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with cordiality and interest; and, among the numerous instances of discriminating good nature, by which the private conduct of His Royal Highness the Duke of York is distinguished, there are none that do him more honour than bis prompt and efficient kindness to the interesting fainily that the son of Sheridan has left behind him.
Soon after the Declaration of War against France, when an immediate invasion was threatened by the enemy, the Heir Apparent, with the true spirit of an English Prince, came forward to make an offer of his personal service to the country. A correspondence upon the subject, it is well known, ensued, in the course of which His Royal Highness addressed letters to Mr. Addington, to the Duke of York, and the King. It has been sometimes stated that these letters were from the pen of Mr. Sheridan; but the first of the series was written by Sir Robert Wilson, and the remainder by Lord Hutchinson.
The death of Joseph Richardson, which took place this year, was felt as strongly by Sheridan as any thing can be felt by those who, in the whirl of worldly pursuits, revolve too rapidly round Self, to let any thing rest long upon their surface. With a fidelity to his old habits of unpunctuality, at which the shade of Richardson might have smiled, he arrived too late at Bagshot for the funeral of his friend, but succeeded in persuading the good-natured clergyman to perform the ceremony over again. Mr. John Taylor, a gentleman, whose love of good-fellowship and wit has made him the welcome associate of some of the brightest men of his day, was one of the assistants at this singular scene, and also joined in the party at the inn at Bedfont afterwards, where Sheridan, it is said, drained the “ Cup of Memory” to his friend, till he found oblivion at the bottom.
At the close of the session of 1803, that strange diversity of opinions, into which the two leading parties were decomposed by the resignation of Mr. Pitt, had given way to new varieties, both of cohesion and separation, quite as little to be expected from the natural affinities of the ingredients concerned in them. Mr. Pitt, upon perceiving, in those to whom he had delegated his power, an inclination to surround themselves with such strength from the adverse ranks as would enable them to contest his resumption of the trust, had gradually withdrawn the sanction which he at first afforded them, and taken his station by the side of the other two parties in opposition, without, however, encumbering himself, in his views upon office, with either. By a similar movement, though upon different principles, Mr. Fox and the Whigs, who had begun by supporting the Ministry against the strong War-party of which Lord Grenville and Mr. Windham were the leaders, now entered into close co-operation with this new Opposition, and seemed inclined to forget both recent and ancient differences in a combined assault upon the tottering Administration of Mr. Addington.
The only parties, perhaps, that acted with consistency through these transactions, were Mr. Sheridan and the few who followed him on one side, and Lord Grenville and his friends on the other. The support which the former had given to the Ministry,-- from a conviction that such was the true policy of his party,-he persevered in, notwithstanding the suspicions it drew down upon him, to the last; and, to the last, deprecated the connexion with the Grenvilles, as entangling his friends in the same sort of hollow partnership, out of which they had come bankrupts in character and confidence before.* In like manner, it must be owned, the Opposition, of which Lord Grenville was the head, held a course direct and undeviating from beginning to end. Unfettered by those reservations in favour of Addington, which so long embarrassed the movements of their former leader, they at once started in opposition to the Peace and the Ministry, and, with not only
* In a letter written this year by Mr. Thomas Sheridan tu his father, there is the following passage :
“I am glad you intend writing to Lord -; le is quite right about politics, -reprobates the idea most strongly of any union with the Grenvilles, etc., which, he says, he sees is Fox's leaning. “I agreed with your father perfectly on the subject, when I left him in town; but when I saw Charles
St. Ann's Hill, I perceived he was wrong and obstinate.'"
Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox, but the whole people of England, against them, persevered till they had ranged all these several parties on their side: nor was it altogether without reason that this party afterwards boasted that, if any abandonment of principle had occurred in the connexion between them and the Whigs, the surrender was assuredly not from their side.
Early in the year 1804, on the death of Lord Elliot, the office of Receiver of the Duchy of Cornwall, which had been held by that nobleman, was bestowed by the Prince of Wales upon Mr. Sheridan, “ as a trifling proof of that sincere friendship His Royal Highness had always professed and felt for him through a long series of years." His Royal Highness also added, in the same communication, the very cordial words, “ I wish to God it was better worth your acceptance."
The following letter from Sheridan to Mr. Addington, communicating the intelligence of this appointment, shows pretty plainly the terms on which he not only now stood, but was well inclined to continue, with that Minister :
“George-Street, Tuesday evening. 16 DEAR SIR, - Convinced as I am of the sincerity of your good will towards me, I do not regard it as an impertinent intrusion to inform
that the Prince has, in the most gracious manner, and wholly unsolicited, been pleased to
appoint me to the late Lord Elliot's situation in the Duchy of Cornwall. I feel a desire to communicate this to you myself, because I feel a confidence that
will be glad of it. It has been my pride and pleasure to have exerted my humble efforts to serve the Prince without ever accepting the slightest obligation from him; but, in the present case, and under the present circumstances, I think it would have been really false pride and apparently mischievous affectation to have declined this mark of His Royal Highness's confidence and favour. I will not disguise that, at this peculiar crisis, I am greatly gratified at this event. Had it been the result of a mean and subservient devotion to the Prince's every wish and object, I could neither have respected the gift, the giver, or myself ; but when I consider how recently it was my. misfortune to find myself compelled by sense of duty, stronger than my attachment to him, wholly to risk the situation I held in his confidence and favour, and that upon a subject * on which his feelings were so eager and irritable, I cannot but regard the increased attention, with which he has since honoured me, as a most gratifying demonstration that he has clearness of judgment and firmness of spirit to distinguish the real friends to his true glory and interests, from the mean and mercernary sycophants, who fear and abhor that such friends should be near him. It is satisfactory to me, also, that this appointment gives me the title and opportunity of seeing the Prince, on trying occasions, openly and in the face of day, and puts aside the mask of
* The offer made by the Prince of his personal services in 1803,- -on which occasion Sheridan coincided with the views of Mr. Addington somewhat more than was agreeable to His Royal Highness.