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humming and hawing, to get on pretty well for a few minutes, when a question from old Selwyn, as to the flat contradiction of a part of his Royal Highness's story to that of Sheridan, completely pozed him, and he stuck fast.
Having endeavoured to set himself right by floundering about a good deal, and finding that it was all Jabour in vain, the Prince at length burst out into a loud laugh at the ludicrous figure which he cut, and exclaimed, “D-n the fellow! to leave me to finish his infernal story, of which I know as much as the child unborn! But never mind, Selwyn, as Sherry does not seem inclined to come back, let us go up stairs, and I dare say Fox, or some of them, will be able to tell you all about it.'
They accordingly adjourned to the Club Room, and old George, who did not know what to make of the matter, had his eyes completely opened to the whole manæuvre, when on his entrance, Sheridan rising, made him a low bow, and thus addressed him,-'Pon my honour, Mr. Selwyn, I beg pardon for being absent so long; but the fact is, I happened to drop into devilish good company:--they have just been making me a member, without even one black ball, and here ! am.
“ The devil they have !” exclaimed George.
“Facts speak for themselves," replied Sheridan, " and as I know you are very glad of my clection, accept my grateful thanks (pressing his hand on his breast and bowing very low) for your friendly suffrage. And now, if you will sit down by me, I'll finish my story; for I dare say his Royal Highness
has found considerable difficulty in doing justice to its merits.”
“ Your story! it's all a lie from beginning to end!” screamed out Selwyn, amidst immaderate fits of laughter from all parts of the room.
The old man now sat down, growling, at the nearest whist table; but, in a short time, he could not help joining in the peals of mirth which were occasioned by the trick that had been played him; and before the evening was over, he shook hands with Sheridan, and kindly bade him welcome.
Poor Sheridan remained many years a member, and was the delight of all. He paid his subscription, it is true :that is, twenty guineas the first year, and twelve every succeeding one ;-but his account with the house was, alas ! like all his other debts, continually on the increase. When he was turned out of office, the partners who managed the concerns of the club, seeing no chance of their claim being ever cancelled, would fain have dismembered him; but his fascinating conversation had made him so many friends, that it was more than they dared to refuse him a bottle when he called for it; or to forget to lay a knife and fork for him, when the members chose to dine together on grand occasions.
There is no doubt but Sheridan would have paid all his debts if it lay within his power to do so; but his wishes on that score, compared with his well-known want of economy, were like Paine's simile of Mr. Pitt's theory of Finance: viz. that the power of the Sinking Fund to redeem the national debt was like that of a man with a wooden leg, trying to overtake a hare :-the longer he ran, the farther he was behind!
Mr. Sheridan was sufficiently sensible that some apology, or “promise to pay," was due to the proprietors; and he never failed, on proper occasions, to amuse them with flattering prospects of the future. In these, he deceived himself more than those whom he attempted to cajole; still, he was at all times a welcome guest at Brookes's; for the gentlemen above alluded to, continued to grant that with a good grace, which they could not refuse nor withdraw without considerable offence to the oldest and most respected members.
Whilst on the subject of sinister admission to the club, the writer cannot do better than relate the very singular and whimsical manner in which Mr. George Robert Fitzgerald forced his way into Brookes's. This personage, it is well known, though nearly related to one of the first families in Ireland, (Leinster,) was publicly executed in the year 1786, for a murder which he had coolly premeditated ; and which he and others had perpetrated in a most cruel and cowardly manner.
The fame, or rather infamy, which encircled his brows, from having been the surviver in a great many duels, became, at length, the cause of the most ferocious haughtiness; and greatly increased his overbearing and quarrelsome disposition. His duelling propensities, however, kept him out of all the first clubs in London, and rendered him at once, both an object of terror and of hatred; and even when he was introduced at the Court of France, where single combat was not so much reprehended as in Great Britain, the young Monarch, (the unfortunate Louis XVI.,) could not help showing his abhorrence of a professed duellist, by uttering a most deserved sarcasm on Fitzgerald, and by refusing to admit him a second time to his levée.
The gentleman who introduced him (the English Ambassador,) having said, “I have the honour to introduce to your Majesty, Mr. Fitzgerald, an Irishman of high descent; who, in his time, has successfully fought no less than eighteen duels, and always killed his man ;” the King replied, “Monsieur L'Ambassadeur, I have read your famous English history of Jack the Giant Killer ; and I think, it may be greatly improved by adding this Irishman's life by way of appendix.-Let him retire !” His Majesty further observed to the Ambassador, in the duellist's hearing, that if Mr. Fitzgerald showed a disposition to quarrel with any of his subjects, he should order him to quit France in twenty-four hours.
But, to avoid further digression, the writer has to state, that Fitzgerald having once applied to Admiral Keith Stewart to propose him as a candidate for Brookes's, the worthy admiral well knowing, that he must either fight or comply with his request, chose the latter alternative. Accordingly, on the night in which the balloting was to take place, (which was only a mere form in this case ; for even Keith Stewart him. self had resolved to blackball him,) the duellist accompanied the gallant admiral to St. James's-street, and waited in the room below, whilst the suffrages were taking, in order to know the issue.
The ballot was soon over; for without hesitation, each member threw in a black ball; and when the scrutiny took place, the company were not a little amazed, to find not even one white one among the number : however, the point of rejection being carried nem. con., the grand affair now was, as to which of the members had the hardihood to announce the same to the expect