Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

numerous as the Doctor's hypothesis requires they should have been.

3. The students in Milton's academy (being the sons of men of like fpirit and principles with their master) would not;. upon leaving his boarding-school, vapour away their patriotism in writing books; but proceed to scenes of action not very favourable to the Muses, or philosophical fpeculation.

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

The

The Doctor, speaking of Milton's Areopagitica, says, “ The danger of “ such unbounded liberty (of unlicensed

printing!, and the danger of bound

ing it, have produced a problem, in “the science of government, which human understanding seems unable to “ folve."

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

Next follows a curious fee-saw of the

arguments pro and con,

.

* New Narrative, p. 45.

“ If nothing may be published but “ what civil authority have previously “ approved, power must always be the “ standard 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 shewn you the evils on the other fide.

“ If every dreamer of innovations may

propagate his projects, there can be no " settlement; if every murmurer at government may diffuse discontent, there

can be no peace; if every sceptic in “ theology may teach his follies, there “ can be no religion.”

[ocr errors]

Is it not better that power should be the standard of truth, than that we should have no settlement, no peace, no reli

gion ?

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

But, says another writer, as honest a man, and at least as fair a reasoner, as Dr. Johnson, “ If men were not to de“ clare their opinions iņ spight of estab166 lishments either in church or state, 6 truth would soon be banished the “ earth * ;' and to this agrees John Mil

What is then to be done? Why, says a moderator, punish the authors of these wicked publications ; for Dr. Johnson tells you, “ It is yet al“ lowed that every society may punish, “ though not prevent, the publication of * Dedication of the Elay on Spirit.

“ opinions

ton.

“ opinions which that fociety shall think

pernicious.”

We could mention very good fort of men, and no fools, who would not allow this to every society. But be this as it may, this allowance does not satisfy our Biographer ; for, says he, “ This punish

ment, though it may crush the author,

promotes the book; and it seems not “ more reasonable to leave the right of

printing unrestrained, because writers

may be afterwards censured, than it « would be to sleep with our doors un6 bolted, because by our laws we can “ hang a thief." The conclusion is, hang every man who prints or publishes without a license.

Hardy

« VorigeDoorgaan »