Euphrosyne: by GRAVES, Richard (1715-1804).

GRAVES, Richard (1715-1804).

Euphrosyne: or, Amusements on the Road of Life. By the author of The Spiritual Quixote. London, Dodsley, 1776 -1780.

First Editions. Two volumes, 8vo, (178 x 112mm), engraved frontispiece to each volume (v. I Collyer after C.W.B.; v. II C. Grignion after W. Hoare) and pp. [iv], viii, [viii], 308; xvii, [i], [x], 211, two further engraved vignettes in the text to volume one by Collyer, engraved tail-pieces on the last page of both volumes (v. I by ‘J.W.’; v. II by C. Grignion), small tear on the last leaf of volume two, without loss and not touching text, final leaves rather browned, in contemporary calf, spines gilt in compartments with red morocco labels lettered in gilt, and second red labels numbered in gilt, with a later Crichton Stuart heraldic bookplate.

An attractive set of this elegant poetical compilation by Richard Graves, author of the highly successful picaresque novel, The Spiritual Quixote, 1773. The two volumes were published four years apart, and the second volume is more commonly found with the second edition of the first volume which was brought out with it. The first volume is dedicated to Lady Head, wife of Sir Thomas Head, of Langley in Berkshire, and the second volume is dedicated to Mrs Warburton ‘as a slender tribute of gratitude for many and important favours received from the family at Prior-Park’. The first volume begins with an eight page Apology - ‘some apology is undoubtedly requisite for publishing at this time of day Madrigals in form’ - in which Graves gives an account of his poetical development, charting influences from Voltaire to his friend William Shenstone. He concludes by stating that, if any of his poems had been immoral, he would sooner have consigned them ‘to eternal oblivion’ than have printed them, even though he fears their destination to humble: ‘to be exposed on stalls... or to encrease the trash of circulating libraries’. The preface to the second volume explains that much of the contents were written for a poetical society at ‘B- E-n’, viz. the literary salon hosted by Anna Miller at her house in Batheaston. Although a number of important writers attended the salon, including David Garrick and Anna Seward, its pretentious customs and Miller’s own mediocre poetry caused it to be widely mocked. ‘This society, I am aware’, writes Graves, ‘has been exposed to the undeserved insults of envy and disappointment: and even to the affected sneers of some fastidious critics of a more respectable character’, by which he probably means Dr. Johnson.
The volumes are attractively illustrated, with engraved frontispieces, vignettes and tail-pieces. The frontispiece to volume one depicts a bucolic scene illustrating a quotation from Virgil, engraved by Joseph Collyer (1748-1827); the two further engraved vignettes in the text are also by Collyer. The frontispiece to volume two, featuring another bucolic scene, is by Charles Grignion (1721-1810). This shows a flighty lady playing the tamborine (possibly Euphrosyne herself, the goddess of mirth and one of the three graces) with three ladies dancing in the background. The half-page engraving on the final leaf (also by Grignion, after C.W.B.) depicts an antique urn decorated with laurels: presumably this refers to the vase used at the Batheaston salon, which was a key feature in the lambasting of the society. Purchased by Anna Miller after it was dug up at Frascati in 1759, the vase was decorated with laurels and placed on an altar, where guests were invited to approach, in order to place their poetical compositions in the vase.

ESTC t146430; t126154.

Keywords: English Literature
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