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The music to this opera was composed by Mr. Butler, and Cumberland speaks of it with high encomiums: but it was never published. Butler also composed the airs for another opera wbich Cumberland produced the ensuing season, entitled, The Widow of Delphi, or the Descent of the Deities, of which, had the author printed it, I question if it would be necessary to say any more than thus to record the period of its performance. They both experienced a very brief existence ; nor can I think that it would be advantageous to the managers, or agreeable to the public, as the author insinuates, that Calypso should be revived, eminent as the vocal performers on the stage now are.
Of the Widow of Delphi Cumberland says, " that having had it many years in his hands, by the frequent revisions and corrections which he has had opportunities of giving to the manuscript, he is encouraged to believe that if he, or any after him, shall send it into the world, that drama will be considered as one of his most classical and creditable productions." With what propriety this opinion is expressed, I am necessarily unable to say; but from the instances which I have already had of Cumberland's mode of estimating his own productions, I am apprehensive that the publication of this opera would not corroborate the author's notions of its excellence,
About this period he engaged in a cause honourable to his benevolence. The defence which was read at the bar by the unfortunate Perreau was drawn up by Cumberland, and though it failed to preserve his life, the kindness with which he exerted himself in his behalf deserves equally to be commended. Garrick, who was present when this defence was read, spoke with enthusiasm of its excellence in the company of Cumberland, not knowing him to be the writer: the applause of such a man was motive enough for an author's vanity to disclose the secret, but Cumberland was silent, and Garrick, who confidently, though, as the event proved, untruly predicted that it had saved the prisoner's life, discovered afterwards that he had unconsciously extolled its superiority in the presence of the author.
The impression which this performance had excited was probably the reason why, at a subsequent period, Cumberland was solicited by Dr. Dodd, to undertake his defence in a similar manner: but when he heard that so potent an advocate as Dr. Johnson was preparing to step forth in his cause, he prudently retired from the field, " convinced,” says he, “ that if the powers of Johnson could not move mercy to reach his lamentable case, there was no further hope in man.”
During the time that he acted in subordination to Lord George Germain, he was distinguished by that nobleman with peculiar marks of his favour and approbation. He was frequently at his table, and met there, of course, many of the most eminent
political characters of the time. Among those who partook of his lordship’s hospitality was the gallant Rodney, with whom Cumberland was already intimate, and to whom he had an opportunity, through the interest of his patron, of doing some essential services. The few anecdotes which he has preserved of this distinguished naval commander, are highly interesting and characteristic.
“ I had known Sir George Brydges Rodney in early life, and whilst he was residing in France, pending the uneasy state of his affairs at home, had spared no pains to serve his interest and pave the way for his return to his own country, where I was not without hopes, by the recommendation of Lord George Germain, to procure him an employment worthy of his talents and high station in the navy. I drew up from his minutes a memorial of his services, and petitioned for employ: he came home at the risque of his liberty to refute some malicious imputations, that had been glanced at his character: this he effectually and honourably accomplished, and I was furnished with testimonials very creditable to him as an officer; his si. tuation in the mean while was very uncomfortable and his exertions circumscribed, yet in this pressure of his affairs, to mark his readiness and zeal for service, he addressed a letter to the king, tendering himself to serve as a volunteer under an admiral, then going out, who if I do not mistake, was bis junior on the list. In this forlorn, unfriended state, with nothing but exclusion and despair before his eyes, when not a ray of hope beamed upon him from the admiralty, and he dared not set a foot beyond the limits of his privilege, I had the happy fortune to put in train that statement of his claim for service and employ, which, through the immediate application of Lord George, taking all the responsibility on himself, obtained for that adventurous and gallant adıniral the command of that squadron, which on its passage to the West Indies made capture of the Spanish fleet fitted out for the Caraccas. The degree of gratification, which I then experienced, is not easily to be described. It was not only that of a triumph gained, but of a terror dismissed, for the West India merchants had been alarmed, and clamoured against the appointment, so generally and so decidedly, as to occasion no small uneasiness to my friend and patron, and drew from him something that resembled a remonstrance for the risque I had exposed him to. But in the brilliancy of this exploit all was done away, and past alarms were only recollected to contrast the joy which this success diffused.
“ It happened to me to be present, and sitting next to Admiral Rodney at table, when the thought seemed first to occur to him of breaking the French line by passing through it in the heat of the action. It was at Lord George Germain's house, at Stoneland, after dinner, when having asked a number of questions about the manæuvring of columns, and the effect of charging with them on a line of infantry, he proceeded to arrange a parcel of cherry stones, which he had collected from the table, and forming them as two fleets drawn up in line and opposed to each other, he at once arrested our attention, which had not been very generally engaged by his preparatory enquiries, by declaring he was determined so to pierce the enemy's line of battle, (arranging his manæuvre at the same time on the table) if ever it was his fortune to bring them into action. I dare say this passed with some as mere rhapsody, and all seemed to regard it as a very perilous and doubtful experiment, but landsmen's doubts and difficulties made no impression on the admiral, who having seized the idea held it fast, and in his eager animated way went on manæuvring his cherry stones, and throwing his enemy's representatives into such utter confusion, that already possessed of that victory in imagination, which in reality he lived to gain, he concluded his process by swearing he would lay the French admiral's flag at his sovereign's feet; a promise which he actually pledged to his majesty in his closet, and faithfully and gloriously performed.