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dog, and being impudently asked by him, if she knew the name of Tobit's dog, she answered quickly, “ Yes, sir, his name was Nash, and a most impudent dog he was too.”
It is due to Nash to state that he made many attempts to put an end to the perpetual system of scandal, whicho from some hidden cause seems always to be connected with mineral springs; but as he did not banish the old maids, of course he failed. Of the young ladies and their reputation he took a kind of paternal care, and in that day they seem to have needed it, for even at nineteen, those who had any money to lose, staked it at the tables with as much gusto as the wrinkled, puckered, greedy-eyed “single woman," of a certain or uncertain
age. Nash protected and cautioned them, and even gave them the advantage of his own unlimited experience. Witness, for instance, the care he took of “Miss Sylvia,” a lovely heiress who brought her face and her fortune to enslave some and enrich others of the loungers of Bath. She had a terrible love of hazard, and very little prudence, so that Nash's good offices were much needed in the case. The young lady soon became the standing toast at all the clubs and suppers, and lovers of her, or her ducats, crowded round her; but though at that time she might have made a brilliant match, she chose, as young women will do, to fix her affections upon one of the worst men in Bath, who, naturally enough, did not return them. When this individual, as a climax to his misadventures, was clapt into prison, the devoted young creature gave the greater part of her fortune in order to pay off his debts, and falling into disrepute from this act of generosity, which was, of course, interpreted after a worldly fashion, she seems to have lost her honor with her fame, and the fair Sylvia took a position which could not be creditable to her. At last the poor girl, weary of slights, and overcome with shame, took her silk sash and hanged herself. The terrible event made a nine hours'-not nine days'-sensation in Bath, which was too busy with mains and aces to care about the fate of one who had long sunk out of its circles.
When Nash reached the zenith of his power, the adulation he received was somewhat of a parody on the flattery of courtiers. True, he had his bards from Grub Street who sang
his praises, and he had letters to show from Sarah of Marlborough and others of that calibre, but his chief worshipers were cooks, musicians, and even imprisoned highwaymen-one of whom disclosed the secrets of the craft to him—who wrote him dedications, letters, poems and what not. The good city of Bath set up his statue, and did Newton and Pope* the great honor
* A full-length statue of Nash was placed between busts of Newton and Pope.
NASH'S SUN SETTING.
of playing “supporters” to him, which elicited from Chesterfield some well-known lines :
" This statue placed the busts between
Adds to the satire strength;
But Folly at full length.” Meanwhile his private character was none of the best. He had in early life had one attachment, besides that unfortunate affair for which his friends had removed him from Oxford, and in that had behaved with great magnanimity. The young lady had honestly told him that he had a rival; the Beau sent for him, settled on her a fortune equal to that her father intended for her, and himself presented her to the favored suitor. Now, however, he seems to have given up all thoughts of matrimony, and gave himself
up to mistresses, who cared more for his gold than for himself. It was an awkward conclusion to Nash's generous act in that one case, that before a year had passed, the bride ran away with her husband's footman ; yet, though it disgusted him with ladies, it does not seem to have cured him of his attachment to the sex in general.
In the height of his glory Nash was never ashamed of receiving adulation. He was as fond of flattery as Le Grand Monarque—and he paid for it too-whether it came from a prince or a chairman. Every day brought him some fresh meed of praise in prose or verse, and Nash was always delighted.
But his sun was to set in time. His fortune went when gaming was put down, for he had no other means of subsist
Yet he lived on: he had not the good sense to die; and he reached the patriarchal of eighty-seven. In his old age he was not only garrulous, but bragging: he told stories of his exploits in which he, Mr. Richard Nash, came out as the first swordsman, swimmer, leaper, and what not. But by this time people began to doubt Mr. Richard Nash's long bow, and the yarns he spun were listened to with impatience. He grew rude and testy in his old age; suspected Quin, the actor, who was living at Bath, of an intention to supplant him; made coarse, impertinent repartees to the visitors at that city, and in general raised up a dislike to himself. Yet, as other monarchs have had their eulogists in sober mind, Nash had his in one of the most depraved ; and Anstey, the low-minded author of “The New Bath Guide,” panegyrized him a short time after his death in the following verses :
“Yet here no confusion-no tumult is known; Fair order and beauty establish their throne;
For order, and beauty, and just regulation,
Who follows the steps of his great predecessor.” The end of the Bath Beau was somewhat less tragical than that of his London successor Brummell. Nash, in his old age and poverty, hung about the clubs and supper-tables, button-holed youngsters, who thought him a bore, spun his long yarns, and tried to insist on obsolete fashions, when near the end of his life's century.
The clergy took more care of him than the youngsters.
They heard that Nash was an octogenarian, and likely to die in his sins, and resolved to do their best to shrive him. Worthy and well-meaning men accordingly wrote him long letters, which, if he read, the Beau must have had more patience than we can lay claim to. There was, however, a great deal of hell-fire in these effusions, and there was nothing which Nash dreaded so much. As long as there was immediate fear of death, he was pious and humble; the moment the fear had passed, he was jovial and indifferent again. His especial delight, to the last, seems to have been swearing against the doctors, whom he treated like the individual in Anstey's “Bath Guide,” shying their medicines out of window upon their own heads. But the wary old Beckoner called him in, in due time, with his broken, empty-chested voice; and Nash was forced to obey. Death claimed him—and much good it got of himin 176i, at the age of eighty-seven : there are few beaux who lived so long
Thus ended a life, of which the moral lay, so to speak, out of it. The worthies of Bath were true to the worship of Folly, whom Anstey so well, though indelicately, describes as there conceiving Fashion; and though Nash, old, slovenly, disrespected, had long ceased to be either beau or monarch, treated his huge, unlovely corpse with the honor due to the great—or little. His funeral was as glorious as that of any hero, and far more showy, though much less solemn, than the burial of Sir John Moore. Perhaps for a bit of prose flummery, by way of contrast to Wolfe’s lines on the latter event, there is little to equal the account in a contemporary paper : “Sorrow sate upon every face, and even children lisped that their sovereign was no more. The awfulness of the solemnity made the deepest impression on the minds of the distressed inhabitants. The peasant discontinued his toil, the ox rested from the plow, all nature seemed to sympathize with their loss, and the muffled bells rung a peal of bob-major."
The Beau left little behind him, and that little not worth much, even including his renown. Most of the presents which fools or flatterers had made him, had long since been sent chez ma tante ; a few trinkets and pictures, and a few books, which probably he had never read, constituted his little store.*
Bath and Tunbridge—for he had annexed that lesser kingdom to his own had reason to mourn him, for he had almost made them what they were; but the country has not much cause to thank the upholder of gaming, the institutor of silly
* In the “Annual Register” (vol. v. p. 37), it is stated that a pension of ten guineas a month was paid to Nash during the latter years of his life by the Corporation of Bath.
fashion, and the high-priest of folly. Yet Nash was free from many vices we should expect to find in such a man. He did not drink, for instance; one glass of wine, and a moderate quantity of small beer, being his allowance for dinner. He was early in his hours, and made others sensible in theirs. He was generous and charitable when he had the money; and when he had not he took care to make his subjects subscribe it. In a word, there have been worse men and greater fools; and we may again ask whether those who obeyed and flattered him were not more contemptible than Beau Nash himself.
So much for the powers of impudence and a fine coat!