BLAKE, William, illustrator -- YOUNG, Edward (1683-1765). The Complaint, and The Consolation; or, Night Thoughts. London: R. Noble for R. Edwards, 1797.
4o (425 x 332 mm). "Explanation of Engravings" leaf, 4 engraved part titles and 39 etched and engraved pictorial borders by and after Blake, tipped to guards throughout (pale offsetting of border onto text on p.81). Modern red quarter leather, uncut, by Kathleen Wick. Provenance: acquired from R.M. Light, 1958.
A TALL, UNCUT COPY, OF THE FIRST EDITION ILLUSTRATED BY BLAKE. Young wrote The Complaint, and The Consolation or Night Thoughts in the 1740s, and when this illustrated edition was published by Richard Edwards his poetry was still extraordinarily popular, whereas Blake was a 38 year old engraver known to only a few. Although he set out to illustrate all nine of the "Nights," and completed 537 watercolor designs in less than two years, this volume, containing the first four parts of the poem with 43 of his designs, was the only one to appear. The cost of the project, which involved the separate printing of the text and the plates, was evidently too great, and the powerful illustrations perhaps conveyed a sense of mortality and transience that was a little too strong for contemporary taste. The present copy contains the 'Explanation' leaf, which is frequently lacking. As Bentley notes, "the paper was only marginally larger than the copperplate, and even in untrimmed copies ... parts of the platemark may not appear." Bentley 515; Butlin, pp. 66 -71; Keynes 200.