Page:William Blake, a critical essay (Swinburne).djvu/126

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WILLIAM BLAKE.

of mere arrangement has the mark of a great art consummate in great things—the imprint of a sure and strong hand, in which the thing to be done lies safe and gathers faultless form. These great things too are so small in mere size and separate place that they can never get praised in due detail. They are great by dint of the achievement implied and the forbearance involved. Only a chief among lyric poets could so have praised the songs of Blake; only a leader among imaginative painters could so have judged his designs; only an artist himself supreme at once in lordship of colour and mastery of metre could so have spoken of Blake's gifts and feats in metre and colour. Reading these notes, one can rest with sufficient pleasure on the conviction that, wherever else there may be failure in attaining the right word of judgment or of praise, here certainly there is none. Here there is more than (what all critics may have) goodwill and desire to give just thanks; for here there is authority, and the right to seem right in delivering sentence.

But these notes, good as they are and altogether valuable, are the least part of the main work. To the beauty and nobility of style, the exquisite strength of sifted English, the keen vision and deep clearness of expression, which characterize as well these brief prefaces as the notes on Job and that critical summary in the final chapter of the Life, one need hardly desire men's attention; that splendid power of just language and gift of grace in detail stand out at once distinguishable from the surrounding work, praiseworthy as that also in the main is; neither from the matter nor the manner can any