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quite frantic, and I knew not what to do. Happily there were present several kind, good-natured men, who had their recollection, and pointed out what should be done. We very soon had every possible assistance, and for a short time we had some hope that her precious life would have been spared to us—but that was soon at an end!
“The dear babe never throve to my satisfaction:-she was small and delicate beyond imagination, and gave very little expectation of long life; but she had visibly declined during the last month.
Mr. Sheridan made himself very miserable at first, from an apprehension that she had been neglected or mismanaged; but I trust he is perfectly convinced that this was not the case. He was severely afflicted at first. The dear babe's resemblance to her mother after her death was so much more striking, that it was impossible to see her without recalling every circumstance of that afflicting scene, and he was continually in the room indulging the sad remembrance. In this manner he indulged his feelings for four or five days; then, having indispensable business, he was obliged to go to London, from whence he returned, on Sunday, apparently in good spirits and as well as usual. But, however he may assume the appearance of ease or cheerfulness, his heart is not of a nature to be quickly reconciled to the loss of any thing he loves. He suffers deeply and secretly; and I dare say he will long and bitterly lament both mother and child.”
The reader will, I think, feel with me, after reading the foregoing letters, as well as those of Mrs. Sheridan, given in the course of this work, that the impression which they altogether leave on the mind is in the highest degree favourable to the characters both of husband and wife. There is, round the whole, an atmosphere of kindly, domestic feel. ing, which seems to answer for the soundness of the hearts that breathed in it. The sensibility, too, displayed by Sheridan at this period, was not that sort of passionate return to former feelings, which the prospect of losing what it once loved might awaken in even the most alienated heart; -on the contrary, there was a depth and mellowness in his sorrow which could proceed from long habits of affection alone. The idea, indeed, of seeking solace for the loss of the mother in the endearments of the children would occur only to one who had been accustomed to find happiness in his home, and who therefore clung for comfort to what remained of the wreck.
Such, I have little doubt, were the natural feelings and dispositions of Sheridan; and if the vanity of talent too often turned him aside from their influence, it is but another proof of the danger of that “ light which leads astray," and may console those who, safe under the shadow of mediocrity, are unvisited by such disturbing splendours.
The following letters on this occasion, from his eldest sister and her husband, are a further proof of the warm attachment which he inspired in those connected with him :
“MY DEAREST BROTHER, “Charles has just informed me that the fatal, the dreaded event has taken place. On my knees I implore the Almighty to look down upon you in your affliction, to strengthen your noble, your feeling heart to bear it. Oh my beloved brother, these are sad, sad trials of fortitude. One consolation, at least, in mitigation of your sorrow, I am sure you possess,—the consciousness of having done all you could to preserve the dear angel you have lost, and to soften the last painful days of her mortal existence. Mrs. Canning wrote to me that she was in a resigned and happy frame of mind: she is assuredly among the blest; and I feel and I think she looks down with benignity at my feeble efforts to soothe that anguish I participate. Let me then conjure you, my dear brother, to suffer me to endeavour to be of use to you. Could I have done it, I should have been with you from the time of your arrival at Bristol. The impossibility of my going has made me miserable, and injured my health, already in a very bad state. It would give value to my life, could I be of that service I think I might be of, if I were near you; and as I cannot go to you, and as there is every reason for your quitting the scene and objects before you, perhaps you may let us have the happiness of having you here, and my dear Tom: I will write to him when my spirits are quieter. I entreat you, my dear brother, try what change of place can do for you: your character and talents are here held in the highest estimation; and you have here some who love you beyond the affection any in England can feel for you. Cuff-Street, 4th July.
A. LEFASU." “ MY DEAR GOOD SIR,
Wednesday, 4th July, 1792. “ Permit me to join my entreaties to Lissy's to persuade you to come over to us. A journey might be of service to you, and change of objects a real relief to your mind. We would try every thing to divert your thoughts from too intensely dwelling on certain recollections, which are yet too keen and too fresh to be entertained with safety,—at least to occupy you too entirely. Having been so long separated from your sister, you can hardly have an adequate idea of her love for you. I, who on many occasions have observed its operation, can truly and solemnly assure you that it far exceeds any thing I could ever have supposed to have been felt by a sister towards a brother. I am convinced you would experience such soothing in her company and conversation as would restore you to yourself sooner than any thing that could be imagined. Come then, my dear Sir, and be satisfied you will add greatly to her confort, and to that of your very affectionate friend,
“ J. LEFANU."
DRURY-LAXE THEATRL.-SOCIETY OF
THE FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE."
DAME DE GENLIS.-WAR WITH PRAXCE-WHIG SECEDERS.-SPEECHES IX
PARLIAMENT.-DEATH OF TICKELL.
THE domestic anxieties of Mr. Sheridan, during this year, left but little room in his mind for public cares. Accordingly, we find that, after the month of April, he absented himself from the House of Commons altogether. In addition to his apprehensions for the safety of Mrs. Sheridan, he had been for some time harassed by the derangement of his theatrical property, which was now fast falling into a state of arrear and involvement, from which it never after entirely recovered.
The Theatre of Drury-Lane having been, in the preceding year, reported by the surveyors to be unsafe and incapable of repair, it was determined to erect an entirely new house upon the same site ; for the accomplishment of which purpose a proposal was made, by Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Linley, to raise the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand pounds, by the means of three hundred debentures, of five hundred pounds each. This part of the scheme succeeded instantly; and I have now before me a list of the holders of the 300 shares, appended to the proposal of 1791, at the head of which the names of the three Trustees, in whom the Theatre was afterwards vested in the year 1793, stand for the following number of shares :-Albany Wallis, 20; Hammersley, 50; Richard Ford, 20. But, though the money was raised without any difficulty, the completion of the new building was delayed by various negotiations and obstacles, while, in the mean time, the company were playing, at an enormous expense, first in the Opera-House, and afterwards at the Haymarket-Theatre, and Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Linley were paying interest for the first instalment of the loan.
To these and other causes of the increasing embarrassments of Sheridan is to be added the extravagance of his own style of living, which became much more careless and profuse after death had deprived him of her, whose maternal thoughtfulness alone would have been a check upon such improvident waste. We are enabled to form some idea of his expensive habits, by finding, from the letters which have just been quoted, that he was, at the same time, maintaining three establishments,-one at Wanstead, where his son resided with his tutor; another at Isleworth, which he still held, (as I learn from letters directed to him there,) in 1793; and the third, his town-house, in Jermyn-Street. Rich and ready as were the resources which the Treasury of the theatre opened to him, and fertile as was his own invention in devising new schemes of finance, such mismanaged expenditure would exhaust even his magic wealth, and the lamp must cease to answer to the rubbing at last.
The tutor, whom he was lucky enough to obtain for his son at this time, was Mr. William Smythe, a gentleman who has since distinguished himself by his classical attainments and graceful talent for poetry. Young Sheridan had previously been under the care of Dr. Parr, with whom he resided a considerable time at Hatton ; and the friendship of this learned man for the father could not have been more strongly shown than in the disinterestedness with which he devoted himself to the education of the son. The following letter from him to Mr. Sheridan, in the May of this year, proves the kind feeling by which he was actuated towards him :
“DEAR SIR, “I hope Tom got home safe, and found you in better spirits. He said something about drawing on your banker; but I do not understand the process, and shall not take any step. You will consult your own convenience about these things; for my connection with you is that of friendship and personal regard. I feel and remember slights from those I respect, but acts of kindness I cannot forget; and, though my life has been passed far more in doing than receiving services, yet I know and I value the good dispositions of yourself and a few other friends,-men who are worthy of that name from me.
“If you choose Tom to return, he knows and you know how glad I am always to see him. If not, pray let him do something, and I will tell you what he should do.
“ Believe me, dear Sir,
In the spring of this year was established the Society of “ The Friends of the People," for the express purpose of obtaining a Parliamentary Reform. To this Association, which, less for its professed object than for the republican tendencies of some of its members, was particularly obnoxious to the loyalists of the day, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Grey, and many others of the leading persons of the Whig party, belonged. Their Address to the People of England, which was put forth in the month of April, contained an able and temperate exposition of the grounds upon which they sought for Reform; and the names of Sheridan, Mackintosh, Whitbread, &c. appear on the list of the Committee by which this paper was drawn up.
It is a proof of the little zeal which Mr. Fox felt at this period on the subject of Reform, that he withheld the sanction of his name from a Society, to which so many of his most intimate political friends belonged. Some notice was, indeed, taken in the House of this symptom of backwardness in the cause ; and Sheridan, in replying to the insinuation, said that “they wanted not the signature of his Right Honourable Friend to assure them of his concurrence. They had his bond in the steadiness of his political principles and the integrity of his heart.” Mr. Fox himself, however, gave a more definite explanation of the circumstance. “He might be asked,” he said, “why his name was not on the list of the Society for Reform? His reason was, that though he saw great and enormous grievances, he did not see the re