The American War and the ‘Playwright Patriot’
This chapter affirms the degree of Sheridan’s engagement with contemporary politics well before he entered the House of Commons in 1780. The first section, drawing upon unpublished manuscript material, introduces Sheridan’s radical response to the American Revolution, and considers his notes on Samuel Johnson’s loyalist pamphlet Taxation No Tyranny (1776) and William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–9). The second section then turns to two of Sheridan’s comic afterpieces—St Patrick’s Day (1776), a farce which quietly glosses the complexities of Ireland’s relationship to Britain, and The Camp (1778), a satire on the military mania that swept across the country in the late 1770s—placing these dramas within the specific context of the American War of Independence
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