The works of William Blake, poetic, symbolic and critical/2/The Everlasting Gospel

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Of this poem we have no finally arranged text which Blake can bo supposed to have prepared for publication. It lies before us, a litter of helpless fragments at the mercy of an editor.

Mr. Rossetti, in the Aldine edition, has put these into moderately good order, but has cut paragraphs up and transposed lines in an arbitrary manner. He has selected the most readable passages, avoiding repetitions that occur with only slight variations in the MS. book. But he has taken liberties difficult to justify, making suppressions, and unnecessarily cutting asunder connected sentences. When he tells us in a foot-note that the poem is published in full, we cannot quite look upon this as a serious utterance.

To understand the poem we must consider the time of Blake's life, when it was written, and the circumstances which gave rise to it, as well as the artistic and religious theories which dictated its form. These points have not yet been touched on at all in any edition.

As in the poem "Jerusalem," "Christ " means here the Human Imagination, the junction of the four regions of Humanity. The poem takes the New Testament to be a story that was first lived, then written for its symbolic purpose. The poem does more. It colours the story deliberately and consciously with the personality of the writer. Each of us sees the " Last Judgment " in a different way, as Blake had observed in the essay written in the MS. book just before the composition of this poem. He was now about to show, claiming the same right of individual imaginative vision, how he saw the Gospel. He wrote the poem not earlier than the latter part of 1810, and portions of it may belong to 1812. This is shown by the way in which the lines fit any chance space in the MS. book left by the "Vision of the Last Judgment," which bears for title, — "For the year 1810, Additions to Blake's Catalogue of Pictures, &c," and by a phrase repeated in the " Screwmuch" lines of 1812. In this prose story of the Vision, "The Saviour, the true vine of eternity, the Human Imagination," had already appeared as "coming to Judgment, and throwing off the temporal that the Eternal might be established." Blake's mind was making its great struggle to rise above the wretched angers and troubles of his life, while recognizing the symbolic purpose of these. He was burning with indignation and sick with disappointment. Stothard had reaped the crop that he had sown. The Examiner had endeavoured to drive him off the field of art, as though he were a trespasser, because he tried to harvest some of his own corn. Poverty sat by his chair ; the wolf howled at his door. Old friendships were failing. New enmities were growing. He recoiled from all outside influence and resolved to make what he could of his body as symbol, and his mind as life, looking in these for so much of form, and of mind Divine, as might be fitted for his understanding, and for his usage and duty.

The words which in the Aldine edition begin the poem, were written, probably, with no intention that they should form part of it. They are more probably a preface or dedication which expressed the private oi'igin of the work. They are evidently addressed to Stothard, when read in connection with the phrase " Friend of all Mankind," in the Screwmuch lines of two years later, — a brief overboiling and return to quarrelsome life. The " ong, hooked nose" also points to Stothard. The "Vision of Christ" is necessarily personal. Each looks in a glass, and, seeing himself, worships. This is the doctrine for which the "little boy" in the "Song of Experience" was bound in an iron chain.

Mr. Rossetti's sense of propriety, guided by his entire lack of mental companionship with Blake, has led him to suppress two lines about the nose in the dedication of the poem he professes to publish in full for the first time. It should run: —

"The Vision of Christ that thou dost see,
Is my vision's greatest enemy.
Thine has a long, hook nose like thine,
Mine has a snub nose like mine.
Thine is the Friend of all Mankind,
Mine speaks in Parables to the blind.
Thine loves the same world that mine hates,
Thy heaven-doors are my hell-gates.
Socrates taught what Melitus
Loathed as a nation's bitterest curse.
And Caiaphas was, in his own mind,
A benefactor to mankind.
Doth read the Bible day and night,
But thou readest black where I read white."

Blake's nose — short, stumpy, fist-like, compressed, but strong, was not of the hollow-bridged turned-up character, but he always called it " snub/' He used to like to think he personally resembled Socrates. In the same MS. book there is a scrap by itself evidently of this date: —

"I always thought that Jesus Christ was a snubby, or I should not have worshipped Him if I thought He had been one of those long spindled-nosed rascals."

As a matter of fact, his designs show that he adopted the conventional profile when representing Christ for other than emphatically personal symbolic purposes. This phrase belongs to a period only, not to the whole of his artistic life. Another fragment of the same date, as is seen by its hand- writing and its place — it being wedged in after what was intended as a completed paragraph in the " Last Judgment " — sheds more light on the mood of the moment.

"Thinking as I do that the Creator of this world is a very cruel Being, and being a worshipper of Christ, I cannot help saying to the Son, — Oh, how unlike the Father! First God Almighty comes with a thump on the head, and then Jesus Christ comes with a balm to heal it."

Of the theological views scattered through the larger poems, some few must be summarized and contrasted for this particular work. In reading it one must remember that Jehovah, in the persons of the Elohim, and by the agency of the Angel of the Divine Presence, created this dark world as an act of mercy and of cruelty. It is of mercy because it enables the weak emotions to look through symbols upon prophecy, and also because it passes away, being under Time. It is of cruelty because it cuts off joys of mind and adds on pains of mind — of that lower and shrunken part called body. It is also Satanic, because it is the region where the Accuser triumphs by means of the law which is "the strength of sin," as the lesson in the Anglican burial service reminds us. Satan is the Accuser. Accusation is the great mental sin. Other sin is merely physical, and belongs to the things of Time that pass. Accusation is not the only mental sin. Denial is equally deadly. Satan is not only the moral accuser but the denier of Imaginative truth, for he would have Reason and Memory only considered to be intellectual attributes. With these he builds the dark fiction of error — a belief in that delusive Goddess Nature, who is the mother of physical morality, and of mental immorality. She is Mary, the pure, and Rahab the Harlot. She is Rahab because she binds the red cord of blood in the eyes, the windows of the soul. She is Mary, because it is of that cord the red robe of flesh is made that was put on by Christ at the incarnation. Thus Mary is the greater Rahab. Rahab's harlotry is typical of mental mixture of convictions. It may be found in the physically pure. She is therefore called the Harlot-Virgin.

The Image of God in which man was made is the form of the Imagination. This is common to all men and will end by becoming One Form. It will unite all. It will survive all. It will redeem all, saving them from violation or experience and the slavery of belief in nature, in accusation, and in the mental permanence of sin. In a word it saves them from Satan, God of this world. Reason and memory tend also to unite men's personalities into one great Temporary Delusion. This is the great Satan, opposite of the great Saviour. It is negative, imagination only being positive. It is not the final Humanity and Union of all, but the final Limit of Opacity, the aggregate of separateness massed. It is piled-up dust, not the water of life. It coheres by the water of death; fleshly instinct. It is bound by the fire of vegetation; fleshly growth and decay. At the incarnation Christ put on this water and this fire. The one burned the other. He ended by putting them both off. His mother was Law and Nature. His body was Satan. When crucified he was his own destroyer, destroying the Serpent in Himself. This Serpent, Satan, was what was nailed to the tree. This body was destroyed or devoured in three days. This devouring is the meaning of the serpent with his tail in his mouth. Christ's self-sacrifice (or suicide) was the thrusting into death of Satan, and who had become Himself as a result of the Incarnation. It was the eternal putting-off of Reason and Memory and Morality as delusions, that Imagination, Eternal Present, and Forgiveness might survive.

The cross was the tree of vegetation, since it was the burning stake at which Satan was consumed. It was Moloch, the Wicker Man of Scandinavia. It was also sensuality. Sex in the body is the cross because it is vegetative division and vegetative transfixture. Lust is fire. It is also the basis of our human imagination which develops from it. Thus lust, seeking to destroy mind and make body everything, unites the sexes bodily, consumes their separateness, and is the basis of that union which is the entrance of mankind into the state called Man. In other words, it is the destruction of the dust, type of separateness, and the release of the Image of God from that dust by the Breath Divine that moved on the waters and made them the source of Unity in the infinitely divided. Thus it made dust water, and water fire, for the waters burned up the divisibility of the Divided, and the Divided ceased to exist as Dust.

Thus, to this hour, Satan also, himself the type of Christ by being Christ's mental opposite, tempts man to lust that he may accuse him, restrain him, make him take morality for religion, and so absorb him in the delusions of Nature and live in his absorption. But the Divine element in man does not leave him when he enters into lust, but accompanies his three regions of Head, Heart, and Loins, as the Form of the Fourth accompanied the three men in the furnace. It takes Man in all men into this vegetable fire, and comes out of it with him. Satan also sacrifices himself in the vain attempt to sacrifice others to himself. So he also becomes a Redeemer while still the contrary of the great Self-Sacrificer, and his suicide, with its evil intent, complements the good suicide of the crucifixion. This latter suicide began when God allowed his Image to be of two sexes, and when "Male and Female created he them," whose name was called " Adam " — red earth.

Thus as the final unity results from a thousand divisions, so paradox and contradiction create truth.

The paradox of the Two Redeemers lies deep and is difficult to disentangle. Still deeper is that of the two Creators. As there is a mortal body and a spiritual body, and they are not the same, and as neither was First Cause of the other, so also there is the Creator who is the Lamb's Father, and is the ultimate Eternity, and the Creator who is the Dust's Father, and is the ultimate death. Both are the Father of Christ. One is the father of his Satanic body; one of himself. He is the Son of Man, son of the Image of the Eternal, on the spiritual side. This is the meaning of the phrase, " Thou art a Man. God is no more." The word is can only be applied to Man, for Man is a word meaning Mind or that which Exists. Is applies only to existence. There can be "no more" in God, for more than Mind, or than that which Exists, must be inconceivable as an existence. That "more" would be a portion of Nonentity or of outer Nature, that is to say, delusion, and finally therefore Satan, and not God. Humanity, the abstract noun containing the same idea, is thus mentality. The lines —

" Thou art a Man: God is no more.
Thine own Humanity learn to endure," when stripped of all that makes them lovable and poetic, and with nothing left in them but the naked incontrovertibility of their skeleton of truth, might read: —

"Thou art a Mind. Eternal is Mind : Eternal Mind is no more than Mind. Thine own Mentality learn to know as the region of religion and adoration, while all else is that of negation merely."

In the " Everlasting Gospel " the plane of utterance constantly changes. As Los rose and fell when element became pliant, so Blake speaks now from the higher, now the lower. At one moment a word is used in its mystical, at another in its popular sense.

Blake is seen in this poem thinking aloud to himself. His intention develops in spite of him. Begun at the time of his Felpham troubles as an artistic protest — art being the ritual of his religion — it escaped the bonds of the impulse that called it into being. It takes the form at one moment of a question addressed by the poet to his imagination, then it becomes an answer — even more, a manifesto.

Such as it is, the value is so great as helping to the interpretation of all the rest of the symbolic writings, and it so fitly supplements the prose essays, the Songs, the "Jerusalem," the "Milton," and "Vala," that while it cannot be finally read without them, it is not a mere piece of decorative literature. The making a text, the choosing a final version of it, is not yet the most important, or even the most justifiable task that can be undertaken. The first thing is to put on record all the scraps, versions, or repetitions we possess. They will be found here to the uttermost word.

Beginning with one of the last segments — because it is that over which Blake has written the title of the poem, probably intending it to supersede other versions — here are the lines as Blake left them.

The Everlasting Gospel.

Final Version.

Was Jesus humble, or did He
Give any proofs of humility;
Boast of high things with a humble tone,
And give with charity a stone?
When but a child He ran away,
And left His parents in dismay.
When they had wandered three days long,
This was the word upon His tongue:
"No, earthly parents, I confess
I am doing My Father's business.
When the rich learned Pharisee
Came to consult Him secretly,
Upon his heart with iron pen
He wrote, " Ye must be born again."
He was too proud to take a bribe;
He spoke with authority, not like a scribe.
He says, with most consummate art,
" Follow me : I am meek and lowly of heart,"
As that is the only way to escape
The miser's net and the glutton's trap.
He who loves his enemies hates his friends.
This surely was not what Jesus intends,
But the sneaking pride of heroic schools,
And the scribes and Pharisees' virtuous rules ;
But He acts with honest triumphant pride,
And this is the cause that Jesus died.
He did not die with Christian ease,
Asking pardon of His enemies.
If He had, Caiaphas would forgive:
Sneaking submission can always live.
He had only to say that God was the Devil,
And the Devil was God, like a Christian civil.

Previous Version.

Was Jesus humble, or did He
Give any proofs of humility?
When but a child He ran away,
And left His parents in dismay.
When they had wandered all day long,
These were the words upon His tongue:
"No, earthly parents, I confess
I am doing My Father's business."
When the rich learned Pharisee
Came to consult him secretly,
He was too proud to take a bribe;
He spoke with authority, not like a scribe.
Upon his heart with iron pen
He wrote, "Ye must be born again."
He who loves his enemies hates his friends.
This surely is not what Jesus intends.
He must mean the mere love of civility,
And so He must mean concerning humility.
He says, with most consummate art,
"Follow me, I am meek and lowly of heart,"
As that is the only way to escape
The miser's net and the glutton's trap !
But He acts with triumphant, honest pride,
And this is the reason Jesus died.
If He had been Antichrist — creeping Jesus —
He'd have done anything to please us :
Gone sneaking into synagogues,
And not used the elders and priests like dogs.
Humble toward God, haughty toward man,
This is the race that Jesus ran.
But when He humbled Himself to God,
Then descended the cruel rod.
If thou humblest thyself thou humblest Me;

Mild Christian regrets to the Devil confess
For affronting him thrice in the wilderness
Like to Priestley, and Bacon, and Newton,
Poor spiritual knowledge is not worth a button.
But thus the Gospel of St. Isaac confutes,
"God can only be known by His attributes."
He had soon been bloody Caesar's elf,
And at last he would have been Cresar himself.
And as for the indwelling of the Holy Ghost,
Or Christ and His Father, it's all a boast,
Or pride and fallacy of the imagination,
That disdains to follow this world's fashion.
To teach doubt and experiment,
Certainly was not what Christ meant.

What was He doing all that time,
From ten years old to manly prime ?
Was He then idle, or the less,
About His father's business ?
Or was His wisdom held in scorn,
Before His wrath began to burn,
In miracles throughout the land,
That quite unnerved the (?) seraph hand ?
If He had been Antichrist — creeping Jesus —
He'd have done anything to please us:
Gone sneaking into synagogues,
And not used the elders and priests like dogs,
But humble as a lamb or ass,
Obeyed Himself to Caiaphas.
God wants not man to humble himself.
That is the trick of the ancient elf.
This is the race that Jesus ran :
Humble to God, haughty to man.
Cursing the rulers before the people,
Even to the temple's highest steeple.

Thou also dwellest in eternity.
Thou art a man. God is no more;
Thine own humanity learn to adore,
And thy revenge abroad display,
In terrors at the last judgment day.

Another Version.

(Apparently earlier.)

Was Jesus gentle, or did He
Give any marks of gentility ?
When twelve years old He ran away,
And left His parents in dismay.
When alter three days' sorrow found,
Loud as Sinai's trumpet's sound.
" No, earthly parents, I confess
My heavenly Father's business.
Ye understand not what I say,
And, angry, force me to obey.
Obedience is a duty, then,
And favour gains with God and men."
John from the wilderness loud cried ;
Satan gloried in his pride.
" Come," said Satan, " come away ;
I'll soon see if you obey.
John for disobedience bled,
But you can turn the stones to bread.
God's high king and God's high priest
Shall plant their glories in your breast,
If Caiaphas you will obey.
If Herod you with bloody prey
Feed with the sacrifice, and be
Obedient ; fall down, worship me."
Thunders and lightnings broke around,
And Jesus' voice in the thunders sound.
Thus I seize the spiritual prey.
Ye smiters with disease make way.
I come, your King and God, to seize.
Is God a smiter with disease ?
The God of this world raged in vain,
He bound old Satan in His chain,
And, bursting forth His furious ire,
Became a chariot of fire.
Throughout the land He took His course,
And traced diseases to their source,

And when He humbled Himself to God,
Then descended the cruel rod.
If thou humblest thyself thou humblest Me.
Thou also dwellest in eternity.
Thou art a man. God is no more.
Thy own humanity learn to adore ;
For that is my spirit of life.
Awake, arise to spiritual strife,
And thy revenge abroad display,
In terrors at the last judgment day.
God's mercy and long suffering
Are but the sinner to justice to bring.
Thou on the cross for them shall pray,
And take revenge at the last day.
Jesus replied in thunders hurled,
" I never will pray for the world ;
Once I did so when I prayed in the garden.
I wished to take with me a bodily pardon.
Can that which was of women born,
In the absence of the morn,
When the soul fell into sleep,
And archangels round it weep,
Shooting out against the light,
Fibres of a deadly night,
Reasoning upon its own dark fiction,
In doubt, which is self-contradiction ?
Humility is only doubt,
And does the sun and moon blot out,
Roofing over with thorns and stems
The buried soul and all its gems.
This life's five windows of the soul
Distort the heavens from pole to pole,
And leads you to believe a lie,
When you see with not through the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light."

He cursed the scribe and Pharisee,
Trampling down hypocrisy,
Where'er His chariot took its way,
The gates of Death let in the day,
Broke down from every chain a bar,
And Satan in his spiritual war
Dragged at His chariot-wheels. Loud howl'd
The God of this world. Louder rolled
The chariot-wheels, and louder still
His voice was heard from Zion's hill,
And in His hand the scourge shone bright.
He scourged the merchant Canaanite
From out the temple of his mind,
And in his body tight does bind
Satan and all his hellish crew ;
And thus with wrath He did subdue
The serpent bulk of Nature's dross,
Till He had nailed it to the cross.
He took on sin in the virgin's womb,
And put it off on the cross and tomb,
To be worshipped by the Church of Rome.

There is nothing in this poem on its personal side so difficult to unravel at a first reading as the allusions to Pride and Humility. They seem to overlap and contradict each other till they become a moral tangle impossible to straighten out into any thread of moaning, or weave into any garment for thought. Blake, however, knew what he intended to convey, and in his mind there was no confusion on the subject. By looking into the different expressions and comparing them with others of the same class in his different writings we notice that pride and humility may be tabulated in their good and bad aspects thus : —

Good Pride.

Elation of joy and delight in Vision.

Adoration of the Divine in Adoption, by sympathy with the Divine, of its Self-approval.

In a lower plane:

Healthy Satanic pride in the energy of that lower part of mind called body, which has also a right to its elation because "everything that lives is Holy."

" Honest, triumphant pride," in "act," as when the merchant Canaanite is scourged out of the mind. — (" Thought is act.")

Bad Pride.

"Sneaking pride of heroic schools," the Homeric or chivalrous pride that is self-satisfied equally for killing and for sparing the vanquished. This is the Serpentine pride.

In true mental warfare, the vanquished ought either not to be vanquished, or not spared. Error is the enemy, and though Sin is to be forgiven, Error is not. Thus war, in Eternity, is a "fountain of life," for it is directed against error, death; not against love, life, for the propagation of death.

Death and Error are Reason when confined to the experience of the five senses, proud of its humility, its limits and arguments. This is the "yea-nay creeping Jesus," the lower imagination pretending to brotherhood without the true material of brotherhood, common inspiration.

Humility—always bad.

"The most sublime act is to set another before you." (" Proverb of Hell.") The sublimity consists in perception and adoption of his well-founded elation and annihilation of your own envy: not in Humility which is forbidden and sinful as modesty is (which blasphemes the Symbol of God, the naked body). Humility is forbidden because it is doubt, not faith, and doubts the Godhead in ourselves, His chosen Temple.

The last version of the poem given above hardly overlaps the others in more than a few places, so far as verbal similarity is concerned. It is uncertain what Blake intended finally to do with it. Was all to have been left out ? Had he considered his work too long ? Was there loss of interest, and change of mind ? The MS. book gives no answer. The version on the left, here printed, seems to have been the last. It is written in the smallest hand, crushed, into places only just left for it, and has the look of being an amended copy.

It concludes, after the words "slept in beams of light," with the marginal note "78 lines." It will be noticed that it contains a greater number, but a study of the MS. shows that the lines from "He did not die with Christian ease " to "certainly was not what Christ meant," were written later and marked for insertion at the place in the poem where they are here printed. The lines of the segment are seventy-eight without them. They are the afterthought of an afterthought. At their close a mark occurs that the next passage is to be that beginning " Was Jesus chaste ? " &c, which contains ninety-four lines, and was numbered to avoid mistakes and the reading in of other passages, the lines being somewhat scattered among other MS. There are actually ninety-six, the last couplet having been added after enumeration. A pencil note on the first page of this long passage must be reproduced. " This was spoken by my spectre to Bacon, Newton, and Locke," &c, and four lines also in pencil on the margin, —

"Did Jesus teach doubt, or did he
Give any lessons in Philosophy ;
Charge visionaries with deceiving,
And call men wise for not believing?"

These have no place assigned to them in the poem, and would bring the ninety-six lines of the segment to a hundred. It sheds light, however, on the symbolic meaning of chastity. Bacon, Newton, and Locke, when seen as one man, are in the state called Rahab (as "Jerusalem" tells us). Rahab, — the Earth, — Mary, — are three states of the woman taken in adultery. All have female names because they are states of the earth, of the body, that is of the dark and temporary part of mind. This poem is dictated by Blake's spectre to them, but it is the spectre Los, — spectre of the living, not Satan, the ultimate of the spectres of the dead ; — a difference explained in Vala.

After " when the soul slept in beams of light " the following was, therefore, all that remained in the MS. of the poem, as Blake intended to print it.

Was Jesus chaste, or did he
Give any lessons in chastity ?
The Morning blushed fiery red.
Mary was found in adulterous bed.
Earth groaned beneath, and Heaven above
Trembled at discovery of love.
Jesus was sitting in Moses' chair.
They brought the trembling woman there.
Moses commands she be stoned to death.
What was the sound of Jesus' breath ?
He laid his hand on Moses' law.
The ancient heavens in silent awe,
Writ with curses from pole to pole,
All away began to roll.
The Earth trembling and naked lay
In secret bed of mortal clay.
On Sinai fell the hand Divine,
Putting back the bloody shrine,
And she heard the breath of God
As she heard by Eden's flood.
" Good and evil are no more ;
Sinai's trumpets cease to roar.
Cease, finger of God, to write ;
The heavens are not clean in thy sight.
Thou art good, and thou alone ;
Nor may the sinner cast one stone.
To be good only, is to be
As God or else a Pharisee.
Thou Angel of the Presence Divine,
That didst create this body of mine,
Wherefore hast thou writ these laws
And created Hell's dark jaws ?
My presence I will take from thee.
A cold leper thou shalt be,
Though thou wast so pure and bright
That Heaven was not clean in thy sight;
Though thy oath turned Heaven pale,
Though thy covenant built Hell's jail,
Though thou dost all to chaos roll
With the serpent for its soul.
Still the breath Divine does move,
And the breath Divine is love.
Mary, fear not. Let me see
The seven devils that torment thee.
Hide not from my sight thy sin,
That forgiveness thou mayst win.
Has no man condemned thee?"
"No man, Lord." "Then what is he
Who shall accuse thee? Come ye forth,
Fallen fiends of Heavenly birth
That have forgot your ancient love
And driven away my trembling dove.
You shall bow before her feet;
You shall lick the dust for meet,
And though you cannot love, but hate,
You shall be beggars at love's gate.
What was thy love? Let me see it.
Was it love, or dark deceit?"
"Love too long from me has fled.
'Twas dark deceit to earn my bread.
'Twas covet, or 'twas custom, or
Some trifle not worth caring for
That they may call a shame and sin;
Love's temple that God dwelleth in,
And hide in secret hidden shrine
The naked human form divine
And render that a lawless thing
On which the soul expands her wing.
{smaller|{But this, O Lord, this was my sin, }}
When first I let the devils in,
In dark pretence to chastity,
Blaspheming love, blaspheming Thee.
Thence rose secret adulteries,
And thence did covet also rise.
My sin thou hast forgiven me.
Canst thou forgive my blasphemy?
Canst thou return to this dark hell,
And in my burning bosom dwell?
And canst thou die that I may live
And canst thou pity and forgive? "
Then rolled the shadowy Man away
From the limbs of Jesus to make them his prey,
An ever-devouring appetite
Glistering with festering venoms bright,
Saying, — " Crucify this cause of distress,
Who don't keep the secret of holiness!
The mental powers by disease we bind,
But he heals the deaf, the dumb, the blind,
Whom God hath alHicted for secret ends.
He comforts and heals and calls them friends,
But when Jesus was crucified
Then was perfected his galling pride.
In three days he devoured his prey,
And still devours this body of clay.
For dust and clay is the serpent's meat
That never was meant for man to eat."

in this Christ is seen telling His mother to show her sin. This is not confusion but symbolism. He stands for the masculine, she for the feminine ; he for mind, imagination, truth, forgiveness, and light ; she for earth, the five senses, deluded mind, morality, repentance, secrecy, deceit, and all that is dark. She is the West and North, He is East and South.

So ends the only other completed portion of this poem.

A few words follow the note " 94 lines."

If they were intended to close the poem, then they should be followed by its concluding couplet, marked elsewhere as to follow the portion beginning, — " Was Jesus chaste ? " &c.

" I am sure this Jesus will not do
Either for Englishman or Jew."

But in looking at the end of the segment, Blake seems to have forgotten this trivial climax which was not under his eye at the moment. On what is left blank of the page where the portion is which ended first with — " still devours this body of clay/ 5 — which received the couplet " For dust and clay," &c, as an afterthought, Blake is seized with consciousness of his own mission and duty in the matter, and starts afresh.

" Seeing this false Christ, in fury and passion,
I made my voice heard all over the Nation.
What are those ? " &c.

And so the MS. of the Everlasting Gospel terminates for us with a loose end. What was the rest ? We are entirely in the dark. One suggestion presents itself at once.

In "Jerusalem," p. 27, the poem, "To the Jews," the seventh stanza begins —

"What are those golden builders doing?"

Can it have been intended to follow here ? There is no particular reason to think that it should do so. But no other line that coniniences with the same words is known to us. Should one be found in an MS., not now at hand, it will require consideration on its merits.

One of the few dates given in the whole MS. book is in the following note on the edge of a page, seemingly written just after the essay on the Vision of the Last Judgment, and therefore not far from the time of " Everlasting Gospel."

"23rd May, 1810. Found the word golden."

This means probably that opening some book at hazard to see on what word his finger would fall, Blake discovered that the word "golden " was so thrust upon his intention. A similar incident is recorded under date several years previously — August, 1807. " Jerusalem " — begun, as to its engraving, in 1804 — was still in process of transference to metal. But the most that can be offered in the absence of Blake's complete MS. is that material for a surmise exists, not for a certainty, and the "golden builders "and the "golden string," in "Jerusalem," may or may not have been Blake's intended sequel to the "Everlasting Gospel."

After " What are those -------- ?" &c, a few more lines are found, a scrap never woven into any place, probably superseded by portions of the long passage already given.

Another couplet is to be found for which no place can be assigned. It is interesting as an additional proof that when seen in this light Satan, the serpent, is crucified.

"Nail his neck to the cross : nail it with a nail.
Nail his neck to the cross : ye all have power over his tail." This is coherent with the following, also a scrap, for "pride" is satanic.
" What can be done with those desperate fools
Who follow alter the heathen schools?
I was standing by when Jesus died.
What they called humility I called pride."

It accounts for the expression — " seeing this false Christ," &c. Both the true and the false are to be found indicated in different parts of the poem. But here, again, we are pulled up short at the edge of a cliff.

As for the meaning, glancing back at the table of good and bad pride we gather as doctrine that Christ's two natures impelled Him to crucifixion. He went to " humble Himself to God," and also to proudly destroy the serpent in himself; his own spectre, or Satan. This Satan is the false (view of) Christ worshipped still. The pride that led to Satan's destruction by his Owner, Who was incarnated in him, was Satan's pride. It was the emotion of adoration rightly applied by Christ to His Humanity, wrongly to His personality, just as His humility was wrong when it humbled His Humanity to His personality when supposing itself to do the reverse. The paradox is of the richest. Truth flies both ways along the course of one figure of speech, as messages and answers in the mysterious action of electricity go in opposite directions at one moment along one wire.

There remains a section of forty-eight lines, printed in the Aldine edition, which are still to be found on a separate piece of paper stuck into the end of the MS. book. It is not certain what position Blake intended to give them. Mr. Rossetti has placed them nearly at the beginning, and in this seems to follow the sense of the lines. They appear to have been written later than the rest by the handwriting. Perhaps they were an afterthought intended to supersede much of the rest of the poems, but rejected by the author before he made up his mind how to fix them in.

Was Jesus born of a virgin pure
With narrow soul and looks demure?
If He intended to take on sin
His mother should an harlot have been,
Just such a one as Magdalen
With seven devils in her pen.
Or were Jew virgins still more cursed,
And with more sucking devils nursed?
Or what was it that He took on
That He might bring salvation?
A body subject to be tempted,
From neither pain nor grief exempted, —
Or such a body as might not feel
The passions that with sinners deal?
Yes, but they say He never fell.
Ask Caiaphas, for he can tell.
"He mocked the Sabbath, and he mocked
The Sabbath's God, and he unlocked
The evil spirits from their shrines,
And turned fishermen to divines,
O'erturned the tent of secret sins,
And all its golden cords and pins;
'Tis the bloody shrine of war,
Poured around from star to star, —
Halls of justice, hating vice,
Where the devil combs his lice.
He turned the devils into swine
That he might tempt the Jews to dine;
Since when a pig has got a look
That for a Jew may be mistook.
' Obey your parents.' What says he?
' Woman, what have I to do with thee?
No earthly parents I confess,
I am doing my father's business.'
He scorned earth's parents, scorned earth's God
And mocked the one and the other rod;
His seventy disciples sent
Against religion and government,
They by the sword of Justice fell,
And him their cruel murderer tell.
He left his father's trade to roam
A wandering vagrant without home,
And thus he others' labours stole
That he might live above control.
The publicans and harlots he
Selected for his company,
And from the adultress turned away
God's righteous law that lost its prey." This closes the available matter from which to select a text for the "Everlasting Gospel" that shall include the literary beauties of all these morsels. The task is above the powers of any editor. The simple method is to take the only piece to which Blake has given the title himself, seventy-eight lines, and add the ninety-four, and the concluding couplet, " for dust and clay" &c, which he has indicated as intended to follow.

The result would give us the text as finally selected by the author. But the rejected portions, even the earliest and least satisfactory, that which is printed last here, contain so much scattered interest that Mr. Rossetti, it seems, had not the heart to exclude them. The result is that the Aldine text is fancifully arranged, and sometimes is unnecessarily weak in effect, wanting both continuity and cadence. It is guilty, as has been seen, of deliberate suppression of lines from the midst of paragraphs without the shadow of an excuse, even where no repetition of such lines in another portion is to be found. Much may be pardoued on account of the difficulty of the task of selection. The only editorial sin that calls for distinct notice being the unsupported and incorrect statement of the footnote that the text of the poem is given "in full."