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tame or dull of spirit, she did kneel down and meekly murmur, • Robert, I beg your pardon, I am in the wrong. “Young woman, you lie !' abruptly retorted he: 'I am in the wrong!'
At the commencement of 1787, the artist's peaceful happiness was gravely disturbed by the premature death, in his twenty-fifth year, of this beloved brother: buried in Bunhill Fields the 11th of February. Blake affectionately tended him in his illness, and during the last fortnight of it watched continuously day and night by his bedside, without sleep. When all claim had ceased with that brother's last breath, his own exhaustion showed itself in an unbroken sleep of three days' and nights' duration. The mean room of sickness had been to the spiritual man, as to him most scenes were, a place of vision and of revelation ; for Heaven lay about him still, in manhood, as in Infancy it 'lies about us all. At the last solemn moment, the visionary eyes beheld the released spirit ascend heavenward through the matter-of-fact ceiling, clapping its hands for joy’— a truly Blake-like detail. No wonder he could paint such scenes! With him they were work’y-day experiences.
In the same year, disagreements with Parker put an end to the partnership and to print-selling. This Parker subsequently engraved a good deal after Stothard, in a style which evinces a common Master with Blake as well as companionship with him : in particular, the very fine designs, among Stothard's most masterly, to the Vicar of Wakefield (1792), which are very admirably engraved ; also most of those of Falconer's Shipwreck (1795). After Flaxman, he executed several of the plates to Homer's Iliad; after Smirke, The Commemoration of 1797 ; after Northcote, The Revolution of 1688, and others; and for Boydell's Shakspeare, eleven plates. He died · about 1805, according to the Dictionaries.
Blake quitted Broad Street for neighbouring Poland Street: the long street which connects Broad Street with Oxford Street, and
into which Great Marlborough Street runs at right angles. He lodged at No. 28, (now a cheesemonger's shop, and boasting three brass bells), not many doors from Oxford Street on the right-hand side, going towards that thoroughfare; the houses at which end of the street are smaller and of later date than those between Great Marlborough and Broad Street. Henceforward Mrs. Blake, whom he carefully instructed, remained his sole pupil—sole assistant and companion too; for the gap left by his brother was never filled up by children. In the same year—that of Etty's birth (March, 1787) amid the narrow streets of distant antique York—his friend Flaxman exchanged Wardour Street for Rome, and a seven years' sojourn in Italy. Already educating eye and mind in his own way, Turner, a boy of twelve, was hovering about Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, in which the barber's son was born : some half mile—of (then) staid and busy streets—distant from Blake's Broad Street ; Long Acre in which Stothard first saw the light lying between the two.
MEDITATION : NOTES ON LAVATER. 1788. (ÆT. 30–31.)
ONE of Blake's engravings of the present period is a frontispiece after Fuseli to the latter's translation of the Aphorisms of his fellowcountryman, Lavater. The translation, which was from the original MS., was published by Johnson in 1788, the year of Gainsborough's death. If any deny merit to Blake as an engraver, let them turn from this boldly executed print of Fuseli’s mannered but effective sitting figure, ostentatiously meditative, of Philosophic Contemplation, or whatever it may be, to the weak shadow of the same in the subsequent Dublin editions of this little book. For the Swiss enthusiast had then a European reputation. And this imposing scroll of fervid truisms and hap-hazard generalities, as often disputable as not, if often acute and striking, always ingenuous and pleasant, was, like all his other writings, warmly welcomed in this country. Now it as a whole reads unequal and monotonous, does not impress one as an elixir of inspired truth ; induces rather, like most books of maxims, the ever recurring query, cui bono. And one readily believes what the English edition states, that the whole epitome of moral wisdom was the rapid ' effusion' of one autumn.
In the ardent, pious, but illogical Lavater's character, full of amiability, candour, and high aspiration, a man who in the eighteenth century believed in the continuation of miracles, of witchcraft, and of the power of exorcising evil spirits, who, in fact, had a bona fide if conyulsive hold of the super-sensual, there was much that was german to William Blake, much that still remains noble and interesting.
In the painter's small library the Aphorisms became one of his most favourite volumes. This well-worn copy contains a series of marginal notes, neatly written in pen and ink—it being his habit to make such in the books he read—which speak to the interest it excited in him. On the title-page occurs a naïve token of affection : below the name Lavater is inscribed · Will. Blake,' and around the two names the outline of a heart.
Lavater's final Aphorism tells the reader, * If you mean to know yourself, interline such of these as affected you agreeably in reading, and set a mark to such as left a sense of uneasiness with you, and then show your copy to whom you please.' Blake showed his notes to Fuseli ; who said one assuredly could read their writer's character in them.
"All Gold!' · This should be written in letters of gold on our temples,' are the endorsements accorded such an announcement as · The object of your love is your God;' or again, ‘Joy and grief
decide character. What exalts prosperity ? What embitters grief? • What leaves us indifferent? What interests us? As the interest of 'man, so is God, as his God so is he.'
But the annotator sometimes dissents; as from this : 'You enjoy ' with wisdom or with folly, as the gratification of your appetites ' capacitates or unnerves your powers.' 'False!' is the emphatic denial,
for weak is the joy which is never wearied.' On one Aphorism, in which ‘frequent laughing,' and 'the scarcer smile of harmless quiet,' are enumerated as signs respectively of a little mind' or of a noble heart;' while the abstaining from laughter merely not to offend, &c. is praised as a power unknown to many a vigorous mind; Blake exclaims, ' I hate scarce smiles ; I love laughing!' 'A sneer is often the sign of heartless malignity,' says Lavater. “Damn sneerers !' echoes Blake. To Lavater's censure of the 'pietist who crawls, groans, blubbers, and secretly says to gold, Thou art my
hope! and to his belly, Thou art my God,' follows a cordial assent. * Everything,' Lavater rashly declares, ‘may be mimicked by hypocrisy but humility and love united.' To which, Blake : ' All this ' may be mimicked very well. This Aphorism certainly was an over*sight; for what are all crawlers but mimickers of humility and love ?' • Dread more the blunderer's friendship than the calumniator's envy,' exhorts Lavater. 'I doubt this !' says the margin.
At the maxim, ' You may depend upon it that he is a good man, whose intimate friends are all good, and whose enemies are characters decidedly bad,' the artist (obeying his author's injunctions) reports himself Uneasy,' fears he has not many enemies!' Uneasy, too, he feels at the declaration, “ Calmness of will is a sign of grandeur : 'the vulgar, far from hiding their will, blab their wishes—a single 'spark of occasion discharges the child of passion into a thousand ·
crackers of desire.' Again : Who seeks those that are greater than ' himself, their greatness enjoys, and forgets his greatest qualities
in their greater ones, is already truly great.' To this, Mr. Blake : • I hope I do not flatter myself that this is pleasant to me.'
Some of Blake's remarks are not without a brisk candour : as when the Zurich philanthropist tells one, * The great art to love 'your enemy consists in never losing sight of man in him,' &c.; and he boldly replies, · None can see the man in the enemy. If he is
ignorantly so, he is not truly an enemy: if maliciously so not a 'man. I cannot love my enemy, for my enemy is not a man but a beast. And if I have any, I can love him as a beast, and wish to beat him.' And again, to the dictum, ‘Between passion and lie there is not a finger's breadth,' he retorts, `Lie is contrary to passion.' Upon the aphorism, 'Superstition always inspires littleness ; religion,
grandeur of mind; the superstitious raises beings inferior to himself to deities,' Blake remarks at some length: ‘I do not allow there is such a thing as superstition, taken in the true sense of the word.