We use cookies to improve your experience online. By using our website, you agree to the use of cookies as described in our cookies policy.

The Complaint, And The Consolation; Or, Night Thoughts, By Edward Young, LL.D.

Edward Young

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Variant Title

Night Thoughts


London:: Printed By R. Noble, For R. Edwards, No. 142, Bond-Street,, M DCC XCVII.

Physical Description

viii, [2], 95, [3] p.: [43] illus.; 414 mm.

General Note

Four of the engravings are title-plates to the four books of the text - but the last three of these are evidently counted by the publisher as unnumbered pages in the sequence of pagination 1-95. In some copies the last three unnumbered pages ('Explanation of the Engravings') are bound in earlier, after the 'Advertisement'.


[T.p.] - Advertisement - [Text, with illus.] - Explanation of the Engravings.

Responsibility Note

Blake's signature as designer and engraver ('inv&sc. WB') appears on most of the engravings - and may have appeared on all but in some cases have been lost in trimming. In The Royal Academy's copy it is not present on pages [1], 1, 4, 10, 13, 17, 73 and 87. Similarly most, or all, carried the publisher's imprint of R. Edwards - but some may have lost this in the trimming. In the Royal Academy's copy the imprint is not present for the engravings on pages 10, 12, 26, 37, 43, 55, 57, 63, 73, 75, 86, 87, 90, 92, 95.


ESTC, T20820
G.E. Bentley, Blake books (1977), no.515
R.R. Easson and R.N. Essick, William Blake book illustrator: a bibliography (1972), p.13-28.
R.N. Essick, William Blake printmaker (1980)
D. Bindman, Blake as an artist (1977)
R. Essick and J. La Belle, ed., Night Thoughts ... Illustrated by William Blake (1975)
D.V. Erdman, The illuminated Blake (1974).
Studies of Young include H. Forster, Edward Young the poet of the Night Thoughts (1986) and H. Pettit, A Bibliography of Young's Night Thoughts (1954)
Surveys of writers who took up his themes are P. van Tieghem, La poésie de la nuit et des tombeaux en Europe au XVII siècle (1922) and B. Zumbini, 'La poesia sepolcrale straniera e italiana e il Carme del Foscolo', in Studi di Letteratura Italiana, 1894.

Summary Note

Most of the engravings carry the publication-date of June 27 1796; but some carry the dates of 1797 Jan . 1 (p.46), Jan 4 (40), March 22 (41, 54), June 1 (65, 72, 80, 88, 93); and some carry no date. Edward Young's The Complaint, or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death and Immortality was first published serially between 1742 and 1746. It is a poem in blank verse, in which the author seeks to find consolation for the deaths of his step-daughter (in 1736), wife and son-in-law (in 1740). He attempts a Christian theodicy, praising the divine salvation revealed in the Gospels, the human soul and the natural cosmos. The work went through many editions, and was translated into most European languages. The publisher Richard Edwards commissioned Blake to design illustrations for the Night Thoughts in 1795. By 1797 Blake produced 537 large watercolours surrounding the printed text of nine books of the poem; from which forty-three were engraved for the this volume, containing the text of the first four books only. No more were published. The drawings are preserved at the British Museum, London.

Binding Note

19th-century half green morocco, marbled-papered boards; gilt-decorated spine lettered 'Young's Night Thoughts - Blake.'


Night - Life - Death - Future life
English poetry - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Illustrated books - Great Britain - 18th century


William Blake, draughtsman, engraver
Richard Edwards, publisher
Richard Noble, printer