1792 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elizabeth Sheridan

Anonymous, "Memoirs of the Life of Mrs. Sheridan" New Lady's Magazine 7 (August 1792) 372-73.



Mr. Linley, the father of Mrs. Sheridan, was, in the early part of his life, engaged in the service of Mr. Chilcot, organist of Bath. He would often, however, neglect his own business to listen to his master's, and discovered by degrees so partial a regard to the musical art, that his master indulged him with a trial, and his genius was actually equal to the task. Mr. Chilcot therefore taught him the rudiments of music, and he became in due time a good practitioner; so good, that he left this gentleman, and played into his own pocket. Soon after, he was engaged as a performer in the public rooms at Bath, and instructed ladies and gentlemen in music. He was now universally allowed to be very skilful in his profession.

Our heroine was born about the year 1754; and even from her infancy, like her father, gave numerous indications of a natural genius for music. Her father very carefully fostered her rising talents; and she received instruction with so great facility, that at twelve years of age she made her public appearance in the rooms at Bath. Even in these first efforts she charmed all who listened: there was in her voice the extensive power of commanding all sounds, and every sound was harmonized by such softness, that it was impossible to resist her influence; she sung to the heart: from this time, therefore, she was present at every concert, and held the station of principal singer.

A few years after, a gentleman of considerable fortune paid his addresses to Miss Linley, and requested her hand in marriage. — But she refused him on account of the great disproportion of their years: and Mr. Sheridan, coming to Bath about the same time, an acquaintance soon commenced, which was followed by their marriage.

Eminent were the acquirements of Mrs. Sheridan; rich her original powers. — She was the principal either to instruct or to amuse. Harmony was completely her's, and that best harmony, which is in the mind, gave an interest to every thing which she did and all that she uttered.

Gifted mentally so largely, her form and features were correspondent — the tenderest sensibility was the character of her countenance — the most perfect proportion that of her frame. An indescribable grace had polished the whole so exquisitely, that it was impossible to contemplate Mrs. Sheridan without affection.

Providence did not shock with the sudden loss of so much merit the mind of him most deeply interested. Months and months have beheld her fading before the fever of disease, and gliding by imperceptible gradations towards the grave. We contemplate with little emotion the daily departure of ordinary beings; but averse to the absurdities of vain equalization, every sensibility we cherish as our best boast, thrills with spontaneous anguish when the greatly good and the lovely improvers of life sink into the dust.

Each lonely Scene shall her restore,
For her the Tear be daily shed,
Belov'd till Life can charm no more,
And mourn'd till Pity's self be dead.

This accomplished and amiable woman died Thursday the 28th of June last, at Bristol Hot-wells.

The much-lamented and lovely Mrs. Sheridan will doubtless be the theme of poetical talents. — Where can the Muse find a more touching or interesting subject than beauty and genius snatched to an early grave? The former must have faded by the touch of time, but the latter never can decay while memory exists in the minds of those who knew and admired her talents!

Beauty and genius united are rare indeed. Mrs. Sheridan was a bright example of both. Wherever we find similar perfections, we hold it our proudest boast to extol and admire them.

Mrs. Sheridan has left a son 17 years of age, and a daughter 3 months old; but she has left few such women as herself behind her.

Her remains were interred with much decent funeral pomp in the Cathedral church of Wells, in Somersetshire, in the same vault with her lovely sister, the late Mrs. Tickell, who died a few years since. The funeral was attended by her disconsolate husband and sorrowful relatives. Part of the service was very pathetically read by the Rev. Mr. Lee, and the rest admirably sung by the vicars and choristers, accompanied with the organ, which had the most solemn yet pleasing effect on a polite and numerous congregation, many of whom had the pleasure of knowing the amiable qualities of the deceased from her infancy. In this accomplished woman it might be truly said the Graces and Muses fondly resided:

But tho' endued with Seraph's face,
And syren voice to charm mankind,
'Twas Virtue's path she trod with grace,
And heavenly truths adorn'd her mind.