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

A Modern Head-Dress, with a little Polite Conversation.

What base and unjust accusations we find
Arise from the malice and spleen of mankind!
One would hope, my dear mother, that scandal would spare
The tender, the helpless, and delicate Fair;
But alas! the sweet creatures all find it the case
That Bath is a very censorious place.
Would you think that a person I met since I came
(I hope you'll excuse my concealing his name)
A splenetic ill-natur'd fellow, before
A room-full of very good company, swore
That, in spite of appearance, 'twas very well known,
Their hair and their faces were none of their own;
And thus without wit, or the least provocation,
Began an impertinent formal oration:


“Shall Nature thus lavish her beauties in vain
“For art and nonsensical fashion to stain?
“The fair Jezebella what art can adorn,
“Whose cheeks are like roses that blush in the morn?
“As bright were her locks as in heaven are seen
“Presented for stars by th' Egyptian queen;
“But alas! the sweet nymph they no longer must deck,
“No more shall they flow o'er her ivory neck;
“Those tresses, which Venus might take as a favour,
“Fall a victim at once to an outlandish shaver;
“Her head has he robb'd with as little remorse
“As a fox-hunter crops both his dogs and his horse:
“A wretch, that so far from repenting his theft,
“Makes a boast of tormenting the little that's left:
“And first at her porcupine head he begins
“To fumble and poke with his irons and pins,
“Then fires all his crackers with horrid grimace,
“And puffs his vile Rocambol breath in her face,
“Discharging a steam that the devil would choke,
“From paper, pomatum, from powder, and smoke.
“The patient submits, and with due resignation
“Prepares for her fate in the next operation.


“When lo! on a sudden, a monster appears,
“A horrible monster, to cover her ears;—
“What sign of the Zodiac is it he bears?
“Is it Taurus's tail, or the tête de mouton,
“Or the beard of the goat that he dares to put on?
“'Tis a wig en vergette, that from Paris was brought,
Un tête comme il faut, that the varlet has bought
“Of a beggar, whose head he has shav'd for a groat;
“Now fix'd to her head, does he frizzle and dab it;
“'Tis a foretop no more.—'Tis the skin of a rabbit.—
“'Tis a muff—'tis a thing, that by all is confest
“Is in colour and shape like a chaffinch's nest.
“O cease, ye fair virgins, such pains to employ,
“The beauties of nature with paint to destroy;
“See Venus lament, see the Loves and the Graces,
“All pine at the injury done to your faces!
“Ye have eyes, lips, and nose, but your heads are no more
“Than a doll's that is plac'd at a milliner's door.”
I'm asham'd to repeat what he said in the sequel,
Aspersions so cruel as nothing can equal!


I declare I am shock'd such a fellow should vex,
And spread all these lies of the innocent sex,
For whom, while I live, I will make protestation
I've the highest esteem and profound veneration;
I never so strange an opinion will harbour,
That they buy all the hair they have got of a barber:
Nor ever believe that such beautiful creatures
Can have any delight in abusing their features:
One thing tho' I wonder at much, I confess, is
Th' appearance they make in their different dresses,
For indeed they look very much like apparitions
When they come in the morning to hear the musicians,
And some I am apt to mistake, at first sight,
For the mothers of those I have seen over-night:
It shocks me to see them look paler than ashes,
And as dead in the eye as the busto of Nash is,
Who the evening before were so blooming and plump;
—I'm griev'd to the heart when I go to the pump:
For I take ev'ry morning a sup at the water,
Just to hear what is passing, and see what they're a'ter;
For I'm told the discourses of persons refin'd
Are better than books for improving the mind;


But a great deal of judgment's requir'd in the skimming
The polite conversation of sensible women,
For they come to the pump, as before I was saying,
And talk all at once while the music is playing!
“Your servant, Miss Fitchet.” “Good morning, Miss Stote.”
“My dear Lady Riggledum, how is your throat?
“Your ladyship knows that I sent you a scrall,
“Last night to attend at your ladyship's call,
“But I hear that your ladyship went to the ball.”
“—Oh Fitchet—don't ask me—good heavens preserve—
“I wish there was no such a thing as a nerve;
“Half dead all the night, I protest and declare;
“My dear little Fitchet, who dresses your hair?
“You'll come to the rooms, all the world will be there.
“Sir Toby Mac' Negus is going to settle
“His tea-drinking night with Sir Philip O'Kettle.
“I hear that they both have appointed the same;
“The majority think that Sir Philip's to blame;
“I hope they won't quarrel, they're both in a flame:
“Sir Toby Mac' Negus much spirit has got,
“And Sir Philip O'Kettle is apt to be hot.”—


“Have you read the Bath Guide, that ridiculous poem?
“What a scurrilous author! does nobody know him?”
“Young Billy Penwaggle, and Simius Chatter,
“Declare 'tis an ill-natur'd half-witted satire.”
“You know I'm engag'd, my dear creature, with you,
“And Mrs. Pamtickle, this morning at loo;
“Poor thing, tho' she hobbled last night to the ball,
“To-day she's so lame that she hardly can crawl;
“Major Lignum has trod on the first joint of her toe—
“That thing they play'd last was a charming concerto;
“I don't recollect I have heard it before;
“The minuet's good, but the jig I adore;
“Pray speak to Sir Toby to cry out encore.”
Dear mother, I think this is excellent fun,
But if all I must write I should never have done,
So myself I subscribe your most dutiful son,
S--- B---n---r---d.
Bath, 1766.