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in the choruses to such an extent that the music was
Oh, 'twas pretty to see them all put on their flannels,
Were boiled by command of an able physician.' In front of many of the ladies there floated a dish in which they kept their handkerchief, snuff-box, and even a nosegay. The costume is described by Celia Fiennes. *The ladyes goes into the bath with garments made of a fine yellow canvass, which is stiff and made large with great sleeves like a parson's gown; the water fills it up so that it's borne off that your shape is not seen ; it does not cling close as other linning, which looks sadly in the poorer sort that go in their own linning. The gentlemen have drawers and waistcoats of the same sort of canvas ; this is the best linning, for the bath water will change any other yellow' (op. cit. p. 13). Others say that the garments, originally white, were turned yellow by the action of the water. Miss Lydia Melford, who visited Bath under Smollett's auspices, says: * The Ladies wear jackets and petticoats of brown linen, with chip hats, in which they fix their handkerchiefs to wipe the sweat from their faces; but truly, whether it is owing to the steam that surrounds them or the heat of the water, or the nature of the dress, or to all these causes together, they
Through England on a Side-Saddle; being the Diary of Celia Fiennes' (London: Field and Tuer, 1888), p. 12.
look so flushed and so frightful, that I always turn my eyes another way.' ('Humphrey Clinker,' i, 77.)
Pope, however, thought the baths becoming, especially to Martha Blount. To her sister Mary he writes:
‘Ladies, I have [seen] you often. I perfectly know how you look in black and white. I have experienced the utmost you can do in any colours; but all your movements, all your graceful steps, all your attitudes and postures, deserve not half the glory you might here attain of a moving and easy behaviour in buckram; something betwixt swimming and walking; free enough yet more modestly half-naked than you appear anywhere else. You have conquered enough already by land; show your ambition, and vanquish also by water.' ('Correspondence,' iv, 248.)
The society over which Nash presided was a sort of republic, but it was not an anarchy. It submitted to rules; but the rules, drawn up by Nash himself, received the sanction of the community. (Wood, ii, 412.)
'The Code of Behaviour by General Consent Determin'd. 1. That a Visit of Ceremony at coming to Bath, and another at going away, is all that is expected or desired by Ladies of Quality and Fashion-except Impertinents.
2. That Ladies, coming to the Ball, appoint a time for their Footmen's coming to wait on them Home, to prevent Disturbances and Inconveniences to themselves and others.
3. That Gentlemen of Fashion never appearing in a Morning before the Ladies in Gowns and Caps, shew Breeding and Respect.
4. That no Person take it ill that anyone goes to another's Play or Breakfast, and not their's-except Captious by Nature.
5. That no Gentleman give his Tickets for the Balls to any but Gentlewomen.-N.B. Unless he has none of his Acquaintance.
6. That Gentlemen crowding before the Ladies at the Ball shew ill Manners; and that none do so for the future-except such as respect nobody but themselves.
7. That no Gentleman or Lady take it ill that another dances before them-except such as have no Pretence to dance at all.
8. That the Elder Ladies and Children be content with a Second Bench at the Ball, as being past, or not come to Perfection.
9. That the Younger Ladies take no notice how many Eyes observe them. N.B.-This does not extend to the Huveat-alls.
10. That all Whisperers of Lies and Scandal be taken for their Authors.
11. That all Repeaters of such Lies and Scandal be shun'd by all Company-except such as have been guilty of the same Crime. N.B.-Several men of no Character, Old Women and Young Ones of questioned Reputation, are great Authors of Lies in this place, being of the Sect of Levellers.'
Nash saw that the code was rigorously enforced. He refused even the request of the Princess Amelia, George II's daughter, to have one more country dance' after the hour of eleven. When she asked for this, he looked at her with the greatest surprise visible in his countenance. She added, Remember I am a Princess. Yes, madam,'
“.' • replied the implacable Master of Ceremonies, but I reign here, and my laws must be kept.' In the .Jests of Beau Nash,' we read : 'It is well known that Nash kept up the Dignity of the Balls both at Bath and Tunbridge, and would not suffer any Ladies to be admitted that were not properly dressed. A certain Duchess, however, who was of too much consequence to be refused admittance, came dressed in a white Apron, and making up directly to him, “ Your servant, Sir," said she, “ your servant, Mr Nash.” He saw that this was done to lessen his Authority, and therefore answered coolly, “How do you do, Mrs Abigail ?” “What do you mean," says she,“ you Puppy? Do you take me for my servant?” Madam," says Nash, “I beg your Grace's pardon and your servant's too, for I see you are not half so handsome.” He specially disliked men coming to the baths booted and spurred, and organised a puppet show with a jeu d'esprit, in which Punch came on booted and spurred. Accosting his mistress, he is desired to pull off his boots before going to bed. My boots !' replies Punch, 'why, madam, you may as well bid me pull off my legs. I never go without boots; I never ride, I never dance without them; and this piece of politeness is quite the thing at Bath. We always dance at our town in boots, and the ladies often move minuets in riding-hoods. Thus he goes on till his mistress, grown impatient, kicks him off
* This rule is omitted by Wood, but given by Goldsmith.
the stage. After this, few ventured to appear in boots and spurs at the Assemblies; and when, one evening, a gentleman just off a journey did enter the ball-room so attired and with a whip in his hand, the Master of the Assemblies was equal to the occasion. He immediately went up to the new-comer and, after welcoming him to Bath, begged humbly to remind him of something he had forgotten. What is that, sir?' asked the visitor innocently. Why, sir,' replied Nash, 'I see you have got your boots, spurs, and whip, but you have unfortunately left your horse behind.'
But bathing and dancing had their rival attractions, the chief of which was gaming.
'In the eighteenth century all fashionable England played cards; and not to know the games in vogue was to argue oneself low-bred. From the court to the scullery everyone gambled; . . . while a whole company would, on the slightest pretext, or indeed on no pretext whatever, sit down to the tables that were always set out in readiness at all assemblies. "Books! Prithee don't talk to me about books! The only books I know are men and cards," cried Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough; and the limits of her knowledge were those of the rest of England, except that they knew more about cards than mankind. . . The passion was not confined to men, but extended to women and even to the young of both sexes. "The boys and girls sit down as gravely at whist tables as fellows of colleges used to do formerly," as Walpole remarked in 1741. "It is actually ridiculous that play should become the business of the nation from fourteen to fourscore." (Melville, p. 183.)
Music, the discussion of politics, and even dancing and drinking gave the pas to cards and dice; and at Bath, every evening in the season, the company repaired to the Assembly Rooms to lose their own money or win their friends'. 'Harrison's rooms are so full every night 'tis to me very disagreeable; if one had an inclination, 'tis next to impossible to get a table to play,' Lady Anne Irwin complained to Lord Carlisle in 1729; and twenty years later Mrs Montagu told the Duchess of Portland that 'Whist and the noble game of E.O. employ the evening.' As the author of 'Bath, a Poem,' says:
'When radiant Sol has gain'd his Mid-day Height, And when he drops in Thetis' Lap at Night,
The Old, the Young, the Black, the Brown, the Fair,
No wonder that people flocked to Bath. The names selected at random by Mr Melville form a goodly • Visitors' List' during the reign of Beau Nash-Fielding, Smollett, Pope, Mary Lepel, Henrietta Howard, Lord Chesterfield, Warburton, Tickell, Shenstone, Gainsborough, Pitt, Bolingbroke, Arbuthnot, Cowper, Bishop Butler, Young, Mrs Catherine Macaulay, Defoe, Princess Mary (who was burnt out at her lodgings and accepted Nash's hospitality for the rest of her second visit), Congreve, Steele, Bishop Berkeley, and others.
Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, tolerated Bath so long as she thought the water did the Duke good. Thus she wrote to Lady Cowper on September 3, 1716 : 'Her Grace of Shrewsbury is here and of a much happier Temper. She plays at Ombre upon the Walks, that she may be sure to have company enough, and is as well pleased in a great Crowd of Strangers as the common People are with a Bull-baiting or a Mountebank. I have been upon the Walks but twice, and I never saw any Place abroad that had more Stinks and Dirt in it than Bath ; with this difference only, that we are not starved, for here is a great Plenty of Meat, and very good; and as to the Noise, that keeps One almost always awake.' (Melville, p. 160.) The Duchess became very friendly with Nash and corresponded with him afterwards, consulting him as to houses, the building of bridges, the digging of canals, and the granting of leases.
A visitor less pleasing to Nash was Lord Peterborough the eccentric, who lost all his luggage on the way to Bath in 1731, and, rather than refurnish bis wardrobe, had recourse to his friends even for clean linen. It is a comical sight, notes Lady Harvey, 'to see him with his blue ribbon and star and a cabbage under each arm, or a