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Dr Syntax In London

July 15, 2022
by the gentle author

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Dr Syntax & his Spouse plan their trip to London

Written anonymously and published in 1820, The Tour of Dr Syntax Through the Pleasures & Miseries of London was one of a popular series of comedies featuring the idiosyncratic  Dr Syntax, a character originated by William Coombe and drawn by Thomas Rowlandson. These plates are believed to be the work of Robert Cruikshank, father of George Cruikshank.

Setting out for London

Arriving in London

Robbed in St Giles High St

A Promenade in Hyde Park

A Flutter at a Gaming House

At an Exhibition at the Royal Academy

At a Masquerade

In St Paul’s Churchyard on a Wet & Windy Day

Inspecting the Bank of England

Presented to the King at Court

A Night at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

A Visit to the House of Commons

A Trip behind the Scenes at the Opera

A Lecture at the London Institution

Going to Richmond on a Steam Boat

Reading his Play in the Green Room

Overshoots London Bridge & pops overboard into the Thames

Images courtesy of Bishopsgate Institute

You may also like to take a look at

Tom & Jerry’s Life in London

More of Tom & Jerry’s Life in London

The Microcosm of London

The Microcosm of London II

George Cruikshank’s Comic Alphabet

George Cruikshank’s London Almanack 1835

6 Responses leave one →
  1. Saba permalink
    July 15, 2022

    Beyond delightful! Loved his hair until I got to Windy Day and realized that it was a wig. Great hat. Just fabulous.

  2. Gregg permalink
    July 15, 2022

    Excellent article. Great piccies. Thanks.

  3. Bill permalink
    July 15, 2022

    I like to think Dr. Syntax survived his dunking. All so fun, even the mugging in St. Giles High Street (whatta buncha punks!)

    Hmm, being presented to the King!

    There was a lovely story about a young woman telling Geo. II how she looked forward to seeing a coronation! Seems old George was too amused to be offended. Good old George.

    Aw, this site is so much fun!

  4. William Martin permalink
    July 16, 2022

    The colors are so brilliant! How did the printer achieve that?

  5. Richard permalink
    July 16, 2022

    Very amusing. Thanks. Love the way the wife adopts the hat with the hugest feathers.

  6. Grizzle the Nag permalink
    February 11, 2024

    Dr Syntax – the English classic that never came to be. Thankfully, in a culture absorbed by one Austen rehash after another, Thomas Rowlandson and ‘Old Combe’s’ creation has slipped through the cracks and remains a forgotten treasure for those who stumble across it. This makes the price of original editions and ceramic merchandise wonderfully inexpensive!

    Dr Syntax was ahead of its time: the first popular serialized English character, the forerunner of the comic, the first fictional character with mass merchandising, and the first series to do a spin-off (Johnny Quae Genus after the Dr’s death). The visual representation (in aquatint) of a hapless individual plagued by bathetic and farcical situations was arguably the forerunner of late 20th century English humour (in film).

    As entertaining as the Dr’s adventures are, Rowlandson and Combe were at their best “The English Dance of Death”, a classic and irreverent English take on an otherwise glum topic!

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