|British Nymphs at a Roman Bath|
Along with the recommendations for bathing, we get a little reminder that not every household had its own bathing facilities. London had a number of public bathhouses at this time, as the page from Leigh’s New Picture of London demonstrates.
~~~As a preservative of health the value of cleanliness must be obvious to every sensitive mind, whether indeed it be considered in a medical, a moral, or a cosmetical point.
Personal cleanliness, and every thing connected therewith, is a principal duty of man: an unclean and dirty person is never in health, and, at best, is always a loathsome and disgusting sight. It is better to wash twenty times a-day, than to allow a dirty spot to remain on any part of the skin...
The body, and particularly the joints, ought to be frequently washed with pure water, especially in summer, when the perspirable matter, being of an unctuous, clammy nature, obstructs the excretion by the pores. The face, neck, and hands, being most exposed to the air, dust, and the like, ought to be daily washed, morning and evening…
The whole head ought to be frequently washed and cleaned, as it perspires much, and is, besides, exposed to the dust and other particles in the atmosphere. Washing opens the pores, while the comb, by its close application to the skin, removes the viscid humors and renders them fluid.
The use of baths, too much neglected, ought to be more generally introduced. It is not sufficient for the great purposes of cleanliness and health, that a few or more wealthy families repair every season to watering places, or that they even make use of other modes of bathing, either for health or amusement. A very different method must be pursued, if we sincerely wish to restore the vigor of a degenerated race: we mean here to inculcate the indispensable necessity of domestic baths, so well known among the ancients, and so universally established all over Europe a few centuries ago.
—The Toilette of Health, Beauty, and Fashion 1834
~~~Here’s more on public bathing. Clicking on the Bathing label at right will take you to our many posts on the subject. And here are directions to what may or may not be a Roman Bath in London.
Thomas Rowlandson, British Nymphs at a Roman Bath, courtesy Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.
Leigh’s New Picture of London, public baths.