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Dutchefs of Marlborough one day rallying him in public company upon the obscurity of his birth, compared him to GilBlas, who was afhamed of his father: No, Madam, replied Nash, I feldom mention my father in company, not because I have any reason to be ashamed of him; but because he has some reason to be ashamed of me.
However, though fuch anecdotes be immaterial, to go on in the ufual course of history, it may be proper to observe that Richard Nash Esq; the subject of this memoir, was born in the town of Swanfea, in Glamorganshire, on the 18th of October, in the year 1674. His father was a gentleman, whofe principal income arofe from a partnership in a glass-house; his mother was niece to Colonel Poyer, who was killed by Oliver Cromwell, for defending Pembroke castle against the rebels. He was educated under Mr. Maddocks at Carmarthan school, and from thence fent to Jefus college, in Oxford, in order to prepare him for the study
of the law. His father had ftrained his little income to give his fon fuch, an education, but from the boy's natural vivacity, he hoped a recompence from his future preferment. In college, however, he foon fhewed that though much might be expected from his genius, nothing could be hoped from his industry. A mind strongly turned to pleasure, always is first seen at the university, there the youth first finds himself freed from the restraint of tutors, and being treated by his friends in some measure as a man, affumes the paffions and defires of riper age, and discovers in the boy, what are likely to be the affections of his maturity.
The first method Mr. Nash took to diftinguish himself at college was not by application to ftudy, but by his affiduity in intrigue. In the neighbourhood of every univerfity there are girls who with fome beauty, fome coquettry, and little fortune, lie upon the watch for every raw amorous youth, more inclined to make love than
to study. Our Heroe was quickly caught, and went through all the mazes and adventures of a college intrigue, before he was feventeen; he offered marriage, the offer was accepted, but the whole affair coming to the knowledge of his tutors, his happiness, or perhaps his future misery, was prevented, and he was fent home from college, with neceffary advice to him, and proper inftructions to his father.
When a man knows his power over the fair fex, he generally commences their admirer for the reft of life. That triumph which he obtains over one, only makes him the flave of another, and thus he proceeds conquering and conquered, to the clofing of the fcene. The army seemed the most likely profeffion in which to difplay this inclination for gallantry; he therefore purchased a pair of colours, commenced a profeffed admirer of the fex, and dreffed to the very edge of his finances. But the life of a foldier is more pleafing to the fpectator at a diftance than to the person who makes the experiment.
Mr. Nash foon found that a red coat alone would never fucceed, that the company of the fair fex is not to be procured without expence, and that his fcanty commiffion could never procure him the proper reimbursements. He found too that the profeffion of arms required attendance and. duty, and often encroached upon those hours he could have wifhed to dedicate to fofter purposes. In fhort, he foon became difgufted with the life of a foldier, quitted the army, entered his name as a ftudent in the temple books, and here went to the very fummit of fecond-rate luxury. Though very poor he was very fine; he fpread the little gold he had, in the most oftentatious manner, and though the gilding was but thin, he laid it on as far as it would go. go. They who know the town, cannot be unacquainted with fuch a character as I defcribe; one, who though he may have dined in private upon a banquet ferved cold from a cook's fhop, fhall drefs at fix for the fide box; one of those, whose wants are only known to their laundress, and tradesmen, and their fine cloaths
cloaths to half the nobility; who spend more in chair hire, than housekeeping; and prefer a bow from a Lord, to a dinner from a Commoner.
In this manner Mr. Nash spent some years about town, till at last his genteel appearance, his conftant civility, and still more, his affiduity, gained him the acquaintance of feveral perfons qualified to lead the fashion both by birth and fortune. To gain the friendship of the young nobility little more is requifite than much fubmiffion and very fine cloaths; dress has a mechanical influence upon the mind, and we naturally are awed into refpect and esteem at the elegance of those, whom even our reason would teach us to contemn. He feemed early fenfible of human weaknefs in this respect, he brought a person genteely dreffed to every affembly, he always made one of those who are called very good company, and affurance gave him an air of elegance and ease.