London: B. Crosby, 1803. Item #02805
So Scarce It's No Laughing Matter
WOODWARD, George Moutard. Attempts at Humour, Poetical and Physiognomical. London: Printed for the Author; Published by B. Crosby and Co., 1803.
First edition. Quarto (10 x 7 5/8 in; 253 x 193 mm). 27, [1, blank] pp. Eight hand-colored etchings with original tissue guards, designed by Woodward and etched by Percy Roberts.
Original printed blue-gray wrappers in later custom cloth dust jacket. Housed in a later leather-edged slipcase, its cloth matching that of the dust jacket.
Exceptionally scarce. Not in Abbey, Tooley, or other standard references. OCLC records only five copies in institutional holdings worldwide.
Eight verses by Woodward accompanied by his designs:
1. Giles and his Guinea.
2. Tom Long, Smith, the Doctor.
3. Female Constancy.
4. The Difficult Question.
5. Delia's Complaint at Sixty.
6. The Epicure and the Poets.
7. The Pilgrim.
8. Jack at the Play.
"The Author deems it necessary to observe, that some of the following productions are founded on old prosaic anecdotes, though perhaps anecdotes not generally known; but, as the versification is entirely new, he has the example of some of the first humorous poets in his favour for dressing old friends in new clothes.
"An attempt of the kind is however unquestionably as meritorious as setting Goosey Gander and Little Jack Horner to music. Under these considerations he submits them, with their attendant sketches, to the protection of a candid and liberal public' (Advertisement).
Of George Moutard Woodward (1760?–1809), caricaturist and author, the DNB notes that he, "later known as Mustard George, grew up in a Derbyshire town, living with his father and, to judge by the evidence of his later writings, received a sound education. He took early to caricature, ridiculing his neighbours in Derbyshire; a folio of these drawings dated 1781 is in the Derby Local Studies Library, among a sizable collection of his prints, drawings, and book illustrations. His caricatures having caused something of a local stir, he persuaded his father to let him seek his fortune in London.
"Apart from two caricature prints dated 1785 designed by Woodward and published by him from 28 Cary Street, Lincoln's Inn, London, it was not until 1790 that he made an impact on the London scene. Thereafter his output was copious. The British Museum catalogues list 525 examples of his work from the next twenty years, published by Holland, Fores, Ackermann, and latterly Tegg, all leading printsellers. These prints, designed by Woodward, are etched by others—Rowlandson, who was his friend and drinking companion, Isaac Cruikshank, Roberts, and Williams. Woodward's original drawings are vigorous… [and] his value lay in his humorous ideas.
"Woodward…might have rivalled Hogarth. Certainly his collaboration with Rowlandson constituted a lively, if frivolous, commentary on the social scene. Dorothy George described him as ‘original, prolific, varied, humorous and good-humoured,’ and few students of the subject would dispute her conclusion that his death was ‘a loss to caricature’ (George, English Political Caricature, 1.174)" (Oxford DNB).
Gordon Library BC-17. Not in Abbey, Tooley.