Friday, February 20, 2009
Tart of the Week: Hecca Sheridan
You could say that Hecca Ogle was Richard Brinsley Sheridan's retribution for being such a bastard to his first, and much sweeter wife, Elizabeth. Esther Jane Ogle, nicknamed Hecca, was born in 1776, the daughter of the Dean of Winchester. Her family tended to be involved in politics and move in the subsequent circles so it is likely there that the 43 year old playwright/politician first met the green-eyed eighteen year old.
Legend has it that upon their first meeting Hecca was all, "Ew go away!" and said that Sheridan was a "fright" and a "terrible creature" which of course just encouraged him all the more. At the time he was manic and depressed over rejection from Harriet Countess of Bessborough, so what better a time then to pursue a high-spirited teen. Eventually, his persistence paid off and Hecca began to say that he was "quite clever" despite being a "monster." Then Sheridan's star-quality began to dawn on her, perhaps this wouldn't be such a bad match after all. In 1794 she was in love and by 1795 they were married.
Hecca was not drop dead gorgeous but she was pretty. She also was young and had a wild side that appealed to a lot of men. Her dark features and green eyes along with her tall figure presented her as an exotic and mysterious creature that needed to be tamed. But taming was not in the works for this tart. The press began to take notice of how Sheridan's young wife's refusal to conform to the standards of a great man's wife. Yet, Sheridan was smitten and their son was soon born, with Charles Fox and Charles Grey as his godfathers. God forbid, anything happened to the Sheridans!
But things weren't to stay happy for long. Soon the arguments began. Hecca had no problem raising her voice against her Irish politician husband. She was disenchanted by her gloomy old husband who was fast becoming an alcoholic. She threatened to leave him and he begged her not to, all while thinking of Harriet. Hecca didn't leave him but she did move on to another; a man who just happened to be married to her own cousin, Charles Earl Grey.
At the time Georgiana and Grey had either reignited their affair or were good friends. Either way, Georgiana had put the past behind her and was ready to maturely move on. Grey himself, was not in love with her, yet couldn't stay away. But suddenly Grey began avoiding her altogether. This was due to Grey and Hecca hooking up. Hecca took no discretion, and once the affair reached the press, she flaunted it in Georgiana's face. I believe, after that, Georgiana finally realized Grey was just not worth it; but she still took the blow hard. Hecca relished in her victory. She would get hers later.
One night, Sheridan had drank himself into a stupor and Hecca feared for the worst. She sent for none other than Harriet who Sheridan was crying out for. Nervously, Harriet raced over at midnight. When Sheridan saw her he began apologizing for his awful treatment of her throughout the years and told her that he never loved anyone as much as her. Hecca was shocked and upset and interjected. Sheridan responded with, "My dear Hecca, you know I love you more than anyone else. Except her." When Hecca flew into a rage he merely responded, "Don't talk nonsense."
Hecca's remaining years were plagued by cancer. She perished prematurely at the age of 41, a year after her husband's death.