Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

against which the absolute Freedom of the Press is the only Preservative? For what else spreads light, or diffuses knowledge through the world? But it seems, as a sense of the value of health is sometimes lost in the midft of its full enjoyment; so men, through 'a habit of liberty, may become insenfible of its inestimable worth: otherwise would not every one awake, rouse himself, and say, when the most dear and valuable of all the privileges, that government is designed - to protect, is menaced, “ That he will • sooner part with life itself than with " that liberty without which life is not " worth the having : that he will sooner “ suffer his eyes to be put out, than his “ understanding to be extinguished.” : : 2

We - We are told in history of a * people that, after they had been inured to flas very, were in a panick fear, when their liberty was offered to them. And this terrible effect of flavery ought to make every lover -of mankind tremble at the thoughts of any steps or approaches-towards the diminution of liberty. “For s6 without it, as Homer has told us, 56 men soon cease to be men': they soon “ cease to be rational creatures." ; - Now without the absolute unbounded freedom of writing and publishing, there is no liberty; no shadow of it: it is an empty found. For what can Liberty mean, if it does not mean, the Liberty of exercising, improving, and informing

* The Cappadocians,

our

our understandings? “A people have 5 Liberty,” said a truly good king * of England, “when they are free as thought * is free. What is it that makes a city, "6" (faid the good Alcæus, a poet, whose *6 muse was always sacred and faithful to 6 the beft of causes) it is not walls and ** buildings; no, it is being inhabited “ by men.: by men, who know them“ felves to be men, and have suitable “ notions of the dignity of human na*“ ture: by men, who know what it is * alone that exalts them above the 166 brutes." Can we be either virtuous +or religious, without the free use of our teafon, without the means of knowledge? And can we have knowledge, if men

[ocr errors]

Elfrid.

dare

dare not freely study, and as freely communicate the fruits of their studies ? What is it that distinguishes human fociety from a brutish herd, but the flouTilhing of the Arts and Sciences, the free exercise of Wit and Reason? What can government mean, intend, or produce, that is worthy of man, or beneficial to him, as he is a rational creature, besides Wisdom, Knowledge, Virtue, and Science? Is it merely indeed that we may eat, drink, sleep, fing, and dance, with security, that we choose governours, subject ourselves to their administration, and pay taxes ? Take away the Arts, Religion, Knowledge, Vertue, (all of which must flourish, or fink together) and, in the name of goodness, what is left to us that is worth enjoying or protecting? Yet take away the Liberty of the press, and we are all at once stript of the use of our noblest faculties : our souls themselves are imprisoned in a dark dungeon: we may breathe, but we cannot be said to live.

what

If the end of governors and government is not to diffuse with a liberal unsparing equal hand, true rational happiness; but to make the bulk of mankind beasts of burden, that a few may wallow in brutish pleasures : then it is confiftent politicks to root out the desire and love of Light and Knowledge. Certain Scythian Naves, that they might work the harder, had only their eyes destroyed. But to extinguish human under

Itanding,

« VorigeDoorgaan »