23 MARCH 1918, Page 17

Richard Cumberland : his Life and Dramatic Works. By S.

T. Williams. (H; Milford. 12s. 6d. net.)—Richard Cumberland will always be remembered as the original of Sir Fretful Plagiary in Sheridan's The Critic, and by Sheridan's remark that " It was very ungrateful in Cumberland to have been displeased with his poor children for laughing at my comedy, for I went the other night to see his tragedy, and laughed at it from beginning to end." It has been reserved for an American scholar, who candidly admits that he found Cumberland's life more interesting than his plays, to produce an elaborate biography of this forgotten playwright, the grandson of Bentley, the friend of Garrick and Dr. Johnson, and the mentor of the authors of the Rejected Addresses. Cumberland wrote fifty- eight plays, many of which were highly successtut on the stage, and in some of which, like The Carmelite, Mrs. Siddons enraptured her audiences. Even his biographer can find little good to say about these forgotten pieces ; his theory is that Cumberland " drew im- possible characters because he was an idealist," and believed in the reforming mission of sentimental comedy.