Page:Life of William Blake, Pictor ignotus (Volume 1).djvu/330

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


?. 55---58.] INVENTIONS TO THE BOOK OF JOB. 285 with othersmbelonging as they do in style to the accepted category of engraved designs---consist of twenty-one subjects on a considerably smaller scale than those in the Grav, each highly wrought in light and shade, and each surrounded by a border of allusive design and inscription, executed in a slighter style than the subject itselL Per- haps this may fairly be pronounced, on the whole, the most remarkable series of etchings on a scriptural theme which has appeared since the days of Albert Diirer and Rembrandt, widely differing, too, from either.

Except the Grave, these designs must be known to a larger circle thn any other series by Blake; and yet they are by no means so familiar as to render nn-ecessary such imperfect reproduction of their intricate beauties as the scheme of this work made possible, or even the still more shadowy presentment of verbal description.

The first among them shows us the patriarch Job worshipping among his fmily under a mighty oak, surrounded by feeding flocks, range behind range, as far as the distant homestead, in a landscape glorified by setting sun and rising moon. ' Thus did Job continually,' the leading motto tells us. In the second plate we see the same persons grouped, still full of happiness and thn.giving. But this is that day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them; and above the happy group we see what they do not see, and know that power is given to Satan over all that Job has. Then in the two next subjects come the wor]ings of that power; the house flll,g on the slain feasters, and the messengers hurrying one after another to the lonely parents, still with fresh tidings of ruin. The fifth is a wonderful design. Job and his wife still sit side by side, the closer for their raillery, and still out of the little left to them give alms to those poorer than themselves. The angels of their love and resignation are ever with them on either side; but above, again, the unseen Heaven lies open. There sits throned that Almighty fi.ue, filled now with inexpressible pity, almost with compunction.