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minutes' manipulation mend, but such as clung to Blake's verse in later and maturer years.
The lovers were married, Blake being in his twenty-fifth year, his bride in her twenty-first, on a Sunday in August (the 18th), 1782, in the then newly rebuilt church of Battersea : a handsome edifice,' say contemporary topographers. Which, in the present case, means a whitey-brown brick building in the church-warden style, relying for architectural effect, externally, on a nondescript steeple, a low slate roof, double rows of circular-headed windows, and an elevated western portico in a strikingly picturesque and unique position: almost upon the river as it were, which here takes a sudden bend to the south-west, the body of the church stretching alongside it. The interior, with its galleries (in which are interesting seventeenth and eighteenth century mural tablets from the old church, one by Roubiliac), and elaborately decorated apsidal dwarf-chancel, has an imposing effect and a strongly marked characteristic accent (of its Day), already historical and interesting. There, standing above the vault wherein lies the coronetted coffin of Pope's Bolingbroke, the two plighted troth. The vicar who joined their hands, Joseph Gardnor, was himself an amateur artist of note in his day, copious “honorary contributor ' (not above customers) to the Exhibitions; sending Views from the Lakes,' from Wales, and other much-libelled Home Beauties, and even Landscape Compositions in the style of the Lakes,' whatever that may mean. Specimens of this master-pasteboard-like model of misty mountain, old manorial houses as of cards, perspectiveless diagram of lovely vale—may be inspected in Williams' plodding History of Monmouthshire, and in other books of topography. Engravers had actually to copy and laboriously bite in these young-lady-like Indian ink drawings. Conspicuous mementoes of the vicar's Taste and munificence still survive, parochially, in the handsome crimson curtains' trimmed with amber, and held up by gold cord with heavy
gold tassels, festooned about the painted eastern window of the church: or rather in deceptively perfect imitations of such upholstery, painted ('tis said) by the clergyman's own skilled hand on the lightgrained wall of the circular chancel. The window is an eighteenth eentury remnant piously preserved from the old church: a window literally painted not stained—the colours not burnt in, that is ; so that a deluded cleaner on one occasion rubbed out a portion. The subjects are armorial bearings of the St. Johns, and (at bottom) portraits of three august collateral connexions of the Family: Margaret Beauchamp, Henry VII. and Queen Elizabeth. The general effect is good in colour, not without a tinge of ancient harmony, yellow being the predominating hue. From the vicar's hand, again, are the two small paintings on glass,'— The Lamb bearing the sacred monogram, and The Dove (descending),—which fill the two circular sidewindows, of an eminently domestic type, in the curvilinear chancelwall : paintings so 'natural' and familiarly 'like,' an innocent spectator forgets perhaps their sacred symbolism-as possibly did the artist too! Did the future designer of The Gates of Paradise, the Jerusalem, and the Job, kneel beneath these trophies of religious art?
INTRODUCTION TO THE POLITE WORLD. 1782–84. (ÆT. 24–26.]
To his father, Blake's early and humble marriage is said to ha.. been unacceptable; and the young couple did not return to the hosier's roof. They commenced housekeeping on their own account in lodgings, at 23, Green Street, Leicester Fields: in which Fields or Square, on the north side, the junior branches of Royalty had lately abode, on the east (near Green Street) great Hogarth. On the west side of it Sir Joshua in these very years had his handsome house and noble gallery. Green Street, then the abode of quiet private citizens, is now a nondescript street, given up to curiosityshops, shabby lodging-houses, and busy feet hastening to and from the Strand. No. 23, on the right-hand side going citywards, next to the house at the corner of the Square, is one from the turn the narrow Street here takes—at right angles with and looking down the rest of it. At present, part tenanted by a shoemaker, the house in an abject plight of stucco, dirt, and dingy desolation. In the previous year, as we have seen, friendly Flaxman had married and taken a house.
About this time, or a little earlier, Blake was introduced by the admiring sympathetic sculptor to the accomplished Mrs. Mathew, his own warm friend. The celebrated Mrs. Mathew ?' Alas! for tenure of mortal Fame! This lady ranked among the distinguished blue-stockings of her day; was once known to half the Town, the polite and lettered part thereof, as the agreeable, fascinating, spirituelle Mrs. Mathew, as, in brief, one of the most 'gifted and elegant’ of women. As she does not, like her fair comrades, still flutter about the bookstalls among the half-remembered allunread, and as no lettered contemporary has handed down her portrait, she has disappeared from us. Yet the lady, with her husband, the Rev. Henry Mathew, merit remembrance from the lovers of Art, as the first discoverers and fosterers of the genius of Flaxman, when a boy not yet in teens, and his introducer to more opulent patrons. Their son, afterwards Dr. Mathew, was John Hunter's favourite pupil. Learned as well as elegant, she would read Homer in Greek to the future sculptor, interpreting as she went, while the child sat by her side sketching a passage here and there; and thus she stimulated him to acquire hereafter some knowledge of the language for himself. She was an encourager of musicians, a kind friend to young artists. To all of promising genius the doors of her house, 27, Rathbone Place, were open. Rathbone Place, not then made over to papier-maché, Artist's colours, toy-shops, and fancy-trades, was a street of private houses, stiffly genteel and highly respectable, nay, in a sedate way, quasi fashionable ; the Westbourne Street of that day, when the adjacent district of Bloomsbury with its Square, in which (on the countryward side) was the Duke of Bedford's grand House, was absolutely fashionable and comparatively new, lying on the northern skirts of London ; when Great Ormond Street, Queen's Square, Southampton Row, were accounted 'places of pleasure,' being in one of the most charming situations about town,' next the open fields, and commanding a
beautiful landscape formed by the hills of Highgate and Hampstead and adjacent country. Among the residents of Rathbone Place, the rebel Lords Lovat, Kilmarnock, Balmarino had at one time numbered. Of the Mathews' house, by the way, now divided into two, both of them shops, the library or back parlour, garrulous Smith (Nollekens's biographer) in his Book for a Rainy Day tells us, was decorated by grateful Flaxman with models in putty and sand, of figures in niches in the Gothic manner:' quære if still extant? The window was painted ‘in imitation of stained glass '—just as that in Battersea church, those at Strawberry Hill, and elsewhere were, the practice being one of the valued arts or artifices of the day-by Loutherbourg's assistant, young Oram, another protégé. The furniture, again, "bookcases, tables, and chairs, ' were also ornamented to accord with the appearance of those of 'antiquity.'
Mrs. Mathew's drawing-room was frequented by most of the literary and known people of the last quarter of the century, was a centre of all then esteemed enlightened and delightful in society. Réunions were held in it such as Mrs. Montagu and Mrs. Vesey had first set going, unconsciously contributing the word blue-stocking to our language. There, in the list of her intimate friends and companions, would assemble those esteemed ornaments of their sex : unreadable Chapone, of well improved mind; sensible Barbauld; versatile, agreeable Mrs. Brooke, novelist and dramatist; learned and awful Mrs. Carter, a female Great Cham of literature, and protectress of Religion and Morality. Thither, came sprightly, fashionable Mrs. Montagu herself, Conyers Middleton's pupil, champion of Shakspere in his urgent need against rude Voltaire, and a letter-writer almost as vivacious and piquante in the modish style as her namesake Lady Wortley; her printed correspondence remaining still readable and entertaining. This is the lady whose powers of mind and conversation Dr. Johnson estimated so highly, and whose good opinion he so highly valued, though at last to his sorrow falling out of favour with her. It was she who gave the annual May-Day dinner to the chimney sweeps, in commemoration of a well-known family incident. As illustrative of their status with the public, let us add, on Smith's authority, that the four lastnamed beaux-esprits figured as Muses in the Frontispiece to a Lady's Pocket Book for 1778a flattering apotheosis of nine con