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The Poetical Works of the late Christopher Anstey

With Some Account of the Life and Writings of the Author, By his son, John Anstey

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LETTER V. Mr. Simkin B---n---r---d to Lady B---n---r---d, at --- Hall, North.
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LETTER V. Mr. Simkin B---n---r---d to Lady B---n---r---d, at --- Hall, North.

Salutatiohs of Bath, and an Adventure of Mr. B---n---r---d's in consequence thereof.

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-natur'd people
Rung so hard that I thought they would pull down the steeple;
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 sick folk would be glad to be quiet;
But I hear 'tis the bus'ness of this corporation
To welcome in all the great men of the nation;


For you know there is nothing diverts or employs
The minds of great people like making a noise:
So with bells they contrive all as much as they can
To tell the arrival of any such man.
If a broker, or statesman, a gamester, or peer,
A nat'raliz'd Jew, or a bishop comes here,
Or an eminent trader in cheese should retire,
Just to think of the bus'ness the state may require,
With horns and with trumpets, with fiddles and drums,
They'll strive to divert him as soon as he comes;
'Tis amazing they find such a number of ways
Of employing his thoughts all the time that he stays!
If by chance the great man at his lodging alone is,
He may view from his window the colliers' ponies
On both the parades, where they tumble and kick,
To the great entertainment of those that are sick:
What a number of turnspits and builders he'll find
For relaxing his cares and unbending his mind,
While notes of sweet music contend with the cries
Of fine potted laver, fresh oysters, and pies!
And music's a thing I shall truly revere,
Since the city-musicians so tickled my ear:


For when we arriv'd here at Bath t'other day,
They came to our lodgings on purpose to play;
And I thought it was right as the music was come,
To foot it a little in Tabitha's room;
For practice makes perfect, as often I've read,
And to heels is of service as well as the head:
But the lodgers were shock'd such a noise we should make,
And the ladies declar'd that we kept them awake;
Lord Ringbone, who lay in the parlour below,
On account of the gout he had got in his toe,
Began on a sudden to curse and to swear:
I protest, my dear mother, 'twas shocking to hear
The oaths of that reprobate gouty old peer:
“All the devils in hell sure at once have concurr'd
“To make such a noise here as never was heard;
“Some blundering blockhead, while I am in bed,
“Treads as hard as a coach-horse just over my head;
“I cannot conceive what a plague he's about:
“Are the fiddlers come hither to make all this rout
“With their d---'d squeaking catgut, that's worse than the “gout?


“If the aldermen bad 'em come hither, I swear,
“I wish they were broiling in hell with the May'r;
“May flames be my portion if ever I give
“Those rascals one farthing as long as I live!”
So while they were playing their musical airs,
And I was just dancing the hay round the chairs,
He roar'd to his Frenchman to kick them down stairs.
The Frenchman came forth, with his outlandish lingo,
Just the same as a monkey, and made all the men go;
I could not make out what he said, not a word,
And his lordship declar'd I was very absurd.
Says I, ‘Master Ringbone, I've nothing to fear,
‘Tho’ you be a Lord, and your man a Mounseer,
‘For the May'r and the aldermen bad them come here:
‘— As absurd as I am,
‘I don't care a damn
‘For you, nor your valee de sham:
‘For a Lord, do you see,
‘Is nothing to me,
‘Any more than a flea;
‘And your Frenchman so eager,
‘With all his soup meagre,


‘Is no more than a mouse,
‘Or a bug, or a louse,
‘And I'll do as I please while I stay in the house:
‘For the B---n---r---d family all can afford
‘To part with their money as free as a Lord.’
So I thank'd the musicians, and gave them a guinea,
Tho' the ladies and gentlemen call'd me a ninny;
And I'll give them another the next time they play,
For men of good fortune encourage, they say,
All arts and all sciences too in their way;
So the men were so kind as to halloo and bawl,
“God bless you, Sir, thank you, good fortune befall
“Yourself, and the B---n---r---d family all.”
Excuse any more—for I very well know,
Both my subject and verse—is exceedingly low;
But if any great critic finds fault with my letter,
He has nothing to do but to send you a better.
And now, my dear mother, &c. &c. &c.
Bath, 1766. S--- B---n---r---d.