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MOORE'S LIFE OF SHERIDAN. In spite of all the sins, both of omis- themselves with that seditious confesion and commission, with which To- deracy. But the exposure of the hypory, Whig, and Radical Journals have, crisy is too interesting to be merely perhaps justly, charged them, these adverted to; we must, in justice to Mr are two volumes of extraordinary in. Moore's simplicity and to Whig hoterest-nor are they discreditable to nesty, quote the passage. Mr Moore. The subject was, indeed, “ In the Spring of this year was esta. a most difficult and dangerous one, blished the Society of · The Friends of nor was it possible for a man of Mr the People,' for the express purpose of Moore's peculiar opinions, tempera
obtaining a Parliamentary Reform. ment, and genius, to treat it without this Association, which, less for its pro. involving himself in a sea of troubles. fessed object than for the republican tenNo doubt, were we to submit his dencies of some of its members, was párwork to a strict and unsparing scruti
ticularly obnoxious to the loyalists of the ny, we could get up a long, laboured
day, Mr Sheridan, Mr Grey, and many article, full of refutations and imputa
others of the leading persons of the Whig tions and confutations, that would prove
party, belonged. Their Address to the him to be one of the greatest criminals
People of England, which was put forth on our annual Calendar. But as we
in the month of April, contained an able have declared this to be a month of
and temperate exposition of the grounds Mercy-we shall treat Mr Moore with
upon which they sought for Reform; and
the names of Sheridan, Mackintosh, a gentleness that may well surprise
Whitbread, &c., appear on the list of the and delight him-a gentleness, in
Committee by which this paper was drawn deed, which even in our most trucu.
up. lent Numbers we generally display to- “ It is a proof of the little zea) which wards every writer who has at any Mr Fox felt at this period on the subject time delighted us—and need we say, of Reform, that he withheld the sanction that that has been done by the poet of of his name from a Society, to which so Lalla Rookh ?
many of his most intimate political friends Let us take first the Politics-and belonged. Some notice was taken in the get done with them in not many words House of this symptom of backwardness -then a paragraph or two about She- in the cause; and Sheridan, in replying ridan, as Richard Brinsley in domes- to the insinuation, said, that 'they wanttic and social life—and finally, a few ed not the signature of his Right Horemarks on his Dramatic Genius. Each nourable Friend to assure them of his of these three subjects would furnish
They had his bond in the matter for an article-but we hate steadiness of his political principles and prosing-so hope to settle them all in the integrity of his heart.' Mr Fox himone sober and sensible sheet.
self, however, gave a more definite explaNever was any secret betrayed with
nation of the circumstance.
• He might more naiveté, than the account which
be asked,' he said, 'why his name was not Mr Moore gives of the principles of
on the list of the Society for Reform ? the Whigs, in advocating and fostering and enormous
grievances, he did not see
His reason was, that though he saw great the cause of reform. We cannot imagine the amazed looks with which Lord
the remedy.' It is to be doubted, indeed,
whether Mr Fox ever fully admitted the Grey, and the remnants and refuse of
principle upon which the demand for a the Fox party, must have read the
Reform is founded. When he afterwards passage alluded to, without bursting
espoused the question so warmly, it seems into immoderate and remorseless
to have been merely as one of those wealaughter. Never was such a charge pons caught up in the heat of a warfare, made by any of all the adversaries of in which Liberty itself appeared to him the Foxites, as that little passage con- too imminently endangered, to admit of tains, where our author, speaking of the consideration of any abstract princithe institution of the society of “ The ple, except that summary one of the right Friends of the People," explains the of resistance to power abused. From real views and motives with which what has been already said, too, of the Fox, Grey, Sheridan, &c. connected language held by Sheridan on this subject,
* Memoirs of the Life of the Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan, By Thomas Moore. 2 vols. 8vo. Second edition. Longman and Co. London, 1825. VOL. XIX,
it may be concluded that, though far more fuge in it when pressed upon the subject, ready than his friend to inscribe Reform and would laughingly advise his political upon the banner of the party, he had even friends to do the same ;- Whenever still less made up his mind as to the prac- any one,' he would say, 'proposes to ticability or expediency of the measure. you a specific plan of Reform, always. Looking upon it as a question, the agita- answer that you are for nothing short of tion of which was useful to Liberty, and Annual Parliaments and Universal Suf. at the same time counting upon the im- frage-there you are safe.' He also had probability of its objects being accomplish- evident delight, when talking on this ed, he adopted at once, as we have seen, question, in referring to a jest of Burke, the most speculative of the plans that who said that there had arisen a new had been proposed, and flattered himself party of Reformers, still more orthodox that he thus secured the benefit of the ge- than the rest, who thought Annual Parneral principle, without risking the incon- liaments far from being sufficiently frevenience of any of the practical details." quent, and who, founding themselves on
But this insincerity of the Whigs in the latter words of the statute of Edward the cause of reform, about which they III., that “a Parliament shall be holden raised such clamours to molest the
every year once, and more often if need possessors of place and patronage, is be,' were known by the denomination of still more clearly described in an ear- the Oftener-if-need-bes. • For my part,' lier part of the work, and that passage he would add, in relating this, I am an also, in justice to all parties, should Oftener-if-need-be. Even when most be extracted. It is where our author serious on the subject (for, to the last, speaks of Sheridan's debut as a politi- he professed himself a warm friend to
Reform) his arguments had the air of cian.
being ironical and insidious. To Annual “ In the society of such men the des
Parliaments and Universal Suffrage, he tiny of Mr Sheridan could not be long would say, the principles of representain fixing. On the one side, his own keen
tion naturally and necessarily led, -any thirst for distinction, and, on the other, less extensive proposition was a base a quick and sanguine appreciation of the compromise and a dereliction of right; service that such talents might render in
and the first encroachment on the people the warfare of party, could not fail to
was the act of Henry VI., which limited hasten the result that both desired. « His first appearance before the pub- freeholders within the county, whereas
the power of election to forty-shilling lic as a political character was in con
the real right was in the ' outrageous junction with Mr Fox, at the beginning and excessive number of people, by of the year 1780, when the famous Resolutions on the State of the Represen- choice had been made of late.-Such
whom the preamble recites* that the tation, signed by Mr Fox as chairman of the Westminster Committee, together
were the arguments by which he affected
to support his cause, and it is not diffi. with a Report on the same subject from
cult to detect the eyes of the snake glise the Sub-committee, signed by Sheridan, tening from under them.” 'were laid before the public. Annual
When the Whig-club dinners are Parliaments and Universal Suffrage were the professed objects of this meeting; Yard--the motions in the House of
remembered—the meetings in Palace and the first of the Resolutions, subscribed by Mr Fox, stated that Annual
Commons, to say nothing of the hobParliaments are the undoubted right of bernobbery of the Duke of Norfolk the people of England.'
with Wishart the tobacconist-history “ Notwithstanding this strong declara
loses her gravity, and holds both her tion, it may be doubted whether Sheridan sides. The poor Whigs wanted but was, any more than Mr Fox, a very sin
this to render their degradation as cere friend to the principle of Reform; complete as their influence and preand the manner in which he masked his tensions have become despicable. But disinclination or indifference to it was the worst part of the effect of the strongly characteristic both of his hu- simplicity with which these exposures mour and his tact. Aware that the wild of the public dishonesty, of so many scheme of Cartwright and others, which time-honoured and flagrant patriots, these Resolutions recommended, was is the distrust with which it must wholly impracticable, he always took re- inspire the people against every pub
* “ Elections of knights of shires have now of late been made by very great outrageous and excessive number of people, dwelling within the same counties, of the which most part was people of small substance and of no value.' 8 H. 6. c. 7.
HE NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN THUS
ASSISTED BY THE ADVANTAGES OF
lic man who professes to be their family consideration or political enerfriend. And yet, in the face of this . gy, has the misfortune to incur the “ peaching" of his whole political as- acquaintance of the great. Mr Moore sociates, Mr Moore impugns the in- touches the subject with the delicacy tegrity of Mr Burke ! He does not, peculiar to his poetical pen, and concertainly, attempt to underrate the sidering how much he has himself wonderful mind and acquirements experienced of that costly condescenof that extraordinary man; but he sion, there is perhaps not anether paspeaks of him as so enthralled by his ragraph in his book so pregnant with temper and irascibility, as to have meaning, as the few sentences in which been little better than a maniac-an he speaks of Sheridan's enjoyment of inspired maniac he would perhaps be the proud consciousness of having surwilling to allow. But what are we mounted the disadvantages of birth and to think, either of the candour or the station, and placed himself on a level discernment of our author, who, with with the highest and noblest of the the visible demonstration before him land. But mark what follows, and of all that Burke's forecasting wisdom let those who are possessed but of gea had predicted—come to pass—acted nius — remember the admonition it and done-described and recorded in contains, whenever they may be ho. the chronicles of every civilized nation noured with the humbling situation -yet ventures to insinuate that the of a place at the tables of the lordly. influence upon the prophet himself, -“This footing in the society of of the stupendous apocalypse with the great he could only have attained which he roused and alarmed the by Parliamentary eminence. As a world, was the effect of a sordid calcu- MERE WRITER, with all his genius, lation--the consent of his poverty to a crime! And, forsooth, because it was ADMITTED adeundem among them. the opinion of those pure and precious Talents in literature or science, UNreformers—those « Friends of the people,” with whom he had acted, till BIRTII, may lead to association with they became such friends of the peo- the great, but rarely to equality—it is ple as Mr Moore has in his simplicity a passport through the well-guarded described, In quitting them, it is frontier, but no title to naturalization alleged, that he sold himself to the within. By him who has not been born ministry, when, in point of fact, ex- among them, this can only be achieved cept in the simple principle of hos- by politics."-Vol. II. p. 73. This tility to France, it is matter of history is well said ; but Mr Moore might and moral demonstration, that there have gone farther—for he must have was little communion of spirit, or com- often observed-shall we venture to mon scope of intelligence, between say felt ?--that the author or the artist Burke and Pitt, or any of the pro- at the table of the great, is but as a minent members of the administration dainty, served up for the entertainas it stood prior to the accession of the ment of the other arrogant guests. seceding Whigs. But Moore attack. There are not half-a-dozen tables in ing Burke, is the antelope attacking London of “the lovers of the arts," the elephant-the war elephant, cas- as Mick Kelly calls them, which a tled and garrisoned with all his gor- man of genius, unknown in politics, geous trappings gloriously upon him, who has a right respect for himself, as he comes forth from the orient would desire often to revisit-so ofgates of imperial palaces, amidst the fensively does the spirit of the legislaNabobs and Rajahs of the Indus and tive caste reign at them all. the Ganges.
There is one part of this work which Humiliating as the views of hu. will be read with interest and with surman nature are, which the Memoirs prise-we refer to Sheridan's intimacy of Sheridan lay open, in the conduct with his present Majesty-and we will of his political associates there are venture to assert, that every word Mr yet passages which must awaken feel- Moore says regarding it will be wormings of intenser mortification than wood and gall to many a proud and even those which draw so much sym- pompous Whig. One thing it makes pathy towards him, in as much as out very clearly, viz. that there nethey affect the secret sentiments of ver did exist between the Prince of every man of talent, who, without Wales and Mr Fox that entire and free political and party friendship, tion of Parliamentary Reform, was which it has been so long the en- bad enough for them all ; but the deavour of Whiggery to represent light he has let in upon the state of first, as an inducement, prior to the their connexion with the Prince of establishment of the Regency, to draw Wales, is still worse. Who could have recruits to their standard-and, se imagined that ever Shakspeare's knowcond, as a pretext for the abuse, with ledge of man would have received in which they have clamoured against any point such an illustration as the him for his personal independence simple expression of—" Master Shalsubsequent to that era. It appears low, I owe you a thousand pounds !” to be matter of historical fact, that obtained in the looks and feelings of in the secret negotiations during the the Whigs, when they found the year 1789, when the Regency ques- Prince had resolved to betake himself tion first arose, Mr Fox was not even to counsellors in more esteem with then the first person in the confidence the kingdom ! of his Royal Highness; and that what But the most interesting part of all has been called his Royal Highness's this party history, is the constancy of desertion of his early friends, is just the Prince's attachment to Sheridan. one of those factious cries which re- Of the talents, the practical knowledge quire but a plausible show of outward of mankind, and of the tact of that circumstances to give them currency. singular being, his Royal Highness That his Royal Highness, by daring seems to have been uniformly sensito act according to the determination ble; and to have consulted and trusted of his own judgment, did disappoint him in what respected his own chamany expectants, and that their pa- racter towards the public, much more trons ascribed the cause rather to his confidentially than he did any other faithlessness than to their own over- of those who arrogated to themselves estimated influence with him, admits the title of " the Prince's friends." of no doubt whatever ; but whatever Mr Moore says little satisfactory on may have been the social intimacy of the the subject of the well-known coolPrince—his youthful companionship ness between Sheridan and Fox duwith Lord Grey and Mr Fox, it by ring the Talent administration-We no means appears very clear that he would ask, does he abstain from doing ever did regard them prospectively as He is not ignorant of the cause, his ministers. That he contemplated or we must question the wonted fathe probability of having them about culty of his eyes and ears. The thing, himself in the great offices of the however, is of no particular consehousehold, is, we think, not to be dis- quence; nor perhaps would it much puted; but we suspect he had seen redound to the honour of Mr Fox, too much of the character of both the were it known. It is enough that the one and the other, ever to have ima- world knows how inadequate the place gined they were qualified for the of- of Treasurer of the Navy was to the fices of the state. For the one, by his station Sheridan occupied in the eyes dangerous facility of temper, however of the country—a circumstance which well, for the short time he was in might induce some to fancy that the power, he may have acted, as new alleged coolness was not, as it has brooms sweep clean, was unfitted to been insinuated, altogether a pulling withstand the hydra importunities of up into dignity on the part of Fox, a government like that of England ; in consequence of Sheridan's circumand the other, by his impracticable stances, but perhaps was rather a fastidiousness, was still less adapted withdrawing from him and his new for those details and daily obtrusions associates on the part of Sheridan, in in office, to which the minister of a consequence of being consigned to an free people must constantly submit. office so unworthy of his talents. Be There does indeed appear to have this, however, as it may, whatever the been a prodigious deal of double-deal- cause of coolness was between these ing about the whole Whig party; and two orators, it is evident that it did it is impossible to be grave,
when not extend its influence to the Prince marking the manner in which our of Wales; for we find that, on the eve biographer has exposed it. The ac- of the regency, Sheridan was deepest count he has given of the views and in the councils and bosom of his Royal principles of the leaders on the ques« Highness-indeed so much so, that it
had the effect of preventing the Lords serve the purposes of those cold and Grey and Grenville, from forming an haughty peerages, over whom and administration. The manner in which whose cause the glory of his manhood they took the pet, because the Prince shed such unparalleled lustre. To presumed to improve their draft of bave paid the debts of Sheridan by subthe answer to the House of Commons, scription, was an undertaking which and to make it more congenial to his those who reflected for a moment on own sentiments, was eminently ab- the subject never conceived either surd; but the tone in which they re- practicable or probable; but the whole sented to his Royal Highness the con- noble herd who deserted him in his sultation he had held with Sheridan on utmost need, well knew that they the subjeet, deserves, and will ever ob- themselves were the causes of the per tain, a stronger epithet than only that secutions and the miseries of his last of foolish.
hours. His death-bed was beset by But after all that confidence, how, duns and bailiffs, in the hope of wringit will be said by the Whigs, did the ing from him a supplication to the inPrince in the end treat this beloved solent charity of those who afterwards Sheridan? We will state at once our so audaciously attended his funeral. own opinion, JUST AS HIS ROYAL But though the payment of his debts HIGHNESS AS A GENTLEMAN OUGHT was not within the scope of any reaTO HAVE DONE. He bestowed upon sonable proposal, a composition to obhim a handsome sinecure for life; and tain the relief of a discharge might when apprised that he was reduced to have been accomplished ; no one, howextreme poverty by the consequences,. ever, interposed to mediate such an less of his own imprudence than the arrangement with the creditors. But backing he received from Whitbread, that was not surprising, for a rational and other similar friends, in his em- man of business was not to be found barrassed theatrical property, his Royal at any time among the Whigs. How Highness, in the most delicate way pos- then, when the question was how to sible, intimated that the means were assist a man who had exalted them to ready to procure him every comfort. It such a pitch of consideration in the was silly, nay worse—it was insulting eyes of the world, were they likely to and contemptible to reject the boon- produce one, when the person to be and then to cry out, that it was sent too assisted could serve them no more? late, especially when the parties who And yet these same Whigs, with all advised that most injurious step, per- their paper trumpets—the daily, the fectly well knew that the relief was monthly, and the quarterly pressoffered in the very moment that the have never ceased to proclaim how need was made known.
much he was shamefully forsaken by We wonder, however, in all that the King, although it appears, even bj has been whined about Sheridan's Mr Moore's account, that of all the poverty at the last, how so little bas public friends of Sheridan his Majesty been said of Mrs Sheridan's conduct. alone was true; and that, aware of What became of her separate settle- his afflicting embarrassments, his Ma. ment at that time, to which She- jesty actually offered to procure him ridan contributed fifteen thousand a seat in Parliament, to protect him pounds ? Was it in pledge? We be- from the importunity of his creditors. lieve not. Surely it was not likely That it was not accepted, and for the to occur to any person who knew her reasons explained by his biographer, circumstances, to imagine that her reflects honour on the high-mindedness husband would be allowed to perish, of Sheridan; but the offer does not as it were, in want; and where, too, detract, in any degree, from the chawere all those splendid friends whose racter of the King. eleemosynary liberality enabled Mr There are, no doubt, spirits among Fox to maintain the rank of his birth af- the Whigs who will represent his Mater he had squandered both patrimony jesty's conduct in thus proposing the and pensions? Poor Sheridan had no Parliamentary sanctuary for his old patrimony. The lordly income he ac- friend as a misdemeanour in the trusts quired and spent with those friends of the Regency; but the common sense was earned by his own talents. But, of the world, that sense which consialas! he was grown old, and fallen ders not the theory, but mere pracinto infirmities, and could no longer tice amidst existing circumstances,