The Author’s Farce officially not as farcical as Theophilus Cibber’s actual life

The Author’s Farce officially not as farcical as Theophilus Cibber’s actual life

While reading Fielding’s The Author’s Farce, I ended up grazing around the internet. Now, listen, don’t think for a second that wikipedia is my prelim-exam-research source, because, seriously, give me a little credit here. BUT if I HADN’T wiki’d Theophilus Cibber (son of Colley Cibber) then I wouldn’t have learned this–assuming that it’s all true–which I’m going to do:

“Two years after the death of his first wife, Jane, Cibber married the singer and actress Susannah Maria Arne . . . Unusually, Susannah Maria insisted on a prenuptial agreement that protected her own property and income by placing it in the hands of two trustees, who released it to her in small amounts. . . .

“Both Theophilus and Susannah Maria were members of the Drury Lane theatre company managed by Cibber. From 1735, Cibber began drawing his wife’s earnings from the theatre personally, ignoring the marriage settlement, and by 1737 he was even selling her clothes and personal effects to make money. In 1738, the couple were involved in a notorious lawsuit which drew public attention to Cibber’s connivance in his wife’s adultery. The Cibbers had established a ménage à trois (!!!) with John Sloper, a country squire, from whom Theophilus accepted money. The three of them set up house together in Kensington, for which Sloper paid the rent and maintenance, until Cibber slipped away to France to escape his creditors. To his dismay, Susannah Maria wrote him a letter to say that she was leaving him for Sloper.

“Cibber returned to England, and began negotiating a settlement with Susannah Maria and Sloper, punctuated by an absurd but successful attempt to abduct Susannah Maria from Sloper’s country house that ended with all three of them staying at the same inn, despite Sloper firing a pistol over Cibber’s head. (Editor’s note: This is some serious Tom Jones shit, you guys!) Theophilus confined his wife to a house in Wild Court, Great Wild Street, from where she was rescued by her brother Thomas who broke in and knocked out the guard. (Repeat: What?!) Theophilus had Thomas imprisoned in Bridewell temporarily, and Susannah Maria returned to Sloper. Becoming greedy, Cibber sued Sloper for £5,000 damages for criminal conversation, which he described as threatening “his peace of mind, his happiness, and his hopes of posterity.” The prosecution produced witnesses, lodging housekeepers Mr and Mrs Hayes, who admitted to spying on Sloper and Mrs Cibber through a wainscot partition, thus establishing adultery beyond doubt. (Also establishing that they were filthy pervs.) Sloper’s defence counsel rebutted by calling the Kensington housekeeper, Anne Hopson, who testified that Cibber received money from Sloper with full knowledge of his wife’s affair. The defence said of Cibber: “He takes his money, lets him maintain his family, resigns his wife to him, and then comes to court for justice, for reparation in damages.” Counsel concluded that “there is no denomination in coin small enough to give in damages.” The jury concurred, and awarded Cibber a nominal £10. (Burn!)

You guys, this is all PATENTLY RIDICULOUS

YOU’RE WELCOME

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