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ing the reproaches he continually cast on his worship of Nature, which in the mind of Blake constituted Atheism. The combination 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 Mr. 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 him to 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. Those lines he singled out:
Jehovah, with His thunder and the choir
I pass them unalarmed. “Does Mr. W. think he can surpass Jehovah ?" There was a copy of the whole passage in the copy 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 and some from the Devil. I lent him the 8vo edition (1815), in two volumes, of Wordsworth'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.
To Crabb Robinson the word Mercy did not recall, as it does to us, other passages of Blake, such as
We were placed here by the Universal Brotherhood and Mercy,
Milton, page 22, lines 50, 51, because he had looked on this “ dark satanic death” as life, and had never dreamed of asking himself what powers he had over it, or how these were to “circumscribe it." He did not know that outline is one symbol and indefiniteness another, and that one is of life and the other of death. Nor had he read another and more obvious passage in Milton that connects this world of the visions of Tiine and Space with Mercy :
Time is the Mercy of Eternity. Without Time's swiftness,
Page 23, lines 73 and 74, any more than he knew of the imitation of Nature's images drawn from remembrance, which is Generation, symbolically the “sixfold Miltonic female ”—
Void outside of Existence, which when entered into
Page 43, last line, that it is the literal reading of nature and Scripture that is dipped now in blood and now in sleep, and is the origin of war and lassitude, the alternate evils of this evil world, the spectre and emanation of its senses, the severity and the lethargy—its division and delusion day and night!
Gilchrist gives a word or two from those notes that Crabb Robinson so nearly rubbed out of his Wordsworth. (How the present writer would thank the owner of the volumes if he would tell him, through the publishers, what the rest are !)
In the preface to that edition we are told that the powers requisite for the production of poetry are first those of observation and description.
Blake, passing over the obvious fact that the author only required to substitute the word prose for poetry and there would be no quarrel with his remark, gives this note: “One power alone makes a poet-Imagination, the Divine Vision," which shows us how sublimely unconscious he was of his own gift of melodious language, and how little the divine vision did, except indirectly, for this equally necessary half of a complete poetry.
On Wordsworth's line, “ Bound each to each by natural piety,” he makes a note, but of course he cavils at this usual and popular way of using the word natural, as though Wordsworth could be expected to use it in his deeply Swedenborgian manner. “There is no such thing as natural piety, because the natural man is at enmity with God.”
This recalls his remark when seeing in the Gallery our fullsize copy of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper that is now slowly growing leathery in possession of the Royal Academy, but is nevertheless even now more visible than the original. He looked at the faces of the apostles and said, “ Each of them seems to have subdued the natural man.” Has any better remark been made about that picture? Those who are disappointed with the face of the central figure should
buy the photograph of Leonardo's original sketch for it, now in the Milan Museum—the most truly religious face ever drawn. It might be by a Gnostic.
On the fly-leaf, under the heading Poems referring to the Period of Childhood, Blake writes
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 poetry or inspiration.
At the end of the poem To H. C. Sic 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 he writes
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.
Blake seems at times to forget that there are two moods, each called Nature, and that if Scripture has its misleading natural reading, Nature has its invaluable spiritual reading, and that though an excess of contemplation of it may stupefy our minds and render them unfit for this, so will an in. sufficiency. Starvation will as surely make a man feeble as plethora, and the mind is as the body. His own mind is insufficiently nourished on the material side. Yet he knew the Smaragdine table of Hermes, with its “ As above; so below," for he alludes to it in Jerusalem.
Blake, in these Wordsworth notes, then calls on us to read Michael Angelo's sonnet, vol. ii, p. 129, which as given by Wordsworth is worth repeating :
No mortal object did these eyes behold
As an expression of spiritual experience this is in fact pure Blake in every line, and justifies Blake's instinctive delight in Michael Angelo, the man as well as the artist, from his first years. Michael Angelo was (like Socrates) “a sort of brother.”
Of Wordsworth's prefaces Blake writes
I do not know who wrote these prefaces. They are very mischievous, and direct contrary to Wordsworth's own practice.
And again, p. 341—
This is not the defence of his own style in opposition to what is called poetic diction, but a sort of historic vindication of the inpopular poets.
And at the end of the Supplementary Essay
It appears to me as if this last paragraph beginning with "It is the result of the whole that in the opinion of the writer the judgment of the people is not to be respected," was writ by another hand and mind from the rest of these prefaces. Imagination is the divine vision, not of the world, nor of man, nor from man as he is a natural man. Imagination has nothing to do with memory.
Gilchrist gives no more of these. His printing is followed here. Blake probably used many capital letters that he has omitted.
Among the lost books of Blake besides the French Revolution, Oothoon, Titian, the Book of Moonlight, and Barry, a poem, is one that he was doing at this time that, of course, fell a victim soon after to Tatham's Irvingite odium theologicum.
Crabb Robinson records after the record quoted in an earlier chapter :
I inquired about his own writings. “I have written,” he answered, “more than Rousseau or Voltaire. Six or seven epic poems as long as Homer's, and twenty tragedies as long as Macbeth."
He showed me his version of Genesis, for so it may be called as understood by a Christian Visionary. He read a wild passage in a sort of Biblical style. “I shall print no more," he said. “When I am commanded by the spirits then I write, and the moment I have written I see the words fly about the room in all directions. It is then published. The spirits can read, and my MS. is of no further use. I have been tempted to burn my MSS., but my wife won't let me."
He incidentally denied causation, everything being the work of God or Devil. “Every man has a devil in himself, and the conflict between this Self and God perpetually going on."
On another day he said, “Men are born with an Angel or Devil,”
Blake has gone beyond that wish of the Lavater period to have a man's “ leading propensity” called his angel. The Blake of the time before he“ subdued the Spectrous Fiend” (after the visit to the Truchsessian Gallery) was not the same Blake as the one we are hearing now.
“This” (the angel and the devil) “ he himself interpreted as soul and body. He spoke of the Old Testament as if it were the evil element. Christ took much after his mother' (the Law).” (These two words, found in the Crabb Robinson reminiscences, do not appear in Gilchrist's extracts from his journals. But we already know Gilchrist's method of unconfessed omissions. He did not add this time “his mother.”) “He digressed into a condemnation of those who sit in judgment on others. 'I have never known a very bad man who had not something good about him.'”
This was on the same day when Crabb Robinson told Blake of the death of Flaxman, curious to see how he would take it. “He said—with a smile-'I thought I should have gone first.'”
In one of the last letters written by Blake he speaks, almost in the same words, but with an addition that lights up all his work for us:
Flaxman is gone, and we must soon follow, every one to his own eternal home, leaving the delusions of the goddess Nature and her laws, to get into freedom from all the laws of the Numbers, into the Mind, in which every one is King and Priest in his own house. God grant it on earth as it is in heaven.
We know what “law” was “Christ's mother” now. The last sentence reveals Blake's own meaning when he prayed the Lord's Prayer, and we are cured of that horrible illness we went through in reading his laborious paraphrase of Dr. Thornton's meaning.
In the margin of a copy of Cennini's book on fresco painting that Linnell lent to Blake we read
The Pope supposes Nature and the Virgin Mary to be the same allegorical personages, but the Protestant considers Nature as incapable of bearing a child.
Has the Pope enough habit of mystic thought to go even 80 far as to make this mistake? Did any “ Protestant" (between the fifth and the eighteenth centuries) know enough to set him right?
To avoid danger of confusion from the apparent inconsistencies between Blake's different utterances, it is neces