but there were four things I taught Walter to consider: 1) That it was Cain who built the first City, 2) That there is a true Science in the World called Scientia Umbrarum which, as to the publick teaching of it, has been suppressed but which the proper Artificer must comprehend, 3) That Architecture aims at Eternity and must contain the Eternal Powers: not only our Altars and Sacrifices, but the Forms of our Temples, must be mysticall, 4) That the miseries (If the present Life, and the Barbarities of Mankind, the fatall disadvantages we are all under and the Hazard we run of being eternally Undone, lead the True Architect not to Harmony or to Rationall Beauty but to quite another Game. Why, do we not believe the very Infants to be the Heirs of Hell and Children of the Devil as soon as they are disclos'd to the World? I declare that I build my Churches firmly on this Dunghil Earth and with a full Conception of Degenerated Nature. I have only room to add: there is a mad-drunken Catch, Hey ho! The Devil is dead! If that be true, I have been in the wrong Suit all my Life.
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He is a Londoner, too, in his writings. In his familiar letters he displays a rambling urban vivacity, a tendency to to veer off the point and to muddle his syntax. He had a brilliantly eclectic mind, picking up words and images while at the same time forging them in new and unexpected combinations. He conceived several ideas all at once, and sometimes forgot to separate them into their component parts. This was true of his lectures, too, in which brilliant perceptions were scattered in a wilderness of words. As he wrote on another occasion, "The lake babbled not less, and the wind murmured not, nor the little fishes leaped for joy that their tormentor was not." This strangely contorted and convoluted style also characterizes his verses, most of which were appended as commentaries upon his paintings. Like Blake, whose prophetic books bring words and images in exalted combination, Turner wished to make a complete statement. Like Blake, he seemed to consider the poet's role as being in part prophetic. His was a voice calling in the wilderness, and, perhaps secretly, he had an elevated sense of his status and his vocation. And like Blake, too, he was often considered to be mad. He lacked, however, the poetic genius of Blake - compensated perhaps by the fact that by general agreement he is the greater artist.
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On his thirteenth birthday he had seen a film in which the central character was a painter who, unable to sell his work, grew cold and hungry as he went from one unsuccessful interview to the next; eventually he had become a vagrant, sleeping in the streets of the city where once he had walked in hope. Hawksmoor left the cinema in a mood of profound, terrified apprehension and, from that time, he was filled with a sense of time passing and with the fear that he might be left discarded on its banks. The fear had not left him, although now he could no longer remember from where it came: he looked back on his earlier life without curiosity, since it seemed to lack intrinsic interest, and when he looked forward he saw the same steady attainment of goals without any joy in their attainment. For him, the state of happiness was simply the state of not suffering and, if he cared for anything, it was for oblivion.
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She went downstairs slowly and sat in front of the fire, rocking herself to and fro as she imagined all of the harm he might have suffered: she could see him enticed into a car by a stranger, she could see him knocked down by a lorry in the road, she could see him falling into the Thames and being carried away by the tide. It was her instinctive belief, however, that if she dwelled upon such scenes in sufficient detail she could prevent them from occurring: anxiety was, for her, a form of prayer. And then she spoke his name aloud, as if she were able to conjure him into existence.
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I have long been of the Opinion, says he, that the Fire was a vast Blessing and the Plague likewise; it gave us Occasion to understand the Secrets of Nature which otherwise might have overwhelm'd us. (I busied my self with the right Order of the Draughts, and said nothing.) With what Firmness of Mind, Sir Chris. went on, did the People see their City devoured, and I can still remember how after the Plague and the Fire the Chearfulnesse soon returned to them: Forgetfulnesse is the great Mystery of Time. I remember, I said as I took a Chair opposite to him, how the Mobb applauded the Flames. I remember how they sang and danced by the Corses during the Contagion: that was not Chearfulnesse but Phrenzy. And I remember, also, the Rage and the Dying - These were the Accidents of Fortune, Nick, from which we have learned so much in this Generation. It was said, sir, that the Plague and the Fire were no Accidents but Substance, that they were the Signes of the Beast withinne. And Sir Chris. laughed at this. At which point Nat put his Face in: Do you call, sirs? Would you care for a Dish of Tea or some Wine? Some Tea, some Tea, cried Sir Chris. for the Fire gives me a terrible Thirst. But no, no, he continued when Nat had left the Room, you cannot assign the Causes of Plague or Fire to Sin. It was the negligence of Men that provoked those Disasters and for Negligence there is a Cure; only Terrour is the Hindrance. Terrour, I said softly, is the Lodestone of our Art.
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There were pools of light among the stacks, directly beneath the bulbs which Philip had switched on, but it was now with an unexpected fearfulness that he saw how the books stretched away into the darkness. They seemed to expand as soon as they reached the shadows, creating some dark world where there was no beginning and no end, no story, no meaning. And if you crossed the threshold into that world, you would be surrounded by words; you would crush them beneath your feet, you would knock against them with your head and arms, but if you tried to grasp them they would melt away. Philip did not dare turn his back upon these books. Not yet. It was almost, he thought, as if they had been speaking to each other while he slept.
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And now we come to the Heart of our Designe: the art of Shaddowes you must know well, Walter, and you must be instructed how to Cast them with due Care. It is only the Darknesse that can give trew Forme to our Work and trew Perspective to our Fabrick, for there is no Light without Darknesse and no Substance without Shaddowe (and I turn this Thought over in my Mind: what Life is there which is not a Portmanteau of Shaddowes and Chimeras?). I build in the Day to bring News of the Night and of Sorrowe, I continued, and then I broke off for Walter's sake.
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I have had so many Dwellings, Nat, that I know these Streets as well as a strowling Beggar: I was born in this Nest of Death and Contagion and now, as they say, I have learned to feather it. When first I was with Sir Chris. I found lodgings in Phenix Street off Hogg Lane, close by St Giles and Tottenham Fields, and then in later times I was lodged at the corner of Queen Street and Thames Street, next to the Blew Posts in Cheapside. (It is still there, said Nat stirring up from his Seat, I have passed it!) In the time before the Fire, Nat, most of the buildings in London were made of timber and plaister, and stones were so cheap that a man might have a cart-load of them for six-pence or seven-pence; but now, like the Aegyptians, we are all for Stone. (And Nat broke in, I am for Stone!) The common sort of People gawp at the prodigious Rate of Building and exclaim to each other London is now another City or that House was not there Yesterday or the Situacion of the Streets is quite Changd (I contemn them when they say such things! Nat adds). But this Capital City of the World of Affliction is still the Capitol of Darknesse, or the Dungeon of Man's Desires: still in the Centre are no proper Streets nor Houses but a Wilderness of dirty rotten Sheds, allways tumbling or takeing Fire, with winding crooked passages, lakes of Mire and rills of stinking Mud, as befits the smokey grove of Moloch. (I have heard of that Gentleman, says Nat all a quiver). It is true that in what we call the Out-parts there are numberless ranges of new Buildings: in my old Black-Eagle Street, Nat, tenements have been rais'd and where my Mother and Father stared without understanding at their Destroyer (Death! he cryed) new-built Chambers swarm with life. But what a Chaos and Confusion is there: meer fields of Grass give way to crooked Passages and quiet Lanes to smoking Factors, and these new Houses, commonly built by the London workmen, are often burning and frequently tumbling down (I saw one, says he, I saw one tumbling!). Thus London grows more Monstrous, Straggling and out of all Shape: in this Hive of Noise and Ignorance, Nat, we are tyed to the World as to a sensible Carcasse and as we cross the stinking Body we call out What News? or What's a clock? And thus do I pass my Days a stranger to mankind. I'll not be a Stander-by, but you will not see me pass among them in the World. (You will disquiet your self, Master, says Nat coming towards me). And what a World is it, of Tricking and Bartering, Buying and Selling, Borrowing and Lending, Paying and Receiving; when I walk among the Piss and Sir-reverence of the Streets I hear, Money makes the old Wife trot, Money makes the Mare to go (and Nat adds, What Words won't do, Gold will). What is their God but shineing Dirt and to sing its Devotions come the Westminster-Hall-whores, the Charing-cross whores, the Whitehall whores, the Channel-row whores, the Strand whores, the Fleet Street whores, the Temple-bar whores; and they are followed in the same Catch by the Riband weavers, the Silver-lace makers, the Upholsterers, the Cabinet-makers, Watermen, Carmen, Porters, Plaisterers, Lightemen, Footmen, Shopkeepers, Journey-men... and my Voice grew faint through the Curtain of my Pain.
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The embrace of present and past time, in which English antiquarianism becomes a form of alchemy, engenders a strange timelessness. It is as if the little bird which flew through the Anglo-Saxon banqueting hall, in Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, gained the outer air and became the lark ascending in Vaughan Williams's orchestral setting. The unbroken chain is that of English music itself.
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Generally he knew by instinct the likely length of an investigation, but on this occasion he did not: as he fought to get his breath he suddenly saw himself as others must see him, and he was struck by the impossibility of his task. The event of the boy's death was not simple because it was not unique and if he traced it backwards, running the time slowly in the opposite direction (but did it have a direction?), it became no clearer. The chain of causality might extend as far back as the boy's birth, in a particular place and on a particular date, or even further into the darkness beyond that. And what of the murderer, for what sequence of events had drawn him to wander by this old church? All these events were random and yet connected, part of a pattern so large that it remained inexplicable. He might, then, have to invent a past from the evidence available - and, in that case, would not the future also be an invention? It was as if he were staring at one of those puzzle drawings in which foreground and background create entirely different images: you could not look at such a thing for long.
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It has often been said that the more unusual the murder the easier it is to solve, but this is a theory I don't believe. Nothing is easy, nothing is simple, and you should think of your investigations as a complicated experiment: look at what remains constant and look at what changes, ask the right questions and don't be afraid of wrong answers, and above all rely on observation and rely on experience.
None of these apparent sightings interested Hawksmoor, since it was quite usual for members of the public to come forward with such accounts and to describe unreal figures who took on the adventitious shape already suggested by newspaper accounts. There were even occasions when a number of people would report sightings of the same person, as if a group of hallucinations might create their own object which then seemed to hover for a while in the streets of London. And Hawksmoor knew that if he held a reconstruction of the crime by the church, yet more people would come forward with their own versions of time and event; the actual killing then became blurred and even inconsequential, a flat field against which others painted their own fantasies of murderer and victim.
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Hawksmoor had often noticed how, in the moments when he first carne upon a corpse, all the objects around it wavered for an instant and became unreal- the trees which rose above a body hidden in woodland, the movement of the river which had washed a body onto its banks, the cars or hedges in a suburban street where a murderer had left a victim, all of these things seemed at such times to be suddenly drained of meaning like an hallucination.
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His body had become a companion which seemed always about to leave him: it had its own pains which moved him to pity, and its own particular movements which he tried hard to follow. He had learned from it how to keep his eyes down on the road, so that he could see no one, and how important it was never to look back - although there were times when memories of an earlier life filled him with grief and he lay face down upon the grass until the sweet rank odour of the earth brought him to his senses. But slowly he forgot where it was he had come from, and what it was he was escaping.
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So now I lye by Day and toss or rave by Night, since the ratling and perpetual Hum of the Town deny me rest: just as Madness and Phrensy are the vapours which rise from the lower Faculties, so the Chaos of the Streets reaches up even to the very Closet here and I am whirl'd about by cries of Knives to Grind and Here are your Mouse-Traps. I was last night about to enter the Shaddowe of Rest when a Watch-man, half-drunken, thumps at the Door with his Past Three-a-clock and his Rainy Wet Morning. And when at length I slipp'd into Sleep I had no sooner forgot my present Distemper than I was plunged into a worse: I dreamd my self to be lying in a small place under ground, like unto a Grave, and my Body was all broken while others sung. And there was a Face that did so terrifie me that I had like to have expired in my Dream. Well, I will say no more.
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DYER. (Sits down) There was nothing that I recall save that the Sunne was a Round flat shining Disc and the Thunder was a Noise from a Drum or a Pan. VANNBRUGGHE. (Aside) What a Child is this! (To Dyer) These are only our Devices, and are like the Paint of our Painted Age. DYER. But in Meditation the Sunne is a vast and glorious Body, and Thunder is the most forcible and terrible Phaenomenon: it is not to be mocked, for the highest Passion is Terrour.
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And I was a Child again, watching the bright World. But the Spell broke when at this Juncture some Gallants jumped from the Pitt onto the Stage and behaved as so many Merry-Andrews among the Actors, which reduced all to Confusion. I laugh'd with them also, for I like to make Merry among the Fallen and there is pleasure to be had in the Observation of the Deformity of Things. Thus when the Play resumed after the Disturbance, it was only to excite my Ridicule with its painted Fictions, wicked Hypocrisies and villainous Customs, all depicted with a little pert Jingle of Words and a rambling kind of Mirth to make the Insipidnesse and Sterility pass. There was no pleasure in seeing it, and nothing to burden the Memory after: like a voluntarie before a Lesson it was absolutely forgotten, nothing to be remembered or repeated.
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He was clearly not the murderer whom Hawksmoor was seeking, but it was generally the innocent who confessed: in the course of many enquiries, Hawksmoor had come across those who accused themselves of crimes which they had not committed and who demanded to be taken away before they could do more harm. He was acquainted with such people and recognised them at once - although they were noticeable, perhaps, only for a slight twitch in the eye or the awkward gait with which they moved through the world. And they inhabited small rooms to which Hawksmoor would sometimes be called: rooms with a bed and a chair but nothing besides, rooms where they shut the door and began talking out loud, rooms where they sat all evening and waited for the night, rooms where they experienced blind panic and then rage as they stared at their lives. And sometimes when he saw such people Hawksmoor thought, this is what I will become, I will be like them because I deserve to be like them, and only the smallest accident separates me from them now.
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He was walking around in circles, the smell of the old furniture suddenly very distinct. There was a newspaper in his hand and he started reading it, paying particular attention to the headlines which seemed to be floating towards him so that now a band of black print encircled his forehead. He was curled upon the bed, hugging his knees, when the next horror came upon him: those who heard him last night would now have to report his theft, and his employer would call the police. He saw how the policeman took the telephone call at the station; how his name and address were spoken out loud; how he looked down at the floor as they led him away; how he was in the dock, forced to answer questions about himself, and now he was in a cell and had lost control of his own body. He was staring out of the window at the passing clouds when it occurred to him that he should write to his employer, explaining his drunkenness and confessing that he invented the story of theft; but who would believe him? It was always said that in drink there was truth, and perhaps it was true that he was a convicted thief. He began to sing, One fine day in the middle of the night, Two dead men got up to fight and then he knew what was meant by madness.
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His terror became his companion. When it seemed to diminish, or grow easier to bear, he forced himself to remember the details of what he had said and done so that his fears returned, redoubled. His previous life, which had been without fear, he now dismissed as an illusion since he had come to believe that only in fear could the truth be found. When he woke from sleep without anxiety, he asked himself, What is wrong? What is missing? And then his door opened slowly, and a child put its head around and gazed at him: there are wheels, Ned thought, wheels within wheels. The curtains were now always closed, for the sun horrified him: he was reminded of a film he had seen some time before, and how the brightness of the noonday light had struck the water where a man, in danger of drowning, was struggling for his life.
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We went back into the Mens Apartments where there were others raving of Ships that may fly and silvered Creatures upon the Moon: Their Stories seem to have neither Head nor Tayl to them, Sir Chris. told me, but there is a Grammar in them if I could but Puzzle it out. This is a mad Age, I replied, and there are many fitter for Bedlam than these here confin'd to a Chain or a dark Room. A sad Reflection, Nick. And what little Purpose have we to glory in our Reason, I continu'd, when the Brain may so suddenly be disorder'd?
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For when I trace back the years I have liv'd, gathering them up in my Memory, I see what a chequer'd Work Of Nature my life has been. If I were now to inscribe my own History with its unparalleled Sufferings and surprizing Adventures (as the Booksellers might indite it), I know that the great Part of the World would not believe the Passages there related, by reason of the Strangeness of them, but I cannot help their Unbelief; and if the Reader considers them to be but dark Conceits, then let him bethink himself that Humane life is quite out of the Light and that we are all Creatures of Darknesse.
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It is one of the greatest Curses visited upon Mankind, he told me, that they shall fear where no Fear is: this astrological and superstitious Humour disarms men's Hearts, it breaks their Courage, it makes them help to bring such Calamities on themselves. Then he stopped short and looked at me, but my Measure was not yet fill'd up so I begg' d him to go on, go on. And he continued: First, they fancy that such ill Accidents must come to pass, and so they render themselves fit Subjects to be wrought upon; it is a Disgrace to the Reason and Honour of Mankind that every fantasticall Humourist can presume to interpret the Skies (here he grew Hot and put down his Dish) and to expound the Time and Seasons and Fates of Empires, assigning the Causes of Plagues and Fires to the Sins of Men or the Judgements of God. This weakens the Constancy of Humane Actions, and affects Men with Fears, Doubts, Irresolutions and Terrours. I was afraid of your Moving Picture, I said without thought, and that was why I left. It was only Clock-work, Nick. But what of the vast Machine of the World, in which Men move by Rote but in which nothing is free from Danger? Nature yields to the Froward and the Bold. It does not yield, it devours: You cannot master or manage Nature. But, Nick, our Age can at least take up the Rubbidge and lay the Foundacions: that is why we must study the principles of Nature, for they are our best Draught. No, sir, you must study the Humours and Natures of Men: they are corrupt, and therefore your best Guides to understand Corrupcion. The things of the Earth must be understood by the sentient Faculties, not by the Understanding. There was a Silence between us now until Sir Chris. says, Is your Boy in the Kitchin? I am mighty Hungry.
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It's difficult to know where to begin, sir.' 'Yes, the beginning is the tricky part. But perhaps there is no beginning, perhaps we can't look that far back.' He got up from his desk and went over to the window, from where he could see thin pillar of smoke rising into the clouds. 'I never know where anything comes from, Walter.' 'Comes from, sir?' 'Where you come from, where I come from, where all this comes from.' And he gestured at the offices and homes beneath him. He was about to say something else but he stopped, embarrassed; and in any case he was coming to the limits of his understanding. He was not sure if all the movements and changes in the world were part of some coherent development, like the weaving of a quilt which remains one fabric despite its variegated pattern. Or was it a more delicate operation than this - like the enlarging surface of a balloon in the sense that, although each part increased at the same rate of growth as every other part, the entire object grew more fragile as it expanded? And if one element was suddenly to vanish, would the others disappear also - imploding upon each other helplessly as if time itself were unravelling amid a confusion of Sights, calls, shrieks and phrases of music which grew smaller and smaller? He thought of a train disappearing into the distance, until eventually only the smoke and the smell of its engine remained.
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Then he took the pages, smoothed them with the palm of his hand, and fixed them with pins to the walls. So that now, if he sat looking down upon Grape Street, the letters and images encircled him. And it was while he sat here, scarcely moving, that he was in hell and no one knew it. At such times the future became so clear that it was as if he were remembering it, remembering it in place of the past which he could no longer describe. But there was in any case no future and no past, only the unspeakable misery of his own self.
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Truly Time is a vast Denful of Horrour, round about which a Serpent winds and in the winding bites itself by the Tail. Now, now is the Hour, every Hour, every part of an Hour, every Moment, which in its end does begin again and never ceases to end: a beginning continuing, always ending.
You say that it is time to shake off the Mist, but Mankind walks in a Mist; that Reason which you cry up as the Glory of this Age is a Proteus and Cameleon that changes its Shape almost in every Man: there is no Folly that may not have a thousand Reasons produc'd to advance it into the Class of Wisdom. Reason itself is a Mist.