William Blake and Masonic Swedenborgianism

Δευτέρα, 23 Νοεμβρίου 2009

(extract from “William Blake and the Radical Swedenborgians” by Robert Rix, Esoterica, V, 2003, 95-137.)

Νέα εικόνα bitmap Introduction: Occultist or Political Radical?
If the philosophy of Immanuel Kant is now studied worldwide, the current climate of philosophical investigation ignores the mystical thinker Emanuel Swedenborg – at best relegating him to footnote status. But towards the end of the eighteenth century, the interest in Swedenborg among intellectuals was immense; his writings “made a lot of noise in the speculative world,” as the leading journal on esoteric matters, The Conjuror’s Magazine, commented in 1791. [1] Kant even felt compelled to respond to Swedenborg in Träume eines Geistesseher (1766; Dreams of a Spirit-Seer). Swedenborg’s teaching became the main substance of the occult revival in the late eighteenth century, and his ideas have had a lasting appeal as a source of inspiration to many intellectuals who were not converts, such as Lavater; Goethe; Coleridge; Emerson; Balzac; Baudelaire; Whitman; Melville; Henry James, Sr; and, not least, the poet and painter William Blake, on whom the essay at hand will focus. [2]

From documents we know that on 14 April 1789 Blake and his wife, Catherine, attended the First General Conference of the Swedenborgian New Jerusalem Church at the chapel in Maidenhead Lane, just off Great Eastcheap (now Cannon Street) in London’s East End. The conference lasted four days until 17 April. It was held in response to a circular letter of 7 December 1788, which had been distributed in 500 copies to “all the readers of the Theological Writings of the Hon. Emanuel Swedenborg, who are desirous of rejecting, and separating themselves from, the Old Church, or the present Established Churches.” The letter drew up forty-two propositions outlining the terms for a separation, which the Blakes signed. [3]

The Swedenborgian Church is the only religious institution we have any record of him ever attending. However, if the dating Blake scribbled in blue ink on copy K of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, his scathing satire on Swedenborg, is correct, it seems that he was, at this time, not willing to accept Swedenborg as the singular prophet on which one could build a system of beliefs.

In the late 1780s and early 1790s, when Blake sought out Swedenborg and other mystical and occult sources, he was also a radical in politics. Most noticeably, he wrote a eulogy to The French Revolution (1791), which was originally planned in seven books, and celebrated the liberation of the thirteen colonies in America: A Prophecy (1793). Traditionally, scholarship has separated Blake’s interest in occultism from his political radicalism. One branch of Blake studies (originating with another great poet of the occult, W.B. Yeats, and reaching its apex in Kathleen Raine), sees Blake primarily as a researcher of mystical sources; whereas a line fathered by David Erdman glosses over the mystical influences in order to draw a picture of a political Blake, whose writings reflect directly on contemporary events in a straightforward manner. However, studies by E.P. Thompson, Jon Mee and Marsha Keith Schuchard have encouraged us to bring these two lines together. [4]

The essay at hand proceeds from the historical precepts brought to light by these scholars and aims to show that the rationalistic ideologies of Voltaire or Thomas Paine were not alone in fuelling radical or revolutionary programmes. What I intend below is a historical investigation of how the reception of how Swedenborg’s esoteric teaching was absorbed into the socio-cultural matrix of the late eighteenth century to become a platform for opposition politics. This, in turn, will give us cause to re-evaluate the motivation behind the “radical” Blake’s affiliation with the Swedenborgians in the New Jerusalem Church. 

The Rise and Progress of Swedenborgianism in London
Before the establishment of the separatist New Jerusalem Church, the Swedish prophet’s writings were discussed in societies that convened on a regular basis. One Swedenborgian gathering in London was the Sunday morning meetings held at Jacob Duché’s flat at the Lambeth Asylum for orphans. Could Blake perhaps have visited there? At the very least, we find on a list of “Subscriber’s Names” to Duché’s Discourses on Several Subjects (1779) not only the appearance of Blake’s friend and fellow engraver William Sharp, but also that of a “William Blake.” [5]

The Church that Blake visited was a development of the non-orthodox Theosophical Society, which was established in 1783 by a printer with a Methodist background, Robert Hindmarsh. We know that a number of Blake’s fellow artists were Swedenborgians and met in the Theosophical Society (in 1785 renamed as The British Society for the Propagation of the Doctrines of the New Church), which among its members counter Philip de Loutherbourg, Richard Cosway, and Blake’s close friends John Flaxman and William Sharp. [6] The latter two may have been responsible for introducing him early on to the pre-Church debating societies. David Erdman has suggested that it was probably Sharp, Blake’s friend and fellow engraver, who introduced Blake to Swedenborg, as they were close in 1789. However, already in 1781, Blake had befriended Flaxman, who joined the Theosophical Society in 1784. [7]

Swedenborg never advocated the establishment of a separatist Church as it saw the light of day in Great Eastcheap. His proclamation of a “New Jerusalem Church” meant that a spiritual enlightenment was now available for those who would open their eyes to his gospel; it was an internal church within. Hence, when Jacob Duché made his intellectual shift from William Law to Swedenborg in 1785, he wrote to his mother-in-law that in Swedenborgianism he could “Look henceforward to an Internal Millennium.” [8] For a comparable statement, we may look to Blake’s epic poem, Jerusalem, in which he speaks of a “Jerusalem in every individual man” (39.39, E187). [9]

Swedenborg had contended that his teaching was a new revelation that would replace the corrupted beliefs perpetuated in all previous Christian churches. He explained that, historically, the world had seen the rise and fall of four ecclesiastical dispensations: the Adamic, the Noahtic, the Israelitish and the Christian Church of the present. As the Christian Church had now reached its end, Swedenborg’s “New Jerusalem Church” had arrived as “the Crown of all Churches, which have heretofore existed on this earthly Globe.” It spiritualised the biblical notion of a Last Judgment by which mankind would be brought to redemption. Swedenborg’s doctrines were promoted as the revelation of a final and true conception of Christianity, and those accepting the “New Jerusalem Church” would be redeemed in the spirit. [10]

Although Swedenborg had not lend support to any directly radical or revolutionary ideology, comments made by readers of Swedenborg at the time, as we shall see, make it clear that in setting individual illumination as the desideratum of True Religion over the control of priests, Swedenborg unwittingly gave confidence to those in English society who felt disempowered under the traditional ecclesiastical institutions.

We know that in the early years of the New Church, the membership consisted largely of persons who had “come out of the ‘liberal’ and ‘dissenting’ ecclesiastical bodies; and brought with them into the New church their old and favourite notions of democratic government.” [11] The politicisation of Swedenborgian doctrines penetrated the Church to it very core. Rev. William Hill, an Anglican minister and Swedenborgian confessor, for example, found reason to complain in a letter of 1794 to Swedenborgians in America that the New Jerusalem Church in England had been engaged in “questions relating to modes of government, both ecclesiastical and civil.” [12] There was a widespread tendency among Swedenborgians to turn their prophet’s teaching into a social gospel that fitted a radical and anticlerical outlook of the late eighteenth century. Blake’s comment in the Marriage, “It is so with Swedenborg; he shews the folly of churches & exposes hypocrites” (pl. 21; E43), is evidence of this posture.

Even when Blake seems to be making purely theological statements, there are inevitable links to be drawn to Swedenborg’s diatribe against the Christian Churches and the way they have duped man into spiritual inaptitude. This dimension is not always expressed with full clarity in Blake’s writing without familiarity with the source texts to which he alludes. In the Marriage, for instance, Blake asks a very Swedenborgian question: “How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way, Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?” (pl. 7; E35). What stimulated Blake to this formulation, beyond the verbal echo of Thomas Chatterton’s Bristowe Tragedie, or Dethe of Syr Chales Bawdin (1768), [13] was Swedenborg’s constant affirmation of a world beyond Lockean physics and a True Religion beyond the instituted Christian churches.

In Divine Love and Divine Wisdom (1788), which Blake owned and annotated, Swedenborg elucidates at length how the Divine in the natural universe has been obscured by the churches. He complains how “all the Things of Religion, which are called Spiritual, have been removed out of the Sight of Man,” by “Councils and certain Leaders in the Church.” They have mislead Christians to “blindly” believe that being born to a “natural” world, they cannot perceive anything “separate from what is natural.” To preserve their worldly privileges, these religious tyrants have conned their subjects into believing that the “spiritual” world “transcend[s] the Understanding.” They deceive man with the explanation that “the spiritual Principle to be like a Bird which flieth above the Air in the Æther where the Eye-sight doth not reach”; but, Swedenborg counterattacks, the spiritual principle of the world (“By the Sight of the Eye is meant the Sight of the Understanding”) is visible to those who break the mental restrains superimposed by the churches. The spiritual world is “like a Bird of Paradise, which flieth near the Eye, and toucheth it’s Pupil with it’s beautiful Wings, and wisheth to be seen.” [14]

From the late 1780s, conservative censors were on the watch for Swedenborgians’ potential threat to social order. A few months before a group of Swedenborgians were to make steps towards separating from the old Church, a reviewer in the Monthly Review of May 1787 assessed Swedenborg’s doctrines for their appeal to radical thinking:

They are the harmless ravings of a spiritual, but disordered fancy … the Baron’s writing will neither create a schism in the church, nor a rebellion in the state … for Swedenborg knew nothing of that dark and dangerous fanaticism which under the specious pretence of a spiritual commonwealth, endeavoured to sap the foundations of all lawful government … Let men enjoy their influxes: let them converse with their angels … If they suffer us to sleep in peace, let them dream on. (435)

We see here how the memory of the constitutional havoc wrought by sectarianism in the previous century haunted the public imagination of a politically unstable age. The conclusion reached by the reviewer is however comforting. In comparison with the fanatical religious sectarians who gave their support to Cromwell’s Commonwealth, Swedenborg’s writing is acquitted. It does not constitute any real danger; Swedenborg is seen as too eccentric to excite insurrection among the people. Yet the need to assess Swedenborgianism for its potential threat to monarchy and the Government is an indication that the early members were those who were believed to be likely to be taken in by democratic ideologies.

After the Revolution in France had struck fear into the hearts of English conservatives, evaluations of Swedenborgianism were not always so favourable. In the debate over the dissenters’ campaign for repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, some Anglicans feared that amendment of the current laws would result in an uprising among: the numberless multitude of Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, Antinomians, Muggletonians, Swedenburgians [sic.], New-Light-Men, Sandemanians, and the various motley description of modern Schismatics aided by the Turks and Infidels of all names and nations, with Lord George Gordon at their head and Jewish priests sounding the horns of sedition in his train. [15]

Interestingly, Swedenborgianism is erroneously seen to originate with seventeenth-century sects, which were popularly connected with the social upheaval of the Civil War – although Swedenborg’s theosophical writings, of course, appearing nearly a century later. The comparison with the radical Lord Gordon, the instigator of the “Gordon Riots” in 1780, only reinforces the sense of political danger the Swedenborgians were seen to constitute.

Masonic Swedenborgianism
The prevalence of an unmistakable political dimension in Swedenborgianism warns us not to limit the scope of our understanding of Blake’s motives for seeking out the New Jerusalem Church only to questions of theology. There are undeniable links between the reading of Swedenborg and radical activity, centered on a branch of radical Freemasons who operated internationally, but gathered in London. [16] However, it has been obfuscated largely due to the historian on the early developments in the New Jerusalem Church, Robert Hindmarsh.

In his history of the Rise and Progress of the New Jerusalem Church (published posthumously in 1861), Hindmarsh significantly plays down the mystico-political Freemasons’ extensive involvement in the early Swedenborgian movement. The history he produced aims to present a respectable picture of the Church where earlier radical and fanatical origins are sometimes glossed over, having the status of mere footnotes, or entirely vanishes. But before we give our attention to what has been suppressed, we need first to establish the attitudes towards Masonry that help to explain the background for Hindmarsh and the New Jerusalem Church’s policy of evasion.

An insight into conservative reaction is best typified in the French émigré priest Abbé Barruel’s widely read Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism (1797). Barruel, a former Jesuit drawing on his past experiences as a Mason, had taken a conservative turn and now led a diatribe against European Freemasonry. His  Memoirs was a tour de force of political conspiracy theory, in which Masonic lodges were exhibited as a threat to the peace of society and as an “Anarchy against every religion natural or revealed; not only against kings, but against every government, against all civil society, even against all property whatsoever.” [17] Barruel made the point that “The very name of Free-mason carries with it the idea of Liberty; as to Equality it was disguised under the term Fraternity, which has a similar signification” (2:279).

In the fourth volume of his piece of scare-mongering, Barruel singles out the Swedenborgian Masons for particular attention (esp. 4:119-51), because he sees them as the heretical glue that binds together a variety of what he calls “antisocial” (i.e. revolutionary) societies. He describes Swedenborg’s visions as “prophecies of rebellion” and his teaching as intended to “eradicate true Christianity from the minds of their dupes, and to make their New Jerusalem a plea for those revolutions” that aim to overthrow “the present churches and government” (4:132). The underlying meaning of the claim for spiritual regeneration is really “to sweep from the earth every prince and every king, that the God of Swedenborg may reign uncontroled [sic.] over the whole globe. And that revolution which they saw bursting forth in France, was nothing more in their eyes than the fire that was to purify the earth to prepare the way for their new Jerusalem” (4:126).

The most radical of the Swedenborgians were those Masonic brethren found in the Society at Avignon, which Barruel saw as a hive of revolutionary activity. Before the papal city of Avignon was annexed to France at the end of 1791, it was indeed a hotbed of much religio-mystical and political experimentalism. Many conservatives consequently linked Avignon with having played an active role in the Revolution, or being directly responsible for it.

The Society at Avignon was founded in 1779 by Antoine-Joseph Pernety and Count Grabianka. [18] But because of their travels around Europe (most notably visiting the Swedenborgians in London), it was not until early in 1787 that the Society was reformed as Académie des Illuminés Philosophes, a Masonic rite that drew on a mixture of Swedenborg and Cabalistic lore mixed in with other  mystical philosophies. Barruel lists Grabianka, as well as Cagliostro (founder of the Egyptian Rite) and Louis Claude de Saint-Martin (founder of the Elus Coens) as “brethren of Avignon,” who “recognized the Illumineés of Swedenborg as their parent Sect.” All three achieved European-wide notoriety for their radical politics flown under a mystical banner. In Rise and Progress of the New Jerusalem Church, Hindmarsh recognises the Society’s strong Swedenborgian connections but is eager to dissociate its affiliation with the New Jerusalem Church. [19]

If we turn to London, we find that predating Duché’s Lambeth meetings and the Theosophical Society was a quasi-Masonic society, which was the first to catch on to Swedenborg’s teaching. It was formed in 1776, partly on the initiative of Benedict Chastanier, a French physician and high-ranking Mason who resided in Britain “over forty years,” having emigrated from France in 1774. Chastanier’s society went under the name of the London Universal Society. The interests of the Society continued the Masonic system of Theosophic Illuminati (Illuminés theosophes) Chastanier had formed in France. Though all the members of the Universal Society were Masons, they do not, however, seem to have had any rites or Masonic degrees. Chastanier had been in contact with the Masons at Avignon and introduced their teaching to England. He had discovered Swedenborg’s works in 1768, albeit, at first, without knowing who the author was. [20]

Throughout the 1780s, the Universal Society had a permeating influence on the reception of Swedenborg, as Marsha Keith Schuchard has shown. [21] The main purpose of the Universal Society was missionary in the Masonic philanthropic sense (“philanthropic” being a Masonic buzzword at the time), working for universal redemption. For this reason, the members were involved in the translation and printing of Swedenborg’s works. [22] Chastanier also published a periodical entitled Journal Novi-Jerusalemite, in which he called on all Masons to accept Swedenborg’s teaching. He is thus an important figure in facilitating a rapprochement between Swedenborgianism and Catholic Franco-Masonry.

The members of Chastanier’s Universal Society were regular guests at the Sunday morning meetings held at Duché’s asylum, and they also attended the meetings of the Theosophical Society. The Universal Society was so closely connected with the Theosophical Society and its programme for publishing Swedenborg’s works that they shared the same printing press. Their presence facilitated the visits of many international and high-ranking Masons. [23] It was thus a specific Masonic version of Swedenborg that dominated London Swedenborgianism throughout the 1780s.

An occult tradition of seeking spiritual illumination thrived in the seventeenth century but had since gone underground, marginalised by the progress of rationalist and empiricist modes of thinking, and was preserved most fully and systematically in clandestine Freemasonry. At the inception of Swedenborgianism into the European network of “irregular” Masonry, it blended in with the mainstays of Hermeticism, Cabalism, Rosicrucianism, Spiritualism, Astrology etc. Many lodges and Masonic societies welcomed Swedenborg’s teaching. His central idea of “Correspondences,” which linked all things material to a spiritual source was used to back up notions of unusual rapport with other realities. Swedenborg, who had practiced as a Natural Philosopher for over fifty years, carried over a systematic and scientific sensibility to his cosmology. For many, Swedenborgianism became an umbrella philosophy under which other occult ideas could be given a collective rationale – even if these were only remotely related to Swedenborg’s doctrines.

Both the Theosophical Society and Duché’s gatherings were “open” meetings in the sense that the Masons (primarily noblemen or haute bourgeoisie) here mixed with tradesmen, artisans and other local Londoners. This was part of a “philanthropic” programme, by which the Masons – with “democratic intent” – wanted to create “a new space within society where members of differing classes could meet ‘upon the level’” [24] The discussion groups became a conduit for the Masons’ heady blend of mystical ideas and radical politics, which trickled down to segments of the lower orders.  The result was that Swedenborgian ideas came to blend in with a long-established plebeian cosmology, which had roots in the native millennial traditions of the Muggletonians, Jane Lead’s Philadelphian society, the English translations of Jakob Boehme (on whom Lead drew heavily) and a tradition of seventeenth-century radical Protestantism.

In his history of the Rise and Progress of the New Jerusalem Church, Hindmarsh, much like Coleridge in Biographia Literaria, cultivates a “selective” memory when it comes to his youthful radicalism. He does mention the visit of the notorious charlatan Cagliostro, who, in the mid-1780s, visited the Swedenborgians in London in order to recruit members for his Egyptian Rite. Johann Wolfgang Goethe, a Rose-Croix Mason, who publicly criticised Cagliostro, heard that he received a warm welcoming among the London Swedenborgians and reported this in his Italieniesche Reise. [25] But Hindmarsh chooses to forget that, from late 1785 to late 1786, the Swedenborgians were visited by Count Grabianka, who was not really a “Count,” but a Polish Nobleman. He was known under several aliases according to where he travelled; in England he went under the name Suddowski. Grabianka’s Masonic system, a mixture of Swedenborg and Cabalism, had significant political overtones. He nursed a desire to succeed to the elective Polish throne, claimed that papal authority would be brought to an end and that there would be a mass social uprising. [26]

When Grabianka arrived in London on 7 December 1785, he immediately sent for Chastanier, who went to meet him at the Hotel in the Adelphi, which shows the strong connections between the London Swedenborgians and Avignon. [27] The purpose of his visit was to enlist recruits among the London Swedenborgians to his own rite named Nouvel Israel á Avignon. Most notably, Hindmarsh forgets to tell us that he had been accepted into Grabianka’s Masonic system; and that he had acted as a printer for Grabianka’s propagandistic Letter from a Society in France, to the Society for Promoting the Heavenly Doctrines of the New Jerusalem in London (1787), by which he sought to recruit members for his Masonic system. [28]

Another Swedenborgian Mason mentioned by Abbé Barruel was Claude Saint-Martin. His radicalism was obvious, as he was directly connected with the Revolution, serving in the Garde Nationale. Saint Martin had in 1787 been elected honorary member of the Exegetical and Philanthropic Society in Sweden. In collaboration with the leader of the Society from 1788, Göran Ulrik Silverhjelm (Swedenborg’s nephew) he published the Swedenborgian tract Le Nouvel Homme (1792) in collaboration with and leader of the Swedenborgian movement in Sweden. The work was written in 1790 with the “aim to describe what we should expect in regeneration.” [29] That there was a considerable degree of criss-crossing between international Masonry of European noblemen and the vernacular traditions of London artisan culture can be seen in the fact that Saint-Martin travelled to London in 1785 to study the writings of Jane Lead. [30] He became so convinced of her Boehme-inspired theology that he converted to the German mystic in the early 1790s, and, like Blake in the Marriage, somewhat shifting his sympathies away from Swedenborg.

In London, Saint-Martin visited the Theosophical Society. So there is a good chance Blake could have been exposed to his Masonic mystico-religion through contact with his friends in the Society; but influence may also have found its way through other channels. For instance, in his Journal Allemand of December 1790, Lavater eulogised one of Saint-Martin’s treatises as one of the books most to his liking. Blake valued Lavater highly (as it is clear from his annotations to Aphorisms of Man), and Blake’s close friend Fuseli, who was a close acquaintance of Lavater’s, may have provided an alternative route for such influences.

In his anti-Masonic Memoirs, Barruel, who resided in England, did not let pass that the Masons he calls “the brethren of Avignon,” Grabianka, Cagliostro and Saint-Martin, were welcome visitors to Chastanier and the Swedenborgians in London during the 1780s. Thus, Barruel claims, one could see their disciples thirsting after that celestial Jerusalem, that purifying fire (for these are the expressions I have heard them make use of) that was to kindle into general conflagration throughout the earth by means of the French Revolution – and thus Jacobin Equality and Liberty was to be universally triumphant in the streets of London. [31]

The aforementioned expressions are commonplace in much mystical Christianity and spiritual alchemy, and are also appropriated by Blake. The rhetoric of “celestial Jerusalem” features most notably in Milton and Jerusalem, and, in the early prophecy, America, Blake (echoing Nebuchadnezzar’s millennial dream in Daniel 2) depicts revolution as an alchemical transformation of man: “Fires inwrap the earthly globe, yet man is not consumd;/ Amidst the lustful fires he walks: his feet become like brass,/ His knees and thighs like silver, & his breast and head like gold.” (8:15-17; E54).

Barruel’s account may be both populist and opportunistic, capitalising on the general paranoia and rumour-mongering that swept Europe at the time, but there is no denying that, for many Swedenborgians, spiritual and political regeneration were handmaidens. The Swedenborgian lecturer James Glen would, for example, in 1795 welcome the French Revolution, which he believed was “sweeping a way for the New Church of the Divine Human.” [32] A similar conjunction is found in Blake’s The French Revolution, written shortly after he had been in close contact with the Swedenborgians. For instance, the beginning of the political resistance that will result in the Revolution (“the valleys of France shall cry to the soldier, throw down thy sword and musket,/ And run and embrace the meek peasant. Her nobles shall hear and shall weep, and put off/ The red robe of terror, the crown of oppression, the shoes of contempt …” etc.) is described as a mystical experience of transcendent vision, by which man will “raise his darken’d limbs out of the caves of the night, his eyes and his heart/ Expand: where is space!” (ll. 217-38; E296)


i [1] The Conjuror’s Magazine (Nov. 1791): 130.
ii [2] For Swedenborg’s influence on later thinkers, see the collection of essays in Erland J. Brock et al. (eds.), Swedenborg and his Influence (Bryn Athyn: Academy of the New Church, 1988).
iii[3] It is important to note that the Blakes signed as sympathisers, not as Church members. Among the seventy-seven signers, fifty-six were actual members, while the eighteen other names (among which we find William and Catherine) did not commit themselves to membership. The document and other papers related to the New Jerusalem Church have been reprinted in Harvey Bellin and Darrel Ruhl (eds.), Blake and Swedenborg: Opposition is true Friendship (New York: Swedenborg Foundation, 1985), 121-32.
iv[4] For the relevant works; see bibliography.
v[5] Jacob Duché, Discourses on Several Subjects, 2 vols. (London, 1779), 1:3.
vi[6] Other artist members were the engraver J. Emes, the miniature painter J. Sanders, the artist Daniel Richardson and the musician F.H. Bartlemon. Swedenborg’s biographer William White mentions these names and their occupations on a list of twenty-five members of the Theosophical Society, see Emanuel Swedenborg: His Life and Writings, 2 vols. (London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1868), 2:599-600.
vii[7] David Erdman, “Blake’s Early Swedenborgianism: A Twentieth-Century Legend,” Comparative Literature 5 (1953): 247-57; White, Swedenborg, 2:606-7.
iix[8] Jacob Duché to M. Hopkinson, 5 May 1785, quoted in Peter J. Lineham,“The English Swedenborgians: 1770-1840,” University of Sussex, Ph.D.-thesis (1978), 166.
ix[9] All Blake citations are from The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, ed. David V. Erdman, rev. ed. (New York: Doubleday, 1988) and will be marked as E in the text. Page references are preceded by plate and line numbers when applicable.
x[10] Emanuel Swedenborg, The True Christian Religion, containing the Universal Theology of the New Church, trans. John Clowes, 2 vols. (London: J. Phillips et al., 1781), n786, n753-90. References to Swedenborg’s texts are marked with“n” for the section number.
xi[11] Carl T.H. Odhner, Robert Hindmarsh (Philadelphia, 1895), 37.
xii[12] Letter to Robert Carter of the Swedenborgian Society in Baltimore, quoted in Marguerite Beck Block, The New Church in the New World: A Study of Swedenborgianism in America (1932; New York: Swedenborg Publishing Association, 1984), 329.
xiii[13] The identification was made by Harold Bloom, see“Commentary,” E898
xiv[14] Emanuel Swedenborg, The Wisdom of Angels concerning Divine Love and Divine Wisdom [Blake’s annotated copy in the British Library] (London: W. Chalken, 1788), n334.
xv[15] [Rev. Mr. Bradshaw], A Scourge for the Dissenters; or, Non-Conformity Unmasked (London: printed for the author, 1790), 51-52.
xvi[16] The connections have been outlined by Marsha Keith Schuchard in “The Secret Masonic History of Blake’s Swedenborg Society,” Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly 26 (1992): 40-51; “William Blake and the Promiscuous Baboons: A Cagliostroan Séance Gone Awry,” British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 18 (1995): 185-200; and “Blake’s Tiriel: Lifting the Veil on a Royal Masonic Scandal,” in Blake, Politics, and History, ed. Jackie de Salvo et. al. (New York: Garland, 1998): 115-35..
xvii[17] Augustin Barruel, Memoirs, illustrating the History of Jacobinism, trans. Robert Clifford, 4 vols. (London: Burton and Co., 1797-98), 3:5.
xviii[18] On the Society at Avignon; see Clarke Garrett, Respectable Folly: Millenarians and the French Revolution in France and England (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975), 97-120. Pernety was one of the earliest admirers of Swedenborg, producing a series of very bizarre and conspicuously inaccurately translations of the prophet’s works into French. He had published a French version of Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell in Berlin in 1782. An insight into the reception of Swedenborg in the Society was made available in Observations sur la Franc-Maçonnerie, les visions de Swedenborg, which was published by the Society at Avignon in 1786.
xix[19] Robert Hindmarsh, Rise and Progress of the New Jerusalem Church in England, America and Other Parts, ed. Rev. Edward Madely (London, 1861), 41-49.
xx[20] For biographical and historical information, see James Hyde, “Benedict Chastanier and the Illuminati of Avignon,” New Church Review April (1907): 181-205; Documents Concerning the Life and Character of Emanuel Swedenborg, ed. R.L. Tafel, 2 vols. (London: Swedenborg Society, 1875-1877), 2:1176-80; and Block, New Church, 58.
xxi[21] Marsha Keith Schuchard, “Secret Masonic History” and “Blake and the Grand Masters (1791-1794) in S. Clark and D. Worrall, Blake in the Nineties (London: Macmillan, 1999), 173-93.
xxii[22] In part one of the journal (1787), Chastanier prints a “programme” for the Universal Society (Plan général d’une Societé Universelle). This is a re-print of the programme which had first appeared in his French translation of Swedenborg, De la Nouvelle Jérusalem et de sa Doctrine Céleste (London: R. Hawes, 1782). For a list of some of Chastanier’s other translations of Swedenborg, see Hyde,“Chastanier”: 189-90.
xxiii[23] For an overview of Swedenborgian Masonry in an international perspective, see Rudolph L. Tafel, “Swedenborg and Freemasonry,” New Jerusalem Messenger (1869): 26-67.
xxvi[24] Al Gabay, “Swedenborg, Mesmer, and the “Covert” Enlightenment,” The New Philosophy: The Journal of the Swedenborg Scientific Societies, 100 (1997): 629-30.
xxv[25] Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Italian Journey (1786-88), trans. W.H. Auden and E. Mayer (London [Verona printed]: Collins, 1962), 245.
xxvi[26] M.L. Danilewicz, “‘The King of the New Israel’: Thaddeus Grabianka,” Oxford Slavonic Papers (new series) 1 (1968): 69.
xxvii[27] Hyde,“Chastanier”: 192-93.
xxviii[28] Schuchard,“Secret Masonic History: 44.
xxix[29] Letter from Saint-Martin to Kirchberger, Paris, 8 June 1792,trans. Edward Burton Penny, Theosophical University Press Online Edition (24 Dec. 2001),
xxx[30] “Louis Claude de Saint-Martin,” Theosophy, 26 (1938), 482-488.
xxxi[31] Barruel, Memoirs, 4:54.
xxxii[32] Lineham,“English Swedenborgians,” 272.

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