& Colley Cibber
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At 30, Laurence Eusden (1688-1730)
was the youngest poet laureate appointed. His sycophantic poem on
the forthcoming marriage of Lady Henrietta Godolphin and the Duke
of Newcastle, soon to be Lord Chamberlain, secured attention. Rowe's
death, combined with Joseph Addison's recommendation, secured
the post. The Duke of Buckingham, Jonathan Swift, and Pope did not
like him; the latter claiming in The Dunciad: 'Know, Eusden
thirsts no more for sack or praise,/He sleeps among the dull of
ancient days'. No matter how dull, Eusden churned out Birthday
and New Year Odes for twelve years.
Original Poems and Translations. By Mr. Hill, Mr. Eusden, Mr. Broome,
Dr. King, &c. London: Printed for E. Curll, 1714.
DeB. Eb 1714 H
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The future poet laureate had
an inauspicious beginning. In his first acting job in Thomas Betterton's
company at the Theatre Royal, Colley Cibber (1671-1757) was fined
5s for a poor and clumsy performance. On being told that he had
no salary, Betterton gave him 10s and promptly deducted five. His
induction into the post was described thus: 'On Thursday (Dec
4) Coller Cibbey Esq., the famous comedian and comic author, was
at court, and had the honour to kiss His Majesty's hand (on
his being appointed Poet Laureat in the room of the Rev. Mr Laurence
Eusden, deceased) and was graciously received.' (Appleton's
Weekly Journal, 5 December 1730). Cibber was sixty at the time.
His satire The Non-Juror (1718) ran for 16 nights and according
to his own memoirs, he wrote: 'that part of the bread I now
eat, was given to me, for having writ the Nonjuror.'
Colley Cibber, The Non-juror in Plays written by Mr. Cibber. London:
Printed for Jacob Tonson; Bernard Lintot; William Mears; and William
DeB. Ec 1721 C
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In his successful 'warts
and all' memoir An Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber (1740),
Cibber acknowledged Pope's attacks: 'My face and name
are …known, (and) right or wrong, a lick at the laureate will
always be a sure bait… to catch him little readers.'
Pope's reply was to insert new references to Cibber in his
New Dunciad of 1742. Cibber's restrained (and famed) response
was the item on display: A Letter from Mr Cibber (1742). In an echo
of Pope's own epigram 'I am his highness's dog
at Kew;/ Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?', Cibber responded:
'And so, if I am the King's Fool, now, sir, whose Fool
are you?' Like Eusden before him, Cibber produced odes for
some 13 years, before dying on 11 December 1757. He was buried in
Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street.
Colley Cibber, A Letter from Mr. Cibber, to Mr. Pope, inquiring
into the motives that might induce him in his satyrical works. London:
Printed: and sold by W. Lewis, 1742.
DeB. Eb 1742 C