Page:William Blake, a critical essay (Swinburne).djvu/98
more than once in print—it can never be told without a sense of some strange and sweet meaning—how, as Blake lay with all the tides of his life setting towards the deep final sleep, he made and sang new fragments of verse, the last oblations he was to bring who had brought so many since his first conscience of the singular power and passion within himself that impels a man to such work. Of these songs not a line has been spared us; for us, it seems, they were not made. In effect, they were not his, he said. At last, after many songs and hours, still in the true and pure presence of his wife, his death came upon him in the evening like a sleep.
- The direct cause of Blake's death, it appears from a MS. source, "was the mixing of the gall with the blood." It may be worth remark, that one brief notice at least of Blake's death made its way into print; the "Literary Gazette" (No. 552; the "Gentleman's Magazine " published it in briefer form but nearly identical words as far as it went) of August 18, 1827, saw fit to "record the death of a singular and very able man," in an article contributed mainly by "the kindness of a correspondent," who speaks as an acquaintance of Blake, and gives this account of his last days, prefaced by a sufficiently humble reference to the authorities of Fuseli, Flaxman, and Lawrence. "Pent, with his affectionate wife, in a close back-room in one of the Strand courts, his bed in one corner, his meagre dinner in another, a ricketty table holding his copper-plates in progress, his colours, books (among which his Bible, a Sessi Velutello's Dante, and Mr. Carey's translation, were at the top), his large drawings, sketches, and MSS.; his ankles frightfully swelled, his chest disordered, old age striding on, his wants increased, but not his miserable means and appliances; even yet was his eye undimmed, the fire of his imagination unquenched, and the preternatural never-resting activity of his mind unflagging. He had not merely a calmly resigned, but a cheerful and mirthful countenance. He took no thought for his life, what he should eat or what he should drink; nor yet for his body, what he should put on; but had a fearless confidence in that Providence which had given him the vast range of the world for his recreation and delight. Blake died last Monday; died as he had lived, piously, cheerfully, talking calmly, and finally resigning himself to his eternal rest like an infant to its sleep. He has left nothing except some pictures, copper-plates, and his principal work, a series of a hundred large designs from Dante….. He was active" (the good correspondent adds, further on) "in mind and body, passing from one occupation to another without an intervening minute of repose. Of an ardent, affectionate, and grateful temper, he was simple in manner and address, and displayed an inbred courteous-