend 
*'d to. 

" Five o'clock, P.M. 

" So far I had proceeded when I was^ on same business of import-. 
,.. obliged to break off till now' ; and , on nty return , found your let* 

ff 



27 1 MEMOIRS 

t.cr; T need not, I hope, say your confidence is as safe as if it was re- 
turned to your own mind, and your advice will always be thankfully 
adopted. The event we looked for last night is postponed, perhaps for a 
short time, so that, at least , we shall have time to consider more ma- 
turely. The Doctors told Pitt they would beg not to be obliged to make 
their declaration for a fortnight as to the incurability of the King's hiind, 
and not to be surprised if, at the expiration of that time, they should 
ask more time ; but that they were perfectly ready to declare now, for 
the furtherance of public business , that he is now insane ; that it appears 
to be unconnected with any other disease of his body, and that they 
have tried all their skill without effect, and that to the disease they at 
present see no end in their contemplation : these are theif own words, 
which is all that can be implied in an absolute declaration, for infalli- 
bility cannot be ascribed to them 

" Should not something be done about the public amusements? If it 
was represented to Pitt, it might embarrass them either way; particu- 
larly as it might call for a public account every day. I think the Chan- 
cellor might take a good opportunity to break with his colleagues, if they 
propose restriction : the Law authority would have great weight with 
us, as well as preventing even a design of moving the City ; at all 
events, I think Parliament would not confirm their opinion. If Pitt stirs 
much , I think any attempt to grasp at power might be fatal to his in- 
terest, at least , well turned against it. 

" The Prince has sent for me directly, so I'll send this now, and 
write again." 

In the words, " I think the Chancellor might take a good oppor- 
tunity to break \\ilh his colleagues ," the writer alludes to a nego- 
tiation which Sheridan had entered into with Lord Thurlow, and 
by which it was expected thai the co-operation of that Learned Lord 
might be secured, in consideration of his being allowed to retain the 
office of Chancellor under the Regency. 

Lord Thurlow was one of those persons who, being taken by the 
world at their own estimate of themselves, contrive to pass upon the 
times in which they live for much more than they are worth. His 
bluntness gained him credit for superior honesty , and the same pe- 
culiarity of exterior gave a weight , not their own , to his talents ; 
the roughness of the diamond being, by a very common mistake, 
made the measure of its value. The negotiation for his alliance on 
this occasion was managed , if not first suggested , by Sheridan , and 
Mr. Fox , on his arrival from the Continent, (having been sent for 
express upon the first announcement of the King's illness ,) found 
considerable progress already made in the preliminaries of this he- 
terogeneous compact. 

The following letter from Admiral Payne, written immediately 
after the return of Mr. Fox, contains* some further allusions to the 
negotiations with the Chancellor : 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 575 

" Mv DEAR SHKRIDA> , 

" I am this moment returned with the Prince from riding, and heard, 
with great pleasure , of Charles Fox's arrival ; on which account, he says, 
I must go to town to-morrow , when I hope to meet you at h^s house 
some time before dinner. The Prince is to see the Chancellor to-morrow, 
and therefore he wishes I should be able to carry to town the result, of 
t.his interview, or I would set oft' immediately. Due deference is Jiad to 
^nr former opinion upon this subject, and no courtship will be practised; 
for the chief object in the visit is to show him the King, who has been 
worse the two last days than ever : this morning he inade an effort to 
jump out of the window, and is now very turbulent and incoherent. Sir 
G. Baker went yesterday to give Pitt a little specimen of his loquacity, in 
his discovery of some material state-secrets, at 'which he looked asto- 
nished. The Physicians wish him to be removed to Iew ; on which we 
shall proceed as we settled. Have you heard any thirig .of the Foreign 
Ministers, respecting what the P. said at. Bagshot?" the Frenchman has 
been here two days running, but has not seen the prince. He sat with 
me half an hour this morning , and seemed much disposed to confer a 
little closely. He was all admiration and friendship for the Prince, and 
said he was sure every body would unite to give vigour to his government. 

" To-morrow you shall hear particulars ; in the mean time I can only 
add I have none of the apprehensions contained in Lord L.'s letter. 1 
have had correspondence enough myself on this subject to 'convince me 
of the impossibility of the Ministry managing the present Parliament by 
any contrivance hostile to the Prince. Dinner is on table; so adieu ; and 
be assured of the truth and sincerity of 

"Yours affectionately, 

" Windsor, Monday, 5 o'clock, P. M. J. W". P." 

" I have just got Rodney's proxy sent." 

The situation in which Mr. Fox was placed , by the treaty thus 
commenced, before his arrival, with the Chancellor, was not a little 
embarrassing. In addition to the distaste which he must have felt for 
such a union , he had been already , it appears , in some degree 
pledged to bestow the Great Seal, in the event of a change , upon 
Lord Loughborough. Finding , however , the Prince and his party 
so far committed in the negotiation with Lord Thurlow , he thought 
it expedient, however contrary to his own wishes, ,to accede to their 
views; and a letter, addressed by him to Mr. Sheridan on the'occa- 
sion, shows the struggle with his own feelings and opinions which 
this concession cost him : 

"DEAR SHERIDAN , 

"I have swallowed the pill ,-^-a most bitter one it was, and have 
written to Lord^Loughborough , whose answer of course must be consent. 
Whatisto be done mext? Should the Prince himself, you or I, or War- 
ren v be the person to speak to the Chancellor ? The objection to the last 
is, that he must probably wait for an opportunity, and that no time is 



276 MEMOIRS 

to be lost. Pray tell me what is to be done : 1 am convinced , after all , 
the negotiation will not succeed, and am not sure that 1 am sorry for it. 
I do not remember ever feeling sd uneasy about any political thing I 
ever did in my life. Call if you can. 

" Yours ever, 
" Sat, past 12. "C. J. F." 

LordLoughborough, in the mean time, with a vigilance quickened 
by his own personal views, kept watch on the mysterious movements 
of the Chancellor ; and , as appears by the following letter , not only 
saw reason to suspect duplicity himself, but took care that Mr. Fox 
and Mr. Sheridan should share in his distrust : 

"Mv DEARS. 

"I was afraid to pursue the conversation on tiie circumstance of the 
Inspection committed to the Chancellor, lest the reflections that arise 
upon it might have made too strong an impression on some of our neigh- 
bours last night It does indeed appear to me full of mischief, and of thai 
sort most likely to affect the apprehensions of our best friends, (of Lord 
John for instance, ) and to increase their reluctance to take any active 
part. 

" The Chancellor's object evidently is to make his way by himself, and 
he has managed hitherto as one very well practised in that game. His 
conversations, both with you and Mr. Fox, were encouraging, but at 
the same tiiiie checked all explanations on his part , under a pretence of 
delicacy towards his colleagues. When he let them go to Salthill, and 
contrived to dine at "Windsor, he certainly took a step that most men 
would have felt not very delicate in its appearance, and unless there was 
some private understanding between him and them , not altogether fair-, 
especially if you add to it the sort of conversation he held with regard to 
them 1 cannot help thinking that the difficulties of managing the patient 
have been excited or improved to lead to the proposal of his inspection , 
(without the Prince being conscious of it, ) for by that situation he gains 
an easy and frequent access to him , and an opportunity of possessing the; 
confidence of the Queen. I believe this the more from the account of the 
tenderness he showed at his first interview, for , lam sure, it is not in 
his character to feel any. With a little instruction from Lord Hawksbury, 
the sort of management that was carried on by means of the Princess- 
Dowager, in the early part of the reign, may easily be practised. In 
short, I think he will try to find the key of the back stairs, and, with 
that in his pocket, lake any situation that preserves his access, and 
enables him to hold a line between different parties. In the present mo- 
ment, however, he has taken a position that puts the command of the 
House of Lords in his hands, for ******'. 

" I wish Mr. Fox and you would give these considerations what weight 
you think they deserve, and try if any means can be taken to remedy this 
mischief, if it appears in the same light to you. 

"Ever yours, etc." 

1 The remainder of this sentence is effaced bv damp. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 277 

Whpl were the motives thai induced Lord Thurtow to break off 
^o suddenly his negotiation with the Prince's party , and declare 
himself with such vehemence on the side of the King and Mr. Pitt, 
it does not appear very easy to ascertain. Possibly , from his op- 
porl unities of visiting the Royal Patient , he had been led to conceive 
sufficient hopes of recovery to incline the balance of his speculation 
thai way ; or, perhaps, in the influence of Lord Loughborough ' 
over Mr. Fox , he saw a risk of being supplanted in his views on the 
Great Seal. Whatever may have been the motive, it is certain that 
his negotiation with the Whigs had been amicably carried on , till 
within a few hours of his delivery of that speech, from whose en- 
thusiasm the public could little suspect how fresh from the incom- 
plete bargain of defection was the speaker t and in the 'course of 
which he gave vent to the well-known declaration, that " his debt 
of" gratitude to His Majesty was ample, for the many favours he had 
graciously conferred upon him , which when he forgot , might God 
forget him 2 . 11 

As it is not my desire to imitate those biographers , who swell their 
pages with details that belong more properly to History , I shall for- 
bear to enter into a minute or consecutive narrative of the pro- 
ceedings of Parliament on the important subject of the Regency. A 
writer of political biography has a right, no doubt , like an engineer 
who constructs a navigable canal, to lay every brook and spring in 
the neighbourhood under contribution for the supply and enrich- 
ment of his work. But, to turn into it the whole contents of the 
Annual Register and Parliamentary Debates is a sort of literary 
engineering , not quite so laudable , which , after the example set by 
a Right Reverend biographer of Mr. Pitt, will hardly again be at- 
tempted by .any one, whose ambition , at least, it is to be read as. 
well as bought. 

Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt , it is well known , differed essentially , not 
only with respect to the form of the proceedings, which the. latter 
recommended in that suspension of the Royal authority, but also 
with respect to the abstract constitutional .principles upon which 
those proceedings of 1he Minister were professedly founded. As 
soon as the nature of the malady with which the King was afflicted, 
had 1 been ascertained by a regular examination of the physicians in 
attendance on His Majesty , Mr. Pitt moved (on the 10th of De- 
cember), that a " Committee be appointed to examine and report 
precedents of such proceedings as may liavo been had , in case of 

1 Lord Longhborongh is snpposed to have been the person who instilled irjo 
tlieniind of Mr! Fox the idea of advancing that claim of Right for the Prince, 
-liich gave M*. lilt, in principle as well as in fact, such an advantage over hiiu. 

3 " Forget you ! " said Wilkes ; he'll sec yon d d first." 



378 MEMOIRS 

the personal exercise of the Royal authority being prevented or in- 
terrupted , by infancy , sickness , infirmity , or otherwise , with a 
view to provide for the same 1 ." 

It was immediately upon this motion that Mr. Fox advanced that 
inconsiderate claim of Right for the Prince of Wales . of which his 
rival availed himself so dexterously and triumphantly. Having as- 
serted that there existed no precedent .whatever thai could bear upon 
the present case, Mr. Fox proceeded to say , that "the circumstance 
to be provided for did not depend upon their deliberations as a House 
of Parliament , it rested elsewhere. There was then a person in 
the kingdoni , different from any other person that any existing 
precedents could refer to , an Heir Apparent , of full age and ca- 
pacity to exercise the royal power. It behoved them , therefore, to 
waste not a moment unnecessarily, but to proceed with all becoming 
speed and diligence to restore the Sovereign power and the exercise 
of the Royal Authority. From what he had read of history , from 
the ideas he had formed of the law , and , what was still more pre- 
cious , of the spirit of the Constitution , from every reasoning and 
analogy drawn from those sources , he declared that he had not in 
his mind a doubt, and he should think himself culpable if he did 
not take the first opportunity of declaring it, that, in the present 
condition of His Majesty, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales 
had as clear , as express a Right to exercise the power of Sovereignly , 
during the continuance of the illness and incapacity with which it 
had pleased God to afflict His3Iajesty, as in the case of His Majesty's 
having undergone a natural demise." 

It is said that , during the delivery of this adventurous opinion , 
the countenance of Mr. Pitt was seen to brighten with exultation, 
at the mistake into which he perceived his adversary was hurrying ; 
and scarcely had the sentence , just quoted , been concluded , when , 
slapping his thigh triumphantly , he turned to the person who sat 
next him, and said, " I'll un-Whig the gentleman for the rest of 
his life ! " 

I Mr. Bmke and Mr. Sheridan were both members of this Committee , and the 
following letter from the former to Sheridan refers to it : 

" Mv DEAR SIR, 

" My idea was , that on Fox's declaring that the precedents, neither indivi- 
dually nor collectively, do at all apply, oar attendance ought to have been merely 
formal. But as you think otherwise, I shall certainly be at the Commit tee soon 
after One. I rather think that they will not attempt to garble : because, suppos- 
ing the precedents to apply, the major part are certainly in their favour. It is not 
likely that they mean to suppress, bnt it is good to be on,onr guard. 

"Ever most truly yours, etc. 

. "EDMUND RKRKK-" 

II (,V;vi/-rf Street, Thursday Morning. 



OF R. B. SHKHLDAN 279 

Even wilhoul lliis anecdote , which may bo depended upon as 
authentic , \vc have stilficionl evidence Uiat such were his feelings', 
in the burst of animation and confidence with which he instantly 
replied to Mr. FoX, taking his ground, with an almost equal te- 
merity , upon the directly opposite doctrine, and asserting , not only 
dial klp in the case of the interruption of the personal exercise of the 
lloyal Authority it devolved upon the other branches of the Legis- 
lature to provide a substitute for that authority," but that " the Prince 
of Wales had no more right to exercise the powers of government 
than any other person in Hie realm." 

The truth is, the assertion of a Right was equally erroneous , on 
both sides. of the question. The Constitution having provided no 
legal remedy for such an exigence as had now occurred, the Uvo 
Houses of Parliament had as little right (in the strict sense of the word) 
to supply the deficiency of the Royal power, as the Prince had to be 
the person elected or adjudged for that purpose. Constitutional ana- 
logy and expediency were the only authorities by which the mea- 
sures, necessary in such a conjuncture, could be* either guided or 
sanctioned ; and if the disputants on each side had softened down 
their tone to this true and practical view of the case, there would 
have been no material difference, in the first stage of the proceedings, 
between Ihem , Mr. Pitt being ready to allow that the Heir Appa- 
rent was the dbvious person , to whom expediency pointed as the 
depositary of the lloyal power, and Mr. Fox having granted, in a 
subsequent explanation of his doctrine , that, strong as was the right 
upon which the claim of the Prince was founded , His lloyal High- 
ness could not assume that right till it had been formally adjudicated 
to him by Parliament. The principle , however , having been im- 
prudently broached , Mr. Pitt was too expert a tactician not to avail 
himself of the advantage it gave him. He was thus, indeed, furnished 
with an opportunity , not only of gaining time by an artful protrac- 
tion of the discussions, but of occupying victoriously the ground 
of Whiggism , which Mr. Fox had , in his impatience or precipi- 
tancy , deserted , and of thus adding to the character , which he had 
recently acquired, of a defender of the prerogatives of the Crown, 
the more 'brilliant reputation of an asserlor of the rights of the 
People. 

In the popular view which Mr. Pitt found it convenient to take 
of this question , he was led , or fell voluntarily , into some glaring 
errors, wlu'eh pervaded the whole of his reasonings on the subject. 
In his anxiety to prove the omnipotence of Parliament, he evidently 
'unfounded the Estates of the realm with the Legislature ', arid al- 

1 Mr. C. rattan and the Irish Parliament carried this error still farther, and 



280 MEMOIRS 

tributcd to two branches of the latter such powers as are only legally 
possessed by the whole three in Parliament assembled. For the pur- 
pose , too , of Haltering the people with the notion , that to them had 
now reverted the right of choosing their temporary Sovereign , he 
applied a principle , which ought to be reserved for extreme cases , 
to an exigence by no means requiring this ultimate appeal , the 
defect in the government being such as the still existing Estates of 
the realm, appointed to speak the will of the people , but superseding 
any direct exercise of the power , were fully competent , as in the 
instance of the Revolution , to remedy 1 . 

Indeed , the solemn use of such language as Mr, Pitt , in his over- 
acted Whiggism, employed upon this occasion, namely, that the 
" fight" of appointing a substitute for Ihe Royal power was " to be 
found in Ihe voice and the sense of the people ," is applicable only 
to those conjunctures , brought on by misrule and oppression , when 
all forms are lost in the necessity of relief , and when the right of the 
people to change and choose their rulers is among the most sacred and 
inalienable that either nature or social polity has ordained. But , to 
apply tho language of that last resource to the present emergency 
was to brandish the sword of Goliath 2 on an occasion that by no 
means called for it. 

The question of the Prince's claim , in spite of the efferts of the 
Prince himself and of his Royal relatives to avert the agitation of it, 
was , for evident reasons , forced into discussion by the Minister , 
and decided by a majority , not only of the two Houses but of the 
nation , in his favour. During one of the long debates to which the 
question gave rise , Mr. Siicridan allowed himself to be betrayed into 
some expressions , which , considering the delicate predicament in 
which Ihe Prince was placed by the controversy, were not marked 
with his usual tact and sagacity. In alluding to the claim of Right 
advanced for His Royal Highness , and deprecating any further agi- 
tation of it, he "reminded the Right Honourable Gentleman (Mr. 
PiU) of the danger of provoking that claim to be asserted [a loud cry 
of hear! hear!], which, he observed, had not yet been preferred. 
[Another cry of hear ! hear!]" This was the very language that 
Mr. Pitt mtfst wished his adversaries to assume , and , accordingly , 
he turned it to account with all his usual mastery and haughtiness. 

founded all their proceedings on the neces.sity of providing for the deficiency of 
the Third Estate." 

' The most luminous view that has been taken of this Question is to be fo&nd 
in an Article-of the Edinburgh Review, on the Regency of 181 1, written by OIK 
of the most learned and able men of buf day, Mr. JoKa Allen. 

- A. simile applied by Lord Homers to thp pqwer of Impeachment, which, he 
sa/d , "shonld be like Goliath's sword, kept in thb temple , and not used but upow 
great occasions." 



OF R- B. SHERIDAN. 281 

"He had now,' 1 he said, " an additional reason for asserting the 
authority of the House, and defining- the boundaries of Right, when 
the deliberative faculties of Parliament were invaded , and an in- 
decent menace thrown out to^awe and influence their proceedings. 
In the discussion of the question, the House , he trusted, would do 
their duly, in spite of any threat that might be thrown out. Men, 
who felt their native freedom, would'notsobmit to a threat, however 
high the authority from which it might come' ." 

The restrictions of the Prerogative with wliich Mr. Pitt thought 
proper to encumber the transfer of the Royal power to the Prince , 
formed the second great point of discussion between the parties, and 
brought equally adverse principles into play , Mr. Fox , still main- 
taining his position on the side of Royalty, defended it with much 
more tenable weapons than- the question of Right had enabled him to 
wield. So founded , indeed , in the purest principles of Whiggism 
did he consider his opposition , on this memorable occasion, to any 
limitation of the Prerogative in the hands of a Regent, that he has , 
in his History of James II., put those principles deliberately upon 
record , as a fundamentalarticle in the creed of his party. The pas- 
sage to which I allude occurs in his remarks upon the Exclusion Bill $ 
and as it contains, in a condensed/orm, the spirit of what he urged 
on the same point in 1789, I jcannot do better than lay his own 
words before the reader. After expressing his opinion that, at the 
period of which he writes, the measure of exclusion from the mo- 
narchy altogether would have been preferable to any limitation of its 
powers , he proceeds to say : " The Whigs , who consider the 
powers of the Crown as a trust for the people , a doctrine which the 
Tories themselves , when pushed in argument $ will sometimes ad- 
mit , naturally think it their duty rather to change the manager of the 
trust than impair the subject of it -, while others , who consider them 
as Ihe right or property of the King, will as naturally act as they 
would do in the case of any other property , and consent to the loss 
or annihilation of any part of it , for the purpose of preserving the 
remainder to him , whom they style the rightful owner." Further 
on he adds : "The Royal Prerogative oujht, according to the 
Whigs , to be reduced to such powers as are in their exercise bene- 
ficial io the people ; and of the benefit of these they will not rashly 
suffer the people to be deprived , whether the executive power be in 
the hands of an hereditary or of an elective King, of a Regent, or 
of any other denomination of magistrate ; while, on the other hand, 
they who consider Prerogative with reference only to Royalty will . 
with equal readiness, consent cither to the extension or the.suspen~ 

M 'V'Jf Vfl 

' Jni partial ttcport of (ill the Proceedings on the Subject of the Regency. 



28* MEMOIRS 

sion of its exercise , as lire occasional interests of the Prince may 
seem lo require. 1 ' 

Taking this as a correct exposition of the doctrines of the two 
parties, of which Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt may be considered to have 
been the representatives in the Regency question of 1789, it will 
strike some minds that, however the Whig may flatter himself that 
the principle by which he is guided in'such exigencies is favourable 
to liberty , and how ever the Tory may , with equal sincerity , believe 
his suspension of the Prerogative on these occasions to be advan- 
tageous to the Crown , yet that in both of the principles, so defined , 
there is an evident tendency to produce effects wholly different from 
those which the parties professing them contemplate. 

On the one side , lo sanction from authority the notion , that there 
are some powers of the crown which may be safely dispensed with , 
to accustom the people lo an abridged exercise of the Prero- 
gative, with the risk of suggesting to their minds that its full efficacy 
needs not be resumed, to set an example, in short, of reducing the 
Kingly Power , which , by its success , may invite and authorize 
still further encroachments , all these are dangers to which the 
alleged doctrine of Toryism , whenever brought into practice , ex- 
poses its idol ; and more particularly in enlightened and speculative 
times , when the minds of men are in quest of the right and the 
useful , and when a superfluity of power is one of those abuses 
which they are least likely to overlook or tolerate. In such seasons, 
the experiment of the Tory might lead to all that he most depre- 
cates , and the branches of the Prerogative , once cut away , might , 
like the lopped boughs of the fir-tree, never grow again. 

On the other hand, the Whig who asserts that the Royal Prero- 
gative ought to be reduced to such powers as are beneficial to the 
people, and yet stipulates, as an invariable principle, for the transfer 
of that Prerogative full and unimpaired whenever it passes into 
other hands , appears , even more perhaps than the Tory , to throw 
an obstacle in the way of his own object. Circumstances , it is not 
denied, may arise, when the increase of the powers of the Crown , 
in other ways, may. render it advisable to controul some of its 
established prerogatives. But , where are we to find a fit moment 
for such a reform , or what opening will be left for it by this fasti- 
dious Whig principle, which, in 1680, could see no middle step 
between a change of the Succession and an undiminished main- 
tenance of the Prerogative , and which , in 1789, almost upon the 
heels of a Declaration that " the power of the Crown had increased 
and ought to be diminished," protested against even an experi- 
mental reductjpn of il ! 

According lo Mr. Fox, it is a distinctive characteristic of Ihe 



OF R. B. 'SHERIDAN. ?S3 

Tory, to attach more importance to (he person of the King than to 
his office. But , assuredly, the Tory is not singular in thi want ef 
political abstraction ; and in England, (from a defect , Hume thinks , 
inherent in all limited monarchies , ) the personal qualities and opi- 
nions of the Sovereign have considerable influence upon the whole 
course of public affairs, being felt alike in that courtly sphere 
around them where their attraction acts, and in that outer circle of 
opposition where their repulsion comes into play. To this influence, 
then, upon the Government and the community, of which no ab- 
straction can deprive the person of the monarch , the Whig principle 
in question ( which seems to consider entireness of Prerogative as 
necessary to a King , las the enlireness of his limbs was held to be 
among the Athenians, 1 ) superadds the vast power, both actual and 
virtual , which would flow from the inviolability of the Royal office, 
and forecloses, so far, the chance which the more pliant Tory doc- 
trine would leave open, of counteracting the effects of the King's 
indirect personal influence , by ^curtailing or weakening the grasp 
of some of his direct regal powers. Ovid represents, the Deity of 
Light (and on an occasion, too, which may be called a Regency 
question) as crowned with moveafoie rays., which might be put off 
when loo strong or dazzling. But ^according to this principle, the 
crown of Prerogative must keep its rays fixed and immoveable, and 
(as the poet expresses it) " circa Z;;U>OMNE micantes." 

Upon the whole, however high the authorities by which this Whig 
doctrine was enforced in 1789 , its manifest tendency, in most cases, 
lo secure a perpetuity of superfluous powers to the Crown , appears 
to render it until , at least as an invariable principle ,-for any party 
professing to have the liberty of the people for their object. The 
Prince, in his admirable Letter upon the subject of the Regency to 
Mr. Pill, was made to express the unwillingness which he felt, " that 
in his person an experiment should be made to ascertain with how 
small a portion of Kingly power the executive government of the 
country might be carried on ; " but imagination has not far lo go 
in supposing a case, where the enormous patronage vested in !he 
Crown , and the consequent increase of a Royal bias through the 
community, might give such an undue and unsafe preponderance 
lo lhat branch of the Legislature , as would render any safe oppor- 
tunity, however acquired, of ascertaining with /tow much less power 
the executive government could be carried on , most acceptable , in 
spile of any dogmas to the contrary, to all true lovers as well of the 
monarchy as of the people. 

Having given thus much consideration to the opinions and prin- 
ciples professed on both sicjes of this constitutional question, it is 
mortifying s alter all, to be obliged to acknowledge thut , in the 



284 MEMOIRS 

relative situation of the two parties at the moment , may be found 
perhaps the real, and but too natural, source of the decidedly op- 
posite views which they took of the subject. Mr. Pitt , about to sur- 
render the possession of power to his rival , had a very intelligible 
interest in reducing the value of the transfer, and ( as a retreating 
army spike the guns they leave behind)" rendering the engines of 
Prerogative as useless as possible to his successor. Mr. Fox , too , 
had as natural a motive to oppose such a design , and , aware that 
the chief aim of these restrictive measures was to entail upon the 
Whig ministry of the Regent a weak Government and strong Op- 
position , would , of course , eagerly welcome the aid of any abstract 
principle , that might sanction him in resisting such a mutilation of 
the Royal power $ well knowing that (as in the case of the Peerage 
Bill in the reign of George I,) the proceedings altogether were 
actuated more by ill-will to the successor in the trust , fhyn by any 
sincere zeal for the purity of its exercise. 

Had the situations of the two leaders been reversed , it is more 
than probable that their modes of thinking and acting would have 
been so likewise. Mr. Pitt , \vifh the prospect of power before his 
eyes , would have been still more strenuous , perhaps , for the un- 
broken transmission of the Prerogative his natural leaning on the 
side of power being increased by his own approaching share in it. 
Mr. Fox too, if stopped, like his rival, in a career of successful 
administration , and obliged to surrender up the reins of the stale to 
Tory guidance , might have found in his popular principles a still 
more plausible pretext, for the abridgment of power in such uncon- 
stitutional hands. He might even too, perhaps, (as his India Bill 
warrants us in supposing ,) have been tempted into the same sort of 
alienation of the Royal patronage, as that which Mr. Pitt now practised 
in the establishment of the Queen , and have taken care to leave 
behind him a strong hold of Whiggism , to facilitate the resumption 
of his position, whenever an opportunity might present itself. Such 
is human nature , even in its noblest specimens , and so arc the 
strongest spirits shaped by the mould in which chance and circum- 
stances have placed them. 

Mr. Sheridan spoke frequently in the Debates on this question , 
but his most important agency lay in the less public business con- 
nected w ilh it. He was the confidential adviser of the Prince through- 
out , directed every step he took , and was the author of most of his 
correspondence on the subject. There is little doubt , I think , that 
the celebrated and masterly Letter to Mr. Pitt , which by some 
persons has been attributed to Burke , and by others to Sir Gilbert 
Elliot (afterwards Lord Minto), was principally the production of 
Mr. Sheridan. For the supposition Mi it was written by Burko 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. J85 

there arc , beside the merils of the production , but very scanty 
grounds. So little was he at that period in those habits of confidence 
with the Prince, which would entitle him to be selected fop such a 
task in preference to Sheridan , that but eight or ten days before 
the date of this letter (Jan. 2. ) he had declared in the House of Com- 
mons, that " he knew as little of the inside of Carlton House as he 
did of Buckingham House." Indeed the violent state of this extra- 
ordinary man's temper, during the whole of the discussions and 
proceedings on the Regency, would have rendered^him , even had 
his intimacy with the Prince been closer, an unfit person for the 
composition of a document requiring so much caution^ temper, 
and delicacy. 

The conjecture that Sir Gilbert Elliot was the author of it is 
somewhat more plausible, that gentleman being at this period 
high in the favour of the Prince , and possessing talents sufficient 
to authorize the suspicion (which was in itself a reputation) that he 
had been the writer of a composition so admirable. But it seems 
hardly necessary to go farther, in quest of its author, than Mr. She- 
ridan , who , besides being known to have acted the part of the 
Prince's adviser through the whole transaction, is proved by the 
rough copies found among his papers , to have written several other 
important documents connected with the Regency. 

1 may also add , that an eminent statesman of the present day, 
who was at that period , though very young , a distinguished friend 
of Mr. Sheridan, and who has shown by the ability of his own state 
papers that he has not forgot the lessons of that school from which 
this able production emanated , remembers having heard some 
passages of the Letter discussed in Bruton Street , as if it were then 
in the progress of composition , and has always, I believe , been 
under the impression that it was principally the work of Mr. She^ 
ridan 1 . 

I had written thus far on the subject of this Letter and shall 
leave what I have written as a memorial of the fallacy of such con- 
jectures when, having still some doubts of my correctness in 
attributing the honour of the composition to Sheridan , I resolved 
to ask the opinion of my friend , Sir James Mackintosh , a person 
above all others qualified , by relationship of talent , to recognize 
and hold parley with the mighty spirit of Burke , in whatever shape 
ihc " Royal Dane" may appear. The strong impression on his mind 
amounting almost to certainly was, that no other hand but that 

1 To this authority may be added also that of the Bishop of Winchester, who 
says, "Mr. Sheridan was supposed to have been materially concerned in drawing 
up this admirable composition." 



IHfi MEMOIRS 

of Burke could have written the greater part of the letter ' - and fay 
a more diligent enquiry, in Which his kindness assisted me, it has 
been ascertained that his opinion was, as it could not fail to be, 
correct. The following extract from a letter written by Lord Minto 
at the time , referring obviously to the surmise that he was himself 
the author of the paper, confirms beyond a doubt the fact, that it 
was written almost solely by Burke : 

' " ^January 5i$*, 1789. 

" There was not a word of the Prince's Letter to Pitt mine. It was 
originally Burke's , altered a little, but not improved, by Sheridan and 
other critics. The answer made by the Prince yesterday to the Address 
of tbe two Houses was entirely mine , and done in a great hurry half an 
hour before it was to be delivered. " 

While it is with regret I give up the claim of Mr. Sheridan to 
this fine specimen of English composition, it but adds to my in- 
tense admiration of Burke not on account of the beauty of the 
writing, for his fame required no such accession but from thai 
triumph of mind over temper which it exhibits that forgetfulness 
of Self, the true, transmigrating power of genius, which enabled 
him thus to pass his spirit into the station of Royally, and to as- 
sume all the calm dignity, both of style and feeling that became it. 

It was to be expected that the conduct of Lord Thurlow at this 
period should draw down upon him all the bitterness of those who 
were in the secret of his ambidextrous policy, and who knew both 
his disposition to desert , and the nature of the motives that pre- 
vented him To Sheridan , in particular, such a result of a nego- 
tiation , in which he had been the principal mover and mediator, 
could not be otherwise than deeply mortifying. Of all the various 
talents with which he was gifted , his dexterity in political intrigue 
and management was that of which he appears to have been most 
vain 5 and this vanity it was that , at a later period of his life , some- 
times led him to branch off from the main body of his party, upon 
secret and solitary enterprises of ingenuity, which as may be 
expected from all such independent movements of a partisan 
generally ended in thwarting his friends and embarrassing himself. 

1 It is amnsing to observe how tastes differ; the following Is the opinion 
entertained of this letter by a gentleman, who, I understand and can easily be- 
lieve, is an old established Reviewer. After mentioning that it was attributed to 
the pen of Ikirke, he adds , " The stoiy, however, does not seem entitled to much 
credit , for the internal character of the paper is too vapid and'heavy for the genius 
of Burke, whose ardent mind would assuredly have diffused vigour into the 
composition, and the correctness of whose judgment would as certainly have 
preserved it from the charge of inelegance and grammatical deficiency." Dr. 
W ATKINS, Life of Sheridan. 

Snch, in nine cases out often, are the periodical guides of public taste. 



OF R. B. tSHERIDAN. 87 

In the debate on that clause of the Bill , which restricted the 
Ilegenl from granting places or pensions in reversion , Mr. She- 
ridan is represented as having attacked Lord Thurlow in terms of 
the most unqualified severity, speaking of " the natural ferocity 
and sturdiness of his temper," and of " his brutal bluffness-." But 
to such abuse , unseasoned by wit , Mr. Sheridan was not at all 
likely to have condescended , being well aware that, " as in smooth 
oil the razor best is set," so satire is whetted to its most perfect 
keenness by courtesy. His clumsy reporters have, in this, as in 
almost all other instances , misrepresented him. 

With equal personality, but more playfulness,, Mr. Burke, in 
exposing that w retched fiction , by which the Great Seal was con- 
verted into the Third Branch of the Legislature , and the assent of 
the King forged to a Bill , in which his incapacity to give either 
assent or dissent was declared, thus expressed himself :-~" But 
what is to be done when the Crown is in a deliquium 7 It was in- 
tended , he had heard , to set up a man with black brows, and a large 
wig, a kind of scare-crow to the two Houses, who was to give a 
fictitious assent in the royal name and this to be binding on 
the people at large!" The following remarkable passage, too , in a 
subsequent Speech , is almost too well known to be cited : " The 
other House," he said, " were not yet perhaps recovered from 
that extraordinary burst of the pathetic which had been exhibited 
the other evening ; they had not yet dried their eyes , or been 
restored to their former placidity, and were unqualified to attend to 
new business. The tears shed in that House on the occasion to 
which he alluded, were not the tears of patriots for dying laws, 
but of Lords for their expiring places. The iron tears, which flowed 
down Pluto's cheek, rather resembled the dismal bubbling of the 
Styx, than the gentle murmuring streams of Aganippe." 

While Lord Thurlow was thus treated by the party whom he had 
so nearly joined , he was but coldly welcomed back fay the Minister 
whom he had so nearly deserted. His reconciliation , too , with the 
latter was by no means either sincere or durable, the renewal of 
friendship between politicians , on such occasions , being generally 
like that which Ihe Diable Boiteux describes , as having taken place, 
between himself and a brother sprite, ; ' We were reconciled, 
embraced; and have hated each other heartily ever since." 

In the Regency, indeed, and the transactions connected with it, 
may be found the source of most of those misunderstandings and 
enmities, which broke out soon after among the eminent men of 
that day, and were attended with consequences so important lo 
fhemselves and the country. By the difference just mentioned, be- 
tween Mr. Pitt and Lord Thurlow, the ministerial arrangements of 



288 MEMOIRS 

1793 were facilitated , and the learned Lord , after all his slurdy 
pliancy, consigned to a life of ineffectual discontent ever after. 

The disagreement between Mr. Burke and Mr. Fox , if not ac- 
tually originating now and its foundations had been , perhaps , 
laid from the beginning , in the total dissimilarly of their disposi- 
tions and sentiments was , at least , considerably ripened and acce- 
lerated by the events of this period, and by the discontent that each 
of them, like partners in unsuccessful play, was known to feel at 
the mistakes which the other had committed in the game. Mr. Fox 
had , unquestionably, every reason to lament as well as blame the 
violence and virulence by which his associate has disgraced the con- 
test. The effect , indeed , produced upon the public by the irreverent 
sallies of Burke , and by the too evident triumph , both of hate 
and hope , with which he regarded the calamitous situation of the 
King , contributed not a little to render still lower the already low 
temperature of popularity at which his party stood throughout the 
country. It seemed as if a long course of ineffectual struggle in po- 
litics , of frustrated ambition and unrewarded talents , had at length 
exasperated his mind to a degree beyond endurance , and the extra- 
vagances into which he was hurried in his speeches on this ques- 
tion , appear to have been but the first workings of that impatience 
of a losing cause that resentment of failure, and disgust at his 
partners in it which soon afterwards found such a signal opportu- 
nity of exploding. 

That Mr. Burke , upon far less grounds , was equally discontented 
with his co-operators in this emergency, may be collected from the 
following passage of a letter, addressed by him in the summer of this 
year to Lord Charlemont, and given by Hardy in his Memoirs of that 
nobleman : 

" Perpetual failure, even though nothing in that failure can be fixed 
on the improper choice of the object or the injudicious choice of means, 
will detract every day more and more from a man's credit , until be ends 
without success and without reputation. In fact, a constant pursuit even 
of the best objects, without adequate instruments, detracts something 
from the opinion of a man's judgment. This, 1 think, may be in part the 
cause of the inactivity of others of our friends who are in the vigour of life 
and in possession of a great degree of lead and authority. I donotblame tbem, 
though! lament tbatstate oftbe public mind, in whicb the people can con- 
sider the exclusion of such talents and such virtues from their service, as a 
point gained to tbem. The only point in which I can find any thing to 
blame in these friends, is their not taking the effectual means, which 
they certainly bad in their power, of making an honourable retreat from 
their prospect of power into tbe possession of reputation, by an effectual 
defence of themselves. There was an opportunity which was not made 
use of for that purpose, and which could scarcely bare failed of turning 
tbe tables on their adversaries," 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 589 

Another instance of the embittering influence of these transactions 
may be traced in Iheir effects upon Mr. Burke and Mr. Sheridan 
between whom there had arisen a degree of emulation , amounting 
to jealousy, which , though hitherto chiefly confined to one of the 
parties , received on this occasion such an addition of fuel , as spread 
il equally through the minds of both , and conduced, in no small 
degree , to the explosion that followed. Both Irishmen , and both 
adventurers in a region so much elevated above their original sta- 
tion, it was but natural that some such feeling should kindle be- 
tween them , and that , as Burke was already mid-way in his career, 
when Sheridan was but entering the 'field , the stirrings , whether of 
emulation or envy, should first be felt by the latter. It is , indeed , 
said that in the ceremonial of Haslings's Trial , the privileges en- 
joyed by Burke , as a Privy-counsellor, were regarded with evident 
uneasiness by his brother Manager, who could not as yet boast the 
distinction of Right Honourable before his name. As soon, how- 
ever, as the rapid run of Shettdan's success had enabled him to over- 
take his veteran rival , this feeling of jealousy took possession in full 
force of the latter, and the close relations of intimacy and con- 
fidence , to which Sheridan was now admitted both by Mr. Fox and 
the Prince , are supposed to have been not the least of those causes 
of irritation and disgust, by which Burke was at length driven to 
break with the party altogether, and to show his gigantic strength 
at parting, by carrying away some of the strongest pillars of Whig- 
gisrn in his grasp. 

Lastly; to this painful list of the feuds, whose origin is to be found 
in the times and transactions of which we are speaking , may be 
added that slight, but too visible cloud of misunderstanding, which 
arose between Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan , and which , though it 
never darkened into any thing serious , continued to pervade their 
intercourse with each other to the last exhibiting itself, on the part 
of Mr. Fox, in a degree of distrustful reserve not natural to him, 
and , on the side of Sheridan , in some of those counter- workings 
of influence , which , as I have already said , he was sometimes in- 
duced by his love of the diplomacy of politics to practise. 

Among the appointments named in contemplation of a Regency, 
the place of Treasurer of the Navy was allotted to Mr. Sheridan. He 
would never, however, admit the idea of certainly in any of the ar- 
rangements so sanguinely calculated upon , but continually im- 
pressed upon his impatient friends the possibility, if not probability, 
of the King's recovery. Me had even refused to look at the plan of 
Hie apartments , .which he himself was to occupy in Somerset House ; 
and had but just agreed that it should be sent to him for examina- 
tion , on the very day when the King was declared convalescent by 

19 



290 MEMOIRS 

Dr. Warren. "He entered his own house (to use the words of the 
relater of the anecdote ) at dinner-time with the news. There were 
present , besides Mrs. Sheridan and his sister, Tickell , who, on 
the change of administration , was to have been immediately brought 
into Parliament, Joseph Richardson, who was to have had Tickell's 
place of Commissioner of the Stamp-office , Mr. Reid , and some 
others. Not one of the company but had cherished expectations from 
the approaching change not one of them , however, had lost so 
much as Mr. Sheridan. With his wonted equanimity he announced 
the sudden turn affairs had taken , and looking round him cheer- 
fully, as he filled a large glass , said , ' Let us all join in drinking 
His Majesty's speedy recovery.' 

The measures which the Irish Parliament adopted on this occa- 
sion, would have been productive of anomalies, both theoretic and 
practical, had the continued illness of the King allowed the projected 
Regency to lake place. As it was , the most material consequence 
that ensued was the dismissal from their official situations of Mr. Pon- 
sonby and other powerful individuals , by which the Whig parly re- 
ceived such an accession of strength , as enabled them to workout 
for their country the few blessings of liberty that still remain to her. 
Among the victims to their voles on this question was Mr. Charles 
Sheridan , who , on the recovery of the King , was dismissed from 
his office of Secretary of War, but received compensation by a pen- 
sion of 1200/. a-year, with the reversion of 300/. a-year to his 
wife. 

The ready and ardent burst of devotion with which Ireland, at 
this moment, like the Pythagoreans at their morning worship, 
turned to welcome with her Harp the Rising Sun, was long re- 
membered by the object of her homage with pride and gratitude , 
and , let us trust, is not even yet entirely forgotten I . 

It has already been mentioned that to Mr. Sheridan, at this pe- 
riod , was entrusted the task of drawing up several of the Slate Papers 
of the Heir Apparent. From the rough copies of Ihesc papers that 
have fallen inlo my hands, I shall content myself with selecting two 
Letters the first of which was addressed by the Prince to the Queen, 
immediately after the communication to Her Majesty of the Reso- 
lution of the two Houses placing Ihe Royal Household under her 
control. 

Before Your Majesty gives an answer to the application for your Royal 
permission to place under Your Majesty's separate authority, the direction 

1 This vain hope was expressed before the late decision on the Catholic question 
had proved to the Irish that, where their rights are concerned, neither public nor 
private pledges are regarded. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN 391 

and appointment of the King's household , and thereby to separate from 
the difficult and arduous situation which I am unfortunately called upon 
to fill , the accustomed and necessary support which has ever belonged 
to it, permit me, with every sentiment of duty ami affection towards 
Your Majesty, to entreat your attentive perusal of the papers which I 
have the honour to enclose. They contain a sketch of the plan now pro- 
posed to be carried into execution as communicated to me by Mr. Pitt, 
and the sentiments which I found myself bound in duty to declare in 
reply to that communication. I take the liberty of lodging these papers 
in Your Majesty's hands, confiding that, whenever it shall please Pro- 
vidence to remove the malady with which the King my father is now 
unhappily afflicted, Your Majesty will, in justice to me and to those of 
the Royal family whose affectionate concurrence and support I have 
received , take the earliest opportunity of submitting them to his Royal 
perusal , in order that no interval of lime may elapse before he is in 
possession of the true motives and principles upon which I have acted. 
I here solemnly repeat to Your Majesty, that among those principles 
there is not one which influences my mind so much as the firm per- 
suasion I have, that my conduct in endeavouring to maintain unim- 
paired and undivided the just rights, prerogatives, and dignity of the 
Crown, in the person of the King's representative, is the only line of 
conduct which would entitle me to His Majesty's approbation, or enable 
me to stand with confidence in his Royal presence on the .happy day of 
his recovery; and on the contrary, that those who, under colour of 
respect and attachment to his Royal person , have contrived this project 
for enfeebling and degrading the executive authority of the realm, will 
l>e considered by him as having risked the happiness of his people and 
the security of the throne itself, by establishing a fatal precedent which 
may hereafter be urged against his own authority, on as plausible pre- 
tences , or revived against the just rights of his family. In speaking my 
opinions of the motive of the projectors of this scheme, I trust I need not 
assure Your Majesty that the respect, duty, and affction I owe to Your Ma- 
jestyhaveneversuffered me for a single moment to consider you counte- 
nancing , in the slightest degree , their plan or their purposes. I have the 
firmest reliance on Your Majesty's early declaration to me, on the subject 
of public affairs , at the commencement of our common calamity ; and , 
whatever may be the efforts of evil or interested advisers, I have the 
same confidence that you will never permit or endure that the influence 
of your respected name shall be profaned to the purpose of distressing 
the governement, and insulting the person of your son. How far those, 
who are evidently pursuing both these objects , may be encouraged by 
Your Majesty's acceptance of one part of the powers purposed to be 
lodged in your hands , I will not presume to say '. The proposition has 

1 In speaking of the extraordinary imperium in imperio , with which the com - 
mand of so much power and patronage wonld have invested the Queen, the 
Annual Register (Robinson's) remarks justly, " It was not the least extraordinary 
circumstance in these transactions , lhat the Qneen could be prevailed upon to 
lend her name to a project which would eventually have placed her in avowed 
rivalship with her son, and, at a moment when her attention might seem to be 
absorbed by domestic calamity, have established herat the head of a political parly." 



293 MEMOIRS 

assumed the shape ef a Resolution of Parliament, and therefore I ant 
silent. 

" Your Majesty will' do me the honour to weigh the opinions I formed 
and declared before Parliament had entertained the plan , and , with 
those before you , your own good judgment will decide I have only to 
add, that whatever that decision may be, nothing will ever alter the 
interest of true aflection and inviolable duty," etc. etc. 

The second Letter that I shall give , from the rough copy of 
Mr. Sheridan , was addressed by the Prince to the King after his 
recovery, announcing the intention of His Royal Highness to submit 
to His Majesty a Memorial, in vindication of his own conduct and 
that of his Royal brother the Duke of York, throughout the whole of 
the proceeding consequent upon His Majesty's indisposition. 

" SIR, 

" Thinking it probable that I should have been honoured with your 
commands to attend Your Majesty on Wednesday last, I have unfor- 
tunately lost the opportunity of paying my duty to Your Majesty before 
your departure from Weymouth. The accounts I have received of Yonr 
MajesU 's health have given me the greatest satisfaction ; and should it 
be Your Majesty's intention to return to Weymouth, I trust, Sir, there 
will be no impropriety in my then intreating Your 3Iajesty's gracious 
attention to a point of the greatest moment to the peace of my own 
mind, and one in which 1 am convinced Your 31ajesty's feelings are 
equally interested. Your Majesty's letter to my brother the Duke of Cla- 
rence^ in May last, was the first direct intimation I had ever received 
that my conduct and that of my brother the Duke of York, during Your 
Majesty's late lamented illness , had brought on us the heavy misfortune 
of Your Majesty's displeasure. I should be wholly unworthy the return 
of Your Majesty's confidence and good opinion, which will ever be the 
first objects of my life, if I could have read the passage I refer to in that 
letter without the deepest sorrow and regret for the effect produced on 
Your Majesty's mind ; though at the same time I felt the firmest per- 
suasion that Your Majesty's generosity and goodness would never permit 
that effect to remain , without affording us an opportunity of knowing 
what had been urged against us, of replying to our accusers, and of 
justifying ourselves, if the means of justification were in our power. 

"Great however as my impatience and anxiety were on this subject, 
I felt it a superior consideration not to intrude any unpleasing or 
agitating discussion upon Your Majesty's attention, during an excursion 
devoted to the case and amusement necessary for the re-establishmenl 
of Your Majesty's health. I determined to sacrifice my own feelings , and 
to wait with resignation till the fortunate opportunity should arrive, 
when Your Majesty's own paternal goodness would, I was convinced , 
lead you even to invite your sons to that fair hearing , which your justice 
would not deny to the meanest individual of your subjects. In this 
painful interval 1 have employed myself in drawing up a full statement 
and account of my conduct during the period alluded to , and of the 
motives and circumstances which influenced me." When thes^ shall be 



OF R- B. SHERIDAN. 293 

Viumbly submitted to Your Majesty's consideration, I may be possibly 
found to have erred in judgment, and to have acted on mistaken prin- 
ciples , but I have the most assured conviction that I shall not l>e found 
to have been deficient in that duteous affection to Your Majesty which 
nothing shall ever diminish. Anxious for every thing that may contribute 
to the comfort and satisfaction of Your Majesty's mind, I cannot omit 
this opportunity of lamenting those appearancesof a less gracious disposi- 
tion in the Queen, towards my brothers and myself, than we were accus- 
tomed to experience ; and to assure Your Majesty, that if by your affec- 
tionate interposition these most uhpleasant sensations shonld be happily 
removed, it would be an event not less grateful to our minds than 
satisfactory to Your Majesty's own benign disposition. T will not 
longer," etc. etc. ' " G. P." 

The Statement here announced by His Royal Highness (a copy of 
which I have seen , occupying ^ with its Appendix , near a hundred 
folio pages , ) is supposed to have been drawn up by Lord Minto, 

To descend from documents of such high import to one of a much 
humbler nature , the following curious memorial was presented this 
year to Mr. Sheridan, by a literary gentleman whom the Whig party 
thought it worth while to employ in their service , and who , as far 
as industry went, appears to have been not unworthy of his hire. 
Simonides is said to be the first author, that ever wrote for pay, but 
Simonides little dreamt of the perfection to which his craft would one 
day be brought. 

Memorial for Dr. W. T.', Fitzroy- Street , Fitzroy- Chapel. 

"In May, 1787, Dr. Parr, in the name of his political friends , engaged 
Dr. T. to embrace those opportunities, which his connections with 
booksellers and periodical publications might afford him, of supporting 
the principles of their party. Mr. Sheridan in August, 1787, gave two 
notes , 5o/. each , to Dr. T. for the first year's service, which notes were 
paid at different periods the first by Mr. Sheridan at Brookes's, in 
January, 1788, the second by Mr. Windham in May, 1788. Mr. She- 
ridan, in different conversations, encouraged Dr. T. to go on with the 
expectation of a like sum yearly, or 5o/. half yearly. Dr. T. with this 
encouragement engaged in different publications for the purpose of this 
agreement. He is charged for the most part with the political and 
historical articles in the Analytical Review, and he also occasionally 
writes the Political Appendix to the English Review, of which parti- 
cularly he wrote that for April last, and that for June last. He also every 
week writes an abridgment of Politics for the Whitehall Evening Post , 

1 This industrious Scotchman ( of whose 'name I have ouly given the initials) 
was not without some share of humour. Ou hearing that a certain modern philo- 
sopher had carried his 'belief in the perfectibility of all living things'. so far, a.-t to 
say that he did not despair of seeing the day when tigers themselves might be 
educated , Dr. T. exclaimed , "I should like dearly to see him in a cage with m>n 
of his pnpils! " 



294 MEMOIHS 

and a Political Review every month for a Sunday paper entitled The 
Review and Sunday Advertiser. In a Romance, entitled 'Mammoth, or 
Human Nature displayed , etc.,' Dr. T. has shown how mindful he is 
on all occasions of his engagements to those who confide in him. He has 
also occasionally moved other engines, which it would be tedious and 
might appear too trifling to mention. Dr. T. is not ignorant that un- 
common changes have happened in the course of this last year, that is, 
the year preceding May, 1789. Instead of too/., therefore, he will be 
satisfied with 5o/. for that year, provided that this abatement shall not 
form a precedent against his claim of ioo/. annually, if his further 
services shall be deemed acceptable. There is one pojLnt on which 
Dr. T. particularly reserved himself, namely, to make^jino attack on 
Mr. Hastings, and this will be attested by Dr. Parr, Mr. Sheridan, and, 
if the Doctor rightly recollects, by Mr. Windham. 

" Fitzroy-Street , -21 st July, 1789." 

Taking into account all the various circumstances that concurred 
to glorify this period of Sheridan's life , we may allow ourselves , I 
think , to pause upon it as the apex of the pyramid , and , whether 
we consider his fame , his talents , or his happiness , may safely say, 
" Here is their highest point." 

The new splendour which his recent triumphs in eloquence had 
added to a reputation already so illustrious , the power which he 
seemed to have acquired over the future destinies of the country, by 
his acknowledged influence in the councils of the Heir Apparent , 
and the tribute paid to him , by the avowal both of friends and foes , 
that he had used this influence, in the late trying crisis of the Re- 
gency with a judgment and delicacy that proved him worthy of it, 
all these advantages , both brilliant and solid , which subsequent cir- 
cumstances but too much tended to weaken , at this moment sur- 
rounded him in their newest lustre and promise. 

He was just now, too, in the first enjoyment of a feeling , of which 
habit must have afterwards dulled the zest, namely, the proud 
consciousness of having surmounted the disadvantages of birth and 
station , and placed himself on a level with the highest and noblest 
of the land. This footing in the society of the great he could only 
have attained by parliamentary eminence \ as a mere writer, with 
all his genius , he never would have been thus admitted ad eundem 
among them. Talents, in literature or science , unassisted by the ad- 
vantages of birth , may lead to association with the great, but rarely 
to equality -, it is a passport through the well-guarded frontier, but 
no title to naturalisation within. By him , who has not been born 
among them , this can only be achieved by politics. In that arena, 
which they look upon as their own , the Legislature of the land , let 
a man of genius , like Sheridan , but assert his supremacy at once 
all these barriers of reserve and pride give way, and he takes , by 



OF 11. D. SHEIUDATN. $95 

slorni , a station at Ihcir side , which a Shakspeare or a Newton 
would hut have enjoyed by courtesy. 

In lixing upon this period of Sheridan's life , as the most shining 
tcra of his talents as well as his fame , it is not meant to be denied 
I hat in his subsequent warfare with the Minister, during the stormy 
lime of the French Revolution , he exhibited a prowess of oratory 
no less suited to that actual service, than his- eloquence on the trial 
of Hastings had been to sueh lighter lilts and tournaments of peace. 
JJul the effect of his lalents was far less .striking ; rlhe current of 
feeling through England was against him , and , however greatly 
this added to the merit of his efforts , it deprived him of that echo 
from the public heart, by which the voice of the orator is endued 
with a sort of multiplied life, and, as it were, survives itself. In 
Hie panic , loo, that followed the French Revolution , all eloquence , 
but that from the lips of Power, was disregarded , and the voice of 
him at the helm was the only one listened to in the storm. 

Of his happiness , at the period of which we are speaking , in the 
midst of so much success and hope, there can be but little doubt. 
Though pecuniary embarrassment , as appears from his papers , had 
already begun to weave its fatal net around him , there was as yet 
little more than sufficed to giye exercise to his ingenuity, and the 
resources of the Drury-Lanc treasury were still in full nightly llow. 
The charms by which his home was embellished were such as few 
other homes could boast ; and , if any thing made it less happy than 
it ought to be , the cause was to be found in the very brillancy of 
his life and attractions , and in those triumphs out of the sphere 
of domestic love , to which his vanity, perhaps , oftener than his 
feelings, impelled him. 

Among his own immediate associates , the gaiety of his spirits 
amounted almost to boyishness. He delighted in all sorts of dra- 
matic tricks and disguises ; and the lively parties , with which his 
country-house was always filled, were kept in momentary expecta- 
tion of some new device for their mystification or amusement '. It 
was not unusual to despatch a man and horse seven or eight miles 
for a piece of crape or a mask , or some other such trifle for these 
frolics. His friends Tickell and Richardson , both men of wit and 

1 To give some idea of the youthful tone of tlm society, I shall mention onp out 
of many anecdotes related to me by persons who had themselves been ornaments 
of it. The ladies having one evening received the gentlemen in masquerade dresses, 
which, with their obstinate silence, made it impossible to distinguish one from 
ilie other, the gentlemen , in their turn, iuviled the ladies, next evening, to a 
>iiuil;n trial of conjecture on themselves ; and notice being given that they were 
icady dressed , Mrs. Sheridan and her companions were admitted into the dining- 
loom, where they found a party of Turks, sitting silent and masked round the 
table. Afici a long course of the usual guesses, exclamations , etc. etc,, and each 



296 MEMOIRS 

humour, and the former possessing the same degree of light animal 
spirits as himself, were the constant companions of all his social 
hours, and kept up with him that ready rebound of pleasantry, 
without which the play of wit languishes. 

There is a letter, written one night by Richardson at Tunbridge '. 
( after waiting five long hours for Sheridan , ) so full of that mixture 
of melancholy and humour, which chequered the mind of this in- 
teresting man , that , as illustrative of the character of one of She- 
ridan's most intimate friends, it may be inserted here : 

" DE\R SHERIDAN, Half-past nine , Mount Ephraim. 

"After you had been gone an hour or Uvo I got moped damnably. 
Perhaps there is a sympathy between the corporeal and the mind's eye. 
In the Temple I can't see far before me, and seldom extend my specula- 
tions on things to come into any fatiguing sketch of reflection. From 
your window, however, there was a tedious scope of black atmosphere, 
that I think won my mind into a short of fellow-travellership , pacing 
me again through the cheerless waste of the past, and presenting hardly 
one little rarified cloud to give a dim ornament to the future; not a star 
to be seen; no permanent ligbt to gild my horizon ; only the fading 
helps to transient gaiety in the lamps of Tunbridge; no Law coffee- 
house at band , or any other bouse of relief; no antagonist to bicker 
one into a control of one's cares by a successful opposition 5 , nor a softer 
enemy to soothe one into an oblivion of them. 

lady having taken the arm of the person she was most sure of, they heard a burst 
of laughter through the half-open door, and looking there, saw the gentlemen 
themselves in their proper persons, the masks, upon whom they had been 
lavishing their sagacity, being no other than the maid-servants of the house , who 
had been, thus dressed up to deceive them. 

1 In the year 1790, when Mrs. Sheridan was Irving the waters of Tunbridge 
for her health. In a letter to Sheridan's sister from this place, dated September, 
1790, she says, "I drink the waters ouce-a-day, and ride and drive all the forenoon, 
which makes me ravenous when I return. I feel I am in very good health, and I 
am told that I am in high beauty, two circumstances which ought and do put me 
in high good humour. " 

2 Richardson was remarkable for his love of disputation; andTickell, when 
hard pressed by him in argument, used often, as a last resource, to assume the 
voice and manner of Mr. Fox, which he had the power of mimicking so exactly, 
that Richardson confessed he sometimes stood awed and silenced by the resem- 
blance. 

This disputatious humour of Richardson was once turned to account by Sheri- 
dan in a very characteristic manner. Having had a hackney-coac"h in employ fin 
five or six hoars, and not being provided with the means of paying it, he happen 
ed to espy Richardson in the street, and proposed to take him in the coach some 
part of liis way. The offer being accepted, Sheridan lost no liuie'in starting a 
subject of conversation , on which b knew his companion was sure to become 
argumentative and animated Having, by well-managed contradiction, brought 
him to the proper pitch of- excitement , he affected to.grow impatient and angry , 
himself, and saying that " he could not think of staying in the same coach with 
a person that would use such language /'^palled the ctieck string, and desired tint 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 297 

" It is damned foolish, for. ladies to leave their scissors aboot ; the 
frail thread of a. worthless life is soon snipped. I wish to God my fale had 
been true to its first destination, and made a parson of me; I should 
have made an excellent country Joll. I think I can, with confidence, 
pronounce the character that would have been given of .me : He was an 
indolent good-humoured man , civil *t all times , and hospitable at others, 
namely, when he was able to be so , which, truth to say, happened but 
seldom. His sermons were better than his preaching, and his doctrine 
better than his life; though -often grave, and sometimes melancholy, 
he nevertheless loved a joke, the more so when overtaken in his cups, 
which , a regard to the j*aith of history compels us to subjoin , fell out 
not untVequently. He had more* thought than was generally imputed to 
him , though it must be owned no man alive ever exercised thought to so 
little purpose. Rebecca, his wife, the'daughter of an opulent farmer in 
the neighbourhood of his small living, brought him eighteen children ; 
and he now rests with -those who, being rather not absolutely vicious 
than actively good , confide in the bounty of Providence to strike a mild 
average between the contending negations of their life, and to allow them 
in their future state, what he ordained them in this earthly pilgrimage, 
a snug Neutrality and a useless repose. I had witten thus far , absolutely 
determined, under an irresistible influence of the megrims, to set off for 
London on foot, when,, accidentally searching for a cardialgic, to my 
great delight , I discovered three fugitive sixpences, headed by a vagrant 
shilling, immergcd in the heap in my waistcoat pocket. This discovery 
gave an immediate elasticity to my mind; and I have therefore devised a 
scheme, worthier the improved state of my spirits, namely, to swindle 
your servants out of a horse, under the pretence of a ride upon the heath, 
and to jog on contentedly homewards. So, under the protection of Pro- 
vidence , and the mercy of footpads , I trust we shall meet again , to-mor- 
row; at all events, there is nothing huffish in this; for, whether sad or 
merry , I am always , 

u Mpst affectionately yours , 

*f J. RICHARDSON." 

" P. S. Your return only confirmed me in my resolution of going; for 
I had worked myself, in five hours' sojitude, into such a state of nervous 
melancholy , that I found I could not help the meanness of crying , even 
if any one looked me in the face. I am anxious to avoid a regular convic- 
tion of so disreputable an infirmity ; besides., the night has become quite 
pleasant." 

Between Tickell and Sheridan there was a never-ending " skir- 
mish of wit ," boih verbal and practical \ and the latter kind , in 
particular, was carried on between them with all the wqggery, and , 
not unfrequenlly, the malice of School-boys '. Tickell, much less 

ooacbinuu to let him our. Richardson, wholly occupied with the argument, and 
Hoarding the retreat of his opponent as an acknowledgment of defeat, still pressed 
liis point, and even hollowed "more last words" through the coach-window after 
Sheridan, who, walking quietly home , left the poor disputant responsible for 
the heavy fare of the coach. 

1 On one occasion, Sheridan having covered the floor of a dark passage, lead- 



298 MEMOIRS 

occupied by business lhan his friend, had always some political jcux 
$ esprit on the anvil ; and sometimes these trifles were produced by 
them jointly. The following string of pasquinades , so well known 
in political circles , and written , as the reader will perceive, at dif- 
ferent dates, though principally by Sheridan, owes some of its 
stanzas to Tickcll , and a few others, I believe, to Lord John Towns- 
hond. I have strung together, without regard to chronology, the 
best of these detached lampoons. Time having removed their ve- 
nom , and with it , in a great degree , 'their wit y they are now, 
like dried snakes , mere harmless objects of curiosity. 

Johnny W Iks, Johnny W Iks ', 

Thou greatest of bilks , 
How chaug'cl are the notes you now sing ! 
Your fam'd Forty-five 
Is Prerogative , 
And your blasphemy, God save the Kiug ,' 

Johnny W Iks , 
And your blasphemy, 'God save the King.' " 

" Jack Ch ch 11, Jack Cli ch 11 , 

The town sure you search ill , 
Your mob lias disgraced all your brags ; 
When next you draw out 
Your hospital rout , 
Do , prithee , afford them clean rags , 

Jack Ch ch II , 
Do , prithee , afford them cleau rags." 

" Captain K th , Captain K th , 

Keep your tongue 'twist your teeth , 
Lest bed-chamber tricks you betray : 
And, if teeth you want more, 
Why , my bold Commodore, 
You may borrow of Lord G 11 y, 
Captain K th , 
You may borrow of Lord G 11 y." 

ing from the drawing-room, with all the plates and dishes of ibe house, ranged 
closely together, provoked his 'unconscious play-fellow to pursue him into (he 
midst of them. Having left a path for his own escape, he passed through easily, 
but Tickell, falling at full length into the ambuscade, was very much cat in seve- 
ral places. The next day, Lord John Townshend, on paying a visit to the bed -side 
of Tickell, found him covered over with patches, and indignantly vowing ven- 
geance against Sheridan for this unjustifiable trick. In the midst of his angei, 
however, he could not help exclaiming, with the true feeling of an amateur of this 
sort of mischief , "bnthow amazingly well done.it was!" 

1 In Sheridan's copy of the stanzas written by him in this metre at the lime ot 
the Union , ( beginning " Zooks , Harry ! zooks , Harry ! '*) he entitled them , " Au 
admirable new Ballad , which goes excellently well to the tune of 

" Mrs Arne , Mrs. Arjie , 
\\ gives me consn/vi," etc. 



OE R. B. SHERIDAN. 299 

" ' Joe M wb y, Joe M wb y, 

Your throat sure must raw be, 
lu striving to make yourself heard ; 

But it pleased not the pigs , 

Nor the Westminster Whigs , . 
That your Knighthood should ulter oue word , 
Joe M wb y , 
That your Knighthood should utter one word," 

" M ntm res, M ntm res, 

Whom nobody for is , 
Andybr whom we none of us care 5 
From Dublin you came 
It had been much the same 
If Your Lordship had staid where you were , 
M; ntm res , 
If Your Lordship had staid where you were. 1 " 

" Lord O gl y, Lord O gl y, 

You spoke mighty strongly 
Who you are, tho', all people admire! 
But I'll let you depart , 
For I believe in my heart, 
You had rather they did not enquire, 

Lord 0-gl y, 
You had rather :hey did not enquire. " 

"Gl nb e, Gl-nb e, 

What's good for the' scurvy ? 

For ne'er be your old trade forgot 

lu your arms rather quarter 

A pestle and mortar, 

And your crest be a spruce gallipot , 

Gl ub-e, 
Your crest be a spruce gallipot." 

Gl nb , Gl nb-e, 
The world's topsy-turvy, 
Of this truth you're the fittest attester ; 
For, who can deny 
That the Low become High, 
When the King makes a Lord of Silvester, 
Gl nb e, 
When the King makes a Lord of Silvester." 

"Mr. P l,Mr. Pl, 

lu return for your zeal , 
I am told they have dubb'd you Sir Bob ; 
Having got wealth enough 
By coarse Manchester Muff, 
For honours you'll now drive a job , 

Mr. Pl, 
For honours you'll now drive a job." 

I IMS stanza and, I rather iliiuL. the next, were by Lent John Townshcncl 



300 MEMOIRS 

" Oh poor B ks , oh poor B ks, 

Still condemu'd to the rauks, 

Nor e'en yet from a private promoted ; 

Pitt ne'er will releut, 

Though he knows you^repeut 

Having once or twice honestly voted , 

Poor B ks , 
Having once or twice honestly voted." 

- " Dull H 1-y, dull H 1 y, 

Your auditors feel ye 
A speaker of very great weight , 

And they wisli you were dumb , 

When , with ponderous hum , 
You lengthen the drowsy debate , 

Dull H-l y, 
You lengthen the drowsy debate." 

There are about as many more of these stanzas , written , at dif- 
ferent intervals , according as new victims , with good names for 
rhyming , presented themselves , the metre being a most tempting 
medium for such lampoons. There is , indeed , appended to one of 
Sheridan's copies of them , a long list (like a Tablet of Proscription) , 
containing about fifteen other names marked out for the same fate ; 
and il will be seen by the following specimen that some of them had 
a very narrow escape : 

"WillC rts " 

" V ns t t, V ns t t , for little thou fit art." 

" Will D nd s , Will D ud s , were jou only an ass." 

" L glib h, thorough." 

il Sam H rsl y, Sam H rsl y, . . . coarsely." 

" P ttym u, P ttym, n, speak truth, if you can." 

But it was not alone for such lively purposes * that Sheridan and 
his two friends drew upon their joint wits $ they had also but too 

' As I have been mentioning some instances of Sheridan's love of practical 
jests, I shall take this opportunity of adding one more anecdote, which I believe 
is pretty well known, but which I have had the advantage of hearing from the 
person on whom the joke was inflicted. 

The Rev. Mr. O'B (afterwards Bishop of ) having arrived to dinner at 

Sheridan's cotintry-honse near Osterley, where, as usual, a gay party was col- 
lected, (consisting of General Burgoyne , Mrs. Crewe, Tickell, etc.) it was pro- 
posed that on the next day (Sunday) the Rev. Gentleman should, on gaining the 
consent of the resident clergyman, give a specimen of his talents as a preacher in 
the village-church. On his objecting that he was not provided with a sermon, his 
host offered to write one for him , if he wonld consent to preach it j and , the offer 
being accepted, Sheridan left the company early, and did not return for the re- 
mainder of the evening. The following morning Mr. O'B found the manuscript 

by his bed-side, tied together neatly (as he described it) with riband; the snb- 
ject of the discourse being the " Abuse of Riches." Having read it over and correct- 
ed some theological errors , (such as " it is easier for a camel , as Moses says ," etc.) 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 301 

much to do with subjects of a far different nature wilh dcbls, 
bonds, judgments, writs, and all those other humiliating mailers 
of fact, (hat bring Law and Wit so often and so unnaturally in contact. 
That they were serviceable to each other, in their defensive alliance 
against duns, is fully proved by various documents; and I have 
now before me articles of agreement, dated in 1787, Jay which 
Tickeli , to avert an execution from Ihe Theatre , bound himself as 
security for Sheridan in the sum of 2507. , the arrears of an annuity 
charged upon Sheridan's moiety of the.property. So soon did Ihose 
pecuniary difficulties , by which his peace and character were after- 
wards undermined , begin their operations. 

Yet even into transactions of this nature, little as they are akin to 
mirth, the following letter of Richardson will show that these 
brother wits contrived to infuse a portion of gaiety : 

" DEAR SHERIDAN , ,,, Essex-Street, Saturday evening. 

" I had a terrible long batch With Bobby this morning, after I wrote 
to you by Francois. I have so far succeeded lhat'he has agreed to con- 
tinue the day of trial as we call it (that is, in vulgar , unlearned language, 
id put it off), from Tuesday till Saturday. He demands, as preliminaries, 
that Wright's bill of doo/. should lie given up to him, as a prosecution 
had been commenced against him, wbich, however, be has stopped by 
an iaj unction from the Court of Chanceiy. This , if the transaction be as 
be states it, appears reasonable enough. He. insists, besides, that the bill 
should undergo the most rigid examination; that you should transmit 
your objections, to which be will send answers (for the point of a per- 
sonal interview has not been yet carried) , and that the -\vhole amount at 
last, whatever it may be , should have your clear and satisfied approba- 
tion : nothing to be done without this almighty. honour ! 

" All these things being done, I desired to know what was to be the 
result at last : ' Surely , after having carried so many points, you will 
think it only common depency to relax a little as to the time of payment ? 
You will not cut your pound of flesh the nearest from the merchant's 
heart?' To this Bobides, " I must have 2ooo. put in a sbape of practi- 
cable use , and payment immediately ; tpr the rest I will accept security,' 

be delivered the sermon in his most impressive stylej iiuu-li fb the delight of his 
own party, and to the satisfaction, as te unsuspectingly flattered himself, of all 
the rest of the congregation, among whom was Mr. Sheridan's wealthy neigh- 
bour, Mr. C . 

Some months afterwards, however, Mr. O'B perceived That the family of 

Mr. C , with whom he had previously been intimate, treated him wilh mark- 
ed coldness ; and, on bis expressing some innocent wonder at the circumstance, 
was it length informed, to his dismay, by General Bargoyne, that the serinou 
which Sheridan had. written for him was, throughout, a personal attack upon 

Mr. C , who had at tbat lime rendered himself very unpopular in the ueigh- 

hoiirho&i by some harsh conduct to the poor, and to whom every one in the 
rlimrh, except the unconscions preacher, applied almost every sentence of the 



302 MEMOIRS 

This was strongly objected to i)y me , as Jewish in the extreme ; but , 
however, so we parted. You will think with me , I hope, that something 
has been done, however, by this meeting. It has opened an access to a 
favourable adjustment, and time andtristmay do much. I am to see him 
again on Monday moming" at two, so pray don't go out of town to-mor- 
row without my seeing you. The matter is of immense consequence. I 
never knew till to-day that the process had been going on so long. I am 
convinced he could force you to trial next Tuesday with all your infir- 
mities green upon your head ; so pray attend to k. 

" R. B. Sheridan, Esq. "Yours ever, 

"Lower Grosvenor-Street. " J. RICHARDSON." 

This letter was written in the year 1792, when Sheridan's involve- 
ments had begun to thicken around him more rapidly. There is 
another letter, about the same dale , still more characteristic , 
where , after beginning in evident anger and distress of mind , the 
writer breaks off, as if irresistibly, into the old strain of playfulness 
and good humour. 

" DEAR SHERIDAN , Wednesday , Essex-Street, July 3o. 

" I write to you with more unpleasant feelings than I ever did in my 
life. Westly, after having told me for the last three weeks that nothing 
was wanting for my accommodation but your consent, having told me 
so, so late as Friday, sends me word on Monday that he would not do it 
at all. In four days I have a cognovit expires for -tool. I can't suffer my 
family to be turned into the streets if 1 can help it. I have no resource 
but my abilities, such as they are. I certainly mean to write something 
in the course of the summer. As a matter of business and bargain I can 
have no higher hope about it than that you won't suffer by it. However, 
if you won't take it somebody else must, for no human consideration will 
induce me to leave any means .untried, that may rescue my family from 
this impending misfortune. 

" For the sake of convenience you will probably give me the import- 
ance of construing this into an incendiary letter. I wish to God you may, 
and order your treasurer to deposit the acceptance accordingly ; for 
nothing can be so irksome to me as that the nations of the earth should 
think there had been any interruption of friendship between you and me; 
and though that would not be the case in fact, both being influenced, I 
must believe, by a necessity which we could not control, yet the said 
nations would so interpret it. If I don't hear from you before Friday, 1 
shall conclude tViat you leave me in this dire scrape to shift for myself. 

" /?. B. Sheridan, Esq. , " Yours ever , 

" Isleworth, Middlesex. " J. RICHARDSON." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 303 

CHAPTER XIV. 

French Revolution. Mr. Burke. His Breach with Mr. Sheridan. 
Dissolution of Parliament. Mr. Burke and Mr. Fox. Russian arma- 
ment. Royal Scotch boroughs. 

WE have now to consider the conduct and opinions of Mr. She- 
ridan , during the. measures and discussions consequent upon the 
French Revolution, an event by which the minds of men throughout 
all Europe were thrown into a slate of such feverish excitement, that 
a more than usual degree of tolerance should be exercised towards 
the errors and extremes into which all parties were hurried during 
the paroxysm. There was , indeed , no rank or class of society, 
whose interests and passions were not deeply involved in the question. 
The powerful and the rich , both of State and Church , must natu- 
rally have regarded with dismay the advance of a political heresy, 
whose path they saw strewed over with the broken talismans of rank 
and authority. Many, loo , with a disinterested reverence for ancient 
institutions, trembled to see them thus approached by rash hands, 
whose talents for ruin were sufficiently certain, bul whose powers 
of reconstruction were yet to be tried. On the other hand , the easy 
triumph of a people over Ihcir oppressors was an example which could 
not fail to excite the hopes of the many as actively as the fears of 
the few. The great problem of the natural rights of mankind seemed 
about to be solved in a manner most flattering to the majority ; the 
zeal of the lover of liberty was kindled into enthusiasm , by a con- 
quest achieved for his cause upon an arena so vast , and many, who 
before would have smiled at the doctrine of human perfectibility, 
now imagined they saw , in what the Revolution performed and pro- 
mised , almost enough to sanction the indulgence of that splendid 
dream. It was natural, too, that the greater portion of that unemploy- 
ed, and, as it were, homeless talent, which, in all great communities, 
is ever abroad on the wing , uncertain where to settle , should now 
swarm round the light of the new principles , while all those ob- 
scure but ambitious spirits , who felt their aspirings clogged by the 
medium in which they were sunk, would as naturally welcome 
such a slate of political effervescence , as might enable them , like 
enfranchised air, to mount at once to the surface. 

Amidst all these various interests , imaginations, and fears, which 
were brought to life by the dawn of the French Revolution , it is 
not surprising that errors and excesses, both of conduct and opinion, 
should be among the first products of so new and sudden a move- 
ment of the whole civilized world ; that the friends of popular 
i ighls , presuming upon the triumph that had been gained , should , 



304 MEMOIRS 

in the ardour of pursuit , push on the vanguard of their principles , 
somewhat farther than was consistent with prudence and safely ; or 
that , on the other side , Authority and its supporters , alarmed by 
the inroads of the revolutionary spirit , should but the more stub- 
bornly intrench themselves in established abuses , and make the 
dangers they apprehended from liberty a pretext for assailing its 
very existence. 

It was not long before these effects of the French Revolution 
began to show themselves very strikingly in the politics of England ; 
and , singularly enough , the two extreme opinions , to which , as I 
have just remarked , that disturbing event.gave rise , instead of first 
appearing , as might naturally be expected , the one on the side of 
Government , and the other on that of the Opposition , both broke 
out simultaneously 'in the very heart of the latter body. 

On such an imagination as that of Burke , the scenes now passing 
in France were every way calculated to make a most vivid impres- 
sion. So susceptible was he, indeed , of such impulses, and so much 
under the control of the imaginative department of his intellect , 
that , whatever might have been the accidental mood of his mind , 
at the moment when this astounding event first burst upon him , it 
would most probably have acted as a sort of mental catalepsy, and 
fixed his reason in the very attitude in which it found it. He had , 
however, been prepared for the part which he now took by much 
more deep and grounded causes. It was rather from circumstances 
than from choice , or any natural affinity, that Mr. Burke had ever 
attached himself to the popular party in politics. There was , in 
truth , nothing democratic about him but his origin ; his tastes 
were all on the side of the splendid and the arbitrary. The chief 
recommendation of the cause of India to his fancy and his feelings 
was that it involved the fate of antienl dynasties , and invoked retri- 
bution for the downfall of thrones and princedoms , to which his 
imagination , always most affected by objects at a distance , lent a 
slate and splendour thai did not , in sober reality, belong to them. 
Though doomed to make Whiggism his habitual haunt . he took 
his perch at all times on its loftiest branches , as far as possible away 
from popular conlacl ; and upon mosl occasions , adopted a sort of 
baronial view of liberty, as rather a question lying between the 
Throne and the Aristocracy, than one in which the people had a 
right to any efficient voice or agency. Accordingly, the question of 
Parliamentary Reform , from the first moment of its agitation . found 
in him a most decided opponent. 

This inherent repugnance to popular principles became naturally 
heightened into impatience and disgust , by the long and fruitless 
warfare which he had waged under their banner, and the uniform 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. ,103 

ill success wilh which they had blasted all his struggles for wealth 
and power. Nor wa6 he in any better temper wilh his associates 
in the cause , having found that the ascendancy which , he 
had formerly: exercised over them, and which, in some degree, 
consoled him for the want of official dominion, was of late conside- 
rably diminished, if-not wholly transferred 16 others. Sheridan, as 
has been stated j , was the most prominent object of his jealousy , 
and it is curious to remark how much , even in feelings of this des- 
rriplion , the aristocratical bias of his mind betrayed itself. For, 
though Mr. Fox, too, had- overtaken and 'even passed him, in the 
race , assuming that station in politics which he himself had pre- 
viously held , yet so paramount did those claims of birth and con- 
nection , by which the new leader came recommended , appear in 
his eyes, that he submitted to be superseded by him, not only 
without a murmur, but cheerfully. To Sheridan , however, who had 
no such hereditary passport to pre-eminence , he could not give 
way without heart-burning and humiliation ; and to be supplanted 
!hus by a rival son of earth seemed no* less a shock to his supersti- 
tious notions about rank , than it was painful to his feelings of self- 
love and pride. 

Such , as far as can be ascertained by a distanlobserver of those 
times, was the temper in which the first events of the Revolution 
found the rnind of this remarkable man-, and, powerfully as they 
would , at any time , have appealed to his imagination and preju- 
dices , the state of irritability to which he had been wrought by the 
causes already enumerated peculiarly predisposed him , at this mo- 
ment , to give way to such impressions without'reslraint , and even 
to welcome , as a timely relief to his pride , the mighty vent thus 
afforded to the " splendida bills" with which it was charged. 

There was indeed much to animate and give a zest to the new 
part which he now took. He saw those principles, to which he owed 
a deep grudge, for the time and the talents he had wasted in their 
service, now embodied in a shape so wild and alarming, as seemed 
to justify him , on grounds of public safety, in turning against them 
the whole powers of his mind, and thus enabled him, opportunely, 
to dignify desertion , by throwing the semblance of patriotism and 
conscientiousness round the reality of defection and revenge. He 
saw the party, too, who, from the moment they had ceased to be 
ruled by him , were associated only in his mind with recollec- 
tions of unpopularity and defeat , about to adopt a line of politics 
uliidi his long knowledge of the people of England , and his saga- 
nous foresight of the consequences of the French Revolution , fully 
onviuccd him would lead to the same barren and mortifying results. 
On the contrary, the cause to which ho proffered his alliance < 

20 



306 MEMOIRS 

would, he was equally sure, by arraying on its side all the rank, 
riches , and religion of Europe , enable him at length to feel that 
sense of power and triumph , for which his domineering spirit had 
so long panted in vain. In this latter hope, indeed, of a speedy 
triumph over Jacobinism, his temperament , as was often the case , 
outran his sagacity ; for , while he foresaw clearly that the dissolu- 
tion of social order in France would at last harden into a military 
tyranny, he appeared not to be aware that the violent measures 
which he recommended against her would not only hasten this for- 
midable result , but bind the whole mass of the people into union 
and resistance during the process. 

Lastly to these attractions , of various kinds , with which the 
cause of Thrones was now encircled in the eyes of Burke , must be 
added one, which, however it may still further disenchant our 
views of his conversion , cannot wholly be omitted among the in- 
ducements to his change, and this was the strong claim upon 
the gratitude of government, which his seasonable and powerful 
advocacy in a crisis so difficult established for him , and which the 
narrow and embarrassed state of his circumstances rendered an 
object by no means of secondary importance in his views. Unfor- 
tunately, from a delicate wish, perhaps, that the reward should 
not appear to come in loo close coincidence with the service, the 
pension bestowed upon him arrived too late to admit of his. deriving 
much more from it than the obloquy by which it was accompanied. 

The consequence , as is well known, of the new course taken by 
Burke was that the speeches and writings which he henceforward 
produced , and in which , as usual , his judgment was run away 
with by his temper, form a complete contrast , in spirit and tendency, 
to all that he had put on record in the former part of his life. He 
has , indeed , left behind him two separate and distinct armouries 
of opinion , from which both Whig and Tory may furnish them- 
selves with weapons, the most splendid , if not the most highly tem- 
pered , that ever Genius and Eloquence have condescended to 
bequeath to Party. He has thus too , by his own personal versatility, 
attained , in the world of politics , what Shakspeare , by the versa- 
tility of his characters, achieved for the world in general , namely, 
sqch a universality of application to all opinions and purposes, that 
it would be difficult for any statesman of any party to find himself 
placed in any situation , for which he could not select some golden 
sentence from Burke , either to strengthen his position by reasoning, 
or illustrate and adorn it by fancy. While, therefore, our respect 
for the man himself is diminished by this want of moral identity 
observable through his life and writings, we are but the more dis- 
posed to admire that unrivalled genius, which could thus throw 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 307 

itself out in so many various directions with equal splendour and 
vigour. In general, political deserters lose their value and power in 
the very act , and bring little more than their treason to the new 
cause which they espouse :~- 

:l " Fortis in armis 

Gesaris Labienus erat ; nunc transfuga <vilis. n 

But Burke was mighty in either camp ; and it would have taken 
two great men to effect what he , by this division of himself, 
achieved. His mind, indeed, lies parted asunder in his works, like 
some vast continent severed by a convulsion t of nature, each por- 
tion peopled by its own giant race of opinions , differing altogether 
in features and language , and committed in eternal hostility with 
each other. 

It was during the discussions on the Army estimates, at the com- 
mencement of the Session of 1790, that the difference between 
Mr. Burke and his party in their views of the French Revolution 
first manifested itself. Mr. Fox having taken occasion to praise the 
late conduct of the French Guards in refusing to obey the dictates 
of the Court, and having declared that he exulted, "both from 
feelings and from principles," in the political change that had been 
brought about in that country, Mr. Burke, in answering him, en- 
tered fully and , it must be owned , most luminously into the ques- 
tion, expressing his apprehension lest' the example of France, 
which had, at a former period , threatened England with the conta- 
gion of despotism , should now be the means of introducing among 
her people the no less fatal taint of democracy and atheism. After 
some cloquenMributes of admiration to Mr." Fox , rendered more 
animated, perhaps , by the consciousness that they were the last of- 
ferings thrown into the open grave of their friendship, he proceeded 
to deprecate the effects which the language of his Right Honourable 
Friend might have , in appearing to countenance the disposition 
observable among " some wicked persons" to " recommend an 
imitation of the French spirit of -Reform, and then added a decla- 
ration , equally remarkable for the insidious charge which it im- 
plied against his own party , and the notice of his approaching 
desertion which it conveyed to the. other, that " so strongly op- 
posed was he to any the least tendency towards the means of intro- 
ducing a democracy like that of the French , as well as to the end 
ilself , that , much as it would afflict him , if such a thing should be 
attempted , and that any friend of his could concur in such measures 
(lie was far, very far from believing they could), he would abandon 
liis best friends , and join with his worst enemies to oppose either the 
means or the end." 



308 MEMOIRS 

It is pretty evident , from these words , thai Hurke had already 
made up his mind as to the course he should pursue , and but de- 
layed his declaration of a total breach , in order to prepare the minds 
of the public for such an event , and , by waiting to take advantage 
of sonic moment of provocation , make the intemperance of others 
responsible for his own deliberate schism. The reply of Mr. Fox 
was not such as could afford this opportunity , it was , on the con- 
trary , full of candour and moderation, and repelled the implied 
charge of being a favourer of the new doctrines of France in tin* 
most decided , but at the same time, most conciliatory terms. 

" Did such a declaration," lie asked, "warrant the idea that he \vas 
a friend to Democracy? He declared himself equally the enemy of all 
absolute forms of government, whether an absolute Monarchy, an absolute 
Aristocracy , or an absolute Democracy He \vas adverse to all extremes, 
and a friend only to a mixed government like our own, in which, if the 
Aristocracy, or indeed either of the three branches of the Constitution, 
were destroyed , the good effect of the whole and the happiness derived 
under it would, in his mind, be at an end." 

In returning, too, the praises bestowed upon him by his friend , 
he made the following memorable and noble acknowledgment of all 
that he himself had gained by their intercourse : 

" Such (he said) washis sense of the judgment of his Right Honourable 
Friend, such his knowledge of his principles, such the value which be 
set uj.on them, and such the estimation in which beheld his friendship, 
that if he were to put all the political information which be had learned 
from books, all which he had gained from science, and all which any 
knowledge of the world and its affairs bad taught him, into one scale, 
and the improvement which he had derived from his Right Honourable 
Friend's instruction and conversation were placed in the other ,' he 
should be at a loss to decide to which to give the preference." 

This , from a person so rich in acquirements as Mr. Fox , was 
the very highest praise , rior, except in what related to the judg- 
ment and principles of his friend, was it at all exaggerated. The 
conversation of liurkc must have been like the procession of a 
Roman triumph , exhibiting power and riches at every slop occa- 
sionally, perhaps , mingling the low Fescennine jest with the lofty 
music of its march , but glittering all over with the spoils of the 
whole ransacked world. 

Mr. tturkc in reply, after reiterating his praises of Mr. Fox , and 
the full confidence which he felt in his moderation and sagacity, 
professed himself perfectly satisfied \vilh the explanations that had 
been given. The conversation would thus have passed off without 
any explosion , had not Sheridan , who was well aware lhat against 
him . in particular, the charge of a tendency to the adoption of 






OF R. B. SHKK1DAN. 300 

French principles was directed , risen immediately after, and by a 
speech warmly in favour of the Revolution and of the National 
Assembly, at once lighted the train in the mind of Burke, and 
brought the question, as far as regarded themselves , to an imme- 
diate issue. 

"He differed," he said, "decidedly, from his Right .Honourable 
Friend in almost every word that he had uttered respecting the French 
Revolution. He conceived it to be as just a Revolution as ours , proceed- 
ing upon as sound a principle and as just a provocation. He vehemently 
defended the general views and conduct of the National Assembly. He 
could not even understand what was meant by the charges against them 
of having overturned the lavfs , the justice , and the revenues of their 
country. What were their laws ?. the arbitrary mandates of capricious 
despotism. What their justice ? the partial adjudications of venal magis- 
trates. What their revenue? national bankruptcy. This he thought the 
fundamental error of his Right Honourable Friend's argument , that he 
accused the National Assembly of creating the evils , which they had 
found existing in full deformity at the first hour of their meeting. The 
public creditor had been defrauded; the manufacturer was without 
employ; trade was languishing ; famine clung upon the poor ; despair ou 
all. In this situation , the wisdom and feelings of the nation were appealed 
to by the government; and was it to be wondered at by Englishmen, 
that a people , so circumstanced , should search for the cause and source 
of all their calamities; or that they should find them in the arbitrary con- 
stitution of their government , and in the prodigal and corrupt ad- 
ministration of their revenues ? For such an evil, when proved, what 
remedy could be resorted to , but a radical amendment of the. frame and 
fabric of the Constitution itself? This change was not the object and wish 
of the National Assembly only; it was the claim and cry of all France , 
united as one man for one purpose." 

All this is just and unanswerable as indeed was the greater part 
of the sentiments which he uttered. But -he seems to have failed , 
even more signally than Mr. Fox , in endeavouring to invalidate 
the masterly view which Burke had just taken of the Revolution of 
1688 , as compared; in its means and object, with that of France. 
There was , in truth , but little similarity between them , the task 
of the former being to preserve liberty, that of the latter to destroy 
tyranny ; the one being a regulated movement of the Aristocracy 
against the Throne for the Nation > the other a tumultuous rising 
of the whole Nation against both for itself. 

The reply of Mr. Burke was conclusive and peremptory,' such 
in short , as might be expected from a person, who- came prepared 
to take the first plausible opportunity of a rupture. He declared 
that " henceforth His Honourable Friend and he were separated 
in politics /'complained that his arguments had been cruelly 
misrepresented, and abut k ' the Honourable Gentleman had thought 



310 MEMOIRS 

proper to charge him with being the advocate of despotism. " Having 
endeavoured to defend himself from such an imputation , he con- 
cluded by saying, 

" Was that a fair and candid mode of treating his arguments? or was 
it what he ought to have expected in the moment of departed friendship ? 
On the contrary, was it not evident that the Honourable Gentleman had 
made a sacrifice of his friendship, for the sake of catching some momen- 
tary popularity? If the fact were such, even greatly as he should continue 
to admire the Honourable Gentleman's talents , he must tell him that his 
argument was chiefly an argument ad itividiam , and all the applause for 
which he could hope from clubs was scarcely worth the sacrifice which 
he had chosen to make for so insignificant'an acquisition." 

I have given the circumstances of this Debate somewhat in detail, 
not only on account of its own interest and of the share which 
Mr. Sheridan took in it , but from its being the first scene of that 
great political schism which , in the following year, assumed a still 
more serious aspect , and by which the policy of Mr. Pitt at length 
acquired a predominance , not speedily to be forgotten in the annals 
of this country. 

Mr. Sheridan was much blamed for the unseasonable stimulant 
which , it was thought , his speech on this occasion had adminis- 
tered to the temper of Burke ; nor can it be doubted that he had 
thereby, in some degree accelerated the public burst of that feeling 
which had so long been treasured up against himself. But , whether 
hastened or delayed , such a breach was ultimately inevitable ; the 
divergence of the parties once begun, it was in vain to think 
of restoring their parallelism. That some of their friends, how- 
ever, had more sanguine hopes appears from an effort which was 
made , w ithin two days after the occurrence of this remarkable 
scene, to effect a reconciliation between Burke and Sheridan. The 
interview that took place on that- occasion is thus described by 
Mr. Dennis O'Brien , one of the pqrsons chiefly instrumental in the 
arrangements for it : 

" It appeared to the author of this pamphlet ' that the difference 
between these two great men would be a great evil to the country and 
to their own* party. Full of this persuasion he brought them both toge- 
ther the second night after the original contest in the House of Com- 
mons ; and carried them to Burlington House to Mr. Fox and the Duke 
of Portland , according to a previous arrangement. This interview, 
which can never, be forgotten by those who were present, lasted from 
ten o'clock at night until three in the morning, and afforded a very 
remarkable display of the extraordinary talents of the parties." 

It will easily be believed that to the success of this conciliatory 

' Entitled " Utrain Hornm." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 31 1 

effort the temper on one side would be a greater obstacle than 
even the hale on both. IMr. Sheridan , as if anxious to repel from 
himself the suspicion of having contributed to its failure , look an 
opportunity, during his speech upon the Tobacco Act , in the month 
of April following , to express himself in the most friendly terms 
of Mr. Burke as " one, for whose talents and personal virtae he 
had the highest esteem, veneration, and- regard , and with whom 
he might be allowed to differ in opinion upon the subject of France, 
persuaded as he was that they never could differ in principle." Of 
this and some other compliments of a similar nature , Mr. Burke 
did not deign to take the slightest notice partly, from an impla- 
cable feeling towards him who offered them , and partly, perhaps , 
from a suspicion that they were intended rather for the ears of the 
public than his own , and that , while this tendency to conciliation 
appeared on the surface, the under-current of feeling and influence 
set all the other way. 

Among the measures which engaged the attention of Mr. Sheri- 
dan during this session , the principal was a motion of his own for 
the repeal of the Excise Duties on Tobacco , which appears to have 
called forth a more than usual portioi) of his oratory, his speeches 
upon the subject occupying nearly forty pages. It is upon topics of 
this unpromising kind , and from the very effort , perhaps 1 , to dig- 
nify and enliven them , that the peculiar characteristics of an orator 
are sometimes most racily brought out. To the Cider Tax we are 
indebted foj one of Ike grandest bursts of the constitutional spirit 
and eloquence of Lord Chatham ; and in these orations of Sheridan 
upon Tobacco , we find examples of the two extreme varieties of 
his dramatic talent both of the broad, natural humour of his 
farce , and the pointed , artificial wit of his comedy. For instance , 
in representing,, as one of the abuses thai might arise from the 
discretionary power of remitting fines to manufacturers , the dan- 
ger that those only should fpel the indulgence', who wore found to 
be supporters of the rusting administration ', be says : ; 

'* Were a man , whose stock had increased or diminished beyond the 
standard table in the Act, to attend the- Commissioners, and assure them 
that the weather alone had caused, the increase or decrease of the article, 
and that no fraud whatever had been used on the occasion, the Com- 
missioners might say to him , ' Sir, you need not give yourself so much 
trouble to prove your innocence ; we see honesty in your orange cape.' 
But should a person of quite a different side in politics attend for the 
-.mil- purpose, the Commissioners might say, 'Sir, you are not to be 
Ix-lii-ved ; we see fraud in your blue ami bull', ami il is impossible that 
vou should not be a smuggler.' " 

1 A case of this kind forim-il the subject of a suited speech of Mr. \VindliMii , 
iu ITOJ.^See his Speeches, vol. I p. 907. 



812 MEMOIRS 

Again., in staling Ihe case between the manufacturers and the 
Minister, the former of whom objected to the Hill altogether, while 
the latter determined to preserve its principle and only alter its form, 
he says : 

" The manufacturers ask the Right Honourable Gentleman , if he will 
consent to give up the principle? The Right Honourable Gentleman 
answers, 'No; the principle 'must not be abandoned, but do you inform 
me how I shall alter the Bill.' This the manufacturers refused ; and they 
wisely refused it in his opinion : for, what was it but the Minister's saying, 
'1 have a yoke to put about your necks, do you help me in fitting it on 
only assist me with your knowledge of the subject , and I'll fit you 
with the prettiest pair of fetters that ever were seen in the world.' " 

As a specimen of his quaint and far sought witticisms, the follow- 
ing passage in the same speech may vie with Trip's " Post-Obit on 
the blue and silver, etc." Having described the effects of the wea- 
ther in increasing or decreasing the weight of the stock, beyond the 
exact standard established in the Act , he adds , 

" The Commissioners, before they could, in justice, levy such fines, 
ought to ascertain that the weather is always in that precise slate of heal 
or cold which the Act supposed it would be. They ought to make Christ- 
mas give security for frost, take a bond for hot weather from August, and 
oblige damps and fogs to take out permits." 

It was in one of these speeches on the Tobacco Act , that he ad- 
verted with considerable warmth to a rumour, which, he complained 
had been maliciously circulated , of a misunderstanding between 
himself and the Duke of Portland, in consequence (as the Re'port 
expresses it j of " a certain opposition affirmed to have been made 
by this Noble Duke, to some views or expectations which he 
(Mr. Sheridan) was said to have entertained.'' After declaring that 
" there was not in these rumours one grain of thruth," he added 
that 

" He would not venture to state to the Committee the opinion that the 
Noble Duke was pleased to entertain of him , lest he should 1x3 accused 
of vanity in publishing what he might deem highly flattering. All that 
he would assert on this occasion was , that if he had it in his pouer to 
make the man whose good opinion he should most highly prize think 
flatteringly of him, he would have that man think of him precisely as 
the Noble Duke did, and then his wish on that subject would be must 
amply gratified." 

As it is certain , that the feelings which Burke entertained towards 
Sheridan were in some degree shared by alt those who afterwards 
seceded from the party, this boast of the high opinion of the Duke 
of Portland must be takeiif ilh what, in Heraldry , is called ./bate- 
ment that is, a certain degree of diminution of the emblazonry.. 



OF R. B- SHERIDAN. 313 

Among the papers of Mr. Sheridan, I find a letter addressed to him 
this year by one of his most distinguished friends . relative to the 
motions that had lately been brought forward for the relief of the 
Dissenters. The writer, whose alarm for the interest of the Church 
had somewhat disturbed his sense of liberality and justice, endea- 
vours to impress upon Mr. Sheridan , arid through him upon Mr. 
Fox , how undeserving the Dissenters were , as a political body , of 
the recent exertions on their behalf, and how ungratefully they 
had more than once requited the services which the Whigs had 
rendered them. For this latter charge there was but too much foun- 
dation in truth, however ungenerous might be the deduction which 
the writer would draw from it. It is, no doubt, natural that large 
bodies of men, impatiently suffering under the ban of disqualification, 
should avay themselves , without much regard to persons or party, 
of every aid they can muster for their cause. , and should (to use the 
words of an old Earl of Pembroke) " lean on both sides of the stairs 
to get up." But , it is equally natural that the occasional desertion 
and ingratitude, of which, in pursuit- of this selfish policy they are 
but too likely to be guilty towards their best friends , should, if not 
wholly indispose the latter to their service , at least considerably 
moderate their zeal in a cause , where all parties alike seem to be 
considered but as instruments , and where neither personal predi- 
lections jior principle are regarded in the choice of means. To the 
great credit, however, of the Whig parly, it must be said, that, 
though ofteit set aside and even disowned by their clients , they have 
rarely suffered their high duty , as advocates , to be relaxed or inter- 
rupted by such momentary suspensions of confidence. In this res- 
pect, the cause of Ireland has more than once been a trial of their 
constancy. Even Lord North was able , by his reluctant concessions, 
to supersede them for a time in the favour of my too believing 
countrymen , whose despair of finding justice at any hands has 
often led them thus to carry their confidence to market , and to 
place it in the hands of the first plausible bidder. The many vicissi- 
tudes of popularity which their own illustrious Whig , Grattan , had 
to encounter , would have wearied out the ardour of any less magna- 
nimous champion. But high minds are as little affected by such un- 
worthy returns for services , as the sun is by those fogs which the 
earth throws up between herself and his light: 

With respect to the Dissenters , they had deserted Mr. Fox in 1m 
great struggle with the Crown in 1784, and laid their interest and 
iipt's at the feet of the new idol of the day. Notwithstanding this, 
\*e find him , in the year 1787 , warmly maintaining , and in oppo- 
sition to his rival , the cause of the very persons who had contributed 
in make that rival triumphant, and showing just so much r.eincm 



314 MEMOIRS 

brancc of their late defection as served lo render this sacrifice of 
personal to public feelings more signal. " He was' determined," he 
said, " to let them know that, though they could upon some occa- 
sions lose sight of their principles of liberty , he would not upon any 
occasion lose sight of his principles of toleration." In the present 
session , too , notwithstanding that the great organ of I lie Dissenters, 
Dr. Price, had lately in a sermon, published with a view to the 
Test, made a pointed attack on the morals of Mr. Fox and his friends, 
this generous advocate of religious liberty not the less promptly 
acceded to the request of the body , tliat he would bring the motion 
for their relief before the House. 

On the 12lh of June, the Parliament was dissolved, and Mr. 
Sheridan again succeeded in being elected for Stafford. The follow- 
ing letters, however, addressed to him by Mrs. Sheridan during 
the election , will prove that they were not without some apprehen- 
sions of a different result. The letters are still more interesting, as 
showing how warmly alive lo each other's feelings the hearts of botli 
husband and wife could remain, after the long lapse of near twenty 
years , and after trials more fatal to love than even lime itself. 

" This letter will find you, my dear Dick, I hope, encircled with 
honours at Stafford. I take it for granted you entered it triumphantly on 
Sunday, but I am very impatient to hear the particulars, and of the 
utter discomfiture of S and his followers. I received your note from 
Birmingham this morning, and am happy to find that you and my dear 
cuh were well, so far on your journey. \ou could not he happier than I 
should he in the proposed alteration for Tom, hut we will talk more 
of this when \vc meet. 1 sent you Gartwright yesterday, and to-day 1 
pack you oil' Perry with the soldiers. I was obliged to give them four 
guineas for their expenses. I send you likewise, by Perry, the note from 
Mrs. Creuc, to enable you to speak of your qualification if you should 
be called upon. So I think I have executed all your commissions, Sir; 
and if you want any of these doubtful votes which I mentioned to you, 
you will have time enough to send for them, for I would not let them go 
till I hear they can be of any use. 

"And, now for my journal, Sir, which I suppose you expect. Saturday, 
1 was at home all day busy for you, kept .Mrs. Reid to dinner, 
went to the Opera, afterwards to Mrs. St. John's, where I lost 
my money sadjy, Sir, cat strawberries and cream for supper, sat 
between Lord Salisbury and Mr. Meynell, (hope you approve of that, 
Sir, ) overheard Lord Salisbury advise Miss Boyle by no means to sub- 
scribe to Taylor's Opera , as O'Reilly's would certainly have the patent, 
confess I did not come home till past two. Sunday, called on Lady 
Julia, father and Mr. Reid to dinner, in the evening at Lady llamp- 
den's, lost my money again , Sir, and came home by one o'clock. 'Tis 
now near one o'clock, -my father is established in my boudoir, and 
when 1 have finished this, lam going with him to hear Abbe Vogler 
play oir the Stafford organ. I have promised to dine with Mrs. Crewe , 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 315 

who is to have a female party only, no objection to that I suppose , 
Sir? Whatever the party do , I shall do of course, I suppose it will 
end in Mrs. Hobart's. Mr. James told me on Saturday, and I fiud it is 
the report of the day, that Bond Hopkins is gone to Stafford. I am sorry 
to tell you there is an opposition at York, Mr. Montague opposes Sir 
William Milner, Mr. Beckford has given up at Dover, and Lord ** is so 
provoked at it, that he has given up too, though they say they were 
both sure. St. Ives is gone for want of a candidate. Mr. Barham is beat at 
Stockbridge. Charles Lenox lias offered for Surry, and they say Lord 
Egremont might drive him to the deuce, if he would set any body up 
against him. You know, I suppose, Mr. Crewe has likewise an opponent. 
J am sorry to tell you all this bad news, and, to complete it, Mr. Adam 
is sick in bed , and there is nobody to do any good left in town. 

" I am more than ever convinced we must look to other resources for 
wealth and independence , and consider politics merely as an amuse- 
ment, and in that light 'tis best to be in Opposition , which I am afraid 
we are likely to be for some years again. 

" I see the rumours of war still continue. Stocks continue to fall is 
that good or bad for the Ministers ? The little boys are come home to me 
to-day. I could not help showing in my answer to Mr. T.'s letter, that I 
was hurt at his conduct, so I have got another flummery letter, and the 
bo\s, who (as he is pretty sure) will be the best peace-makers. God 
bless you, my dear Dick. I am very well, I assure you ; pray don't neglect 
to write to your ever affectionate , 

"E.S.' r 

" MY DEAREST DICK, Wednesday. 

11 I am full of anxiety and fright about you , I cannot but think your 
letters are very alarming. Deuce take the Corporation! is it impossible to 
make them resign their pretensions, and make peace with the Bur- 
gesses? I have sent Thomas after Mr. Cocker. I suppose you have sent 
for the out-votes; but, if they are not good, what a terrible expense will 
that l>e! however, they ar.e ready. I saw Mr. Cocker yesterday, he 
collected them together last night, and gave them a treat , so they are 
in high good humour. I inclose you a letter which' B. left here last 
night. I could not resist opening it. Every thing seems going wrong, I 
think. I thought he was not to do any thing in your absence. It strikes 
me the bad business he mentions was entirely owing to his own stupi- 
dity, and want of a little patience, is it of much consequence ? I don't 
hear that the report is true of Basilico's arrival ; a messenger came to 
the Spanish embassy, which gave rise to this tale , I believe. 

" If you were not so worried, I should scold you for the "conclusion of 
your letter to-day. Might not 1 as well accuse you of coldness., for not 
filling your letter with professions , at a time when your head must be 
full of business? I think of nothing all day long, but how to do^ood, 
some how or other, for you. I have given you a regular Journal of my 
i inn;, and all to please you , so don't, dear Dick , lay so much stress on 
words. I should use them oftener , perhaps, but I feel as if it would look 
like deceit. You know me well enough , to be sure that I can never do 
what I'm bid, Sir, but pray, don't think I meant to send you a cold 
letter, fur indeed nothing \vasevcrfarllicr from my heart. 



3 1C MEMOIRS 

" You will see Mr. Home Tooke's advertisement to day in thepapers^ 
what do you think of that, to complete the thing? Bishop Dixon has 
just called from the hustings : rhe says, the late Recorder, Adair, pro- 
posed Charles with a good speech , and great applause, Captain Berke- 
ley, Lord Hood, with a had speech, not much applauded; and then 
Home Tooke came forward, and, in the most impudent speech that 
ever was heard, proposed himself, abused both the candidates , and said 
he should have been ashamed to have sat and heard such ill-deserved 
praises given him. But he told the crowd that, since so many of these fine 
virtues and qualifications had never yet done them the least good, they 
might as well now choose a candidate without them. He said , however , 
that if they were sincere in their professions of standing alone, he was 
sure of coming in, for they must all give him their second votes. There 
was aa amazing deal of laughing and noise in the course of his speech. 
Charles Fox attempted to answer him, and so did Lord Hood, but they 
would hear neither , and they are now polling away. 

" Do, my dearest love, if you have possibly time, write me a few more 
particulars, for your letters are very unsatisfactory, and I am full of 
anxiety. Make Richardson write, what has he better to do? God bless 
thee, my dear, dear Dick, would it were over and all well! I am afraid, 
at any rate , it will be ruinous work. 

" Ever your true and affectionate, 

"E. S." 

" Near five. I am just come from the hustings : the state of the poll 
when I left it was, Fox, 260; Hood, -j5 ; Home Tooke, 17! But he still 
persists in his determination of polling a map. an hour for the whole 
time. I saw Mr. Wilkes go up to vote for Tooke and Hood, amidst the 
hisses and groans of a multitude." 

" Friday. 

" My poor Dick, how you are worried! This is the day, you will 
easily guess how anxious I shall be ; but you seem pretty sanguine your- 
self, which is my only comfort, for Richardson's letter is rather croaking. 
You have never said a word of little Monkton -.has he any chance, or 
none? I ask questions without considering that , before you receive this, 
every thing will be decided I hope triumphantly for you. What a sad 
set of venal rascals your favourites the Blacks must be, to turn so sud- 
denly from their professions and promises! I am half sorry you have any 
thing more to do with them, and more than ever regret you did not 
stand for Westminster with Charles , instead of Lord John;- in that case 
you would have come in now, and we should not have been persecuted 
by this Home Tooke. However , it is the dullest contested election that 
ever was seen no canvassing , no houses open, no cockades. But I heard 
that a report prevails now, that Home Tooke polling so few the two or 
three first days is an artful trick to put the others off their guard , and 
that he means to pour in his votes on the last days, when it will be too 
late for them to repair their neglect. But I don't think it possible, either, 
for such a fellow to beat Charles in Westminster. 

" I have just had a note from Reid he is at Canterbury -.the state of 
the poll there, Thursday ni ght, was as follows : Gipps, 220; Lord * *, 211: 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 317 

Sir T. Honey wood , ai6;'Mr. Warton , i65. We have got two members 
for Wendover, and two at Ailsbury. Mr. Barhatn is beat at Stockbridge. 
Mr. Tierne\ says he shall be beat, owing to Bate Dudley's manoeuvres, and 
the Disinters having all forsaken him, a set of ungrateful wretches. 
K. Fau kener has just sent me a state of the poll at . Northampton , as it 
stood \ r.sterday, when they adjourned to ( dinner : Lord Compton, 160; 
Bouveric, 98; Colonel Manners , 72. They are in hopes Mr. Manners will 
give up. This is all my -news, Sir. 

\Ve had a very pleasant musical party last night at Lord Erskine's, 
where I supped. I am asked to dine to-day with Lady Palmerston, at 
Sheen ; but I can't go-, unless Mrs. Grewe will carry me, as the coach is 
gone to. have its new lining. I have sent to ask her, for 'tis a fine day, and 
1 should like it very well. God thee bless, my dear Dick. 

" Ytours ever, true and affectionate , 
,'V' "E. S." 

" Duke of Portland has just left- me : he is full of anxiety about you : 

l liis is the second time he has called to enquire." 

Having secured his own election, Mr. Sheridan now hastened to 
lend his aid, where such a lively reinforcement was much wanted, 
on the hustings at Westminster. The contest here was protracted to 
the 2d of July ; and it required no little exercise both pf wit and 
temper to encounter the cool personalities of Tooke , who had not 
forgotten the severe remarks of Sheridan upon His pamphlet the pre- 
ceding year, and who, in addition to his strong powers of sarcasm , 
had all those advantages which , in such a contest , contempt for the 
courtesies and compromises of party warfare gives. Among other 
sallies of his splenetic humour it is related, that Mr. Fox having, 
upon one occasion, retired from the hustings, and left to Sheridan 
the task of addressing the multitude, Tooke remarked , that such 
was always the practice of quack-doctors , who, whenever they quit 
the stage themselves, make it a rule to leave their merry-andrews 
behind'. 

The French Revolution still continued , by its comet-like course , 
to dazzle , alarm and disturb all Europe. Mr. Burke had ^published 
his celebrated " Reflections 1 ' in the month of November , 1790- and 
never did any work , with the exception , perhaps , of the Eikon 
Basiiike, produce such a rapid, deep and general sensation. The 
Eikon was the book of a King, and this might, in another sense, 
be called the Book of Kings. Not only in England , but throughout 
all Europe, in every part of which monarchy was now trembling 

' Tooke, it is said, upon coining one Monday morning to ihe hustings, was 
thus addressed by a partizan of his opponent, not of a very reputable character 
"Well, Mr. Tooke, you will have all the blackguards with you to-day." 
" I am delimited in hear It , Sir," (said Tooke, bowing.) "and from snch good 
autlfoiitv." 



318 MEMOIRS 

lor its existence , this lofty appeal to loyalty was heard and wel- 
comed. Its effect upon the already tottering Whig party was like that 
of " the Voice," in the ruins of Rome, "disparting towers." The 
whole fabric of the old Rockingham confederacy shook to its base. 
Even some , who afterwards recovered their equilibrium , at first 
yielded to the eloquence of this extraordinary book , which , like 
the acra of chivalry , whose loss it deplores, mixes a grandeur with 
error, and throws a charm round political superstition , that will long 
render its pages a sort of region of Royal romance , to which fancy 
will have recourse for illusions that have lost their last hold on the 
reason. 

The undisguised freedom with which Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan 
expressed every where their opinions of this work and its principles 
had, of course, no small influence on the temper of the author, and, 
while it confirmed him in his haired and jealousy of the one , pre- 
pared him for the breach which he meditated with the other. This 
breach was now , indeed , daily expected , as a natural sequel to the 
rupture with Mr. {Sheridan in the last session -, but, by various acci- 
dents and interpositions, 'the crisis was delayed till the 6th of May , 
when the recommitment of the Quebec Bill , a question , upon 
which both orators had already taken occasion to unfold their views 
of the French Revolution, -furnished Burke with an opportunity , 
of which he impetuously look advantage, lo sever the lie between 
himself and Mr. Fox for ever. 

Tliis scene, so singular in a public assembly , where the natural 
affections were but seldom called out, and where, though bursts of 
temper like that of Burke are common , such tears as those shed by 
Mr. Fox are rare phenomena , has been so often described in va- 
rious publications , that it would be superfluous to enter into the de- 
tails of it here. The following are the solemn and stern words in 
which sentence of death was pronounced upon a friendship , that had 
now lasted for more than the fourth part of a century. " It cer- 
tainly ," said Mr. Burke, "was indiscretion at any period, but 
especially at his lime of life , to provoke enemies , or to give his 
friends occasion to desert him ; yet, if his firm and steady adherence 
to the British Constitution placed him in such a dilemma , he would 
risk all, and, as public duty and public prudence taught him , with 
his last words exclaim , ' Fly from the French Constitution.' " [Mr. 
Fox here whispered , that " there was no loss of friendship.' ] Mr. 
Burke said, "Yes, there was a loss of friendship ; he knew the 
price of his conduct , he had done his duty at the price of his 
friend; their friendship was at an end." 

In rising to reply to the speech of Burke , Mr. Fox was- so affected 
as lo be for some moments unable to speak : he wept . it is said , 



OF K. B. SHERIDAN. 319 

oven to sobbing; and persons who were in Iho gallery at the time 
declare, that, \vhilehespoke, there was hardly a dry eye around 
them. 

Had it been possible for two natures so incapable of disguise the 
one from simplicity and frankness , the other from ungovernable 
temper , to have continued in relations- of amity, notwithstanding 
their disagreement upon a question which was at that moment 
soiling the world in arms , both themselves and the country would 
have been the better for such a compromise between them. Their 
long habits of mutual deference would have mingled with and mo- 
derated the discussion* of their present differences-, the tendency 
to one common centre to which their minds had been accustomed, 
would have prevented them from flying &o very widely asunder ; and 
both might have been tjius saved, from those extremes of principle , 
which Mr. Burke always , and Mr. Fox sometimes , had recourse to 
in defending their respective opinions, and which, by lighting , as 
it were, the torch at both ends, bu( hastened a conflagration in 
which liberty herself might have been the sufferer. But it was evi- 
dent that such a compromise would have been wholly .impossible. 
Even granting that Mr. Burke did not welcome the schism as a re- 
lief, neither the temper of the men nor the spirit of the times, which 
converted opinions at once into passions ^ would have admitted of 
such a peaceable counterbalance of principles , nor suffered them 
long to slumber in that hollow truce , which Tacitus has described, 
" manente in speciem amicitia.'''' Mr. Sheridan saw this from 
the first ; and , in hasarding that vehement speech by which he pro- 
voked the rupture between himself and Burke, neither his judgment 
nor his temper were so much off their guard as they who blamed 
thai speech seemed inclined to infer. But, perceiving that a sepa- 
ration was in the end inevitable, he thought it safer, perhaps, as 
well as manlier , to encounter the extremities at once , than by any 
temporizing delay , or loo complaisant suppression of opinion , to 
involve both himself and Mr, Fox in the suspicion of either sharing 
or countenancing that spirit of defection , which , he saw , was fast 
spreading among the rest of their associates. 

It is indeed said , and with every appearance of truth , that Mr. 
Sheridan had fell offended by the censures which, some of his political 
friends had pronounced upon the indiscretion (as it was called) of 
his speech in the last year, and that , having, in consequence, with- 
drawn from them the aid of his powerful talents during a great part 
of the present session , he but returned to his post under the express 
condition , that he should be allowed to lake the earliest opportunity 
of repeating, fully and explicitly, the same avowal of his senti- 
ments. 



320 MEMOIRS 

The following teller from Dr. Parr to Mrs. Sheridan , written 
immediately after the scene between Eurke and Sheridan in the pre- 
ceding year, is curious : 

" DEAR 31 ADAM, 

" I am most iixedly and most indignantly on the side of Mr. Sheridan 
and Mr. Fox against Mr. Burke. It is not merely French politics that 
produced this dispute; they might have been settled privately. No, no, 
there is jealousy lurking underneath ; jealousy of Mr. Sheridan's 
eloquence ; jealousy of his popularity ; jealousy of his influence with 
Mr. Fox; jealousy, perhaps, of his connection with the Prince. 

" Mr. Sheridan was, Ithink , not too warm ; or , at least, I should have 
myself been warmer. Why, Burke accused Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan of 
acts leading to rebellion, and he made Mr. Fox a dupe, and Mr. Sheridan 
a traitor ! I think this, and lam sure, yes, positively sure, that nothing 
else will allay.the ferment of mens' minds. Mr. Sheridan ought, publicly in 
Parliament, to demand proof , or a retractation, of this horrible charge. 
Pitt's words never did the party half the hurt; and, just on the eve of aa 
election, it is worse. As to private bickerings, or private concessions and 
reconciliations, they are all nothing. In public all must be again taken 
up ; for if drowned , the Public will say, and Pitt will insinuate , that the 
charge is well founded , and that they dare not provoke an enquiry. 

" I know Burke is not addicted to giving up, and so much the worse 
for him and his parly. As to Mr. Fox's yielding, well had it been for all, 
all, all the party, if 3Ir. Fox had, now and then, stood out against 
Mr. Burke. The ferment and alarm are universal, and something must 
be done ; for it is a conflagration in which they must perish , unless it 
be stopped. All the papers are with Burke, even the Foxite papers, 
which I have seen. I know his violence, and temper, and obstinacy of 
opinion, and but 1 will not speak out, fpr, though I think him the 
greatest man upon the earth , yet , in politics I think him, what he has 
been found , to the sorrow of those who act with him. He is incorrupt, 
I know ; but bis passions are quite headstrong ' , and age, and disappoint- 
ment, and the sight of other men rising into fame and consequence, sour 
him. Pray tell me when they are reconciled, though, as I said , it is 
nothing to the purpose without a public explanation. 
" Lam , dear Madam, 

"Yours truly, 

"S.-PAHR," 

Another letter, communicated to me as having been written about 
this period to Sheridan by a gentleman , then abroad , who was w ell 
acquainted with the whole party , contains allusions to the breach , 
which make its introduction here not irrelevant : 

' I wish very much to have some account of the state of things with 

1 It was well said, (I believe , by Mr. Fox,) tbat it was lucky bolh for Cnrke 
and \Vindham. tbat tbey took the Royal side on the subject of (be Trench Revolu- 
tion ,~as tuny would bave got banged on the other. 



OF R. K. SHERIDAN, 321 

you that I cau rely on. I wish to know how all my old companions and 
fellow-labourers do ; if the club yet exists ; if you and Richardson , and 
Lord Jolm, and Ellis, and Lawrence, and Fitzpatrick, etc. meet, 
and joke, and write as of old. What is become of Becket's, and 
the snpper-parties, the nodes ccencequc ? Poor Burgoyne ! lam sure 
you allmommed him as I did, particularly Richardson: pray remem- 
ber me affectionately to Richardson. It is a shame for you all, and 
I will say ungrateful in many of you, to have so totally forgotten me, 
and to leave me in ignorance of every thing public and private in which 
I am interested. The only creature -who writes to me is the Duke of 
Portland; but in the great and weighty occupations that engross his 
mind, you can easily conceive that the little details of Society cannot enter 
into His Grace's correspondence. I have indeed carried on a pretty re- 
gular correspondence with young Burke. But that is now at an end. He 
is so wrapt up in the importance of his present pursuits, that it is too 
great an honour for me to continue to correspond with him. His father I 
ever must venerate and ever love ; yet I never could admire, even in him, 
what his son has inherited from him, a tenacity of opinion and a vio- 
lence of principle, that makes him lose his friendships in his politics, 
and quarrel with every one who differs from him. Bitterly Jiave I la- 
mented that greatest of these quarrels, and , indeed, the only important 
one : nor can I conceive it to have been 'less afflicting to my private feel- 
ings than fatal to the party. The worst of it to me was, that I was obliged 
to condemn the man I loved , and that alt the warmth of my affection , 
and the zeal of my partiality, could not suggest a single excuse to vindi- 
cate him , either to the world or to myself, from the crime (for such it 
was ) of giving such a triumph to the common enemy. He failed, too,. in 
what I most loved him for, his heart. There it was that Mr... Fox prin- 
cipally rose above, him-; nor, amiable as he ever has been, did he ever 
appear half so amiable as on that trying occasion." 

The topic upon which Sheridan most distinguished himself during 
this Session .was the meditated interference of England in the war 
between Russia and the Porte , one of the few- measures of Mr. 
Pilt on which the sense of the nation was opposed to him. So unpo- 
pular , indeed , was the Armament proposed to be raised for this 
object , and so rapidly did the majority of the Minister diminish 
during the discussion of it , that there appeared for some time a pro- 
bability that the Whig party would be called into power , an event 
which, happening at this critical juncture , might, by altering the 
policy of England, have changed the destinies of all Europe. 

The circumstance to which at present this Russian question owes 
its chief hold upon English memories is the charge , arising out of 
it, brought against Mr. Fox of having sent Mr. Adair as his repre- 
sentative to Pelersburgh , for the purpose of frustrating the objects 
for which the King's ministers were then actually negotiating. This 
accusation, though more than once obliquely intimated during the 
discussions upon the Russian Armament in 1791, first met the public 

21 



322 MEMOIRS 

eye, in any tangible form, among those celebrated Articles of Im- 
peachment against Mr. Fox, which were drawn up by Burke's prac- 
tised hand ' in 1793, and found their way surreptitiously into print 
in 1797. The angry and vindictive tone of this paper was but little 
calculated to inspire confidence in its statements , and the charge 
again died away, unsupported and unrefuled , till the appearance of 
the Memoirs of Mr. Pitt by the Bishop of Winchester 5 when , upon 
the authority of documents said to be found among the papers of 
Mr. Pitt, but not produced, the accusation was revived, the Right 
Reverend biographer calling in aid of his own view of the transaction 
the charitable opinion of the Turks , who, he complacently assures 
us, "expressed great surprise that Mr. Fox had not lost his head 
for such conduct." Notwithstanding, however, this Concordat be- 
tween the Right Reverend Prelate and the Turks , something more 
is still wanting to give validity to so serious an accusation. Until the 
production of the alleged proofs ( which Mr. Adair has confidently 
demanded) shall have put the public in possession of more recon- 
dite materials for judging , they must regard as satisfactory and con- 
clusive the refutation of the whole charge , both as regards himself 
and his illustrious friend, which Mr. Adair has laid before the world , 
and for the truth of which not only his own high character, but the 
character of the ministries of both parties , who have since employed 
him in missions of the first trust and importance , seem to offer the 
strongest and most convincing pledges. 

The Empress of Russia , in testimony of her admiration of the 
eloquence of Mr. Fox on this occasion , sent an order to England , 
through her ambassador, for a bust of that statesman , which it was 
her intention , she said, to place between those of Demosthenes and 
Cicero. The following is a literal copy of Her Imperial Majesty's 
note on the subject 2 : 

" Ecrivez au Cte. Worehzof qu'il me fasse avoir en marbre blanc le 
buste ressemfolant de Charles Fox. Je veux le mettre sur ma colonnade 
entre ceux de Demosthene ct de Ciceron. 

" II a delivre par son eloquence sa patrie et la Russie d'une guerre a 
laquelle il n'y avail ni justice ni raison." 

Another subject that engaged much of the attention of Mr. She- 
ridan this year was his own motion relative to the constitution of the 

1 This was the third time that his talent for impeaching was exercised , as he 
acknowledged having drawn up, daring the administration of Lord North, seven 
distinct Articles of Impeachment against that nobleman, .which, however, the 
advice of Lord Rockingham induced him to relinquish.-; : 

3 Found among Mr. Sheridan's papers, with these words, in his own band- 
writing, annexed : "N. B. Fox would have lost it, if I had not made him look 
for it, and taken a copy." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 353 

Royal Scotch Boroughs. He had been , singularly enough , selected , 
in the year 1787, by the Burgesses of Scotland, in preference to so 
many others possessing more personal knowledge of that country, to 
present to the House the Petition of the Convention of Delegates , for 
a Reform of the internal government of the Royal Boroughs. How 
fully satisfied they were with his exertions in their cause may be 
judged by the following extract from the Minutes of Convention, 
dated llth August, 1791 : 

" Mr. Mills of Perth, after a suitable introductory speech, moved a vote 
of thanks to Mr. Sheridan , in the following words : 

"The Delegates of the Burgesses of Scotland, associated for the 
purposes of Reform, taking into their most serious consideration the 
important services rendered to their cause by the manly and prudent 
exertions of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Esq., the genuine and fixed at- 
tachment to it which the whole tenor of his conduct has evinced, and the 
admirable moderation lie has all along displayed, 

" Resolved unanimously, That the most sincere thanks of this meeting 
be given to tlie said Richard Brinsley She'ridan , Esq., for his steady, 
honourable, and judicious conduct in bringing the question relative to 
the violated rigbts of the Scottish Boroughs to its present important and 
favourable crisis ; and the Burgesses with firm confidence hope that, from 
his attachment to tbe cause, which he has sbown to be deeply rooted iu 
principle, he will persevere to exert his distinguished abilities, till the 
objects of it are obtained, with tbat inflexible firmness, and constitutional 
moderation , which have appeared so .conspicuous and exemplary 
throughout the whole of bis conduct, as to be highly deserving of tbe 
imitation of all good citizens. 

" JOHN EWEN , Secretary." 

From a private letter written this year by one of the Scottish Dele- 
gates to a friend of Mr. Sheridan, (a copy of which letter 1 have found 
among the papers of the latter, ) ft appears that the disturbing effects 
of Mr. Burke's book had already shown themselves so strongly 
among the Whig party as to fill the writer with apprehensions of 
their defection , even on the safe .and moderate question of Scotch 
Reform. He mentions one distinguished member of the party, who 
afterwards stood conspicuously in the very van of the Opposition , 
but who at that moment, if the authority of the letter may be de- 
pended upon, was, like others, under the spell of the great Alarmist, 
and yielding rapidly to the influence of that anti-revolutionary terror, 
which, like the Panic dignified by the ancients with the name of one 
of their Gods, will be long associated in the memories of Englishmen 
with the mighty name and genius of Burke. A consultation was , 
however, held among this portion of the party, with respect to the 
prudence of lending their assistance to the measure of Scotch Re- 
form ; and Sir James Mackintosh, as I have heard him say. was in 



324 MEMOIRS 

company with Sheridan, when Dr. Lawrence came direct from the 
meeting, to inform him that they had agreed to support his motion. 

The stale of the Scotch Representation is one of those cases, where 
a dread of the ulterior objects of Reform induces many persons to 
oppose its first steps , however beneficial and reasonable they may 
deem them, rather than risk a further application of the principle , 
or open a breach by which a bolder spirit of innovation may enter. 
As it is, there is no such thing as popular election in Scotland. We 
cannot, indeed , more clearly form to ourselves a notion of the man- 
ner in which so important a portion of the British empire is repre- 
sented , than by supposing the Lords of the Manor throughout Eng- 
land to be invested with the power of clecling her representatives, 
the manorial rights, too, being, in a much greater number of in- 
stances than at present, held independently of the land from which 
they derive their claim, and thus the natural connection between 
property and the right of election being, in most cases, wholly sepa- 
rated. Such would be, as nearly as possible, a parallel to the system 
of representation now existing in Scotland; a system, which it is 
the understood duly of all present and future Lord Advocates to de- 
fend , and which neither the lively assaults of a Sheridan, nor the 
sounder reasoning and industry of an Abcrcrombie , have yet been 
able to shake. 

The following extract from another of the many letters of Dr. 
Parr to Sheridan shows still further the feeling entertained towards 
Rurke , even by some of those who most violently differed with 
him : 

" During the recess of Parliament T hope you will read the mighty 
work of my friend and your friend, and Mr. Fox's friend, Mackintosh . 
there is some obscurity and there are many Scotticisms in it; yet 1 
do pronounce it the work of a most masculine and comprehensive 
mind. The arrangement is far more methodical than Mr. Burke's , 
the sentiments are more patriotic, the reasoning is more profound , 
and even the imagery in some places is scarcely less splendid. I think 
Mackintosh a better philosopher, and a better citizen , and I know him 
to be a far better scholar, and a far better man, than Payne; in whose 
book there are great irradiations of genius, but none of the glowing and 
generous warmth which virtue inspires; that warmth which is often 
kindled in the bosom of Mackintosh, and which pervades almost every 
page in Mr. Burke's book though I confess, and with sorrow.! confess, 
that the holy flame was quite extinguished in his odious altercation with 
you and Mr. Fox." 

A letter from the Prince of Wales to Sheridan this year furnishes a 
new proof of the confidence reposed in him by His Royal Highness. 
A question of much delicacy and importance having arisen between 
that Illustrious Personage and the Duke of York , of a nature , as il 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 325 

appears , too urgent to wait for a reference to Mr. Fox , Sheridan 
had alone the honour of advising His Royal Highness in the corres- 
pondence that took place between him and his Royal Brother on that 
occasion. Though the letter affords no immediate clue to the subject 
of these communications, there is little doubt that they referred to a 
very important and embarrassing question , which is known to have 
been put by the Duke of York to the Heir Apparent , previously to 
his own marriage this year; a question , which involved considera- 
tions connected with the Succession to the Crown , and which the 
Prince", witli the recollection of what occurred on the same subject 
in 1787, could only get rid of by an evasive answer. 

CHAPTER XV. 

Death of Mrs. Sheridan. 

IN the year 1792 , after a long illness , which terminated in con- 
sumption, Mrs. Sheridan died at Bristol, in the thirty-eighth year of 
her age. 

There has seldom , perhaps , existed a finer combination of all 
those qualities that attract both eye and heart than this accomplished 
and lovely person exhibited. To judge by what we hear, it was im- 
possible to sec her without admiration, or know her without love; 
and a late Bishop used to say that she '.'.seemed to him the connect- 
ing link between woman and angel ' ." The devpledness of affection r 
too, with which she was regarded , not only by her own father and 
sisters , but by all her husband's family, showed that her fascination 
was of that best kind which , like charity, " begins at home ;" and 
that , while her beauty and music enchanted the world , she had 
charms more intrinsic and lasting for those who came nearcx to her. 
We have already seen with what pliant sympathy she followed her 
husband through his various pursuits , identifying herself with the 
politician as warmly and readily as with the author, and keeping 
Love still attendant on Genius through all his transformations. As 
the wife of the dramatist and manager, we find her calculating the 
receipts of the house , assisting in the adaptation of her husband's 
opera , and reading over the plays sent in by dramatic candidates. 
As the wife of the senator and orator we see her, with no less zeal , 
making extracts from state-papers , and copying out ponderous 
pamphlets, entering with all her heart and soul into the details of 
elections , and even endeavouring to fathom the mysteries of the 

' Jackson of Exeter, too , giving a description of her, in some IVIemoii's of bis 
own Life that were never published, said that to see her, as she stood oiogiug 
Iw-side him at the pia uo-foilc , was " like looking into the face of an angel." 



326 MEMOIRS 

Funds. The affectionate and sensible care with which she watched 
over, not only her own children , but those which her beloved sister, 
Mrs. Tickell , confided to her, in dying , gives the finish to this 
picture of domestic usefulness. When it is recollected , too , that 
the person thus homelily employed was gifted with every charm 
that could adorn and delight society, it would be difficult , perhaps, 
to find any where a more perfect example of that happy mixture of 
utility and ornament , in which all that is prized by the husband and 
the lover combines , and which renders woman what the Sacred Fire 
\vas to the Parsees , not only an object of adoration on their altars, 
but a source of warmth and comfort to their hearths. 

To say that , with all this , she was not happy, nor escaped the 
censure of the world , is but to assign to her that share of shadow, 
without which nothing bright ever existed on this earth. United not 
only by marriage , but by love , to a man who was the object of uni- 
versal admiration , and whose vanity and passions too often led him 
to yield to the temptations by which he was surrounded , it was but 
natural that, in the consciousness of her own power to charm, she 
should be now and then piqued into an appearance of retaliation , 
and seem to listen with complacence to some of those numerous 
worshippers who crowd around such beautiful and unguarded 
shrines. Not that she was at any time unwatched by Sheridan ; on 
the contrary, he followed her with a lover's eyes throughout; and 
it was believed of both , by those who knew them best , that , even 
when they seemed most attracted by other objects , they would will- 
ingly, had they consulted the real wishes of their hearts, have given 
up every one in the world for each other. So wantonly do those , 
who have happiness in their grasp , trifle with that rare and delicate 
treasure, till , like the careless hand playing with a rose, 

" In swinging it rudely, too rudely, alas , 
They snap it it falls to the ground." 

They had , immediately after their marriage , as we have seen , 
passed some time in a little cottage at Easlburnham , and it was a 
period, of course, long remembered by them both for its happiness. 
I have been told by a friend of Sheridan , that he once overheard 
him exclaiming to himself, after looking for some moments at his 
wife, with a pang, no doubt, of melancholy self-reproach, 
"Could any thing bring back those first feelings?" then adding, 
with a sigh, ".Yes, perhaps, the cottage at Eastburnham might." 
In this , as well as in some other traits of the same kind , there is 
assuredly any thing but that common place indifference , which too 
often clouds over the evening of married life. On the contrary, it 
seems rather the struggle of affection with its own remorse $ and , 



01 R. B. SHERIDAN- 3S7 

like the humourist who mourned over the extinction of his intellect 
so eloquently as to prove thai it was still in full vigour, shows love 
to be still warmly alive in the very act of lamenting its death. 

I have already presented the reader with some letters of Mrs. She- 
ridan , in which the feminine character of her mind very interest- 
ingly displays itself. Their chief charm is unaffectedness , and the 
total absence of that literary style which , in the present day, infects 
even the most familiar correspondence. I shall here give a few more 
of her letters , written at different periods to the elder sister of She- 
ridan , it being one of her many merits to have kept alive between 
her husband and his family, though so far separated, a constant and 
cordial intercourse, which, unluckily, after her death, from his 
own indolence and the new connections into which he entered, was 
suffered to die away, almost entirely. The first letter, from its allu- 
sion to the Westminster Scrutiny , must have been written in the 
year 1784 , Mr. Fox having gained his great victory over Sir Cecil 
Wray on the 17th of May, and the Scrutiny having been granted 
on the same day. 

" MY DEAR Lissr, London, June 6. . 

" I am happy to find by your last that our apprehensions on Charles's 
account were useless. The many reports that were circulated here of his , 
accident gave us a good deal of uneasiness ; but it is no longer wonderful 
that he should be buried here, when Mr. Jackman has so barbarously 
murdered him with you. I fancy he would risk another broken head , 
rather than give up his title to it as an officer pf the Crown. We go on 
here wrangling as usual , but I am afraid all to no purpose. Those who 
are in possession of power are determined to use it without the least 
pretence to justice or consistency.- They have. ordered a Scrutiny for 
Westminster, in defiance of all law or precedent, and without any other 
hope or expectation but that of harassing and tormenting Mr. Fox and 
his friends, and obliging them to waste their time and money, which 
perhaps they think might otherwise be employed to a better purpose in 
another cause. We have nothing for it but patience and perseverance, 
which I hope will at last be crowned with success, though I fear it will be 
a much longer trial than we at fir,st expected. I hear from every body 

that your are vastly disliked, but are you not all kept in 

awe by such beauty ? I know she flattered herself to subdue all your 
Volunteers by the fire of her eyes only : how astonished she must be 
to find they have not yet laid down their arms! There is nothing would 
tempt me to trust my sweet person upon the water sooner than the 
thoughts of seeing you ; but I fear my friendship will hardly ever be put 
to so hard a trial. Though Sheridan is not in office, I think he is more 
engaged by politics than ever. 

" I suppose we shall not leave town till September. We have promised 
to pay many visits, but I fear we shall be obliged to give up many of our 
schemes, for I take it for granted Parliament will meet again as soon as 



328 MEMOIRS 

possible. We are to go to Chatsworth, and to another friend -of mine in 
that neighbourhood, so that I doubt our being able to pay our annual 
visit to Crewe Hall. Mrs Crewe has been very ill all this winter with 
your old complaint, the rheumatism : she is gone lo Brightelmstone to 
wash it awav in the sea. Do you ever see Mrs. Greville? 1 am glad to hear 
my two nephews are both in so thriving a way. Are your still a nurse? I 
should like to take a peep at your bantlings. Which is the handsomest? 
have you candour enough to think any thing equal to your own boy ? 
if you have, you have more merit than I can claim. Pray remember me 
kindly to Bess, Mr. L., etc. and don't forget to kiss the little squaller for 
me when you have nothing better to do. God bless you. 

" Ever yours." 

" The inclosed came to Dick in one of Charles's franks : he said 
lie should write to you himself with it, but I think it safest not to 
trust him." 

In another letter, written in the same year, there arc some touches 
both of sisterly and of conjugal feeling, which seem to bespeak a 
heart happy in all its affections. 

" MY DEAR LISSY, Putney, August, iG. 

" You will no doubt be surprised to find me still dating from this 
place, but various reasons have detained me here from day to day, to 
the groat dissatisfaction of my dear Mary, who has been expecting me 
hourly for the last fortnight. 1 propose going to Hampton-Court to- 
night, if Dick returns in any decent time from town. 

" I got your letter and a half the day before yesterday, and shall be 
very well pleased to have such blunders occur more frequently. You 
mistake, if you suppose I am a friend to your tarrers and featherers : 
it is such wretches that always ruin a good cause. There is no reason on 
earth why you should not have a new Parliament as well as us : it 
might not, perhaps, be quite as convenient to our immaculate Minister, 
but I sincerely hope he will not find your Volunteers so accommodating 
as the present India troops in our House of Commons. What! does the 
Secretary at War condescend to reside in any house but his own ? 'Tis 
very odd he should turn himself out of doors in his situation. I never 
could perceive any economy in dragging furniture from one place to 
another; but, of course, lie has more experience in these matters than 
I have. 

" Mr. Forbes dined here the other day, and I had a great deal of 
conversation with him on various subjects relating to you all. lie says, 
Charles's manner of talking of his wife, etc. is so ridiculous, that 
whenever he comes into company, they always cry out, ' Now, S n , 
we allow you half an hour to talk of the beauties of Mrs. S., half an hour 
to your child, and another half hour to your farm, and then we expect 
you will behave like a reasonable person.' 

" So Mrs. is not happy : poor thing, 1 dare say, if the I ruth were 

known, he teazes her to death. Your very good husbands generally 
contrive to make you sensible of their merit some how or other. 

" From a letter Mr. Canning has just got from Dublin, 1 find you have 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 329 

been breaking the heads of some of our English heroes. I have no doubt 
in the world that they deserved it; and if half a score more that I know 
had shared the same fate, it might, perhaps, become less the fashion 
among our young men to be such contemptible coxcombs as they 
certainly are. 

" My sister desired me to say all sorts of affectionate things to you, in 
return for your kind remembrance of her in your last. I assure you, you 
lost a great deal by not seeing her in her maternal character : it is the 
prettiest sight in the world to see her with her children : they are both 
charming creatures, but my little namesake is my delight : 'tis impos- 
sible to say how foolishly fond of her I am. Poor Mary ! she is in a way 
to have more, and what will become of them all is sometimes a conside- 
ration that gives me many a painful hour. But they are happy, with their 
little portion of the goods of this world : then, what are riches good for? 
For my part, as you know, poor Dick and I have always been struggling 
against the stream, and shall probably continue to do so to the end of 
our lives, yet we would not change sentiments or sensations with. . . . 
for all his estates. By the bye, I was told t'other day he was going to 
receive eight thousand pounds as 'a compromise for his uncle's estate , 
which has been so long in litigation : is it true ? I dare say it is though, 
or he would not be so discontented as you say he is.. God bless you. 
Give my love to Bess, and return a kiss to my nephew for me. Remember 
me to Mr. L., and believe me . 

" Truly yqurs." 

The following letters appear to have been written in 1785, some 
months after the death of her sister, Miss Maria Liniey. Her playful 
allusions to the fame of her own beauty might have been answered 
in the language of Paris to Helen : 

" Minor est tua gloria veto 
Famaque de forma pcne maligna est." 
" Thy beauty far outruns even rumour's tongue, 
And envious fame leaves half thy charms unsung." 

" MY DEAR LISSY , " Delapre Abbey, Dec. 27. 

" Notwithstanding your incredulity, I assure you I wrote to you from 
Hampton-Court, very soon after Bess came to England. My letter was a 
dismal one; for my mind was at that tjme entirely occupied by the 
affecting circumstance^ of my poor sister's death. Perhaps you lost 
nothing by not receiving my letter, for it was not much calculated 'to 
amuse you. 

" lam still a recluse, you see, but I am preparing to Inunch for the 
winter in a few days. Dick was detained in town by a bad fever : you 
may suppose I was kept in ignorance of his situation, or I should not 
have remained so quietly here. He came last week , and the fatigue of the 
journey very nearly occasioned a relapse : but by the help of a jewel of 
a doctor that lives in this neighbourhood we are both quite stout, and 
well again (for I took it into my head to fall sick again, too, without 
rhyme or reason). 

" We purpose going to town to-morrow or next day. Our own house 



.330 MEMOIRS 

has been painting and papering, and the weather lias heen so unfavourable 
to the business, that it is probable it will not be fit for us to go info this 
month ; we have, therefore, accepted a most pressing invitation of General 
Burgoyne to take up our abode with him , till our house is ready ; so 
your next must be directed to Bruton-Street, under cover to Dick, unless 
Charles will frank it again. I don't believe what you say of Charles's not 
being glad to have seen me in Dublin. You are very flattering in the 
reasons you give , but I rather think his vanity would have been more 
gratified by showing every body how much prettier and younger his wife 
was than the Mrs. Sheridan in whose favour they have been prejudiced 
by your good-natured partiality. If I could have persuaded myself to 
trust the treacherous ocean, the pleasure of seeing you and your nursery 
would have compensated for all the fame I should have lost by a compa- 
rison. But my guardian sylph, vainer of my beauty, perhaps, than myself, 
would not suffer me to destroy the flattering illusion you have so often 
displayed to your Irish friends. No, I shall stay till I am past all preten- 
sions, and then you may excuse your want of taste by saying, " Oh, if 
you had seen her when she was young ! " 

" I am very glad that Bess is satisfied with my attention to her. The 
unpleasant situation I was in prevented my seeing her as often as I could 
wish. For her sake I assure you I shall be glad to have Dick and your 
father on good terms, without entering into any arguments on the subject; 
but I fear, where one of the parties, at least, has a tincture of what 
they call in Latin damnatus obstinatus mulio, the attempt will be difficult, 
and the success uncertain. God bless you ; and believe me 

" Truly yours." 
" Mrs. Lefanu, Great Cuff Street, Dublin. 

The next letter I shall give refers to the illness with which old 
Mr. Sheridan was attacked in the beginning of the year 1788, and 
of which he died in the month of August following. It is unneces- 
sary to direct the reader's attention to the passages in which she 
speaks of her lost sister, Mrs. Tickell, and her children: they 
have too much of the heart's best feelings in them to be passed over 
slightly. 

" MY DEAR Lissv, London, April 5. 

" Yonr last letter I hope was written when you were low spirited, and 
consequently inclined to forbode misfortune. I would not show it to She- 
ridan : lie has lately been much harassed by business, and I could not 
bear to give him the pain I know your letter would have occasioned. 
Partial as your father has always been to Charles, I am confldent he never 
has, nor ever will feel half the dutv and affections that Dick has always 
exprest. I know how deeply he will be afflicted, if you confirm the melan- 
choly account of his declining health; but I trust your next will remove 
my apprehensions, and make it unnecessary for me to w r ound his affec- 
tionate heart by the intelligence. I flatter myself likewise, that you have 
l>een without reason alarmed about poor Bess. Her life, to be sure, must 
lie dreadful; but I should hope the good nature and kindness of her 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 331 

disposition will support her, and enable her to continue the painful duty 
so necessary, probably, to the comfort of your poor father. If Charles has 
not or dots not do every thing in his power to contribute to the happiness 
of the few years which nature can allow him , he will, have more to 
answer to his conscience than I trust any of those dear to me will have. 
Mrs. Crewe told us , the other day, she had heard from Mr. Greville, 
that every thing was settled much to your father's satisfaction. I -will 
hope, therefore , as I have said before, you were in a gloomy fit when you 
wrote, and in the mean time I will congratulate you on the recovery of ' 
your own health and that of your children. 

" I have been confined now near two months : I caught cold almost 
immediately on coming to town, which broughton all those dreadful com- 
plaints with which I was afflicted at Crewe-Hall.By constant attention and 
strict regimen I am once more got about again ; but I never go out of 
my house after the sun is down , and on those terms only can I enjoy 
tolerable health. I never knew Dick better. My dear boy is now with me 
for his holydays, and a" charming creature he is, I assure you, in every 
respect. My sweet little charge , too , promises to reward me for all my 
care and anxiety. The little ones come to me every day, though they do 
not at present live with me. We think of taking a house in the country 
this summer, as necessary for my health and convenient to S., who must 
be often in town. I shall then have all the children with me , as they 
now constitute a very great part of my happiness. The scenes, of sorrow, 
and sickness I have lately gone through have depressed my spirits, and 
made me incapable of finding pleasure in the amusements which used to 
occupy me perhaps too much. My greatest delight is in the reflection 
that I am acting according to the wishes of my ever dear and lamented 
sister, and that by fulfilling the sacred trust bequeathed me in her last 
moments, I insure my own felicity in the grateful affection of the sweet 
creatures, whom, though I love for their own sakes., .1 idolise when I 
consider them as the dearest part of her who was the first and nearest 
friend of my heart ! God bless you, my dear Liss : this is a subject that 
always carries me away. I will therefore bid you adieu, only entreating 
you as soon as you can to send me a more comfortable letter,. My kind love 
to Bess , and Mr. L. 

" Yours, ever affectionately." 

I shall give but one more letter ; which is perhaps only interesting 
as showing how little her heart went along with the gaieties , into 
which her husband's connexion with the world of fashion and poli- 
tics led her. 

MY DEAR LISSY, May a3. 

u I have only time at present to write a few lines at the request of 
Mrs. Crewe, who is made very unhappy by an account of Mrs. Greville's 
illness, as she thinks it possible Mrs. G. has not confessed the whole of 
her situation. She earnestly wishes you would find out from Dr. Quin 
what the nature of her complaint is, with every other particular you can 
gather on the subject , and give me a line as soon as possible. 

" I am vry glad to find your father is better. As there has l>cen a 



332 MEMOIRS 

recess lately from the Trial, I thought it best to acquaint Sheridan with 
his illness. I hope now, however, tliere.is but little reason to be alarmed 
about him. Mr. Tickell has just received an account from Holland , that 
poor Mrs. Berkeley (whom yo'u know best as Betty Tickell) was at the 
point of death in a consumption. 

" I hope in a very short time now to get into the country. The Duke 
of Norfolk has lent us a house within twenty miles of London; and I am im- 
patient to be once more out df this noisy, dissipated town , where I do 
nothing that I really like, and am forced to appear pleased with every 
thing odious to me. God bless you. I write in the hurry of dressing for a 
great ball given by the Duke of York to-night, which I had determined 
not to go to till late last night, when I was persuaded that it would be- 
very improper to refuse a Royal invitation , if I was not absolutely confined 
by illness. Adieu. Believe me truly yours. 

" You must pay for this letter, for Dick has got your last with the di- 
rection ; and any thing in his hands is irrecoverable! " 

The health of Mrs. Sheridan , as we sec by some of her letters , 
had been for some time delicate ; but it appears that her last fatal 
illness originated in a cold which she had caught in the summer of 
the preceding year. Though she continued from that time to grow 
gradually worse , her friends were flattered with the hope that as 
soon as her confinement should take place , she would be relieved 
from all that appeared most dangerous in her complaint. That event , 
however, produced but a temporary intermission of the malady, 
which returned after a few days with such increased violence , that 
it became necessary for her, as a last hope, to try the waters of 
Bristol. 

The following affectionate letter of Tickell must have been written 
at this period : 

" 3Iv UKAR SHEKIDAX, 

"1 was but too well prepared for the melancholy intelligence con- 
tained in your last letter, in answer to which, as Richardson will give you 
Ibis, J leave it to his kindness to do me justice in every sincere and affec- 
tionate expression of my griaf for your situation , and my entire readiness 
to obey and further A our wishes by every possible exertion. 

" If you have any possible opportunity, let me entreat you to remem- 
ber me lo the dearest, tenderest friend and sister of my heart. Sustain 
yourself, im dear Sheridan, 

" And believe me yours, 

"Most affectionately and faithfully, 

"R. TICRRLL. ; 

The circumstances of her death cannot better be told than in the 
language of a lady whose name it would be\an .honour to mention, 
who, giving up all other cares and duties , accompanied her dying 
friend U Bristol and devoted herself , with a tenderness rarely 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 333 

equalled even among women , lo the soothing and lightening of her 
last painful moments. From the letters written by this lady at the 
time, some extracts have lately been given by Miss Lefanu 1 in her 
interesting Memoirs of her grandmother, Mrs. Frances Sheridan. 
Hul their whole contents are so important to the characters of the 
persons concerned , and so delicately draw aside the veil from a 
scone of which sorrow and affection were the only witnesses, that 
1 I'trl myself justified not only in repeating what has already been 
quoted , but in.adding a few more valuable particulars , which , by 
Ihe kindness of (he writer and her correspondent, I am enabled lo 
um> from the same authentic source. The letters are addressed to 
Mrs. -H. Lefanu, the second sister of Mr. Sheridan. 

... " Bristol, June , i. 1792. 

" I am happy to htrve it in my power to give you any information on a 
subject so interesting to you, and to all that have the happiness of know- 
ing dear Mrs. Sheridan ; though I am sorry to add, it cannot be such as 
will relieve your anxiety, or abate your fears. ^l' e truth is, our poor 
friend is in a most precarious state of health , and quite given over by the 
faculty. Her physician here, who is esteemed very skilful in consumptive 
cases, assured me from the first that it was a lost case ; but as your bro- 
ther seemed unwilling to know the truth , he was not so explicit with 
him, and only represented her as being in a very critical situation. Poor 
man ! he cannot bear to think her in danger himself , or that any one else 
should; though he is as attentive and watchful as if he expected every 
moment to be her last. It is impossible for any man to behaVe with greater 
tenderness, or to feel more on such an occasion , than he does. 

" At times the dear creature suffers a great deal from weakness and 
want of rest. She is. very patient under her sufferings, and perfectly re- 
signed. She is well aware of her danger, and talks of dying with the 
greatest composure. I am sure it will give you and Mr. Lefanu pleasure 
to know that her mind is well prepared for any chaage that may happen, 
and that she derives every comfort from religion that a sincere Christian 
can look for." 

On the 28lh of the same month Mrs. Sheridan died ; and a letter 
from this lady, dated July 19th, thus touchingly describes her last 

' The talents of this yonng lady are another proof of the sort of gavel- kind of 
genius allotted to the whole race of Sheridan. I find her very earliest poetical work, 
" The Sylphid Queen," thns spoken of in a letter from the second Mrs. Sheridan 
to her mother, Mrs. Lefann: " I should have acknowledged your very welcome 
present iiiunediately, had not Mr. Sheridan, on my telling him what it was, ran 
off wilh it, and I have been in vain endeavouring to get it from him ever since. 
What little I did read of it, I admired particularly; hut it will he much* more 
gratifying to yo'u and your daughter to hear that he read it with the greatest atten 
lion, and thought it showed a great deal of imagination." 



334 MEMOIRS 

moments. As a companion-picture to the close of Sheridan's own 
life, it completes a lesson of the transitoriness of this world , which 
might sadden the hearts of the beautiful and gifted , even in their 
most brilliant and triumphant hours. Far happier, however, in her 
death than he was , she had not only his affectionate voice to soothe 
her to the last, but she had one devoted friend, out of the many whom 
she had charmed and fascinated , to watch consolingly over her last 
struggle , and satisfy her as to the fate of the beloved objects which 
she left behind. 

" July , ig, 1792. 

"Our dear departed friend kept her bed only two days, and seemed 
lo suffer less during that interval than for some time before. She was per- 
fectly in her senses to the last moment, and talked with the greatest com- 
posure of her approaching dissolution ; assuring vis all that she had the 
most perfect confidence in the mercies of an all-powerful and merciful 
Being , from whom alone she could have derived the inward comfort and 
support she felt at that awful moment! She said, she had no fear of death, 
and that all her concern arose from the thoughts of leaving so many dear 
and tender ties , and of what they would suffer from her loss. Her own 
family were at Bath, and had spent one day with her, when she was to- 
lerably well. Your poor brother now thought it proper to send for them, 
and to flatter them no longer. They immediately came : it was the 
morning before she died. They were introduced one at a time at her bed- 
side, and were prepared as much as possible for this sad scene. The 
women bore it very well, but all our feelings were awakened for her poor 
father. The interview between him and the dear angel was afilicting and 
heart-breaking to the greatest degree imaginable. I was afraid she would 
have sunk under the cruel agitation : she said it was indeed too much 
for her. She gave some kind injunction to each of them, and said every 
thing she could to comfort them under this severe trial. They then 
parted , in the hope of seeing her again in the evening, but they never 
sa\v her more! Mr. Sheridan and I sat up all that night with her; in- 
deed he had done so for several nights before, and never left her one 
moment that could be avoided. About four o'clock in the morning we 
perceived an alarming change, and sent for her physician '. She said to 

' This physician was Dr. Bain, then a very young man, whose friendship with 
Sheridan began by this mournful dnty to his wife , and only ended with the per- 
formance of the same melancholy office for himself. As the writer of the abov 
letters was not present during the interview which she describes between him an 
Mrs. Sheridan, there are a few slight errors in her account of what passed, th 
particulars of which, as related by Dr. Bain himself, are as follows: On hi 
arrival, she begged of Sheridan and her female friend to leave the room, an 
then, desiring him to lock the door after them, said, "You have never deceive 
me: tell me truly, shall I live over this night." Dr. Bain immediately felt he 
pulse, and, finding lhat she was dying, answered, "I recommend you to 
some laudanum;" upon which she replied, "I understand you: then g'r 
ane." 

Dr. Bain fully concurs with the writer of these letters in bearing testimony to 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 335 

lum, 'If you can relieve me, do it quickly; if not, do not let me 
struggle, Imt give me some laudanum.' His answer was, * Then I will 
give you some laudanum.' She desired to see Tom and Betty Tickell be- 
fore she took it, of whom she took a most affecting leave ! Your brother 
behaved most wonderfully, though his heart was breaking ; and at times 
his feelings were so violent, that I feared he would have been quite un- 
governable at the last. Yet he summoned up courage to kneel by the bed- 
side, till he felt the last pulse of expiring excellence, and then withdrew. 
She died at five o'clock in the morning, a8th of June. 

" I hope, my dear Mrs. Lefanu, you will excuse my dwelling on this 
most agonising scene. I have a melancholy pleasure in so doing", and 
fancy it will not be disagreeable to you to hear all , the particulars of an 
event so interesting, so afflicting, to all who knew the beloved creature ! 
For my part, I never beheld such a scene never suffered such a conflict 
much as I have suffered on my own account. While I live , the remem- 
brance of it and the dear lost object can never be effaced from my mind. 

" We remained ten days after the event took place at Bristol ; and on 
the yth instant Mr. Sheridan and Tom , accompanied by all her family 
(except Mrs. Linley), Mr. and Mrs. Leigh, Betty Tickell and myself, 
attended the dear remains ' to Wells , where we saw her laid beside her 
beloved sister in the Cathedral. The choir attended ; and there was such 
a concourse of people of all sorts assembled on the occasion that we could 
hardly move along. Mr. Leigh read the service in a most affecting man- 
ner. Indeed the whole scene , as you may easily imagine, was awful and 
affecting to a very great degree; though the crowd certainly interrupted 
the solemnity very-much, and, perhaps , happily for us abated somewhat 
of our feelings , which , had we been less observed, would not have been 
so easily kept down. 

"The day after the sad scene was closed we separated , your brother 
chusing to be left by himself with Tom for a day or two. He afterwards 
joined us at Bath , where we spent a few days with our friends, the Leighs. 

the tenderness and affection that Sheridan evinced on this occasion : it was, he 
says, quite "the devotedness of a lover." The following note, addressed to him 
after the sad event was over, does honour alike to the writer and the receiver : 

"My DEAR Sift, 

" I mast request your acceptance of the inclosed foryonr professional attend- 
ance. For the kind and friendly attentions, which have accompanied your efforts, 
I mast remain your debtor. The recollection of them will live in my mind with 
the memory of the dear lost ohject , whose sufferings yon soothed , and whose 
heart was grateful for it. 

"Believe me, 
"Dear Sir, 

" Very sincerely yours , 

" ft. B. SHERIDAIC." 
ft Friday night. 

1 The following striking reflection, which I have found upon a scrap of paper, 
in Sheridan's hand-writing, was suggested, no donbt , by his feelings on this 
occasion : 

" The loss of the breath from a beloved object, long suffering in pain and cer- 
tainly to die , is not so great a privation as the last loss of her beautiful remains, 
if they remain so. The victory of the Grave is sharper than the Sting of Death. ' 



33G MEMOIRS 

Last Saturday we took leave of them , and on Sunday we arrived at Isle- 
worth, where, with much regret, I left your brother to his own me- 
lancholy reflections , with no other companions but his two children, in 
whom he seems at present entirely wrapped up. He suffered a great deal 
in returning the same road, and was most dreadfully agitated on his ar- 
rival at Isleworth. His grief is deep and sincere , and 1 am sure will be 
lasting. He is in very good spirits , and at 'times is even cheerful , but the 
moment he is left alone he feels all the anguish of sorrow and regret. The 
dear little girl is the greatest comfort to him: lie cannot bear to be a 
moment without her. She thrives amazingly, and is indeed a charming 
little creature. Tom behaves with constant and tender attention to his 
father : he laments his dear mother sincerely, and at the time was vio- 
lently affected; but, at his age, the impressions of grief are not lasting ; 
and his mind is naturally too lively and cheerful to dwell long on me- 
lancholy objects. He is in all respects truly amiable, and in many respects 
so like his dear, charming mother, that I am sure he will be ever dear 
to my heart. I expect to have the pleasure of seeing Mr. Sheridan again 
next week , when I hope to find him more composed than when I took 
leave of him last Sunday." 

To Ihc mention which is made , in this affecting letter, of the fa- 
ther of Mrs. Sheridan, whose destiny it had been to follow to the grave, 
within a few short years, so many of his accomplished children ', I 
must add a few sentences more from another letter of the same lady, 
which, while they increase our interest in this amiable and ingenious 
man, bear testimony to Sheridan's attaching powers, and prove how 
affectionate he must have been to her who was gone, to be Urns loved 
by the father to whom she was so dear : 

"Poor Mr. Linley has been here among us these two months. He is 
very much broke, but is still a very interesting and agreeable companion. 
I do not know any one more to be pitied than he is. It is evident that 
the recollection of past misfortunes preys on his mind 2 , and he has no 

1 In 1778 his eldest sou Thomas was drowned , while amusing himself in a 
pleasure-boat at the seat of the Duke of Ancaster. The pretty lines of Mrs. Sheridan 
to his violin are well known. A few years after, Samuel , a lieutenant in the navy, 
was carried off by a fever. Miss Maria Linley died in 1785, and Mrs. Tickell in 
1787. 

1 have erroneously stated, in a former part of this work, that Mr. William 
Linley is the only surviving branch of this family ; there is another brother, 
Mr. Ozias Linley, still living. 

2 In the Memoirs of Mrs. Crouch I find the following anecdote :" Poor Mr. 
Linley! after the death of one of his sons,, when seated at the .harpsichord in 
Drury-Lane theatre, in order to accompany the vocal parts of an interesting little 
piece taken from Prior's Henry and Emma by Mr. Tickell, and excellently repre- 
sented by Palmer and Miss Farren, when the tutor of Henry, Mr. Aikin , gave an 
impressive description of a promising young man , in speaking of his pupil 
Henry, the feelings of Mr. Linley could not be suppressed. His tears fell fast nor 
did he weep alone." 

In the same work Mrs. Crouch is made to say that, after Miss Maria Linley 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 43? 

comfort in the surviving part of his family, they being all scattered 
abroad. Mr. Sheridan seems more his child than any one of his own, and 
I believe he likes being near him and his grand-children." 

Towards the autumn ( as we learn from another letter of this lady ) 
Mr. Sheridan endeavoured to form a domestic establishment for him- 
self at Wanslead. 

" Wanslead, Octobers, 1792. 

" Your brother has taken a house in this village very near me, where 
he means to place his dear little girl, to be as much as possible under my 
protection. This was the dying request of my beloved friend; and the 
last effort of her mind and pen ' was made the day before she expired , 
to draw up a solemn promise for both of us to sign, to ensure the strict 
performance of this last awful injunction : so anxious was she to commit 
this dear treasure to my care , well knowing how impossible it would be 
for a father, situated as your brother is , to pay that constant attention 
to her which a daughter so particularly requires. * * * You may 
be assured I shall engage in the task with the greatest delight and 
alacrity : would to God .that I were in the smallest degree qualified 
to supply the place of that angelic , all-accomplished mother, "of whose 
tender care she has been so early deprived. All I can do for her, I will 
do ; and if I can succeed so far as to give her early and steady principles 
of religion , and to form her mind to virtue, I shall think my time well 
employed, and shall feel myself happy in having fulfilled the first wish 
of her beloved mother's heart. 



died , it was melancholy for her to sing to Mr. Linley, whose tears continually 
fell on the keys as he accompanied her; and if, in the coarse of her profession, 
she was obliged to practise a song, which he had been accustomed to hear his 
lost daughter sing, the similarity of their manners and their voices, which he had 
once remarked with pleasure, then affected him to such a degree, that he was 
frequently forced to quit the instrument, and walk about the room to recover his 
composure. 

1 There are some touching allusions to these last thoughts of Mrs. Sheridan , in 
an Elegy, written by her brother, Mr. William Linley, soon after the news of the 
sad event reached him in India : 

" Oh most beloved ! my sister and my friend! 

While kindred woes still breathe around thine urn , 
Long with the tear of absence must 1 blend 
The sigh , that speaks tliou nver shall return. 

" 'Twas Faith , that, bending o'er the bed of death . 
*. , Snot o'er thy pallid cheek a transient ray, 
\\ itli softer effort soothed thy labouring breath , 
Gave grace to anguish , beauty to decay. 

" Thy'fnends , thy children , claim'd thy latest care ; 

Theirs was the last that to thy bosom clung-; 
For them to heaven thou sent'st the expiring prayer, 
The last that falter'd on thy trembling tongue." 



338 MEMOIRS 

To return to your brother, he talks of having his house here immediately 
furnished and made ready for the reception of his nursery. It is a very 
good sort of common house, with an excellent garden, roomy and fit 
for the purpose , but will admit of HO show or expense. I understand 
he has taken a house in Jermyn-Street , where he may see company; hut 
he does not intend having any other country-house but this. Isleworth 
he gives up , his time being expired there. I believe he has got a private 
tutor for Tom somebody very much to his mind. At one time he talked 
of sending him abroad with this gentleman, but I know not at present 
what his determinations are. He is too fond of Tom's society to let him 
go from him for any time ; but I think it would be more to his advantage 
if he would consent to part with him for two or three years. It is im- 
possible for any man to be more devotedly attached to his children than 
he is , and I hope they will be a comfort and a blessing to him when the 
world loses its charms. The last time 1 saw him, which was for about 
five minutes, I thought he looked remarkably well, and seemed tolerably 
cheerful. But I have observed in general that this affliction lias made a 
wonderful alteration in theexpression of his countenance and in his man- 
ners '. The Leighs and my family spent a week with him at Jslevvorth 
the beginning of August , where we were indeed most affectionately 
and hospitably entertained. I could hardly believe him to be the same 
man. In fact, we never saw him do the honours of his house before; 
that , you know , he always left to the dear, elegant creature , who never 
failed to please and charm every one who came within the sphere of her 
notice. Nobody could have filled her place so well : he seemed to have 
pleasure in making much ol those whom she loved and who, he knew, 
sincerely loved her. \Ve all thought he never appeared to such advan- 
tage. He was attentive to every body and every thing, though grave 
and thoughtful; and his feelings , poor fellow, often ready to break forth 
in spite of his efforts to suppress them. He spent his, evenings mostly by 
himself. He desired me, when I wrote , to let you know that she had by 
will made a little distribution of what she called "her own property," 
and had left you and your sister rings of remembrance , and \\crfaussc 
montrc, containing Mr. Sheridan's picture, to you % Mrs. Joseph 
Lefanu having got hers. She left rings also to Mr. and Mrs. Leigh , my 
sister, daughter, and myself, and positively forbids any others being given 
on any pretence , but these I have specified, evidently precluding all her 
fine friends from this last mark of her esteem and approbation. She had, 
poor thing, with some justice, turned from them all in disgust, and , 
1 observed, during her illness, never mentioned any of them with regard 
or kindness." 

The consolation which Sheridan derived from his little daughter 

1 I have heard a Noble friend of Sheridan say that , happening abont this time- 
to sleep in the room next to him , he could plainly hear him sobbing throughout 
the greater part of the night. 

3 This bequest is thus announced by Sheridan himself, in a letter to his sister, 
dated Jnue 3, 1791 : ' I mean also to scud by Miss Patrick a picture which has 
long b^en your properly, by a bequest from one whose image is> not often from 
my mind , and whose memory, I ara sure, remains in yours." 



OF fi. B. SHERIDAN. 339 

was not long spared to him. In a letter, without a dale , from the 
same amiable writer, the following account of her death is given : 

" The circumstances attending this melancholy event were particularly 
distressing. A large party of young people were assembled at your 
brother's to spend a joyous evening in dancing. We were all in the height 
of our merriment, he himself remarkably cheerful, and partaking of 
the amusement, when the alarm was given that the dear little angel was 
living ! It is impossible to describe the confusion and horror of the scene : 
he was quite frantic , and I knew not what to do. Happily there were 
present several kind , good-natured men , who had their recollection , 
and pointed out what should be done. We very soon had every possible 
assistance, and for a short time we had some hope that her precious life 
would have been spared to us but that was soon at an end ! 

' ' The dear babe never throve to my satisfaction : she was small 
and delicate beyond imagination , and gave very little expectation of long 
life; but she had visibly declined during the last month. * '* * 
Mr. Sheridan made himself very miserable at first , from an apprehension 
that she had been neglected or mismanaged ; but I trust he is perfectly 
convinced that this was not the case. He was severely afflicted at first. 
The dear babe's resemblance to her mother after her death was so much 
more striking , that it was impossible to see her without recalling every 
circumstance of that afflicting scene , and he was continually in the room 
indulging the sad remembrance. In this manner he indulged his feelings 
for four or five days; then , having indispensable business, he was obliged 
to go to London, from whence he returned, on Sunday, apparently in 
good spirits and as well as usual. /But however he may assume the ap- 
pearance of ease or cheerfulness, his heart is not of a nature to be 
quickly reconciled to the loss of any thing he loves. He suffers deeply 
and secretly ; and I dare say he will long and bitterly lament both mother 
and child." 

The reader will, I think, feel with me, after reading the foregoing 
letters, as well as those of Mrs. Sheridan , given in the course of this 
work , that the impression which they altogether leave on the mind 
is in the highest degree favourable to the characters both of husband 
and wife. There is , round the whole , an atmosphere of kindly, do- 
mestic feeling, which seems to answer for the soundness of the hearls 
that breathed in it. The sensibility, loo , displayed by Sheridan at 
this period , was not that sort of passionate return to former feelings , 
which the prospect of losing what it once loved might awaken in 
even the most alienated heart ; on the contrary, there was a depth 
and mellowness in his sorrow which could proceed from long habits 
of affection alone. The idea, indeed, of seeking solace for the loss 
of the mother in the endearments of the children would occur only 
to one who had been accustomed to find happiness in his home , and 
who therefore clung for comfort to what remained of the wreck. 

Such , I have little doubt , we're the natural feelings and disposi- 



B40 MEMOIRS 

tions of Sheridan ; and if the vanity of talent too often turned him 
aside from their influence , it is but another proof of the danger of 
that " light which leads astray," and may console those who, safe 
under the shadow of mediocrity, are unvisited by such disturbing 
splendours. 

The following letters on this occasion , from his eldest sister and 
her husband , are a further proof of the warm attachment which he 
inspired in those connected with him : 

" MY DEADEST BROTHER, 

" Charles lias just informed me that the fatal, the dreaded event lias 
taken place. On my knees I implore the Almighty to look down upon 
you in your affliction , to strengthen your noble, vour feeling heart to 
bear it. Oh my beloved brother, these are sad, sad trials of fortitude. 
One consolation, at least, in mitigation of your sorrow, I am sure you 
possess, the consciousness of having done all you could to preserve the 
dear angel you have lost, and to soften the last painful days of her mortal 
existence. Mrs. Canning wrote to me that she was in a resigned and 
happv frame of mind : she is assuredly among the blest ; and I feel and 1 
think she looks down with benignity at my feeble efforts to soothe that 
anguish I participate. Let me then conjure you, my dear brother, to suffer 
me to endeavour to b:> of use to you. Could I have done it, I should have 
been with you from the time of your arrival at Bristol. The impossibility 
of my going lias made me miserable, and injured my health , already in 
a very bad state. It would give value to my life, could I be of that service 
I think I miglit be of, if I were near you ; and as I cannot go to you , 
and as there is every reason for your quitting the scene and objects be- 
fore you, perhaps you may let us have the happiness of having you here, 
and my dear Tom : I will write to him when my spirits arc quieter. I 
entreat you, my dear brother, trv what change of place can do for you : 
your character and talents are here held in the highest estimation ; and 
you have here some who love you beyond the affection any in England 
can feel for you. 

" Cuff-Street, l^th July. " A. LEFANU." 

" MY BEAR GOOD SIR , Wednesday, l^th July, 1792. 

" Permit me to join my entreaties to Lissy's to persuade you to come 
over to us. A journey might be of service to you , and change of objects 
a real relief to your mind. We would try every thing to divert your 
thoughts from too intensely dwelling on certain recollections, which arc 
yet too keen and too fresh to be entertained with safety, at least to oc- 
cupy you too entirely. Having been so long separated from your sister, 
you can hardly have an adequate idea of her love for you. I, who on 
many occasions have observed its operation, can truly and solemnly 
assure you that it far exceeds any thing I could ever have supposed to 
have been felt by a sister towards a brother. I am convinced you would 
experience such soothing in her company L and conversation as would 
restore you to yourself sooner 'than any tiling tbat could be imagined. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 34 1 

Come then,, my dear Sir, and he satisfied you \vill add greatly to her 
comfort, and to that of your very affectionate friend, 

" J. LKFANU." 
CHAPTER XVI. 

Drurv-Lane Theatre. Society of " the Friends of the People." Madame 
de Genlis. War with France. Whig Seccders Speeches in Par- 
liament. Death of Tickell. 

THE domestic anxieties of Mr. Sheridan, during this year, left but 
little room in his mind for public cares. Accordingly, we find that , 
after the month of April , he absented himself from the House of 
Commons altogether. In addition to his apprehensions forthe.safely 
of Mrs. Sheridan, he had been for some time harassed by the de- 
rangement of his theatrical property, which was now fast falling into 
a state of arrearand involvement, from which it never after entirely 
recovered. 

The Theatre of Drury-Lane having been , in the preceding year, 
reported by the surveyors to be unsafe and incapable of repair , 
it was determined to erect an entirely new house upon the same site ; 
for the accomplishment of which purpose a proposal was made, by 
Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Linley, to raise the sum of one hundred and 
fifty thousand pounds , by the means of three hundred debentures , 
of five hundred pounds each. This part of the scheme succeeded 
instantly ; and I have now before me a list of the holders of the 
300 shares , appended to the proposal of 1791 , at the head of which 
the names of the three Trustees , in whom the Theatre was after- 
wards vested in the year 1793, stand for the following number of 
shares : Albany Wallis , 20 ; Hammersley, 50; Richard Ford, 20. 
But , though the money was raised without any difficulty, the com- 
pletion of the new building was delayed by various negotiations and 
obstacles , while , in the mean time , the company were playing , at 
an enormous expense , first in the Opera-House , and afterwards at 
the Hay market-Theatre , and Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Linley were 
paying interest for the first instalment of the loan. 

To these and other causes of the increasing embarrassments of 
Sheridan is to be added the extravagance of his own style of living, 
which became much more careless and profuse after death had de- 
prived him of her, whose maternal thoughlfulness alone would have 
been a check upon such improvident waste. We are enabled to 
form some idea of his expensive habits , by finding , from the letters 
which have just been quoted, that he was, at the same time, main- 
taining three establishments, one at Wanstead, where his son 
resided with his tutor ; another at Isleworih , which he still held (as 
I learn from letters directed to him there) in 1793, and the third;, 



342 MEMOIRS 

his town house , in Jermyn-Street. Rich and ready as were the 
resources which the Treasury of the theatre opened to him, and fer- 
tile as was his own invention in devising new schemes of finance , 
such mismanaged expenditure would exhaust even his magic wealth, 
and the lamp must cease to answer to the rubbing at last. 

The tutor, whom he was lucky enough to obtain for his son at 
this time , was Mr. William Smythe , a gentleman who has since 
dislinguished himself by his classical attainments and graceful talent 
for poetry. Young Sheridan had previously been under the care of 
Dr. Parr, with whom he resided a considerable time at Hatton , and 
the friendship of this learned man for the father could not have been 
more strongly shown than in the disinterestedness with which he 
devoted himself to the education of the son. The following letter 
from him to Mr. Sheridan , in the May of this year, proves the kind 
feeling by which he was actuated towards him: 

" DEAR SIR, 

" I hope Tom got home safe, and found you in better spirits. He said 
something about drawing on your banker; but I do not understand the 
process, and shall not take any step. You will consult your own conve- 
nience about these things; for my connection with you is that of friend- 
ship and personal regard. I feel and remember slights from those I res- 
pect, but acts of kindness I cannot forget; and, though my life has been 
passed far more in doing than receiving services , yet I know and I value 
the good dispositions of yourself and a few other friends , men who are 
worthy of that name from me. 

" If you choose Tom to return, be knows and you know bow glad I 
am always to see him. If not, pray let him do something, and I will tell 
you what be should do. 

" Believe me, dear Sir, 

" Yours sincerely, 

" S. PARR." 

In the spring of this year was established the Society of " The 
Friends of the People," for the express purpose of obtaining a Par- 
liamentary Reform. To this Association , which , less for its professed 
object than for the republican tendencies of some of its members , 
was particularly obnoxious to the loyalists of the day, Mr. Sheridan, 
Mr. Grey , and many others of the leading persons of the Whig 
party, belonged. Their Address to the People of England, which was 
put forth in the month of April, contained an able and temperate 
exposition of the grounds upon which they sought for Reform-, and 
the names of Sheridan , Mackintosh, Whitbread, etc. , appear on the 
list of the Committee by which this paper was drawn up. 

It is a proof of the little zeal which Mr. Fox felt at this period on 
the subject of Reform, that he withheld the sanction of his name 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 43 

from a Society to \vhich so many of his most intimate political friends 
belonged. Some notice was, indeed, taken in the House of this 
symptom of backwardness in the cause ; and Sheridan, in replying 
to the insinuation , said that " they wanted not the signature of his 
Right Honourable Friend to assure them of his concurrence. They 
had his bond in the steadiness of his political principles and the 
integrity of his heart. " Mr. Fox himself, however, gave a more de- 
tinite explanation of the circumstance. " He might be asked," he 
said , " why his name was not on the list of the Society for Reform? 
His reason was, that though he saw great and enormous griev- 
ances, he did not see the remedy. 1 ' It is to be doubted, indeed, whe- 
ther Mr. Fox ever fully admitted the principle upon which the de- 
mand for a Reform .was founded. When he afterwards espoused the 
question so warmly, it seems to have been merely as one of those 
weapons caught up in the heat of a warfare, in which Liberty itself 
appeared to him too imminently endangered to admit of the consi- 
deration of any abstract principle , except that summary one of the 
right of resistance to power abused. From what has been already 
said, too, of the language held by Sheridan on this subject, it may 
be concluded that, though far more ready than his friend to in- 
scribe Reform upon the banner of the parly, he had even still less 
made up his mind as to the practicability or expediency of the 
measure. Looking upon it, as a question, the agitation of which 
was useful to Liberty, and at the same time counting upon the im- 
probability of its objects being ever accomplished, he adopted at 
once , as we have seen , the most speculative of all the plans that 
had been proposed , and flattered himself that he thus secured the 
benefit of the general principle, without risking the inconvenience 
of any of the practical details. 

The following extract of a letter from Sheridan to one of hjs fe- 
male correspondents , at this time , will show that he did not 
quite approve the policy of Mr. Fox in 'holding aloof from the 
Reformers : 

" I am down here with Mrfe. Canning and her family, while all my 
friends and party are meeting in town, where I have excused myself, to 
lay their wise heads together in this crisis. Again I say there is nothing 
hut what is unpleasant before my mind. I wish to occupy, and fill my 
thoughts with public matters, and, todo justice to the times, they afford 
materials enougb ; but nothing is in prospect to make activity pleasant, 
or to poiut one's clTorts against one common enemy, making all that 
engage in the attack cordial, social, and united : on the contrary, every 
day produces some new schism and absurdity. \Vindbam lias signed a 
nonsensical association with Lord Mulgrave; and when I left towu 
vestcrday, I was informed lliat the Divan, as the meeting at Dcbrett's is 
(.died, were furious at an aulhenltc advertisement from the Duke of 



344 MEMOIRS 

Portland against Charles Fox's speech in the Whig Club, which no one 
before believed to be genuine , but which they now say Dr. Lawrence 
brought from Burlington-House. If this is so, depend on it there will be 
a direct breach in what has been called the Whig Party. Charles Fox 
must come to the Reformers openly and avowedly ; and in a month four- 
fifths of the whig Club will do the same." 

The motion for the Abolition of the Slave-trade, brought forward 
this year by Mr. Wilberforce, (on whose brows it may be said, with 
much more truth than of the Roman General , " Annexuit Africa 
lauros"} was signalised by one of the most splendid orations that 
the lofty eloquence of Mr. Pitt ever poured forth ' . I mention the 
Debate, however, for the mere purpose of remarking , as a singu- 
larity, that, often as this great question was discussed in Parliament, 
and ample as was the scope which it afforded for the grander appeals 
of oratory, Mr. Sheridan was upon no occasion tempted to utter even 
a syllable on the subject, except once for a few minutes, in the 
year 1787, upon some point relating to the attendance of a witness. 
The two or three sentences, however, which he did speak on that 
occasion were sufficient to prove (what, as he was not a West-India 
proprietor, no one can doubt, ) that the sentiments entertained by 
him on this interesting topic were, to the full extent , those which 
actuated not only his own party, but every real lover of justice and 
humanity throughout the world. To use a quotation which he him- 
self applied to another branch of the question in 1807 : 

" I would not have a slave to till my ground, 
To fan me when I sleep , and tremble when 
I wake, for all that human sinews, bought 
And sold, have ever earu'd." 

The National Convention having lately , in the first paroxysm of 
their republican vanity, conferred the honour of Citizenship upon 
several distinguished Englishmen, and, among others, upon 
Mr. Wilberforce and Sir James Mackintosh , it was intended , as 
appears by the following letter from Mr. Stone, (a gentleman sub- 
sequently brought into notice by the trial of his brother for High 
Treason , ) to invest Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan with the same dis- 
tinction , had not the prudent interference of Mr. Stone saved them 
from this very questionable honour. 

The following is the letter which this gentleman addressed to 
Sheridan on the occasion. 

1 It was at tlie conclusion of this speech that, iu contemplating the period when 
Africa would, he hoped, participate in those blessings of civilisation and knowledge 
which were now enjoyed by more fortunate regions, he applied the happy quota- 
tion, rendered still more striking, it is said, by the circumstance of ihe rising su-ik 
jnst then shining in through the windows of the House: 
" Nos. , . . primus eqitis Oriens af'flavit anhelis, 
Jllic sera rulens accciulit lamina Pesitf." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 345 

Paris, Nov. 18. Year I. of the French Republic. 
"DEAR SIR, 

" I have taken a liberty with your name, of which I ought to give you 
notice , and offer some apology, The Convention, having lately enlarged 
their connections in Europe, are ambitious of adding to the number of 
their friends by bestowing some mark of distinction on those who have 
stood forth in support of their cause when its fate hung doubtful. The 
French conceive that they owe this obligation very eminently to you and 
Mr. Fox; and, to show their gratitude, the Committee appointed to make 
the Report has determined to offer to you and Mr. Fox the honour of 
Citizenship. Had this honour never been conferred before, had it been 
conferred only on worthy members of society, or were you and Mr. Fox 
only to be named at this moment, I should not have interfered. But as 
they have given the title to obscure and vulgar men and 'scoundrels, of 
which they are now very much ashamed themselves, I have presumed to 
suppose that you would think yourself much more honoured in the 
breach than the observance , and have therefore caused your nomination 
to be suspended. But I was influenced in this also by other considera- 
tions, of which one was, that, though the Committee would be more 
careful in their selection than the last had been, yet it was probable you 
would not like to share the honours with such as would be chosen. But 
another more important one that weighed with me was , that this new 
character would not be a small embarrassment in the route which you 
have to take the next session of Parliament, when the affairs of France 
must necessarily be often the subject of discussion. No one will suspect 
Mr. A\ ilberforce of being seduced, and no one has thought that he did 
any thing to render him liable to seduction ; as his superstition and de- 
votedness to Mr. Pitt have kept -him perfectly a I'abri from all tempta- 
tions to err on the side of liberty, civil or religious. But to you and Mr. Fox 
the reproach will constantly be made, and the blockheads and knaves in 
the House will always have the means of influencing the opinions of those 
without, by opposing with success your English character to your French 
one ; and that which is only a mark of gratitude for past services , will be 
construed by malignity into a bribe of some sort for services yet to be 
rendered. You may be certain that, 'in offering the reasons for my con- 
duct, I blush that I think it necessary to stoop to such prejudices. Of 
this, however, you will be the best judge, and I should esteem it a 
favour if you would inform me whether I have done right , or whether I 
shall suffer your names to stand as they did before my interference. There 
will be sufficient time for me to receive your answer, as I have prevailed 
on the Reporter, Mr. Brissot, to delay a few days. I have given him my 
reasons for wishing the suspension, to which he has assented. Mr. O'Brien 
also prompted me to this deed, and, if I have done wrong, he must 
take half the punishment. My address 'is, "Rose, Huissier,." under cover 
of the President of the National Convention. 

" I have the honour to be 
" Your most obedient 

" And most humble servant, 

" J. H. STOME." 



346 MEMOIRS 

It was in the month of October of this year that the romantic ad- 
venture of Madame de Genlis (in the contrivance of which the prac- 
tical humour of Sheridan may, I think, be delected,) occurred on 
the road between London and Darlford. This distinguished lady had, 
at the close of the year 1791 , with a view of escaping the turbu- 
lent scenes then passing in France , come over with her illustrious 
pupil, Mademoiselle d'Orleans, and her adopted daughter, Pa- 
mela 1 , to England, where she received, both from Mr. Fox and 
Mr. Sheridan, all that attention which her high character for talent, 
as well as the embarrassing nature of her situation at that moment, 
claimed for her. 

The following letter from her to Mr. Fox I find inclosed in one 
from the latter to Mr. Sheridan : 

"SlB, 

"You have, by your infinite kindness, given me the right to show you 
the utmost confidence. The situation I am in makes me desire to have 
with me, during two days, a person perfectly well instructed in the 
Laws, and very sure and honest. I desire sucVi a person that 1 could ofler 
to him all the money he would have for this trouble. But there is not a 
moment to be lost on the occasion. If you could send me directly this 
person, you would render me the most important service. To calm the 
most cruel agitation of a sensible and grateful soul shall be your reward. 
Oh could I see you but a minute ! I am uneasy, sick , unhappy ; sur- 
rounded by tbc most dreadful snares of the fraud and wickedness ; I am 
intrusted with the most interesting and sacred charge! - All these are 
my claims to hope your advices, protection and assistance. My friends 
are absent in that moment; there is only two names in which I could 
place my confidence and my hopes. Pardon this bad language. As Hypo- 
lite I may say , 

" ' Songe: queje >vous parle une langue etrangere , 

but the feelings it expresses cannot be strangers to your heart. 

" Sans avoir 1'avantage d'etre connue de Monsieur Fox, je prends la 
liberte dc le supplier de communique!' cette Tetti-e a Monsieur Sheridan; 

1 Married at Tournay in the mouth of Decemher, 1792, to Lord Edward Fitz- 
gerald. Lord Edward was the only one, among the numerous suitors of Mrs. She- 
ridan, to whom she is supposed to have listened with any thing like a return of 
feeling; and that there should be mutual admiration hetween two such noble spe- 
cimens of human nature, it is easy, without injury to either of them , to believe. 

Some months before her death, when Sheridan had been describing to her 
and Lord Edward a beantihil French girl whom he had lately seen, and added 
that she pnt him strongly in mind of what his own wife had been in the first 
bloom of her youth and beauty, Mrs. Sheridan turned to Lord Edward, and said 
with a melancholy smile, "I should like you, when I am dead, to marry that 
girl." This was Pamela, whom Sheridan had just seen during his visit of a few 
hours to Madatne de Genlis at Bury, in Suffolk, and whom Lord Edward married 
in about a year after. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 347 

et si ce dernier n'est pas a Londres, j'ose esperer de Monsieur Fox la memo 
bonte que j'attcndois de Monsieur Sheridan dans I'embarras ou je me 
trouve. Je m'adresse aux deux personnes de 1'Angleterre qne j'admire le 
plus , et je serois doublement heureuse d'etre tiree de cette perplexite, et 
de leur en avoir 1'obligation. Je serai peut-etre a Londres incessamment. 
Je desirerois vivement les y trouver ; mais en attendant je souhaite avec 
ardeur avoir ici le plus promptement possible 1'homme de loi, ou seu- 
lement en etat de donner de bons conseils que je demande. Je renou- 
velle toutes mes excuses de tant d'importunites." ', 

It was on her departure for France in the present year that the 
celebrated adventure, to which I have alluded , occurred , and as it 
is not often that the post-boys between London and Dartford are 
pomoted into agents of mystery or romance , I shall give the entire 
narrative of the event in the lady's own words, premising (what 
Mr. Sheridan , no doubt , discovered) that her imagination had been 
for some time on the watch for such incidents , as she mentions , in 
another place , her terrors at the idea of " crossing the desert plains 
of Newmarket without an escort." 

" We left London, "says Madame deGenlis, "on our return to France 
the aoth of October, 1792 , and a circumstance occurred to us so extraor- 
dinary, that I ought not, I feel, to pass it over in silence. I shall merely, 
however, relate the fact , without any attempt to explain it, or without 
adding to my recital any of those reflections which the impartial reader 
will easily supply. We set out at ten o'clock in the morning in two car- 
riages, one with six horses, and the other, in which, were our maids, 
with four. I had, two months before, sent off four of my servants to 
Paris, so that we had with us only one French servant, and a footman , 
whom we had hired to attend us as far as Dover. When we were about 
a quarter of a league from London, the French servant, who had nearer 
made the journey from Dover to London but once before, thought he 
perceived that we were not in the right road, and on his making the re- 
mark to me, I perceived it also. The postillions, on being' questioned, 
said that they had only wished to avoid a small hill , and that they would 
soon return into the high road again. After an interval of three quarters 
of an hour , seeing that we still continued our way through a country 
that was entirely new to me, I again interrogated both the footman and 
the postillions, and they repeated their assurance that we should soon 
regain the usual road. 

"Notwithstanding this, however , we still pursued our course with 
extreme rapidity , in the same unknown route ; and as I had remarked 
that the post-boys and footman always answered me in a strange sort of 
laconic manner, and appeared as if they were afraid to stop , my compa- 
nions and I began to look at each other with a mixture of surprise and 
uneasiness. We renewed our enquiries, and at last they answered that it 
was indeed true they had lost their way , but that they had wished to 
conceal it from us till they had found the cross-road to Dartford (our 
first stage), and that now, having been for an hour and a half in that 
road, we had lint two miles to go tefore 1 we should reach Dartford. It 



34ft MEMOIRS 

appeared to us very strange that people should lose their way between 
London and Dover, but the assurance that we were only half a league 
from Dartford dispelled the sort of vague fear that had for a moment agi- 
tated us. At last, after nearly an hour had elapsed, seeing that we still 
were not arrived at the end of the stage, our uneasiness increased to a 
degree which amounted even to terror. It was with much difficulty that I 
made the post-boys stop opposite a small village which lav to our left; in 
spite of my shouts they still went on, till at last the French servant (for 
the other did not interfere ) compelled them to stop. I then sent to the 
village to ask how far we were from Dartford, and my surprise may be 
guessed when I received for answer that we were now 22 miles ( more 
than seven leagues) distant from that place. Concealing my suspicions , I 
took a guide in the village , and declared that it was my wish to return to 
London, as I found I was now at a less distance from that city than from 
Dartford. The post-boys made much resistance to my desire, and even 
behaved w ith an extreme degree of insolence , but our French servant , 
backed by the guide , compelled them to obey. 

" As we returned at a very slow pace, owing to the sulkiness of die 
post-boys and the fatigue of the horses, we did not reach London before 
night-fall, when I immediately drove to Mr. Sheridan's house. He was 
extremely surprised to see me returned , and on my relating to him our 
adventure , agreed with us that it could not have been the result of mere 
chance. He then sent for a Justice of the Peace to examine the post-boys, 
who were detained till his arrival under the pretence of calculating their 
account; but, in the meantime, the hired footman disappeared and 
never returned. The post-boys being examined by the Justice according 
to the legal form , and in the presence of witnesses , gave their answers 
in a verv confused way, but confessed that an unknown gentleman had 
conic in the morning to their master's, and carrying them from thence 
to a public-house, had, by giving them something to drink, persuaded 
them to take the road by which we had gone. The examination was con- 
tinued for a long time, but no further confession could be drawn from 
them. Mr. Sheridan told me, that there was sufficient proof on which to 
ground an action against these men, but that it would be a tedious pro- 
cess, and cost a great deal of money. The post-boys were therefore dis- 
missed, and we did not pursue the enquiry any farther. As Mr. Sheridan 
saw the terror 1 was in at the very idea of again venturing on the road to 
Dover, he promised to accompany us thither himself, but added that , 
having some indispensable business on his hands, he could not go for 
some days. He took us then to Isleworth , a country-house which he had 
near Richmond, on the banks of the Thames, and as he was not able to 
dispatch his business so quickly as he expected, we rem ined for a month 
in that hospitable retreat, which both gratitude and friendship rendered 
so agreeable to us." 

It is impossible to read this narrative , with the recollection , at 
Ihe same time, in our minds of the boyish propensity of Sheridan 
to what are called practical jokes, without strongly suspecting that 
he was himself the contriver of the whole-adventure. The ready at- 
tendance of the Justice, the " unknown gentleman " deposed to. 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 349 

by the post-boys, the disappearance of the laquais, and the ad- 
\ice given by Sheridan that the affair should be pursued no further, 
all strongly savour of dramatic contrivance , and must have af- 
forded a scene not a little trying to the gravity of him who took the 
trouble of getting it up. With respect to his motive, the agreeable 
month at his country-house sufficiently explains it ; nor could his 
conscience have felt much scruple about an imposture, which , so 
far from being attended with any disagreeable consequences , fur- 
nished the lady with an incident of romance, of which she was but 
too happy to avail herself, and procured for him the presence of 
such a distinguished party, to grace and enliven the festivities of 
Isleworth l . 
At the end of the month (adds Madame de Genlis), 

" Mr. Sheridan having finished , we set off together for Dover, himself, 
his son , and an English friend of his , Mr. Reid , with whom I was but a 
few days acquainted. It was now near the end of the month of Novem- 
ber, 1792. The wind being adverse , detained us for five days at Dover, 
during all which time Mr. Sheridan remained with us. At last the wind 
grew less unfavourable, but stiH blew so violently that nobody would 
advise me to embark. I resolved, however, ta venture, and Mr. Sheridan 
attended us into the very packet-boat, where I received his farewell with 
a feeling of sadness which I cannot express. He w"buld have crossed with 
us but that some indispensable duty , at that moment, required-his pre- 
sence in England. He, however, left us Mr. Reid, who had the goodness 
to accompany us to Paris." 

In 1793 war was declared between England and France. Though 
hostilities might , for a short time longer, have been avoided , by a 
more accommodating readiness in listening to the overtures of France, 
and a less stately tone on the part of the English negotiator , there 
could hardly have existed in dispassionate minds any hope of avert- 
ing the war entirely, or even of postponing it for any considerable 
period. Indeed, however rational at first might have been the ex- 
pectation , that France , if left to pass through the ferment of her 
own Revolution , would have either settled at last into a less dan- 
gerous form of power, or exhausted herself into a stale of harmless- 

1 In the Memoirs of Madame de ( Genlis, lately published , she supplies a slill 
more interesting key to his motives for such a contrivance. It appears, from the 
new recollections of this lady, that "he was passionately in love with Pamela," 
and that, before her departure from England , the following scene took pl.ice : 
" Two days before we set out , Mr. Sheridan made , in my presence, his declaration 
<>f love to Pamela, who was affected .by bis agreeable manner and high character, 
.UK! accepted the offer of his hand with pleasure. In consequence of this , it was 
settled that he was to marry her on onr return from France , which was expected 
to take place in a fortnight.' 1 1 suspect this to be bat a continuation of the Romance 
ofDartford. 



350 MEMOIRS 

ness during the process, this hope had been for some time frustrated 
by the crusade proclaimed against her libciiies by the confederated 
Princes of Europe. The conference at Pilnilz and the Manifesto of 
the Duke of Brunswick had taught the French people what they 
were to expect , if conquered , and had given to that inundation of 
energy, under which the Republic herself was sinking, a vent and 
direction outwards that transferred all the ruin to her enemies. In 
the wild career of aggression and lawlessness , of conquest w ithout 
and anarchy within , which naturally followed such an outbreak 
of a whole maddened people , il would have been difficult for Eng- 
land, by any management whatever, to keep herself uninvolved 
in the general combustion, even had her own population been 
much less heartily disposed than they were then , and ever have 
been , to strike in with (he great discords of the world. 

That Mr. Pitt himself was slow and reluctant to yield to the ne- 
cessity of hostile measures against France , appears from the whole 
course of his financial policy, down to the very close of the session 
of 1792. The confidence , indeed , with which he looked forward 
to a long continuance of peace , in the midst of events that were 
audibly the first mullerings of the earthquake , seemed but little 
indicative of that philosophic sagacity, which enables a statesman 
to see tiic rudiments of the Future in the Present '. " It is not un- 
reasonable ," said he on the 21st of February, 1792, " to expect 
that the peace which we now enjoy should continue at least fifteen 
years , since at no period of the British history, whether we consi- 
der the internal situation of this kingdom or its relation to foreign 
powers , has the prospect of war been farther removed than at 
present." 

In pursuance of this feeling of security, he, in the course of the 
session of 1791-2 , repealed taxes to the amount of 200,0007. a-year 
made considerable reductions in the naval and military establish- 
ments, and allowed the Hessian Subsidy to expire, without any 
movement towards its renewal. He likewise showed his perfect 
confidence in the tranquillity of the country, by breaking off a 
negotiation into which he had entered with the holders of the four 
per cents. , for the reduction of their stock to three per cent. , 

1 From the following words in his Speech on the communication from France 
in 1800, he appears, himself, to have been aware of his want of foresight at the 
commencement of the war : 

" Besides this, the redaction of oar Peace Establishment in the year 1791, and 
continaed to the subsequent year, is a fact, from which the inference is indispu- 
table; a fact, which , I am afraid, shows not only that we were not waiting for the 
occasion of war, but that, in our partiality for a pacific system , we had indulged 
ourselves in a fond and credulous security, which wisdom and discretion would not 
have dictated." 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 351 

saying, in answer to their demand of a larger bonus than he thought 
proper to give, " Then we will put off the reduction of this stock 
till next year/' The truth is, Mr. Pitt was proud of his financial 
system ; the abolition of taxes and the Reduction of the National 
Debt were the two great results to which he looked as a proof oJ' 
its perfection ; and while a war, he knew, would produce the very 
reverse of the one , it would leave little more than the name and 
semblance of the other. 

The alarm for the safety of their establishments, which at Ibis 
time pervaded the great mass of the people of England , carried the 
proof of its own needlessness in the wide extent to which it spread,' 
and the very small minority that was thereby left to be the object of 
apprehension, ^hat in this minority, (which was , with few excep- 
tions , confined to the lower classes , the elements of sedition and ' 
insurrection were actively at work , cannot be denied. There was 
not a corner of Europe where the same ingredients were not 
brought into ferment ; for the French Revolution had not only the 
violence, but the pervading influence of the Simoom, 'and while 
it destroyed where it immediately passed, made itself felt every 
where. But surrounded and watched as were the few disaffected 
in England, by all the rank, property and power of the country, 
animated at that moment by a more than usual portion of 
loyalty , the dangers from sedition , as yet , were by no means 
either so deep or extensive , as that a strict and vigilant exercise of 
the laws already in being would not have been abundantly adequate 
to all the purposes of their supp ression. 

The admiration , inteed , with which the first dawn of the Revo- 
lution was hailed had considerably abated. The excesses into which 
the new Republic broke loose had alienated the worship of most of 
its higher class of votaries, and in some, as in Mr. Windham , had 
converted enthusiastic admiration into horror ,- so that , though 
a strong sympathy with the general cause of the Revolution was 
still felt among the few Whigs that remained , the profession of its 
wild, republican theories was chiefly confined to two classes of 
persons , who coincide more frequently than they themselves ima- 
gine,. the speculative and the ignorant. 

The* Minister, however, gave way to a panic which, there is 
every reason to believe , he did not himself participate , and in 
uoiim out of the precincts of the Constitution for new and arbitrary 
powers , established a series of fatal precedents , of which alarmed 
Authority will be always but too ready to avail itself. By these 
stretches of power he produced what was far more dangerous than 
all the raving of club politicians that vehement reaction of feeling 
on the part of Mr. Fox and his followers, which increased with the 



354 MEMOIRS 

increasing rigour of Ihe government, and sometimes led them to 
the brink of such modes and principles of opposition , as aggressions 
so wanton upon liberty alone could have either provoked or jus- 
tified. 

The great promoters of the alarm were Mr. Burke , and those 
other Whig Seceders , who had for some time taken part with the 
adminislralion against their former friends , and, as is usual with 
such proselytes, outran those whom they joined, on every point 
upon which they before most differed from them. To justify their 
defection, the dangers upon which they grounded it, were exag- 
gerated , and the eagerness with which they called for restric- 
tions upon the liberty of the subject was but loo worthy of desert- 
ers not only from their post but from their principled One striking 
difference between these new pupils of Toryism and their master was 
with respect to the ultimate object of the war, Mr. Pitt being of 
opinion that security against the power of France, without any inter- 
ference whatever with her internal affairs , was the sole aim to which 
hostilities should be directed 5 while nothing less than the restoration 
of the Bourbons to the power which they possessed before the as- 
sembling of the Etats Generaux could satisfy Mr. Burke and his 
fellow converts to the cause of Thrones and Hierarchies. The effect 
of this diversity of objects upon the conduct of the war particularly 
after Mr. Pitt had added to " Security for the future," the suspi- 
cious supplement of " Indemnity for the past " was no less fatal 
to the success of operations abroad than to the unity of councils at 
home. So separate , indeed, were the views of the two parlies con- 
sidered , that the unfortunate expedition , in aid of the Vendean 
insurgents in 1795 , was known to be peculiarly the measure of the 
Burke part of the cabinet , and to have been undertaken on the sole 
responsibility of their ministerial organ , Mr. Windham. 

It must be owned, too, that the object of the Alarmists in the 
war however grossly inconsistent with their former principles, had 
the merit of being far more definite than that of Mr. Pitt ; and , 
had it been singly and consistently pursued from the first, with all 
the vigour and concentration of means so strenuously recommended 
by Mr. Burke , might have justified its quixotism in the end by a 
more speedy and less ruinous success. As it was, however, the 
divisions , jealousies and alarms which Mr. Pitt's views towards a 
future dismemberment of France excited not only among the Con- 
tinental powers , but among the French themselves , completely 
defeated every hope and plan for either concert without, or co- 
operation within. At the same time , the distraction of the efforts 
of England from the heart of French power to its remote extremi- 
ties, in what Mr. Windham called "a war upon sugar-islands," 



OF R. B. SHERIDAN. 53 

was a waste of means as unslalesman-likc as it was calamitous , and 
fully entitled Mr. Pitt to the satire on his policy conveyed in the 
remark of a certain distinguished lady, who said to him , upon 
hearing of some new acquisition in the West Indies , " I protest , 
Mr. Pitt, if you go on thus, you will sqon be master of every is- 
land in the world , except just those two little ones , England and 
Ireland '.' n 

That such was the light in which Mr. Sheridan himself viewed 
the mode of carrying on the war recommended by the Alarmists , 
in comparison with that which Mr. Pitt in general adopted , appears 
from the following passage in his speech upon Spanish affairs in the 
year 1808 : - 

" There was hardly a person, except his Right Honourable Friend 
near him ("Mr. Windham) and Mr. Burke, who since the Revolution 
of France had formed adequate notions of the necessary steps to he 
taken. The various governments which this country -had seen during 
that period were always employed in filching for a silgar-island , or some 
other object of comparatively trifling moment, while the main and prin- 
cipal purpose was lost and forgotten." 

Whatever were the failures of Mr. Pitt abroad , at home his ascen- 
dancy w&s fixed and indisputable , and , among all the triumphs of 
power which he enjoyed during his career, the tribute now paid to 
him by the Whig Aristocracy, in taking shelter under his ministry 
from the dangers of Revolution , could not have been the least grati- 
fying to his haughty spirit. The India Bill had ranged on his side the 
King and the People , and the Revolution now brought to his banner 
the flower of the Nobility of both parties. His own estimate of rank 
may be fairly collected both from the indifference which he showed 
to its honours himself, and from the depreciating profusion with 
which he lavished piem upon others. It may be doubted whether 
his respect for Aristocracy was much increased, by the Readiness 
which he now saw in some of his high-born opponents to volunteer 
for safety into his already powerful ranks , without even pausing to 
Iry the experiment , whether safely might not have been rcconcileablc 
with principle in their own. It is certain that , without the accession 
of so much weight and influence , he never could have ventured 
upon the violations of the Constitution that followed nor would the 
Opposition , accordingly, have Beeji driven by these excesses of 
power into that reactive violence which was the natural consequence 
of an effort to resist them. The prudent apprehensions , therefore , 
of these Noble Whigs would have been much more usefully as well 
as honourably employed , in mingling with , and moderating the 

' Mr. Sheridan quoted this anecdote in one of his speeches in 1794. 

23 



354 MEMOIRS 

proceedings of the friends of Liberty, than in ministering fresh fuel 
to the zeal and vindictiveness of her enemies '. 

It may be added , too , that in allowing themselves to be per- 
suaded by Burke , that the extinction of the anliont Noblesse of 
France portended necessarily any danger to the English Aristocracy, 
these Noble persons did injustice to the strength of their own order, 
and to the characteristics by which it is proudly distinguished from 
every other race of Nobility in Europe. Placed , as a sort of break- 
water between the People and the Throne, in a stale of double res- 
ponsibility to liberty on one side , and authority on the other, the 
Aristocracy of England hold a station which is dignified by its own 
great duties and of which the titles transmitted by their ancestors form 
the least important ornament. Unlike the Nobility of other countries, 
where the rank and privileges of the father are multiplied through his 
offspring , and equally elevate them all above the level of the com- 
munity, the very highest English Nobleman must consent to be the 
father but of commoners. Thus , connected with the class bolow him 
by private as well as public sympathies , he gives his children to the 
People as hostages for the sincerity of his zeal in their cause while 
on the other hand , the People , in return for these pledges of the 
Aristocracy, sends a portion of its own elements aloft into that higher 
region , to mingle with its glories and assert their claim to share in 
its power. By this mutual transfusion an equilibrium is preserved , 
like that which similar processes maintain in the natural world ; and 
while a healthy, popular feeling circulates through the Aristocracy, 
a sense of their own station in the scale elevates the People. 

To tremble for the safety of a Nobility so constituted, without 
much stronger grounds for alarm than appear to have existed in 
179,3, was an injustice not only to that class itself, but the whole 
nation. The world has never yet afforded an example, where this 
artificial distinction between mankind has been turned to such bcne- 
licial account ; and as no monarchy can exist without such an order, 
so , in any other shape than this , such an order is a burden and a 

1 The case against these Noble Seceders is thus spiritedly stated by Lord 
Moira: 

'' I cannot ever sit in a cabinet with the Duke of Portland. He appears to me 
to have done more injury to the Constitution, and to the estimation of the 
higher ranks in this country, than any man on the political sfage. F>y his union 
with Mr. Pitt , he has given it to be understood by the people, that either all ihe 
constitutional charges which he ;ind his friends for so many years urged 'against 
Mr. Pitt were groundless, or that, being solid, there was no difficulty in waiving 
them when a convenient partition of powers and emoluments was proposed. In 
either case the people must infer that the constilntional principle which can be 
so played with is unimportant, and that parliamentary professions are no security." 
Letter from the Earl of Moira to Colonel M'Mahon, in 17!)7. Parliamentary 
History. '..-+" 



OF fi. B. SHERIDAN. 3S5 

nuisance. In England, so happy a conformation of her Aristocracy 
is one of those fortuitous results which time and circumstances have 
brought out in the long tried experiment of her Constitution ; and, 
while there is no chance of its being ever again attained in the old 
World, there is but little probability of its being attempted in the Naw, 
where the youthful nations now springing into life , will , if they 
;irc wise , make the most of the free career before them , and unen- 
cumbered with the costly trappings of feudalism , adopt , like their 
northern neighbours , that form of government , whose simplicity 
and cheapness are the best guarantees for its efficacy and purity. 

In judging of the policy of Mr. Pitt, during the Revolutionary 
war, his partizans, we know, laud it as having been the means 
of salvation to England , while his opponents assert that it was only 
prevented by chance from being her ruin and though the event' 
gives an appearance of triumph to the former opinion , it by no 
means removes or even weakens the grounds of the latter. During 
the first nine years of his administration , Mr. Pitt was , in eveYy 
respect , an able and most useful minister, and , " while the sea was 
calm , showed mastership in floating." But the great events that hap- 
pened afterwards took him by surprise. When he came to look 
abroad from his cabinet into the storm that was brewing through 
Europe , the clear and enlarged view of the higher order of states- 
man was wanting. Instead of elevating himself above the influence 
of the agitation and alarm that prevailed , he gave way to it with the 
crowd of ordinary minds , and even look counsel from the panic of 
others. The consequence was a series of measures , violent at home 
and inefficient abroad far short of the mark where vigour was 
wanting , and beyond it, as often , where vigour was mischievous. 

When we are told to regard his policy as the salvation of the coun- 
try when (to use. a figure of Mr. Dundas) a claim of salvage is 
made for him , it may be allowe