Bath Characters

Book

Description

English

Bath Characters: or, Sketches from Life is a series of satirical dialogues mocking Bath and the people who stayed there. In the Proemium (preface), Peter Paul Pallet describes Bath as full of vanity, hypocrisy and vice. He suggests that ridiculing the people who stay in Bath will make them confront their foolishness – and, he hopes, reform their behaviour. 

Bath was a fashionable place to stay in the 18th and early-19th centuries, when many people believed that drinking and bathing in spa water had significant health benefits. Much of the period’s satirical literature about Bath mocks visitors to the town, labelling them as hypochondriacs, or as people who seemingly come to deal with their health but in reality to boost their social standing, attend balls or find a marriage partner. 

More about Bath Characters 

Bath Characters consists of five dialogues. The extract shown here is part of the second dialogue, the main character of which is a clergyman called Dr Vegetable. Dr Vegetable has no real religious feeling and cares only for status. He has built a chapel as fashionable destination rather like a ballroom or theatre, and he intends to make people pay to attend. He promises that ‘no tradesman, liver-servants, or poor people’ will be allowed to worship there. He flatters the vanity of the snobbish, pleasure-seeking Lady Lofty, and assures her that there is no harm in the ‘cards and routes; plays and balls; and all the innocent amusements of the gay world’ that go on in Bath. The author says that Lady Lofty ‘represents a species, rather than an individual'’. This is a defence against accusations that he is satirising any noble woman in particular, but it also implies that Bath is full of such women.

Full title
Bath Characters: Or, Sketches from Life
Published
1807 , London
Format
Book
Creator
Peter Paul Pallet [pseudonym] , Richard Warner
Held by
British Library
Usage Terms
Free from known copyright restrictions
Shelfmark
1609/3968

Related articles

The ball in the novels of Jane Austen

Article by
John Mullan
Theme: 
The novel 1780-1832

Professor John Mullan explores the protocol and the passion of balls in Jane Austen’s novels.

Status, rank and class in Jane Austen's novels

Article by
John Mullan
Theme: 
The novel 1780-1832

Questions of status and class are a major preoccupation of Jane Austen’s characters, and of the novels themselves. Professor John Mullan considers both the importance of social status and its satirical potential.

Related collection items

Related works

Persuasion

Created by: Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s (1775 – 1817) final novel was written during a period of failing health, in 1815-16, and ...