1830 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Graves

Richard Warner, in Literary Recollections of the Rev. Richard Warner (1830) 2:18-21.



Of CHRISTOPHER ANSTEY Esq. I knew but little; for the latter years of his life were passed in domestic seclusion. It is somewhat singular, that the author of a work so witty, satirical, and novel, as The New Bath Guide, should have left behind him, merely this solitary monument of his lively fancy, and peculiar genius: but, no other publication, save this, has, as I am aware, been attributed to him. The New Bath Guide might have been considered as a perfectly original work, had not its subject been obviously suggested by the Humphrey Clinker of the inimitable Smollett; who was for some time resident in Bath, and, probably, an intimate acquaintance, as well as a favourite author, of Mr. Anstey's. But, superior as this piece of poetical drollery may be, to any thing of a similar description in our language, it has some defects, which bar its claim to excellence: for its wit approaches, occasionally, to profaneness; and its humour trenches too often upon decency. Nothing, indeed, is more difficult than to ridicule hypocritical pretensions to sanctity, without rendering religion itself a laughing-stock; and wounding the feelings of the sincerely pious. It is at least an error, into which some of our best modern novelists have fallen, and that to a tremendous degree: but, happy are the writers of these works of fancy, who never draw from the treasury of Holy Scripture, to give point to absurdity in character: nor degrade the phraseology which it consecrates, to the base purposes of vulgar, licentious, or ridiculous colloquy. Mr. Anstey died at the age of 80, in the year 1805. The "Pleader's Guide," by one of his sons, evinces that genius is hereditary in his family.