Letter from Felpham

Excerpt from a letter from Felpham, August 16th 1803.

Dear Sir This perhaps was sufferd to Clear up some doubts & to give opportunity to those whom I doubted to clear themselves of all imputation. If a Man offends me ignorantly & not designedly surely I ought to consider him with favour & affection. Perhaps the simplicity of myself is the origin of all offences committed against me. If I have found this I shall have learned a most valuable thing well worth three years perseverance. I have found it! It is certain! that a too passive manner. inconsistent with my active physiognomy had done me much mischief I must now express to you my conviction that all is come from the spiritual World for Good & not for Evil. Give me your advice in my perilous adventure. burn what I have peevishly written about any friend. I have been very much degraded & injuriously treated. but if it all arise from my own fault I ought to blame myself

O why was I born with a different face
Why was I not born like the rest of my race
When I look each one starts! when I speak I offend
Then I’m silent & passive & lose every Friend

Then my verse I dishonour. My pictures despise
My person degrade & my temper chastise
And the pen is my terror. the pencil my shame
All my Talents I bury, and Dead is my Fame
I am either too low or too highly prizd
When Elate I am Envy’d, When Meek I’m despisd

This is but too just a Picture of my Present state I pray God to keep you & all men from it & to deliver me in his own good time. Pray write to me & tell me how you & your family Enjoy health. My much terrified Wife joins me in love to you & Mrs Butts & all your family. I again take the liberty to beg of you to cause the Enclosd Letter to be deliverd to my Brother & remain

Sincerely & Affectionately Yours

When he composed this letter to Thomas Butts, Blake was about to go on trial for sedition. It’s a peculiar tale. An unruly soldier came into his back yard while he was composing poetry. Blake asked him to leave. He didn’t. So, Blake pushed him down the street, pinning his arms behind his back, back to the tavern where he came from. The soldier, Scofield, conspired with his friend, Mr. Cock (appropriate, no?) to have Blake arrested for sedition.

It was the end of what Blake considered to be his exile to the coast, and he was returning to London to write Jerusalem. Sometimes, I think of Arkansas as my Felpham. I hope they don’t try me for sedition when I try to get out.