Senilities; or, Solitary Amusements: in prose and verse: with a Cursory Disquisition on the Future Condition of the Sexes. BOTANY BAY, Richard GRAVES.
Senilities; or, Solitary Amusements: in prose and verse: with a Cursory Disquisition on the Future Condition of the Sexes.
Senilities; or, Solitary Amusements: in prose and verse: with a Cursory Disquisition on the Future Condition of the Sexes.

Senilities; or, Solitary Amusements…
Senilities; or, Solitary Amusements: in prose and verse: with a Cursory Disquisition on the Future Condition of the Sexes.

London & Bath: T.N. Longman and O. Rees; J. Browne, 1801.

Octavo, engraved title-page vignette, 306 pp. and final leaf colophon; contemporary plain calf binding, black label.

No scandal can hurt you at Botany Bay…

Unusual Bath-printed anthology of prose and verse: the title-page features a very Georgian vignette of a hermit in his cave blowing bubbles on a pipe. The collection was published by the long-lived Richard Graves, a varied author, fellow of All Souls, and for 55 years the cherished vicar of Claverton, only a short walk from Bath. Graves is well-known as the author of The Spiritual Quixote (a satire on the excesses of Methodism) and his works were much read by the Georgians (Jane Austen, to cite only one example, showed herself familiar with his writings with a knowing allusion in Sense & Sensibility). A long entry in the DNB is testament to Graves' significance.

Unusual Bath-printed anthology of prose and verse: the title-page features a very Georgian vignette of a hermit in his cave blowing bubbles on a pipe. The collection was published by the long-lived Richard Graves, a varied author, fellow of All Souls, and for 55 years the cherished vicar of Claverton, only a short walk from Bath. Graves is well-known as the author of The Spiritual Quixote (a satire on the excesses of Methodism) and his works were much read by the Georgians (Jane Austen, to cite only one example, showed herself familiar with his writings with a knowing allusion in Sense & Sensibility). A long entry in the DNB is testament to Graves' significance.

The collection of prose and poems here certainly lives up to Graves' reputation as a light and amusing author. Dedicated to Sir Richard Colt Hoare, the antiquary and traveller, proprietor of Stourhead, many of the themes are quite racy ("The Consolation of Neglected Virgins", "The Domestic Despot", or "To a Disconsolate Virgin"), but there is also a smattering of more broadly political poems, among which "Botany-Bay. A New Song" is the most interesting.

Set to the tune "By Jove, I'll be Free" (which was much used for simple lyric songs in the 1780s and 1790s), the poem is a light-hearted invitation for young virgins "frolic and fair" who "of husbands despair", to "Bid adieu! to old England, and trip it away, / And join the bold convicts at Botany Bay." The poem also comments that not only virgins are wanted, and that women of fallen virtue ("having been once to a lover too kind") were welcome in the colony as well, and so on for eight amusing stanzas. A note to the poem comments that it had been written earlier, "during the American contest", although this does seem to have been its first and only publication. The poem is an interesting addition to what might be called the "uncollected" Botany Bay verse that circulated and was tremendously popular for a generation or so after 1788.

Provenance: J. Baldwin (printed book-ticket, numbered 1004).

Condition Report: Binding rubbed at edges and joints but good.

Price (AUD): $1,100.00

US$834.04   Other currencies

Ref: #5000269

Condition Report