Page images

numerous as the Doctor's hypothefis requires they fhould have been.

3. The ftudents in Milton's academy (being the fons of men of like spirit and principles with their mafter) would not,. upon leaving his boarding-fchool, vapour away their patriotism in writing books; but proceed to fcenes of action not very favourable to the Muses, or philosophical fpeculation.

Though fome of Milton's pupils might, in the days of their maturity, write like angels, their performances in favour of Liberty would be execrated into obfcurity and contempt, upon the turn of the times, by the able proficients in the noble fcience of licenfing.


The Doctor, fpeaking of Milton's Areopagitica, fays, "The danger of "fuch unbounded liberty [of unlicensed


printing, and the danger of bound

"ing it, have produced a problem, in "the science of government, which hu"man understanding feems unable to "folve *."

Let us then have recourfe to a divine understanding for the solution of it. Let both the tares and the wheat grow together till the harveft, left while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

Next follows a curious fee-faw of the arguments pro and con.

* New Narrative, p. 45.

" If

"If nothing may be published but "what civil authority have previously "approved, power muft always be the "ftandard of truth."

Would not one think that problem was thus folved at once? Is not this an alternative which even Dr. Johnson's predilection for power would hardly admit? Hold a little, till we have fhewn you the evils on the other fide.

[ocr errors]

"If every dreamer of innovations may

propagate his projects, there can be no "fettlement; if every murmurer at go"6 vernment may diffufe difcontent, there "can be no peace; if every fceptic in "theology may teach his follies, there "can be no religion."

Is it not better that power fhould be the standard of truth, than that we should have no fettlement, no peace, no religion?

But, fays another writer, as honcft a man, and at least as fair a reafoner, as Dr. Johnfon," If men were not to de"clare their opinions in fpight of estab

lifhments, either in church or ftate, "truth would foon be banished the "earth;" and to this agrees John Milton. What is then to be done?

Why, fays a moderator, punish the authors of these wicked publications; for Dr. Johnfon tells you, "It is yet al"lowed that every fociety may punish,,


though not prevent, the publication of

* Dedication of the Efay on Spirit.

[blocks in formation]

"opinions which that society shall think


We could mention very good fort of men, and no fools, who would not allow this to every fociety. But be this as it may, this allowance does not fatisfy our Biographer; for, fays he, "This punish"ment, though it may crush the author, 66 promotes the book; and it feems not "more reasonable to leave the right of printing unrestrained, becaufe writers



may be afterwards cenfured, than it "would be to fleep with our doors un"bolted, because by our laws we can

"hang a thief."

The conclufion is,

hang every man who prints or publishes

without a license.


« PreviousContinue »