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went heavy punishments. Men's tongues,
the statute of 21 Jac. printing keeps very able company; as salt-peter, gun-powder, ordnance, &c. all which are excepted from being monopolies^." Another writer, of the same class, had before proposed, “ that the press be carefully looked into, that no seditious books or pamphlets be vented, to poyson the people, or to confirm any in their bad principles. The want of this care," adds he,“ hath grown into a great seminary of mischief, which, if nothing but our sad experience of it, should make us more wary for the fu
eb. -But even this was not all. - The author also proposed, that a choice and able committee “ be appointed to enquire after all books and writings whatsoever, which have spoke against the royal right, or the right of the subject; that they may, as many as can be got, either be purged or burnt, and declared against by authority; and not to remain as apt fuel for a new flame, but be buried as far as can be in perpetual oblivion. And, perhaps, in the first place, as most pestilent, those tracts that have been writ about. that ridiculous contradiction in adjecto of the two houses co-ordination with the king the monarch, when the king is the head, the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons, the three estates, by several acts of parliament specified, lippis & tonsoribus notum: yet urged for designs mischievous abominably, as we have felt. As also that trayterous distinction of the Spensers, 'twixt the kings person and office, by two acts of parliament declared treason ; yet in these late times maintained by too many. Goodwins. book for
* Atkins's Original and Growth of Printing. 4to. Lond. 1664. In the Dedication. Lake's Memoranda, p. 130. 4to. Lond. 1662.
however, were employed; and a court,
the justification of the murther of the late king, and many other of that kind. Mr. Bucks book of Richard the Third, wherein he seems to impugne the right of the king from the daughter of king Edward the Fourth, wife to king Henry the Seventh, too much leaning to, if not affirming Richard the Thirds right, by that monstrous act of parliament that illegitimates Edward the Fourths issue. In Sir Edward Cokes book, intituled, • The third part of the Institutes of the Law of England, concerning High Treason, and other pleas of the Crown,' 1658, p. 7. he puts it down there, for law, upon the Statute of 25 Ed. III. c. ii. de proditionibus, that if treason be committed against a king de facto, and non de jure; and after the king de jure cometh to the crown, he shall punish the treason done to the king de facto ; and a pardon granted by a king de jure, that is not also de facto, is void.-In regard Sir Edward Cokes writings are by many held in high repute, and some have not stuck to style him the oracle of the law; therefore his writings require to be more strictly looked into, and that if any errors be found therein, they may be detected and expunged, as being more dangerous than in other mens writings not of so great repute. Corruptio optimi est pessima .” Conformable to the sentiments of these persons, an act of parliament passed; in the preamble of which it is said, " Whereas the well-government and regulating of printers and printing-presses is matter of public care, and of great concernment; especially considering that, by the general licentiousness of the late times, many evildisposed persons have been encouraged to print and
Lake's Memoranda, p. 127. 4to. Lond. 1662.
with measures so vile, escaped not heavy
sell heretical, schismatical, blasphemous, seditious, and treasonable books, pamphlets, and papers, and still do continue such their unlawful and exorbitant practice, to the high dishonour of Almighty God, the indangering the peace of these kingdoms, and raising a disaffection to his most excellent majesty and his government: for prevention whereof, no surer means can be advised, than by reducing and limiting the number of printing-presses, and by ordering and settling the said art or mystery of printing by act of parliament.” In the body of the act, “ all' persons are prohibited from printing any heretical, schisinatical, or offensive books or pamphlets, wherein any doctrine or opinion shall be asserted, or maintained, which is contrary to the Christian faith, or the doctrine or discipline of the church of England, or which shall or may tend, or be to the scandal of religion, or the church, or the government, or governors of the church, state, or commonwealth, or of any corporation, or particular person or persons whatsoever.” But as all men could not be supposed to know when they wrote heresy, or promoted schism; as authors might unwittingly manufacture blasphemy, sedition, and treason; it was provided, that a licenser, appointed by the government, should inspect all writings prepared for the press; and after being approved of by him, he was to “testify, under his hand, that there was not any thing contained in them contrary to the Christian faith, or the doctrine or discipline of the church of England, or against the state or government of this realm, or contrary to good life, or good manners, or otherwise as the nature and subject of the work shall requirea.”_By this act,
a Stat. 13 and 14 Car. II. C. 33.
censures. This alarmed the guilty. Con
also, "power and authority was given to messengers, by warrant under his majesties sign-manual, or under the hand of one or more of his majesties principal secretaries of state, or the master or wardens of the company of stationers, with a constable, at all times, to search all houses and shops where they shall know, or upon some probable reason suspect, any books to be printed, bound, or stitched; and to examine whether the same be licensed, and to demand a sight of the said licence: and if the said books shall not be licensed, then to seize upon so much thereof as shall be found imprinted, together with the several offenders, and to bring them before a justice of the peace, who was required to commit them to prison, there to remain till they were tried and acquitted, or convicted and punished.”. Offenders were, for the first offence, to be disabled from exercising their trades for the space of three years; and for the second, they were for ever incapacitated, and to be further punished by fine, imprisonment, or other corporal punishment, not extending to life or limb, as the judges or justices in the quartersessions should see fit. Nor were these mere threatenings. Whatever was displeasing to the court was carefully suppressed; and men even dared not print the plainest truths that were displeasing to those in power. Milton's immortal book of Paradise Lost, the public had like to have been eternally deprived of,“ by the ignorance or malice of the licenser; who, among other frivolous exceptions, would needs suppress the whole poem for imaginary treason in the following lines :
-C! As when the sun, new ris'n,
scious of their vile deeds; they were afraid
Shorn of his beams; or from behind the moon,
Perplexes monarchiesa.” What notable work these gentlemen licensers made, even with old and approved books, we may learn from the following account, given us by Burnet: “When I writ Bishop Bedells Life,” says he, “his book against Wadsworth was found to be so well written, and was so much out of print, that it was thought fit to reprint it, and bind it up with his life. I could not but take notice of the case of subjects resisting their prince fully stated and justified by him; and that in a book dedicated to king Charles the First, then prince of Wales : and this was never once objected to him, nor he obliged to retract it; but, instead of that, he was afterwards made provost of Trinity College in Dublin, and then bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh in that kingdom.- I thought myself bound to warn Mr. Chiswell of that passage. He was much threatned at that time for having printed Julian, and he was afraid of raising a new storm against himself. I told him, I would not suffer the book to be printed, unless that passage were printed in it. He shewed it to Sir Roger L'Estrange, who would not let it pass till several words were scattered quite through it, to give it an air, as if Bedell had been only repeating the arguments of other men: and even that did not serve turn. A marginal note was to be added to the end of that paragraph, which was framed by Sir Roger himself.-Such was the severity of our expurgators at that time b.".
* Toland's Life of Milton, p. 121. 8vo. Lond. 1761. on a Pamphlet, p. 69. 8vo. Lond. 1696