Page:Life of William Blake 2, Gilchrist.djvu/226

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168
SELECTIONS FROM BLAKE'S WRITINGS.

While the works of Pope and Dryden are looked upon as the same art with those of Shakespeare and Milton, while the works of Strange and Woollett are looked upon as the same art with those of Raphael and Albert Dürer, there can be no art in a nation but such as is subservient to the interest of the monopolising trader. Englishmen! rouse yourselves from the fatal slumber into which booksellers and trading dealers have thrown you, under the artfully propagated pretence that a translation or a copy of any kind can be as honourable to a nation as an original, belieing the English character in that well-known saying, Englishmen improve what others invent. This even Hogarth's works prove a detestable falsehood. No man can improve an original invention, nor can an original invention exist without execution organised, delineated, and articulated either by God or man: I do not mean smoothed up and niggled and poco-pen'd, and all the beauties paled out, blurred, and blotted; but drawn with a firm and decided hand at once, like Michael Angelo, Shakespeare and Milton. I have heard many people say: 'Give me the ideas—it is no matter what words you put them into;' and others say: 'Give me the design, it is no matter for the execution.' These people knew enough of artifice, but nothing of art. Ideas cannot be given but in their minutely appropriate words, nor can a design be made without its minutely appropriate execution. The unorganised blots and blurs of Rubens and Titian are not art, nor can their method ever express ideas or imaginations, any more than Pope's metaphysical jargon of rhyming. Unappropriate execution is the most nauseous of all affectation and foppery. He who copies does not execute—he only imitates what is already executed. Execution is only the result of invention.

I do not condemn Rubens, Rembrandt, or Titian, because they did not understand drawing, but because they did not understand colouring; how long shall I be forced to beat this into men's ears? I do not condemn Strange or Woollett because they did not understand drawing, but because they