Page:Life of William Blake, Pictor ignotus (Volume 1).djvu/327

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CHAPTER XXXII. INVENTIONS TO THE BOOK OF JOB. 1823--25. [r. 66-68.]

As we have often to repeaf Blake was even more a neglected man in these days of Lawrence and Wilkie than he had been in those of Reynolds and Gainsborough. The majority of connoisseurs, a set of men who, to tell the truth, know little more about art, the vital part of it, have no quicker perception or deeper insight into its poetic and spiritual qualities than the mob of educated men, though they prate more: these were, as they still are, blind to his beauties. And this being so, the publishing class deserves no special blame for its blindness and t, timidity.

Even his old friend Mr. Butts, a friend of more than thirty years' standing, the possessor of his best temmras and water-colour drawings, and of copies of all his engraved books, grew cool The patron had often found it a hard matter not to offend the independent, wilful lainter, ever the prouder for his poverty and neglect, always im- practicable and extreme when ruffled or stroked the wrong way. The patron had himself begun to take offence at Blake's quick resent. ment of well-meant, ff blunt, advice and at the unmeasured violence of his speech when provoked by opposition. The wealthy merchant employed him but little now, and during the few remslni,g years of Blake's life they seldom met.

One of the last, ff not the very last, works bought by Mx. Butts of Blake, was the original series of twenty-one water-colour drawings or Invts from the Book of Job, the longest and most important series executed since The Grave, in 1805; still loftier in theme, nobler in Digitized by GOOdie