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Page:Biographical and critical studies by James Thomson ("B.V.").djvu/321

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A STRANGE BOOK

rative relation to things of another sphere, which are startlingly akin to Blake's writings—could pass, in fact, for no one's but his. Professing, as they do, the same new kind of authorship, they might afford plenty of material for comparison and bewildered speculation, if such were in any request."

With regard to the last parenthesis in the above passage, it should be observed that both Blake and Wilkinson would scornfully reject the term ghosts in connection with the sources of their inspiration, both holding steadfastly that the spiritual body is as real and in its own sphere as substantial as the natural body, that the spiritual life is far more intensely and profoundly (or supernally) real than the natural. Blake, with all his profusion of visions, saw but one "ghost" in his life (the famous "ghost of a flea," drawn for John Varley, water-colour painter and astrologer, was the visionary personification of the creature); and he, who was more familiar with "angels" and "spirits" than with his fellow-men, found this one "ghost" so horrible that he fairly fled out of the house from it;[1] and Dr. Wilkinson, as the title of his book and the account of its origin show, claims to be the medium of the Spirit or the Lord; though, indeed, as in "E. B.," "A Wife's Message," "Teddy's Flower," he sometimes believes himself the transmittor of communications from human spirits; but, as I have said,

  1. Life, i. 128. "When talking on the subject of ghosts, he was wont to say they did not appear much to imaginative men, but only to common minds, who did not see the finer spirits. A ghost was a thing seen by the gross bodily eye, a vision by the mental" {Ibid.). His one ghost appeared thus: "Standing one evening at his garden door in Lambeth, and chancing to look up, he saw a horrible grim figure, 'scaly, speckled, very awful,' stalking downstairs towards him. More frightened than ever before or after, he took to his heels and ran out of the house."