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father now in his possession. My thanks are also due to my friends LAURENCE HUTTON and H. C. BUNNER, for the invaluable aid they have kindly given me in the preparation of these pages for the press.

B. M.
NEW YORK,

October, 1884.

P.S. Since this preface was written, now nearly a score of years ago, several biographies of Sheridan have been published, - one, exhaustive and admirable, by Mr. W. Fraser Rae. The present sketch has now been somewhat revised in the light cast by these later books. The tentative explanation, first suggested in these pages, as to the way in which Sheridan was enabled to get control of Drury Lane Theatre, has been adopted by Mr. Rae.

B. M.
NEW YORK,

April, 1904.

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RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN.

17517816 RICHARD BRINSLEY BUTLER SHERIDAN, dramatist, orator, and wit, was born at No. 12 Dorset Street, Dublin, Ireland, in September, 1751. He died in Savile Row, London, England, July 7, 1816, and was buried in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.

“ Most men,” says Sainte-Beuve, “ have not read those whom they judge; they have a ready-made opinion got by word of mouth, one scarcely knows how." No one has suffered more from these offhand judgments than Richard Brinsley Sheridan. A ready-made opinion of a man who found so many and such various means of expressing himself, an opinion got by word of mouth, one hardly knows how, can scarcely be other than unjust. The case against Sheridan, as a man of letters, may be briefly stated. It is substantially, that he stole the characters and the plots of his plays, that he pilfered the points of his speeches, and that he prepared his jokes in advance, appropriating to his own use any jest he found ready to his hand. The counsel for the prosecution once got access to a British review, and declared with forensic emphasis that Sheridan was a plodding and heavy Beaumarchais, with all the tricks, but without the genuine brightness and originality of the Frenchman.” When one reads a solemn statement like this, the question forms itself of its own accord: Was he really plodding and heavy and with

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