Blake's apology for his Catalogue

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Notebook c.1808-1811 77. Blakes apology for his Catalogue
by William Blake
From Notebook c.1808-1811 pp.62-63. See also: Satiric verses and epigrams.
Blake manuscript - Notebook - page 062

Edited text:[1][edit]


[Blake's apology for his Catalogue]

    Dryden, in Rhyme, cries "Milton only Plann'd."
4  Every Fool shook his bells throughout the Land.
5  Tom Cooke cut Hogarth down with his clean Graving.
6  [How many del.]
    Thousands of Connoisseurs [with joy] ran raving.
    Having Given great offence by writing in Prose,
    I'll write in Rhyme as soft as Bartolloze.
1  Some blush at what others can see no crime in,
2  But nobody [a all del.] sees any harm in Rhyming.
3  Thus Poor Schiavonetti died of the Cromek
    A thing that's tied about the Examiner's neck.
7  Thus Hayley on his Toilette seeing the sope,
8  Says, "Homer is very much improv'd by Pope."
    Flaxman and Stothard, smelling a sweet savour,
    Cry, "Blakified drawing spoils painter and Engraver,"
9  While I, looking up to my Umbrella,
10 Resolv'd to be a very Contrary Fellow,
11 Cry, [Tom Cooke proves del.] looking up from [Circumference del.] Skumference to Center,
12 "No one can finish so high as the original inventor."
    Who cries, "All art is a fraud & Genius a trick,
    "And Blake is an unfortunate Lunatic"?
    I've given great Provision to my Foes,
    And now I'll lead my false friends by the nose.

    [For fair copy see no. 80. "Having given great offence by writing in Prose..."]

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The original text:[2][edit]

Blake manuscript - Notebook - page 063

Blakes apology for his Catalogue

Having given great offence by writing in Prose
Ill write in Verse as Soft as Bartolloze
Some blush at what others can see no crime in
But nobody sees any harm in Rhyming
Dryden in Rhyme cries Milton only plannd 5
Every Fool shook his bells throughout the land
Tom Cooke cut Hogarth down with his clean graving
Thousands of Connoisseurs with joy ran raving
Thus Hayley on his Toilette seeing the Sope
Cries Homer is very much improvd by Pope 10
Some say Ive given great Provision to my foes
And that now I lead my false friends by the nose
Flaxman & Stothard smelling a sweet savour
Cry Blakified drawing spoils painter & Engraver
While I looking up to my Umbrella 15
Resolvd to be a very contrary fellow
Cry looking quite from Skumference to Center
No one can finish so high as the original Inventor
Thus Poor Schiavonetti died of the Cromek
A thing thats tied around the Examiners neck 20
This is my sweet apology to my friends
That I may put them in mind of their latter Ends[3]

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Notes[edit]

  1. "Blake Complete Writings", ed. Geoffrey Keynes, pub. OUP 1966/85, p. 554-555.
  2. "The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake", ed. by David V. Erdman, Anchor Books, 1988, p. 505.
  3. Blakes apology for his Catalogue N 62-63, 65
    First and much revised draft on pp 62 and 63; title on p 62; fair copy, without title, on p 65; Keynes, pp 595-596, separates out the first draft (with one mistake, the including of “with joy” in line 4), gives a composite of first and revised drafts on pp 554-555, and the fair copy on pp 555-556, but without all Blake's renumbering of lines for rearrangement.
    Here we give the fair copy, with only a selection of earlier readings in the notes:
    2 Bartolloze] feather Pillows 1st rdg del
    8] How many Thousand Connoisseurs ran raving 1 st rdg
    10 Cries] Says 1st rdg
    11-12 added first on p 63 (as direct statement) 11 Some say] added in fair copy
    12 that] added in fair copy nose] toes 1st rdg del
    17 looking quite] Tom Cooke proves 1st rdg del; Looking up 2nd rdg Skumference] Circumference 1st rdg del
    20 The following del lines in the revised 1st draft were evidently meant as a paraphrase of the Examiner's attack:
    who cries all art is a fraud & Genius a trick
    And Blake is an unfortunate Lunatic
    The title was then crowded in above this addition, “Blakes apology” being his defense against the Examiner.
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.