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Is it not better that power should be the standard of truth, than that we should have no settlement, no peace, no reli
But, says another writer, as honest a man, and at least as fair a reasoner, as Dr. Johnson, “ If men were not to de“ clare their opinions in spight of estabs lishments either in church or state, " truth would soon be banished the * earth * ;" and to this agrees John Milton.
What is then to be done? Why, says a moderator, punish the authors of these wicked publications ; for Dr. Johnson tells you,
" It is yet al“ lowed that every fociety may punish, “ though not prevent, the publication of * Dedication of the Ejay on Spirit.
" opinions which that society shall think “ pernicious."
We could mention very good fort of men, and no fools, who would not allow this to cvery society. But be this as it may, this allowance does not satisfy our Biographer; for, says he, “ This punish
ment, though it may crush the author, promotes the book; and it seems not
; more reasonable to leave the right of printing unrestrained, because writers
may be afterwards censured, than it 6 would be to Neep with our doors un“ bolted, because by our laws we can hang a thief."
The conclusion is, hang every man who prints or publishes without a license.
Hardy Hardy must be the man who can publish this sophistry with so many contradictory facts staring him in the face. And distressing must be the dilemma which obliges Dr. Johnson to admit either that the minority have propagated no projects of innovation, diffused no discontents by murmuring at government; or that his friends the ministers of state have not been able to protect the settlement, and keep the public peace. If there can be no religion upon the supposition that every sceptic may teach his follies, I am afraid the Doctor hiinself can have no religion; for such sceptics may and do teach their follies every day with all freedom.
Perhaps times and seasons might be, noted in some old almanac when the good Doctor himself stole some trifles into the world through the press, which did not much favour the legal settlement of the crown, or tend to abate the difcontents of the people.
Had the minister of the day, who then flept with his doors unbolted, caught the thief with the dark-lanthorn in his pocket, and configned him over to the constable, the culprit undoubtedly would have availed himself of Milton's plea, and we should have heard with a vengeance of the wicked enmity of power to the cause of truth and loyalty, But penfions and preferments are wonderful enlighteners; and the free circu.
lation of fedition during the last reign, when many an honest Jacobite propagated his discontents without the least apprehension for his ears, is now become a pernicious policy, unworthy of the wisdom and dignity of an administration under the protection of the respectable Dr. Samuel Johnson.
It is observable, that Milton addreffed his noble tract, intituled, Areopagitica, to an antimonarchical parliament, from which he expected the reformation of all the errors and encroachments of the late kingly and prelatical government. He was above the little dirty prejudices or pretences that they might be trusted with power, only because he approved of the men, or depended upon their fa