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But oh, the miser's real pleasure
Towards the winter they went to lodge for a short time with Storace, the intimate friend of Mr. Linley, and in the following year attained that first step of independence, a house to themselves; - Mr. Linley having kindly supplied the furniture of their new residence, which was in Orchard-Street, Portman-Square. During the summer of 1774, they passed some time at Mr. Canning's and Lord Coventry's; but, so little did these visits interfere with the literary industry of Sheridan, that, as appears from the following letter written to Mr. Linley in November, he had not only at that time finished his play of the Rivals, but was on the point of sending a book to the press:"
Nov. 17th, 1774.
"If I were to attempt to make as many apologies as my long omission in writing to you requires, I should have no room for any other subject. One excuse only I shall bring forward,
CHAP. which is, that I have been exceedingly employed, and I believe very profitably. However, before I explain how, I must ease my mind on a subject, that much more nearly concerns me than any point of business or profit. I must premise to you that Betsey is now very well, before I tell you abruptly that she has encountered another disappointment and consequent indisposition. However, she is now get
ting entirely over it, and she shall never take any journey of the kind again. I inform you of this now, that you may not be alarmed by any accounts from some other quarter, which might lead you to fear she was going to have such an illness as last year, of which I assure you, upon my honour, there is not the least apprehension. If I did not write now, Betsey would write herself, and in a day she will make you quite easy on this head.
"I have been very seriously at work on a book, which I am just now sending to the press, and which I think will do me some credit, if it leads to nothing else. However, the profitable affair is of another nature. There will be a Comedy of mine in rehearsal at Covent-Garden within a few days. I did not set to work on it till within a few days of my setting out for Crome, so you may think I have not, for these last six weeks, been very idle. I have done it at Mr.
Harris's (the manager's) own request; it is now CHAP complete in his hands, and preparing for the stage. He, and some of his friends also who have heard it, assure me in the most flattering terms that there is not a doubt of its success. It will be very well played, and Harris tells me that the least shilling I shall get (if it succeeds) will be six hundred pounds. I shall make no secret of it towards the time of representation, that it may not lose any support my friends can give it. I had not written a line of it two months ago, except a scene or two, which I believe you have seen in an odd act of a little farce. "Mr. Stanley was with me a day or two ago on the subject of the oratorios. I find Mr. Smith has declined, and is retiring to Bath. Mr. Stanley informed me that on his applying to the King for the continuance of his favour, he was desired by His Majesty to make me an offer of Mr. Smith's situation and partnership in them, and that he should continue his protection, &c. -I declined the matter very civilly and very peremptorily. I should imagine that Mr. Stanley would apply to you; I started the subject to him, and said you had twenty Mrs. Sheridans more. However, he said very little:- if he does, and you wish to make an alteration in your system at once, I should think you may stand in Smith's place. I would not listen to him on
CHAP. any other terms, and I should think the King might be made to signify his pleasure for such an arrangement. On this you will reflect, and if any way strikes you that I can move in it, I need not add how happy I shall be in its suc
"I hope you will let me have the pleasure to hear from you soon, as I shall think any delay unfair, — unless you can plead that you are
writing an opera, and a folio on music beside. Accept Betsey's love and duty.
"Your sincere and affectionate
"R. B. SHERIDAN."
What the book here alluded to was, I cannot with any accuracy ascertain. Besides a few sketches of plays and poems, of which I shall give some account in a subsequent Chapter, there exist among his papers several fragments of Essays and Letters, all of which including the unfinished plays and poemsmust have been written by him in the interval between 1769, when he left Harrow, and the present year; though at what precise dates during that period there are no means of judging.
Among these are a few political Letters, evidently designed for the newspapers; some of them but half copied out, and probably never
One of this description, which must have CHAP. been written immediately on his leaving school, is a piece of irony against the Duke of Grafton, giving reasons why that nobleman should not lose his head, and, under the semblance of a defence, exaggerating all the popular charges against him.
The first argument (he says) of the Duke's adversaries" is founded on the regard which ought to be paid to justice, and on the good effects which, they affirm, such an example would have, in suppressing the ambition of any future minister. But, if I can prove that his
might be made a much greater example of by being suffered to live, I think I may without vanity affirm that their whole argument will fall to the ground. By pursuing the methods which they propose, viz. chopping off his 's head,
I allow the impression would be stronger at first; but we should consider how soon that wears off. If, indeed, his 's crimes were of such a nature, as to entitle his head to a place on TempleBar, I should allow some weight to their argument. But, in the present case, we should reflect how apt mankind are to relent after they have inflicted punishment; - so that, perhaps, the same men who would have detested the noble lord, while alive and in prosperity, pointing him as a scare-crow to their children, might,