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At one period of Blake's life he certainly considered thought that is wrong a deadlier sin than certain acts that are not held to be right. The ethics of thought are still so far from being generally agreed on that the subject must be left here. There are words at the close of Broken Love that show him as not in the mood that wrote the Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
SUMMING UP OF THE POSITION OF 'JERUSALEM ' AND 'MILTON’
LATER than Jerusalem and Milton we can find no record of Blake's mind which has any completeness and force to be compared to that which they contain. They will remain the places where we must look for his portrait by his own hand in its most emphatic form. As it has been supposed for so long that Jerusalem was the poem that he wrote at Felpham, though passages in it are common to both Milton and Vala, and though we have no contemporary record, and though some pages of Milton, as engraved, seem to be later than anything in Jerusalem, the reasons for considering that Milton was the poem he wrote there, and “considered the grand reason ” of his “ being brought there,” deserve to be brought together, even if some are repeated in doing so.
The first is that the poem was shortened from twelve books to two; the second, that he says, page 36 of Milton, that “Los” prepared his cottage at Felpham that he might write those visions, and one chief incident is given as occurring on his garden path. The third is that in Jerusalem, page 38, he says that he saw certain visions in Felpham that belong to the poem, but that he writes in South Molton Street, London. He says that he even heard some of what he writes in Lambeth, where he lived before he went to Felpham. The fourth is that he begins the poem with a list of symbolic characters, among whom is one (Scholfield) whose name he had only heard during the very last days that he was at Felpham. The fifth is that Milton is full of country descriptions and symbols—the lark, the shepherd, wildflowers—and that these are lost in Jerusalem. The sixth is that though a passage from one of his letters dated from Felpham recalls an expression from Jerusalem about the “fluctuating earth” on page 83, it is even more closely allied to the passage on the vegetable earth bound on the foot in Milton, page 19, while the long poem called Los the Terrible in the Collected Works, which was written at Felpham, is closely allied to the part played by Los in Milton, and not at all in the manner of the speeches of Los and his acts in Jerusalem.
Another sign of Felpham in Milton is the frequent use of the word bard, a term habitually used by Hayley when speaking of his friend, R. G. Johnson, Cowper's nephew, who may be the personage whose presence in Oxford caused Blake to give it afterwards in Jerusalem its function as giving leaves of the tree of life to Albion, after mistakenly repenting its human kindness, though its imagination was cut round and shrunken. With Cambridge, Winchester, and the Scottish Universities it holds a place among the places that correspond to the four ungenerated sons of Los and Jerusalem. Its references are-Albion's ancient porches (or “inlets to the soul,” or imaginative senses), including Oxford, are darkened and scattered, page 5, line 3. Oxford is the dust of Jerusalem's wall, page 29, line 19. Jerusalem ruined it, repents of its human kindness, page 42, line 58, is urged by the spirit of healing (Bath) to take leaves of the tree of life and bring them to help Albion, and does so, weeping, page 45, line 30, and page 46, lines 8, 17. It counts as a symbol for one of the four " ungenerated ” sons of prophecy and sympathy who did not flee into error. Daughters of Albion beam on it mildly, and Oothoon hides these in chaste appearances, pages 81, line 11, and 83, line 28.
This is all written in the last days of Felpham and first of South Molton Street. Blake still corresponded with Hayley. But though Oxford continued to produce an impression on him, the word “bard,” which occurs nine times in the first twenty pages of Milton, is forgotten. Oxford is only mentioned once in Milton, on page 40, written after most of Jerusalem, and then only on line 44 as one of four, Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, Norwich, on the front of Albion's bosom.
That the last pages of Milton are later than the last of Jerusalem is suggested by the ending of the poem—a call to the harvest (of synnbols), and a statement that no more seed should be sown. This is presumably the "seed of contemplative thought,” by which all things renew.
It is also suggested by the deplorable and hasty state of the drawings towards the close of Milton. They betray worn-out patience, jarred nerves, and a distracted mind. They seem to say, “I shall print no more," as Blake said to Crabb Robinson.
That the story of Satan and Palamabron in Milton recalls Hayley and Blake is not so conclusive as it would be if it did not occur in a modified form in Vala, whose MS. titlepage dates 1797. But the latter pages of Vala are later than the title, and so far as the “Satan” there has an affinity to Sir Joshua Reynolds, no moral turpitude in Sir Joshua is implied in the suggestion that he has something to do with the symbol ; it is a term all whose more precise characteristics are in Milton only, and are clearly to be traced to a recent reading of Paradise Lost, and to a purposed departure from its ideas.
There was another “Satan "-Bacon. There was another —the old-fashioned Devil Blake was soon to see him.
Before finally leaving the subject of Jerusalem until the not-yet-demanded Encyclopædia of Blake is required by the public, a detail may be referred to with regard to Gilchrist's treatment of the subject. In the first edition of the Life of Blake the poem To the Jews is given at full length, with a challenge at the top to whoever can do so to interpret it.
The present writer has to thank Gilchrist for this challenge. It was what set him to work in 1870, and caused him to find that clue to the four regions, four points of the compass, four quarters of London and of the world, or the four ungenerated sons of Los, and four Zoas, with their relationships and their order of habitual arrangement, which had escaped the elder critics. For want of it they had no means of discovering any coherence in the book. They could not prove that a region never loses its characteristics whether it be entered into by a being from another region or not. Height and depth are never as length and breadth, nor north and south as east and west. Europe and Asia never means what Asia and Europe would, and America is never anything but opposite to England.
The clue slept while its discoverer was travelling and living in Italy until, in 1890, Mr. Yeats asking for it, some rough hints were dragged out of a little notebook. Mr. Yeats took fire from the slender gleam and offered the collaboration which was entered on at once, and resulted in a crop of discoveries made now by one, now by the other, often by both at once, of which as many as could be got into any sort of order were thrust into the Quaritch edition, which grew from two volumes to three while under compilation, and was prepared during an excitement of enthusiasm that left it full of misprints.
The challenge that began it all is quietly suppressed in the second edition of Gilchrist, but all the old depressing mistakes are repeated.
The arrangement of the quarters of London and the chief towns of England and the continents of the world under the four Zoas is, although it was the clue to all Blake, a matter that itself is as difficult to sort up as anything that he contains. Canterbury is the most difficult of all. As it is but lightly treated in the notes to the Chatto and Windus edition, the references to the word in Jerusalem, being but few, are here offered. They arePage 17, line 59 Page 46, line 6 Page 65, line 39
, 33 , 12 , 57 , 1
63 „ 35
York, another of the four, occursPage 16, line 44 Page 57, line 1 Page 73, line 51 „ 38 „ 51 59 „14 74 „ 3 „ 46 „24
66 » 65 In Milton there is a long passage on page 40, as “ Albion rose up,” which merely sums itself up into the symbol of facing eastwards. The colossal figure is a map of the imagination, whose nether parts, as elsewhere—the exterior region—are seen as feet, hands being more inward. The four pillars do not exactly follow the usual four-fold.
There is only one general system to follow in reading Blake, and that is to remember that all his names are merely tickets more or less appropriate through correspondence with points of the compass when they are places, and facts of history or traditions of doctrine when they are personages either sacred or profane. These tickets apply only to impersonations of Human Qualities. The qualities must be thought of partly by help of the appropriateness of the symbol when the four points of the compass and Swedenborg's meaning of Biblical names are borne in mind, and partly in spite of the almost overwhelming picturesqueness of those suggestions belonging to the words on the tickets that have nothing to do with the human qualities—the psychology, for the sake of which they are used. The qualities change and mingle, and the