Page:The Library, volume 5, series 3.djvu/251

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239
OF WILLIAM BLAKE.

give an actual reproduction of his work. After mentioning the utility of such a series of moral designs in an age so frivolous as ours, before which the allegories of antiquity faint and fail, Fuseli continues, 'the author of the moral series before us has endeavoured to wake sensibility by touching our sympathies with nearer, less ambiguous, and less ludicrous imagery, than that which mythology, Gothic superstition, or symbols as far-fetched as inadequate, could supply,' [and so on, quoting the rest of the kind but clumsy preface of the admirer who found Blake 'damned good to steal from.' Crabb Robinson continues:—] One can see this is no 'damning with feigned praise,'[1]for the faults indicated by Fuseli are only too apparent. In fact, of all the artists who ever lived, even of those perverted spirits described by Goethe in his entertaining 'Sammler und die Seinigen' ('Propyläen,' B.2. St. 2) under the title of poetisers, phantom-hunters and the like, none so completely betrays himself as our artist. We shall return to these drawings later, and will now proceed to speak of the little book on which we have specially drawn, a book, besides, which is one of the most curious ever published.

The illustrations to the 'Grave,' though only perhaps admired by the few, were by these few loudly and extravagantly praised. Blake, who had become known by their praises, now resolved to

  1. I must apologise for the pun in the above phrase, but the original, 'Kein Verdammen durch verstelltes Lob,' is in inverted commas, suggesting a quotation, and Pope's phrase would infallibly suggest itself to Crabb Robinson in this connexion.