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hend of hard-fought contests-spirited resolves-ballads, mobs, cockades, and Lord North burnt in effigy. We have had a bloodless campaign, but not from backwardness in our troops, but for the most creditable reason that can be-want of resolution in the enemy to encounter us. When I got down here early this morning, expecting to find a room prepared, a chair set for the president, and nothing wanting but that the orators should begin, I was surprised to learn that no advertisement had appeared on the other part; but that Lord T. having dined at a meeting, where the proposal was received very coldly, had taken fright, and for the time at least had dropped the proposal. It had appeared, therefore, to those whom I applied to (and I think very rightly) that till an advertisement was inserted by them, or was known for certain to be intended, it would not be proper for any thing to be done by us. In this state, therefore, it rests. The advertisement which we agreed upon is left at the printer's, ready to be inserted upon the appearance of one from them. We lie upon our arms, and shall begin to act upon any motion of the enemy. I am very sorry that things have taken this turn, as I came down in full confidence of being able to accomplish something distinguished. I had drawn up, as I came along, a tolerably good paper, to be distributed to-morrow in the streets, and settled pretty well in my head the terms of a protest-besides some pretty smart pieces of oratory, delivered upon Newmarket Heath. I never felt so much disposition to exert myself before-I hope from my never having before so fair a prospect of doing it with success. When the coach comes in, I hope I shall receive a packet from you, which shall not be lost, though it may not be used immediately.
"I must leave off writing, for I have got some other letters to send by to-night's post. Writing in this ink is like speaking with respect to the utter annihilation of what is past;-by the time it gets to you, perhaps, it may have become legible, but I have no chance of reading over my letter myself.
"I shall not suffer this occasion to pass over entirely with out benefit.
"Believe me yours most truly,
"Tell Mrs. Sheridan that I hope she will have a closet ready, where I may remain till the heat of the pursuit is over, My friends in France have promised to have a vessel ready upon the coast.
"Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Esq.,
Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields."
The first political service rendered by Mr. Sheridan to the party with whom he now closely connected himself, was the active share which he took in a periodical paper called The Englishman, set up by the Whigs for the purpose of seconding, out of parliament, the crimination and invective of which they kept up such a brisk fire within. The intention, as announced by Sheridan in the first Number,* was, like Swift in the Drapier's Letters, to accommodate the style of the publication to the comprehension of persons in "that class of the community, who are commonly called the honest and industrious." But this plan,-which not even Swift, independent as was his humour of the artifices of style, could adhere to, was soon abandoned, and there is in most of Sheridan's own papers a finesse and ingenuity of allusion, which only the most cultivated part of his readers could fully enjoy. For instance, in exposing the inconsistency of Lord North, who had lately consented in a Committee of the whole House, to a motion which he had violently opposed in the House itself, thus "making (says Sheridan) that respectable assembly disobey its own orders, and the members reject with contempt, under the form of a Chairman, the resolu tions they had imposed on themselves under the authority of a Speaker;"-he proceeds in a strain of refined raillery, as little suited to the "honest and industrious" class of the community, as Swift's references to Locke, Molyneux, and
• Published 13th of March, 1779.
Sydney, were to the readers for whom he also professed to write :
"The burlesque of any plan, I know, is rather a recommendation of it to Your Lordship; and the ridicule you might throw on this assembly, by continuing to support this Athanasian distinction of powers in the unity of an apparently corporate body, might in the end compensate to you for the discredit you have incurred in the attempt.
"A deliberative body of so uncommon a form, would probably be deemed a kind of STATE MONSTER by the ignorant and the vulgar. This might at first increase their awe for it, and so far counteract Your Lordship's intentions. They would probably approach it with as much reverence as Stephano does the monster in the Tempest:- What, one body and two voices-a most delicate monster!' However, they would soon grow familiarized to it, and probably hold it in as little respect as they were wished to do. They would find it on many occasions a very shallow monster,' and particularly a most poor credulous monster,'— while Your Lordship, as keeper, would enjoy every advantage and profit that could be made of it. You would have the benefit of the two voices, which would be the MONSTER's great excellencies, and would be peculiarly serviceable to Your Lordship. With the forward voice' you would aptly promulgate those vigorous schemes and productive resources, in which Your Lordship's fancy is so pregnant; while the backward voice' might be kept solely for recantation. The MONSTER, to maintain its character, must appear no novice in the science of flattery, or in the talents of servility, and while it could never scruple to bear any burdens Your Lordship should please to lay on it, you would always, on the approach of a storm, find a shelter under its gabardine."
The most celebrated of these papers was the attack upon Lord George Germaine, written also by Mr. Sheridan,-a composition which, for unaffected strength of style and earnestness of feeling, may claim a high rank among the models of political vituperation. To every generation its own contemporary press seems always more licentious than any that had preceded it; but it may be questioned, whether the boldness. of modern libel has ever gone beyond the direct and undisguised personality, with which one cabinet minister was called a liar and another a coward, in this and other writings of the popular party at that period. The following is the concluding paragraph of this paper against Lord George Germaine, which is in the form of a Letter to the Freeholders. of England:
"It would be presuming too much on your attention, at present, to enter into an investigation of the measures and system of war which this minister has pursued,-these shall certainly be the subject of a future paper. At present I shall only observe that, however mortifying it may be to reflect on the ignominy and disasters which this inauspicious character has brought on his country, yet there are consoling circumstances to be drawn even from his ill success. The calamities which may be laid to his account are certainly great; but, had the case been otherwise, it may fairly be questioned whether the example of a degraded and reprobated officer (preposterously elevated to one of the first stations of honour and confidence in the state) directing the military enterprises of this country with unlooked-for prosperity, might not ultimately be the cause of more extensive evils than even those, great as they are, which we at present experience: whether from so fatal a precedent we might not be led to introduce characters under similar disqualifications into every department:-to appoint Atheists to the mitre, Jews to the exchequer,—to select a treasury-bench from the Justitia, to place Brown Dignam on the wool-sack, and Sir Hugh Palliser at the head of the admiralty."
The Englishman, as might be expected from the pursuits and habits of those concerned in it, was not very punctually conducted, and, after many apologies from the publisher for its not appearing at the stated times, (Wednesdays and Saturdays,) ceased altogether on the 2d of June. From an imperfect sketch of a new Number, found among Mr. Sheridan's manuscripts, it appears that there was an intention of reviving it a short time after-probably towards the autumn of the same year, from the following allusion to Mr. Gibbon, whose acceptance of a seat at the Board of Trade took place, if I recollect right, in the summer of 1779:
"This policy is very evident among the majority in both houses, who, though they make no scruple in private to acknowledge the total incapacity of ministers, yet, in public, speak and vote as if they believed them to have every virtue under heaven; and, on this principle, some gentlemen, -as Mr. Gibbon, for instance,-while, in private, they indulge their opinion pretty freely, will yet, in their zeal for the public good, even condescend to accept a place, in order to give a colour to their confidence in the wisdom of the government."
It is needless to say that Mr. Sheridan had been for some time among the most welcome guests at Devonshire House -that rendezvous of all the wits and beauties of fashionable life, where Politics was taught to wear its most attractive
form, and sat enthroned, like Virtue among the Epicureans, with all the graces and pleasures for handmaids.
Without any disparagement of the manly and useful talents, which are at present no where more conspicuous than in the upper ranks of society, it may be owned.that for wit, social powers, and literary accomplishments, the political men of the period under consideration formed such an assemblage as it would be flattery to say that our own times can parallel. The natural tendency of the excesses of the French Revolution was to produce in the higher classes of England an increased reserve of manner, and, of course, a proportionate restraint on all within their circle, which have been fatal to conviviality and humour, and not very propitious to wit-subduing both manners and conversation to a sort of polished level, to rise above which is often thought almost as vulgar as to sink below it. Of the greater ease of manners that existed some forty or fifty years ago, one trifling, but not the less significant, indication was the habit, then prevalent among men of high station, of calling each other by such familiar names as Dick, Jack, Tom, &c. *-a mode of address, that brings with it, in its very sound, the notion of conviviality and playfulness, and, however unrefined, implies at least, that ease and sea-room, in which wit spreads its canvass most fearlessly.
With respect to literary accomplishments, too,-in one branch of which, poetry, almost all the leading politicians of that day distinguished themselves-the change that has taken place in the times, independently of any want of such talent, will fully account for the difference that we witness, in this respect, at present. As the public mind becomes more intelligent and watchful, statesmen can the less afford to trifle with their talents, or to bring suspicion upon their fitness for their own vocation, by the failures which they risk in deviating into others. Besides, in poetry, the temptation of distinction no longer exists-the commonness of that talent in the market, at present, being such as to reduce
• Dick Sheridan, Ned Burke, Jack Townshend, Tom Grenville, &c. &c.