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as one whose heart was in the common-weal, whatever might be his opinions, and who, in the moment of peril, could sink the partisan in the patriot.
As soon as he had performed this exemplary duty, he joined Mr. Fox and the rest of his friends who had seceded from Parliament about a week before, on the very day after the rejection of Mr. Grey's motion for a Reform. This step, which was intended to create a strong sensation, by hoisting, as it were, the signal of despair to the country, was followed by no such striking effects, and left little behind but a question as to its prudence and patriotism. The public saw, however, with pleasure, that there were still a few champions of the constitution, who did not "leave her fair side all unguarded" in this extremity. Mr. Tierney, among others, remained at his post, encountering Mr. Pitt on financial questions with a vigour and address to which the latter had been hitherto unaccustomed, and perfecting by practice that shrewd power of analysis, which has made him so formidable a sifter of ministerial sophistries ever since. Sir Francis Burdett, too, was just then entering into his noble career of patriotism; and, like the youthful servant of the temple in Euripides, was aiming his first shafts at those unclean birds, that settle within the sanctuary of the Constitution and sully its treasures:—
66 πτηνων τ' αγαλας
By a letter from the Earl of Moira to Col. M'Mahon in the summer of this year it appears, that, in consequence of the calamitous state of the country, a plan had been in agitation among some members of the House of Commons, who had hitherto supported the measures of the Minister, to form an entirely new Administration, of which the Noble Earl was to be the head, and from which both Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox, as equally obnoxious to the public, were to be excluded. The only materials that appear to have
been forthcoming for this new Cabinet were Lord Moira himself, Lord Thurlow, and Sir William Pulteney-the last of whom it was intended to make Chancellor of the Exchequer. Such a tottering balance of parties, however, could not have been long maintained; and its relapse, after a short interval, into Toryism, would but have added to the triumph of Mr. Pitt, and increased his power. Accordingly Lord Moira, who saw from the beginning the delicacy and difficulty of the task, wisely abandoned it. The share that Mr. Sheridan had in this transaction is too honourable to him not to be recorded, and the particulars cannot be better given than in Lord Moira's own words :
"You say that Mr. Sheridan has been traduced, as wishing to abandon MFox, and to promote a new Administration. I had accidentally a conversation with that gentleman at the House of Lords. I remonstrated strongly with him against a principle which I heard Mr. Fox's friends in tended to lay down, namely, that they would support a new Administration, but that not any of them would take part in it. I solemnly declare, upon my honour, that I could not shake Mr. Sheridan's conviction of the propriety of that determination. He said that he and Mr. Fox's other friends, as well as Mr. Fox himself, would give the most energetic support to such an Administration as was in contemplation; but that their acceptance of office would appear an acquiescence under the injustice of the interdict supposed to be fixed upon Mr. Fox. I did not and never can admit the fairness of that argument. But I gained nothing upon Mr. Sheridan, to whose up. rightness in that respect I can therefore bear the most decisive testimony. Indeed I am ashamed of offering testimony, where suspicion ought not to have been conceived."
PLAY OF THE STRANGER."-SPEECHES IN PARLIAMENT.-PIZARRO.-MINISTRY OF MR. ADDINGTON.-FRENCH INSTITUTE.-NEGOCIATION WITH MR. KEMBLE.
THE theatrical season of 1798 introduced to the public the German drama of "The Stranger," translated by Mr. Thompson, and, (as we are told by this gentleman in his preface,) altered and improved by Sheridan. There is reason, however, to believe that the contributions of the latter to the dialogue were much more considerable than he was perhaps willing to let the translator acknowledge. My friend Mr. Rogers has heard him, on two different occasions, declare that he had written every word of the Stranger from beginning to end; and, as his vanity could not be much interested in such a claim, it is possible that there was at least some virtual foundation for it.
The song introduced in this play, "I have a silent sorrow here," was avowedly written by Sheridan, as the music of it was by the Duchess of Devonshire-two such names, so brilliant in their respective spheres, as the Muses of Song and Verse have seldom had the luck to bring together. The originality of these lines has been disputed; and that expedient of borrowing, which their author ought to have been independent of in every way, is supposed to have been resorted to by his indolence on this occasion. Some verses by Tickell are mentioned as having supplied one of the best stanzas; but I am inclined to think, from the following circumstances, that this theft of Sheridan was of that venial and domestic kind-from himself. A writer, who brings forward the accusation in the Gentleman's Magazine, (vol. lxxi. p. 904,) thus states his grounds :
"In a song which I purchased at Bland's music-shop in Holborn in the year 1794, intitled, 'Think not, my love,' and professing to be set to music
by Thomas Wright, (I conjecture, Organist of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and composer of the pretty Opera called Rusticity,) are the following words:
"This treasured grief, this loved despair,
My lot forever be;
But, dearest, may the pangs I bear
Be never known to thee!'
"Now, without insisting that the opening thought in Mr. Sheridan's famous song has been borrowed from that of "Think not, my love," the second verse is manifestly such a theft of the lines I have quoted as entirely overturns Mr. Sheridan's claim to originality in the matter, unless Think not, my love,' has been written by him, and he can be proved to have only stolen from himself."
The song to which the writer alludes, "Think not, my love," was given to me, as a genuine production of Mr. Sheridan, by a gentleman nearly connected with his family; and I have little doubt of its being one of those early lovestrains which, in his tempo de' dolci sospiri, he addressed to Miss Linley. As, therefore, it was but "a feather of his own" that the eagle made free with, he may be forgiven. The following is the whole of the song:
"Think not, my love, when secret grief
Preys on my saddened heart,
Or would from sorrow part.
"Dearly I prize the sighs sincere,
"Alas! tho' doom'd to hope in vain
"This treasur'd grief, this lov'd despair,
But, dearest, may the pangs I bear
Be never known to thee!"
Among the political events of this year, the rebellion of Ireland holds a memorable and fearful pre-eminence. The
only redeeming stipulation which the Duke of Portland and his brother Alarmists had annexed to their ill-judged Coalition with Mr. Pitt was, that a system of conciliation and justice should, at last, be adopted towards Ireland. Had they but carried thus much wisdom into the ministerial ranks with them, their defection might have been pardoned for the good it achieved, and, in one respect at least, would have resembled the policy of those Missionaries, who join in the ceremonies of the Heathen for the purpose of winning him over to the truth. On the contrary, however, the usual consequence, of such coalitions with Power ensued, the good was absorbed in the evil principle, and, by the false hope which it created, but increased the mischief. Lord Fitzwilliam was not only deceived himself, but, still worse to a noble and benevolent nature like his, was made the instrument of deception and mockery to millions. His recall, in 1795, assisted by the measures of his successor, drove Ireland into the rebellion which raged during the present year, and of which the causes have been so little removed from that hour to this, that if the people have become too wise to look back to it, as an example, it is assuredly not because their rulers have much profited by it, as a lesson.
I am aware that, on the subject of Ireland and her wrongs, I can ill trust myself with the task of expressing what I feel, or preserve that moderate, historical tone, which it has been my wish to maintain through the political opinions of this work. On every other point, my homage to the high character of England, and of her institutions, is prompt and cordial;-on this topic alone, my feelings towards her have been taught to wear "the badge of bitterness." As a citizen of the world, I would point to England as its brightest ornament,-but, as a disfranchised Irishman, I blush to belong to her. Instead, therefore, of hazarding any farther reflections of my own on the causes and character of the Rebellion of 1798, I shall content myself with giving an extract from a Speech which Mr. Sheridan delivered on the subject, in the June of that year: