Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Life of William Blake, “Pictor Ignotus”, vol. 2
Author: Alexander Gilchrist
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1880
Publisher: Phaeton Press
Edition: 2
Volume: 2

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.

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Sig. VOL. II.
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Note: Frontispiece
T. Phillips Schiavonetti

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Editorial Note (page ornament): Phaeton Press symbol



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Originally Published 1880

Reprinted 1969
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 72-90368

Published by PHAETON PRESS, INC.
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    By William Michael Rossetti.
  • Introductory Note. .. .. 205
  • page: ix
  • List I. Works in Colour.
    • Section a. Dated Works. .. .. 207
    • Section b. Undated Works, Biblical and Sacred. . 235
    • Ditto Ditto Poetic and Miscellaneous. . . .. 245
  • List II. Uncoloured Works.
    • Section a. Dated Works. . .. .. 2255
    • Section b. Undated Works, Biblical and Sacred. . 264
    • Ditto Ditto Poetic and Miscellaneous. . . .. .. . 267
  • List III. Works of Unascertained Method.
    • Biblical and Sacred .. .. .. 275
    • Poetic and Miscellaneous .. .. .. 275
    • Items from the Sale Satalogues of Mr. George Smith . .. .. 276
    • Items from the Catalogue of an Exhibition of Blake's Works in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, U.S.A. . .. .. 276
  • Accounts between Blake and Mr. Butts.. .. .. .. .. . 278
  • List of Engravings.
    • Works designed as well as engraved by Blake.. .. .. 279
    • Works engraved, but not designed by Blake.. .. .. 281
    • Works designed, but not engraved by Blake.. .. .. 283
  • List of Writings.. .. .. .. .. 283
  • Prospectus by Blake issued in 1793.. .. .. 285
  • Descriptive Notes of the Designs to Young's “Night Thoughts,” by Frederic James Shields.. .. ..289
  • Essay on Blake by James Smetham.. .. ..309
  • In Memoriam F. O. Finch, by Samuel Palmer.. .. ..353
  • Memoir of Alexander Gilchrist, by Anne Gilchrist.. .. ..357
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William Blake

Sig. VOL. II.
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  • I give you the end of a golden string:
  • Only wind it into a ball,
  • It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate,
  • Built in Jerusalem wall.
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[Printed in 1783. Written 1768—77. Æt. 11—20.]
There is no need for many futher critical remarks on these

selections from the Poetical Sketches, which have already been

spoken of in Chap. VI. of the Life. Among the lyrical pieces here

chosen, it would be difficult to award a distinct preference. These

Songs are certainly among the small class of modern times which

recall the best period of English song writing, whose rarest treasures

lie scattered among the plays of our Elizabethan dramatists. They

deserve no less than very high admiration in a quite positive sense,

which cannot be even qualified by the slight hasty or juvenile imper-

fections of execution to be met with in some of them, though by no

means in all. On the other hand, if we view them comparatively;

in relation to Blake’s youth when he wrote them, or the poetic epoch

in which they were produced; it would be hardly possible to over-

rate their astonishing merit. The same return to the diction and

high feeling of greater age is to be found in the unfinished play of

Edward the Third, from which some fragments are included here.

In the original edition, however, these are marred by frequent imper-

fections in the metre (partly real and partly dependent on careless

printing), which I have thought it best to remove, as I found it

possible to do so without once in the slightest degree affecting the

originality of the text. The same has been done in a few similar

instances elsewhere. The poem of Blind Man’s Buff stands in

curious contrast with the rest, as an effort in another manner, and,

though less excellent, is not without interest. Besides what is here

given, there are attempts in the very modern-antique style of ballad

prevalent at the time, and in Ossianic prose, but all naturally very

inferior, and probably earlier. It is singular that, for formed style

and purely literary qualities, Blake perhaps never afterwards equalled

the best things in this youthful volume, though he often did so in

melody and feeling, and more than did so in depth of thought.
Sig. VOL. II. B
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  • My silks and fine array,
  • My smiles and languished air,
  • By love are driven away.
  • And mournful lean Despair
  • Brings me yew to deck my grave:
  • Such end true lovers have.
  • His face is fair as heaven
  • When springing buds unfold;
  • Oh, why to him was’t given,
  • 10Whose heart is wintry cold?
  • His breast is Love’s all-worshipped tomb
  • Where all love’s pilgrims come.
  • Bring me an axe and spade
  • bring me a winding-sheet;
  • When I my grave have made,
  • Let winds and tempests beat:
  • Then down I’ll lie, as cold as clay.
  • True love doth pass away!
Sig. B 2
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  • Love and harmony combine
  • And around our souls entwine,
  • While thy branches mix with mine
  • And our roots together join.
  • Joys upon our branches sit,
  • Chirping loud and singing sweet;
  • Like gentle streams beneath our feet,
  • Innocence and virtue meet.
  • Thou the golden fruit dost bear,
  • 10I am clad in flowers fair;
  • Thy sweet boughs perfume the air,
  • And the turtle buildeth there.
  • There she sits and feeds her young;
  • Sweet I hear her mournful song:
  • And thy lovely leaves among,
  • There is Love: I hear his tongue.
  • There his charm’d nest he doth lay,
  • There he sleeps the night away,
  • There he sports along the day,
  • 20And doth among our branches play.
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  • I love the jocund dance,
  • The softly-breathing song,
  • Where innocent eyes do glance,
  • Where lisps the maiden’s tongue.
  • I love the laughing vale,
  • I love the echoing hill,
  • Where mirth does never fail,
  • And the jolly swain laughs his fill.
  • I love the pleasant cot,
  • 10I love the innocent bower,
  • Where white and brown is our lot,
  • Or fruit in the mid-day hour.
  • I love the oaken seat
  • Beneath the oaken tree,
  • Where all the old villagers meet,
  • And laugh our sports to see.
  • I love our neighbours all,
  • But, Kitty, I better love thee:
  • And love them I ever shall,
  • 20But thou art all to me.
page: 6
  • The wild winds weep,
  • And the night is a-cold;
  • Come hither, Sleep,
  • And my griefs unfold!
  • But lo! The Morning peeps
  • Over the eastern steeps,
  • And rustling birds of dawn
  • The earth do scorn.
  • Lo! to the vault
  • 10Of paved heaven,
  • With sorrow fraught,
  • My notes are driven:
  • They strike the ear of night,
  • Make weep the eyes of day;
  • They make mad the roaring winds,
  • And with tempests play.
  • Like a fiend in a cloud
  • With howling woe
  • After night I do crowd,
  • 20And with night will go;
  • I turn my back to the East
  • Whence comforts have increas’d;
  • For light doth seize my brain
  • With frantic pain.
page: 7
  • How sweet I roamed from field to field,
  • And tasted all the summer’s pride,
  • ’Till I the Prince of Love beheld,
  • Who in the sunny beams did glide!
  • He show’d me lilies for my hair,
  • And blushing roses for my brow;
  • He led me through his gardens fair,
  • Where all his golden pleasures grow.
  • With sweet May dews my wings were wet,
  • 10And Phœbus fired my vocal rage;
  • He caught me in his silken net,
  • And shut me in his golden cage.
  • He loves to sit and hear me sing,
  • Then, laughing, sports and plays with me;
  • Then stretches out my golden wing,
  • And mocks my loss of liberty.
page: 8
  • Memory, hither come,
  • And tune your merry notes;
  • And, while upon the wind
  • Your music floats,
  • I’ll pore upon the stream
  • Where sighing lovers dream,
  • And fish for fancies as they pass
  • Within the watery glass.
  • I’ll drink of the clear stream,
  • 10And hear the linnet’s song;
  • And there I’ll lie and dream
  • The day along:
  • And, when night comes, I’ll go
  • To places fit for woe;
  • Walking along the darkened valley
  • With silent Melancholy.
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  • Whether on Ida’s shady brow,
  • Or in the chambers of the East,
  • The chambers of the sun that now
  • From ancient melody have ceased;
  • Whether in Heaven ye wander fair,
  • Or the green corners of the earth,
  • Or the blue regions of the air,
  • Where the melodious winds have birth;
  • Whether on crystal rocks ye rove
  • 10Beneath the bosom of the sea,
  • Wandering in many a coral grove;
  • Fair Nine, forsaking Poetry;
  • How have you left the ancient love
  • That bards of old enjoy’d in you!
  • The languid strings do scarcely move,
  • The sound is forced, the notes are few.
page: 10
  • Thou fair-hair’d angel of the Evening,
  • Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light
  • Thy brilliant torch of love; thy radiant crown
  • Put on, and smile upon our evening bed!
  • Smile on our loves; and whilst thou drawest round
  • The curtains of the sky, scatter thy dew
  • On every flower that closes its sweet eyes
  • In timely sleep. Let thy west wind sleep on
  • The lake; speak silence with thy glimmering eyes,
  • 10 And wash the dusk with silver. Soon, full soon
  • Dost thou withdraw; then the wolf rages wide,
  • And then the lion glares through the dun forest.
  • The fleeces of our flocks are covered with
  • Thy sacred dew: protect them with thine influence.
page: 11
  • O thou, with dewy locks, who lookest down
  • Thro’ the clear windows of the morning, turn
  • Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
  • Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!
  • The hills do tell each other, and the listening
  • Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turned
  • Up to thy bright pavilion: issue forth,
  • And let thy holy feet visit our clime!
  • Come o’er the eastern hills, and let our winds
  • 10 Kiss thy perfumèd garments; let us taste
  • Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
  • Upon our love-sick land that mourns for thee.
  • O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
  • Thy softest kisses on her bosom, and put
  • Thy golden crown upon her languish’d head
  • Whose modest tresses were bound up for thee.
page: 12
  • O thou who passest thro’ our valleys in
  • Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
  • That flames from their large nostrils! Thou, O Summer!
  • Oft pitched’st here thy golden tent, and oft
  • Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
  • With joy thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair.
  • Beneath our thickest shades we oft have heard
  • Thy voice, when noon upon his fervid car
  • Rode o’er the deep of heaven. Beside our springs
  • 10 Sit down, and in our mossy valleys; on
  • Some bank beside a river clear, throw all
  • Thy draperies off, and rush into the stream!
  • Our valleys love the Summer in his pride.
  • Our bards are famed who strike the silver wire;
  • Our youths are bolder than the southern swains;
  • Our maidens fairer in the sprightly dance;
  • We lack not songs, nor instruments of joy,
  • Nor echoes sweet nor waters clear as heaven,
  • Nor laurel wreaths against the sultry heat.
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  • When silver snow decks Susan’s clothes,
  • And jewel hangs at th’ shepherd’s nose,
  • The blushing bank is all my care,
  • With hearth so red and walls so fair;
  • ‘ Heap the sea-coal, come, heap it higher,
  • ‘ The oaken log lay on the fire.’
  • The well-washed stools, a circling row,
  • With lad and lass, how fair the show!
  • The merry can of nut-brown ale,
  • 10The laughing jest, the love-sick tale:
  • ’Till, tired of chat, the game begins,
  • The lasses prick the lads with pins;
  • Roger from Dolly twitched the stool,
  • She falling, kissed the ground, poor fool!
  • She blushed so red, with side-long glance
  • At hob-nail Dick who grieved the chance.
  • But now for Blind-man’s Buff they call;
  • Of each incumbrance clear the hall!
  • Jenny her silken ’kerchief folds,
  • 20And blear-eyed Will the black lot holds;
  • Now, laughing, stops, with ‘Silence! Hush!’
  • And Peggy Pout gives Sam a push.
  • The Blind-man’s arms, extended wide,
  • Sam slips between;—O woe betide
  • Thee, clumsy Will!—but tittering Kate
  • page: 14
  • Is penned up in the corner strait!
  • And now Will’s eyes beheld the play,
  • He thought his face was t’other way.
  • Now, Kitty, now! what chance hast thou!
  • 30 Roger so near thee trips!—I vow
  • She catches him!—then Roger ties
  • His own head up, but not his eyes;
  • For thro’ the slender cloth he sees,
  • And runs at Sam, who slips with ease
  • His clumsy hold; and, dodging round,
  • Sukey is tumbled on the ground!
  • See what it is to play unfair!
  • Where cheating is, there’s mischief there.
  • But Roger still pursues the chase,—
  • 40‘He sees! he sees!’ cries softly Grace.
  • O Roger, thou, unskill’d in art.
  • Must, surer bound, go through thy part!
  • Now Kitty, pert, repeats the rhymes,
  • And Roger turns him round three times;
  • Then pauses ere he starts—But Dick
  • Was mischief-bent upon a trick:
  • Down on his hands and knees he lay,
  • Directly in the Blind-man’s way—
  • Then cries out, ‘Hem!’ Hodge heard, and ran
  • 50 With hood-winked chance—sure of his man;
  • But down he came.—Alas, how frail
  • Our best of hopes, how soon they fail!
  • With crimsom drops he stains the ground,
  • Confusion startles all around!
  • Poor piteous Dick supports his head,
  • And fain would cure the hurt he made;
  • But Kitty hastens with a key,
  • And down his back they straight convey
  • The cold relief; the blood is stay’d,
  • 60And Hodge again holds up his head.
page: 15
  • Such are the fortunes of the game;
  • And those who play should stop the same
  • By wholesome laws: such as,—all those
  • Who on the blinded man impose
  • Stand in his stead. So, long a-gone,
  • When men were first a nation grown,
  • Lawless they lived, till wantonness
  • And liberty began to increase,
  • 70And one man lay in another’s way:
  • Then laws were made to keep fair play.
page: 16

SCENE I.— The coast of France: King Edward and Nobles before

it; the Army.

  • King.. .. . Our names are written equal
  • In Fame’s wide-trophied halls; ’tis ours to gild
  • The letters, and to make them shine with gold
  • That never tarnishes: whether Third Edward,
  • Or Prince of Wales or Montacute or Mortimer,
  • Or e’en the least by birth, gain brightest fame,
  • Is in His hand to whom all men are equal.
  • The world of men is like the numerous stars
  • That beam and twinkle in the depth of night,
  • 10 Each clad in glory according to his sphere:—
  • But we that wander from our native seats,
  • And beam forth lustre on a darkling world,
  • Grow larger as we advance; and some, perhaps
  • The most obscure at home, that scarce were seen
  • To twinkle in their sphere, may so advance
  • That the astonish’d world, with upturn’d eyes,
  • Regardless of the moon and those once bright,
  • Stand only but to gaze upon their splendour.
  • [ He here knights the Prince and other young Nobles.
  • Now let us take a just revenge for those
  • 20 Brave lords who fell beneath the bloody axe
  • page: 17
  • At Paris. Noble Harcourt, thanks, for ’twas
  • By your advice we landed here in Brittany,
  • A country not as yet sown with destruction,
  • And where the fiery whirlwind of swift war
  • Hath not yet swept its desolating wing.
  • Into three parties we divide by day,
  • And separate march, but join again at night:
  • Each knows his rank, and Heaven marshal all.
[ Exeunt.
SCENE III.— At Cressy. The King and Sir Thomas Dagworth.

The Prince of Wales and Sir John Chandos.
  • King. What can Sir Thomas Dagworth
  • Request that Edward can refuse?
  • Dagw. I hope
  • Your majesty cannot refuse so mere
  • A trifle: I’ve gilt your cause with my best blood,
  • And would again, were I not now forbid
  • By him whom I am bound to obey. My hands
  • Are tied up, all my courage shrunk and wither’d,
  • My sinews slacken’d, and my voice scarce heard:
  • 10 Therefore I beg I may return to England.
  • King. I know not what you could have ask’d, Sir Thomas,
  • That I would not have sooner parted with
  • Than such a soldier as you, and such a friend;
  • Nay, I will know the most remote particulars
  • Of this your strange petition, that if I can
  • I still may keep you here.
  • Dagw. Here on the fields of Cressy we are settled,
  • ‘Till Philip spring the timorous covey again.
  • The wolf is hunted down by causeless fear;
  • 20 The lion flees, and fear usurps his heart,
  • Startled, astonish’d at the clamorous cock.
  • Sig. VOL. II. C
    page: 18
  • The eagle that doth gaze upon the sun
  • Fears the small fire that plays about the fen;
  • If at this moment of their idle fear
  • The dog seize the wolf, the forester the lion,
  • The negro, in the crevice of the rock,
  • Seize on the soaring eagle, undone by flight
  • They tame submit—such the effect flight has
  • On noble souls. Now hear its opposite:
  • 30The timorous stag starts from the thicket wild,
  • The fearful crane springs from the plashy fen,
  • The shining snake glides o’er the bending grass:
  • The stag turns head, and bays the crying hounds,
  • The crane o’ertaken fighteth with the hawk,
  • The snake cloth turn and bite the padding foot.
  • And if your majesty’s afraid of Philip,
  • You are more like a lion than a crane:
  • Therefore I beg I may return to England.
  • King. Sir Thomas, now I understand your mirth,
  • 40 Which often plays with wisdom for its pastime,
  • And brings good counsel from the breast of laughter.
  • I hope you’ll stay, and see us fight this battle,
  • And reap rich harvest in the field of Cressy,
  • Then go to England, tell them how we fight,
  • And set all hearts on fire to be with us.
  • Philip is plum’d, and thinks we flee from him,
  • Else he would never dare to attack us. Now,
  • Now is the quarry set! and Death doth sport
  • In the bright sunshine of this fatal day.
  • 50 Dagw. Now my heart dances, and I am as light
  • As the young bridegroom going to be married.
  • Now must I to my soldiers, get them ready,
  • Furbish our armours bright, new plume our helms,
  • And we will sing like the young housewives busied
  • In the dairy. Now my feet are wing’d, but not
  • For flight, an ‘t please your grace.
  • King. If all my soldiers are as pleased as you,
  • page: 19
  • ‘Twill be a gallant thing to fight or die.
  • Then I can never he afraid of Philip.
  • 60 Dagw. A rawbon’d fellow t’other day pass’d by me;
  • I told him to put off his hungry looks;
  • He said: ‘I hunger for another battle.’
  • I saw a Welshman with a fiery face:
  • I told him that he look’d like a candle half
  • Burn’d out. He answer’d he was ‘pig enough
  • To light another pattle.’ Last night beneath
  • The moon I walk’d abroad when all had pitch’d
  • Their tents, and all were still:
  • I heard a blooming youth singing a song
  • 70He had compos’d, and at each pause he wip’d
  • His dropping eyes. The ditty was,—‘If he
  • Return’d victorious he should wed a maiden
  • Fairer than snow and rich as midsummer.’
  • Another wept, and wish’d health to his father.
  • I chid them both, but gave them noble hopes.
  • These are the minds that glory in the battle,
  • And leap and dance to hear the trumpet sound.
  • King. Sir Thomas Dagworth, be thou near our person:
  • Thy heart is richer than the vales of France;
  • 80 I will not part with such a man as thou.
  • If Philip came arm’d in the ribs of death,
  • And shook his mortal dart against my head,
  • Thou’dst laugh his fury into nerveless shame!
  • Go now, for thou art suited to the work,
  • Throughout the camp; inflame the timorous,
  • Blow up the sluggish into ardour, and
  • Confirm the strong with strength, the weak inspire,
  • And wing their brows with hope and expectation:
  • Then to our tent return, and meet the Council.
  • [ Exit Dagworth.

  • 90 Prince. Now we are alone, Sir John, I will unburthen
  • And breathe my hopes into the burning air,
  • Sig. C 2
    page: 20
  • Where thousand deaths are posting up and down;
  • Commission’d to this fatal field of Cressy.
  • Methinks I see them arm my gallant soldiers,
  • And gird the sword upon each thigh, and fit
  • Each shining helm, and string each stubborn bow,
  • And dance unto the neighing of our steeds:
  • Methinks the shout begins, the battle burns;
  • Methinks I see them perch on English crests,
  • 100 And roar the wild flame of fierce war upon
  • The thronged enemy. In truth, I am too full;
  • It is my sin to love the noise of war.
  • Chandos, thou seest my weakness; for strong Nature
  • Will bend or break us. My blood like a spring-tide
  • Does rise so high to overflow all bounds
  • Of moderation; while Reason in her
  • Frail bark can see no shore or bound for vast
  • Ambition. Come then, take the helm, my Chandos,
  • That my full blown sails overset me not
  • 110In the wild tempest; condemn my venturous youth
  • That plays with danger as the innocent child,
  • Unthinking, plays upon the viper’s den:
  • I am a coward in my reason, Chandos.
  • Chandos. You are a man, my Prince, and a brave man,
  • If I can judge of actions; but your heat
  • Is the effect of youth and want of use;
  • Use makes the armed field and noisy war
  • Pass over as a cloud does, unregarded,
  • Or but expected as a thing of course.
  • 120Age is contemplative; each rolling year
  • Doth bring forth fruit to the mind’s treasure house;
  • While vacant Youth doth crave and seek about
  • Within itself, and findeth discontent;
  • Then, tir’d of thought, impatient takes the wing,
  • Seizes the fruits of Time, attacks Experience,
  • Roams round vast Nature’s forest, where no bounds
  • Are set; the swiftest may have room, the strongest
  • page: 21
  • Find prey; till, tir’d at length, sated and tir’d
  • With the still changing sameness, old variety,
  • 130 We sit us down, and view our former joys
  • As worthless.
  • Prince. Then, if we must tug for experience,
  • Let us not fear to beat round Nature’s wilds
  • And rouse the strongest prey; then if we fall,
  • We fall with glory: for I know the wolf
  • Is dangerous to fight, not good for food,
  • Nor is the hide a comely vestment; so
  • We have our battle for our pains. I know
  • That youth has need of age to point fit prey,
  • 140 And oft the stander-by shall steal the fruit
  • Of the other’s labour. This is philosophy;
  • These are the tricks of the world; but the pure soul
  • Shall mount on wings, disdaining little sport,
  • And cut a path into the heaven of glory,
  • Leaving a track of light for men to wonder at.
  • I’m glad my father does not hear me talk:
  • You can find friendly excuses for me, Chandos;
  • But, do you not think, Sir John, that if it please
  • The Almighty to stretch out my span of life
  • 150 I shall with pleasure view a glorious action
  • Which my youth master’d
  • Chand. Age, my lord, views motives,
  • And views not acts. When neither warbling voice
  • Nor trilling pipe is heard, nor pleasure sits
  • With trembling age, the voice of Conscience, then
  • Sweeter than music in a summer’s eve,
  • Shall warble round the snowy head, and keep
  • Sweet symphony to feather’d angels sitting
  • As guardians round your chair; then shall the pulse
  • 160Beat slow; and taste and touch, sight, sound, and smell,
  • That sing and dance round Reason’s fine-wrought throne,
  • Shall flee away, and lease him all forlorn—
  • Yet not forlorn if Conscience is his friend.
[ Exeunt.
page: 22
SCENE V..— In Sir Thomas Dagworth’s Tent. To him enter Sir

Walter Manny.
  • Sir Walter. Sir Thomas Dagworth, I have been a-weeping
  • Over the men that are to die to-day.
  • Dagw. Why, brave Sir Walter, you or I may fall.
  • Sir Walter. I know this breathing flesh must lie and rot
  • Cover’d with silence and forgetfulness.—
  • Death wons in cities’ smoke, and in still night,
  • When men sleep in their beds, walketh about!
  • How many in walled cities lie and groan,
  • Turning themselves about upon their beds,
  • 10 Talking with Death, answering his hard demands!
  • How many walk in darkness, terrors around
  • The curtains of their beds, destruction still
  • Ready without the door! how many sleep
  • In earth, cover’d with stones and deathy dust,
  • Resting in quietness, whose spirits walk
  • Upon the clouds of heaven, to die no more!
  • Yet death is terrible, though on angels’ wings :
  • How terrible, then, is the field of death!
  • Where he doth rend the vault of heav’n, and shake
  • 20 The gates of hell! Oh Dagworth! France is sick:
  • The very sky, tho’ sunshine light it, seems
  • To me as pale as the pale fainting man
  • On his death-bed, whose face is shown by light
  • Of sickly taper! It makes me sad and sick
  • At very heart. Thousands must fall to-day.
  • Dagw. Thousands of souls must leave this prison house
  • To be exalted to those heavenly fields,
  • page: 23
  • Where songs of triumph, palms of victory,
  • Where peace, and joy, and love, and calm content
  • 30 Sit singing in the azure clouds, and strew
  • Flowers of heaven’s growth over the banquet table.
  • Bind ardent Hope upon your feet like shoes,
  • Put on the robe of preparation,
  • The table is prepar’d in shining heav’n,
  • The flowers of immortality are blown;
  • Let those that fight fight in good steadfastness,
  • And those that fall shall rise in victory.
  • Sir Walter. I’ve often seen the burning field of war
  • And often heard the dismal clang of arms;
  • 40 But never, till this fatal day of Cressy,
  • Has my soul fainted with these views of death.
  • I seem to be in one great charnel-house,
  • And seem to scent the rotten carcases!
  • I seem to hear the dismal yells of Death,
  • While the black gore drops from his horrid jaws;
  • Yet I not fear the monster in his pride.—
  • But oh, the souls that are to die to-day!
  • Dagw. Stop, brave Sir Walter, let me drop a tear,
  • Then let the clarion of war begin;
  • 50I’ll fight and weep! ‘tis in my country’s cause;
  • I’ll weep and shout for glorious liberty.
  • Grim War shall laugh and shout, bedeck’d in tears,
  • And blood shall flow like streams across the meadows,
  • That murmur down their pebbly channels, and
  • Spend their sweet lives to do their country service.
  • Then England’s leaves shall shoot, her fields shall smile,
  • Her ships shall sing across the foaming sea,
  • Her mariners shall use the flute and viol,
  • And rattling guns and black and dreary war
  • 60 Shall be no more.
  • Sir Walter. Well, let the trumpet sound and the drum beat;
  • Let war stain the blue heavens with bloody banners.
  • page: 24
  • I’ll draw my sword, nor ever sheath it up,
  • Till England blow the trump of victory,
  • Or I lie stretch’d upon the field of death.
[ Exeunt.
SCENE VI.In the Camp. Several of the Warriors met in

the King’s Tent. A minstrel sings.
  • O Sons of Trojan Brutus, cloth’d in war,
  • Whose voices are the thunder of the field,

  • Your ancestors came from the fires of Troy,
  • (Like lions rous’d by light’ning from their dens,
  • Whose eyes do glare against the stormy fires,)
  • Heated with war, fill’d with the blood of Greeks,
  • With helmets hewn, and shields covered with gore,
  • In navies black, broken with wind and tide.

  • They landed in firm array upon the rocks
  • 10Of Albion; they kiss’d the rocky shore:
  • ‘Be thou our mother and our nurse,’ they said,
  • ‘Our children’s mother; and thou shalt be our grave,
  • ‘The sepulchre of ancient Troy, from whence
  • ‘Shall rise cities, and thrones, and awful powers.’
  • Our fathers swarm from the ships. Giant voices
  • Are heard from out the hills; the enormous sons
  • Of Ocean run from rocks and caves: wild men,
  • Naked, and roaring like lions, hurling rocks,
  • And wielding knotty clubs, like oaks entangled,
  • 20 Thick as a forest ready for the axe.

  • Our fathers move in firm array to battle;
  • The savage monsters rush like roaring fire,
  • Like as a forest roars with crackling flames,
  • When the red lightning borne by furious storms
  • page: 25
  • Lights on some woody shore, and the parch’d heavens
  • Rain fire into the molten raging sea.

  • Our fathers, sweating, lean on their spears and view
  • The mighty dead: giant bodies streaming blood,
  • Dread visages frowning in silent death.
  • 30Then Brutus speaks, inspired; our fathers sit
  • Attentive on the melancholy shore.
  • Hear ye the voice of Brutus:—‘The flowing waves
  • ‘Of Time come rolling o’er my breast,’ he said,
  • ‘And my heart labours with futurity.
  • ‘Our sons shall rule the empire of the sea,
  • ‘Their mighty wings shall stretch from east to west;
  • ‘Their nest is in the sea, but they shall roam
  • ‘Like eagles for their prey. ..

  • ‘Our sons shall rise from thrones in joy, each one
  • 40‘Buckling his armour on; Morning shall be
  • ‘Prevented by the gleaming of their swords,
  • ‘And Evening hear their song of victory.

  • ‘Freedom shall stand upon the cliffs of Albion,
  • ‘Casting her blue eyes over the green ocean;
  • ‘Or, towering, stand upon the roaring waves,
  • ‘Stretching her mighty spear o’er distant lands,
  • ‘While with her eagle wings she covereth
  • ‘Fair Albion’s shore and all her families.’
Note: There is an illustration at the bottom of the page.
page: [26]
Note: Blank page
page: [27]



[Engraved 1789.]
Here again but little need be added to what has already been

said in the Life respecting the Songs of Innocence and Experience.

The first series is incomparably the more beautiful of the two, being

indeed almost flawless in essential respects; while in the second

series, the five years intervening between the two had proved

sufficient for obscurity and the darker mental phases of Blake’s

writings to set in and greatly mar its poetic value. This contrast

is more especially evident in those pieces whose subjects tally in

one and the other series. For instance, there can be no com-

parison between the first Chimney Sweeper, which touches with such

perfect simplicity the true pathetic chord of its subject, and the

second, tinged merely with the common-places, if also with

the truths, of social discontent. However, very perfect and noble

examples of Blake’s metaphysical poetry occur among the Songs of

, such as Christian Forbearance, and The Human Abstract.

One piece, the second Cradle Song, I have myself introduced from

the MS. note-book often referred to, since there can be no doubt

that it was written to match with the first, and it has quite sufficient

beauty to give it a right to its natural place. A few alterations and

additions in other poems have been made from the same source.
page: [28]
Note: Blank page
page: 29
  • Piping down the valleys wild,
  • Piping songs of pleasant glee,
  • On a cloud I saw a child,
  • And he, laughing, said to me:
  • ‘Pipe a song about a Lamb!’
  • So I piped with merry cheer.
  • ‘Piper, pipe that song again;’
  • So I piped: he wept to hear.
  • ‘Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
  • 10 Sing thy songs of happy cheer!’
  • So I sang the same again,
  • While he wept with joy to hear.
  • ‘Piper, sit thee down and write
  • In a book, that all may read.’
  • So he vanish’d from my sight,
  • And I pluck’d a hollow reed,
  • And I made a rural pen,
  • And I stain‘d the water clear,
  • And I wrote my happy songs
  • 20 Every child may joy to hear.
page: 30
  • How sweet is the shepherd’s sweet lot!
  • From the morn to the evening he strays;
  • He shall follow his sheep all the day,
  • And his tongue shall be filled with praise.
  • For he hears the lambs’ innocent call,
  • And he hears the ewes’ tender reply;
  • He is watchful while they are in peace,
  • For they know that their shepherd is nigh.
page: 31
  • The sun does arise
  • And make happy the skies;
  • The merry bells ring,
  • To welcome the spring;
  • The skylark and thrush,
  • The birds of the bush,
  • Sing louder around
  • To the bells’ cheerful sound;
  • While our sports shall be seen
  • 10On the echoing green.
  • Old John, with white hair,
  • Does laugh away care,
  • Sitting under the oak,
  • Among the old folk.
  • They laugh at our play,
  • And soon they all say,
  • ‘Such, such were the joys
  • When we all—girls and boys—
  • ln our youth-time were seen
  • 20On the echoing green.’
  • Till the little ones, weary,
  • No more can be merry,
  • The sun does descend,
  • And our sports have an end.
  • Round the laps of their mothers
  • Many sisters and brothers,
  • Like birds in their nest,
  • Are ready for rest,
  • And sport no more seen
  • 30 On the darkening green.
page: 32
  • Little lamb, who made thee?
  • Dost thou know who made thee?
  • Gave thee life, and bade thee feed
  • By the stream and o’er the mead;
  • Gave thee clothing of delight,
  • Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
  • Gave thee such a tender voice,
  • Making all the vales rejoice?
  • Little lamb, who made thee?
  • 10Dost thou know who made thee?
  • Little lamb, I’ll tell thee;
  • Little lamb, I’ll tell thee:
  • He is called by thy name,
  • For He calls Himself a Lamb.
  • He is meek, and He is mild,
  • He became a little child.
  • I a child, and thou a lamb,
  • We are called by His name.
  • Little lamb, God bless thee!
  • 20Little lamb, God bless thee
page: 33
  • My mother bore me in the southern wild,
  • And I am black, but O, my soul is white.
  • White as an angel is the English child,
  • But I am black, as if bereaved of light.
  • My mother taught me underneath a tree,
  • And, sitting down before the heat of day,
  • She took me on her lap and kissèd me,
  • And, pointing to the East, began to say:
  • ‘Look on the rising sun: there God does live,
  • 10And gives His light, and gives His heat away,
  • And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
  • Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday.
  • ‘And we are put on earth a little space,
  • That we may learn to bear the beams of love;
  • And these black bodies and this sunburnt face
  • Are but a cloud, and like a shady grove.
  • ‘For when our souls have learn’d the heat to bear,
  • The cloud will vanish, we shall hear His voice,
  • Saying, “Come out from the grove, my love and care,
  • 20And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.” ’
  • Thus did my mother say, and kissèd me,
  • And thus I say to little English boy:
  • When I from black, and he from white cloud free,
  • And round the tent of God like lambs we joy;
  • I’ll shade him from the heat till he can bear
  • To lean in joy upon our Father’s knee;
  • And then I’ll stand and stroke his silver hair,
  • And be like him, and he will then love me.
Sig. VOL. II. D
page: 34
  • Merry, merry sparrow!
  • Under leaves so green
  • A happy blossom
  • Sees you, swift as arrow,
  • Seek your cradle narrow,
  • Near my bosom.
  • Pretty, pretty robin!
  • Under leaves so green
  • A happy blossom
  • 10Hears you sobbing, sobbing,
  • Pretty, pretty robin,
  • Near my bosom.
page: 35
  • When my mother died I was very young,
  • And my father sold me while yet my tongue
  • Could scarcely cry, ‘Weep! weep! weep! weep!’
  • So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.
  • There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
  • That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved; so I said,
  • ‘Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head’s bare,
  • You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.’
  • And so he was quiet, and that very night,
  • 10As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight;
  • That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
  • Were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black.
  • And by came an angel, who had a bright key,
  • And he opened the coffins, and set them all free;
  • Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they run,
  • And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.
  • Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
  • They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind;
  • And the angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
  • 20He’d have God for his father, and never want joy.
  • And so Tom awoke, and we rose in the dark,
  • And got with our bags and our brushes to work;
  • Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm:
  • So, if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.
Sig. D 2
page: 36
  • Father, father, where are you going?
  • O do not walk so fast;
  • Speak, father, speak to your little boy,
  • Or else I shall be lost.
  • The night was dark, no father was there.
  • The child was wet with dew;
  • The mire was deep, and the child did weep,
  • And away the vapour flew.
  • The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
  • Led by the wandering light,
  • Began to cry, but God, ever nigh,
  • Appeared like his father, in white.
  • He kissed the child, and by the hand led,
  • And to his mother brought,
  • Who in sorrow pale through the lonely dale
  • The little boy weeping sought.
page: 37
  • When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
  • And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
  • When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
  • And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;
  • When the meadows laugh with lively green,
  • And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene;
  • When Mary, and Susan, and Emily,
  • With their sweet round mouths sing, “Ha, ha, he!”
  • When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
  • 10 Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
  • Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
  • To sing the sweet chorus of “Ha, ha, he !”
page: 38
  • Sweet dreams, form a shade
  • O’er my lovely infant’s head!
  • Sweet dreams of pleasant streams
  • By happy, silent, moony beams!
  • Sweet sleep, with soft down
  • Weave thy brows an infant crown!
  • Sweet sleep, angel mild,
  • Hover o’er my happy child!
  • Sweet smiles, in the night
  • 10 Hover over my delight!
  • Sweet smiles, mother’s smile,
  • All the livelong night beguile!
  • Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
  • Chase not slumber from thine eyes!
  • Sweet moan, sweeter smile
  • All the dovelike moans beguile!
  • Sleep, sleep, happy child!
  • All creation slept and smiled.
  • Sleep, sleep, happy sleep!
  • 20While o’er thee doth mother weep.
  • Sweet babe, in thy face
  • Holy image I can trace;
  • Sweet babe, once like thee
  • Thy Maker lay, and wept for me!
page: 39
  • Wept for me, for thee, for all,
  • When He was an infant small.
  • Thou His image ever see,
  • Heavenly face that smiles on thee!
  • Smiles on thee, on me, on all,
  • 30Who became an infant small;
  • Infant smiles like His own smile
  • Heaven and earth to peace beguile.
page: 40
  • To mercy, pity, peace, and love,
  • All pray in their distress,
  • And to these virtues of delight
  • Return their thankfulness.
  • For mercy, pity, peace, and love,
  • Is God our Father dear;
  • And mercy, pity, peace, and love,
  • Is man, His child and care.
  • For Mercy has a human heart,
  • 10 Pity a human face;
  • And Love, the human form divine;
  • And Peace, the human dress.
  • Then every man, of every clime,
  • That prays in his distress,
  • Prays to the human form divine:
  • Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.
  • And all must love the human form,
  • In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
  • Where mercy, love, and pity dwell,
  • 20There God is dwelling too.
page: 41
  • ’Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
  • Came children walking two and two, in red, and blue, and green :
  • Grey-headed beadles walk’d before, with wands as white as snow,
  • Till into the high dome of Paul’s, they like Thames’ waters flow.
  • O what a multitude they seem‘d, these flowers of London town,
  • Seated in companies they were, with radiance all their own:
  • The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
  • Thousands of little boys and girls raising their innocent hands.
  • Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song,
  • 10Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among:
  • Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor.
  • Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.
page: 42
  • The sun descending in the west,
  • The evening star does shine,
  • The birds are silent in their nest,
  • And I must seek for mine.
  • The moon, like a flower
  • In heaven’s high bower,
  • With silent delight,
  • Sits and smiles on the night.
  • Farewell, green fields and happy grove,
  • 10 Where flocks have ta’en delight;
  • Where lambs have nibbled, silent move
  • The feet of angels bright;
  • Unseen, they pour blessing,
  • And joy without ceasing,
  • On each bud and blossom,
  • And each sleeping bosom.
  • They look in every thoughtless nest,
  • Where birds are covered warm;
  • They visit caves of every beast,
  • 20 To keep them all from harm:
  • If they see any weeping
  • That should have been sleeping,
  • They pour sleep on their head,
  • And sit down by their bed.
page: 43
  • When wolves and tigers howl for prey,
  • They pitying stand and weep;
  • Seeking to drive their thirst away,
  • And keep them from the sheep.
  • But if they rush dreadful,
  • 30The angels, most heedful,
  • Receive each mild spirit,
  • New worlds to inherit.
  • And there the lion’s ruddy eyes
  • Shall flow with tears of gold:
  • And pitying the tender cries,
  • And walking round the fold:
  • Saying: ‘Wrath by his meekness,
  • And by His health, sickness,
  • Are driven away
  • 40From our immortal day.
  • ‘And now beside thee, bleating lamb,
  • I can lie down and sleep,
  • Or think on Him who bore thy name,
  • Graze after thee, and weep.
  • For wash’d in life’s river,
  • My bright mane for ever
  • Shall shine like the gold,
  • As I guard o’er the fold.’
page: 44
  • Sound the flute!
  • Now ’tis mute;
  • Birds delight,
  • Day and night,
  • Nightingale
  • In the dale,
  • Lark in sky,—
  • Merrily,
  • Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year.
  • 10Little boy,
  • Full of joy;
  • Little girl,
  • Sweet and small;
  • Cock does crow,
  • So do you;
  • Merry voice,
  • Infant noise;
  • Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year.
  • Little lamb,
  • 20 Here I am;
  • Come and lick
  • My white neck;
  • Let me pull
  • Your soft wool;
  • Let me kiss
  • Your soft face;
  • Merrily, merrily we welcome in the year.
page: 45
  • When the voices of children are heard on the green,
  • And laughing is heard on the hill,
  • My heart is at rest within my breast,
  • And everything else is still.
  • Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,
  • And the dews of night arise;
  • Come, come, leave off play, and let us away
  • Till the morning appears in the skies.
  • No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,
  • 10And we cannot go to sleep;
  • Besides, in the sky the little birds fly,
  • And the hills are all covered with sheep.
  • Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,
  • And thou go home to bed.
  • The little ones leaped, and shouted, and laugh’d,
  • And all the hills echoèd.
page: 46
  • ‘I have no name;
  • I am but two days old.’
  • What shall I call thee?
  • ‘I happy am,
  • Joy is my name.‘
  • Sweet joy befall thee!
  • Pretty joy!
  • Sweet joy, but two days old.
  • Sweet joy I call thee:
  • Thou dost smile.
  • I sing the while,
  • Sweet joy befall thee!
page: 47
  • Once a dream did weave a shade
  • O’er my angel-guarded bed,
  • That an emmet lost its way
  • Where on grass methought I lay.
  • Troubled, ’wilder’d, and forlorn,
  • Dark, benighted, travel-worn,
  • Over many a tangled spray,
  • All heart-broke, I heard her say:
  • ‘O, my children do they cry,
  • 10 Do they hear their father sigh?
  • Now they look abroad to see,
  • Now return and weep for me.’
  • Pitying, I dropp’d a tear:
  • But I saw a glow-worm near,
  • Who replied, ‘What wailing wight
  • Calls the watchman of the night?
  • ‘I am set to light the ground,
  • While the beetle goes his round.
  • Follow now the beetle’s hum,
  • 20 Little wanderer, hie thee home!’
page: 48
  • Can I see another’s woe,
  • And not be in sorrow too?
  • Can I see another’s grief,
  • And not seek for kind relief?
  • Can I see a falling tear,
  • And not feel my sorrow’s share?
  • Can a father see his child
  • Weep, nor be with sorrow fill’d?
  • Can a mother sit and hear,
  • 10An infant groan, an infant fear?
  • No, no! never can it be!
  • Never, never can it be!
  • And can He, who smiles on all,
  • Hear the wren, with sorrows small,
  • Hear the small bird’s grief and care,
  • Hear the woes that infants bear?
  • And not sit beside the nest,
  • Pouring Pity in their breast?
  • And not sit the cradle near,
  • 20Weeping tear on infant’s tear?
  • And not sit both night and day,
  • Wiping all our tears away?
  • Oh, no! never can it be!
  • Never, never can it be!
page: 49
  • He doth give His joy to all:
  • He becomes an infant small,
  • He becomes a man of woe,
  • He doth feel the sorrow too.
  • Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
  • 30 And thy Maker is not by:
  • Think not thou canst weep a tear,
  • And thy Maker is not near.
  • Oh! He gives to us His joy,
  • That our griefs He may destroy:
  • Till our grief is fled and gone
  • He doth sit by us and moan.
Sig. VOL. II. E
page: 50
  • Youth of delight! come hither
  • And see the opening morn,
  • Image of Truth new-born.
  • Doubt is fled, and clouds of reason,
  • Dark disputes and artful teazing.
  • Folly is an endless maze;
  • Tangled roots perplex her ways;
  • How many have fallen there!
  • They stumble all night over bones of the dead;
  • 10 And feel—they know not what save care;
  • And wish to lead others, when they should be led.
page: 51

[Engraved 1794.]
  • Hear the voice of the bard,
  • Who Present, Past, and Future sees;
  • Whose ears have heard
  • The Holy Word
  • That walked among the ancient trees,
  • Calling the lapsed soul,
  • And weeping in the evening dew;
  • That might control
  • The starry pole,
  • 10And fallen, fallen light renew!
  • O Earth, O Earth, return!
  • Arise from out the dewy grass!
  • Night is worn,
  • And the morn
  • Rises from the slumberous mass.
  • Turn away no more;
  • Why wilt thou turn away?
  • The starry floor,
  • The watery shore,
  • Is given thee till the break of day.
Sig. E 2
page: 52
  • Earth raised up her head
  • From the darkness dread and drear,
  • Her light fled,
  • (Stony dread!)
  • And her locks covered with grey despair.
  • ‘Prisoned on watery shore,
  • Starry jealousy does keep my den
  • Cold and hoar;
  • Weeping o’er,
  • 10I hear the father of the ancient men.
  • Selfish father of men!
  • Cruel, jealous, selfish fear!
  • Can delight,
  • Chain’d in night,
  • The virgins of youth and morning bear?
  • Does spring hide its joy,
  • When buds and blossoms grow?
  • Does the sower
  • Sow by night?
  • 20Or the ploughman in darkness plough?
  • Break this heavy chain,
  • That does freeze my bones around!
  • Selfish, vain,
  • Eternal bane,
  • That free love with bondage bound.’
page: 53
  • Love seeketh not itself to please,
  • Nor for itself hath any care,
  • But for another gives its ease,
  • And builds a heaven in hell’s despair.
  • So sang a little clod of clay,
  • Trodden with the cattle’s feet;
  • But a pebble of the brook
  • Warbled out these metres meet:
  • ‘Love seeketh only Self to please,
  • 10To bind another to its delight,
  • Joys in another’s loss of ease,
  • And builds a hell in heaven’s despite.’
page: 54
  • Is this a holy thing to see,
  • In a rich and fruitful land,
  • Babes reduced to misery,
  • Fed with a cold usurious hand?
  • Is that trembling cry a song?
  • Can it be a song of joy,
  • And so many children poor?
  • It is a land of poverty!
  • And their sun does never shine,
  • 10And their fields are bleak and bare,
  • And their ways are fill’d with thorns:
  • It is eternal winter there.
  • For where’er the sun does shine,
  • And where’er the rain does fall,
  • Babes should never hunger there,
  • Nor poverty the mind appal.
page: 55
  • In futurity,
  • I prophetic see,
  • That the earth from sleep
  • (Grave the sentence deep)
  • Shall arise, and seek
  • For her Maker meek;
  • And the desert wild
  • Become a garden mild.
  • In the southern clime,
  • 10Where the summer’s prime
  • Never fades away,
  • Lovely Lyca lay.
  • Seven summers old
  • Lovely Lyca told.
  • She had wandered long,
  • Hearing wild birds’ song.
  • ‘Sweet sleep, come to me
  • Underneath this tree;
  • Do father, mother weep?
  • 20Where can Lyca sleep?
  • ‘Lost in desert wild
  • Is your little child.
  • How can Lyca sleep
  • If her mother weep?
page: 56
  • ‘If her heart does ache,
  • Then let Lyca wake;
  • If my mother sleep,
  • Lyca shall not weep.
  • ‘Frowning, frowning night,
  • 30 O’er this desert bright
  • Let thy moon arise,
  • While I close my eyes.’
  • Sleeping Lyca lay
  • While the beasts of prey,
  • Come from caverns deep,
  • View’d the maid asleep.
  • The kingly lion stood
  • And the virgin view’d,
  • Then he gambol’d round
  • 40O’er the hallow’d ground;
  • Leopards, tigers, play
  • Round her as she lay,
  • While the lion old
  • Bow’d his mane of gold,
  • And her breast did lick,
  • And upon her neck,
  • From his eyes of flame,
  • Ruby tears there came;
  • While the lioness
  • 50Loos’d her slender dress,
  • And naked they conveyed
  • To caves the sleeping maid.
page: 57
  • All the night in woe
  • Lyca’s parents go
  • Over valleys deep,
  • While the deserts weep.
  • Tired and woe-begone,
  • Hoarse with making moan,
  • Arm in arm, seven days
  • They tread the desert ways.
  • Seven nights they sleep
  • 10 Among shadows deep,
  • And dream they see their child
  • Starved in desert wild.
  • Pale thro’ pathless ways
  • The fancied image strays
  • Famished, weeping, weak,
  • With hollow piteous shriek.
  • Rising from unrest,
  • The trembling woman prest
  • With feet of weary woe;
  • 20 She could no further go.
  • In his arms he bore
  • Her, armed with sorrows sore;
  • Till before their way
  • A couching lion lay.
page: 58
  • Turning back was vain,
  • Soon his heavy mane
  • Bore them to the ground;
  • Then he stalk’d around,
  • Smelling to his prey,
  • 30But their fears allay
  • When he licks their hands
  • And silent by them stands.
  • They look upon his eyes
  • Filled with deep surprise;
  • And wondering behold
  • A spirit arm’d in gold.
  • On his head a crown,
  • On his shoulders down
  • Flow’d his golden hair.
  • 40 Gone was all their care.
  • ‘Follow me,’ he said,
  • ‘Weep not for the maid;
  • ‘In my palace deep,
  • ‘Lyca lies asleep.’
  • Then they followèd
  • Where the vision led,
  • And saw their sleeping child
  • Among tigers wild.
  • To this day they dwell
  • 50In a lonely dell,
  • Nor fear the wolvish howl
  • Nor the lion’s growl.
page: 59
  • A little black thing among the snow,
  • Crying ‘weep! weep!’ in notes of woe
  • Where are thy father and mother? Say:—
  • ‘They are both gone up to the church to pray.
Note: type damage obscures the end of the word “pray.”
  • ‘Because I was happy upon the heath,
  • ‘And smil’d among the winter’s snow,
  • ‘They clothed me in the clothes of death,
  • ‘And taught me to sing the notes of woe.
  • ‘And because I am happy and dance and sing,
  • 10‘They think they have done me no injury,
  • ‘And are gone to praise God and His Priest and King,
  • ‘Who make up a heaven of our misery.’
page: 60
  • When the voices of children are heard on the green,
  • And whisperings are in the dale,
  • The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind,
  • My face turns green and pale.
  • Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,
  • And the dews of night arise;
  • Your spring and your day are wasted in play,
  • And your winter and night in disguise.
  • O Rose, thou art sick!
  • The invisible worm
  • That flies in the night,
  • In the howling storm,
  • Has found out thy bed
  • Of crimson joy,
  • And his dark secret love
  • Does thy life destroy.
page: 61
  • Little Fly,
  • Thy summer’s play
  • My thoughtless hand
  • Has brushed away.
  • Am not I
  • A fly like thee?
  • Or art not thou
  • A man like me?
  • For I dance,
  • 10And drink, and sing,
  • Till some blind hand
  • Shall brush my wing.
  • If thought is life,
  • And strength, and breath;
  • And the want
  • Of thought is death;
  • Then am I
  • A happy fly,
  • If I live,
  • 20Or if I die.
page: 62
  • I dreamt a dream! What can it mean?
  • And that I was a maiden Queen
  • Guarded by an Angel mild:
  • Witless woe was ne’er beguil’d!
  • And I wept both night and day,
  • And he wip’d my tear away;
  • And I wept both day and night,
  • And hid from him my heart’s delight
  • So he took his wings, and fled;
  • 10 Then the morn blush’d rosy red.
  • I dried my tears, and arm’d my fears
  • With ten thousand shields and spears.
  • Soon my Angel came again,
  • I was arm’d, he came in vain;
  • For the time of youth was fled,
  • And grey hairs were on my head.
page: 63
  • Tiger, Tiger, burning bright
  • In the forests of the night,
  • What immortal hand or eye
  • Framed thy fearful symmetry?
  • In what distant deeps or skies
  • Burned that fire within thine eyes?
  • On what wings dared he aspire?
  • What the hand dared seize the fire?
  • And what shoulder, and what art,
  • 10Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
  • When thy heart began to beat,
  • What dread hand formed thy dread feet?
  • What the hammer, what the chain,
  • Knit thy strength and forged thy brain?
  • What the anvil? What dread grasp
  • Dared thy deadly terrors clasp?
  • When the stars threw down their spears,
  • And water’d heaven with their tears,
  • Did he smile his work to see?
  • 20Did He who made the lamb make thee?
page: 64
  • A flower was offer’d to me,
  • Such a flower as May never bore,
  • But I said, I’ve a pretty rose tree,
  • And I passed the sweet flower o’er.
  • Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
  • To tend her by day and by night,
  • But my Rose turned away with jealousy
  • And her thorns were my only delight.
  • Ah! Sunflower! weary of time,
  • Who countest the steps of the sun;
  • Seeking after that sweet golden prime
  • Where the traveller’s journey is done;
  • Where the Youth pined away with desire,
  • And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
  • Arise from their graves, and aspire
  • Where my sunflower wishes to go.
page: 65
  • The modest Rose puts forth a thorn,
  • The humble sheep a threat’ning horn:
  • While the Lily white shall in Love delight,
  • Nor a thorn, nor a threat, stain her beauty bright.
  • I laid me down upon a bank,
  • Where Love lay sleeping;
  • I heard among the rushes dank
  • Weeping, weeping.
  • Then I went to the heath and the wild,
  • To the thistles and thorns of the waste;
  • And they told me how they were beguil’d,
  • Driven out, and compelled to be chaste.
  • I went to the Garden of Love,
  • 10And saw what I never had seen;
  • A Chapel was built in the midst,
  • Where I used to play on the green.
  • And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
  • And ‘thou shalt not,’ writ over the door;
  • So I turned to the Garden of Love
  • That so many sweet flowers bore.
  • And I saw it was filled with graves,
  • And tombstones where flowers should be,
  • And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
  • 20 And binding with briars my joys and desires.
Sig. VOL. II. F
page: 66
  • Dear mother, dear mother, the Church is cold,
  • But the Alehouse is healthy, and pleasant, and warm;
  • Besides, I can tell where I am used well;
  • The poor parsons with wind like a blown bladder swell.
  • But if at the Church they would give us some Ale,
  • And a pleasant fire our souls to regale,
  • We’d sing and we’d pray all the livelong day,
  • Nor ever once wish from the Church to stray.
  • Then the Parson might preach, and drink, and sing,
  • 10And we’d be as happy as birds in the spring,
  • And modest Dame Lurch, who is always at Church,
  • Would not have bandy children, nor fasting, nor birch.
  • And God, like a father, rejoicing to see
  • His children as pleasant and happy as He,
  • Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the Barrel,
  • But kiss him, and give him both drink and apparel.
page: 67
Note: type damage obscures the punctuation after the word “flow” in the second line; it is unclear if the mark is a comma or a period.
  • I Wander through each charter’d street,
  • Near where the charter’d Thames does flow,
  • And mark in every face I meet
  • Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
  • In every cry of every man,
  • In every infant’s cry of fear,
  • In every voice, in every ban,
  • The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.
  • How the chimney-sweeper’s cry
  • 10Every blackening church appals,
  • And the hapless soldier’s sigh
  • Runs in blood down palace walls.
  • But most, through midnight streets I hear
  • How the youthful harlot’s curse
  • Blasts the new-born infant’s tear,
  • And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.
Sig. F 2
page: 68
  • Pity would be no more
  • If we did not make somebody poor,
  • And Mercy no more could be
  • If all were as happy as we.
  • And mutual fear brings Peace,
  • Till the selfish loves increase;
  • Then Cruelty knits a snare,
  • And spreads his baits with care.
  • He sits down with holy fears,
  • 10And waters the ground with tears;
  • Then Humility takes its root
  • Underneath his foot.
  • Soon spreads the dismal shade
  • Of Mystery over his head,
  • And the caterpillar and fly
  • Feed on the Mystery.
  • And it bears the fruit of Deceit,
  • Ruddy and sweet to eat,
  • And the raven his nest has made
  • 20In its thickest shade.
  • The gods of the earth and sea
  • Sought through nature to find this tree,
  • But their search was all in vain:
  • There grows one in the human Brain.
page: 69
  • My mother groaned, my father wept,
  • Into the dangerous world I leapt,
  • Helpless, naked, piping loud,
  • Like a fiend hid in a cloud.
  • Struggling in my father’s hands,
  • Striving against my swaddling bands,
  • Bound, and weary, I thought best
  • To sulk upon my mother’s breast.
  • I was angry with my friend:
  • I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
  • I was angry with my foe:
  • I told it not, my wrath did grow.
  • And I watered it in fears
  • Night and morning with my tears,
  • And I sunnèd it with smiles
  • And with soft deceitful wiles.
  • And it grew both day and night
  • 10 Till it bore an apple bright,
  • And my foe beheld it shine,
  • And he knew that it was mine,
  • And into my garden stole
  • When the night had veil’d the pole;
  • In the morning, glad, I see
  • My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
page: 70
  • ‘Nought loves another as itself,
  • ‘ Nor venerates another so,
  • ‘Nor is it possible to thought
  • ‘A greater than itself to know.
  • ‘And, Father, how can I love you
  • ‘Or any of my brothers more?
  • ‘I love you like the little bird
  • ‘That picks up crumbs around the door.’
  • The Priest sat by and heard the child;
  • 10 In trembling zeal he seiz’d his hair,
  • He led him by his little coat,
  • And all admired the priestly care.
  • And standing on the altar high,
  • ‘Lo! what a fiend is here,’ said he,
  • ‘One who sets reason up for judge
  • ‘Of our most holy Mystery.’
  • The weeping child could not be heard,
  • The weeping parents wept in vain,
  • They stripp’d him to his little shirt,
  • 20 And bound him in an iron chain,
  • And burned him in a holy place
  • Where many had been burned before;
  • The weeping parents wept in vain.
  • Are such things done on Albion’s shore?
page: 71
  • Children of the future Age,
  • Reading this indignant page,
  • Know that, in a former time,
  • Love, sweet love, was thought a crime.
  • In the age of gold,
  • Free from winter’s cold,
  • Youth and maiden bright,
  • To the holy light,
  • Naked in the sunny beams delight.
  • 10Once a youthful pair,
  • Fill’d with softest care,
  • Met in garden bright,
  • Where the holy light
  • Had just removed the curtains of the night.
  • Then, in rising day,
  • On the grass they play;
  • Parents were afar,
  • Strangers came not near,
  • And the maiden soon forgot her fear.
  • 20Tired with kisses sweet,
  • They agree to meet
  • When the silent sleep,
  • Waves o’er heaven’s deep
  • And the weary tired wanderers weep.
page: 72
  • To her father white
  • Came the maiden bright,
  • But his loving look,
  • Like the holy book,
  • All her tender limbs with terror shook.
  • 30Ona! pale and weak,
  • To thy father speak;
  • Oh the trembling fear,
  • Oh! the dismal care
  • That shakes the blossoms of my hoary hair!
page: 73
  • Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
  • Dreaming in the joys of night;
  • Sleep, sleep; in thy sleep
  • Little sorrows sit and weep.
  • Sweet babe, in thy face
  • Soft desires I can trace,
  • Secret joys and secret smiles,
  • Little pretty infant wiles.
  • As thy softest limbs I feel,
  • 10Smiles as of the morning steal
  • O’er thy cheek, and o’er thy breast
  • Where thy little heart doth rest.
  • Oh the cunning wiles that creep
  • In thy little heart asleep!
  • When thy little heart doth wake,
  • Then the dreadful light shall break.
page: 74
  • I love to rise on a summer morn,
  • When birds are singing on every tree;
  • The distant huntsman winds his horn,
  • And the skylark sings with me:
  • O what sweet company!
  • But to go to school in a summer morn,—
  • Oh! it drives all joy away;
  • Under a cruel eye outworn,
  • The little ones spend the day
  • 10In sighing and dismay.
  • Ah! then at times I drooping sit
  • And spend many an anxious hour;
  • Nor in my book can I take delight,
  • Nor sit in learning’s bower,
  • Worn through with the dreary shower.
  • How can the bird that is born for joy
  • Sit in a cage and sing?
  • How can a child, when fears annoy,
  • But droop his tender wing,
  • 20And forget his youthful spring?
  • O father and mother, if buds are nipp’d,
  • And blossoms blown away;
  • And if the tender plants are stripp’d
  • Of their joy in the springing day,
  • By sorrow and care’s dismay,—
page: 75
  • How shall the summer arise in joy,
  • Or the summer fruits appear?
  • Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy,
  • Or bless the mellowing year,
  • 30When the blasts of winter appear?
page: 76
  • Whate’er is born of Mortal Birth
  • Must be consumèd with the earth,
  • To rise from generation free:
  • Then what have I to do with thee?
  • The sexes sprang from shame and pride,
  • Blown in the morn, in evening died;
  • But mercy changed death into sleep;
  • The sexes rose to work and weep.
  • Thou, mother of my mortal part,
  • 10 With cruelty didst mould my heart,
  • And with false self-deceiving tears
  • Didst bind my nostrils, eyes, and ears,
  • Didst close my tongue in senseless clay,
  • And me to mortal life betray.
  • The death of Jesus set me free:
  • Then what have I to do with thee?
page: [77]

[Engraved 1789.]
[The Thel has been spoken of in the Life (Chapter X. page 76). It is equal in

delightfulness to Blake’s lyrical poetry; and being the most tender and simple of

the class of his works to which it belongs, may prove the most generally acceptable

as a specimen of these.]
  • Does the Eagle know what is in the pit?
  • Or wilt thou go ask the mole?
  • Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod?
  • Or Love in a golden bowl?
Note: The title “THEL I” is illustrated.
  • The daughters of the Seraphim led round their sunny flocks,
  • All but the youngest: she in paleness sought the secret air
  • page: 78
  • To fade away like morning beauty from her mortal day.
  • Down by the river of Adona her soft voice is heard,
  • And thus her gentle lamentation falls like morning dew.
  • “O life of this our Spring! why fades the lotus of the water?
  • Why fade these children of the Spring, born but to smile and fall?
  • Ah! Thel is like a watery bow, and like a parting cloud,
  • Like a reflection in a glass, like shadows in the water,
  • 10 Like dreams of infants, like a smile upon an infant’s face,
  • Like the dove’s voice, like transient day, like music in the air.
  • Ah! gentle may I lay me down, and gentle rest my head,
  • And gentle sleep the sleep of death, and gentle hear the voice
  • Of him that walketh in the garden in the evening time.”
  • The Lily of the valley breathing in the humble grass
  • Answer’d the lovely maid and said: ”I am a watery weed,
  • And I am very small, and love to dwell in lowly vales;
  • So weak, the gilded butterfly scarce perches on my head.
  • Yet I am visited from heaven; and He that smiles on all
  • 20Walks in the valley, and each morn over me spreads His hand,
  • Saying, ‘Rejoice, thou humble grass, thou new-born lily-flower,
  • Thou gentle maid of silent valleys and of modest brooks;
  • For thou shalt be clothed in light and fed with morning manna,
  • Till summer’s heat melts thee beside the fountains and the springs
  • To flourish in eternal vales.’ Then why should Thel complain?
  • Why should the mistress of the vales of Har utter a sigh?”
page: 79
  • She ceased and smiled in tears, then sat down in her silver shrine.
  • Thel answer’d: “O thou little virgin of the peaceful valley,
  • Giving to those that cannot crave, the voiceless, the o’ertired;
  • 30 Thy breath doth nourish the innocent lamb, he smells thy milky garments,
  • He crops thy flowers, while thou sittest smiling in his face,
  • Wiping his mild and meekin mouth from all contagious taints.
  • Thy wine doth purify the golden honey, thy perfume,
  • Which thou dost scatter on every little blade of grass that springs,
  • Revives the milked cow, and tames the fire-breathing steed.
  • But Thel is like a faint cloud kindled at the rising sun:
  • I vanish from my pearly throne, and who shall find my place?”
  • “Queen of the vales,” the Lily answered, “ask the tender cloud,
  • And it shall tell thee why it glitters in the morning sky,
  • 40 And why it scatters its bright beauty through the humid air.
  • Descend, O little cloud, and hover before the eyes of Thel.”
  • The cloud descended, and the Lily bowed her modest head
  • And went to mind her numerous charge among the verdant grass.
  • “O little cloud,” the Virgin said, “I charge thee tell to me
  • Why thou complainest not, when in one hour thou fad’st away:
  • Then we shall seek thee, but not find. Ah! Thel is like to thee;
  • I pass away, yet I complain and no one hears my voice.”
page: 80
  • The cloud then showed his golden head, and his bright form emerged
  • Hovering and glittering on the air before the face of Thel.
  • “O virgin, know’st thou not our steeds drink of the golden springs
  • Where Luvah doth renew his horses? Look’st thou on my youth,
  • And fearest thou because I vanish and am seen no more?
  • 10Nothing remains. O maid, I tell thee, when I pass away
  • It is to tenfold life, to love, to peace, and raptures holy.
  • Unseen descending weigh my light wings upon balmy flowers,
  • And court the fair-eyed dew to take me to her shining tent:
  • The weeping virgin trembling kneels before the risen sun,
  • Till we arise, link’d in a golden band, and never part,
  • But walk united, bearing food to all our tender flowers.”
  • “Dost thou, O little cloud? I fear that I am not like thee;
  • For I walk through the vales of Har, and smell the sweetest flowers;
  • But I feed not the little flowers: I hear the warbling birds,
  • 20 But I feed not the warbling birds, they fly and seek their food:
  • But Thel delights in these no more because I fade away,
  • And all shall say, without a use this shining woman liv’d,
  • Or did she only live to be at death the food of worms?”
  • The Cloud reclined upon his airy throne and answer’d thus:
  • “Then if thou art the food of worms, O virgin of the skies,
  • How great thy use, how great thy blessing. Every thing that lives,
  • Lives not alone nor for itself. Fear not, and I will call
  • page: 81
  • The weak worm from its lowly bed, and thou shalt hear its voice.
  • Come forth, worm of the silent valley, to thy pensive queen.”
  • 30The helpless worm arose, and sat upon the Lily’s leaf,
  • And the bright cloud sailed on to find his partner in the vale.
  • Then Thel, astonished, viewed the worm upon its dewy bed.
  • “Art thou a worm? image of weakness, art thou but a worm?
  • I see thee, like an infant, wrapped in the Lily’s leaf:
  • Ah! weep not, little voice, thou must not speak, but thou canst weep.
  • Is this a worm? I see thee lie helpless and naked, weeping,
  • And none to answer, none to cherish thee with mothers smiles.”
  • The clod of clay heard the worm’s voice, and rais’d her pitying head:
  • She bow’d over the weeping infant, and her life exhal’d
  • In milky fondness: then on Thel she fix’d her humble eyes.
  • 10“O beauty of the vales of Har! we live not for ourselves.
  • Thou seest me, the meanest thing, and so I am indeed;
  • My bosom of itself is cold and of itself is dark,
  • But He that loves the lowly pours His oil upon my head,
  • And kisses me, and binds His nuptial bands around my breast,
  • And says:—‘ Thou mother of my children, I have loved thee,
  • And I have given thee a crown that none can take away.’
  • Sig. VOL. II. G
    page: 82
  • But how this is, sweet maid, I know not, and I cannot know;
  • I ponder, and I cannot ponder: yet I live and love!”
  • The daughter of beauty wip’d her pitying tears with her white veil,
  • 20 And said:—“Alas I knew not this, and therefore did I weep.
  • That God would love a worm, I knew, and punish the evil foot
  • That wilful bruised its helpless form; but that he cherish’d it
  • With milk and oil, I never knew, and therefore did I weep.
  • And I complained in the mild air, because I fade away,
  • And lay me down in thy cold bed, and leave my shining lot.”
  • “Queen of the vales,” the matron clay answered; “I heard thy sighs,
  • And all thy moans flew o’er my roof, but I have call’d them down.
  • Wilt thou, O queen, enter my house? ‘tis given thee to enter,
  • And to return: fear nothing, enter with thy virgin feet.”
  • The eternal gates’ terrrific porter lifted the northern bar;
  • Thel enter’d in and saw the secrets of the land unknown.
  • She saw the couches of the dead, and where the fibrous root
  • Of every heart on earth infixes deep its restless twists:
  • A land of sorrows and of tears, where never smile was seen.
  • She wander’d in the land of clouds, through valleys dark, listening
  • Dolours and lamentations; wailing oft beside a dewy grave
  • She stood in silence, listening to the voices of the ground,
  • Till to her own grave-plot she came, and there she sat down,
  • 10And heard this voice of sorrow breathed from the hollow pit:
page: 83
  • “Why cannot the ear be closed to its own destruction?
  • Or the glistening eye to the poison of a smile?
  • Why are eyelids stor’d with arrows ready drawn,
  • Where a thousand fighting-men in ambush lie,
  • Or an eye of gifts and graces showering fruits and coined gold?
  • “Why a tongue impress’d with honey from every wind?
  • Why an ear, a whirlpool fierce to draw creations in?
  • Why a nostril wide inhaling terror, trembling and affright?
  • Why a tender curb upon the youthful burning boy?
  • 20Why a little curtain of flesh on the bed of our desire?”
  • The virgin started from her seat, and with a shriek
  • Fled back unhinder’d till she came into the vales of Har.
Sig. G 2
page: [84]
Note: Blank page
page: [85]
In the MS. Note-book, to which frequent reference has been

made in the Life, a page stands inscribed with the heading given

above. It seems uncertain how much of the book's contents such

title may have been meant to include; but it is now adopted here

as a not inappropriate summarizing endorsement for the precious

section which here follows. In doing so, Mr. Swinburne's example

(in his Essay on Blake) has been followed, as regards pieces drawn

from the Note-book.
The contents of the present section are derived partly from the

Note-book in question, and partly from another small autograph col-

lection of different matter, somewhat more fairly copied. The poems

have been reclaimed, as regards the first-mentioned source, from as

chaotic a mass as could well be imagined; amid which it has some-

times been necessary either to omit, transpose, or combine, so as to

render available what was very seldom found in a final state. And

even in the pieces drawn from the second source specified above,

means of the same kind have occasionally been resorted to, where

they seemed to lessen obscurity or avoid redundance. But with all

this, there is nothing throughout that is not faithfully Blake's own.
One piece in this series ( The Two Songs) may be regarded as a

different version of the Human Abstract, occurring in the Songs of

. This new form is certainly the finer one, I think, by

reason of its personified character, which adds greatly to the force of

the impression produced. It is, indeed, one of the finest things

Blake ever did, really belonging, by its vivid completeness, to the order

of perfect short poems,—never a very large band, even when the best

poets are ransacked to recruit it. Others among the longer poems

of this section, which are, each in its own way, truly admirable, are

Broken Love, Mary, and Auguries of Innocence.
page: 86
It is but too probable that the piece called Broken Love has a recon-

dite bearing on the bewilderments of Blake's special mythology. But

besides a soul suffering in such limbo, this poem has a recognizable

body penetrated with human passion. From this point of view,

never, perhaps, have the agony and perversity of sundered affection

been more powerfully (however singularly) expressed than here.
The speaker is one whose soul has been intensified by pain to be

his only world, among the scenes, figures, and events of which he

moves as in a new state of being. The emotions have been quick-

ened and isolated by conflicting torment, till each is a separate com-

panion. There is his ‘spectre,’ the jealous pride which scents in the

snow the footsteps of the beloved rejected woman, but is a wild

beast to guard his way from reaching her; his ‘emanation’ which

silently weeps within him, for has not he also sinned? So they

wander together in ‘a fathomless and boundless deep,’ the morn full

of tempests and the night of tears. Let her weep, he says, not for

his sins only, but for her own; nay, he will cast his sins upon her

shoulders too; they shall be more and more till she come to him

again. Also this woe of his can array itself in stately imagery. He

can count separately how many of his soul's affections the knife she

stabbed them with has slain, how many yet mourn over the tombs which

he has built for these: he can tell, too, of some that still watch

around his bed, bright sometimes with ecstatic passion of melancholy

and crowing his mournful head with vine. All these living forgive

her transgressions: when will she look upon them, that the dead may

live again? Has she not pity to give for pardon? nay, does he not

need her pardon too? He cannot seek her, but oh! if she would

return! Surely her place is ready for her, and bread and wine of

forgiveness of sins.
The Crystal Cabinet and the Mental Traveller belong to a truly

mystical order of poetry. The former is a lovely piece of lyrical

writing, but certainly has not the clearness of crystal. Yet the mean-

ing of such among Blake's compositions, as this is, may sometimes

be missed chiefly through seeking for a sense more recondite than

was really meant. A rather intricate interpretation was attempted

here in the first edition of these Selections. Mr. W. M. Rossetti has

probably since found the true one in his simple sentence: “This

poem seems to me to represent, under a very ideal form, the phenomena

of gestation and birth” (see the Aldine edition of Blake's Poems, page

174). The singular stanza commencing “Another England there I

saw,” &c., may thus be taken to indicate quaintly that the undeveloped
page: 87
creature, half sentient and half conscious, has a world of its own

akin in some wise to the country of its birth.
The Mental Traveller seemed at first a hopeless riddle; and the

editor of these Selections must confess to having been on the point

of omitting it, in spite of its high poetic beauty, as incomprehensible.

He is again indebted to his brother for the clear-sighted, and no

doubt correct, exposition which is now printed with it, and brings its

full value to light.
The poem of Mary appears to be, on one side, an allegory of the

poetic or spiritual mind moving unrecognized and reviled among its

fellows; and this view of it is corroborated when we find Blake

applying to himself two lines almost identically taken from it, in

the last of the Letters to Mr. Butts printed in the Life . But the literal

meaning may be accepted, too, as a hardly extreme expression of the

rancour and envy so constantly attending pre-eminent beauty in

A most noble, though surpassingly quaint example of Blake's

loving sympathy with all forms of created life, as well as of the kind

of oracular power which he possessed of giving vigorous expression

to abstract or social truths, will be found in the Auguries of Innocence.

It is a somewhat tangled skein of thought, but stored throughout

with the riches of simple wisdom.
Quaintness reaches its climax in William Bond, which may be

regarded as a kind of glorified street-ballad. One point that requires

to be noted is that the term ‘fairies’ is evidently used to indicate

passionate emotions, while ‘angels’ are spirits of cold coercion. The

close of the ballad is very beautiful. It is not long since there

seemed to dawn on the present writer a meaning in this ballad not

discovered before. Should we not connect it with the lines In a

Myrtle Shade
(page 118) the meaning of which is obvious to all

knowers of Blake as bearing on marriage? And may not ‘William

Bond’ thus be William Blake, the bondman of the ‘lovely myrtle

tree’? It is known that the shadow of jealousy, far from unfounded,

fell on poor Catherine Blake's married life at one moment, and it has

been stated that this jealousy culminated in a terrible and difficult

crisis. We ourselves can well imagine that this ballad is but a literal

relation, with such emotional actors, of some transfiguring trance and

passion of mutual tears from which Blake arose no longer ‘bond’

to his myrtle-tree, but with that love, purged of all drossier element,

whose last death-bed accent was, “Kate, you have ever been an

angel to me!”
page: 88
The ballad of William Bond has great spiritual beauties, whatever

its meaning; and it is one of only two examples, in this form, occurring

among Blake's lyrics. The other is called Long John Brown and

Little Mary Bell
, and perhaps the reader may be sufficiently surprised

without it.
The shorter poems, and even the fragments, afford many instances

of that exquisite metrical gift and rightness in point of form which

constitute Blake's special glory among his contemporaries, even

more eminently perhaps than the grander command of mental re-

sources which is also his. Such qualities of pure perfection in writing

, as he perpetually, without effort, displayed are to be met with

among those elder poets whom he loved, and such again are now

looked upon as the peculiar trophies of a school which has arisen

since his time; but he alone (let it be repeated and remembered)

possessed them then, and possessed them in clear completeness.

Colour and metre, these are the true patents of nobility in painting

and poetry, taking precedence of all intellectual claims; and it is by

virtue of these, first of all, that Blake holds, in both arts, a rank which

cannot be taken from him.
Of the Epigrams on Art, which conclude this section, a few are

really pointed, others amusingly irascible,—all more or less a sort of

nonsense verses, and not even pretending to be much else. To enter

into their reckless spirit of doggerel, it is almost necessary to see the

original note-book in which they occur, which continually testifies, by

sudden exclamatory entries, to the curious degree of boyish impulse

which was one of Blake's characteristics. It is not improbable that

such names as Rembrandt, Rubens, Correggio, Reynolds, may have

met the reader's eye before in a very different sort of context from

that which surrounds them in the surprising poetry of this their

brother artist; and certainly they are made to do service here as

scarecrows to the crops of a rather jealous husbandman. And for all

that, I have my strong suspicions that the same amount of disparage-

ment of them uttered to instead of by our good Blake, would have

elicited, on his side, a somewhat different estimate. These phials of

his wrath, however, have no poison, but merely some laughing gas in

them; so now that we are setting the laboratory a little in order, let

these, too, come down from their dusty upper shelf.
page: 89
  • He. Where thou dwellest, in what grove,
  • Tell me, fair one, tell me, love,
  • Where thou thy charming nest dost build,
  • O thou pride of every field!
  • She. Yonder stands a lonely tree,
  • There I live and mourn for thee;
  • Morning drinks my silent tear,
  • And evening winds my sorrow bear.
  • He. O thou summer’s harmony,
  • 10I have lived and mourned for thee;
  • Each day I mourn along the wood,
  • And night hath heard my sorrows loud.
  • She. Dost thou truly long for me?
  • And am I thus sweet to thee?
  • Sorrow now is at an end,
  • O my lover and my friend!
  • He. Come! on wings of joy we’ll fly
  • To where my bower is hung on high;
  • Come, and make thy calm retreat
  • 20 Among green leaves and blossoms sweet.
page: 90
  • My Spectre around me night and day
  • Like a wild beast guards my way;
  • My Emanation far within
  • Weeps incessantly for my sin.
  • A fathomless and boundless deep,
  • There we wander, there we weep;
  • On the hungry craving wind
  • My Spectre follows thee behind.
  • He scents thy footsteps in the snow,
  • 10 Wheresoever thou dost go;
  • Through the wintry hail and rain
  • When wilt thou return again?
  • Poor pale, pitiable form
  • That I follow in a storm,
  • From sin I never shall be free
  • Till thou forgive and come to me.
  • A deep winter dark and cold
  • Within my heart thou dost unfold;
  • Iron tears and groans of lead
  • 20Thou binds’t around my aching head.
page: 91
  • Dost thou not in pride and scorn
  • Fill with tempests all my morn,
  • And with jealousies and fears?—
  • And fill my pleasant nights with tears?
  • O’er my sins thou dost sit and moan:
  • Hast thou no sins of thine own?
  • O’er my sins thou dost sit and weep
  • And lull thine own sins fast asleep.
  • Thy weeping thou shalt ne’er give o’er;
  • 30 I sin against thee more and more,
  • And never will from sin be free
  • Till thou forgive and come to me.
  • What transgressions I commit
  • Are for thy transgressions fit,—
  • They thy harlots, thou their slave;
  • And my bed becomes their grave.
  • Seven of my sweet loves thy knife
  • Hath bereaved of their life:
  • Their marble tombs I built, with tears
  • 40And with cold and shadowy fears.
  • Seven more loves weep night and day
  • Round the tombs where my loves lay,
  • And seven more loves attend at night
  • Around my couch with torches bright.
  • And seven more loves in my bed
  • Crown with vine my mournful head;
  • Pitying and forgiving all
  • Thy transgressions, great and small.
page: 92
  • When wilt thou return, and view
  • 50My loves, and them in life renew?
  • When wilt thou return and live?
  • When wilt thou pity as I forgive?
  • Throughout all Eternity
  • I forgive you, you forgive me.
  • As our dear Redeemer said:
  • ‘This the wine, and this the bread.’
page: 93
  • I heard an Angel singing
  • When the day was springing:
  • ‘Mercy, Pity, and Peace
  • Are the world’s release.’
  • So he sang all day
  • Over the new-mown hay,
  • Till the sun went down,
  • And haycocks looked brown.
  • I heard a Devil curse
  • 10Over the heath and the furze:
  • ‘Mercy could be no more
  • If there were nobody poor,
  • And Pity no more could be
  • If all were happy as ye:
  • And mutual fear brings Peace.
  • Misery’s increase
  • Are Mercy, Pity, Peace.’
  • At his cures the sun went down,
  • And the heavens gave a frown.
page: 94
  • I saw a chapel all of gold
  • That none did dare to enter in,
  • And many weeping stood without,
  • Weeping, mourning, worshipping.
  • I saw a serpent rise between
  • The white pillars of the door,
  • And he forced and forced and forced
  • Till he the golden hinges tore:
  • And along the pavement sweet,
  • 10Set with pearls and rubies bright,
  • All his shining length he drew,
  • Till upon the altar white
  • He vomited his poison out
  • On the bread and on the wine.
  • So I turned into a sty,
  • And laid me down among the swine.
page: 95
  • Why was Cupid a boy,
  • And why a boy was he?
  • He should have been a girl,
  • For aught that I can see.
  • For he shoots with his bow,
  • And the girl shoots with her eye,
  • And they both are merry and glad,
  • And laugh when we do cry.
  • Then to make Cupid a boy
  • 10 Was surely a woman’s plan,
  • For a boy never learns so much
  • Till he has become a man:
  • And then he’s so pierced with cares
  • And wounded with arrowy smarts,
  • That the whole business of his life
  • Is to pick out the heads of the darts
page: 96

( Extracted from a Fragmentary Poem, entitled ’The Everlasting Gospel.’ )
  • The vision of Christ that thou dost see
  • Is my vision’s greatest enemy.
  • Thine is the fare of all mankind,—
  • Mine speaks in parables to the blind;
  • Thine loves the same world that mine hates;
  • Thy Heaven-doors are my Hell-gates.
  • Socrates taught what Meletus
  • Loathed as a nation’s bitterest curse,
  • And Caiaphas was in his own mind
  • 10A benefactor to mankind.
  • Both read the Bible day and night;
  • But thou read’st black where I read white.

  • Jesus sat in Moses’ chair;
  • They brought the trembling woman there;
  • Moses commands she be stoned to death;
  • What was the sound of Jesus’ breath?
  • He laid his hand on Moses’ law:
  • The ancient heavens in silent awe,
  • Writ with curses from pole to pole,
  • 20 All away began to roll.
  • The earth trembling and naked lay,
  • In secret bed of mortal clay,
  • And she heard the breath of God
  • As she heard it by Eden’s flood:—
  • page: 97
  • ‘To be good only, is to be
  • ‘A God, or else a Pharisee.
  • ‘Thou Angel of the Presence Divine,
  • ‘That didst create this body of mine,
  • ‘Wherefore hast thou writ these laws
  • 30 ‘And created Hell’s dark jaws?
  • ‘Though thou didst all to chaos roll
  • ‘With the serpent for its soul,
  • ‘Still the breath Divine doth move,
  • ‘And the breath Divine is Love.
  • ‘Woman, fear not; let me see
  • ‘The seven devils that trouble thee;
  • ‘Hide not from my sight thy sin,
  • ‘That full forgiveness thou may’st win.
  • ‘ Hath no man condemnèd thee?’
  • 40‘No man, Lord.’
  • ‘Then what is he
  • ‘Who shall accuse thee? Come ye forth,
  • ‘Ye fallen fiends of heavenly birth!
  • ‘Ye shall bow before her feet,
  • ‘Ye shall lick the dust for meat;
  • ‘And though ye cannot love, but hate,
  • ‘Ye shall be beggars at love’s gate.
  • ‘What was thy love? Let me see’t!
  • ‘Was it love, or dark deceit?’
  • 50‘Love too long from me hath fled;
  • ‘ ’Twas dark deceit, to earn my bread;
  • ‘ ’Twas covet, or ’twas custom, or
  • ‘Some trifle not worth caring for.
  • ‘But these would call a shame and sin
  • ‘Love’s temple that God dwelleth in.’
Sig. VOL. II. H
page: 98

  • Never seek to tell thy love,
  • Love that never told can be!
  • For the gentle wind doth move
  • Silently, invisibly.
  • I told my love, I told my love,
  • I told her all my heart,
  • Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears.
  • Ah! she did depart.
  • Soon after she was gone from me,
  • 10 A traveller came by,
  • Silently, invisibly:
  • He took her with a sigh.
page: 99

  • As I wandered in the forest
  • The green leaves among,
  • I heard a wild-flower
  • Singing a song.
  • ‘I slept in the earth
  • ‘In the silent night,
  • ‘I murmured my fears
  • ‘And I felt delight.
  • ‘In the morning I went,
  • 10‘As rosy as morn,
  • ‘To seek for new joy,
  • ‘ But I met with scorn.’
Sig. II 2
page: 100

  • The maiden caught me in the wild,
  • Where I was dancing merrily;
  • She put me into her cabinet,
  • And locked me up with a golden key.
  • This cabinet is formed of gold,
  • And pearl and crystal shining bright,
  • And within it opens into a world
  • And a little, lovely, moony night.
  • Another England there I saw,
  • 10Another London with its tower,
  • Another Thames and other hills,
  • And another pleasant Surrey bower.
  • Another maiden like herself,
  • Translucent, lovely, shining clear,
  • Threefold, each in the other closed,
  • O what a pleasant trembling fear!
  • O what a smile! a threefold smile
  • Filled me that like a flame I burned;
  • I bent to kiss the lovely maid,
  • 20And found a threefold kiss returned.
page: 101
  • I strove to seize the inmost form
  • With ardour fierce and hands of flame,
  • But burst the crystal cabinet,
  • And like a weeping babe became.
  • A weeping babe upon the wild,
  • And weeping woman pale reclined,
  • And in the outward air again
  • I filled with woes the passing wind.
page: 102

Note: Type damage obscures the punctuation after “vain” in the eighth line; it is unclear whether this is a comma or a period.
  • There is a smile of Love,
  • And there is a smile of Deceit,
  • And there is a smile of smiles
  • In which the two smiles meet.
  • And there is a frown of Hate,
  • And there is a frown of Disdain,
  • And there is a frown of frowns
  • Which you strive to forget in vain.
  • For it sticks in the heart’s deep core
  • 10 And it sticks in the deep backbone.
  • And no smile ever was smiled
  • But only one smile alone
  • (And betwixt the cradle and grave
  • It only once smiled can be),
  • That when it once is smiled
  • There’s an end to all misery.
page: 103

  • Beneath a white thorn’s lovely May,
  • Three virgins at the break of day:—
  • ‘Whither, young man, whither away?
  • Alas for woe! alas for woe!’
  • They cry, and tears for ever flow.
  • The first was clothed in flames of fire,
  • The second clothed in iron wire;
  • The third was clothed in tears and sighs,
  • Dazzling bright before my eyes.
  • 10They bore a net of golden twine
  • To hang upon the branches fine.
  • Pitying I wept to see the woe
  • That love and beauty undergo—
  • To be clothed in burning fires
  • And in ungratified desires,
  • And in tears clothed night and day;
  • It melted all my soul away.
  • When they saw my tears, a smile
  • That might heaven itself beguile
  • 20 Bore the golden net aloft,
  • As on downy pinions soft,
  • Over the morning of my day.
  • Underneath the net I stray,
  • Now intreating Flaming-fire,
  • Now intreating Iron-wire,
  • Now intreating Tears-and-sighs.—
  • O when will the morning rise!
page: 104

  • ‘Awake, awake, my little boy!
  • Thou wast thy mother’s only joy;
  • Why dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep?
  • O wake! thy father doth thee keep.
  • ‘O what land is the land of dreams?
  • What are its mountains and what are its streams?
  • ‘O father! I saw my mother there,
  • Among the lilies by waters fair.
  • ‘Among the lambs clothèd in white,
  • 10She walked with her Thomas in sweet delight.
  • I wept for joy, like a dove I mourn—
  • O when shall I again return!’
  • ‘Dear child! I also by pleasant streams
  • Have wandered all night in the land of dreams,
  • But, though calm and warm the waters wide
  • I could not get to the other side.’
  • ‘Father, O father! what do we here,
  • In this land of unbelief and fear?
  • The land of dreams is better far,
  • 20 Above the light of the morning star.’
page: 105

  • Sweet Mary, the first time she ever was there,
  • Came into the ball-room among the fair;
  • The young men and maidens around her throng,
  • And these are the words upon every tongue:
  • ‘An angel is here from the heavenly climes,
  • Or again return the golden times;
  • Her eyes outshine every brilliant ray,
  • She opens her lips—‘tis the month of May.’
  • Mary moves in soft beauty and conscious delight,
  • 10To augment with sweet smiles all the joys of the night,
  • Nor once blushes to own to the rest of the fair
  • That sweet love and beauty are worthy our care.
  • In the morning the villagers rose with delight,
  • And repeated with pleasure the joys of the night,
  • And Mary arose among friends to be free,
  • But no friend from henceforward thou, Mary, shalt see.
  • Some said she was proud, some reviled her still more,
  • And some when she passed by shut-to the door;
  • A damp cold came o’er her, her blushes all fled,
  • 20Her lilies and roses are blighted and shed.
  • ‘O why was I born with a different face,
  • Why was I not born like this envious race?
  • Why did heaven adorn me with bountiful hand,
  • And then set me down in an envious land?
page: 106
  • ‘To be weak as a lamb and smooth as a dove,
  • And not to raise envy, is called Christian love;
  • But if you raise envy your merit’s to blame
  • For planting such spite in the weak and the tame.
  • ‘I will humble my beauty, I will not dress fine,
  • 30I will keep from the ball, and my eyes shall not shine;
  • And if any girl’s lover forsakes her for me,
  • I’ll refuse him my hand and from envy be free.’
  • She went out in the morning attired plain and neat;
  • ‘Proud Mary’s gone mad,’ said the child in the street;
  • She went out in the morning in plain neat attire,
  • And came home in the evening bespattered with mire.
  • She trembled and wept, sitting on the bed-side,
  • She forgot it was night, and she trembled and cried;
  • She forgot it was night, she forgot it was morn,
  • 40Her soft memory imprinted with faces of scorn.
  • With faces of scorn and with eyes of disdain,
  • Like foul fiends inhabiting Mary’s mild brain;
  • She remembers no face like the human divine;
  • All faces have envy, sweet Mary, but thine.
  • And thine is a face of sweet love in despair,
  • And thine is a face of mild sorrow and care,
  • And thine is a face of wild terror and fear
  • That shall never be quiet till laid on its bier.
page: 107

  • To see a world in a grain of sand
  • And a Heaven in a wild flower,
  • Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
  • And Eternity in an hour.
    • A Robin Redbreast in a cage
    • Puts all Heaven in a rage;
    • A dove-house filled with doves and pigeons
    • Shudders hell through all its regions;
    • A dog starved at his master’s gate
    • Predicts the ruin of the State;
    • A game-cock clipped and armed for fight
    • Doth the rising sun affright;
    • A horse misused upon the road
    • 10Calls to Heaven for human blood;
    • Every wolf’s and lion’s howl
    • Raises from hell a human soul;
    • Each outcry of the hunted hare
    • A fibre from the brain doth tear;
    • A skylark wounded on the wing
    • Doth make a cherub cease to sing.
    • He who shall hurt the little wren
    • Shall never be beloved by men;
    • He who the ox to wrath has moved
    • 20 Shall never be by woman loved;
    • page: 108
    • He who shall train the horse to war
    • Shall never pass the Polar Bar;
    • The wanton boy that kills the fly
    • Shall feel the spider’s enmity;
    • He who torments the chafer’s sprite
    • Weaves a bower in endless night.
    • The caterpillar on the leaf
    • Repeats to thee thy mother’s grief:
    • The wild deer wandering here and there
    • 30Keep the human soul from care:
    • The lamb misused breeds public strife,
    • And yet forgives the butcher’s knife.
    • Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
    • For the last judgment draweth nigh;
    • The beggar’s dog, and widow’s cat,
    • Feed them, and thou shalt grow fat.
    • Every tear from every eye
    • Becomes a babe in Eternity;
    • The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar,
    • 40Are waves, that beat on Heaven’s shore.
    • The bat that flits at close of eve
    • Has left the brain that won’t believe;
    • The owl that calls upon the night
    • Speaks the unbeliever’s fright;
    • The gnat that sings his summer’s song
    • Poison gets from slander’s tongue
    • The poison of the snake and newt
    • Is the sweat of envy’s foot;
    • The poison of the honey bee
    • 50Is the artist’s jealousy;
    • The strongest poison ever known
    • Came from Cæsar’s laurel-crown.
    page: 109
    • Naught can deform the human race
    • Like to the armourer’s iron brace;
    • The soldier armed with sword and gun
    • Palsied strikes the summer’s sun;
    • When gold and gems adorn the plough,
    • To peaceful arts shall envy bow;
    • The beggar’s rags fluttering in air
    • 60 Do to rags the heavens tear;
    • The prince’s robes and beggar’s rags
    • Are toadstools on the miser’s bags;
    • One mite wrung from the labourer’s hands
    • Shall buy and sell the miser’s lands,
    • Or, if protected from on high,
    • Shall that whole nation sell and buy;
    • The poor man’s farthing is worth more
    • Than all the gold on Afric’s shore.
    • The whore and gambler, by the state
    • 70 Licensed, build that nation’s fate;
    • The harlot’s cry from street to street
    • Shall weave old England’s winding-sheet;
    • The winner’s shout, the loser’s curse,
    • Shall dance before dead England’s hearse.
    • He who mocks the infant’s faith
    • Shall be mocked in age and death;
    • He who shall teach the child to doubt
    • The rotting grave shall ne’er get out;
    • He who respects the infant’s faith
    • 80 Triumphs over hell and death;
    • The babe is more than swaddling bands
    • Throughout all these human lands;
    • Tools were made and born were hands,
    • Every farmer understands.
    • The questioner who sits so sly
    • Shall never know how to reply;
    • page: 110
    • He who replies to words of doubt
    • Doth put the light of knowledge out;
    • A puddle, or the cricket’s cry,
    • 90 Is to doubt a fit reply;
    • The child’s toys and the old man’s reasons
    • Are the fruits of the two seasons;
    • The emmet’s inch and eagle’s mile
    • Make lame philosophy to smile;
    • A truth that’s told with bad intent
    • Beats all the lies you can invent.
    • He who doubts from what he sees
    • Will ne’er believe, do what you please;
    • If the sun and moon should doubt,
    • 100 They’d immediately go out.
    • Every night and every morn
    • Some to misery are born;
    • Every morn and every night
    • Some are born to sweet delight;
    • Some are born to sweet delight,
    • Some am born to endless night.
    • Joy and woe are woven fine,
    • A clothing for the soul divine;
    • Under every grief and pine
    • 110Runs a joy with silken twine.
    • It is right it should be so;
    • Man was made for joy and woe;
    • And when this we rightly know,
    • Safely through the world we go.
    • We are led to believe a lie
    • When we see with not through the eye
    • Which was born in a night to perish in a night
    • When the soul slept in beams of light.
    • page: 111
    • God appears and God is light
    • 120To those poor souls who dwell in night;
    • But doth a human form display
    • To those who dwell in realms of day.
    page: 112

    The ‘Mental Traveller’ indicates an explorer of mental phænomena. The mental phænomenon here symbolized seems to be the career of any great Idea or intellectual movement—as, for instance, Christianity, chivalry, art, &c.—represented as going through the stages of —1. birth, 2. adversity and persecution, 3. triumph and maturity, 4. decadence through over-ripeness, 5. gradual transformation, under new conditions, into another renovated Idea, which again has to pass through all the same stages. In other words, the poem represents the action and re-action of Ideas upon society, and of society upon Ideas.
    Argument of the stanzas: 2. The Idea, conceived with pain, is born amid enthusiasm. 3 If of masculine, enduring nature, it falls under the control and ban of the already existing state of society (the woman old). 5. As the Idea develops, the old society becomes moulded into a new society (the old woman grows young). 6. The Idea, now free and dominant, is united to society, as it were in wedlock. 8. It gradually grows old and effete, living now only upon the spiritual treasures laid up in the days of its early energy. 10. These still subserve many purposes of practical good, and outwardly the Idea is in its most flourishing estate, even when sapped at its roots. 11. The halo of authority and tradition, or prestige, gathering round the Idea, is symbolized in the resplendent babe born on his hearth. 13. This prestige deserts the Idea itself, and attaches to some individual, who usurps the honour due only to the Idea (as we may see in the case of papacy, royalty, &c.); and the Idea is eclipsed by its own very prestige, and assumed living representative. 14. The Idea wanders homeless till it can find a new community to mould (‘until he can a maiden win’). 15 to 17. Finding whom, the Idea finds itself also living under strangely different
    page: 113
    conditions. 18. The Idea is now “beguiled to infancy”—becomes a new Idea, in working upon a fresh community, and under altered conditions. 20. Nor are they yet thoroughly at one; she flees away while he pursues. 22. Here we return to the first state of the case. The Idea starts upon a new course—is a babe; the society it works upon has become an old society—no longer a fair virgin, but an aged woman. 24. The Idea seems so new and unwonted that, the nearer it is seen, the more consternation it excites. 26. None can deal with the Idea so as to develop it to the full, except the old society with which it comes into contact; and this can deal with it only by misusing it at first, whereby (as in the previous stage, at the opening of the poem) it is to be again disciplined into ultimate triumph.
    • 1
    • I travelled through a land of men,
    • A land of men and women too;
    • And heard and saw such dreadul things
    • As cold earth-wanderers never knew.
    • 2.
    • For there the babe is born in joy
    • That was begotten in dire woe;
    • Just as we reap in joy the fruit
    • Which we in bitter tears did sow.
    • 3.
    • And if the babe is born a boy,
    • 10He’s given to a woman old,
    • Who nails him down upon a rock,
    • Catches his shrieks in cups of gold.
    • 4.
    • She binds strong thorns around his head,
    • She pierces both his hands and feet,
    • She cuts his heart out at his side,
    • To make it feel both cold and heat.
    Sig. VOL. II. I.
    page: 114
    • 5.
    • Her fingers number every nerve
    • Just as a miser counts his gold;
    • She lives upon his shrieks and cries,
    • 20And she grows young as he grows old.
    • 6.
    • Till he becomes a bleeding youth,
    • And she becomes a virgin bright;
    • Then he rends up his manacles
    • And binds her down for his delight.
    • 7.
    • He plants himself in all her nerves
    • Just as a husbandman his mould,
    • And she becomes his dwelling-place
    • And garden fruitful seventyfold.
    • 8.
    • An aged shadow soon he fades,
    • 30Wandering round an earthly cot,
    • Full fillèd all with gems and gold
    • Which he by industry had got.
    • 9.
    • And these are the gems of the human soul,
    • The rubies and pearls of a lovesick eye,
    • The countless gold of the aching heart,
    • The martyr’s groan and the lover’s sigh.
    • 10.
    • They are his meat, they are his drink;
    • He feeds the beggar and the poor;
    • To the wayfaring traveller
    • 40For ever open is his door.
    page: 115
    • 11.
    • His grief is their eternal joy,
    • They make the roofs and walls to ring;
    • Till from the fire upon the hearth
    • A little female babe doth spring.
    • 12.
    • And she is all of solid fire
    • And gems and gold, that none his hand
    • Dares stretch to touch her baby form
    • Or wrap her in his swaddling band.
    • 13.
    • But she comes to the man she loves,
    • 50If young or old or rich or poor;
    • They soon drive out the aged host,
    • A beggar at another’s door.
    • 14.
    • He wanders weeping far away,
    • Until some other take him in;
    • Oft blind and age-bent, sore distres’d,
    • Until he can a maiden win.
    • 15.
    • And to allay his freezing age,
    • The poor man takes her in his arms;
    • The cottage fades before his sight,
    • 60The garden and its lovely charms.
    • 16.
    • The guests are scattered through the land;
    • For the eye altering alters all;
    • The senses roll themselves in fear,
    • And the flat earth becomes a ball.
    Sig. I 2
    page: 116
    • 17.
    • The stars, sun, moon, all shrink away,
    • A desert vast without a bound,
    • And nothing left to eat or drink,
    • And a dark desert all around:
    • 18.
    • The honey of her infant lips,
    • 70The bread and wine of her sweet smile,
    • The wild game of her roving eye,
    • Do him to infancy beguile.
    • 19.
    • For as he eats and drinks be grows
    • Younger and younger every day,
    • And on the desert wild they both
    • Wander in terror and dismay.
    • 20.
    • Like the wild stag she flees away;
    • Her fear plants many a thicket wild,
    • While he pursues her night and day,
    • 80 By various arts of love beguiled.
    • 21.
    • By various arts of love and hate,
    • Till the wild desert’s planted o’er
    • With labyrinths of wayward love,
    • Where roam the lion, wolf, and boar.
    • 22.
    • Till he becomes a wayward babe,
    • And she a weeping woman old;
    • Then many a lover wanders here,
    • The sun and stars are nearer rolled;
    page: 117
    • 23.
    • The trees bring forth sweet ecstacy
    • 90To all who in the desert roam;
    • Till many a city there is built,
    • And many a pleasant shepherd’s home.
    • 24.
    • But when they find the frowning babe,
    • Terror strikes through the region wide:
    • They cry—‘the babe—the babe is born!’
    • And flee away on every side.
    • 25.
    • For who dare touch the frowning form,
    • His arm is withered to its root:
    • Bears, lions, wolves, all howling flee,
    • 100 And every tree doth shed its fruit.
    • 26.
    • And none can touch that frowning form
    • Except it be a woman old;
    • She nails it down upon the rock,
    • And all is done as I have told.
    page: 118

    • To a lovely myrtle bound,
    • Blossoms showering all around,
    • O how weak and weary I
    • Underneath my myrtle lie!
    • Why should I be bound to thee,
    • O my lovely myrtle tree?
    • Love, free love, cannot be bound
    • To any tree that grows on ground.
    page: 119

    • I wonder whether the girls are mad,
    • And I wonder whether they mean to kill,
    • And I wonder if William Bond will die,
    • For assuredly he is very ill.
    • He went to church on a May morning,
    • Attended by fairies, one, two, and three;
    • But the angels of Providence drove them away,
    • And he returned home in misery.
    • He went not out to the field nor fold,
    • 10He went not out to the village nor town,
    • But he came home in a black black cloud,
    • And took to his bed, and there lay down.
    • And an angel of Providence at his feet,
    • And an angel of Providence at his head,
    • And in the midst a black black cloud,
    • And in the midst the sick man on his bed.
    • And on his right hand was Mary Green,
    • And on his left hand was his sister Jane,
    • And their tears fell through the black black cloud
    • 20To drive away the sick man’s pain.
    • ‘O William, if thou dost another love,
    • Dost another love better than poor Mary,
    • Go and take that other to be thy wife,
    • And Mary Green shall her servant be.’
    page: 120
    • ‘Yes, Mary, I do another love,
    • Another I love far better than thee,
    • And another I will have for my wife:
    • Then what have I to do with thee?
    • ‘For thou art melancholy pale,
    • 30And on thy head is the cold moon’s shine,
    • But she is ruddy and bright as day,
    • And the sunbeams dazzle from her eyne.’
    • Mary trembled, and Mary chilled,
    • And Mary fell down on the right-hand floor,
    • That William Bond and his sister Jane
    • Scarce could recover Mary more.
    • When Mary woke and found her laid
    • On the right-hand of her William dear,
    • On the right-hand of his loved bed,
    • 40And saw her William Bond so near;
    • The fairies that fled from William Bond
    • Danced around her shining head;
    • They danced over the pillow white,
    • And the angels of Providence left the bed.
    • ‘I thought Love lived in the hot sunshine,
    • But oh, he lives in the moony light;
    • I thought to find Love in the heat of day,
    • But sweet Love is the comforter of night.
    • ‘Seek Love in the pity of others’ woe,
    • 50In the gentle relief of another’s care,
    • In the darkness of night and the winter’s snow,
    • With the naked and outcast,—seek Love there.’
    page: 121

    • Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau,
    • Mock on, mock on; ’tis all in vain;
    • You throw the sand against the wind,
    • And the wind blows it back again.
    • And every sand becomes a gem
    • Reflected in the beams divine;
    • Blown back, they blind the mocking eye
    • But still in Israel’s paths they shine.
    • The atoms of Democritus
    • 10And Newton’s particles of light
    • Are sands upon the Red Sea shore
    • Where Israel’s tents do shine so bright.
    page: 122

    • ‘I see, I see,’ the mother said,
    • ‘My children will die for lack of bread!
    • What more has the merciless tyrant said?’
    • The monk sat him down on her stony bed.
    • His eye was dry, no tear could flow,
    • A hollow groan bespoke his woe;
    • He trembled and shuddered upon the bed;
    • At length with a feeble cry he said:—
    • ‘When God commanded this hand to write
    • 10In the shadowy hours of deep midnight,
    • He told me that all I wrote should prove
    • The bane of all that on earth I love.
    • ‘My brother starved between two walls,
    • Thy children’s crying my soul appals;
    • I mocked at the rack and the griding chain,—
    • My bent body mocks at their torturing pain.
    • ‘Thy father drew his sword in the north,
    • With his thousands strong he is marched forth;
    • Thy brother hath armed himself in steel,
    • 20 To revenge the wrongs thy children feel.
    • But vain the sword, and vain the bow,—
    • They never can work war’s overthrow;
    • The hermit’s player and the widow’s tear
    • Alone can free the world from fear.
    page: 123
    • ‘For a tear is an intellectual thing,
    • And a sigh is the sword of an angel king;
    • And the bitter groan of a martyr’s woe
    • Is an arrow from the Almighty’s bow.
    • ‘The hand of vengeance found the bed
    • 30To which the purple tyrant fled;
    • The iron hand crushed the tyrant’s head,
    • And became a tyrant in his stead.’
    page: 124

    • To find the western path,
    • Right through the gates of wrath
    • I urge my way;
    • Sweet morning leads me on;
    • With soft repentant moan
    • I see the break of day.
    • The war of swords and spears,
    • Melted by dewy tears,
    • Exhales on high;
    • 10The sun is freed from fears,
    • And with soft grateful tears
    • Ascends the sky.

    • Why should I care for the men of Thames
    • And the cheating waters of chartered streams;
    • Or shrink at the little blasts of fear
    • That the hireling blows into mine ear?
    • Though born on the cheating banks of Thames—
    • Though his waters bathed my infant limbs—
    • The Ohio shall wash his stains from me;
    • I was born a slave, but I go to be free.
    page: 125

    • Are not the joys of morning sweeter
    • Than the joys of night?
    • And are the vigorous joys of youth
    • Ashamed of the light?
    • Let age and sickness silent rob
    • The vineyard in the night;
    • But those who burn with vigorous youth
    • Pluck fruits before the light.

    • Since all the riches of this world
    • May be gifts from the devil and earthly kings,
    • I should suspect that I worshipped the devil
    • If I thanked my God for worldly things.
    • The countless gold of a merry heart,
    • The rubies and pearls of a loving eye,
    • The idle man never can bring to the mart
    • Nor the cunning hoard up in his treasury.
    page: 126

    • He who bends to himself a joy
    • Does the wingèd life destroy;
    • But he who kisses the joy as it flies
    • Lives in eternity’s sunrise.
    • If you trap the moment before it’s ripe,
    • The tears of repentance you’ll certainly wipe;
    • But if once you let the ripe moment go
    • You can never wipe off the tears of woe.

    • ‘Thou hast a lapful of seed
    • And this is a fair country.
    • Why dost thou not cast thy seed
    • And live in it merrily?’
    • ‘Shall I cast it on the sand
    • And turn it into fruitful land?
    • For on no other ground can I sow my seed
    • Without tearing up some stinking weed.’
    page: 127

    • I feared the fury of my wind
    • Would blight all blossoms fair and true;
    • And my sun it shined and shined,
    • And my wind it never blew.
    • But a blossom fair or true
    • Was not found on any tree;
    • For all blossoms grew and grew
    • Fruitless, false, though fair to see.

    • Silent, silent Night,
    • Quench the holy light
    • Of thy torches bright;
    • For, possessed of Day,
    • Thousand spirits stray
    • That sweet joys betray.
    • Why should joys be sweet
    • Usèd with deceit,
    • Nor with sorrows meet?
    • 10But an honest joy
    • Doth itself destroy
    • For a harlot coy.
    page: 128
    • Love to faults is always blind,
    • Always is to joy incl’d,
    • Lawless, winged and unconfin’d,
    • And breaks all chains from every mind.
    • Deceit, to secrecy inclin’d,
    • Moves lawful, courteous and refin’d,
    • To everything but interests blind,
    • And forges fetters for the mind.
    • There souls of men are bought and sold,
    • 10And milk-fed infancy, for gold,
    • And youth to slaugher-houses led,
    • And beauty, for a bit of bread.
    page: 129


    • I walked abroad on a snowy day,
    • I asked the soft snow with me to play;
    • She played and she melted in all her prime;
    • And the winter called it a dreadful crime.

    • Abstinence sows sand all over
    • The ruddy limbs and flaming hair;
    • But desire gratified
    • Plants fruits of life and beauty there.

    • The look of love alarms,
    • Because ’tis filled with fire,
    • But the look of soft deceit
    • Shall win the lover’s hire:
    • Soft deceit and idleness,
    • These are beauty’s sweetest dress.

    • To Chloe’s breast young Cupid slily stole,
    • But he crept in at Myra’s pocket-hole.

    • Great things are done when men and mountains meet;
    • These are not done by jostling in the street.
    Sig. VOL. II. K
    page: 130

    • The errors of a wise man make your rule,
    • Rather than the perfections of a fool.

    • Some people admire the work of a fool,
    • For it’s sure to keep your judgment cool:
    • It does not reproach you with want of wit;
    • It is not like a lawyer serving a writ.

    • He’s a blockhead who wants a proof of what he can’t perceive,
    • And he’s a fool who tries to make such a blockhead believe.

    • If e’er I grow to man’s estate,
    • O give to me a woman’s fate.
    • May I govern all both great and small,
    • Have the last word, and take the wall!
    • Her whole life is an epigram—smack, smooth, and nobly penn’d,
    • Plaited quite neat to catch applause, with a strong noose at the end.

    • To forgive enemies Hayley does pretend,
    • Who never in his life forgave a friend.

    • You say reserve and modesty he has,
    • Whose heart is iron, his head wood, and his face brass.
    • The fox, the owl, the spider, and the bat
    • By sweet reserve and modesty grow fat.
    page: 131

    An Answer to the Parson.
    • Why of the sheep do you not learn peace?
    • Because I don’t want you to shear my fleece.

    • Here lies John Trot, the friend of all mankind;
    • He has not left one enemy behind.
    • Friends were quite hard to find, old authors say;
    • But now they stand in everybody’s way.
    • Grown old in love from seven till seven times seven,
    • I oft have wished for hell, for ease from heaven.
    • Prayers plough not, praises reap not,
    • Joys laugh not, sorrows weep not.
    • The Sword sang on the barren heath,
    • The Sickle in the fruitful field;
    • The Sword he sang a song of death
    • But could not make the Sickle yield.
    • O Lapwing, thou fliest across the heath,
    • Nor seest the net that is spread beneath:
    • Why dost thou not fly among the corn-fields?
    • They cannot spread nets where a harvest yields.
    • The Angel that presided o’r my birth
    • said: “Little creature, formed of joy and mirth,
    • Go, love without the help of anything on earth.”
    Sig. K 2
    page: 132

    • I asked of my dear friend orator Prig:
    • ‘What’s the first part of oratory?’ He said: ‘a great wig.’
    • ‘And what is the second?’ Then, dancing a jig
    • And bowing profoundly, he said:‘great wig.’
    • ‘And what is the third?’ Then he snored like a pig,
    • And, puffing his cheeks out, replied: ‘A great wig.’
    • So if to a painter the question you push,
    • ‘What’s the first part of painting?’ he’ll say: ‘A paint-brush.’
    • ‘And what is the second?’ with most modest blush,
    • 10 He’ll smile like a cherub, and say: “A paint-brush.”
    • ‘And what is the third?’ he’ll bow like a rush,
    • With a leer in his eye, and reply: “A paint-brush”
    • Perhaps this is all a painter can want:
    • But look yonder,—that house is the house of Rembrandt.
    • ‘O dear mother Outline, of wisdom most sage,
    • What’s the first part of painting?’ She said: ‘Patronage.’
    • ‘And what is the second to please and engage?’
    • She frowned like a fury, and said: ‘Patronage.’
    • ‘And what is the third?’ She put off old age,
    • And smiled like a syren, and said: ‘Patronage.’

    On the great encouragement given by English Nobility and Gentry to Correggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Catalani, and Dilberry Doodle.
    • Give pensions to the learned pig,
    • Or the hare playing on a tabor;
    • Anglus can never see perfection
    • But in the journeyman’s labour.
    page: 133
    • As the ignorant savage will sell his own wife
    • For a button, a bauble, a bead, or a knife,—
    • So the taught savage Englishman spends his whole fortune
    • On a smear or a squall to destroy picture or tune:
    • And I call upon Colonel Wardle
    • 10To give these rascals a dose of caudle.
    • All pictures that’s painted with sense or with thought
    • Are painted by madmen, as sure as a groat;
    • For the greater the fool, in the Art the more blest,
    • And when they are drunk they always paint best.
    • They never can Raphael it, Fuseli it, nor Blake it:
    • If they can’t see an outline, pray how can they make it?
    • All men have drawn outlines whenever they saw them;
    • Madmen see outlines, and therefore they draw them.
    • Seeing a Rembrandt or Correggio,
    • Of crippled Harry I think and slobbering Joe;
    • And then I question thus: Are artists’ rules
    • To be drawn from the works of two manifest fools?
    • Then God defend us from the Arts, I say;
    • For battle, murder, sudden death, let’s pray.
    • Rather than be such a blind human fool,
    • I’d be an ass, a hog, a worm, a chair, a stool.

    To English Connoisseurs.
    • You must agree that Rubens was a fool,
    • And yet you make him master of your school,
    • And give more money for his slobberings
    • Than you will give for Raphael’s finest things.
    • I understood Christ was a carpenter,
    • And not a brewer’s servant, my good Sir.
    page: 134
    • Sir Joshua praises Michael Angelo;
    • ’Tis Christian meekness thus to praise a foe:—
    • But ’twould be madness, all the world would say,
    • Should Michael Angelo praise Sir Joshua.
    • Christ used the Pharisees in a rougher way.

    To Flaxman.
    • You call me mad; ’tis folly to do so,—
    • To seek to turn a madman to a foe.
    • If you think as you speak, you are an ass;
    • If you do not, you are but what you was.

    To the same.
    • I mock thee not, though I by thee am mockèd;
    • Thou call’st me madman, but I call thee blockhead.
    • Thank God, I never was sent to school
    • To be flogged into following the style of a fool!
    page: [135]
    page: [136]
    Note: blank page
    page: [137]
    Of the prose writings which now follow, the only ones already in

    print are the Descriptive Catalogue and the Sybilline Leaves. To the

    former of these, the Public Address which here succeeds it forms a

    fitting and most interesting pendant. It has been compiled from a

    very confused mass of MS. notes; but its purpose is unmistakeable

    as having been intended for an accompaniment to the engraving

    of Chaucer’s Pilgrims. Both the Catalogue and Address abound in

    critical passages on painting and poetry, which must be ranked with-

    out reserve among the very best things ever said on either subject.

    Such inestimable qualities afford quite sufficient ground whereon to

    claim indulgence for eccentricities which are here and there laughably

    excessive, but which never fail to have a personal, even where they

    have no critical, value. As evidence of the writer’s many moods,

    these pieces of prose are much best left unmutilated. Let us,

    therefore, risk misconstruction in some quarters; there are others

    where even the whimsical onslaughts on names no less great than

    those which the writer most highly honoured, and assertions as to this

    or that component quality of art being everything or nothing as

    it served the fiery plea in hand, will be discerned as the impatient

    extremes of a man who had his own work to do, which was of one

    kind, as he thought, against another, and who mainly did it too, in

    spite of that injustice without which no extremes might ever have

    been chargeable against him. And let us remember that, after all,

    having greatness in him, his practice of art included all great aims,

    whether they were such as his antagonistic moods railed against

    or no.
    The Vision is almost as much a manifesto of opinion as either the

    Catalogue or Address. But its work is in a wider field, and one which,

    where it stretches beyond our own clear view, may not necessarily

    therefore have been a lost road to Blake himself. Certainly its

    grandeur and the sudden great things greatly said in it, as in all
    page: 138
    Blake’s prose, constitute it an addition to our opportunities of com-

    muning with him, and one which we may prize highly.
    The constant decisive words in which Blake alludes, throughout

    these writing, to the plagiarisms of his contemporaries, are painful to

    read, and will be wished away; but still it will be worth thinking

    whether their being said, or the need of their being said, is the

    greater cause for complaint. Justice, looking through surface accom-

    plishments, greater nicety and even greater occasional judiciousness

    of execution, in the men whom Blake compares with himself, still

    perceives those words of his to be true. In each style of the art of a

    period, and more especially in the poetic style, there is often some

    one central derivative man, to whom personally, if not to the care of

    the world, it is important that his creative power should be held

    to be his own, and that his ideas and slowly perfected materials

    should not be caught up before he has them ready for his own use.

    Yet, consciously or unconsciously, such an one’s treasures and pos-

    sessions are, time after time, while he still lives and needs them, sent

    forth to the world by others in forms from which he cannot perhaps

    again clearly claim what is his own, but which render the material

    useless to him henceforward. Hardly wonderful, after all, if for once

    an impetuous man of this kind is found raising the hue and cry, care-

    less whether people heed him or no. It is no small provocation, be

    sure, when the gazers hoot you as outstripped in your race, and you

    know all the time that the man ahead, whom they shout for, is only

    a flying thief.
    page: [139]




    Being the ancient method of Fresco Painting revived:

    and Drawings for Public Inspection, and for Sale by Private Contract. London: Printed by D. N. Shury, 7, Berwick Street, Soho, for J. Blake,

    28, Broad Street, Golden Square. 1809.

    I. One-third of the Price to be paid at the time of Purchase, and the remainder on Delivery.
    II. The Pictures and Drawings to remain in the Exhibition till its close, which will be the 29th of September, 1809; and the Picture of The Canterbury Pilgrims, which is to be engraved, will be sold only on condition of its remaining in the Artist’s hands twelve months, when it will be delivered to the Buyer.
    The Spiritual Form of Nelson guiding Leviathan, in whose wreathings are

    infolded the Nations of the Earth.
    Clearness and precision have been the chief objects in painting these Pictures. Clear colours unmudded by oil, and firm and determinate lineaments unbroken by shadows, which ought to display and not to hide form, as is the practice of the latter Schools of Italy and Flanders.
    page: 140

    The Spiritual Form of Pitt guiding Behemoth; he is that Angel who, pleased to perform the Almighty’s orders, rides on the whirlwind, directing the storms of war; He is ordering the Reaper to reap the Vine of the Earth, and the Ploughman to plough up the Cities and Towers.

    This Picture also is a proof of the power of colours unsullied with oil or with any cloggy vehicle. Oil has falsely been supposed to give strength to colours: but a little consideration must show the fallacy of this opinion. Oil will not drink or absorb colour enough to stand the test of very little time and of the air. It deadens every colour it is mixed with, at its first mixture, and in a little time becomes a yellow mask over all that it touches. Let the works of modern Artists since Rubens’ time witness the villany of some one at that time, who first brought Oil Painting into general opinion and practice: since which we have never had a Picture painted, that could show itself by the side of an earlier production. Whether Rubens or Vandyke, or both, were guilty of this villany, is to be inquired in another work on Painting, and who first forged the silly story and known falsehood about John of Bruges inventing oil-colours: in the meantime let it be observed, that before Vandyke’s time and in his time all the genuine Pictures are on Plaster or Whiting grounds, and none since.
    The two Pictures of Nelson and Pitt are compositions of a mythological cast, similar to those Apotheoses of Persian, Hindoo, and Egyptian Antiquity, which are still preserved on rude monuments, being copies from some stupendous originals now lost, or perhaps buried till some happier age. The Artist having been taken in vision into the ancient republics, monarchies, and patriarchates of Asia, has seen those wonderful originals, called in the Sacred Scriptures the Cherubim, which were sculptured and painted on walls of Temples, Towers, Cities, Palaces, and erected in the highly cultivated States of Egypt, Moab, Edom, Aram, among the Rivers of Paradise—being originals from which the Greeks and Hetrurians copied Hercules Farnese, Venus of Medicis, Apollo Belvedere, and all the grand works of ancient art. They were executed in a very superior style to those justly admired copies, being with their accompaniments terrific and grand in the highest degree. The Artist has endeavoured
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    to emulate the grandeur of those seen in his vision, and to apply it to modern Heroes, on a smaller scale.
    No man can believe that either Homer’s Mythology, or Ovid’s, was the production of Greece, or of Latium; neither will any one believe that the Greek statues, as they are called, were the invention of Greek Artists; perhaps the Torso is the only original work remaining; all the rest are evidently copies, though fine ones, from greater works of the Asiatic Patriarchs. The Greek Muses are daughters of Mnemosyne or Memory, and not of Inspiration or Imagination, therefore not authors of such sublime conceptions. Those wonderful originals seen in my visions were some of them one hundred feet in height; some were painted as picture; and some carved as basso-rilievos, and some as groups of statues, all containing mythological and recondite meaning, where more is meant than meets the eye. The Artist wishes it was now the fashion to make such monuments, and then he should not doubt of having a natural commission to execute these two Pictures on a scale that is suitable to the grandeur of the nation, who is the parent of his heroes, in high-finished fresco, where the colours would be as pure and as permanent as precious stones though the figures were one hundred feet in height.
    All Frescoes are as high-finished as miniatures or enamels, and they are known to be unchangeable; but oil, being a body itself, will drink or absorb very little colour, and, changing yellow, and at length brown, destroys every colour it is mixed with, especially every delicate colour. It turns every permanent white to a yellow and brown putty, and has compelled the use of that destroyer of colour, white-lead, which, when its protecting oil is evaporated, will become lead again. This is an awful thing to say to Oil Painters; they may call it madness, but it is true. All the genuine old little Pictures, called Cabinet Pictures, are in fresco and not in oil. Oil was not used, except by blundering ignorance, till after Vandyke’s time; but the art of fresco-painting being lost, oil became a fetter to genius and a dungeon to art. But one convincing proof among many others that these assertions are true is, that real gold and silver cannot be used with oil, as they are in all the old pictures and in Mr. B.’s frescoes.
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    Sir Jeffery Chaucer and the Nine-and-twenty Pilgrims on their journey to Canterbury.
    The time chosen is early morning, before sunrise, when the jolly company are just quitting the Tabarde Inn. The Knight and Squire with the Squire’s Yeoman lead the Procession; next follow the youthful Abbess, her nun, and three priests; her greyhounds attend her:
    • ‘ Of small hounds had she that she fed
    • With roast flesh, milk, and wastel bread.’
    Next follow the Friar and Monk; then the Tapiser, the Pardoner, and the Sompnour and Manciple. After these ‘Our Host,’ who occupies the centre of the cavalcade, directs them to the Knight as the person who would be likely to commence their task of each telling a tale in their order. After the Host follow the Shipman, the Haberdasher, the Dyer, the Franklin, the Physician, the Ploughman, the Lawyer, the Poor Parson, the Merchant, the Wife of Bath, the Miller, the Cook, the Oxford Scholar, Chaucer himself; and the Reeve comes as Chaucer has described,—
    • ‘And ever he rode hinderest of the rout.’
    These last are issuing from the gateway of the Inn; the Cook and the Wife of Bath are both taking their morning’s draught of comfort. Spectators stand at the gateway of the Inn, and are composed of an old Man, a Woman, and Children.
    The landscape is an eastward view of the country, from the Tabarde Inn in Southwark, as it may be supposed to have appeared in Chaucer’s time; interspersed with cottages and villages. The first beams of the Sun are seen above the horizon; some buildings and spires indicate the situation of the Great City. The Inn is a gothic building, which Thynne in his Glossary says was the lodging of the Abbot of Hyde, by Winchester. On the Inn is inscribed its title, and a proper advantage is taken of this circumstance to describe the subject of the Picture. The words written over the gateway of the Inn are as follow: ‘The Tabarde Inn, by Henry Baillie, the lodgynge-house for Pilgrims who journey to Saint Thomas’s Shrine at Canterbury.’
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    The characters of Chaucer’s Pilgrims are the characters which compose all ages and nations. As one age falls, another rises, different to mortal sight, but to immortals only the same; for we see the same characters repeated again and again, in animals, vegetables, minerals, and in men. Nothing new occurs in identical existence; Accident ever varies, Substance can never suffer change nor decay.
    Of Chaucer’s characters, as described in his Canterbury Tales, some of the names or titles are altered by time, but the characters themselves for ever remain unaltered; and consequently they are the physiognomies or lineaments of universal human life, beyond which Nature never steps. Names alter, things never alter. I have known multitudes of those who would have been monks in the age of monkery, who in this deistical age are deists. As Newton numbered the stars, and as Linnæus numbered the plants, so Chaucer numbered the classes of men.
    The Painter has consequntly varied the heads and forms of his personages into all Nature’s varieties; the Horses he has also varied to accord to their Riders: the Costume is correct according to authentic monuments.
    The Knight and Squire with the Squire’s Yeoman lead the procession, as Chaucer has also placed them first in his prologue. The Knight is a true Hero, a good, great, and wise man; his whole-length portrait on horseback, as written by Chaucer, cannot be surpassed. He has spent his life in the field, has ever been a conqueror, and is that species of character which in every age stands as the guardian of man against the oppressor. His son is like him, with the germ of perhaps greater perfection still, as he blends literature and the arts with his warlike studies. Their dress and their horses are of the first rate, without ostentation, and with all the true grandeur that unaffected simplicity when in high rank always displays. The Squire’s Yeoman is also a great character, a man perfectly knowing in his profession:
    • ‘ And in his hand he bare a mighty bow.’
    Chaucer describes here a mighty man, one who in war is the worthy attendant on noble heroes.
    The Prioress follows there with her female chaplain:
    • ‘Another Nonne also with her had she,
    • That was her Chaplain, and Priestes three.’
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    This Lady is described also as of the first rank, rich and honoured. She has certain peculiarities and little delicate affectations, not unbecoming in her, being accompanied with what is truly grand and really polite; her person and face Chaucer has described with minuteness; it is very elegant, and was the beauty of our ancestors till after Elizabeth’s time, when voluptuousness and folly began to be accounted beautiful.
    Her companion and her three priests were no doubt all perfectly delineated in those parts of Chaucer’s work which are now lost; we ought to suppose them suitable attendants on rank and fashion.
    The Monk follows these with the Friar. The Painter has also grouped with these the Pardoner and the Sompnour and the Manciple, and has here also introduced one of the rich citizens of London;—characters likely to ride in company, all being above the common rank in life, or attendants on those who were so.
    For the Monk is described, by Chaucer, as a man of the first rank in society, noble, rich, and expensively attended: he is a leader of the age, with certain humorous accompaniments in his character, that do not degrade, but render him an object of dignified mirth, but also with other accompaniments not so respectable.
    The Friar is a character also of a mixed kind:
    • ‘A friar there was, a wanton and a merry;’
    but in his office he is said to be a ‘full solemn man:’ eloquent, amorous, witty, and satirical; young, handsome, and rich; he is a complete rogue; with constitutional gaiety enough to make him a master of all the pleasures of the world:
    • ‘His neck was whitè as the flour de lis,
    • Thereto strong he was as a champioun.’
    It is necessary here to speak of Chaucer’s own character, that I may set certain mistaken critics right in their conception of the humour and fun that occur on the journey. Chaucer is himself the great poetical observer of men, who in every age is born to record and eternize its acts. This he does as a master, as a father and superior, who looks down on their little follies from the Emperor to the Miller: sometimes with severity, oftener with joke and sport.
    Accordingly Chaucer has made his Monk a great tragedian, one who studied poetical art. So much so that the generous Knight is, in the compassionate dictates of his soul, compelled to cry out:
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    Note: This leaf folds out.

    Painted in Fresco by William Blake & by him Engraved & published October 8 1810 at No 28 Corner 1 Broad Street Golden Square
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    Note: blank page.
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    • ‘Ho,’ quoth the Knyght, ‘ good Sir, no more of this;
    • That ye have said is right ynough, I wis,
    • And mokell more; for little heaviness
    • Is right enough for much folk, as I guess.
    • I say, for me, it is a great disease,
    • Whereas men havè been in wealth and ease,
    • To heare of their sudden fall, alas!
    • And the contrary is joy and solas.’
    The Monk’s definition of tragedy in the proem to his tale is worth repeating:
    • ‘Tragedy is to tell a certain story,
    • As olde books us maken memory,
    • Of them that stood in great prosperity,
    • And be fallen out of high degree,
    • Into misery, and ended wretchedly.’
    Though a man of luxury, pride, and pleasure, he is a master of art and learning, though affecting to despise it. Those who can think that the proud Huntsman and noble Housekeeper, Chaucer’s Monk, is intended for a buffoon or burlesque character, know little of Chaucer.
    For the Host who follows this group, and holds the centre of the cavalcade, is a first-rate character, and his jokes are no trifles; they are always, though uttered with audacity, equally free with the Lord and the Peasant; they are always substantially and weightily expressive of knowledge and experience; Henry Baillie, the keeper of the greatest Inn of the greatest City; for such was the Tabarde Inn in Southwark, near London: our Host was also a leader of the age.
    By way of illustration, I instance Shakspeare’s Witches in Macbeth. Those who dress them for the stage, consider them as wretched old women, and not, as Shakspeare intended, the Goddesses of Destiny; this shows how Chaucer has been misunderstood in his sublime work. Shakspeare’s Fairies also are the rulers of the vegetable world, and so are Chaucer’s; let them be so considered, and then the poet will be understood, and not else.
    But I have omitted to speak of a very prominent, character, the Pardoner, the Age’s Knave, who always commands and domineers over the high and low vulgar. This man is sent in every age for a rod and scourge and for a blight, for a trial of men, to divide the classes of men; he is in the most holy sanctuary, and he is suffered by Providence for wise ends, and has also his great use, and his grand leading destiny.
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    His companion the Sompnour is also a Devil of the first magnitude, grand, terrific, rich, and honoured in the rank of which he holds the destiny. The uses to society are perhaps equal of the Devil and of the Angel; their sublimity who can dispute?
    • ‘In daunger had he at his owne guise,
    • The younge girles of his diocese,
    • And he knew well their counsel, &c.’
    The principal figure in the next group is the Good Parson: an Apostle, a real Messenger of Heaven, sent in every age for its light and its warmth. This man is beloved and venerated by all, and neglected by all: he serves all, and is served by none. He is, according to Christ’s definition, the greatest of his age: yet he is a Poor Parson of a town. Read Chaucer’s description of the Good Parson, and bow the head and the knee to Him, Who, in every age, sends us such a burning and a shining light. Search, O ye rich and powerful, for these men and obey their counsel; then shall the golden age return. But alas! you will not easily distinguish him from the Friar or the Pardoner; they also are ‘full solemn men,’ and their counsel you will continue to follow.
    I have placed by his side the Sergeant-at-Lawe, who appears delighted to ride in his company, and between him and his brother the Ploughman; as I wish men of Law would always ride with them, and take their counsel, especially in all difficult points. Chaucer’s Lawyer is a character of great venerableness, a Judge, and a real master of the jurisprudence of his age.
    The Doctor of Physic is in this group, and the Franklin, the voluptuous country gentleman; contrasted with the Physician, and, on his other hand, with two Citizens of London. Chaucer’s characters live age after age. Every age is a Canterbury Pilgrimage; we all pass on, each sustaining one or other of these characters; nor can a child be born who is not one of these characters of Chaucer. The Doctor of Physic is described as the first of his profession: perfect, learned, completely Master and Doctor in his art. Thus the reader will observe that Chaucer makes every one of his characters perfect in his kind; every one is an Antique Statue, the image of a class, and not of an imperfect individual.
    This group also would furnish substantial matter, on which volumes might be written. The Franklin is one who keeps open table, who is the genius of eating and drinking, the Bacchus; as the Doctor of Physic is the Æsculapius, the host is the Silenus, the Squire is the
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    Apollo, the Miller is the Hercules, &c. Chaucer’s characters are a description of the eternal Principles that exist in all ages. The Franklin is voluptuousness itself most nobly portrayed
    • ‘It snewèd in his house of meat and drink.’
    The Ploughman is simplicity itself, with wisdom and strength for its stamina. Chaucer has divided the ancient character of Hercules between his Miller and his Ploughman. Benevolence is the Ploughman’s great characteristic; he is thin with excessive labour, and not with old age, as some have supposed:
    • ‘He woulde thresh, and thereto dike and delve,
    • For Christe’s sake, for every poore wight,
    • Withouten hire, if it lay in his might.’
    Visions of these eternal principles or characters of human life appear to poets in all ages; the Grecian gods were the ancient Cherubim of Phœnicia; but the Greeks, and since them the Moderns, have neglected to subdue the gods of Priam. These Gods are visions of the eternal attributes, or divine names, which, when erected into gods, become destructive to humanity. They ought to be the servants, and not the masters, of man or of society. They ought to be made to sacrifice to Man, and not man compelled to sacrifice to them; for, when separated from man or humanity, who is Jesus the Saviour, the vine of eternity? They are thieves and rebels, they are destroyers.
    The Ploughman of Chaucer is Hercules in his supreme eternal state, divested of his spectrous shadow; which is the Miller, a terrible fellow, such as exists in all times and places, for the trial of men, to astonish every neighbourhood with brutal strength and courage, to get rich and powerful, to curb the pride of Man.
    The Reeve and the Manciple are two characters of the most consummate worldly wisdom. The Shipman, or Sailor, is a similar genius of Ulyssean art, but with the highest courage superadded.
    The Citizens and their Cook are each leaders of a class. Chaucer has been somehow made to number four citizens, which would make his whole company, himself included, thirty-one. But he says there were but nine-and-twenty in his company:
    • ‘ Full nine-and-twenty in a company.’
    The Webbe, or Weaver, and the Tapiser, or Tapestry Weaver, appear to me to be the same person; but this is only an opinion,
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    for full nine-and-twenty may signify one more or less. But I daresay that Chaucer wrote ‘A Webbe Dyer,’ that is a Cloth Dyer:
    • ‘A Webbe Dyer and a Tapiser.’
    The Merchant cannot be one of the Three Citizen; as his dress is different, and his character is more marked, whereas Chaucer says of his rich citizens:
    • ‘All were yclothèd in one liverie.’
    The characters of Women Chaucer has divided into two classes, the Lady Prioress and the Wife of Bath. Are not these leaders of the ages of men? The Lady Prioress in some ages predominates, and in some the Wife of Bath, in whose character Chaucer has been equally minute and exact; because she is also a scourge and a blight. I shall say no more of her, nor expose what Chaucer has left hidden; let the young reader study what he has said of her: it is useful as a scarecrow. There are of such characters born too many for the peace of the world.
    I come at length to the Clerk of Oxenford. This character varies from that of Chaucer, as the contemplative philosopher varies from the poetical genius. There are always these two classes of learned sages, the poetical and the philosophical. The Painter has put them side by side, as if the youthful clerk had put himself under the tuition of the mature poet. Let the Philosopher always be the servant and scholar of Inspiration, and all will be happy.
    Such are the characters that compose this Picture, which was painted in self-defence against the insolent and envious imputation of unfitness for finished and scientific art, and this imputation most artfully and industriously endeavoured to be propagated among the public by ignorant hirelings. The Painter courts comparison with his competitors, who, having received fourteen hundred guineas and more from the profits of his designs in that well-known work, Designs for Blair’s Grave, have left him to shift for himself; while others, more obedient to an employer’s opinions and directions, are employed, at a great expense, to produce works in succession to his by which they acquired public patronage. This has hitherto been his lot—to get patronage for others and then to be left and neglected, and his work, which gained that patronage, cried down as eccentricity and madness—as unfinished and neglected by the artist’s violent temper: he is sure the works now exhibited will give the lie to such aspersions.
    Those who say that men are led by interest are knaves. A knavish
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    character will often say, Of what interest is it to me to do so and so? I answer, of none at all, but the contrary, as you well know. It is of malice and envy that you have done this; hence I am aware of you, because I know that you act not from interest but from malice, even to your own destruction. It is therefore become a duty which Mr. B. owes to the Public, who have always recognised him and patronized him, however hidden by artifices, that he should not suffer such things to be done, or be hindered from the public Exhibition of his finished productions by any calumnies in future.
    The character and expression in this Picture could never have been produced with Rubens’ light and shadow, or with Rembrandt’s, or anything Venetian or Flemish. The Venetian and Flemish practice is broken lines, broken masses, and broken colours: Mr. B.’s practice is unbroken lines, unbroken masses, and unbroken colours. Their art is to lose form; his art is to find form, and to keep it. His arts are opposite to theirs in all things.
    As there is a class of men whose whole delight is in the destruction of men, so there is a class of artists whose whole art and science is fabricated for the purpose of destroying Art. Who these are is soon known: ‘by their works ye shall know them.’ All who endeavour to raise up a style against Raphael, Michael Angelo, and the Antique; those who separate Painting from Drawing; who look if a picture is well Drawn, and if it is, immediately cry out that it cannot be well Coloured—those are the men.
    But to show the stupidity of this class of men, nothing need be done but to examine my rival’s prospectus.
    The two first characters in Chaucer, the Knight and the Squire, he has put among his rabble; and indeed his prospectus calls the Squire ‘the fop of Chaucer’s age.’ Now hear Chaucer:
    • ‘Of his Statùre, he was of even length,
    • And wonderly deliver, and of great strength;
    • And he had be sometime in chivauchy,
    • In Flanders, in Artois, and in Picardy,
    • And borne him well as of so litele space.’
    Was this a fop?
    • ‘Well could he sit a horse, and faire ride,
    • He could songs make, and ekè well indite,
    • Joust, and eke dancè, portray, and well write.’
    Was this a fop?
    • ‘Curteis he was, and meek, and serviceable;
    • And kerft before his fader at the table.’
    Was this a fop?
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    It is the same with all his characters; he has done all by chance, or perhaps his fortune, money, money. According to his prospectus he has Three Monks; these he cannot find in Chaucer, who has only One Monk, and that no vulgar character, as he has endeavoured to make him. When men cannot read, they should not pretend to paint. To be sure Chaucer is a little difficult to him who has only blundered over novels and catchpenny trifles of booksellers; yet a little pains ought to be taken, even by the ignorant and weak. He has put the Reeve, a vulgar fellow, between his Knight and Squire, as if he was resolved to go contrary in everything to Chaucer, who says of the Reeve—
    • ‘ And ever he rode hinderest of the rout’
    In this manner he has jumbled his dumb dollies together, and is praised by his equals for it; for both himself and his friend are equally masters of Chaucer’s language. They both think that the Wife of Bath is a young beautiful blooming damsel; and H— says, that she is the ‘Fair Wife of Bath,’ and that ‘the Spring appears in her cheeks.’ Now hear what Chaucer has made her say of herself, who is no modest one:
    • ‘But Lord! when it remembereth me
    • Upon my youth and on my jollity,
    • It tickleth me about the hearte root.
    • Unto this day it doth my hearte boot
    • That I have had my world as in my time;
    • But age, alas, that all will envenime,
    • Hath me bireft, my beauty and my pith
    • Let go; farewell! the devil go therewith!
    • The flour is gone, there is no more to tell:
    • 10The bran, as best I can, I now mote sell;
    • And yet, to be right merry, will I fond
    • Now forth to telle of my fourth husbond.’
    She has had four husbands, a fit subject for this painter; yet the painter ought to be very much offended with his friend H—, who has called his ‘a common scene,’ and ‘very ordinary forms;’ which is the truest part of all, for it is so, and very wretchedly so indeed. What merit can there be in a picture of which such words are spoken with truth?
    But the prospectus says that the Painter has represented Chaucer himself as a knave who thrusts himself among honest people to make game of and laugh at them; though I must do justice to the Painter, and say that he has made him look more like a fool than a knave.
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    But it appears in all the writings of Chaucer, and particularly in his Canterbury Tales, that he was very devout, and paid respect to true enthusiastic superstition. He has laughed at his knaves and fools as I do now. But he has respected his True Pilgrims, who are a majority of his company, and are not thrown together in the random manner that Mr. S— has done. Chaucer has nowhere called the Ploughman old, worn out with ‘age and labour,’ as the prospectus has represented him, and says that the picture has done so too. He is worn down with labour, but not with age. How spots of brown and yellow, smeared about at random, can be either young or old, I cannot see. It may be an old man; it may be a young one; it may be anything that a prospectus pleases. But I know that where there are no lineaments there can be no character. And what connoisseurs call touch, I know by experience, must be the destruction of all character and expression, as it is of every lineament.
    The scene of Mr. S—’s Picture is by Dulwich Hills, which was not the way to Canterbury; but perhaps the Painter thought he would give them a ride round about, because they were a burlesque set of scarecrows, not worth any man’s respect or care.
    But the Painter’s thoughts being always upon gold, he has introduced a character that Chaucer has not—namely, a Goldsmith, for so the prospectus tells us. Why he has introduced a Goldsmith, and what is the wit of it, the prospectus does not explain. But it takes care to mention the reserve and modesty of the Painter; this makes a good epigram enough:
    • ‘The fox, the mole, the beetle, and the bat,
    • By sweet reserve and modesty get fat’
    But the prospectus tells us that the Painter has introduced a ‘Sea Captain;’ Chaucer has a Shipman, a Sailor, a Trading Master of a Vessel, called by courtesy Captain, as every master of a boat is; but this does not make him a Sea Captain. Chaucer has purposely omitted such a personage, as it only exists in certain periods: it is the soldier by sea. He who would be a soldier in inland nations is a sea-captain in commercial nations.
    All is misconceived, and its mis-execution is equal to its misconception. I have no objection to Rubens and Rembrandt being employed, or even to their living in a palace; but it shall not be at the expense of Raphael and Michael Angelo living in a cottage, and in contempt and derision. I have been scorned long enough by
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    these fellows, who owe to me all that they have; it shall be so no longer:
    • ‘I found them blind, I taught them how to see;
    • And now they know neither themselves nor me.’
    The Bard, from Gray.
    • On a rock, whose haughty brow
    • Frown’d o’er old Conway’s foaming flood,
    • Robed in the sable garb of woe,
    • With haggard eyes the Poet stood:
    • Loose his beard and hoary hair
    • Stream’d like a meteor to the troubled air.
    • Weave the warp, and weave the woof,
    • The winding-sheet of Edward’s race.
    Weaving the winding-sheet of Edward’s race by means of sounds of spiritual music, and its accompanying expressions of articulate speech, is a bold, and daring, and most masterly conception, that the public have embraced and approved with avidity. Poetry consists in these conceptions; and shall Painting be confined to the sordid drudgery of fac-simile representations of merely mortal and perishing substances, and not be, as poetry and music are, elevated into its own proper sphere of invention and visionary conception? No, it shall not be so! Painting, as well as poetry and music, exists and exults in immortal thoughts. If Mr. B’s Canterbury Pilgrims had been done by any other power than that of the poetic visionary, it would have been as dull as his adversary’s.
    The Spirits of the murdered bards assist in weaving the deadly woof:
    • With me in dreadful harmony they join,
    • And weave, with bloody hands, the tissue of thy line.
    The connoisseurs and artists who have made objections to Mr. B’s mode of representing spirits with real bodies would do well to consider that the Venus, the Minerva, the Jupiter, the Apollo, which they admire in Greek statues, are all of them representations of spiritual existences, of Gods immortal, to the mortal perishing organ of sight; and yet they are embodied and organized in solid marble. Mr. B. requires the same latitude, and all is well. The Prophets
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    describe what they saw in Vision as real and existing men whom they saw with their imaginative and immortal organs; the Apostles the same; the clearer the organ the more distinct the object. A Spirit and a Vision are not, as the modern philosophy supposes, a cloudy vapour or a nothing: they are organized and minutely articulated beyond all that the mortal and perishing nature can produce. He who does not imagine in stronger and better lineaments, and in stronger and better light, than his perishing mortal eye can see, does not imagine at all. The painter of this work asserts that all his imaginations appear to him infinitely more perfect and more minutely organized than anything seen by his mortal eye. Spirits are organized men: Moderns wish to draw figures without lines, and with great and heavy shadows; are not shadows more unmeaning than lines, and more heavy? Oh, who can doubt this!
    King Edward and his Queen Eleanor are prostrated, with their hoses, at the foot of a rock on which the Bard stands; prostrated by the terrors of his harp, on the margin of the River Conway, whose waves bear up a corse of a slaughtered bard at the foot of the rock. The armies of Edward are seen winding among the mountains:
    • ‘He wound with toilsome march his long array.’
    Mortimer and Gloucester lie spell-bound behind their king.
    The execution of this Picture is also in Water-colours, or Fresco.
    The Ancient Britons.

    In the last Battle of King Arthur only Three Britons escaped; these were the Strongest Man, the Beautifullest Man, and the Ugliest Man; these three marched through the field unsubdued, as Gods, and the Sun of Britain set, but shall arise again with tenfold splendour when Arthur shall awake from sleep, and resume his dominion over earth and ocean.

    The three general classes of men who are represented by the most Beautiful, the most Strong, and the most Ugly, could not be represented by any historical facts but those of our own country, the Ancient Britons, without violating costume. The Britons (say
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    historians) were naked civilized men, learned, studious, abstruse in thought and contemplation; naked, simple, plain, in their acts and manners; wiser than after-ages. They were overwhelmed by brutal arms, all but a small remnant; Strength, Beauty, and Ugliness escaped the wreck, and remain for ever unsubdued, age after age.
    The British Antiquities are now in the Artist’s hands; all his visionary contemplations relating to his own country and its ancient glory, when it was, as it again shall be, the source of learning and inspiration—(Arthur was a name for the Constellation Arcturus, or Boötes, the Keeper of the North Pole); and all the fables of Arthur and his Round Table; of the warlike naked Britons; of Merlin; of Arthur’s conquest of the whole world; of his death, or sleep, and promise to return again; of the Druid monuments, or temples; of the pavement of Watling-street; of London stone; of the caverns in Cornwall, Wales, Derbyshire, and Scotland; of the Giants of Ireland and Britain; of the elemental beings, called by us by the general name of Fairies; and of these three who escaped, namely, Beauty, Strength, and Ugliness. Mr. B. has in his hands poems of the highest antiquity. Adam was a Druid, and Noah; also Abraham was called to succeed the Druidical age, which began to turn allegoric and mental signification into corporeal command, whereby human sacrifice would have depopulated the earth. All these things are written in Eden. The Artist is an inhabitant of that happy country; and if everything goes on as it has begun, the world of vegetation and generation may expect to be opened again to Heaven, through Eden, as it was in the beginning.
    The Strong Man represents the human sublime; the Beautiful Man represents the human pathetic, which was in the wars of Eden divided into male and female; the Ugly Man represents the human reason. They were originally one man, who was fourfold; he was self-divided, and his real humanity slain on the stems of generation, and the form of the fourth was like the Son of God. How he became divided is a subject of great sublimity and pathos. The Artist has written it under inspiration, and will, if God please, publish it; it is voluminous, and contains the ancient history of Britain, and the world of Satan and of Adam.
    In the meantime he has painted this Picture, which supposes that in the reign of that British Prince, who lived in the fifth century, there were remains of those naked Heroes in the Welch Mountains; they are there now—Gray saw them in the person of his Bard on
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    Snowdon; there they dwell in naked simplicity; happy is he who can see and converse with them above the shadows of generation and death. The Giant Albion was Patriarch of the Atlantic; he is the Atlas of the Greeks, one of those the Greeks called Titans. The stories of Arthur are the acts of Albion, applied to a Prince of the fifth century, who conquered Europe, and held the Empire of the world in the dark age, which the Romans never again recovered. In this Picture, believing with Milton the ancient British History, Mr. B. has done as all the ancients did, and as all the moderns who are worthy of fame—given the historical fact in its poetical vigour, so as it always happens, and not in that dull way that some Historians pretend, who, being weakly organized themselves, cannot see either miracle or prodigy: all is to them a dull round of probabilities and possibilities; but the history of all times and places is nothing else but improbabilities and impossibilities—what we should say was impossible if we did not see it always before our eyes.
    The antiquities of every Nation under Heaven are no less sacred than those of the Jews. They are the same thing; as Jacob Bryant and all antiquaries have proved. How other antiquities came to be neglected and disbelieved, while those of the Jews are collected and arranged, is an inquiry worthy of both the Antiquarian and the Divine. All had originally one language, and one religion; this was the religion of Jesus, the everlasting Gospel. Antiquity preaches the Gospel of Jesus. The reasoning historian, turner and twister of causes and consequences—such as Hume, Gibbon, and Voltaire—cannot, with all his artifice, turn or twist one fact or disarrange self-evident action and reality. Reasons and opinions concerning acts are not history; acts themselves alone are history, and these are not the exclusive property of either Hume, Gibbon, or Voltaire, Echard, Rapin, Plutarch, or Herodotus. Tell me the Acts, O historian, and leave me to reason upon them as I please; away with your reasoning and your rubbish! All that is not action is not worth reading. Tell me the What; I do not want you to tell me the Why, and the How; I can find that out myself, as well as you can, and I will not be fooled by you into opinions, that you please to impose, to disbelieve what you think improbable or impossible. His opinion who does not see spiritual agency is not worth any man’s reading; he who rejects a fact because it is improbable must reject all History, and retain doubts only.
    It has been said to the Artist, Take the Apollo for the model of your Beautiful Man, and the Hercules for your Strong Man, and the
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    Dancing Faun for your Ugly Man. Now he comes to his trial. He knows that what he does is not inferior to the grandest Antiques. Superior it cannot be, for human power cannot go beyond either what he does, or what they have done; it is the gift of God, it is inspiration and vision. He had resolved to emulate those precious remains of antiquity; he has done so, and the result you behold; his ideas of strength and beauty have not been greatly different. Poetry as it exists now on earth, in the various remains of ancient authors, Music as it exists in old tunes or melodies, Painting and Sculpture as they exist in the remains of Antiquity and in the works of more modern genius—each is Inspiration, and cannot be surpassed; it is perfect and eternal. Milton, Shakspeare, Michael Angelo, Raphael, the finest specimens of Ancient Sculpture and Painting and Architecture, Gothic, Grecian, Hindoo, and Egyptian, are the extent of the human mind. The human mind cannot go beyond the gift of God, the Holy Ghost. To suppose that Art can go beyond the finest specimens of Art that are now in the world is not knowing what Art is; it is being blind to the gifts of the Spirit.
    It will be necessary for the Painter to say something concerning his ideas of Beauty, Strength, and Ugliness.
    The Beauty that is annexed and appended to folly, is a lamentable accident and error of the mortal and perishing life; it does but seldom happen; but with this unnatural mixture the sublime Artist can have nothing to do; it is fit for the burlesque. The Beauty proper for sublime art is lineaments, or forms and features, that are capable of being the receptacles of intellect; accordingly the Painter has given, in his Beautiful Man, his own idea of intellectual Beauty. The face and limbs that deviate or alter least, from infancy to old age, are the face and limbs of greatest Beauty and perfection.
    The Ugly likewise, when accompanied and annexed to imbecility and disease, is a subject for burlesque and not for historical grandeur; the Artist has imagined his Ugly Man;—one approaching to the beast in features and form, his forehead small without frontals, his jaws large, his nose high on the ridge, and narrow, his chest and the stamina of his make comparatively little, and his joints and his extremities large; his eyes with scarce any whites, narrow and cunning, and everything tending toward what is truly Ugly—the incapability of intellect.
    The Artist has considered his Strong Man as a receptacle of Wisdom, a sublime energizer; his features and limbs do not spindle out into length without strength, nor are they too large and unwieldy
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    Note: Type damage obscrures the first letter of the first word on this page.
    for his brain and bosom. Strength consists in accumulation of power to the principal seat, and from thence a regular gradation and subordination; strength is compactness, not extent nor bulk.
    The Strong Man acts from conscious superiority, and marches on in fearless dependence on the divine decrees, raging with the inspirations of a prophetic mind. The Beautiful Man acts from duty, and anxious solicitude for the fates of those for whom he combats. The Ugly Man acts from love of carnage, and delight in the savage barbarities of war, rushing with sportive precipitation into the very teeth of the affrighted enemy.
    The Roman Soldiers, rolled together in a heap before them, ‘like the rolling thing before the whirlwind,’ show each a different character, and a different expression of fear, or revenge, or envy, or blank horror or amazement, or devout wonder and unresisting awe.
    The dead and the dying, Britons naked, mingled with armed Romans, strew the field beneath. Among these, the last of the Bards who was capable of attending warlike deeds is seen falling, outstretched among the dead and the dying, singing to his harp in the pains of death.
    Distant among the mountains are Druid Temples, similar to Stonehenge. The Sun sets behind the mountains, bloody with the day of battle.
    The flush of health in flesh, exposed to the open air, nourished by the spirits of forests and floods, in that ancient happy period which history has recorded, cannot be like the sickly daubs of Titian or Rubens. Where will the copier of nature, as it now is, find a civilized man who has been accustomed to go naked? Imagination only can furnish us with colouring appropriate, such as is found in the Frescoes of Raphael and Michael Angelo: the disposition of forms always directs colouring in works of true art. As to a modern Man stripped from his load of clothing, he is like a dead corpse. Hence Rubens, Titian, Correggio, and all of that class, are like leather and chalk; their men are like leather and their women like chalk, for the disposition of their forms will not admit of grand colouring; in Mr. B.’s Britons, the blood is seen to circulate in their limbs; he defies competition in colouring.
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    ‘A Spirit vaulting from a Cloud to turn and wind a fiery Pegasus’—Shakspeare. The Horse of Intellect is leaping from the Cliffs of Memory and Reasoning; it is a barren Rock: it is also called the Barren Waste of Locke and Newton.

    This Picture was done many years ago, and was one of the first Mr. B. ever did in Fresco; fortunately, or rather providentially, he left it unblotted and unblurred, although molested continually by blotting and blurring demons; but he was also compelled to leave it unfinished for reasons that will be shown in the following.
    The Goats, an experiment Picture.
    The subject is taken from the Missionary Voyage, and varied from the literal fact for the sake of picturesque scenery. The savage girls had dressed themselves with vine-leaves, and some goats on board the missionary ship stripped them off presently. This Picture was painted at intervals, for experiment with the colours, and is laboured to a superabundant blackness; it has however that about it which may be worthy the attention of the Artist and Connoisseur for reasons that follow.
    The spiritual Preceptor, an experiment Picture.
    This subject is taken from the Visions of Emanuel Swedenborg (Universal Theology, No. 623). The Learned, who strive to ascend into Heaven by means of learning, appear to Children like dead horses, when repelled by the celestial spheres. The works of this visionary are well worthy the attention of Painters and Poets; they are foundations for grand things; the reason they have not been more attended to is, because corporeal demons have gained a predominance; who the leaders of these are, will be shown below. Unworthy Men, who gain fame among Men, continue to govern mankind after death, and, in their spiritual bodies, oppose the spirits
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    of those who worthily are famous; and, as Swedenborg observes, by entering into disease and excrement, drunkenness and concupiscence, they possess themselves of the bodies of mortal men, and shut the doors of mind and of thought, by placing Learning above Inspiration. O Artist! you may disbelieve all this, but it shall be at your own peril.

    Satan calling up his Legions, from Milton’s Paradise Lost; a composition for a more perfect Picture, afterward executed for a Lady of high rank. An experiment Picture.

    This Picture was likewise painted at intervals, for experiment on colours, without any oily vehicle; it may be worthy of attention, not only on account of its composition, but of the great Labour which has been bestowed on it, that is, three or four times as much as would have finished a more perfect Picture. The labour has destroyed the lineaments: it was with difficulty brought back again to a certain effect, which it had at first, when all the lineaments were perfect.
    These Pictures, among numerous others painted for experiment, were the result of temptations and perturbations, labouring to destroy Imaginative power, by means of that infernal machine, called Chiaro Oscuro, in the hands of Venetian and Flemish Demons; whose enmity to the Painter himself, and to all Artists who study in the Florentine and Roman Schools, may be removed by an exhibition and exposure of their vile tricks. They cause that everything in art shall become a Machine. They cause that the execution shall be all blocked up with brown shadows. They put the original Artist in fear and doubt of his own original conception. The spirit of Titian was particularly active in raising doubts concerning the possibility of executing without a model; and, when once he had raised the doubt, it became easy for him to snatch away the vision time after time; for when the Artist took his pencil, to execute his ideas, his power of imagination weakened so much, and darkened, that memory of nature and of Pictures of the various Schools possessed his mind, instead of appropriate execution, resulting from the inventions; like walking in another man’s style, or speaking or looking in another man’s style and manner, unappropriate and repugnant to your own individual character; tormenting the true Artist, till he leaves the Florentine, and adopts the Venetian
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    practice, or does as Mr. B. has done—has the courage to suffer poverty and disgrace, till he ultimately conquers.
    Rubens is a most outrageous demon, and by infusing the remembrances of his Pictures, and style of execution, hinders all power of individual thought: so that the man who is possessed by this demon loses all admiration of any other Artist but Rubens, and those who were his imitators and journeymen. He causes to the Florentine and Roman Artist fear to execute; and, though the original conception was all fire and animation, he loads it with hellish brownness, and blocks up all its gates of light, except one, and that one he closes with iron bars, till the victim is obliged to give up the Florentine and Roman practice, and adopt the Venetian and Flemish.
    Correggio is a soft and effeminate and consequently a most cruel demon, whose whole delight is to cause endless labour to whoever suffers him to enter his mind. The story that is told in all Lives of the Painters, about Correggio being poor and but badly paid for his Pictures, is altogether false; he was a petty Prince, in Italy, and employed numerous Journeymen in manufacturing (as Rubens and Titian did) the Pictures that go under his name. The manual labour in these Pictures of Correggio is immense, and was paid for originally at the immense prices that those who keep manufactories of art always charge to their employers, while they themselves pay their journeymen little enough. But, though Correggio was not poor, he will make any true artist so, who permits him to enter his mind, and take possession of his affections; he infuses a love of soft and even tints without boundaries, and of endless reflected lights, that confuse one another, and hinder all correct drawing from appearing to be correct; for if one of Raphael’s or Michael Angelo’s figures was to be traced, and Correggio’s reflections and refractions to be added to it, there would soon be an end of proportion and strength, and it would be weak, and pappy, and lumbering, and thick-headed, like his own works; but then it would have softness and evenness, by a twelvemonth’s labour, where a month would with judgment have finished it better and higher; and the poor wretch who executed it would be the Correggio that the life-writers have written of—a drudge and a miserable man, compelled to softness by poverty. I say again, O Artist! you may disbelieve all this, but it shall be at your own peril.
    Note. — These experiment Pictures have been bruised and knocked about, without mercy, to try all experimentents.
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    The Bramins.—A Drawing.
    The subject is, Mr. Wilkin translating the Geeta; an ideal design, suggested by the first publication of that part of the Hindoo Scriptures translated by Mr. Wilkin. I understand that my Costume is incorrect; but in this I plead the authority of the ancients, who often deviated from the Habits, to preserve the Manners, as in the instance of Laocoon, who, though a priest, is represented naked.

    The Body of Abel found by Adam and Eve; Cain, who was about to bury it, fleeing from the face of his Parents.—A Drawing.

    The Soldiers casting Lots for Christ’s Garments.—A Drawing.
    Jacob’s Ladder.—A Drawing.
    The Angels hovering over the Body of Jesus in the Sepulchre.—A Drawing.
    The above four drawings the Artist wishes were in Fresco, on an enlarged scale, to ornament the altars of churches, and to make England, like Italy, respected by respectable men of other countries on account of Art. It is not the want of genius that can hereafter be laid to our charge; the Artist who has done these Pictures and Drawings will take care of that; let those who govern the Nation take care of the other. The times require that every one should speak out boldly; England expects that every man should do his duty, in Arts, as well as in Arms or in the Senate.
    Sig. VOL. II. M
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    Ruth.—A Drawing.
    This Design is taken from that most pathetic passage in the Book of Ruth where Naomi, having taken leave of her daughters-in-law, with intent to return to her own country, Ruth cannot leave her, but says, ‘Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: God do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.’
    The distinction that is made in modern times between a Painting and a Drawing proceeds from ignorance of art. The merit of a Picture is the same as the merit of a Drawing. The dauber daubs his Drawings; he who draws his Drawings draws his Pictures. There is no difference between Raphael’s Cartoons and his Frescoes, or Pictures, except that the Frescoes, or Pictures, are more finished. When Mr. B. formerly painted in oil colours, his Pictures were shown to certain painters and connoisseurs, who said that they were very admirable Drawings on canvas, but not Pictures; but they said the same of Raphael’s Pictures. Mr. B. thought this the greatest of compliments, though it was meant otherwise. If losing and obliterating the outline constitutes a Picture, Mr. B. will never be so foolish as to do one. Such art of losing the outlines is the art of Venice and Flanders; it loses all character, and leaves what some people call expression: but this is a false notion of expression; expression cannot exist without character as its stamina; and neither character nor expression can exist without firm and determinate outline. Fresco Painting is susceptible of higher finishing than Drawing on Paper, or than any other method of Painting. But he must have a strange organization of sight who does not prefer a Drawing on Paper to a Daubing in Oil by the same master, supposing both to be done with equal care.
    The great and golden rule of art, as well as of life, is this: That the more distinct, sharp, and wiry the bounding line, the more perfect the work of art; and the less keen and sharp, the greater is the evidence of weak imitation, plagiarism, and bungling. Great inventors, in all ages, knew this: Protogenes and Apelles knew each other by this line. Raphael and Michael Angelo, and Albert Dürer, are known by this and this alone. The want of this determinate and bounding form evidences the idea of want in the artist’s mind,
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    and the pretence of the plagiary in all its branches. How do we distinguish the oak from the beech, the horse from the ox, but by the bounding outline? How do we distinguish one face or countenance from another, but by the bounding line and its infinite inflexions and movements? What is it that builds a house and plants a garden, but the definite and determinate? What is it that distinguishes honesty from knavery, but the hard and wiry line of rectitude and certainty in the actions and intentions? Leave out this line and you leave out life itself; all is chaos again, and the line of the Almighty must be drawn out upon it before man or beast can exist. Talk no more then of Correggio or Rembrandt, or any other of those plagiaries of Venice or Flanders. They were but the lame imitators of lines drawn by their predecessors, and their works prove themselves contemptible disarranged imitations, and blundering misapplied copies.
    The Penance of Jane Shore in Saint Paul’s Church.—A Drawing.
    This Drawing was done above Thirty Years ago, and proves to the Author, and he thinks will prove to any discerning eye, that the productions of our youth and of our maturer age are equal in all essential points. If a man is master of his profession, he cannot be ignorant that he is so; and, if he is not employed by those who pretend to encourage art, he will employ himself, and laugh in secret at the pretences of the ignorant, while he has every night dropped into his shoe—as soon as he puts it off, and puts out the candle, and gets into bed—a reward for the labours of the day, such as the world cannot give; and patience and time await to give him all that the world can give.
    Sig. M 2
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    Intended to accompany Blake’s Engraving of the Canterbury

    The originality of this production makes it necessary to say a few words.
    In this plate Mr. Blake has resumed the style with which he set out in life, of which Heath and Stothard were the awkward imitators at that time. It is the style of Albert Dürer and the old engravers, which cannot be imitated by any one who does not understand drawing, and which, according to Heath, and Stothard, Flaxman, and even Romney, spoils an engraver; for each of these men has repeatedly asserted this absurdity to me, in condemnation of my work, and approbation of Heath’s lame imitation; Stothard being such a fool as to suppose that his blundering blurs can be made out and delineated by any engraver who knows how to cut dots and lozenges, equally well with those little prints which I engraved after him four-and-twenty years ago, and by which he got his reputation as a draughtsman.
    If men of weak capacities have alone the power of execution in art, Mr. Blake has now put to the test. If to invent and to draw well hinders the executive power in art, and his strokes are still to be condemned because they are unlike those of artists who are unacquainted with drawing, is now to he decided by the public. Mr. Blake’s inventive powers, and his scientific knowledge of drawing, are on all hands
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    acknowledged; it only remains to be certified whether physiognomic strength and power are to give place to imbecility. In a work of art it is not fine tints that are required, but fine forms; fine tints without fine forms are always the subterfuge of the blockhead.
    I account it a public duty respectfully to address myself to the Chalcographic Society, and to express to them my opinion, (the result of the expert practice and experience of many years), that engraving as an art is lost to England, owing to an artfully propagated opinion that drawing spoils an engraver. I request the Society to inspect my print, of which drawing is the foundation, and indeed the superstructure: it is drawing on copper, as painting ought to be drawing on canvas or any other surface, and nothing else. I request likewise that the Society will compare the prints of Bartolozzi, Woollett, Strange, &c, with the old English portraits; that is, compare the modern art with the art as it existed previous to the entrance of Vandyck and Rubens into the country, since which event engraving is lost; and I am sure the result of the comparison will be that the Society must be of my opinion, that engraving, by losing drawing, has lost all character and all expression, without which the art is lost.
    There is not, because there cannot be, any difference of effect in the pictures of Rubens and Rembrandt: when you have seen one of their pictures, you have seen all. It is not so with Raphael, Giulio Romano, Albert Dürer, Michael Angelo; every picture of theirs has a different and appropriate effect. What man of sense will lay out his money upon the life’s labours of imbecility and imbecility’s journeymen, or think to educate a fool how to build a universe with farthing balls? The contemptible idiots who have been called great men of late years ought to rouse the public indignation of men of sense in all professions. Yet I do not shrink from the comparison in either relief or strength of colour with either Rembrandt or Rubens; on the contrary, I
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    court the comparison, and fear not the result,—but not in a dark corner. Their effects are in every picture the same; mine are in every picture different. That vulgar epigram in art, Rembrandt’s Hundred Guelders has entirely put an end to all genuine and appropriate effect: all, both morning and night, is now a dark cavern; it is the fashion.
    I hope my countrymen will excuse me if I tell them a wholesome truth. Most Englishmen, when they look at pictures, immediately set about searching for points of light, and clap the picture into a dark corner. This, when done by grand works, is like looking for epigrams in Homer. A point of light is a witticism: many are destructive of all art; one is an epigram only, and no good work can have them. Raphael, Michael Angelo, Albert Dürer, Giulio Romano, are accounted ignorant of that epigrammatic wit in art, because they avoid it as a destructive machine, as it is.
    Mr. Blake repeats that there is not one character or expression in this print which could be produced with the execution of Titian, Rubens, Correggio, Rembrandt, or any of that class. Character and expression can only be expressed by those who feel them. Even Hogarth’s execution cannot be copied or improved. Gentlemen of fortune, who give great prices for pictures, should consider the following: When you view a collection of pictures, painted since Venetian art was the fashion, or go into a modern exhibition, with a very few exceptions every picture has the same effect—a piece of machinery of points of light to be put into a dark hole.
    Ruben’s ‘Luxembourg Gallery’ is confessed on all hands to be the work of a blockhead; it bears this evidence in its face. How can its execution be any other than the work of a blockhead? Bloated gods, Mercury, Juno, Venus, and the rattletraps of mythology, and the lumber of an awkward French palace, are thrown together around clumsy and rickety princes and princesses, higgledy-piggledy. On the contrary, Giulio Romano’s ‘Palace of T. at Mantua’ is allowed on all hands to be the production of a man of the
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    most profound sense and genius; and yet his execution is pronounced by English connoisseurs (and Reynolds their doll) to be unfit for the study of the painter. Can I speak with too great contempt of such contemptible fellows? If all the princes in Europe, like Louis XIV. and Charles I., were to patronize such blockheads, I, William Blake, a mental prince, would decollate and hang their souls as guilty of mental high-treason. He who could represent Christ uniformly like a drayman must have queer conceptions— consequently his execution must have been as queer: and those must be queer fellows who give great sums for such nonsense, and think it fine art. Who that has eyes cannot see that Rubens and Correggio must have been very weak and vulgar fellows? And we are to imitate their execution! This is like what Sir Francis Bacon says: that a healthy child should he taught and compelled to walk like a cripple, while the cripple must be taught to walk like healthy people. Oh rare wisdom!
    The wretched state of the arts in this country and in Europe, originating in the wretched state of political science (which is the science of sciences), demands a firm and determinate conduct on the part of artists, to resist the contemptible counter-arts, established by such contemptible politicians as Louis XIV., and originally set on foot by Venetian picture-traders, music-traders, and rhyme-traders, to the destruction of all true art, as it is this day. To recover art has been the business of my life to the Florentine original, and if possible, to go beyond that original: this I thought the only pursuit worthy of a man. To imitate I abhor: I obstinately adhere to the true style of art, such as Michael Angelo, Raphael, Giulio Romano, Albert Dürer, left it. I demand, therefore, of the amateurs of art the encouragement which is my due; if they continue to refuse, theirs is the loss, not mine, and theirs is the contempt of posterity. I have enough in the approbation of fellow-labourers: this is my glory and exceeding great reward. I go on and nothing can hinder my course.
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    While the works of Pope and Dryden are looked upon as the same art with those of Shakespeare and Milton, while the works of Strange and Woollett are looked upon as the same art with those of Raphael and Albert Dürer, there can be no art in a nation but such as is subservient to the interest of the monopolising trader. Englishmen! rouse yourselves from the fatal slumber into which booksellers and trading dealers have thrown you, under the artfully propagated pretence that a translation or a copy of any kind can be as honourable to a nation as an original, belieing the English character in that well-known saying, Englishmen improve what others invent. This even Hogarth’s works prove a detestable falsehood. No man can improve an original invention, nor can an original invention exist without execution organised, delineated, and articulated either by God or man: I do not mean smoothed up and niggled and poco-pen’d, and all the beauties paled out, blurred, and blotted; but drawn with a firm and decided hand at once, like Michael Angelo, Shakespeare and Milton. I have heard many people say: ‘Give me the ideas—it is no matter what words you put them into;’ and others say: ‘Give me the design, it is no matter for the execution.’ These people knew enough of artifice, but nothing of art. Ideas cannot be given but in their minutely appropriate words, nor can a design be made without its minutely appropriate execution. The unorganized blots and blurs of Rubens and Titian are not art, nor can their method ever express ideas or imaginations, any more than Pope’s metaphysical jargon of rhyming. Unappropriate execution is the most nauseous of all affectation and foppery. He who copies does not execute—he only imitates what is already executed. Execution is only the result of invention.
    I do not condemn Rubens, Rembrandt, or Titian, because they did not understand drawing, but because they did not understand colouring; how long shall I be forced to beat this into men’s ears? I do not condemn Strange or Woollett because they did not understand drawing, but because they
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    did not understand engraving. I do not condemn Pope or Dryden because they did not understand imagination, but because they did not understand verse. Their colouring, graving, and verse, can never be applied to art: that is not either colouring, graving, or verse, which is unappropriate to the subject. He who makes a design must know the effect and colouring proper to be put to that design, and will never take that of Rubens, Rembrandt, or Titian, to turn that which is soul and life into a mill or machine.
    They say, there is no straight line in nature. This is a lie, like all that they say, for there is every line in nature. But I will tell them what there is not in nature. An even tint is not in nature—it produces heaviness. Nature’s shadows are ever varying, and a ruled sky that is quite even never can produce a natural sky. The same with every object in a picture—its spots are its beauties. Now, gentlemen critics, how do you like this? You may rage; but what I say I will prove by such practice (and have already done so) that you will rage to your own destruction. Woollett I knew very intimately by his intimacy with Basire, and I knew him to be one of the most ignorant fellows that I ever knew. A machine is not a man nor a work of art; it is destructive of humanity and of art. Woollett, I know, did not know how to grind his graver; I know this. He has often proved his ignorance before me at Basire’s, by laughing at Basire’s knife-tools, and ridiculing the forms of Basire’s other gravers, till Basire was quite dashed and out of conceit with what he himself knew. But his impudence had a contrary effect on me.
    A certain portrait-painter said to me in a boasting way: ‘Since I have practised painting, I have lost all idea of drawing.’ Such a man must know that I looked upon him with contempt. He did not care for this any more than West did, who hesitated and equivocated with me upon the same subject, at which time he asserted that Woollett’s prints were superior to Basire’s, because they had more labour and
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    care. Now this is contrary to the truth. Woollett did not know how to put so much labour into a head or a foot as Basire did; he did not know how to draw the leaf of a tree. All his study was clean strokes and mossy tints; how then should he be able to make use of either labour or care, unless the labour and care of imbecility? The life’s labour of mental weakness scarcely equals one hour of the labour of ordinary capacity, like the full gallop of the gouty man to the ordinary walk of youth and health. I allow that there is such a thing as high-finished ignorance, as there may be a fool or a knave in an embroidered coat; but I say that the embroidery of the ignorant finisher is not like a coat made by another, but is an emanation from ignorance itself, and its finishing is like its master—the life’s labour of five hundred idiots, for he never does the work himself.
    What is called the English style of engraving, such as it proceeded from the toilets of Woollett and Strange (for their’s were Fribble’s toilets) can never produce character and expression. I knew the men intimately from their intimacy with Basire, my master, and knew them both to be heavy lumps of cunning and ignorance, as their works show to all the Continent, who laugh at the contemptible pretences of Englishmen to improve art before they even know the first beginnings of art. I hope this print will redeem my country from this coxcomb situation, and show that it is only some Englishmen, and not all, who are thus ridiculous in their pretences. Advertisements in newspapers are no proofs of popular approbation, but often the contrary. A man who pretends to improve fine art does not know what fine art is. Ye English engravers must come down from your high flights; ye must condescend to study Marc Antonio and Albert Dürer; ye must begin before you attempt to finish or improve: and when you have begun, you will know better than to think of improving what cannot be improved. It is very true what you have said for these thirty-two years: I am mad, or else you are so. Both of us cannot be in our
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    right senses. Posterity will judge by our works. Woollett’s and Strange’s works are like those of Titian and Correggio, the life’s labour of ignorant journeymen, suited to the purposes of commerce, no doubt, for commerce cannot endure individual merit; its insatiable maw must be fed by what all can do equally well; at least it is so in England, as I have found to my cost these forty years. Commerce is so far from being beneficial to arts or to empires that it is destructive of both, as all their history shows, for the above reason of individual merit being its great hatred. Empires flourish till they become commercial, and then they are scattered abroad to the four winds.
    Woollett’s best works were etched by Jack Browne; Woollett etched very ill himself. The Cottagers, and Jocund Peasants, the Views in Kew Garden, Foot’s-Cray, and Diana and Actæon , and, in short, all that are called Woollett’s, were etched by Jack Browne; and in Woollett’s works the etching is all, though even in these a single leaf of a tree is never correct. Strange’s prints were, when I knew him, all done by Aliamet and his French journeymen, whose names I forget. I also knew something of John Cooke, who engraved after Hogarth. Cooke wished to give Hogarth what he could take from Raphael, that is, outline, and mass, and colour; but he could not. Such prints as Woollett and Strange produce will do for those who choose to purchase the life’s labour of ignorance and imbecility in preference to the inspired monuments of genius and inspiration.
    In this manner the English public have been imposed upon for many years, under the impression that engraving and painting are somewhat else besides drawing. Painting is drawing on canvas, and engraving is drawing on copper, and nothing else; and he who pretends to be either painter or engraver without being a master of drawing is an impostor. We may be clever as pugilists, but as artists, we are, and have long been, the contempt of the continent. Gravelot once said to my master Basire: ‘De English may be
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    very clever in deir own opinions, but dey do not draw de draw.’
    Whoever looks at any of the great and expensive works of engraving that have been published by English traders must feel a loathing and disgust; and accordingly most Englishmen have a contempt for art, which is the greatest curse that can fall upon a nation.
    The modern chalcographic connoisseurs and amateurs admire only the work of the journeyman picking out of whites and blacks in what are called tints. They despise drawing, which despises them in return. They see only whether everything is toned down but one spot of light. Mr. Blake submits to a more severe tribunal: he invites the admirers of old English portraits to look at his print.
    An example of these contrary arts is given us in the characters of Milton and Dryden, as they are written in a poem signed with the name of Nat Lee, which perhaps he never wrote and perhaps he wrote in a paroxysm of insanity; in which it is said that Milton’s poem is a rough unfinished piece, and that Dryden has finished it. Now let Dryden’s Fall and Milton’s Paradise be read, and I will assert that everybody of understanding must cry out shame on such niggling and poco-pen as Dryden has degraded Milton with. But at the same time I will allow that stupidity will prefer Dryden, because it is in rhyme and monotonous sing-song, sing-song from beginning to end. Such are Bartolozzi, Woollett, and Strange.
    Men think that they can copy nature as correctly as I copy imagination. This they will find impossible: and all the copies, or pretended copies, of nature, from Rembrandt to Reynolds, prove that nature becomes to its victim nothing but blots and blurs. Why are copies of nature incorrect, while copies of imagination are correct? This is manifest to all. The English artist may be assured that he is doing an injury and injustice to his country while he studies and imitates the effects of nature. England will never rival Italy
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    while we servilely copy what the wise Italians, Raphael and Michael Angelo, scorned, nay abhorred, as Vasari tells us. What kind of intellect must he have who sees only the colours of things, and not the forms of things? No man of sense can think that an imitation of the objects of nature is the art of painting, or that such imitation (which any one may easily perform) is worthy of notice—much less that such an art should be the glory and pride of a nation. The Italians laugh at the English connoisseurs, who are (most of them) such silly fellows as to believe this.
    A man sets himself down with colours, and with all the articles of painting; he puts a model before him, and he copies that so neat as to make it a deception. Now, let any man of sense ask himself one question: Is this art? Can it be worthy of admiration to anybody of understanding? Who could not do this? What man, who has eyes and an ordinary share of patience, cannot do this neatly? Is this art, or is it glorious to a nation to produce such contemptible copies? Countrymen, countrymen, do not suffer yourselves to be disgraced!
    No man of sense ever supposes that copying from nature is the art of painting; if the art is no more than this, it is no better than any other manual labour: anybody may do it, and the fool often will do it best, as it is a work of no mind. A jockey, that is anything of a jockey, will never buy a horse by the colour; and a man who has got any brains will never buy a picture by the colour.
    When I tell any truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those who do.
    It is nonsense for noblemen and gentlemen to offer premiums for the encouragement of art, when such pictures as these can be done without premiums. Let them encourage what exists already, and not endeavour to counteract by tricks. Let it no more be said that empires encourage arts, for it is arts that encourage empires. Arts and artists are
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    spiritual, and laugh at mortal contingencies. Let us teach Buonaparte, and whomsoever else it may concern, that it is not arts that follow and attend upon empire, but empire that attends upon and follows the arts. It is in their power to hinder instruction but not to instruct; just as it is in their power to murder a man, but not to make a man.
    I do not pretend to paint better than Raphael or Michael Angelo, or Giulio Romano, or Albert Dürer; but I do pretend to paint finer than Rubens, or Rembrandt, or Correggio, or Titian. I do not pretend to engrave finer than Albert Dürer; but I do pretend to engrave finer than Strange, Woollett, Hall, or Bartolozzi; and all because I understand drawing, which they understood not. Englishmen have been so used to journeymen’s undecided bungling, that they cannot bear the firmness of a master’s touch. Every line is the line of beauty; it is only fumble and bungle which cannot draw a line. This only is ugliness. That is not a line which doubts and hesitates in the midst of its course.
    I know my execution is not like anybody else’s. I do not intend it should be so. None but blockheads copy one another. My conception and invention are on all hands allowed to be superior; my execution will be found so too. To what is it that gentlemen of the first rank both in genius and fortune have subscribed their names? To my inventions. The executive part they never disputed.
    The painters of England are unemployed in public works, while the sculptors have continual and superabundant employment. Our churches and our abbeys are treasures of their producing for ages back, while painting is excluded. Painting, the principal art, has no place among our almost only public works. Yet it is more adapted to solemn ornament than marble can be, as it is capable of being placed in any height, and, indeed, would make a noble finish, placed above the great public monuments in Westminster, St. Paul’s and other cathedrals. To the Society for the Encouragement of Art I address myself with respectful duty, requesting their
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    consideration of my plan as a great public means of advancing fine art in Protestant communities. Monuments to the dead painters by historical and poetical artists, like Barry and Mortimer (I forbear to name living artists, though equally worthy)—I say, monuments to painters—must make England what Italy is, an envied storehouse of intellectual riches.
    It has been said of late years, the English public have no taste for painting. This is a falsehood. The English are as good judges of painting as of poetry, and they prove it in their contempt for great collections of all the rubbish of the Continent, brought here by ignorant picture-dealers. An Englishman may well say ‘I am no judge of painting,’ when he is shown these smears and daubs, at an immense price, and told that such is the art of painting. I say the English public are true encouragers of real art, while they discourage and look with contempt on false art.
    Resentment for personal injuries has had some share in this public address, but love for my art, and zeal for my country, a much greater.
    I do not know whether Homer is a liar and that there is no such thing as generous contention. I know that all those with whom I have contended in art have striven, not to excel, but to starve me out by calumny and the arts of trading competition. The manner in which my character has been blasted these thirty years both as an artist and a man may be seen particularly in a Sunday paper called The Examiner, published in Beaufort’s Buildings (we all know that editors of newspapers trouble their heads very little about art and science, and that they are always paid for what they put in upon these ungracious subjects): and the manner in which I have rooted out the nest of villains will be seen in a poem concerning my three years’ herculean labours at Felpham which I shall soon publish. Secret calumny and open professions of friendship are common enough all the world over, but have never been so good an occasion of poetic imagery. When a base man means to be your enemy, he always begins
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    with being your friend. Flaxman cannot deny that one of the very first monuments he did I gratuitously designed for him; at the same time he was blasting my character as an artist to Macklin, my employer, as Macklin told me at the time, and posterity will know. Many people are so foolish as to think they can wound Mr. Fuseli over my shoulder: they will find themselves mistaken; they could not wound even Mr. Barry so.
    In a commercial nation, impostors are abroad in all professions; these are the greatest enemies of genius. In the art of painting these impostors sedulously propagate an opinion that great inventors cannot execute. This opinion is as destructive of the true artist as it is false by all experience. Even Hogarth cannot be either copied or improved. Can Anglus never discern perfection but in a journeyman labourer?
    P.S.—I do not believe that this absurd opinion ever was set on foot till, in my outset into life, it was artfully published, both in whispers and in print, by certain persons whose robberies from me made it necessary to them that I should be hid in a corner. It never was supposed that a copy could be better than an original, or near so good, till, a few years ago, it became the interest of certain knaves. The lavish praise I have received from all quarters for invention and drawing has generally been accompanied by this: ‘He can conceive, but he cannot execute.’ This absurd assertion has done me, and may still do me, the greatest mischief. I call for public protection against these villains. I am, like others, just equal in invention and in execution, as my works show. I, in my own defence, challenge a competition with the finest engravings, and defy the most critical judge to make the comparison honestly: asserting, in my own defence, that this print is the finest that has been done, or is likely to be done, in England, where drawing, the foundation, is condemned, and absurd nonsense about dots and lozenges and clean strokes made to occupy the attention to the neglect
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    of all real art. I defy any man to cut cleaner strokes than I do, or rougher, when I please; and assert, that he who thinks he can engrave or paint either, without being a master of drawing, is a fool. Painting is drawing on canvas, and engraving is drawing on copper, and nothing else. Drawing is execution and nothing else; and he who draws best must be the best artist. And to this I subscribe my name as a public duty.
    William Blake.
    Sig. VOL. II. N
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    [In an early part of the same book from which has been gathered the foregoring Public Address, occur three memoranda having reference to the methods by which Blake engraved some of his designs.
    These receipts are written immediately under the two very curious entries—‘Tuesday, Jan. 20, 1807, Between two and seven in the evening. Despair’ And—’I say I shan’t live five years; and if I live one, it will be a wonder. June 1793.’ The last-quoted entry is in pencil, and pretty evidently made before the subjoined.]
    To engrave on pewter: Let there be first a drawing made correctly with black-lead pencil; let nothing be to seek. Then rub it off on the plate, covered with white wax; or perhaps pass it through press. This will produce certain and determined forms on the plate, and time will not be wasted in seeking them afterwards.
    To wood-cut on pewter: Lay a ground on the plate, and smoke it as for etching. Then trace your outlines, and, beginning with the spots of light on each object, with an oval-pointed needle, scrape off the ground, as a direction for your graver. Then proceed to graving, with the ground on the plate; being as careful as possible not to hurt the ground, because it, being black, will show perfectly what is wanted.
    To wood-cut on copper: Lay a ground as for etching; trace, &c., and, instead of etching the blacks, etch the whites, and bite it in.’
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    On Homer’s Poetry.
    Every poem must necessarily be a perfect Unity, but why Homer’s is peculiarly so I cannot tell: he has told the story of Bellerophon, and omitted the Judgment of Paris, which is not only a part, but a principal part, of Homer’s subject. But when a work has unity, it is as much so in a part as in the whole. The torso is as much a unity as the Laocoon. As unity is the cloak of folly, so goodness is the cloak of knavery. Those who will have unity exclusively in Homer come out with a moral like a sting in the tail. Aristotle says characters are either good or bad: now, goodness or badness has nothing to do with character. An apple-tree, a pear-tree, a horse, a lion, are characters; but a good apple-tree or a bad is an apple-tree still. A horse is not more a lion for being a bad horse—that is its character: its goodness or badness is another consideration.
    It is the same with the moral of a whole poem as with the moral goodness of its parts. Unity and morality are secondary considerations, and belong to Philosophy, and not to Poetry—to exception, and not to rule—to accident, and not to substance. The ancients called it eating of the Tree of Good and Evil.
    The Classics it is, the Classics, and not Goths or monks, that desolate Europe with wars.
    Sig. N 2
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    On Virgil.
    Sacred truth has pronounced that Greece and Rome, as Babylon and Egypt, so far from being parents of Arts and Sciences, as they pretend, were destroyers of all Art. Homer, Virgil, and Ovid, confirm this, and make us reverence the Word of God, the only light of Antiquity that remains unperverted by war. Virgil, in the Eneid, Book VI. line 848, says: ‘Let others study Art. Rome has somewhat better to do—namely, War and Dominion.’
    Rome and Greece swept art into their maw, and destroyed it. A warlike State never can produce art. It will rob and plunder, and accumulate into one place, and translate, and copy, and buy and sell, and criticise, but not make. Grecian is mathematic form. Mathematic form is eternal in the reasoning memory. Living form is eternal existence. Gothic is living form.
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    Seen by William Blake.
    • To Lord Byron in the Wilderness.—What dost thou, here, Elijah?
    • Can a Poet doubt the Visions of Jehovah? Nature has no Outline;
    • But Imagination has. Nature has no Time; but Imagination has.
    • Nature has no Supernatural, and dissolves; Imagination is Eternity.
    • Scene.— A rocky Country. Eve fainted over the dead body of Abel which lies near a grave. Adam kneels by her. Jehovah stands above.
    • Jehovah.—Adam!
    • Adam.—It is in vain: I will no hear thee more, thou Spiritual Voice.
    • Is this Death?
    • Jehovah.—Adam!
    • Adam.—It is in vain; I will not hear thee
    • 10Henceforth. Is this thy Promise that the Woman's Seed
    • Should bruise the Serpent's Head? Is this the Serpent? Ah!
    • Seven times, O Eve, thou hast fainted over the Dead. Ah! Ah!
    • (Eve revives.)
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    • Eve.—Is this the promise of Jehovah? Oh it is all a vain delusion,
    • This death and this Life and this Jehovah.
    • Jehovah.—Woman, lift thine eyes.
    • (A Voice is heard coming on. )
    • Voice.—O Earth, cover not thou my blood!
    • ( Enter the Ghost of Abel.)
    • Eve.—Thou visionary Phantasm, thou art not the real Abel.
    • Abel.—Among the Elohim a Human Victim I wander. I am their House,
    • Prince of the Air, and our dimensions compass Zenith and Nadir.
    • 20Vain is the Covenant, O Jehovah: I am the Accuser and Avenger
    • Of Blood; O Earth, cover not thou the blood of Abel.
    • Jehovah.—What vengeance dost thou require?
    • Abel.—Life for Life! Life for Life!
    • Jehovah.—He who shall take Cain's life must also die, O Abel;
    • And who is he? Adam, wilt thou, or Eve, thou, do this?
    • Adam.—It is all a vain delusion of the all-creative Imagination.
    • Eve, come away, and let us not believe these vain delusions.
    • Abel is dead, and Cain slew him; We shall also die a death,
    • And then—what then? be as poor as Abel, a Thought; or as
    • 30This? Oh what shall I call thee, Form Divine, Father of Mercies,
    • That appearest to my Spiritual Vision? Eve, seest thou also?
    • Eve—I see him plainly with my mind's eye: I see also Abel living!
    • Tho’ terribly afflicted, as we also are: yet Jehovah sees him
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    • Alive and not dead: were it not better to believe Vision
    • With all our might and strength, tho’ we are fallen and lost?
    • Adam.—Eve, thou hast spoken truly; let us kneel before his feet.
    • ( They kneel before Jehovah.)
    • Abel.—Are these the sacrifices of Eternity, O Jehovah? a broken spirit
    • And a contrite heart? O, I cannot forgive; the Accuser hath
    • Entered into me as into his house, and I loathe thy Tabernacles.
    • 40As thou hast said so is it come to pass: My desire is unto Cain
    • And he doth rule over me: therefore my soul in fumes of blood
    • Cries for vengeance: Sacrifice on Sacrifice, Blood on Blood.
    • Jehovah.—Lo, I have given you a Lamb for an atonement instead
    • Of the transgressor, or no Flesh or Spirit could ever live.
    • Abel.—Compelled I cry, O Earth, cover not the blood of Abel.
    • (Abel sinks down into the grave, from which arises Satan, armed in glittering scales, with a crown and a spear. )
    • Satan.—I will have human blood, and not the blood of bulls or goats,
    • And no atonement, O Jehovah; the Elohim live on sacrifice
    • Of men: hence I am god of men; thou human, O Jehovah.
    • By the rock and oak of the Druid, creeping mistletoe and thorn,
    • 50Cain's city built with human blood, not blood of bulls and goats,
    • Thou shalt thyself be sacrificed to me thy God on Calvary.
    • Jehovah.—Such is my will ( thunders) that thou thyself go to Eternal Death.
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    • In self-annihalation, even till Satan self-subdued put off Satan
    • Into the bottomless abyss whose torment arises for ever and ever.
    • ( On each side a Chorus of Angels entering sing the following. )
    • The Elohim of the Heathen swore vengeance for Sin! Then thou stood’st
    • Forth, O Elohim Jehovah, in the midst of the darkness of the oath all clothed
    • In thy covenant of the forgiveness of sins. Death, O Holy! is this Brotherhood?
    • The Elohim saw their oath eternal fire; they rolled apart trembling over the
    • Mercy-Seat, each in his station fixed in the firmament, by Peace, Brotherhood, and Love
    • ( The curtain falls.)
    • (1822. W. Blake's original stereotype was 1788.)

    ‘On the skirt of a figure, rapid and “vehemently sweeping,” engraved underneath (recalling that vision of Dion, made memorable by one of Wordsworth's noble poems) are inscribed these words:—“The voice of Abel's Blood.” The fierce and strenuous flight of this figure is as the motion of one whose feet are swift to shed blood, and the dim face is full of thunder and sorrowful lust after revenge. The decorations are slight, but not ineffective; wrought merely in black and white. This small prose lyric has a value beyond the value of its occasional beauty and force of form; it is a brief, comprehensible expression of Blake's faith seen from its two leading sides; belief in vision and belief in mercy.’

    (From A Critical Essay on William Blake, by Algernon Charles Swinburne , pp. 295-296, where The Ghost of Abel was first printed.)
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    The Last Judgment is not fable, or allegory, but vision. Fable, or allegory, is a totally distinct and inferior kind of poetry. Vision, or imagination, is a representation of what actually exists, really and unchangeably. Fable, or allegory, is formed by the daughters of Memory. Imagination is surrounded by the daughters of inspiration, who, in the aggregate, are called Jerusalem. Fable is allegory, but what critics call the fable is vision itself. The Hebrew Bible and the Gospel of Jesus are not allegory, but eternal vision, or imagination, of all that exists. Note here that fable, or allegory, is seldom without some vision. Pilgrim’s Progress is full of it; the Greek poets the same. But allegory and vision ought to be known as two distinct things, and so called for the sake of eternal life. The [ancients produce fable] when they assert that Jupiter usurped the throne of his father, Saturn, and brought on an iron age, and begot on Mnemosyne, or memory, the great Muses, which are not inspiration, as the Bible is. Reality was forgot, and the varieties of time and space only remembered, and called reality. The Greeks represent Chronos, or Time, as a very aged man. This is fable, but the real vision of Time is an eternal youth. I have, however, somewhat accommodated my figure of Time to the common opinion; as I myself am also infected with it, and my vision is also infected, and I see Time aged—alas! too much so. Allegories are things that relate to moral virtues.
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    Moral virtues do not exist: they are allegories and dissimulations. But Time and Space are real beings, a male and a female; Time is a man, Space is a woman, and her masculine portion is Death. Such is the mighty difference between allegoric fable and spiritual mystery. Let it here be noted that the Greek fables originated in spiritual mystery and real vision, which are lost and clouded in fable and allegory; while the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Gospel are genuine, preserved by the Saviour’s mercy. The nature of my work is visionary, or imaginative; it is an endeavour to restore what the ancients called the Golden Age.
    Plato has made Socrates say that poets and prophets do not know or understand what they write or utter. This is a most pernicious falsehood. If they do not, pray is an inferior kind to be called ‘knowing?’ Plato confutes himself.
    The Last Judgment is one of these stupendous visions. I have represented it as I saw it. To different people it appears differently, as everything else does.
    In eternity one thing never changes into another thing: each identity is eternal. Consequently, Apuleius’s Golden Ass, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and others of the like kind, are fable; yet they contain vision in a sublime degree, being derived from real vision in more ancient writings. Lot’s wife being changed into a pillar of salt alludes to the mortal body being rendered a permanent statue, but not changed or transformed into another identity, while it retains its own individuality. A man can never become ass nor horse; some are born with shapes of men who are both; but eternal identity is one thing, and corporeal vegetation is another thing. Changing water into wine by Jesus, and into blood by Moses, relates to vegetable nature also.
    The nature of visionary fancy, or imagination, is very little known, and the eternal nature and permanence of its ever-existent images are considered as less permanent than the things of vegetable and generative nature. Yet the oak dies as well as the lettuce; but its eternal image or individuality
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    never dies, but renews by its seed. Just so the imaginative image returns by the seed of contemplative thought. The writings of the prophets illustrate these conceptions of the visionary fancy by their various sublime and divine images as seen in the worlds of vision.
    The world of imagination is the world of eternity. It is the divine bosom into which we shall all go after the death of the vegetated body. This world of imagination is infinite and eternal, whereas the world of generation, or vegetation, is finite and temporal. There exist in that eternal world the permanent realities of every thing which we see reflected in this vegetable glass of nature.
    All things are comprehended in these eternal forms in the divine body of the Saviour, the true vine of eternity . . . who appeared to me as coming to judgment among His saints, and throwing off the temporal, that the eternal might be established. Around Him were seen the images of existences according to a certain order, suited to my imaginative eye, as follows:—
    Jesus seated between the two pillars, Joachin and Boaz, with the word divine of revelation on His knee, and on each side the four-and-twenty elders sitting in judgment; the heavens opening around Him by unfolding the clouds around His throne. The old heavens and the old earth are passing away, and the new heavens and the new earth descending: a sea of fire issues from before the throne. Adam and Eve appear first before the judgment-seat, in humiliation; Abel surrounded by innocents; and Cain, with the flint in his hand with which he slew his brother, falling with the head downwards. From the cloud on which Eve stands Satan is seen falling headlong, wound round by the tail of the serpent, whose bulk, nailed to the cross round which he wreathes, is falling into the abyss. Sin is also represented as a female bound in one of the serpent’s folds, surrounded by her fiends. Death is chained to the cross, and Time falls together with Death, dragged down by a demon crowned with laurel. Another
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    demon, with a key, has the charge of Sin, and is dragging her down by the hair. Beside them a figure is seen, scaled with iron scales from head to feet, precipitating himself into the abyss with the sword and balances: he is Og, king of Bashan.
    On the right, beneath the cloud on which Abel kneels, is Abraham, with Sarah and Isaac, also with Hagar and Ishmael on the left. Abel kneels on a bloody cloud, descriptive of those Churches before the Flood, that they were filled with blood and fire and vapour of smoke. Even till Abraham’s time the vapour and heat were not extinguished. These states exist now. Man passes on, but states remain for ever: he passes through them like a traveller, who may as well suppose that the places he has passed through exist no more, as a man may suppose that the states he has passed through exist no more: everything is eternal.
    Beneath Ishmael is Mahomed: and beneath the falling figure of Cain is Moses, casting his tables of stone into the deeps. It ought to be understood that the persons, Moses and Abraham, are not here meant, but the states signified by those names; the individuals being representatives, or visions, of those states, as they were revealed to mortal man in the series of divine revelations, as they are written in the Bible. These various states I have seen in my imagination. When distant, they appear as one man; but, as you approach, they appear multitudes of nations. Abraham hovers above his posterity, which appear as multitudes of children ascending from the earth, surrounded by stars, as it was said: ‘As the stars of heaven for multitude.’ Jacob and his twelve sons hover beneath the feet of Abraham, and receive their children from the earth. I have seen, when at a distance, multitudes of men in harmony appear like a single infant, sometimes in the arms of a female. This represented the Church.
    But to proceed with the description of those on the left hand. Beneath the cloud on which Moses kneels are two figures, a male and a female, chained together by the feet.
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    They represent those who perished by the Flood. Beneath them a multitude of their associates are seen falling headlong. By the side of the them is a mighty fiend with a book in his hand, which is shut: he represents the person named in Isaiah xxii. c. and 20 v., Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah. He drags Satan down headlong. He is crowned with oak. By the side of the scaled figure, representing Og, king of Bashan, is a figure with a basket, emptying out the varieties of riches and wordly honours. He is Araunah, the Jebusite, master of the threshing-floor. Above him are two figures elevated on a cloud, representing the pharisees, who plead their own righteosness before the throne: they are weighed down by two fiends. Beneath the man with the basket are three fiery fiends, with grey beard, and scourges of fire: they represent cruel laws. They scourge a group of figures down into the deeps. Beneath them are various figures in attitudes of contention, representing various states of misery, which, alas! every one on earth is liable to enter into, and against which we should all watch. The ladies will be pleased to see that I have represented the Furies by three men, and not by three women. It is not because I think the ancients wrong; but they will be pleased to remember that mine is vision, and not fable. The spectator may suppose them clergymen in the pulpit, scourging sin, instead of forgiving it.
    The earth beneath these falling groups of figures is rocky and burning, and seems as if convulsed by earthquakes. A great city, on fire, is seen in the distance. The armies (?) are fleeing upon the mountains. On the foreground Hell is opened, and many figures are descending into it down stone steps, and beside a gate beneath a rock, where Sin and Death are to be closed eternally by that fiend who carries the key in one hand, and drags them down with the other. On the rock, and above the gate, a fiend with wings urges the wicked onward with fiery darts. He is Hazael, the Syrian, who drives abroad all those who rebel against the Saviour.
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    Beneath the steps is Babylon, represented by a king crowned, grasping his sword and his sceptre. He is just awakened out of his grave. Around him are other kingdoms arising to judgment, represented in this picture by single personages, according to the descriptions in the Prophets. The figure dragging up a woman by her hair represents the Inquisition, as do those contending on the sides of the pit; and, in particular, the man strangling a woman represents a cruel Church.
    Two persons, one in purple, the other in scarlet, are descending down the steps into the pit. These are Caiaphas and Pilate; two states where all those reside who calumniate and murder under pretence of holiness and justice. Caiaphas has a blue flame, like a mitre, on his head: Pilate has bloody hands, that can never be cleansed. The females behind them represent the females belonging to such states, who are under perpetual terrors and vain dreams plots, and secret deceit. Those figures that descend into the flames before Caiaphas and Pilate are Judas and those of his class. Achitophel is also here, with the cord in his hand.
    Between the figures of Adam and Eve appears a fiery gulph descending from the sea of fire before the throne. In this cataract four angels descend headlong with four trumpets to awake the dead. Beneath these is the seat of the harlot, named Mystery in the Revelations. She is seized by two beings, each with three heads: they represent vegetative existence. As it is written in Revelations, they strip her naked, and burn her with fire. It represents the eternal consumption of vegetable life and death, with its lusts. The wreathed torches in their hands represent eternal fire, which is the fire of generation or vegetation: it is an eternal consummation. Those who are blessed with imaginative vision see this eternal female, and tremble at what others fear not; while they despise and laugh at what others fear. Beneath her feet is a flaming cavern, in which are seen her kings, and councillors, and warriors, descending in flames, lamenting, and
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    looking upon her in astonishment and terror, and Hell is opened beneath her seat; on the left hand, the great Red Dragon with seven heads and ten horns. He has a book of accusations, lying on the rock, open before him. He is bound in chains by two strong demons: they are Gog and Magog, who have been compelled to subdue their master (Ezekiel xxxviii. c. 8 v.) with their hammer and tongs, about to new-create the seven-headed kingdoms. The graves beneath are opened, and the dead awake and obey the call of the trumpet: those on the right hand awake in joy, those on the left in horror. Beneath the Dragon’s cavern a skeleton begins to animate, starting into life at the trumpet’s sound, while the wicked contend with each other on the brink of perdition. On the right, a youthful couple are awaked by their children; an aged patriarch is awaked by his aged wife: he is Albion, our ancestor, patriarch of the Atlantic Continent, whose history preceded that of the Hebrews, and in whose sleep, or chaos, creation began. The good woman is Britannica, the wife of Albion. Jerusalem is their daughter. Little infants creep out of the flowery mould into the green fields of the blessed, who, in various joyful companies, embrace and ascend to meet eternity.
    The persons who ascend to meet the Lord, coming in the clouds with power and great glory, are representations of those states described in the Bible under the names of the Fathers before and after the Flood. Noah is seen in the midst of these, canopied by a rainbow. On his right hand Shem, and on his left Japhet. These three persons represent Poetry, Painting, and Music, the three powers in man of conversing with Paradise, which the Flood did not sweep away. Above Noah is the Church Universal, represented by a woman surrounded by infants. There is such a state in eternity: it is composed of the innocent civilized heathen and the uncivilized savage, who, having not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law. This state appears like a female crowned with stars, driven into the wilderness: she has the
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    moon under her feet. The aged figure with wings, having a writing tablet, and taking account of the numbers who arise, is that Angel of the Divine Presence mentioned in Exodus xiv. c. 19 v.
    Around Noah, and beneath him, are various figures risen into the air. Among these are three females, representing those who are not of the dead, but of those found alive at the Last Judgment. They appear to be innocently gay and thoughtless, not being among the condemned, because ignorant of crime in the midst of a corrupted age. The Virgin Mary was of this class. A mother meets her numerous family in the arms of their father: these are representations of the Greek learned and wise, as also of those of other nations, such as Egypt and Babylon, in which were multitudes who shall meet the Lord coming in the clouds.
    The children of Abraham, or Hebrew Church, are represented as a stream of figures, on which are seen stars, somewhat like the Milky Way. They ascend from the earth, where figures kneel, embracing above the graves, and represent religion, or civilized life, such as it is in the Christian Church, which is the offspring of the Hebrew. Just above the graves, and above the spot where the infants creep out of the ground (?) stand two—a man and woman: these are the primitive Christians. The two figures in purifying flames, by the side of the Dragon’s cavern, represent the latter state of the Church, when on the verge of perdition, yet protected by a flaming sword. Multitudes are seen ascending from the green fields of the blessed, in which a Gothic church is representative of true art (called Gothic in all ages, by those who follow the fashion, as that is called which is without shape or fashion). By the right hand of Noah, a woman with children represents the state called Laban the Syrian: it is the remains of civilization in the state from whence Adam was taken. Also, on the right hand of Noah, a female descends to meet her lover or husband, representative of that love called friendship, which looks for no other heaven than
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    the beloved, and in him sees all reflected as in a Glass of eternal diamond.
    On the right hand of these rise the diffident and humble, and on their left a solitary woman with her infant. These are caught up by three aged men, who appear as suddenly emerging from the blue sky for their help. These three aged men represent divine providence, as opposed to and distinct from divine vengeance, represented by three aged men, on the side of the picture among the wicked, with scourges of fire.
    If the spectator could enter into these images in his imagination, approaching them on the fiery chariot of his contemplative thought; if he could enter into Noah’s rainbow, could make a friend and companion of one of these images of wonder, which always entreat him to leave mortal things (as he must know), then would he arise from the grave, then would he meet the Lord in the air, and then he would be happy. General knowledge is remote knowledge: it is in particulars that wisdom consists, and happiness too. Both in art and in life general masses are as much art as a pasteboard man is human. Every man has eyes, nose, and mouth; this every idiot knows; but he who enters into and discriminates most minutely the manners and intentions, the characters in all their branches, is the alone wise or sensible man; and on this discrimination all art is founded. I entreat, then, that the spectator will attend to the hands and feet; to the lineaments of the countenance: they are all descriptive of character, and not a line is drawn without intention, and that most discriminate and particular. As poetry admits not a letter that is insignificant, so painting admits not a grain of sand, or a blade of grass insignificant—Much less an insignificant blur or mark.
    Above the head of Noah is Seth. This state, called Seth, is male and female, in a higher state of happiness than Noah, being nearer the state of innocence. Beneath the feet of Seth two figures represent the two seasons of Spring and Autumn,
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    while, beneath the feet of Noah, four seasons represent the changed state made by the Flood.
    By the side of Seth is Elijah: he comprehends all the prophetic characters. He is seen on his fiery chariot, bowing before the throne of the Saviour. In like manner the figures of Seth and his wife comprehend the Fathers before the Flood, and their generations: when seen remote, they appear as one man. A little below Seth, on his right, are two figures, a male and a female, with numerous children. These represent those who were not in the line of the Church, and yet were saved from among the antediluvians who perished. Between Seth and these, a female figure represents the solitary state of those who, previous to the Flood, walked with God.
    All these rise towards the opening cloud before the throne, led onward by triumphant groups of infants. Between Seth and Elijah three female figures, crowned with garlands, represent Learning and Science, which accompanied Adam out of Eden.
    The cloud that opens, rolling apart from before the throne, and before the new heaven and the new earth, is composed of various groups of figures, particularly the four living creatures mentioned in Revelations as surrounding the throne. These I suppose to have the chief agency in removing the old heaven and the old earth, to make way for the new heaven and the new earth, to descend from the throne of God and of the Lamb. That living creature on the left of the throne gives to the seven Angels the seven vials of the wrath of God, with which they, hovering over the deeps beneath, pour out upon the wicked their plagues. The other living creatures are descending with a shout, and with the sound of the trumpet, and directing the combats in the upper elements. In the two corners of the picture: on the left hand, Apollyon is foiled before the sword of Michael; and, on the right, the two witnesses are subduing their enemies.
    On the cloud are opened the books of remembrance of life and death: before that of life, on the right, some figures
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    bow in lamentation; before that of death, on the left, the Pharisees are pleading their own righteousness. The one shines with beams of light, the other utters lightening and tempests.
    A Last Judgement is necessary because fools flourish. Nations flourish under wise rulers, and are depressed under foolish rulers; it is the same with individuals as with nations. Works of art can only be produced in perfection where the man is either in affluence or is above the care of it. Poverty is the fools’ rod, which at last is turned on his own back. That is a Last Judgement, when men of real art govern, and pretenders fall. Some people, and not a few artists, have asserted that the painter of this picture would not have done so well if he had been properly encouraged. Let those who think so reflect on the state of nations under povery, and their incapability of art. Though art is above either, the argument is better for affluence than poverty; and, though he would not have been a greater artist, yet he would have produced greater works of art, in proportion to his means. A Last Judgement is not for the purpose of making bad men better, but for the purpose of hindering them from oppressing the good.
    Around the throne heaven is opened, and the nature of eternal things displayed, all springing from the Divine Humanity. All beams from Him: He is the bread and the wine; he is the water of life. Accordingly, on each side of the opening heaven appears an Apostle: that on the right represents Baptism; that on the left represents the Lord’s Supper.
    All the life consists of these two: throwing off error and knaves from our company continually, and receiving truth or wise men into our company continually. He who is out of the Church and opposes it is no less an agent of religion than he who is in it: to be an error, and to be cast out, is a part of God’s design. No man can embrace true art till he has explored and cast out false art (such is the nature of mortal
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    things); or he will be himself cast out by those who havealready embraced true art. Thus, my picture is a history of art and science, the foundation of society, which is humanity itself. What are all the gifts of the Spirit but mental gifts? Whenever any individual rejects error, and embraces truth, a Last Judgment passes upon that individual.
    Over the head of the Saviour and Redeemer, the Holy Spirit, like a dove, is surrounded by a blue heaven, in which are the two cherubim that bowed over the ark; for here the temple is open in heaven, and the ark of the covenant is a dove of peace. The curtains are drawn apart, Christ having rent the veil: the candlestick and the table of show-bread appear on each side: a glorification of angels with harps surrounds the dove.
    The Temple stands on the mount of God. From it flows on each side a river of life, on whose banks grows the Tree of Life, among whose branches temples and pinnacles, tents and pavilions, gardens and groves, display Paradise, with its inhabitants, walking up and down, in conversations concerning mental delights. Here they are no longer talking of what is good and evil, or of what is right or wrong, and puzzling themselves in Satan’s labyrinth; but are conversing with eternal realities, as they exist in the human imagination.
    We are in a world of generation and death, and this world we must cast off if we would be artists (?) such as Raphael, Michael Angelo, and the ancient sculptors. If we do not cast off this world, we shall be only Venetian painters, who will be cast off and lost from art.
    Jesus is surrounded by beams of glory, in which are seen all around him infants emanating from Him: these represent the eternal births of intellect from the divine humanity. A rainbow surrounds the throne and the glory, in which youthful nuptials receive the infants in their hands. In eternity woman is the emanation of man; she has no will of her own; there is no such thing in eternity as a female will.
    On the side next Baptism are seen those called in the
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    Bible Nursing Fathers and Nursing Mothers: they represent Education. On the side next the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Family, consisting of Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, Zacharias, and Elizabeth, receiving the bread and wine, among other spirits of the Just made perfect. Beneath these, a cloud of women and children are taken up, fleeing from the rolling cloud which separates the wicked from the seats of bliss. These represent those who, though willing, were too weak to reject error without the assistance and countenance of those already in the truth: for a man can only reject error by the advice of a friend, or by the immediate inspiration of God. It is for this reason, among many others, that I have put the Lord’s Supper on the left hand of the throne, for it appears so at the Last Judgment for a protection.
    The painter hopes that his friends, Anytus, Melitus, and Lycon, will perceive that they are not now in ancient Greece; and, though they can use the poison of calumny, the English public will be convinced that such a picture as this could never be painted by a madman, or by one in a state of outrageous manners; as these bad men both print and publish by all the means in their power. The painter begs public protection, and all will be well.
    Men are admitted into heaven, not because they have curbed and governed their passions, or have no passions, but because they have cultivated their understandings. The treasures of heaven are not negations of passion, but realities of intellect, from which all the passions emanate, uncurbed in their eternal glory. The fool shall not enter into heaven, let him be ever so holy: holiness is not the price of entrance into heaven. Those who are cast out are all those who, having no passions of their own, because no intellect, have spent their lives in curbing and governing other people’s by the various arts of poverty, and cruelty of all kinds. The modern Church crucifies Christ with the head downwards. Woe, woe, woe to you, hypocrites! Even murder, which the Courts of Justice (more merciful than the Church) are
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    whispered to allow, is not done in passion, but in cool-blooded design and intention.
    Many suppose that before the Creation all was solitude and chaos. This is the most pernicious idea that can enter the mind, as it takes away all sublimity from the Bible, and limits all existence to creation and chaos—to the time and space fixed by the corporeal, vegetative eye, and leaves the man who entertains such an idea the habitation of unbelieving demons. Eternity exists, and all things in eternity, independent of creation, which was an act of mercy. I have represented those who are in eternity by some in a cloud, within the rainbow that surrounds the throne. They merely appear as in a cloud, when anything of creation, redemption, or judgment, is the subject of contemplation, though their whole contemplation is concerning these things. The reason they so appear is the humiliation of the reason and doubting selfhood, and the giving all up to inspiration. By this it will be seen that I do not consider either the just, or the wicked, to be in a supreme state, but to be, every one of them, states of the sleep which the soul may fall into in its deadly dreams of good and evil, when it leaves Paradise following the Serpent.
    Many persons, such as Paine and Voltaire, with some of the ancient Greeks, say: ‘We will not converse concerning good and evil; we will live in Paradise and Liberty.’ You may do so in spirit, but not in the mortal body, as you pretend, till after a Last Judgment. For in Paradise they have no corporeal and mortal body: that originated with the Fall and was called Death, and cannot be removed but by a Last Judgment. While we are in the world of mortality, we must suffer—the whole Creation groans to be delivered.
    There will always be as many hypocrites born as honest men, and they will always have superior power in mortal things. You cannot have liberty in this world without what you call moral virtue, and you cannot have moral virtue without the subjection of that half of the human race who hate what you call moral virtue.
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    The nature of hatred and envy, and of all the mischiefs in the world, is here depicted. No one envies or hates one of his own party; even the devils love one another in their own way. They torment one another for other reasons than hate or envy: these are only employed against the just. Neither can Seth envy Noah, or Elijah envy Abraham; but they may both of them envy the success of Satan, or of Og, or Moloch. The horse never envies the peacock, nor the sheep the goat; but they envy a rival in life and existence, whose ways and means exceed their own. Let him be of what class of animals he will, a dog will envy a cat who is pampered at the expense of his own comfort, as I have often seen. The Bible never tells us that devils torment one another through envy; it is through this that they torment the just. But for what do they torment one another? I answer: For the coercive laws of hell, moral hypocrisy. They torment a hypocrite when he is discovered—they punish a failure in the tormentor who has suffered the subject of his torture to escape. In Hell, all is self-righteousness; there is no such thing there as forgiveness of sin. He who does forgive sin is crucified as an abetter of criminals, and he who performs works of mercy, in any shape whatever, is punished and, if possible, destroyed—not through envy, or hatred, or malice, but through self-righteousness, that thinks it does God service, which god is Satan. They do not envy one another: they contemn or despise one another. Forgiveness of sin is only at the judgment-seat of Jesus the Saviour, where the accuser is cast out, not because he sins, but because he torments the just, and makes them do what he condemns as sin, and what he knows is opposite to their own identity.
    It is not because angels are holier than men or devils that makes them angels, but because they do not expect holiness from one another, but from God only.
    The player is a liar when he says: ‘Angels are happier than men, because they are better.’ Angels are happier than men and devils, because they are not always prying after good
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    and evil in one another, and eating the tree of knowledge for Satan’s gratification.
    The Last Judgment is an overwhelming of bad art and science. Mental things are alone real: what is called corporeal nobody knows of; its dwelling-place is a fallacy, and its existence an imposture. Where is the existence out of mind, or thought?—where is it but in the mind of a fool. Some people flatter themselves that there will be no Last Judgment, and that bad art will be adopted and mixed with good art—that error or experiment will make a part of truth; and they boast that it is its foundation. These people flatter themselves; I will not flatter them. Error is created, truth is eternal. Error or creation will be burned up, and then, and not till then, truth or eternity will appear. It is burned up the moment men cease to behold it. I assert, for myself, that I do not behold the outward creation, and that to me it is hindrance and not action. ‘What!’ it will be questioned; ‘when the sun rises, do you not see a round disc of fire, somewhat like a guinea?’ Oh! no, no! I see an innumerable company of the heavenly host, crying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!’ I question not my corporeal eye, any more than I would question a window concerning a sight. I look through it, and not with it.
    The Last Judgment [will be] when all those are cast away who trouble religion with questioning concerning good and evil, or eating of the tree of those knowledges or reasonings which hinder the vision of God, turning all into a consuming fire. When imagination, art, and science, and all intellectual gifts, all the gifts of the Holy Ghost, are looked upon as of no use, and only contention remains to man; then the Last Judgment begins, and its vision is seen by the eye of every one according to the situation he holds.
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    The aid of the photo-intaglio process has been called in to give

    the whole Job series as a thorough and important example of Blake’s

    style. These photo-intaglios are, of course, line for line, and

    minutest touch for touch, the counterparts of their originals. They

    are smaller, but on the whole they may be safely put forward as

    giving a very sufficient idea of these, quite complete, indeed, in

    many of the most essential respects; and considering that the

    original publication is a rare and high-priced book, its reproduction

    here is a very valuable addition to our table of contents.
    Quite as valuable, though still in another way not quite perfect,

    are the original plates of the Songs also given. These were recovered

    by Mr. Gilchrist, being the only remnant of the series still in ex-

    istence on copper; the rest having, it is believed, been stolen after

    Blake’s death, and sold for old metal. They are, therefore, as abso-

    lutely the originals as those appearing in the copies printed by Blake;

    and the reason why they must still be pronounced imperfect is that

    they were intended as a mere preparation for colouring by hand, as

    has been explained in the Life; while, being here necessarily given

    without the colour, they cannot be said to embody Blake’s intention

    in producing them. Much which may here seem unaccountably

    rugged and incomplete is softened by the sweet liquid rainbow tints

    of the coloured copies into a mysterious brilliancy which could never

    have been obtained over a first printing of a neater or more exact

    kind; body colour as well as transparent colour being used in the

    finishing. However, there will be no doubt among those who love

    Blake’s works as to the advisability of including them here even in

    the rough; and indeed, to any observer of poetic feeling, it is but the

    first glance at them which can prove really disappointing. Abundant
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    beauty remains, even without the colour, in the wealth of lovely ever-

    varying lines, and plentiful overgrowth from the very heart of the

    painter, springing and clinging all round the beautiful verses. No

    littleness here because the scale of work is a small one. Almost any

    one of these pages might be painted, writing and all, on a space

    twenty feet high, and leave nothing to be desired as grand

    decorative work.
    On comparing these Plates with the fac-similes of designs belong-

    ing to the same class of Blake’s works which are contained in the

    first volume, it will be at once apparent that the latter are generally

    extremely successful as reproductions of his style. His work of

    other kinds, more dependent on engraving in lines, was far more

    difficult to deal with by the process adopted; but everywhere the aim

    has been towards the utmost fidelity whether the fac-simile was on the

    exact scale of the original or not.
    In concluding the last of the brief prefatory notes to the various

    sections of this second volume, the writer of them believes he may

    trust not only to have expressed his own views on the matters to

    which they relate, but that these are also in harmony with the inten-

    tions and fully-matured plans of his friend the author of the Life.

    He had had many conversation with Mr. Gilchrist regarding the

    completion of this cherished work; and must have understaken this

    slight supplementary task with a still heavier heart, had he not been

    sure that he agreed with the author of the work in all points con-

    cerning its subject, and that there was no danger of any opinion

    being expressed in the few closing passages, which he would un-

    willingly have endorsed. It may be said on this last page that,

    at least, neither love of Blake in its author, nor love of its author in

    those on whom the issuing of his work devolved, has been wanting

    to make it a true memorial of both.
    [ D. G. R.]
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