Page:A Literary Pilgrim in England.djvu/23

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5
WILLIAM BLAKE

Hill, and even Islington, and all places north of London, always laid me up the day after." Accordingly, in London, and for much of the time near the river, he dwelt all his life, and avoided the northern heights. London was still a town, or not more than two towns, with country borders, when Blake was born in 1757, at 28, Broad Street, Golden Square. Gilchrist says that " as he grew older the lad became fond of roving out into the country. . . . On his own legs he could find a green field without exhaustion. . . . After Westminster Bridge—the 'superb and magnificent structure' now defunct, then a new and admired one,—came St. George's Fields, open fields, and scene of 'Wilkes and Liberty' riots in Blake's boyhood; next, the pretty village of Newington Butts . . . ; and then, unsophisticate green field and hedgerow. ... A mile or two further through the 'large and pleasant village' of Camberwell, with its grove (or avenue) and famed prospect, arose the sweet hill and dale and 'sylvan wilds' of rural Dulwich. . . ." The tree that he saw filled with angels was on Peckham Rye. "Another time, one summer morn, he sees the hay-makers at work, and amid them angelic figures walking." Here, too, he must have found suitable dens and bowers for the wild beasts, virgins, shepherdesses, of his books. What he saw and read to any purpose made equal and similar impressions on him, and he combined the two with beautiful freedom. No wonder he declared afterwards that the whole business of man was in the arts—that the man or woman who was not poet, painter, musician, or. architect, was not a Christian—that they must leave fathers and mothers and houses and lands