"Habeas Corpus had been suspended in the spring of 1794 but now two acts were passed against 'treasonable and seditious Practices' as well as 'Seditious Meetings and Assemblies'. These laws, flawed and uncertain though they were in execution, effectively marked the end of organized radicalism in London. In the spring of 1797 Blake dined with his publisher, Joseph Johnson, in the company of Fuseli among others; in the following year Johnson was arrested for selling a seditious pamphlet attacking an anti-radical track entitled An Apology for the Bible, and was sentenced to six month's imprisonment in the King's Bench Prison near Blake's house in Lambeth. In the same year Blake furiously annotated a similar tract but added, at the beginning, "To defend the in this year 1797 would cost a man his life. The Beast and the Whore rule without controls...I have been commanded from Hell not to print this as it is what our enemies wish'. It was not printed but, more to the point, there is no evidence that he ever again attached himself to any formal or informal political cause." (Page 181)
Book of Urizen|
Plate 20, Copy A
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 25, (E 44)
" A Song of Liberty
1. The Eternal Female groand! it was heard over all the Earth: 2. Albions coast is sick silent; the American meadows faint! 3 Shadows of Prophecy shiver along by the lakes and the rivers and mutter across the ocean! France rend down thy dungeon; 4. Golden Spain burst the barriers of old Rome; 5. Cast thy keys O Rome into the deep down falling, even to eternity down falling, 6. And weep! 7. In her trembling hands she took the new, born terror howling; 8. On those infinite mountains of light now barr'd out by the atlantic sea, the new born fire stood before the starry king! 9. Flag'd with grey brow'd snows and thunderous visages the jealous wings wav'd over the deep. 10. The speary hand burned aloft, unbuckled was the shield, forth went the hand of jealousy among the flaming hair, and [PL 26] hurl'd the new born wonder thro' the starry night. 11. The fire, the fire, is falling! 12. Look up! look up! O citizen of London. enlarge thy countenance; O Jew, leave counting gold! return to thy oil and wine; O African! black African! (go. winged thought widen his forehead.) 13. The fiery limbs, the flaming hair, shot like the sinking sun into the western sea. 14. Wak'd from his eternal sleep, the hoary, element roaring fled away: 15. Down rushd beating his wings in vain the jealous king: his grey brow'd councellors, thunderous warriors, curl'd veterans, among helms, and shields, and chariots horses, elephants: banners, castles, slings and rocks, 16. Falling, rushing, ruining! buried in the ruins, on Urthona's dens. 17. All night beneath the ruins, then their sullen flames faded emerge round the gloomy king, 18. With thunder and fire: leading his starry hosts thro' the waste wilderness [PL 27] he promulgates his ten commands, glancing his beamy eyelids over the deep in dark dismay, 19. Where the son of fire in his eastern cloud, while the morning plumes her golden breast, 20. Spurning the clouds written with curses, stamps the stony law to dust, loosing the eternal horses from the dens of night, crying Empire is no more! and now the lion & wolf shall cease. Chorus 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"