Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

their joint wits; they had also but too much to do with subjects of a far different nature-with debts, bonds, judgments, writs, and all those other humiliating matters of fact, that 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, by which Tickell, to avert an execution from the Theatre, bound himself as security for Sheridan in the sum of 250l.,—the arrears of an annuity charged upon Sheridan's moiety of the property.

. So soon did those pecuniary difficulties, by which his peace

and character were afterwards undermined, begin their operations.

Yet even into transactions of this nature, little

as Moses says,” etc.) he delivered the sermon in his most impressive style, much to the delight of his own party, and to the satisfaction, as he unsuspectingly flattered himself, of all the rest of the congregation, among whom was Mr. Sheridan's wealthy neighbour, 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 with marked coldness; and, on his expressing some innocent wonder at the circumstance, was at length informed, to his dismay, by General Burgoyne, that the sermon which Sheridan had written for him was, throughout, a personal attack upon Mr. C--, who had at that time rendered himself very unpopular in the neighbourhood by some harsh conduct to the poor, and to whom every one in the church, except the unconscious preacher, applied almost every sentence of the sermon.

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 that he has agreed to continue the day of trial as we call it (that is, in vulgar, unlearned language, to put it off), from Tuesday till Saturday. He demands, as preliminaries, that Wright's bill of 5ool. should be given up to him, as a prosecution had been commenced against him, which, however, he has stopped by an injunction from the Court of Chancery. This, if the transaction be as he 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 he will send answers (for the point of a personal interview has not been yet carried), and that the whole amount at last, whatever it may be, should have your clear and satisfied approbation : 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 decency 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 2000l. put in a shape of praticable use, and payment immediately ;-for the rest I will accept security.' This was strongly objected to by 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

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66 Yours ever,

has opened an access to a favourable adjustment, and time and trist may do much. I am to see him again on Monday morning at two, so pray don't

go

out of town tomorrow 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 infirmities green upon your head ; so pray attend to it. R. B. Sheridan, Esq.

66 Lower Grosvenor-Street. ". J. RICHARDSON." This letter was written in the year i 1792,

when Sheridan's involvements had begun to thicken around him more rapidly. There is another letter, about the same date, 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 30.

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 2001. I can't suffer my family to be turned into the streets if I 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

66

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 importance 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 irk some 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, I shall conclude that you leave me in this dire scrape to shift for myself. "R, B. Sheridan, Esq.,

6. Yours ever, Isleworth, Middlesex. " J. RICHARDSON.”

}

CHAPTER XIV.

FRENCH REVOLUTION.-MR. BURKE.-HIS BREACH

WITH MR. SHERIDAN.

DISSOLUTION OF PAR

.

LIAMENT.--MR. BURKE AND MR. FOX-RUSSIAN
ARMAMENT.-ROYAL SCOTCH BOROUGHS.

We have now to consider the conduct and opinions of Mr. Sheridan, 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 state 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 naturally 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, too, with a disinterested reverence for ancient institutions, trembled to see them thus approached by rash hands, whose talents for ruin

« ПредишнаНапред »