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On this memoir the late Mr. Henry Crabb Robinson founded a notice of Blake as an artist and poet, which was translated into German by a certain Dr. Julius, and appeared in the first (and only) number of the second volume of the Vaterlandisches Museum (Hamburg) in 1811.* The extracts were given in both languages, and included: "To the Muses," "The Piper," "Holy Thursday," "The Tiger," "The Garden of Love," and a few passages from the Prophetical Books.

The next notice of Blake's poetry was by Allan Cunningham in his "Lives of the Painters," in 1830.1 His praise, however, is rather half-hearted and lukewarm, and the dozen pieces he printed as specimens, he could not refrain from touching up here and there to suit his fancy.

In a recent volume the author of "Modern Painters" thus speaks of Blake's poetry :—

"The impression that his drawings once made is fast, and justly, fading away, though they are not without noble merit. But his poems have much more than merit; they are written with absolute sincerity, with infinite tenderness, and though in the manner of them diseased and wild, are in verity the words of a great and wise mind, disturbed but not deceived, by its sickness; nay,

* Pp. 107-131. f Vol. II., pp. 142-179.

partly exalted by it, and sometimes giving forth in fiery aphorism some of the most precious words of existing literature."*

That the poems of William Blake should have been long neglected was but the natural consequence both of the vitiated taste of his contemporaries and of the unusual manner of their publication—if publication it can, indeed, be called.

"It consisted," says Mr. Gilchrist, "in a species of engraving in relief both words and designs. The verse was written, and the designs and marginal embellishments outlined on the copper with an impervious liquid, probably the ordinary stopping-out varnish of engravers. Then all the white parts or lights, the remainder of the plate that is, were eaten away with aquafortis or other acid, so that the outline of letter and design was left prominent as in stereotype. From these plates he printed off in any tint, yellow, brown, blue, required to be the prevailing, or ground colour in his facsimiles; red he used for the letterpress. The page was then coloured up by hand in imitation of the original drawing, with more or less variety of detail in the local hues."t

It is not extraordinary that a book appearing in

* John Ruskin, "The Eagle's Nest" (1872), p. 23.
t Gilchrist's Life of Blake (Lond. 1863), i. 69.

this way should have failed to attract the attention of an age which chose Whitehead for its Poet Laureate, which applauded the mediocrities of Darwin and Hayley, and which refused to read or to buy the Lyrical Ballads in ordinary "hotpressed twelves."

To William Blake must, however, be accorded the merit of having been the first to lead back English poetry to that simplicity and nature from which the school of Pope and his feeble imitators had so widely departed. Already in 1783, he had printed for circulation among his friends a tiny volume of verses written in very early youth, and containing, among other things, six songs characterized by a power of lyrical feeling and expression of which no poet had given evidence for more than a century. As these poems were all written by Blake before he had attained his one-andtwentieth year in 1777, we may fairly call him the precursor not only of Wordsworth, whom he preceded by fully fifteen years, but also of Cowper and of Burns. With respect to the first of these the fact is all the more remarkable on account of the general resemblance in tone and style, the similarities of subject and metre between the Songs of Innocence and of Experience published in 17891794 and the earlier poems of Wordsworth, published in 1798, 1800, and 1807, such pieces as Goody Blake and Harry Gill, Poor Susan, The Two Thieves, Rural Architecture, Alice Fell, and all that class of poems which drew down on Wordsworth the ridicule of Jeffrey and other selfconstituted critics of the period. There is precisely the same exquisite tenderness and noble simplicity in Blake. Some dozen of his Songs of Innocence might assuredly have been printed in the Lyrical Ballads and have passed for Wordsworth's, and on the whole the attentive student who follows out this hint, with the two books before him, will discover coincidences of thought and expression which are very remarkable.

Nevertheless, the fame of Blake as a poet has not kept pace with his fame as an artist. His original volumes, it is true, are sold for fabulous prices; but probably more on account of the embellishments than the poetry. Certain it is that no poet can expect to survive who depends on illustrated or illuminated editions for his celebrity.'' We think, however, that the poems of William Blake are destined at length to meet with a full though tardy recognition, and that they will therefore be welcome without such adventitious aid; that they will be cherished by children for their

* As the fast-waning fame of Rogers may show.

purity and simplicity, and by grown-up men and women for the deeper meanings which always underlie the most simple of them :—

"Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."

There is something sublime in the spirit of childlike innocence and Christian rebuke of worldliness and hardheartedness that pervades these productions. He sums up all the commandments under the precept, "Little children, love one another. For love is the fulfilling of the law. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love."

Some of his poems would doubtless have been improved by additional polish: there are many harsh and rugged lines, many with an imperfect number of feet. His ear seems to have been uncertain; and sometimes, as in "The Little Vagabond," he forgets to rhyme, or makes the same word do duty in lieu of a rhyme. He also now and then uses a singular verb for a plural, and vice versd. But a reader who should be greatly offended by these occasional inaccuracies would be quite incapable of appreciating his higher beauties: the matter makes us forget the manner.

Despite what has been said above, he sometimes attains a perfection of lyrical expression in

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