A few words are necessary on the history and constitution of the treasure books which, since the former issue of this ‘Life of William Blake,' have passed into the hands of Mr. Bain, of the Haymarket.
On opening the first volume we find inscribed the name of ‘Richard Edwards, of High Elms,' heretofore well known as the publisher of the incomplete edition of Young's ‘Night Thoughts' with Blake's engraved illustrations : but, until the discovery of these two wondrous volumes, it was never suspected that the complete series of designs to the ‘Nine Nights' was executed by the artist, and bound up at the time, having been ever since carefully preserved in the publisher's family, resident in Yorkshire.
Now to speak of the composition of the books, containing five hundred and thirty-seven designs.
There was published in Parts or ‘Nights,' between 1742–1745, a quarto edition of the ‘Night Thoughts,' and a copy of the letterpress, 9 inches high by 6½ wide, is inlaid, somewhat out of the centre, within a sheet of drawing-paper, measuring 17 by 12¾ inches. This (it all bears the watermark ‘J. Whatman, 1794') is again itself inlaid in a stronger edging of paper, bearing on its inner margin a ruled and tinted framework, which bounds and encloses the designs; the whole page thus elaborately constituted measuring 21 by 16 inches.
The space left between the inlaid text and the outer margin of the drawing-paper is, as before indicated, unequally distributed, being broad at the base and one side, and narrow at the top and opposite side.