Friday, March 11, 2016

DEATH TO MORTALITY


Blake's Autograph in the Album of William Upcott, (E 698)
     "WILLIAM BLAKE one who is very much delighted with being in
good Company
                                  Born 28 Novr 1757 in London 
                                  & has died several times since
January 16 
  1826
     The above was written & the drawing annexed by the desire of
Mr Leigh how far it is an Autograph is a Question   I do not
think an Artist can write an Autograph especially one who has
Studied in the Florentine & Roman Schools as such an one will
Consider what he is doing but an Autograph as I understand it, is
Writ helter skelter like a hog upon a rope or a Man who walks
without Considering whether he shall run against a Post or a
House or a Horse or a Man & I am apt to believe that what is done
without meaning is very different from that which a Man Does with
his Thought & Mind & ought not to be Calld by the Same Name.
     I consider the Autograph of Mr Cruikshank which very justly
stands first in the Book & that Beautiful Specimen of Writing by
Mr Comfield & my own; as standing [in] the same Predicament they
are in some measure Works of Art & not of Nature or Chance
       Heaven born the Soul a Heavenward Course must hold 
     For what delights the Sense is False & Weak 
     Beyond the Visible World she soars to Seek 
     Ideal Form, The Universal Mold
  Michael Angelo.  Sonnet as Translated by Mr Wordsworth"
 
Death to his physical body came to Blake after a debilitating illness which lasted many months. He never stopped working or hoping his health would improve. We can follow Blake's final months in the letters he wrote to his friends and supporters concerning his health, his work and his spiritual condition. The receipt of money form Linnell was in payment for the commissions from Linnell to illustrate Job and Dante. 

Letters, (E 781) 

Letter 87 
"Mr Linnell, Cirencester Place, Fitzroy Square
[February 1827]
Dear Sir
     I thank you for the Five Pounds recievd to Day am getting
better every Morning but slowly. as I am still feeble &
tottering. tho all the Symptoms of
my complaint seem almost gone as the fine weather is very
beneficial & comfortable to me I go on as I think improving my
Engravings of Dante more & more" 
Letter 91
"[To] George Cumberland Esqre, Culver Street, Bristol
N 3 Fountain Court Strand 12 April 1827
Dear Cumberland
     I have been very near the Gates of Death & have returned
very weak & an Old Man feeble & tottering, but not in Spirit &
Life not in The Real Man The Imagination which Liveth for Ever.
In that I am stronger & stronger as this Foolish Body decays."
Letter 92
"[To] Mr Linnell, 6 Cirencester Place, Fitzroy Square
25 April 1827
Dear Sir
     I am going on better Every day as I think both in hea[l]th &
in Work I thank you for The Ten Pounds which I recievd from you
this Day which shall be put to the best use as also for the
prospect of Mr Ottleys advantageous acquaintance I go on without
daring to count on Futurity. which I cannot do without Doubt &
Fear that ruins Activity & are the greatest hurt to an Artist
such as I am. as to Ugolino &c I never supposed that I should
sell them my Wife alone is answerable for their having Existed in
any finishd State--I am too much attachd to Dante to think much
of any thing else--I have Proved the Six Plates & reduced the
Fighting Devils ready for the Copper I count myself sufficiently
Paid If I live as I now do & only fear that I may be unlucky
to my friends & especially that I may not be so to you
I am Sincerely yours
WILLIAM BLAKE"
Letter 93
"[To] Mr Linnell, 6 Cirencester Place, Fitzroy Square
3 July 1827
Dear Sir
     I thank you for the Ten Pounds you are so kind as to send me
at this time.  My journey to Hampstead on Sunday brought on a
relapse which is lasted till now.  I find I am not so well as I
thought I must not go on in a youthful Style--however I am upon
the mending hand to day & hope soon to look as I did for I have
been yellow accompanied by all the old Symptoms
I am Dear Sir
Yours Sincerely
WILLIAM BLAKE"

Wikimedia Commons
Illustrations to Robert Blair's The Grave
 Reunion of the Soul & the Body
But his final journey could not the postponed infinitely. He made his ultimate drawing, sang his last song, and expressed his culminating gratitude to Kate. He passed through the gate between the mortal world of Generation to the Eternal world of Resurrection. 

When Blake's friend Flaxman died he commented, "I cannot consider death as anything but removing from one room to another." In a letter to Linnell he stated, "I verily believe it Every Death is an improvement of the State of the Departed."  Blake willingly left the world of shadows or reflections to rejoin the Eternals where every thing "shines by its own Internal light." 

 
Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231) 
"Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our 
Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, 
when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies are no more.
... 
What 
is Immortality but the things relating to the Spirit, which Lives 
Eternally!
 
Second Timothy 
Chapter 4 
[6] For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
[7] I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
[8] Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

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