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"I am decided that the management of the theatre cannot be respected, or successful, but in the hands of an actual proprietor; and still the better, if he is himself in the profession, and at the head of it. I am desirous, therefore, that Mr. Kemble should be a proprietor and manager.
"Mr. Kemble is the person, of all others, who must naturally be desi rous of both situations. He is at the head of his profession, without a rival; he is attached to it, and desirous of elevating its character. He may be as sured of proper respect, &c. while I have the theatre; but I do not think he could brook his situation were the property to pass into vulgar and illiberal hands, an event which he knows contingencies might produce. Laying aside then all affectation of indifference, so common in making bargains, let us set out with acknowledging that it is mutually our interest to agree, if we can. At the same time, let it be avowed, that I must be considered as trying to get as good a price as I can, and Mr. Kemble to buy as cheap as he can. In parting with theatrical property, there is no standard," or measure, to direct the price: the whole question is, what are the probable profits, and what is such a proportion of them worth?
"I bought of Mr. Garrick at the rate of 70,0001. for the whole theatre. I bought of Mr. Lacey at the rate of 94,000l. ditto. I bought of Dr. Ford at the rate of 86,000l. ditto. In all these cases there was a perishable patent, and an expiring lease, each having to run, at the different periods of the purchases, from ten to twenty years only.
"All these purchases have undoubtedly answered well; but in the chance of a Third Theatre consisted the risk; and the want of size and accommodation must have produced it, had the theatres continued as they were. the great and important feature in the present property, and which is never for a moment to be lost sight of, is, that the Monopoly is, morally speaking, established for ever, at least as well as the Monarchy, Constitution, Public Funds, &c.—as appears by No. 1. being the copy of "The Final Arrangement' signed by the Lord Chamberlain, by authority of His Majesty, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Bedford, &c.; and the dormant patent of Covent-Garden, that former terror of Drury-Lane, is perpetually annexed to the latter. So that the value of Drury-Lane at present, and in the former sales, is out of all comparison,-independently of the new building, supe. rior size, raised prices, &c. &c. But the incumbrances on the theatre, whose annual charge must be paid before there can be any surplus profit, are much greater than in Mr. Garrick's time, or on the old theatre afterwards. Undoubtedly they are, and very considerably greater; but what is the proportion in the receipts? Mr. Garrick realised and left a fortune of 140,000l. (having lived, certainly, at no mean expense,) acquired in years, on an average annual receipt of 25,000l. (qu. this?) Our receipts cannot be stated at less than 60,000l. per ann.; and it is demonstrable that preventing the most palpable frauds and abuses, with even a tolerable sys. tem of exertion in the management, must bring it, at the least, to 75,000%; and this estimate does not include the advantages to be derived from the new tavern, passages, Chinese hall, &c.- -an aid to the receipt, respecting
the amount of which I am very sanguine. What then, is the probable profit, and what is a quarter of it worth? No. 3. is the amount of three seasons' receipts, the only ones on which an attempt at an average could be justifiable. No 4. is the future estimate, on a system of exertion and good ma nagement. No. 5. the actual annual incumbrances. No. 6. the nightly expenses. No. 7. the estimated profits. Calculating on which, I demand for a quarter of the property, *, reserving to myself the existing private boxes, but no more to be created, and the fruit-offices and houses not part of the theatre.
"I assume that Mr. Kemble and I agree as to the price, annexing the following conditions to our agreement:-Mr. Kemble shall have his engage. ment as an actor for any rational time he pleases. Mr. Kemble shall be manager, with a clear salary of 500 guineas per annum, and
per cent. on the clear profits. Mr. Sheridan engages to procure from Messrs. Ham*mersleys a loan to Mr. Kemble of ten thousand pounds, part of the purchasemoney for four years, for which loan he is content to become collateral se curity, and also to leave his other securities, now in their hands, in mortgage for the same. And for the payment of the rest of the money, Mr. Sheridan is ready to give Mr. Kemble every facility his circumstances will admit of. It is not to be overlooked, that if a private box is also made over to Mr. Kemble, for the whole term of the theatre lease, its value cannot be stated at less than 3500l. Indeed, it might at any time produce to Mr. Kemble, or his assigns, 3001. per annum. Vide No. 8. This is a material deduction from the purchase money to be paid.
"Supposing all this arrangement made, I conceive Mr. Kemble's income would stand thus:
"I need not say how soon this would clear the whole of the purchase. With regard to the title, &c. Mr. Crews and Mr. Pigott are to decide. As to debts, the share must be made over to Mr. Kemble free from a claim even; and for this purpose all demands shall be called in, by public advertisement, to be sent to Mr. Kemble's own solicitor. In short, Mr. Crews shall be satisfied that there does not exist an unsatisfied demand on the theatre, or a possibility of Mr. Kemble being involved in the risk of a shilling. Mr. Hammersley, or such person as Mr. Kemble and Mr. Sheridan shall agree on, to be Treasurer, and receive and account for the whole re
* "I put this on the very lowest speculation."
ceipts, pay the charges, trusts, &c.; and, at the close of the season, the surplus profits to the proprietors. A clause in case of death, or sale, to give the refusal to each other."
The following letter from Sheridan to Kemble, in answer, as it appears, to some complaint or remonstrance from the latter, in his capacity of Manager, is too curiously characteristic of the writer to be omitted:
"If I had not a real good opinion of your principles and intentions upon all subjects, and a very bad opinion of your nerves and philosophy upon some, I should take very ill indeed, the letter I received from you this evening.
"That the management of the theatre is a situation capable of becoming troublesome is information which I do not want, and a discovery which I thought you had made long since.
"I should be sorry to write to you gravely on your offer, because I must consider it as a nervous flight, which it would be as unfriendly in me to notice seriously as it would be in you seriously to have made it.
"What I am most serious in is a determination that, while the theatre is indebted, and others, for it and for me, are so involved and pressed as they are, I will exert myself, and give every attention and judgment in my power to the establishment of its interests. In you I hoped, and do hope, to find an assistant, on principles of liberal and friendly confidence,-I mean confidence that should be above touchiness and reserve, and that should trust to me to estimate the value of that assistance.
"If there is any thing amiss in your mind, not arising from the troublesomeness of your situation, it is childish and unmanly not to disclose it to me. The frankness with which I have always dealt towards you entitles me to expect that should have done so.
"But I have no reason to believe this to be the case; and, attributing your letter to a disorder which I know ought not to be indulged, I prescribe that you shall keep
your appointment at the Piazza Coffee-house, to-morrow at five, and, taking four bottles of claret instead of three, to which in sound health you might stint yourself, forget that you ever wrote the letter, as I shall that I ever received it. "R. B. SHERIDAN."
STATE OF PARTIES.-OFFER OF A PLACE TO MR. T. SHERIDAN.-RECEIVERSHIP OF THE DUCHY OF CORNWALL BESTOWED UPON MR. SHERIDAN.-RETURN OF MR. PITT TO POWER.-CATHOLIC QUESTION.-ADMINISTRATION OF LORD GRENVILLE AND MR. FOX.-DEATH OF MR. FOX.-REPRESENTATION OF WESTMINSTER.-DISMISSION OF THE MINISTRY.-THEATRICAL NEGOTIATION.SPANISH QUESTION.-LETTER TO THE PRINCE.
DURING the short interval of peace into which the country was now lulled,-like a ship becalmed for a moment in the valley between two vast waves,—such a change took place in the relative positions and bearings of the parties that had been so long arrayed against each other, and such new boundaries and divisions of opinion were formed, as considerably altered the map of the political world. While Mr. Pitt lent his sanction to the new Administration, they, who had made common cause with him in resigning, violently opposed it; and, while the Ministers were thus thwarted by those who had hitherto always agreed with them, they were supported by those Whigs with whom they had before most vehemently differed. Among this latter class of their friends was, as I have already remarked, Mr. Sheridan,-who, convinced that the only chance of excluding Mr. Pitt from power lay in strengthening the hands of those who were in possession, not only gave them the aid of his own name and eloquence, but endeavoured to impress the same views upon Mr. Fox, and exerted his influence also to procure the sanction of Carlton-House in their fa
It cannot, indeed, be doubted that Sheridan, at this time, though still the friend of Mr. Fox, had ceased, in a great degree, to be his follower. Their views with respect to the renewal of the war were wholly different. While Sheridan joined in the popular feeling against France, and showed his knowledge of that great instrument, the Public Mind, by approaching it only with such themes as suited the martial mood to which it was tuned, the too confiding spirit of Fox breathed nothing but forbearance and peace ;—and he who, in 1786, had proclaimed the "natural enmity" of England and France, as an argument against their commercial intercourse, now asked, with the softened tone which time and retirement had taught him, "whether France was for ever to be considered our rival?"*
The following characteristic note, written by him previously to the debate on the Army Estimates, (December 8, 1802,) shows a consciousness that the hold which he had once had upon his friend was loosened :
"I mean to be in town for Monday, that is, for the Army. As for to-morrow, it is no matter;-I am for a largish fleet, though perhaps not quite so large as they mean. Pray, do not be absent Monday, and let me have a quarter of an hour's conversation before the business begins. Remember, I do not wish you to be inconsistent, at any rate. Pitt's opinion by Proxy is ridiculous beyond conception, and I hope you will show it in that light. I am very much against your abusing Bonaparte, because I am sure it is impolitic both for the country and ourselves. But, as you please ;-only, for God's sake, Peace.†
* Speech on the Address of Thanks, in 1803.
These last words are an interesting illustration of the line in Mr. Regers's Verses on this statesman:
"Peace,' when he spoke, was ever on his tongue."