Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, “Farewell to Bath”


 “Farewell to Bath” 


To all you ladies now at Bath,
And eke, ye beaus, to you,
With aching heart, and watry eyes,
I bid my last adieu.

Farewell, ye nymphs, who waters sip                               5
Hot reeking from the pumps,
While music lends her friendly aid,
To cheer you from the dumps.

Farewell ye wits who prating stand,
And criticise the fair;                                                    10
Yourselves the joke of men of sense,
Who hate a coxcomb’s air.

Farewell to Deard’s, and all her toys,
Which glitter in her shop,
Deluding traps to girls and boys,                                        15
The warehouse of the fop.

Lindsay’s and Hayes’s both farewell,
Where in the spacious hall;
With bounding steps, and sprightly air,
I’ve led up many a ball.                                                 20

Where Somerville of courteous mien,
Was partner in the dance,
With swimming Haws, and Brownlow blithe,
And Britton pink of France.

Poor Nash, farewell! may fortune smile,                              25
Thy drooping soul revive,
My heart is full, I can no more—
John, bid the Coachman drive.


Author First attributed to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in The Poetical Works of the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, published in 1768.  It was subsequently included in a miscellany, Water Poetry:  A Collection of Verses Written at Several Public Places (London, 1771) also under Montagu’s name.  Recent scholarship has challenged this attribution.  See Robert Halsband and Isobel Grundy, eds., Lady Mary Wortley Montagu:  Essays and Poems and Simplicity, a Comedy (Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1993), p. 173.

Title The poem first appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine in July, 1731, as “Lady M. M—‘s Farewel [sic] to Bath.”  Halsband and Grundy note that “Lady Mary’s name was extremely unlikely to be formulated this way” and “the designation fits at least two other ladies” at that time (p. 173).

eke “Also, too, moreover” (OED); beaus Attendant or suitor of a lady (OED).

3 watry Archaic spelling of “watery.”

6 pumps Refers to the Pump Rooms that were built adjacent to the communal Roman Baths. They initially operated as changing areas for those going swimming; however, due to how dirty the bathing water became, drinking the water directly from the pumps became the preferred and more accessible way of taking the water. Thus, they became centers of social activity at Bath (“History: The Bath Assembly,” The Bath Magazine [August, 2021]).

9 prating “To talk or chatter; to speak foolishly, boastfully, or to great length, especially to little purpose” (OED).

12 coxcomb “A vain conceited, or pretentious man; a man of ostentatiously affected mannerisms or appearance” (OED).

13 Deard’s Mrs. Deard was an eminent toy shop owner in Bath (Trevor Fawcett, Eighteenth-Century Shops and the Luxury Trade, p. 67)

16 fop See “coxcomb” above.

17 Lindsey’s and Hayes’s Popular assembly rooms in Bath; Lindsey’s was built by John Wood the Elder in 1730 (“History: The Bath Assembly,” The Bath Magazine [August, 2021]).

21 Somerville Possibly a reference to William Somerville (1675-1742) British writer and, later in life, lawyer and country gentleman (Britannica); mien “Air, look, manner” (Johnson).

23 swimming “(Of dancing) to glide along with a smooth or dizzy motion (Johnson); Haws Probably Lady Frances Vane (née Hawes) (1715-1788), who was unmarried in 1731; Brownlow Possibly Eleanor Brownlow, later Viscountess Tyrconnel (1691-1730), who had been in Bath in the early months of 1730 recovering from an illness, but died later that year in September (see Stanley V. Makower, Richard Savage, A Mystery in Biogaphy, p. 193); blithe “Joyous, gladsome, cheerful” (OED).

24 Britton pink of France Unable to trace.

25 Nash Richard “Beau” Nash (1674-1762), “celebrated dandy and leader of fashion in eighteenth-century Britain” (National Portrait Gallery); largely credited for boosting the social and tourist landscape of Bath in the early 1700s (“History: The Bath Assembly,” The Bath Magazine [August, 2021]).

SOURCE: Letters of the Right Honourable L–y M–y W—–y M—–u, vol. II (London, 1784), pp. 268-269.  [Google Books]

Edited by Chloe Caneday