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Richard Brinsley Sheridan may
indeed be called the Admirable Crichton of his day. There were few things he could not do in the line of brain work, and most of these he did superlatively well. He was wit, orator, poet and dramatist. Byron has said of him: “Whatever Sheridan nas done or chosen to do has been par excellence, always the best of its kind. He has vritten the best comedy, 'The School for Scandal;' the best opera, «The Duenna' (in my mind far before that St. Giles's lampoon, 'The Beggars' Opera'); the best farce, 'The Critic'-i is only too good for a farce—and the best address, the 'Monologue on Garrick;' and to crown all, delivered the very best oration, the famous ‘Begum Speech,' ever conceived heard in this country.”
In Sheridan's writings every , sentence is rounded and polished to a degree. Quick and clever as he was, however, he was a hard worker, and devoted infinite pains and much time to the products of his brain. This has been the case with the vast majority of great geniuses. As Sheridan himself has said in "Clio's Protest":
“You write with ease to show your breeding, But easy writing's cursed hard reading."
Sheridan's productions were neither easily written, nor are they hard reading. He polished, altered, shifted sentences and words about, until he had a brilliant and sparkling whole.
Sheridan began his career as a dramatist. Although he wrote and produced other plays, it is upon the three comedies, from which we give extracts here, that his fame as a playwright rests. All three are as amusing and interesting to-day as they were when first acted; they still, after a century and a quarter, hold the stage, and there is no sign that they will ever lag superfluous thereon. Moreover, like few plays, outside of Shakspere, they are excellent reading, and
be thoroughly enjoyed without the additional aid of a mimic presentation. With the exception of a few poems of more or less merit, Sheridan made his entry into the literary arena, when “The Rivals” was brought out at Drury Lane Theatre, early in 1775. He was then twenty-four, and it was after his marriage to Miss Linley, the "Maid of Bath,” following a most romantic courtship. The comedy failed on its first representation, chiefly through the incompetency of the actor who essayed the character of Sir Lucius O'Trigger. Another performer was substituted, some changes