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oozing out of his fingers' ends, and the comfortable suggestion that “there is snug lying in the abbey,” will last as long as comedy exists.
Perhaps the best description of Bath in its hey-day of fashion and popularity a century ago, is to be found in the verse of Anstey, burlesque although it be.
“ The New Bath Guide,” written in a light and tripping manner, well adapted to the subject and little previously known, had an immense vogue in its day; a vogue all the greater that some of the characters were supposed to be real, and the poignancy of personal satire was added to general pleasantry. It is so far forgotten by the general reader, that the extracts upon venture will
will probably be as good as I do not apologize for
a few omissions rendered necessary by the better manners of our times.
The plan of the work is very simple: Mr. Simkin Blunderhead, the good-humoured, gullible, but not silly heir of a north country knight, is sent with his sister Prudence, his cousin Jenny, and their waiting-maid, to drink the waters and look at the world. The story is told in letters from Simkin to his mother, and from Miss Jenny to a female friend.
We are all at a wonderful distance from home,
Two hundred and sixty long miles are we come!
And now you'll rejoice, my dear mother to hear
We are safely arrived at the sign of “ The Bear."
As we all came for health, as a body may say,
I sent for a doctor the very next day;
And the doctor was pleased, though so short was the
To come to our lodgings the very next morning.
He looked very thoughtful and grave to be sure,
And I said to myself—There's no hopes of a cure !
But I thought I should faint when I saw him, dear
mother, Feel my pulse with one hand, with a watch in the other ; No token of death that is heard in the night Could ever have put me so much in a fright; Thinks I—'tis all over-my sentence is past And now he is counting how long I shall last.
Then follows a good deal of medical detail and of doctor's Latin very comically dragged into the verse. In a subsequent letter, Mr. Anstey, who seems to have had as great a horror of the faculty as Molière himself, gives a report of a consultation and its consequences :
If ever I ate a good supper at night,
I dreamt of the devil and waked in a fright;
And so as I grew every day worse and worse
The doctor advised me to send for a nurse,
And the nurse was so willing my health to restore,
She advised me to send for a few doctors more;
For when any difficult work's to be done,
Many heads can dispatch it much better than one;
And I find there are doctors enough in this place
If you want to consult in a dangerous case.
So they all met together and thus began talking :
“Good doctor I'm yours—’tis a fine day for walking ;
Sad news in the papers—heaven knows who's to blame !
The colonies seem to be all in a flame
This Stamp Act no doubt might be good for the crown,
But I fear 'tis a pill that will never go down.-
What can Portugal mean ?-Is she going to stir up
Convulsions and heats in the bowels of Europe ?
'Twill be fatal if England relapses again
From the ill-blood and humours of Bourbon and Spain."
Says I: “My good doctors, I can't understand
Why the deuce you take so many patients in hand;
No doubt ye are all of ye great politicians,
But at present my bowels have need of physicians,
Consider my case in the light it deserves
And pity the state of my stomach and nerves.”
But a tight little doctor began a dispute
About administration, Newcastle and Bute,
Talked much of economy-
*Come, let's be gone, We've another bad case to consider at one."
So thus they brushed off, each his cane at his nose,
When Jenny came in who had heard all their prose :
“I'll teach them,” says she, “at their next consultation
To come and take fees for the good of the nation.”
I could not conceive what the deuce 'twas she meant,
But she seized all the stuff that the doctor had sent
And out of the window she flung it down souse,
As the first politician went out of the house.
Decoctions and syrups
around him all flew,
Pills, boluses, jalep, and apozem too;
His wig had the luck an emulsion to meet
And squash went a gallipot under his feet.
Having turned out the doctors, the whole party improve both in health and spirits ; Miss Jenny picks up a military lover, under whose auspices Simkin turns beau :
No city, dear mother, this city excels
In charming sweet sounds both of fiddles and bells,
I thought, like a fool, that they only would ring
For a wedding, or judge, or the birth of a king;
But I found 'twas for me that the good-natured people
Rang so hard that I thought they would pull down the
So I took out my purse as I hate to be shabby
And paid all the men when they came from the abbey.
Yet some think it strange they should make such a riot
In a place where rich folk would be glad to be quiet.
Tabitha Rust, the waiting-maid, takes a bath :
'Twas a glorious sight to behold the fair sex
All wading with gentlemen up to their necks;
And to-day many persons of rank and condition
Were boiled by command of an able physician.
Dean Spavin, Dean Mangy and Doctor De Squirt
Were all sent from Cambridge to rub off their dirt ;
Judge Bore and the worthy old Counsellor Pest
Joined issue at once and went in with the rest;
Old Baron Vanteaser, a man of great wealth,
Brought his lady the Baroness here for her health;
Miss Scratchit went in and the Countess of Scales,
Both ladies of very great fashion in Wales ;
Then all on a sudden two persons of worth,
My Lady Pandora Macscurvy came forth
With General Sulphur arrived from the North.
So Tabby you see had the honour of washing
With folks of condition and very high fashion;
But in spite of good company, poor little soul,
She shook both her ears like a mouse in a bowl.
This description of the two sexes bathing in common in the chief water-drinking place of England
so recently as during the American War, would seem incredible if it were not confirmed by an almost contemporary writer, Smollett, in his last, and incomparably his best novel, “The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker.” Our friend Simkin
for a ball :
Thank Heaven, of late, my dear mother, my face is
Not a little regarded at all public places :
For I ride in a chair with my hands in a muff,
And have bought a silk coat, and embroidered the cuff;
But the weather was cold, and the coat it was thin,
So the taylor advised me to line it with skin.