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it Freedom, Virtue, public Spirit! and if such an attempt is made, I warn the heedless abettors of it to beware of the consequences. A similar measure was proposed to Parliament in the reign of king William, but they wisely rejected it. Should it be revived in the present reign, if our Parliament bear any respect to free-speaking, free-writing, to themselves-they will reject it
"It is a very comfortable reflection to the "lovers of Liberty, that this peculiar privilege "of Britain is of a kind that cannot easily "be wrested from us, but must last as long "as our Government remains, in any degree, "free and independent. It is seldom, that
Liberty of any kind is lost all at once. Slavery has so frightful an aspect to men "accustomed to Freedom, that it must steal
upon them by degrees, and must disguise it"self in a thousand shapes, in order to be re"ceived. But, if the Liberty of the Press ever "be lost, it must be lost at once. The general "Laws against Sedition and Libelling are at pre"sent as strong as they possibly can be made.
"either the clapping an Imprimatur upon the "Press, or the giving to the Court very large
discretionary powers to punish whatever displeases them. But these concessions would be "such a bare-faced violation of Liberty, that they "will probably be the last efforts of a despotic "Government. We may conclude, that the Liberty of Britain is gone for ever when these "attempts shall succeed *.
* HUME's Essays, Vol. I. p. 14. 8vo. edit.
LIST OF THE EDITIONS
THE ARE O PAGITI CA,
KNOWN TO THE EDITOR,
which have been published separately
Small Quarto, Lond. 1644; original Edition.
Octavo, Lond. 1772; with a smart ironical Dedication to C. Jenkinson, Esqr. the late Earl of Liverpool.
Octavo, Lond. 1792. This was edited by James Losh, Esqr.
A sort of an abridgement of the AREOPAGITICA was published in 1693, small 4to, under the title of "Reasons humbly offered for the Liberty of "Unlicens'd Printing. To which is subjoin'd, the
just and true Character of Edmund Bohun, the "Licenser of the Press. In a Letter from a Gen"tleman in the Country, to a Member of Parlia"ment." No other notice is taken of MILTON than by subscribing the initials I. M. It was also reprinted with the "Tractat of Education," at the end of Archdeacon Blackburne's Remarks on Johnson's Life of MILTON; 12mo, 1780; at the expense of the late Mr. Brand Hollis; and again in a Volume of Tracts, edited by Mr. Maseres, in 1809.
And the celebrated Mirabeau published a Tract, sur la Liberté de la Presse, imité de l'Anglois, de MILTON. It is for the most part a translation from the AREOPAGITICA; and I have reprinted it at the end of the present Publication. It may be conducive to the honour of our Country, by leading Foreigners to a better acquaintance with all the works of the finest character England has produced. I do not say it's noblest Poet: but the truth is, that between him and Shakspeare, it is a question rather of preference than of comparison.