Page:The letters of William Blake (1906).djvu/77

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22
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE

removed to a house in Poland Street,[1] Oxford Street, where he lived some years. He then changed his residence to Hercules Buildings,[2] Lambeth, at which place he wrote and designed some of his largest and most important works. It was here that Flaxman used to come and see him, and sit drinking tea in the garden under the shadow of the grape vine which Mrs. Blake had very carefully trained. Mr. and Mrs. Flaxman were highly delighted with Blake's Arcadian arbour, as well indeed they might, for they all sat with ripe fruit hanging in rich clusters around their heads. These two great men had known each other from boyhood. Flaxman was a cheerful, lively young man, was very good company, and sang beautifully, having an excellent and musical voice, as well as almost all of the qualities requisite for good fellowship and innocent convivial mirth. This house and garden was adjoining the old Astley's Theatre, and an anecdote showing his courage, as well as his utter detestation of human slavery, is too interesting and characteristic to remain untold. Blake was standing at one of his windows, which looked into Astley's premises (the man who established the theatre still called by his name), and saw a boy hobbling along with a log to his foot, such an one as is put on a horse or ass to prevent their straying. Blake called

  1. In 1787.
  2. In 1793.