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MORTON D. PALEY William Blake, Richard Phillips and the Monthly Magazine AMONG THE SATIRICAL VERSES THAT WILLIAM BLAKE WROTE IN HIS NOTExY book in the early 1800s are four lines that read: P------loved me, not as he lovd his Friends For he lovd them for gain to serve his Ends He loved me and for no Gain at all But to rejoice & triumph in my fall1 P------has been identified as the publisher Richard Phillips,2 who played a brief but important role in Blake’s life, as a partner in the publishing of a book with Blake’s illustrations and as publisher of the Monthly Magazine. Exploring Blake’s relations with Phillips in these two capacities will give us a better idea of Blake’s life and interests in the years immediately following his move back to London in 1803 after three years’ absence. Upon returning from what he called “my three years Slumber on the banks ofthe Ocean,”3 Blake began to reestablish himselfin the professional world of engraving in London. His first project involved the ballads that had initially been issued as quartos in Sussex, featuring William Hayley’s poems about animals and Blake’s engravings after his own designs. This en­ terprise had been Hayley’s idea from the beginning, his purpose being to get some money for Blake. In 1802 four ballads were issued in quarto, the texts printed by William Seagrave in Chichester and the plates by William and Catherine Blake in their Felpham cottage, and marketed by Hayley among his friends. However, the hoped-for benefit to Blake did not mate­ rialize. Hayley reported on 30 April 1803 that Blake had paid £30 for paper and had not received even half that sum from sales? In a later letter to 1. The Poetry and Prose of William Blake, ed. David V. Erdman (rev. ed., Berkeley: Univer­ sity of California Press, 1982), 506. This edition is hereafter cited as E. 2. See Thomas Wright, The Life of William Blake (Olney, Bucks: T. Wright, 1929), 1:168; and E 866. 3. Letter to Thomas Butts, 25 April 1803, E 728. 4. See G. E. Bentley, Jr., “William Blake As a Private Publisher,” Bulletin of the New York Public Library 61 (1957): 550. SiR, 51 (Spring 2012) 41 42 MORTON D. PALEY Hayley (28 December 1804), Blake mentions “the Twelve Guineas which you Lent Me when I made up 30 Pounds to pay our Worthy Seagrave in part of his Account” (E 760), and says that he would deduct that amount from his price for engraving The Shipwreck by George Romney for Hayley’s Life. So at the end of 1804 Blake was still paying the costs of the 1802 Ballads. A year later he had still not been able to repay Seagrave, for on 11 December 1805 he asked Hayley to give his thanks to “the Generous Seagrave. In whose Debt I have been too long,” adding optimistically “but percieve that I shall be able to settle with him soon what is between us” (E 761). Despite the fact that the 1802 Ballads had been a financial failure,5 Blake hoped that an octavo edition with re-engraved plates would succeed. With Blake’s benefit once more in mind, in 1805 Hayley proposed (at Blake’s suggestion) an octavo volume of the Ballads to Phillips. Phillips’s ready ac­ ceptance of this proposal was no doubt influenced by his wish to succeed James Dodsley (d. 1797) as Hayley’s principal publisher. Besides, the terms left him with little to lose. On 22 January 1805 Blake informed Hayley “ [t]hat one thousand copies should be the first edition, and, if we choose, we might add to the number of plates in a second edition. And he will go equal shares with me in the expense and the profits, and that Seagrave is to be the printer” (E 763). Typically optimistic at the beginning of a project, Blake wrote in the same letter: “Truly proud I am to be in possession of this beautiful little estate; for that it will be highly productive I have no doubt.” Blake gave Hayley further details of the arrangement on...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2330-118X
Print ISSN
0039-3762
Pages
pp. 41-57
Launched on MUSE
2020-03-19
Open Access
No
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