Page:The Library, volume 5, series 3.djvu/248

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236
AN EARLY APPRECIATION

an account of Blake published fifteen years before he had met the artist by the very man whose later description, based on personal knowledge, has been justly called 'the best and most vivid portrait of him that has been left us from his own day.' (Ellis and Yeats, I, p. 150.) And herewith we pass to


WILLIAM BLAKE,

Artist, Poet, and Religious Mystic.[1]

.

Of all the conditions which arouse the interest of the psychologist, none assuredly is more attractive than the union of genius and madness in single remarkable minds, which, while on the one hand they compel our admiration by their great mental powers, yet on the other move our pity by their claims to supernatural gifts. Of such is the whole race of ecstatics, mystics, seers of visions and dreamers of dreams, and to their list we have now to add another name, that of William Blake.

This extraordinary man, who is at this moment living in London, although more than fifty years of age, is only now beginning to emerge from the obscurity in which the singular bent of his talents and the eccentricity of his personal character have confined him. We know too little of his history to claim to give a complete account of his life, and can do no more than claim to have our

  1. Cf. the first entry on Blake in Crabb Robinson's 'Reminiscences,' 'shall I call Blake artist, genius, mystic, or madman? Probably he is all.'