by Raimbach, afterwards famous as Wilkie's engraver.
Another, from a curious early effort of Romney's in the comic
vein ā The Introduction of Slop into the Parlonr of Shandy ā is
by W. Haines, a Sussex man, then an engraver, subsequently
a painter of repute,
September 20tk, 1804.
I hope you will excuse my delay in sending the books which
I have had some time, but kept them back till I could send a Proof
of the Shipwreck, which I hope will please. It yet wants all its last
and finishing touches, but I hope you will be enabled by it to judge
of the pathos of the picture. I send Washington's second volume,
five numbers of Fuseli's Shakespeare, and two vols, with a letter from
Mr. Spilsbury, with whom I accidentally met in the Strand. He says
that he relinquished painting as a profession, for which I think he
is to be applauded : but I conceive that he may be a much better
painter if he practises secretly and for amusement than he could
ever be if employed in the drudgery of fashionable daubing for a
poor pittance of money in return for the sacrifice of Art and Genius.
He says he never will leave to practice the Art, because he loves it,
and this alone will pay its labour by success, if not of money, yet of
true Art, which is all. I had the pleasure of a call from Mrs. Chet-
wynd and her brother, a giant in body, mild and polite in soul, as I
have, in general, found great bodies to be ; they were much pleased
with Romney's Designs. Mrs. C. sent tome the two articles for you,
and for the safety of which by the coach I had some fear, till Mr.
Meyer obligingly undertook to convey them safe. He is now, I sup-
pose, enjoying the delights of the turret of lovely Felpham ; please to
give my affectionate compliments to him. I cannot help suggesting
an idea which has struck me very forcibly, that the Tobit and Tobias
in your bedchamber would make a very beautiful engraving done
in the same manner as the Head of Cowper, after Lawrence ; the
heads to be finished, and the figures to be left exactly in imita-
tion of the first strokes of the painter. The expression of those
truly pathetic heads would then be transmitted to the public, a
singular monument of Romney's genius in that slightest branch
of art. I must now tell my wants, and beg the favour of some
more of the needful. The favour of ten pounds more will carry me
through this plate, and the Head of Romney, for which I am already
paid. You shall soon see a proof of him in a very advanced state.
I have not yet proved it, but shall soon, when I will send you one.
^ET. 47ā48] LETTERS TO HAYLEY. 21 5
I rejoice to hear from Mr. Meyer of Miss Poole's continued recovery.
My wife desires with me her respects to you, and her, and to all
whom we love, that is, to all Sussex.
Your sincere and obliged humble servant,
In the midst of all these business details, valuable as
showing Blake's perfect sanity and prudence in the conduct
of practical affairs, it is refreshing to come upon a letter
written in his visionary vein.
22,rd Oct. 1804.
I received your kind letter with the note to Mr. Payne, and
have had the cash from him. I should have returned my thanks
immediately on receipt of it, but hoped to be able to send, before
now, proofs of the two plates, the Head of R. and the Shipwreck,
which you shall soon see in a much more perfect state. I write
immediately because you wish I should do so, to satisfy you that
I have received your kind favour.
I take the extreme pleasure of expressing my joy at our good
Lady of Lavant's continued recovery, but with a mixture of sincere
sorrow on account of the beloved Councillor. My wife returns her
heartfelt thanks for your kind inquiry concerning her health. She is
surprisingly recovered. Electricity is the wonderful cause ; the swell-
ing of her legs and knees is entirely reduced. She is very near as
free from rheumatism as she was five years ago, and we have the
greatest confidence in her perfect recovery.
The pleasure of seeing another poem from your hands has
truly set me longing (my wife says I ought to have said us) with
desire and curiosity ; but, however, " Christmas is a coming."
Our good and kind friend Hawkins is not yet in town ā hope
soon to have the pleasure of seeing him ā with the courage of con-
scious industry, worthy of his former kindness to me. For now !
O Glory ! and O Delight ! 1 have entirely reduced that spectrous
Fiend to his station, whose annoyance has been the ruin of my
labours for the last passed twenty years of my life. He is the
enemy of conjugal love, and is the Jupiter of the Greeks, an iron-
hearted tyrant, the ruiner of ancient Greece. I speak with perfect
confidence and certainty of the fact which has passed upon me.
Nebuchadnezzar had seven times passed over him, I have had
2l6 LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE. [1804ā 1805.
twenty ; thank God I was not altogether a beast as he was ; but I
was a slave bound in a mill among beasts and devils ; these beasts
and these devils are now, together with myself, become children of
light and liberty, and my feet and my wife's feet are free from fetters.
O lovely Felpham, parent of Immortal Friendship, to thee I am
eternally indebted for my three years' rest from perturbation and
the strength I now enjoy. Suddenly, on the day after visiting the
Truchsessian Gallery of Pictures, I was again enlightened with the
light I enjoyed in my youth, and which has for exactly twenty years
been closed from me as by a door and by window-shutters. Conse-
quently I can, with confidence, promise you ocular demonstration
of my altered state on the plates I am now engraving after Romney,
whose spiritual aid has not a htlle conduced to my restoration to the
light of Art. O the distress I have undergone, and my poor wife
with me. Incessantly labouring and incessantly spoiling what I had
done well. Every one of my friends was astonished at my faults,
and could not assign a reason; they knew my industry and ab-
stinence from every pleasure for the sake of study, and yet ā and yet
ā and yet there wanted the proofs of industry in my works. I
thank God with entire confidence that it shall be so no longer :
ā he is become my servant who domineered over me, he is even as
a brother who was my enemy. Dear Sir, excuse my enthusiasm or
rather madness, for I am really drunk with intellectual vision when-
ever I take a pencil or graver into my hand, even as I used to be
in my youth, and as I have not been for twenty dark, but very profitable,
years. I thank God that I courageously pursued my course through
darkness. In a short time I shall make my assertion good that I
am become suddenly as I was at first, by producing the Head of
Ro7)mey and the Shipwreck quite another thing from what you or
I ever expected them to be. In short, I am now satisfied and proud
of my work, which I have not been for the above long period.
If our excellent and manly friend Meyer is yet with you, please
to make my wife's and my own most respectful and affectionate
compliments to him, also to our kind friend at Lavant.
I remain, with my wife's joint affection,
Your sincere and obliged servant,
The 'Truchsessian Gallery,' which, as the foregoing letter
seems to show, exerted a powerful influence on Blake's mind,
has happily left a discoverable record of itself in the shape of
.m\ 47ā48.] LETTERS TO HAYLEY. 21/
two pamphlets to be found in the ' Dance Collection ' in the
Bodleian Library. One is a Proposal for the Establishment
of a Public Gallery of Pictures in London, by Count Joseph
Triichsess, London, 1802 ; and the other a Catalogue of the
Trnchsessian Picture Gallery, Now Exhibiting in the New
Road, opposite Portland Place, London, 1803. In the first
of these, the Count, who signs himself Joseph, Count
Truchsess, of Zeyl-Wurzach, Grand Dean of the Cathe-
dral of Strasburg and Canon of the Metropolitan Chapter
of Cologne, affirms that he has lost a large fortune in the
French Revolution, but has saved with difficulty a very
large and valuable collection of pictures, which he has been
obliged to ' pledge ' in Vienna. He refers to the Imperial
Academy of Vienna and to many travelling Englishmen of
distinction, especially Lord Minto, as willing to attest its
genuineness and importance. He proposes to bring the
best part of the collection to England and make it the
nucleus of a gallery, in which people may find the ' means
of making themselves acquainted with all the schools of
painting.' He then proposes that a company shall be
formed to raise the requisite amount (60,000 guineas) and
gives references to well-known bankers who will act as his
trustees. He is not, he writes, * an adventurer, nor his
gallery a chimera,' and ' all who are particularly acquainted
with him will gladly do justice to the uprightness of his
moral character/ As to his subscribers, 'their names shall
not only be publicly printed, but they shall also remain
indelibly engraven on his heart.' In the Catalogue, printed
next year, there is no information regarding the purchase of
the pictures. Their whole number is very large, and they are
classified as follows : ā
(i) German Painters: ā among whom are Albert Diirer,
Brand, Edlinger, Hans Holbein senior (father of the great
painter), Roos, Sarbach, &c., &c.
(2) Dutch and Flemish: ā Aertsens, Breughel, Vandyck,
Geldorp, De Laar, Miel, Uchterwelt, &c. &c.
2l8 LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE. 11804ā1805.
(3) Italian and Spanish : ā Buonarotti (Michael Angelo),
Leonardo da Vinci, Carlo Dolce, Correggio, Murillo, Strozzi,
Salvator Rosa, &c. &c.
(4) French : ā Bourdon, both the Poussins, Claude Lorraine,
Watteau, &c. &c.
It is curious that no mention of so large a collection should
appear in Buchanan's Memoirs of Paintings which is mainly-
devoted to the picture importations of that very period.
December i8th, 1804, Blake writes: ā
I send, with some confidence, proofs of my two plates, having
had the assistance and approbation of our good friend Flaxman. He
approves much (I cannot help telling you so much) of the Shipwreck.
Mrs. Flaxman also, who is a good conoisseur in engraving, has given
her warm approbation, and to the plate of the Portrait, though not yet
in so high finished a state. I am sure (mark my confidence) with Flax-
man's advice, which he gives with all the warmth of friendship both to
you and me, it must be soon a highly finished and properly finished
print; but yet I must solicit for a supply of money, and hope you will be
convinced that the labour I have used on the two plates has left me
without any resource but that of applying to you. I am again in want
of ten pounds \ hope that the size and neatness of my plate of the
Shipwreck will plead for me the excuse for troubling you before it can
be properly called finished, though Flaxman has already pronounced
it so. I beg your remarks also on both my performances, as in their
present state they will be capable of very much improvement from a
few lucky or well advised touches. I cannot omit observing that the
price Mr. Johnson gives for the plates of Fuseli's Shakespeare (the
concluding numbers of which I now send) is twenty-five guineas
each. On comparing them with mine of the Shipivreck, you will
perceive that I have done my duty and put forth my whole strength.
Your beautiful and elegant daughter Veniisea grows in our estima-
tion on a second and third perusal. I have not yet received the
History of Chichester. I mention this not because I would hasten
its arrival before it is convenient, but fancy it may have miscarried.
My wife joins me in wishing you a merry Christmas. Remembering
our happy Christmas at lovely Felpham, our spirits seem still to hover
round our sweet cottage and round the beautiful Turret. I have said
seem, but am persuaded that distance is nothing but a phantasy. We
>ET. 47ā48.] LETTERS TO HAYLEY. 219
are often sitting by our cottage fire, and often we think we hear your
voice calling at the gate. Surely these things are real and eternal in
our eternal mind, and can never pass away. My wife continues well,
thanks to Mr. Birch's Electrical Magic, which she has discontinued
these three months.
I remain your sincere and obliged,
A few days' later died Councillor Rose, whom Blake ever
regarded with grateful affection and admiration. Thus charac-
teristically he writes : ā " Farewell, sweet Rose, thou hast got
" before me into the Celestial City. I also have but a few
" more mountains to pass, for I hear the bells ring and the
" trumpets sound to welcome thy arrival among Cowper's
" glorified band of spirits of just men made perfect."
The four remaining letters to Hayley are chiefly occupied
with plans for bringing out the duodecimo edition of the
Ballads already alluded to.
Jan. 22nd, 1805.
I hope this letter will outstrip Mr. Phillips', as I sit down to
write immediately on returning from his house. He says he is agree-
able to every proposal you have made, and will himself immediately
reply to you. I should have supposed him mad if he had not, for
such clear and generous proposals as yours to him he will not easily
meet from any one else. He will, of course, inform you what his
sentiments are of the proposal concerning the three dramas. I found
it unnecessary to mention anything relating to the purposed appUca-
tion of the profits, as he, on reading your letter, expressed his wish that
you should yourself set a price, and that he would, in his letter to you,
explain his reasons for wishing it. The idea of publishing one volume
a year he considers as impolitic, and that a handsome general edi-
tion of your works would be more productive. He likewise objects to
any periodical mode of publishing any of your works, as he thinks
it somewhat derogatory as well as unprofitable. I must now express
my thanks for your generous manner of proposing the Ballads to
him on my account, and inform you of his advice concerning them ;
and he thinks that they should be published all together in a volume
the size of the small edition of the Triumphs of Temper, with six or
seven plates. That one thousand copies should be the first edition,
and if we choose, we might add to the number of plates in a second
220 LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE. [1S05.
edition. And he will go equal shares with me in the expense and
the profits, and that Seagrave is to be the printer. That we must
consider all that has been printed as lost, and begin anew, unless we
can apply some of the plates to the new edition. I consider myself
as only put in trust with this work, and that the copyright is for ever
yours. I, therefore, beg that you will not suffer it to be injured by my
ignorance, or that it should in any way be separated from the grand
bulk of your literary property. Truly proud I am to be in possession
of this beautiful little estate ; for that it will be highly productive, I
have no doubt, in the way now proposed ; and I shall consider myself
a robber to retain more than you at any time please to grant. In
short, I am tenant at will, and may write over my door as the poor
barber did, " Money for live here."
I entreat your immediate advice what I am to do, for I would not
for the world injure this beautiful work, and cannot answer P.'s pro-
posal till I have your directions and commands concerning it ; for he
wishes to set about it immediately, and has desired that I will give
him my proposal concerning it in writing.
I remain, dear Sir,
Your obliged and affectionate,
April 2SiA, 1805.
This morning I have been with Mr. Phillips, and have entirely
settled with him the plan of engraving for the new edition of the
Ballads. The prints, five in number, I have engaged to finish by
28th May; they are to be as highly finished as I can do them, the
size the same as the seven plates, the price 20 guineas each, half to
be prepaid by P. The subjects I cannot do better than those
already chosen, as they are the most eminent among animals, viz. : ā
the Lion, the Eagle, the Horse, the Dog. Of the dog species, the two
ballads are so pre-eminent, and my designs for them please me so well,
that I have chosen that design in our last number, of the dog and
crocodile, and that of the dog defending his dead master from the
vultures. Of these five I am making little high finished pictures the
size the engravings are to be, and I am hard at it to accomplish in
time what I intend. Mr. P. says he will send Mr. Seagrave the
The journeymen printers throughout London are at war with
their masters, and are likely to get the better. Each party meets to
.^ā¢T. 48.] LETTERS TO HAYLEY. 221
consult against the other. Nothing can be greater than the violence
on both sides ; printing is suspended in London except at private
presses. I hope this will become a source of advantage to our
The idea of seeing an engraving of Cowper by the hand of
Caroline Watson is, I assure you, a pleasing one to me. It will be
highly gratifying to see another copy by another hand, and not only
gratifying, but improving, which is much better.
The town is mad : young Roscius [Master Betty] like all prodigies,
is the talk of everybody. I have not seen him, and perhaps never
may. I have no curiosity to see him, as I well know what is within
compass of a boy of fourteen ; and as to real acting, it is, like his-
torical painting, no boy's work.
Fuseli is made Master of the Royal Academy. Banks, the
sculptor, is gone to his eternal home. I have heard that Flaxman
means to give a lecture on sculpture at the Royal Academy on the
occasion of Banks' death. He died at the age of seventy-five, of a
paralytic stroke, and I conceive Flaxman stands without a competitor
I must not omit to tell you that, on leaving Mr. Phillips, I asked
if he had any message to you, as I meant to write immediately. He
said, " Give my best respects, and tell Mr. Hayley that I wish very
much to be at work for him." But perhaps I ought to tell you what
he said to me previous to this in the course of our conversation.
His words were, "I feel somewhat embarrassed at the idea of setting
a value on any works of Mr. Hayley, and fear that he will wish me
to do so." I asked him how a value was set on any literary work.
He answered the probable sale of the work would be the measure
of estimating the profits, and that would lead to a valuation of the
copyright. This may be of no consequence; but I could not omit
My wife continues in health, and desires to join me in every
grateful wish to you and to our dear respected Miss Poole.
Yours with sincerity,
P.S. ā Your desire, that I should write a little advertisement at the
beginning of the Ballads, has set my brains to work, and at length
produced the following. Simplicity, as you desire, has been my first
object. I send it for your correction or condemnation, begging you
222 LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE. [1805.
to supply its deficiency or to new create it according to your
wish : ā
'The public ought to be informed that these Ballads were the
'effusions of friendship to countenance what their author is kindly
* pleased to call talents for designing and to relieve my more laborious
' engagement of engraving those portraits which accompany the Life
' of Coivper. Out of a number of designs, I have selected five, and
* hope that the public will approve of my rather giving fev*r highly
' laboured plates than a greater number and less finished. If I have
'succeeded in these, more may be added at pleasure.'
It was, no doubt, an irksome task to be continually ex-
pressing thanks for work that was in the main little congenial,
and admiration for Hayley's own performances, which though
the warmth of Blake's friendly and grateful feelings enabled
him to utter with sincerity at the time, his cooler judgment
must have declined to ratify. It is not surprising, therefore,
that in the MS. Note-book before alluded to, which in his
spleenful as well as in his elevated moods appears to have
generally lain at the artist's elbow, we find such a couplet as
the following : ā
On H. \Hayley\ the Plckthank.
I write the rascal thanks till he and I
With thanks and compliments are both drawn dry.
The next letter, last of the series, June 4th, 1805, refers to
the Advertisement again : a matter in v/hich Mr. Phillips
showed excellent discernment.
Jtine i^h, 1805.
I have fortunately, I ought to say providentially, discovered
that I have engraved one of the plates for that ballad of The Horse
which is omitted in the new edition ; time enough to save the extreme
loss and disappointment which I should have suffered had the work
been completed without that ballad's insertion. I write to entreat
that you would contrive so as that my plate may come into the work,
as its omission would be to me a loss that I could not now sustam
/ET. 48.] LETTERS TO IIAYLEY. 223
as it would cut off ten guineas from my next demand on Phillips,
which sum I am in absolute want of; as well as that I should lose
all the labour I have been at on that plate, which I consider as one
of my best ; I know it has cost me immense labour. The way in
which I discovered this mistake is odd enough. Mr. Phillips objects
altogether to the insertion of my Advertisement, calling it an appeal
to charity, and says that it will hurt the sale of the work, and he sent
to me the last sheet by the penny (that is the twopenny) post,
desiring that I would forward it to Mr. Seagrave. But I have
inclosed it to you, as you ought and must see it. I am no judge in
these matters, and leave all to your decision, as I know that you will
do what is right on all hands. Pray accept my and my wife's sincerest
love and gratitude.
Not without some sense of relief, probably, will the reader
turn the last leaf of the story of Blake's connection with
Hayley, honourable though it were to each ; especially to
Hayley, considering how little nature had fitted him to enter
into the spiritual meanings of Blake's art. But herein, as
Blake said to Mr. Butts, he that is not with a man is against
him ; and no amount of friendly zeal to serve, nor even of
personal liking, could neutralise the blighting influence of
constant intercourse with one who had an ignorant contempt
for those fine gifts and high aspirations which rightly to use
and to fulfil were for Blake the sacred purpose and sufficing
delight of life.
And in the midst of the great Assembly Palamabron prayed,
O God, protect me from my friends, that they have not power
Thou hast given me power to protect myself from my bitterest
Thus wrote Blake in one of the mystic books, Milton,
produced at this time. And in his Note-book he apos-
trophises poor Hayley : ā
Thy friendship oft has made my heart to ache ;
Do be my enemy for friendship's sake !
224 LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE. [1805.
Doubtless, as sometimes ensues in the case of far more
congenial minds, many things which failed, amid the amenities
of personal intercourse, to disturb the good understanding at
the time, rankled or were felt resentfully afterwards. In two
more of the sarcastic and biting reflections, in epigrammatic
form, on those against whom Blake had, or fancied he had,
cause of offence, interspersed with more serious matter in the
Note-book, Hayley's name again figures : ā
My title as a genius thus is proved,
Not praised by Hayley, nor by Flaxman loved.
And once more : ā
You think Fuseli is not a great painter ? I'm glad :
This is one of the best compliments he ever had.
The reading world, too, was fast coming round to a juster
estimate of its quondam favourite. The Ballads, though
illustrated in so poetic a spirit and in a more popular style
than anything previous from the same hand, were as complete
a failure ā not in pecuniary respects alone, but in commanding
even a moderate share of public attention ā as any in the
long list of Blake's privately printed books. Hayley had
not more power to help Blake with a public challenged now
by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lamb, won by Crabbe, Campbell,
Scott, than Blake had by his archaic conceptions, caviare
to the many, to recall roving readers to an obsolete style of
unpoetic verse, a tame instead of a rattling one, such as had
come into vogue. The Life of Rojnney, when at last it did
appear, was quite unnoticed. After the Life of Cowper, no