Page:Nollekens and His Times, Volume 2.djvu/497

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BLAKE.

fine specimen of art, and approaches almost to the sublimity of Raffaelle or Michel Angelo. It represents "The Ancient of Days," in an orb of light surrounded by dark clouds, as referred to in Proverbs viii. 27, stooping down with an enormous pair of compasses to describe the destined orb of the world,[1] "when he set a compass upon the face of the earth."

 "───in His hand
He took the golden compasses, prepar'd
In God's eternal store, to circumscribe
This universe and all created things:
One foot he center'd, and the other turn'd
Round through the vast profundity obscure;
And said, "Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds,
This be thy just circumference, O World!"
 Paradise Lost, Book vii. line 236.


  1. He was inspired with the splendid grandeur of this figure, by the vision which he declared hovered over his head at the top of his staircase; and he has been frequently heard to say, that it made a more powerful impression upon his mind than all he had ever been visited by. This subject was such a favourite with him, that he always bestowed more time and enjoyed greater pleasure when colouring the print, than any thing he ever produced.

    Mr. F. Tatham employed him to tint an impression of it, for which I have heard he paid him the truly liberal sum of three guineas and a half. I say liberal, though the specimen is worth any price, because the sum was so considerably beyond what Blake generally had been accustomed to receive as a remuneration for his extraordinary talents. Upon this truly inestimable impression, which I have now before me, Blake worked when bolstered-up in his bed only a few days before he died; and my friend F. Tatham has just informed me, that after Blake had frequently touched upon it, and