Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Cecil Price (ed.), The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Vol. 1

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42. To Thomas Linley the Elder

Robert H. Taylor MS.

Pub.: Moore, i. 188—90.

Jan. 31st. 76

Dear Sir,

I am glad you have found a Person who will let you have pg 100the money at 4 per Cent.1 The Security will be very clear, but as there is some degree of Risk, as in case of Fire, I think 4 per Cent uncommonly reasonable, as it will scarcely be any advantage to pay it off—for your Houses and Chapel I suppose bring in much more.2 Therefore while you can raise money at 4 per Cent on the security of your theatrical share only, you will be right to alter as little as you can the present Disposition of your Property. As to your quitting Bath I cannot see why you should doubt a moment about it. Surely the undertaking in which you embark such a sum as £10,000 ought to be the chief object of your Attention: and supposing you did not chuse to give up all your Time to the Theatre you may certainly employ yourself more profitably in London than in Bath. But if you are willing (as I suppose you will be) to make the Theatre the great object of your Attention, rely on it you may lay aside every Doubt of not finding your account in it.3 For the Fact is we shall have nothing but our own Equity to consult in making and obtaining any Demand for exclusive Trouble.—Leasy is utterly unequal to any Department in the Theatre. He has an opinion of me, and is very willing to let the whole Burthen and ostensibility be taken off his Shoulders—but I certainly should not give up my Time and Labour (for his superior advantage having so much greater a share) without some pg 101exclusive advantage. Yet I should by no means make the Demand 'till I had shewn myself equal to the Task. My Father purposes to be with us but one year—and that only to give me what advantage He can from his experience.1 He certainly must be paid for his trouble: and so certainly must you. You have experience and character equal to the line you would undertake, and it never can enter into anybody's Head that you were to give your time or any Part of your Attention gratis because you had a share in the Theatre.2 I have spoke on this subject both to Garrick and Leasy, and you will find no demurr on any side to your gaining a certain Income from the Theatre, greater I think than you could make out of it—and in this the Theatre I am sure will be acting only for its own advantage. At the same time you may always make Leisure for a few select Scholars—whose interest may also serve the greater cause of your Patentee-ship.

I have had a young man with me who wants to appear as a Singer in Plays or Oratorios—.1 think you'll find him likely to be serviceable in either. He is not one and twenty, and has no conceit. He has a good Tenor Voice—very good ear and a great deal of execution, and of the right kind. He reads Notes very quick, and can accompany himself.—This is Betsey's Verdict, who sat in Judgement on him on Sunday last.—I have given him no answer—but engaged him to wait 'till you come to Town.—You mustn't regard the Reports in the Paper about a third Theatre3—that's all Nonsense.

Mr. Collins has been disappointed in two Houses which he expected would have been Empty by this time—but they will not be so this month. He will look out, as I will— and you need not doubt being suited for the time and at the Price you want. There is a small House in a malbro'-Street that we are to see tomorrow.4

Betsey's and my Love to all. Your Grandson astonishes everybody by his vivacity his talents for musick and Poetry and the most perfect integrity of mind.5 | Yours most sincerely I

R B Sheridan

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 The Morn. Chron., 18 Jan. 1776, stated: 'It is currently reported that David Garrick, Esq; has sold his share of the Patent and Property of Drury Lane Theatre for £36,000 to four gentlemen, one of whom is said to be Mr. Richard Sheridan, the successful author of The Duenna. Report adds, that the writings were signed Tuesday evening [i.e. 16th].' As late as 24 Jan. it was said that Ewart was one of the patentees (Lady's Magazine (1776), p. 54). By the time the contract with Garrick was completed (in June), he had assigned his share to Ford.
Editor’s Note
2 Linley's share cost him £10,000, which he raised by granting Garrick a mortgage on property he owned at Bath (detailed in Egerton MS. 1975, f. 22) and on his share in the theatre (Add. MS. 42720, f. 132).
Editor’s Note
3 The way in which S. raised the money for his share has been the subject of much discussion, but Add. MS. 42720, ff. 132–5, makes his position clear. His share cost him £10,000, of which James Ford advanced him £7,700 on a mortgage on S.'s share of D.L.Th. S. found £2,300 himself and so became controller of the theatre. Sichel, i. 524–5, states that £1,000 of this amount was obtained by a mortgage of two annuities to Garrick's solicitors. It is little wonder that Bagehot spoke of S.'s 'managing shrewdness', for S. had no financial resources and in this same year had to borrow £100 from Garrick: see the promissory note listed in S.C., 5 Aug. 1851, lot 31. This was probably for an advance to Crispin, whose bill for £238 7s. 2d. was not settled until 15 Feb. 1793: see Add. MS. 44919, f. 43.
Editor’s Note
1 They quarrelled again before the season began, and Thomas Sheridan withdrew from all participation. See Morn. Post, 24 Aug. 1776; Rae, ii. 4.
Editor’s Note
2 Nominally, Linley had £10,000, Ford had £15,000, and S. had £10,000.
Editor’s Note
3 A constant menace to the proprietors of the two patent theatres. See p. 117.
Editor’s Note
4 Moore omits this paragraph,
Editor’s Note
5 Tom S., aged two months.
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