Reference > Cambridge History > The Victorian Age, Part Two > Caricature and the Literature of Sport > Gilpin
  Dr. Syntax The Microcosm of London  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

VI. Caricature and the Literature of Sport.

§ 7. Gilpin.


Comic drawings, the development of his caricature, were not the only work that Rowlandson did for Ackermann and other publishers. This was an age in which illustrated books of travel became popular; and Dr. Syntax, as we have seen, satirised a general taste. The fashion owed much to the books of William Gilpin, a clergyman, who, in 1782, published his Observations on the River Wye and several parts of South Wales, where the picturesque was easily found. Gilpin who, in his views on education and on poor-law reform, was in advance of his time, was in advance of it, also, in his drawings, which have been described as studies for landscape rather than portraits of particular places. With the pen, like Dr. Syntax, he “prosed it here and versed it there,” his descriptions erring, as Combe thought, in excess of poetical diction, but being enriched with many ingenious reflections. This handsome work was followed by others of the same kind from his pen and pencil. Volumes on Cumberland and Westmorland, on Hampshire, Sussex and Kent, and on Cambridge, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, were published during his life or posthumously; in 1790, he issued Remarks on Forest Scenery and other Woodland Views (relating chiefly to picturesque beauty), illustrated in the scenes of the New Forest, with plates by his nephew, William Sawrey Gilpin, who was the first president of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours, or the “Old Society”; and, in 1798, Picturesque Remarks on the Western Parts of England and the Isle of Wight. Gilpin, in fact, was the apostle of the picturesque; and the illustrated tour (which brought Dr. Syntax a handsome sum of money) was a fashion of the day. Boydell had followed up his volume of views in England and Wales with two volumes (1794 and 1796) on the Thames, in which the letterpress was written by William Combe; and illustrated books of travel were among the most successful publications of Ackermann, who issued a series of “picturesque tours” on the Rhine, the Seine, the Thames, in the English Lakes, in India and other works. For his great publication of 1821–6, The World in Miniature, the earlier of the 637 plates were the work of Rowlandson, and the others of William Henry Pyne. To Pyne, who was both painter and writer, Ackermann owed at least the idea of his Picturesque Sketches of Rustic Scenery, and his Views of Cottages and Farm Houses in England and Wales; Pyne himself wrote the text of Royal Residences, which Ackermann issued in 1829 with 100 coloured engravings, and, under the pseudonym Ephraim Hardcastle, was the author of Wine and Walnuts, an anecdotal book published in 1823.   12

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  Dr. Syntax The Microcosm of London  
 
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