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appeared on his breakfast table as regularly as the matutinal muffin. This is a sample of the rhymed stuff which the Della Cruscas of the day lavished with almost criminal generosity on their sovereign. Nash was ill and the Vates Sacer prays for his recovery. Vates loquitur:
Say, must the friend of human kind,
Of most refin'd, of most diffusive mind,
Must Nash himself beneath these ailments grieve?
To heal the sick, the wounded to restore,
Come then, kind Health! O quickly come away,
These touching lines, we should have said, were written while Nash was at Tunbridge, a fact which will explain some of the allusions; reminding us too that Bath was not his only realm. He ruled at Tunbridge also, as master of the ceremonies. Probably life at the two watering-places was much the same. If Bath had its famous Mr. Gill, celebrated by the Muse of Anstey, Tunbridge, we may be sure, was equally fortunate. If poetasters flourished round the vase of the egregious Lady Miller, was there not at Tunbridge the library, glorious every whit as "the ever-green tree of evil" in the Rivals, where, in a volume set apart for the sacred purpose, the local bard enshrined his Tunbridgalia? The Pantiles at the one matched the Parade at the other, and the men and women who sauntered up and down the two were equally aristocratic and idle. If the Memoirs of Lady Woodford were in much request in the western capital, it was at Tunbridge that Miss Piper had the distressing bad fortune "to lose her lover and her character last summer."
And now the inevitable question suggests itself—how did Nash-who came to Bath a penniless adventurer-manage to support all this magnificent display. It is not difficult, according to Thackeray, to live on nothing a year yourself, provided that you set about it with a sufficient amount of skill and a summary dismissal of conscience from all your calculations. But after all even Becky Sharp did not pose as a patron of litera
ture. What then was Nash's secret? How did he stave off the "ignoble pains of pecuniary embarrassment ?" Alas! it is only too true that even with the best of men we cannot venture to penetrate too far behind the scenes. Nash thrived very well and made an imposing show, but it all depended on the gambling table. He set up gaming tables at Bath and Tunbridge from which certain revenues came to him, and he gambled on his own account, for a time, at any rate, with a success which might have roused the envy of his contemporary, Mr. Barry Lyndon; et voilà tout. The methods of appropriating the property of novices (who "did not understand") were various enough; Goldsmith gives quite a list. There were "Gleek" and "Primero," and "In-and-In," in the days of pre-historic and primitive card-sharping. To these succeeded the "Ace of Hearts" and "Pharaoh," to which the references in literature are pretty frequent, and "Basset" and "Hazard." And when these ingenious amusements were severally suppressed by law there succeeded" Passage " ("daily practised and contributed to the ruin of thousands "), and "Marlborough's Battles," and above all "E O," a variation on the modern combination of letters! Eventually, however, even these mild and inoffensive pastimes were declared illegal by a brutal and unsympathetic Government, and Nash was thus left stranded.
From this time we must date his decline. He had lived too long. He should have died at the very moment when the immortal snuff-box passed into his hands. It is sad to think of the great man in these last years of his life. He got into debt-and debt is terribly vulgar. Anybody can be in debtexcept a few miserable millionaires. Even worse, he became involved in continual disputes, libels, and what not, and this a man who, when fortune smiled, had unaproned a duchess! Verily, Almariva was not himself;-his star had set. The climax was reached in 1760, when Quin, who had retired to Bath to rock there "the cradle of declining age," and eat his favourite fish, absolutely intrigued for the master's place.* Goldsmith prints a letter
In the second edition of the Life, Goldsmith says that the letter was an obvious forgery, a statement called forth by the following "epigram :"—
TO THE EDITOR OF "NASH'S LIFE."
Think'st thou that Quin, whose parts and wit
Could e'er such ribald stuff have writ,
Or wished for Nash's place.
With scorn we read thy senseless trash,
For Quin no more could sink to Nash,
St. James' Magazine for 1762.
from Quin written (with much quaintness of orthography) to a certain "My dear lord," in which the actor declares that Bath is not what it was; that "this man "-Mrs. Raggles, it will be remembered, objected to the title "good woman;" conversely, is not "man" equally insulting?" by his pride and extravagancies has outlived his reasein it would be happy for thiss city that he was ded"—and that the one hope of the universe lay in the speedy appointment of himself (Quin) as "master of the ceremonies." Fortunately for poor Nash he did not live long enough to be deprived of his office. He died February 3rd, 1761, in his house at Bath, and- says Goldsmith-" he was scarcely dead when the public papers were filled with elegies, groans, and characters; and before he was buried there were epitaphs ready to inscribe on his stone. I remember one of these character writers, and a very grave one too, after observing, alas! that Richard Nash was no more, went on to assure us that he was 'sagacious, debonair and commode;' and concluded with gravely declaring that impotent posterity would in vain fumble to produce his successor.' And then, equally sorrowful, gave us to know, that he was indeed a man;' an assertion which I fancy none will be so hardy as to contradict. But the merriest of all the lamentations made upon this occasion was that where he was called a constellation of the heavenly sphere.' One thing, however, is common almost with all of them; and that is that Venus, Cupid, and the Graces are commanded to weep; and that Bath shall never find such another."
What we may call the official and authorised mourning was "done"-Pickwick, I trust, has made this use of the word classical-by Dr. Oliver, of biscuit celebrity, and the not inglorious King. The former published a "sketch," which extended to six pages in the original edition of the Life, and which naturally attributes to Nash every virtue under the sun; the latter evolved five pages of irreproachable lapidary Latin that concluded on this wise :
THE GODODIN OF ANEURIN GWAWDRYDD.
They went to Catraeth with day,
Their targes' din as thunder rose.
With pikes the lines would pierce and tear,
For Catraeth's fight, when told in song,
Before Echeching's fort his shout
On Bludwe's stream in Mordai's land;
The sun, the leader of day,
Their blood in battle flowed.
He stroke for stroke repaid;
Honour to the gallant be,
Forward chiefs of Novant three,
A troop five hundred strong,
Three chiefs, three hundred pressed;
What golden companies went forth !