Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 15.djvu/17

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adapted, as a pantomime for the Royal Amphitheatre of Davis and Parker, his own father's ‘High-mettled Racer,’ by which they cleared 10,000l., and he himself got 50l. When new Drury Lane was almost finished he was engaged by Arnold on the annual salary of 520l. as prompter and writer of the pantomimes. The first of these was ‘Harlequin and Humpo.’ His ‘Orange Bower’ was announced for 8 Dec. 1813, but could not get licensed and appear till the 10th. In August 1814 came his ‘Harlequin Hoax.’ He lost his daughter, his father, and his mother respectively in March, August, and on 10 Oct. the same year. Among his numerous remaining dramas are ‘The Ninth Statue,’ 1814, ‘Zuma,’ ‘The Lily of St. Leonards,’ January 1819, ‘The Ruffian Boy,’ dramatised from Mrs. Opie, and ‘The Fate of Calas,’ 1820.

After the death of Samuel Whitbread, Dibdin was appointed manager at his prompter salary, but saddled with a colleague, Mr. Rae, and there were discomforts with the committee. In 1816 he rashly took the Royal Circus, renamed the Surrey, of which his father had been first manager. This was disastrous. He opened it on 1 July, depending chiefly on his melodramas. The death of the Duke of Kent and of George III stopped the success of the theatre. On 19 March 1822 he closed the theatre, and gave the remainder of his lease to Watkyns Burroughs; but all went wrong. Morris offered him the management of the Haymarket at 200l. per season. Dibdin became insolvent. By the Surrey and Dublin ventures he had lost 18,000l. He scarcely succeeded at the Haymarket; his temper was soured, and he had not his old command of resources. He entered into a lawsuit with Elliston, who had dismissed him from Drury Lane, and he quarrelled with D. E. Morris, was arrested and put in prison. The two lawsuits he gained; but his career was over, the remaining years passing in petty squabbles, inferior work, and discontent. He tried to be cheerful, and his retrospect was that of nearly two hundred plays ten only were failures, and sixteen had attained extraordinary success. Nearly fifty were printed, besides thirty books of songs.

His ‘Reminiscences’ in 1827 were illustrated with an excellent portrait by Wageman, engraved by H. Meyer. In these volumes he far surpasses the ‘Professional Life’ of his father; Thomas's being, though necessarily egotistical and devoted to theatrical recollections, lively and amusing, full of interesting anecdotes of old companions: on the whole generous to all in the earlier portions, not embittered and abusive like his father's. Among his versatile literary employments were ‘A Metrical History of England,’ 2 vols., 1813 (published at 18s.), begun at Cheltenham in 1809, anticipating G. A. à Beckett's ‘Comic History;’ ‘Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress metrically condensed,’ 1834; and ‘Tom Dibdin's Penny Trumpet,’ a prematurely stifled rival to ‘Figaro in London,’ four penny numbers, October and November 1832, the least viperous of the many satires in the reform excitement. He claimed to have written nearly two thousand songs, of which a dozen or more were excellent, such as ‘The Oak Table,’ ‘Snug Little Island,’ the duet of ‘All's Well,’ and most of those sung in ‘The Cabinet,’ ‘The British Fleet,’ &c. It was ‘feared that he died in indigence’ (Annual Register), but he had been fairly prudent, was of steady domestic habits, and had made money constantly until near his closing years, when his toilsome life had enfeebled him and made him querulous. He wrote his own epitaph in the Ad Libitum Club:

Longing while living for laurel and bays,
Under this willow a poor poet ‘lays;’
With little to censure, and less to praise,
He wrote twelve dozen and three score plays:
He finish'd his ‘Life,’ and he went his ways.

He died at his house in Myddleton Place, Pentonville, in his seventieth year, 16 Sept. 1841, and was buried on the 21st in the burial-ground of St. James's, Pentonville, close by the grave of his old friend, Joseph Grimaldi [q. v.], and of his grandmother, Anne Pitt.

[Reminiscences of Thomas Dibdin, of the Theatres Royal Covent Garden, Drury Lane, Haymarket, &c., and Author of The Cabinet, &c., 2 vols. 8vo, H. Colburn, 1827; Athenæum, September 1841, p. 749; Tom Dibdin's Penny Trumpet, 20 Oct. to 10 Nov. 1832; Annual Biography, 1841; Biographical Dictionary of Living Authors, 1816; Last Lays of the Three Dibdins, 1833; Cumberland's edition of Operas and Farces, The Cabinet, &c., with Remarks by D. G.; works mentioned above, with anecdotes from family knowledge of personal acquaintance.]

J. W. E.

DICCONSON, EDWARD, D.D. (1670–1752), catholic prelate, was born in 1670, being the third son of Hugh Dicconson, esq., of Wrightington Hall, Lancashire, by Agnes, daughter of Roger Kirkby, esq., of Kirkby in that county. He was educated in the English college at Douay, and at the end of his course of philosophy, in 1691, returned to England. Subsequently he resumed his studies at Douay, where he took the oath on 8 March 1698–9. He took priest's orders; became procurator of the college in 1701; and in 1708–9 he was professor of syntax and a senior. In 1709–10 he was professor of poetry, and in 1711–12 professor of philo-