1780
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

On Caprice.

Euphrosyne: or, Amusements on the Road of life. By the Author of The spiritual Quixote. Vol. II.

Rev. Richard Graves


An imitation of Milton's L'Allegro by Shenstone's friend and correspondent: "To-day you smile, to-morrow frown: | You raise our hopes, then spurn them down; | Now spread and now contract your sail, | As fancy and caprice prevail. | Would any wretch embark for life | With such a fair — fantastic wife?" The "Ode to Caprice" seems to have been Graves's most popular poem.

Isaac Reed: "Richard Graves, second son of Richard Graves, Esq; was born at Mickleton, in the County of Gloucester, May 4, 1715. He was educated at Abington School, Berks; elected from thence Nov. 1, 1732, a Scholar of Pembroke College, Oxford; and chosen Fellow of All Souls College, 1736. In 1739 he became M.A. He is now Rector of Claverton, and Vicar of Kilmerston, in the County of Somerset" Dodsley's Collection of Poems (1783) 4:347n.

Francis Kilvert: "To lady Miller's vase at Bath-easton he was a frequent contributor, and his early habituation to refined society, as well as his peculiar facility in the lighter species of composition, must have qualified him in a high degree to appear with advantage at her elegant reunions. He seems indeed to have been an acceptable companion in all societies; and the secret of his universal welcome manifestly was his constant good humour and cheerfulness, and the lively tone of his conversation, his colloquial impromptus being often as happy as the jeux d'esprit of his pen; while both, though marked by greater licence than our modern sense of propriety allows, were always the effusions of a sportive fancy and a guileless heart" Kilvert, Remains (1866) 99-100.



Offspring of Pride and lawless Pow'r,
Whom Folly, in an evil hour,
The gifts of Fortune to defeat,
Brought forth, the torment of the Great!
Caprice! go vent thy little rage
On vice, deformity, or age:
There tyrannize with boundless sway,
Nor youth and beauty make thy prey.

With those bright eyes, that blooming face,
That shape, and air, and winning grace;
With all that wit and taste impart,
To hold in captive chains the heart:
Yet, Laura, with what fatal haste
Your fleeting moments run to waste!
Your spring of life, alas! is o'er,
That joyous age that comes no more!
You captives make, yet not a swain
But soon, disgusted, breaks his chain.
Caprice those brilliant eyes disarms,
An antidote to all your charms!
Fraught with the power to save or kill,
You lovers gain to treat them ill;
To-day you smile, to-morrow frown:
You raise our hopes, then spurn them down;
Now spread and now contract your sail,
As fancy and caprice prevail.
Would any wretch embark for life
With such a fair — fantastic wife?

No; rather let me stem the tide,
Without a helm my bark to guide;
The sport of waves and varying winds,
Than trust to such capricious minds,
Where whim and passion hold the rein,
And slighted reason pleads in vain.

Tho' Fortune on our prospects smiles,
Caprice our fairest hopes beguiles.
Tho' blest with friends, with youth and health,
And all the gay parade of wealth;
With equipage, a mansion fair,
With turrets glittering high in air;
Our lawns extend, our waving woods
Inverted nod from silver floods;
With every earthly means of bliss,
Our roads to happiness we miss.
Capricious Fancy's dazzling light
Misleads us, like a dancing spright:
Thro' woods and wilds we vagrant roam,
And never reach our destin'd home.

Nature decks out a various feast,
To humour each fastidious guest;
But Fancy, like a wayward child,
By too indulgent parents spoil'd,
Indignant kens the offer'd treat:
Tho' urged by hunger, scorns to eat;
Turns from mamma with angry eye;
And frets and pouts — it knows not why.

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