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Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
The first instance of disciples becoming attached to Blake was a group of younger men who were attracted by his skills as an artist. The son of George Cumberland who was a fellow artist and one of Blake's best friends, brought another young artist John Linnell to see Blake's work. From there the word spread among the group of aspiring artists with an interest in infusing their art with spiritual values. Blake was pleased to share his insight into using his art as a vehicle for communicating his deepest feelings and his understanding of human lineaments.
Calling themselves the Shoreham Ancients they were "a group of English artists who were brought together by their attraction to archaism in art and admiration for the work of William Blake."
Four Zoas, Night VIII, PAGE 104 (FIRST PORTION), (E 376) "And Enitharmon namd the Female Jerusalem the holy Wondring she saw the Lamb of God within Jerusalems Veil The divine Vision seen within the inmost deep recess Of fair Jerusalems bosom in a gently beaming fire Then sang the Sons of Eden round the Lamb of God & said Glory Glory Glory to the holy Lamb of God Who now beginneth to put off the dark Satanic body Now we behold redemption Now we know that life Eternal Depends alone upon the Universal hand & not in us"2.
The Flower Children: In terms of two of Blake's most sacred values, the Sixties represented perhaps the first generation of Blakeans; they epitomized the antiwar movement and sexual liberty. The promiscuity of a few of the flower children represented the most excessive expression of Blake's witness to sexual freedom. In the long term it led to a healthier level of association between men and women.
Although the San Francisco area the sixties saw the first generation of true Blakeans or people who patterned their lives after Blake's tenants; the seventies brought recession and many lapsed into the materialistic proclivities of their elders.
Visions of Daughters of Albion, Plate 5, (E 49
"With what sense does the parson claim the labour of the farmer?
What are his nets & gins & traps. & how does he surround him With cold floods of abstraction, and with forests of solitude, To build him castles and high spires. where kings & priests may dwell. Till she who burns with youth. and knows no fixed lot; is bound In spells of law to one she loaths: and must she drag the chain Of life, in weary lust! must chilling murderous thoughts. obscure The clear heaven of her eternal spring? to bear the wintry rage Of a harsh terror driv'n to madness, bound to hold a rod Over her shrinking shoulders all the day; & all the night To turn the wheel of false desire: and longings that wake her womb To the abhorred birth of cherubs in the human form That live a pestilence & die a meteor & are no more. Till the child dwell with one he hates. and do the deed he loaths And the impure scourge force his seed into its unripe birth E'er yet his eyelids can behold the arrows of the day."3.
The anti-war fever that broke out in the late sixties was an eloquent witness to one of Blake's primary values. Since "Whitefield & Westley" a handful of our fellow men have witnessed to the destructive futility of War (chief among them are the Quakers). Hence they might be thought of as the third group among Blake's disciples.
Re the Peace Witness one might more properly say that Blake was a disciple of the Quakers, although strangely enough he never saw fit to mention them, and few Quakers of my acquaintance today see fit to mention him. Blake's pacifism may have had its roots in with the Moravians, another pacifist group with whom his mother had been associated. Blake would have appreciated the fact that the younger generation was openly demonstrating their anti-war sentiments against a war supported by their elders. They like Blake knew that there were no winners in war - only losers.
America, Plate 14, (E 56) "Fury! rage! madness! in a wind swept through America And the red flames of Orc that folded roaring fierce around The angry shores, and the fierce rushing of th'inhabitants together: The citizens of New-York close their books & lock their chests; The mariners of Boston drop their anchors and unlade; The scribe of Pensylvania casts his pen upon the earth; The builder of Virginia throws his hammer down in fear. Then had America been lost, o'erwhelm'd by the Atlantic, And Earth had lost another portion of the infinite, But all rush together in the night in wrath and raging fire The red fires rag'd! the plagues recoil'd! then rolld they back with fury PLATE 15 On Albions Angels; then the Pestilence began in streaks of red Across the limbs of Albions Guardian, the spotted plague smote Bristols And the Leprosy Londons Spirit, sickening all their bands: The millions sent up a howl of anguish and threw off their hammerd mail, And cast their swords & spears to earth, & stood a naked multitude."4.
Finally there are a growing number in contemporary society who just love Blake. We love his values; we love his courage at a critical time in his life to choose Art over materialistic desires. The overt evidence of that came when he went back to London after his 'three years' on the coast. He had the same courage that Albert Schweitzer had when he gave up fame and fortune to give help to the most needy in darkest Africa.
Blake's determination to nurture his spiritual development in spite of the economic cost inspires loyalty among his disciples.
Laocoon, (E 274) "Prayer is the Study of Art Praise is the Practise of Art Fasting &c. all relate to Art The outward Ceremony is Antichrist Without Unceasing Practise nothing can be done Practise is Art If you leave off you are Lost A Poet a Painter a Musician an Architect: the Man Or Woman who is not one of these is not a Christian You must leave Fathers & Mothers & Houses & Lands if they stand in the way of ART The unproductive Man is not a Christian much less the Destroyer"Mark 10
 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,
 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.