William Blake, a critical essay

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William Blake, a critical essay
by Algernon Charles Swinburne
William Blake, a critical essay (page 6).png

William Blake.


A Critical Essay.


BY

ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE.


William Blake, a critical essay (page 7 detail).png
"Going to and fro in the Earth."


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM BLAKE'S DESIGNS IN FACSIMILE,

COLOURED AND PLAIN.


LONDON:

JOHN CAMDEN HOTTEN, PICCADILLY.

1868.

[All rights reserved.]

alt-text=WILLIAM BLAKE. A CRITICAL ESSAY (This book's title page with Blake's designs around lettering and border

DEDICATION.




There are many reasons which should make me glad to inscribe your name upon the forefront of this book. To you, among other debts, I owe this one—that it is not even more inadequate to the matter undertaken; and to you I need not say that it is not designed to supplant or to compete with the excellent biography of Blake already existing. Rather it was intended to serve as complement or supplement to this. How it grew, idly and gradually, out of a mere review into its present shape and volume, you know. To me at least the subject before long seemed too expansive for an article; and in the leisure of months, and in the intervals of my natural work, the first slight study became little by little an elaborate essay. I found so much unsaid, so much unseen, that a question soon rose before me of simple alternatives: to do nothing, or to do much. I chose the latter; and you, who have done more than I to serve and to exalt the memory of Blake, must know better how much remains undone.


Friendship needs no cement of reciprocal praise; and this book, dedicated to you from the first, and owing to your guidance as much as to my goodwill whatever it may have of worth, wants no extraneous allusion to explain why it should rather be inscribed with your name than with another. Nevertheless, I will say that now of all times it gives me pleasure to offer you such a token of friendship as I have at hand to give. I can but bring you brass for the gold you send me; but between equals and friends there can be no question of barter. Like Diomed, I take what I am given and offer what I have. Such as it is, I know you will accept it with more allowance than it deserves; but one thing you will not overrate—the affectionate admiration, the grateful remembrance, which needs no public expression on the part of your friend


A. C. SWINBURNE.

November, 1866.

CONTENTS.


PAGE
I.—LIFE AND DESIGNS 1
II.—LYRICAL POEMS 85
III.—THE PROPHETIC BOOKS 185

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.




[In justice to the fac-similist who has so faithfully copied the following designs from Blake's works, the publisher would state they were made under somewhat difficult circumstances, the British Museum authorities not permitting tracing from the copies in their possession. In every case the exact peculiarities of the originals have been preserved. The colouring has been done by hand from the designs, tinted by the artist, and the three illustrations from "Jerusalem" have been reduced from the original in folio to octavo. The paper on which the facsimiles are given has been expressly made to resemble that used by Blake.]


Frontispiece. Gateway with eclipse. A reduction of plate 70, from "Jerusalem."
Title-page. A design of borders, selected from those in "Jerusalem" (plates 5, 19, &c.), with minor details from "Marriage of Heaven and Hell," and "Book of Thel."
P. 200. Title from "Book of Thel."
P. 204. Title from "Marriage of Heaven and Hell."
P. 208. Plate 8, from the Same (selected to show the artist's peculiar method of blending text with minute design).
P. 224. The Leviathan. From "Marriage of Heaven and Hell."
P. 258. From "Milton." Male figures; one in flames.
P. 276. Female figures. A reduction of Plate 81 from "Jerusalem."
P. 282. Design with bat-like figure. A reduction of Plate 33 from "Jerusalem."

LIST OF AUTHORITIES.




1. Life of William Blake. By Alexander Gilchrist. 1863.

2. Poetical Sketches. By W. B. 1783.

3. Songs of Innocence. 1789.

4. The Book of Thel. 1789.

5. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. 1790.

6. Visions of the Daughters of Albion. 1793.

7. America: A Prophecy. 1793.

8. Songs of Experience. 1794.

9. Europe: A Prophecy. 1794.

10. The First Book of Urizen. 1794.

11. The Book of Ahania. 1795.

12. The Song of Los. 1795.

13. Milton: A Poem in Two Books. 1804.

14. Jerusalem, An Emanation of The Giant Albion. 1804.

15. Ideas of Good and Evil. (MS.)

16. Tiriel. (MS.)