Page:The letters of William Blake (1906).djvu/70

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16
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE

duced as fine works as any ancient painter. He can be excelled by none where he is successful. Like his thoughts, his paintings seem to be inspired by fairies, and his colours look as if they were the bloom dropped from the brilliant wings of the spirits of the prism. This may appear too much to be said of the mad Blake, as he was called by those too grovelling and too ignorant to discern his merits. Mr. Butts' collection is enough in all conscience to prove this, and more, and whoever does not perceive the beauties of this splendid collection ought indeed to find fault with modesty and censure with a blush.

In his twenty-fourth year he fell in love with a young woman, who by his own account and according to his own knowledge was no trifler. He wanted to marry her, but she refused, and was as obstinate as she was unkind. He became ill, and went to Kew, near Richmond, for a change of air and renovation of health and spirits, and as far as is possible to know lodged at the house of a market gardener whose name was Boutcher. The Boutchers appear to have been a respectable and industrious family. He was relating to the daughter, a girl named Catherine, the lamentable story of Polly Wood, his implacable lass, upon which Catherine expressed her deep sympathy, it is supposed, in such a tender and