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Home from the Hell the pale-eyed gamester steals,
Opening lines from The New Timon.
T has been the custom among writers of the Victorian period to heap scorn upon the Beaux. With them Nash held the position of "a fellow," "an impudent fool," and his good works are admitted grudgingly or not at all. Grace and Philip Wharton were strong in this respect. They were generous to prodigality with the words fop, fool, bear, witless beau, contemptible vanity, impudence, and "worthy," used in that curious way in which woman. and person can be made absolutely insulting. Poor Anstey, the writer of the clever satire, "The New Bath Guide," they label as "one of the most depraved," and a "low-minded" author. However, judgments have mellowed since then, and Nash seems to us more worthy of praise than blame, more entitled to respect than scorn.
He was vain-he could not have earned his title otherwise-yet he was a shrewd man of business. Having no regular income, he yet kept his accounts with absolute honesty, and very large sums of money passed through his hands. He was remarkably generous, and he was strong enough to force the mean rich to be generous also at times. He was a gambler, yet there are many instances on record of his saving young men from the consequences of their own folly and inducing them to withdraw from the tables. He was the protector of women, the fatherly
adviser of girls. Dr. Johnson's Mrs. Thrale said that she remembered as a little child being carried about the Pump Room at Bath by Beau Nash.
One story of his vanity shows a whimsical appreciation of the advantage of dressing well. A gentleman saw him leave his house very gorgeously clothed, and asked him where he was going.
Going! why, I'm going to advertise."
Why myself, of course; for that's the only use of a fine coat."
There is on record a very amusing account of the way in which he forced a duchess, well known for her meanness, to pay a large sum for the welfare of the poor. He made it his business to collect subscriptions for charitable purposes in Bath, and on one occasion, when, engaged in his great work of founding a hospital, he was busy putting down names of subscribers, this duchess entered the room. As Nash was directly in her path and she could not avoid him, she tapped him with her fan, saying:
"You must put down a trifle for me, Nash, for I have no money in my pocket."
Yes, madam, that I will with pleasure, if your grace will tell me when to stop.'
Plunging his hand into his own pocket he took out a handful of guineas and tossing them one by one into his white hat he began counting-one, two, three, four, five
"Hold, hold!" cried the duchess, "think what you are doing!
"Think of your rank and fortune, madam," replied Nash, and he continued, "Six, seven, eight, nine,
Nash and Charity
Here the duchess again stopped him angrily, and the Beau said coolly: "Pray compose yourself, madam, and don't interrupt the work of charity; eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen
The duchess caught his hand, storming that she would give no more; it was enough.
"Peace, madam," said Nash.
"You shall have your
name written in letters of gold; sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty'
"I won't pay a farthing more," broke in the duchess furiously.
'Charity hides a multitude of sins," quietly observed her tormentor; "twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five
"Nash!" said the duchess, "I profess you frighten me out of my wits. Lord! I shall die!"
"Madam, you will never die with doing good, and if you do it will be the better for you," and he went on counting, only after much altercation agreeing to stop when he had made the duchess responsible for thirty guineas.
At another charity subscription at Bath a very mean man was present; and Nash, after appealing for funds generally, turned and shouted it over again into the ears of the niggardly one, who asked, in an aggrieved way, why he did that.
"Because," retorted the Beau, "on these occasions you are generally deaf."
As the chief business which the visitors had at Bath was to bathe and to drink the water, a word or so on the baths may not be amiss. Leland gives us a description of them as they were in his time :-" There be 2 springes of whote water in the west south-west part of the toune, whereoff the bigger is caulled the