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understood, is perfect freedom,) and have put themselves under the direction of I know not what capricious fantastical mistress, who fascinates and overpowers their whole mind, and from whose dominion there are no hopes of their being ever reclaimed, (since they appear perfectly satisfied, and not at all conscious of their forlorn situation,) like the transformed followers of Comus,
Not once perceive their foul disfigurement;
Methinks, such men, who have found out so short a path, have no reason to complain of the shortness of life, and the extent of art ; since life is so much longer than is wanted for their improvement, or indeed is necessary for the accomplishment of their idea of perfection. On the contrary, he who recurs to nature, at every recurrence renews his strength. The rules of art he is never likely to forget ; they are few and simple ; but nature is refined, subtle, and infinitely various, beyond the power and retention of memory ; it is necessary, there
fore, to have continual recourse to her. In this intercourse, there is no end of his improvement; the longer he lives, the nearer he approaches to the true and perfect idea of art.
DELIVERED TO THE STUDENTS OF
THE ROYAL ACADEMY,
DISTRIBUTION OF THE PRIZES,
DECEMBER 11. 1786.
ÄRT NOT MERELY IMITATION, BUT UNDER THE DIRECTION
OF THE IMAGINATION. - IN WHAT MANNER POETRY, PAINTING, ACTING, GARDENING, AND ARCHITECTURE, DEPART FROM NATURE.
To discover beauties, or to point out faults, in the works of celebrated Masters, and to compare the conduct of one Artist with another, is certainly no mean or inconsiderable part of criticism ; but this is still no more than to know the art through the Artist. This test' of investigation must have two capital defects; it must be narrow, and it must be uncertain. To enlarge the boundaries of the Art of Painting, as well as to fix its principles, it will be necessary, that, that art, and those principles, should be considered in their correspondence with the principles of the other arts, which, like this, address themselves primarily and principally to the imagination. When those connected and kindred principles are