Page:Life of William Blake 2, Gilchrist.djvu/227

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did not understand engraving. I do not condemn Pope or Dryden because they did not understand imagination, but because they did not understand verse. Their colouring, graving, and verse, can never be applied to art: that is not either colouring, graving, or verse, which is inappropriate to the subject. He who makes a design must know the effect and colouring proper to be put to that design, and will never take that of Rubens, Rembrandt, or Titian, to turn that which is soul and life into a mill or machine.

They say there is no straight line in nature. This is a lie, like all that they say, for there is every line in nature. But I will tell them what there is not in nature. An even tint is not in nature—it produces heaviness. Nature's shadows are ever varying, and a ruled sky that is quite even never can produce a natural sky. The same with every object in a picture—its spots are its beauties. Now, gentlemen critics, how do you like this? You may rage; but what I say I will prove by such practice (and have already done so) that you will rage to your own destruction. Woollett I knew very intimately by his intimacy with Basire, and I knew him to be one of the most ignorant fellows that I ever knew. A machine is not a man nor a work of art; it is destructive of humanity and of art. Woollett, I know, did not know how to grind his graver; I know this. He has often proved his ignorance before me at Basire's, by laughing at Basire's knife-tools, and ridiculing the forms of Basire's other gravers, till Basire was quite dashed and out of conceit with what he himself knew. But his impudence had a contrary effect on me.

A certain portrait-painter said to me in a boasting way: 'Since I have practised painting, I have lost all idea of drawing.' Such a man must know that I looked upon him with contempt. He did not care for this any more than West did, who hesitated and equivocated with me upon the same subject; at which time he asserted that Woollett's prints were superior to Basire's, because they had more labour and