Page:The Library, volume 5, series 3.djvu/252

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240
AN EARLY APPRECIATION

come forward. Only last year he opened an exhibition of his frescoes, proclaiming that he had rediscovered the lost art of fresco. He demanded of those who had considered his works the slovenly daubs of a madman, destitute alike of technical skill and harmony of proportion, to examine them now with greater attention. 'They will find' he adds, 'that if Italy is enriched and made great by Raphael, if Michael Angelo is its supreme glory, if art is the glory of the nation, if genius and inspiration are the great origin and bond of society, the distinction my works have obtained from those who best understand such things calls for my exhibition as the greatest of duties to my country.' [I cannot find this passage in any known work of Blake's, yet it bears the stamp of authenticity, and by good fortune I am enabled to give it in Blake's own words, not in a translation of Crabb Robinson only, as the latter has copied the above sentence, together with a doubtful date, which as we shall see must be that of May 15, 1809—a day memorable for the opening of the Exhibition in Golden Square—on the back of a letter preserved among his papers in Dr. Williams' Library. Just above it is written, and crossed out, part of a sentence, apparently from the same source, 'There cannot be more than three great painters or poets in any age or count[ry].' The probable origin of the passages must be given later.] At the same time he published a 'Descriptive Catalogue' of these fresco pictures, out of which we propose to give only a few unconnected passages. The original consists of a veritable olio of fragmentary utterances on art