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“ PICTOR IGNOTU S.”
! WITH SELECTIONS FROM HIS POEMS AND OTHER WRITINGS
BY THE LATE
OF THE MIDDLE TEMPLE, BARRISTER-AT- LAW;
ILLUSTRATED FROM BLAKE'S OWN WORKS,
IN FACSIMILÉ BY W. J. LINTON,
AND IN PHOTOLITHOGRAPHY;
WITH A FEW OF BLAKE'S ORIGINAL PLATES.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
London and Cambridge:
I ASSERT, for myself, that I do not behold the outward creation, and that to me it is hindrance and not action. “What !” it will be questioned, “when the sun rises, do you not see a round disc of fire somewhat like a guinea ?” Oh! no, no! I see an innumerable company of the heavenly host crying “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!" I question not my corporeal eye any more than I would question a window concerning a sight. I look through it, and not with it.
BLAKE. —A Vision of the Last Judgment. .
ONE short word of sorrowful significance which has had to be inserted in the title-page, while it acquaints the reader with the peculiar circumstances under which this Biography comes before him, seems also to require a few words about its final preparation for the press; the more so as the time which has elapsed since the Life of Blake was first announced might otherwise lead to a wrong inference respecting the state in which it was left by the beloved author when he was seized, in the full tide of health and work and happy life, with the fever which, in five days, carried him hence. The Life was then substantially complete; and the first eight chapters were already printed. The main services, therefore, which the Work has received from other hands and great they are — appear in the Second Part, and in the Appendix :-in the choice and arrangement of a large collection of Blake's unpublished and hitherto almost equally inaccessible published Writings, together with introductory remarks to each Section; and in a thorough and probably exhaustive Annotated Catalogue of his Pictorial Works. The first of these services —the editorship, in a word, of the Selections—has been performed by Mr. Dante Gabriel Rossetti; the second by his brother, Mr. William Rossetti. To both of these friends, admiration of Blake's genius and regard for the memory of his Biographer have made their labour so truly a labour of love that they do not suffer me to dwell on the rare quality or extent of the obligation.
To the Life itself one addition has been made,– that of a Supplementary Chapter, in fulfilment of the Author's plan. He left a memorandum to the effect that he intended writing such a chapter, and a list of the topics to be handled there, but nothing more. This also Mr. D. G. Rossetti has carried into execution; and that the same hand has filled in some blank pages in the Chapter on the Inventions to the Book of Job the discerning reader will scarcely need to be told.
The only other insertions remaining to be particularized are the accounts of such of Blake's Writings as it was decided not to reprint in the Second Part; chiefly of the class he called Prophecies. I could heartily wish the difficult problem presented by these strange Books had been more successfully grappled with, or indeed grappled with at all. Hardly anything has been now attempted beyond bringing together a few readable extracts. But however small may be the literary value of the Europe, America, Jerusalem, &c. they are at least psychologically curious and important; and should the opportunity arise, I hope to see these gaps filled in with workmanship which shall better correspond with that of the rest of the fabric. In speaking of the Designs which accompany the Poems in question, I was not left wholly without valued aid.
To Mr. Linnell, Mr. Samuel Palmer, and other of Blake's surviving friends, to the possessors of his works, and to Mr. William Haines, grateful acknowledgments are due of services rendered in various ways, by which the completeness of the following record of the fruitful life and labours of William Blake has been much enhanced. Especially weighty were my dear husband's obligations to the two first-mentioned gentlemen ; and in his name would I sincerely thank them, and all who have furthered the undertaking.
Brookbank, near Haslemere.
May 15, 1863.