Page:The letters of William Blake (1906).djvu/87

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33
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE

he drew from it a hundred such designs as have never been done by any Englishman at any period or by any foreigner since the fifteenth century, and then his only competitor was Michael Angelo.

It now becomes, from the brevity of the present manuscript, the painful duty of the biographer to traverse to the period to which Blake's own lines are immediately applicable. His pilgrimage was nearly at an end, and of such he thus spoke:[1]

"But when once I did descry
The Immortal man that cannot die,
Thro' evening shades I haste away
To close the labours of my day."

It has been supposed his excessive labour without the exercise he used formerly to take (having relinquished the habit of taking very long walks) brought on the complaint which afterwards consumed him. In his youth he and his wife would start in the morning early, and walk out twenty miles and dine at some pretty and sequestered inn, and would return the same day home, having travelled forty miles. Mrs. Blake would do this without excessive fatigue. Blake has been known to walk fifty miles in the day, but being told by some physicians that such long walks were in-

  1. For children, The Gates of Paradise, 1793. Published by W. Blake: ll. 41-44.