1850 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Dibdin

John Britton, in Autobiography (1850) 1:89-90.



Of CHARLES DIBDIN, Jun., I had opportunities of knowing many personal characteristics and literary qualifications, for we were on familiar, confidential terms for many years. As a friend, a parent, a husband, and an honourable and honest man, his conduct and character were exemplary and unimpeachable. As manager of Sadler's Wells Theatre, and author of numerous dramatic pieces, for several successive years, he was industrious and successful. With a good domestic wife, whom he married in her teens, and with a large family, he lived for many years in a small detached cottage, within the precincts of the theatre, and was apparently comfortably settled for life, when his brother embarked in the hazardous and ruinous speculation of renting the Surrey Theatre. This led to other speculations, one of which was to take his dramatic company, with some of the Wells performers, to Dublin. In this undertaking the two brothers joined, and, as related by Thomas, they struggled for one season against many difficulties, and returned minus nearly 2000. Poor Charles never recovered from this loss. Soon afterwards he lost his affectionate companion, in the prime of life, who is pronounced by his brother as being "one of the best of wives and mothers." — (Reminiscences, ii. 132.) These severe visitations overpowered him, for he was a man of great sensibility, and devotedly attached to his wife and children. A young family of eight now demanded his utmost solicitude, and were most anxiously watched and instructed. They were all well disposed and well disciplined. I never saw a group of boys and girls better conducted, or more cordial with each other, and at the same time obedient and affectionately devoted to their parents. Henceforward, however, he was doomed to encounter misfortunes and troubles; and he died at an early age. He wrote and published four volumes of Poems, a Novel, Thinks I to Myself, in 3 volumes, besides numerous songs, a volume of which was published by myself in partnership with the author; and afterwards re-published with the title of Mirth and Metre, consisting of Poems, Serious, Humourous, and Satirical. 18mo. 1809.