070625.Bath, Elizabeth Ann Linley at Abbey St, Pierrepont St, and the Royal Crescent

June 25, 2007 at 3:59 PM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bath Abbey, Cathedrals and churches, Jane Austen, Light and Shadow, people, somerset, Towers | 9 Comments

Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design and Brief Context]
Here is the Abbey Yard with its large central tree. The street to the left is Abbey Street (with the Roman Baths in the background) and the street to the right is Church St (obviously with the Abbey behind.)
070114.11.Somset.Bath.Abbey Green

Scandal in Bath! Part One: Elizabeth Ann Linley (1754-1792)

Among Bath’s most prestigious artistic families, the Linleys remain difficult to rival. Father Thomas “was a musical entrepreneur who arranged concerts in Bath, gave singing lessons, and played the harpsichord expertly. His eldest two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary were singers of considerable ability….” Even his son, also named Thomas, was extraordinarily gifted in music. As a talented violinist, young Thomas “visited Italy as a child prodigy in 1770, won the friendship and approbation of Mozart, and died tragically in a boating accident at the age of twenty-two.” [1]

As all Jane Austen-philes will know, addresses translate into social status in Bath. Although father Thomas was originally from Wells, the family had long lived in fashionable Bath, which had enough sophisticated visitors to appreciate and propel the careers of family members. They originally lived on Abbey Street before moving in 1764 to Pierrepont Street, and finally moving in the autumn of 1771 to the Royal Crescent, which was conveniently near the Upper Assembly Rooms, where Elizabeth and Mary sang to rapt audiences and where their father organized concerts. [1] Each relocation to a new and better address reflected the family’s increasing prosperity and social status.

Elizabeth LinleyAfter the death of young Thomas, Elizabeth with her divine voice was the brightest star of the family. The organist at Exeter Cathedral wrote that “[h]er voice was conventionally sweet, and her scale just and perfect, from the lowest to the highest note the tone was of same quality… Her genius and senses gave a consequence to her performance which no fool with the voice of an angel could ever attain.” Likewise, her beauty was renowned, and testified to in paint by Gainsborough. Reynolds used her for his painting of St. Cecilia, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy. Her qualities attracted royal attention when she performed at Drury Lane, George III “gazed at her with more than a paternal interest.” The close royal confidant, son of first prime minister, and cultivator of the Gothick style Hon. Horace Walpole, who was certainly unconcerned for himself, told a friend that “Miss Linley’s beauty is in the superlative degree, …the king admires her, and ogles her as much as he dares to do in so holy a place as an oratorio.” [2] Of course, the king was married and too old for the teenage Elizabeth but this did not deter her vast army of suitors.

Capitalizing on his daughter’s popularity, her father quickly arranged a marriage between her to a Mr. Walter Long, who apparently was a very rich and very elderly gentleman, but not much else. Perhaps sensing the game was up, the age difference, his own mortality, her disinterest (and possible interest elsewhere), Mr. Long withdrew from the engagement a few months later but compensated her with 1000 pounds worth of jewelry and 3000 pounds sterling. Gossip about a possible scandal began, which eventually spawned Samuel Foote’s play The Maid of Bath, playfully satirizing her failed engagement and emotional problems. [3]

Subsequently, Elizabeth became very depressed…but who would come to lift her spirits…and herself out of the country? Find out tomorrow!


[1] William Lowndes, Royal Crescent in Bath: A Fragment of English Life (Bristol, The Redcliffe Press, 1981), 35.
[2] Ibid, 36.
[3] Ibid, 37.

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9 Comments »

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  1. Been there, seen that!

    And you NOW have your answer!

    😉
    xo

  2. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW!!!! Can I blurt it out?!

  3. It’s Richard Brinsley Sheridan! Right? I mean, she had rat’s-nest hair- who ELSE would sweep her off her feet?

  4. LMAO JC! You win the PRIZE!

    I THINK!

    J!

    Math rhymes with BATH!

    Go FIGURE!!!!

    =)))
    xo

  5. […] So when we last left Elizabeth Ann Linley (1754-1792), her short engagement to the elderly Mr. Long had ended and she was now the [negative] talk of the town. Depressed, she felt the whole city trapping her and she longed to escape to France, which is when she met the penniless Dublin-born Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), who had only two years before come to Bath with his father and older brother Charles, another one of her ardent suitors. He didn’t quite sweep her off her feet, but swept her in a waiting carriage and there used his time well while he escorted her to France. The couple left the Royal Crescent, Bath, under the cover of nightfall on 18 March 1772 to pass through London before arriving in Dunkirke. Later, she would write of the journey that she had not known him well before the carriage trip but found his concern for her welfare comforting as the two traveled to France, and there were secretly married in Calais. Elizabeth’s father, Thomas, tracked them down to Lille and escorted them both back to Bath. [1] […]

  6. […] Shadow, Chisel Marks, Ruins, river, Bath, somerset, Architecture | Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design […]

  7. […] Shadow, Chisel Marks, Ruins, river, Bath, somerset, Architecture | Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design […]

  8. […] Ruins, somerset, river, Gardens & Parks, Bath, Architecture | Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design […]

  9. […] Austen, Architecture, river, Gardens & Parks, Bath, people | Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design […]


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