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Page 312


Page 315

Further information on the subject may be found in my as-yet-unpublished book on The Edwardses of Halifax: The Making and Selling of Beautiful Books in London and Halifax 1749-1826 by William, John, Richard, Thomas, and especially JAMES Edwards, The Medicean Bookseller.


Quoted from T. W. Hanson's Edwards of Halifax, an incomplete holograph MS in the Bodleian Library (dates of composition up to at least 1965), hereafter cited as Hanson. Hanson's work as a whole is full of valuable information, much of it (like this) difficult to recover. Hanson published two important articles on the Edwards family, on which all subsequent work must in part depend: "Edwards of Halifax: Book Sellers, Collectors and Book-Binders", Halifax Guardian, Dec 1912 and Jan 1913, reprinted in Papers, Reports, &c. Read before the Halifax Antiquarian Society, 1912 (Halifax [1913]), 142-200, and "Richard Edwards, Publisher", Times Literary Supplement, 8 Aug 1942, p. 396 (largely summarizing the previous works).


Gentlemen's Magazine, XCVII (Nov 1827), 478, obituary of Richard Edwards.


Quaritch Catalogue 668 (1949), lot 106 (Hanson, p. 263), and (for Night Thoughts) GEB.


See "The bookseller as Diplomat: James Edwards, Lord Grenville, and Earl Spencer in 1800", Book Collector, XXXIII (1984), 471-485. Note that The Spencer Papers, [ed. J. S. Roberts & Richmond], Publications of the Navy Records Society Vol. XLVI, XLVIII, LVIII-LXIX [1913-14, 1923-24], omit "all documents relating to promotions and patronage" (I, viii).


Public Record Office ADM2/ 1067, p. 231, and ADM1/ 1035, A458, generously cited to me by N. A. M. Rodgers, Assistant Keeper, Search Department, Public Record Office.


The holograph MS is a folded legal-size folio of English paper (water-marked T Hooke & Son / 1798) written with the transfer of patent rights on two and a quarter pages to which Richard Edwards "Set my hand, and Seal" on 1 August 1799, witnessed by Peter Rodrigez & Prats and Peter Sitges. The document was seen by my friend Robert Latona by pure serendipity in a bookshop in Palma de Mallorca, where it had been brought by its owner for an opinion as to its vendibility; Mr Latona pursued it vigorously when the document went to earth and secured it for me.


Gentlemen's Magazine, LXXIII (Oct 1803), 985. According to Richard Edwards's will, the marriage settlement was made on 19 March 1807.


Gentlemen's Magazine, LXXXVI (1816), 180 (obituary of James Edwards).


Public Record Office Prob 11/ 1741. I cannot easily account for his address given in the obituary in the Leeds Intelligencer, 25 Oct 1827: "after only a few days' illness, Richard Edwards Esq of Weybridge, Surrey, youngest son of the late William Edwards of Halifax" (Hanson, p. 275B). Perhaps the information had come from George Payne of Weybridge, who identified Richard Edwards's handwriting in the codicil of his will.


See also James Edwards's Catalogue (1785), Bolton, History of . . . Fungusses, II (1798), Bible prospectus (1790), The Book of Common Prayer (1791), M.D., Sacred Poetry (1790), Pinkerton, Medallic History (1790), Carr, Poems (1791), Bibliotheca Parisiana (1791), and Dutens, Table [?1790] published by Edwards & Sons, or by Messrs Edwards, Pall Mall.


By May 1792 the publishers Edwards and Parsons had been joined by five others. In all, eighteen publishers were listed in the magazine (seven of them in the provinces), though never more than eleven at once.


He was one of four publishers of Joseph Strutt's Dress and Habits of the People of England Vol. I, Parts 1-?8 ([July] 1796-[?Feb 1797]), but the chief publisher of Strutt was probably his brother James. Richard Edwards's name does not appear on the prospectus for Strutt Part 9 (?March 1797) or on the title-page of Vol. II ([?Oct] 1799).


This Part I 1797 titlepage is something of an enigma, for it bears (in addition to that of R. Edwards) the names of two publishers ([James] Edwards of Pall Mall and Robinsons of Paternoster Row) who are never recorded on its plates, and it omits all reference to Merigot, whose name is on all the plates with dated imprints.


Not counting, of course, his own works in Illuminated Printing, such as Songs of Innocence (1789), The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (?1790-93), and The Book of Urizen (1794) which he coloured and sold in such small numbers that no more than a dozen copies of most have survived.


British Critic, VIII (Sept 1796), 277—see Blake Records (1969), 54-55. The design reprobated illustrates Night Thoughts but is not from Blake's suite of designs for Richard Edwards.


Book of Urizen (1794), pl. 4—see William Blake's Writings (1978), 243.


Blake did engrave one small folio duplicate plate for the Boydell Shakspeare in 1799, and he had made a splendid folio engraving for Boydell after Hogarth's Beggar's Opera painting in 1788.


His great series of illustrations for the works of other men were all in the future: Young (1794-97), Gray (1797), The Bible (1799 ff.), Milton (1800 ff.), Job (1818-26), Bunyan (?1824), and Dante (1824-27). He had engraved six of his own rather tame designs for Mary Wollstonecraft's Original Stories published by Joseph Johnson in 1791.


"When Flaxman was taken to Italy [1787-94], Fuseli was giv'n to me for a season", Blake letter of 12 Sept 1800 (William Blake's Writings [1978], 1537). The anonymous "Explanation


Page 313
of the Engravings" in the 1797 Night Thoughts has been tentatively attributed to Fuseli (e.g., in Blake Books [1977], 638).


1826 and 1828 Thomas Edwards catalogues; the 1821 catalogue refers to "the Author's original Copy", singular.


1821 Thomas Edwards catalogue (not repeated in those of 1826 and 1828): "The Bookbinder from inattention lost the blank leaf with the Author's signature." Since there was only one "Author's signature" in the nine parts, presumably in Night I, we may wonder whether Nights II-IX had belonged to Edward Young, particularly since some are not first editions.


As Hanson suggests (p. 266). See also Fuseli's comment of 24 June 1796, below.


Seen in Traylen's bookshop (Guildford) in 1978.


See E. B. Bentley & GEB, "Bishop Phillpotts Library, The Franke Parker Bequest and its Extra-Illustrated Macklin Bible 1800", Book Collector, XXIX (1980), 378.


In May 1826 Winstanley sale, lot 1076. The 1821 catalogue says "they occupied nearly two years of the time" of Blake, and the unreliable Allan Cunningham says vaguely, "The name of Blake now [1794] began to be known a little, and Edwards, the bookseller, employed him to illustrate Young's Night Thoughts" (Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects [1830], II, paragraph 19—see Blake Records [1969], 487). Note that Richard Edwards apparently published nothing in 1794 save Alexander's Croup, probably initiated by James Edwards.


Occasionally the line asterisked in the 1797 text as engraved is not the same as the line ticked for the same design in the watercolour. In the text with the watercolours, some lines are underlined, corrected, or annotated in crayon.


J. T. Smith, Nollekens and His Times (1828)—see Blake Records (1969), 461. For the £21 price, see Fuseli's comment on 24 June 1796 below.


10 May 1826 Thomas Edwards sale, lot 1076; the opinion of "the late Mr. Fuseli" (d. 1825) is not recorded elsewhere. Thomas Edwards's 1828 catalogue, lot 1130, said:

"It is scarcely possible to present the collector with an adequate, or even faint idea of the singular nature of these most extraordinary and sublime conceptions of the artist. . . . In point of composition and design, the present production is certainly superior [to his designs for 'Blair's Grave'], and is alone sufficient to immortalize the name of Blake as an artist of the highest order."
The designs were first made publicly visible when they were given in 1929 to the British Museum Print Room, but they were not reproduced all together until 1980, when scores were reproduced for the first time in William Blake's Designs for Edward Young's Night Thoughts, ed. D. V. Erdman, J. E. Grant, E. J. Rose, & Michael Tolley (1980).


For designs similar to those in Night Thoughts, see William Blake's Writings (1978), 5, 8, 13, 40, 96, 230, 633, 1072, 1075, 1100, 1119, 1138, 1157, 1234, 1241, 1292, 1728.


Allan Cunningham, The Cabinet Gallery of Pictures (1833), I, 11-13—see Blake Records (1969), 183; the paragraphing is mine.


Quoted from the complete transcript of The Diary of Joseph Farington, ed. K. Garlick & A. Macintyre, Vol. I-VI (1978-79), mostly verified from the manuscript in the Royal Library, Windsor.


See "Young's Night Thoughts (London: R. Edwards, 1797): A New Unillustrated State", Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly, XIV (1980), 34-35, describing a copy with the initials J E which may have belonged to James Edwards.


Blake was paid £5.5.0 apiece for his much smaller outlines for Flaxman's Iliad (1805) and Hesiod (1817), and on 19 Aug 1841 Flaxman wrote to T. H. Whitaker that "outline . . . engraving including the Copper plate will cost 6 Guineas if done by Mr. Blake the best engraver of outlines" (Blake Records [1969], 152, 579-80, 233).


A single engraving for Night V was offered in the William Blake catalogue (?1930) of Francis Edwards (no relation to Edwards of Halifax), but it has not since been traced.


We may be fairly confident that Blake had not seen the 1797 printed text before he began his engravings, for had he done so he surely would have filled the blank spaces on


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the short pages at the end of each Night. In the engravings for these pages, the boxes left for the text are much larger than the text in them, leaving ugly, irrelevant blank windows.


Blake coloured one set each of Hayley's Ballads (1805), Virgil, Pastorals (1821), and his own Job (1826) but did not do so for his other series of engraved designs in commercial books: Mary Wollstonecraft, Original Stories (1791), Burger, Leonora (1796), Hayley, Designs to A Series of Ballads (1802). Numerous copies of Stedman's Surinam (1796; 1806; 1813) including Blake's engravings after Stedman have been commercially coloured (not by Blake), and an advertisement claimed that the plates in The Wit's Magazine (1784) including those by Blake, were available in colour, but none has been recorded, and Blake is unlikely to have coloured them in any case. A copy of Blake's designs to Blair's Grave (1813) with "hand colored" engravings is recorded by Robert N. Essick, "New Information on Blake's Illuminated Books", Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly, XV (1981), 13, without identification of the hand which coloured the plates.


D. V. Erdman et al seem to think that The Historic Gallery belonged to James Edwards (William Blake's Designs for Edward Young's Night Thoughts, I [1980], 87).


See R. R. Wark, "A Minor Blake Conundrum", Huntington Library Quarterly, XXI (1957), 83-87; the fine copy was probably not made by Blake, for the walking staff has been unaccountably omitted from the naked pilgrim's upraised hand. The vellum text is that of 1797 in a variant (probably proof) state, most of the differences being in capitals.


Blake Records (1969), 169, 172, 192-193. It is notable that they were not exhibited at the Royal Academy annual exhibitions, perhaps because the Royal Academy then excluded watercolours as they did later.


Quoted from the original in the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera in Bodley; see Blake Records (1969), 59.


Memoirs and Recollections of the Late Abraham Raimbach, Esq. Engraver, ed. M.T.S. Raimbach (1843), 22; see Blake Records (1969), 58.


Ozias Humphry was an important collector of Blake's works—he may just have acquired a number of them (see "Ozias Humphry, William Upcott, and William Blake", Humanities Association Review, XXVI [1975], 116-122)—and Richard Cosway was a friend of Blake's, but there is no known direct connection between Blake and Benjamin West or Robert Smirke.


British Library Add. MSS 39,780, f. 212; the letter is a draft, and the recipient is unidentified.


Edwards seems to have provided 900 pages (450 half-sheets) of 1794 J Whatman paper, but, as there were only 537 drawings requiring 269 half-sheets, there should have been some 362 pages or 181 half sheets left over. This surplus Blake used for proofs of the engravings of Night Thoughts (47 leaves in Vala, 24 in Harvard) and, presumably after 1797 when it was clear that no more engravings or proofs would be needed, for the fair copy of his Vala (19 leaves), for his Gray designs about 1797 (58 leaves), and perhaps for printing his own illuminated works (over 100 leaves in Visions of the Daughters of Albion [copies F, G], America [A-B], Europe [A, C], and Urizen [B, D]). This presumes the accuracy of Farington's report of what Fuseli remembered, and this is somewhat suspect, since the flyer mentions 150 engravings and Fuseli 200.


He must, however, be responsible for the unexplained omission of a block of 58 lines of Young's poem.


"Public Address" in Blake's Notebook, p. 25—see William Blake's Writings (1978), 1052. Thomas Edwards's 1821 catalogue repeated Richard Edwards's claim: "This work is, perhaps, unequalled for the boldness of conception, and spirit of execution [i.e., spirited execution?] exhibited in the masterly designs of Mr. Blake."


"Many People are So foolish [as] to think they can wound Mr Fuseli over my Shoulder[;] they will find themselves mistaken" ("Public Address" in Blake's Notebook p. 53—see William Blake's Writings [1978], 1033).


British Library Add. MSS 39,790, ff. 3-4, undated (watermark: 1795) and unaddressed; in the letter she says she has seen the Hares on their return from France and Germany—and the Hares reached London by 1 Nov and stayed there until 4 Nov 1797 (J. C. A. Hare, Memorials of a Quiet Life [1872], 127-129).


[Crabb Robinson] "William Blake Künstler, Dichter, und Religiöser Schwärmer", Vaterländisches Museum, I (1811): "gar nicht mehr in Buchladen zu haben, so wie überhaupt äusserst selten geworden ist", echoed by F. A. Ebert, Allgemeines Bibliographisches Lexikon, II (1830): "nicht mehr im Handel zu habend und äusserst selten ist" (tr. A. Brown [1837]: "no longer to be met with in the market and is extremely scarce"—see Blake Records, 453, 441, 375-376). Crabb Robinson did buy a copy of Blake's Night Thoughts on 27 Dec 1810 for £1.11.6 (Blake Records, 578), slightly more than the £1.5.0 per Part advertised.


See Blake Books (1977), 642-646, 956-957, recording the provenance of twenty coloured copies; two more are known, one in Detroit Public Library and one in private hands. Uncoloured copies were owned by Blake's contemporaries William Godwin, Joseph Thomas, Robert Scott, Louis or Nicholas Schiavonetti (96 loose plates), William Thane (a copy of Blair's Grave extra-illustrated with plates from Young), and Caroline Bowles (later Southey) (Blake Records [1969], 41n3, 166, 193, 227n1, 398n1).


Blake etched a private portrait of Earl Spencer about 1813.


Blake Records, 433; Ebert (op. cit.), echoing Robinson again, says that Blake's designs for Young, "although very unequal, are yet often of superior merit, but express the unfortunate idea of wishing to interpret Young literally" (Blake Records, 376). Far from issuing 25% of Blake's designs, Edwards had published only about 8% of them.


T. F. Dibdin, Reminiscences of a Literary Life (1836), 784-789—see Blake Records, 243. In his Library Companion (1824), 734, Dibdin wrote: "I love to read that portion of the poem, published in folio form, with the bizarre but original and impressive ornaments by Blake" (Blake Records, 289).


Blake Records, 284. The obituary of Blake in the Gentleman's Magazine, XCVIII (Oct 1827), 337-338 (Blake Records, 356) was the only one to take note of his designs for Night Thoughts.


Allan Cunningham, Life of Blake in his Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1830), II, paragraph 19—see Blake Records, 487. Cunningham speaks of "poems", plural, because the Night Thoughts was originally issued as nine self-contained poems.


In a fairly extensive search on five continents, I have located over seventy copies in public collections, and perhaps there are no more than two or three times this total in private hands. It is by no means a rare book, but it is not common.