« ПредишнаНапред »
306 MEMOIRS OF R. B. SHERIDAN. Fox himself, would give the most energetic support to such an Administration as was in contemplation ; but that their acceptance of office would appear an acquiescence under the injustice of the interdict supposed to be fixed upon Mr. Fox. I did not and never can admit the fairness of that argument. But I gained nothing upon Mr. Sheridan, to whose uprightness in that respect I can therefore bear the most decisive testimony. Indeed I am ashamed of offering testimony, where suspicion ought not to have been conceived."
The theatrical season of 1798 introduced to the public the German drama of “ The Stranger," translated by Mr. Thompson, and (as we are told by this gentleman in his preface) altered and inproved by Sheridan. There is reason, however, to believe that the contributions of the latter to the dialogue were much more considerable than he was perhaps willing to let the translator acknowledge. My friend Mr. Rogers has heard him, on two different occasions, declare that he had written every word of the Stranger from beginning to end; and, as his vanity could not be much interested in such a claim, it is possible that there was at least some virtual foundation for it.
The song introduced in this play, “ I have a silent sorrow here,” was avowedly written by Sheridan, as the music of it was by the Duchess of Devonshire-two such names, so brilliant in their respective spheres, as the Muses of Song and Verse have seldom had the luck to bring together. The originality of these lines has been disputed ; and that expedient of borrowing, which their author ought to have been independent of in every way, is supposed to have been resorted to by his indolence on this occasion. Some verses by Tickell are mentioned as having supplied one of the best stanzas; but I am inclined to think, from the following circumstances, that this theft of Sheridan was of that venial and domestic kind-from himself. A writer; who brings forward the accusation in the Gentleman's Magazine (vol. lxxi. p. 904.), thus states his grounds :
“ In a song which I purchased at Bland's music-shop in Holborn in the year 1794, intitled, “ Think not, my love,' and professing to be set to music by Thomas Wright, (I conjecture, Organist of Newcastle-uponTyne, and composer of the pretty Opera called Rusticity, ) are the following words: — "6. This treasured grief, this loved despair,
My lot for ever be;
I bear Be never known to thee !" “Now, without insisting that the opening thought in Mr. Sheridan's famous song has been borrowed from that of “ Think not, my love," the second verse is manifestly such a theft of the lines I have quoted, as entirely overturns Mr. Sheridan's claim to originality in the matter; unless . Think not, my love,' has been written by him, and he can be proved to have only stolen from
The song to which the writer alludes, " Think not, my love," was given to me, as a genuine production of Mr. Sheridan, by a gentleman nearly connected with his family; and I have little doubt of its being one of those early love-strains which, in his tempo de' dolci sospiri, he addressed to Miss Linley. As, therefore, it was but "a feather of his own” that the eagle made free with, he may be forgiven. The following is the whole of the song :“ Think not, my love, when secret grief
Preys on my saddened heart,
Or would from sorrow part.
true fondness prove,
That flows from hapless love !
" Alas ! tho' doom'd to hope in vain
The joys that love requite,
With sad, but dear delight.
My lot for ever be ;
Among the political events of this
year bellion of Ireland holds a memorable and fearful pre-eminence. The only redeeming stipulation which the Duke of Portland and his brother
Alarmists had annexed to their ill-judged Coalition with Mr. Pilt was, that a system of conciliation and justice should, at last, be adopted towards Ireland. Had they but carried thus inuch wisdom into the ministerial ranks with them, their defection might have been pardoned for the good it achieved, and, in one respect, at least, would have resembled the policy of those Missionaries, who join in the ceremonies of the Heathen for the purpose of winning him over to the truth. On the contrary, however, the usual consequence of such coalitions with Power ensued, --the good was absorbed in the evil principle, and, by the false hope which it created, but increased the mischief. Lord Fitzwilliam was not only deceived himself, but, still worse to a noble and benevolent nature like his, was inade the instrument of deception and mockery to millions. His recall, in 1795, assisted by the measures of his successor, drove Ireland into the rebellion which raged during the present year, and of which the causes have been so little removed from that hour to this, that if the people have become too wise to look back to it as an example, it is assuredly not because their rulers have much profited by it as a lesson. I am aware that, on the subject of Ireland and
I can ill trust myself with the task of expressing what I feel, or preserve that moderate, historical tone, which it has been my wish to