Monday, November 10, 2014

EUROPE PLATE 13

The inscription added by Cumberland reads:

"Papal [or Pagan], Superstition"

British Museum
Europe
Plate 13, Copy D
The image on Plate 13 of Copy D of Europe may strike you as amusing, shocking or mystifying. The figure on the throne bears the likeness of George III who was head of both church and state during his reign (1760-1820). Blake has created a parody of the leader to show the failures of the state and religion to meet the needs of the people whom it was their charge to protect and guide. The king has accepted the false assumptions of the prevailing culture which resisted the possibility of developing an honest, just, creative and inclusive society. The false reasoning of Urizen's book of accusation, judgement and punishment was replicated and executed unmercifully. Man suffered under the influence of the rigid, unforgiving, self-righteous attitudes epitomized in the hardness and darkness of the Stone of Night.    
 
Apparently the two winged figures are not what they masquerade as. In Copy K in the Fitzwilliam Museum their serpent forms emerge from the bottom of their gowns. It is most obvious in Copy K, too, that the wings of the 'angelic' beings (the Elect) support the flawed ruler of church and state, and that he rises out of the cloud of their thought.

Europe, Plate 11, (E 64)
"Albions Angel rose upon the Stone of Night.                  
He saw Urizen on the Atlantic;
And his brazen Book,
That Kings & Priests had copied on Earth
Expanded from North to South." 
Blake has much more to say about the damage done by the unholy alliance between church and state, the flavor of which can be found in these passages:  
Song of Los, Plate 6, (E 68)
"The Kings of Asia heard
The howl rise up from Europe!
And each ran out from his Web;
From his ancient woven Den;
For the darkness of Asia was startled                  
At the thick-flaming, thought-creating fires of Orc.

And the Kings of Asia stood
And cried in bitterness of soul.

Shall not the King call for Famine from the heath?
Nor the Priest, for Pestilence from the fen?            
To restrain! to dismay! to thin!
The inhabitants of mountain and plain;
In the day, of full-feeding prosperity;
And the night of delicious songs.

Shall not the Councellor throw his curb               
Of Poverty on the laborious?
To fix the price of labour;
To invent allegoric riches:

And the privy admonishers of men
Call for fires in the City                           
For heaps of smoking ruins,
In the night of prosperity & wantonness
To turn man from his path,
To restrain the child from the womb,"
Annotations to Watson, (E 615)
  "The Bible or Peculiar Word of God, Exclusive of Conscience
or the Word of God Universal, is that Abomination which like the
Jewish ceremonies is for ever removed & henceforth every man may
converse with God & be a King & Priest in his own house" 
Annotations to Bacon, (E 620) 
"Is it True or is it False that the Wisdom of this World is
Foolishness with God
     This is Certain   If what Bacon says Is True what Christ
says Is False   If Caesar is Right Christ is Wrong both in
Politics & Religion since they will divide them in Two"
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 25, (E 45)
" Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn, no longer in deadly
black, with hoarse note curse the sons of joy.  Nor his accepted
brethren whom, tyrant, he calls free; lay the bound or build the
roof.  Nor pale religious letchery call that virginity, that
wishes but acts not!
  For every thing that lives is Holy"

2 comments:

Vincent said...

To me the handwriting says "Papal" unambiguously, and the personage is wearing a version of the Papal Tiara, a sort of triple crown.

ellie said...

Of course you are right but things are rarely unambiguous with Blake. The word read a 'Papal' appears to have been corrected, perhaps from pagan. Blake objected to many of the doctrines and practices of the the Roman Catholic church, but he objected also to the established Church of England and its support of the military activity of the government, exploitation of the poor, and sexual repression through the doctrine of original sin.

I appreciate your comment.