The Life and Times of Colley Cibber

The Life and Times of Colley Cibber

The Life and Times of Colley Cibber

The Life and Times of Colley Cibber

Excerpt

COLLEY CIBBER, actor, dramatist, fop, Poet-Laureate, wrote an Apology for his life. Perhaps it has been unwise of me to be the first, after him, to attempt to write a Life of Colley Cibber; and, having done so, an apology is due from me to my readers.

Fifteen years ago the temptation to write of Cibber assailed me one day as I stood before Roubillac's coloured bust of the comedian in the National Gallery. Since then many things have intervened, but the memory of a shrewd, humorous face with sanguine complexion, small hazel eyes and a thin-lipped mouth has persisted until now. When I first saw the bust, it was so placed that the little eyes were fixed on an adjacent portrait of Lady Churchill (the object of Colley's calf-love). Upon the well-cut mouth lingered a smile part pensive, part sentimental, as though Colley in wax contemplated in whimsical wonder his old inamorata, the while he went back in memory to Colley as he was in the flesh, when he acted Justice Shallow, and declaimed: "The mad days that I have spent! and to see how many of my old acquaintance are dead!" so admirably that he took the town by storm.

Roubillac's bust gives one a livelier idea of the man it represents than mere words can convey. It must have been a speaking likeness. It spoke to me of a cheery soul who was by no means the dull fellow Alexander Pope pilloried for all time in his Dunciad . . .

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