1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Colman the Younger

Anonymous, "George Colman Esq." A New Biographical Dictionary of 3000 Cotemporary Public Characters (1825) 2:395-96.



GEORGE COLMAN, ESQ. son of the late George Colman, who purchased the little theatre in the Haymarket of Mr. Foot, and left it to the subject of the present memoir in 1794. Young Colman was educated at Westminster school, and removed to Christ Church, Oxford, being designed originally for the bar; but the muses had more charms for him, and when his father, from a malady, was incapable of superintending the theatre, Mr. Colman took the direction. He has produced a variety of excellent dramatic productions. His first piece was Turk or no Turk; his second Two and One; these bear strong marks of a very young writer; but the opera of Inkle and Yarico established his character as an author. To his next piece, Ways and Means, he wrote a prologue, which, as it was an attack upon, drew on him the censure of the critics. He wrote likewise the Battle of Hexham; the Surrender of Calais; the Mountaineers; and the Iron Chest. The latter drew on him some reflections on account of its immoral tendency. It is founded on Mr. Godwin's novel of the Adventures of Caleb Williams. At Drury Lane theatre it was harshly treated, which caused him in the preface to reflect on Mr. Kemble; and which drew on him a severe reply from one of Mr. Kemble's friends. At the Haymarket theatre this play has been better received. In 1798 he published a volume of poetical trifles, under the title of My Night-gown and Slippers, in which there is much more humour than wit. These were followed by the Heir at Law, a comedy of considerable merit. He has also brought on the stage the Poor Gentleman; John Bull, or the Englishman's Fireside; Who wants a Guinea; the Africans; with a variety of inferior productions. Some of his pieces he has brought out under the assumed name of Arthur Griffinhooff of Turnham Green.

Some disputes, between the managers and partners with him in the Haymarket theatre occasioned a suit in Chancery, the theatre to be closed for one summer, and Mr. Colman to take up his residence in the rules of the King's Bench; but those disputes having, by the good advice of the Lord Chancellor, been amicably settled, the theatre has since experienced three successful seasons. The improvements making in the neighbourhood have caused the old theatre to be pulled down, and it is now rebuilt in a style of great elegance. The theatre became, we believe, the sole property of Mr. Morris in 1819. The renters of Drury Lane are said to have been desirous of making Mr. Colman their manager, but the then sub-committee gave the preference to Mr. Stephen Kemble.