Wednesday, 28th November 2007, is the 250th anniversary of William Blake.
It would be easy to claim him as a fellow-fighter for liberty. However, he would be an uncomfortable companion today. He railed against all authority and would no doubt campaign against elected governments and councils, as he used to against the tyranny of kings. There is no certainty that he would be satisfied with a constitutional monarchy as a substitute for a republic.
He revelled in the French Revolution and despised education. "The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction."
He trusted his own personal vision of God rather than the insights of scientists (or the teachings of any organised religion):
"The atoms of Democritus
And Newton's particles of light
Are sands upon the Red sea shore,
Where Israels' tents do shine so bright."
But it would be good to have him on our side in the resistance to a national identity database, to illegal wars, to forms of slavery and to corruption in high places. He was exercised by the 18th century equivalents of all these.
- Frank Little