Collectors preserved his books and pictures; devoted admirers wrote of his life and thought. The obscure, poverty stricken mystic became recognized as a cultural treasure whose voice lives and speaks for a more receptive audience.
In a letter to a friend Rossetti commented on Hayley's book of ballads illustrated by Blake.
DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI TO WILLIAM ALLINGHAM 8 Jan., 1856. A month and a half actually, dear A., since the last sheet, already long behindhand, yet which has lain in my drawer ever since, till it is too late now to wish you merry Christmas, too late to wish you happy New Year, only not too late to feel just the same towards you as if I were the best cor respondent in the world, and to know you feel the same towards me... Many thanks indeed for your new year's gift, a most delightful one. Old Blake is quite as loveable by his oddities as by his genius, and the drawings to the Ballads abound with both. The two nearly faultless are the Eagle and the Hermit's Dog. Ruskin's favourite (who has just been look ing at it) is the Horse ; but I can't myself quite get over the intensity of comic decorum in the brute's face. He seems absolutely snuffling with propriety. The Lion seems singing a comic song- with a pen behind his ear, but the glimpse of distant landscape below is lovely. The only draw ing where the comic element riots almost unre- buked is the one of the dog jumping down the crocodile. As regards engraving, these drawings, with the Job, present the only good medium between etching and formal line that I ever met with. I see that in coming to me the book returns home ; having set out from No. 6 Bridge St., Blackfriars, just 50 years ago. Strange to think of it as then, new literature and art. Those ballads of Hayley some of the quaintest human bosh in the world picked their way, no doubt, in highly respectable quarters, where poor Blake's unadorned hero at Page i was probably often stared at, and sometimes torn out. ___________ [Comment on website:] The book that " returns home ; having set out from No. 6, Bridge Street, Blackfriars, just fifty years ago," was Ballads by William Hayley, founded on anecdotes relating to animals, with prints, de signed and engraved by William Blake. Chichester, printed by J. Seagrave for Richard Phillips, Bridge Street, Blackfriars, London, 1805."
Ballad the Second in Hayley's "Designs to a Series of Ballads" (Chichester, 1802)