1801 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elizabeth Sheridan

William Jackson of Exeter, in Autobiography, 1801 ca.; The Leisure Hour (1882) 277.



Miss Linley, afterwards Mrs. Sheridan, used to sing [my setting of Pope's Dying Christian to his Soul], when perhaps the audience rather applauded the performer than the composer. As this young woman died at an early age, and her merit only lives in the memory of the remaining few who have been present at her performance, it is not inconsistent with my present design to endeavour the sketch of a character which may else sink into oblivion. Elizabeth Linley was the eldest daughter of Thomas Linley, musical professor at Bath. He very early in her life taught her to sing, and before she was twelve years old she sang in public. Her voice was remarkably sweet, and her scale just and perfect; from the lowest to the highest note the tone was of the same quality. She had great flexibility of throat, and whether the passage was slow or rapid the intervals were always precisely in tune. As she never willing sung any songs but those of real melody and expression, the goodness of her choice added to her reputation. Her genius and sense gave a consequence to her performance which no fool with the voice of an angel could ever attain; and to those extraordinary qualifications was added a most beautiful person, expressive of the soul within.

As a singer she is perished forever; as a woman she still exists in a picture painted by Gainsborough in her mother's possession, and in another painted by Reynolds in the character of St. Cecilia, well known by the print taken from it.