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enginry or gunnery, fortification and navigation; and, on his issuing into the world from one of these academies, he was to be accomplished for any duty, to which his country might summon him, in the pulpit or at the bar, in the senate or in the field. During the course of these studies, which visited every region of science, the body of the student was to receive its share of cultivation, to be maintained in health by temperance, and to be invigorated by exertion. The exercises directed on this occasion were to be of a military nature, “ to instruct the youth in the exact use of their weapons, and in the rudiments of their soldiership.” After their exercises, and their meals, “ their spirits were to be recreated and composed with solemn and divine harmonies of music heard or learnt; and their minds sent back to study in good tune and satisfaction." These institutions, in short, were to resemble the old philosophic schools of Greece, with the rare advantage of uniting the martial gymnasia of Sparta with the Academus and Lyceum hic of Athens.
This must be allowed to be a magnificent plan of education; but we believe it to be calculated only to amuse the fancy, while it would be found by experience to disappoint
the expectation. It was suited, however, to the gigantic mind of Milton, which, from its own altitude, could not distinguish small difficulties, and, in its pride of power, could not easily condescend to the effects of inferior capacity. That he was fully persuaded of the practicability of his system, cannot well be doubted. “ I shall detain you,” he says to Hartlib,“ now no longer in the demonstration of what we should not do, but strait conduct ye to a hill-side, where I will point ye out the right path of a virtuous and noble education; laborious, indeed, at the first ascent, but else so smooth, so green, so full of goodly prospect and melodious sounds on every side, that the harp of Orpheus was not more charming. I doubt not but ye shall have more adoe to drive our dullest and laziest youth, our stocks and stubs from the infinite desire of such a happy nurture, than we have now to hale and drag our choicest and hopefullest wits to that asinine feast of sow-thistles and brambles, which is commonly set before them as all the food and entertainment of their tenderest and most
This treatise, though offering to us a scheme which, in its entire extent, we must
Mil. Prose Works, vol. i. 276.
reject as not reducible to practice, is yet valuable for the hints which it supplies for the improvement of our established mode of education. In the higher classes of our public schools, more attention, as it would be prejudice to deny, might advantageously be given to science; and in these seminaries, the diet and exercises of our youth might be better regulated with reference to health, and to the perfection of their bodies. This little piece is written in an easier and a purer style than the preceding works of its author ; but in every species of merit it must yield to another composition produced, nearly about the same time, by the same pen,
, and addressed to the Parliament, with the title of “ Areopagitica, or a speech for the liberty of unlicensed printing.”
The Presbyterians, as we have already remarked, on their rising, in these agitated times, into power, quickly forgot the principles which they had professed in their adversity; and, declaring against unlimited toleration, discovered, by their readiness to violate the rights of others, that their tenderness was only for their own. The great a power not to be seized by these impostors of liberty; and, abusing their ascendancy in Parliament, they placed this formi
press was too
dable engine under the same controll, of which they had lately só indignantly complained. They were satisfied, in short, that the
press, when it belonged to the church, could not be too free, or, when it was possessed by themselves, too solicitously confined. Against these apostate-patriots, who betrayed their cause with the sanctity of prophaned religion, Milton now advanced as the champion of free discussion; and the effect of his zeal, in this instance, for the interests of genuine liberty, has received the unanimous acclamation of the world. A strong cause was never more powerfully defended; and truth, in the “ Areopagitica," is armed, by reason and by fancy, with weapons, which are effective with their weight and edge while they dazzle us with their brightness.
This masterly and eloquent composition is opened with the most conciliating address; and its arguments, which are individually strong, derive so much force from their mutual support, in a close and advantageous array, as to be absolutely irresistible, and imperiously to compel our conviction. Showing that fetters for the press were first contrived by the papal tyranny," and wrought
The turbulent and profligate Sixtus IV, whose enormities were exceeded only by those of Alexander VI, was the first who
to their ultimate perfection by the Spanish Inquisition, the pleader for liberty proceeds to prove that these shackles are injurious to religious and moral truth, which may be benefitted and cannot be injured by any conflict with falsehood: that the circulation of flagitious writings cannot be prohibited by any restraints upon the press, while the offensive suspicion offers an insult to the community and a discouragement to the learned: that, admitting the entire command of the press to be attainable, as it certainly is not, no good would result from the circumstance to morals, as the means of corrupt communication would still be infinitely numerous ; and after all, not ignorance, but rejection of vice constitutes virtue: that “ Adam's doom seems to have been that of knowing good by evil; and that a fugitive and cloistered virtue was not to be praised, à virtue unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.” These are some of his arguments against
placed the press under the controll of a state inquisitor, or, in other words, appointed a licenser of it. He died in 1484, after having disgraced the Roman see, and disturbed Italy during the space of thirteen years. This is not specified by Milton, but was the fact.