Page:Life of William Blake 2, Gilchrist.djvu/225
most profound sense and genius; and yet his execution is pronounced by English connoisseurs (and Reynolds their doll) to be unfit for the study of the painter. Can I speak with too great contempt of such contemptible fellows? If all the princes in Europe, like Louis XIV. and Charles I., were to patronise such blockheads, I, William Blake, a mental prince, would decollate and hang their souls as guilty of mental high-treason. He who could represent Christ uniformly like a drayman must have queer conceptions—consequently his execution must have been as queer: and those must be queer fellows who give great sums for such nonsense and think it fine art. Who that has eyes cannot see that Rubens and Correggio must have been very weak and vulgar fellows? And we are to imitate their execution! This is like what Sir Francis Bacon says: that a healthy child should be taught and compelled to walk like a cripple, while the cripple must be taught to walk like healthy people. Oh rare wisdom!
The wretched state of the arts in this country and in Europe, originating in the wretched state of political science (which is the science of sciences), demands a firm and determinate conduct on the part of artists, to resist the contemptible counter-arts, established by such contemptible politicians as Louis XIV., and originally set on foot by Venetian picture-traders, music-traders, and rhyme-traders, to the destruction of all true art, as it is this day. To recover art has been the business of my life to the Florentine original, and if possible, to go beyond that original: this I thought the only pursuit worthy of a man. To imitate I abhor: I obstinately adhere to the true style of art, such as Michael Angelo, Raphael, Giulio Romano, Albert Dürer, left it. I demand, therefore, of the amateurs of art the encouragement which is my due; if they continue to refuse, theirs is the loss, not mine, and theirs is the contempt of posterity. I have enough in the approbation of fellow-labourers: this is my glory and exceeding great reward. I go on, and nothing can hinder my course.