1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Colman

William Tooke, Note to The Rosciad; Poetical Works of Charles Churchill (1804) 1:7-8n.



For Johnson some; but Johnson it was fear'd,
Would be too grave, and Sterne too gay appear'd;
Others for Franklin voted; but 'twas known,
He sicken'd at all triumphs but his own;
For Colman many, but the peevish tongue
Of prudent Age found out that he was young:
For Murphy some few pilf'ring wits declar'd,
Whilst Folly clapp'd her hands, and Wisdom star'd.

The translator of Terence and of the Art of Poetry, and the intimate friend and favorite of our author, was the son of Thomas Colman, Esq. resident at the court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and born at Florence, about 1733. He was of Christ Church, Oxford, where he engaged with Bonnel Thornton, in writing the Connoisseur, a periodical paper of some merit. He was called to the bar, but never practised. His first dramatic attempt, Polly Honeycomb, was performed at Drury-Lane theatre in 1760 with success; and the next year his comedy of the Jealous Wife met with unbounded applause. In 1764 Lord Bath died, and left him a comfortable annuity, which was enlarged by General Pulteney. In 1768 he became a Patentee of Covent-Garden theatre, but soon after sold his share, and purchased Foote's theatre in the Haymarket. Besides the above works, he was the author of a preface to Beaumont and Fletcher's plays, and of several fugitive tracts; he also, in conjunction with Garrick, wrote the Clandestine Marriage and some other dramatic performances. At the close of the theatrical season of 1785 Mr. Colman was seized at Margate with the palsy, and at the beginning of the season of 1789 he first shewed symptoms of derangement of mind, which increasing gradually left him in a state of idiotism. In this sad condition he was committed to the care of a person at Paddington, The management of the theatre was entrusted to his son, with an allowance of 600 a year. Mr. Colman died on the 14th of August 1794, at the age of 62.