LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries
Lord John Townshend to Samuel Rogers, 13 August 1816

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I. 1803-1805.
Chapter II. 1805-1809.
Chapter III. 1810-1812.
Chapter IV. 1813-1814.
Chapter V. 1814-1815.
Chapter VI. 1815-1816.
Chapter VII. 1816-1818.
Chapter VIII. 1818-19.
Chapter IX. 1820-1821.
Chapter X. 1822-24.
Chapter XI. 1825-1827.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I. 1828-1830.
Chapter II. 1831-34.
Chapter III. 1834-1837.
Chapter IV. 1838-41.
Chapter V. 1842-44.
Chapter VI. 1845-46.
Chapter VII. 1847-50.
Chapter VIII. 1850
Chapter IX. 1851.
Chapter X. 1852-55.
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‘Balls: August 13, 1816.

‘My dear Rogers,—I rejoice to hear that Mrs. Sheridan is better. I flattered myself, indeed, this was the case by a few lines I got from her some days ago; but of course there must be recollections yet fresh in her mind that cannot admit of much comfort. The Bishop of London seems to have been very kind indeed to her, and she speaks of him with great affection and gratitude.

‘I am glad you like her son Charles so much. My
Fox is very fond of him, and everybody speaks highly of his goodness and promising talents. But there cannot be two Sheridans, as Mrs. S. observed to me in one of her letters.

‘I wish it may turn out as you hear. But some parts of “Affectation” have been found amongst poor Sheridan’s papers. He was said to have begun it, I think, about the year 1788 or 89, but nobody imagined it was in any degree of forwardness; and I remember some time after saying to Mrs. Sheridan (the first Mrs. Sheridan), when they were assigning this reason and t’other for its not being brought out, that I supposed, in fact, the real reason was its not being quite complete, to which she replied, “the reason it does not come out is not as you suppose, because it is not quite finished, but because it is not even yet begun.” But if there should be only one bit of it, and that in a state to see the light, what a trouvaille it will be! I had once in my possession several things of his writing, and some of a very early date, which were all exquisite. I had put them up with a number of interesting papers, such as letters from Fitzpatrick, with a number of epigrams, sonnets, &c., that never saw the light, and also various things of Tickell’s, which were intended for publication when finished. These became mixed with other papers, and were all unfortunately destroyed when I removed to Balls, as well as some trash of my own, which well deserved to be burnt. One of these jeux d’esprit, which Sheridan struck off at a moment one day while we were waiting dinner, was incomparable. The subject would have been thought not very promising—the appraisement of an old, worn-
out gig belonging to Fitzpatrick which I was to purchase at Sheridan’s valuation. You can have no idea what fun he made of this.
Fox used to say it was the most comical thing ever written, and Fitzpatrick, though it was in a good humour and was not a little severe upon him, was delighted with it. But no one, you know, cared so little about a joke against himself as Fitzpatrick, who was as remarkable for his immovable good temper as he was for his excellent understanding and polished wit.

‘There was a Westminster song or two, patched up amongst us at one of the elections, but principally Sheridan’s doing, which I was sorry to lose. I can only remember one stanza which was Sheridan’s. I thought it so good that I used to repeat it over and over again for weeks together, and I remember Wilkes, when he was told of it, was much diverted. The stanza was this (to the tune of “Dr. Arne, Dr. Arne, It gives us concarn”)—

Johnny Wilkes, Johnny Wilkes,
Thou boldest of bilks,
How changed is the song you now sing.
For your dear forty-five
‘Tis Prerogative,
And your blasphemy, God save the King,
Johnny Wilkes.
And your blasphemy, God save the King.

‘This song was printed and may probably be got.

‘I am happy to tell you that my son is going on well. Dr. Ainslie’s view of his case affords me great comfort. If he continues to improve, I may possibly go to town for a few days. Shall I find you then? I am afraid there
is no inducing you to come and see us at Balls. It would make us very happy if you would. I’ll get
Malthus to meet you, and Lord Cowper if he should be in the country. Say everything that is most kind from me to Mrs. Sheridan, and believe me, truly and faithfully yours,

John Townshend.’