Page:The Library, volume 5, series 3.djvu/250

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238
AN EARLY APPRECIATION

to the prevailing fashion of art in an age of artistic degradation. Moreover, as his religious convictions had brought on him the credit of being an absolute lunatic, it is hardly to be wondered at that, while professional connoisseurs know nothing of him, his very well-wishers cannot forbear betraying their compassion, even while they show their admiration. One attempt at introducing him to the great British public has indeed succeeded, his illustrations to Blair's 'Grave,' a religious poem very popular among the serious, which connoisseurs find remarkable alike for its beauties and defects, blaming its want of taste and delicacy, while admiring the imaginative powers of the poet. Blake, although properly speaking an engraver, was not commissioned to engrave his own drawings, the execution being entrusted, for reasons which we shall soon hear, to Schiavonetti, who executed his task with great neatness, but with such an admixture of dots and lines as must have aroused the indignation of the artist.[1] This work, which besides the twelve drawings contains an excellent portrait of Blake and the original text, costs two and a half guineas. It is preceded by some remarks of Fuseli's, which we insert as a proof of the merits of our artist, since we cannot

  1. That it did so we have the publisher Cromek's word; see the letter addressed by him to Blake on the subject of the engravings in 'Gilchrist,' chapter xxii. Blake's view of the dot and line school may be found in the third chapter of Gilchrist. 'What is called the English style of engraving, such as proceeded from the toilettes of Woollett and Strange (for theirs were Fribble's toilettes) can never produce character and expression…. Engraving is drawing on copper and nothing else.'