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Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Seen recently on a box:
"M. Holland--The Gold Standard in Plastics"
       Which reminds me of another contradiction.  The week after Pope Francis basically said the Rosary wasn't "really" praying, I see the local Catholic bookstore selling a Pope Francis rosary.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What Happens In Bath, Stays In Bath

"To a person who does not thus calmly trace things to their source, nothing will appear more strange, than how the healthy could ever consent to follow the sick to those places of spleen, and live with those whose disorders are ever apt to excite a gloom in the spectator.  The truth is, the gaming-table was properly the salutary font to which such numbers flocked.  Gaming will ever be the pleasure of the rich, while men continue to be men;  while they fancy more happiness is being possessed of what they want, than they experience pleasure in the fruition of what they have.  The wealthy only stake those riches which give no real content, for an expectation of riches in which they hope for satisfaction.  By this calculation, they cannot lose happiness, as they begin with none;  and they hope to gain it, by being possessed of something they have not had already. 
        Probably upon this principle, and by the arrival of Queen Anne there, for her health, about the year 1703, the city of Bath became in some measure frequented  by people of distinction.  The company was numerous enough to form a country-dance upon the bowling-green:  they were amused with a fiddle and hautboy, and diverted with the romantic walks round the city.  They usually sauntered in the weather in the grove, between two rows of sycamore-trees.  Several learned physicians, Dr. Jorden and others, had even then praised the salubrity of the wells, and the amusements were put under the direction of a master of the ceremonies.
          His {Richard Nash} first care when made Master of the Ceremonies, or King of Bath, as it is called, was to promote a music subscription of one guinea each, for a band, which was to consist of six performers, who were to receive a guinea a week each for their trouble.  He allowed also two guineas a week for lighting and sweeping the rooms;  for which he accounted to the subscribers by receipt.
         The pump-house was immediately put under the care of an officer, by the name of the pumper;  for which he paid the corporation an annual rent.  A row of new houses was begun on the south side of the gravel-walks, before which a handsome pavement was then made for the company to walk on.  Not less than seventeen or eighteen hundred pounds were raised this year and in the beginning of 1706 by subscription, and laid out in repairing the roads near the city.  The streets began to be better paved, cleaned, and lighted;  the licences of the chairmen were repressed, and by an Act of Parliament procured on this occasion, the invalids, who came to drink or bathe, were exempted from all manner of toil, as often as they should go out of the city for recreation.
         The houses and streets now began to improve, and ornaments were lavished upon them even to profusion.  But in the midst of this splendour, the company still were obliged to assemble in a booth to drink tea and chocolate, or to game.  Mr. Nash undertook to remedy this inconvenience, and by his direction, one Thomas Harrison erected a handsome assembly-house for these purposes.  A better band of music was also procured, and the former subscription of one guinea was raised to two.  Harrison had three guineas a week for the room and candles, and the music two guineas a man.  The money Mr. Nash received and accounted for with the utmost exactness and punctuality.  To this house were also added gardens for people of rank and fashion to walk in;  and the beauty of the suburbs continued to increase, notwithstanding the opposition that was made by the corporation;  who at that time looked upon every useful improvement, particularly without the walls, as dangerous to the inhabitants within.
        His dominion was now extensive and secure, and he determined to support it with the strictest attention.  But in order to proceed in everything like a King, he was resolved to give his subjects a law, and the following Rules were accordingly put up in the pump-room:--
       1)That a visit of ceremony at first coming, and another at going away, are all that is expected or desired by ladies of quality and fashion, --except impertinents.
        2)That ladies coming to the ball appoint a time for their footmen coming to wait on them home, to prevent disturbances and inconveniences to themselves and others.
        3)That gentlemen of fashion never appearing in a morning before the ladies in gowns and caps, show breeding and respect.
        4)That no person take it ill that any one goes to another's play or breakfast, and not theirs;  except captious by nature.
        5)That no gentlemen give his ticket for the balls to any but gentlewomen.--N.B. Unless he has none of his acquaintance.
        6)That gentlemen crowding before the ladies at the ball, show ill-manners;  and that none do so for the future, --except such as respect nobody but themselves.
         7)That no gentleman or lady take it ill that another dances before them;--except such as have no pretence to dance at all.
         8)That the elder ladies and children be content with a second bench at the ball, as being past or not come to perfection.
          9)That the younger ladies take notice how many eyes observe them.--N.B.  This does not extend to the Have-at-alls.
         10)That all whisperers of lies and scandal be taken for their authors.
          11)That all repeaters of such lies and scandal be shunned by all company,--except such as have been guilty of the same crime.--N.B.  Several men of no character, old women and young ones of questioned reputation, are great authors of lies in these places, being of the sect of levellers.

         These laws were written by Mr. Nash himself, and by the manner in which they are drawn up, he undoubtedly designed them for wit.  The reader, however, it is feared, will think them dull.  But Nash was not born a writer;  for whatever humour he might have in conversation, he used to call a pen his torpedo:  whenever he grasped it, it benumbed all his faculties.
        But were we to give laws to a nursery, we should make them childish laws;  his statutes, though stupid, were addressed to fine gentlemen and ladies, and were probably recieved with sympathetic approbation.  It is certain they were in general religiously observed by his subjects, and executed by him with impartiality;  neither rank nor fortune shielded the refactory from his resentment.
        The balls, by his directions, were to begin at six, and to end at eleven.  Nor would he suffer them to continue a moment longer, lest invalids might commit irregularities, to counteract the benefit of the waters.  Everything was to be performed in proper order.  Each ball was to open with a minuet, danced by two persons of the highest distinction present.  When the minuet concluded, the lady was to bring the gentleman a new partner.  This ceremony was to be observed by every succeeding couple;  every gentleman being obliged to dance with two ladies till the minuets were over, which generally continued two hours.  At eight the country-dances were to begin;  ladies of quality, according to their rank, standing up first.  About nine o'clock a short interval was allowed for rest, and for the gentlemen to help their partners to tea.  That over, the company were to pursue their amusements till the clock struck eleven.  Then the master of the ceremonies entering the ball-room, ordered the music to desist by lifting up his finger.  The dances discontinued, and some time allowed for becoming cool, the ladies were handed to their chairs."   Life of Richard Nash by Oliver Goldsmith pgs. 519-20 and 521-22.

N.B. means "nota bene," or note well.