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CORRIGENDA

William Blake The Creation of the Songs From Manuscript to Illuminated Printing
Corrigenda and a Note on the Publication of Gilbert Imlay’s A Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America

In preparing my book on the creation of Blake’s Songs (London: British Library Publishing, 2000; Princeton: Princeton UP, 2001) for the press every effort was made to provide an accurate text. However, several errors of transcription were not identified before the sheets were printed. I list these below so that the text may be relied upon.

p. 7: First column, “Song 3d by an old shepherd,” line one:

For: When silver decks Sylvio’s cloaths
Read: When silver snow decks Sylvia’s cloaths

p. 12: Second column, “Nurses Song,” penultimate sentence:

For: In the first line he altered ‘tongues’ to ‘voices’ and in the third stanza, last line, ‘meadows’ to ‘hills.’
Read: In the first line he altered ‘tongues’ to ‘voices’ and in the third stanza, last line, ‘meadows are’ to ‘hills are all.’

p. 13: First column, “Nurses Song,” third stanza, line three:

For: And the hills are coverd with sheep
Read: And the hills are all coverd with sheep

p. 59: Second column, “NURSES Song,” first stanza, line two:

For: And whisperings are in the dale:
Read: And whisprings are in the dale:

p. 65: Second column, “London,” fourth stanza, line four:

For: And hangs with plagues the marriage hearse
Read: And smites with plagues the marriage hearse

p. 68: First column, “The Tyger,” first sentence:

For: Fully reinstating the ambivalence and terror of the first drafts, Blake relief etched and printed this final version of ‘The Tyger,’ deleting ‘And’ in the penultimate stanza, line three, and in the last stanza, line three, replacing ‘or’ with ‘&’ in order to repeat the first stanza verbatim.
Read: Fully reinstating the ambivalence and terror of the first drafts, Blake relief etched and printed this final version of ‘The Tyger,’ deleting ‘And’ in the penultimate stanza, line three, and in the last stanza, line three, replacing ‘&’ with ‘or.’

p. 69: Second column, “The Human Abstract,” second sentence:

For: Salvaging only the last two lines of the third stanza, and the first two lines of the fourth stanza from ‘I heard an Angel singing’ on N. 114, Blake formed the first stanza on N. 107, establishing from the outset an explicit contrary relationship to ‘The Divine Image’ of Songs of Innocence.
Read: Salvaging only the last two lines of the third stanza, the first two lines of the fourth stanza, and in the latter replacing ‘pity’ with ‘Mercy’ from ‘I heard an Angel singing’ on N. 114, Blake formed the first stanza on N. 107, establishing from the outset an explicit contrary relationship to ‘The Divine Image’ of Songs of Innocence.

p. 74: Second column, “A little BOY Lost,” second quotation, first line:

For: Then led him by the little coat
Read: Then led him by his little coat

p. 75: First column, “A little BOY Lost,” third stanza, line three:

For: Then led him by the little coat
Read: Then led him by his little coat

p. 75: Second column, “A little BOY Lost,” third stanza, line three:

For: Then led him by the little coat
Read: Then led him by his little coat

p. 84: Second column, “The Fly,” first sentence following second quotation:

For: Blake crossed through ‘summer play’ and following it wrote ‘thoughtless hand.’
Read: Blake crossed through ‘guilty hand’ and following it wrote ‘thoughtless hand.’

p. 85: Second column, “THE FLY,” second quotation, fourth stanza, line three:

For: But the want
Read: And the want

p. 85: Second column, “THE FLY,” following second quotation, first sentence:

For: With the addition of punctuation and three minor changes, in the first stanza, line two, ‘summer’ to ‘summers,’ line four ‘Hath’ to ‘Has,’ and, in the fourth stanza, line three, ‘But’ to ‘And’, the text as composed on the page was relief etched and printed as ‘THE FLY’ in the first issue of Songs of Experience.
begin page 31 | back to top Read: With the addition of punctuation and two minor changes, in the first stanza, line two, ‘summer’ to ‘summers,’ and, line four, ‘Hath’ to ‘Has,’ the text as composed on the page was relief etched and printed as ‘THE FLY’ in the first issue of Songs of Experience.

p. 99: First column, first full paragraph, second sentence:

For: Using a long pin or etching needle, a small hole was pierced through the upper left corner of the paper and into the sheet of paper or pasteboard underneath.
Read: Using a long pin or etching needle, a small hole was pierced through the upper right corner of the paper and into the sheet of paper or pasteboard underneath.

p. 105: Fig. 35, First Issue of Songs of Experience, under Copy H, “NURSES Song,” colour of monochrome printing ink:

For: golden ochre
Read: blue

Plate 59: Caption for “NURSES Song,” Songs of Experience, Songs, Copy H:

For: Printed monochrome golden yellow ochre, colour-printed, finished in watercolour.
Read: Printed monochrome blue, colour-printed, finished in watercolour.

A correction of another kind is needed with regard to the claim that Gilbert Imlay’s A Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America was first advertised for sale in the Public Advertiser on 12 December 1792, reproduced in Fig. 23 and discussed on pages 45-7 and 111.

I have since found that advertisements for A Topographical Description first appeared six months earlier in the Public Advertiser, on 16 June 1792, followed by a review published in the Monthly Review in August. This makes clear that copies of Imlay’s account were available prior to Debrett’s announcements beginning 12 December. Blake could have seen a copy that summer and in response to reading Imlay’s account amended “Why should I care for the men of Thames” on N. 113, altering the penultimate line from “I spurnd his waters away from me” to “The Ohio shall wash his stains from me.” However, with regard to dating Songs of Experience, this does not affect the examination of the continuity of the drafts in the Manuscript Notebook, as discussed, in particular, on pages 73 and 86 to 89.

Publication of A Topographical Description in June 1792 is confirmed by the records of the Stationers Company, where before publication copies are deposited by the owner to secure their right to the title. The manuscript volume of “Records of the Worshipful Company of Stationers register of Entries of Copies 1786 to 1792” shows that nine copies of A Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America were deposited by the publisher, the “Property [of] I. Debrett,” under the date “1792 May 21.” The first series of advertisements of A Topographical Description immediately followed, in June 1792.

Six months later, beginning 12 December 1792, Debrett launched what can only be described as a second and more vigorous advertising campaign to publicize Imlay’s account of the Ohio Valley and its attractions for prospective emigrants. The reasons for this second sales campaign bear directly upon Blake’s amendment to “Why should I care for the men of Thames.” On 20 November, John Reeves founded the Association for the Preservation of Liberty and Property against Republicans and Levellers. By 12 December, the loyalist movement and reactionary fervor had swept the country. Hirelings were abroad and those who had supported the democratic movement in Britain, shrank with fear. On 18 December, the trial and conviction of Tom Paine in absentia confirmed an end to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. That winter, and during the following spring and summer, for many, America became a refuge. Debrett had seized the moment to readvertise; the same moment epitomized in Blake’s alteration. A full account will be given in my biography of Blake in Lambeth during the anti-Jacobin Terror.

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