Page images
PDF
EPUB

and right under its windows is the king's bath, where patients of all degrees and complexions plump up to the neck. Bramble suspected that the water drinkers swallowed the regurgitation from the bath, charged with all the scourings from rotten carcases. As the private bagnio is supplied from springs draining from an old burying-ground, its water is little better than a tincture of“ dead men's rattling bones”-S0 that, to use the cynic's language, we drink the decoction of living bodies in the pump-room, and swallow the strainings of rotten bones and carcases at the private bath! To complete Bramble's vexation, on the subject of water, the scanty supply from the hill is collected in an open basin in the circus, liable to be defiled with dead dogs, cats, rats, and every species of nastiness, which the rascally populace may throw into it, from mere wantonness and brutality!

Mrs. Montague has some very lively remarks on Bath, in her entertaining Letters. “I hear every day of people's pumping their arms or legs for the rheumatism; but the pumping for wit is one of the hardest and most fruitless labours in the world. I should be glad to send you some news; but all the news of the place would be like the bills of mortality; palsy, four; gout, six; fever, one, &c. &c.

We hear of nothing but, Mr. Such-a-one is not abroad to-day. Oh! no, says another, poor gentleman, he died this morning. Then another cries: my party was made for quadrille

to-night; but one of the gentlemen has had a second stroke of the palsy, and cannot come out,' &c,

As Bath is the very focus of fashion, as well as the temple of Hygeia, every mushroom of fortune, and all sorts of adventurers resort to it as to a common mart

" The shark is there
And the shark's prey; the spendthrift and the leech
That sucks him"

It is a vast masquerade, in which a man of stratagem may wear a thousand different disguises, without danger of detection. Impudent swindlers daily play tricks equal to any of those related of count Fathom or Guzman d' Alfarache; tender-hearted heiresses frequently take an airing from this place to Gretna-Green, with soi-disant baronets, who are barren of every thing but unblushing faces and captivating manners! To me, who have no great fortune to be cozened out of, and no desire to live on the folly of others, Bath affords a copious field for observation-and, as you know that I have always been " a fisher of men,” I am here quite in my element.

The pump-room and other resorts are well stocked with gentlemen of the faculty, who live very comfortably on the vapours and “thick-coming fancies” of the fashionable in. valids. These sagacious Æsculapians are in. imitably described in Peregrine Pickle, as a * class of animals who live in this place, like

so many ravens hovering about a carcase, and even ply for employment, like scullions at Hungerford stairs! By their connection with apothecaries and nurses, they are informed of all the private occurrences in each family, and are therefore enabled to gratify the rancour of malice, amuse the spleen

of peevish indisposition, and entertain the eagerness of impertinent curiosity.”

In Lord Lyttleton's Letters, we find a very pleasant picture of the "animated cadavers” at the public breakfast, and of the "

groups of hectic spectres engaged in cotillions” at the Hot Wells. “ As I approached to taste the waters, (says his Lordship,) I was fanned by the foetid breath of gasping consumptions, stunned with expiring coughs, and suffocated with the effluvia of ulcerated lungs. Such a living Golgotha never entered into my conceptions; and I could not but look upon the stupendous rocks, that rise in rude magnificence round the place, as the wide-spreading jaws of an universal sepulchre!"

The ball rooms at Bath are spacious, elegant, and splendidly lighted up with chandeliers and Argyle's lamps. They are generally crammed with people who, whatever be their rank in public estimation, are all dressed in the ne plus ultra of fashion. But there is no Beau Nash to curb or refine the caprices of mode, no Quin to set the table in a roar, Dr. L n to descant on the benefits of stink! To make up for this defect, there are enough

" and no

of original characters to satisfy the stoutest appetite for humour. Beau Nash was formerly the dictator of fashion at Bath. No person dared to dispute the validity of his title, or to disobey his injunctions, however rigid. The profits of the gaming table enabled him to live in the most elegant style, and to vie with the first noblemen of the land, But, in the evening of his days, when all the heat and hurry of dissipation give way to cool reflection, and the serenity of the prospect more than compensates for its approaching close, the whole scene was wretchedly reversed, and his setting sun was overcast with a cloud of misfortunes; he saw himself deprived of all the luxuries and most of the comforts of life-and he died in the most abject want. The fashionables of Bath showed their gratitude to Nash, in the same way that the Scotch rewarded Burns-by letting him starve, and erecting a statue to him after his death!

The physicians seem to be as fashionable as the rest of the company; they are aware, that poor

doctor stands little chance with the futile beings who resort to Bath. Thus they generally burst into notice in an elegant equipage and a new suit of clothes-examine the deli. cate pulse of their fair patients with diamond rings on the pulse finger, and wipe their noses on handkerchiefs perfumed with the otto of roses. “ Imaginez Boerhaave allant à pied, (says Mercier, on n'irait point le chercher et, s'il faisait des visites, on ne le payerait

a

If one

pas!” These sage doctors are also pretty certain that learning would not raise them in the esteem of the pretty fellows and dandysettes of Bath, and therefore they content themselves with acquiring the polish of manners, which will recommend them to the fair sex. can judge from their affected politeness, and their constant attendance in the boudoirs, their most serious business is to

“ Hear the pretty ladies talk,

Tittle-tattle, tittle-tattle,
Like their patteps, when they walk,

Piddle-paddle, piddle-paddle.” Darwin. I observe that here, as in my native city, there is a continual war carried on against the learned professions, by all those who, conscious of their own ignorance, seek to level the reputation of scholars with their own. You know very well, that, in Baltimore, all the practice is monopolized by a few old physicians, who have enriched themselves on the spoils of their credulous patients, and who leave no chance of success to young practitioners. Thus it is, that those alone are encouraged who are no longer in need of fortune's favours-and, in the struggle after eminence, the poor though accomplished disciple of Hippocrates, is rudely elbowed out of the way:

“Pauper eris semper, si pauper es, Æmiliane;
Dantur opes pullis nunc nisi divitibus.")* Martial,

* Once poor, my friend, still poor you must remain,
The rich alone have all the means of gain.

« PreviousContinue »