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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

VIII. Southey

§ 18. Anstey; The New Bath Guide

The three lighter members of the group, Anstey, Stevenson and Hanbury Williams, were by far the eldest: if Williams had not died prematurely, he would have been a man of over sixty at Southey’s birth, and, though Anstey lived to the year of Modoc, he was fifty when Southey was born. All three, in a manner, were survivals of the school of sarcastic and social verse which had been founded by Prior and Swift, and taken up by Gay. Nor did Anstey, though his verse is somewhat “freer” than taste has permitted for nearly a century, exceed limits quite ordinary in his own day. He is remarkable as being, in poetry, a “single-speech” writer, that is to say as having, like Hamilton himself, by no means confined himself to a single utterance, but as having never achieved any other that was of even the slightest value. An Etonian and a Cambridge man of some scholarship; a squire, a sportsman and a member of parliament, Anstey, in 1766, produced the famous New Bath Guide, a series of verse letters, mainly in anapaests of the Prior type, which at once became popular, and which still stands pre-eminent, not merely among the abundant literature which Bath has produced or instigated, for good humour, vivid painting of manners, facile and well-adapted versification, and fun which need not be too broad for any but a very narrow mind. Anstey lived, chiefly in the city of which he had made himself the laureate, for forty years, and wrote much, but, as has been said, produced nothing of worth after this history of “The Bl[u]nd[e]rh[ea]d Family” and their adventures.