The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.

II. The Early Drama, 1756–1860

§ 15. Comedy and Melodrama

The line is not easy to draw between these patriotic spectacles, dealing with events that have now become historic, and the comedies which reflected contemporary manners and customs. Both tend to become melodrama, and it would be fruitless to classify rigidly the large number of melodramatic comedies that are recorded as having had their day on the stage. Among plays of which record of performance has been kept, about four hundred in number, the largest group would be that of comedy, and it was from this group that the most significant plays form the point of view of stage development evolved.