Biography of Christopher Anstey
Christopher Anstey (October 31, 1724 – August 3, 1805) was an English writer and poet.
Anstey was the son of a wealthy clergyman the rector of Brinkley, Dr. Anstey in Cambridgeshire, where he was born. He was educated at Eton College and King's College, Cambridge, where he distinguished himself for his Latin verses. He became a fellow of his college (1745); but the degree of M.A. was withheld from him, owing to the offence caused by a speech made by him beginning: "Doctores sine doctrina, magistri artium sine artibus, et baccalaurei baculo potius quam lauro digni." In 1754 he succeeded to the family estates and left Cambridge; and two years later he married the daughter of Felix Calvert of Albury Hall, Herts. For some time Anstey published nothing of any note, though he cultivated letters as well as his estates. Some visits to Bath, however, where later, in 1770, he made Royal Crescent his permanent home, resulted in 1766 in his famous rhymed letters, The New Bath Guide or Memoirs of the Blunderhead Family..., a satirical poem of considerable sparkle, about the adventures of the "Blunderhead" family in Bath, from which Tobias Smollett is said to have drawn largely in his The Expedition of Humphry Clinker. The work had immediate success, and was enthusiastically praised for its original kind of humour by Walpole and Gray. The Election Ball, in Poetical Letters from Mr Inkle at Bath to his Wife at Gloucester (1776) sustained the reputation won by the Guide. He made many other excursions into literature which are hardly remembered, and ended his days as a country squire at the age of eighty. His Poetical Works were collected in 1808 (2 vols.) by the author's son John (d. 1819), himself author of The Pleader's Guide (1796), in the same vein with the New Bath Guide.
Anstey was buried at St. Swithin's Church in Bath but has a memorial in the South Transept of Westminster Abbey.
Christopher Anstey Poems
Oft I've invok'd th' Aönian quire, And Phoebus oft in vain, Like thee, my friend, to tune my lyre, Like thee to raise my strain:
To Sir William Draper, K.B.
Freely I'd give ye cups of gold, Rich with the curious works of old; With coins and medals I'd present ye, And send ye rings and seals in plenty;
On The Occasion
Worn with the raging gout's consuming fires, The good Northumberland to Bath retires: There Health awhile her flattering respite brings
Britian’s Genius; Written
``Come and listen to my ditty.'' On that fam'd and ancient station Where to Thames the Medway runs, When in lawless combination
On The Recovery
With pining sickness worn, her beauty fled, Hither my Charlotte's trembling steps I led; Meek and resign'd, from this salubrious well
The Farmer’s Daughter, A Poetical Tale
Keen was the blast, and bleak the morn, When Lucy took her way, To seek the wretch, whose perjur'd vows Had led her youth astray:
To A Friend, On The Loss Of An Amiable D...
True, she was sweet, and lovely in thine eyes, Like some fair flower that blooms awhile, and dies: Yet O forbear thy heart--felt pangs to shew
Contentment; Or Hints To
Dearly beloved Countrymen and Friends, Accept the verse an half--starv'd Poet sends: Who scant of paper in these needy times,
Charity; A Poetical Paraphrase
Had it pleas'd him, from whom all wisdom flows, Him, who each good, each perfect gift bestows, With knowledge to exalt my feeble mind,
Well, Slider!--and how d'ye go on with my book? I knew it would answer the trouble I took. I hope that you like my collection of rhymes;-- Don't you think 'tis a neat little touch on the times?
An Election Ball
A thousand times hug'd with outlandish grimace, Saluted as oft' on both sides of my face, Distress'd with fine speeches, some Italiano,
An Election Ball
Once more, O! ye Muses, from Pindus descend, And bid all the Graces your footsteps attend, Who oft at elections are wont to prolong
An Election Ball,
--And so, as I told thee before, my dear wife, I'll go to the ball tho' it cost me my life-- --Must I be shut up, till, like poor neighbour Snarler, I be smok'd like a joss in mine own little parlour?
Ah me! full sorely doth it rend my heart, O! Pessimus, my veteran friend, to view Thy time--worn front, and curls of yellow hue,
I ne'er (tho' fame applaud me to my wrong)
Stood forth the champion of Heroic Song;
Or once have felt (so Heav'n direct my ways)
The conscious pang of self--condemning praise;
Tho' but with ivy deck'd, without a frown
I can behold another's laurel crown:
Unfit for me; who from the secret shade
Ne'er to the throne my humble Muse convey'd,
Ne'er dar'd at Majesty my jest to aim