Page:The letters of William Blake (1906).djvu/88

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34
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE

jurious, he discontinued them, and went so far to the other extreme that it has been said he remained in the house so long that [it] was considered far from extraordinary his days were shortened. About a year before he died, he was seized with a species of ague (as it was then termed), of which he was alternately better and worse. He was at times very ill, but rallied and all had hopes of him; indeed, such was his energy that even then, though sometimes confined to his bed, he sat up drawing his most stupendous works. In August he gradually grew worse and required much more of his wife's attention; indeed, he was decaying fast. His patience, during his agonies of pain, is described to have been exemplary.

Life, however, like a dying flame, flashed once more, gave one more burst of animation, during which he was cheerful, and free from the tortures of his approaching end; he thought he was better, and, as he was sure to do, asked to look at the work over which he was occupied when seized with his last attack. It was a coloured print of the Ancient of Days striking the first circle of the Earth,[1] done

  1. See plate, which is taken from the actual example (now in the Whitworth Institute, Manchester), done for Tatham on the present occasion. The original is printed in yellow, from a plate executed in Blake's own peculiar method of relief-etching, and coloured by hand. The colouring is vivid, but carefully put on—red, yellow, and deep