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The following Lent Miss Linley appeared in the oratorios at Covent Garden; and Sheridan who, from the nearness of his retreat to London, (to use a phrase of his own, repeated in one of his friend's letters,)" trod upon the heels of perilous probabilities," though prevented by the vigilance of her father from a private interview, had frequent opportunities of seeing her in public. Among many other stratagems which he contrived, for the purpose of exchanging a few words with her, he more than once disguised himself as a hackneycoachman, and drove her home from the theatre.
It appears, however, that a serious misunderstanding at this time occurred between them, -originating probably in some of those paroxysms of jealousy, into which a lover like Sheridan must have been continually thrown, by the numerous admirers and pursuers of all kinds, which the beauty and celebrity of his mistress attracted. Among various alliances invented for her by the public at this period, it was rumoured that she was about to be married to Sir Thomas Clarges; and in the Bath Chronicle of April, 1773, a correspondence is given as authentic between her and "Lord Grosvenor," which, though pretty evidently a fabrication, yet proves the high opinion entertained of the purity of her character. The correspondence is thus introduced, in a letter to the editor: "The following letters are confidently said to have passed between Lord G――r
and the celebrated English syren, Mis L-y. I send them to you for publication, not with any view to encrease the volume of literary scandal, which, I am sorry to say, at present needs no assistance, but with the most laudable intent of setting an example for our modern belles, by holding out the character of a young woman, who, notwithstanding the solicitations of her profession, and the flattering example of higher ranks, has added incorruptible virtue to a number of the most elegant qualifications."
Whatever may have caused the misunderstanding between her and her lover, a reconcilement was with no great difficulty effected, by the mediation of Sheridan's young friend, Mr. Ewart; and, at length, after a series of stratagems and scenes, which convinced Mr. Linley that it was impossible much longer to keep them asunder, he consented to their union, and on the 13th of April, 1773, they were married by license *-Mr. Ewart being at the same time wedded to a young lady with whom he also had eloped clandestinely to France, but was now enabled, by the forgiveness of his father, to complete this double triumph of friendship and love.
A curious instance of the indolence and procrastinating habits of Sheridan used to be related
* Thus announced in the Gentleman's Magazine :Sheridan of the Temple to the celebrated Miss Linley of Bath.”
by Woodfall, as having occurred about this time. A statement of his conduct in the duels having appeared in one of the Bath papers, so false and calumnious as to require an immediate answer, he called upon Woodfall to request that his paper might be the medium of it. But wishing, as he said, that the public should have the whole matter fairly before them, he thought it right that the offensive statement should first be inserted, and in a day or two after be followed by his answer, which would thus come with more relevancy and effect. In compliance with his wish, Woodfall lost not a moment in transcribing the caluinnious article into his columns-not doubting, of course, that the refutation of it would be furnished with still greater eagerness. Day after day, however, elapsed, and, notwithstanding frequent applications on the one side, and promises on the other, not a line of the answer was ever sent by Sheridan,-who, having expended all his activity in assisting the circulation of the poison, had not industry enough left to supply the antidote. Throughout his whole life, indeed, he but too consistently acted upon the principles which the first Lord Holland used playfully to impress upon his son: "Never do to-day what you can possibly put off till to-morrow; nor ever do, yourself, what you can get any one else to do for you."
DOMESTIC CIRCUMSTANCES-FRAGMENTS OF ESSAYS FOUND AMONG HIS PAPERS.-COMEDY OF THE RIVALS. -ANSWER TO "TAXATION NO TYRANNY." ST. PATRICK'S DAY."
A few weeks previous to his marriage, Sheridan had been entered a student of the Middle Temple. It was not, however, to be expected that talents like his, so sure of a quick return of fame and emolument, would wait for the distant and dearlyearned emoluments, which a life of labour in this profession promises. Nor, indeed, did his circumstances admit of any such patient speculation. A part of the sum which Mr. Long had settled upon Miss Linley, and occasional assistance from her father (his own having withdrawn all countenance from him), were now the only resources, beside his own talents, left him. The celebrity of Mrs. Sheridan as a singer was, it is true, a ready source of wealth; and offers of the most advantageous kind were pressed upon them, by managers of concerts both in town and country. But with a pride and delicacy, which received the tribute of Dr. Johnson's praise, he rejected at once all thoughts of allowing her to re-appear in pub
lic; and, instead of profiting by the display of his wife's talents, adopted the manlier resolution of seeking an independence by his own. An engagement had been made for her some months before by her father, to perform at the musicmeeting that was to take place at Worcester this summer. But Sheridan, who considered that his own claims upon her had superseded all others, would not suffer her to keep this engagement.
How decided his mind was upon the subject will appear from the following letter, written by him to Mr. Linley about a month after his marriage, and containing some other interesting particulars, that show the temptations with which his pride had, at this time, to struggle:
"DEAR SIR, "I purposely deferred writing to you till I should have settled all matters in London, and in some degree settled ourselves at our little home. Some unforeseen delays prevented my finishing with Swale till Thursday last, when every thing was concluded. I likewise settled with him for his own account, as he brought it to me, and, for a friendly bill, it is pretty decent.Yours of the 3d instant did not reach me till yesterday, by reason of its missing us at Morden. As to the principal point it treats of, I had given my answer some days ago to Mr. Isaac of Worcester. He had inclosed a letter to Storace for my wife, in which he dwells much on the nature of the agreement you had made for her eight months ago, and adds, that as this is no new applica
East Burnham, May 12, 1773.