Open main menu

Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/108

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
74
MONODY ON THE DEATH OF SHERIDAN.

To soothe Indignity—and face to face
Meet sordid Rage, and wrestle with Disgrace,
To find in Hope but the renewed caress,
The serpent-fold of further Faithlessness:—
If such may be the Ills which men assail,
What marvel if at last the mightiest fail?
Breasts to whom all the strength of feeling given
Bear hearts electric—charged with fire from Heaven,90
Black with the rude collision, inly torn,
By clouds surrounded, and on whirlwinds borne,
Driven o'er the lowering atmosphere that nurst
Thoughts which have turned to thunder—scorch, and burst.[1]


But far from us and from our mimic scene
Such things should be—if such have ever been;
Ours be the gentler wish, the kinder task,

To give the tribute Glory need not ask,

    The extent and duration of Sheridan's destitution at the time of his last illness and death have been the subject of controversy. The statements in Moore's Life (1825) moved George IV. to send for Croker and dictate a long and circumstantial harangue, to the effect that Sheridan and his wife were starving, and that their immediate necessities were relieved by the (then) Prince Regent's agent, Taylor Vaughan (Croker's Correspondence and Diaries, 1884, i. 388-312). Mr. Fraser Rae, in his Life of Sheridan (1896, ii. 284), traverses the king's apology in almost every particular, and quotes a letter from Charles Sheridan to his half-brother Tom, dated July 16, 1816, in which he says that his father "almost slumbered into death, and that the reports ... in the newspapers (vide, e.g,. Morning Chronicle, July, 1816) of the privations and want of comforts were unfounded."

    Moore's sentiments were also expressed in "some verses" (Lines on the Death of SH—R—D—N), which were published in the newspapers, and are reprinted in the Life, 1895, ii 462, and Poetical Works, 1850, p. 400—

    "How proud they can press to the funeral array
    Of one whom they shunned in his sickness and sorrow!
    How bailiffs may seize his last blanket to-day,
    Whose pall shall be held up by nobles to-morrow.

    ······

    Was this, then, the fate of that high-gifted man,
    The pride of the palace, the bower, and the hall,
    The orator—dramatist—minstrel, who ran
    Through each mode of the lyre, and was master of all?"]

  1. Abandoned by the skies, whose beams have nurst
    Their very thunders, lighten—scorth, and burst.[MS.]