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EARLY HISTORY OF BATH.
of the cup in those days), she perceived at the bottom the glittering token, and thus became aware of the presence of her son. Bladud afterwards succeeded to the throne, and rewarded his old master by granting him a handsome estate near the hot-springs, and building him a palace and outhouses for his followers. These together made a town divided into two parts, the north town and the south town, to which the swineherd affixed the name of the animals that had been the cause of his good fortune; and even now the north part of the town is called Hogs Norton, but by some Norton Small-Reward, from a tradition that the king's bounty was looked upon by the swineherd as a small reward for what he had done for him. The king himself, it would seem, terminated his career in a very unfortunate manner; for, being of an aspiring disposition, like Rasselas he made an essay at flying, and was even more unfortunate than that prince of romance, for he fell down upon the tower of Salisbury Cathedral, and broke his neck! Puerile as is this tradition, yet would it be a golden one if it should have given Shakspere a hint for his Cymbeline,' and if in Bladud he should have found his Polydore.
Ir is very rarely the case that the history of a city is carried back to its very source. In most instances the extreme distance is lost in the haze of fable, through which we catch vague glimpses of men and things assuming almost gigantic proportions. The good people of Bath, however, see clearer than their neighbours, and run back the line of their city's history until they at last arrive at a founder who counts only the thirtieth in descent from Adam himself! We question if any city in the Principality would desire a more respectable pedigree. Still more extraodinary is their belief that the most polite city in England owes its very existence to the sagacity of a herd of swine! Bathonians notoriously put faith in the story of king Bladud, and why should not we? They place his bust over the door of one of their principal banks, as though to give a golden currency to the tale: we cannot then be accused of literary smashing," for doing our little to pass the somewhat apocryphal coin on to posterity. According to the most approved accounts of the origin of Bath, Bladud, son of the British king Hudibras, was so unfortunate in his youth as to contract a leperous disease; and as in those times they were It seems very doubtful whether the hot-springs of not quite so humane as they are now, he was, on the Bath were made use of by the Britons; and in all propetition of the nobles, banished from his father's court, bability no settlement existed here until that made by lest the loathsome affliction should spread to them- the Romans under the Emperor Claudius, who conselves. The queen, with a true woman's affection, quered and took possession of the neighbouring country however, presented him with a ring, as a token by about half a century before the birth of Christ. As which she should know him again in case he should Roman Bath lay wholly in a valley, such a situation ever return cured. The prince departed, and after must have been chosen by that people for other than miliwandering some time in exile, hired himself to a swine-tary purposes; and there can be no reasonable doubt, herd, whom he found feeding his pigs not far from the addicted as they were to the use of the warm-bath, that site of the future city. The Royal swineherd was so the hot-springs were the chief attraction of the spot. unfortunate, however, as to infect his charge with his These they collected, and erected over them buildings own disease; and fearing that the fact would become which even the Bath of the present day cannot rival. known to his master, he separated from him, and drove An excavation that was made in 1755, near the abbey, his pigs towards the vast forests that at that time exposed to view a series of Roman baths of the most crowned the Lansdown and Beacon hills. The swine, perfect and magnificent description. The following however, taught by nature to medicine their own dis- account of them, given in the History of Somersettempers, made straight for the spot whence issued the shire,' will show how far beyond us they were in the hot-springs, and here wallowed in the marsh caused by construction of such buildings : its overflowing waters. This kindly oblation soon cured them of their disease; which Bladud perceiving, he applied the same remedy, with the like good effect, to his own person. Thus cured, he appeared again before the old herdsman, his master, informed him of the miraculous cure that had been performed upon The descent into it was by seven steps, and a small himself and pigs; and added further to his astonish-channel for conveying the water ran along the bottom, ment, by proclaiming that he was a king's son. To turning at a right angle towards the present King's convince him of this fact, he led him to his father's bath. At a small distance from this was a very large court, and seizing an opportunity when the king and oblong bath, having on three sides a colonnade surqueen banqueted in public, he dropped into the royal rounded with small pilasters, which were probably goblet the ring his mother had given him. As the intended to support a roof. On one side of this bath queen drank (and they did more than taste the rim were two sudatories, nearly square, the floors of which XVIII.-VOL. III.
"The walls of these baths were eight feet in height, built of wrought stone lined with a strong cement of terras: one of them was of a semicircular form, fifteen feet in diameter, with a stone seat round it eighteen inches high, and floored with very smooth flag-stones.
were composed of brick, covered with a strong coat of fifteen centuries ago, must have presented a beautiful terras, and supported by pillars of brick, each brick appearance. Where the heart of the present city stands, being nine inches square, and two inches in thickness. dimly seen through its canopy of smoke, in that disThe pillars were four feet and a half high, and set tant age the columns of the temples shone white against about fourteen inches asunder, composing a hypocaust, the dark blue of the surrounding hills, and many a or vault, for the purpose of retaining the heat necessary noble-browed pediment seemed to watch majestically for the rooms above. The interior walls of the apart- over the fortunes of the grand people who worshipped ment were set round with tubulated bricks or panels at their shrines. Here, too, in the morning sun, shone about eighteen inches long, with a small orifice opening the beautiful gilt statue of Apollo, or the evening inwards, by which the stream of heat was communi- twilight dwelt upon the calm brow of some imaged cated to the apartments. The fire-place from which Minerva. In those days there was little or no coal the heat was conveyed, was composed of a small smoke to obscure the beautiful details of the classic conical arch at a little distance from the outward wall; city; and the whole stamped itself as sharply and dis. and on each side of it, adjoining to the above-men- tinctly upon the surrounding background of bills as tioned rooms, were two other small sudatories of a did any of the antique towns of Italy herself. circular shape, with several small square baths, and But the sumptuousness and grandeur of Aquæ Solis a variety of apartments which the Romans used pre- served other purposes, according to Tacitus, than merely paratory to their entering either the hot-baths or to minister to the wants and to please the sensuous eye sudatories ; such as the Frigidarium, where the bathers of the Roman colonists, To this city flocked the undressed themselves, which was not heated at all; Britons of the surrounding country, and, by participating the Tepidarium, which was moderately heated ; and in the luxuries of the place, gradually sunk beneath its the Eleothesion, which was a small room, containing sensualities and sacrificed their liberty at the altars of oil, ointments, and perfumes. These rooms had a pleasure. “ By these insidious means," says the biscommunication with each other, and some of them torian, " the people were more effectually subjugated were paved with flag-stones and others were beautifully than by the Roman sword.” tesselated with dies of various colours. A regular set of Aquæ Solis remained a place of great resort during well-wrought channels conveyed the superfluous water the whole period of the Roman occupation; and even from the baths into tlre Avon.” These sumptuous after their departure, which event took place in the year buildings were upwards of 240 feet in length, and 120 | 400, the half-civilized Britons maintained it with a in breadth.
diminished splendour : and it was not until the coming Once these baths must have witnessed a thousand of those rude workers, our Saxon ancestors, — who diversified scenes, as they were the great places of re- destroyed but to sow the germ of a more healthful state sort of the Roman people. The poet here recited his of things, that the glory and beauty of the place were last composition, and the athletes excited the luxurious levelled to the dust. bather with a thousand feats of strength; and the song All that remains of this once splendid city is now and the loud laugh caught the ear of many an old stowed away in the vaults and passages of the Literary warrior as he anointed himself luxuriously with the Institution. As you pass along them to read the precious ointments then in use, and little did the busy • Times' of a morning, or to cut open the wet sheets crowd beneath its portico imagine that a few centuries of Blackwood,' your coat brushes against votive altars, would bury it deep in the earth, and that the conqueror wrought by the hands of this antique people. As you who was to come after them would inter their dead wander along the basement-rooms of the building your over the very spot that once contributed to the vigour eye catches mouldering fragments, which the learned of the living Yet so it was : these baths were found have placed together upon conjecture, as the child full twenty feet below the present level of the soil, and despairingly builds up its puzzle. Upon the tables four feet above them were discovered a number of stone are scattered about fragments of drinking-vessels, out coffins, evidently Saxon, thus denoting that the place of which the soldiers of the twentieth legion was used by our ancestors as a place of sepulture, pledged each other; and by stepping into the lecture
In the immediate neighbourhood of these baths room, you will see upon the mantel-piece, amid a crowd arose the stately porticəs of temples to Minerva and of modern ornaments, the gilt head of the Apollo Apollo and other deities of the Roman worship. Some Medicus—a fragment of the grand statue of the deity of these must have been of a very imposing size, as who watched over the city, and who endued the springs portions of Corinthian pillars, measuring nearly three with all their healing powers. The beautiful face of the feet in diameter, have been exhumed, and are now pre- god once so venerated, now claims no more respect served in the Literary Institution. Large and massive (except as a piece of antiquity) than the bronze letter pieces of pediment have also been rescued from the weigher that stands beside it! depths in which they had been submerged; and in one To return, however, to the history of the city: after instance the pieces have been placed together, until we the departure of the Romans, and during the early part see before us the façade of some highly-sculptured of that bloody struggle which took place between the building.
Britons, and the Saxons whom they had invited over to The Bath, (or Aqua Solis, as it was then called,) of their assistance, Aquæ Solis remained in comparative
peace. In the year 493, however, the city was besieged by a Saxon army, under Ella and his three sons, when there doubted King Arthur came to its assistance, and defeated the invaders with terrible slaughter. Again, in the year 520, this legendary hero evinced his prowess by defeating Cedric and his powerful army on the scene of his former victories, killing with his own hand, it is said, no less than four hundred and forty Saxons! After such sharp work as this, his famous brand, Excalibar, must have deserved a thorough grind. As King Arthur without doubt carried his round table among his baggage, who shall say that he did not set it up in the rescued city, and that the voices of Launcelot du Lake and of the other redoubted knights, did not make ring again its ancient walls?
The Saxons, in the year 577, became masters of the city and the neighbouring country, and the Latin name of Aquæ Solis, or City of the Sun, was changed to the homely, but more appropriate, Hat Bathun, or Hot Baths. During the Saxon period there can be no doubt that the hot springs were carefully attended to; as the tepid bath was considered by our ancestors as an absolute necessary of life. The succeeding history of the city, up to the beginning of the eighteenth century, might be turned over without disadvantage. A place of no military strength, scarcely any event of importance occurred in it during the wars of succession of our early English kings; and during the great Rebellion it made but a sorry figure, the Royalist commandant giving up the place to the Parliamentarians in the most ignominious manner. He, according to the famous Prynne's representations in Parliament, "upon the approach only of two dragooners to one of the city gates, discharging their dragoons and setting some straw on fire before the gate, and the sight of twenty men brandishing their swords upon Beechen Cliff, presently sent out for a parley, and making conditions only for himself and his officers to march away with their bag and baggage, and live quietly at their own houses without molestation, valiantly quitted the city without the least assault. The captain then leaping over the wall for haste, and running away into Wales for shelter, before any other forces appeared to summon this strong fortified city, leaves all the common souldiers and citizens to their enemies' mercy, who were thereupon imprisoned, pillaged, or fined."
If much prowess was not shown by the commandant of the city, however, the neighbouring hill of Lansdowne has found a place in history from the bloody battle that was fought upon it on the 5th of July, 1643, between the forces of Sir William Waller and those of the Prince Maurice and the Earl of Carnarvon, in which both parties claimed the victory.
In this action Sir Arthur Hazelrig's Regiment of Lobsters, as they were called from being encased in iron plates, were first brought into service, and completely routed the king's horse, who fled through amazement at such a terrible-looking foe. The Cornish musqueteers, under Sir Beville Granville, managed to
retrieve the day, with the loss of their gallant commander, however, who was slain in their impetuous charge. To commemorate his loss, a monument was erected to his memory, in 1720, by the Honourable George Granville, Lord Lansdowne, on the very spot upon which he fell. This monument is handsomely built of freestone, and on its north tablet is the following inscription, written by Cartwright, in the laudatory style of his day:
"When now th' incensed rebels proudly came
His courage work'd like flames, cast heat about,
But took new force from his inspiring hand : Soldier encouraged soldier, man urged man, And he urged all; so far example can. Hurt upon hurt, wound upon wound did fall, He was the butt, the mark, the aim of all: His soul, the while, retired from cell to cell, At last flew up from all, and then he fell! But the devoted stand, enraged the more From that his fate, plied hotter than before, And proud to fall with him, swore not to yield, Each sought an honour'd grave, and gain'd the field. Thus he being fallen, his actions fought anew, And the dead conquer'd whilst the living flew." During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Bath, in common with Bristol, and many other places in the west of England, was the seat of an extensive woollen trade; but during the Stuart period these manufactures declined, and the city became by degrees a place of resort for health-seekers.
Pepys visited the city in 1668, and leaves us the following account of it in his Diary:-"Having dined very well, 10s., we came before night to the Bath; when I presently stepped out with my landlord, and saw the Baths with people in them. They are not so large as I expected, but yet pleasant; and the town most of stone, and clean, though the streets generally narrow. I home, and being weary, went to bed without supper; the rest supping." Pepys, however, only saw the fair outside of things. Wood, the famous architect, takes us behind the scenes, and shows us domestic Bath up to the beginning of the eighteenth century. "The boards of the dining-rooms," he tells us, " and most other floors, in the houses of Bath, were made of a brown colour with soot and small beer, to hide the dirt as well as their own imperfections; and if the walls of any of the rooms were covered with wainscot, it was such as was mean, and never painted. The chimneypieces, hearths, and slabs, were all of freestone; and these were daily cleaned with a particular kind of whitewash, which, by paying tribute to everything that touched it, soon rendered the brown floors like the starry firmament. . . . With Kidderminster stuff, or
at best with chene, the woollen furniture of the principal rooms was made; and such as were of linen consisted only of corded dimity or coarse fustian; the matrons of the city, their daughters, and their maids, flowering the latter with worsted during the intervals between the seasons, to give the beds a gaudy look. Add to this, also, the houses of the richest inhabitants of the city were, for the most part, of the meanest architecture, and only two of them could show the modern comforts of sash-windows." The city seems to have stood still at this point for a century at least; for between the years 1592 and 1692, it had only increased by seventeen houses!
From such an abject condition as we have described, the city was destined to be raised to the highest degree of magnificence, and to be made the resort of the 'quality' of the land by the genius of two men-Beau Nash and Wood. Those individuals might be said to have supplied the very soul and body of modern Bath: the former by the elegant social life he infused into it; and the latter, by his superb reconstruction of its buildings.
To Richard Nash, however, Bath must mainly attribute the rapidity with which it sprang from an insignificant place, into the focus of fashionable life, and the most pleasurable' city in the kingdom. His genius for trifles, his taste, and his shrewdness, serving him better than more profound abilities would have done in erecting a kingdom of his own, and in governing it in so absolute a manner as he did. Nash commenced life in the army, but speedily becoming tired of the profession he turned to the law, that is, he entered his name on the books at the Temple, and spent his time as a man about town; and his genius for gay life, and his love of intrigue, soon led him into the society of the young bloods of the day. It was a mystery to all his acquaintances, however, how he managed to support the various extravagances he was led into, as he was known to be without fortune. In these days we should look for the secret sources of income of such a person in the columns of the broad sheet, or in the poetical epistles of a puffing tailor; but Nash seems to have been suspected of a much more direct method of replenishing his exhausted purse. His friends, indeed, charged him with procuring money by robbery on the highway! We might guess the state of society when such an accusation could even suggest itself. Nash, full of indignation, replied to the charge, and cleared his honour (!) by handing round to his accusers a billet doux he had just received, enclosing a large sum of money. Having, for some reason or other, got sick of the law, as he had done of his Majesty's service; not, we apprehend, because he "found his mind superior to both," as Dr. Oliver, one of his fulsome eulogists, absurdly hath it, but most probably, that his inclinations suited neither. In a lucky hour he retired to Bath, and there found a pathway to fame
which he would have never reached by the study of 'Coke upon Littleton.'
The condition of the city upon the advent of the Beau, which took place about 1703, was peculiarly favourable to the development of his particular talent. Its accommodations were most contemptible: its houses and public places lacked those elegances and amusements which are calculated to attract those who seek for passing pleasure, or are mainly desirous to kill ennui. The only place where the amusement of the dance could be enjoyed was upon the bowling-green, where a fiddle and a hautboy formed the whole band: the only promenade was a grove of sycamore trees. Of the varied appliances of the gaming-table Bath was then innocent; but the chairmen were so rude, that no respectable female durst pass along the street unprotected, in the evening. The Pump-house was without a director; "and," says Goldsmith, in his Life of Nash,' "to add to all this, one of the greatest physicians of his age (we believe it was Dr. Radcliffe) conceived a design of ruining the city, by writing against the efficacy of its waters. It was from a resentment of some affront he had received there that he took this resolution; and accordingly published a pamphlet, by which, he said, he would cast a toad in the spring."
Nash, at this auspicious moment for his fortune, arrived at Bath, and made a hit at once by assuring the people that he would charm away the poison, as the venom of the tarantula was charmed--by music. He only asked for a band of performers, to make the Doctor's toad perfectly harmless. His proposition was at once agreed to, and the Pump-room immediately received the benefit, by attracting a full and fashionable company; and the spirit of the man so gained their goodwill, that he was speedily voted Master of the Ceremonies-or King of Bath.
Nash commenced his reign by repairing the roads of the city,-a strange duty for a master of the ceremonies to discharge, but one which speaks volumes as to the condition of the thoroughfares at the beginning of the last century. The company, which had hitherto been obliged to assemble in a booth to drink tea and chocolate, or to game, were, under his direction, accommodated with a handsome Assembly-room-the first ever erected in the city. He now set about composing a code of laws for his new subjects; and the conditions he drew up for the observance of a polite society were doubtless intended to smack of wit; but we must confess that, viewed in this light, they fully justified his own admission, that the pen was his torpedo,-whenever he grasped it, it benumbed his faculties. This composition, which was hung up in a conspicuous place in the Pump-room, strongly savours of the Beau's idiosyncrasies.
Rules to be observed at Bath.
1. That a visit of ceremony at first coming, and another at going away, are all that are expected or
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.
Goldsmith says of these rules, rather sneeringly (if his fine nature might be considered capable of a sneer), 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 received with sympathetic approbation."
The public balls, now under his management, were conducted with the greatest decorum. They commenced at six, and concluded at eleven: this rule he maintained so rigidly, that the Princess Amelia once applying to him for one dance more after his authoritative finger had given the signal for the band to withdraw, was refused, with the remark that his laws were like those of Lycurgus, which would admit of no alteration without an utter subversion of all authority. Nash had some difficulty in regulating the dress to be worn at the Assembly; but he went boldly to work, and chid even the most exalted in rank, when they departed from his rules. On one occasion he signified his dislike of the practice of wearing white aprons at the Assembly, by stripping the Duchess of Queensberry of one valued at five hundred guineas, and throwing it at the hinder benches, amongst the ladies' women. The duchess begged his Majesty's pardon, and made him a present of the obnoxious article of apparel,-to our
1.-PORTRAIT OF NASH.
mind a rather keen method of retort. He found the gentlemen, however, not so easily controlled. He tried, in vain, for a long time, to prevent the wearing of swords, on the plea that they tore the ladies' dresses; but, in fact, to put a stop to the numerous duels which arose out of the intrigues of gallants, or disputes at the gaming-table. With a deep insight into human nature, Nash gave out that he wanted to hinder people from doing what they had no mind to. It was not, however, until an encounter took place, in which one of the combatants was mortally wounded, that he succeeded in abolishing the use of the sword in the city of Bath; henceforward, whenever he heard of a challenge, he instantly had both parties placed under arrest.
The gentlemen's boots made the most determined stand against him. The country squires in those days, who must have been a brutal set, we have a very good type of them, no doubt, in Squire Topehall, with whom Roderick Random had the famous drinking bout at Bath,-would come to the balls in their heavy boots. Nash tried all sorts of stratagems to shame them out of their boorishness, and, among others, he wrote a song in which the rhyme is about equal to the severity, as the reader will perceive:
Frontinella's Invitation to the Assembly.
Mind manners and rules;
We Hoydens do decency slight.