This document was drawn up in 1792 by gentlemen in Lambeth in support of the state (monarch, government and church), at a time of high political unrest. The French Revolution was in force.The gentlemen met and agreed to work together to counteract seditious publications, those that sought to incite rebellion, and ‘tumultuous and illegal meetings of ill designing and wicked men’. The document was to be ‘submitted to every housekeeper for their approbation and signature’. There would have been considerable pressure on people to sign, to avoid being considered as supporters of sedition.
What was William Blake doing at this time?
William Blake’s reaction to the French Revolution, like many writers of the time, was optimism and hope for a new order. In 1790 he wrote and printed a small political pamphlet called A Song of Liberty, which ended with the words ‘Empire is no more! The Lion and Wolf shall cease’. This developed into the work he called The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790). In 1791 his publisher Joseph Johnson, who in the same year published Thomas Paine’s politically inflammatory Rights of Man, agreed to print Blake’s The French Revolution, though only the first of nine books was set in type.
In 1780 Blake had as a young man been a reluctant witness to the burning of Newgate in the Gordon Riots, and his many descriptions of fires are drawn from first-hand experience.
How did the document affect Blake?
As a householder, Blake would have been asked to sign this intimidating document, and from this time he made no more explicitly political works.
- Full title:
- Association for Preserving Liberty and Property against Republicans and Levellers. At a meeting of the Mayor, magistrates, clergy and principal inhabitants of the borough of Great Yarmouth ... December 10th, 1792. Edmund Lacon, Esq. Mayor, in the chair.
- estimated 1792, probably London
- Association for preserving Liberty and Property
- Usage terms
- Public Domain
- Held by
- British Library
- Add MS 16931
- Article by:
- Matthew White
- Politics and religion, Language and ideas
The Enlightenment's emphasis on reason shaped philosophical, political and scientific discourse from the late 17th to the early 19th century. Matthew White traces the Enlightenment back to its roots in the aftermath of the Civil War, and forward to its effects on the present day.
- Article by:
- Ruth Mather
- Power and politics
Ruth Mather considers how Britain's intellectual, political and creative circles responded to the French Revolution.
- Article by:
- Andrew Lincoln
- Romanticism, Poverty and the working classes, Power and politics
The French Revolution inspired London radicals and reformers to increase their demands for change. Others called for moderation and stability, while the government tried to suppress radical activity. Professor Andrew Lincoln describes the political environment in which William Blake was writing.