KIPLING'S SUSSEX - online book

An illustrated descriptive guide, to the places mentioned in
the writings of Rudyard Kipling.

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SUSSEX DOWNS                    223
of Blake's visionary powers consisted in the heads or spiritual portraits which he drew at Varley's house. Varley, who was one of the founders of the new school of water-colour drawing, was also an astrologer, who gained popular applause by making astonishing predictions. It was Varley who encouraged Blake to make his remarkable black and white spirit drawings. Varley would ask for a drawing of David, or Moses, or Julius Caesar, and Blake would take up his pencil, if the mood were on him, and begin to draw, looking up now and then as though to scrutinise an actual sitter. Whether these spiritual portraits were the outcome of an unbalanced mind or not, some of them were historically exact, and it is certain that Blake was no mountebank.
The ghost of a flea, drawn in this way, has often made the profane laugh, and there may be room for laughter ; but, after all, more doubtful forms of supernormal phenomena are accepted gladly enough at the present time. However, we are inclined to view Blake from Max Nordau's standpoint, that all men of genius are mad, and at the same time agree with Oscar Wilde's parry that all sane people are idiots.
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