CHAPTER XII
DECLINING YEARS AND DEATH

BLAKE, like the Patriarch, wrestled through his dark night till the day dawned. He had wrenched the secret out of the angel messenger. Henceforth he was an Israelite indeed--a guileless Prince with God, with a word of God on his lips for such as had ears to hear. Doubtless if we could arrange the details of human experience we would decree that after such a contact with the Divine a man should for the rest of his days sail on a halcyon sea into a haven of rest. But though the giants are slain, their ghosts return; and Blake, like Jacob, was still haunted by spectres which only did not deter him because he had painfully learnt to discern between the shadow and the substance.

The day dawned, but not in the way that most would choose. Worldly success was farther from him than ever. Instead of himself arising like a blaze of light on the England that he loved, it was his spirit that was secretly illumined by the spiritual sun; and while he could live by the memory of his resplendent vision of Christ, yet as he moved among men he was merely observed to halt on his thigh, or in other words to be touched with that frenzy or madness which marks those who have rashly gazed on the sun.

For the next ten years--years of rich spiritual maturity-- Blake worked incessantly; but his life was so obscure that his biographers have been able to glean but a handful of facts.

-169-

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William Blake: The Man
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 9
  • List of Illustrations 10
  • Chapter I- Childhood and Apprenticeship 11
  • Chapter II- Coming of Age and Marriage 21
  • Chapter III- The Blue-Stockings 26
  • Chapter IV- Early Married Life and Early Work 37
  • Chapter V- Wesley, Whitefield, Lavater, and Swedenborg 46
  • Chapter VI - The Rebels 81
  • Chapter VII- Action and Reaction 102
  • Chapter VIII- William Hayley 114
  • Chapter IX- The Big Prophetic Books 131
  • Chapter X- Cromek, Sir Joshua, Stothard, and Chaucer 153
  • Chapter XL- The Supreme Vision 165
  • Chapter XII- Declining Years and Death 169
  • Epilogue 189
  • Index 195
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