Lines On The Death Of Sheridan.

A poem by Thomas Moore

principibus placuisse viris!
--HORAT.


Yes, grief will have way--but the fast falling tear
Shall be mingled with deep execrations on those
Who could bask in that Spirit's meridian career.
And yet leave it thus lonely and dark at its close:--

Whose vanity flew round him, only while fed
By the odor his fame in its summer-time gave;--
Whose vanity now, with quick scent for the dead,
Like the Ghoul of the East, comes to feed at his grave.

Oh! it sickens the heart to see bosoms so hollow,
And spirits so mean in the great and high-born;
To think what a long line of titles may follow
The relics of him who died--friendless and lorn!

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 palls shall be held up by nobles to-morrow!

And Thou too whose life, a sick epicure's dream,
Incoherent and gross, even grosser had past,
Were it not for that cordial and soul-giving beam
Which his friendship and wit o'er thy nothingness cast:--

No! not for the wealth of the land that supplies thee
With millions to heap upon Foppery's shrine;--
No! not for the riches of all who despise thee,
Tho' this would make Europe's whole opulence mine;--

Would I suffer what--even in the heart that thou hast--
All mean as it is--must have consciously burned.
When the pittance, which shame had wrung from thee at last,
And which found all his wants at an end, was returned![1]

"Was this then the fate,"--future ages will say,
When some names shall live but in history's curse;
When Truth will be heard, and these Lords of a day
Be forgotten as fools or remembered as worse;--

"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
"Thro' each mode of the lyre and was master of all;--

"Whose mind was an essence compounded with art
"From the finest and best of all other men's powers;-
"Who ruled, like a wizard, the world of the heart,
"And could call up its sunshine or bring down its showers;--

"Whose humor, as gay as the firefly's light,
"Played round every subject and shone as it played;--
"Whose wit in the combat, as gentle as bright,
"Ne'er carried a heart-stain away on its blade;--

"Whose eloquence--brightening whatever it tried,
"Whether reason or fancy, the gay or the grave,--
"Was as rapid, as deep and as brilliant a tide,
"As ever bore Freedom aloft on its wave!"

Yes--such was the man and so wretched his fate;--
And thus, sooner or later, shall all have to grieve,
Who waste their morn's dew in the beams of the Great,
And expect 'twill return to refresh them at eve.

In the woods of the North there are insects that prey
On the brain of the elk till his very last sigh;[2]
Oh, Genius! thy patrons, more cruel than they,
First feed on thy brains and then leave thee to die!

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