The Notebook of William Blake - Folio N99 and N98
Copyright © The British Library Board
N99 & N98
We see workings here of several poems for which the notebook has been rotated
to enter fair copies of poems. We see workings here of several poems, including
'Several Questions Answerd' in the top left, with lines salvaged from previous
drafts in the notebook (see N103). To the right of this poem, 'Let the Brothels
of Paris be opened' is a strongly felt criticism of the overindulgent French monarchy.
The poet's attack on Marie Antoinette in the final stanza ('The Queen of France
just touchd this Globe And the Pestilence darted from her robe') distorts Edmund
Burke's romantic description of the French Queen and Court in his Reflections
on the Revolution in France (1790): 'surely never lighted on this orb, which
she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision.'
Blake started another poem at the bottom of this folio, which he carried over
to the facing page. This poem, beginning 'Fayette beside King Lewis stood', has
been used by scholars to establish the finishing date for Blake's work on the
poems of Songs of Experience in the notebook. The poem makes reference
to the imprisonment of the French General Lafayette by the Austrians when he crossed
the border into Flanders in August 1792. Erdman, following F W Bateson, concludes
that the news of Lafayette's arrest would not have reached London until October
1792, although the poem could have been written some time after this.