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Page:Biographical and critical studies by James Thomson ("B.V.").djvu/320

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limpid and spontaneous, are in the earlier part of the book, and I incline to think that they were also among the earliest written.

Before proceeding to discuss the writer's account of the genesis of these poems, it may be well, in vindication of my serious and respectful treatment of this volume, to cite the verdict of an eminent and unprejudiced living poet and painter (his poems I can speak of as having read them; his pictures I must take on trust, as unfortunately he will not exhibit). In his supplementary chapter to the then late Alexander Gilchrist's "Life of William Blake" (1863), Mr. Dante Gabriel Rossetti writes thus (vol. i. p. 382):—

"A very singular example of the closest and most absolute resemblance to Blake's poetry may be met with (if only one could meet with it), in a phantasmal sort of little book, published, or perhaps not published but only printed [I learn at the office of the Swedenborg Society, 36 Bloomsbury Street, London, that it really was published, as the title-page and the price, 5s., stamped on the back indicate], some years since, and entitled 'Improvisations of [from] the Spirit.' It bears no author's name, but was written by Dr. J. J. Garth Wilkinson, the highly gifted editor of Swedenborg's writings, and author of a 'Life' of him, to whom, as has been before mentioned, we owe a reprint of the poems in Blake's 'Songs of Innocence and Experience.' These improvisations profess to be written under precisely the same kind of spiritual guidance, amounting to abnegation of personal effort in the writer, which Blake supposed to have presided over the production of his 'Jerusalem,' &c. The little book has passed into the general (and in all other cases richly deserved) limbo of the modern 'spiritualist' muse. It is a very thick little book, however unsubstantial its origin, and contains, amid much that is disjointed or hopelessly obscure (but then why be the polisher of poems for which a ghost, and not even your own ghost, is alone responsible?), many passages of a remote and charming beauty, or sometimes of a grotesque figu-