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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/107

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73
MONODY ON THE DEATH OF SHERIDAN.

The matchless dialogue—the deathless wit,
Which knew not what it was to intermit;50
The glowing portraits, fresh from life, that bring
Home to our hearts the truth from which they spring;
These wondrous beings of his fancy, wrought
To fulness by the fiat of his thought,
Here in their first abode you still may meet,
Bright with the hues of his Promethean heat;
A Halo of the light of other days,
Which still the splendour of its orb betrays.
But should there be to whom the fatal blight
Of failing Wisdom yields a base delight,60
Men who exult when minds of heavenly tone
Jar in the music which was born their own,
Still let them pause—ah! little do they know
That what to them seemed Vice might be but Woe.
Hard is his fate on whom the public gaze
Is fixed for ever to detract or praise;
Repose denies her requiem to his name,
And Folly loves the martyrdom of Fame.
The secret Enemy whose sleepless eye
Stands sentinel—accuser—judge—and spy.70
The foe, the fool, the jealous, and the vain,
The envious who but breathe in other's pain—
Behold the host! delighting to deprave,
Who track the steps of Glory to the grave,
Watch every fault that daring Genius owes
Half to the ardour which its birth bestows,
Distort the truth, accumulate the lie,
And pile the Pyramid of Calumny!
These are his portion—but if joined to these
Gaunt Poverty should league with deep Disease,80
If the high Spirit must forget to soar,

And stoop to strive with Misery at the door,[1]

    played for the first time at Covent Garden, January 17, May 2, and November 21, 1775. A Trip to Scarborough and the School for Scandal were brought out at Drury Lane, February 24 and May 8, 1777; the Critic, October 29, 1779; and Pizarro, May 24, 1799.]

  1. [Only a few days before his death, Sheridan wrote thus to Rogers: "I am absolutely undone and broken-hearted. They are going to put the carpets out of window, and break into Mrs. S.'s room and take me. For God's sake let me see you!" (Moore's Life of Sheridan, 1825, ii. 455).