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of the goods of fortune. Of Fuseli, Blake had always been a warm and generous admirer, and was wont to declare, “This country 'must advance two centuries in civilization before it can appreciate
him.' Let us hope a few of that remarkable man's original, if mannered and undisciplined, works will survive the extraordinary and disproportioned neglect which has exiled them to the cellar and the garret.
HAMPSTEAD; AND YOUTHFUL DISCIPLES. 1825—27. [ÆT. 68—70.)
The following letter is the first in a brief series preserved by Mr. Linnell, interesting as among the very small number of Blake's writing extant. I think he, throughout life, wrote comparatively few. It is to 'Mrs. Linnell, Collins's Farm, North End, Hampstead," and is dated Tuesday, 11th October, 1825:
· DEAR MADAM,
"I HAVE had the pleasure to see Mr. Linnell set off safe in a 'very comfortable coach. And I may say I accompanied him part of the ' way on his journey in the coach. For we both got in, together with another passenger, and entered into conversation, when at length we
found that we were all three proceeding on our journey. But as I ' had not paid, and did not wish to pay for or take so long a ride, we, ' with some difficulty, made the coachman understand that one of his * passengers was unwilling to go, when he obligingly permitted me to
get out—to my great joy. Hence, I am now enabled to tell you that 'I hope to see you on Sunday morning, as usual, which I could not ' have done if they had taken me to Gloucester.
*I am, dear Madam,
Blake was, at this period, in the habit, when well, of spending frequent happy Sundays at his friend's Hampstead Cottage, where he was received by host and hostess with the most cordial affection. Mr. Linnell's manner was as that of a son ; Mrs. Linnell was hospitable and kind, as ladies well know how to be to a valued friend. The children, whenever he was expected, were on the qui vive to catch the first glimpse of him from afar. One of them, who has now children of her own, but still cherishes the old reverence for Mr. Blake, remembers thus watching for him when a little girl of five or six; and how, as he walked over the brow of the hill and came within sight of the young ones, he would make a particular signal; how Dr. Thornton, another friend and frequent visitor, would make a different one,—the Doctor taking off his hat and raising it on his stick. She remembers how Blake would take her on his knee, and recite children's stories to them all : recollects his kind manner; his putting her in the way of drawing, training her from his own doings. One day he brought up to Hampstead an early sketch-book, full of most singular things, as it seemed to the children. But, in the midst of them, they came upon a finished, pre-Raphaelite-like drawing of a grasshopper, with which they were delighted.
Mr. Linnell had first taken lodgings at Hampstead in June, 1822; and in March, 1824, moved his family to a farm-house there, part of which was let off as a separate habitation, as it is to this day. For Collins's Farm yet stands, altered by the erection of new out-buildings, and the loss of some of its trees, but not so much altered as most things in Hampstead. It is on the north, or countryward side, beyond the Heath, between North End and the "Spaniards.' North End, as every cockney knows, lies in a hollow over the Heath,—a cluster of villa residences, amid gardens and pleasure-grounds, their roofs embosomed in trees. As you walk from it towards the 'Spaniards,' a winding lane to the left brings you
back into the same high road. A little off this, there is another winding way, in the middle of which stands Collins's Farm, at the bottom of another hollow. The house, an old one, looks out in front upon the heathery hill-side ; at back, upon meadows and hedgerows, in summer one monotonous tint of heavy green. From the hill-side, the well-pitched red roof of the farm-house picturesquely peeps out among the trees below. To London children the place must have been a little Paradise. Blake, too, notwithstanding a theoretic dislike to Hampstead, practically enjoyed his visits. Mr. Linnell's part of the house, –a later erection than the rest, and of lower height, with a separate entrance through the garden which stretches beside,—was small and humble, containing only five rooms. In front it commanded a pleasant southern aspect. Blake, it is still remembered, would often stand at the door, gazing in tranquil reverie across the garden toward the gorse-clad hill. He liked sitting in the arbour, at the bottom of the long garden, or walking up and down the same at dusk, while the cows, munching their evening meal, were audible from the farmyard on the other side the hedge. He was very fond of hearing Mrs. Linnell sing Scottish songs, and would sit by the pianoforte, tears falling from his eyes, while he listened to the Border Melody, to which the song is set, commencing—
"O Nancy's hair is yellow as gowd,
To simple national melodies Blake was very impressionable, though not so to music of more complicated structure. He himself still sang, in a voice tremulous with age, sometimes old ballads, sometimes his own songs, to melodies of his own.
The modest interior of the rustic cottage was rendered delightful, as artists can generally render their houses, by tasteful fitting up and by fine prints and pictures hanging on the walls. Many an interesting friendly gathering took place there, comprising often a complete circle of what are vulgarly called 'characters.' Sometimes, for instance, it would be, besides Blake and Mr. Linnell, Dr. Thornton, John Varley, and his brother Cornelius, the latter living still, well known in the scientific world and a man devoted to the ingenious arts ; all, as one of them confessed to me, men 'who did not propose to themselves to be as others, but to follow out views of their own. Sometimes Mulready would be of the company: Richter also—a name familiar to frequenters of the old Water-colour Society's exhibitions—who was a fervent disciple of Emanuel Kant, and very fond of iterating the metaphysical dogma of the non-existence of matter. Of Richter's, by the way, still survives, in odd corners of the world, a curious thin octavo, published by Ackermann, in 1817. I can here only quote the characteristic title of this (mentally) very physiognomic brochure, which runs thus :- Daylight. A recent Discovery in the • Art of Painting. With Hints on the Philosophy of the Fine Arts, ' and on that of the Human Mind, as first dissected by Emanuel • Kant. A meeting at twilight, in the British Institution, of the Old Masters' Ghosts is the artifice for enunciating, in dialogue, the author's views as to representing on canvas the true 'perpendicular light from the sky. This dialogue occupies thirteen octavo pages ; besides which there are fifty-two pages of notes, discourse at large on the same subject, and on the human mind, as first dissected by Kant.' Such hobbies as these offer a piquant contrast to those smooth, Book of Beauty faces exhibition-goers may remember as the staple of the old man's doings in later years.
More often the circle at Hampstead would be Blake, Linnell, and John Varley. A curiously contrasted trio—as an eye-witness reportsto look upon in animated converse: Blake, with his quiet manner, his fine head—broad above, small below; Varley's the reverse : Varley, stout and heavy, yet active, and in exuberant spirits-ingenious, diffuse, poetical, eager, talking as fast as possible: Linnell, original, brilliant, with strongly marked character, and filial manner