Page images

tor counfell the Rhodians against a former edict : and I abound with other like examples, which to set heer would be superfluous. But if from the industry of a life wholly dedicated to studious labours, and those naturall endowments haply not the worst for two and fifty degrees of northern latitude, so much must be derogated, as to count me not equall to any of those who had this priviledge, I would obtain to be thought not so inferior, as your felves are superior to the most of them who receiv'd their counsell: and how farre you excell them, be assur'd, Lords and Commons, there can no greater testimony appear, then when your prudent spirit acknowledges and obeyes the voice of reason



from what quarter soever it be heard speaking; and renders ye as willing to repeal any Act of your own setting forth, as any set forth by your Predecessors.

If ye be thus resolvid, as it were injury to thinke ye were not, I know not what should withhold me from presenting ye with a fit instance wherein to fhew both that love of truth which


eminently professe, and that uprightnesse of your judgement which is not wont to be partiall to your selves; by judging over again that Order which ye have ordain’d to regulate Printing. That no Book, pamphlet, or paper Mall be henceforth Printed, unlesse the same be first approv'd and licenc't by such, or at least one of such as shall be thereto appointed. For that part which preserves justly every mans Copy to himselfe, or provides for the


poor, I touch not, only wish they be not made pretenses to abuse and persecute honest and painfull Men, who offend not in either of these particulars. But that other clause of Licencing Books, which we thought had dy'd with his brother quadragesimal and matrimonial when the Prelats expir’d, I shall now attend with such a Homily, as shall lay before ye, first the inventors of it to bee those whom ye will be loath to own ; next what is to be thought in generall of reading, whatever sort the Books be; and that this Order avails nothing to the suppressing of scandalous, feditious, and libellous Books, which were mainly intended to be supprest. Laft, that it will be primely to the discouragement of all learning, and the fop of Truth, not only by disexercising and blunting our abilities in what we know already, but by hindring and cropping the discovery that might bee yet further made both in religious and civill Wisdome.


I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the Church and Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how Bookes deineane themselves as well as men ; and thereafter to confine, imprifon, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors : For Books are not abfolutely dead things, but doe contain a potencie of life in thein to be as active as that foule was whose progeny they

[ocr errors]

are ;


are; nay they do preserve as in a violl the purest efficacie and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous Dragons teeth ; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed

And yet on the other hand, unleffe warinefse be us’d, as good almost kill a man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth ; but a good Booke is the pretious lifeblood of a master spirit, imbalm' and treasur’d up on purpose to a life beyond

« PreviousContinue »