University of Virginia Library

Conclusions as to the Sequence of Copies

Although some of the apparent evidence for the relative order of copies of Jerusalem put forward in the Keynes and Wolf Census of


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1953 does not stand up under scrutiny, that order itself is, in the main, confirmed by the bits of evidence that emerge.

A shuffling of folio numbers in Chapter 3 of the British Museum copy (numbers 54-66 being written over erasures) is not repeated in other (hence presumably later) copies. If priority in a single plate were sufficient evidence for priority of an entire copy, the state of the mending on Plate 20 would prove the British Museum and Rinder copies to be earlier than the other three complete copies. But the watermark evidence, in conjunction with the Linnell receipt of a completed Chapter 2 in December, 1819 (see note 8), indicates that Chapters 1 and 2 of both these copies, and the Cunliffe copy of Chapter 1 — all on 1818 paper — were printed more or less simultaneously and before any copies of Chapters 3 and 4. These final chapters of the British Museum copy (at least) were apparently printed before the Harvard and Mellon copies, however, since they contain paper of 1818 and 1819 as well as 1820, while the latter contain only 1820 paper.

Nothing indicates the relative positions of the Harvard and Mellon copies; the Census designation of these as copies D and E becomes an arbitrary matter.

The watermarked paper of 1824 and 1826 in the Morgan copy remains the only specific evidence that it is the latest of the five.

To return to the question of the order of plates in Chapter 2, the evidence is fairly conclusive that the supposedly "standard" order is neither the latest nor the earliest order established by Blake. It is found in the middle pair of copies, the Harvard and the Mellon, but in his latest copy, the Morgan, Blake returned to the order of his first two copies. The strongest argument for considering the variant order of the 1820 pair as Blake's final preference rests on his statement in a letter of 12 April 1827 about Jerusalem: "One I have Finished." The usual assumption is probably a sound one, that he was here referring to the one completely colored copy, the Mellon. It does not follow that he had not finished it some years earlier; he had it on hand because he could not "get a Customer for it." Moreover, concentrating on the illumination of that copy he may not have concerned himself greatly about the textual sequence — else why return to his original order for his most recently printed copy, the Morgan? Perhaps the soundest conclusion is that Blake found both sequences attractive but considered neither definitive.

Evidence as to attention paid to the text itself, after printing, is perhaps too slight to be of much value in this connection. The unique restoration in the Mellon copy, of "conjoined" to "combined" (Plate 69), is more impressive than the Morgan copy revision of "worm" to


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"worms" (Plate 56). On the other hand the neglect of the imperfect mending on Plate 98 ("Coventof" for "Covenant of") except for the restoration of "thy Covenant" in the Morgan copy points the other way. Furthermore the retouching of rude mendings in other plates is carried through more conscientiously in the Morgan than in any other copy and rather less conscientiously in the Mellon than in any other. While it cannot be said that Blake seriously neglected the Mellon text even while devoting his greatest effort to the color and high finish of its illumination, I think that we are forced to conclude, from the treatment of weakly printing passages on Plates 22, 27, 29, 37, 40, 53, 61, 76, and 98, that Blake took more pains to make the text legible in the Morgan copy than in the Mellon. Finally, that he should take the pains to rearrange the plates or pages of Chapter 2 in his latest copy, to return to his earliest order after having tried an alternative arrangement in two copies, lends perhaps decisive weight to the conclusion that the text of the Morgan copy comes the closest to representing Blake's final preferences. (See addendum on Numbering of Plates)