Songs Of Innocence And Of Experience, shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul.
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, upper cover lettered in gilt (partly worn away as often), a very good copy in the original binding, rebacked, enclosed in a modern slipcase. Early pencil notes indicating a reader paying close attention to the text, possibly by Anna, Mary, or Margaret Howett whose joint ink inscription at the front is dated June 1847.
§ First typographical issue, the 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 each issue turn up with about the same frequency which is to say rarely. 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, BB, 171 (this issue said by Bentley to have two leaves canceled by the editor out of prudishness). Item #125120