Richard Brinsley Sheridan

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Never say more than is necessary.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (October 30, 1751 - July 7, 1816) was an Irish playwright and Whig statesman.


  • An apothecary should never be out of spirits.
    • St. Patrick's Day (1775), Act I, sc. i.
  • Death's a debt; his mandamus binds all alike — no bail, no demurrer.
    • St. Patrick's Day (1775), Act II, sc. iv.
  • Date not the life which thou hast run by the mean of reckoning of the hours and days, which though hast breathed: a life spent worthily should be measured by a nobler line, — by deeds, not years...
    • Pizarro (first acted 24 May 1799), Act iv, Scene 1. Compare: "Who well lives, long lives; for this age of ours / Should not be numbered by years, daies, and hours", Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, Second Week, Fourth Day, Book ii.
  • You write with ease to show your breeding,
    But easy writing's curst hard reading.
    • Clio's Protest (1819).
  • An oyster may be crossed in love.
    • Clio's Protest (1819).
  • The right honorable gentlemen is indebted to his memory for his jests, and to his imagination for his facts.
    • Sheridaniana, Speech in Reply to Mr. Dundas.

The Rivals (1775)

  • 'Tis safest in matrimony to begin with a little aversion.
    • Act I, sc. ii
  • A progeny of learning.
    • Act I, sc. i
  • Never say more than is necessary.
    • Act II, sc. i
  • I know you are laughing in your sleeve.
    • Act II, sc. i
  • He is the very pineapple of politeness!
    • Act III, sc. iii
  • If I reprehend anything in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!
    • Act III, sc. iii
  • As headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile.
    • Act III, sc. iii
  • Our ancestors are very good kind of folks; but they are the last people I should choose to have a visiting acquaintance with.
    • Act IV, sc. i
  • No caparisons, miss, if you please. Caparisons don't become a young woman.
    • Act IV, sc. ii
  • You are not like Cerberus, three gentlemen at once, are you?
    • Act IV, sc. ii
  • The quarrel is a very pretty quarrel as it stands; we should only spoil it by trying to explain it.
    • Act IV, sc. iii
  • My valor is certainly going! — it is sneaking off! I feel it oozing out, as it were, at the palm of my hands!
    • Act V, sc. iii
  • I own the soft impeachment.
    • Act V, sc. iii
  • Through all the drama — whether damned or not —
    Love gilds the scene, and women guide the plot.
    • Epilogue

The Duenna (1775)

  • I ne'er could any luster see
    In eyes that would not look on me.
    • Act I, sc. ii
  • I loved him for himself alone.
    • Act I, sc. iii
  • A bumper of good liquor
    Will end a contest quicker
    Than justice, judge, or vicar.
    • Act I, sc. iii
  • Conscience has no more to do with gallantry than it has with politics.
    • Act I, sc. iv

The School for Scandal (1777)

  • Tale-bearers are as bad as the tale-makers.
    • Act I, sc. i
  • You shall see them on a beautiful quarto page, where a neat rivulet of text shall meander through a meadow of margin.
    • Act I, sc. i
  • You had no taste when you married me.
    • Act I, sc. ii
  • Here's to the maiden of bashful fifteen;
    Here's to the widow of fifty;
    Here's to the flaunting, extravegant quean,
    And here's to the housewife that's thrifty.
    Let the toast pass —
    Drink to the lass;
    I'll warrant she'll prove an excuse for the glass.
    • Act III, sc. iii
  • An unforgiving eye, and a damned disinheriting countenance.
    • Act IV, sc. i
  • Be just before you're generous.
    • Act IV, sc. i

The Critic (1779)

  • There is not a passion so strongly rooted in the human heart as envy.
    • Act I, sc. i
  • The newspapers! Sir, they are the most villainous — licentious — abominable — infernal — Not that I ever read them — no — I make it a rule never to look into a newspaper.
    • Act I, sc. i
  • Egad, I think the interpreter is the hardest to be understood of the two!
    • Act I, sc. ii
  • A practitioner in panegyric, or, to speak more plainly, a professor of the art of puffing.
    • Act I, sc. ii
  • The number of those who undergo the fatigue of judging for themselves is very small indeed.
    • Act I, sc. ii
  • Certainly nothing is unnatural that is not physically impossible.
    • Act II, sc. i
  • I wish, sir, you would practice this without me. I can't stay dying here all night.
    • Act III, sc. i

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