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'I put down in my journal the following insulated remarks :—Jacob * Boehmen was placed among the divinely inspired men. He praised also the designs to Law's Translation of Boehmen. “Michael Angelo could not have surpassed them.”—“Bacon, Locke, and Newton, are the three great teachers of atheism, or Satan's doctrine.”—“ Irving is 'a highly gifted man: he is a sent man; but they who are sent some
times go further than they ought.” “I saw nothing but good in Calvin's house ; in Luther's there were harlots." . . . He declared his opinion that
the earth is flat, not round, and just as I had objected,—the circumnaviga'tion,—dinner was announced. Objections were seldom of any use. The • wildest of his assertions was made with the veriest indifference of tone, as if altogether insignificant. It respected the natural and spiritual worlds. By way of example of the difference between them, he said : “You never saw “the spiritual Sun? I have. I saw him on Primrose Hill. He said, Do ‘you take me for the Greek Apollo ? No! That (pointing to the sky),
that is the Greek Apollo: he is Satan.” Not everything was thus absurd. * There were glimpses and flashes of truth and beauty: as when he "compared moral with physical evil.—“Who shall say what God thinks
evil? That is a wise tale of the Mahomedans,—of the angel of the • Lord who murdered the Infant.” (The Hermit of Parnell, I suppose.) ““ Is not every infant that dies a natural death in reality slain by 'an angel ?” And when he joined to the assurance of his happiness
that of his having suffered, and that it was necessary, he added : "" There is suffering in Heaven ; for where there is the capacity of enjoyment, there is the capacity of pain." I include among the glimpses of truth this assertion : “I know what is true by internal conviction ;'a doctrine is stated; my heart tells me it must be true." I remarked, ‘in confirmation of it, that, to an unlearned man, what are called the
external evidences of religion can carry no conviction with them; and 'this he assented to.
"After my first evening with him at Aders', I made the remark in 'my Journal, that his observations, apart from his visions and references
to the spiritual world, were sensible and acute. In the sweetness of ‘his countenance and gentility of his manner, he added an indescribable 'grace to his conversation. I added my regret, which I must now * repeat, at my inability to give more than incoherent thoughts—not altogether my fault, perhaps.
"On the 17th, I called on him at his house in Fountain Court in “the Strand. The interview was a short one, and what I saw was
* more remarkable than what I heard. He was at work, engraving, in a
small bedroom,-light, and looking out on a mean yard-everything in “the room squalid and indicating poverty, except himself. There was a
natural gentility about him, and an insensibility to the seeming poverty, • which quite removed the impression. Besides, his linen was clean, his · hand white, and his air quite unembarrassed when he begged me to
sit down as if he were in a palace. There was but one chair in the room, besides that on which he sat. On my putting my hand to it, I • found that it would have fallen to pieces if I had lifted it. So, as if *I had been a Sybarite, I said, with a smile, “Will you let me indulge 'myself ?” and sat on the bed near him. During my short stay there
was nothing in him that betrayed that he was aware of what to other 'persons might have been even offensive,—not in his person, but in all about him. His wife I saw at this time, and she seemed to be the
very woman to make him happy. She had been formed by him ; 'indeed otherwise she could not have lived with him. Notwithstanding ' her dress, which was poor and dirty, she had a good expression in her countenance, and, with a dark eye, remains of beauty from her youth. She had an implicit reverence for her husband. It is quite certain that she believed in all his visions. On one occasion—not this day-speaking of his visions, she said: “You know, dear, the first 6 time you saw God was when you were four years old, and He put His "head to the window, and set you screaming.”...
'He was making designs, or engraving-I forget which. Cary's • Dante was before him. He showed me some of his designs from
Dante of which I do not presume to speak. They were too much above me. But Gotzenberger, whom I afterwards took to see them, • expressed the highest admiration. . . . Dante was again the subject of our • conversation. Blake declared him a mere politician and atheist, busied
about this world's affairs ; as Milton was till, in his old age, he returned • back to the God he had abandoned in childhood. I in vain en
deavoured to obtain from him a qualification of the term atheist, so as not to include him in the ordinary reproach. Yet he afterwards spoke of Dante's being then with God. I was more successful when he also called Locke an atheist, and imputed to him wilful deception. He seemed satisfied with my admission, that Locke's philosophy led to the atheism of the French school. He reiterated his former strange notions on morals—would allow of no other education than what lies in the cultivation of the fine arts and the imagination.
*As he spoke of frequently seeing Milton, I ventured to ask, half ashamed at the time, which of the three or four portraits in Hollis's • Memoirs was the most like? He answered : “They are all like, at
different ages. I have seen him as a youth, and as an old man, with ' long flowing beard. He came lately as an old man. He came to ask
a favour of me; said he had coinmitted an error in his Paradise Lost, • which he wanted me to correct in a poem or picture. But I declined ; 'I said I had my own duties to perform.” “It is a presumptuous question," I replied, “but might I venture to ask what that could be ?” “He wished me to expose the falsehood of his doctrine taught
in the Paradise Lost, that sexual intercourse arose out of the Fall.” "... At the time that he asserted his own possession of the gift of
vision, he did not boast of it as peculiar to himself : “All men might have it if they would.”
On the 24th December I called a second time on him. On this occasion it was that I read to him Wordsworth's Ode on the supposed “pre-existent state (Intimations of Immortality). The subject of Wordsworth’s religious character was discussed when we met on the 18th of
February, and the 12th of May (1826). I will here bring together • Blake's declarations concerning Wordsworth. I had been in the habit, 6 when reading this marvellous Ode to friends, of omitting one or two passages, especially that,
—“But there's a Tree, of many, one,
The Pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat :
• lest I should be rendered ridiculous, being unable to explain precisely what I admired. Not that I acknowledged this to be a fair test. But with Blake I could fear nothing of the kind. And it was this very stanza which threw him almost into an hysterical rapture. His delight in Wordsworth's poetry was intense. Nor did it seem less, 'notwithstanding the reproaches he continually cast on his worship of • nature; which, in the mind of Blake, constituted atheism. The com.bination of the warmest praise with imputations which, from another, would assume the most serious character, and the liberty he took to 'interpret as he pleased, rendered it as difficult to be offended as to
reason with him. The eloquent descriptions of nature in Wordsworth's ' poems were conclusive proofs of atheism : “For whoever believes in ' nature,” said B., “disbelieves in God; for Nature is the work of the devil.” On my obtaining from him the declaration that the Bible was the Word of God, I referred to the commencement of Genesis, "“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” But I 'gained nothing by this; for I was triumphantly told that this God was not Jehovah, but the Elohim; and the doctrine of the Gnostics was repeated with sufficient consistency to silence one so unlearned 'as myself. The Preface to The Excursion, especially the verses quoted
from Book I. of The Recluse, so troubled him as to bring on a fit of * illness. These lines he singled out :
“ Jehovah-with His thunder, and the choir
““Does Mr. W. think he can surpass Jehovah ?" There was a copy
of the whole passage in his own hand in the volume of Wordsworth's ' poems returned to my chambers after his death. There was this note
at the end—“Solomon, when he married Pharaoh's daughter, and * became a convert to the heathen mythology, talked exactly in this way of Jehovah—as a very inferior object of man's contemplations : he also passed Him “unalarmed,” and was permitted. Jehovah dropped • a tear and followed him by His spirit into the abstract void. It is "called the Divine mercy. Sarah dwells in it, but mercy does not dwell ‘in him.” Some of the poems he maintained were from the Holy Ghost,
others from the Devil. I lent him the 8vo edition, in two vols. *(1815), of W.'s poems, which he had in his possession at the time of ‘his death. They were returned to me then. I did not recognise the * pencil notes he had made in them to be his for some time, and was
on the point of rubbing them out when I made the discovery; and "they were preserved.'
Mr. Crabb Robinson was not only a friend and admirer of Wordsworth, but among the believers,—fewer then than now,-in the new poetic revelation to be found in his works. The edition of 1815 was the first in which Wordsworth’s poems were arranged into classes ; and contained the celebrated new Preface on the various distinctive characteristics of poetry, as well as the celebrated Preface and Supplementary Essay, first printed in the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads. Blake's notes extend over the first volume only: they are characteristic iterations, according to his wont, of favourite dogmas.
In the Preface to the edition of 1815, Wordsworth writes, • The powers requisite for the production of poetry are, first, those of observation and description.' 'One power alone makes a poet,' answers Blake,— Imagination; the Divine Vision.' On the line
* Bound each to each by natural piety,'
Blake comments—There is no such thing as natural piety, because the natural man is at enmity with God.' And again, on the fly-leaf, under the heading,—Poems referring to the Period of Childhood,
I see in Wordsworth the natural man rising up against the 'spiritual man continually; and then he is no poet, but a heathen 'philosopher, at enmity with all true poetry or inspiration. At the end of the divine poem To H. C. Six Years Old, he exclaims : * This is all in the highest degree imaginative, and equal to any 'poet, but not superior. I cannot think that real poets have any 'competition. None are greatest in the kingdom of heaven. It
is so in poetry. Against the heading, “On the Influence of ‘Natural Objects,'—to the frost scene from the then unpublished Prelude, we have the singular, yet (to one who has the key to Blake's peculiar temperament) not unintelligible avowal : ‘Natural
objects always did, and now do, weaken, deaden, and obliterate 'imagination in me. Wordsworth must know that what he writes valuable is not to be found in nature. Read Michael Angelo's Sonnet, Vol. i. page 179' (of this edition).