We often limit our interest in members of Byron's circle to how they develop our understanding of the great man. Even when their careers subsequent to Byron's death were long and illustrious, like Hobhouse's, they seem outweighed by the handful of years spent as his friend. But what if there is little else to say of a life except that it briefly crossed Byron's? I argue here that almost forgotten, minor companions deserve at least a long footnote and illuminate an aspect of the poet's personality. As Byron only mentioned him fleetingly in letters, his school friend John Thomas Claridge has never received more than passing mention in biographies. However, a dozen or so unpublished letters survive from him to the poet which reveal an intense, if brief and one-sided emotional engagement.
Claridge is gone after a lethargic visit of three perennial weeks. - How dull he is! I wish the dog had any bad qualities that one might not be ashamed of disliking him.1