William Blake to Mr. Butts, 16th August 1803

Above:  “The Garden (2020)”

William Blake (1757-1827)

[Excerpt from a letter]
To Mr. Butts:
Felpham, 16th August 1803

“I go on with the remaining subjects which you gave me commission to execute for you; but I shall not be able to send any more before my return… I am at present in a bustle to defend myself against a very unwarrantable warrant from a justice of peace in Chichester, which was taken out against me by a private in Captain Leathe’s troop of 1st or Royal Dragoons for an assault and seditious words.

His enmity arises from my having turned him out of my garden… I desired him, as politely as possible, to go out of the garden; he made an impertinent answer. I insisted on his leaving the garden; he refused. I still persisted in desiring his departure. He then threatened to knock out my eyes… I therefore took him by the elbows and pushed him before me till I had got him out. There I intended to have left him, but he, turning about, put himself into a posture of defiance, threatening and swearing at me. I, perhaps foolishly and perhaps not, stepped out at the gate, and, putting aside his blows, took him again by the elbows, and keeping his back to me, pushed him forward down the road about fifty yards–he all the while endeavouring to turn round and strike me, and raging and cursing, which drew out several neighbors…”

I read the full letter from William Blake to his patron for the 75th volume of the Short Nonfiction Collection.

You can listen to my recording here.
You can read William Blake’s letters here.


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