Of all the great men and others whose books Blake annotated The
Annotations to Berkeley's Siris, may well represent the man whose values Blake resembled most.
George (Bishop) Berkeley (1685-1753) was born in County Kilkenny and
educated at Kilkenny College and Trinity College in Dublin. His wife was a daughter of the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. He had a large income in Dublin
, but in 1728 he went to America, landing at Newport Rhode Island; he
bought a plantation there; it was called Whitehall. After four years he
returned to the Old World and lived in London. He promoted and
founded the Foundling Hospital in 1739.
In 1734 he had been appointed the Bishop of Cloyne in Ireland.
Read about Bishop Berkeley and you may be struck by the fact (like I was) that like Blake he was very much of an individual. Both of them were 'their own man' (as you and l likely are). He moved around the world, as Blake, with the means, might well have done. Blake of course had to do his traveling in his mind, with his reading.
Berkeley like Blake was an idealist, not only philosophically, but in the vulgar sense as well: he found hospitals; in the interest of doing something for the poor slaves in Jamaica he moved to America, etc, etc. He lived an interesting life.
The Annotations that follow here are made up of quotations, preceded by a p number and followed by Blake's own word, preceded by the <!WB>:
<!WB>Annotations to Berkeley's Siris Dublin, 1744 [P 203] God knoweth all things, as pure mind or intellect, but nothing by sense, nor in nor through a sensory. Therefore to suppose a sensory of any kind, whether space or any other, in God would be very wrong, and lead us into false conceptions of his nature. </!WB>magination or the Human Eternal Body in Every Man [P 204] But in respect of a perfect spirit, there is nothing hard or impenetrable: there is no resistance to the deity. Nor hath he any Body: Nor is the supreme being united to the world, as the soul of an animal is to its body, which necessarily implieth defect, both as an instrument and as a constant weight and impediment. </!WB> Imagination or the Divine Body in Every Man [P 205] Natural phaenomena are only natural appearances. . . . They and the phantomes that result from those appearances, the children: of imagination grafted upon sense, such for example as pure space, are thought by many the very first in existence and stability, and to embrace and comprehend all beings. </!WB> The All in Man The Divine Image or Imagination The Four Senses are the Four Faces of Man & the Four Rivers of the Water of Life [P 212] Plato and Aristotle considered God as abstracted or distinct from the natural world. But the Aegyptians considered God and nature as making one whole, or all things together as making one universe. </!WB> They also considerd God as abstracted or distinct from the Imaginative World but Jesus as also Abraham & David considerd God as a Man in the Spiritual or Imaginative Vision Jesus considerd Imagination to be the Real Man & says I will not leave you Orphanned and I will manifest myself to you he says also the Spiritual Body or Angel as little Children always behold the Face of the Heavenly Father [P 213] The perceptions of sense are gross: but even in the senses there is a difference. Though harmony and proportion are not objects of sense, yet the eye and the ear are organs, which offer to the mind such materials, by means whereof she may apprehend both the one and the other. </!WB> Harmony [&] Proportion are Qualities & Not Things The Harmony & Proportion of a Horse are not the same with those of a Bull Every Thing has its own Harmony & Proportion Two Inferior
Qualities in it For its Reality is Its Imaginative Form [P 214] By experiments of sense we become acquainted with the lower faculties of the soul; and from them, whether by a gradual evolution or ascent, we arrive at the highest. These become subjects for fancy to work upon. Reason considers and judges of the imaginations. And these acts of reason become new objects to the understanding. </!WB> Knowledge is not by deduction but Immediate by Perception or Sense at once Christ addresses himself to the Man not to his Reason Plato did not bring Life & Immortality to Light Jesus only did this [<P 215] There is according to Plato properly no knowledge, but only opinion concerning things sensible and perishing, not because they are naturally abstruse and involved in darkness: but because their nature and existence is uncertain, ever fleeting and changing. </!WB> Jesus supposes every Thing to be Evident to the Child & to the Poor & Unlearned Such is the Gospel The Whole Bible is filld with Imaginations & Visions from End to End & not with Moral virtues that is the baseness of Plato & the Greeks & all Warriors The Moral Virtues are continual Accusers of Sin & promote Eternal Wars & Domineering over others [P 217] Aristotle maketh a threefold distinction of objects according to the three speculative sciences. Physics he supposeth to be conversant about such things as have a principle of motion in themselves, mathematics about things permanent but not abstracted, and theology about being abstracted and immoveable, which distinction may be seen in the ninth book of his metaphysics.</!WB> God is not a Mathematical Diagram [P 218] It is a maxim of the Platonic philosophy, that the soul of man was originally furnished with native inbred notions, and stands in need of sensible occasions, not absolutely for producing them, but only for awakening, rousing or exciting, into act what was already preexistent, dormant, and latent in the soul. </!WB> The Natural Body is an Obstruction to the Soul or Spiritual Body [P 219] . . . Whence, according to Themistius, . . . it may be inferred that all beings are in the soul. For, saith he, the forms are the beings. By the form every thing is what it is. And, he adds, it is the soul that imparteth forms to matter, . . . </!WB> This is my Opinion but Forms must be apprehended by Sense or the Eye of Imagination Man is All Imagination God is Man & exists in us & we in him PAGE 241 What Jesus came to Remove was the Heathen or Platonic Philosophy which blinds the Eye of Imagination The Real Man
From all this and Berkeley's life and works I came to the opinion
that he certainly held many values sacred to our poet.