British Museum America, Preludium Plate 3, Copy H
Blake welcomed the American Revolution but considered it to be incomplete. His hope was that the turmoil in France would result in the release of the energy of the masses in constructive ways. The letting of blood and the perpetuation of tyranny dissuaded him of that expectation.
To Blake it was Orc who was strong; and Urizen who was weak. Yet it was the Urizenic principle of control which supplanted Orc's energetic desire for liberty. This was one of the dilemmas which Blake has us struggle with in Marriage of Heaven & Hell and in America.
America, Plate 16, (E 57) "Over the hills, the vales, the cities, rage the red flames fierce; The Heavens melted from north to south; and Urizen who sat Above all heavens in thunders wrap'd, emerg'd his leprous head From out his holy shrine, his tears in deluge piteous Falling into the deep sublime! flag'd with grey-brow'd snows And thunderous visages, his jealous wings wav'd over the deep; Weeping in dismal howling woe he dark descended howling Around the smitten bands, clothed in tears & trembling shudd'ring cold. His stored snows he poured forth, and his icy magazines He open'd on the deep, and on the Atlantic sea white shiv'ring. Leprous his limbs, all over white, and hoary was his visage. Weeping in dismal howlings before the stern Americans Hiding the Demon red with clouds & cold mists from the earth; Till Angels & weak men twelve years should govern o'er the strong: And then their end should come, when France reciev'd the Demons light. Stiff shudderings shook the heav'nly thrones! France Spain & Italy, In terror view'd the bands of Albion, and the ancient Guardians Fainting upon the elements, smitten with their own plagues They slow advance to shut the five gates of their law-built heaven Filled with blasting fancies and with mildews of despair With fierce disease and lust, unable to stem the fires of Orc; But the five gates were consum'd, & their bolts and hinges melted And the fierce flames burnt round the heavens, & round the abodes of men FINIS " Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 5 (E 34) "Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling. And being restraind it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire."
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 16, (E 40) "The Giants who formed this world into its sensual existence and now seem to live in it in chains; are in truth. the causes of its life & the sources of all activity, but the chains are, the cunning of weak and tame minds. which have power to resist energy. according to the proverb, the weak in courage is strong in cunning. Thus one portion of being, is the Prolific. the other, the Devouring: to the devourer it seems as if the producer was in his chains, but it is not so, he only takes portions of existence and fancies that the whole. But the Prolific would cease to be Prolific unless the Devourer as a sea recieved the excess of his delights. Some will say, Is not God alone the Prolific? I answer, God only Acts & Is, in existing beings or Men."
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 19, (E 42) "in it were a [PL 20] number of monkeys, baboons, & all of that species chaind by the middle, grinning and snatching at one another, but witheld by the shortness of their chains: however I saw that they sometimes grew numerous, and then the weak were caught by the strong and with a grinning aspect, first coupled with & then devourd, by plucking off first one limb and then another till the body was left a helpless trunk. this after grinning & kissing it with seeming fondness they devourd too; and here & there I saw one savourily picking the flesh off of his own tail; as the stench terribly annoyd us both we went into the mill, & I in my hand brought the skeleton of a body, which in the mill was Aristotles Analytics. So the Angel said: thy phantasy has imposed upon me & thou oughtest to be ashamed. I answerd: we impose on one another, & it is but lost time to converse with you whose works are only Analytics."