Page:The letters of William Blake (1906).djvu/82

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28
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE

from any republican humours, not from any disaffection to his superiors, but because he would have been drawn into a class of society superior to his previous pursuits and habits; he would have been expected to have lived in comparative respectability, not to say splendour—a mode of life, as he thought, derogatory to the simplicity of his designs and deportment. He had again, as about oil painting, Michael Angelo on his side, who, though rich, preferred living as a poor man, the habits of whom, it must be confessed, are the most conducive and congenial to study and application.

His friends ridiculed and blamed him by turns, but Blake found an excuse by resigning all his other pupils, and continued to suffice himself upon his frugality, to find plenty in what others have called want, and wealth in the efforts of his own mind. Another anecdote for the same purpose. His friend Hayley, as will afterwards be more fully shown, begged him to take to painting miniatures, which he could do, and had before done so beautifully. He painted and he pleased; his connection increased without much effort, and he obtained sufficient to occupy the whole of his time. But, sighing after his fancies and visionary pursuits, he rebelled and fled fifty miles away for refuge from the lace caps and powdered wigs of his priggish sitters, and resumed his quaint dreams and immeasurable phantasies,