The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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BOGNOR                                 95
incessantly treasured in his own capacious mind those inexhaustible stores of sentiment and expression, which enabled him gradually to ascend the purest heights of poetical renown, which rendered him at last, what he ardently wished to prove—the poet of Christianity—the monitor of the world !"
Hayley writes throughout as a devout Christian, and in the Essay on Old Maids refers to "those sarcastic remarks on Christianity which are the only blemish in Gibbon's exquisite composition."
Becoming acquainted with William Blake (1757-1827) through Flaxman, Hayley induced that mystic, in whose opinion all things existed in the human imagination alone, to settle at Felpham in order more conveniently to do some engraved illustrations for certain of Hayley's works. Ridiculous as it would have seemed at the time, Blake's star was destined far to outshine that of his patron. In one of the less beautiful of his poems Blake has told us how—
"And Felpham Billy rode out every morn, Horseback with Death, over the fields of corn."
Blake's nickname Death seems to have origin­ated from his having illustrated Blair's Grave. At first he was fascinated with Felpham and wrote the lines quoted at the head of the chapter. It was here, too, that walking alone one day in the garden of the cot he saw the Fairy's Funeral which so appealed to his imagination: " There was great stillness among the branches and flowers, and more than common sweetness in the air; I heard a low and pleasant sound, and I knew not whence it came. At last I saw the broad leaf of a
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