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1885.). Original Letter from Miss Linley, afterwards Mrs. Sheridan. 291 understand whom or what it meant. seemed sometimes to pity and someHe wrote to me that he was in D, times to condemn me, but at last he but never mentioned your name, resolved I should never see him again. which I was surprised at, and as I had in the morning when I came to breaknot heard any thing froin you, was a fast, my spirits were low, and I could good deal hurt, thinking you would not refrain from tears ; this soon not keep your word with
ine. In an. brought on an explanation with my swer to his letter, I desired to know if father, to whom I confessed every he had seen you, and begged to be in- thing that had passed; his behariour formed of some other circumstances in was tender to a degree, and by that his letter, which made me uneasy. To method he gained more upon me than this I received no answer, and the ac- if he had treated me harshly: Anger count you gave me afterwards, con- I can withstand, but tenderness I vinced me that he was like all other never could. My father, after many men-deceitful. I then gave him en. arguments, wherein he convinced me tirely up, and contented myself with of the folly, if not wickedness of such thinking how unworthy all men were a connexion, made me promise never of a woman's affection !
to see him more, and told ine he would I was in this state of mind when break off all intercourse with the fa. Mathews returned; when in spite of mily immediately. In the afternoon of all I could do or say I was obliged to this day Mrs. Sheridan called by Mao visit them, and scarcely a day passed thews's desire to know the reason why without my having some conversation they had not seen me that day. with him.' In these conversations he Old Mr. Sheridan (who is now in cleared himself of the imputations al. Dublin) is my father's particular friend. ledged against him, and set my con- When they came to settle in Bath, duct in such a point of view, that he the strictest intimacy commenced bemade me appear the criminal and him- tween our families. "Miss Sheridan is self the injured person. This and be the only person (besides yourselfthat ing constantly with him, joined to his I would place any confidence in ; she engaging behaviour, soon regained him is one of the worthiest girls breathing, that love which had never been quite and we have been always united in extinguished. That gained, I was the strictest friendship. The same spon prevailed on to see him, but this connexion subsists between our two did not hinder him from behaving so younger sisters. There are two broparticular in publick that at last every thers, who on our first acquaintance body talked of it, and many people both professed to love me; but, though spoke to my father.
I had the greatest esteem for them, I I was one night going to bed, when never gave either of them the least I heard my father and mother talking hope that I should ever look on them. very loud, and my name and Mathews in any other light than as the brothers were repeated very often; this induced of my friend ; I own ! preferred the me to listen, and I heard my mother youngest, as he is by far the most tell my father that I was miserable, agreeable in person, understanding, and that Mathews was equally wretch- and accomplishments
. He is a very ed; that we had loved one another for amiable young man, beloved by every these some years, and that she was one, and greatly respected by all the sure it would be my death. My father better sort of people in Bath. He be
• It was about the middle of the year 1770, that the Sheridans took up their residence in King's Mead-street, Bath, where an acquaintance commenced between them and Mr. Linley's family, which the kindred tastes of the young people soon ripened into intimacy It was not to be expected, though parents, in general, are as blind to the first approach of these dangers, as they are rigid and unreasonable after they have happened,--that such youthful poets and musicians should come together, without love very soon making one of ihe party. Accordingly, the two brothers became deeply enamoured of Miss Linley."“ But in love, as in every thing else, the power of a mind like Sheridan's must have made itself felt through all obstacles and difficulties. He was not long in winning the entire affections of the young' Syren,'—though the number and wealth of his rivals, the ambitious views of her father, and the temptations to which she herself was hourly exposed, kept his jealousies and fears perpetually on the watch."-" He mentions, as the rivals most dreaded by her admirers, Norris, the singer, whose musical talents, it was thought, recommended him to her, and Mr. Wette, a Gentlemau Commoner, of very large fortune.
292 Original Letter from Miss Linley, afterwards Mrs. Sheridan. [Oct. came acquainted with Mathews, and ceived a letter from Mathews, wherein was at first deceived in him, but he he told me he was going to London, soon discovered the depravity of his but would return in less than two heart, under the specious appearance months, and if I did not consent to of virtue, which he at times assumed; see him sometimes, he would shoot but perceiving the attachment between himself that instant. He said my anus, he resolved to make use of a little swer would determine his fate. This art to endeavour if he could to save letter flung me into fits, as I must me from such a villain. For this pur- either break my word to my father, or pose he disguised his real sentiments, consent to the death of the man on and became the most intimate friend whose life my own depended. At last of Mathews, who at last intrusted him I wrote and expostulated with him with all his designs in regard to me, once more on the baseness of such a and boasted to him how cleverly he proceeding. This letter, instead of had deceived me ; for that I believed having the wished effect, produced an. him to be an angel.
other still more alarming; in this he Excuse my being thus tedious, but Aung off the tender behaviour for which it was necessary to let you so far into I always loved him, and put on the my connexion with the Sheridans be- language of a tyrant-told me he would fore I could account for my behaviour see me, that no father on earth should latterly.
hinder him, and if I would not conWhen Mr. Sheridan came to me in sent, he would take me off by force. I the evening, I only told him something answered this with some warmth, as I had happened to make me uneasy; but began to see I had been deceived in bid him tell Mathews I would write him. I then insisted he should never to him. I accordingly wrote, and told write to me again ; but he contrived him every circumstance that had hap- to make me read a letter directed in pened, shewed him how impossible it another hand, wherein he told me we was for us to continue any such con- had both been deceived through some nexion, and begged (for still I thought mistake ; said he had something to him worthy) that he would write to communicate of the utmost consetell me he was convinced by my argu- quence to my future happiness; and if ments, and that we might part friends, I would indulge him with ten minutes though unhappy ones. He wrote to conversation, he never after would me, and comforted me greatly, by as- desire to see me again; but if I refused suring me of his approbation of my this last request, I must expect the conduct, and that he was ready to worst. acquiesce in any thing to make me Terrified as I was, with no friend to happy, as he was unwilling to see my advise me, I at last consented, and apfather. Mr. Sheridan was appointed pointed an hour, but the moment he to settle every thing, he accordingly saw me he locked the door, and drawcame to my father, and told him what ing a pistol from his pocket uttered Mathews had said, and that he in the most horrid imprecations; and tended to write to my father and bind swore if I would not bind myself by himself in the most solein manner the most solemn oaths to see him
me again. My father again on his return from London, he was satisfied with this, and pitied Ma- would shoot himself before my face. thews greatly. He kept his word, Think, my dear girl, on my cruel situaand my father was happy that he had tion; what could I do? Hall distractsettled every thing so amicably. ed, I told him I would do any thing
Mr. Sheridan was with me every rather than see him commit so rash an day, and did every thing in his power action. This was Saturday, and I to make me happy. He said if Ma. promised him (if I was alive) to sce thews ever broke his word to my him on Wednesday evening during father, he never would be seen with the Concert. On this coudition he let him again; as he had engaged him in the atlair, he was resolved to act the I was to spend the day with Miss part of a inan of hononr. I applauded Sheridan, who was ill with the toothhis sentiments, but said I thought it ache. All the time I was with her, I impossible that Mathews ever should; was resolving in my own mind what - ihe next day convinced me how way I was to act. To break my word cruelly I had deceived myself. I re- with my father was impossible., If I
never to see
1925.]. Original Letter from Miss Linley, afterwards. Mrs. Sheridan. 293 did not see Mathews, I expected worse agonies of mind, at the thoughts of to ensue. What resource was there what would be the consequence of left? At length (I tremble while I this affair. write) I came to the horrid resolution Monday evening Sheridan came to of destroying my own wretched being, me. He expostulated with me, with as the only means to prevent my be the greatest tenderness, and shewed me coming still more guilty, and saving the dreadful crime I had been about to my parents from still more distress. commit, and for one who was every With these horrid thoughts, I searched way unworthy of my least consideraMiss Sheridan's room for some lauda- tion. He then told me every circumnum, which I knew she had for the stance relative to myself, which Matooth-ache; I found a small bottle full thews bad told him. He shewed me and put it in my pocket.
leiters he had received from him, and The next day (Sunday) after Church, wherein his villainy was fully explained. I left my mother and sisters walking. Judge what must be my feelings, on I sat down, made my will, and wrote finding the man, for whom i had a letter to my father, and one to Ma- sacrificed life, fortune, reputation, every thews. While I was about it Mr. thing that was dear, the most abanSheridan came in; he had observed me doned wretch that ever existed. In his taking the laudanum, and when he last letter to Sheridan he had told him saw me writing, he seemed very much that I had given him so much trouble alarmed. At last, after swearing him that he had the greatest inclination to to secrecy, I told him what I intended give me up, but his vanity would not to do, and begged him to take charge let him do that without having gained of the letters. He used every argu- his point. He therefore said he was ment in the world to dissuade ine resolved the next time I met him to from it; but finding them all useless, throw off the mask, and if I would he entreated me at least not to take it not consent to make myself still more till the afternoon, as he then would infamous, to force me, and then leave tell me something which he was sure me to repent at leisure. He then told would make me lay aside such thoughts how he had acted on Saturday; and entirely. Fearful of his betraying me, that I had promised to see him on I consented; but the moment he was Wednesday.' He then said he would gone took half the quantity, and after sufficiently revenge himself for all the Jinner, finding it had no effect, I took trouble l had given him; but if I the rest. My fears were true. He changed my mind, and would not see had gone to Ds. Harington and Dr. him, he was resolved to carry me off W., and begged of them for God's by force. The moment I read this sake to go to our house that night, horrid letter I fainted, and it was somein case I should have taken it before time before I could recover my senses he returned in the evening: When sufficiently to thank Mr. Sheridan for he came I was on the settee in a state his opening my eyes. He said he had of lethargy. He immediately ran formade Mathews believe he was equally the Doctors; but before they could infamous, that he might the sooner give me any assistance, I dropped down, know his designs; but he said it was as they thought,-dead. I lay for some not in his power to appear on a friendly time in that dreadful state, till by force footing any longer with such a villain. they opened my teeth, and poured Mr. Sheridan then asked me what I something down my throat, which designed to do. I told him my mind made me bring up a great deal of the was in such a state of distraction, bepoison.
tween anger, remorse, and fear, that I To describe the distress of my fa- did not know what I should do; but mily at this time is impossible; but as Mathews had declared he would such a scene by all accounts cannot ruin my reputation, I was resolved be conceived or imagined. It was never to stay in Bath. He then first bappy for me that I was insensible of proposed my going to France, and it, as it would certainly have had a entering a Convent, where he said I severer effect upon me than all the should be safe from all kind of danger, poison.
and in time I might recover my peace After I had taken every thing that and tranquillity of mind; bis sister was proper, I was put to bed, where I would give me letters of recommenda· passed the night in the most dreadful tion to St. Quintin, where she had 294 Original Letter from Miss Linley, afterwards Mrs. Sheridan. (Oct. been four years, and be would go with haviour. Before he could follow the me to protect me; and after he had chairs he met Mathews, who was seen me settled, he would return to going to our house, as I had not undeEngland, and place my conduct in ceived him for fear of the consequence. such a light that the world would ap- Sheridan framed some excuse, and plaud and not condemn me.
after telling him that my mother had You may be assured I gladly em. miscarried, and that the house was in braced his offer, as I had the highest such confusion, it was impossible for opinion of him. He accordingly set- him to go in, begged he would go to tled every thing; so that we resolved his sister's, and wait there till he sent to go on that fatal Wednesday which for him, as he had an affair of honour was to determine my fate. Miss She- on his hands, and perhaps should want ridan came to me, approved the scheme, his assistance; by this means he got and helped me in putting up my rid of him. clothes. " I kept up my spirits very
We arrived in London about nine well till the day came, and then I o'clock the next morning * From Lon. thought I should go distracted. To add don we went to Dunkirk by sea, where to my affliction, my mother miscarried we were recommended to an English the day before, owing to the fright of family, who treated me very politely. Sunday: the being obliged to leave I changed my name to Harley, as I her in such a situation, with the thought my own rather tno public. thoughts of the distress in which my From thence we proceeded to Lisle, whole family would be involved, made where by chance Sheridan met with me almost give up my resolution; but an old schoolfellow, who immediately on the other hand so many circum- introduced us to an English family, stances concurred to make it absolutely with whom he boarded. They were necessary, that I was in short almost very amiable people, and recommended distracted.
us to a Conveni, which we resolved At last Sheridan came with two to accept without going forther. chairs, and having put me half faint- After we had settled every thing, ing into one, and my trunks into the and I had entered the Conveni, Sheriother, ! was carried to a coach that dan proposed returning to England; waited in Walcot-street. Sheridan had but while he was preparing to go, he engaged the wife of one of his servants received a letter from Mathews, who to go with me as a maid, without my after abusing him in the most seanknowledge. You may imagine how dalous manner, insisted on seeing him pleased I was with his delicate be in London to give him satisfaction t.
* Sheridan was at this time little more than twenty, and his companion just entering her eighteenth year. On their arrival in London, with an adroitdess which was, at least, very dramatic, he introduced her to an old friend of his family (Mr. Ewart, a respectable brandy-merchant in the City,) as a rich heiress who had consented to elope with him to the Continent; in consequence of which the old geotleman, with many commendations of his wisdom, for having given up the imprudent pursuit of Miss Linley, not only accommodated the fugitives with a passage on board a ship, which he had ready to sail from the port of London to Dunkirk, but gave them letters of recommendation to his correspondents at that place, who with the same zeal and despatch facilitated their journey to Lísle. On their leaving Dunkirk, as was natural to expect, the chivalrous and disinterested protector degenerated into a mere selfish lover. It was represented by him, with arguments which seemed to appeal to prudence as well as feeling, that after thr step which they had taken, she could not possibly appear in England again but as his wife. He was, therefore, he said, resolved not to deposit her in a Convent, till she had cousented, by the ceremony of a marriage, to confirm to him that right of protecting her which he had now but temporarily assumed. It did not, we may suppose, require much eloquence to convince her heart of the truth of this reasouing; and accordingly, at a little village not far from Calais, they were married about the latter end of March, 1772, by a Priest well known for his services on such occasions. They thence immediately proceeded to Lisle, where Miss Linley, as she must still be called, giving up her intention of going on to St, Quentin, procured an apartment in a Convent, with the determination of remaining there tili Sheridan should have the means of supporting her as his acknowledged wife.
+ It appears that for the first four or five weeks during which the young couple were absent, Mr. Mathews never ceased to haunt the Sheridan family with inquirios, rumours, and other disturbing visitations ; and at length, urged on by the restlessness of revenge, inserted a violent advertisement in the Bath Chronicle, calling Sheridas » liar and . treacherous scoundrel.
1825.) Original Letter from Miss Linley, afterwards Mrs. Sheridan. 895 This was a stroke so very unexpected, went off together at 12 o'clock that that for a long time I could resolve on night, and she had not seen nor heard nothing. At last I begged Sheridan anything from them since. We passed not to think of returning till he had the day in the greatest distress. In the heard more from England. He was evening we were told they were gone very unwilling to stay; but as I urged to London to demand satisfaction of so close, and was so very unhappy, he Mathews for belying them to each consented.
other, and likewise to get a proper While we were in this situation, my concession to be put in the newspapers, father arrived at Lisle. He had written as Sheridan found on his arrival at 10 us, but his letters miscarried, and Bath that Mathews had put a most we did not know how to write to abusing paragraph in the papers conthem, till we heard first. My father cerning him. not receiving any intelligence, came in They are not yet returned. When search of us to Lisle, where he found this dreadful affair will end God only us, He behaved with the greatest ten- knows. For my own part, I have not derness to me, and expressed his warm- eaten nor slept since they went. My est gratitude to Sheridan; but he said only hope is Mathews's cowardice, as my enemies had raised so many wicked every one says he will stoop to any reports as to my going, that my friends thing rather than fight. thought it absolutely necessary for me Thus have I, iny dear friend, disa to return and contradict them. He played every action of my life to you, promised me if I chose to return to my judge; but do not let the ill nature the convent in a few months after of the world bias your judgment.' I had been at home, I should have his know that many have traduced my .consent; but he insisted on my return- character, and I am told that Mr. Ring then with him.
has said many disrespectful things of Though it was very disagreeable to me me in Dublin, that he calls me jilt, to return, yet as I could not refuse any and says I was engaged to him; but his thing my father wished me, and as í own heart must acquit me of using thought he would keep his promise, I him ill in any respect. consented, and soon after we set off And now, my dear friend, for I will for England. When we got to Lon- imagine you will still permit me to don, Sheridan went out to speak to a call you so, let me entreat your forfriend of his, but staying longer than giveness for troubling you with this he intended, my father was very un- tedious epistle; but I Haiter myself you easy, I did not know the reason till will read my misfortunes with an un. dinner, when he returned with his prejudiced eye, and as I think you friend, and I was then told that Ma- have too good an opinion of me to thews was in town, and that Sheridan imagine I would do any thing inten-, had seen him; but he was such a tionally criminal, I hope you will excoward that Sheridau could not pre- cuse my indiscretions, and pity my disvail on him to fight. He had there- tresses. I have laid before you every fore written an advertisement to be put article of my life; do you, according in the newspapers, wherein he begged to your own heart, excuse or condemn Sheridan's pardon for the abuse with me: but if, after you know my temptawhich he had loaded him. I was tions and trials, you can excuse the very happy to hear it ended so well, weakness of a heart but too susceptiand we set off for Bath the next day ble, let me beg of my dear girl to unin tolerable spirits. His family met deceive her acquaintance, or any one us al, our house, and we drank ica to- who is prejudiced against me by the gether very happily. After tea the malicious report of my enemies, and brothers went out together; the elder convince thein that I am not so guilty did not return, but Richard my friend as unfortunate. Adieu ! if you will returned to supper, during which he still permit me the happiness of your told me he was going to take a ride friendship, write to me, and give me with his brother in the morning. We your opinion of my conduct freely, and parted at night, after he had promised favour me with your advice, in regardi to, come with his sister to spend the to my future behaviour to Sheridan, next day with us; but judge of my Let me conjure you to write soon, as astonishment, when his sister came to till then I shall imagine you have we and told me that both her brothers given me up entirely; which would be ***