Page:The letters of William Blake (1906).djvu/85

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31
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE

night to write for hours, and return to bed for the rest of the night after having committed to paper pages and pages of his mysterious phantasies. He wrote much and often, and he sometimes thought that if he wrote less he must necessarily do more graving and painting, and he has debarred himself of his pen for a month or more; but upon comparison has found by no means so much work accomplished, and the little that was done by no means so vigorous.

He was a subject of much mental temptation and mental suffering, and required sometimes much soothing. He has frequently had recourse to the following stratagem to calm the turbulence of his thoughts. His wife being to him a very patient woman, he fancied that while she looked on at him as he worked, her sitting quite still by his side, doing nothing, soothed his impetuous mind; and he has many a time, when a strong desire presented itself to overcome any difficulty in his plates or drawings, in the middle of the night risen, and requested her to get up with him and sit by his side, in which she as cheerfully acquiesced.

When roused or annoyed he was possessed of a violent temper; but in his passions there was some method, for while he was engraving a large portrait of Lavater, not being able to obtain what he wanted, he threw the plate completely across the room. Upon his relating this he was asked