페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

the barter of Glaucus, exchanged for such copper as the following :

Duen. Well, sir, I don't want to stay in your house; but I must go and lock up my wardrobe.

Isaac. Your wardrobe ! when you came into my house you could carry your wardrobe in your comb-case, you could, you old dragon.

Another specimen :

Isaac. Her voice, too, you told me, was like a Virginian nightingale ; why, it is like a cracked warming-pan-and, as for dimples !—to be sure, she has the devil's own dimples. Yes ! and you told me she had a lovely down upon her chin, like the down of a peach ; but, damn me if ever I saw such down upon any creature in my life, except once upon an old

goat."

These jokes, it is needless to add, are all the gratuitous contributions of the editor.

Towards the close of the year 1775, it was understood that Garrick intended to retire from the stage, and to part with his moiety of the patent of Drury Lane Theatre. He was then in the sixtieth year of his age, and, looking round him for some worthy successor, he determined on offering the post to the rising young dramatist. The progress of the negotiation between them, which ended in making Sheridan patentee and manager, cannot be better traced than in his letters addressed at the time to Mr. Linley.

“Sunday, Dec. 31, 1775. “DEAR SIR,

“I was always one of the slowest letter-writers in the world, though I have had more excuses than usual for

my

delay in this instance. The principal matter of business, on which I was to have written to you, related to our embryo negotiation with Garrick, of which I will now give you an account. Since

you left town, Mrs. Ewart has been so ill, as to con

tinue near three weeks at the point of death. This, of course, has prevented Mr. E. from seeing anybody on business, or from accompanying me to Garrick's. However, about ten days ago, I talked the matter over with him by myself, and the result was, appointing Thursday evening last to meet him, and bring Ewart, which I did accordingly. On the whole of our conversation that evening, I began (for the first time) to think him really serious in the business. He still, however, kept the reserve of giving the refusal to Colman, though at the same time he did not hesitate to assert his confidence that Colman would decline it. I was determined to push him on this point (as it was really farcical for us to treat with him under such an evasion), and at last he promised to put the question to Colman, and to give me a decisive answer by the ensuing Sunday (to-day). Accordingly, within this hour, I have received a note from him, which (as I meant to show it my father) I here transcribe for you.

“Mr. Garrick presents his compliments to Mr. Sheridan, and as he is obliged to go into the country for three days, he should be glad to see him upon his return to town, either on Wednesday about six or seven o'clock, or whenever he pleases. The party has no objection to the whole, but chooses no partner but Mr. G. Not a word of this yet. Mr. G. sent a messenger on purpose (i.e. to Colman). He would call upon Mr. S., but he is confined at home. Your name is upon our list.'

“This decisive answer may be taken two ways. However, as Mr. G. informed Mr. Ewart and me, that he had no authority or pretensions to treat for the whole, it appears to me that Mr. Garrick's meaning in this note is, that Mr. Colman declines the purchase of Mr. Garrick's share, which is the point in debate, and the only part at present to be sold. I shall, therefore, wait on G. at the time mentioned, and, if I understand him right, we shall certainly without delay appoint two men of business and the law to meet on the matter, and come to a conclusion without further delay.

According to his demand, the whole is valued at £70,000.

He appears very shy of letting his books be looked into, as the test of the profits on this sum, but says it must be in its nature, a purchase on speculation. However, he has promised me a rough estimate, of his own, of the entire receipts for the last seven years. But, after all, it must certainly be a purchase on speculation without money's worth being made out. One point he solemnly avers, which is, that he will never part with it under the price above-mentioned.

“This is all I can say on the subject till Wednesday, though I can't help adding, that I think we might safely give £5000 more on this purchase than richer people. The whole valued at £70,000, the annual interest is £3500; while this is cleared, the proprietors are safe—but I think it must be infernal management indeed that does not double it.

“I suppose Mr. Stanley has written to you relative to your oratorio orchestra. The demand, I reckon, will be diminished one-third, and the appearance remain very handsome, which, if the other affair takes place, you will find your account in; and, if you discontinue your partnership with Stanley at Drury Lane, the orchestra may revert to whichever wants it, on the other's paying his proportion for the use of it this year. This is Mr. Garrick's idea, and, as he says, might in that case be settled by arbitration.

“You have heard of our losing Miss Brown; however, we have missed her so little in “The Duenna,' that the managers have not tried to regain her, which I believe they might have done. I have had some books of the music these many days to send you down. I wanted to put Tom's name in the new music, and begged Mrs. L. to ask you, and let me have a line on her arrival, for which purpose I kept back the index of the songs. If you or he have no objection, pray, let me knowI'll send the music to-morrow.

"I am finishing a two-act comedy for Covent Garden, which will be in rehearsal in a week. We have given ‘The Duenna' a respite this Christmas, but nothing else at present brings money. We have every place in the house taken for the three

next nights, and shall, at least, play it fifty nights, with only the Friday's intermission.

“My best love and the compliments of the season to all your fire-side. "Your grandson is a very magnificent fellow.*

Yours ever sincerely,

“R. B. SHERIDAN."

" January 4, 1776 “ DEAR SIR, –

“I left Garrick last night too late to write to you. He has offered Colman the refusal, and showed me his answer; which was (as in the note) that he was willing to purchase the whole, but would have no partner but Garrick. On this, Mr. Garrick appointed a meeting with his partner, young Leasy,t and, in presence of their solicitor, treasurer, &c., declared to him that he was absolutely on the point of settling, and, if he was willing, he might have the same price for his share; but that if he (Leasy) would not sell, Mr. Garrick would, instantly, to another party. The result was, Leasy's declaring his intention of not parting with his share. Of this Garrick again informed Colman, who immediately gave up the whole matter.

“Garrick was extremely explicit, and, in short, we came to a final resolution. So that, if the necessary matters are made out to all our satisfactions, we may sign and seal a previous agreement within a fortnight.

“I meet him again to-morrow evening, when we are to name a day for a conveyancer on our side, to meet his solicitor, Wallace. I have pitched on a Mr. Phips, at the recommendation and by the advice of Dr. Ford. The three first steps to be taken are these :-our lawyer is to look into the titles, tenures, &c., of the house and adjoining estate, the extent and limitations of the patent, &c. We should then employ a builder (I think, Mr. Collins), to survey the state and repair in which the

* Sheridan's first child, Thomas, born in the preceding year.
+ Mr. Lacy.

whole premises are, to which G. entirely assents. Mr. G. will then give us a fair and attested estimate from his books of what the profits have been, at an average, for these last seven years. This he has shown me in rough, and valuing the property at £70,000, the interest has exceeded ten per cent.

We should, after this, certainly make an interest to get the king's promise, that, while the theatre is well conducted, &c., he will grant no patent for a third-though G. seems confident that he never will. If there is any truth in professions and appearances, G. seems likely always to continue our friend, and to give every assistance in his power.

“ The method of our sharing the purchase, I should think, may be thus :-Ewart to take £10,000, you £10,000, and I £10,000. Dr. Ford agrees, with the greatest pleasure, to embark the other five; and, if you do not choose to venture so much, will, I dare say, share it with you. Ewart is preparing his money, and I have a certainty of my part. We shall have a very useful ally in Dr. Ford ; and my father offers his services on our own terms. We cannot unite Garrick to our interests too firmly; and I am convinced his influence will bring Leasy to our terms, if he should be ill-advised enough to desire to interfere in what he is totally unqualified for.

“I'll write to you to-morrow, relative to Leasy's mortgage (which Garrick has, and advises us to take), and many other particulars. When matters are in a certain train (which I hope will be in a week), I suppose you will not hesitate to come to town for a day or two. Garrick proposes, when we are satisfied with the bargain, to sign a previous article, with a penalty of £10,000 on the parties who break from fulfilling the purchase. When we are once satisfied and determined in the business (which, I own, is my case), the sooner that is done the better. I must urge it particularly, as my confidential connection with the other house is peculiarly distressing, till I can with prudence

* These accounts were found among Mr. Sheridan's papers. Garrick's income from the theatre for the year 1775.6 is thus stated :--Author, 4400; salary, £800; manager, £500.

« 이전계속 »