Page:The Library, volume 5, series 3.djvu/243

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

part at least, worthy of the quotation it has not yet received. At p. 377 of vol. ii, 1827, we read:—

'Aug. 13 [12th] Aged 68 [69], Mr. William Blake, an excellent, but eccentric artist.' After a list of his works, including the 'eight beautiful plates in the "Novelist's Magazine," the 'Gates of Paradise,' 'Songs of Experience,' ['Songs of Innocence' are omitted], 'America,' 'Europe,' the 'Night Thoughts,' Hayley's 'Ballads,' the 'Grave,' with the designs to which 'few persons of taste are unacquainted'; the 'Descriptive Catalogue,' the 'Canterbury Pilgrimage' and 'Job,' comes this interesting passage. 'Blake has been allowed to exist in a penury which most artists—being necessarily of a sensitive temperament—would deem intolerable. 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 rickety table holding his copperplates in progress, his colours, books (among which his Bible, a Sessi Velutello's Dante, and Mr. Carey's (sic) translation, were at the top), his large drawings, sketches, and MSS.;—his ancles 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; in short, he was a living commentary on Jeremy Taylor's beautiful chapter on Contentedness. 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. He was active 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