Letter: Exploring an issue of concern to millions

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The Independent Online
Sir: Christopher Armstrong (letter, 23 March) tells only half the story of William Blake's Newton. In his mythology, Blake identifies Newton with mechanical materialism and the dark satanic mills (ie, Oxford and Cambridge) that grind out Newtonian materialism. But in his greatest work, Jerusalem, plate 97 reads:

The innumerable Chariots of the

Almighty appear'd in Heaven,

And Bacon & Newton & Locke, &

Milton & Shakespear & Chaucer . . .

Blake had the highest regard for all kinds of knowledge, including science, but the provenance of science was not the human spirit - that was the vocation of the arts and humanities.

Blake's high regard for Newton is apparent in his depiction of him as an exquisite human specimen - but sitting at the bottom of the sea of space and time, using only a pair of dividers, while a polypus, symbol of materialism, advances on him from behind. Yet, before him is a scroll, the symbol of the poetic genius.

Yours truly,



The Blake Society at St James'

London, W1

23 March