Page:The letters of William Blake (1906).djvu/78

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24
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE

his wife and asked her for what reason that log could be placed upon the boy's foot. She answered that it must be for a punishment for some inadvertency. Blake's blood boiled, and his indignation surpassed his forbearance. He sallied forth, and demanded in no very quiescent terms that the boy should be loosed, and that no Englishman should be subjected to those miseries, which he thought were inexcusable even towards a slave. After having succeeded in obtaining the boy's release in some way or other, he returned home. Astley by this time, having heard of Blake's interference, came to his house and demanded, in an equally peremptory manner, by what authority he dare come athwart his method of jurisdiction. To which Blake replied with such warmth, that blows were very nearly the consequence. The debate lasted long, but, like all wise men whose anger is unavoidably raised, they ended in mutual forgiveness and mutual respect. Astley saw that his punishment was too degrading, and admired Blake for his humane sensibility, and Blake desisted from wrath when Astley was pacified. As this is an example truly worthy of imitation to all those whose anger is either excited by indignation or called forth by defence, it may not be out of place to say, if all quarrels were thus settled, the time would shortly come when the lion would lie down with the lamb, and the little child would lead them.