Lady Atherton has a low opinion of poets. She believes that they are all mad; therefore, since like attracts like, she hopes that she can get Richard Bysshe to marry her daughter Lucy. She has therefore hired Mr. Bysshe as her personal and social secretary.
The poet accepted the job in a kind of daze, believing the encounter to be a curiously unpleasant dream. Now he is stuck. Lady Atherton knows his secret, and she has made it quite clear that the only way he can cease to be her secretary is for him to become her son-in-law.
And he had almost resigned himself to his fate- when he met Ophelia Hampstead.
And now there is no way out of his situation without an annihilating scandal.
Unless, of course, Lady Atherton were to die.