Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his third illustration to Il Penseroso:

Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso (E 684)

"Where I may oft outwatch the Bear 
With thrice great Hermes or unsphear 
The Spirit of Plato to unfold What 
Worlds or what vast regions hold 
The Immortal Mind that has forsook 
Its Mansion in this Fleshly nook 
And of those Spirits that are found 
In Fire. Air. Flood. & Underground" 

Blake wrote: 
 "The Spirit of Plato unfolds his Worlds to Milton in Contemplation. The Three destinies sit on the Circles of Platos Heavens weaving the Thread of Mortal Life these Heavens are Venus Jupiter & Mars, Hermes flies before as attending on the Heaven of Jupiter the Great Bear is seen in the Sky beneath Hermes & The Spirits of Fire. Air. Water & Earth Surround Miltons Chair"

As in the previous illustration, Milton himself is included in the picture. He sits in the chair contemplating the images which arise in his 'Immortal Mind' as the constellation, the 'Bear', makes his nightly journey circling the pole. 'The Spirits of Fire. Air. Water & Earth' are seen in order:  on the left margin, above Milton's head, behind Milton's chair, and along the bottom of the picture. Each of these is presented in rather unattractive aspects. The Spirit of Plato is the dominant figure standing before the bowed Milton, while the three fates dispense the thread of life at the top of the picture. Hermes wearing his winged cap observes the occupants of the three globes.

The three heavens of Venus, Mars and Jupiter are not mentioned by Milton. Blake adds them to emphasise what he considered erroneous teachings of Plato which he found contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Venus is a symbol for sexual dominance, Mars is a symbol for military power, Jupiter is a symbol for political authority. The militaristic culture of the Greeks and the Romans who followed them failed to incorporate the concept of forgiveness of sin which to Blake was essential to the development of man into the full Image of God which was his potential and his destiny.  

The issues and ideas in Greek culture with which Blake struggled himself are presented in this illustration as occupying the thoughts of Milton in his midnight contemplation.

Song of Los, Plate 3, (E 67)
"To Trismegistus. Palamabron gave an abstract Law:
To Pythagoras Socrates & Plato."
Milton, Plate 1, (E 95)
"The Stolen and Perverted Writings of Homer & Ovid: of Plato &
Cicero. which all Men ought to contemn: are set up by artifice
against the Sublime of the Bible. but when the New Age is at
leisure to Pronounce; all will be set right: & those Grand Works
of the more ancient & consciously & professedly Inspired Men,
will hold their proper rank, & the Daughters of Memory shall
become the Daughters of Inspiration. Shakspeare & Milton were
both curbd by the general malady & infection from the silly Greek
& Latin slaves of the Sword."
Milton, Plate 22 [24], (E 117)

"And all the Daughters of Los prophetic wail: yet in deceit,
They weave a new Religion from new Jealousy of Theotormon!
Miltons Religion is the cause: there is no end to destruction!
Seeing the Churches at their Period in terror & despair:         
Rahab created Voltaire; Tirzah created Rousseau;
Asserting the Self-righteousness against the Universal Saviour,
Mocking the Confessors & Martyrs, claiming Self-righteousness;
With cruel Virtue: making War upon the Lambs Redeemed;
To perpetuate War & Glory. to perpetuate the Laws of Sin:  
They perverted Swedenborgs Visions in Beulah & in Ulro;
To destroy Jerusalem as a Harlot & her Sons as Reprobates;
To raise up Mystery the Virgin Harlot Mother of War,
Babylon the Great, the Abomination of Desolation!
O Swedenborg! strongest of men, the Samson shorn by the Churches!

Shewing the Transgresors in Hell, the proud Warriors in Heaven:
Heaven as a Punisher & Hell as One under Punishment:
With Laws from Plato & his Greeks to renew the Trojan Gods,
In Albion; & to deny the value of the Saviours blood."    
Laocoon, (E 274)
"There are States in which all Visionary Men are accounted Mad Men
such are Greece & Rome"

Annotations to Watson, (E 619)
"The Gospel is Forgiveness of Sins & has No Moral Precepts these belong to Plato & Seneca & Nero"

Annotations to Berkley, (E 664)   
"Knowledge is not by deduction but Immediate by Perception or
Sense at once Christ addresses himself to the Man not to his
Reason   Plato did not bring Life & Immortality to Light Jesus
only did this

Jesus supposes every Thing to be Evident to the Child & to 
the Poor & Unlearned Such is the Gospel 
The Whole Bible is filld with Imaginations & Visions from 
End to End & not with Moral virtues that is the baseness of Plato 
& the Greeks & all Warriors The Moral Virtues are continual 
Accusers of Sin & promote Eternal Wars & Domineering over others
What Jesus came to Remove was the Heathen or Platonic
Philosophy which blinds the Eye of Imagination The Real Man
The Everlasting Gospel, (E 875)
"There is not one Moral Virtue that Jesus Inculcated but Plato &
Cicero did Inculcate before him what then did Christ Inculcate. 
Forgiveness of Sins This alone is the Gospel & this is the Life &
Immortality brought to light by Jesus.  Even the Covenant of
Jehovah, which is This If you forgive one another your Trespasses
so shall Jehovah forgive you That he himself may dwell among you
but if you Avenge you Murder the Divine Image & he cannot dwell
among you [by his] because you Murder him he arises
Again & you deny that he is Arisen & are blind to Spirit 
  What can this Gospel of Jesus be 
     What Life Immortality
     What was [It] that he brought to Light
     That Plato & Cicero did not write 

     The Heathen Deities wrote them all
     These Moral Virtues great & small
     What is the Accusation of Sin
     But Moral Virtues deadly Gin"

Friday, September 28, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his second illustration to Il Penseroso:

Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso (E 684)

"To behold the wandring Moon
Riding near her highest Noon
Like one that has been led astray
Thro the heavens wide pathless way
And oft as if her head she bowd
Stooping thro' a fleecy Cloud
Oft on a plat of rising ground
I hear the far off Curfew sound
Over some wide waterd shore
Swinging slow with sullen roar"

Blake wrote:
"Milton in his Character of a Student at Cambridge. Sees the Moon terrified as one led astray in the midst of her path thro heaven. The distant Steeple seen across a wide water indicates the Sound of the Curfew Bell"

Blake does more than illustrate Milton's lines in his second image for Il Penseroso. Milton's reference to the moon gives Blake an opening to begin commenting visually on one of the fundamental divisions in his system - the division between male and female. The active principle represented by the sun is the male. The receptive principle, the moon which reflects the sun's light, is the female. In Eternity the male and female are not divided. They become divided when the female seeks repose in Beulah.

The female figure in this illustration is the moon, just as the male figure in illustration three of L'Allegro is the sun. Blake humanises the moon and the sun whereas in the first illustration he personified the various aspects of melancholy. The eternal reality occupies the top of the picture; the natural world is seen at the bottom. The state of melancholy is here portrayed as the state of repose in which there is a withdrawal from the active mental pursuits into materiality where eternity is forgotten.

Since Blake portrayed Milton in the natural world as a student at Cambridge, he is indicating that Milton's studies, his academic pursuits, drew him away from his imagination, his connection with the eternal, and into the moony, feminine, material world.

When we read the role Beulah played in Blake's scheme of thought we can better understand why Milton 'Sees the Moon terrified as one led astray in the midst of her path thro heaven.'
Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 16, (E 11)

Sweet dreams form a shade,
O'er my lovely infants head.
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams,
By happy silent moony beams."

Milton, Plate 30 [33],(E 129)
"There is a place where Contrarieties are equally True
This place is called Beulah, It is a pleasant lovely Shadow
Where no dispute can come. Because of those who Sleep.
Into this place the Sons & Daughters of Ololon descended
With solemn mourning into Beulahs moony shades & hills           
Weeping for Milton: mute wonder held the Daughters of Beulah
Enrapturd with affection sweet and mild benevolence

Beulah is evermore Created around Eternity; appearing
To the Inhabitants of Eden, around them on all sides.
But Beulah to its Inhabitants appears within each district       
As the beloved infant in his mothers bosom round incircled
With arms of love & pity & sweet compassion. But to
The Sons of Eden the moony habitations of Beulah,
Are from Great Eternity a mild & pleasant Rest."

Jerusalem, Plate 19, (E 164)
"Albions Circumference was clos'd: his Center began darkning
Into the Night of Beulah, and the Moon of Beulah rose
Clouded with storms: Los his strong Guard walkd round beneath the Moon
And Albion fled inward among the currents of his rivers.

He found Jerusalem upon the River of his City soft repos'd       
In the arms of Vala, assimilating in one with Vala
The Lilly of Havilah: and they sang soft thro' Lambeths vales,
In a sweet moony night & silence that they had created
With a blue sky spread over with wings and a mild moon,
Dividing & uniting into many female forms: Jerusalem    

Trembling! then in one comingling in eternal tears,
Sighing to melt his Giant beauty, on the moony river."

Jerusalem, Plate 30 [34],(E 176)
"Art thou Vala? replied Albion, image of my repose
O how I tremble! how my members pour down milky fear!
A dewy garment covers me all over, all manhood is gone!
At thy word & at thy look death enrobes me about           
From head to feet, a garment of death & eternal fear
Is not that Sun thy husband & that Moon thy glimmering Veil?
Are not the Stars of heaven thy Children! art thou not Babylon?
Art thou Nature Mother of all! is Jerusalem thy Daughter
Why have thou elevate inward: O dweller of outward chambers 
From grot & cave beneath the Moon dim region of death
Where I laid my Plow in the hot noon, where my hot team fed
Where implements of War are forged, the Plow to go over the Nations
In pain girding me round like a rib of iron in heaven! O Vala
In Eternity they neither marry nor are given in marriage        
Albion the high Cliff of the Atlantic is become a barren Land"

Jerusalem, Plate 48, (E 196)
"From this sweet Place Maternal Love awoke Jerusalem

With pangs she forsook Beulah's pleasant lovely shadowy Universe
Where no dispute can come; created for those who Sleep.          

Weeping was in all Beulah, and all the Daughters of Beulah
Wept for their Sister the Daughter of Albion, Jerusalem:
When out of Beulah the Emanation of the Sleeper descended
With solemn mourning out of Beulahs moony shades and hills:
Within the Human Heart, whose Gates closed with solemn sound." 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his first illustration to Il Penseroso:
Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso (E 684)

"Come pensive Nun devout & pure
Sober stedfast & demure
All in Robe of darkest grain
Flowing with majestic train
Come but keep thy wonted state
With even step & musing gait
And looks commercing with the Skies
And join with thee calm Peace & Quiet
Spare Fast who oft with Gods doth diet
And hears the Muses in a ring 
Ay round about Joves altar sing
And add to these retired Leisure
Who in trim Gardens takes his pleasure
But first & Chiefest with thee bring
Him who yon soars on golden Wing
Guiding the Fiery wheeled Throne
The Cherub Contemplation
Less Philomel will deign a song
In her sweetest saddest plight
Smoothing the rugged Brow of Night
While Cynthia Checks her dragon yoke
Gently o'er the accustomd Oak
Blake Wrote:
"These Personifications are all brought together in this
design surrounding the Principal Figure Who is Melancholy herself"

The first illustration of Il Penseroso like the first of L'Allegro represents the central figure of the poem surrounded by associated images which are overtly mentioned in Milton's poem. Since Blake took this literal approach to the two illustration we can assume he is starting us out in each set of illustrations at the first level (which he calls Newton's sleep) of the fourfold levels of vision and will progress through others.
In Jerusalem Blake calls the Emanation a melancholy Shadow.

Jerusalem, Plate 53, (E 208)
Man divided from his Emanation is a dark Spectre
His Emanation is an ever-weeping melancholy Shadow
But she is made receptive of Generation thro' mercy"

Blake's personal experience of Melancholy had nothing to recommend it.

Letters, To Cumberland, (E 706)
"I begin to
Emerge from a Deep pit of Melancholy, Melancholy without any real
reason for it, a Disease which God keep you from & all good men."

The figure at the top of the illustration is 'Him who yon soars on golden Wing / Guiding the Fiery wheeled Throne / The Cherub Contemplation'. As a young man wrote a poem Contemplation which was published in Poetical Sketches.

This image can be dramatically enlarged by right clicking and selecting open in a new window. The enlarged image will be highly detailed.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Milton's double poem L'Allegro and Il Penseroso was the work of a young man not the reflection of an old one. It was one of his early works in English written about 1634 when he was about 25 years old. His experience of the joyous, extroverted mood may have come from his associations with friends and encounters with the theater and concerts as entertainment. From his early childhood  much of his time had been spent on the more solitary pursuits of studying language and literature. Although he had completed his studies at Cambridge, he was at this stage of his life undecided on a career. The young man who wrote L'Allegro and Il Penseroso seems to have desired to incorporate the joyful, light-heartedness of mirth and the reflective, seriousness of melancholy in his life whatever career he followed. Continuing to write poetry was something he acutely desired.

Blake began illustrating Milton's poetry in 1801 with a commission from Rev. Joseph Thomas to illustrate Comus, another of Milton's early works. Blake's final set of illustrations to Milton's works was to L'Allegro and Il Penseroso done for his loyal supporter Thomas Butts sometime after 1816 when he was over 60 years old. Milton wrote when he was looking forward to his own life; Blake illustrated looking back on Milton's life and work and his own. Blake had written his poem Milton between 1803 and 1810 to record the return of Milton to the land he had left a century and a quarter earlier.  

Milton, Plate 2, (E 96)
"Daughters of Beulah! Muses who inspire the Poets Song
Record the journey of immortal Milton thro' your Realms
Of terror & mild moony lustre, in soft sexual delusions
Of varied beauty, to delight the wanderer and repose
His burning thirst & freezing hunger! Come into my hand    
By your mild power; descending down the Nerves of my right arm
From out the Portals of my Brain, where by your ministry
The Eternal Great Humanity Divine. planted his Paradise,
And in it caus'd the Spectres of the Dead to take sweet forms
In likeness of himself. Tell also of the False Tongue! vegetated
Beneath your land of shadows: of its sacrifices. and
Its offerings; even till Jesus, the image of the Invisible God
Became its prey; a curec, an offering, and an atonement,
For Death Eternal in the heavens of Albion, & before the Gates
Of Jerusalem his Emanation, in the heavens beneath Beulah        

Say first! what mov'd Milton, who walkd about in Eternity
One hundred years, pondring the intricate mazes of Providence
Unhappy tho in heav'n, he obey'd, he murmur'd not. he was silent
Viewing his Sixfold Emanation scatter'd thro' the deep
In torment! To go into the deep her to redeem & himself perish?  
What cause at length mov'd Milton to this unexampled deed[?] 
A Bards prophetic Song! for sitting at eternal tables,
Terrific among the Sons of Albion in chorus solemn & loud
A Bard broke forth! all sat attentive to the awful man."

Kay and Roger Easson introduce their commentary to Blake's poem in their book Milton, a Poem by William Blake with these insightful words:
"To read William Blake''s illuminated books is to participate in a spiritual education. To read Blake's Milton is to discover the nature of that spiritual education concurrently with the education itself. Consequently, Blake's Milton does not exist solely as an object of admiration or study. Although Milton is incredibly beautiful in its combination of word and illustration and although its complexity stimulates intellectual scrutiny, it is a prophecy and, like all prophecy, it provides spiritual instruction. William Blake is a spiritual teacher, a prophet who, having 'discover'd the infinite in every thing' is committed to 'raising other men into a perception of the infinite' (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). And, Milton is the book in which Blake teaches how 'all the Lord's people' can become prophets. In Milton Blake defines the spiritual journey which renews prophecy in every moment of human time." (Page 135)

The images provided in the illustrations to L'Allegro and Il Peneroso should be viewed as an extension of Blake's prophetic teachings in Milton.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his sixth illustration to L'Allegro:
Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso (E 682)

"There let Hymen oft appear
In Saffron Robe with Taper clear
With Mask & Antique Pageantry
Such sights as Youthful Poets dream
On Summers Eve by haunted Stream
Then lo the well trod Stage anon
If Johnsons learned Sock be on
Or Sweetest Shakespeare Fancys Child
Warble his native wood notes wild"

Blake wrote:
"The youthful Poet sleeping on a bank by the Haunted Stream by Sun Set sees in his Dream the more bright Sun of Imagination. under the auspices of Shakespeare & Johnson. in which is Hymen at a Marriage & the Antique Pageantry attending it"
The youthful poet had entered a dream state which offered a pleasant interlude from the cares of the world. He visited with some of the sources of his inspiration: Shakespeare & Johnson are adjacent to the great sun but not within it.

The sun of imagination was welcomed by both Milton and Blake when it generated the flow of ideas and words. Enclosed in the Sun of Imagination are pictured two levels. The upper portrays a marriage with Hymen, the god of Marriage, officiating. He wears the 'saffron robe' and carries the the 'candle clear' although it appears to be unlighted. His function is to join the contraries into a new being.

At the lower fiery level of the great sun are three women, perhaps muses, with lyre, flute and tambourine. The instruments, however, seem to be silenced since there is no movement of the dance pictured. There are other negative indicators pictured including: enclosing trees, a man running away, three women expressing alarm, the setting of the natural sun, and a man and woman in mournful embrace. Nevertheless the youthful poet seems satisfied to have his pen in his hand and his book at the ready for recording his inspired words.

What Milton has been seeking through mirth in L'Allegro has been finding a mental state in which he may be 'Married to immortal verse/Such as the meeting soul may pierce.' He turns next to Il'Peneroso to seek a melancholy avenue to achieve his poetic goals. Blake's final illustration to L'Allegro stresses the contributions of the lighthearted, extraverted mental approach to the life of the poet. The final two lines of L'Allegro are 'These delights, it thou canst give, Mirth with thee, I mean to live.' But Blake points out what Milton himself knew: that there are shortcomings to the mirthful approach including perhaps the detatched, dreamlike state experienced by Thel in the beginning of the book that bears her name. 

Thel, Plate 1, (E 3)
"Down by the river of Adona her soft voice is heard:
And thus her gentle lamentation falls like morning dew.          

O life of this our spring! why fades the lotus of the water?
Why fade these children of the spring? born but to smile & fall.
Ah! Thel is like a watry bow. and like a parting cloud.
Like a reflection in a glass. like shadows in the water.
Like dreams of infants. like a smile upon an infants face,       
Like the doves voice, like transient day, like music in the air;
Ah! gentle may I lay me down, and gentle rest my head.          
And gentle sleep the sleep of death. and gentle hear the voice 
Of him that walketh in the garden in the evening time."
In another account of a dream state, Blake's Angel is banished from the young man 
by his defensive measures. The return of the Angel to the old man was in vain. 
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, SONG 41, (E 24)
"The Angel
I Dreamt a Dream! what can it mean?
And that I was a maiden Queen:
Guarded by an Angel mild:
Witless woe, was ne'er beguil'd!

And I wept both night and day
And he wip'd my tears away
And I wept both day and night
And hid from him my hearts delight

So he took his wings and fled:
Then the morn blush'd rosy red:
I dried my tears & armed my fears,
With ten thousand shields and spears,

Soon my Angel came again;
I was arm'd, he came in vain:
For the time of youth was fled      
And grey hairs were on my head."
A complex image of the sleep state which Blake may be suggesting in this illustration 
is described in Blake's Milton: 
Milton, PLATE 15 [17],(E 109)
"As when a man dreams, he reflects not that his body sleeps,
Else he would wake; so seem'd he entering his Shadow: but
With him the Spirits of the Seven Angels of the Presence
Entering; they gave him still perceptions of his Sleeping Body;
Which now arose and walk'd with them in Eden, as an Eighth   
Image Divine tho' darken'd; and tho walking as one walks
In sleep; and the Seven comforted and supported him."

Thursday, September 20, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his fifth illustration to L'Allegro:
Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso (E 682)  

"Then to the Spicy Nut brown Ale 
With Stories told of many a 
Treat How Fairy Mab the junkets eat 
She was pinchd & pulld she said 
And he by Friars Lantern led 
Tells how the drudging Goblin sweat 
To earn his Cream Bowl duly set 
When in one Night e'er glimpse of 
Morn His shadowy Flail had threshd the Corn
That ten day labourers could not end
Then crop-full out of door he flings 
E'er the first Cock his Matin rings" 

Blake states:
"The Goblin crop full flings out of doors from his Laborious task dropping his Flail & Cream bowl. yawning & stretching vanishes into the Sky. In which is seen Queen Mab Eating the Junkets. The Sports of the Fairies are seen thro the Cottage where "She" lays in Bed "pinchd & pulld" by Fairies as they dance on the Bed the Cieling & the Floor & a Ghost pulls the Bed Clothes at her Feet. "He" is seen following the Friars Lantern towards the Convent"

Apparently Milton and Blake were not averse to communicating with fairies, goblins and other occupants to the spirit world of nature. Blake gives this account of his receiving Europe a Prophesy by dictation by a fairy. But apparently Fairies, Nymphs, Gnomes & Genii do not belong to the Eternal world but to the world of generation. They interact with humans but unlike humans are not capable of regeneration. Each of the Zoas is associated with a class of Elemental Spirit: Luvah with genii, Urizen with fairies, Tharmas with nymphs, Urthona with gnomes (Damon, Page 277). Goblins are another class of spirits who are noted for being both mischievous and helpful.

Europe, Plate iii, (E 60)
"Five windows light the cavern'd Man; thro' one he breathes the air;
Thro' one, hears music of the spheres; thro' one, the eternal vine
Flourishes, that he may recieve the grapes; thro' one can look.
And see small portions of the eternal world that ever groweth;
Thro' one, himself pass out what time he please, but he will not;
For stolen joys are sweet, & bread eaten in secret pleasant.

So sang a Fairy mocking as he sat on a streak'd Tulip,
Thinking none saw him: when he ceas'd I started from the trees!
And caught him in my hat as boys knock down a butterfly.
How know you this said I small Sir? where did you learn this song?  
Seeing himself in my possession thus he answered me:
My master, I am yours. command me, for I must obey.

Then tell me, what is the material world, and is it dead?
He laughing answer'd: I will write a book on leaves of flowers,
If you will feed me on love-thoughts, & give me now and then    
A cup of sparkling poetic fancies; so when I am tipsie,
I'll sing to you to this soft lute; and shew you all alive
The world, when every particle of dust breathes forth its joy.

I took him home in my warm bosom: as we went along
Wild flowers I gatherd; & he shew'd me each eternal flower:      
He laugh'd aloud to see them whimper because they were pluck'd.
They hover'd round me like a cloud of incense: when I came
Into my parlour and sat down, and took my pen to write:
My Fairy sat upon the table, and dictated EUROPE."

Milton, Plate 31 [34], (E 130)
"And all the Living Creatures of the Four Elements, wail'd
With bitter wailing: these in the aggregate are named Satan
And Rahab: they know not of Regeneration, but only of Generation
The Fairies, Nymphs, Gnomes & Genii of the Four Elements         
Unforgiving & unalterable: these cannot be Regenerated
But must be Created, for they know only of Generation
These are the Gods of the Kingdoms of the Earth: in contrarious
And cruel opposition: Element against Element, opposed in War
Not Mental, as the Wars of Eternity, but a Corporeal Strife"    

Jerusalem, Plate 32 [36], (E 178)
"And the Four Zoa's who are the Four Eternal Senses of Man
Became Four Elements separating from the Limbs of Albion
These are their names in the Vegetative Generation
[West Weighing East & North dividing Generation South bounding]
And Accident & Chance were found hidden in Length Bredth & Highth
And they divided into Four ravening deathlike Forms
Fairies & Genii & Nymphs & Gnomes of the Elements.
These are States Permanently Fixed by the Divine Power"

Songs and Ballads, (E 481)
[A Separate Manuscript]
"A fairy skipd upon my knee                   
Singing & dancing merrily
I said Thou thing of patches rings
Pins Necklaces & such like things
Disguiser of the Female Form                   
Thou paltry gilded poisnous worm
Weeping he fell upon my thigh

And thus in tears did soft reply
Knowest thou not O Fairies Lord
How much by us Contemnd Abhorrd                               
Whatever hides the Female form
That cannot bear the Mental storm
Therefore in Pity still we give
Our lives to make the Female live
And what would turn into disease                           
We turn to what will joy & please"

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 535)
"By way of illustration, I instance Shakspeare's Witches in
Macbeth.  Those who dress [P 17] them for the stage, consider
them as wretched old women, and not as Shakspeare intended, the
Goddesses of Destiny; this shews how Chaucer has been
misunderstood in his sublime work.  Shakspeare's Fairies also 
are the rulers of the vegetable world, and so are Chaucer's; 
let them be so considered, and then the poet will be understood, 
and not else."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his fourth illustration to L'Allegro:  
Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, (E 682) 

 "Sometimes with secure delight
The upland Hamlets will invite
When the merry Bells ring round
And the jocund Rebecks Sound
To many a Youth & many a Maid
Dancing in the chequerd Shade
And Young & Old come forth to play 
On a Sunshine Holiday"

Blake states:
"In this Design is Introduced"

"Mountains on whose barren breast
The Labring Clouds do often rest"

Blake states:
"Mountains Clouds Rivers Trees appear Humanized on the Sunshine Holiday. The Church Steeple with its merry bells The Clouds arise from the bosoms of Mountains While Two Angels sound their Trumpets in the Heavens to announce the Sunshine -Holiday"

In the fourth illustration to L'Allegro Blake is insistent once again that we look at multiple layers of reality. Although the lines from Milton's poem call most of our attention to the 'Sunshine Holiday', Blake draws most of our attention to more ephemeral ideas. The mirthful group around the maypole, including only young people, are most expressive of the 'Sunshine Holiday' as an experience of mirth. Although Milton's lines includes the old in those who come out to play, Blake includes the old in a subdued group composed of the weaker and more disabled elements of society. These two groups, the revellers and less-advantaged, comprise the lower section of the image which shows the natural or material existence. Blake reminds us again of contrary states which epitomize our natural world.

On the right hand side of the picture the soul or psyche, as a butterfly, rises near the crippled elder and the helpful child. We see the soul ascending to the level of what may be seen as a Christ figure with a compassionate face and a finger pointing upward. Here the image transitions to a level beyond the material which Milton alluded to  with the words: "Mountains on whose barren breast The Labring Clouds do often rest."

As in the second illustration to L'Allegro portraying the Lark as a messenger, where each figure represented something other than what is seen by the eye, the figures in the upper part of this illustration are more than they appear to be.

Working upward in the picture we find a woman with a wine glass at her lips who is pouring forth from an urn a flowing stream of water. The wine she drinks is transformation, the water she pours is materiality; the world below is the natural world, above is the spiritual world.  

The larger central figures are those mentioned by Milton: the mountain and the cloud, perhaps in the guise of Vala and Luvah in their eternal aspects.

Numerous figures blowing trumpets, offering crowns, playing instruments, presenting the feast, providing ambrosia, and streaming past the sun as if the light itself, complete the composition of Blake's Sunshine Holiday.

Letters, To Butts, (E 712)
"The Light of the Morning
Heavens Mountains adorning
In particles bright
The jewels of Light
Distinct shone & clear--
Amazd & in fear
I each particle gazed
Astonishd Amazed
For each was a Man
Human formd.  Swift I ran
For they beckond to me
Remote by the Sea
Saying.  Each grain of Sand
Every Stone on the Land
Each rock & each hill
Each fountain & rill
Each herb & each tree
Mountain hill Earth & Sea
Cloud Meteor & Star
Are Men Seen Afar" 

Sunday, September 16, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his third illustratation to L'Allegro:
Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, (E 682)
"Sometime walking not unseen 
By hedgerow Elms on Hillocks green 
Right against the Eastern Gate 
When the Great Sun begins his state 
Robed in Flames & amber Light 
The Clouds in thousand Liveries dight 
While the Plowman near at hand 
Whistles o'er the Furrow'd Land 
And the Milkmaid singeth blithe 
And theMower whets his Scythe 
And every  Shepherd tells his Tale 
Under the  Hawthorn in the Dale" 

Blake states: 
"The Great Sun is represented clothed in Flames Surrounded by the Clouds in their Liveries, in their various Offices at the Eastern Gate. beneath in Small Figures Milton walking by Elms on Hillocks green The Plowman. The Milkmaid The Mower whetting his Scythe. & The Shepherd & his Lass under a Hawthorn in the Dale"
The Great Sun is the Spiritual Sun the source of light not measured in wavelengths and frequencies. The spiritual sun is the source of true existence which partakes of the eternal and infinite energy of life. It announces its presence by increased clarity of perception expressed in truth, mercy and grace.

Blake used the Lark as the symbol of the messenger of Los; he uses the symbol of the sun as Los himself as both the message and the source of the message.
In this picture Blake uses scale as one of the means to distinguish between the natural world and the Eternal world. In the third illustration to L'Allegro Blake follows the text he is illustrating but changes the emphasis by using most of the page to present the sun at his eastern gate. The occupants of the mundane world, including Milton, appear the bottom of the page as small easily overlooked figures. Four levels of existence can be distinguished in the image. The pastoral level of this earth is represented in the strip at the bottom of the page. Surrounding the sun is the level of Beulah as dominated by the feminine. Within the disc of the sun is the fiery transformative level. The primary figure which overlaps the other three layers is the Great Sun in his Human or Divine form. 

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 4, (E 34)
 "But the following Contraries to these are True
  1 Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld Body is
a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses. the chief inlets
of Soul in this age
  2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is
the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
  3 Energy is Eternal Delight"

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 565)
"I assert for My self that I do
not behold the Outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance &
not Action it is as the Dirt upon my feet No part of Me. What it
will be Questiond When the Sun rises  do  you  not  see  a  round -  
Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea O 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 or Vegetative Eye any
more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight I look
thro it & not with it."  

Letters, To Trusler, (E 702)
"And I know that This World Is a
World of Imagination & Vision I see Every thing I paint In This
World, but Every body does not see alike.  To the Eyes of a Miser
a Guinea is more beautiful than the Sun & a bag worn with the use
of Money has more beautiful proportions than a Vine filled with

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 128, (E 396)
[Vala speaking]
"Rise up O Sun most glorious minister & light of day
Flow on ye gentle airs & bear the voice of my rejoicing 
Wave freshly clear waters flowing around the tender grass
And thou sweet smelling ground put forth thy life in fruits & flowers
Follow me O my flocks & hear me sing my rapturous Song
I will cause my voice to be heard on the clouds that glitter in the sun
I will call & who shall answer me   I will sing   who shall reply
For from my pleasant hills behold the living living springs
Running among my green pastures delighting among my trees"

Milton, Plate 21 [23],(E 116)
"He heard them call in prayer all the Divine Family;              
And he beheld the Cloud of Milton stretching over Europe.

But all the Family Divine collected as Four Suns
In the Four Points of heaven East, West & North & South
Enlarging and enlarging till their Disks approachd each other;
And when they touch'd closed together Southward in One Sun       
Over Ololon: and as One Man, who weeps over his brother,
In a dark tomb, so all the Family Divine. wept over Ololon."

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 138, (E 406)
"Such are the works of Dark Urthona Tharmas sifted the corn
Urthona made the Bread of Ages & he placed it
In golden & in silver baskets in heavens of precious stone
And then took his repose in Winter in the night of Time

The Sun has left his blackness & has found a fresher morning     
And the mild moon rejoices in the clear & cloudless night  
And Man walks forth from midst of the fires the evil is all consumd
His eyes behold the Angelic spheres arising night & day
The stars consumd like a lamp blown out & in their stead behold
The Expanding Eyes of Man behold the depths of wondrous worlds
One Earth one sea beneath nor Erring Globes wander but Stars
Of fire rise up nightly from the Ocean & one Sun
Each morning like a New born Man issues with songs & Joy
Calling the Plowman to his Labour & the Shepherd to his rest
He walks upon the Eternal Mountains raising his heavenly voice   
Conversing with the Animal forms of wisdom night & day
That risen from the Sea of fire renewd walk oer the Earth"

Friday, September 14, 2012


In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton for his second illustratation to L'Allegro:

Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, (E 682)    

2        "To hear the Lark begin his flight
          From his Watch Tower in the Skies
          Till the dappled Dawn does rise"

 Blake states: 

 "The Lark is an Angel on the Wing Dull Night starts from his Watch Tower on a Cloud. The Dawn with her dappled Horses arises above the Earth The Earth beneath awakes at the Larks Voice"

Blake chose for his second illustration to L'Allegro to focus on a few lines which are apropos for describing his own perception of how messages are received from the Eternal world. He created a picture in which each object represents something other than what would be seen by the natural eye. He pictures the Lark as an Angel, the Night as a concerned old man watching in the cloudy sky, and the Dawn as a young woman arriving with her horses. He pictures the Earth as an eager young man gazing expectantly upward.

Mirth to Blake was an undifferentiated state with possibilities of going in multiple directions toward wantonness, or toward joy, or toward earthly satisfactions. On the contrary "To hear the Lark begin his flight" was a totally positive experience. It meant an invitation into a visionary world where ordinary things became carriers of messages of heaven. To hear the Lark is to become open to "an immense world of delight closed to [our] senses five." The common world is indeed dull and dark compared to that visited by Blake in his imagination.

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 5, (E 35)
"How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?"
Milton, Plate 35 [39], (E 136)

"Just at the place to where the Lark mounts, is a Crystal Gate
It is the enterance of the First Heaven named Luther: for
The Lark is Los's Messenger thro the Twenty-seven Churches
That the Seven Eyes of God who walk even to Satans Seat
Thro all the Twenty-seven Heavens may not slumber nor sleep      

But the Larks Nest is at the Gate of Los, at the eastern
Gate of wide Golgonooza & the Lark is Los's Messenger

PLATE 36 [40]
When on the highest lift of his light pinions he arrives
At that bright Gate, another Lark meets him & back to back
They touch their pinions tip tip: and each descend
To their respective Earths & there all night consult with Angels
Of Providence & with the Eyes of God all night in slumbers       
Inspired: & at the dawn of day send out another Lark
Into another Heaven to carry news upon his wings
Thus are the Messengers dispatchd till they reach the Earth again
In the East Gate of Golgonooza, & the Twenty-eighth bright
Lark. met the Female Ololon descending into my Garden            
Thus it appears to Mortal eyes & those of the Ulro Heavens
But not thus to Immortals, the Lark is a mighty Angel."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


One series of Blake's illustrations to the poems of John Milton includes the unusual feature of commentary by Blake himself. Blake's watercolor illustration to L'Allegro and Il Penseroso created after 1816 for Thomas Butts is now in the collection of the Morgan Library & Museum. Martin Butlin in the Tate Publication William Blake, states that Blake used the series to 'illustrate the whole development of Milton's poetic life from the early state of Innocence inspired by mirth, through the Experience of Melancholy to the final maturity that produced Paradise Lost.'(Page 118) Perhaps as well as seeing Milton's life reflected in the images, one can find passages in Blake's writings to associate with the images created for L'Allegro and Il Penseroso.

In his manuscript notes accompanying his watercolors Blake singles out these verses from Milton to illustrate:
Descriptions of Illustrations to Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, (E 682)  
1         "Heart easing Mirth.
          Haste thee Nymph & bring with thee
          Jest & Youthful Jollity
          Quips & Cranks & Wanton Wiles
          Nods & Becks & wreathed smiles
          Sport that wrinkled Care derides
          And Laughter holding both his Sides
          Come & trip it as you go
          On the light phantastic toe
          And in thy right hand lead with thee
          The Mountain Nymph Sweet Liberty" 
Blake states:
"These Personifications are all brought together in the First
Design.  Surrounding the Principal Figure which is Mirth herself"
In his comment Blake makes it clear that his images in this illustration
are personification of states; each figure represents a state that 
Milton mentioned. 
Of particular interest is Liberty since Blake says:        
       AMONG THE SONS OF ALBION" (Jerusalem, Plate 26, (E 171)) 

Miscellaneous Poems, Song, (E 414)
"I love the laughing vale,     
  I love the echoing hill,
Where mirth does never fail,
  And the jolly swain laughs his fill."

Satiric Verses and Epigrams, (E 502)
"The Angel that presided oer my birth
Said Little creature formd of Joy & Mirth    
Go love without the help of any King on Earth"

Letters, To Trusler,(E 702)
 "Fun I love
but too much Fun is of all things the most loathsom.  Mirth is
better than Fun & Happiness is better than Mirth--I feel that a
Man may be happy in This World." 
This image can be dramatically enlarged by right clicking and selecting open in a new window. The enlarged image will be highly detailed.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Blake took the two tools he had at hand: the ability to write poetry and the ability to create images. These he applied to the task before him: 'the desire of raising other men into a perception of the infinite.' Accessing the visionary world which he sought to share with his brothers and sisters through his imagination required that his 'doors of  perception' be 'cleansed'. This he accomplished through annihilating his Selfhood by means of forgiving. This was his life's work.

Roger Fry, in his article Three Pictures in Tempera by William Blake in the Burlington Magazine (1904), later reprinted in the book Vision and Design, paid tribute to Blake as an artist. Fry recognised art as the vehicle for conveying thought and spirit through symbolic language in both verbal and visual images. One of the three temperas commented on in the article was Flight into Egypt.

Flight into Egypt
In the following passage from Fry the embedded quote is from Blake's Descriptive Catalogue (E 541).

"Blake's art indeed is a test case for our theories of aesthetics. It boldly makes the plea for art that it is a language for conveying impassioned thought and feeling, which takes up the objects of sense as a means to this end, owing them no allegiance and accepting from them only the service that they can render for that purpose. 'Poetry' says Blake, 'consists of bold, daring, and masterly conceptions; and shall painting be confined to the solid drudgery of facsimile representations of merely mortal and perishing substances, and not be, as poetry and music are, elevated into its own proper sphere of invention and visionary conception?' The theory that art appeals solely by the associated ideas of the natural object it imitates is easily refuted when we consider music and architecture; in those at least the appeal to the spirit is made directly in a language which has no other use than that of conveying its own proper ideas and feelings. But in pictorial art the fallacy that nature is the mistress instead of the servant seems almost ineradicable, and it is difficult to convince people the increased scientific investigation of phenomena, increased knowledge of how thing present themselves to our sight changes the mode, but does not necessarily increase the power, of pictorial expression...The essential power of pictorial as of all other arts lies in the use of a fundamental and universal symbolism, and whoever has the instinct for this can convey his ideas, though possessed of only the most rudimentary knowledge of the actual forms of nature; while he who has it not can by no accumulation of observed facts add anything to the spiritual treasure of mankind. Of this language of symbolic form in which the spirit communicates its most secret and indefinable impulses Blake was an eloquent and persuasive master. He could use it, too, to the most diverse ends; and though the sublimity which is based on dread came most readily to his mind,
To an artist like Blake, who wished to give visible form to profound and universal conceptions, a mythology was essential, and so intense was his imaginative grasp that he was able to recreate Christian and Hebrew mythology, giving them and essentially modern significance. He even attempted to invent a fresh and national mythology of which Albion was the protagonist. Whether he lacked the power, or whether the temper of his age was too contrary, the attempt was abortive. How different would have been the history of nineteenth-century art had Blake been able to impose on us a living mythology, held not necessarily as literally true, but as the only means of expressing in visible form our surmises about the eternal verities." Roger Fry - Page 144

Blake uses the inscriptions on the Laocoon engraving to expound his ideas about art and religion.
Laocoon, (E 273)
"Prayer is the Study of Art
Praise is the Practise of Art
Fasting &c. all relate to Art
The outward Ceremony is Antichrist
Without Unceasing Practise nothing can be done 

Practise is Art     If you leave off you are Lost

A Poet a Painter a Musician an Architect: the Man 
Or Woman who is not one of these is not a Christian 
You must leave Fathers & Mothers & Houses & Lands 
     if they stand in the way of ART

The unproductive Man is not a Christian"

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Although Linnell was not a wealthy man when he knew Blake, his friend was much poorer. One way Linnell sought to improve Blake's finances was through the publication of Blake's series of images for the Book of Job. Linnell agreed to pay Blake to make engravings. The two men were to share the profit when the sets were sold. Blake was supported on a modest scale by the payments from Linnell but no significant profits were realised.

The series of engravings made through the close cooperation of the two men as fellow artists and business partners, are considered to be the apex of Blake's engraving career. Kathleen Raine feels that Blake also achieved his highest level of communicating his spiritual vision through this series of engraved plates. 

Illustrations of the Book of Job
Plate 5
"Blake's Illustrations of the Book of Job are more than an illustration of the Bible; they are in themselves a prophetic vision, a spiritual revelation, at once a personal testimony and replete with Blake's knowledge of Christian Cabbala, Neoplatonism, and the mystical theology of the Western Esoteric tradition as a whole. They are a complete statement of Blake's vision of man's spiritual drama. The true God is the 'God within', enthroned in every human soul; the 'divine humanity' whose lineaments are  those of Job himself. 'Satan, the Selfhood' is permitted to tempt Job. It is this Selfhood who makes havoc of Job's world; and as Satan assumes power, so the interior vision darkens and the 'God within' falls into the 'deadly sleep' of spiritual amnesia (Plate 5). Satan's supreme deception (Blake has given expression to this in Milton) is his claim to be God; a god external to the soul, framer of the moral law based on the natural order of 'one law  for the lion and ox'. Job's three friends are clearly based on his own Zoas: Tharmas (the sensual man), Luvah (the man of feeling), and Urizen (the reasoner). The beautiful figure of Elihu, who, in Plate 12, ushering the first light of dawn among the fading stars, causes Job to look up in hope, is evidently Los, the poetic imagination, who 'kept the divine vision in time of trouble'." (Page 186 )

Jerusalem, Plate 15, (E 159)
"In every Nation of the Earth till the Twelve Sons of Albion
Enrooted into every Nation: a mighty Polypus growing
From Albion over the whole Earth: such is my awful Vision.   

I see the Four-fold Man. The Humanity in deadly sleep
And its fallen Emanation. The Spectre & its cruel Shadow.
I see the Past, Present & Future, existing all at once
Before me; O Divine Spirit sustain me on thy wings!
That I may awake Albion from His long & cold repose.             
For Bacon & Newton sheathd in dismal steel, their terrors hang
Like iron scourges over Albion, Reasonings like vast Serpents
Infold around my limbs, bruising my minute articulations

I turn my eyes to the Schools & Universities of Europe
And there behold the Loom of Locke whose Woof rages dire  
Washd by the Water-wheels of Newton. black the cloth
In heavy wreathes folds over every Nation; cruel Works
Of many Wheels I View, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic
Moving by compulsion each other: not as those in Eden: which
Wheel within Wheel in freedom revolve in harmony & peace." 

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Not long after Blake and Linnell met they cooperated in engraving a commission which Linnell had for an image of a Baptist minister. Blake as a youth had been trained in traditional engraving techniques during his apprenticeship. He was resistant to some of the methods of engraving which were later introduced to save labor.  Linnell was less trained and less experience in engraving but had been introduced to techniques which Blake could see were valuable. Because the two men respected one another personally and acknowledged the artistic abilities of the other, they were able to work together as a team.

Linnell's journal includes references to several occasions when the two men attended exhibitions or visited museums. The pleasure that they had in viewing and critiquing artwork together would have been multiplied when they visited the home of Thomas Butts, Blake's primary patron. There Linnell would have seen for the first time hundreds of images which Blake had produced for Butts including the illustrations to Paradise Lost, dozens of illustrations to the Old Testament and to the New  Testament, illustrations to Milton's Comus and On the Morning of Christ's Nativity and more. The set of illustrations from 1805-6 to the Book of Job so impressed Linnell that he commissioned a copy be produced for him. 

In 1821 Linnell and Blake traced the outlines from the Butts images in order for Blake to make the copies. The Linnell set of Job images can be viewed in the Blake Archive, and compared to the Butts set. Here is the fourth image from the Linnell set as found on Wikimedia.

Illustrations to the Book of Job
Linnell Set, 1821
The Messengers Tell Job of His Misfortunes

We can be sure that Blake was conveying his ideas about visionary art to his friend during the time they spent together.

Vision of the Last Judgment, (E 554)
    " The Nature of Visionary Fancy or Imagination is very little
Known & the Eternal nature & permanence of its ever Existent
Images is considerd as less permanent than the things of
Vegetative & Generative Nature yet the Oak dies as well as the
Lettuce but Its Eternal Image & Individuality never dies. but
renews by its seed. just the Imaginative Image
returns the seed of Contemplative
Thought the Writings of the Prophets illustrate these conceptions
of the Visionary Fancy by their various sublime & Divine Images
as seen in the Worlds of Vision
  This world of Imagination is the World of
Eternity it is the Divine bosom into which we shall all go after
the death of the Vegetated body   This World is
Infinite & Eternal whereas the world of Generation or Vegetation
is Finite & Temporal    There Exist
in that Eternal World the Permanent Realities of Every Thing
which we see are reflected in this Vegetable Glass of Nature
     All Things are comprehended in their Eternal Forms in the
Divine body of the Saviour the True Vine of Eternity
The Human Imagination who appeard to Me as Coming to Judgment.
among his Saints & throwing off the Temporal that the Eternal
might be Establishd. around him were seen the Images of
Existences according to a
certain order suited to my Imaginative Eye"
From the Victorian web we find a quote from Linnell about Blake published in The Life of John Linnell by A. T. Story in 1892:
"I soon encountered Blake's peculiarities, and was sometimes taken aback by the boldness of some of his assertions. I never saw anything the least like madness. I never opposed him spitefully, as many did. But being really anxious to fathom, if possible, the amount of truth that there might be in his most startling assertions, I generally met with a sufficiently rational explanation in the most really friendly and conciliatory tone. Even to John Varley, to whom I had introduced Blake, and who readily devoured all the marvellous in Blake's most extravagant utterances — even to Varley Blake would occasionally explain, unasked, how he believed that both Varley and I could see the same visions as he saw — making it evident to me that Blake claimed the possession of some powers, only in a greater degree, that all men possessed, and which they undervalued in themselves, and lost through love of sordid pursuits, pride, vanity, and the unrighteous Mammon."  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Drawings of William Blake
Selection, Introduction and Commentary by Geoffery Keynes
Head of Infant in a Bonnet

Rachel Campbell-Johnston's biography Mysterious wisdom: The Life and work of Samuel Palmer includes chapters on Blake and on Linnell who were Palmer's friends and mentors. Speaking of Blake and Linnell, Campbell-Johnston remarks:

"And yet the two men had much in common. They were both religious dissenters and political radicals; they shared a reverence for the scriptures and had both learned Hebrew and Greek; they admired the art of Michaelangelo, Durer and Van Eyck and; both the sons of tradesmen, they preferred simple manners to a smart social life. Their friendship was to span the last decade of Blake's life. They would visit each other's studios, go to plays together, dine with mutual acquaintances and gaze at pictures side by side. .."
(Page 65)   

Blake was a welcome visitor to Linnell's home at Cirencester Place and after the move in 1820 of Linnell's family to the country, at the Collins Farm in Hampstead. Linnell's first child Hannah was born in 1818; there would be 8 more to follow. Blake made a drawing on one of the Linnell children as an infant. In these letters is a discussion of the naming on one of the Linnell children, 'a fine boy', born in 1826. The four sons of the Linnells were named James, Thomas, William and John.
Letters, (E 778)

"[To] John Linnell Esqre Cirencester Place
5 July 1826
Dear Sir
     I thank you for the Receit of Five Pounds this Morning &
Congratulate you on the receit of another fine Boy am glad to
hear of Mrs Linnells health & safety
     I am getting better every hour my Plan is diet only & if the
Machine is capable of it shall make an old man yet: I go on Just
as If perfectly well which indeed I am except in those paroxysms
which I now believe will never more return Pray let your own
health & convenience put all solicitude concerning me at rest You
have a Family I have none there is no comparison between our
necessary avocations
Believe me to be Dr Sir
Yours Sincerely
 Letters,(E 779)
To John Linnell Esqre Circencester Place,
Fitzroy Square

Sunday Afternoon July 16--1826
[Postmark: Noon 17 Jy]
Dear Sir
     I have been ever since taking Dr Youngs Addition to Mr
Finchams Practise with me ([It] <The Addition> is
dandelion) In a Species of Delireum & in Pain too much for
Thought It is now passed as I hope But the moment I got ease of
Body. began Pain of Mind [word del.] & that not a small one It it
about The Name of the Child which Certainly ought to be
Thomas. after Mrs Linnells Father It will be brutal not to say
Worse for it is worse In my opinion <& on my Part>.  Pray
Reconsider it if it is not too late It very much troubles Me as a
Crime in which I shall [be] [a] <The> Principal.  Pray
Excuse this hasty Expostulation & believe me to be Yours
From the website for redhill-reigate-history we learn more to the child named after William Blake:
"William, the third son of John Linnell, is said to have been named after the painter William Blake. He became a prolific and talented painter in his own right and exhibited at the Royal Academy and at other art exhibitions. He probably worked and lived more in London and abroad than at Redhill, although he did have an art school in Redhill where he taught many people to draw and paint."