July 7

Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Member of Parliament, dramatist, orator, and distinguished defender of the Press, died in London this day in 1816. Just three years previously his constituents of the town of Stafford had presented him with a “vase cup” which bore the following engraving:

To the Right Hon. R. B. Sheridan
the eloquent, intrepid, and incorruptible
Guardian of that Palladium
of all the Civil, Religious, and Political
Rights of Freeman,
The Liberty of the Press.
This Cup is presented
by his friends of Stafford,
as a small Tribute of their unbounded
irrevocable Esteem and eternal Gratitude.

During his career, Sheridan spoke frequently upon the issues stated upon that inscription. He was active as a member of the Society for the Freedom of the Press, and in the grandiloquent style of the times he paid tribute to its ideals. “Give them,” he states, “a corrupt House of Lords, give them a venal Home of Commons, give them a tyrannical prince, give them a truckling court, and let me but have an unfettered press, and I will defy them to encroach a hair’s breadth on the liberty of England.”

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