Page:The letters of William Blake (1906).djvu/67

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13
THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE

pictures were already cracked and split, and likely to be much more so, from the insufficiency or the misuse of his vehicle, turned his deaf side to his remarks; nay, he is said to have been quite angry with him for scrutinising so tender a subject. Sir Joshua Reynolds was indeed a clever painter, but he was too fond of the comforts of life to give even an hour a day for any other experiments but those which would enable him to paint with greater celerity. Sir Joshua made experiments, they say. No doubt he did. Well, then, the least that can be said is, that he began at the wrong end, like any other blunderer, and concluded in making his colours so bad that many of his pictures now possess no other quality than those which they still would have had if they had been always divested of colour: bold handling, fine judgment, able delineation of form, and great knowledge of nature. Some of his pictures were coloured once, but are not coloured now, for they have cracked and split and flown worse than those of any other painter extant. Was he, then, the man to sneer at what might have been an improvement if it had been tried by more than one. It is irritating to hear a sick man curse the salve of his sore place. Very singular it is to know that many of the best painters do not paint with the oil vehicle, or, if they do, in a very small quantity. Fuseli painted with