Jan 11

[Mary Delany to Anne Viney, 11 January 1775]


I heard a sweet new instrument called the celestinet, the improvement, if not the invention f Mr. Mason the poet.  His gentlest muse is not more harmonious and pathetick.  I know your sister will long, as well as yourself, to have it described, but that is past my skill.  I can give you a sketch, but not a finished piece.  The shape is that of a short [91] harpsichord, with the same sort of keys, and played on only with the right hand in the same manner; and at the same time you draw with your left hand a bow like the bow of a fiddle, that runs in a groove under the keys, and by proper management presses on the wires and brings out a delicate, exquisite sound, something between the finest notes of a fiddle and the glasses.  It is not above 2 feet long and 1 foot and a half in the broadest part, where the keys are, which are placed on the top of the instrument in this manner [sketch on the page].  It is set on a table, and is best accompanied with a pianoforte or harpsicord [sic].  Mr. Mason plays charmingly, with great expression.  I must own tho’ that Handel’s majestic musick is too deeply implanted on my soul to suffer me to delight (in general) in modern flimsy Italian music.  This being a curious invention I could not help giving you a detail of it, and perhaps have tired you.[1]




Mar 22




To-morrow, Wednesday, March 22, 1775,


L’Allegro il Penseroso.



‘Let thy Hand be Strengthen’d’ and ‘The King shall rejoice.’

End of the FIRST PART



End of the SECOND PART






F Tickets to be had, and Places for the Boxes to be taken of Mr. JOHNSTON, at the Stage-Door of the Theatre, at HALF a GUINEA each.

Pit 5s.  First Gallery 3s. 6d.  Second Gallery 2s.

The Doors will be opened at FIVE o’Clock.

To begin exactly at HALF past SIX.              Vivant Rex & Regina.[2]




Mar 29




On Wednesday next, March 29, 1775,

{To-morrow, Wednesday, March 29, 1775,}


The Fall of Egypt.


Written by the late Dr. HAWKSWORTH,

{Written by the late Dr. HAWKESWORTH.}

And Composed by Mr. STANLEY.

{And Set to Music by Mr. STANLEY.}

End of the FIRST PART



End of the SECOND PART



C Tickets to be had, and Places for the Boxes to be taken of Mr. JOHNSTON, at the Stage-Door of the Theatre, at HALF a GUINEA each.

Pit 5s.  First Gallery 3s. 6d.  Second Gallery 2s.

The Doors will be opened at HALF after FIVE o’Clock.

To begin exactly at HALF past SIX.              Vivant Rex & Regina.[3]




[May 3–Jun 21]

Richard Brinsley Sheridan to Thomas Linley

[3 May–21 June] 1775


Dear Sir,


Before I attempt to offer my sincere Sentiments on the subject of your last, I must premise that you must not take ill my giving them with the greatest Freedom, on an Affair which must certainly either establish or undo your Comfort and Welfare for the rest of your Life, and which also involves the entire Prosperity of so large a Part of your Family. — I shall venture to speak more freely because I am convinced that I am better acquainted with the Scene of Life into which you propose to enter, than you are yourself: A Scene which I had always an Instinctive Abhorrence of, and which I am now more than ever convinced is, for its extent, the greatest Nursery of Vice and Misery on the Face of the Earth. — I am aware that you are prepared for my Prejudices on this Subject; and that you will probably misconceive part of my motives in wishing you to cherish the same. However, tho’ I still think myself bound to urge my Opinion with Frankness, I request no other Effect from it to arise in your mind than that you will but for a little while suspend your Resolution — it is a subject which you cannot weigh too minutely — nor consider too often — and this too should be done when a little cool’d from the first Effects which a sanguine Imagination may have received from an apparently flattering Prospect, and above all it should be done when free from the immediate Influence of one of the most artful and selfish Men that ever imposed on Merit or Honesty. — Mr. G. {Garrick} I should suppose cannot at present have trepann’d you into any absolute Promise — (or it would have been useless to have mentioned a word of the matter to me — for as to the Question of what you should ask, I am entirely unfit to decide — because upon my Honour and Soul I look on your Children as surely and utterly ruined by the scheme — to which no Price can be adequate) — Or if He has — as you have not yet even proposed your Terms — nothing binding can have pass’d — so that surely a Fortnight’s or a Month’s Reflection on the matter cannot injure either Party, or materially affect your Plan if it shall then appear to you in the same Light as at Present. — If Mr. G. pretends that his Engagements are such as make a speedy Answer from you necessary, that He cannot keep the Proposal open, that He must immediately look elsewhere if He does not close with you — if, I say, He should urge this — He will utter what He knows to be insidious and false: — There is no period of his Season in which He would not eagerly catch at such an Engagement. He is conscious that it has long been an Object with him — He has look’d with the longing of a Baud on the Promise of Genius in your Family, and finds his Theatre never more in want of it than at Present — and He is at present particularly stimulated by the Reputation of what Maria promises to be, in whom He hopes to forestall at least another Mrs. S. {Sheridan} — It may be said that this may be his Idea, and yet the Proposal turn out no less advantageous to you. — Now putting every other consideration out of the Question — I would stake my Life on it that even in point of Pecuniary Advantage you and your Family, will be Losers by changing the Turn of your Profession. — But as I cannot think this the most important Consideration, it may be waived for the present — and give me leave to endeavour to Justify those apprehensions I have express’d with regard to the Happiness, and what ought to be esteem’d the Wellfare of your Chi[l]dren, particularly your Daughters. I know that it is a Thread-bare Topick to declaim against the Hazard of the Scenes to Won[der at?] the Indecency of the Profession, the Contagion of Example etc. etc. but you say that you believe it to be the general Opinion that there is no difference between a public Singer and an Actress. — Here I own I have very different Sentiments. In the Judgement of every one of Sense and Delicacy there is a material Difference made between the two Situations. The Daughter of a Musician, having Talents to benefit her Father in the same Profession, treads only in the Path in which she was born. Her appe[a]rance in Public is natural and not unexpected, it argues no Choice, no Passion for becoming a Spectacle, no low Vanity of being the unblushing Object of a Licentious gaping Croud — if she be in herself good, modest, and well bred — there is her Character — and the Part she may always appear in: in her Performance there is nothing address’d to the grosser Passions, nor anything to inflame or corrupt her own Feelings. — In the other Situation every thing is reversed: it is her evident Inclination and Passion to obtrude herself into a conspicuous Scene of all that’s indelicate, immodest, immoral: In her former Sphere she is accountable to no one, She is evidently the Pupil of, and under the Wings of her Parent; in the Latter She is the Creature of a mercenary Manager, The Servant of the Town, and a licens’d Mark for Libertinism: — She leaves a situation comparatively private, where her abilities only distinguish her, to become a Topick for illiberal News-Paper Criticism and Scandal, and to enter the list of envious Contention with a set of practised Harlots on one side, and profligate Scoundrels on the other. — Whatever the Promise of her Abilities may be — the event is precarious — it is a Profession of all others without any standard of true Taste — The Theatre is at present deserted by all the Higher Ranks of People — The Mob are the Rulers in it, and as to eminence and Fame — Miss Catley is greater than Mrs. Barry, and a good Columbine equal to either. — As to the real modesty of an Actress every Body looks on it as a Farce — and the Reputation of it is rather an Injury, and I think very justly, for it certainly does not belong to the Profession. There is a strong connexion between the Countenance of every Virtue and the Reality — if the Resolution to face an Audience is an assumed Character, does not at once deprive a woman of all the out-works of Virtue — Bashfulness and Reserve, it is certain that a very little Practice does radically relieve her from two Qu[a]lities so evidently calculated to embarrass her Performance. — What is the modesty of any Women whose trade it is eternally to represent all the different modifications of Love before a mix’d Assembly of Rakes, Whores, Lords and Blackguards in Succession! — to play the Coquet, the Wanton, to retail loose innuendos in Comedy, or glow with warm Descriptions in Tragedy; and in both to be haul’d about, squeez’d and kiss’d by beastly pimping Actors! — what is to be the Fate of a Girl of seventeen in such a situation? — what of a Girl of Polly’s particular Attractions? — The Protection, the Advice of Parents may preserve their Child while she is their’s — but Clarinda, Monimia{,} Calista are not subject to such vulgar Rules — everything round them is unchaste — their Studies are Lessons of Vice and Passion. — Like Wretches who work in unwhol[e]some Mines, Their senses are corrupted in the opperation of their Trade. — it would be endless to enumerate all that suggests itself on this subject — it would be needless to add the circumstance of a Girl’s making a Shew of herself in Breeches ( — and I suppose Mr. G. would bring out Polly in the Country-Girl — ) however even this is little worse than the rest — the Point is that the event has always justified what Reas[o]n must foresee — under such circumstances — all Actresses whose eminence has made their Characters worth being enquired into, from Mrs. Oldfield down to Mrs. Barry, have been uniformly found to be Ladies of easy Virtue, to say no worse, it is true that now and then we hear of some unwieldy Heroine, who having no other way to distinguish herself, has affected the singula[ri]ty of Chastity — however even their Virtue — except in cases of eminent Ugliness — has been usually reported as very problematical: — At present there are not three at both Theatres who labour under the least suspicion of such a Quality. The only one at Covent-Garden in that predicament is a Miss Brown — and even here we must not credit the News-Papers — however without being very unusually pretty she has the satisfaction of knowing that she has a constant Retinue of humble-Servants ogling her from the Boxes — who, if they fail in their Designs on her Person, have already nearly secured the consolation of having destroy’d her Character.


The Cause of this Stigma on the Profession is obvious — No Gentleman of Character and Fortune ever yet took a Wife from behind the Scenes of a Theatre — if in the Annals of the Stage there were but ten instances of Female eminence, meeting the reward of a virtuous Union with some independent Man of Honour, it would be some excuse for the Infatuation which has plunged so many well-disposed Girls into this Abyss of profligate misery. But their situation precludes every Hope of such a thing — they soon become conscious of it, and while their occupation is a daily alarm to all the Passions and romantic Folly which lead Women into Error, they are by that occupation shut out from any chance of inspiring a Virtuous Attachment in Others. — You will say that Polly is to be in a different Light — is to have a Particular Countenance, Protection etc. This is what Mr. G. has promised to hundreds — and as for any Restriction that may be made before her Appearanc[e] against her being forced into any particular Line of acting — They are all mere words, and nothing more. The Reputation and Progress of a young Actress once engaged is entirely in the Power of a Manager — and if she refuses to comply with his Choice or re[c]ommendation in her Business She may as well throw up the Profession at once. — and G. has damn’d and sunk numbers whom he had first cajoled, and fo[u]nd afterwards not servilely manageable. As to the delusive Nonsense that captivates Girls Imaginations, and begets a Passion for the Stage — no Deception wears sooner off. Nine out of Ten of the Profession that I have conversed with (and those too of some eminence) have bitterly regretted the Hour they first thought of the Stage — they have all in their turns felt the wretched servility of their State: and those who do not acknowledge this are actuated by no other Principle, than the envy of Prostitutes who delight in seducing others to the Level of their own Infamy. — When I imagine to myself your Daughter Polly familiarized to what I know she must be in such a course of Life — I declare solemnly that the most immediate consequence that I can foresee (and probably by no means the worst) will be her being wrought to a marriage with some such Fellow as Brereton (who will be her Jaffier and Castalio thro’ the winter) and then — not to speak of her own Positive Ruin — the visionary Idea of her assisting her Family is at an end at once. Her Sister Maria — (so young brought to what she will think the grandest Scene in Life!) will doubtless at a proper age find equal Charms in some artful Damon — and your only acquisition will be such Relations as it will be a disgrace to be connected with. — I must repeat it again that it is above a Million to one that this will be the event — in proportion to their Abilities the Temptation encreases. They are shut from your Inspection or Intuition — every hour of their Business teems with Opportunities to favour the views of any artful Fellow-Labourer of that artful Crew. — Mrs. Linley may constantly attend their musical Rehearsals, their Play-Rehearsals, Farce-Rehearsal, Dancing-Rehearsal — their Dressing Room— Green-Room — Scene — Stage — yet all the Precaution or Penetration on Earth is feeble in superin[ten]ding those whose Trade — Practise and Duty is — mask’d Levity — Simulation — and confidence. Sensibility and modesty are so unal[l]ied to this infernal Trade that those who possess them are only so much the less a match for the native Deceit and immorality of its abandoned Professors. — Sure the slightest Deductions of one’s own Reason (tho’ inexperienced) must convince us that the Life of an Actress is in no material respect similar to that of a Singer in your Daughters Situation — They are just as Opposite as the Public Rooms at Bath to the Public Stews in London — both I grant are public — but the one for decent and elegant Entertainment — the other for Riot and immodest Craft. — And this applies to both cases — yet can you say in the eye of the world there is no Difference. To disprove this I will confidently urge the instance of your Daughter Betsey. She — being in the Profession her Sister is in now — married a Man from whom she could derive no consequence either thro’ Birth, Fortune or Connections, yet I will venture to assert that she now stands in the Estimation and Respect of the World, far above what any Man of fifty Times my advantages could have raised her to — had He taken her from behind the Scenes of Drury-Lane Playhouse — let her merit there have been ever so great. — Nor will Polly — once she has set foot on those Boards, — ever see again the Respect which she may command at Present. — But the Estimation of the World is a secondary consideration — I lay not the smallest stress on it in this Case — It is the impending — the more than probable Ruin and Shame that I dread may imbitter those Days of your Life which should be Peace, that makes me impatient at the Idea of this Step, and warm in my wishes to prevent it. — You must not take ill any expressions I make use of in delivering my Opinion on this Subject. Sincerely interested for the welfare of all your Children, I have the same Feelings for the Honour of your Daughters as of my own Sisters — their present situation — or any public situation — is not without Hazard — but I look on that Hazard to be so infinitely encreased in the other Line — that Honour is scarcely probable — and at all events Insult is licens’d against Resentment. — And so rooted are my apprehensions — and so hurt I am sure I should be if verified — that I most solemnly Protest that if I had at this Instant an independent Fortune, and Polly’s necessity for going on the Stage was want of Fortune, I would gladly give her any Portion of it whatever to prevent Her — and if she was my own Sister — upon my soul and honour I had rather see her dead.


If you imagine that my earnest Prejudice on this Point is in the least assisted by any selfish Pride that so near Relations should not be in a Profession which I think so ill of — you will do me the greatest Injustice — I own that in my Opinion the Change — even in Point of Credit, as in every other particular, — will be for the worse — but this is a paltry consideration — and to one circumstanced as I am it would be the grossest absurdity to waste a Thought on it — if any motive of Pride or Vanity operated on me in resolving that Betsy should sing no more{.} They were founded on very different Principles than merely objecting to the thing itself — for if she were my sister I would give her the same advice that has been given to me. But when I speak of a Stage Life as utterly different, I put the Dignity of either Profession entirely out of the Question — and you will believe that my keen repugnance to the Idea of your engaging with G — —can proceed from no nonsensical Pride — when I inform you that my Father is certainly to be on Convent-Garden Stage next-winter — and I am glad that He is to be — but God forbid his Daughters should be there!


What I have hitherto said is against your scheme in general — but I own I am more astonish’d at your representing it in the light you do even on the Point of Interest and worldly Benefit to your Family. — But the same insinuating, artful Trickster, who has won you from those just Prejudices which I know you once entertained against the Stage-Life for your children, has also, as may be proved, blinded you as to your Profit in the Change. — To talk of Mr. G—[’s] selfishness — Cunning — Avarice — and Insincerity is literally to advance a Position which no one that has ever had any Dealings with him will attempt to controvert. It is proverbial that no one ever yet made a treaty with him that they had not the worst of, and that they did not soon repent of. — His Wealth and unrivall’d merit in his Profession have placed him in a Point of Respect, which his Art and Finesse have supported him in notwithstanding the most notorious ill-Qualities — and in other Respects very moderate Parts. — His Professions to me and his [Con]duct in his interposition relative to our marriage was a scene of interested overstrain’d Craft — that could not have imposed on a Child. Why He should on a sudden become the Quintessence of Honour and Generosity in a treaty with you (as you intimate He is) who never in his Life shew’d a Particle of either to any other human Creature beside, is in my opinion an instance of miraculous reformation that requires some thing more than Profession to deserve Credit. — But from what I understand of his Proposals I think He may be acquitted of this Inconsistency — as to me there appears plainly in them the same interested overreaching Cunning for which he has so long been eminent.


You have told him (you say) in confidence what the Income is of your Present Profession — and He thinks it will answer greatly to you in Point of Interest to be with him. — If you weigh your present Profits at Bath — with what He would give you and your Family to be with him — I doubt not but the latter would be greatly superiour. — But what is to be the Sacrifice? — you alter the whole Tenour of your Life — you embark in a scene altogether new — partly precarious — you become the Servants of a manager — and Servants by Custom to the Public, you fix your Family in a Line from which there is no retreating, and your Daughters — the Servants of another — are exposed in the Vortex of Temptation and contagious Vice. — The Balance here in point of Advantage should certainly be considerable — yet I will not hesitate to affirm that it would not exceed what you might make in your own Profession, without half the risk, provided, as in this Case, you resolve to change your Scene and give up Bath at Once. If you had conducted oratorios last spring in Town on your own account — you might have clear’d £1000 or £1200. — Maria’s Reputation is spreading amazingly — whatever you did get by Betsy — and what more you might have got had you come sooner to Town or had I not robb’d you of her — you may get and if you rely only on yourself, certainly will get by Maria. — You have yourself deserved Reputation — it is no little credit to have bred and taught the acknow[ledg]’d best English Singer that has been — you have a right to the Attention of the Public in introducing another — and surely if such a Man as Arnold was encouraged in attempting oratorios on his own account, no one can expect that you will again share with others the fruits of any other excellent Singer you may Produce — especially when you have so little obligation to any of them. Polly is certainly at present considered here as the best Oratorio Singer there now is, and tho’ her Sister Maria may come to surpass her in some things — She will always be respectable and in the first Line. — From this Prospect I will not allow that it admits of Doubt but that you may, if you will Quit Bath, establish the Best, and most probably the only Oratorio in London. — Bach will undertake it no more — and I think it would be madness for you to join Stanley. — This would be respectable, independent, and highly beneficial. — You would be no Man’s Servant — your Family would still be your own — and No Change, Jealousies, or Caprice could distress you. In the other Case — You succeed Mr. Dibdin — in a Post of no great Eminence, however dignified by Restrictions — which would not signify a Pin if once you were on ill Terms with the Manager. The Labour and Servility of the Employment of such sort as would be most irksome to you — new Proposals would be made you — which you must consent to — (Dibdin leaves G — for having broke every promise to him) — Polly would be an Actress — probably successful — possibly not — Maria Actress, Singer, etc. and poor Tam hedg’d in to answer the temporary Purpose of a singing Boy — or Chorus in a Sphere which He would soon grow out of, and be fit for nothing else there, nor anywhere else. — Here every advantage of their Abilities to you in their present Profession is cut off. — By the Time Polly or Maria have warbled Ballads a couple of winters on Drury-Lane no Person would give sixpence to hear them in Particular, in Oratorios. — Stage Singers necessarily and speedily grow out of Estimation with the Politer Ranks — tho’ they may for a while continue the Miss Brent. of the Galleries — therefore once on the Stage look for no Particular attraction or advantage in them for Oratorios. On the subject of Oratorios — you say that Mr. G. has engaged to join you in them with Stanley or if S. refuses — that He will himself be concerned in them with you. This Bounty in my opinion amounts just to this. — That if you are willing to ford this musical Pactolus He (Mr. G.) will undertake to hang a Mill-Stone round your Neck, or if the Mill-Stone won’t hang you shall dive for the Golden Sand yourself and He will share it with you. — What Attraction Mr. G’s Name would have to bring People to an oratorio I can’t conceive — and Stanley can never be anything but a dead weight on such a scheme. G.’s Generosity to the Latter this Winter — was no greater than that of the Musicians. The Latter gave up their Pay first and G’s munificence limp’d after. Polly’s Talents for the Stage you say are undoubted — I grant it — yet is her Success precarious — Her constitution may not be Robust enough to carry her thro’ the Practice of tragedy Parts — and I should hope she would never acquire assurance enough to be perfectly easy in Comedy — but still Mr. G. promises that you shall always be at Liberty to withdraw — provided you do not engage in any other Theatre. This I think the most insidious and iniquitous Clause that He could shackle his Generosity with. When once you have exposed and made cheap your Daughters on the Stage He very well knows that there must lie their future Profession — Unsuccessful there or retiring from thence upon whatever discontent — they never could regain the Respect or eminence of their former Situation when the Town had already heard them down to the one shilling Mob — in Operas and Farces — what Price would ever after be set upon their Performance in Con[c]erts or Oratorios! — yet the Restriction is that they sha’n’t be received on any other Theatre and consequently they are upon his own Terms to continue fix’d on his! — This is Honour and Generosity with a Vengeance! — You say — you are convinced that Mr. G. studies your advantage and will act honourably in the Affair. This conviction I own is unaccountable to me — you did not once think so highly of him — as to his Countenance, Protection etc. to Polly — that is all of course and I dare say might be the case. However that would be but of a short Date. — G. has to my certain knowledge, this Winter endeavour’d to dispose of his share of the Patent. — He waits but for his Price — and would certainly be glad to put it up to sale as well supported as He could — this would be help’d by an Engagement with you including Polly and Maria — (bound to leave it for no other Theatre! — an obligation unprecedented!) — I am much mistaken if Coleman will not then be your Manager — or be it who it may — all Mr. G.’s services end of course, and the new Manager may have other Favourites, and as for the clause of your right to continue seven or fourteen years — that I again repeat, were not the Manager entirely content, would be impossible with Credit or Comfort.


In short it is my sincere opinion that Mr. G. went to Bath on Purpose to draw you into some agreement with him — that He thinks Maria principally will be a Treasure to him — and that his whole Plan is insidious, and selfish, and his Professions insincere. — If you determine to leave Bath — I think you may in point of Profit only succeed infinitely better by having no connection with the Stage — and in Point of Credit and Happiness that you would soon find the latter your bane: and above all I hold in my own mind the most ominous Conviction that you will see the Day which, for your Daughter’s sake, will make you curse the Deceiver who first drew you into that Scene of Life. — In what I have said here relative to G — I protest solemnly I am not influenc’d by the least Personal Enmity — He has on the contrary lately spoke rather well of me and I make no doubt would have no objection to be on any Terms with me — Connection with Theatres are always fluctuating and I think it just as probable that I may bring out a Piece, at Drury-Lane some time Hence as at Convent-Garden. And in that Case it might certainly be serviceable to me — to have so strong a Party at the House as you might prove. — But so far from my being Witness, or in the least concern’d in any agreement of that kind you may make with him, or so far from acquiring any interest myself by it with him — that I declare to God I should ever after regard him with the utmost Detestation — nor ever view him or think of him but with the most rooted and veng[e]ful Enmity — as a Man who had by Craft and mercenary Deceit deprived me of the Satisfaction of seeing Relations whom I loved in the probable Road to Comfort and happiness, and had instead made their Welfare and Peace subservient to his own Vanity and insatiable Avarice. —


There is only one argument more which I shall make use of — tho’ […?][4]




When I was at Paris, in the year 1775, I had the honour of being known to Lord Stormont, the English ambassador at the French court, at which I had moreover the honour of being introduced, through the favour of his lordship.  Whilst there, I had two court suits made, by a fashionable tailor, one for the summer and one for the winter; and was afforded, on my return, an opportunity of comparing the splendour of the court of Versailles with that of St. James’s, the inferiority of which was sufficiently manifest.

My father had the honour, for several years, to make his bow at St. James’s, at the drawing-room, on the 4th of June, the birth-day of our late Sovereign.  I, too, had the honour of being introduced, when I made my appearance in my fine French suit.

On the day of my first introduction, being near his Majesty as he walked round the circle, conversing with the company, a remark which his Majesty made, whilst the music was performing, made a lasting impression on my memory. [346]

This occurred during a sudden storm of wind, thunder, and lightning.  The trumpets were sounding; and at the moment a tremendously loud clap of thunder burst, as it were, right over the palace, which seemed to appal [sic] many present; when the King, addressing himself to Lord Pembroke, exclaimed, “How sublime!  What an accompaniment!  How this would have delighted Handel!”


TWO COURT DRESSES.—Having been introduced to Lord Stormont, who was ambassador, when I was first at Paris, I had two court suits made—a winter and a summer one.  At my return to England, my father, who always attended the drawing-room on the King’s and Queen’s birthdays, took me with him there, having by me my necessary entrée, seasonable court-dresses.  The first year, on June the 4th, I exhibited my summer suit, keeping close to his Majesty, as he walked round the circle, speaking to those who had been introduced to him.  Previous to a very heavy shower of rain, there was a terrible storm of thunder and lightning, whilst the ode was playing.  I was very near the King at the time, and I heard him say, “Tremendous! awful! what a divine accompaniment?  How it would have delighted Handel!”[5]




[W.L. “An Essay on MUSICAL TIME”]

It ought to be observed, that the rules for writing music, as before laid down, are not strictly adhered to.  Pieces in minuet time are often marked 6/8, and are written with three quavers in a bar, which are to be played no faster than crotchets in a common minuet; and when semi quavers occur, they are to be divided into three pairs, as in a minuet.  The song in the Messiah, O thou that tellest glad tidings, is so written.  Again, the same piece shall be sometimes written with 3 crotchets in a bar, and marked 3/4; at other times with 3 quavers in a bar, and marked 3/8; the quavers in the latter case are to be made as long as the crotchets in the former.[6]




[W.D. criticizes mistakes in the essay:]

...The song, O thou that tellest glad tidings, is not written with three quavers only in a bar, but with six, as marked at the beginning 6/8.[7]




[W.L. replies defending his essay:]

The mistake of three quavers for six, is what the context shews to be a slip of the pen.  Nor does it affect what is said of the manner in which the song O thou that tellest glad tidings is written, viz. with the usual signature of jigg-time at the head of the staff, though the song be in minuet-time; and with semi-quavers, which are yet to be made as long, and played just as quavers are in a common minuet.[8]




Oct 10

[The Dowager-Countess Gower to Mary Delany, 10 October 1775]


            I soppose [sic] you’ve seen L—d Chomondeley’s epigram, Mr. Garrick’s petition to Mr. Stanley, and ye Pheiades.[9]




Oct 16

[16 Oct. 1775. The day passed among the Austin Nuns of the English Convent in Paris] Another Nun pleased me very much.  She has been a Beauty about London since my Time, & is now eminently handsome: She has likewise seen a great deal of the World, has travelled & has read; She has many Books in her Room on [121] various Subjects, & talks of studying Latin in good earnest.  She played on the Church Organ for my Entertainment, & went over Handel’s Water Musick with great Dexterity.[10]




Dec 31

Richard Brinsley Sheridan to Thomas Linley

Sunday, 31 December 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 continue near three weeks at the point of death. This, of course, has prevented Mr. E. from seeing any body 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 to 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 6 or 7 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. 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 five thousand pounds more on this purchase than richer people. The whole valued at £70,000, the annual interest is £3,500; 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 know. — I’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.[11]




On the Death of Mr. HANDELL.

            In the Midst of the Performance of his Lent Oratorio (1759) of the Messiah, Nature exhausted, he dropt his Head upon the Keys of the Organ he was playing upon, and with Difficulty was raised up again.  He recovers his Spirits, and goes on managing the Performance ill the Whole was finished.  He was carried Home, and died.

            To melt the Soul, [...see Deutsch, Handel, 817-18.][12]




“Epistle Dedicatory.  To Henry Burgum, Esquire”

[a slanderous attack against the author’s former

and ungrateful patron Burgum.]


When erst in Vanity’s soft shackles bound,

He banish’d solid Sense for empty Sound;

When Science wond’ring at the feast he gave,

Saw mighty Handel tremble in his grave;

When Wisdom all concern’d reclin’d her head;

When Taste astonish’d struck with terror fled; [7]

When Discord high in alt commenc’d her scream,

And Fancy scarce gave credit to the dream,

I, all observant of the comic scene,

To save his credit sacrific’d my spleen;

Join’d with the senseless rout in idle roar,

Extatic stood, clap’d hands and cry’d—ENCORE![13]




[…] I may ask the Reason, why, out of so many Hundreds of Musicians as there are, and have been in the World, [and some of them also Mathematicians] why, I say, that no one had ever as yet before discovered the true or real Scale of Music, or its Foundation? as of which hereafter; but towards the Matter, as they thought it to be, or that it must be] was always an Acting in some Measure contrary, and that as not to be taken in a small Degree, contrary, I say, to the Nature of the Thing, viz. in tuning the Organ, Harpsichord, and Spinnet!  Nay, the great Mr. Handel had his Organ, &c. so tuned!


but still, for the Sake as it were of such as that, it all along hitherto so happened, that Violence, as with Respect to natural Harmony, was in some Measure put [as thought for the better] to prey upon Nature in tuning the Organ, &c.  And whenas or as when, what was done for the best, was with quite a contrary Drift thereto, the Whole being thereby for the worse affected, and that as not in a very small Degree, and yet the great Mr. Handel among the rest [as not discovering the Matter] had his Organ and Harpsichord so tuned.


Not that I greatly mind what we call an Anthem; but a Psalm, viz. with its Tune or Composition of Musick properly adapted (not such Composition as according to Mr. Handel’s Taste, of or for a Psalm-Tune) and so to be pitch’d, as that exactly to suit the Voices, and sung in three or four Parts by a Company of Singers as above—what a noble Thing it is![14]




Soon after this affair Miss C[atle]y was in high favour with a junior student of Magdalen College Oxford.  Their acquaintance first began at an Oratorio where he had heard her sing.  Pleased with the sweet melody of her enchanting voice she captivated his heart to so high a degree, that he would have given all the world, had it been in his possession, to have revelled in the delights of her charms for one night only.[15]



[1] The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany, ed. Lady Llanover, second series, 3 vols. (London: Richard Bentley, 1862), 2:90-91.

[2] Broadsheet: The Eighteenth Century (microfilm collection).

[3] Broadsheet in two versions: The Eighteenth Century microfilm collection; curly brackets indicate second version variations.

[4] http://www.e-enlightenment.com/item/sherriOU0030293a1c/; [oratorio section:] The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, ed. Cecil Price, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 3:303-06.

[5] The Reminiscences of Henry Angelo, 2 vols. (New York and London: Benjamin Blom, 1904), 1:345-46; 2:286.

[6] The Gentleman’s Magazine 45 (1775): 467.

[7] The Gentleman’s Magazine 45 (1775): 554.

[8] The Gentleman’s Magazine 45 (1775): 635.

[9] The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany, ed. Lady Llanover, second series, 3 vols. (London: Richard Bentley, 1862), 2:162.

[10] The French Journals of Mrs. Thrale and Doctor Johnson, ed. Moses Tyson and Henry Guppy (Manchester: The Manchester University Press, 1932), 120-21.

[11] http://www.e-enlightenment.com/item/sherriOU0010093a1c/; The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, ed. Cecil Price, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 1:93–95.

[12] T. Webb (compiler), A New Select Collection of Epitaphs...together with One Thousand Epitaphs never before published, 2 vols. (London: S. Bladon, 1775), 1:326; repr. in Frobisher’s New Select Collection of Epitaphs (London: Nath[anie]l. Frobisher, [?1790]), 156.

[13] James Thistlethwaite, The Consultation.  A Mock Heroic, In Four Cantos, 2nd enlarged edn (Bristol: [?], 1775), 6-7.

[14] John Harrison, A Description concerning such Mechanism as will afford a nice, or true Mensuration of Time…as also an Account of the Discovery of the Scale of Musick (London: the author, 1775), 18, 75n, 85n.

[15] A Brief Narrative of the Life of the Celebrated Miss C*tt**y; containing the Adventures of that Lady In Her Public Character of a Singer, and Private One of a Courtezan.  In England, Ireland, &c.  Also Some of the most remarkable Occurencies in the Hight Court of Gallantry, on the Stage, in the Public Gardens and in the Polite World, or Court-End of the Town.  With Many Curious Anecdotes never before published (London: W. Bailey, [?1775]), 55.