Hired to Depress: A Digital Scholarly Edition of William Blake's Annotations to Sir Joshua Reynolds' Discourses

The First Discourse 12

master of the rudiments. For it may be laid
down as a maxim, that he who begins by
presuming on his own sense, has ended his
studies as soon as he has commenced them.
Every opportunity, therefore, should be
taken to discountenance that false and vulgar
opinion, that rules are the fetters of genius;
they are fetters only to men of no genius;
as that armour, which upon the strong is an
ornament and a defence, upon the weak and
mis-shapen becomes a load, and cripples the
body which it was made to protect.
How much liberty may he taken to break
through those rules, and, as the Poet ex-
presses it.
     To snatch a grace beyond the reach of art,
may be a subsequent consideration, when
the pupils become masters themselves. It is
then, when their genius has received its ut-
most improvement, that rules may possibly
be dispensed with. But let us not destroy
the scaffold, until we have raised the

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