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The Notebook of William Blake - Folio N99 and N98

Image of Folio N99 and N98
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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.

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