Page:The letters of William Blake (1906).djvu/61

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
7
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE

of their mischievous envy. One of them is said, after having already tormented him, to have got upon some pinnacle on a level with his scaffold in order better to annoy him. In the impetuosity of his anger, worn out with interruption, he knocked him off and precipitated him to the ground, upon which he fell with terrific violence. The young draughtsman made a complaint to the Dean, who kindly ordered that the door should be closed upon them, and they have never since been allowed to extend their tether to the interior of the Abbey. Blake pursued his task, and his absorption gathered to itself impressions that were never forgotten. His imagination ever after wandered as in a cloister, or clothing itself in the dark stole of mural sanctity, it dwelt amidst the Druid terrors. His mind being simplified by Gothic forms, and his fancy imbued with the livid twilight of past days, it chose for its quaint company such sublime but antiquated associates as the fearful Merlin, Arthur and the knights of his Round Table, the just and wise Alfred, King John, and every other hero of English history and romance. These indigenous abstractions for many of the following years occupied his hand, and ever after tinctured his thoughts and perceptions. The backgrounds of his pictures nearly always exhibited Druidical stones and other symbols of English antiquity. Albion was the hero