One of the Finest Eighteenth-Century Engraved Books
BLAKE, William. YOUNG, Edward. Complaint, and The Consolation; or, Night Thoughts. London: Printed by R. Noble, for R. Edwards , 1797.
First edition. Folio (16 7/16 x 12 1/2 inches; 416 x 316 mm). viii, [2], 95, [1, blank] pp. With forty-three copperplate engravings by William Blake surrounding the letterpress text. Leaves are very large and barely trimmed. With the “Explanation of the Engravings” supplied in facsimile laid in at the back. This leaf is often lacking. With tissue guards between nearly every leaf.

Beautifully bound in full straight-grained blue morocco circa 1850 by M.M. Holloway. Boards tooled in gilt. Spine lettered and tooled in gilt. Gilt dentelles. Marbled endpapers. All edges gilt. With very wide lower margins, usually including the engraver's name. Previous owner's armorial bookplate on front pastedown. Occasional minor offsetting or light foxing to leaves. An very nice copy. Housed in a custom cloth slipcase.

Edward Young’s immensely popular Night Thoughts first appeared in 1742-1745. He eventually extended the poem to nine “Nights,” though only the first four were illustrated by Blake for this edition. For this, his most ambitious and spectacular work to date, Blake spent two years creating over five hundred drawings, of which only forty-three were ever engraved. Baffled by the novelty of Blake’s illustrations, the public did not receive the edition favorably. Nevertheless, the plates are “splendid examples of plain line engraving done by an artist whose creative energy sought to burst through” (Keynes, William Blake's Engravings, p. 12).

Bentley 515. Ray, The Illustrator and the Book in England, 3. Russell 17.

HBS # 67720 $15,000