Page:William Blake, painter and poet.djvu/72

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WILLIAM BLAKE

thing there as forgiveness of sin. He who does forgive sin is crucified as an abettor of criminals." "Angels are happier than men and devils, because they are not always prying after good and evil in one another, and eating the tree of knowledge for Satan's gratification." "The Last Judgment is an overwhelming of bad art and science." Finally, in words that state his own case as respects his reputed delusions, he says: "I assert for myself that I do not behold the outward creation, and that to me it is hindrance and not action. 'What!' it will be questioned, 'when the sun rises, do you not see a round disc of fire, somewhat like a guinea?' Oh! no! no! I see an innumerable company of the heavenly host, crying, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!' I question not my corporeal eye, any more than I would question a window concerning a sight. I look through it, and not with it."

Blake's conception of the sun may be compared with Dante's vision of the angels with the cloud:—

Then lifting up mine eyes, as the tears came,
 I saw the Angels, like a rain of manna,
 In a long flight flying back heavenward;
Having a little cloud in front of them,
 After the which they went, and said, "Hosanna!"
 And if they had said more, you should have heard.

An earlier acquaintance with Dante would undoubtedly have exerted a great influence upon Blake.

Not the least interesting part of Blake's catalogue is his description of the pictures accompanying his Canterbury Pilgrims, which include the strange patriotic allegories of Nelson guiding Leviathan and Pitt guiding Behemoth, the latter of which is now in the National Gallery; Satan calling up his Legions; The Bard, described by Rossetti as "a gorgeous piece of colour tone"; an idyll, charming in conception whatever it may have been in execution, representing goats nibbling the vine leaves that form the sole drapery of savage maidens; and Arthur's battle of Camlan, whence only three—the strongest, the most beautiful, and the ugliest of champions—escaped with their lives. This picture Seymour Kirkup thought Blake's best, and Allan Cunningham his worst. Kirkup, Mr. Swinburne tells us, remembered to the last "the fury and splendour of energy there contrasted with the serene ardour of simply beautiful