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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/99

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INTRODUCTION TO MONODY ON THE DEATH OF THE RIGHT HON. R. B. SHERIDAN.

When Moore was engaged on the Life of Sheridan, Byron gave him some advice. "Never mind," he says, "the angry lies of the humbug Whigs. Recollect that he was an Irishman and a clever fellow, and that we have had some very pleasant days with him. Don't forget that he was at school at Harrow, where, in my time, we used to show his name—R. B. Sheridan, l765—an honour to the walls. Depend upon it that there were worse folks going, of that gang, than ever Sheridan was" (Letter to Moore, September 19, 1818, Letters, 1900, iv. 261).

It does not appear that Byron had any acquaintance with Sheridan when wrote the one unrejected Address which was spoken at the opening of Drury Lane Theatre, October 10, 1812, but that he met him for the first time at a dinner which Rogers gave to Byron and Moore, on or before June 1, 1813. Thenceforward, as long as he remained in England (see his letter to Rogers, April 16, 1816, Letters, 1899, iii. 281, note 1), he was often in his company, "sitting late, drinking late," not, of course, on terms of equality and friendship (for Sheridan was past sixty, and Byron more than thirty years younger), but of the closest and pleasantest intimacy. To judge from the tone of the letter to Moore (vide supra) and of numerous entries in his diaries, during Sheridan's life and after his death, he was at pains not to pass judgment on a man whom he greatly admired and sincerely pitied, and whom he felt that he had no right to despise. Body and soul, Byron was of different stuff from Sheridan, and if he "had lived to his age," he would have passed over "the red-hot ploughshares" of life and conduct, not unscathed, but stoutly and unconsumed. So much easier is it to live down character than to live through temperament.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (born October 30, 1751) died July 7, 1816. The Monody was written at Campagne