The Life of William Blake - Vol. 1

The Life of William Blake - Vol. 1

The Life of William Blake - Vol. 1

The Life of William Blake - Vol. 1

Excerpt

I have been fifteen years writing this book; and as founder of the Blake Society, and also as its Secretary during the whole of that period, I have had advantages which, I suppose, few others have enjoyed. I am aware that no human work can be perfect; but I have certainly taken infinite pains. All along I have endeavoured to keep strictly to incontrovertible facts; therefore prominence is given to the gleanings from the numerous unpublished letters of Blake's friends which have passed through my hands. These throw a flood of new light on Blake, and I flatter myself that for the first time Blake has been made really to live. If I have indulged here and there in theory, it is only when I have been convinced by an overwhelming mass of evidence that I am justified in the couclusions to which I have come. The theories respecting Leutha and Gwendolen are original, but a minute study of the Jerusalem and other works leaves no doubt whatever in my own mind as to their correctness, and I believe that every unbiassed reader will agree with me. Long ago, D. G. Rossetti timidly suggested that Hand was Leigh Hunt, but he offered no convincing proofs. A careful examination of Jerusalem and of other sources of information has satisfied me that Rossetti, although nobody agreed with him, was really right. My citations from these various sources, and the pictures which I reproduce, prove our contention to the hilt. Rossetti imagined, however, that Blake had in his mind only Leigh Hunt; but, as I have shown, the three Hunts are intended, and I do not think that anyone, after reading my pages, can come to a different conclusion.

My intimate knowledge of Cowper has also been a help to me (I founded the Cowper Museum at Olney in 1900, and issued the four volume edition of his Correspondence in 1904), for nearly all the friends of Cowper's latter years were also friends or acquaintances of Blake.

Possibly some will be disturbed by what I have to record respecting Blake and Free Love; and others may resent my . . .

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