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

The First Discourse 14

By this useless industry they are excluded
from all power of advancing in real excel-
lence. Whilst boys, they are arrived at their
utmost perfection ; they have taken the sha-
dow for the substance ; and make the me-
chanical felicity the chief excellence of the
art, which is only an ornament, and of the
merit of which few but painters themselves
are judges.

This seems to me to be one of the most
dangerous sources of corruption ; and I speak
of it from experience, not as an error which
may possibly happen, but which has actually
infected all foreign Academies. The direc-
tors were probably pleased with this prema-
ture dexterity in their pupils, and praised
their dispatch at the expence of their cor-

But young men have not only this frivo-
lous ambition of being thought masters of
, inciting them on one hand, but
also their natural sloth tempting them on the
other. They are terrified at the prospect
before them, of the toil required to attain 

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