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Tom Raw, the Griffin. A Burlesque Poem, in Twelve Cantos: Illustrated by Twenty-Five Engravings, Descriptive of the Adventures of a Cadet in the East India Company's Service, from the Period of his quitting England to his obtaining a Staff Situation in India. By a Civilian and an Officer on the Bengal Establishment.
London: R. Ackermann, 1828. - Octavo. Uncut in original boards, paper label to the spine. Housed in grey cloth drop-back box with black morocco label to the spine. A little rubbed and bumped, creases to the spine which has minor restoration head and tail, free endpapers browned, offsetting from the plates, occasional spot of foxing, but overall very good indeed. Hand-coloured aquatint frontispiece and 24 other similar plates. First edition, first impression, plates watermarked 1826. Light-hearted satirical romp through the mores and foibles of the British Establishment in India in the early part of the nineteenth century. The sharp-eyed plates that accompany D'Oyly's galloping doggerel have in the past been attributed to Rowlandson, they are, however, the work of the author who studied under his good friend, George Chinnery, "the principal portrait painter in the capital of British": "The D'Oylys' house in Calcutta, where Chinnery was a frequent visitor, became a meeting-place in which other enthusiasts assembled to draw and paint. D'Oyly was also responsible for the long burlesque poem Tom Raw, the Griffin (1828); this includes a detailed description (and illustration, 'Tom Raw sits for his Portrait') of Chinnery's studio, where the artist entertains the innocent 'griffin' with effusive conversation and a barrage of puns" (ODNB). D'Oyly was educated at home, and in 1797, aged 15 he sailed for India, with letters of introduction from Warren Hastings. Inevitably, these advanced him quickly to "membership of the 'family' of young men around the governor-general, Lord Wellesley: by 1803 he was head of the private office with a salary of 1000 rupees per month After a brief period out of employment on Wellesley's departure in 1805 (time he used to practise his drawing), D'Oyly's official career followed a conventional path through the ranks of the Bengal civil service In 1820 he moved to Patna as opium agent, becoming commercial resident there in 1831. His house was a centre of hospitality for local society (both British and Indian) and for visitors on their way to and from upper India. His duties did not keep him too busy and 'his pencil like his hookah-snake was always in his hand' After a long leave spent at the Cape of Good Hope (1832–3) he returned to Calcutta as senior member of the Board of Customs, Salt and Opium, and of the Marine Board". D'Oyly was highly thought-of both as an artist - Bishop Heber who stayed with him in 1824 calling him "the best gentleman artist I ever met with" - and as a "man of character," an obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine noting that a contemporary had referred to him as "one of the most elegant, gentlemanlike, handsome, and accomplished men of his day". D'Oyly retired in 1838 "obliged by severe ill-health," although he took only one full leave and no sick leave in forty years. He spent the remainder of his life in Italy, where he lived in a large villa outside Florence, still drawing prolifically. He died in 1845 at Livorno, where he was buried. Exceptional copy of this telling but affectionate portrait of the Company Raj, composed in words and pictures by a well-placed insider. Abbey Travel 450; Schwerdt I, p.149; Tooley 186 [Attributes: First Edition]
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
Last Found On: 2017-02-21           Check availability:      ZVAB    

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