[i]
LIFE
OF
WILLIAM BLAKE.

[ii]
“Most supersensuous of the Sons of Art.”
“Trafalgar,” a Poem, by DAVID SCOTT, R.S.A.

“The sanctuary’s gloom at least shall ward
Vain tongues from where my pictures stand apart.”
“Pictor Ignotus,” by ROBERT BROWNING.

LONDON:
R. CLAY, SON, AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS
BREAD STREET HILL.

[title-page]
LIFE
OF
WILLIAM BLAKE,
“PICTOR IGNOTUS.”
WITH SELECTIONS FROM HIS POEMS AND OTHER WRITINGS
BY THE LATE
ALEXANDER GILCHRIST,
OF THE MIDDLE TEMPLE, BARRISTER-AT-LAW;
AUTHOR OF “THE LIFE OF WILLIAM ETTY, R.A.”
ILLUSTRATED FROM BLAKE’S OWN WORKS,
IN FACSIMILE BY W. J. LINTON,
AND IN PHOTOLITHOGRAPHY;
WITH A FEW OF BLAKE’S ORIGINAL PLATES.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
VOL. I.
London and Cambridge:
MACMILLAN AND CO.
1863.
[The Right of Translation is reserved.]

[iv]
I ASSERT, for myself, that I do not behold the outward creation, and that to me it is hindrance and not action. “What!” it will be questioned, “when the sun rises, do you not see a round disc of fire somewhat like a guinea?” Oh! no, no! I see an innumerable company of the heavenly host crying “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!” I question not my corporeal eye any more than I would question a window concerning a sight. I look through it, and not with it.
BLAKE.—A Vision of the Last Judgment.

[v]
PREFACE.

ONE short word of sorrowful significance which has had to be inserted in the title-page, while it acquaints the reader with the peculiar circumstances under which this Biography comes before him, seems also to require a few words about its final preparation for the press; the more so as the time which has elapsed since the Life of Blake was first announced might otherwise lead to a wrong inference respecting the state in which it was left by the beloved author when he was seized, in the full tide of health and work and happy life, with the fever which, in five days, carried him hence. The Life was then substantially complete; and the first eight chapters were already printed. The main services therefore, which the work has received from other hands—and great they are—appear in the Second Part, and in the Appendix:—in the choice and arrangement of a large collection of Blake’s unpublished and hitherto almost equally inaccessible published Writings, together with introductory remarks to each Section; and in a thorough and probably exhaustive annotated Catalogue of his Pictorial works. The first of these services—the editorship, in a word, of the Selections—has been performed by

[vi]
Mr. Dante Gabriel Rossetti; the second by his brother, Mr. William Rossetti. To both of these friends, admiration of Blake’s genius and regard for the memory of his Biographer have made their labour so truly a labour of love that they do not suffer me to dwell on the rare quality or extent of the obligation.

To the Life itself one addition has been made,—that of a Supplementary Chapter, in fulfilment of the Author’s plan. He left a memorandum to the effect that he intended writing such a chapter, and a list of the topics to be handled there, but nothing more. This also Mr. D. G. Rossetti has carried into execution; and that the same hand has filled in some blank pages in the Chapter on the Inventions to the Book of Job the discerning reader will scarcely need to be told.

The only other insertions remaining to be particularized are the accounts of such of Blake’s writings as it was decided not to reprint in the Second Part; chiefly of the class he called Prophecies. I could heartily wish the difficult problem presented by these strange Books had been more successfully grappled with, or indeed grappled with at all. Hardly anything has now been attempted beyond bringing together a few readable extracts. But however small may be the

[vii]
literary value of the Europe, America, Jerusalem, &c. they are at least psychologically curious and important; and should the opportunity arise, I hope to see these gaps filled in with workmanship which shall better correspond with that of the rest of the fabric. In speaking of the Designs which accompany the Poems in question, I was not left wholly without valued aid.

To Mr. Linnell, Mr. Samuel Palmer, and other of Blake’s surviving friends, to the possessors of his works, and to Mr. William Haines, grateful acknowledgments are due of services rendered in various ways, by which the completeness of the following record of the fruitful life and labours of William Blake has been much enhanced. Especially weighty were my dear husband’s obligations to the two first-mentioned gentlemen; and in his name would I sincerely thank them, and all who have furthered the undertaking.
ANNE GILCHRIST.
Brookbank, near Haslemere.
May 15, 1863.

[ix]
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.

PART I.—BIOGRAPHY.

PAGE
CHAPTER I.—PRELIMINARY         1

CHAPTER II.—CHILDHOOD         5

CHAPTER III.—ENGRAVER’S APPRENTICE       12

CHAPTER IV.—A BOY’S POEMS        23

CHAPTER V.—STUDENT AND LOVER       28

CHAPTER VI.—INTRODUCTION TO THE POLITE WORLD     43

CHAPTER VII.—STRUGGLE AND SORROW       51

CHAPTER VIII.—MEDITATION: NOTES ON LAVATER     61

CHAPTER IX.—POEMS OF MANHOOD:—SONGS OF INNOCENCE    68

CHAPTER X.—BOOKS OF PROPHECY:—THEL, MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL  76

[x]
CHAPTER XI.—BOOKSELLER JOHNSON’S       90

CHAPTER XII.—THE GATES OF PARADISE, VISIONS OF THE DAUGHTERS OF ALBION, THE AMERICA         99

CHAPTER XIII.—THE SONGS OF EXPERIENCE     119

CHAPTER XIV.—PRODUCTIVE YEARS: EUROPE, URIZEN, THE SONG OF LOS, AHANIA            127

CHAPTER XV.—AT WORK FOR THE PUBLISHERS     138

CHAPTER XVI.—A NEW LIFE       145

CHAPTER XVII.—POET HAYLEY AND FELPHAM     155

CHAPTER XVIII.—WORKING HOURS      161

CHAPTER XIX.—TRIAL FOR HIGH TREASON     173

CHAPTER XX.—ADIEU TO FELPHAM      178

CHAPTER XXI.—SOUTH MOLTON STREET: THE JERUSALEM AND THE MILTON   183

CHAPTER XXII.—A KEEN EMPLOYER      199

CHAPTER XXIII.—GLEAMS OF PATRONAGE     210

CHAPTER XXIV.—THE DESIGNS TO BLAIR      217

CHAPTER XXV.—APPEAL TO THE PUBLIC      225

[xi]
CHAPTER XXVI.—ENGRAVER CROMEK      234

CHAPTER XXVII.—YEARS OF DEEPENING NEGLECT    242

CHAPTER XXVIII.—JOHN VARLEY AND THE VISIONARY HEADS   249

CHAPTER XXIX.—OPINIONS: NOTES ON REYNOLDS    257

CHAPTER XXX.—DESIGNS TO PHILLIPS’ PASTORALS    270

CHAPTER XXXI.—FOUNTAIN COURT      276

CHAPTER XXXII.—INVENTIONS TO THE BOOK OF JOB    282

CHAPTER XXXIII.—HAMPSTEAD; AND YOUTHFUL DISCIPLES   292

CHAPTER XXXIV.—PERSONAL DETAILS      305

CHAPTER XXXV.—MAD OR NOT MAD      319

CHAPTER XXXVI.—DECLINING HEALTH; DESIGNS TO DANTE; MR. CRABB ROBINSON’S REMINISCENCES; NOTES ON WORDSWORTH     332

CHAPTER XXXVII.—LAST DAYS       359

CHAPTER XXXVIII.—POSTHUMOUS      363

CHAPTER XXXIX.—SUPPLEMENTARY      368

[xii]
ERRATA.
P. 4, line 8, insert a comma after “still.”
P. 6, line 12, for “bread-puddings,” read “head-puddings.”
P. 24, line 15, for “Thompson,” read “Thomson.”
P. 28, heading of chapter, for “Æt. 21—24,” read “Æt. 21—25.”
P. 43, heading of chapter, for “Æt. 24—26,” read “Æt. 25—27.”
P. 51, heading of chapter, for “Æt. 25—29,” read “Æt. 25—30.”
P. 166, line 11, for “ten,” read “eighteen.”
P. 254, line 16, for “sceptre,” read “spectre.”

[xiii]
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

VOLUME I.
PAGE
PORTRAIT OF BLAKE. From a Miniature by Linnell    Frontispiece.
FROM “AMERICA”        xv. 112
  “JOB”         1, 291
THREE PLATES FROM JOB. Plate V.     286
Plate VIII.     4
Plate XIV.     ib.
Two only the centres the same size as the originals and one reduced to show border. These Plates are given in duplicate in the series rendered by Photolithography.
FROM “JERUSALEM”     27, 50, 51, 75, 186-7-8, 193-4, 209, 216
PLAGUE. From a Water-Colour Drawing. Very much reduced   54
FROM ROSSETTI’S MS. BOOK       60, 89, 137, 172, 182
 AN INDIAN-INK DRAWING       91
 “DAUGHTERS OF ALBION”       98, 15, 241
 BLAKE’S ENGRAVINGS (size and style imitated)    99, 100-1-2-3
 A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE HOUSE IN PRESENT STATE    154
 “MILTON”         198
 “BLAIR’S GRAVE”        224, 362
CANTERBURY PILGRIMS. Reduced from Blake’s large Plate. The Heads under it done the size and in the style of the original      230
FROM BLAKE’S OWN PENCIL DRAWINGS     249-52-3-4, 318
 A PLATE (part of it)        256
BLAKE’S OWN WOOD-BLOCKS       271

[xiv]
FROM THE “DESIGNS TO DANTE”      334
 MR. CUMBERLAND’S CARD-PLATE      356
SIX PLATES IN COLOUR. One from “AMERICA,” two from “EUROPE,” and three from the “JERUSALEM,” all reduced.

VOLUME II.

FROM DAUGHTERS OF ALBION      1
 DITTO         268
THE BOOK OF JOB. Twenty-one Photo-lithographs from the Originals At end of Vol.
SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE. Sixteen of the Original Plates ib.

DIRECTIONS TO BINDER.

VOLUME I.
TO FACE PAGE
PORTRAIT      Title
JOB—Plate VIII.      4
 Plate XIV. to follow Plate VIII.
PLAGUE       54
“ALBION’S ANGEL”     112
FROM EUROPE      126
SPIDER’S WEB     129
“JERUSALEM,” Chap. IV.    182
“BY SATAN’S WATCH-FIENDS”   194
THE CRUCIFIXION to follow ditto   194
CANTERBURY PILGRIMAGE    230
JOB—Plate V.      286

[xv]
WILLIAM BLAKE

PART I
BIOGRAPHY