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laines with the goodly Eccho they made; and besorted us to the gay imitation of a lordly Imprimatur, one from Lambeth house, another from the West end of Pauls; fo apithly Romanizing, that the word of command still was set downe in Latine; as if the learned Grammaticall pen that wrote it, would cast, no ink without Latine : or perhaps, as they thought, because no vulgar tongue was worthy to expresse the pure conceit of an Imprimatur ; but rather, as, I hope, for that our English, the language of men ever famous, and formost in the atchievements of liberty, will not easily finde fervile letters anow to spell such a dictatorie presumption Englisht. And thus ye have the Inventors and the ori
ginall of Book-licencing ript up, and drawn as lineally as any pedigree. We have it not, that can be heard of, froin any ancient State, or politie, or Church, not by any Statute left us by our Anceftors elder or later; nor from the moderne custom of any reformed Citty, or Church abroad; but from the most Antichristian Councel, and the most tyrannous Inquisition that ever inquir'd. Till then Books were ever as freely admitted into the World as any other birth; the iffue of the brain was no more ftiA'd then the issue of the womb : no envious Juno sate cros-leg'd over the nativity of any mans intellectuall off-spring; but if it prov'd a Monster, who denies, but that it was justly burnt, or sunk into the Sea.
But that a Book in wors condition then a peccant soul, should be to stand before a Jury ere it be borne to the World, and undergo yet in darknesse the judgement of Radamanth and his Collegues, ere it can passe the ferry backward into light, was never heard before, till that mysterious iniquity .provokt and troubld at the first entrance of Reformation, sought out new limbo's and new hells wherein they might include our Books also within the number of their damned. And this was the rare morsell fo officiously snatcht up, and so ilfavourdly imitated by our inquisiturient Bishops, and the attendant minorites their Chaplains. That ye like not now there most certain Authors of this licencing order, and that all sinister
intention was farre distant from your thoughts, when ye were iinportun'd the paffing it, all men who know the integrity of your actions, and how
honour Truth, will clear yee readily.
But some will say, What though the Inventors were bad, the thing for all that may be good? It may
if that thing be no such deep invention, but obvious, and easie for any man to light on, and yet best and wisest Commonwealths'through all ages, and occafions have forborne to use it, and falsest seducers, and oppreffers of men were the first who tooke it up, and to no other purpose but to obstruct and hinder the first approach of Reformation; I am of those who beleeve, it will be a har
der alchymy then Lullius ever knew, to sublimat any good use out of such an invention. Yet this only is what I request to gain from this reason, that it
be held a dangerous and suspicious fruit, as certainly it deserves, for the tree that bore it, untill I can dissect one by one the properties it has. But I have first to finish, as was propounded, what is to be thought in generall of reading Books, what ever sort they be, and whether be more the benefit, or the harm that thence proceeds ?
Not to infift upon the examples of Mofes, Daniel, & Paul, who were skilfull in all the learning of the Ægyptians, Caldeans, and Greeks, which could not probably be without reading their Books