Page:William Blake (Symons).djvu/286

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262
WILLIAM BLAKE

most monstrous and disgusting, which I should not have anticipated.

Our conversation began about Dante. 'He was an "Atheist," a mere politician busied about this world as Milton was, till in his old age he returned back to God whom he had had in his childhood.'

I tried to get out from Blake that he meant this charge only in a higher sense, and not using the word Atheism in its popular meaning. But he would not allow this. Though when he in like manner charged Locke with Atheism and I remarked that Locke wrote on the evidences of piety and lived a virtuous life, he had nothing to reply to me nor reiterated the charge of wilful deception. I admitted that Locke's doctrine leads to Atheism, and this seemed to satisfy him. From this subject we passed over to that of good and evil, in which he repeated his former assertions more decidedly. He allowed, indeed, that there is error, mistake, etc., and if these be evil—then there is evil, but these are only negations. Nor would he admit that any education should be attempted except that of cultivation of the imagination and fine arts. 'What are called the vices in the natural world are the highest sublimities in the spiritual world.' When I asked whether if he had been a father he would not have grieved if his child had become vicious or a great criminal, he answered, 'I must not regard when I am endeavouring to think rightly my own any more than other people's