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A FRAGMENTARY COPY OF SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND OF EXPERIENCE

Five years ago my wife and I were fortunate enough to acquire a fragmentary copy of Songs of Innocence and of Experience. I know nothing of its previous history, but a brief description of its present state will perhaps be of some interest.

It consists of the following plates, printed back to back.

1 The numbers in square brackets are those given to the plates in the Keynes and Wolf Census.

Leaf 1 recto End of “The Little Girl Lost” and beginning of “The Little Girl Found” [35]1
verso Plate II of “The Little Girl Found” [36]
Leaf 2 recto “The Divine Image” [18]
verso “Infant Joy” [25]
Leaf 3 recto Plate I of “A Cradle Song” [16]
verso Plate II of “A Cradle Song” [17]
Leaf 4 recto “The Little Boy lost” [13]
verso “The Little Boy found” [14]
Leaf 5 recto “Nurse’s Song” [24]
verso “On Anothers Sorrow” [27]
Leaf 6 recto “Holy Thursday” [19]
verso “The Voice of the Ancient Bard” [54]
Leaf 7 recto Plate II of “Spring” [23]
verso “The School-Boy” [53]

The leaves are all stabbed for sewing, and this applies to no other similar copies in the Keynes and Wolf Census. No copy seems to lack these particular plates. It therefore would appear that this is from an unrecorded copy. In no other copies are plates [18, 25] [24, 27] or [19, 54] printed back to back.2 2 I am indebted to Professor G. E. Bentley, Jr., for many of the bibliographical details in this note. He is of the opinion that the copy was made about 1794-1795.

The size of the leaves varies somewhat, but averages 7 7/16 by 5 3/16 inches. This is not repeated exactly in other copies, but many are of near size. The watermark E & P appears faintly on leaf 4 near the inner top corner. This appears in seven other copies of the book.3 3 Copies F, I, J, M of Innocence and C, D, F of Experience in the Census.

The plates are printed in green, and the coloring is in light washes. One peculiarity is that the flower on plate [25] is painted blue. It is usually red, but is blue in seven other copies.4 4 Copies A, G of Innocence and D, E, F, I, X of Experience in the Census.

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