Goldsmith’s campaign against sentimental comedy was not an expression of hostility to sentiment in comedy. He was a man of sentiment himself, as we need look no further than his sympathetic portrayal of sentimental Mr Hardcastle to perceive. The attack was aimed quite specifically at a certain type of comedy which achieved its height of popularity in his day and can fairly be represented by such a play as Hugh Kelly’s False Delicacy (1768). Sheridan followed Goldsmith in denigrating the ‘goddess of the woeful countenance’ — though with rather less fire and fury, the fate of his own plays being less affected by the sentimental vogue.
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