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House, which were indeed but colours, and serving to no end except it be to exercise a superiority over their neighbours: men who doe not therefore labour in an honest profession to which Learning is indetted, that they should be made other mens vassalls. Another end is thought was aym'd at by some of them in procuring by petition this Order, that having power in their hands, malignant Books might the easier scape abroad, as the event shews.But of these Sophisms and Elenchs' of marchandize
--- Edition of Paradise Lost, which should exhibit his Text unimpaired
by orthographical variations is a desirable publication. To exemplify this, I will show the effect of one failure in the literal observance of the authentic copies :
-" the sport and prey “Of racking whirlwinds."
II. 182. Thus it is given in the original Quartos, and in his last Edition ; p. 33. 8vo. 1674. So Shakspeare has, “the racking clouds;" which Steevens rightly interprets by“ the clouds in rapid tumul
tuury motion.” X. 251. edit. 1793. But in the recent Editions of Par. Lost it is printed wracking, and this interpolation of the mute Letter w conveys another idea to the mind; and so materially changed as to have misled Johnson to explain the word by "to rock, to shake;" and to cite this corruption as an authority in his Dictionary, under " to WRACK."
For this and other philological notices as minute I may securely take shelter under Mr. Porson's remark, who once observed to me, that the objectors to verbal Criticism were men content to think, that they could understand a sentence without knowing the sense of all the words in it.
• Procuring by petition this Order.] See ILLUSTRATION, S.
· These Sophisms and Elenchs-] Johnson has not given a correct explanation of this latter word. An Elench (Ensyaw)
I skill not: This I know, that errors in a good Government and in a bad are equally almost incident; for what Magistrate may not be mis-inform’d, and much the sooner, if Liberty of Printing be reduc't into the power of a few? but to redresse willingly and speedily what hath bin err'd, and in highest autority to esteem a plain advertisement more then others have done a sumptuous bribe, is a vertue (honoured Lords and Commons !) answerable to your highest actions, and whereof none can participat but greatest and wisest men,
signified in the Schools, a fallacious answer to a sophistical position. It was previously in our language.“ The more subtle “ forms of Sophisms and Illaqueations, with their Redarguations, " which is that which is termed Elenchs.”-Bacon; Of the Addancement of Learning. p. 200. 40. 1633.
From some passages in the early part of this Oration, incurious Readers might be led to conclude hastily, that there were topics on which Milton conceived Discussion ought not to take an unrestrained course. It is incumbent on us therefore to bear in our recollection, that in this series of persuasive argument to convince the
Parliament, that they should not have reduced the intellect of the Public to the standard of an individual's judgment, he exhibits the skill of an Advocate by no means indisposed to avail himself of the privileges annexed to that situation. We are also. to recollect, that he was the first who wrote in behalf of unlicensed Printing ; a circumstance which will plainly account for all such admissions. He anticipated what would be objected to him, if he were to contend for a scope more extended : he yielded a. Pawn to gain a Queen. To contest the prevention of all publication of Opinions not allowed by a Licenser was his meritorious task: living in the nineteenth century, it should be ours to consider, whether it be in any case advisable to punish Opinions ?
The opposers of all judicial inquisition on the productions of Mind may now employ at London or Philadelphia arguments, which would effectually injure any efforts to unshackle the Presses of Madrid or Moscow.' For the narrations of History too often warn the practical friends to the enlargement of Liberty, that premature struggles to elevate
à nation above the pitch for which it is prepared endangers the portion of public good which might otherwise be obtained. “ Nos autem, quoniam leges damus liberis populis ; ....
... accomodabimus hoc tempore leges ad illum, quem probamus, civitatis statum.” (Cicero.) It would have been, therefore, highly injudicious in his day to have done full justice to the principle. In a more enlightened æra he would have lain claim to a larger measure of Freedom. But he viewed Man as he then was in Society, and would not pursue objects, which were in his time unattainable.
Milton accounted Reason, the noblest gift of God to Man, and was far, far indeed, from a slavish Thinker; nor on any subject did he ever seek the suppression of Truth. His own speculations were as hardy as his range of research was extensive. This unreserved utterance of sentiment he practised fearlessly as the occasion called him out, on political, religious, and domestic questions alike; neither need it be doubted, that the Authour of the AREOPAGITICA would have lent a willing hand to
ward removing every impediment which retarded the march of Knowlege, and have been well satisfied, that this right should be guaranteed to all in its amplest extent. “ Pessimè enim vel Naturâ vel Legibus
comparatum foret, si arguta Servitus, “ Libertas muta esset; et haberent Tyranni
qui pro se dicerent, non haberent qui Ty“ rannos debellare possunt. Miserum esset, “ si hæc ipsa Ratio, quo utimur Dei mu
nere, non multo plura ad homines conser“ vandos, liberandos, et, quantum Natura
fert, inter se æquandos, quàm ad oppri“ mendos et sub unius imperio malè per“ dendos argumenta suppeditaret.” Defensio pro Populo Anglicano. Not only so,
but acknowleging the ability of Truth to support itself, he consistently contended, that Opinion ought to be left at large. “ Though all the winds of “ doctrine (he exclaims with sincere and “fervid Eloquence) were let loose to play
upon the earth, so Truth be in the field,
we do injuriously by licensing and prohi“ biting to misdoubt her strength. Let her " and Falsehood grapple; whoever knew