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with no less an antagonist than Dr. Johnson. That eminent man had just published his pamphlet on the American question, entitled "Taxation no Tyranny;"—a work whose pompous sarcasms on the Congress of Philadelphia, 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 fragments, 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," &c. &c.
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 the nature of the chief incentive from which it sprung, was so tempting, perhaps, as to over-rule any feelings of delicacy, that might otherwise have suggested the illiberality of such an attack. The following are a few of the stray hints for this part of his subject:
"It is hard when a learned man thinks himself obliged to commence 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 * * * *
* On another scrap of paper I find "the miserable quit-rent of an annual pamphlet." It was his custom in composition (as will be
"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 generally be ungrateful-the patron is most possibly disgraced or in opposition-if he (the author) follows the dictates of gratitude, ust 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 against his benefactor. When it happens that there is great experience and political knowledge, this is more excusable; but it is truly unfortunate 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 state or other, we may be said to have been all born consenting to some system of government." On this Sheridan remarks:-"This is the most slavish doctrine that ever was inculcated. If by our birth we gave a tacit bond for our acquiescence in that form of government under which we were born, there never would have been an alteration of the first modes of government-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 to claim these powers.
He expresses strong indignation at the "arrogance," 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
seen by many other instances) thus to try the same thought in a variety of forms and combinations, in order to see in which it would yield the greatest produce of wit.
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.
"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 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 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 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
* He means to compare an election of this sort to the casting of lots between the Grecian chiefs in the 7th book of the Iliad.
The name of a short pamphlet, published by Dr. Johnson, on the dissolution of parliament in 1774.
The Duenna.-Purchase of Drury Lane Theatre.-The Trip to Scarborough.--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 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 at being enabled to give, from letters written at the time by Mr. Sheridan himself to Mr. Linley, some details relating to their joint adaption 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 ankle 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 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 dialogue, which is to be rehearsed next Wednesday at the theatre. They will exert themselves to the utmost in the scenery, &c., 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 any weight, to write himself. Is it impossible to contrive this? couldn't 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 this application, that he still flatters himself we may have a rehearsal of the music in Orchard-Street tomorrow sen'night. 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- ;t 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,
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 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 over both, which is so fatal to poetry and song, in their perilous alliance with an or