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The Small Blake-Varley Sketchbook
From Blake's acquaintance with the history and legends of his native country he found characters to enhance the myth he was himself creating. Blake's procedure was to assimilate archetypal images and insert them in appropriate places to expand the understanding of the reader.
When he says here that, 'The British Antiquities are now in the Artist's hands,' he may more precisely have said that they were in his mind or imagination.
A Descriptive Catalogue, (W 542) "The British Antiquities are now in the Artist's hands; all his visionary contemplations, relating to his own country and its ancient glory, when it was as it again shall be, the source of learning and inspiration. Arthur was a name for the constellation Arcturus, or Bootes, the Keeper of the North Pole. And all the fables of Arthur and his round table; of the warlike naked Britons; of Merlin; of Arthur's conquest of the whole world; of his death, or sleep, and promise to return again"In the following passage Blake uses Merlin to call to our minds that death never came to him. He was not to enroot in the world but would return again from sleep with Arthur at the beginning of the new age.
Jerusalem, Plate 30 , (E 176) "O Albion why wilt thou Create a Female Will? To hide the most evident God in a hidden covert, even In the shadows of a Woman & a secluded Holy Place That we may pry after him as after a stolen treasure Hidden among the Dead & mured up from the paths of life Hand! art thou not Reuben enrooting thyself into Bashan Till thou remainest a vaporous Shadow in a Void! O Merlin! Unknown among the Dead where never before Existence came Is this the Female Will O ye lovely Daughters of Albion. To Converse concerning Weight & Distance in the Wilds of Newton & Locke So Los spoke standing on Mam-Tor looking over Europe & Asia The Graves thunder beneath his feet from Ireland to Japan"
This portion of Plate 32 of Jerusalem positions Merlin as the Immortal Imagination, at one extreme; Reuben at the other as the Vegetative Man. Hand stands between as the Reasoning Spectre.
Jerusalem, Plate 32 , (E 178) "Jerusalem trembled seeing her Children drivn by Los's Hammer In the visions of the dreams of Beulah on the edge of Non-Entity Hand stood between Reuben & Merlin, as the Reasoning Spectre Stands between the Vegetative Man & his Immortal Imagination" Under the influence of Los, Reuben was able to explore in his imagination as Merlin was capable of doing. Jerusalem, Plate 32 , (E 178) "And the Four Zoa's who are the Four Eternal Senses of Man Became Four Elements separating from the Limbs of Albion These are their names in the Vegetative Generation And Accident & Chance were found hidden in Length Bredth & Highth And they divided into Four ravening deathlike Forms Fairies & Genii & Nymphs & Gnomes of the Elements. These are States Permanently Fixed by the Divine Power The Atlantic Continent sunk round Albions cliffy shore And the Sea poured in amain upon the Giants of Albion As Los bended the Senses of Reuben Reuben is Merlin Exploring the Three States of Ulro; Creation; Redempition. & Judgment And many of the Eternal Ones laughed after their manner Have you known the judgment that is arisen among the Zoa's of Albion? where a Man dare hardly to embrace His own Wife, for the terrors of Chastity that they call By the name of Morality. their Daughters govern all In hidden deceit! they are Vegetable only fit for burning Art & Science cannot exist but by Naked Beauty displayd"The way that man can avoid getting trapped in error which leads him into the depths of experience is through knowing where he comes from, where he goes and how to avoid giving primary reality to the 'female will' or the exterior world which should be his servant not his master.
Jerusalem, Plate 92, (E 252) "Los answerd swift as the shuttle of gold. Sexes must vanish & cease To be, when Albion arises from his dread repose O lovely Enitharmon: When all their Crimes, their Punishments their Accusations of Sin: All their Jealousies Revenges. Murders. hidings of Cruelty in Deceit Appear only in the Outward Spheres of Visionary Space and Time. In the shadows of Possibility by Mutual Forgiveness forevermore And in the Vision & in the Prophecy, that we may Foresee & Avoid The terrors of Creation & Redemption & Judgment. Beholding them Displayd in the Emanative Visions of Canaan in Jerusalem & in Shiloh And in the Shadows of Remembrance, & in the Chaos of the Spectre Amalek, Edom, Egypt, Moab, Ammon, Ashur, Philistea, around Jerusalem
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 126, (E 395) "They must renew their brightness & their disorganizd functions Again reorganize till they resume the image of the human Cooperating in the bliss of Man obeying his Will Servants to the infinite & Eternal of the Human form"
A Descriptive Catalogue, (E 536) "Visions of these eternal principles or characters of human life appear to poets, in all ages; the Grecian gods were the ancient Cherubim of Phoenicia; but the Greeks, and since them the Moderns, have neglected to subdue the gods of Priam. These Gods are visions of the eternal attributes, or divine names, which, when erected into gods, become destructive to humanity. They ought to be the servants, and not the masters of man, or of society. They ought to be made to sacrifice to Man, and not man compelled to sacrifice to them; for when separated from man or humanity, who is Jesus the Saviour, the vine of eternity, they are thieves and rebels, they are destroyers."