London: Alfred Miller, 1830. Item #05649
The Tale of a Gentleman Wag by 'The Water Poet'
Illustrated by Robert Cruikshank
CRUIKSHANK, Robert. TAYLOR, John. Monsieur Tonson. By John Taylor. Illustrated by Robert Cruikshank. Second edition. London: Alfred Miller, 1830.
Second edition with illustrations by Robert Cruikshank.
Small octavo (6 1/4 x 3 15/16 inches; 159 x 100 mm.). Frontispiece of 'Tom King', [i-iii]-iv, -19, [3, advertisements] pp. Eight wood-engraved illustrations by Robert Cruikshank including the frontispiece and a small cul-de-lampe at the end of the text. With the original yellow paper wrappers printed in black at front and rear.
Bound ca. 1890 in full red calf, covers with double-rule gilt borders, smooth spine decoratively tooled in gilt, black morocco label lettered horizontally in gilt, decorative gilt turn-ins, red silk liners and endleaves, top edge gilt, others uncut. An excellent copy.
"A second edition was issued in the same year (1830), but with the imprint "Alfred Miller," and in yellow paper wrappers." (Cohn).
Originally published in 1808, this astonishing poem, tells of how a Mr Tom King, a gentleman wag, knocks at the door of a Frenchman [Monsieur Bellouvrage]. The man answers the door courteously to find that King wants to know if a Mr Thompson lives there. No 'Monsieur Tonson' lives there replies the Frenchman. But King is back next night, and the following four nights after that, making the same enquiry, and bringing friends to share the 'joke' with. Though scrupulously polite at first, the little Frenchman becomes increasingly angry until he attempt, but fails, to throw a pail of water on King's head. At last, the Frenchman and his wife are forced to move out. King then goes abroad for some years. When he returns, he repeats his trick.
Robert Cruikshank, sometimes known as Isaac Robert Cruikshank (1789-1856) was a caricaturist, illustrator and portrait miniaturist. He was born in Middlesex, where he and his brother George attended school in Edgware. Both brothers were interested in the theatre, and performed in dramas they had written themselves with their friend Edmund Kean. Isaac joined the Loyal North Britons, a volunteer military unit, rising to the rank of sergeant when the volunteers turned out in 1803. During adolescence both brothers attended boxing and fencing matches, cock-fights, and numerous tavern contests. Cruikshank gained a midshipman's commission in the East India Company's ship Perseverance. Midshipman Cruikshank did not get on with his captain, and returning on his maiden voyage he was deliberately left behind on St. Helena. He arrived back in London in 1806 and shocked his family who were in mourning having been told that he was dead. In the late 1820s Robert Cruikshank illustrated a number of notable books that were often sequels to previous successes to which he and his brother George had contributed. For example, George Cruikshank illustrated Points of Humour and Robert Cruikshank illustrated Points of Misery. The brothers collaborated on a series of 'London Characters' in 1827. Amongst his other illustrations are some notable ones for Miguel de Cervantes' classic novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha.
John Taylor (1578-1653) was an English poet who dubbed himself "The Water Poet". He achieved notoriety by a series of eccentric journeys: for example, he traveled from London to Queenborough in a paper boat with two stockfish tied to canes for oars, described in "The Praise of Hemp-Seed".
Cohn, 783 (second edition).