A brief history of the play by Colley Cibber
The following article was originally published in A Dictionary of the Drama. W. Davenport Adams. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1904.

The Careless Husband, a comedy in five acts by Colley Cibber, was first performed at Drury Lane Theatre on December 7, 1704, with the author as Lord Foppington, Willis as Sir Charles Easy, Powell as Lord Morelove, Mrs. Knight as Lady Easy, Mrs. Moore as Lady Graveairs, Mrs. Lucas as Edging, and Mrs. Oldfield as Lady Betty Modish. It appears that Cibber, after writing the first and second acts of this work, had thrown it aside "in depair of having justice done to the character of Lady Betty Modish by any one woman then among us; Mrs. Verbruggen being now in a very declining state of health, and Mrs. Bracegirdle out of my reach and engag'd in another comedy." Mrs. Oldfield having, however, impressed Cibber somewhat deeply by her performance of Leonora in Sir Courtly Nice, he was, he says, "no longer at a loss for support ... and had now a new call to finish" the piece. He adds (in his Apology): "Whatever favourable reception this comedy has met with from the publick, it would be unjust in me not to place a large share of it to the account of Mrs. Oldfield; not only from the uncommon excellence of her action, but even from her personal manner of conversing. There are many sentiments in the character of Lady Betty Modish that I may almost say were originally her own, or only dress'd with a little more care than when they negligently fell from her lively humour." The piece was revived at Drury Lane in 1742 (with Peg Woffington as Lady Betty and Cibber, jr., as Lord Foppington), at Covent Garden in 1745 (with Mrs. Pritchard as Lady Betty), at Covent Garden in 1759 (with Mrs. Bellamy as Lady Betty and Smith as Lord Foppington), at Drury Lane in 1770 (With Mrs. Abington as Lady Betty and Dodd as Lord Foppington), ad Covent Garden in 1778 (with Mrs. Buckley as Lady Betty and Lewis as Lord Foppington), at the same theatre in 1781 (with Miss Younge as Lady Betty and Henderson as Sir Charles Easy), and at Drury Lane in 1790 (with Kemble as Sir Charles, Dodd as Lord Foppington, and Miss Farren ad Lady Betty). The comedy was represented in New York in 1753, with Mrs. Hallam as Lady Betty Modish. "The purpose of the play," writes Professor A.W. Ward, "is genuinely moral--viz. to exhibit the triumph of pure long-suffering affection, when its object is a man not spoilt at heart. There is true pathos in the character of Lady Easy, and one may forgive her husband as one forgives Fielding's heroes, or Steele in real life. The execution is upon the whole admirable; and the quarrels of Lady Betty Modish and Lord Morelove, with Lord Foppington and Lady Graveairs intervening, are in the best style of later comedy" (English Dramatic Literature, 1899).


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