Page:Life of William Blake, Gilchrist.djvu/296

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238
[1804.
LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE.

corner-stone and foundation, and was not miraculously suspended in the air, as his readers might sometimes feel tempted to believe. Amid all contradictions, incoherences, wild assertions, this principle,—that the conceptions of the mind are the realities of realities, that the human imagination is an eternal world, 'ever expanding in the bosom of God,'—shines steadily forth: and to readers of a speculative turn, who will be at the pains to examine by its light these erratic writings, the chaos will resolve itself into substance, though not into form and order. It is needless to tell such thinkers that Bishop Berkeley was one on the list of Blake's favourite authors. But, with his fervid, dauntless imagination, the artist seized hold of the metaphysician's theory of Idealism, and strove to quicken it into a grand, poetic Cosmos.

There is another 'Song' in the Jerusalem, addressed To the Deists, beginning—

I saw a monk of Charlemaine,

which follows soon after the one already quoted To the Jews. As it is far less singular and characteristic than its predecessor, however, the concluding beautiful stanza is all that shall here detain us:—

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.

Of the pictorial part of the Jerusalem much might be said which would merely be applicable to all Blake's works alike. One point, perhaps, somewhat distinctive about it, is an extreme largeness and decorative character in the style of the drawings, which are mostly made up of a few massive forms, thrown together on a grand, equal scale. The beauty of the drawings varies much, according to the colour in which they are printed. One copy, possessed by Lord Houghton, is so incomparably superior, from this cause, to any other I have seen, that no one could know the work