Письма Уильяма Блейка/Джорджу Камберленду 6 декабря 1795

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Письма Уильяма Блейка/Уилли Ревели 18 октября 1791 года или позднее
автор Уильям Блейк

[№ 1]

[Уилли Ревели][1]

[18 октября 1791 года или позднее]

М-р. Блейк приветствует м-ра Ревелли, и несмотря на то, что он загружен работой, [поскольку г-н Р. сказал, что в таком случае от должен будет получить рисунки][2] он рад принять предложение о гравировке таких прекрасных вещей и сделает всё, что, что сможет, к концу января.

[No. 1]

[To Willey Reveley]

[On or after 18 October 1791]

Mr Blakes Compts to Mr Reveley tho full of work [as Mr R said he should be by then [tho] the plates were put in hand] he is glad to embrace the offer of engraving such beautiful things. & will do what he can by the end of January


  1. Уилли Ревели (?-1799) — художник и редактор издания класического труда «Афинские длевности» Стюарта и Реветта (вышедшего из печати в 1784 г.), для которого он просил Блейка выполнить несколько гравюр по рисункам Уильяма Парса. Блейк выполнил 4 гравюры только к апрелю 1782 года.
  2. Слова курсивом в квадратных скобках зачёркнуты.

2 [To] G[eorge] Cumberland Esqr, Bishopsgate near Egham, Surrey

Lambeth, 6 Decembr 1795 [Postmark: 10 December]

Dear Sir

I congratulate you not on any atchievement. because I know. that the Genius that produces. these Designs can execute them in any manner. notwithstanding the pretended Philosophy which teaches that Execution is the power of One & Invention of Another--Locke says it i[s the] same faculty that Invents Judges, & I say he who can Invent can Execute.

[Begin Page 700]

As to laying on the Wax it is as follows

Take a cake of Virgins wax <([if it can be found][if such be]< I dont know what animal produces it>)> & stroke it regularly over the surface of a warm Plate. (the Plate must be warm enough to melt the Wax as it passes over) then immediately draw a feather over it & you will get all even surface which when cold will recieve any impression minutely

Note The danger is in not covering the Plate All over

Now You will I hope shew all the family of Antique Borers, that Peace & Plenty & Domestic Happiness is the Source of Sublime Art, & prove to the Abstract Philosophers--that Enjoyment & not Abstinence is the food of Intellect.

Yours sincerely


Health to Mrs Cumberland & Family

The pressure necessary to roll off the lines is the same as when you print, or not quite so great. I have not been able to send a proof of the bath tho I have done the corrections. my paper not being in order.

3 [To George Cumberland]

Lambeth 23 Decembr 1796 a Merry Christmas

Dear Cumberland

I have lately had some pricks of conscience on account of not acknowledging your friendship to me [before] immediately on the reciet of your. beautiful book. I have likewise had by me all the summer 6 Plates which you desired me to get made for you. they have laid on my shelf. without speaking to tell me whose they were or that they were [ there] at all & it was some time (when I found them) before I could divine whence they came or whither they were bound or whether they were to lie there to eternity. I have now sent them to you to be transmuted, thou real Alchymist!

Go on Go on. such works as yours Nature & Providence the Eternal Parents demand from their children how few produce them in such perfection how Nature smiles on them. how Providence rewards them. How all your Brethren say, The sound of his harp & his flute heard from his secret forest chears us to the labours of life. & we plow & reap forgetting our labour

Let us see you sometimes as well as sometimes hear from you & let us often See your Works

Compliments to Mr Cumberland & Family

Yours in head & heart


[Begin Page 701]

4 To The Revd D r Trusler

Hercules Buildgs Lambeth

Augst 16. 1799

Revd Sir

I find more & more that my Style of Designing is a Species by itself. & in this which I send you have been compelld by my Genius or Angel to follow where he led if I were to act otherwise it would not fulfill the purpose for which alone I live. which is in conjunction with such men as my friend Cumberland to renew the lost Art of the Greeks

I attempted every morning for a fortnight together to follow your Dictate. but when I found my attempts were in vain. resolvd to shew an independence which I know will please an Author better than slavishly following the track of another however admirable that track may be At any rate my Excuse must be: I could not do otherwise, it was out of my power!

I know I begged of you to give me your Ideas & promised to build on them here I counted without my host I now find my mistake

The Design I have Sent. Is

A Father taking leave of his Wife & Child. Is watchd by Two Fiends incarnate. with intention that when his back is turned they will murder the mother & her infant--If this is not Malevolence with a vengeance I have never seen it on Earth. & if you approve of this I have no doubt of giving you Benevolence with Equal Vigor. as also Pride & Humility. but cannot previ- ously describe in words what I mean to Design for fear I should Evaporate [some of m] the Spirit of my Invention. But I hope that none of my Designs will be destitute of Infinite Particulars which will present themselves to the Contemplator. And tho I call them Mine I know that they are not Mine being of the same opinion with Milton when he says That the Muse visits his Slumbers & awakes & governs his Song when Morn purples The East. & being also in the predicament of that prophet who says I cannot go beyond the command of the Lord to speak good or bad

If you approve of my Manner & it is agreeable to you. I would rather Paint Pictures in oil of the same dimensions than make Drawings. & on the same terms. by this means you will have a number of Cabinet pictures. which I flatter myself will not be unworthy of a Scholar of Rembrant & Teniers. whom I have Studied no less than Rafael & Michael angelo--Please to send me your orders respecting this & In my next Effort I promise more Expedition

I am Revd Sir

Your very humble servt 


[Begin Page 702]

5 [To] Revd Dr Trusler, Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey

13 Hercules Buildings,.Lambeth, August 23, 1799 [Postmark: 28 August]

Revd Sir

I really am sorry that you are falln out with the Spiritual World Especially if I should have to answer for it I feel very sorry that your Ideas & Mine on Moral Painting differ so much as to have made you angry with my method of Study. If I am wrong I am wrong in good company. I had hoped your plan comprehended All Species of this Art & Especially that you would not reject that Species which gives Existence to Every other. namely Visions of Eternity You say that I want somebody to Elucidate my Ideas. But you ought to know that What is Grand is necessarily obscure to Weak men. That which can be made Explicit to the Idiot is not worth my care. The wisest of the Ancients considerd what is not too Explicit as the fittest for Instruction because it rouzes the faculties to act. I name Moses Solomon Esop Homer Plato

But as you have favord me with your remarks on my Design permit me in return to defend it against a mistaken one, which is. That I have supposed Malevolence without a Cause.--Is not Merit in one a Cause of Envy in another & Serenity & Happiness & Beauty a Cause of Malevolence. But Want of Money & the Distress of A Thief can never be alledged as the Cause of his Thievery. for many honest people endure greater hard ships with Fortitude We must therefore seek the Cause elsewhere than in want of Money for that is the Misers passion, not the Thiefs

I have therefore proved your Reasonings Ill proportiond which you can never prove my figures to be. They are those of Michael Angelo Rafael & the Antique & of the best living Models. I percieve that your Eye [s] is perverted by Caricature Prints, which ought not to abound so much as they do. 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. 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 Grapes. The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the Eyes of others only a Green thing that stands in the way. Some See Nature all Ridicule & Deformity & by these I shall not regulate my proportions, & Some Scarce see Nature at all But to the Eyes of the Man of Imagination Nature is Imagination itself. As a man is So he Sees. As the Eye is formed such are its Powers You certainly Mistake when you say that the Visions of Fancy are not be found in This World. To Me This World is all One continued Vision of Fancy or Imagination & I feel Flatterd when I am told So. What is it sets Homer Virgil & Milton in so high a rank of Art. Why is the Bible more

[Begin Page 703] Entertaining& Instructive than any other book. Is it not because they are addressed to the Imagination which is Spiritual Sensation & but mediately to the Understanding or Reason Such is True Painting and such <was> alone valued by the Greeks & the best modern Artists. Consider what Lord Bacon says “:Sense sends over to Imagination before Reason have judged & Reason sends over to Imagination before the Decree can be acted.” See Advancemt of Learning Part 2 P 47 of first Edition

But I am happy to find a Great Majority of Fellow Mortals who can Elucidate My Visions & Particularly they have been Elucidated by Children who have taken a greater delight in contemplating my Pictures than I even hoped. Neither Youth nor Childhood is Folly or Incapacity Some Children are Fools & so are some Old Men. But There is a vast Majority on the side of Imagination or Spiritual Sensation

To Engrave after another Painter is infinitely more laborious than to Engrave ones own Inventions. And of the Size you require my price has been Thirty Guineas & I cannot afford to do it for less. I had Twelve for the Head I sent you as a Specimen, but after my own designs I could do at least Six times the quantity of labour in the same time which will account for the difference of price as also that Chalk Engraving is at least six times as laborious as Aqua tinta. I have no objection to Engraving after another Artist. Engraving is the profession I was apprenticed to, & should never have attempted to live by any thing else If orders had not come in for my Designs & Paintings, which I have the pleasure to tell you are Increasing Every Day. Thus If I am a Painter it is not to be attributed to Seeking after. But I am contented whether I live by Painting or Engraving

I am Revd Sir Your very obedient servant


6 [To] Mr[George] Cumberland, Bishopsgate, Windsor Great Park

Hercules Buildings, Lambeth. Aug st 26. 1799

Dear Cumberland

I ought long ago to have written to you to thank you for your kind recommendation to Dr Trusler which tho it has faild of success is not the less to be rememberd by me with Gratitude—

I have made him a Drawing in my best manner he has sent it back with a Letter full of Criticisms in which he says it accords not with his Intentions which are to Reject all Fancy from his Work. How far he Expects to please I cannot tell. But as I cannot paint Dirty rags & old Shoes where I ought to place Naked Beauty or simple ornament. I despair of Ever pleasing one Class of Men—Unfortunately our authors of books are among this Class how soon we Shall have a change for the better I cannot Prophecy. D r Trusler says

[Begin Page 704] “Your Fancy from what I have seen of it. & I have seen variety at Mr Cumberlands seems to be in the other world or the World of Spirits. which accords not with my Intentions. which whilst living in This World Wish to follow the Nature of it” I could not help Smiling at the difference between the doctrines of Dr Trusler & those of Christ. But however for his own sake I am sorry that a Man should be so enamourd of Rowlandsons caricatures as to call them copies from life & manners or fit Things for a Clergyman to write upon

Pray let me intreat you to persevere in your Designing it is the only source of Pleasure all your other pleasures depend upon It. It is the Tree Your Pleasures are the Fruit. Your Inventions of Intellectual Visions are the Stamina of every thing you value. Go on if not for your own sake yet for ours who love & admire your works. but above all For the Sake of the Arts. Do not throw aside for any long time the honour intended you by Nature to revive the Greek workmanship. I study your outlines as usual just as if they were antiques.

As to Myself about whom you are so kindly Interested. I live by Miracle. I am Painting small Pictures from the Bible. For as to Engraving in which art I cannot reproach myself with any neglect yet I am laid by in a corner as if I did not Exist & Since my Youngs Night Thoughts have been publishd Even Johnson & Fuseli have discarded my Graver. But as I know that He who Works & has his health cannot starve. I laugh at Fortune & Go on & on. I think I foresee better Things than I have ever seen. My Work pleases my employer & I have an order for Fifty small Pictures at One Guinea each which is Something better than mere copying after another artist. But above all I feel myself happy & contented let what will come having passed now near twenty years in ups & downs I am used to them & perhaps a little practise in them may turn out to benefit. It is now Exactly Twenty years since I was upon the ocean of business & Tho I laugh at Fortune I am perswaded that She Alone is the Governor of Worldly Riches. & when it is Fit She will call on me till then I wait with Patience in hopes that She is busied among my Friends.

With Mine & My Wifes best compliments to Mrs Cumberland I remain

Yours sincerely


7 [To William Hayley]

[18 February 1800]

[Blake's engraving of a pencil sketch of The Death of Demosthenes by Hayley's son Thomas Alphonso] has been approved by Mr Flaxman. [Blake adds

[Begin Page 705] his hopes that the young artist] will soon be well enough to make hundreds of designs both for the engraver and the sculptor. [Extract from Gilchrist, Life of Blake, 1880]

8 [To] William Hayley Esqr Eartham, near Chichester, Sussex

Hercules Buildings, Lambeth 1 April 1800

Dear Sir,

With all possible Expedition I send you a proof of my attempt to Express your & our Much Beloveds Countenance. Mr Flaxman has seen it & approved of my now sending it to you for your remarks. Your Sorrows and your dear sons May Jesus and his Angels assuage & if it is consistent with his divine providence restore him to us & to his labours of Art & Science in this world.

So prays a fellow sufferer & Your humble servant,


9 [To] William Hayley Esqr, Eartham, near Chichester, Sussex

Lambeth May 6 1800.

Dear Sir

I am very sorry for your immense loss, which is a repetition of what all feel in this valley of misery & happiness mixed—I send the Shadow of the departed Angel. hope the likeness is improved. The lip I have again lessened as you advised & done a good many other softenings to the whole—I know that our deceased friends are more really with us than when they were apparent to our mortal part. Thirteen years ago. I lost a brother & with his spirit I converse daily & hourly in the Spirit. & See him in my remembrance in the regions of my Imagination. I hear his advice & even now write from his Dictate—Forgive me for expressing to you my Enthusiasm which I wish all to partake of Since it is to me a Source of Immortal Joy even in this world by it I am the companion of Angels. May you continue to be so more & more & to be more & more perswaded. that every Mortal loss is an Immortal Gain. The Ruins of Time builds Mansions in Eternity.—I have also sent A Proof of Pericles for your Remarks thanking you for the kindness with which you Express them & feeling heartily your Grief with a brothers Sympathy

I remain Dear Sir Your humble Servant


[Begin Page 706]

10 [To] Mr[George] Cumberland, Bishopsgate, Windsor Great Park

13 Hercules Buildings, Lambeth, 2 July 1800

Dear Cumberland

I have to congratulate you on your plan for a National Gallery being put into Execution. All your wishes shall in due time be fulfilled the immense flood of Grecian light & glory which is coming on Europe will more than realize our warmest wishes. Your honours will be unbounded when your plan shall be carried into Execution as it must be if England continues a Nation. I hear that it is now in the hands of Ministers That the King shews it great Countenance & Encouragement, that it will soon be up before Parliament & that it must be extended & enlarged to take in Originals both of Painting & Sculpture by considering Every valuable original that is brought into England or can be purchasd Abroad as its objects of Acquisition. Such is the Plan as I am told & such must be the plan if England wishes to continue at all worth notice as you have yourself observd only now we must possess Originals as well as France or be Nothing

Excuse I intreat you my not returning Thanks at the proper moment for your kind present. No perswasion could make my stupid bead believe that it was proper for me to trouble you with a letter of meer Compliment & Expression of thanks. 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. Our artists of all ranks praise your outlines & wish for more. Flaxman is very warm in your commendation & more and more of A Grecian. Mr Hayley has lately mentiond your Work on outline in Notes to [Epistles on Sculpture] an Essay on Sculpture in Six Epistles to John Flaxman, I have been too little among friends which I fear they will not Excuse & I know not how to [gi] apologize for. Poor Fuseli sore from the lash of Envious tongues praises you & dispraises with the same breath he is not naturally good natured but he is artificially very ill natured yet even from him I learn the Estimation you are held in among artists & connoisseurs.

I am still Employd in making Designs & little Pictures with now & then an Engraving & find that in future to live will not be so difficult as it has been It is very Extraordinary that London in so few years from a City of meer Necessaries or at l[e]ast a commerce of the lowest order of luxuries should have become a City of Elegance in some degree & that its once stupid inhabitants should enter into an Emulation of Grecian manners. There are now I believe as many Booksellers as there are Butchers & as many Printshops as of any other trade We remember when a Print shop was a rare bird in London & I myself remember when I thought my pursuits of Art a kind of Criminal Dissipation & neglect of the main chance which I hid my face for not being able to abandon as a Passion which is forbidden by Law & Religion, but now

[Begin Page 707] it appears to be Law& Gospel too, at least I hear so from the few friends I have dared to visit in my stupid Melancholy. Excuse this communication of sentiments which I felt necessary to my repose at this time. I feel very strongly that I neglect my Duty to my Friends, but It is not want of Gratitude or Friendship but perhaps an Excess of both.

Let me hear of your welfare. Remember My & My Wifes Respectful Compliments to Mrs Cumberland & Family

& believe me to be for Ever