Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cibber, Colley

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CIBBER, COLLEY (1671–1757), actor and dramatist, was born in London in Southampton Street, Bloomsbury, on 6 Nov. 1671. His father, Caius Gabriel Gibber or Cibert [q. v.], a native of Flensborg, known as a sculptor, settled in England oefore the Restoration. Colley Gibber was the offspring of a second marriage, his mother being Jane, daughter of William CoUey of Glaston, Rutlandshire, and granddaughter of Sir Anthony Golley, whose fortune was lost during the civil war. In 1682 Gibber was sent to the free school of Grantham in Lincolnshire, where he remained until 1687, displaying, according to his own confession, a special sharpness of intellect and aptitude for verse writing, which gained him consideration from his masters, and a conceit which rendered him unpopular with his fellows. After quitting Grantham to 'stand at the election of children into Winchester College' (Apology, p. 38), upon which institution, on account of his descent through his mother from William of Wykeham, he was held to have a claim, and being rejected, he went to London, where he visited the theatres and conceived a taste for the stage. A residence in town of some months was followed by a departure for Chatsworth, where his father was engaged under William Cavendish, earl and subsequently duke of Devonshire. While on his journey Cibber heard of the landing of William of Orange, and joined his father, whom he found in arms at Nottingham with the Earl of Devonshire. Gibber was accepted as a soldier by the earl, who promised in more settled times to look after his advancement. He formed part of an escort which went out to meet the Princess Anne; he waited at table upon Lady Churchill, and marched to Oxford and, after the flight of James II, back to Nottingham. Disappointed in his hope of receiving a commission, he quitted the army and proceeded to Chatsworth, whence he was sent by his father to London to the Earl of Devonshire, whom he had first propitiated by a Latin petition for preferment. During the five months in which he danced attendance on the earl he haunted the theatres. Without waiting accordingly for the place in the household which he hints was being sought for him, he joined the united companies at the Theatre Royal. Though generally regardless of dates, he states for once that he joined the companies in 1690 (ib. p. 87). According to Davies (Dramatic Miscellanies, iii. 417-18), Gibber and Verbruggen were two dissipated young fellows who constantly attended upon Downes, the prompter, in hope of obtaining employment as actors. Cibber, Davies was tolh by Richard Gross, prompter of Drury Lane, ' was known only for some years by the name of Master Colley.' Obtaining at length permission to carry a message to Betterton, he was so terrified that the action of the play was interrupted. Betterton was told that the offender was Master Colley. 'Then forfeit him.' 'Why, sir,' Downes is reported to have said, 'he has no salary.' 'Then put him down ten shillings a week and forfeit him five 'was the reported answer. Gibber asserts that in consequence of there being no competition young actors on probation were kept six months without a salary, and states that he was 'full three-quarters of a year' before being 'taken into a salary of ten shillings a week' (Apology, p. 193). His first recorded appearance is as Sir Gentle's servant in Southerne's 'Sir Anthony Love,' Theatre Royal, 1691. In the same year he played small parts in 'Alphonso, King of Naples,' an adaptation by Powell of the 'Young Admiral' of Shirley, and in D'Urfey's alteration of Ghapman's 'Bussy d'Ambois.' During 1692 and 1693 he is heard of as Mr. Cibber or Mr. Colly {sic), as Cibbars and as Zibbar. His efforts to rise into heroic parts were defeated owing to the insufiiciency of his voice. His first success was obtained, assumably about 1692, as the Chaplain in the 'Orphan' of Otway, in which he replaced Percival. According to his own account, Goodman, after seeing him play, asked what new actor this was, and in emphatic language predicted his future success. A performance of Lord Touchwood in the 'Double Dealer,' in which he replaced Kynaston, who was ill, brought him the applause of Congreve, and an increase of salary from fifteen to twenty shillings a week. The date of this may safely be taken as 1693-4. With the secession of Betterton [q. v.] and his associates to the new theatre m Little Lincoln's Inn Fields, which opened 30 April 1695, a chance for the younger actors was afforded and Cibber found his salary raised to 30s. A prologue for the reopening of the theatre Easter Monday 1695, was accepted from him. This, however, he was not allowed to speak. In a revival of the 'Old Bachelor' which followed Cibber played Fondlewife, originally taken by Doggett, one of the seceders from the Theatre Royal, with conspicuous but unremunerative success, described in some of the most characteristic pages in his 'Apology.' No further character of importance being assigned him. Gibber determined to write a play for himself. In January 1695-6, accordingly, his 'Love's Last Shift, or the Fool in Fashion,' was produced, chiefly through the influence of Southeme, who, while predicting success, cautioned Cibber against playing himself. Cibber was resolute, however, in playing Sir Novelty Fashion. Piece and performance were alike successful Vanbrugh wrote forthwith ‘The Relapse’ as a sequel. In this, 1697, Cibber was Lord Foppington, as Vanbrugh elected to call Sir Novelty Fashion. Cibber's performance in Vanbrugh's piece established his reputation, and the eccentric characters in which he is best remembered were now assigned him as a right. The list of characters in which he subsequently appeared is very long. The names and dates of a few only can be given. Except where otherwise stated, the performance took place at Drury Lane. Cibber played, among other parts, Æsop in Vanbrugh's comedy of that name, 1697; Richard III in his own adaptation of Shakespeare, 1700; Mons (sic) Marquis in Farquhar's ‘Sir Harry Wildair,’ 1701; Don Manuel in his own ‘She would and she would not,’ 1702; Sir Courtly Nice in Crowne's play so named, 1703; Sir Fopling Flutter in Etherege's ‘The Man of Mode,’ 1706 (Haymarket); Ben in Congreve's ‘Love for Love,’ 1708; Gloster in his adaptation of ‘King Lear;’ Iago in ‘Othello,’ and Sparkish in Wycherley's ‘Country Wife,’ 1708–9; Fondlewife in Congreve's ‘Old Bachelor,’ date unknown, but after 1708; Tinsel in Addison's ‘Drummer,’ 1716; Barnaby Brittle in Betterton's ‘Amorous Widow;’ Bayes in the ‘Rehearsal;’ Dr. Wolf in his own ‘Nonjuror,’ 1716–17; Shallow in ‘King Henry IV,’ pt. 2, as altered by Betterton; Jaques in ‘Love in a Forest,’ an alteration of ‘As you like it,’ 1722; Wolsey in ‘Henry VIII,’ 1724; Lord Richly in Fielding's ‘Modern Husband,’ 1732, and, after his retirement, Pandulph in his own ‘Papal Tyranny,’ 1745. Of many of the comic characters named he was the original. The dates given do not in every case record necessarily the first appearance. His plays were as follows: 1. ‘Love's Last Shift,’ 4to, 1696, was succeeded by (2) ‘Woman's Wit, or the Lady in Fashion,’ comedy, 4to, 1697, written in part, as Cibber tells us in the preface, during a temporary secession to Lincoln's Inn Fields, a fact which is unmentioned in the ‘Apology.’ It was produced at Drury Lane and damned. 3. ‘Xerxes,’ a tragedy, 4to, 1699, given at Lincoln's Inn Fields, shared the same fate, being apparently acted but once. In an inventory of ‘the moveables of Christopher Rich, esq., who is breaking up housekeeping,’ No. 42 of the ‘Tatler’ classes with Roxana's nightgown, Othello's handkerchief, &c., ‘the imperial robes of Xerxes, never worn but once.’ In 1700 (4) his alteration of ‘King Richard the Third’ was printed in 4to and acted at Drury Lane. Great as are its faults, it held possession of the stage as the only acting version until 1821. In 1701 (5) ‘Love makes the Man, or the Fop's Fortune,’ in which two plays of Beaumont and Fletcher, ‘The Custom of the Country’ and ‘The Elder Brother,’ are welded together, was acted at Drury Lane and printed in 4to. 6. ‘She would and she would not, or the Kind Impostor,’ one of the best of Cibber's comedies, taken in part from the ‘Counterfeits’ by Leanerd, came next, being played at Drury Lane 26 Nov. 1702, and printed in 4to the following year. 7. ‘The Careless Husband,’ a brilliant comedy of intrigue, was given at Drury Lane 7 Dec. 1704, and printed 4to, 1705. 8. ‘Perolla and Izadora,’ tragedy, Drury Lane, 3 Dec. 1705, 4to, 1706. 9. ‘The Schoolboy, or the Comical Rivals,’ a comedy altered from ‘Woman's Wit’ (see above), printed 1707, and acted at Drury Lane, date uncertain. 10. ‘The Comical Lovers, or Marriage à la Mode,’ Drury Lane, 4 Feb. 1707, 4to, 1707, combining the comic scenes of Dryden's ‘Secret Love’ and those of his ‘Marriage à la Mode.’ 11. ‘The Double Gallant, or Sick Lady's Cure,’ 4to, 1707, acted 1 Nov. 1707 at Haymarket, a compilation from Mrs. Centlivre's ‘Love at a Venture’ and Burnaby's ‘Lady's Visiting Day,’ owing something also to ‘Le Galant Double’ of Thomas Corneille, 1660. 12. ‘The Lady's Last Stake, or the Wife's Resentment,’ comedy, 4to, no date (1708), a fairly good play, which the ‘Biographia Dramatica’ says was indebted to Burnaby's ‘Reformed Wife.’ It was acted at the Haymarket on 13 Dec. 1707. 13. ‘The Rival Fools,’ comedy, 4to, no date (1709), an alteration of Beaumont and Fletcher's ‘Wit at several Weapons,’ played unsuccessfully at Drury Lane on 11 Jan. 1710. 14. ‘Myrtillo,’ a pastoral interlude, 8vo, 1715, played at Drury Lane, assumably 1715–16, with little success. 15. ‘Hob, or the Country Wake,’ farce, 12mo, 1715, a reduction of the ‘Country Wake’ of Doggett (Drury Lane, date unrecorded). 16. ‘Venus and Adonis,’ masque, 8vo, 1716, acted at Drury Lane. 17. ‘The Non-juror,’ comedy, 8vo, 1718, played at Drury Lane on 6 Dec. 1717, is a successful adaptation of Molière's ‘Tartuffe’ to English life of the day. 18. ‘Ximena, or the Heroick Daughter,’ tragedy, 8vo, 1718, acted at Drury Lane on 28 Dec. 1712, and again 1 Nov. 1718, owing something to the ‘Cid.’ 19. ‘The Refusal, or the Ladies' Philosophy,’ comedy, 8vo, 1721, taken from ‘Les Femmes Scavantes’ of Molière, and acted at Drury Lane 14 Feb. 1721. 20. ‘Cæsar in Egypt,’ tragedy, 8vo, 1725 (Drury Lane, 9 Dec. 1724), taken from ‘The False One’ of Beaumont and Fletcher, and ‘La Mort de Pompée’ of Pierre Corneille. 21. ‘The Provoked Husband,’ 8vo, 1728 (Drury Lane, 10 Jan. 8), completed by Cibber from Vanbrugh's manuscript of 'The Journey to London.' 22. 'The Rival Queans, with the Humours of Alexander the Great,' a comical tragedy, Dublin, 8vo, 1729, acted, according to Genest, at the Haymarket on 29 June 1710. 23. 'Love in a Riddle,' a pastoral, 8vo, 1729 (misprinted 1719). This was written in imitation of the 'Beggar's Opera,' and played at Drury Lane on 7 Jan. 1 729. It was hissed by Cibber's enemies and converted into (24) 'Damon and Phillida,' a ballad opera, 8to, 1729, which was published anonymously, was acted successfully at Drury Lane, and kept possession of the stage. 25. 'Papal Tyranny in the Reign of King John,' tragedy, 8vo, 1746, acted at Covent Garden on 15 Feb. 1746. This tragedy, founded on 'King John,' was written and rehearsed nine years previously. Cibber, having been rebuked for meddling with Shakespeare, withdrew it. Pope refers to this in the 'Dunciad:' 'King John in silence modestly expires.' Cibber also wrote: 26. 'The Lady's Lecture,' a theatrical dialogue, 8vo, 1748, never acted. His name in the 'Biographia Dramatica' is said to be affixed to an opera called (27) 'Chuck,' 1736. The same work states that Defoe attributed to Cibber the anonymous tragedy called (28) 'Cinna's Conspiracy,' 4to, 17 13, taken from the 'Cinna' of Pierre Corneille, and acted at Drury Lane on 19 Feb. 1713, and has heard attributed to him (29) 'The Temple of Dulness, with the Humours of Signor Capochio and Signora Dorinna,' a comic opera, 4to, 1745 (Drury Lane, 14 Jan. 1745). Barker's 'Drama retarded, or List of Plays,' 1814, assigns to Gibber (30) 'Gapochio and Dorinna,' a musical entertainment, probably founded on the piece last named, 4to, no date. Gibber also claims to have assisted Steele in the composition of 'The Conscious Lovers.' During the earlier years of his theatrical career Cibber's pen supplemented advantageously his precarious earning as an actor. The withdrawal from the company at the Theatre Royal of Betterton, Mrs. Barry, and their associates, who in 1695 opened the theatre in Little Lincoln's Inn Fields, threw both managements, the old and the new, into constant straits. On 24 March 1691 Alexander Davenant, to whom four years previously Charles Davenant, assumably Dr. Charles Davenant, his brother, who is one of the sixers of the ifamous agreement of 1681 [see Betterton, Thomas], had assigned a portion of his share in the patent, made it over to Christopher Rich, who, stepping at once to a leading place in the management, is made chiefly responsible by Gibbar for all future failures. Cibber states that 'the provident patentees' forgot 'to pay their people when the money did not come in, nor then neither, but in such received one day's pay; and for some years after seldom had above half our nominal salaries' {Apology, p. 231). Gibber accordingly, who before he was two-and-twenty, and when he had but 20l. a year allowed him by his father, in addition to 20l. a week for his theatrical labours, had married Miss Shore, sister of John Shore, 'sergeant trumpet' of England, found his income too small to supply his family with the necessaries of life. 'It may be observable too,' he writes, 'that my muse and my spouse were equally prolific; that the one was seldom the mother of a child, but in the same year the other made me the father of a play. I think we had a dozen of each sort between us, of both which kinds some died in their infancy, and near an equal number of each were alive when I quitted the theatre' (ib. p. 267). At the beginning of the season of 1706-7 Cibber joined the Haymarket company, then under the management of Owen Swiney or MacSwiney. Early in 1708 the two companies united, the Haymarket was made over to Swiney for opera, and Gibber rejoined his former associates at Drury Lane, in the patent of which his friend Colonel Brett had obtained a share. Some objections on the part of Rich to taking him back were overruled. On 31 March 1708 Brett assigned his share in the patent to Wilks, Estcourt, and Gibber. At this period Rich, in answer to the constant complaints against his management, published an advertisement, reprinted in the 'Covent Garden Journal,' 1810, pp. 86-90, showing the amounts earned by his principal performers. According to this, Gibber received for seventy-one performances a salary at the rate of 6l. a week, amounting to 111l. 10s., a certain benefit of 51l. 0s. 10d., making 162l. 10s. 10d., to which was thought to be added by guineas from patrons and friends about 60l. additional. The publication of this advertisement did not prevent the actors from laying their grievances before the lord chamberlain, by whom Rich was ordered to satisfy their demands. This Rich declined to do, and on 6 June 1709 (1707 is the date wrongly given in Williams's 'Dramatic Censor') Drury Lane Theatre was closed by order of Queen Anne. Rich tried vainly to play in spite of the prohibition, and was, by a piece of sharp practice on the part of a lawyer named William Collier, member of parliament for Dover, who had obtained a license and a second lease from the proprietors, turned out of Drury Lane Theatre, which passed into the hands of hissupplanter. In the 'Tatler,' No. 99, a humorous account is given of the remarkable transaction by which the way for Gibber's promotion to the management of Drury Lane was prepared. Mrs. Oldfield having been bought out, Swiney, Wilks, Doggett, and Gibber commenced their management of the Haymarket, which had been altered and reconstructed. Gibber's tact asserted itself, and by the close of the season of 1709-10 he was the virtual manager. Gollier, who had found his speculation less successful than he anticipated, now proposed to revert to the agreement formerly existing between Drury Lane and the Haymarket, by which the managements were fused, and the theatres respectively assigned to drama and opera as before, Gollier himself having the sole direction of the opera. This plan, through the influence he possessed at court, he was able to carry out. At the close of this season, finding that opera had been less productive than drama, he once more brought court influence to bear. Swiney was compelled to return to the opera in the sinking condition in which Gollier had left it, with the result that he was ruined and driven to take refuge in France, and Gollier resumed possession of Drury Lane. Gollier, who had obtained for himself Wilks, Doggett, and Gibber, exclusive of Swiney, a new license for Drury Lane, drove a hard bargrain with his associates, the result being that his pernicious influence was got rid of by an annual payment of 700l. The three actors who were left in command were at their best. As their license was revocable at pleasure, they were compelled to strain their powers to give satisfaction; the result, according to Gibber's account, being that Drury Lane enjoyed a continuous spell of prosperity such as it had not previously known. Bills were paid upon demand, abuses in the theatre were reformed, and double salaries were paid to the actors. Gollier, indeed, as Gibber shows, made a bad bargain by accepting his sinecure, the shares of the three other managers 'being never less than a thousand annually to each of us, till the end of the queen's reign in 1714' (ib. p. 382). This period of prosperity continued lor nearly twenty years. The first change of importance took place upon the death of Queen Anne, when the license had to be renewed. Gibber and his associates, who resented the behaviour of Gollier, applied to have the name of Sir Richard Steele substituted for that of Gollier. Through the influence of the Duke of Marlborough this was granted, and on 18 Oct. 1714 a new license was granted to Steele, Wilks, Gibber, Doggett, and Booth. Thanks to the influence of Steele, the license was exchanged for a patent dated 19 Jan. 1715, which was made out to Steele for his own life and three years subsequently. This patent (which had been applied for in consequence of the younger Ricn, under his fathers patent, having opened the new theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields) Steele, according to promise, at once made over to Gibber, Wilks, and Booth. The circumstances under which Barton Booth [q. v.], who had made a great hit in Addison's 'Gato,' one of the early successes of the associated managers, was, through the influence of Lord Bolingbroke, as is supposed, promoted to a share in the management, and the disputes it caused, are fully chronicled in the 'Apology.' Booth joining the management was the cause of the retirement of Doggett, who, declining further to act in the theatre, insisted upon being paid his full share. Upon the refusal of Gibber and Wilks to acquiesce, proceedings in chancery were instituted, with the residt that Doggett was accorded 600l. for his share, with 15 per cent, interest from the date of the last cense (ib. p. 412). At the same time that Doggett retired, Ghristopher Bullock, Keen, Pack, Leigh, and other actors male and female, seceded to join Rich at Lincoln's Inn Fields. No great difficulty appears to have been experienced in filling their places. In 1719-20 lightning from a clear sky came in the shape of an application from the Duke of Newcastle, as lord chamberlain, to Sir Richard Steele and his associates to resign their patent and accept in exchange a license. This they naturally refused. The answer to their refusal on the part of the duke was, in spite of the patent, to shut up the theatre, which remained closed for three days (25-27 Jan. 1720), when, Gibber, Wilks, and Booth having apparently made submission, it was re-opened. This curious stretch of privilege came two years after the successful resistance of the patentees to the payment of a fee of forty shillings demanded hy the master of the revels for reading plays which were not submitted to him, Steele and his associates considering themselves the sole judges of the plays proper to be acted in their theatre. This resistance to authority, of which Gibber gives a full account, is said to have less influenced the Duke of Newcastle than a quarrel with Steele. In the course of this quarrel, an order to dismiss Gibber is said to have been issued, and to have been obeyed by Steele, Wilks, and Booth; but this is mentioned in the 'Apology.' Steele gives a full account of it in the periodical which, imder the assumed name of Sir John Edgar, he published with the title of 'The Theatre,' and in his 'The State of the Case hetween the Lord Chamberlain of Her Majesty's Household and Sir Richard Steele as represented by that Knight,' London, 1720 [see Steele, Sir Richard]. 'The State of the Case, &c., restated,' London, 1720, 8vo, a very scarce pamphlet, written in defence of the Duke of Newcastle, ascribes his action to the refusal of the patentees to submit to his authority in the matter of the pieces to be acted. Steele's restoration to office was chronicled in the 'Daily Post' for 2 May 1721. It is said by Dr. Drake to have been owing to the interference of Walpole, who had just been made chancellor of the exchequer. Genest supposes that the silence of Cibber concerning these noteworthy events may have been due to the instrumentality of the Duke of Newcastle in obtaining for him the laureate- ship. In 1726, according to his own statement, Cibber responded personally and successfully before Sir Joseph Jekyll to a bill filed in chancery by the administrators of Sir Richard Steele s estate against a sum of 1l. 13s. 4d. per day each, which Cibber and his remaining associates had voted themselves as a set-off against Steele's taking no part in the management. The 'Craftsman,' No. 86, says that the hearing lasted five hours, and that Cibber, 'we hear, made an excellent speech, and defended his case so well that it went against Sir Richard.' The production some years before this period, namely 6 Nov. 1717, of his comedy, the 'Non-juror,' was largely responsible for the troubles in which Cibber haa been involved, and for the honours in store for him. A strong Hanoverian, as was natural from his origin, Cibber saw his way to adapting the 'Tartuffe' of Moliere to English politics. 'Tartuffe' became accordingly in the 'Non-Juror' an English catholic priest seducing an English gentleman into treasonable practices. Gibber himself played the principal character. Dr. Wolf. The success was complete. The Jacobites, with whom London at that time swarmed, did not dare to manifest their dissatisfaction, but Cibber's future pieces suffered from their resentment, and he became the object of incessant and sufficiently harassing attacks. George I gave him 200l., and Lmtot paid him the large sum of 100l. for the copy-right. Thirteen years later, on the death 27 Sept. 1730) of Eusden, Cibber was appointed laureate. His appointment is dated 3 Dec. 1730. He himself attributes his elevation to his whig principles. The enmity of his opponents, which had not slept, and had almost contrived to wreck the fortunes of the 'Provoked Husband,' a work which, though finished in admirable style by Cibber, was written principally by Vanbrugh, rose to its height upon Cibber's acceptance of the laureateship, to which, it must be owned, his literary productions gave him slight claim. Upon his retirement from the stage accordingly, which took place at the close of 1733, Cibber devoted himself primarily to writing his 'Apology,' and secondly to answering his opponents. On 31 Oct. 1734 he reappeared as Cibber, sen., and played Bayes, and then again retired. It is probable that more than one reappearance of the kind was made. On 15 Feb. 1745 he came once more before the public as Pandulph in 'Papal Tyranny in the Reign of King John.' In this wretched version of Shakespeare's 'King John' Cibber won applause ror elegance; his teeth, however, were gone, and his voice, always weak, could not ml the theatre. Times were then ticklish; his opponents held their peace, and the piece, which was in part political in aim, was a success. For twelve years longer Cibber lingered. On 12 Dec. 1757, at 6 a.m., he spoke to his servant, apparently in his usual health; three hours later he was discovered dead. The place of death is uncertain. According to one account, Cibber died in Berkeley Square, where he had for some time resided, naving previously lived (1711-14) near the Bull's Head Tavern in old Spring Gardens at Charing Cross ('The Daily Courant,' 20 Jan. 1703, quoted in Cunningham's London), Another statement is that Cibber died in a house next the Castle Tavern, Islington. He is buried with his father in the vaults of what was formerly the Danish Church, Wellclose Square, Whitechapel, and is now the British and Foreign Sailors' Church. This building was erected by his father. Cibber's claims upon attention are numerous. He was a sparkling and successful dramatist, a comedian of high mark, a singularly capable and judicious manager, upon whom, to a certain extent, Garrick is said to have modelled himself, and an unequalled critic of theatrical performances. It is curious that with these qualifications it should be necessary to defend him from the charge of being a dunce.!) His adversaries, however, political and literary, were stronger men than himself, and the attempts of later days to free him from the ridicule cast upon him by men such as Pope and Fielding have not been very much more successful than were Cibber's own efforts in the same direction. Justice is none the less on the side of Cibber. The hostility of Pope is assigned by Cibber to a not very hurtful gag introduced by him as Bayes in the 'Rehearsal,' in which he bantered the 'Three Hours after Marriage,' the ill-starred comedy in which Gay is believed to have had for collaborators Pope and Arbuthnot. This led to a quarrel between Cibber and Pope, who 'came behind the scenes with his lips pale and his voice trembling to call Mr. Cibber to account for the insult' (A Letter from Mr. Cibber to Mr, Pope, 1742, v. 19). According to a statement quoted in the 'Biographia Dramatica' (iii. 384), this unlucky interpolation led to an actual fray behind the scenes between Cibber and Gay. That this quarrel was the only cause of Pope's injudicious substitution of Cibber for Theobald as the hero of the 'Dunciad' is incredible. Of actors Pope had always a low opinion. The failure of 'Three Hours after Marriage' is said to have accentuated this, and to have made him jealous of some successful dramatists. It is possible that the bestowal of the laureateship on Gibber converted into a fitting subject for satire one who had long been associated with unpleasant recollections, and had never stood high in Pope's favour. The distance of time between the production of 'Three Hours after Marriage' (1717) and the edition of the 'Dunciad' in which Cibber figures as the hero, a quarter of a century, disposes of the notion that this could be the only, or even the chief, source of quarrel. For a full account of the various phases of the feud the reader must be referred to the 'Quarrels of Authors' of Isaac D'Israeli, who espouses warmly the side of Cibber. Apart from some indiscreet and indecent revelations concerning an adventure, real or imaginary, that does little honour to any one concerned, Cibber's treatment of Pope in the pamphlet warfare which he waged is creditable, if only on the score of discretion. He writes of his adversary with respect, and successfully exonerates himself from some charges brought against him. Literary opinion in subsequent days has indeed ranged itself on the side of Cibber in the unequal contest. In his own day, besides the coarse anger of Dennis and the keen antipathy of Mist's 'Weekly Journal,' Warburton, Johnson, and Fielding were among Cibber's opponents. Johnson acquits him of being a blockhead, and bears grudging testimony to the value of his plays. He rarely fails, however, to speak of him with contempt. Against Johnson's not wholly unprejudiced expressions and Fielding's more damaging satire may be placed the praise of men such as Walpole, Swift, and Steele, and most writers on the stage. Steele had, of course, cause to uphold his associate. The praise he bestows upon Cibber in the 'Tatler' and the 'Spectator' has, however, the obvious ring of sincerity. Swift told Faulkner, the printer, who had sent him the 'Apology,' that Gibber's book had captivated him, and that he sat up all night to read it through. This story rests on the authority of Davies (Miscellanies, iii. 477). In subsequent days a less prejudiced view was taken of Cibber, and his merits as an actor or a dramatist have been sounded by most who have written on the stage or kindred subjects. Disraeli's remark (Quarrel of Authors) concerning Warburton and Johnson sums up the question. 'They never suspected that a "blockhead of his size could do what wiser men could not," and as a fine comic genius command a whole province in human nature.' This is strictly true. Cibber's 'Odes' are among the most contemptible things in literature. He was, to a certain extent, the coxcomb he presented on the state and his vanity, no unheard-of thing in his profession, was egregious. No graver charge against him, however, rests upon any trustworthy testimony. The anonymous author of 'The Laureate, or Right Side of Colley Cibber,' an ill-natured pamphlet in which Cibber's 'Apology' is reviewed chapter by chapter, and a mock sketch of his life is supplied under the title of 'The Life, Manners, and Opinions of Æsopus the Tragedian,' accuses Cibber of using in his own plays materials sent in by other writers. This is a charge from which few managers who were also authors have escaped. In a 'Blast upon "Bays," or a New Lick at the Laureate' (1742), evidently from the same source, no further imputation of the kind is made. In his comedies Cibber all but stands comparison with the best of the successors of Congreve. His share in his own work was often disputed, apparently without cause. To wit he seldom rises, but he has a smartness of dialogue and animal spirits that form an acceptable substitute. 'She would and she would not,' which is still occasionally revived, is not the only play of Cibber's that, with some alteration, might be fitted for the modern stage. Compared with most writers of his time. Gibber is cleanly. He was proud of the moral influence of his works, loose as portions of them must seem in plot and language to a modern generation. Of his adaptations from Shakespeare, he had the grace, under the lash of contemporary criticism, to appear ashamed, and his 'Odes,' in the curious pamphlet, 'The Egotist, or Colley upon Cibber,' 1748, he gives up. His tragedies are poor, but scarcely below the level of the age. His two letters to Pope (1742 and 1744 respectively) are dull but not ill-natured, considering the provocation he experienced. In his 'Apology' he is seen at his best. There are passages in this that are likely to live as long as the art with which they deal. In appearance Cibber was confessedly unheroic. The author of the ‘Laureate’ says: ‘He was in stature of the middle size, his complexion fair, inclining to the sandy, his legs somewhat of the thickest, his shape a little clumsy, not irregular, and his voice rather shrill than loud or articulate, and cracked extremely when he endeavoured to raise it. He was in his younger days as lean as to be known by the name of Hatchet Face’ (p. 103). A less prejudiced authority, the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ says: ‘His shape was finely proportioned yet not graceful, essay but not striking ... his attitudes were pointed and exquisite; his expression was stronger than painting; he was beautifully absorbed by the character, and demanded and monopolised attention; his every extravagances were coloured with propriety.’ Davies (Miscellanies, iii. 427 et seq.) speaks of Cibber as possessing a weak pipe, an an inexpressive, meagre countenance. As a tragic actor he tried the patience of the audience until he was hissed off the stage. In the numerous portraits of him that are preserved, and especially in the famous picture of him as Lord Foppington in the ‘Relapse,’ by Grisoni, in the possession of the Garrick Club, the countenance sparkles with intelligence. In his behaviour to unknown authors Cibber is taxed with great impertinence. Gildon, in ‘A Comparison between Two Stages,’ puts in the mouth of Rambler and Critick the following dialogue: ‘Ramb. There's Cibber, a poet and a fine actor. Crit. And one that's always repining at the success of others, and upon the stage makes all his fellows uneasy’ (p. 199). In addition to these faults, which are the common property of most successful actors, Cibber incurred condemnation for being a gambler and irreligious. Looked at dispassionately, his character appears to differ in little, except inordinate vanity, from the beaux of the day whom he presented, and with whom he associated. He was a great comedian, and, with allowances for his personal prejudices, the best critic of acting the stage as known. In addition to the pamphlets cited, many contemporary tracts, prose and poetical, were directed against him. 'The Tryal of Colley Cibber for writing a Book entitled "An Apology for his Life,"’ (London, 1740), is a dull production, the preface to which is signed T. Johnson. ‘Blast upon Blast, or a New Lesson for the Pope,’ mentioned in Nichols's ‘Illustrations’ (ii. 765), should be, from the title, by Cibber. ‘Sawney and Colley, a Poetical Dialogue occasioned by a late Letter from the Laureate of St. James's to the Homer of Twickenham’ (fol. n. d.), is a coarse and poor imitation of Swift directed rather against Pope than Cibber. The ‘Laureate,’ to which previous reference has been made, assigns to Cibber a singularly clever and equally indecent witticism with which John Wilkes has since been credited. In addition to the ‘Apology,’ his plays, and pamphlets, Cibber printed some of his odes; others saw the light in periodicals. Nichols, in the ‘Index to Literary Illustrations,’ assigns him in error ‘The Lives of the Poets.’ Cibber wrote 'The Character and Conduct of Cicero considered from the History of his Life, by the Rev. Dr. Middleton,’ London, 1747, 4to, a poor work. Under Cibber appears in the British Museum ‘The Frenchified Lady never in Paris,’ a comedy in two acts, 8vo, 1757. It is taken from Cibber's ‘Comical Lovers,’ and from Dryden's ‘Secret Love,’ is by Henry Dell, and was acted by Mrs. Woffington for her benefit at Covent Garden on 28 March 1756. ‘Colley Cibber's Jests, or the Diverting, Witty Companion,’ Newcastle, 1761, 12mo, has, of course, nothing to do with Cibber beyond trading on his name. Among the poetic lampoons on Cibber, one is quoted by Cibber in has first ‘Letter to Pope,’ p. 39:

In merry Old England it once was a rule
The king had his poet and also his fool;
But now we're so frugal, I'd have you to know it,
That Cibber can serve both for fool and for poet.

Cibber taxes Pope with the authorship of this. Theobald, after distanced by Cibber in the race for the laureateship magnificently, in a letter to Warburton, preserved by Nichols (Illustrations), spells Cibber's name 'Keyber,' and quotes ‘the post of honour is a private station.’ An assignment to Robert Dodsley for 52l. 10s. of the copyright of the ‘Apology,’ in the handwriting of Colley Cibber, is in the collection of Mr. Julian Marshall. It is dated 1749. The 'Apology' was published 1740 in 4to.

[Genest's Account of the Stage; Gent. Mag.; Pope's Works, by Elvin and Courthope; Fielding's Works; Isaac Reed's Notitia Dramatica (MS.); A Blunt upon Bays, or a New Lick at the Laureate, London, 1742, 8vo; A Letter to Mr. C-b-r on his Letter to Mr. Pope, 1742, London, 8vo; Boswell's Life of Johnson; The Theatre, by Sir John Edgar (Sir R. Steele), 1719–20; The Anti-Theatre, by Sir John Falstaffe, 1719–20; The Character and Conduct of Sir John Edgar (by Dennis), 1719–20; Steele's State of the Case, 1720, &c.]

J. K.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.66
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
354 i 20 f.e. Cibber, Colley: for 1694 read 1696
355 ii 2 f.e. for Dover read Truro 1713-14