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Yours of the 3d instant did not reach me till yesterday, by reason of its missing us at Morden. As to the principal point it treats of, I had given my answer some days ago to Mr. Isaac of WorHe had inclosed a letter to Storace for my wife, in which he dwells much on the nature of the agreement you had made for her eight months ago, and adds, that as this is no new application, but a request that you (Mrs. S.) will fulfil a positive engagement, the breach of which would prove of fatal consequence to our Meeting, I hope Mr. Sheridan will think his honour in some degree concerned in fulfilling it.'-Mr. Storace, in order to enforce Mr. Isaac's argument, showed me his letter on the same subject to him, which begins with saying, We must have Mrs. Sheridan, somehow or other, if possible!'-the plain English of which is that, if her husband is not willing to let her perform, we will persuade him that he acts dishonourably in preventing her from fulfilling a positive engagement. This I conceive to be the very worst mode of application that could have been taken; as there really is not common sense in the idea that my honour can be concerned in my wife's fulfilling an engagement, which it is impossible she should ever have made.Nor (as I wrote to Mr. Isaac) can you, who gave the promise, whatever it was, be in the least charged with the breach of it, as
your daughter's marriage was an event which CHAP. must always have been looked to by them as quite as natural a period to your right over her as her death. And, in my opinion, it would have been just as reasonable to have applied to you to fulfil your engagement in the latter case as in the former. As to the imprudence of declining this engagement, I do not think, even were we to suppose that my wife should ever on any occasion appear again in public, there would be the least at present. For instance, I have had a gentleman with me from Oxford (where they do not claim the least right as from an engagement), who has endeavoured to place the idea of my complimenting the University with Betsey's performance in the strongest light of advantage to me. This he said, on my declining to let her perform on any agreement. He likewise informed me, that he had just left Lord North (the Chancellor), who, he assured me, would look upon it as the highest compliment, and had expressed himself so to him. Now, should it be a point of inclination or convenience to me to break my resolution with regard to Betsey's performing, there surely would be more sense in obliging Lord North (and probably from his own application) and the University, than Lord Coventry and Mr. Isaac. For, were she to sing at Worcester, there would not be the least com
CHAP. pliment in her performing at Oxford. Indeed, they would have a right to claim it--particularly, as that is the mode of application they have chosen from Worcester. I have mentioned the Oxford matter merely as an argument, that I can have no kind of inducement to accept of the proposal from Worcester. And, as I have written fully on the subject to Mr. Isaac, I think there will be no occasion for you to give any further reasons to Lord Coventry -- only that I am sorry I cannot accept of his proposal, civilities, &c. &c., and refer him for my motives to Mr. Isaac, as what I have said to you on the subject I mean for you only, and, if more remains to be argued on the subject in general, we must defer it till we meet, which you have given us reason to hope will not be long first.
"As this is a letter of business chiefly, I shall say little of our situation and arrangement of affairs, but that I think we are as happy as those who wish us best could desire. There is but one thing that has the least weight upon me, though it is one I was prepared for. But time, while it strengthens the other blessings we possess, will, I hope, add that to the number. You will know that I speak with regard to my father. Betsey informs me you have written to him again - have you heard from him?
"I should hope to hear from you very soon, and I assure you, you shall now find me a very exact correspondent; though I hope you will not give me leave to confirm my character in that respect before we meet.
"As there is with this a letter for Polly and you, I shall only charge you with mine and Betsey's best love to her, mother, and Tom, &c. &c. and believe me your sincere friend, and affectionate son,
"R. B. SHERIDAN."
At East Burnham, from whence this letter is dated, they were now living in a small cottage, to which they had retired immediately on their marriage, and to which they often looked back with a sigh in after times, when they were more prosperous, but less happy. It was during a very short absence from this cottage, that the following lines were written by him :
"Teach me, kind Hymen, teach - for thou
Teach me some innocent employ,
That shall the hateful thought destroy,
It was some thoughtless lover's rhyme,
It will be perceived that the eight following lines are the foundation of the song "What bard, oh Time," in the Duenna.
Who, writing in his Chloe's view,
But once the pangs of absence prov'd,
The glow of youth and manhood's bloom,
For all the joy, or all the sorrow,
That gilds the day or threats the morrow,
But when sweet love did aid thy flight,
"True, she is mine, and, since she's mine, At trifles I should not repine;