Christopher Anstey (1724-1805), The New Bath Guide (1766)
Mr. S— B—N—R—D, to Lady B—N—R—D, at — Hall, North. LETTER XI. A Description of the BALL, with an Episode on BEAU NASH.
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What Joy at the Ball, what Delight have I found,
By all the bright Circle encompass'd around!
Each Moment with Transport my Bosom felt warm,
For what, my dear Mother, like Beauty can charm?
The Remembrance alone, while their Praise I rehearse,
Gives Life to my Numbers, and Strength to my Verse:
Then allow for the Rapture the Muses inspire,
Such Themes call aloud for Poetical Fire.
I've read how the Goddesses meet all above,
And throng the immortal Assemblies of JOVE,
When join'd with the Graces fair VENUS appears,
Ambrosial sweet Odours perfume all the Spheres; [Page 71]
But the Goddess of Love, and the Graces and all,
Must yield to the Beauties I've seen at the Ball;
For JOVE never felt such a Joy at his Heart,
Such a Heat as these charming sweet Creatures impart.
In short—there is something in very fine Women,
When they meet all together — that's quite overcoming.
Then say, O ye Nymphs that inhabit the Shades
Of Pindus' sweet Banks, Heliconian Maids,
Celestial Muses, ye Powers divine,
O say, for your Memory's better than mine,
What Troops of fair Virgins assembled around,
What Squadrons of Heroes for Dancing renown'd,
Were rouz'd by the Fiddle's harmonious Sound;
What Goddess shall first be the Theme of my Song,
Whose Name the clear AVON may murmur along,
And Echo repeat all the Vallies among!
Lady TETTATON's Sister, Miss FUBBY FATARMIN,
Was the first that presented her Person so charming, [Page 72]
Than whom more engaging, more beautiful none,
A Goddess herself among Goddesses shone,
Excepting the lovely Miss TOWZER alone.
'Tis she that has long been the Toast of the Town,
Tho' all the World knows her Complexion is brown:
If some People think that her Mouth be too wide,
Miss TOWZER has numberless Beauties beside;
A Countenance noble, with sweet pouting Lips,
And a delicate Shape, from her Waist to her Hips;
Besides a prodigious rough black Head of Hair
That is frizzled and curl'd o'er her Neck that is bare;
I've seen the sweet Creature but once, I confess,
But her Air, and her Manner, and pleasing Address,
All made me feel something I ne'er can express.
But lo! on a sudden what Multitudes pour
From Cambrian Mountains, from Indian Shore;
Bright Maidens, bright Widows, and fortunate Swains,
Who cultivate LIFFY's sweet Borders and Plains, [Page 73]
And they who their Flocks in fair ALBION seed,
Rich Flocks and rich Herds, (so the Gods have decreed)
Since they quitted the pleasanter Banks of the Tweed.
Yet here no Confusion, no Tumult is known,
Fair Order and Beauty establish their Throne;
For Order and Beauty, and just Regulation,
Support all the Works of this ample Creation.
For This, in Compassion to Mortals below,
The Gods, their peculiar Favour to shew,
Sent HERMES to Bath in the Shape of a BEAU:
That Grandson of ATLAS came down from above
To bless all the Regions of Pleasure and Love;
To lead the fair Nymph thro' the various Maze,
Bright Beauty to marshal, his Glory and Praise;
To govern, improve, and adorn the gay Scene,
By the Graces instructed, and Cyprian Queen:
As when in a Garden delightful and gay,
Where FLORA is wont all her Charms to display,
The sweet Hyacinthus with Pleasure we view
Contend with Narcissus in delicate Hue, [Page 74]
The Gard'ner industrious trims out his Border,
Puts each odoriferous Plant in it's Order;
The Myrtle he ranges, the Rose and the Lilly,
With Iris and Crocus, and Daffa-down-dilly;
Sweet Peas and sweet Oranges all He disposes
At once to regale both your Eyes and your Noses,
Long reign'd the great NASH, this omnipotent Lord,
Respected by Youth, and by Parents ador'd;
For him not enough at a Ball to preside,
Th' unwary and beautiful Nymph would he guide;
Oft tell her a Tale, how the credulous Maid
By Man, by perfidious Man is betray'd;
Taught Charity's Hand to relieve the distrest,
With tender Compassion his Tears have exprest:
But alas! He is gone, and the City can tell
How in Years and in Glory lamented he sell;
Him mourn'd all the Dryads on CLAVERTON's Mount;
Him AVON deplor'd, Him the Nymph of the Fount,
The Crystalline Streams.[Page 75]
Then perish his Picture, his Statue decay,
A Tribute more lasting the Muses shall pay.
If true what Philosophers all will assure us,
Who dissent from the Doctrine of great EPICURUS,
That the Spirit's immortal: as Poets allow,
If Life's Occupations are follow'd below:
In Reward of his Labours, his Virtue and Pains,
He is footing it now in th' Elysian Plains,
Indulg'd, as a Token of PROSERPINE's Favour,
To preside at her Balls in a cream-colour'd Beaver:
Then Peace to his Ashes—Our Grief be supprest,
Since we find such a Phoenix has sprung from his Nest;
Kind Heaven has sent us another Professor,
Who follows the Steps of his great Predecessor.
But hark, now they strike the melodious String,
The vaulted Roof echoes, the Mansions all ring;
At the Sound of the Hautboy, the Bass and the Fiddle,
Sir BOREAS BLUBBER steps forth in the Middle, [Page 76]
Like a Holy-Hock, noble, majestic, and tall,
Sir BOREAS BLUBBER first opens the Ball:
Sir BOREAS, great in the Minuet known,
Since the Day that for Dancing his Talents were shewn,
Where the Science is practis'd by Gentlemen grown.
For in every Science, in ev'ry Profession,
We make the best Progress at Years of Discretion.
How he puts on his Hat with a Smile on his Face,
And delivers his Hand with an exquisite Grace;
How genteelly he offers Miss CARROT before us,
Miss CARROT EITZ-OOZER, a Niece of Lord PORUS;
How nimbly he paces, how active and light!
One never can judge of a Man at first Sight;
But as near as I guess from the Size of his Calf,
He may weigh about twenty-three Stone and a Half.
Now why should I mention a Hundred or more,
Who went the same Circle as others before,
To a Tune that they play'd us a hundred Times o'er?
See little BOB JEROM, old CHRYSOSTOM's Son,
With a Chitterlin Shirt, and a Buckle of Stone: [Page 77]
What a cropt Head of Hair the young Parson has on!
Emerg'd from his Grizzle, th'unfortunate Sprig
Seems as if he was hunting all Night for his Wig;
Not perfectly pleas'd with the Coat on his Back,
Tho' the Coat's a good Coat, but alas it is black;
With envious Eyes he is doom'd to behold,
The Captain's red Suit that's embroider'd with Gold!
How seldom Mankind is content with their Lot!
BOB JEROM two very good Livings has got;
Yet still he accuses his Parents deceas'd,
For making a Man of such Spirit a Priest.
Not so Master MARMOZET, sweet little Boy,
Mrs. DANGLECUB's Hopes, her Delight and her Joy;
His pidgeon-wing'd Head was not drest quite so soon,
For it took up a Barber the whole Afternoon;
His Jacket's well lac'd, and the Ladies protest
Master MARMOZET dances as well as the best:
Yet some think the Boy would be better at School,
But I hear Mrs DANGLECUB's not such a Fool [Page 78]
To send a poor Thing with a Spirit so meek,
To be flog'd by a Tyrant for Latin and Greek;
She wonders that Parents to Eton should send
Five Hundred great Boobies their Manners to mend:
She says that her Son will his Fortune advance,
By learning so early to fiddle and dance;
So she brings him to Bath, which I think is quite right,
For they do nothing else here from Morning till Night:
And this is a Lesson all Parents should know,
To train up a Child in the Way he should go;
For as SOLOMON says, you may safely uphold,
He ne'er will depart from the same when he's old.
No doubt she's a Woman of fine Understanding,
Her Air and her Presence there's something so grand in;
So wise and discreet; and to give Her her Due,
Dear Mother, she's just such a Woman as you.
But who is that Bombazine Lady so gay,
So profuse of her Beauties, in sable Array? [Page 79]
How she rests on her Heel, how she turns out her Toe,
How she pulls down her Stays, with her Head up to shew
Her Lilly-white Bosom that rivals the Snow!
'Tis the Widow QUICKLACKIT, whose Husband, last Week,
Poor STEPHEN, went suddenly forth in a Pique,
And push'd off his Boat for the Stygian Creek:
Poor STEPHEN! he never return'd from the Bourn,
But left the disconsolate Widow to mourn:
Three Times did she faint, when she heard of the News;
Six Days did she weep, and all Comfort refuse:
But STEPHEN, no Sorrow, no Tears can recall!—
So she hallows the Seventh, and comes to the Ball.
For Music, sweet Music, has Charms to controul,
And tune up each Passion that ruffles the Soul!
What things have I read, and what Stories been told
Of Feats that were done by Musicians of old!
I saw t'other Day in a Thing call'd an Ode,
As it lay in a snug little House on the Road,
Page 80How SAUL was restor'd, tho' his Sorrow was sharp,
When DAVID, the Bethlemite, play'd on the Harp:
'Twas Music that brought a Man's Wife from Old Nick;
And at Bath has the Pow'r to recover the Sick:
Thus a Lady was cur'd t'other Day.—But 'tis Time
To seal up my Letter, and finish my Rhyme.
Text taken from : Christopher Anstey (1724-1805), The New Bath Guide: Or, Memoirs of the B-r-d Family. In a Series of Poetical Epistles. [London]: Sold by J. Dodsley; J. Wilson & J. Fell; and J. Almon, London; W. Frederick, at Bath; W. Jackson, at Oxford; T. Fletcher & F. Hodson, at Cambridge; W. Smith, at Dublin; and the booksellers of Bristol, York, and Edinburgh, 1766, p. 70-80.
Image taken from Christopher Anstey, The New Bath Guide: Or, Memoirs of the B-r-d Family. In a Series of Poetical Epistles. 10th edition. [London]: printed for J. Dodsley, in Pall-Mall, 1776.