BLAKE, William. There is No Natural Religion. London: Trianon Press, 1972.
2 vols., 4to and small 4to, both in full tan morocco; housed in marbelled slip-case; with 20 colour plates; small 4to unpaginated, [pp.84]; large 4to unpaginated, [pp. 106]; fine, with the odd smudge and spot to boards, and a trifle rubbed to slip-case.
Edition de luxe, No. 10 of 50 copies with additional proof sheets, progressive plates, original stencil, etc.
A series of gnomic aphorisms originally written in 1788. The plates were made by relief etching on copper, and are among Blake's earliest experiments in this method of etching for his illuminated books. The full book only came to light in 1953 and this is the first reproduction of the text. Such maxims are included as "Man's desires are limited by his perceptions, none can desire what he has not perciev'd (sic)" and "If any could desire what he is incapable of possessing despair must be his eternal lot" (Schneideman). (Bentley, Blake Books, 202).
“Blake's belief in the spiritual and mystical nature of man...stated and reiterated the inadequacy of regarding man as a creature limited in his perceptions by his natural organs. The idea of a 'natural' religion, such as might have been satisfied by his Deist friends, Paine, Priestly and Godwin, is therefore discarded as absurd. In the second series Blake has restated in the first Proposition the essence of the first series and has then proceeded to elaborate the effect that such mental limitation would have on its possessor. He would be filled with loathing and despair, seeing nothing beyond himself performing the same dull round over and over again. Man is saved by his poetic, or 'prophetic' faculties. These make his desires infinite, not bounded by his natural organs, allowing Blake to end with the triumphant cry of the mystic announcing his identity with God."