(London: J. Johnston, 1820). 233 x 143 mm. (9 1/8 x 5 7/8"). iv, , 319 pp. FIRST EDITION IN BOOK FORM.
Attractive contemporary purple straight-grain morocco, covers with gilt frame in the Romantic style, raised bands, spine compartments framed in gilt with drawer-handle cornerpieces, gilt titling, gilt-ruled turn-ins with drawer-handle ornaments at corners, green watered silk endleaves, all edges gilt. With engraved title page featuring hand-colored vignette and 19 HAND-COLORED ENGRAVED PLATES. Front flyleaf with bookplate of Harald Pedersen, and verso of front free endpaper with bibliographical notes in pencil. Abbey, "Life" 265; Tooley 434. Spine sunned to maroon, bottom corners a bit rubbed, frontispiece cropped close at foot (with much of the imprint trimmed away), otherwise quite a fine copy--the plates in excellent impressions and pleasantly colored, without the typical offsetting from these kinds of illustrations, and the binding lustrous and with scarcely any wear.
With charming illustrations by one or more of the 19th century's leading caricaturists, this work is an imitation of the popular "Tour" books of Doctor Syntax, featuring a pedantic clergyman and schoolmaster meeting with an onslaught of amusing misfortunes in the course of his wanderings. The original "Tour," published in 1812, was conceived of as a parody of the books of picturesque travels then enjoying a considerable vogue, and when it met with a great popular response itself, two more tours followed in 1820 and 1821. Even this could not sate the public, and a number of imitations of the Syntax books, including the present work, were issued. There is some disagreement as to whether Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) or Isaac Robert Cruikshank (1789-1856) created the illustrations here; as Tooley notes, "Both Rowlandson and I. R. Cruikshank are credited with the designs for the plates, the balance of opinion favoring Cruikshank but according to the advertisement . . . more than one artist was employed, or at least a different engraver to the artist." Either way, the amusing illustrations of the follies and faux-pas of the good Doctor Syntax do not disappoint. Aside from being in pleasing condition, our copy also stands out for its particularly attractive contemporary binding. (ST15905)
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PJP Catalog: 76.228