Page:Life of William Blake, Pictor ignotus (Volume 1).djvu/28

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LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE.

CHAPTER I.

PRELIMINARY.

From nearly all collections or beauties of 'The English Poets,' catholic to demerit as these are, tender of the expired and expiring reputations, one name has been hitherto perseveringly exiled. Encyclopedias ignore it. The Biographical Dictionaries furtively pass it on with inaccurate despatch, as having had some connexion with the Arts. With critics it has had but little better fortune. The Edinburgh Review, twenty-seven years ago, specified as a characteristic sin of 'partiality' in Allan Cunningham's pleasant Lives of British Artists, that he should have ventured to include this name, since its possessor could (it seems) 'scareely be considered a painter' at all. And later, Mr. Leslie, in his Handbook for Young Painters, dwells on it with imperfect sympathy for awhile, to dismiss it with scanty recognition.

Yet no less a contemporary than Wordsworth, a man little prone to lavish eulogy or attention on brother poets, spake in private of the Songs of Innocence and Experience of William Blake, as