Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Cecil Price (ed.), The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Vol. 3

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918. [To Colonel John McMahon]

Windsor MSS. 21807–8: a copy.

Pub.: Letters of Geo. IV, ii. 119–20.

Dock.: This is a Copy of a rough and imperfect Draft in Mr. Sheridan's Handwriting, which together with other Papers, I, by Sir Wm. Knighton's desire, returned to Mr. Burgess in the presence of Mr. Marrable on Thursday the 13 Septr. 1827. Geo M

                              Saville Row

Saturday, Octr. 21,1815

private

My dear Friend,

When you showed me at the desire of the two noble Lords the Correspondence between you and Lord Liverpool Ipg 234 mentioned to you that I had promised to write to Lord Sidmouth after I had seen you, principally for the Information of Lord Liverpool, having as far as I knew of the Case, already frankly given my opinion to Lord Sidmouth.—I also told you that under all the Circumstances I considered it proper that you should see my Letter to him.—In consequence I shall enclose a Copy of it, together with his Lordship's Answer received this Evening.—

Notwithstanding the superior official knowledge, and political Abilities of both the noble Lords which no Man is more ready to admit than myself, as well as my Conviction of their honorable Attachment to His Royal Highness, I yet deem it no presumption to say that I know the Character of the English People, and the Composition of publick Feeling better than they have had the Opportunity of knowing them.—Therefore with all Deference and Submission I feel that I should trifle with the Sincerity of my own Mind if I hesitated freely to declare that my opinions as expressed in my Letter to Lord Sidmouth remain not merely unaltered but if possible strengthen'd.

You will see in Lord Sidmouth's Answer that he will forward my Letter to Lord Liverpool by this Night's Post, so that I suppose Lord Liverpool is at some distance from Town.—However it is apparent to me that they have made up their Minds on the Subject, and that no good1 can arise from any further humble Efforts on my Part.—I discontinue therefore my Application to the Quarter I mention'd to you and shall return to the Isle of Wight in a few days—deeply regretting the Situation in which this important business remains.

The alternative we spoke of, and which had been before noticed to me by Lord Sidmouth (I speak with reference to Lady M)2 I should have thought expedient and practicable.pg 235 —The Fact is that enough on the Subject in question has long since been more than w[h]ispered abroad so that general Expectation is in a great Measure prepared for something being done relative to it, and I believe that the Arrangement I refer to would be even regarded as a satisfactory Compromise, contemplating the admirable Conduct, Character and accomplishments of the Lady.—

But even this Arrangement it may be said would be liable to be arraign'd on the Score of a Title bestowed in return for parliamentary Support.—From whatever quarter it might come I should now, as I should at all times have done, applaud the Grounds of such an objection,—Having been from the Commencement of my political Life a pledged opposer of corrupt Influence in either House of Parliament,—but alas, what has been the practice ? I should be happy to see the Minister conscientiously competent to declare (placing of course Peerages conferred for military Service out of the Question) that three fourths of those he has recommended to seats in the Upper House have not acquired the Government Patronage to which they owed their Advancement, by the Weight of their Parliamentary interest, or the previous performance of due Service in the House of Commons—I know of no such Minister—I wish I did—and therefore I cannot fancy that extreme prudery on the present occasion, however founded in principle, will excite any very serious admiration in the Public Mind.— Yet could no failure of Effect in this respect in the least diminish the Clamour and Indignation which would assuredly follow the publication of the bare Fact of the Sovereign having affixed his Signature to an unconstitutional Engagement without precedent or Parallel.—

Certainly the best Thing of all would be that Sir W. M. himself should decide not to venture further in this Business1 —for he is miserably misinformed if he conceives that he can bring his alledged promises forward without incurring the most serious penal Consequences to himself.—But should he be so vindictively wrong-headed as to persevere in his present Determination, remember my Words, my dear McMahon, note what I have written and mark the result.—

pg 236You will see in my Letter to Lord Sidmouth the grounds on which1 [I wish?] him to consider me as giving at least disinterested Advice.—And his Answer does me Justice— otherwise feeling the Importance of the Subject as I do, I should have had no hesitation to have claim'd the privilege of a privy Councillor most humble to have.

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1 A note, here, reads: 'On a scrap of Paper pinned on to this Part is the following in Mr. S.'s handwriting— "state why I clear myself—Send back Lord S's Letter—Note my Words— Privy Councellor." '
Editor’s Note
2 Sir William Manners's wife was formerly Catherine Grey (1766–1852); his mother was Louisa, Countess of Dysart (1745–1840). Sidmouth wrote to Liverpool on 22 Oct., to say: 'As far as I can discover S's meaning, it is, that the Proposal respecting the Lady ought to be accepted, which H.R.H. seems fully satisfied is inadmissible' (Add. MS. 38262, f. 107).
Editor’s Note
1 Manners was styled Lord Huntingtower from 1821 to his death in 1833.
Editor’s Note
1 There is a marginal comment here in the same hand as that of the transcript: 'so in the Paper. Geo M.'
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