Imagens das páginas

Between Tickell and Sheridan there was a never-ending "skirmish of wit,” both verbal and practical ; and the latter ki nd, in particular, was carried on between them with all the

aggery, and, not unfrequently, the malice of school-boys.* kickell , much less occupied

by business than his friend, had always some political jeux d'esprit on the anvil; and sometimes these trifles were produced by them jointly. The following string of pasquinades go well known in political circles, and written, as the reader will perceive, at different dates, though principally by Sheridan, owes some of its stanzas to Tickell, and a few others, I believe, to Lord John Townshend. I have strung together, without regard to chronology, the best of these detached lampoons. Time having removed their venom, and with it, in a great degree, their wit, they are now, like dried snakes, mere harmless objects of curiosity.

" Johnny W-Iks, Johnny W-Ikst

Thou greatest of bilks,
How chang'd are the notes you now sing!

Your fam'd Forty-five

Is Prerogative,
And your blasphemy, 'God save the King,'

Johnny W-Iks,
And your blasphemy, 'God save the King.""

• On one occasion, Sheridan having covered the floor of a dark passage, leading from the drawing room, with all the plates and dishes of the house, ranged closely together, provoked his unconscious play-fellow to pursue him into the midst of them. Having . left a path for his own escape, he passed through easily, but Tickell, falling at full length into the ambuscade, was very much cut in several places. The next day, Lord John Townshend, on paying a visit to the bed-side of Tickell, found him covered over with patches, and indignantly vowing vengeance against Sheridan for this unjustifiable trick. In the midst of his anger, however, he could not help exclaiming, with the true feeling of an amateur of this sort of mischief, " but how amazingly well done it was!"

† In Sheridan's copy of the stanzas written by him in this metre at the time of the Union, (beginning « Zooks, Harry ! 2ooks, Harry!” he entitled them, “An admirable new ballad, which goes excellently well to the tune of

“ Mrs. Arne, Mrs. Arne,
It gives me concarn,” &c.

" Jack Ch--ch-II, Jack Ch-ch-ll,

The town sure you search ill,
Your mob has disgraced all your brags ;

When next you draw out

Your bospital rout,
Do, prithee, afford them clean rags,

Jack Ch-ch-11,
Do, prithee, afford them clean rags.”

“Captain K—th, Captain K-th,

Keep your tongue 'twixt your teeth,
Lest bed-chamber tricks you betray ;

And, if teeth you want more,

Why, my bold Commodore,-
You may borrow of Lord G-11-y,

Captain K-th,
You may borrow of Lord G-11-y."

“ * Joe M-wb-y, Joe M-wb-y,

Your throat sure must raw be,
In striving to make yourself heard ;

But it pleased not the pigs,

Nor the Westininster Whigs,
That your Knighthood should utter one word,

Joe M-wb-y,
That your Knighthood should utter one word.”

“ M-ntm-res, M-ntm-res,

Whom nobody for is,
And for whor: we none of us care ;

From Dublin you came

It had much been the same
If your Lordship had staid were you were,

If your Lorship had staid where you where."

“Lord 0-gl-y, Lord 0-81-y,

You spoke mighty strongly-
Who you are, tho', all people admire!

But I'll let you depart,

For I believe in my heart,
You had rather they did not enquire,

Lord 0-gl-y,
You had rather they did not enquire."

This stanza and, I rather think, the next were by Lord John Towshend. “Gl-nb-e, Gl-nb-e,

What's good for the scurvy?
For ne'er be your old trade forgot-

In your arms rather quarter

A pestle and mortar,
And your crest be a spruce gallipot,

And your crest be a spruce gallipot.”

“ GI-ob-e, Gl-nb-e,

The world's topsy-turvy,
Of this truth you're the fittest attester ;

For, who can deny

That the Low become High,
When the King makes a Lord of Silvester,

When the King makes a Lord of Silvester."

“ Mr. P-1, Mr. P-1,

In return for your zeal,
I am told they have dubb'd you Sir Bob ;

Having got wealth enough

By coarse Manchester stuff,
For honours you'll now drive a job,

Mr. P-1,
For honours you'll now drive a job.”

“ Oh poor B-ks, oh poor B-ks,

Still condemn’d to the ranks,
Nor e'en yet from a private promoted;

Pitt ne'er will relent,

Though he knows you repent,
Having once or twice honestly voted,

Poor B-ks,
Having once or twice honestly voted."

“ Dull H--y, dull H-|,

Your audience feel ye
A speaker of very great weight,

And they wish you were dumb,

When, with ponderous hum,
You lengthen the drowsy debate,

Dull H-1-y,
You lengthen the drowsy debate.”

[ocr errors]

There are about as many more of these stanzas, written at different intervals, according as new victims, with good

names for rhyming, presented themselves,-the metre being a most tempting medium for such lampoons. There is, in deed, appended to one of Sheridan's copies of them, a long list (like a Tablet of Proscription), containing about fifteen other names marked out for the same fate; and it will be seen by the following specimen that some of them had a very parrow escape :

Will C-t-S. “V-ns--t, V-ns--t--for little thou sit art." “Will D-nd-s, Will D-nd-s-were you only an ass." "L-ghb-h,—thorough." « Sam H-rsl-y, Sam H-rsl-y,

icoarsely." “P-ttym—n, P-ttym—n,-speak truth, if you can.”

But it was not alone for such lively purposes* that Sheridan and his two friends drew upon their joint wits; they

As I have been mentioning some instances of Sheridan's love of practical jests, I shall take this opportunity of adding one more anecdote, which I believe is pretty well known, but which I have had the advantage of hearing from the person on whom the joke was inflicted.

The Rev. Mr. O'B- (afterwards Bishop of —) having arrired to dinner at Sheridan's country-house, near Osterley, where, as usual, a gay party was collected, (consisting of General Burgoyne, Mrs. Crewe, Tickell, &c.) it was proposed that on the next day (Sunday) the Rev. Gentleman should, on gaining the consent of the resident clergyman, give s specimen of his talents as a preacher in the village church. On his objecting that he was not provided with a sermon, his host offered to write one for him, if he would consent to preach it; and, the offer being accepted, Sheridan left the company early, and did not return for the remainder of the evening. The following morning Mr. O'B— found the manuscript by his bed-side, tied together neatly (as he described it) with riband;the subject of the discourse being the “ Abuse of Riches." Having read it over and corrected some theological errors, (such as “it is easier for s camel, as Moses says,” &c.) he delivered the sermon in his most impressive style, much to the delight of his own party, and to the satisfaction, as he un suspectingly flattered himself, of all the rest of the congregation, among whom was Mr. Sheridan's wealthy neighbour Mr. C

Some months afterwards, however, Mr. O'Bperceived that the family of Mr. C- with whom he had previously been intimate, treated him with marked coldness; and, on his expressing some innocent wonder at the circumstance, was at length informed, to his dismay, by Geveral Burgoyne, that the sermon which Sheridan had written for him was, throughout, a personal attack upon Mr. C, who had at that time rendered himself ve

[ocr errors]

had also but too much to do with subjects of a far different nature-with debts, bonds, judgments, writs, and all those other humiliating matters of fact, that bring Law and Wit so often and so unnaturally in contact. That they were serviceable to each other, in their defensive alliance against duns, is fully proved by various documents; and I have now before me articles of agreement, dated in 1787, by which Tickell, to avert an execution from the Theatre, bound himself as security for Sheridan in the sum of 2501.,—the arrears of an annuity charged upon Sheridan's moiety of the property. So soon did those pecuniary difficulties, by which his peace and character were afterwards undermined, begin their operations.

Yet even into transactions of this nature, little as they are akin to mirth, the following letter of Richardson will show that these brother wits contrived to infuse a portion of gaiety:


Esser-Street, Saturday evening. "I had a terrible long batch with Bobby this morning, after I wrote to you by Francois. I have so far succeeded that he has agreed to continue the day of trial as we call it (that is, in vulgar, unlearned language, to put it off) from Tuesday till Saturday. He demands, as preliminaries, that Wright's bill of 5001. should be given up to him, as a prosecution had been commenced against him, which, however, he has stopped by an injunction from the Court of Chancery. This, if the transaction be as he states it, appears reasonable enough. He insists, besides, that the bill should undergo the most rigid examination ; that you should transmit your objections, to which he will send answers, for the point of a personal interview has not been yet carried,) and that the whole amount at last, whatever it may be, should have your clear and satisfied approbation :-nothing to be done without this -- almighty honour!

“ All these things being done, I desired to know what was to be the result at last :- Surely, after having carried so many points, you will think it only common decency to relax a little as to the time of payment? You will not cut your pound of Aesh the nearest from the merchant's heart?' To this Bobides, “I must have 20001. put in a shape of practicable use, and payment immediately ;-for the rest I will accept security. This was strongly objected to by me, as Jewish in the extreme; but, however, so we parted. You will think with me, I hope, that something has been done,

ry unpopular in the neighbourhood by some harsh conduct to the poor,' and to whom every one in the church, except the unconscious preacher, applied almost every sentence of the sermon.

« AnteriorContinuar »