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the work is not given in its integrity. These I must refer to the original, though access to it, there being no copy at present in the British Museum, is difficult. Mr. Monckton Milnes possesses a fine quarto, Mr. Linnell an octavo copy.
The subjoined outline of Nebuchadnezzar is not copied from the design just spoken of in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, but is a fac-simile of what was probably the original sketch for this, and is taken from a MS. volume by Blake, of rare interest and value, in the possession of Mr. Rossetti. This book contains, besides rough sketches and rough draughts, afterwards elaborated into finished designs and poems, much that exists in no other form. The kindness of the owner enables me to freely draw from this
THESE were prolific years with Blake, both in poetry and design. In 1791 he even found a publisher, for the first and last time in his life, in Johnson of St. Paul's Churchyard, to whom Fuseli had originally introduced him, and for whom he had already engraved. Johnson in this year—the same in which he published Mary Wollstonecraft's Rights of Women-issued, without Blake's name, and unillustrated, a thin quarto, entitled The French Revolution, a Poem in Seven Books. Book the First, One Shilling. Of the Revolution itself, only the first book, ending with the taking of the Bastille, had as yet been enacted. In due time the remainder followed. Those of Blake's epic already written were never printed, events taking a different turn from the anticipated one.
The French Revolution, though ushered into the world by a regular publisher, was no more successful than the privately printed Poetical Sketches, or the privately engraved Songs of Innocence, in reaching the public, or even in getting noticed by the monthly reviewers. It finds no place in their indices, nor in the catalogue of the Museum Library.
In this year Johnson employed Blake to design and engrave six plates to a series of Tales for Children, in the then prevailing Berquin School, by Johnson's favourite and protégée, Mary
Wollstonecraft; tales new and in demand in the autumn of 1791, now unknown to the bookstalls. Original stories, they are entitled, from real life, with conversations calculated to regulate the affections and form the mind to truth and goodness.' The designs, naïve and rude, can hardly be pronounced a successful competition with Stothard, though traces of a higher feeling are visible in the graceful female forms—benevolent heroine, or despairing, famishing peasant group. The artist evidently moves in constraint, and the accessories of these domestic scenes are as simply generalised as a child's : result of an inobservant eye for such things. They were not calculated to obtain Blake employment in a capacity in which more versatile hands and prettier designers, such as Burney and Corbould (failing Stothard), were far better fitted to succeed. The book itself never went to a second edition. More designs appear to have been made for this little work than were found available, and some of the best were among the rejected. It may interest the reader to have a sample of Blake in this comparatively humble department. Possessing most of the original drawings, we therefore give a print from one. There is, however, a terrible extremity of voiceless despair in the upturned face of the principal figure, which, perhaps, no hand but that of him who conceived it could adequately reproduce. He also illustrated for
Johnson, in the same style, another book of pinafore precepts, called Elements of Morality, translated from the German of Salzmann by Mary Wollstonecraft; and among casual work engraved a plate for Darwin's Botanic Garden—The Fertilization of Egyptafter Fuseli.
Bookseller Johnson was a favourable specimen of a class of booksellers and men now a tradition: an open-hearted tradesman of the eighteenth century, of strict probity, simple habits, liberal in his dealings, living by his shop and in it, not at a suburban mansion. He was, for nearly forty years, Fuseli's fast and intimate friend, his first and best; the kind patron of Mary Wollstonecraft, and of many another. He encouraged Cowper over The Task, after the first volume of Poems had been received with indifference ; and when The Task met its sudden unexpected success, he righteously pressed 1,0001. on the author, although both this and the previous volume had been assigned to him for nothing—as an equivalent, that is, for the bare cost of publication. To Blake, also, Johnson was friendly, and tried to help him, as far as he could help so unmarketable a talent.
In Johnson's shop—for booksellers’ shops were places of resort then with the literary-Blake was, at this date, in the habit of meeting a remarkable coterie. The bookseller gave, moreover, plain but hospitable weekly dinners at his house, No. 72, St. Paul's Churchyard, in a little quaintly shaped upstairs room, with walls not at right angles, where his guests must have been somewhat straitened for space. Hither came Drs. Price and Priestley; and occasionally Blake; hither friendly, irascible Fuseli; hither precise doctrinaire Godwin, whose Political Justice Johnson will, in 1793, publish, giving 7001. for the copyright. Him, the author of the Songs of Innocence got on ill with, and liked worse. Here, too, he met formal, stoical Holcroft, playwright, novelist, translator, literary man-of-all-work, who had written verse to order' for our
old friend The Wits' Magazine. Seven years hence he will be promoted to the Tower, and be tried for high treason with Hardy, Thelwall, and Horne Tooke, and one day will write the best fragment of autobiography in the language : a man of very varied fortunes. Here hard-headed Tom Paine, the rebellious needleman : ' Mary Wollstonecraft also, who at Johnson's table commenced her ineffectual flirtation with already wedded, cynical Fuseli, their first meeting occurring here in the autumn of 1790. These and others of very "advanced' political and religious opinions, theoretic republicans and revolutionists, were of the circle. The First Part of The Rights of Man had been launched on an applauding and indignant world, early in 1791 ; Johnson, whom the MS. had made the author's friend, having prudently declined to publish it, though he was Priestley's publisher. A few years hence their host, despite his caution, will, for his liberal sympathies, receive the honour of prosecution from a good old habeas-corpus-suspending Government; and, in 1798, be fined and imprisoned in the King's Bench for selling a copy of Gilbert Wakefield's Reply to the Bishop of Llandaff's Address, a pamphlet which every other bookseller in town sold, and continued to sell, with impunity. While in prison he still gave his weekly literary dinners—in the Marshal's house instead of his own; Fuseli remaining staunch to his old friend under a cloud.
Blake was himself an ardent member of the New School, a vehement republican and sympathiser with the Revolution, hater and contemner of kings and king-craft. And like most reformers of that era,—when the eighteenth century dry-rot had well-nigh destroyed the substance of the old English Constitution, though the anomalous caput mortuum of it was still extolled as the 'wisest of systems,'—he may have even gone the length of despising the Constitution.' Down to his latest days Blake always avowed himself a Liberty Boy,' a faithful Son of