Page:The letters of William Blake (1906).djvu/81

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27
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE

extravagance prowl through the deserts of want, and where it should happen they find a repast, in unthankfulness and ignorance they gorge and gormandise; they then loiter during the interval of their sloth until their wants have again returned, and their ungrateful entrails are demanding more. Emptiness is indeed their curse, and repletion the utmost paradise of their vacant thoughts.

Another anecdote may be given to shew that Blake could not have suffered much from absolute want. About this time he taught drawing, and was engaged for that purpose by some families of high rank; which, by the bye, he could not have found very profitable, for after his lesson he got into conversation with his pupils, and was found so entertaining and pleasant, possessing such novel thoughts and such eccentric notions, together with such jocose hilarity and amiable demeanour, that he frequently found himself asked to stay to dinner, and spend the evening in the same interesting and lively manner in which he had consumed the morning. Thus he stopped whole days from his work at home; but nevertheless he continued teaching, until a remarkable effort and kind flirt of fortune brought this mode of livelihood to an inevitable close. He was recommended, and nearly obtained an appointment, to teach drawing to the Royal Family. Blake stood aghast: not, indeed,