The revered subject of the following Memoir was born on the 31st of October, 1724: He was the son of the Reverend Christopher Anstey, D.D. who married Mary, daughter of Anthony Thompson, Esq. of Trumpington in Cambridgeshire. Dr. Anstey held the living of Brinkley in that county, and had been formerly Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge; a man of exemplary piety, grave in his manners, and dignified in his deportment, of great literary research, and extensive erudition. Of this marriage, my Father and one daughter, several years older than himself, were the only issue.
Though naturally possessed of an extraordinary quickness of apprehension, my grandfather had the misfortune to become, for several years of his life, so totally deaf as never to have heard the sound of his son's voice: a circumstance by which my Father was deprived of many advantages in his infancy, and had not an opportunity of profiting by those lessons of instruction, which most parents are desirous of imparting to their children at an early period. He was sent when very young to school, at Bury St. Edmunds, under the tuition of the Rev. Arthur Kinsman; and from thence removed to Eton, and placed in the fourth form, as an oppidan, and afterwards on the foundation. He finished his studies at Eton under Dr. George, with a character highly creditable to him, as a scholar, and went Captain to the Montem in the year 1741, universally beloved and respected by his schoolfellows, among whom he formed an early friendship with many persons who afterwards rose to considerable rank and distinction in the world. In the year 1742, he succeeded to a scholarship of King's College, and added greatly to the reputation which accompanied him from Eton, by his classical taste and acquirements; and particularly by his Tripos verses which he wrote for the Cambridge commencement while an undergraduate in the year 1745. He was admitted fellow of King's in the early part of that year, and in 1746 took his Batchelor's degree in the University. After this period he chiefly resided at College, and had nearly completed the term of his qualification for the degree of Master of Arts, when he was unexpectedly prevented from arriving at that honour by the result of a very popular and spirited opposition, in which he engaged, and took an active part against an innovation at that time attempted to be introduced into King's College by some of the leading men in the University.
As in several sketches of the Author's life, which have appeared in magazines and other periodical publications, this remarkable contest has been alluded to, and its immediate consequences variously represented, it becomes an object of more than ordinary interest with the Editor to give a particular and authentic account of it.
King's College had immemorially exercised the right of qualifying its members for their degrees within the walls of their own society, without that regular performance of acts and exercises generally in use in the University schools, and required of other Colleges. It had been proposed as a salutary regulation, and a fit employment for the Batchelor fellows of King's, that they should occasionally compose Latin declamations, and pronounce them in the public schools, a regulation altogether new and unprecedented in the annals of King's College. My Father, who was at that time of six years standing in the University, and the Senior Batchelor of his year, finding himself suddenly called upon to make a Latin oration upon a given subject, resisted it in common with the rest of the junior fellows, as a degradation and an intrenchment on the privileges of the society. The declamation however was exacted, and not to be dispensed with; it was accordingly made, and the exordium no sooner pronounced, than the oration fell suddenly into a rhapsody of adverbs, so ingeniously and pointedly disposed, as to convey an obvious meaning without the aid of much grammatical connection, and being delivered with great animation and emphasis, conveyed a censure and ridicule upon the whole proceeding. The orator was in consequence immediately ordered to descend from the rostrum, a circumstance to which he adverts in another declamation he was shortly afterwards called upon to make, instead of the one in which he had been so unfortunately interrupted.
The subject proposed for the second declamation was "nugis licet addere pondus," in which he humorously lays the whole blame of his former miscarriage on the obtrusive and insignificant adverb and most unfortunate monosyllable "nunc." The latinity of this declamation is classical, the tenor of it exculpatory, but in the highest strain of irony; the contest was carried on with the most perfect good humour on the popular side of the question, but at the same time with such a commanding and successful spirit of raillery and ridicule as could not fail to awaken the resentment of the grave and reverend seniors of the University, and to produce those consequences in the following year which were most natural to be expected from it, and which are so pathetically regretted by the Author in the following lines in the Appendix to the New Bath Guide:
At Granta, sweet Granta, where studious of ease,
Seven years did I sleep, and then lost my degrees.
It appears by the books of the University, that he was refused his Master of Arts degree in the year 1749; but it is also worthy of remark, that this was the last Latin declamation pronounced by a Senior Batchelor of King's College, in the public schools.
Although my Father had been thus eminently successful in opposing, what was soon very generally regarded as a vexatious, and at best but a useless innovation, he was universally allowed to have been exemplary and regular in his moral conduct in the University, and not the less successful in the application of his mind to those legitimate and accustomed exercises which were required of him by the superiors of his own College; he had already greatly distinguished himself by his Tripos verses before mentioned, and his poem on the Peace was much read, and generally admired for the boldness and profusion of classical imagery and expression, with which it abounds, happily adapted to the recent occurrences of the war, which elevate the subject, and give it an air of dignity, rarely to be met with in juvenile compositions of this nature. It was printed in the Cambridge Collection, and is here presented to the reader as one of his earliest productions.
IN REDITUM SERENISSIMI REGIS GEORGII SECUNDI POST PACEM
ET LIBERTATEM EUROPAE FELICITER RESTITUTAM ANNO
MDCC. XL. VIII.
Europae attonitus respexit vulnera Mavors;
"Jamdudum," exclamat, " poenarum, iraeque, necisque
Exhaustum satis, Odrysio procul impius orbi
Transferat arma furor, Lunisque incumbat Eois.
Tuque, O care Deo, Britonum, quo sospite, soles
Instaurant radios, et iniqua absolvimus astra,
Quanquam magna animo volventem fata tuorum,
Stringat amor Patriae, flammisque accendat honestis;
Parce pio, sic fata jubent, Gulielme, furori.
Projice tela manu.—
Aspice ut aequorei regina Britannia sceptri
Laeta triumphatis nitidum caput exerit undis;
Qualis ubi amotis olim Venus aurea nimbis
Exoritur spumante salo, fremit humida circum
Gens pelagi, interea glauco Dea gaudet amictu,
Et laeta in speculo sese admiratur aquoso.
Grande quidem dederas pignus, Neptune, favoris,
Cum ventis caeloque impune, Ansonus, iniquis
Carbaseas circum tua regna extenderit alas:
Ergo hiemes toto effundat Pater, Aeolus antro,
Sensit Iber mediis Thesauro exutus in undis
Non pelagi imperium sibi, nec tentare carinis
Sorte datum; — Britonum Genus insuperabile bello
Jampridem liquido norunt dominarier Orbi:
Aspice ut Indorum spoliis Ansonus opimis
Ingreditur, gremioque Pater Thamesinus in alto
Gratatur reducem, et pleno se proluit auro;
Jamque Tagum socios credens sibi jungere fluctus,
Volvit in Oceanum Iaetas opulentior undas;
Fortunate Heros! cui serviit Auster eunti,
Qualis Iasoniam vexit super aequora Pubem
Colchidis in gremium! cui Jupiter obtulit imbres,
Qualis ubi ad Danaem Deus aureus ibat amator!
Nec tantum Oceano victor dominaris Eoo;
Sed quid Marte potes, fractae prope littora vires
Gallorum, captique duces, atque arma fatentur—
Quin pacem componere ament, et foedera jungant.
At vos interea (Patriae dum fata sinebant)
Illustres Heroum animae, quorum ossibus agri
Flandriaci albescunt, fundo aut volvuntur in alto
Corpora, nunc demum capiant solatia manes,
Exultentque umbrae; quanquam superesse triumphis
Fata vetent, saltem hos lacrymantem aspergere flores
Funereamque sinant lauro immiscere cupressum.
Fallor? an aspiciens patriae spectacula pompae
Laetior aequoreo frueris, Cornwelle, sepulcro?
Torva tuens levat umbra caput; fluit, aspice, tabo,
Ostenditque manu generosum in pectore vulnus:
Qualis erat, cum signa simul socialia Gallo
Junxit Iber; pater ipse suis Neptunus in undis,
Et Taurentini tremuerunt pondere fluctus.
Qualis erat, cum jam Patriae trepidantis imago
Frustra indignanti similis, similisque dolenti
Imploraret opem, et pectus percussa decorum Visa queri:—
At neque te gemuisse putem, cum vulnere demum
Contigit oppetere, et tumidis immergier undis,
Felix morte tua; quanquam, fortissime, credo
Mavortem doluisse diu, Gentisque Britannum,
Indigetas flevisse Deos; Heu Patria discat
Fortunam ex aliis, ex te virtutis amorem
Non tali auspicio Britonum Mavortia pubes
Implevit terrore tuos, Germania, campos,
Qua Dettingeniae pinguescunt sanguine aristae;
Hic erit, ut nostri recolens monumenta Triumphi
Forte aliquis memoret magnum longo ordine bellum:
Hic stabant Vexilla, hic pallida Lilia primum
Borbonii fixere Duces, hic signa Britannum
Sauguinolenta, super rubuerunt caede Leones:
Illic Memnoniis ibat circumdata telis
Nigra cohors juvenum, qua pulcrior altera Gallo
Non fuit, aut unquam cecidit majoribus ausis;
Quippe ubi jam medio Bellona in turbine visa est
Obscurare diem, dubio sese ardua Marti
Intulit arma tenens, ipsoque in Rege morata est;
O Furor! O Demens! sibi quae promitteret omnes
Excessisse Deos, qui sceptra Britannica servant!
Non tulit hoc Pater omnipotens, cui fulmine vindex
Dextra Giganteum caelo detrustrat agmen;
Dumque ipse effusa sacrum caput occulit umbra
In medios moritura phalanx se immiserat hostes:
Heu miseranda manus! vitrea vos Rhenus in unda,
Vos Rhodani doluere lacus, vos Gallia flevit
Moesta diu — jam vos etiam miserabitur hostis.
Parte alia, primis gaudens GULIELMUS in armis
Acrior egit equum, qua plumbeus ingruit imber
Impavidus, magnique colens exempla Parentis;
Quem simul ac nimia fervescere caede videret
Tum primum audacis Pallas sub imagine Galli,
Quadrupedem subito turbavit cuspidis ictu,
Et Juveni infixit tenero sub poplite vulnus;
Mox tamen indoluit magni Dea conscia facti,
Ipsaque Paeonias infundens leniter herbas,
Restituit, laetumque opera ad majora remisit:
Hic vir, Hic est, fati aeternus quem jusserat ordo,
Angliacos stabilire Lares, cum bellica caelo
Orta Caledonio nostram saeviret in oram
Tempestas, Lodoixque darent et perfida vires
Roma suas: — at non vestrae prudentibus Annae
Auspiciis olim Angliaco Scotia addita regno
Haec promissa dabas, non hoe communibus aris
Fas et jura sinunt: Gens O fortissima bello,
Si te nulla movent socialis foedera sceptri,
Respice nudatos miseris cultoribus agros,
Truncatosque Duces, et adhuc rorantia tabo
Vulnera; nec satis est fidum effudisse cruorem
Flandriaci super arva soli? — Quo devia fertur
Pieris, Icarios audax tentare volatus?
Non bene per campos temeraria Cullodenos,
Tela per et flammas, humili se sustinet ala.
Aspice ut armorum fulgore Britannica Pallas
Terret equos equitumque acies; trepida agmina cerno
Sanguincosque duces, mediaque in caede WHIHELMUM.
Sed quid ego aggredior calamo importunus agresti
Ulterius violare tuos, GULIELME, Triumphos?
Felix si dulcis deserta per avia Pindi
Laurea dona legam; si ramum innectat Olivae
Inter Pierias ingloria Musa sorores.
My Father continued a fellow of King's, and occasionally resided at College till his Mother's death in the year 1754, when he succeeded to the family estates, and resigned his fellowship.
In the year 1756, he married Ann, third daughter of Felix Calvert, Esq. of Albury Hall in Hertfordshire and sister to his oldest and most intimate friend, the late John Calvert, Esq. at that time, and for several successive Parliaments, member for the borough of Hertford. By this most excellent lady, who was allowed to possess every endowment of person, and qualification of mind and disposition, which could render her interesting and attractive in domestic life, and whom he justly regarded as the pattern of every virtue, and the source of all his happiness, he lived in uninterrupted and undiminished esteem and affection for nearly half a century, and by her (who for the happiness of her family is still living,) he had thirteen children, of whom eight only survived him.
The first fourteen years after his marriage, he passed at his seat in Cambridgeshire, dividing his time chiefly between the attractions of his own residence, which he had greatly improved, and the society of his particular friends, whom he occasionally visited in the country. To the general parade and bustle of public business my Father was extremely averse, and an utter stranger to that restless ambition, which repines at the advancement of others; no temptation or allurement of power could have seduced him into the trammels of office, and the painful responsibility of eminent public station; his character in this respect is feelingly and faithfully pourtrayed by himself in the following lines extracted from a poem written several years afterwards, but left unfinished.
From wealth, from honours, and from courts remov'd,
I've kept the silent path my genius lov'd,
And pitied those whom fortune oft beguiles
With flatt'ring hopes from false ambition's smiles;
Hence far from me the prostituted hour
Of adulation base on pride or pow'r,
Hence (thanks to Heav'n!) I ne'er was doom'd to know
What bitter streams from disappointment flow,
Oh! bane of life's sweet cup!
Habituated to the charms of literary ease and retirement, passionately fond of the sports of the field, and the amusements of a country life, he followed the bent of his natural genius and inclination without restraint; and in the enjoyment of a competent and independent fortune, found leisure for the study of the Greek and Roman authors, and the poetry and polite literature of his own country.
These cheerful scenes of innocent gratification and indulgence were unexpectedly overclouded, and met with a severe check and interruption, by the melancholy event of his sister's death, which overwhelmed him with the deepest sorrow and affliction. To this only sister he had ever been greatly attached from his infancy, and scarcely more endeared to her by the ties of brotherly love and affection, than by the esteem and veneration inspired by her learning and virtue. She was a lady of extraordinary endowments, a contemporary with, and the particular and intimate friend of, the late Mrs. Montague (then Miss Robinson), with whom she corresponded upon many subjects of criticism and morality; and had she lived, would in all probability have justified to the world by her writings the high opinion that elegant and accomplished lady so justly entertained of her. Mrs. Montague's answers to his sister's letters were in my Father's possession till of late years, when they were returned to her in compliance with her request, in order (as Mrs. Montague had herself intimated at the time) that they might perhaps at some future period be arranged for publication.
Many years passed over, before my Father had so far recovered from the effects of the heavy loss he had sustained, as to be able to bear the recollection of it without the most painful emotions. The visible decline of his health in consequence of a bilious fever, partly occasioned by his severe affliction, was the cause of his visiting Bath for the benefit of the waters, which he drank by the advice of Dr. Heberden, and to which he was indebted for the gradual re-establishment of his health and spirits. Upon his return into the country, he indulged in a cheerful hospitality without ostentation, which extended itself to his tenantry and dependants; a habit, which as it resulted from the benevolence of his disposition, increased with his years, and never forsook him till the latest hour of his life. His society at this period was amongst his earliest acquaintances, his county and family connexions. and the most respectable characters in the University, of this description there were many of his own College, whom he highly valued and esteemed as his friends, particularly the late Dr. Sumner, then Provost of King's, Dr. Glynn and Sir William Draper, Dr. Ekins, Dean of Carlisle, the late Dr. Roberts, and Mr. Bryant, all of whom he survived.
With Soame Jennings, who resided at Bottisham in Cambridgeshire, and might be considered as his near neighbour, he lived upon terms of social, and, friendly intercourse. My Father had also some acquaintance with Mr. Gray, for whose genius and consummate taste in classical composition he had the highest respect. His Elegy written in a Country Churchyard had run through several editions, and was universally and justly celebrated. My Father greatly admired it, and at his leisure translated it into Latin, in conjunction with his friend the late Dr. Roberts, then a fellow of King's, and afterwards Provost of Eton College, and author of three poetical essays on the Attributes of God, and an epic poem entitled Judah restored.
This translation was the first of that "far-famed" Elegy, and it derives a considerable degree of interest from the circumstance of its having been written in the lifetime of the author of the original poem, and having received the benefit of his observations and criticisms before it was published. From the correspondence which passed upon this subject, it appears that the author expressed himself in terms of high encomium on different passages in the translation, particularly upon the 16th, the 20th, and the 22d stanzas, and the whole of the Epitaph; and Mr. Mason, in his Life of Gray, speaks of this beautiful poem as having been "finely translated by Mr. Anstey and Mr. Roberts." Mr. Gray writing himself upon the subject of this translation of his own Elegy in a letter to my Father, (which is now before me, but in a mutilated and imperfect state,) has the following remarks, which will be read with considerable interest by those who have translated this Elegy into Latin, Greek, or French poetry — after regretting that gentlemen who can express their own thoughts so well in Latin verse, should confine themselves within the limits of translation, he adds, "every language has its idiom, not only of words and phrases, but of customs and manners, which cannot be represented in the tongue of another nation, especially of a nation so distant in time and place, without constraint and difficulty; of this sort, in the present instance, are the curfew bell, the Gothic church, with its monuments, organs, and anthems, the texts of Scripture, &c. There are certain images, which, though drawn from common nature, and every where obvious, yet strike us as foreign to the turn and genius of Latin verse; the beetle that flies in the evening, to a Roman, I guess, would have appeared too mean an object for poetry, 'that leaves the world to darkness and to me,' is good English, but has not the turn of a Latin phrase, and therefore, I believe, you were in the right to drop it." After some verbal criticisms on particular passages, which were afterwards altered, he goes on to say, "might not the English characters here be romanized? Virgil is just as good as Milton, and Caesar as Cromwell, but who shall be Hampden?"
There is much justness of criticism in the former part of the foregoing observations; but it should seem, with respect to the latter part, that the opinion of the translators was different, as the advice was not adopted. With the greatest deference to so high an authority, it may be safely asserted that in a specimen of Latin poetry of this kind, it was the business of the translators to adhere to the original text; it seemed more obviously their duty to accommodate the Usurper's name, however harsh, to the classic ear, by a Latin termination, than to make so great a sacrifice to the sound by substituting the name of any celebrated hero of antiquity in his stead. It would have by no means accorded with the genius of the composition, and the train of images, which it is so admirably calculated to raise in the mind of the reader, to have exchanged the prouder names of Milton and Hampden, the prime and master spirits of the age in which they lived, for any of the favourite poets and patriots of ancient Greece and Rome; as between whom and the "short and simple annals of the poor" in an English country church-yard, there does not appear to be the least necessary connexion, or moral congruity in the nature of things.
It must be confessed, however, that notwithstanding the just encomiums which he passes upon this elegant and highly polished translation of his most popular work, there appears to be a coyness in the Author upon the subject of the version, not without a mixture of apprehension, lest the delicacy of his Muse should suffer some degree of violence in exchanging the simplicity of her English attire, for the harshness of the Roman dress; and I question whether he would not have been as well pleased, if the experiment had never been made.
The circumstance of this translation having been written in conjunction with Dr. Roberts, is elegantly alluded to by that gentleman, in a poetical epistle addressed to my Father on the English poets in the following lines, which though already in print, the reader may not be displeased at seeing introduced in this place.
Pardon, my Anstey, that I name thee last,
Tho' last not least in fame, For thee the Muse
Reserv'd a secret spot, unknown before,
And smil'd, and bad thee fix thy banner there,
As erst Columbus on his new-found world
Display'd the Iberian ensigns. Graceful sit
Thy golden chains, and easy flows the rhyme
Spontaneous. While old Bladud's sceptre guards
His medicinal stream, shall Simkin raise
Loud peals of merriment. Thou too canst soar
To nobler heights, and deck the fragrant earth
"Where generous Russell lies." With thee, my friend,
Oft have I stray'd from morn to latest eve,
And stol'n from balmy steep the midnight hour
To court the Latian Muse. Tho' other cares
Tore me from that sweet social intercourse,
I cannot but remember how I rov'd
By Camus sedgy stream, and on the pipe,
The rustic pipe, while yet it breath'd thy lips,
Essay'd alternate strains. Accept this verse,
Pledge of remembrance dear, and faithful love.
From this time to the period of publishing the Bath Guide in the year 1766, nothing appeared from the Author in print, but he wrote many occasional little pieces of poetry of local interest at the time, in the form of letters to his friends. The following lines addressed to his friend and brother-in-law, the late J. Calvert, Esq. are given to the reader as a specimen of the first English verse of which the Author has preserved a copy. It affords also some account of himself and of his situation and habits of life, which he was as willing to make the subject of his own wit and pleasantry, as to smile at the foibles and follies of others.
With every plague that can conspire
To curse a wretched country squire,
Six hundred sheep on fields at Kneeton
Starv'd as their owner was at Eton,
Twelve hide-bound nags, in empty stable,
Like hungry guests at * * * * 's table;
Calves, cows, and hogs reduced to bone,
Some wanting legs like B*l*k*n,
And all as lean as L**t**n,
Twice twenty hounds, five squalling brats,
One sickly wife, ten thousand rats;
My hay all swimming down the river!
Tell me, ye Gods, what friend would ever
O! say what enemy would choose
To send me four lean Luton hoo's?
Happy, too happy sure is spent
A rural life in sweet content!
This Maro taught me long ago,
But clowns will ne'er their blessings know;
This, on the banks of willowy Cam,
Melodious swan of Bottisham
Assures us we shall find the case,
Though he, too wise to quit his place,
Sings, all reclin'd on Board of Trade,
Of purling streams and sylvan shade,
And thus, my Lord, he, free from strife,
"Spends an inglorious country life,"
While I, too happy (as I'm told
By Lord of Trade, and Bard of old),
With rustic muse, go plodding on,
In shady grove of Trumpington.
Unskill'd in flattery's softer arts,
Unfit for satire's pointed darts,
Else would my faithful muse reveal
What wights bestride the common-weal:
I'd sing of statesmen's strange invention
To gain for hungry * * * * s a pension;
I'd paint sweet peace from Heav'n descending,
And Granta's tuneful sons attending,
How to Parnassian hill they jog
Like hide-bound hacks to Gogmagog,
Blund'ring, and stumbling as they mount,
And flound'ring in the Aonian fount,
But such exalted themes belong
To Churchill's bold immortal song,
'Tis he alone can sweep the lyre,
And kindle Britain's languid fire;
Ye Muses bring his just reward,
At Freedom's temple crown the Bard.
Enough for me fresh flowers to bring
From hallow'd banks of Pindus' spring,
With careless hand for thee to twine
Th' unfading wreath at Friendship's shrine.
* * * * *
* * * * *
This fragment exhibits in its proper point of view that enviable spirit of innocent and good-humoured raillery in which he conceived every thing he wrote; it will be seen also from this picture of himself, that although he was fond of the retirement of a country life, and the amusements it afforded him, he was not insensible of the whimsical embarrassments and ridiculous distresses to which country gentlemen are sometimes liable.
His first publication in English poetry, was the New Bath Guide: it was composed at Trumpington, and printed at Cambridge, in a quarto volume, in the year 1766. It was hardly possible that a work of this description, the success of which seemed to depend in a great measure upon the reception it might meet with in the fashionable world, could have made its appearance under circumstances of greater disadvantage, written as it was by an unknown author, and published by a country bookseller, at so great a distance from the place which gave birth to all the incidents, the scenery, and the different characters, which the Author's imagination and discernment had suggested from observation in the occasional visits he made to Bath. As a poem of the Epic cast, it must be allowed to be complete in all the characteristic and essential properties; in the choice of its hero, and the preservation of his character, as well as in the moral tendency, and effect of his example and catastrophe; at the same time that it is original in almost all its analogies to this species of composition. The epistolary form in which the story is conceived, and the very frame of the metre in which it is written, (although not the invention of the Author,) is new in its application to the subject of a continued poem. It is no less original in the happiest adaptation of names, by which a very large establishment of subordinate heroes is maintained as it were at the public expense, without prejudice to the reputation of any one individual. The rich vein of genuine humour and pleasantry by which every scene and incident is enlivened, in a connected system of disguised and temperate satire, entitles it to be regarded as one of the most original poems which has appeared in the last century. It has now been in the hands of the public above forty years, the admiration and delight of its readers of all ages, and of all descriptions, and of every country where the English language is known or studied.
In the miscellaneous collection of manuscripts now before me, I find a memorandum in an unknown hand, wherein mention is made of the Bath Guide having been translated into the French language. Upon enquiry I am inclined to believe that the suggestion may have arisen from the circumstance adverted to by Mr. Gibbon, in his Memoirs of his own life and writings. This distinguished author notices a translation of some of the letters of the Bath Guide into French prose, published in 1767, in a work entitled Memoires Literaires de la Grande Bretagne, the joint production of himself and a Mr. Deyverdun, a Swiss gentleman, who had been tutor to the grandson of the Margravine of Schavedt, of the royal family of Prussia, and resided with the historian at Geneva. This work, which is a critique upon English literature, though in part written by Mr. Gibbon, is not comprehended in the collection of his works published since his decease; — the book is exceedingly scarce, and almost unique in the hands of the gentleman to whose politeness I am indebted for the opportunity of presenting the reader with a specimen of a French prose translation of the New Bath Guide; he will not fail to be amused with the singular ingenuity of the foreigner, as well as with the boldness of the undertaking, in which he has preserved the spirit, and in a manner naturalized the characteristic and local humour of the subject, so as to give an air of originality to the translation itself, seldom if ever exceeded in works of this nature.
Although this Poem obtained the highest reputation to the author, his profits upon it were by no means considerable; he sold the copy-right to Mr. Dodsley, soon after the publication of the second edition, for £200 and gave the balance of his account with his bookseller at Bath, to the benefit of the General Hospital in that city, as appears by the following letter to a friend, which on this account, and because it shews his attachment to a place which he had made the subject of his innocent pleasantry, and for other reasons which may be interesting to the reader, is given to him in this place.
"TO *****, ESQ.
I fully intended myself the pleasure of visiting Bath this season, to which the prospect of seeing you there, and renewing those social and agreeable hours I have formerly passed with my worthy friend, would have been the greatest inducement; but my family now is grown so large, that a small army might be removed with less difficulty and expence. You may remember, that in a former letter I mentioned to you my intention of making a present to the hospital at Bath of twenty guineas, out of the profits of the Bath Guide. I flatter myself you will excuse the trouble I give you, in begging the favour of you to settle the enclosed account with Mr. Frederick the bookseller, and to pay that sum for me to the Governors. This is so small a contribution, that it will be of little account if put into the general fund, I would therefore desire it may be given to twenty of the poorest patients, who reside at a distance from Bath, a guinea each, towards carrying them to their respective homes. I am certain your readiness to succour the distressed, and to oblige your friends, will be a sufficient apology for my giving you this trouble. But one favour I beg, that my name may not be mentioned in this small donation; which arises from my partiality to a place from which, I thank God, I have received great benefits as to my health, and in which I have spent many happy days.
I am, dear Sir, your very sincere
Mr. Dodsley very candidly confessed, about ten years after he had purchased the Bath Guide, that his profits upon the sale of it were greater than he had ever made by any other book, during the like period, and for this reason generously gave back the copy-right to the Author in the year 1777. It is reprinted in this collection without alteration, and with the addition only of a translation of Miss Prudence Bl-n-r-d's letter into Latin verse, written, as it is conjectured, not long after the Appendix to the second edition.
His Elegy on the much-lamented Death of the Marquis of Tavistock appeared in the year 1767, a few months only after the publication of the Bath Guide. There is something in the manner and turn of the expression in these beautiful lines, which distinguish them from the ordinary style of elegy. The abrupt apostrophe with which the poem commences appears to be the natural and almost unpremeditated effect of the first emotions of pity in a benevolent mind; it is the language of sympathy enlivened with the spirit of poetry. All the familiar topics of domestic interest are interwoven with the subject, with such a peculiar character of tenderness and simplicity, in the pensive tone and structure of the cadences, as carry the story of distress irresistibly home to the bosom and feelings of the reader.
The originality of his genius was conspicuous in almost every thing he wrote, and its versatility in no instance more remarkable than in this last mentioned publication, considered with reference to the Bath Guide, which preceded it but a few months, and contrasted with the distinct and opposite character of the Patriot, a Pindaric Epistle, which was written towards the dose of the same year. This latter production was of a political nature; the author's name was not intended to be kept secret, and from the style of the Appendix, which is in the same metre with the Bath Guide, and in no respect inferior to the most admired passages of that poem, it was soon discovered to be the production of the same author, and acquired that celebrity which was inseparable from all his writings. The moral object of this poem was to degrade and bring to its proper level, in the estimation of mankind, the vulgar and savage practice of prize-fighting, then in its highest vogue, and patronized by noblemen and gentlemen of the first fashion and figure in the country, a practice which, it is greatly to be regretted, has since been revived, and gradually improved upon principles of science, into a public nuisance, commencing in outrage, and generally ending in tumult and bloodshed, and not unfrequently homicide, to the great scandal of the police, and the disgrace of a civilized nation.
Buckhorse, the most noted bruiser of his time, and to whom it is addressed, actually sat for his picture, from which the vignette which forms the frontispiece of the work was taken: the whole is a vehicle of apposite and well directed satire, illustrated with a variety of classical allusions referable to subjects of great political and public interest, and the popular and local anecdotes of the day.
As connected with this production, the reader is presented with the following imitations of Horace.
TO SIR WILLIAM DRAPER, K.B.
WITH A COPY OF THE PATRIOT, AND A PRESENT OF COTTENHAM CHEESES.
"Donarem pateras," &c. Hor. Lib. iv. Ode 8.
Freely I'd give ye cups of gold,
Rich with the curious works of old;
With coins and medals I'd present ye,
And send ye rings and seals in plenty;
Reward ye like the valiant Greeks,
If I, like Deard, could make antiques.
But gifts like these, my generous Friend,
Nor you expect, nor I can send.
Something to eat, I'd have you know it,
Is no small present from a Poet;
And tho' I took some little pains
In weaving my Pindaric strains,
You're welcome, if my verse displeases,
To d—n my book, and eat my cheeses;
Still will I venture to acquaint ye,
Tho' I, like Gainsborough, cou'd paint ye;
Tho' I with Wilton's art, could give
The animated stone to live;
Yet not the picture, or the busto,
Are things that heroes ought to trust to.
Good generals and statesmen too,
From verse alone, must claim their due;
And oft the friendly Muse supplies
What an ungrateful world denies:
Not the swift flight of threat'ning Lally,
Not every bold successful sally,
Under your banners from Madras,
Tho' told on marble, or on brass:
Not India's distant spoils brought home,
To grace our Henry's lofty dome;
Without the Muses just regard,
Can give the Conqueror his reward.—
Spite of the law's unjust delay,
Your guerdon still the Muse shall pay
With faithful steps your fame attend,
And speed the wishes of your friend.
Trumpington, Dec. 24,1767.
TO THE SAME;
WITH A COLLAR OF BRAWN, Nov. 1768.
"Albi, sermonum nostrorum candide Judex." Hor. Lib. 1. Ep. 4.
Draper, my dear and worthy Friend,
Who read'st with candour all I send;
Say, what employment pleases best,
Since from the north you've, travell'd west;
Are you to house of Melmoth flown,
There write what Pliny's self might own?
Or wand'ring near Sabrina's stream,
Explore some wise and virtuous theme:
Where'er thou art, thy active mind
To trifles never is consign'd;
Yet, mid the busy cares of life,
Vain scenes of anger, noise, and strife,
Reflect how short our time must last,
Nor think on disappointments past.
The Gods, my friend, your wishes crown,
Make health, success, and fame your own;
Besides, to this indulgent Heaven
A handsome competence has given,
And what is still a greater blessing,
The art of gen'rously possessing
So neat, so plentiful aboard,
Not half our modern knights afford,
And much I fear, I scarce am able
To add one dainty to your table;
Yet take the collar I have sent ye,
And draw St. Kennet's corks in plenty.
But that my wife will never cease
Her num'rous offspring to increase
(And well you know I'm not inclin'd
To leave my better half behind,)
I'd promise soon to come to your house
And play the part of Epicurus.
It will not be deemed foreign to the object of this Memoir, to present the reader with Sir William Draper's answer to the foregoing letters, as it will serve to give a picture of that distinguished character no less creditable to his taste as an author, already known to the public by his celebrated answers to Junius's Letters, than to his feelings as a man, and the native candour and generosity of his mind and disposition.
TO C. A. ESQ.
From SIR WILLIAM DRAPER, K.B. in answer to the foregoing.
So much, my Friend, your poem pleases,
I scarce hare time to taste your cheeses.
Much I admire the infant's cradle,
Who for a Pap-spoon grasp'd the ladle,
Split Lions' marrow-bones with clearer,
And suck'd their essence for his beaver—
All You'd I praise, but deaf Apollo
My invocation will not follow;
He, thy luxuriant vein still blesses,
Adorns with fancy's richest dresses;
But what the God to thee supplies
Nature perverse to me denies.
Hard as the ice of this day's frost,
My head to fancy's beam is lost;
But tho' the God no hopes will give,
Nor learned GLYN, that this may live,
Still in thy verse, O let my name,
Secur'd with thy more lasting fame,
To future times convey'd, pretend
Thou wert my earliest, dearest friend,
And still that name the more to grace,
Let me assume the patron's place,
As such, I send you cups of wine:
Let Bacchus with your Muses dine,
With Bacchus let the Muses drink,
And on the sender deign to think.
Accept St. Kennet's joyous claret,
A stranger to the rhymer's garret,
Who, though on earth to treat not able,
Most kindly spreads celestial table.
Something to drink, I'd have you know it,
Is no bad present to a Poet,
May what my cellars can afford
Add to the dainties of your board,
And if it can amusement give,
Hear how your friend has learn'd to live:
His sword (its barbarous use forgot)
Becomes the cook-maid's harmless lot,
To toast your cheese, and scrape the paring,
Is all the merit it can share in.
Manilla's ransom quite forgetting,
It asks no more another whetting.
By downy peace and rest undone,
"Othello's occupation's gone;"
The squeaking fife, and noisy drum
No more shall drag him from his home,
Nor circumstance of glorious war
Tempt him to mount Bellona's car;
His gentle spirit-lulling wife
Comforts his mild decline of life,
Aside the dazzling helmet lays,
But no Astyanax round him Plays.
Farewell! farewell! may Jove encrust
On guns and pikes perpetual rust:
For time, alas! begins to spread
His thin grey mantle o'er my head,
And with his much too serious play
Steals beauty, manhood, wit, away.
My breast thus sober reason enters,
Forbids to roam for fresh adventures,
Breathes her kind whisper in my ear,
"No more on false ambition leer;
Be it thy only wish to find,
And heal the woes of human kind."
But as I ne'er humanely lent
A friend my cash-at cent. per cent.
And am not quite so rich as those,
Who pull your Nabobs by the nose,
From no great source my bounty flows.
Why did I not, from zeal to pay
The nation's debt, some Rajah slay,
The great Mogul's own throne assail,
And catch his Peacock by the tail,
Which, Argus like, with hundred eyes
Of diamonds bright, is rapine's prize!
But to your friend much kinder heaven
Blest mediocrity has given:
Contentment, peace, conjoin'd to health,
Supply the Place of wretched wealth;
Hence more true joy my bosom warms
Than e'er was felt from conquest's charms,
More than great Ammon's son could feel,
With vanquish'd monarchs at his heel;
More than to misers gold e'er gave,
Vain man's alternate lord and slave:
More than stern Philip ever drew
From tortur'd Incas and Peru:
More than thy cestus, Venus, gives,
More than in Prussian laurel lives.
Scarce, Ligonier! you more can know,
Whose heart, with goodness taught to flow,
Sighs for occasions to bestow
Fair fortune's smiles; of human kind
The friend, to merit never blind,
Tho' manly, melts with pangs of grief,
When modest want avoids relief;
Scarce more ev'n thee, my Anstey, blesses
From wife's and children's dear caresses.
Long may you all unparted prove
The union of domestic love;
But as I can no longer hope
From you, from Horace, Shakspeare, Pope,
Both thought and language thus to take,
And what thy wrote my own to make,
And undetected steal your metre,
Known as St. Paul's, or fam'd St. Peter,
With borrow'd lines no more I'll tease you,
But stripe in honest prose to please you.
"Manilla Hall, January 9th, 1768.
In return for your very kind present, and pretty verses, I send you some very bad ones. I had a mind to try, if, after 24 years interruption, I could again put my thoughts into metre; therefore you will not wonder so much at their mediocrity, as that I could write at all. Since which I have hammered out a few others for your perusal. To atone for which, I beg your acceptance of some claret, not to bribe your approbation, but as a kind remembrance of my friendship towards you and yours; as I can assure you, with much truth and sincerity, there is no man living, that I love and honour more than yourself. Your poetical talents are now so much known and admired, that, besides my private satisfaction, I have a public vanity in boasting that the Author of the Bath Guide is my particular friend; that he has composed under my roof. Let me not despair of enjoying that happiness again. I do not request it immediately; the season makes it impossible; but the spring will return as usual; then let me see you, 'cum zephyris, si concedes, et hirundine prima' — Mrs. Anstey is so interwoven with your happiness, and so deservedly makes the chief part of it, that to desire your company, is requesting her's of course. Caroline joins with me in this request: her house is now very pretty, but she cannot think it completely ornamented, until you promise to grace it once more with your companies. By the 20th I shall be at General Peirson's, in Hill-street; it will add to my pleasure to find your family in town.
Adieu; your affectionate Friend,
From the period of publishing the Patriot in 1768, the increasing cares and concerns of his numerous family occupied all his thoughts; his leisure, hitherto so successfully devoted to the amusement of the public, was now almost wholly absorbed in educating and preparing his sons for Eton. He had observed with a quickness of sensibility, at all times naturally acute, and a degree of anxiety, which suffered no intermission in any thing which materially regarded the welfare of his children, that but too little progress had been made towards their improvement, and much time fruitlessly employed, in forcing an acquaintance with books, without the necessary introduction, and a previous knowledge of the first principles of grammar.
His course of instruction was perhaps the most judicious, and the method of it the best calculated to promote the object he had in view, of placing his sons at Eton school, upon a footing of credit and advantage, and in a class suitable to their years. This was not to be effected without unwearied trials of patience, and constant attention, and many privations, never to be remembered by them without the highest sense of gratitude, and submitted to by him with a degree of cheerfulness and alacrity which has few examples. The period thus occupied in instruction, was about two years and a half. From the time he took upon himself this laborious task, he seems to have abandoned all further thoughts of poetry, with a view to publication, although he continued to amuse himself as usual in writing upon occasional subjects to his friends; of this kind are the following letters to his friend the late General B. Hale, and to Mr. Garrick.
TO COLONEL B. HALE,
UPON THE DEATH OF HIS ELDEST SON.
"Non semper imbres nubibus hispidos Manant in agros." Hor. Lib. II. Od. 9.
Not always o'er the meads and hills,
From low'ring clouds, the rain distils,
Nor storms with endless uproar sweep
The billows of the Caspian deep.
The sluggish frost in icy chains
Not always binds th' Armenian plains,
Or northern blasts incessant lash
The bending oak, or leafless ash.
But you, my Friend, in pensive strain,
For ever of your loss complain:
With many a tear, and heart-felt groan,
Thy much-lov'd Berney's fate bemoan.
Nor, when the ev'ning shades descend,
Or morning dawns, thy sorrows end:
Yet not through all his lengthen'd age,
With sighs and tears the Pylian sage,
His dear Antilochus bewail'd,
By death's remorseless shaft assail'd;
Nor, of their youthful sons bereav'd,
Have kings and chiefs for ever griev'd:
The English Monarch dropt his tear
O'er Frederick's untimely bier,
But hope, with fortitude combin'd,
Spoke comfort to his wounded mind,
When in his offspring he survey'd
Fresh glories o'er his throne display'd,
And when his hour of grief was o'er,
The Monarch was himself once more.
The noble Bedford scorn'd to mourn
For ever o'er his Russel.'s urn,
Nor did the aged Rutland pine,
And all his social joys resign,
Or make his son his endless theme,
Though much his heart was pang'd, I deem,
And many a briny tear he shed,
When Granby's gallant spirit fled.
Then cease, my Friend, thy fond complaint
Resume thy mirth and humour quaint,
Let us awhile divert our spleen,
Recall the gay, the cheerful scene;
Awhile in Fancy's mirror trace
The social night, the joyous chase;
Let us of * * *'s trophies sing,
How he the fox was wont to sting,
While you, when all the hounds were gone,
With boots too short, no stocking on,
Sick, and with midnight supper cramm'd,
All huntsmen, dogs, and foxes d—m—'d;
Yet still unwilling to submit,
Kept spurring on your jaded tit:
Thy image still provokes my smiles,
And many a serious thought beguiles,
No time, my Berney, can efface
The record of thy queer grimace.
Yet, though these joyous hours be past,
Let's catch the present while they last,
And ever through each varying scene
Calm be the soul, the mind serene;
Let not lost friends augment thy pain,
But think on those who still remain
And of that number be the bard,
Who sends this tribute of regard,
And trims once more his withering bays,
To cheer thee with his faithful lays.
TO DAVID GARRICK, ESQ.
ON MEETING HIM AT A FRIEND'S HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY.
Thro' ev'ry part, of grief or mirth,
To which the mimic stage gives birth,
I ne'er, as yet, with truth could tell,
Where most your various pow'rs excel,
Sometimes, amidst the laughing scene,
Blithe Comedy with jocund mien,
By you in livelier colours drest,
With transport clasp'd you to her breast:
As oft the buskin'd Muse appeard,
With awful brow her sceptre rear'd;
Recounted all your laurels won,
And claim'd you for her darling son.
Thus each contending Goddess strove,
And each the fairest garland wove.
But which fair nymph could justly boast
Her beauties had engag'd you most,
I doubted much, till t'other day,
Kind fortune threw me in your way;
Where 'midst the friendly joys that wait
Philander's hospitable gate,
Freedom and genuine mirth I found,
Sporting the jovial board around.
'Twas therewith keen, tho' polish'd, jest,
You sat, a pleas'd and pleasing guest
With social ease a part sustain'd,
More humorous far than e'er you feign'd.
"Take him," I cried, "bright Comic Maid,
In all your native charms array'd;
No longer shall my doubts appear
When Clio whisper'd in my ear,
"Go, bid it be no more disputed,
For what his talents best are suited
In mimic characters alone
Let others shine — but Garrick in his own."
TO C. A. ESQ.
From Mr. GARRICK, in answer to the foregoing.
As late at Comus' court I sat,
(Observe me well, I mean not that
Where ribaldry in triumph sits,
Delighting lords, and 'squires, and cits;
But there, where mirth and taste combine,
And Rigby gives more wit than wine,)
Suspended for a while the joke,
With rapture of your Muse we spoke;
But all blam'd me, cried out, Oh! fye!
What! send to verse a Prose reply?
My friend the Colonel made the attack,
And wicked Calvert clapp'd his back;
Nay, Pottenger, though low in feather,
And somewhat ruffled by the weather,
Would Peck and crow; and Madam Hale
Flew at my manners, tooth and nail.
What! send to Anstey such dull stuff?
'Twas modesty, dear Hale; don't huff.
Cou'd I but rhyme as much as you,
And think that much as charming too,
I'd write, and write again, I care not;
But, as I feel, indeed I dare not.
Then Cox let loose his silver tongue;
O d—n it, David, you are wrong.
While independent Plummer cried,
He'd not vote plump on either side.
E'en Boone, who ne'er inclines to satire,
With modest sense, and much good nature,
Cou'd not but say there was some blame;
And sweet Eliza blush'd the same.
My wife look'd grave, but made it known
The right to vex me was her own.
Our landlord shook his sides and shoulders,
Both at the scolded, and the scolders;
For that to him is always best,
Which raises and supports the jest.
No baited bear was e'er so worried;
I took my hat, and home I hurried,
Resolv'd, as well as I was able,
To ask your pardon in a fable;
The best excuse my Prudence knows,
For answering your choice verse in prose.
A monkey, of the sprightly kind,
Could mock and mimic half mankind;
Could twist him to a thousand shapes;
In short, a perfect jackanapes.
As once our mimic pug display'd
His talents in the summer shade,
By chance a nightingale was there,
Well pleas'd the farce to see and hear;
His joy began his notes to raise,
He warbled forth the monkey's praise.
Pug, too much flatter'd, thought it wrong
Not to return his thanks in song;
And such a fit of squalling took him,
Beasts, birds, and nightingale forsook him.
An owl, who in a hole was dreaming,
Was rais'd at once with all this screaming;
Who-o-hoo! hoo! — neighbour, curse your clatter;
Zounds! are you murder'd? what's the matter?
The monkey to his senses brought,
And must'ring what he had of thought,
Told to the owl his silly tale,
How he had scar'd the nightingale.
Grave Madge began to roll her yes,
And being what she seem'd, most wise,
Thus spoke — Thou empty-headed thing,
Skip, grin, and chatter — never sing.
Wou'd you, without a voice, or ear,
Tune up, when Philomel is near?
Nature her pleasure has made known,
That nightingales should sing alone.
About this time be served the office of High-sheriff, for the county of Cambridge, and in the year 1770, his family increasing, for their sake, and with a view to some advantages he had proposed to himself, in the education of his younger children, he removed from his seat in Cambridgeshire, to reside altogether at Bath. He accordingly purchased a house in the Crescent, and became one of its first inhabitants. A short time after his arrival, was published the "Heroic Epistle to Sir William Chambers, Kt." so justly admired for the uncommon spirit and energy of its poetry, and universally attributed to the Author of the New Bath Guide; obviously, more from the pointed and masterly style of the performance, than from any known congeniality of political bias, with the real sentiments of the supposed author. This opinion was so generally entertained, that my Father felt some uneasiness at the undeserved commendations so liberally bestowed upon him by the world, and was at some pains to disavow a publication, to the poetical merit of which he was not entitled, and to the politics of which he was a stranger and an enemy, not less from inclination than from principle. His high veneration for the Kingly character, in the person of our amiable Sovereign, is observable in all his writings, but is more particularly striking in the following lines written upon this occasion.
I ne'er (tho' fame applaud me to my wrong)
Stood forth the champion of HEROIC SONG;
Or once have felt (so Heav'n direct my ways)
The conscious pang of self-condemning praise;
Tho' but with ivy deck'd, without a frown
I can behold another's laurel crown:
Unfit for me; who from the secret shade
Ne'er to the throne my humble Muse convey'd,
Ne'er dar'd at Majesty my jest to aim
Or sport familiar with his sacred name.
O no! — could I the fragrant garland twine
Of sweetest flow'rs that bloom round Virtue's shrine,
To deck the HUSBAND, FATHER, and the MAN,
Who lives and governs on the Christian plan,
Pleas'd with mild arts his empire to improve,
Blest in his dear and virtuous Consort's love,
Who 'mid the toils of state his hours employs
On ten sweet pledges of connubial joys,
And gives to me (who equal numbers share)
A bright example of paternal care;
Then would I raise my feeble voice to sing
My good, my honour'd, and my gracious KING.
Among the most entertaining, and not the least admired of my Father's works, was a poem which appeared in the year 1776, entitled an Election Ball, suggested by a subject given out at Mrs. Miller's poetical Coterie at Batheaston, and supposed to be letters from an honest haberdasher, and freeman of Bath, written in the Somersetshire dialect, and giving an account of the election in that city, to his wife at Gloucester. The avidity with which it was purchased and read at Bath, (for the meridian of which place it was calculated,) occasioned a demand from the London booksellers, and induced the author to publish the Poem, divested of its provincial idiom; and it passed rapidly through several editions, in the form in which it is added to this collection.
During the time my Father was writing the "Election Ball," he had the misfortune to receive a violent injury upon his leg by falling over a box in his library; immediately after it had happened, observing that the box contained the writings and titledeeds of his estate, he could not help remarking, that there were many country gentlemen, of his acquaintance, who would not have been sorry to have met with an accident of the same kind, and added with his, usual pleasantry, that a better Poet would hardly have committed so great a blunder, "sudet multum frustraque laboret, ausus idem." The wound occasioned by this fall confined him to his bed for some time, and to his couch for several weeks. He was attended with much friendly assiduity and professional skill, by Mr. Donne, an, eminent surgeon at Bath, who effected a cure, and as he declined all pecuniary recompense for his trouble, my Father presented him with two elegant silver cups, engraved with the following inscription:
Amico fideli, et medico optimo,
Votiva haec pocula D.D.D.
Pro salute reddita, Christ: Anstey.
Haec cape, Donne, mei duo pocula pignus amoris,
Et pone ante tuos qualiacunque lares:
Tu mihi das vires, tu crudi vulneris iram
Unus amicitia fallis, et arte levas;
Saepe bibas memor, oro, mei, mul tosque per annos
Quam mihi das aegro, sit tibi, amice, salus.
It is worthy of remark, that the indisposition occasioned by that this accident is the only instance of any serious illness he experienced, of sufficient consequence to confine him to his bed for a single day, for the space of fifty years.
His friend, the late Mr. BamfyIde, with whom he generally passed a week or two in the summer, at his beautiful seat at Hestercoombe, in Somersetshire, had promised him some sketches from his inimitable pencil, characteristic of the scenes described in the "Election Ball;" they arrived about this time, but too late to be inserted in the new Edition of that Poem: this disappointment suggested the idea of introducing them to the notice of the literary world, in a letter to his friend, expressive of his thanks, and of the high opinion he entertained of their merit. To these circumstances, the classical reader is indebted for a poetical composition in the Latin language, in which harmony of numbers is united with great correctness of design, in delineating the modern excesses, and refinements of polite life, even to a minute observance of the peculiarities of dress and deportment in the circles of fashion. The Poem abounds with character, and just discrimination, and the most appropriate expressions. The curious felicity with which the Latin idiom is adapted to the popular topics, has no parallel in modern Latin poetry, it is such as we may suppose a Roman Poet would have used at the court of Augustus, in describing the head-dresses of the Roman ladies in their native language, at the epoch of its greatest purity.
There are few persons, upon whose critical taste, and judgment, especially in Latin composition, a more perfect reliance can be placed, than on the writer of the following letter.
"TO C. A. ESQ.
'Poesin tuam perelegantem, picturae perelegantis comitem, legi, relegi, rerelegi; quae quidem et ter placuit, et placitura est, etiam decies repetita.' Being at the end of my Latinity, I must thank you for your very kind and elegant present, in plain English. l assure you, without flattery, there are some lines in this performance, equal to anything ancient. One or two passages are not clear to me; but that is not to be attributed to obscurity in the poet, but to my not being acquainted with 'salientibus area fune,' and a few other allusions which, I suppose, are purely Bathonian. You love to laugh at physicians, and I think you have succeeded better here on that subject, than in your medical consultation, in the Bath Guide. Your prescription is an excellent one — I only wish that you had added a few drops of the 'Tinctura Embryonum,' a medicine, which you may remember to have seen formerly advertised in the public papers. 'The ladies' caps,' 'Johnny Weevil,' and several other parts, are admirable.
Believe me to be, very sincerely,
Jermyn Street, January 2, 1777."
But notwithstanding the acknowledged correctness of the style and composition, the work had not been in the hands of the public many hours, before the author received a note from an anonymous friend, announcing a false concord, and lamenting the oversight, and, if it were not too late, suggesting an alteration. The passage is in page 416.
Quandoquidem ante oculos divum scelerate timorem;
which, the writer intimated, should have been, at all hazards with respect to the metre, "nullum habens" instead of "nullus habens," the Author with admirable presence of mind, immediately wrote at the bottom of the note, "memini, tametsi nullus moneas me." CICERO, and returned it by the bearer.
His poem on "Envy" was written in the year 1778, and designed as a tribute of approbation, as well as an encouragement to the sale of a collection of poetical pieces, then recently published for the benefit of a well-ordered charity, by the Lady, at whose elegant villa they had made their first appearance. This production was succeeded by his poem on "Charity," a poetical exposition of the thirteenth chapter of St. Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians; it was presented to the Queen, to whom it was dedicated, by his highly valued and much respected friend, the Earl of Ailesbury, then Lord Chamberlain, and was honoured with her Majesty's gracious reception, expressed in terms of approbation, highly flattering to the Author.
By those who were intimately acquainted with my Father's real character, it will not be placed to the account of filial prejudice and partiality, if I venture to assert, that these beautiful and sublime texts of scripture, could not have been enforced in the language of poetry, with more eloquence, or with greater propriety, than by one in whom all the charities of social life were united, and in a manner identified. "Pectus enim illi tenerrimum fuit Christiana benevolentia INCOCTUM." I borrow the language of his Epitaph, to adorn this feeble Memoir, with the only expression which could give an adequate idea of his character in this respect, in the opinion of the elegant writer of it, and which the energy of the Roman Satirist could alone have furnished him with.
About the year 1786, my Father conceived the intention of revising his poetical works, and publishing an entire collection of them. He yielded to the importunity of his friends, in this respect, rather than to the bent of his own inclination, and very reluctantly imposed a task upon himself, which the sprightliness of his genius and the exuberance of his fancy, rendered irksome and disagreeable to him.
Little more was done towards the execution of so desirable an object, than the calling in and collecting together the scattered remains of his early publications, and overlooking his papers and manuscripts; an employment, which served only to revive in his mind the recollection of past scenes and occurrences, a kind of "recordanza infelice," as he used to express it, of the loss of friends and acquaintances, the school-fellows and companions of his youth, which excited a train of reflections, and gave a turn and direction to his thoughts, unfavourable to the undertaking. In this frame of mind, he abandoned it altogether; a circumstance of disappointment' to the circle of his numerous friends, at the time, and to the literary world in general, and now, perhaps, more than ever to be regretted.
A translation however of a select number of Gay's Fables into Latin verse, was revised by the Author, and underwent many judicious alterations. This specimen of Latin translation was not originally intended for the public eye, but was written several years before it was published; the design was purely that of instructing his sons in a necessary branch of school education. Those Fables only were selected, which were the most popular, and best adapted to the object, as affording the means of familiar instruction in the first principles of Latin versification. The classical reader will not fail to admire, from the specimens here given, of the few that were selected for the purpose, the same genuine simplicity which forms the distinguishing beauty of the original, and is the true genius of this species of composition in our language — a simplicity observable in all the Poems of that favourite author, and transfused with the happiest effect into this Latin translation, even to an exact imitation, in many instances, of the same metrical division of the sentences, in the order and structure of the composition. The last edition was published, as will be seen by the Preface to it, so late as the year 1805, and the whole underwent several judicious corrections by the Author, at the advanced age of seventy-nine.
Had the publication appeared at the time it was expected, it would most probably have closed with his stanzas occasioned by the declining state of the funds of the General Hospital at Bath, in the year 1785, and written by my Father, (who was one of the Governors,) with a view to excite the compassionate attention of the public, to the interests of a charity, which depends wholly for its support on the voluntary contributions of individuals. These stanzas made their first appearance in the public papers, under the signature of HOMO, and in this form were extensively circulated. They were shewn to the late Mr. Melmoth, who was so forcibly struck with the persuasive, and affecting simplicity of the composition, that he wrote the following letter, expressly upon the subject of them, to one of the Governors of this excellent institution. Any thing in the form of a letter, from the pen of the learned translator of Cicero's, and Pliny's Epistles, will have an interest, peculiar to itself, and independent of the object, and the occasion of it.
"TO — TOKE, ESQ.
Though I have no personal concern in the General Hospital, nor any other in the inscription intended to be set up in the two inferior Pump-rooms, than having altered a word or two; yet I cannot forbear repeating my earnest request to you, that you would exert your influence, with the rest of the Governors, to order HOMO'S inscription to be placed in each of the three Pump-rooms. The lines in question are so happily adapted to their object, and so truly affecting, and pathetic, that I can scarcely think it possible, for any man of common sensibility, to go away after reading them, without dropping into the Charity-box, a proof of their impression. I have somewhere met with a line to the following purpose: "A verse will touch him, who a sermon flies."
"There is so much truth in the observation, that I will venture to say, no discourse from the pulpit, by the most eloquent of orators, would strike deeper into the heart, nor remain with it so long, as the admirable stanzas you read to me yesterday. As a sincere well-wisher to the interests of this extensive charity, I have taken the liberty to give you the present trouble, and I trust my motive will render an apology unnecessary.
I am, Dear Sir,
Your most obedient servant.,
The author was no sooner discovered, than the stanzas were happily the means of augmenting the funds of the charity, by several liberal contributions, which passed through his hands, accompanied with the most flattering testimonies of the approbation of his friends. He was in particular, highly gratified by the handsome manner in which the Committee of Governors appreciated the merit of this production, and "in the name of the whole body," expressed their acknowledgments to him, in the letter he had the honour of receiving from them upon this occasion.
The Stanzas were inscribed on the Pump of the King's Bath, in the following form, by order of the Governors, December 7, 1785.
IN THIS CITY,
OPEN TO THE SICK AND POOR
OF EVERY PART OF THE WORLD
TO WHOSE CASES THESE WATERS ARE APPLICABLE,
(THE POOR OF BATH ONLY EXCEPTED)
WAS FIRST ESTABLISHED, AND IS STILL SUPPORTED
BY THE CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS
OF THE LIBERAL AND HUMANE.
O! pause awhile, whoe'er thou art,
That drink'st this healing Stream
If e'er Compassion o'er thy Heart
Diffus'd its heav'nly Beam,
Think on the Wretch, whose distant Lot
This friendly Aid denies;
Think how, in some poor, lonely Cot,
He unregarded lies!
Hither the helpless Stranger bring,
Relieve his heart-felt Woe,
And let thy Bounty, like this Spring,
In genial Currents flow:
So may thy Years from Grief, and Pain,
And pining Want be free,
And thou from Heav'n that Mercy gain,
The Poor receive from thee.
An expostulation so eloquent, and appropriate in thought, and imagery, upon an occasion so peculiarly interesting to the cause of humanity, did not fail to produce all that benefit to the charity, which its most zealous supporters could have wished. The impulse of compassion, and the sympathies of our common nature, are never more powerfully excited, than at the sight of an unhappy object, labouring under the same bodily pain, and infirmity with ourselves. Who is there that has strength enough to support himself to the pump, that can contemplate this picture of congenial suffering and distress, so obviously held up, to his view, and so movingly inscribed to his feelings, without cheerfully contributing to the fund, which is to enable his fellow-creatures, labouring under the same infirmities, to partake of the same blessing!
He was now in the 63d year of his age, in the full vigour of his mind, without experiencing any sensible diminution of his bodily strength. His increasing years stole imperceptibly on the even tenour of his life, and gradually lessened the distance of his journey through it, without obscuring the serenity of the prospect — unimpeded by sickness, and unclouded by sorrow, or any serious misfortune, his life was a life of temperance, of self-denial, and of moderation in all things; and of great regularity. He rose early in the morning, "ante diem poscens chartas," and was constant on horseback at his usual hour, and in all seasons. His summers were uniformly passed at Cheltenham, with his family, during the latter part of his life, and upon his return to Bath in the autumn, he fell habitually into the same unruffled scenes of domestic ease, and tranquillity, rendered every day more joyous and interesting to him, by the increase of his family circle, and the enlargement of his hospitable table, and by many circumstances and occurrences, connected with the welfare of his children, which gave him infinite delight and satisfaction.
He indulged his genius as his humour prompted him, in his favourite amusement, and wrote several little poems, most of them founded on real facts, and recent occurrences; among these may be mentioned in particular, his poem entitled "Liberality," "the Farmer's Daughter, a Poetical Tale," "Britain's Genius," with some others, which are added to the collection of miscellaneous pieces. His last publication was in Latin, written at Cheltenham, in the summer of the year 1803, and in the 79th year of his age; an Alcaic Ode, addressed to Dr. Jenner, in consequence of his very important discovery of the Vaccine Inoculation: a striking instance of the extraordinary powers of a mind retentive of the impressions made in early youth, and exercising its faculties with more than ordinary vigour and activity, at a very advanced age.
It has been usual with those who have undertaken to write the lives of men, eminent for their learning and virtue, to be particular in noticing the various persons of rank, and consequence, with whom they have associated. It will be sufficient to say, that my Father's acquaintance was the most general and extensive; his society the most select, and among those only, who were exemplary for the purity and correctness of their moral conduct, and conversation.
He lived upon terms of good neighbourhood, and friendly intercourse with all the most respectable inhabitants of the place where he resided. Instances of extraordinary merit he frequently discovered in humble station, and befriended it; and contrary to the vulgar opinion, he as frequently found the brightest examples of real worth and probity, where indeed it was most natural to expect that they should be found, among men of rank and education, of high birth, and distinguished talents. There was scarcely a person of this description, or of any real consequence, resorting to Bath, who did not seek his acquaintance and delight in his conversation, and by whom he was not visited in his retirement, and respected. His fund of anecdote was inexhaustible, always apposite, and introduced not merely to amuse by the playfulness of mind, and vivacity with which it was narrated, but in the aim and application of it to the subject, uniformly tending to promote the moral interests of its hearers, by exposing the vanities, and the ridiculous, rather than the serious effects of the follies, and absurdities of mankind. The turn of his wit in conversation was tempered with discretion, pointed, but unoffending, and accompanied with a quick motion, and a piercing sprightliness of the eye, which was speakingly animated and intelligent. His perceptions were just, his humour forcible and characteristic. His imagination was ever presenting to his mind some new and involuntary combination of thought or expression, either seen through a ridiculous medium, or conceived in a poetical dress, and by a sudden and peculiar operation of the mind (not easily described,) resolving itself, as it were, incontinently into verse: of this, numerous instances might be given. In his conversation, as well as in his writings, he had more perhaps than most of his contemporaries, what Voltaire called the "imagination creatrice," or the power of originating by the natural force of his genius, new and unexpected images, with the admirable talent of combining, varying, and multiplying them at pleasure.
His severity in judging, and his modesty in speaking of, his own productions, was equalled only by the candour, with which he read, and the disinterested zeal and liberality with which he encouraged, and not unfrequently assisted, the labours of others. His ordinary conversation in his family, and among his children, was always interesting, generally instructive; sprightly and forcible in the application of his remarks and observations, drawn from the living manners of the time, it had all the effect of admonition, without the harshness of precept. He was gifted with the gentlest affections; and a natural modesty, and good-breeding, peculiarly attractive in the manner of it, and accompanied with an habitual ease, and dignity of deportment, which won the hearts, and the esteem, and the admiration of mankind.
In all trials of temper, and in the little vexations and disappointments, which so readily beset us in our common intercourse with the world, in proportion as his spirits were ruffled, and discomposed, the goodness of his heart was most apparent, in his endeavours to repress its emotions. — Educated in the principles of true religion, he was exemplary in all the active and moral duties of Christianity: regular in public worship, in private prayer and meditation, temperate and devout, without the smallest tincture of gloom or superstition: and ever, both as a subject and a Christian, a determined enemy to the revolutionary jargon of the French philosophy, which has desolated Europe, and at one period shook the very foundations of all religion, and of all government and social order in the civilized world.
In the decline of life, and at that period, when the mind of man, worn down by sickness, and too frequently soured by disappointment, becomes habitually fretful, and sometimes contracted, his frame and constitution were vigorous, his mind active, and his heart expanded with benevolence, in acts of charity to the distressed, in kindness and liberality to his children. His anxiety for their happiness was the ruling passion of his mind; it occupied all his thoughts, it unfolded itself in all his actions; he seemed to live only for the purpose of consulting the welfare, and promoting the moral and permanent interests of his family. Of nine children that survived to him in his latter days, he had the rare and singular felicity of seeing five sons and two daughters happily married and settled in life, to the entire satisfaction and comfort of his declining years; a gratification and a blessing, which he owed, in a great measure, to the excess of his parental fondness and affection; to his prudence in husbanding, and his liberality in bestowing, and sparing from the bulk of his fortune, during his lifetime, the means he had wisely provided, and so successfully employed, to promote the happiness of their lives. His resources were in the improvement, and judicious application of his income; and an early exemption from the slavery and oppression of those taxes, which mankind voluntarily impose upon themselves by their follies, and their vices. In his self-denial, in his freedom from vanity, and a philosophical contempt of every thing that wore the resemblance of splendour and ostentation, of pride or extravagance, he found the means of indulging the wishes, and of administering to the necessities, of others.
In the early part of the year 1805, for the first time, in the memory of his children, he became seriously and alarmingly indisposed, but without any distinct malady, which he could accurately describe, or for which a remedy could be effectually recommended; his appetite failed him, his spirits became proportionably depressed, and his bodily strength correspondently impaired, and exhausted. Dr. Haygarth was requested to attend him; he received him as a physician, in compliance with the wishes of his family, and for their satisfaction; and he welcomed him as a friend, whom he respected, and to whose superior skill, under Providence, he considered himself indebted for the preservation, and continuance of an inestimable blessing to the family, in the recovery of my mother's health; but without confidence, in his own particular case, or the smallest hopes, that it was in the power of medicine, or as he frequently expressed it, of the whole College of Physicians, to do him any service. With some experience of his own constitution, in favour of a decided opinion against the use of medicine, it must be confessed, that he had too little medical faith in general, though not the less esteem and respect for many gentlemen of great learning, and eminence in that profession. He was, however, not without expectation of a temporary relief from change of air, and he accordingly removed from Bath, to the residence of his son-in-law, H. Bosanquet, Esq. at Harnish House, in Wiltshire. Although he might be said to have revived in some degree, upon his first coming into the country, he as suddenly relapsed, and gradually declined, and after several days confinement to his bed, calmly expired, in the 81st year of his age, without any apparent pain, in the midst of his surrounding family, and in the possession of his admirable faculties to the last.
His funeral, by the appointments of his Will, was conducted with that peculiar regard to decency, without ostentation, which had marked his conduct through life. His remains were deposited in the parish church of Walcot, in the City of Bath, and in the same vault with those of his fourth daughter, Sarah, the wife of Rear Admiral Sotheby, and her two infant children.
A monument has since been erected to his memory, in Poets' Corner, in Westminster Abbey, by his eldest son, the Rev. Christopher Anstey, inscribed with the following Epitaph:
CHRISTOPHORI ANSTEY arm:
Et Collegii Regalis apud Cantabrigienses olim Socii,
literis elegantioribus adprime ornati,
et inter principes Poetarum,
qui in eodem genere floruerunt,
Sedem eximiam tenentis.
Ille annum circiter
Rus suum in agro Cantabrigiensi
quem locum ei prater omnes dudum arrisisse
testis est, celeberrimum illud Poema,
Titulo inde ducto insignitum:
ibi deinceps sex et triginta annos commoratus,
obiit A.D. MMCCV.
et aetatis suae
At non Poetae fama cum ipso peribit, quem legunt omnes, omnes quem requirunt, cujus carmine nullum in aures dulcius descendit melos, nullum memoria citius retinet aut lubentius. Proprium Illi fuit materiem sui carminis, non nisi ex ipsa fontium origine haurire. Aliena vitavit tangere, aut si qua tetigit, pulchriora fecit, et sua. Perpaucis unquam contigit, aut in vita et moribus hominum posse acutius cernere, aut eorum leviora vitia, ineptias, pravae Religionis deliramenta, et quicquid ficti sit, et simulati felicius adumbrare: Perpaucis ludere tam amabiliter: neque enim ille Ridiculum, suum, insuavi vel acerbo miscebat, aut sales suos imbuebat veneno: deleclare natus, non laedere. Pectus Illi tenerrimum fuit, Christiana ben evolentia incoctum: Jocari autem, ac ludere, versatili ejus ingenio non erat salis, potuit enim ad rem seriam ac lugubrem aliquando transcurrere, haud solertior lectori risum movere, quam tristi querimonia elicere lacrymas.
Haec inter animi oblectamenta, Ille per vitae semitam nec spe nec metu impeditam progressus, annos prius attigit seniles, quam, senectutem sibi obrepentem, senserat, ingenio adhuc vigens, cam memoria adhuc rerum tenaci, intus domique felix, honoratus foris, suavitate morum ac sermonum omnibus quibus consuevit jucundus, eorum autem quibuscum conjunctissime vixerat, ipsis in praecordiis collocatus.
The above Epitaph is from the elegant and classical pen of an intimate and much respected friend, well acquainted with the true character of my Father's genius and disposition; and this uniform Edition of his Poetical Works, is published by his second son, to whom, together with his manuscripts, the Author bequeathed them by his Will.
[Greek characters] Hom.