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medy." It is to be doubted, indeed, whether Mr. Fox ever fully admitted the principle upon which the demand for a Reform was founded. When he afterwards espoused the question so warmly, it seems to have been merely as one of those weapons caught up in the heat of a warfare, in which Liberty itself appeared to him too imminently endangered to admit of the consideration of any abstract principle, except that summary one of the right of resistance to power abused. From what has been already said, too, of the language held by Sheridan on this subject, it may be concluded that, though far more ready than his friend to inscribe Reform upon the banner of the party, he had even still less made up his mind as to the practicability or expediency of the measure. Looking upon it as a question, the agitation of which was useful to Liberty, and at the same time counting upon the improbability of its objects being ever accomplished, he adopted at once, as we have seen, the most speculative of all the plans that had been proposed, and flattered himself that he thus secured the benefit of the general principle, without risking the inconvenience of any of the prac tical details.
The following extract of a letter from Sheridan to one of his female correspondents, at this time, will show that he did not quite approve the policy of Mr. Fox in holding aloof from the Reformers
"I am down here with Mrs. Canning and her family, while all my friends and party are meeting in town, where I have excused myself, to lay their wise heads together in this crisis. Again I say there is nothing but what is unpleasant before my mind. I wish to occupy and fill my thoughts with public matters, and to do justice to the times, they afford materials enough; but nothing is in pros pect to make activity pleasant, or to point one's efforts against one common enemy, making all that engage in the attack cordial, social, and united. On the contrary, every day produces some new schism and absurdity. Windham has signed a nonsensical association with Lord Mulgrave;
and when I left town yesterday, I was informed that the Divan, as the meeting at Debrett's is called, were furious at an authentic advertisement from the Duke of Portland against Charles Fox's speech in the Whig Club, which no one before believed to be genuine, but which they now say Dr. Lawrence brought from Burlington-House. If this is so, depend on it there will be a direct breach in what has been called the Whig Party. Charles Fox must come to the Reformers openly and avowedly; and in a month fourfifths of the Whig Club will do the same.”
The motion for the Abolition of the Slave-trade, brought forward this year by Mr. Wilberforce, (on whose brows it may be said, with much more truth than of the Roman General," Annexuit Africa lauros,") was signalised by one of the most splendid orations that the lofty eloquence of Mr. Pitt ever poured forth.* I mention the Debate, however, for the mere purpose of remarking, as a singularity, that, often as this great question was discussed in Parliament, and ample as was the scope which it afforded for the grander appeals of oratory, Mr. Sheridan was upon no occasion tempted to utter even a syllable on the subject,—except once for a few minutes, in the year 1787, upon some point relating to the attendance of a witness. The two or three sentences, however, whieh he did speak on that occasion were sufficient to prove, (what, as he was not a West-India proprietor, no one can doubt,) that the sentiments entertained by him on this interesting topic were, to the full extent, those which actuated not only his own party, but every real lover of justice and humanity throughout the world.
* It was at the conclusion of this speech that, in contemplating the period when Africa would, he hoped, participate in those blessings of civilisation and knowledge which were now enjoyed by more fortunate regions, he applied the happy quotation, rendered still more striking, it is said, by the circumstance of the rising sun just then shining in through the windows of the House:
To use a quotation which he himself applied to another branch of the question in 1807: —
"I would not have a slave to till my ground,
The National Convention having lately, in the first pa roxysm of their republican vanity, conferred the honour of Citizenship upon several distinguished Englishmen, and, among others, upon Mr. Wilberforce and Sir James Mackintosh, it was intended, as appears by the following letter from Mr. Stone, (a gentleman subsequently brought into notice by the trial of his brother for High Treason,) to invest Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan with the same distinction, had not the prudent interference of Mr. Stone saved them from this very questionable honour.
The following is the letter which this gentleman addressed to Sheridan on the occasion.
"Paris, Nov. 18. Year 1, of the French Republic. "DEAR SIR,
"I have taken a liberty with your name, of which I ought to give you notice, and offer some apology. The Convention, having lately enlarged their connections in Europe, are ambitious of adding to the number of their friends by bestowing some mark of distinction on those who have stood forth in support of their cause, when its fate hung doubtful. The French conceive that they owe this obliga tion very eminently to you and Mr. Fox; and, to show their gratitude, the Committee appointed to make the Report has determined to offer to you and Mr. Fox the honour of Citizenship. Had this honour never been conferred be fore, had it been conferred only on worthy members of society, or were you and Mr. Fox only to be named at this moment, I should not have interfered. But as they have given the title to obscure and vulgar men and scoundrels,
of which they are now very much ashamed themselves, I have presumed to suppose that you would think yourself much more honoured in the breach than the observance, and have therefore caused your nomination to be suspended. But I was influenced in this also by other considerations, of which one was, that, though the Committee would be more careful in their selection than the last had been, yet it was probable you would not like to share the honours with such as would be chosen. But another more important one that weighed with me was, that this new character would not be a small embarrassment in the route which you have to take the next session of Parliament, when the affairs of France must necessarily be often the subject of discussion. No one will suspect Mr. Wilberforce of being seduced, and no one has thought that he did any thing to render him liable to seduction; as his superstition and devotedness to Mr. Pitt have kept him perfectly à l'abri from all temptations to err on the side of liberty, civil or religious. But to you and Mr. Fox the reproach will constantly be made, and the blockheads and knaves in the House will always have the means of influencing the opinions of those without, by opposing with success your English character to your French one; and that which is only a mark of gratitude for past services will be construed by malignity into a bribe of some sort for services yet to be rendered. You may be certain that, in offering the reasons for my conduct, I blush that I think it necessary to stoop to such prejudices. Of this, however, you will be the best judge, and I should esteem it a favour if you would inform me whether I have done right, or whether I shall suffer your names to stand as they did before my interference. There will be sufficient time for me to receive your answer, as I have prevailed on the Reporter, M. Brissot, to delay a few days. I have given him my reasons for wishing the suspension, to which he has assented. Mr. O'Brien also prompted me to this deed, and, if I have done wrong, he must take half the punishment. My address is "Rose,
Huíssier," under cover of the President of the National
"I have the honour to be
"And most humble servant,
It was in the month of October of this year that the romantic adventure of Madame de Genlis, (in the contrivance of which the practical humour of Sheridan may, I think, be detected,) occurred on the road between London and Dartford. This distinguished lady had, at the close of the year 1791, with a view of escaping the turbulent scenes then passing in France, come over with her illustrious pupil, Mademoiselle d'Orleans, and her adopted daughter, Pamela, to England, where she received both from Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan, all that attention' which her high character for talent, as well as the embarrassing nature of her situation at that moment, claimed for her.
The following letter from her to Mr. Fox I find inclosed in one from the latter to Mr. Sheridan :
"You have, by your infinite kindness, given me the right to show you the utmost confidence. The situation I am in makes me desire to have with me, during two days,
Married at Tournay in the month of December, 1792, to Lord Edward Fitzgerald. Lord Edward was the only one, among the numerous suitors of Mrs. Sheridan, to whom she is supposed to have listened with any thing like a return of feeling; and that there should be mutual admiration between two such noble specimens of human nature, it is easy, without injury to either of them, to believe.
Some months before her death, when Sheridan had been describing to her and Lord Edward a beautiful French girl whom he had lately seen, and added that she put him strongly in mind of what his own wife had been in the first bloom of her youth and beauty, Mrs. Sheridan turned to Lord Edward, and said with a melancholy smile, "I should like you, when I am dead, to marry that girl." This was Pamela, whom Sheridan had just seen during his visit of a few hours to Madame de Genlis, at Bury, in Suffolk, and whom Lord Edward married in about a year after.