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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
George Colman the Elder (1732–1794)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
OF the two George Colmans, father and son, familiar to the student of English drama and humor, the son was for two or three generations much the better known to the public, through the inclusion of some humorous poems—of the coarse practical-joking sort dear to the British public, and not unaptly characterized by Macaulay as “blackguard doggerel”—in popular anthologies. But the improvement in taste has retired these, and the father’s work as a dramatist has solider merits.  1
  George Colman was the son of an English diplomatist, and born at Florence, but educated in England; entering Christ Church College, Oxford, in 1751, and becoming M. A. in 1758. He studied law in London; but his tastes and an intimacy with Garrick soon led him to abandon this for poetry and play-writing. His first piece, ‘Polly Honeycomb,’ was acted at Drury Lane with great success in 1760; and the following year ‘The Jealous Wife’—“rich in borrowed excellences”—had an equal welcome. Neither of them has much originality, but they show an excellent sense of stage effect and humorous situation, and are well put together and harmonized. Later it occurred to Garrick and Colman that an entertaining play might be made on the lines of Hogarth’s ‘Marriage à la Mode,’ and the result of their joint labors was ‘The Clandestine Marriage’ (1766). Garrick made a great hit in this as Lord Ogleby, a faded but witty old man.  2
  Colman also wrote some excellent detached pieces for the Connoisseur, and about 1761 became owner of the St. James’s Chronicle and contributed humorous matter to it. In 1764 he published a translation of the comedies of Terence into English blank verse, which was much praised. In 1768 he became an owner of Covent Garden Theatre, and later managed the Haymarket. For many years he wrote and translated pieces for the stage, and was much respected as a manager and liked as a man. In 1783 he published a translation of Horace’s ‘Art of Poetry.’ He died in 1794, after five years of insanity.  3
 
 
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