Page:William Blake (Symons).djvu/287

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263
CRABB ROBINSON'S DIARY

weaknesses.' And when I again remarked that this doctrine puts an end to all exertion or even wish to change anything, he had no reply. We spoke of the Devil, and I observed that when a child I thought the Manichæan doctrine or that of the two principles a rational one. He assented to this, and in confirmation asserted that he did not believe in the omnipotence of God. 'The language of the Bible on that subject is only poetical or allegorical.' Yet soon after he denied that the natural world is anything. 'It is all nothing, and Satan's empire is the empire of nothing.'

He reverted soon to his favourite expression, my Visions. 'I saw Milton in imagination, and he told me to beware of being misled by his Paradise Lost. In particular he wished me to show the falsehood of his doctrine that the pleasures of sex arose from the fall. The fall could not produce any pleasure.' I answered, the fall produced a state of evil in which there was a mixture of good or pleasure. And in that sense the fall may be said to produce the pleasure. But he replied that the fall produced only generation and death. And then he went off upon a rambling state of a union of sexes in man as in Ovid, an androgynous state, in which I could not follow him.

As he spoke of Milton's appearing to him, I asked whether he resembled the prints of him. He answered, 'All.' Of what age did he appear to be? 'Various ages—sometimes a very old man.' He