Mrs. Wilson’s, Lancaster Court,
The Ho’d Mr. Will’m Robinson
Recomende a Messieurs Tierney & Merry
(Memorandum indorsed) Ring just rec’d that of 22’t Sept. 16th Oct’r. 1761.
[Footnote 1: The name
is not easy to be made out; but as far as it
is determinable by comparison of hand-writing, it is “Cruch.” The
letter passed through the post-office.]
[Footnote 2: The part
printed in italics was added by some other
person than the writer of the letter.]
* * * * *
CHARACTERS OF ACTORS IN CIBBER’S APOLOGY.
Reverting to a Query in your Second Number, p. 29, your correspondent DRAMATICUS may rest assured that Colley Cibber’s characters of actors and actresses (his contemporaries and immediate predecessors) first appeared in his Apology, 4to. 1740, and were transferred verbatim, as far as I have been able to consult them, to the subsequent editions of that very entertaining and excellent work. If Colley Cibber were not a first-rate dramatist, he was a first-rate critic upon performers; and I am disposed to place his abilities as a play-wright much higher than the usual estimate.
Probably the doubt of your correspondent arose from the fact, not hitherto at all noticed, that these characters no sooner made their appearance, than they were pirated, and pirated work may have been taken for the original. It is a scarce tract, and bears the following title—The Theatrical Lives and Characters of the following celebrated Actors; and then follow sixteen names, beginning with Betterton, and ending with Mrs. Butler, and we are also told that A General History of the Stage during their time is included. The whole of this, with certain omissions, principally of classical quotations, is taken from Cibber’s Apology, and it professed to be “Printed for J. Miller, in Fleet Street, and sold at the pamphlet shops,” without date. The whole is nothing but an impudent plagiarism, and it is crowned and topped by a scrap purporting to be from Shakespeare, but merely the invention of the compiler. In truth, it is the only original morsel in the whole seventy pages. At the end of the character of Betterton, the following is subjoined, and it induces a Query, whether any such work, real or pretended, as regards Betterton, is in existence?
“N.B. The author of this work has, since he began it, had a very curious manuscript of Mr. Betterton’s communicated to him, containing the whole duty of a Player; interspersed with directions for young Actors, as to the management of the voice, carriage of the body, &c. &c., reckoned the best piece that has ever been wrote on the subject,” p. 22.
This “best piece” on the subject is promised in the course of the volume, but it is not found in it. Did it appear anywhere else and in any other shape? As the Query of DRAMATICUS is now answered, perhaps he may be able to reply to this question from