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 Pope's notes call Cibber

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PostSubject: Pope's notes call Cibber    Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:47 pm

Writing about the degradation of taste brought on by theatrical effects, Pope quotes Cibber's own confessio in the Apology:

Of that Succession of monstrous Medlies that have so long infested the Stage, and which arose upon one another alternately, at both Houses [London's two playhouses, Cibber's Drury Lane and John Rich's domain Lincoln's Inn's Fields] ... If I am ask'd (after my condemning these Fooleries myself) how I came to assent or continue my Share of Expence to them? I have no better Excuse for my Error than confessing it. I did it against my Conscience! and had not Virtue enough to starve.

Pope's notes call Cibber a hypocrite, and in general the attacks on Cibber are conducted in the notes added to the Dunciad, and not in the body of the poem. As hero of the Dunciad, Cibber merely watches the events of Book II, dreams Book III, and sleeps through Book IV.

Once Pope struck, Cibber became an easy target for other satirists. He was attacked as the epitome of morally and aesthetically bad writing, largely for the sins of his autobiography. In the Apology, Cibber speaks daringly in the first person and in his own praise. Although the major figures of the day were jealous of their fame, self-promotion of such an overt sort was shocking, and Cibber offended Christian humility as well as gentlemanly modesty. Additionally, Cibber consistently fails to see fault in his own character, praises his vices, and makes no apology for his misdeeds; so it was not merely the fact of the autobiography, but the manner of it that shocked contemporaries. His rather diffuse and chatty writing style, conventional in poetry and sometimes incoherent in prose, was bound to look even worse than it was when he squared up to a master of style like Pope. The contrast caused Henry Fielding to try Colley Cibber on a charge of murder of the English language in the 17 May 1740 issue of The Champion.[91] The Tory wits were altogether so successful in their satire of Cibber that the historical image of the man himself was almost obliterated, and it was as the King of Dunces that he came down to posterity.[92]



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