Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub
[ocr errors]

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 to claim these powers.”

He expresses strong indignation at the "arro- . gance,” with which such a man as Montesquieu is described as “the fanciful Montesquieu,” 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 represented even in England, he has the following desultory memorandums:—“In fact, every man in England is represented—every man can influence people, so as to get a vote, and even if in an election votes are divided, each candidate is supposed equally worthy-as in lots—fight Ajax or Agamemnon.*_ This an American cannot do in any way whatever.

6. The votes in England are perpelually shifting : were it an object, few could be excluded. - Wherever there is any one ambitious of assisting the empire, hc need not put himself to much inconvenience. — If the Doctor indulged his studies in Cricklade or Old Sarum, he might vole:—the dressing meat, the simplest proof

* He means to compare an election of this sort to the casting of lots between the Grecian chiess in the 7th book of the Iliad.

133

MEMOIRS OF R. B. SHERIDAN. of existence, begets a title. -His pamphlet 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 opinion. - At the eve of an election, his Patriot* was meant to influence more than the single voice of a rustic.-Even the mob, in shouting, give votes 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 strise 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 society and conversation of the eloquent moralist, who, in the following year, proposed him as a member of the Literary Club, and always spoke of his character and genius with praise. Nor was Sheridan wanting on his part with corresponding tributes ; for, in a prologue which he wrote about this time to the play of Sir Thomas Overbury, he thus alludes to Johnson's Life of its unfortunate

author :

“ So pleads the tale, that gives to future times,

The son's misfortunes , and the parent's crimes ;
There shall his fame, if own'd to-night, survive,
Fix'd by the hand that bids our language live."

* The name of a short pamphlet, published by Dr. Johnson, on the dissolution of parliament in 1774.

CHAPTER IV.

THE DUENNA.- PURCHASE OF DRURY LANE THE

ATRE, - THE TRIP TO SCARBOROUGH.-POETICAL

CORRESPONDENCE WITH MRS. SIIERIDAN.

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 with the progress of a work, which is destined to be long the delight of English ears, must naturally 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 :

66 DEAR SIR,

“ We received your songs to-day, with which we are exceedingly pleased. I shall profit by your 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 the ancle on any 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 I with some stanzas, but an interview with Harris 10-day has put mc 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 sanguise of its success as to plot and dialogue, 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 niusic. 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 any weight, to write himself. Is it impossible to contrive this? could'nt you leave Tom* to superintend the concert for a 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, I 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 performers at least in the right way. Harris has set his heart so much on my succeeding in

* Mrs. Sheridan's cldest brother.

6

this application, that he still flatters himself we may have a rehearsal of the music in Orchard Street tomorrow 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,

66 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.

66 ELIZA Ann SHERIDAN."

[ocr errors]

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 by the poet to the musician, we may perceive that he somewhat apprehended, even in the tasteful hands of Mr. Linley, that predominance of harmony over melody, and of noise

* Garrick.

« ПредишнаНапред »