Home  »  Volume IX: English FROM STEELE AND ADDISON TO POPE AND SWIFT  »  § 9. Colley Cibber’s Apology

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

V. Arbuthnot and Lesser Prose Writers

§ 9. Colley Cibber’s Apology

One of the most entertaining as well as useful books of the first half of the eighteenth century is An Apology for the Life of Mr. Colley Cibber, Comedian, 1740; but of this mention has already been made in a previous chapter, in connection with Cibber’s earlier plays. In 1730, Cibber was made poet laureate, an appointment which furnished material for the wits who attacked him. From the time that Pope substituted Cibber for Theobald as hero of the Dunciad, Cibber has been constantly misrepresented as being a dunce, whereas his plays are amusing, and he is an admirable dramatic critic. His worst fault was inordinate vanity; but this, to some extent, was carried off by the liveliness of his disposition. Johnson was not friendly to Cibber, but he admitted that An Apology was “very well done,” and Horace Walpole calls it “inimitable.” The book is admirable as an autobiography, because it displays the whole character of the writer; the criticism is intelligent and well informed; and the style is bright and amusing.