4 NOVEMBER 1882, Page 15


[To THE EDITOR. OF THE "SPECTATOR." j SIB,—Having read the notice of Gilchrist's Life of Blake," which appeared in your issue of the 21st October, you will, perhaps, permit inc to state that there are papers in existence— now before me—belonging to the representatives of the late T. H. Cromek which throw much light upon his father's trans- actions in the matters referred to, and I need hardly point out that they give a most emphatic contradiction to the statements advanced in such a vindictive spirit by Blake's biographers.

Without entering into the question of the unreliability of the source from which Mr. Gilehriat derived most of his charges against Cromek (Smith's " Nollekens, and his Times "), I contend that he drew a most illogical and un- lawyerlike inference from a letter written by Cromek, in reply to an insulting letter from the crazy artist, for insulting any impartial reader must conclude it to have been, to have called forth so severe a rejoinder. No biographer of Blake has seen this letter, though your reviewer says it was "a modest demand for four guineas for a vignette." Mr, Gilchrist drew his own prejudiced conclusions from Cromek's letter, but his strictures are unworthy of notice, when no opportunity is given of gauging the amount of provocation which Blake's letter con- veyed; and, with all due deference to Mr. Swinburne—another biographer, who in his " Essay " styles himself "junior counsel to Blake "—I think I am entitled to call upon him to produce the said document, in order that the public may have an oppor- tunity of judging if it was merely "a modest demand."

Let me add a word about this letter of Cromek to Blake, upon which both biographers base so many of their charges, and respecting which, as a preliminary to any vindication of Cromek by his friends, the "junior counsel" triumphantly demands, "Prove that Cromek did not write the letter published by Mr. Cunningham in 1852."

This letter has a curious history. It was found—a dupli- cate of the original—amongst his father's papers, by the late T. H. Cromek, who, knowing Mr. Allan Cunningham per- sonally, and, as an old friend of his father, lent it to him at his request, to copy. This was in 1833. The letter he was never able to get back, but in 1852 it appeared in the Gentle- man's Magazine, communicated by Mr. Peter Cunningham. Many contradictions of facts stated in Gilchrist's book could be given from the same source.—I am, Sir, &c., Lime Grove, Shepherd's Bush. JOILN BELL,