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1895.) Original Letter from Miss Linley, afterwards Mrs. Sheridan. 289
For another year we went on in the nor did he ever in the smallest degree saine manner; till at last, finding it im- give me any reason to think he had possible to conquer my inclinations, any intentions that were in the least he soon brought me to a confession of alarming to my virtue. Deceived by my weakness, which has been the such conduct, his merit shone more cause of all my distress. That obstacle conspicuous ; nor did I wish to get removed, many others fell of course, the better of my passion for one whom and the next season he prevailed on I thought every way so worthy of it. me to meet him at the house of a I considered myself as the cause of all friend, as we were not permitted to his wretchedness, and thought it would talk together in public. During this be the height of cruelty if I did not time I had many offers of marriage, endeavour to alleviate it. But to
provery much to my advantage ; but I re- ceed; my mother resolved to see Mafused them all. So far had he gained thews herself, and therefore insisted my love, that I resolved never to marry: that I should write, and desire to see
About this time Mr. Long addressed him again that evening. I did so, and mie*. You know by what means I my mother went in my place. You was induced to suffer his visits, though may imagine he was very much suryou do not know likewise that another prised at seeing her. She went with great motive was the hope of forgetting a full resolution to upbraid him; yet Mathews, and retiring into solitude. so far did his arts prevail, that he not After I had consented to receive Mr. only made her forgive, but pity him, Long's visits, 1 forbade Mathews ever and promise that this should never to speak to me; 10 the consequences make any alteration in our behaviour of which you yourself were witness. to him ; and we would still continue He immediately pretended to be dying, our visits and intimacy with him. He and by that artifice very nearly made promised, however, that he never me really so. You know how ili I would for the future attempt to see me. was for a long time. At last he wrote About this time my marriage with me word, that he must see me once Mr. Long broke off, and my father more; that he would then take a final went to London, to commence a lawleave of me, and quit the kingdom suit. During the time he was absent, directly; but he could not resolve to I went on a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Norgo without seeing me. I was weak ton, where you saw me. She had enough to comply with his request, as been informed by undoubted authoI thought it would be the last lime.
rity that my father would not only lose Some way or other my mother was his suit, but that I should be exposed told of it, when she taxed me with it. in the public court; as Mr. Long had I immediately, confessed every thing been informed of my meeting Mathat had passed since I first acquainted thews, and intended to make use of her with his behaviour. She was at that as a plea in court. This being frst greatly enraged; but on my telling told me suddenly, and at a time when her how unexceptionably he had be my spirits were greatly distressed, Aung hared, she was pacified, and consented me into a high fever. I lost my senses to conceal it from iny father. And some time, and when I recovered was indeed, my dear, had any impartial so weak, and had such strong sympperson been present at our meeting, toms of a rapid decline that, when my they would have thought Mathews father returned, I was sent to the Wells the most unhappy but amiable man in to drink the waters. While I was the world; his behaviour was always there I was told that Mathews during consistent with the strictest honour; my illness had spoken disrespectfully
* She had been at an early age (says Mr. Moore) on the point of marriage with Mr. Long, an old gentleman of considerable fortune in Wiltshire, who proved the reality of his attachment to her in a way which few young lovers would be romantic enough to imitate. On her secretly representing to him that she never could be happy as his wife, he generously took upon himself the whole blame of breaking off the alliance, and even indemnified the father, who was proceeding to bring the transaction into court, by settling 3000l. upon his daughter Mr. Sheridan, who owed to this liberal conduct not only the possession of the woman he loved, but the means of supporting her during the first years of their marriage, spoke invariably of Mr. Long, who lived tu a very advanced age, with all the kindness and respect which such a disinterested character merited. Gent. Mag. Detober, 1825.
290 Original Letter from Miss Linley, afterwards Mrs. Sheridan. [Oct. of me in public, and had boasted it never should have further cause to bę was owing to my love for him I was offended with him. As Mr. Norton, so ill. This behaviour from one for under whose protection I then was, whom I had suffered so much, shock- had no objection, and as I really had ed me greatly, and I resolved in my first an esteem for Mr. R--, and thought heat of passion that he should not have him a good young inan, I consented, it in his power to triumph over my and we continued to walk and ride toweakness. The resentment I felt was gether, but never without Mr. Norton. of service to me, as it roused me from I was thus situated when Mathews a state of stupid despondence, which came to the Wells in his road to perhaps would have occasioned my Wales. He had been extremely ill death. It was then that you received at Bath, and when I saw himn in the my first letter, which must have shown public walk at the Wells, I could you in what a wretched state of mind scarce keep myself from fainting. I was.
There was such an alteration in his When I had so far recovered my person that I could not believe it posspirits and health as to be able to walk sible. He spoke to me once in the and ride, I became acquainted with walk, and asked me if I resolved to be Mr. R-, who from the first time his death ; declared his illness prohe saw me was particular in his beha- ceeded from the accounts he had heard viour to me. I did not at first observe of me and R-, and that he was now it, and as I thought him an agreeable going into the country to die. You man, and one who I was told bore au inay be sure I was greatly affected with unexceptionable character, I did not his words; but as I had suffered so avoid him so much as I certainly much in my reputation by being seen ought. I wished likewise, by turning with him, I would not stay to explain iny attention to him, 10 eradicate every myself, or upbraid him with his behaimpression of Mathews; but though viour to me; I merely told him that Mr. R. behaved with the greatest deli. the only way to convince me of his cacy, I found it impossible for me to sincerity was to leave me, and never love him. I went on in this manner see me more. I left him immediately some time, and by Mr. R's attention and went home, where soon after a to me, incurred the ill will of all the lady informed me he had fainted in the ladies, who did not spare to censure Long Room, and that his friends had my conduct; but as I was conscious in taken him to Wales given over by all. my own heart of no ill, and wished to This news made me relapse, and had convince Mathews he had not so much very nearly cost me my life, till I heard reason to boast of his conquest, I paid again that he was well, and in good very little attention to the envy of the spirits, laughing at my distress, and women.
exulting in the success of his scheme. Mr. R- had not as yet made any This once more raised my resentment, professions; but one day he confessed and I was resolved to encourage Mr. io me that he loved me, but that it R--; and though I could not conwas not in his power to marry pub- sent to go off with him, I told him licly, as he was entirely dependent on (with my father's consent), that when it his father, except a pension which he was in his power, if he still retained had; but at the same time begged me his love for me, and I was free froin to consent to marry him privately, and any other engagements, I would marry to go off with him to any part of the him. When I returned to Bath, he world, till his father died; when he followed me, but as he was very much said he would marry me again in the talked of, I would not suffer him to face of the world. This proposal, had be so particular. When he was going I loved him, I should certainly have to D--, he begged me to give him rejected; but in the state of mind I a letter to you, that he might by you then was, I was very angry, and re- sometimes hear from me, as I had refused seeing him for a great while. fused to correspond with him. As I
At this time Mr. and Mrs. Norton wished to have my dear girl's opinion came over to be with me, as they had of him, I was not unwilling to trust heard of R-Through his means, him with a letter, in which I menMr. Rentreated me to forgive tioned something relative to my mishim, and permit him to be on the fortunes; but luckily mentioned no footing of a friend, and assured me I names, nor could he, if he did read it,
1925.) Original Letter from Miss Linley, afterwards Mrs. Sheridan. 291 understand whom or what it meant. seemed sometimes to pily 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 Ju the morning when I came to breaknot heard any thing from 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 behaviour formed of some other circunstances 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 po 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 !
10 see him more, and told une he would I was in this state of mind when break off all intercourse with the faMathews 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 Mavisit 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 yourself) that ing constantly with him, joined to his I would place any confidence in'; she engaging behaviour, soon regained him is one of the worihiest 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 saine soon 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 everythers, 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 naine and Mathews in any other light than as the brothers were repeated very often; this induced of my friend, I own I preferred the me to listen, and I heard my mother youngest, as he is by far the most te!! 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 Bith.' 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 che 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' Syreo,'—though the number and wealth of his rivals, the ambitious views of her father, and the teniptations 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. Watts, 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 hiin 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 Aung me into fits, as I must me from such a villain. For this pur- either break my word 10 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 anhim 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 iinpossible 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 conse. tell 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 draw. came 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 solemn manner the most solemn oaths to see him never to see 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? Half 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 it Ma- promised him (if I was alive) to see 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 lei him again; as he had engaged him in the attair, he was resolved to act the I was to spend the day with Miss part of a inan of honour. I applauded Sheridan, who was ill with the 100thhis 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 eruelly I had deceived myselí. I re- wiih my father was impossible !
1825.] 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 Jeft? 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, 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 moy 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 circumpum, 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.
letters 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 me 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 dinner, 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 Dr. 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 for made Mathews believe he was equally the Dociors; but before they could infamous, that he might the sooner give me any assistance, 1 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, be. poison.
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 happy 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; his sister was proper, I was put to bed, where I would give me letters of recommendapassed the night in the mosi dreadful lion to St. Quintin, where she had