페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Cibber's first establishment as a hired actor myself from this unexpected success, I found at Drury-lane Theatre runs thus:

that was no rule to other people's judgment He was known only for some years by of me. There were few or no parts of the the name of “Master Colley.” After wait- same kind to be had; nor could they coning impatiently a long time for the prompter's ceive, from what I had done in this, what notice, by good fortune he obtained the other characters I could be fit for. If I honour of carrying a message on the stage, solicited for anything in a different manner, in some play, to Betterton. Whatever was I was answered, 'that was not in my way;' the cause, Master Colley was so terrified and what was in my way, it seems, was not that the scene was disconcerted by him. as yet resolved upon. And though I replied Betterton asked, in some anger, who the that anything naturally written ought to young fellow was who committed the blun- be in every one's way that pretended to be der.

an actor,' this was looked upon as a vain, “Master Colley," was the reply.

impracticable conceit of my own." “Master Colley! Then, forfeit him." Colley Cibber was no great poet, but we “Why, sir,” said the prompter, “he has no must give him the credit of being able to salary."

write good practical sense in prose. “No?" said the old man. “Why, then, In 1696, his first dramatic effort, entitled put him down ten shillings a-week, and for- “Love's Last Shift," was placed upon the feit him five."

stage. He represented the principal characBut better times were at hand for poor ter himself, and after its performance Lord Master Colley.

Dorset said to him “that it was the best first Congreve's play of “The Double Dealer" play that any author in his memory had prowas to be acted by command before Queen duced.” His next piece was “Love in a Mary, when one of the actors was prevented Riddle." It was not a success, and Cibber by illness from performing his part of Lord attributes its failure to the prejudice existing Touchwood. In this emergency, Congreve at that time to the author of the “Beggars' suggested that the part should be given to Opera”—his own play being of an exactly. Cibber. His performance pleased the great opposite character. His dramatic celebrity, author, and, we suppose, the audience into however, is based chiefly upon “The Careless the bargain; for next pay day Mr. Cibber Husband,” which even his sworn foe, Pope, found his salary advanced from fifteen to felt compelled to praise. There is not much twenty shillings a-week.

in the piece, certainly: there is no novelty Want of confidence in his own powers in the characters, and but little invention in was not one of Cibber's weaknesses; so the plot; but it is a good picture of the when, shortly after, “The Old Bachelor" of manners and follies of the time. His Congreve was put into rehearsal, there being comedy, “The Non-Juror" — since acted some difficulty in filling up the several parts, under the title of “The Hypocrite”-apColley volunteered for the character of Al-peared in 1717. derman Fondlewife in that play. Some of The play is an adaptation of “The Tarthe other members of the company were not tuffe" of Molière, adapted to English manquite so sanguine as Cibber himself as to his ners, and was directed against the Jacobites. fitness for the part, one quietly remarking- It had a great run, and procured him a pen

“If the fool has a mind to blow himself sion from Court. But, as may be easily unup at once, let us even give him a clear stage derstood from the feverish state of political for it."

parties at that time, it earned for its author But Cibber had no such intention; on the scores of enemies, who left no stone uncontrary, he made an unequivocal success. turned to depreciate the merits of the Whig Cibber, in his “ Apology,” gives us a very dramatist. But its popularity may be judged good insight into the small jealousies which of from the fact that Lintot gave a hundred stood in the way of a young actor in his day; guineas for the copyright of “The Nonand we are sure—such is human nature—that Juror," although Rowe's tragedies of " Jane the same little weaknesses are occasionally Shore,” and “Lady Jane Grey”—only a few developed behind the scenes even in these years previous to this purchase—had jointly latter days.

produced but one hundred and twenty-two The following is worth repeating : pounds. The price that Cibber received for “But whatever value I might set upon his most successful play does not, perhaps, appear so extraordinary when judged by the shrill and discordant, and altogether he standard which regulates the receipts of suc- seemed to be wanting in all the main qualicessful play-writers and novelists in the pre- fications necessary for a man to become a sent golden times of men of literary merit

. popular favourite on the stage. He was But it was a large sum for that day. The fond of extravagant dress; and a story is average price given for the copyright of a told that his father, meeting him one day in piece which had secured a fair run may be some very outré costume, observed with conestimated by what Cibber received for some tempt, as he took a pinch of snuffof his other successful dramas. “Perolla “Indeed, The., I pity you." and Isidera” fetched thirty-six pounds; To which the would-be exquisite replied“ The Double Gallant," sixteen pounds; “Don't pity me, sir-pity my tailor.” and "The Lady's Last Gallant," thirty-two A work entitled the "Biography of Engpounds.

lish and Irish Poets” was published under In 1730, Colley Cibber was foolish enough the name of Cibber as the author; but it to accept the Poet Laureateship. If Cibber was really from the pen of Robert Shiels, a had been content to confine himself to his Scotchman, who purchased for ten guineas own proper province, namely, light comedy the right of prefixing to the book the name —for his attempts at tragedy were about as of Cibber, then in prison for debt. creditable as his poetic effusions—he would Theophilus Cibber's wife, Susanna Maria, most likely have escaped much of the storm born in 1716, was one of the best actresses of public ridicule which even yet clings to on the English stage. She was the sister of his name with a too indiscriminating injus- the celebrated Dr. Arne, the composer, who tice. From this time Cibber ceased to be taught her music, and introduced her in one a public character, save as the object of a of his operas at the Haymarket Theatre. continuous torrent of attack. He had the She was Cibber's second wife, and the alligood nature, however, to join in the laugh ance was far from satisfactory in its results. against himself. But he soon after sold Theophilus himself came to an untimely out his share of the patent in Drury-lane fate. He was engaged by Sheridan, in 1758, Theatre; and, having saved a goodly com- to go over to Dublin; but the vessel in which petence, retired into private life. He re- he sailed was lost off the Scottish coast, appeared on the stage, on rare occasions, with all hands on board. subsequently-once at the age of seventyfour, when he played Pandulph in “ Papal

GUMMER'S FORTUNE. Tyranny,” a tragedy of his own composition. He wrote some other plays previous to

BY JOHN BAKER HOPKINS. his death, which occurred on the 12th of

CHAPTER VII. December, 1737, when he was found dead in his bed. To sum up the merits of Colley Cibber No tune espread about, than everybody

O sooner in brief. He was a good actor, and in every branch of the art seems to have been at dif- was anxious to give us credit. The girls ferent times successful. As an author, he bought dresses, and they were sent home was by no means the unsuccessful hanger- without the bill. Our butcher, who had on to the skirts of genius which literary and stipulated for weekly payments, asked the political virulence have tried to make him; favour of quarterly or half-yearly accounts. and even in his conflict with Pope he showed Well, this is an odd world. Let any one himself by no means an insignificent op want credit, and he can't get it. ponent.

one have a large fortune, and not want Cibber left a son, Theophilus, of whom a credit, and people will hardly take his ready few words remain to be said. The younger money. Cibber was born in 1703, and, on the strength “Tom," said Mrs. Gummer, “when salof his father's great influence on the stage, mon is cheap, and not like eating money, followed his footsteps as an actor by profes- we have it, and also shrimp sauce; but when sion; but he never gained any great success our fish is plaice, we have no ticer, and the with the public. His person was far from melted butter is plain. Yet, Tom, salmon pleasing, and his countenance was rather is by itself rich enough for any palate; whilst repulsive than other His voice was plaice is sloppy, and tastes only of the water,

MR. GUMMER TAKES THE CHAIR:

Let any ONCE A WEEK.

[ocr errors]

[March 16, 1872.

and wants the sauce that salmon does not The following report appeared in the
want. The long and the short of it is this, Green Lanes Herald:
Tom—salmon is worth the sauce it don't

“Mr. Gummer, who was loudly cheered,
want, and gets it; and plaice is not worth said that it afforded him infinite pleasure to
the sauce it wants, and don't get."
The Green Lanes gentility--which, as Mrs. interest in the great cause of popular educa-

take the chair that night, as he felt the deepest Gummer said, had lepered us—became our devoted admirers.

tion, and especially in the schools of his own The pew-opener, who had hitherto allowed us to wander up the between the lecturer and the audience, but

neighbourhood. He would not intervene aisle and open our own door, now left any- would at once call upon the rev. gentlebody to wait on us. The single curate, who had been so ungrateful about the slippers

man to proceed. and braces, became a constant caller, and by acclamation, the worthy chairman--whose

“The vote of thanks having been carried

, would give us no rest until he had our pho- rising was the signal for a renewed outburst tographs. The rector and the rector's wife asked us to dinner. Dr. Bungay called with- of such cheers as can only issue from the

lungs of Britons—said: 'It affords me the out being sent for; thought the girls were poorly, that physic would do them no good, greatest delight to meet my friends and neighand insisted upon their taking drives with time 1 shall do with pleasure, and I pray

bours; and whatever I can do for you at any Mrs. Bungay. The Colonel of the Green

you to command

my

services. Lanes Volunteers urged me to join the corps, the eloquent lecture we have just listened to

I hope that and assured me that the Lord Lieutenant will result in a goodly subscription to the would be delighted to give me a commission. This I declined reluctantly, but positively. upon it, ladies and gentlemen, that whatever

Green Lanes Labourers' Institute. Depend

, Officers are expected to ride, and I had not been upon an animal's back since the don-ledge dispel the mists of midnight ignorance,

we do to make the refulgent sun of knowkey rides of my childhood. I was asked to take the chair at a lecture ration, and to days and generations that aş

we do a noble service to our day and geneat the school-rooms, and I had a grand re- yet are lurking in the silent womb of Time.' ception: shouts of applause when I appeared, This magnificent peroration was cheered to

I more shouting when I was moved into the

the echo." chair, and a roar of applause when I called on the rev. lecturer to begin. The chairman “Matilda, I never said and never thought at a lecture may be useful, and he may be anything of the sort.” ornamental, but his position is not enjoyable. “Stuff, Gummer. How in the fluster and If he faces the lecturer, he is too near for flurry, which made my

heart

go a million to effect. He sees the nervous twitchings of a minute, could you or any other man know the lecturer. If the chairman is behind, he what he thought or said, except those whose has to watch the movements of the lecturer's business it is to know? What is the use of coat-tails, and can count how often the poc- saying you never said it, when there it is ket-handkerchief is taken out. There is a staring you in the face in black and white?" circumstance about my first appearance in A more trying -job than the lecture was public that is perhaps worth mention. I being appointed one of the judges of the am not first chop at oratory, and that night Green Lanes Flower Show. In our Bow I was particularly nervous. Every syllable garden we grew roses, London-pride, sweet I stammered out was—“I beg to call on William, and heart's-ease, and that is all I the Rev. Mr. Blinkem to begin. .” And when knew about flowers. At Tudor House I did the vote of thanks was moved to me for my not learn the Latin names of flowers, and in conduct in the chair, I said: "I beg to my opinion they ought to be abolished. It thank you for-for-for the way in which is no shame for a man-leave alone for woyou have been good enough to propose it; men—not to know Latin; and learned folks and you, ladies and gentlemen, for the way ought to be familiar with their motherin which you have responded to the toast tongue. Calling flowers by their English --that is—I mean, for my conduct this names would be a convenience to the mil

lion, and it would not be any loss to those And down I sat, growing hot and cold, who talk Latin. Dead languages ought to amidst loud applause.

be buried, and not kept above ground to

night."

me.

a

IN THE POLITICAL ARENA.

annoy respectable people. I went to the my going into Parliament, and it puzzled flower show, and this is how I managed. I told Colonel De Crespin, the president, “Gummer, you may look innocent as a that I was not quite well, and he replied, lamp-post on a moonlight night, but it don't I need not bother myself. He pointed out take in Matilda Gummer. The Elector's certain groups of flowers, and remarked that Spur may be uncommon clever, but cleverer they were the best or the second-best. Ithan Solomon it can't be; and he could dittoed and dittoed his observations. The not have guessed that you had said you wonderful Green Lanes Heralå announced would go into Parliament, if you had not that

said it. But it is only an exact match of “Mr. Gummer was very particular in his what your poor snubbed family have had to examination, and evinced the finest horti- put up with from their pa ever since he was cultural taste and irreproachable judgment

born." in selecting the prizes. His awards gave suaded that I had deceived them.

Mrs. Gummer and the girls were perunlimited satisfaction to the competitors,

The and to all concerned."

Elector's Spur kept me awake for half the

night, trying to unravel the mystery. I learnt that day, if a man has a fortune

a

It was pretty well explained the next day, of £100,000 he can do anything. Money when a gentleman, very stout, very red in the perhaps counts for knowledge.

face, hair thin and shiny, who wore a thick

gold Albert chain, and town-made black kid CHAPTER VIII.

French gloves, and whose name is Busted, called upon me.

Mr. Busted is not a “WELL, pa, you are sly,” said Nancy. Green Lanes man, but comes from another

"Just like you, Gummer-never quarter of the metropolis. Mr. Busted is confiding in the bosom of your family, and a purveyor, which is the genteel word for making the poor dear girls look like fools." butcher. Mr. Busted is a vestryman, and

“I am sure," said Janet, “that Mrs. Bun- also chairman of the Voters' Protection Asgay thought we were fibbing, and just pre- sociation. tending we knew nothing about it."

I knew no more of Mr. Busted than I “What is the matter?" I asked.

did of the King of the Cannibal Islands; yet “Matter, Gummer! What is the harm of he was as much at home as if he had been a man—who would be a lord if his family a twin brother, and he the elder twin. He had their deservings—going into Parliament, pulled off his glove, and shook me by the where of course you ought to be? But, hand for at least two minutes. Tom, why should you keep it from your “Glad to see you, Mr. Gummer; and, sir, I own flesh and blood, and be confidential to am sure that you, as a public man, with a strangers?”

stake in the country, will return the feelings “Going into Parliament! What do you which warm the heart of Nathaniel Busted!" mean?"

Mr. Busted flopped down on a fancy chair, “Why, pa, Mrs. Bungay told us all about which creaked beneath his weight; depoit, and gave us the paper with it in.” sited his hat on the ground, pulled off his

Nancy handed me the Elector's Spur, and other glove, took out a silk pocket handkerpointed to the following:

chief, wiped his forehead, dried the palms of "At the next general election, it is in his hands, and then asked after the health

young ladies. tended to return Mr. Thomas Gummer, the of “my good lady" and the gentleman who lately succeeded to the

If I am not a lamb in temper, I certainly largest fortune ever made in India, to the cannot be called peppery; but that Busted House of Commons as one of our metro- enraged me, and it was all the worse because

If Busted politan members. Mr. Gummer is not only I could not have my passion out.

Mr. Gummer is not only had intended to be rude, I should have a millionaire, but also a liberal politician, an eloquent speaker, and a munificent philan- laughed at him; but he meant to be civil. I thropist. We understand that he has inti- answered him rather tartly. mated his willingness to serve the people in

“I have not the honour of your acquaintParliament."

ance, Mr. Nathaniel Busted. May I ask

what business has procured me the honour This was the first time I had heard about l of this visit?”

ONCE A WEEK.

(March 16, 1872.

manner

Mr. Busted rose from the fancy chair, put If a member sticks to the borough and one hand in his waistcoat, and with the other his supporters, he is never bored about struck the table.

pledges.' “The humble individual before you, sir, I liked the idea of being a member of Parmay not be known to you, sir, and there aint liament, and told Mr. Busted I would think a handle or a tail to his name, sir; but, sir, he of it. But I did not like Mr. Busted's is known in the vast arena of politics; and per- style. What he said was passable, but his mit me to inform you, sir, that Cabinet Coun

was bumptious. If Mr. Busted cils have shook in their shoes at the name of had been a belted earl, tracing back to Busted. By trade, sir, I am a purveyor, and Adam or beyond that, instead of being a purby profession a Reformer. Nathaniel Busted, veying butcher, his swagger could not have sir, is a vestryman, and the chairman, sir, of been more choking. He treated me as if I the Voters' Protection Association: an insti- were body and soul his property, as if I tution, sir, that is the bulwark of the glory of were a calf he had bought in the Cattle the empire on which the noonday sun has Market. If every M.P. was obliged to have never, and will never, sit.”

his Busted, things would soon be upside Mr. Busted again flopped down on the down; and instead of bribing voters, it would fancy chair, brought out the silk handker- come to voters bribing gentlemen to become chief, mopped his face and head, dried his candidates. Mr. Busted rolled my sherry hands, and glared at me defiantly.

about in his huge cheeks before gulping it I muttered that I was much obliged to down, and was good enough to say that the Mr. Busted for visiting me.

wine was light and clean; though for his own "Sir, there is no obligation. I am here, drinking he preferred a sherry with a little

. sir, in my capacity as the chairman of the more body, and he would put me on to Voters' Protection Association. And now some first-rate stuff. to come to business, as my honourable friend "Sherry, Mr. Gummer, that a bishop the Home Secretary has more than once ob- would smack his lips over; and yet the served. Sir, it has been moved, seconded, figure for it is by no means alarming for an and unanimously carried that you should be uncommon article.” asked to stand for our borough at the next Mr. Busted praised Corcyra Villa, which election.”

he described as cozy and compact; but reI bowed, became very hot, and told Mr. gretted I did not live in his borough. Busted that I could only thank him for the “Though I'm not sure, Mr. Gummer, as unexpected honour.

I am that beef is beef, whether it is best or Being asked to go into Parliament takes worst to be a resident member. It gets the coolness out of a fellow.

votes the first election, because every trades“And, Mr. Gummer, you can rely upon man reckons on the custom; and canvassers my word, which is and always will be my who know their way about make the most bond, that your return is as sase as quarter of the idea—which is not bribery, though it day, at next to no cost. What have our is equal to it in its consequences.

But if a present members done for us? Nothing, member has a purse ever so deep, he can't sir. What have they done for the country? have a thousand tradesmen; and therefore Nothing, sir. What have they done for the there is a feeling of being done, and a loss borough? Nothing, sir. What gratitude of votes at the next election. On the whole, do they show to their supporters? None, living just out of bounds is best, provided sir. Call at their houses, and they are not it is flowered over with liberal subscriptions at home. Call at their clubs, and they are to local institutions, plenty of chair-taking, in a dreadful hurry to get down to the House. and upright and downright old English hosCall at the House, and they are in the very pitality and friendship to leading supporters. midst of a debate. Our politics are Libe- A glass of wine, Mr. Gummer"—here he ral, Mr. Gummer; and what we want is a bolted a bumper of the light and clean member who has the means, and is able and sherry-"give and took, in a 'ail good fellow willing, to support the borough and his sup- spirit, is the glue that sticks supporter to porters. Go in for the publican interest and member.” the working class interest. I will return A week afterwards Mr. Busted wrote to you for less than £1,000. The pledging is say that a deputation from the Voters' rather stiff, but that is of no consequence. | Protection Association would have an in

a

a

« 이전계속 »