Cibber and Verbruggen were two dissipated young fellows who determined, in opposition to the advice of friends, to become great actors. Much about the same time they were constant attendants upon Downs, the prompter of Drury-Lane, in expectation of employment. What the first part was in which Verbruggen distinguished himself cannot now be known. But Mr. Richard Cross, late prompter of Drury-Lane theatre, gave me the following history of Colley Cibber's first establishment as a hired actor. He was known only, for some years, as Master Colley. After waiting impatiently for a long time for the prompter's notice, by good fortune he obtained the honour of carrying a message on the stage, in some play, to Betterton. Whatever was the cause, Master Colley was so terrified that the scene was disconcerted by him. Betterton asked, in some anger, who the young fellow was that had committed the blunder. Downs replied, `Master Colley'—`Master Colley! then forfeit him.'—'Why, sir,' said the prompter, `he has no salary.'—'No?' said the old man; `why then, put him down ten shillings a week, and forfeit him five shillings.'
Thomas Davies, Dramatic Miscellanies (1784), iii. 417-18.
Colley Cibber, they say, was extremely haughty as a theatrical manager, and very insolent to dramatists. When he had rejected a play, if the author desired him to point out the particular parts of it which displeased him, he took a pinch of snuff, and answered in general terms—'Sir, there is nothing in it to coerce my passions.'
George Coleman, the Younger Random Records (1830) i. 220.
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