The principal object of the Author in the following Comedy, was to do away any lingering prejudice that may still exist in England against the people of Ireland: this she has endeavoured to effect, by drawing a character she believes to be new to the Stage, that of an Irish Gentleman, such as he now exists in society.
That she has not been unfitted for the task by a blind national partiality, will be allowed, when it is remembered, that although a native of Ireland, and for many years past a resident in that country, yet all her early habits and connexions were formed in England; and therefore all her impressions are highly favourable to a country which she must ever regard with sincere esteem and fond affection; nor did she visit Ireland from her infancy, to a period of life when judgment is sufficiently ripe to correct any groundless predilection she may be supposed to have contracted for the place of her birth, merely as such.
All considerations of a political nature respect the Irish nation have been carefully avoided, as such are neither agreeable to the Author's habits of thinking as a woman, nor, in her opinion, suitable to this species of composition.
The character of Mrs. Rivers, and the part of the plot which relates to her, are meant to show the danger of yielding in any degree to sickly sensibility or affected refinement of feeling; which begins by persuading its victim, that conscious of acting upon more exalted principles than the common herd of mortals, she need not consider herself as bound by the ordinary rules of conduct and decorum, and ends too often by plunging her into irretrievable disgrace and ruin. Some experience of life and manners has taught the Author to believe, that such a delineation may not be without its use at present.
The Author's Prologue and Epilogue, which arrived too late to be made use of, are here given, with those which were obligingly supplied in their room.
To her nephew, Mr. T. SHERIDAN, the Author is indebted, among many acts of attention and kindness, with regard to the Play, for the Epilogue, and for some judicious curtailments and alterations in the piece itself while in preparation for representation, which her absence from the spot incapacitated her from making.
To Mr. ARNOLD she desires to return many thanks for having exerted himself to bring forward the piece with every advantage, and for the judicious manner in which it was cast.
Not having witnessed the performance, the Author can only express her thanks generally to the Performers for the just and animated representation which, she is informed by the unanimous accounts of many friends, they give of their respective characters.
The Author cannot conclude without expressing how much she is gratified by the flattering reception which the piece has met with; and that not merely from the feelings natural to a writer, but from her real and warm attachment to the country which gave her birth, and to that to which she owes her education, and her first impressions of whatsoever is amiable and good; for how creditable is it to both nations to reflect, that a piece whose principal object is to place in the most favourable point of view the character of the sister-country, should have been received by so many successive English audiences with universal and marked approbation!
The Author has only to add her sincere hope, that the publication of this Comedy may not prove injurious to the interests of true taste and sound morals, and that The Sons of Erin may be received by their friends on the other side of the water, as cordially by the fireside, and in the domestic circle, as they have been already on the public scene.
Dublin, 5th May 1812.