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

Mr. B---n---r---d gives a Description of the Bathing.

This morning, dear mother, as soon as 'twas light,
I was wak'd by a noise that astonish'd me quite;
For in Tabitha's chamber I heard such a clatter,
I could not conceive what the deuce was the matter;
And, wou'd you believe it, I went up and found her
In a blanket with two lusty fellows around her,
Who both seem'd a going to carry her off in
A little black box just the size of a coffin:
‘Pray tell me,’ says I, ‘what ye're doing of there?’
“Why, master, 'tis hard to be bilk'd of our fare,
“And so we were thrusting her into a chair;
“We don't see no reason for using us so,
“For she bad us come hither, and now she won't go:


“We've earn'd all the fare, for we both came and knock'd her
“Up as soon as 'twas light, by advice of the doctor;
“And this is a job that we often go a'ter,
“For ladies that choose to go into the water.”
‘But pray,’ says I, Tabitha, what is your drift
‘To be cover'd in flannel instead of a shift?
‘'Tis all by the doctor's advice, I suppose,
‘That nothing is left to be seen but your nose:
‘I think if you really intend to go in,
‘'Twould do you more good if you stript to the skin;
‘And if you've a mind for a frolick, i'fa'th,
‘I'll just step and see you jump into the bath.’
So they hoisted her down just as safe and as well
And as snug as a hodmandod rides in his shell:
I fain wou'd have gone to see Tabitha dip,
But they turn'd at a corner and gave me the slip,
Yet in searching about I had better success,
For I got to a place where the ladies undress:
Thinks I to myself, they are after some fun,
And I'll see what they're doing, as sure as a gun.
So I peep'd at the door, and I saw a great mat,
That cover'd the table, and got under that,


And laid myself down there as snug and as still,
(As a body may say) like a thief in a mill;
And of all the fine sights I have seen, my dear mother,
I never expect to behold such another:
How the ladies did giggle and set up their clacks,
All the while an old woman was rubbing their backs!
Oh 'twas pretty to see them all put on their flannels,
And then take the water, like so many spaniels;
And tho' all the while it grew hotter and hotter,
They swam, just as if they were hunting an otter.
'Twas a glorious sight to behold the fair sex
All wading with gentlemen up to their necks,
And view them so prettily tumble and sprawl
In a great smoking kettle as big as our hall:
And to-day, many persons of rank and condition
Were boil'd by command of an able physician:
Dean Spavin, Dean Mangey, and Doctor De'squirt,
Were all sent from Cambridge to rub off their dirt;
Judge Bane, and the worthy old Counsellor Pest,
Join'd issue at once, and went in with the rest;
And this they all said was exceedingly good
For strength'ning the spirits and mending the blood.


It pleas'd me to see how they all were inclin'd
To lengthen their lives for the good of mankind;
For I ne'er would believe that a bishop or judge
Can fancy old Satan may owe him a grudge;
Tho' some think the lawyer may choose to demur,
And the priest till another occasion defer;
And both to be better prepar'd for herea'ter,
Take a smack of the brimstone contain'd in the water.
But, what is surprizing, no mortal e'er view'd
Any one of the physical gentlemen stew'd;
Since the day that King Bladud first found out these bogs,
And thought them so good for himself and his hogs,
Not one of the faculty ever has try'd
These excellent waters to cure his own hide;
Tho' many a skilful and learned physician,
With candour, good sense, and profound erudition,
Obliges the world with the fruits of his brain,
Their nature and hidden effects to explain.
Thus Chiron advis'd Madam Thetis to take
And dip her poor child in the Stygian lake,


But the worthy old doctor was not such an elf
As ever to venture his carcase himself.
So Jason's good wife us'd to set on a pot,
And put in at once all the patients she got,
But thought it sufficient to give her direction,
Without being coddled to mend her complexion:
And I never have heard that she wrote any treatise
To tell what the virtue of water and heat is.
You cannot conceive what a number of ladies
Were wash'd in the water the same as our maid is:
Old Baron Vanteazer, a man of great wealth,
Brought his lady the Baroness here for her health;
The Baroness bathes, and she says that her case
Has been hit to a hair, and is mending apace:
And this is a point all the learned agree on,
The Baron has met with the fate of Acteon;
Who, while he peep'd into the bath, had the luck
To find himself suddenly chang'd to a buck.
Miss Scratchit went in, and the Countess of Scales,
Both ladies of very great fashion in Wales;
Then all on a sudden two persons of worth,
My Lady Pandora Macscurvy came forth,
With General Sulphur arriv'd from the North.


So Tabby, you see, had the honour of washing
With folks of distinction, and very high fashion;
But in spite of good company, poor little soul,
She shook both her ears like a mouse in a bowl.
Ods-bobs! how delighted I was unawares
With the fiddles I heard in the room above stairs;
For music is wholesome, the doctors all think,
For ladies that bathe, and for ladies that drink;
And that's the opinion of Robin our driver,
Who whistles his nags while they stand at the river:
They say it is right that for every glass
A tune you should take, that the water may pass,
So while little Tabby was washing her rump,
The ladies kept drinking it out of a pump.
I've a deal more to say, but am loth to intrude
On your time, my dear mother, so now I'll conclude.
S--- B---n---r---d.
Bath, 1766.

Vide Old Bath Guide.