6183. London: W. Pickering, Chancery Lane, and W. Newbery, 6, Chenies Street, Bedford Square, 1839.
Small 8vo, xxi, (3), 74 pp. Original pebbled plum cloth, first state of the binding decorated in blind on both covers, the cartouche smaller than in the 2nd binding and with ruled lines in blind not present in the 2nd binding, "BLAKE'S POEMS." stamped in gilt on the spine (rather than on the front cover, as in the 2nd binding), ruled lines in blind on the spine (lacking in the 2nd binding). Upper joint just splitting but holding, similar split to the hinge. A remarkably fine copy, fresh and clean. Enclosed in a modern protective box.
§ First Typographical Issue, with the poem “The Little Vagabond” not present - this has long been held to be the first issue (see Keynes) although others have claimed that it was present but cancelled due to content and thus this is the second issue. Either case is plausible; copies of this issue turn up more frequently in our experience, which is to say very rarely. The only other copy known in this binding is in the Essick collection and is inscribed on the front free endpaper: "James J. G. Wilkinson [the editor of the volume] / 13 Store Street / Bedford Square. / July 16. 1839." This date is one week after the printed date of the "Preface," page xxi. It was acquired Feb. 1997 from Quaritch through John Windle ($4000).
The preface (by J.J. Garth Wilkinson) gives a mostly favorable account of Blake’s life in the context of his work and concludes stirringly: “If the volume gives one impulse to the New Spiritualism which is now dawning on the world;-if it leads one reader to think, that all Reality for him, in the long run, lies out of the limits of space and time; and that spirits, and not bodies, and still less garments, are men; if it gives one blow, even the faintest, to those term-shifting juggleries which usurp the name of “Philosophical Systems,” (and all the energies of all the forms of genuine Truth must be henceforth expended on these effects,) it will have done its work in its little day...” Keynes, Blake, 135 (issue without “The Little Vagabond"). Bentley, Blake Books, 171 (this issue said by Bentley to have two leaves cancelled by the editor out of prudishness). Item #106861