The Complaint and the Consolation; or, Night Thoughts.
London: R. Noble, 1797. Large 4to, viii, , 95,  pages; with 43 full-page engravings by Blake after his own designs surrounding the letterpress text. Half red hard grain morocco, backstrip gilt, gilt edges, by Riviere. Explanation leaf mounted at the front, 1874 prospectus mounted at the back; slightly trimmed for gilding, stain at foot of p. viii, slight offsetting as often from the plates. Generally a very good copy. First edition with Blakes illustrations, complete with the leaf of Explanations and with the extremely rare prospectus and specimen leaf at the back dated London: James Bain, 1874, soliciting subscriptions for sets of the original watercolors in reproduction (never issued). A few sets are struck off for private distribution -- Bentley (Blake Books p. 646) records one known copy (at Rosenbach) and Essick has no record of any other example. Essick and LaBelle explain in their commentary how Blake, virtually in a frenzy, completed 537 watercolor designs when he was commissioned by the publisher Edwards to illustrate Youngs masterpiece. Edwards issued only the first four Nights (or sections) and had Blake etch and engrave 43 plates to test the market. The response must have been poor since no further engravings were requested of Blake and Edwards ceased business shortly thereafter. Ironically, today the poet Young, once compared with Shakespeare and Milton, is largely forgotten save for this edition. Colored copies are known in two palettes, the earlier of which may have been colored under Blakes direction. Bentley, Blake Books, 515. Easson and Essick, William Blake Book Illustrator, vol. 1, IV. Essick and LaBelle, Night Thoughts, Dover, 1975. Bindman, Complete Graphic Works of Blake, 357-379. Ray, The Illustrator and the Book in England, 3.
(Item Id: 108054)