University of Virginia Library


Page 21

Plate 35[31] (Illustration III b)

. . . .
So spoke the voice from the Furnaces, descending into Non-Entity [17]
<To Govern the Evil by Good: and [?States] abolish [?Systems].>

The last line is not fully legible in any copy, but enlargements of the Morgan, Fitzwilliam, and Rosenbloom copies, collated, made clear all but the words probably, but conjecturally, to be read as "States" and "Systems." "States" is a void with several crumbs of letters in it. The y of "Systems" is certain and the S probable and that word does fit the space.

The deleted line would have ended the page and may have led to further discussion of Evil and Good, if not States and Systems, in some earlier position; no surviving plate opens on these themes. The preceding and following pages are in a different style of lettering, and one could plausibly argue from contextual looseness of fit that this is a plate of late insertion.[19] Yet the deleted line may have been removed because of its aphoristic simplicity. Compare Plate 4.

The stigmata in the hands and feet of the soaring figure at the top of the plate derive in all copies from a single state of the plate, though in the Mellon copy only those in the feet are brought into prominence.

In the Harvard copy, in the one visible ankle of the lower figure, there is a deep erasure (or possibly a defect in the paper) retouched in grey to create a stigma where none was in the etching. (Compare Plate 26 in the Mellon copy.)