Sunday, June 24, 2012


Library of Congress
Rosenwald Collection
Hayley's Ballads
Sketch for Eagle
William Blake and William Hayley were both in need of friendship when Blake left the city of London to live in the country near Felpham and work with Hayley. The two discovered that there were multiple disagreements between them. Blake left Felpham three years later no richer in worldly goods than when he had arrived. He had, however, gained experience for which he was grateful. The mental and spiritual work which occupied him at Felpham became known only in Milton and Jerusalem which were products of his struggles.

When he had gained some distance from Hayley, Blake recognised that Hayley too needed support and encouragement; that he was a victim of the same system whose oppression Blake felt. In their close association Blake had not felt that Hayley could be a spiritual friend to him, but on reflection he sought of draw Hayley to him by sharing his spiritual labours.

Letters, Dec 11 1805, (E 766)
"To William Hayley Esqre, Felpham
I speak of Spiritual Things.  Not of
Natural. of Things known only to Myself & to Spirits Good &
Evil. but Not Known to Men on Earth.  It is the passage thro
these Three Years that has brought me into my Present State. & I
know that if I had not been with You I must have
Perish'd--Those Dangers are now Passed & I can see them beneath
my feet It will not be long before I shall be able to present the
full history of my Spiritual Sufferings to the Dwellers upon
Earth. & of the Spiritual Victories obtaind for me by my
Friends--Excuse this Effusion of the Spirit from One who cares
little for this World which passes away. whose Happiness is
Secure in Jesus our Lord. & who looks for Suffering till the time
of complete Deliverance. In the mean While.  I am kept Happy as I
used to be. because I throw Myself & all that I have on our
Saviours Divine Providence. O What Wonders are the Children of
Men! Would to God that they would Consider it That they would
Consider their Spiritual Life Regardless of that faint Shadow
Calld Natural Life. & that they would Promote Each others
Spiritual Labours. Each according to its Rank & that they would
know that. Recieving a Prophet As a Prophet is a Duty which If
omitted is more Severely Avenged than Every Sin & Wickedness
beside It is the Greatest of Crimes to Depress True Art & Science
I know that those who are dead from the Earth & who mockd &
Despised the Meekness of True Art (and such, I find, have been
the situations of our Beautiful Affectionate Ballads).  I know
that such Mockers are Most Severely Punishd in Eternity I know it
for I see it & dare not help.--The Mocker of Art is the Mocker of
Jesus.  Let us go on Dear Sir following his Cross let us take it
up daily Persisting in Spiritual Labours & the Use of that Talent
which it is Death to Bury. & of that Spirit to which we are

Hazard Adams, in William Blake on His Poetry and Painting: A Study of a Descriptive Catalogue Other Prose Writings and Jerusalem, sees that we, like Blake, need to forgive Hayley:
"He complimented Hayley on his ballads, which had little popular success and indeed, had been mocked, but he knew that mockers of art are 'Most Severely punished in Eternity', for the mockers of art are the mockers of Jesus. Hayley has mainly been a figure of fun for scholars and critics, but he may be forgiven his bad poetry for his help and friendship to Blake when Blake badly needed it." Page 89

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