Page:The Library, volume 5, series 3.djvu/242

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As a pioneer in Blake criticism Crabb Robinson has never received his due; Gilchrist resents his suggestion that Blake was not entirely sane, others have repeated the reproach; and no one has thought to clear his memory in that respect by reprinting that forgotten paper which he wrote in the winter of 1809-10 to introduce Blake to the notice of German students—a paper based on a first-hand study of all the pictures, poems and engravings on which he could lay his hands, and on such personal information as he could glean from friends. He did not meet the poet-painter until many years later, so that his narrative, by far the earliest long account of Blake and his work, is uncoloured by personal feeling. When in the year 1863 Gilchrist introduced William Blake, Pictor Ignotus, to the general public, he began his book with a lament over the 'scanty recognition' accorded to Blake as poet and artist. The notices in Cunningham's 'Lives of British Artists ' and Leslie's 'Handbook for Young Painters' are alone mentioned by name, and Biographical Dictionaries are said to pass by his name 'with inaccurate dispatch, as having had some connexion with the Arts.' Yet a closer study of the facts will reveal a surprising amount of contemporary interest in William Blake. Malkin's 'A Father's Memoirs of his Child' (1805) is the only serious biographical notice published during his lifetime—the only one, at least, hitherto regarded. But at his death friendly notices appeared in the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' the 'New Monthly Magazine,' and elsewhere, the first-named being, in