Page:A Literary Pilgrim in England.djvu/22

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4
A LITERARY PILGRIM IN ENGLAND

French Revolution." He paints the notables—the King, Necker, the Archbishop of Paris, Aumont, Bourbon, Orleans and a Duke of Burgundy, Mirabeau, and La Fayette. The Duke of Burgundy's portrait shows how readily and sublimely Blake's mind would work upon a hint. His materials were chiefly three: the grandeur of the idea in the title of Duke, the solid mass and dignity expressed in the sound of the word "Burgundy," and connected with this the thought of blood-red wine. Thus he created a Duke of Burgundy (the title was then extinct), a colossal Bacchic emanation from these three sources:

"Then the ancientest peer, Duke of Burgundy, rose from the
          Monarch's right hand red as wines
From his fountains; an odour of war, like a ripe vineyard, rose
          from his garments,
And the chamber became as a clouded sky; o'er the Council he
          stretch'd his red limbs,
Cloth'd in flames of crimson; as a ripe vineyard stretches over
          sheaves of corn,
The fierce Duke hung over the Council; around him crowd,
          weeping in his burning robe,
A bright cloud of infant souls : his words fall like purple autumn
          on the sheaves. . . ."

It could hardly have mattered to such a man where he lived after his youth. Yet he gives as one reason for returning to London that he "ought not to be away from the opportunities London affords of seeing fine pictures, and the various improvements in works of art going on in London"; moreover, London, and in particular South London, suited him. Towards the end of his life he complained of Hampstead air, saying that it always had been bad for him: "When I was young, Hampstead, Highgate, Hornsey, M us well