'Of all the records of these his latter years,' says Mr. Swinburne in his book on Blake, 'the most valuable, perhaps, are those furnished by Mr. Crabb Robinson, whose cautious and vivid transcription of Blake's actual speech is worth more than much vague remark, or than any commentary now possible to give.' Through the kind permission of the Librarian of Dr. Williams's Library, where the Crabb Robinson MSS. are preserved, I am able to give, for the first time, an accurate and complete text of every reference to Blake in the Diary, Letters, and Reminiscences, which have hitherto been printed only in part, and with changes as well as omissions. In an entry in his Diary for May 13, 1848, Crabb Robinson says: 'It is strange that I, who have no imagination, nor any power beyond that of a logical understanding, should yet have great respect for the mystics.' This respect for the mystics, to which we owe the notes on Blake, was part of an inexhaustible curiosity in human things, and in things of the mind, which made of Crabb Robinson the most searching and significant reporter of the nineteenth century. Others may have understood Blake better than he did, but no one else was so attentive to his speech, and thus so faithful an interpreter of his meaning.
In copying from the MS. I have followed the spelling, not however preserving abbreviations such as 'Bl:' for 'Blake,' due merely to haste, and I have modified the punctuation and added commas of quotation only when the writer's carelessness in these matters was likely to be confusing. Otherwise the transcript is literal and verbatim, and I have added in footnotes any readings of possible interest which have been crossed out in the manuscript.