Page:The letters of William Blake (1906).djvu/60

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6
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE

Westminster Abbey, which surround the Chapel of Edward the Confessor, particularly that of Henry the Third, the beautiful monument and figure of Queen Eleanor, Queen Philippa, and Edward the Third, King Richard the Second and his Queen, were among his first studies; the heads he considered as portraits, and all the ornaments appeared as miracles of art." (See Malkin's life of his child,[1] in which there is a short sketch of Blake, written during his lifetime.) If all his drawings were enumerated from Westminster Abbey, as well as many other churches in and about London, the multitude would no doubt astonish the calculator, for his interest was highly excited and his industry equally inexhaustible. These things he drew beautifully; ever attentive to the delicacies and timorous lineaments of the Gothic handling, he felt and portrayed their beauties so well that his master considered him an acquisition of no mean capacity. An incident showing the suddenness of his temper is related. The Westminster boys were then permitted to roam and loiter about the Abbey at their leisure, and, among their jokes, they chose to interrupt the careful and young student, whose riveted attention and absorbed thought became an object

  1. A Father's Memoirs of his Child, by Benj. Heath Malkin, Esq. (London, 1806), contains, at pp. xviii-xli, an account of Blake's "early education in art, derived from his own lips."