Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Christopher Anstey

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ANSTEY, Christopher, poet, was son of the Rev. Christopher Anstey, rector of Brinkley, Cambridgeshire,, where he was born in 1724-5. He was educated at Eton and King s college, Cambridge. He was originally de signed for the church, but his degrees being withheld from him, he retired into privacy "upon a competent fortune." He was rusticated from the university. A speech made by him in one of the public schools upon some offence given by him, thus began, " Doctores sine doctrina, magistri artium sine artibus, et baccalaurei baculo potius quam lauro digni." The penalty was his rustication. He entered the army, and having married a daughter of Cabert of Allbury Hall, Herts, he obtained a seat in parliament for Hertford by his father-in-law s influence. One of the most glaring of current literary blunders is the common statement that the Neiv Bath Guide of Christopher Anstey was in a great measure built on Smollett s novel of Humphrey Clinker. The facts are that the New Bath Guide was published in 1766, whilst Humphrey Clinker was not written until 1770, and was first published in 1771. It may be conceded that Sir Walter Scott holds- the balance even in his verdict, as follows: "But Anstey s diverting satire was but a slight sketch compared to the finished and elaborate manner in which Smollett has, in the first place, identified his characters, and then filled them with language, sentiments, and powers of observation in exact correspondence with their talents, temper, condition, and disposition " ( Works of Smollett, Introduction). Per haps " diverting " is a rather inadequate word, for there is depth of insight and weight of shrewd sense beneath the sparkle and the laughter of the New Bath Guide. The Election Ball, in Poetical Letters from Mr Inkle at Bath to his Wife at Gloucester, sustained the reputation won by the Guide. It seems to us even more brilliant in its wit, anc finely touched as verse. Other productions in verse anc prose have long passed into oblivion. The poetical works were collected in 1808 (2 vols.) by the author s son John himself author of The Pleader s Guide, in the same vein with the New Bath Guide. He died on 3d August 1805.

(a. b. g.)