[ocr errors]

was us'd if ought were impiously writt'n against their esteemed gods. Except in these two points, how the world went in Books, the Magistrat kept no reckning. And therefore Lucretius without impeachment versifies his Epicurism to Memmius, and had the honour to be set forth the second time by Cicero fo great

a father of the Commonwealth ; although è himselfe disputes against that opinion in - his own writings. Nor was the Satyri

call sharpnesse, or naked plainnes of Lucilius, or Catullus, or Flaccus, by any order prohibited. And for matters of State, the story of Titus Liviils, though it extoll’d that part which Pompey held, was not therefore supprest by Octavius Cæfar of the other Faction. But that

R 2




Naso was by him banisht in his old age, for the wanton Poems of his youth, was but a meer covert of State over fome secret cause : and besides, the Books were neither banisht nor call'd in. From hence we shall ineet with little else but tyranny in the Roman Empire, that we may not marvell, if not so often bad, as good Books were silenc't. I shall therefore deem to have bin large anough in producing what among the ancients was punishable to write, save only which, all other arguments were free to treat on.

By this time the Emperors were become Christians, whose discipline in this point I doe not finde to have bin more severe then what was formerly in prac

[ocr errors]

tice. The Books of those whom they took to be grand Hereticks were examin’d, refuted, and condemn’d in the generall Councels; and not till then were prohibited, or burnt by autority of the Emperor. As for the writings of Heathen authors, unlesse they were plaine invectives against Christianity, as those of Porphyrius and Proclus, they met with no interdict that can be cited, till about the year 400, in a Carthaginian Councel, wherein Bishops themselves were forbid to read the Books of Gentiles, but Herefies they might read: while others long before them on the contrary scrupl’d more the Books of Hereticks, then of Gentiles. And that the primitive Councels and Bishops were wont only to deR3


clare what Books were not commendable, paffing no furder, but leaving it to each ones conscience to read or to lay by, till after the yeare 800, is observ’d already by Padre Paolo the great unmasker of the Trentine Councel. Afterwhich time the Popes of Rome engrossing what they pleas’d of Politicall rule into their owne hands, extended their dominion over mens eyes, as they had before over their judgements, burning and prohibiting to be read, what they fansied not; yet sparing in their censures, and the Books not many which they so dealt with : till Martin the 5. by his Bull not only prohibited, but was the first that excommunicated the reading of hereticall Books ; for about that time Wicklef


and Husse growing terrible, were they, who first drove the Papall Court to a ftricter policy of prohibiting. Which cours Leo the 10, and his successors fol. low'd, untill the Councell of Trent, and the Spanish Inquisition engendring together brought forth, or perfeted those Catalogues, and expurging Indexes that rake through the entralls of many an old good Author, with a violation wors then any could be offer'd to his tomb. Nor did they stay in matters Hereticall, but any subject that was not to their palat, they either condemn’d in a prohibition, or had it ftrait into the new Purgatory of an Index. To fill up the measure of encroachment, their last invention was to ordain that no Book, pamphlet, or

R 4


« VorigeDoorgaan »